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SAHIL SAPRU

SAHIL SAPRU

1 year ago

How I grew my business to a $5 million annual recurring revenue

More on Entrepreneurship/Creators

Jenn Leach

Jenn Leach

1 year ago

What TikTok Paid Me in 2021 with 100,000 Followers

Photo by Catherina Schürmann on Unsplash

I thought it would be interesting to share how much TikTok paid me in 2021.

Onward!

Oh, you get paid by TikTok?

Yes.

They compensate thousands of creators. My Tik Tok account

Tik Tok

I launched my account in March 2020 and generally post about money, finance, and side hustles.

TikTok creators are paid in several ways.

  • Fund for TikTok creators

  • Sponsorships (aka brand deals)

  • Affiliate promotion

  • My own creations

Only one, the TikTok Creator Fund, pays me.

The TikTok Creator Fund: What Is It?

TikTok's initiative pays creators.

YouTube's Shorts Fund, Snapchat Spotlight, and other platforms have similar programs.

Creator Fund doesn't pay everyone. Some prerequisites are:

  • age requirement of at least 18 years

  • In the past 30 days, there must have been 100,000 views.

  • a minimum of 10,000 followers

If you qualify, you can apply using your TikTok account, and once accepted, your videos can earn money.

My earnings from the TikTok Creator Fund

Since 2020, I've made $273.65. My 2021 payment is $77.36.

Yikes!

I made between $4.91 to around $13 payout each time I got paid.

TikTok reportedly pays 3 to 5 cents per thousand views.

To live off the Creator Fund, you'd need billions of monthly views.

Top personal finance creator Sara Finance has millions (if not billions) of views and over 700,000 followers yet only received $3,000 from the TikTok Creator Fund.

Goals for 2022

TikTok pays me in different ways, as listed above.

My largest TikTok account isn't my only one.

In 2022, I'll revamp my channel.

It's been a tumultuous year on TikTok for my account, from getting shadow-banned to being banned from the Creator Fund to being accepted back (not at my wish).

What I've experienced isn't rare. I've read about other creators' experiences.

So, some quick goals for this account…

  • 200,000 fans by the year 2023

  • Consistent monthly income of $5,000

  • two brand deals each month

For now, that's all.

Bastian Hasslinger

Bastian Hasslinger

1 year ago

Before 2021, most startups had excessive valuations. It is currently causing issues.

Higher startup valuations are often favorable for all parties. High valuations show a business's potential. New customers and talent are attracted. They earn respect.

Everyone benefits if a company's valuation rises.

Founders and investors have always been incentivized to overestimate a company's value.

Post-money valuations were inflated by 2021 market expectations and the valuation model's mechanisms.

Founders must understand both levers to handle a normalizing market.

2021, the year of miracles

2021 must've seemed miraculous to entrepreneurs, employees, and VCs. Valuations rose, and funding resumed after the first Covid-19 epidemic caution.

In 2021, VC investments increased from $335B to $643B. 518 new worldwide unicorns vs. 134 in 2020; 951 US IPOs vs. 431.

Things can change quickly, as 2020-21 showed.

Rising interest rates, geopolitical developments, and normalizing technology conditions drive down share prices and tech company market caps in 2022. Zoom, the poster-child of early lockdown success, is down 37% since 1st Jan.

Once-inflated valuations can become a problem in a normalizing market, especially for founders, employees, and early investors.

the reason why startups are always overvalued

To see why inflated valuations are a problem, consider one of its causes.

Private company values only fluctuate following a new investment round, unlike publicly-traded corporations. The startup's new value is calculated simply:

(Latest round share price) x (total number of company shares)

This is the industry standard Post-Money Valuation model.

Let’s illustrate how it works with an example. If a VC invests $10M for 1M shares (at $10/share), and the company has 10M shares after the round, its Post-Money Valuation is $100M (10/share x 10M shares).

This approach might seem like the most natural way to assess a business, but the model often unintentionally overstates the underlying value of the company even if the share price paid by the investor is fair. All shares aren't equal.

New investors in a corporation will always try to minimize their downside risk, or the amount they lose if things go wrong. New investors will try to negotiate better terms and pay a premium.

How the value of a struggling SpaceX increased

SpaceX's 2008 Series D is an example. Despite the financial crisis and unsuccessful rocket launches, the company's Post-Money Valuation was 36% higher after the investment round. Why?

Series D SpaceX shares were protected. In case of liquidation, Series D investors were guaranteed a 2x return before other shareholders.

Due to downside protection, investors were willing to pay a higher price for this new share class.

The Post-Money Valuation model overpriced SpaceX because it viewed all the shares as equal (they weren't).

Why entrepreneurs, workers, and early investors stand to lose the most

Post-Money Valuation is an effective and sufficient method for assessing a startup's valuation, despite not taking share class disparities into consideration.

In a robust market, where the firm valuation will certainly expand with the next fundraising round or exit, the inflated value is of little significance.

Fairness endures. If a corporation leaves at a greater valuation, each stakeholder will receive a proportional distribution. (i.e., 5% of a $100M corporation yields $5M).

SpaceX's inherent overvaluation was never a problem. Had it been sold for less than its Post-Money Valuation, some shareholders, including founders, staff, and early investors, would have seen their ownership drop.

The unforgiving world of 2022

In 2022, founders, employees, and investors who benefited from inflated values will face below-valuation exits and down-rounds.

