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Victoria Kurichenko

Victoria Kurichenko

1 year ago

Here's what happened after I launched my second product on Gumroad.

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

Sanjay Priyadarshi

Sanjay Priyadarshi

1 year ago

Using Ruby code, a programmer created a $48,000,000,000 product that Elon Musk admired.

Unexpected Success

Photo of Tobias Lutke from theglobeandmail

Shopify CEO and co-founder Tobias Lutke. Shopify is worth $48 billion.

World-renowned entrepreneur Tobi

Tobi never expected his first online snowboard business to become a multimillion-dollar software corporation.

Tobi founded Shopify to establish a 20-person company.

The publicly traded corporation employs over 10,000 people.

Here's Tobi Lutke's incredible story.

Elon Musk tweeted his admiration for the Shopify creator.

30-October-2019.

Musk praised Shopify founder Tobi Lutke on Twitter.

Happened:

Screenshot by Author

Explore this programmer's journey.

What difficulties did Tobi experience as a young child?

Germany raised Tobi.

Tobi's parents realized he was smart but had trouble learning as a toddler.

Tobi was learning disabled.

Tobi struggled with school tests.

Tobi's learning impairments were undiagnosed.

Tobi struggled to read as a dyslexic.

Tobi also found school boring.

Germany's curriculum didn't inspire Tobi's curiosity.

“The curriculum in Germany was taught like here are all the solutions you might find useful later in life, spending very little time talking about the problem…If I don’t understand the problem I’m trying to solve, it’s very hard for me to learn about a solution to a problem.”

Studying computer programming

After tenth grade, Tobi decided school wasn't for him and joined a German apprenticeship program.

This curriculum taught Tobi software engineering.

He was an apprentice in a small Siemens subsidiary team.

Tobi worked with rebellious Siemens employees.

Team members impressed Tobi.

Tobi joined the team for this reason.

Tobi was pleased to get paid to write programming all day.

His life could not have been better.

Devoted to snowboarding

Tobi loved snowboarding.

He drove 5 hours to ski at his folks' house.

His friends traveled to the US to snowboard when he was older.

However, the cheap dollar conversion rate led them to Canada.

2000.

Tobi originally decided to snowboard instead than ski.

Snowboarding captivated him in Canada.

On the trip to Canada, Tobi encounters his wife.

Tobi meets his wife Fiona McKean on his first Canadian ski trip.

They maintained in touch after the trip.

Fiona moved to Germany after graduating.

Tobi was a startup coder.

Fiona found work in Germany.

Her work included editing, writing, and academics.

“We lived together for 10 months and then she told me that she need to go back for the master's program.”

With Fiona, Tobi immigrated to Canada.

Fiona invites Tobi.

Tobi agreed to move to Canada.

Programming helped Tobi move in with his girlfriend.

Tobi was an excellent programmer, therefore what he did in Germany could be done anywhere.

He worked remotely for his German employer in Canada.

Tobi struggled with remote work.

Due to poor communication.

No slack, so he used email.

Programmers had trouble emailing.

Tobi's startup was developing a browser.

After the dot-com crash, individuals left that startup.

It ended.

Tobi didn't intend to work for any major corporations.

Tobi left his startup.

He believed he had important skills for any huge corporation.

He refused to join a huge corporation.

Because of Siemens.

Tobi learned to write professional code and about himself while working at Siemens in Germany.

Siemens culture was odd.

Employees were distrustful.

Siemens' rigorous dress code implies that the corporation doesn't trust employees' attire.

It wasn't Tobi's place.

“There was so much bad with it that it just felt wrong…20-year-old Tobi would not have a career there.”

Focused only on snowboarding

Tobi lived in Ottawa with his girlfriend.

Canada is frigid in winter.

Ottawa's winters last.

Almost half a year.

Tobi wanted to do something worthwhile now.

So he snowboarded.

Tobi began snowboarding seriously.

He sought every snowboarding knowledge.

He researched the greatest snowboarding gear first.

He created big spreadsheets for snowboard-making technologies.

Tobi grew interested in selling snowboards while researching.

He intended to sell snowboards online.

He had no choice but to start his own company.

A small local company offered Tobi a job.

Interested.

He must sign papers to join the local company.

He needed a work permit when he signed the documents.

Tobi had no work permit.

He was allowed to stay in Canada while applying for permanent residency.

“I wasn’t illegal in the country, but my state didn’t give me a work permit. I talked to a lawyer and he told me it’s going to take a while until I get a permanent residency.”

Tobi's lawyer told him he cannot get a work visa without permanent residence.

His lawyer said something else intriguing.

Tobis lawyer advised him to start a business.

Tobi declined this local company's job offer because of this.

Tobi considered opening an internet store with his technical skills.

He sold snowboards online.

“I was thinking of setting up an online store software because I figured that would exist and use it as a way to sell snowboards…make money while snowboarding and hopefully have a good life.”

What brought Tobi and his co-founder together, and how did he support Tobi?

Tobi lived with his girlfriend's parents.

In Ottawa, Tobi encounters Scott Lake.

Scott was Tobis girlfriend's family friend and worked for Tobi's future employer.

Scott and Tobi snowboarded.

