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Vitalik

Vitalik

2 years ago

Fairness alternatives to selling below market clearing prices (or community sentiment, or fun)

When a seller has a limited supply of an item in high (or uncertain and possibly high) demand, they frequently set a price far below what "the market will bear." As a result, the item sells out quickly, with lucky buyers being those who tried to buy first. This has happened in the Ethereum ecosystem, particularly with NFT sales and token sales/ICOs. But this phenomenon is much older; concerts and restaurants frequently make similar choices, resulting in fast sell-outs or long lines.

Why do sellers do this? Economists have long wondered. A seller should sell at the market-clearing price if the amount buyers are willing to buy exactly equals the amount the seller has to sell. If the seller is unsure of the market-clearing price, they should sell at auction and let the market decide. So, if you want to sell something below market value, don't do it. It will hurt your sales and it will hurt your customers. The competitions created by non-price-based allocation mechanisms can sometimes have negative externalities that harm third parties, as we will see.

However, the prevalence of below-market-clearing pricing suggests that sellers do it for good reason. And indeed, as decades of research into this topic has shown, there often are. So, is it possible to achieve the same goals with less unfairness, inefficiency, and harm?

Selling at below market-clearing prices has large inefficiencies and negative externalities

An item that is sold at market value or at an auction allows someone who really wants it to pay the high price or bid high in the auction. So, if a seller sells an item below market value, some people will get it and others won't. But the mechanism deciding who gets the item isn't random, and it's not always well correlated with participant desire. It's not always about being the fastest at clicking buttons. Sometimes it means waking up at 2 a.m. (but 11 p.m. or even 2 p.m. elsewhere). Sometimes it's just a "auction by other means" that's more chaotic, less efficient, and has far more negative externalities.

There are many examples of this in the Ethereum ecosystem. Let's start with the 2017 ICO craze. For example, an ICO project would set the price of the token and a hard maximum for how many tokens they are willing to sell, and the sale would start automatically at some point in time. The sale ends when the cap is reached.

So what? In practice, these sales often ended in 30 seconds or less. Everyone would start sending transactions in as soon as (or just before) the sale started, offering higher and higher fees to encourage miners to include their transaction first. Instead of the token seller receiving revenue, miners receive it, and the sale prices out all other applications on-chain.

The most expensive transaction in the BAT sale set a fee of 580,000 gwei, paying a fee of $6,600 to get included in the sale.

Many ICOs after that tried various strategies to avoid these gas price auctions; one ICO notably had a smart contract that checked the transaction's gasprice and rejected it if it exceeded 50 gwei. But that didn't solve the issue. Buyers hoping to game the system sent many transactions hoping one would get through. An auction by another name, clogging the chain even more.

ICOs have recently lost popularity, but NFTs and NFT sales have risen in popularity. But the NFT space didn't learn from 2017; they do fixed-quantity sales just like ICOs (eg. see the mint function on lines 97-108 of this contract here). So what?

That's not the worst; some NFT sales have caused gas price spikes of up to 2000 gwei.

High gas prices from users fighting to get in first by sending higher and higher transaction fees. An auction renamed, pricing out all other applications on-chain for 15 minutes.

So why do sellers sometimes sell below market price?

Selling below market value is nothing new, and many articles, papers, and podcasts have written (and sometimes bitterly complained) about the unwillingness to use auctions or set prices to market-clearing levels.

Many of the arguments are the same for both blockchain (NFTs and ICOs) and non-blockchain examples (popular restaurants and concerts). Fairness and the desire not to exclude the poor, lose fans or create tension by being perceived as greedy are major concerns. The 1986 paper by Kahneman, Knetsch, and Thaler explains how fairness and greed can influence these decisions. I recall that the desire to avoid perceptions of greed was also a major factor in discouraging the use of auction-like mechanisms in 2017.

Aside from fairness concerns, there is the argument that selling out and long lines create a sense of popularity and prestige, making the product more appealing to others. Long lines should have the same effect as high prices in a rational actor model, but this is not the case in reality. This applies to ICOs and NFTs as well as restaurants. Aside from increasing marketing value, some people find the game of grabbing a limited set of opportunities first before everyone else is quite entertaining.

