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Max Chafkin

Max Chafkin

8 months ago

Elon Musk Bets $44 Billion on Free Speech's Future

Musk’s purchase of Twitter has sealed his bond with the American right—whether the platform’s left-leaning employees and users like it or not.

Elon Musk's pursuit of Twitter Inc. began earlier this month as a joke. It started slowly, then spiraled out of control, culminating on April 25 with the world's richest man agreeing to spend $44 billion on one of the most politically significant technology companies ever. There have been bigger financial acquisitions, but Twitter's significance has always outpaced its balance sheet. This is a unique Silicon Valley deal.

To recap: Musk announced in early April that he had bought a stake in Twitter, citing the company's alleged suppression of free speech. His complaints were vague, relying heavily on the dog whistles of the ultra-right. A week later, he announced he'd buy the company for $54.20 per share, four days after initially pledging to join Twitter's board. Twitter's directors noticed the 420 reference as well, and responded with a “shareholder rights” plan (i.e., a poison pill) that included a 420 joke.


Musk - Patrick Pleul/Getty Images

No one knew if the bid was genuine. Musk's Twitter plans seemed implausible or insincere. In a tweet, he referred to automated accounts that use his name to promote cryptocurrency. He enraged his prospective employees by suggesting that Twitter's San Francisco headquarters be turned into a homeless shelter, renaming the company Titter, and expressing solidarity with his growing conservative fan base. “The woke mind virus is making Netflix unwatchable,” he tweeted on April 19.

But Musk got funding, and after a frantic weekend of negotiations, Twitter said yes. Unlike most buyouts, Musk will personally fund the deal, putting up up to $21 billion in cash and borrowing another $12.5 billion against his Tesla stock.

Free Speech and Partisanship

Percentage of respondents who agree with the following

The deal is expected to replatform accounts that were banned by Twitter for harassing others, spreading misinformation, or inciting violence, such as former President Donald Trump's account. As a result, Musk is at odds with his own left-leaning employees, users, and advertisers, who would prefer more content moderation rather than less.


Dorsey - Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Previously, the company's leadership had similar issues. Founder Jack Dorsey stepped down last year amid concerns about slowing growth and product development, as well as his dual role as CEO of payments processor Block Inc. Compared to Musk, a father of seven who already runs four companies (besides Tesla and SpaceX), Dorsey is laser-focused.

Musk's motivation to buy Twitter may be political. Affirming the American far right with $44 billion spent on “free speech” Right-wing activists have promoted a series of competing upstart Twitter competitors—Parler, Gettr, and Trump's own effort, Truth Social—since Trump was banned from major social media platforms for encouraging rioters at the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. But Musk can give them a social network with lax content moderation and a real user base. Trump said he wouldn't return to Twitter after the deal was announced, but he wouldn't be the first to do so.


Trump - Eli Hiller/Bloomberg

Conservative activists and lawmakers are already ecstatic. “A great day for free speech in America,” said Missouri Republican Josh Hawley. The day the deal was announced, Tucker Carlson opened his nightly Fox show with a 10-minute laudatory monologue. “The single biggest political development since Donald Trump's election in 2016,” he gushed over Musk.

But Musk's supporters and detractors misunderstand how much his business interests influence his political ideology. He marketed Tesla's cars as carbon-saving machines that were faster and cooler than gas-powered luxury cars during George W. Bush's presidency. Musk gained a huge following among wealthy environmentalists who reserved hundreds of thousands of Tesla sedans years before they were made during Barack Obama's presidency. Musk in the Trump era advocated for a carbon tax, but he also fought local officials (and his own workers) over Covid rules that slowed the reopening of his Bay Area factory.


Teslas at the Las Vegas Convention Center Loop Central Station in April 2021. The Las Vegas Convention Center Loop was Musk's first commercial project. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Musk's rightward shift matched the rise of the nationalist-populist right and the desire to serve a growing EV market. In 2019, he unveiled the Cybertruck, a Tesla pickup, and in 2018, he announced plans to manufacture it at a new plant outside Austin. In 2021, he decided to move Tesla's headquarters there, citing California's "land of over-regulation." After Ford and General Motors beat him to the electric truck market, Musk reframed Tesla as a company for pickup-driving dudes.