Tobi pitched Scott his snowboard sales software idea.

Scott liked the idea.

They planned a business together.

“I was looking after the technology and Scott was dealing with the business side…It was Scott who ended up developing relationships with vendors and doing all the business set-up.”

Issues they ran into when attempting to launch their business online

Neither could afford a long-term lease.

That prompted their online business idea.

They would open a store.

Tobi anticipated opening an internet store in a week.

Tobi seeks open-source software.

Most existing software was pricey.

Tobi and Scott couldn't afford pricey software.

“In 2004, I was sitting in front of my computer absolutely stunned realising that we hadn’t figured out how to create software for online stores.”

They required software to:

  • to upload snowboard images to the website.

  • people to look up the types of snowboards that were offered on the website. There must be a search feature in the software.

  • Online users transmit payments, and the merchant must receive them.

  • notifying vendors of the recently received order.

No online selling software existed at the time.

Online credit card payments were difficult.

How did they advance the software while keeping expenses down?

Tobi and Scott needed money to start selling snowboards.

Tobi and Scott funded their firm with savings.

“We both put money into the company…I think the capital we had was around CAD 20,000(Canadian Dollars).”

Despite investing their savings.

They minimized costs.

They tried to conserve.

No office rental.

They worked in several coffee shops.

Tobi lived rent-free at his girlfriend's parents.

He installed software in coffee cafes.

How were the software issues handled?

Tobi found no online snowboard sales software.

Two choices remained:

  1. Change your mind and try something else.

  2. Use his programming expertise to produce something that will aid in the expansion of this company.

Tobi knew he was the sole programmer working on such a project from the start.

“I had this realisation that I’m going to be the only programmer who has ever worked on this, so I don’t have to choose something that lots of people know. I can choose just the best tool for the job…There is been this programming language called Ruby which I just absolutely loved ”

Ruby was open-source and only had Japanese documentation.

Latin is the source code.

Tobi used Ruby twice.

He assumed he could pick the tool this time.

Why not build with Ruby?

How did they find their first time operating a business?

Tobi writes applications in Ruby.

He wrote the initial software version in 2.5 months.

Tobi and Scott founded Snowdevil to sell snowboards.

Tobi coded for 16 hours a day.

His lifestyle was unhealthy.

He enjoyed pizza and coke.

“I would never recommend this to anyone, but at the time there was nothing more interesting to me in the world.”

Their initial purchase and encounter with it

Tobi worked in cafes then.

“I was working in a coffee shop at this time and I remember everything about that day…At some time, while I was writing the software, I had to type the email that the software would send to tell me about the order.”

Tobi recalls everything.

He checked the order on his laptop at the coffee shop.

Pennsylvanian ordered snowboard.

Tobi walked home and called Scott. Tobi told Scott their first order.

They loved the order.

How were people made aware about Snowdevil?

2004 was very different.

Tobi and Scott attempted simple website advertising.

Google AdWords was new.

Ad clicks cost 20 cents.

Online snowboard stores were scarce at the time.

Google ads propelled the snowdevil brand.

Snowdevil prospered.

They swiftly recouped their original investment in the snowboard business because to its high profit margin.

Tobi and Scott struggled with inventories.

“Snowboards had really good profit margins…Our biggest problem was keeping inventory and getting it back…We were out of stock all the time.”

Selling snowboards returned their investment and saved them money.

They did not appoint a business manager.

They accomplished everything alone.

Sales dipped in the spring, but something magical happened.

Spring sales plummeted.

They considered stocking different boards.

They naturally wanted to add boards and grow the business.

However, magic occurred.

Tobi coded and improved software while running Snowdevil.

He modified software constantly. He wanted speedier software.

He experimented to make the software more resilient.

Tobi received emails requesting the Snowdevil license.

They intended to create something similar.

“I didn’t stop programming, I was just like Ok now let me try things, let me make it faster and try different approaches…Increasingly I got people sending me emails and asking me If I would like to licence snowdevil to them. People wanted to start something similar.”

Software or skateboards, your choice

Scott and Tobi had to choose a hobby in 2005.

They might sell alternative boards or use software.

The software was a no-brainer from demand.

Daniel Weinand is invited to join Tobi's business.

Tobis German best friend is Daniel.

Tobi and Scott chose to use the software.

Tobi and Scott kept the software service.

Tobi called Daniel to invite him to Canada to collaborate.

Scott and Tobi had quit snowboarding until then.

How was Shopify launched, and whence did the name come from?

The three chose Shopify.

Named from two words.

First:

  • Shop

Final part:

  • Simplify

Shopify

Shopify's crew has always had one goal:

  • creating software that would make it simple and easy for people to launch online storefronts.

Launched Shopify after raising money for the first time.

Shopify began fundraising in 2005.

First, they borrowed from family and friends.

They needed roughly $200k to run the company efficiently.

$200k was a lot then.

When questioned why they require so much money. Tobi told them to trust him with their goals. The team raised seed money from family and friends.

Shopify.com has a landing page. A demo of their goal was on the landing page.

In 2006, Shopify had about 4,000 emails.

Shopify rented an Ottawa office.