But there are some blockchain-specific factors. One argument for selling ICO tokens below market value (and one that persuaded the OmiseGo team to adopt their capped sale strategy) is community dynamics. The first rule of community sentiment management is to encourage price increases. People are happy if they are "in the green." If the price drops below what the community members paid, they are unhappy and start calling you a scammer, possibly causing a social media cascade where everyone calls you a scammer.

This effect can only be avoided by pricing low enough that post-launch market prices will almost certainly be higher. But how do you do this without creating a rush for the gates that leads to an auction?

Interesting solutions

It's 2021. We have a blockchain. The blockchain is home to a powerful decentralized finance ecosystem, as well as a rapidly expanding set of non-financial tools. The blockchain also allows us to reset social norms. Where decades of economists yelling about "efficiency" failed, blockchains may be able to legitimize new uses of mechanism design. If we could use our more advanced tools to create an approach that more directly solves the problems, with fewer side effects, wouldn't that be better than fiddling with a coarse-grained one-dimensional strategy space of selling at market price versus below market price?

Begin with the goals. We'll try to cover ICOs, NFTs, and conference tickets (really a type of NFT) all at the same time.

1. Fairness: don't completely exclude low-income people from participation; give them a chance. The goal of token sales is to avoid high initial wealth concentration and have a larger and more diverse initial token holder community.

2. Don’t create races: Avoid situations where many people rush to do the same thing and only a few get in (this is the type of situation that leads to the horrible auctions-by-another-name that we saw above).

3. Don't require precise market knowledge: the mechanism should work even if the seller has no idea how much demand exists.

4. Fun: The process of participating in the sale should be fun and game-like, but not frustrating.

5. Give buyers positive expected returns: in the case of a token (or an NFT), buyers should expect price increases rather than decreases. This requires selling below market value.
Let's start with (1). From Ethereum's perspective, there is a simple solution. Use a tool designed for the job: proof of personhood protocols! Here's one quick idea:

Mechanism 1 Each participant (verified by ID) can buy up to ‘’X’’ tokens at price P, with the option to buy more at an auction.

With the per-person mechanism, buyers can get positive expected returns for the portion sold through the per-person mechanism, and the auction part does not require sellers to understand demand levels. Is it race-free? The number of participants buying through the per-person pool appears to be high. But what if the per-person pool isn't big enough to accommodate everyone?

Make the per-person allocation amount dynamic.

Mechanism 2 Each participant can deposit up to X tokens into a smart contract to declare interest. Last but not least, each buyer receives min(X, N / buyers) tokens, where N is the total sold through the per-person pool (some other amount can also be sold by auction). The buyer gets their deposit back if it exceeds the amount needed to buy their allocation.
No longer is there a race condition based on the number of buyers per person. No matter how high the demand, it's always better to join sooner rather than later.

Here's another idea if you like clever game mechanics with fancy quadratic formulas.

Mechanism 3 Each participant can buy X units at a price P X 2 up to a maximum of C tokens per buyer. C starts low and gradually increases until enough units are sold.

The quantity allocated to each buyer is theoretically optimal, though post-sale transfers will degrade this optimality over time. Mechanisms 2 and 3 appear to meet all of the above objectives. They're not perfect, but they're good starting points.

One more issue. For fixed and limited supply NFTs, the equilibrium purchased quantity per participant may be fractional (in mechanism 2, number of buyers > N, and in mechanism 3, setting C = 1 may already lead to over-subscription). With fractional sales, you can offer lottery tickets: if there are N items available, you have a chance of N/number of buyers of getting the item, otherwise you get a refund. For a conference, groups could bundle their lottery tickets to guarantee a win or a loss. The certainty of getting the item can be auctioned.

The bottom tier of "sponsorships" can be used to sell conference tickets at market rate. You may end up with a sponsor board full of people's faces, but is that okay? After all, John Lilic was on EthCC's sponsor board!

Simply put, if you want to be reliably fair to people, you need an input that explicitly measures people. Authentication protocols do this (and if desired can be combined with zero knowledge proofs to ensure privacy). So we should combine the efficiency of market and auction-based pricing with the equality of proof of personhood mechanics.

Answers to possible questions

Q: Won't people who don't care about your project buy the item and immediately resell it?

A: Not at first. Meta-games take time to appear in practice. If they do, making them untradeable for a while may help mitigate the damage. Using your face to claim that your previous account was hacked and that your identity, including everything in it, should be moved to another account works because proof-of-personhood identities are untradeable.