Similarly, his purchase of Twitter will be entwined with his other business interests. Tesla has a factory in China and is friendly with Beijing. This could be seen as a conflict of interest when Musk's Twitter decides how to treat Chinese-backed disinformation, as Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos noted.

Musk has focused on Twitter's product and social impact, but the company's biggest challenges are financial: Either increase cash flow or cut costs to comfortably service his new debt. Even if Musk can't do that, he can still benefit from the deal. He has recently used the increased attention to promote other business interests: Boring has hyperloops and Neuralink brain implants on the way, Musk tweeted. Remember Tesla's long-promised robotaxis!

Musk may be comfortable saying he has no expectation of profit because it benefits his other businesses. At the TED conference on April 14, Musk insisted that his interest in Twitter was solely charitable. “I don't care about money.”

The rockets and weed jokes make it easy to see Musk as unique—and his crazy buyout will undoubtedly add to that narrative. However, he is a megabillionaire who is risking a small amount of money (approximately 13% of his net worth) to gain potentially enormous influence. Musk makes everything seem new, but this is a rehash of an old media story.

More on Society & Culture

Mike Meyer

Mike Meyer

4 months ago

Reality Distortion

Old power paradigm blocks new planetary paradigm

Photo by Alex Radelich

The difference between our reality and the media's reality is like a tale of two worlds. The greatest and worst of times, really.

Expanding information demands complex skills and understanding to separate important information from ignorance and crap. And that's just the start of determining the source's aim.

Trust who? We see people trust liars in public and then be destroyed by their decisions. Mistakes may be devastating.

Many give up and don't trust anyone. Reality is a choice, though. Same risks.

We must separate our needs and wants from reality. Needs and wants have rules. Greed and selfishness create an unlivable planet.

Culturally, we know this, but we ignore it as foolish. Selfish and greedy people obtain what they want, while others suffer.

We invade, plunder, rape, and burn. We establish civilizations by institutionalizing an exploitable underclass and denying its existence. These cultural lies promote greed and selfishness despite their destructiveness.

Controlling parts of society institutionalize these lies as fact. Many of each age are willing to gamble on greed because they were taught to see greed and selfishness as principles justified by prosperity.

Our cultural understanding recognizes the long-term benefits of collaboration and sharing. This older understanding generates an increasing tension between greedy people and those who see its planetary effects.

Survival requires distinguishing between global and regional realities. Simple, yet many can't do it. This is the first time human greed has had a global impact.

In the past, conflict stories focused on regional winners and losers. Losers lose, winners win, etc. Powerful people see potential decades of nuclear devastation as local, overblown, and not personally dangerous.

Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was a human choice that required people to acquiesce to irrational devastation. This prevented nuclear destruction. Most would refuse.

A dangerous “solution” relies on nuclear trigger-pullers not acting irrationally. Since then, we've collected case studies of sane people performing crazy things in experiments. We've been lucky, but the climate apocalypse could be different.

Climate disaster requires only continuing current behavior. These actions already cause global harm, but that's not a threat. These activities must be viewed differently.

Once grasped, denying planetary facts is hard to accept. Deniers can't think beyond regional power. Seeing planet-scale is unusual.

Decades of indoctrination defining any planetary perspective as un-American implies communal planetary assets are for plundering. The old paradigm limits any other view.

In the same way, the new paradigm sees the old regional power paradigm as a threat to planetary civilization and lifeforms. Insane!

While MAD relied on leaders not acting stupidly to trigger a nuclear holocaust, the delayed climatic holocaust needs correcting centuries of lunacy. We must stop allowing craziness in global leadership.

Nothing in our acknowledged past provides a paradigm for such. Only primitive people have failed to reach our level of sophistication.