“We sent a blast of emails…Some people signed up just to try it out, which was exciting.”

How things developed after Scott left the company

Shopify co-founder Scott Lake left in 2008.

Scott was CEO.

“He(Scott) realized at some point that where the software industry was going, most of the people who were the CEOs were actually the highly technical person on the founding team.”

Scott leaving the company worried Tobi.

Tobis worried about finding a new CEO.

To Tobi:

A great VC will have the network to identify the perfect CEO for your firm.

Tobi started visiting Silicon Valley to meet with venture capitalists to recruit a CEO.

Initially visiting Silicon Valley

Tobi came to Silicon Valley to start a 20-person company.

This company creates eCommerce store software.

Tobi never wanted a big corporation. He desired a fulfilling existence.

“I stayed in a hostel in the Bay Area. I had one roommate who was also a computer programmer. I bought a bicycle on Craiglist. I was there for a week, but ended up staying two and a half weeks.”

Tobi arrived unprepared.

When venture capitalists asked him business questions.

He answered few queries.

Tobi didn't comprehend VC meetings' terminology.

He wrote the terms down and looked them up.

Some were fascinated after he couldn't answer all these queries.

“I ended up getting the kind of term sheets people dream about…All the offers were conditional on moving our company to Silicon Valley.”

Canada received Tobi.

He wanted to consult his team before deciding. Shopify had five employees at the time.

2008.

A global recession greeted Tobi in Canada. The recession hurt the market.

His term sheets were useless.

The economic downturn in the world provided Shopify with a fantastic opportunity.

The global recession caused significant job losses.

Fired employees had several ideas.

They wanted online stores.

Entrepreneurship was desired. They wanted to quit work.

People took risks and tried new things during the global slump.

Shopify subscribers skyrocketed during the recession.

“In 2009, the company reached neutral cash flow for the first time…We were in a position to think about long-term investments, such as infrastructure projects.”

Then, Tobi Lutke became CEO.

How did Tobi perform as the company's CEO?

“I wasn’t good. My team was very patient with me, but I had a lot to learn…It’s a very subtle job.”

2009–2010.

Tobi limited the company's potential.

He deliberately restrained company growth.

Tobi had one costly problem:

  • Whether Shopify is a venture or a lifestyle business.

The company's annual revenue approached $1 million.

Tobi battled with the firm and himself despite good revenue.

His wife was supportive, but the responsibility was crushing him.

“It’s a crushing responsibility…People had families and kids…I just couldn’t believe what was going on…My father-in-law gave me money to cover the payroll and it was his life-saving.”

Throughout this trip, everyone supported Tobi.

They believed it.

$7 million in donations received

Tobi couldn't decide if this was a lifestyle or a business.

Shopify struggled with marketing then.

Later, Tobi tried 5 marketing methods.

He told himself that if any marketing method greatly increased their growth, he would call it a venture, otherwise a lifestyle.

The Shopify crew brainstormed and voted on marketing concepts.

Tested.

“Every single idea worked…We did Adwords, published a book on the concept, sponsored a podcast and all the ones we tracked worked.”

To Silicon Valley once more

Shopify marketing concepts worked once.

Tobi returned to Silicon Valley to pitch investors.

He raised $7 million, valuing Shopify at $25 million.

All investors had board seats.

“I find it very helpful…I always had a fantastic relationship with everyone who’s invested in my company…I told them straight that I am not going to pretend I know things, I want you to help me.”

Tobi developed skills via running Shopify.

Shopify had 20 employees.

Leaving his wife's parents' home

Tobi left his wife's parents in 2014.

Tobi had a child.

Shopify has 80,000 customers and 300 staff in 2013.

Public offering in 2015

Shopify investors went public in 2015.

Shopify powers 4.1 million e-Commerce sites.

Shopify stores are 65% US-based.

It is currently valued at $48 billion.

Aure's Notes

Aure's Notes

1 year ago

I met a man who in just 18 months scaled his startup to $100 million.

A fascinating business conversation.

Photo by abhishek gaurav on Unsplash

This week at Web Summit, I had mentor hour.

Mentor hour connects startups with experienced entrepreneurs.

The YC-selected founder who mentored me had grown his company to $100 million in 18 months.

I had 45 minutes to question him.

I've compiled this.

Context

Founder's name is Zack.

After working in private equity, Zack opted to acquire an MBA.

Surrounded by entrepreneurs at a prominent school, he decided to become one himself.

Unsure how to proceed, he bet on two horses.

On one side, he received an offer from folks who needed help running their startup owing to lack of time. On the other hand, he had an idea for a SaaS to start himself.

He just needed to validate it.

Validating

Since Zack's proposal helped companies, he contacted university entrepreneurs for comments.

He contacted university founders.

Once he knew he'd correctly identified the problem and that people were willing to pay to address it, he started developing.

He earned $100k in a university entrepreneurship competition.

His plan was evident by then.

The other startup's founders saw his potential and granted him $400k to launch his own SaaS.

Hiring

He started looking for a tech co-founder because he lacked IT skills.

He interviewed dozens and picked the finest.

As he didn't want to wait for his program to be ready, he contacted hundreds of potential clients and got 15 letters of intent promising they'd join up when it was available.