Q: What if I want to make my item available to a specific community?

A: Instead of ID, use proof of participation tokens linked to community events. Another option, also serving egalitarian and gamification purposes, is to encrypt items within publicly available puzzle solutions.

Q: How do we know they'll accept? Strange new mechanisms have previously been resisted.

A: Having economists write screeds about how they "should" accept a new mechanism that they find strange is difficult (or even "equity"). However, abrupt changes in context effectively reset people's expectations. So the blockchain space is the best place to try this. You could wait for the "metaverse", but it's possible that the best version will run on Ethereum anyway, so start now.

More on Web3 & Crypto

Franz Schrepf

Franz Schrepf

1 year ago

What I Wish I'd Known About Web3 Before Building

Cryptoland rollercoaster

Photo by Younho Choo on Unsplash

I've lost money in crypto.

Unimportant.

The real issue: I didn’t understand how.

I'm surrounded with winners. To learn more, I created my own NFTs, currency, and DAO.

Web3 is a hilltop castle. Everything is valuable, decentralized, and on-chain.

The castle is Disneyland: beautiful in images, but chaotic with lengthy lines and kids spending too much money on dressed-up animals.

When the throng and businesses are gone, Disneyland still has enchantment.

Welcome to Cryptoland! I’ll be your guide.

The Real Story of Web3

NFTs

Scarcity. Scarce NFTs. That's their worth.

Skull. Rare-looking!

Nonsense.

Bored Ape Yacht Club vs. my NFTs?

Marketing.

BAYC is amazing, but not for the reasons people believe. Apecoin and Otherside's art, celebrity following, and innovation? Stunning.

No other endeavor captured the zeitgeist better. Yet how long did you think it took to actually mint the NFTs?

1 hour? Maybe a week for the website?

Minting NFTs is incredibly easy. Kid-friendly. Developers are rare. Think about that next time somebody posts “DevS dO SMt!?

NFTs will remain popular. These projects are like our Van Goghs and Monets. Still, be wary. It still uses exclusivity and wash selling like the OG art market.

Not all NFTs are art-related.

Soulbound and anonymous NFTs could offer up new use cases. Property rights, privacy-focused ID, open-source project verification. Everything.

NFTs build online trust through ownership.

We just need to evolve from the apes first.

NFTs' superpower is marketing until then.

Crypto currency

What the hell is a token?

99% of people are clueless.

So I invested in both coins and tokens. Same same. Only that they are not.

Coins have their own blockchain and developer/validator community. It's hard.

Creating a token on top of a blockchain? Five minutes.

Most consumers don’t understand the difference, creating an arbitrage opportunity: pretend you’re a serious project without having developers on your payroll.

Few market sites help. Take a look. See any tokens?

Maybe if you squint real hard… (Coinmarketcap)

There's a hint one click deeper.

Some tokens are legitimate. Some coins are bad investments.

Tokens are utilized for DAO governance and DApp payments. Still, know who's behind a token. They might be 12 years old.

Coins take time and money. The recent LUNA meltdown indicates that currency investing requires research.

DAOs

Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) don't work as you assume.

Yes, members can vote.

A productive organization requires more.

I've observed two types of DAOs.

  • Total decentralization total dysfunction

  • Centralized just partially. Community-driven.

A core team executes the DAO's strategy and roadmap in successful DAOs. The community owns part of the organization, votes on decisions, and holds the team accountable.

DAOs are public companies.

Amazing.

A shareholder meeting's logistics are staggering. DAOs may hold anonymous, secure voting quickly. No need for intermediaries like banks to chase up every shareholder.

Successful DAOs aren't totally decentralized. Large-scale voting and collaboration have never been easier.

And that’s all that matters.

Scale, speed.

My Web3 learnings

Disneyland is enchanting. Web3 too.

In a few cycles, NFTs may be used to build trust, not clout. Not speculating with coins. DAOs run organizations, not themselves.

Finally, some final thoughts:

  • NFTs will be a very helpful tool for building trust online. NFTs are successful now because of excellent marketing.

  • Tokens are not the same as coins. Look into any project before making a purchase. Make sure it isn't run by three 9-year-olds piled on top of one another in a trench coat, at the very least.