Before European colonization, certain North American cultures built sophisticated regional nations but abandoned them owing to authoritarian cruelty and destruction. They were overrun by societies that saw no wrong in perpetual exploitation. David Graeber's The Dawn of Everything is an example of historical rediscovery, which is now crucial.

From the new paradigm's perspective, the old paradigm is irrational, yet it's too easy to see those in it as ignorant or malicious, if not both. These people are both, but the collapsing paradigm they promote is older or more ingrained than we think.

We can't shift that paradigm's view of a dead world. We must eliminate this mindset from our nations' leadership. No other way will preserve the earth.

Change is occurring. As always with tremendous transition, younger people are building the new paradigm.

The old paradigm's disintegration is insane. The ability to detect errors and abandon their sources is more important than age. This is gaining recognition.

The breakdown of the previous paradigm is not due to senile leadership, but to systemic problems that the current, conservative leadership cannot recognize.

Stop following the old paradigm.

Hudson Rennie

Hudson Rennie

2 months ago

Meet the $5 million monthly controversy-selling King of Toxic Masculinity.

Trigger warning — Andrew Tate is running a genius marketing campaign

Image via Instagram: @cobratate

Andrew Tate is a 2022 internet celebrity.

Kickboxing world champion became rich playboy with controversial views on gender roles.

Andrew's get-rich-quick scheme isn't new. His social media popularity is impressive.

He’s currently running one of the most genius marketing campaigns in history.

He pulls society's pendulum away from diversity and inclusion and toward diversion and exclusion. He's unstoppable.

Here’s everything you need to know about Andrew Tate. And how he’s playing chess while the world plays checkers.

Cobra Tate is the name he goes by.

American-born, English-raised entrepreneur Andrew Tate lives in Romania.

Romania? Says Andrew,

“I prefer a country in which corruption is available to everyone.”

Andrew was a professional kickboxer with the ring moniker Cobra before starting Hustlers University.

Before that, he liked chess and worshipped his father.

Emory Andrew Tate III is named after his grandmaster chess player father.

Emory was the first black-American chess champion. He was military, martial arts-trained, and multilingual. A superhuman.

He lived in his car to make ends meet.

Andrew and Tristan relocated to England with their mother when their parents split.

It was there that Andrew began his climb toward becoming one of the internet’s greatest villains.

Andrew fell in love with kickboxing.

Andrew spent his 20s as a professional kickboxer and reality TV star, featuring on Big Brother UK and The Ultimate Traveller.

These 3 incidents, along with a chip on his shoulder, foreshadowed Andrews' social media breakthrough.

  • Chess

  • Combat sports

  • Reality television

A dangerous trio.

Andrew started making money online after quitting kickboxing in 2017 due to an eye issue.

Andrew didn't suddenly become popular.

Andrew's web work started going viral in 2022.

Due to his contentious views on patriarchy and gender norms, he's labeled the King of Toxic Masculinity. His most contentious views (trigger warning):

  • “Women are intrinsically lazy.”

  • “Female promiscuity is disgusting.”

  • “Women shouldn’t drive cars or fly planes.”

  • “A lot of the world’s problems would be solved if women had their body count tattooed on their foreheads.”

Andrew's two main beliefs are:

  1. “These are my personal opinions based on my experiences.”

2. “I believe men are better at some things and women are better at some things. We are not equal.”

Andrew intentionally offends.

Andrew's thoughts began circulating online in 2022.

Image from Google Trends

In July 2022, he was one of the most Googled humans, surpassing:

  • Joe Biden

  • Donald Trump

  • Kim Kardashian

Andrews' rise is a mystery since no one can censure or suppress him. This is largely because Andrew nor his team post his clips.

But more on that later.

Andrew's path to wealth.

Andrew Tate is a self-made millionaire. His morality is uncertain.

Andrew and Tristan needed money soon after retiring from kickboxing.

“I owed some money to some dangerous people. I had $70K and needed $100K to stay alive.”