YC accepted him by then.

He had enough positive signals to raise.

Raising

He didn't say how many VCs he called, but he indicated 50 were interested.

He jammed meetings into two weeks to generate pressure and encourage them to invest.

Seed raise: $11 million.

Selling

His objective was to contact as many entrepreneurs as possible to promote his product.

He first contacted startups by scraping CrunchBase data.

Once he had more money, he started targeting companies with ZoomInfo.

His VC urged him not to hire salespeople until he closed 50 clients himself.

He closed 100 and hired a CRO through a headhunter.

Scaling

Three persons started the business.

  1. He primarily works in sales.

  2. Coding the product was done by his co-founder.

  3. Another person performing operational duties.

He regretted recruiting the third co-founder, who was ineffective (could have hired an employee instead).

He wanted his company to be big, so he hired two young marketing people from a competing company.

After validating several marketing channels, he chose PR.

$100 Million and under

He developed a sales team and now employs 30 individuals.

He raised a $100 million Series A.

Additionally, he stated

  • He’s been rejected a lot. Like, a lot.

  • Two great books to read: Steve Jobs by Isaacson, and Why Startups Fail by Tom Eisenmann.

  • The best skill to learn for non-tech founders is “telling stories”, which means sales. A founder’s main job is to convince: co-founders, employees, investors, and customers. Learn code, or learn sales.

Conclusion

I often read about these stories but hardly take them seriously.

Zack was amazing.

Three things about him stand out:

  1. His vision. He possessed a certain amount of fire.

  2. His vitality. The man had a lot of enthusiasm and spoke quickly and decisively. He takes no chances and pushes the envelope in all he does.

  3. His Rolex.

He didn't do all this in 18 months.

Not really.

He couldn't launch his company without private equity experience.

These accounts disregard entrepreneurs' original knowledge.

Hormozi will tell you how he founded Gym Launch, but he won't tell you how he had a gym first, how he worked at uni to pay for his gym, or how he went to the gym and learnt about fitness, which gave him the idea to open his own.

Nobody knows nothing. If you scale quickly, it's probable because you gained information early.

Lincoln said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I'll spend four sharpening the axe."

Sharper axes cut trees faster.

Nick Nolan

Nick Nolan

1 year ago

How to Make $1,037,100 in 4 Months with This Weird Website

One great idea might make you rich.

Author Screenshot | Source

Imagine having a million-dollar concept in college that made a million.

2005 precisely.

Alex Tew, 21, from Wiltshire, England, created The Million Dollar Homepage in August 2005. The idea is basic but beyond the ordinary, which is why it worked.

Alex built a 1,000,000-pixel webpage.

Each website pixel would cost $1. Since pixels are hard to discern, he sold 10x10 squares for $100.

He'd make a million if all the spots sold.

He may have thought about NFTs and the Metaverse decades ago.

MillionDollarHomepage.com launched in 2005.

Businesses and individuals could buy a website spot and add their logo, website link, and tagline. You bought an ad, but nobody visited the website.

If a few thousand people visited the website, it could drive traffic to your business's site.

Alex promised buyers the website would be up for 5 years, so it was a safe bet.

Alex's friend with a music website was the first to buy real estate on the site. Within two weeks, 4,700 pixels sold, and a tracker showed how many were sold and available.

Screenshot from: Source

Word-of-mouth marketing got the press's attention quickly. Everyone loves reading about new ways to make money, so it was a good news story.

By September, over 250,000 pixels had been sold, according to a BBC press release.

Alex and the website gained more media and public attention, so traffic skyrocketed. Two months after the site launched, 1,400 customers bought more than 500,000 pixels.

Businesses bought online real estate. They heard thousands visited the site, so they could get attention cheaply.

Unless you bought a few squares, I'm not sure how many people would notice your ad or click your link.

A sponge website owner emailed Alex:

“We tried Million Dollar Homepage because we were impressed at the level of ingenuity and the sheer simplicity of it. If we’re honest, we didn’t expect too much from it. Now, as a direct result, we are pitching for £18,000 GBP worth of new clients and have seen our site traffic increase over a hundred-fold. We’re even going to have to upgrade our hosting facility! It’s been exceptional.”

Web.archive.org screenshots show how the website changed.

GIF from web.archive.org

“The idea is to create something of an internet time capsule: a homepage that is unique and permanent. Everything on the internet keeps changing so fast, it will be nice to have something that stays solid and permanent for many years. You can be a part of that!” Alex Tew, 2005

The last 1,000 pixels were sold on January 1, 2006.

By then, the homepage had hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors. Alex put the last space on eBay due to high demand.

MillionDollarWeightLoss.com won the last pixels for $38,100, bringing revenue to $1,037,100 in 4 months.

Made in Canva

Many have tried to replicate this website's success. They've all failed.

This idea only worked because no one had seen this website before.

This winner won't be repeated, but it should inspire you to try something new and creative.

Still popular, you could buy one of the linked domains. You can't buy pixels, but you can buy an expired domain.

One link I clicked costs $59,888.

Screenshot from DomainMarket.com

You'd own a piece of internet history if you spent that much on a domain.