  • Not entirely decentralized, DAOs. We shall see a future where community ownership becomes the rule rather than the exception once we acknowledge this fact.

Crypto Disneyland is a rollercoaster with loops that make you sick.

Always buckle up.

Have fun!

CyberPunkMetalHead

CyberPunkMetalHead

1 year ago

195 countries want Terra Luna founder Do Kwon

Interpol has issued a red alert on Terraform Labs' CEO, South Korean prosecutors said.

After the May crash of Terra Luna revealed tax evasion issues, South Korean officials filed an arrest warrant for Do Kwon, but he is missing.

Do Kwon is now a fugitive in 195 countries after Seoul prosecutors placed him to Interpol's red list. Do Kwon hasn't commented since then. The red list allows any country's local authorities to apprehend Do Kwon.

Do Dwon and Terraform Labs were believed to have moved to Singapore days before the $40 billion wipeout, but Singapore authorities said he fled the country on September 17. Do Kwon tweeted that he wasn't on the run and cited privacy concerns.

Do Kwon was not on the red list at the time and said he wasn't "running," only to reply to his own tweet saying he hasn't jogged in a while and needed to trim calories.

Whether or not it makes sense to read too much into this, the reality is that Do Kwon is now on Interpol red list, despite the firmly asserts on twitter that he does absolutely nothing to hide.

UPDATE:

South Korean authorities are investigating alleged withdrawals of over $60 million U.S. and seeking to freeze these assets. Korean authorities believe a new wallet exchanged over 3000 BTC through OKX and Kucoin.

Do Kwon and the Luna Foundation Guard (of whom Do Kwon is a key member of) have declined all charges and dubbed this disinformation.

Singapore's Luna Foundation Guard (LFG) manages the Terra Ecosystem.

The Legal Situation

Multiple governments are searching for Do Kwon and five other Terraform Labs employees for financial markets legislation crimes.

South Korean authorities arrested a man suspected of tax fraud and Ponzi scheme.

The U.S. SEC is also examining Terraform Labs on how UST was advertised as a stablecoin. No legal precedent exists, so it's unclear what's illegal.

The future of Terraform Labs, Terra, and Terra 2 is unknown, and despite what Twitter shills say about LUNC, the company remains in limbo awaiting a decision that will determine its fate. This project isn't a wise investment.

Caleb Naysmith

Caleb Naysmith

1 year ago   Draft

A Myth: Decentralization

It’s simply not conceivable, or at least not credible.

Photo by Josh Hild on Unsplash

One of the most touted selling points of Crypto has always been this grandiose idea of decentralization. Bitcoin first arose in 2009 after the housing crisis and subsequent crash that came with it. It aimed to solve this supposed issue of centralization. Nobody “owns” Bitcoin in theory, so the idea then goes that it won’t be subject to the same downfalls that led to the 2008 crash or similarly speculative events that led to the 2008 disaster. The issue is the banks, not the human nature associated with the greedy individuals running them.

Subsequent blockchains have attempted to fix many of the issues of Bitcoin by increasing capacity, decreasing the costs and processing times associated with Bitcoin, and expanding what can be done with their blockchains. Since nobody owns Bitcoin, it hasn’t really been able to be expanded on. You have people like Vitalk Buterin, however, that actively work on Ethereum though.

The leap from Bitcoin to Ethereum was a massive leap toward centralization, and the trend has only gotten worse. In fact, crypto has since become almost exclusively centralized in recent years.

Decentralization is only good in theory

It’s a good idea. In fact, it’s a wonderful idea. However, like other utopian societies, individuals misjudge human nature and greed. In a perfect world, decentralization would certainly be a wonderful idea because sure, people may function as their own banks, move payments immediately, remain anonymous, and so on. However, underneath this are a couple issues:

  • You can already send money instantaneously today.

  • They are not decentralized.

  • Decentralization is a bad idea.

  • Being your own bank is a stupid move.

Let’s break these down. Some are quite simple, but lets have a look.

Sending money right away

One thing with crypto is the idea that you can send payments instantly. This has pretty much been entirely solved in current times. You can transmit significant sums of money instantly for a nominal cost and it’s instantaneously cleared. Venmo was launched in 2009 and has since increased to prominence, and currently is on most people's phones. I can directly send ANY amount of money quickly from my bank to another person's Venmo account.