Andrews lost $20K on roulette at a local casino.

Andrew had one week to make $50,000, so he started planning. Andrew locked himself in a chamber like Thomas Edison to solve an energy dilemma.

He listed his assets.

  • Physical strength (but couldn’t fight)

  • a BMW (worth around $20K)

  • Intelligence (but no outlet)

A lightbulb.

He had an epiphany after viewing a webcam ad. He sought aid from women, ironically. His 5 international girlfriends are assets.

Then, a lightbulb.

Andrew and Tristan messaged and flew 7 women to a posh restaurant. Selling desperation masked as opportunity, Andrew pitched his master plan:

A webcam business — with a 50/50 revenue split.

5 women left.

2 stayed.

Andrew Tate, a broke kickboxer, became Top G, Cobra Tate.

The business model was simple — yet sad.

Andrew's girlfriends moved in with him and spoke online for 15+ hours a day. Andrew handled ads and equipment as the women posed.

Andrew eventually took over their keyboards, believing he knew what men wanted more than women.

Andrew detailed on the Full Send Podcast how he emotionally manipulated men for millions. They sold houses, automobiles, and life savings to fuel their companionship addiction.

When asked if he felt bad, Andrew said,

“F*ck no.“

Andrew and Tristan wiped off debts, hired workers, and diversified.

Tristan supervised OnlyFans models.

Andrew bought Romanian casinos and MMA league RXF (Real Xtreme Fighting).

Pandemic struck suddenly.

Andrew couldn't run his 2 businesses without a plan. Another easy moneymaker.

He banked on Hustlers University.

The actual cause of Andrew's ubiquity.

On a Your Mom’s House episode Andrew's 4 main revenue sources:

  1. Hustler’s University

2. Owning casinos in Romania

3. Owning 10% of the Romanian MMA league “RXF

4. “The War Room” — a society of rich and powerful men

When the pandemic hit, 3/4 became inoperable.

So he expanded Hustlers University.

But what is Hustler’s University?

Andrew says Hustlers University teaches 18 wealth-building tactics online. Examples:

  • Real estate

  • Copywriting

  • Amazon FBA

  • Dropshipping

  • Flipping Cryptos

How to swiftly become wealthy.

Lessons are imprecise, rudimentary, and macro-focused, say reviews. Invest wisely, etc. Everything is free online.

You pay for community. One unique income stream.

The only money-making mechanism that keeps the course from being a scam.

The truth is, many of Andrew’s students are actually making money. Maybe not from the free YouTube knowledge Andrew and his professors teach in the course, but through Hustler’s University’s affiliate program.

Affiliates earn 10% commission for each new student = $5.

Students can earn $10 for each new referral in the first two months.

Andrew earns $50 per membership per month.

This affiliate program isn’t anything special — in fact, it’s on the lower end of affiliate payouts. Normally, it wouldn’t be very lucrative.

But it has one secret weapon— Andrew and his viral opinions.

Andrew is viral. Andrew went on a media tour in January 2022 after appearing on Your Mom's House.

And many, many more…

He chatted with Twitch streamers. Hustlers University wanted more controversy (and clips).

Here’s the strategy behind Hustler’s University that has (allegedly) earned students upwards of $10K per month:

  1. Make a social media profile with Andrew Tates' name and photo.

  2. Post any of the online videos of Andrews that have gone viral.

  3. Include a referral link in your bio.

Effectively simple.

Andrew's controversy attracts additional students. More student clips circulate as more join. Andrew's students earn more and promote the product as he goes viral.

A brilliant plan that's functioning.

At the beginning of his media tour, Hustler’s University had 5,000 students. 6 months in, and he now has over 100,000.

One income stream generates $5 million every month.

Andrew's approach is not new.

But it is different.

In the early 2010s, Tai Lopez dominated the internet.

His viral video showed his house.

“Here in my garage. Just bought this new Lamborghini.”

Tais' marketing focused on intellect, not strength, power, and wealth to attract women.