Someone bought stablesgallery.co.uk after the domain expired and restored it.

Many of the linked websites have expired or been redirected, but some still link to the original. I couldn't find sponge's website. Can you?

This is a great example of how a simple creative idea can go viral.

Comment on this amazing success story.

You might also like

Max Parasol

Max Parasol

2 years ago

What the hell is Web3 anyway?

"Web 3.0" is a trendy buzzword with a vague definition. Everyone agrees it has to do with a blockchain-based internet evolution, but what is it?

Yet, the meaning and prospects for Web3 have become hot topics in crypto communities. Big corporations use the term to gain a foothold in the space while avoiding the negative connotations of “crypto.”

But it can't be evaluated without a definition.

Among those criticizing Web3's vagueness is Cobie:

“Despite the dominie's deluge of undistinguished think pieces, nobody really agrees on what Web3 is. Web3 is a scam, the future, tokenizing the world, VC exit liquidity, or just another name for crypto, depending on your tribe.

“Even the crypto community is split on whether Bitcoin is Web3,” he adds.

The phrase was coined by an early crypto thinker, and the community has had years to figure out what it means. Many ideologies and commercial realities have driven reverse engineering.

Web3 is becoming clearer as a concept. It contains ideas. It was probably coined by Ethereum co-founder Gavin Wood in 2014. His definition of Web3 included “trustless transactions” as part of its tech stack. Wood founded the Web3 Foundation and the Polkadot network, a Web3 alternative future.

The 2013 Ethereum white paper had previously allowed devotees to imagine a DAO, for example.

Web3 now has concepts like decentralized autonomous organizations, sovereign digital identity, censorship-free data storage, and data divided by multiple servers. They intertwine discussions about the “Web3” movement and its viability.

These ideas are linked by Cobie's initial Web3 definition. A key component of Web3 should be “ownership of value” for one's own content and data.

Noting that “late-stage capitalism greedcorps that make you buy a fractionalized micropayment NFT on Cardano to operate your electric toothbrush” may build the new web, he notes that “crypto founders are too rich to care anymore.”

Very Important

Many critics of Web3 claim it isn't practical or achievable. Web3 critics like Moxie Marlinspike (creator of sslstrip and Signal/TextSecure) can never see people running their own servers. Early in January, he argued that protocols are more difficult to create than platforms.

While this is true, some projects, like the file storage protocol IPFS, allow users to choose which jurisdictions their data is shared between.

But full decentralization is a difficult problem. Suhaza, replying to Moxie, said:

”People don't want to run servers... Companies are now offering API access to an Ethereum node as a service... Almost all DApps interact with the blockchain using Infura or Alchemy. In fact, when a DApp uses a wallet like MetaMask to interact with the blockchain, MetaMask is just calling Infura!

So, here are the questions: Web3: Is it a go? Is it truly decentralized?

Web3 history is shaped by Web2 failure.

This is the story of how the Internet was turned upside down...

Then came the vision. Everyone can create content for free. Decentralized open-source believers like Tim Berners-Lee popularized it.

Real-world data trade-offs for content creation and pricing.

A giant Wikipedia page married to a giant Craig's List. No ads, no logins, and a private web carve-up. For free usage, you give up your privacy and data to the algorithmic targeted advertising of Web 2.

Our data is centralized and savaged by giant corporations. Data localization rules and geopolitical walls like China's Great Firewall further fragment the internet.

The decentralized Web3 reflects Berners-original Lee's vision: "No permission is required from a central authority to post anything... there is no central controlling node and thus no single point of failure." Now he runs Solid, a Web3 data storage startup.

So Web3 starts with decentralized servers and data privacy.

Web3 begins with decentralized storage.

Data decentralization is a key feature of the Web3 tech stack. Web2 has closed databases. Large corporations like Facebook, Google, and others go to great lengths to collect, control, and monetize data. We want to change it.

Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Alibaba, and Huawei, according to Gartner, currently control 80% of the global cloud infrastructure market. Web3 wants to change that.

Decentralization enlarges power structures by giving participants a stake in the network. Users own data on open encrypted networks in Web3. This area has many projects.

Apps like Filecoin and IPFS have led the way. Data is replicated across multiple nodes in Web3 storage providers like Filecoin.

But the new tech stack and ideology raise many questions.

Giving users control over their data

According to Ryan Kris, COO of Verida, his “Web3 vision” is “empowering people to control their own data.”

Verida targets SDKs that address issues in the Web3 stack: identity, messaging, personal storage, and data interoperability.

A big app suite? “Yes, but it's a frontier technology,” he says. They are currently building a credentialing system for decentralized health in Bermuda.

By empowering individuals, how will Web3 create a fairer internet? Kris, who has worked in telecoms, finance, cyber security, and blockchain consulting for decades, admits it is difficult:

“The viability of Web3 raises some good business questions,” he adds. “How can users regain control over centralized personal data? How are startups motivated to build products and tools that support this transition? How are existing Web2 companies encouraged to pivot to a Web3 business model to compete with market leaders?

Kris adds that new technologies have regulatory and practical issues:

"On storage, IPFS is great for redundantly sharing public data, but not designed for securing private personal data. It is not controlled by the users. When data storage in a specific country is not guaranteed, regulatory issues arise."