Comparing that with ETH and Bitcoin, Venmo wins all around. I can send money to someone for free instantly in dollars and the only fee paid is optional depending on when you want it.

Both Bitcoin and Ethereum are subject to demand. If the blockchains have a lot of people trying to process transactions fee’s go up, and the time that it takes to receive your crypto takes longer. When Ethereum gets bad, people have reported spending several thousand of dollars on just 1 transaction.

These transactions take place via “miners” bundling and confirming transactions, then recording them on the blockchain to confirm that the transaction did indeed happen. They charge fees to do this and are also paid in Bitcoin/ETH. When a transaction is confirmed, it's then sent to the other users wallet. This within itself is subject to lots of controversy because each transaction needs to be confirmed 6 times, this takes massive amounts of power, and most of the power is wasted because this is an adversarial system in which the person that mines the transaction gets paid, and everyone else is out of luck. Also, these could theoretically be subject to a “51% attack” in which anyone with over 51% of the mining hash rate could effectively control all of the transactions, and reverse transactions while keeping the BTC resulting in “double spending”.

There are tons of other issues with this, but essentially it means: They rely on these third parties to confirm the transactions. Without people confirming these transactions, Bitcoin stalls completely, and if anyone becomes too dominant they can effectively control bitcoin.

Not to mention, these transactions are in Bitcoin and ETH, not dollars. So, you need to convert them to dollars still, and that's several more transactions, and likely to take several days anyway as the centralized exchange needs to send you the money by traditional methods.

They are not distributed

That takes me to the following point. This isn’t decentralized, at all. Bitcoin is the closest it gets because Satoshi basically closed it to new upgrades, although its still subject to:

  • Whales

  • Miners

It’s vital to realize that these are often the same folks. While whales aren’t centralized entities typically, they can considerably effect the price and outcome of Bitcoin. If the largest wallets holding as much as 1 million BTC were to sell, it’d effectively collapse the price perhaps beyond repair. However, Bitcoin can and is pretty much controlled by the miners. Further, Bitcoin is more like an oligarchy than decentralized. It’s been effectively used to make the rich richer, and both the mining and price is impacted by the rich. The overwhelming minority of those actually using it are retail investors. The retail investors are basically never the ones generating money from it either.

As far as ETH and other cryptos go, there is realistically 0 case for them being decentralized. Vitalik could not only kill it but even walking away from it would likely lead to a significant decline. It has tons of issues right now that Vitalik has promised to fix with the eventual Ethereum 2.0., and stepping away from it wouldn’t help.

Most tokens as well are generally tied to some promise of future developments and creators. The same is true for most NFT projects. The reason 99% of crypto and NFT projects fail is because they failed to deliver on various promises or bad dev teams, or poor innovation, or the founders just straight up stole from everyone. I could go more in-depth than this but go find any project and if there is a dev team, company, or person tied to it then it's likely, not decentralized. The success of that project is directly tied to the dev team, and if they wanted to, most hold large wallets and could sell it all off effectively killing the project. Not to mention, any crypto project that doesn’t have a locked contract can 100% be completely rugged and they can run off with all of the money.

Decentralization is undesirable

Even if they were decentralized then it would not be a good thing. The graphic above indicates this is effectively a rich person’s unregulated playground… so it’s exactly like… the very issue it tried to solve?

Not to mention, it’s supposedly meant to prevent things like 2008, but is regularly subjected to 50–90% drawdowns in value? Back when Bitcoin was only known in niche parts of the dark web and illegal markets, it would regularly drop as much as 90% and has a long history of massive drawdowns.

The majority of crypto is blatant scams, and ALL of crypto is a “zero” or “negative” sum game in that it relies on the next person buying for people to make money. This is not a good thing. This has yet to solve any issues around what caused the 2008 crisis. Rather, it seemingly amplified all of the bad parts of it actually. Crypto is the ultimate speculative asset and realistically has no valuation metric. People invest in Apple because it has revenue and cash on hand. People invest in crypto purely for speculation. The lack of regulation or accountability means this is amplified to the most extreme degree where anything goes: Fraud, deception, pump and dumps, scams, etc. This results in a pure speculative madhouse where, unsurprisingly, only the rich win. Not only that but the deck is massively stacked in against the everyday investor because you can’t do a pump and dump without money.