How reading quicker leads to financial freedom in 67 steps.

Years later, it was revealed that Tai Lopez rented the mansion and Lamborghini as a marketing ploy to build social proof. Meanwhile, he was living in his friend’s trailer.

Faked success is an old tactic.

Andrew is doing something similar. But with one major distinction.

Andrew outsources his virality — making him nearly impossible to cancel.

In 2022, authorities searched Andrews' estate over human trafficking suspicions. Investigation continues despite withdrawn charges.

Andrew's divisive nature would normally get him fired. Andrew's enterprises and celebrity don't rely on social media.

He doesn't promote or pay for ads. Instead, he encourages his students and anyone wishing to get rich quick to advertise his work.

Because everything goes through his affiliate program. Old saying:

“All publicity is good publicity.”

Final thoughts: it’s ok to feel triggered.

Tate is divisive.

His emotionally charged words are human nature. Andrews created the controversy.

It's non-personal.

His opinions are those of one person. Not world nor generational opinion.

Briefly:

  • It's easy to understand why Andrews' face is ubiquitous. Money.

  • The world wide web is a chessboard. Misdirection is part of it.

  • It’s not personal, it’s business.

  • Controversy sells

Sometimes understanding the ‘why’, can help you deal with the ‘what.’

Jack Shepherd

Jack Shepherd

4 months ago

A Dog's Guide to Every Type of Zoom Call Participant

Are you one of these Zoom dogs?

The Person Who Is Apparently Always on Mute

Waffles thinks he can overpower the mute button by shouting loudly.

Photos: Pexels, Envato, Adobe

The person who believed their camera to be off

Barkley's used to remote work, but he hasn't mastered the "Stop Video" button. Everyone is affected.

Photos: Pexels, Envato, Adobe

Who is driving for some reason, exactly?

Why is Pumpkin always late? Who knows? Shouldn't she be driving? If you could hear her over the freeway, she'd answer these questions.

Photos: Pexels, Pixabay, Envato, Adobe

The Person With the Amazing Bookcase

Cicero likes to use SAT-words like "leverage" and "robust" in Zoom sessions, presumably from all the books he wants you to see behind him.

Photos: Pexels, Envato, Adobe

The Individual Who Is Unnecessarily Dressed

We hope Bandit is going somewhere beautiful after this meeting, or else he neglected the quarterly earnings report and is overcompensating to distract us.

Photos: Pexels, Pixabay, Envato

The person who works through lunch in between zoom calls

Barksworth has back-to-back meetings all day, so you can watch her eat while she talks.

Photos: Pexels, Pixabay, Envato

The Person Who Is A Little Too Comfy

Hercules thinks Zoom meetings happen between sleeps. He'd appreciate everyone speaking more quietly.

Photos: Pexels, Adobe, @Greenring

The Person Who Answered the Phone Outside

Frisbee has a gorgeous backyard and lives in a place with great weather year-round, and she wants you to think about that during the daily team huddle.

Photos: Pexels, Envato, Adobe

Who Wants You to Pay Attention to Their Pet

Snickers hasn't listened to you in 20 minutes unless you tell her how cute her kitten is.

One who is, for some reason, positioned incorrectly on the screen

Nelson's meetings consist primarily of attempting to figure out how he positioned his laptop so absurdly.

Photos: Pexels, Envato, @Greenring

The person who says too many goodbyes

Zeus waves farewell like it's your first day of school while everyone else searches for the "Leave Meeting" button. It's nice.

Photos: Adobe, Envato, iStock

He who has a poor internet connection

Ziggy's connectivity problems continue... She gives a long speech as everyone waits awkwardly to inform her they missed it.

Photos: Pexels, Envato, Wikimedia Commons

The Clearly Multitasking Person

Tinkerbell can play fetch during the monthly staff meeting if she works from home, but that's not a good idea.

Photos: Pexels, Pixabay, Envato

The Person Using Zoom as a Makeup and Hair Mirror

If Gail and Bob knew Zoom had a "hide self view" option, they'd be distraught.