Each project has varying degrees of decentralization. The diehards say DApps that use centralized storage are no longer “Web3” companies. But fully decentralized technology is hard to build.

Web2.5?

Some argue that we're actually building Web2.5 businesses, which are crypto-native but not fully decentralized. This is vital. For example, the NFT may be on a blockchain, but it is linked to centralized data repositories like OpenSea. A server failure could result in data loss.

However, according to Apollo Capital crypto analyst David Angliss, OpenSea is “not exactly community-led”. Also in 2021, much to the chagrin of crypto enthusiasts, OpenSea tried and failed to list on the Nasdaq.

This is where Web2.5 is defined.

“Web3 isn't a crypto segment. “Anything that uses a blockchain for censorship resistance is Web3,” Angliss tells us.

“Web3 gives users control over their data and identity. This is not possible in Web2.”

“Web2 is like feudalism, with walled-off ecosystems ruled by a few. For example, an honest user owned the Instagram account “Meta,” which Facebook rebranded and then had to make up a reason to suspend. Not anymore with Web3. If I buy ‘Ethereum.ens,' Ethereum cannot take it away from me.”

Angliss uses OpenSea as a Web2.5 business example. Too decentralized, i.e. censorship resistant, can be unprofitable for a large company like OpenSea. For example, OpenSea “enables NFT trading”. But it also stopped the sale of stolen Bored Apes.”

Web3 (or Web2.5, depending on the context) has been described as a new way to privatize internet.

“Being in the crypto ecosystem doesn't make it Web3,” Angliss says. The biggest risk is centralized closed ecosystems rather than a growing Web3.

LooksRare and OpenDAO are two community-led platforms that are more decentralized than OpenSea. LooksRare has even been “vampire attacking” OpenSea, indicating a Web3 competitor to the Web2.5 NFT king could find favor.

The addition of a token gives these new NFT platforms more options for building customer loyalty. For example, OpenSea charges a fee that goes nowhere. Stakeholders of LOOKS tokens earn 100% of the trading fees charged by LooksRare on every basic sale.

Maybe Web3's time has come.

So whose data is it?

Continuing criticisms of Web3 platforms' decentralization may indicate we're too early. Users want to own and store their in-game assets and NFTs on decentralized platforms like the Metaverse and play-to-earn games. Start-ups like Arweave, Sia, and Aleph.im  propose an alternative.

To be truly decentralized, Web3 requires new off-chain models that sidestep cloud computing and Web2.5.

“Arweave and Sia emerged as formidable competitors this year,” says the Messari Report. They seek to reduce the risk of an NFT being lost due to a data breach on a centralized server.

Aleph.im, another Web3 cloud competitor, seeks to replace cloud computing with a service network. It is a decentralized computing network that supports multiple blockchains by retrieving and encrypting data.

“The Aleph.im network provides a truly decentralized alternative where it is most needed: storage and computing,” says Johnathan Schemoul, founder of Aleph.im. For reasons of consensus and security, blockchains are not designed for large storage or high-performance computing.

As a result, large data sets are frequently stored off-chain, increasing the risk for centralized databases like OpenSea

Aleph.im enables users to own digital assets using both blockchains and off-chain decentralized cloud technologies.

"We need to go beyond layer 0 and 1 to build a robust decentralized web. The Aleph.im ecosystem is proving that Web3 can be decentralized, and we intend to keep going.”

Aleph.im raised $10 million in mid-January 2022, and Ubisoft uses its network for NFT storage. This is the first time a big-budget gaming studio has given users this much control.

It also suggests Web3 could work as a B2B model, even if consumers aren't concerned about “decentralization.” Starting with gaming is common.

Can Tokenomics help Web3 adoption?

Web3 consumer adoption is another story. The average user may not be interested in all this decentralization talk. Still, how much do people value privacy over convenience? Can tokenomics solve the privacy vs. convenience dilemma?

Holon Global Investments' Jonathan Hooker tells us that human internet behavior will change. “Do you own Bitcoin?” he asks in his Web3 explanation. How does it feel to own and control your own sovereign wealth? Then:

“What if you could own and control your data like Bitcoin?”

“The business model must find what that person values,” he says. Putting their own health records on centralized systems they don't control?

“How vital are those medical records to that person at a critical time anywhere in the world? Filecoin and IPFS can help.”

Web3 adoption depends on NFT storage competition. A free off-chain storage of NFT metadata and assets was launched by Filecoin in April 2021.

Denationalization and blockchain technology have significant implications for data ownership and compensation for lending, staking, and using data. 

Tokenomics can change human behavior, but many people simply sign into Web2 apps using a Facebook API without hesitation. Our data is already owned by Google, Baidu, Tencent, and Facebook (and its parent company Meta). Is it too late to recover?

Maybe. “Data is like fruit, it starts out fresh but ages,” he says. "Big Tech's data on us will expire."

Web3 founder Kris agrees with Hooker that “value for data is the issue, not privacy.” People accept losing their data privacy, so tokenize it. People readily give up data, so why not pay for it?

"Personalized data offering is valuable in personalization. “I will sell my social media data but not my health data.”