At the heart of all of this is still the same issues: greed and human nature. However, in setting out to solve the issues that allowed 2008 to happen, they made something that literally took all of the bad parts of 2008 and then amplified it. 2008, similarly, was due to greed and human nature but was allowed to happen due to lack of oversite, rich people's excessive leverage over the poor, and excessive speculation. Crypto trades SOLELY on human emotion, has 0 oversite, is pure speculation, and the power dynamic is just as bad or worse.

Why should each individual be their own bank?

This is the last one, and it's short and basic. Why do we want people functioning as their own bank? Everything we do relies on another person. Without the internet, and internet providers there is no crypto. We don’t have people functioning as their own home and car manufacturers or internet service providers. Sure, you might specialize in some of these things, but masquerading as your own bank is a horrible idea.

I am not in the banking industry so I don’t know all the issues with banking. Most people aren’t in banking or crypto, so they don’t know the ENDLESS scams associated with it, and they are bound to lose their money eventually.

If you appreciate this article and want to read more from me and authors like me, without any limits, consider buying me a coffee: buymeacoffee.com/calebnaysmith

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Keagan Stokoe

Keagan Stokoe

1 year ago

Generalists Create Startups; Specialists Scale Them

There’s a funny part of ‘Steve Jobs’ by Walter Isaacson where Jobs says that Bill Gates was more a copier than an innovator:

“Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas….He’d be a broader guy if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.”

Gates lacked flavor. Nobody ever got excited about a Microsoft launch, despite their good products. Jobs had the world's best product taste. Apple vs. Microsoft.

A CEO's core job functions are all driven by taste: recruiting, vision, and company culture all require good taste. Depending on the type of company you want to build, know where you stand between Microsoft and Apple.

How can you improve your product judgment? How to acquire taste?

Test and refine

Product development follows two parallel paths: the ‘customer obsession’ path and the ‘taste and iterate’ path.

The customer obsession path involves solving customer problems. Lean Startup frameworks show you what to build at each step.

Taste-and-iterate doesn't involve the customer. You iterate internally and rely on product leaders' taste and judgment.

Creative Selection by Ken Kocienda explains this method. In Creative Selection, demos are iterated and presented to product leaders. Your boss presents to their boss, and so on up to Steve Jobs. If you have good product taste, you can be a panelist.

The iPhone follows this path. Before seeing an iPhone, consumers couldn't want one. Customer obsession wouldn't have gotten you far because iPhone buyers didn't know they wanted one.

In The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz writes:

“It turns out that is exactly what product strategy is all about — figuring out the right product is the innovator’s job, not the customer’s job. The customer only knows what she thinks she wants based on her experience with the current product. The innovator can take into account everything that’s possible, but often must go against what she knows to be true. As a result, innovation requires a combination of knowledge, skill, and courage.“

One path solves a problem the customer knows they have, and the other doesn't. Instead of asking a person what they want, observe them and give them something they didn't know they needed.

It's much harder. Apple is the world's most valuable company because it's more valuable. It changes industries permanently.

If you want to build superior products, use the iPhone of your industry.

How to Improve Your Taste

I. Work for a company that has taste.

People with the best taste in products, markets, and people are rewarded for building great companies. Tasteful people know quality even when they can't describe it. Taste isn't writable. It's feel-based.

Moving into a community that's already doing what you want to do may be the best way to develop entrepreneurial taste. Most company-building knowledge is tacit.

Joining a company you want to emulate allows you to learn its inner workings. It reveals internal patterns intuitively. Many successful founders come from successful companies.

Consumption determines taste. Excellence will refine you. This is why restauranteurs visit the world's best restaurants and serious painters visit Paris or New York. Joining a company with good taste is beneficial.

2. Possess a wide range of interests

“Edwin Land of Polaroid talked about the intersection of the humanities and science. I like that intersection. There’s something magical about that place… The reason Apple resonates with people is that there’s a deep current of humanity in our innovation. I think great artists and great engineers are similar, in that they both have a desire to express themselves.” — Steve Jobs

I recently discovered Edwin Land. Jobs modeled much of his career after Land's. It makes sense that Apple was inspired by Land.