Photos: Pexels, Adobe, Envato

The person who feels at ease with simply leaving

Rusty bails when a Zoom conference is over. Rusty's concept is decent.

Photos: Pexels, Adobe, Envato

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Liz Martin

Liz Martin

4 months ago

A Search Engine From Apple?

Apple's search engine has long been rumored. Recent Google developments may confirm the rumor. Is Apple about to become Google's biggest rival?

Here's a video:

People noted Apple's changes in 2020. AppleBot, a web crawler that downloads and caches Internet content, was more active than in the last five years.

Apple hired search engine developers, including ex-Googlers, such as John Giannandrea, Google's former search chief.

Apple also changed the way iPhones search. With iOS 14, Apple's search results arrived before Google's.

These facts fueled rumors that Apple was developing a search engine.

Apple and Google Have a Contract

Many skeptics said Apple couldn't compete with Google. This didn't affect the company's competitiveness.

Apple is the only business with the resources and scale to be a Google rival, with 1.8 billion active devices and a $2 trillion market cap.

Still, people doubted that due to a license deal. Google pays Apple $8 to $12 billion annually to be the default iPhone and iPad search engine.

Apple can't build an independent search product under this arrangement.

Why would Apple enter search if it's being paid to stay out?

Ironically, this partnership has many people believing Apple is getting into search.

A New Default Search Engine May Be Needed

Google was sued for antitrust in 2020. It is accused of anticompetitive and exclusionary behavior. Justice wants to end Google's monopoly.

Authorities could restrict Apple and Google's licensing deal due to its likely effect on market competitiveness. Hence Apple needs a new default search engine.

Apple Already Has a Search Engine

The company already has a search engine, Spotlight.

Since 2004, Spotlight has aired. It was developed to help users find photos, documents, apps, music, and system preferences.

Apple's search engine could do more than organize files, texts, and apps.

Spotlight Search was updated in 2014 with iOS 8. Web, App Store, and iTunes searches became available. You could find nearby places, movie showtimes, and news.

This search engine has subsequently been updated and improved. Spotlight added rich search results last year.

If you search for a TV show, movie, or song, photos and carousels will appear at the top of the page.

This resembles Google's rich search results.

When Will the Apple Search Engine Be Available?

When will Apple's search launch? Robert Scoble says it's near.

Scoble tweeted a number of hints before this year's Worldwide Developer Conference.

Scoble bases his prediction on insider information and deductive reasoning. January 2023 is expected.

Will you use Apple's search engine?

Jano le Roux

Jano le Roux

2 months ago

My Top 11 Tools For Building A Modern Startup, With A Free Plan

The best free tools are probably unknown to you.

Webflow

Modern startups are easy to build.

Start with free tools.

Let’s go.

Web development — Webflow

Code-free HTML, CSS, and JS.

Webflow isn't like Squarespace, Wix, or Shopify.

It's a super-fast no-code tool for professionals to construct complex, highly-responsive websites and landing pages.

Webflow can help you add animations like those on Apple's website to your own site.

I made the jump from WordPress a few years ago and it changed my life.

No damn plugins. No damn errors. No damn updates.

The best, you can get started on Webflow for free.

Data tracking — Airtable

Spreadsheet wings.

Airtable combines spreadsheet flexibility with database power without code.

  • Airtable is modern.

  • Airtable has modularity.

  • Scaling Airtable is simple.

Airtable, one of the most adaptable solutions on this list, is perfect for client data management.

Clients choose customized service packages. Airtable consolidates data so you can automate procedures like invoice management and focus on your strengths.

Airtable connects with so many tools that rarely creates headaches. Airtable scales when you do.

Airtable's flexibility makes it a potential backend database.

Design — Figma

Better, faster, easier user interface design.

Figma rocks!

  • It’s fast.

  • It's free.

  • It's adaptable

First, design in Figma.

Iterate.

Export development assets.

Figma lets you add more team members as your company grows to work on each iteration simultaneously.