Purists and mass consumer adoption struggle with key management.

Others question data tokenomics' optimism. While acknowledging its potential, Box founder Aaron Levie questioned the viability of Web3 models in a Tweet thread:

“Why? Because data almost always works in an app. A product and APIs that moved quickly to build value and trust over time.”

Levie contends that tokenomics may complicate matters. In addition to community governance and tokenomics, Web3 ideals likely add a new negotiation vector.

“These are hard problems about human coordination, not software or blockchains,”. Using a Facebook API is simple. The business model and user interface are crucial.

For example, the crypto faithful have a common misconception about logging into Web3. It goes like this: Web 1 had usernames and passwords. Web 2 uses Google, Facebook, or Twitter APIs, while Web 3 uses your wallet. Pay with Ethereum on MetaMask, for example.

But Levie is correct. Blockchain key management is stressed in this meme. Even seasoned crypto enthusiasts have heart attacks, let alone newbies.

Web3 requires a better user experience, according to Kris, the company's founder. “How does a user recover keys?”

And at this point, no solution is likely to be completely decentralized. So Web3 key management can be improved. ”The moment someone loses control of their keys, Web3 ceases to exist.”

That leaves a major issue for Web3 purists. Put this one in the too-hard basket.

Is 2022 the Year of Web3?

Web3 must first solve a number of issues before it can be mainstreamed. It must be better and cheaper than Web2.5, or have other significant advantages.

Web3 aims for scalability without sacrificing decentralization protocols. But decentralization is difficult and centralized services are more convenient.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin himself stated recently"

This is why (centralized) Binance to Binance transactions trump Ethereum payments in some places because they don't have to be verified 12 times."

“I do think a lot of people care about decentralization, but they're not going to take decentralization if decentralization costs $8 per transaction,” he continued.

“Blockchains need to be affordable for people to use them in mainstream applications... Not for 2014 whales, but for today's users."

For now, scalability, tokenomics, mainstream adoption, and decentralization believers seem to be holding Web3 hostage.

Much like crypto's past.

But stay tuned.

Onchain Wizard

Onchain Wizard

1 year ago

Three Arrows Capital  & Celsius Updates

I read 1k+ page 3AC liquidation documentation so you don't have to. Also sharing revised Celsius recovery plans.

3AC's liquidation documents:

Someone disclosed 3AC liquidation records in the BVI courts recently. I'll discuss the leak's timeline and other highlights.

Three Arrows Capital began trading traditional currencies in emerging markets in 2012. They switched to equities and crypto, then purely crypto in 2018.

By 2020, the firm had $703mm in net assets and $1.8bn in loans (these guys really like debt).

Three Arrows Capital statement of Assets and Liabilities

The firm's net assets under control reached $3bn in April 2022, according to the filings. 3AC had $600mm of LUNA/UST exposure before May 9th 2022, which put them over.

LUNA and UST go to zero quickly (I wrote about the mechanics of the blowup here). Kyle Davies, 3AC co-founder, told Blockchain.com on May 13 that they have $2.4bn in assets and $2.3bn NAV vs. $2bn in borrowings. As BTC and ETH plunged 33% and 50%, the company became insolvent by mid-2022.

Three Arrows Capital Assets Under Management letter, Net Assets Value

3AC sent $32mm to Tai Ping Shen, a Cayman Islands business owned by Su Zhu and Davies' partner, Kelly Kaili Chen (who knows what is going on here).

3AC had borrowed over $3.5bn in notional principle, with Genesis ($2.4bn) and Voyager ($650mm) having the most exposure.

Genesis demanded $355mm in further collateral in June.

Genesis Capital Margin Call to Three Arrows Capital

Deribit (another 3AC investment) called for $80 million in mid-June.

Three Arrows Capital main account overview

Even in mid-June, the corporation was trying to borrow more money to stay afloat. They approached Genesis for another $125mm loan (to pay another lender) and HODLnauts for BTC & ETH loans.

Pretty crazy. 3AC founders used borrowed money to buy a $50 million boat, according to the leak.

Su requesting for $5m + Chen Kaili Kelly asserting they loaned $65m unsecured to 3AC are identified as creditors.

Mr Zhu

Ms Chen Kaili Kelly

Celsius:

This bankruptcy presentation shows the Celsius breakdown from March to July 14, 2022. From $22bn to $4bn, crypto assets plummeted from $14.6bn to $1.8bn (ouch). $16.5bn in user liabilities dropped to $4.72bn.

Celcius Asset Snapshot

In my recent post, I examined if "forced selling" is over, with Celsius' crypto assets being a major overhang. In this presentation, it looks that Chapter 11 will provide clients the opportunity to accept cash at a discount or remain long crypto. Provided that a fresh source of money is unlikely to enter the Celsius situation, cash at a discount or crypto given to customers will likely remain a near-term market risk - cash at a discount will likely come from selling crypto assets, while customers who receive crypto could sell at any time. I'll share any Celsius updates I find.

Conclusion

Only Celsius and the Mt Gox BTC unlock remain as forced selling catalysts. While everything went through a "relief" pump, with ETH up 75% from the bottom and numerous alts multiples higher, there are still macro dangers to equities + risk assets. There's a lot of wealth waiting to be deployed in crypto ($153bn in stables), but fund managers are risk apprehensive (lower than 2008 levels).