A Triumph of Genius: Edwin Land, Polaroid, and the Kodak Patent War notes:

“Land was introverted in person, but supremely confident when he came to his ideas… Alongside his scientific passions, lay knowledge of art, music, and literature. He was a cultured person growing even more so as he got older, and his interests filtered into the ethos of Polaroid.”

Founders' philosophies shape companies. Jobs and Land were invested. It showed in the products their companies made. Different. His obsession was spreading Microsoft software worldwide. Microsoft's success is why their products are bland and boring.

Experience is important. It's probably why startups are built by generalists and scaled by specialists.

Jobs combined design, typography, storytelling, and product taste at Apple. Some of the best original Mac developers were poets and musicians. Edwin Land liked broad-minded people, according to his biography. Physicist-musicians or physicist-photographers.

Da Vinci was a master of art, engineering, architecture, anatomy, and more. He wrote and drew at the same desk. His genius is remembered centuries after his death. Da Vinci's statue would stand at the intersection of humanities and science.

We find incredibly creative people here. Superhumans. Designers, creators, and world-improvers. These are the people we need to navigate technology and lead world-changing companies. Generalists lead.

Tim Denning

Tim Denning

1 year ago

I Posted Six Times a Day for 210 Days on Twitter. Here's What Happened.

I'd spend hours composing articles only to find out they were useless. Twitter solved the problem.

Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

Twitter is wrinkled, say critics.

Nope. Writing is different. It won't make sense until you write there.

Twitter is resurgent. People are reading again. 15-second TikToks overloaded our senses.

After nuking my 20,000-follower Twitter account and starting again, I wrote every day for 210 days.

I'll explain.

I came across the strange world of microblogging.

Traditional web writing is filler-heavy.

On Twitter, you must be brief. I played Wordle.

Twitter Threads are the most popular writing format. Like a blog post. It reminds me of the famous broetry posts on LinkedIn a few years ago.

Image Credit: Josh Fetcher via LinkedIn

Threads combine tweets into an article.

  • Sharp, concise sentences

  • No regard for grammar

  • As important as the information is how the text looks.

Twitter Threads are like Michael Angelo's David monument. He chipped away at an enormous piece of marble until a man with a big willy appeared.

That's Twitter Threads.

I tried to remove unnecessary layers from several of my Wordpress blog posts. Then I realized something.

Tweeting from scratch is easier and more entertaining. It's quicker and makes you think more concisely.

Superpower: saying much with little words. My long-form writing has improved. My article sentences resemble tweets.

You never know what will happen.

Twitter's subcultures are odd. Best-performing tweets are strange.

Unusual trend: working alone and without telling anyone. It's a rebellion against Instagram influencers who share their every moment.

Early on, random thoughts worked:

My friend’s wife is Ukrainian. Her family are trapped in the warzone. He is devastated. And here I was complaining about my broken garage door. War puts everything in perspective. Today is a day to be grateful for peace.

Documenting what's happening triggers writing. It's not about viral tweets. Helping others matters.

There are numerous anonymous users.

Twitter uses pseudonyms.

You don't matter. On sites like LinkedIn, you must use your real name. Welcome to the Cyberpunk metaverse of Twitter :)

One daily piece of writing is a powerful habit.

Habits build creator careers. Read that again.

Twitter is an easy habit to pick up. If you can't tweet in one sentence, something's wrong. Easy-peasy-japanese.

Not what I tweeted, but my constancy, made the difference.

Daily writing is challenging, especially if your supervisor is on your back. Twitter encourages writing.

Tweets evolved as the foundation of all other material.

During my experiment, I enjoyed Twitter's speed.

Tweets get immediate responses, comments, and feedback. My popular tweets become newspaper headlines. I've also written essays from tweet discussions.

Sometimes the tweet and article were clear. Twitter sometimes helped me overcome writer's block.

I used to spend hours composing big things that had little real-world use.

Twitter helped me. No guessing. Data guides my coverage and validates concepts.

Test ideas on Twitter.

It took some time for my email list to grow.

Subscribers are a writer's lifeblood.

Without them, you're broke and homeless when Mark Zuckerberg tweaks the algorithms for ad dollars. Twitter has three ways to obtain email subscribers:

1. Add a link to your bio.

Twitter allows bio links (LinkedIn now does too). My eBook's landing page is linked. I collect emails there.

2. Start an online newsletter.

Twitter bought newsletter app Revue. They promote what they own.