Figma is web-based, so you don't need a powerful PC or Mac to start.

Task management — Trello

Unclock jobs.

Tacky and terrifying task management products abound. Trello isn’t.

Those that follow Marie Kondo will appreciate Trello.

  • Everything is clean.

  • Nothing is complicated.

  • Everything has a place.

Compared to other task management solutions, Trello is limited. And that’s good. Too many buttons lead to too many decisions lead to too many hours wasted.

Trello is a must for teamwork.

Domain email — Zoho

Free domain email hosting.

Professional email is essential for startups. People relied on monthly payments for too long. Nope.

Zoho offers 5 free professional emails.

It doesn't have Google's UI, but it works.

VPN — Proton VPN

Fast Swiss VPN protects your data and privacy.

Proton VPN is secure.

  • Proton doesn't record any data.

  • Proton is based in Switzerland.

Swiss privacy regulation is among the most strict in the world, therefore user data are protected. Switzerland isn't a 14 eye country.

Journalists and activists trust Proton to secure their identities while accessing and sharing information authoritarian governments don't want them to access.

Web host — Netlify

Free fast web hosting.

Netlify is a scalable platform that combines your favorite tools and APIs to develop high-performance sites, stores, and apps through GitHub.

Serverless functions and environment variables preserve API keys.

Netlify's free tier is unmissable.

  • 100GB of free monthly bandwidth.

  • Free 125k serverless operations per website each month.

Database — MongoDB

Create a fast, scalable database.

MongoDB is for small and large databases. It's a fast and inexpensive database.

  • Free for the first million reads.

  • Then, for each million reads, you must pay $0.10.

MongoDB's free plan has:

  • Encryption from end to end

  • Continual authentication

  • field-level client-side encryption

If you have a large database, you can easily connect MongoDB to Webflow to bypass CMS limits.

Automation — Zapier

Time-saving tip: automate repetitive chores.

Zapier simplifies life.

Zapier syncs and connects your favorite apps to do impossibly awesome things.

If your online store is connected to Zapier, a customer's purchase can trigger a number of automated actions, such as:

  1. The customer is being added to an email chain.

  2. Put the information in your Airtable.

  3. Send a pre-programmed postcard to the customer.

  4. Alexa, set the color of your smart lights to purple.

Zapier scales when you do.

Email & SMS marketing — Omnisend

Email and SMS marketing campaigns.

Omnisend

This is an excellent Mailchimp option for magical emails. Omnisend's processes simplify email automation.

I love the interface's cleanliness.

Omnisend's free tier includes web push notifications.

Send up to:

  • 500 emails per month

  • 60 maximum SMSs

  • 500 Web Push Maximum

Forms and surveys — Tally

Create flexible forms that people enjoy.

Typeform is clean but restricting. Sometimes you need to add many questions. Tally's needed sometimes.

Tally is flexible and cheaper than Typeform.

99% of Tally's features are free and unrestricted, including:

  • Unlimited forms

  • Countless submissions

  • Collect payments

  • File upload

Tally lets you examine what individuals contributed to forms before submitting them to see where they get stuck.

Airtable and Zapier connectors automate things further. If you pay, you can apply custom CSS to fit your brand.

See.

Free tools are the greatest.

Let's use them to launch a startup.

Jonathan Vanian

Jonathan Vanian

1 year ago

What is Terra? Your guide to the hot cryptocurrency

With cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Dogecoin gyrating in value over the past few months, many people are looking at so-called stablecoins like Terra to invest in because of their more predictable prices.

Terraform Labs, which oversees the Terra cryptocurrency project, has benefited from its rising popularity. The company said recently that investors like Arrington Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Pantera Capital have pledged $150 million to help it incubate various crypto projects that are connected to Terra.

Terraform Labs and its partners have built apps that operate on the company’s blockchain technology that helps keep a permanent and shared record of the firm’s crypto-related financial transactions.

Here’s what you need to know about Terra and the company behind it.