Taking higher than normal risk levels

We're hopefully over crypto's "bottom," with peak anxiety and forced selling behind us, but we may chop around.


To see the full article, click here.

nft now

nft now

1 year ago

Instagram NFTs Are Here… How does this affect artists?

Instagram (IG) is officially joining NFT. With the debut of new in-app NFT functionalities, influential producers can interact with blockchain tech on the social media platform.

Meta unveiled intentions for an Instagram NFT marketplace in March, but these latest capabilities focus more on content sharing than commerce. And why shouldn’t they? IG's entry into the NFT market is overdue, given that Twitter and Discord are NFT hotspots.

The NFT marketplace/Web3 social media race has continued to expand, with the expected Coinbase NFT Beta now live and blazing a trail through the NFT ecosystem.

IG's focus is on visual art. It's unlike any NFT marketplace or platform. IG NFTs and artists: what's the deal? Let’s take a look.

What are Instagram’s NFT features anyways?

As said, not everyone has Instagram's new features. 16 artists, NFT makers, and collectors can now post NFTs on IG by integrating third-party digital wallets (like Rainbow or MetaMask) in-app. IG doesn't charge to publish or share digital collectibles.

NFTs displayed on the app have a "shimmer" aesthetic effect. NFT posts also have a "digital collectable" badge that lists metadata such as the creator and/or owner, the platform it was created on, a brief description, and a blockchain identification.

Meta's social media NFTs have launched on Instagram, but the company is also preparing to roll out digital collectibles on Facebook, with more on the way for IG. Currently, only Ethereum and Polygon are supported, but Flow and Solana will be added soon.

How will artists use these new features?

Artists are publishing NFTs they developed or own on IG by linking third-party digital wallets. These features have no NFT trading aspects built-in, but are aimed to let authors share NFTs with IG audiences.

Creators, like IG-native aerial/street photographer Natalie Amrossi (@misshattan), are discovering novel uses for IG NFTs.

Amrossi chose to not only upload his own NFTs but also encourage other artists in the field. "That's the beauty of connecting your wallet and sharing NFTs. It's not just what you make, but also what you accumulate."

Amrossi has been producing and posting Instagram art for years. With IG's NFT features, she can understand Instagram's importance in supporting artists.

Web2 offered Amrossi the tools to become an artist and make a life. "Before 'influencer' existed, I was just making art. Instagram helped me reach so many individuals and brands, giving me a living.

Even artists without millions of viewers are encouraged to share NFTs on IG. Wilson, a relatively new name in the NFT space, seems to have already gone above and beyond the scope of these new IG features. By releasing "Losing My Mind" via IG NFT posts, she has evaded the lack of IG NFT commerce by using her network to market her multi-piece collection.

"'Losing My Mind' is a long-running photo series. Wilson was preparing to release it as NFTs before IG approached him, so it was a perfect match.

Wilson says the series is about Black feminine figures and media depiction. Respectable effort, given POC artists have been underrepresented in NFT so far.

“Over the past year, I've had mental health concerns that made my emotions so severe it was impossible to function in daily life, therefore that prompted this photo series. Every Wednesday and Friday for three weeks, I'll release a new Meta photo for sale.

Wilson hopes these new IG capabilities will help develop a connection between the NFT community and other internet subcultures that thrive on Instagram.

“NFTs can look scary as an outsider, but seeing them on your daily IG feed makes it less foreign,” adds Wilson. I think Instagram might become a hub for NFT aficionados, making them more accessible to artists and collectors.

What does it all mean for the NFT space?

Meta's NFT and metaverse activities will continue to impact Instagram's NFT ecosystem. Many think it will be for the better, as IG NFT frauds are another problem hurting the NFT industry.

IG's new NFT features seem similar to Twitter's PFP NFT verifications, but Instagram's tools should help cut down on scams as users can now verify the creation and ownership of whole NFT collections included in IG posts.

Given the number of visual artists and NFT creators on IG, it might become another hub for NFT fans, as Wilson noted. If this happens, it raises questions about Instagram success. Will artists be incentivized to distribute NFTs? Or will those with a large fanbase dominate?

Elise Swopes (@swopes) believes these new features should benefit smaller artists. Swopes was one of the first profiles placed to Instagram's original suggested user list in 2012.

Swopes says she wants IG to be a magnet for discovery and understands the value of NFT artists and producers.

"I'd love to see IG become a focus of discovery for everyone, not just the Beeples and Apes and PFPs. That's terrific for them, but [IG NFT features] are more about using new technology to promote emerging artists, Swopes added.

“Especially music artists. It's everywhere. Dancers, writers, painters, sculptors, musicians. My element isn't just for digital artists; it can be anything. I'm delighted to witness people's creativity."

Swopes, Wilson, and Amrossi all believe IG's new features can help smaller artists. It remains to be seen how these new features will effect the NFT ecosystem once unlocked for the rest of the IG NFT community, but we will likely see more social media NFT integrations in the months and years ahead.

Read the full article here