I just established up a Revue email newsletter. I imported them weekly into my ConvertKit email list.

3. Create Twitter threads and include a link to your email list in the final tweet.

Write Twitter Threads and link the last tweet to your email list (example below).

Initial email subscribers were modest.

Numbers are growing. Twitter provides 25% of my new email subscribers. Some days, 50 people join.

Without them, my writing career is over. I'd be back at a 9-5 job begging for time off to spend with my newborn daughter. Nope.

Collect email addresses or die trying.

As insurance against unsubscribes and Zucks, use a second email list or Discord community.

What I still need to do

Twitter's fun. I'm wiser. I need to enable auto-replies and auto-DMs (direct messages).

This adds another way to attract subscribers. I schedule tweets with Tweet Hunter.

It’s best to go slow. People assume you're an internet marketer if you spam them with click requests.

A human internet marketer is preferable to a robot. My opinion.

210 days on Twitter taught me that. I plan to use the platform until I'm a grandfather unless Elon ruins it.

Ben Carlson

Ben Carlson

1 year ago

Bear market duration and how to invest during one

Bear markets don't last forever, but that's hard to remember. Jamie Cullen's illustration

A bear market is a 20% decline from peak to trough in stock prices.

The S&P 500 was down 24% from its January highs at its low point this year. Bear market.

The U.S. stock market has had 13 bear markets since WWII (including the current one). Previous 12 bear markets averaged –32.7% losses. From peak to trough, the stock market averaged 12 months. The average time from bottom to peak was 21 months.

In the past seven decades, a bear market roundtrip to breakeven has averaged less than three years.

Long-term averages can vary widely, as with all historical market data. Investors can learn from past market crashes.

Historical bear markets offer lessons.

Bear market duration

A bear market can cost investors money and time. Most of the pain comes from stock market declines, but bear markets can be long.

Here are the longest U.S. stock bear markets since World war 2:

Stock market crashes can make it difficult to break even. After the 2008 financial crisis, the stock market took 4.5 years to recover. After the dotcom bubble burst, it took seven years to break even.

The longer you're underwater in the market, the more suffering you'll experience, according to research. Suffering can lead to selling at the wrong time.

Bear markets require patience because stocks can take a long time to recover.

Stock crash recovery

Bear markets can end quickly. The Corona Crash in early 2020 is an example.

The S&P 500 fell 34% in 23 trading sessions, the fastest bear market from a high in 90 years. The entire crash lasted one month. Stocks broke even six months after bottoming. Stocks rose 100% from those lows in 15 months.

Seven bear markets have lasted two years or less since 1945.

The 2020 recovery was an outlier, but four other bear markets have made investors whole within 18 months.

During a bear market, you don't know if it will end quickly or feel like death by a thousand cuts.

Recessions vs. bear markets

Many people believe the U.S. economy is in or heading for a recession.

I agree. Four-decade high inflation. Since 1945, inflation has exceeded 5% nine times. Each inflationary spike caused a recession. Only slowing economic demand seems to stop price spikes.

This could happen again. Stocks seem to be pricing in a recession.

Recessions almost always cause a bear market, but a bear market doesn't always equal a recession. In 1946, the stock market fell 27% without a recession in sight. Without an economic slowdown, the stock market fell 22% in 1966. Black Monday in 1987 was the most famous stock market crash without a recession. Stocks fell 30% in less than a week. Many believed the stock market signaled a depression. The crash caused no slowdown.

Economic cycles are hard to predict. Even Wall Street makes mistakes.

Bears vs. bulls

Bear markets for U.S. stocks always end. Every stock market crash in U.S. history has been followed by new all-time highs.

How should investors view the recession? Investing risk is subjective.

You don't have as long to wait out a bear market if you're retired or nearing retirement. Diversification and liquidity help investors with limited time or income. Cash and short-term bonds drag down long-term returns but can ensure short-term spending.

Young people with years or decades ahead of them should view this bear market as an opportunity. Stock market crashes are good for net savers in the future. They let you buy cheap stocks with high dividend yields.

You need discipline, patience, and planning to buy stocks when it doesn't feel right.

Bear markets aren't fun because no one likes seeing their portfolio fall. But stock market downturns are a feature, not a bug. If stocks never crashed, they wouldn't offer such great long-term returns.