What is Terra?

Terra is a blockchain project developed by Terraform Labs that powers the startup’s cryptocurrencies and financial apps. These cryptocurrencies include the Terra U.S. Dollar, or UST, that is pegged to the U.S. dollar through an algorithm.

Terra is a stablecoin that is intended to reduce the volatility endemic to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Some stablecoins, like Tether, are pegged to more conventional currencies, like the U.S. dollar, through cash and cash equivalents as opposed to an algorithm and associated reserve token.

To mint new UST tokens, a percentage of another digital token and reserve asset, Luna, is “burned.” If the demand for UST rises with more people using the currency, more Luna will be automatically burned and diverted to a community pool. That balancing act is supposed to help stabilize the price, to a degree.

“Luna directly benefits from the economic growth of the Terra economy, and it suffers from contractions of the Terra coin,” Terraform Labs CEO Do Kwon said.

Each time someone buys something—like an ice cream—using UST, that transaction generates a fee, similar to a credit card transaction. That fee is then distributed to people who own Luna tokens, similar to a stock dividend.

Who leads Terra?

The South Korean firm Terraform Labs was founded in 2018 by Daniel Shin and Kwon, who is now the company’s CEO. Kwon is a 29-year-old former Microsoft employee; Shin now heads the Chai online payment service, a Terra partner. Kwon said many Koreans have used the Chai service to buy goods like movie tickets using Terra cryptocurrency.

Terraform Labs does not make money from transactions using its crypto and instead relies on outside funding to operate, Kwon said. It has raised $57 million in funding from investors like HashKey Digital Asset Group, Divergence Digital Currency Fund, and Huobi Capital, according to deal-tracking service PitchBook. The amount raised is in addition to the latest $150 million funding commitment announced on July 16.

What are Terra’s plans?

Terraform Labs plans to use Terra’s blockchain and its associated cryptocurrencies—including one pegged to the Korean won—to create a digital financial system independent of major banks and fintech-app makers. So far, its main source of growth has been in Korea, where people have bought goods at stores, like coffee, using the Chai payment app that’s built on Terra’s blockchain. Kwon said the company’s associated Mirror trading app is experiencing growth in China and Thailand.

Meanwhile, Kwon said Terraform Labs would use its latest $150 million in funding to invest in groups that build financial apps on Terra’s blockchain. He likened the scouting and investing in other groups as akin to a “Y Combinator demo day type of situation,” a reference to the popular startup pitch event organized by early-stage investor Y Combinator.

The combination of all these Terra-specific financial apps shows that Terraform Labs is “almost creating a kind of bank,” said Ryan Watkins, a senior research analyst at cryptocurrency consultancy Messari.

In addition to cryptocurrencies, Terraform Labs has a number of other projects including the Anchor app, a high-yield savings account for holders of the group’s digital coins. Meanwhile, people can use the firm’s associated Mirror app to create synthetic financial assets that mimic more conventional ones, like “tokenized” representations of corporate stocks. These synthetic assets are supposed to be helpful to people like “a small retail trader in Thailand” who can more easily buy shares and “get some exposure to the upside” of stocks that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to obtain, Kwon said. But some critics have said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may eventually crack down on synthetic stocks, which are currently unregulated.

What do critics say?

Terra still has a long way to go to catch up to bigger cryptocurrency projects like Ethereum.

Most financial transactions involving Terra-related cryptocurrencies have originated in Korea, where its founders are based. Although Terra is becoming more popular in Korea thanks to rising interest in its partner Chai, it’s too early to say whether Terra-related currencies will gain traction in other countries.

Terra’s blockchain runs on a “limited number of nodes,” said Messari’s Watkins, referring to the computers that help keep the system running. That helps reduce latency that may otherwise slow processing of financial transactions, he said.

But the tradeoff is that Terra is less “decentralized” than other blockchain platforms like Ethereum, which is powered by thousands of interconnected computing nodes worldwide. That could make Terra less appealing to some blockchain purists.