For them, 2021 will be a curse, not a blessing.

Some tech giants are worried. Klarna's valuation fell from $45B (Oct 21) to $30B (Jun 22), Canvas from $40B to $27B, and GoPuffs from $17B to $8.3B.

Shazam and Blue Apron have to exit or IPO at a cheaper price. Premium share classes are protected, while others receive less. The same goes for bankrupts.

Those who continue at lower valuations will lose reputation and talent. When their value declines by half, generous employee stock options become less enticing, and their ability to return anything is questioned.

What can we infer about the present situation?

Such techniques to enhance your company's value or stop a normalizing market are fiction.

The current situation is a painful reminder for entrepreneurs and a crucial lesson for future firms.

The devastating market fall of the previous six months has taught us one thing:

  1. Keep in mind that any valuation is speculative. Money Post A startup's valuation is a highly simplified approximation of its true value, particularly in the early phases when it lacks significant income or a cutting-edge product. It is merely a projection of the future and a hypothetical meter. Until it is achieved by an exit, a valuation is nothing more than a number on paper.

  2. Assume the value of your company is lower than it was in the past. Your previous valuation might not be accurate now due to substantial changes in the startup financing markets. There is little reason to think that your company's value will remain the same given the 50%+ decline in many newly listed IT companies. Recognize how the market situation is changing and use caution.

  3. Recognize the importance of the stake you hold. Each share class has a unique value that varies. Know the sort of share class you own and how additional contractual provisions affect the market value of your security. Frameworks have been provided by Metrick and Yasuda (Yale & UC) and Gornall and Strebulaev (Stanford) for comprehending the terms that affect investors' cash-flow rights upon withdrawal. As a result, you will be able to more accurately evaluate your firm and determine the worth of each share class.

  4. Be wary of approving excessively protective share terms.
    The trade-offs should be considered while negotiating subsequent rounds. Accepting punitive contractual terms could first seem like a smart option in order to uphold your inflated worth, but you should proceed with caution. Such provisions ALWAYS result in misaligned shareholders, with common shareholders (such as you and your staff) at the bottom of the list.

Sanjay Priyadarshi

Sanjay Priyadarshi

1 year ago

A 19-year-old dropped out of college to build a $2,300,000,000 company in 2 years.

His success was unforeseeable.

2014 saw Facebook's $2.3 billion purchase of Oculus VR.

19-year-old Palmer Luckey founded Oculus. He quit journalism school. His parents worried about his college dropout.

Facebook bought Oculus VR in less than 2 years.

Palmer Luckey started Anduril Industries. Palmer has raised $385 million with Anduril.

The Oculus journey began in a trailer

Palmer Luckey, 19, owned the trailer.

Luckey had his trailer customized. The trailer had all six of Luckey's screens. In the trailer's remaining area, Luckey conducted hardware tests.

At 16, he became obsessed with virtual reality. Virtual reality was rare at the time.

Luckey didn't know about VR when he started.

Previously, he liked "portabilizing" mods. Hacking ancient game consoles into handhelds.

In his city, fewer portabilizers actively traded.

Luckey started "ModRetro" for other portabilizers. Luckey was exposed to VR headsets online.

Luckey:

“Man, ModRetro days were the best.”

Palmer Luckey used VR headsets for three years. His design had 50 prototypes.

Luckey used to work at the Long Beach Sailing Center for minimum salary, servicing diesel engines and cleaning boats.

Luckey worked in a USC Institute for Creative Technologies mixed reality lab in July 2011. (ICT).

Luckey cleaned the lab, did reports, and helped other students with VR projects.

Luckey's lab job was dull.

Luckey chose to work in the lab because he wanted to engage with like-minded folks.

By 2012, Luckey had a prototype he hoped to share globally. He made cheaper headsets than others.

Luckey wanted to sell an easy-to-assemble virtual reality kit on Kickstarter.

He realized he needed a corporation to do these sales legally. He started looking for names. "Virtuality," "virtual," and "VR" are all taken.

Hence, Oculus.

If Luckey sold a hundred prototypes, he would be thrilled since it would boost his future possibilities.

John Carmack, legendary game designer

Carmack has liked sci-fi and fantasy since infancy.

Carmack loved imagining intricate gaming worlds.

His interest in programming and computer science grew with age.

He liked graphics. He liked how mismatching 0 and 1 might create new colors and visuals.

Carmack played computer games as a teen. He created Shadowforge in high school.

He founded Id software in 1991. When Carmack created id software, console games were the best-sellers.

Old computer games have weak graphics. John Carmack and id software developed "adaptive tile refresh."

This technique smoothed PC game scrolling. id software launched 3-D, Quake, and Doom using "adaptive tile refresh."

These games made John Carmack a gaming star. Later, he sold Id software to ZeniMax Media.

How Palmer Luckey met Carmack

In 2011, Carmack was thinking a lot about 3-D space and virtual reality.

He was underwhelmed by the greatest HMD on the market. Because of their flimsiness and latency.

His disappointment was partly due to the view (FOV). Best HMD had 40-degree field of view.

Poor. The best VR headset is useless with a 40-degree FOV.

Carmack intended to show the press Doom 3 in VR. He explored VR headsets and internet groups for this reason.

Carmack identified a VR enthusiast in the comments section of "LEEP on the Cheap." "PalmerTech" was the name.

Carmack approached PalmerTech about his prototype. He told Luckey about his VR demos, so he wanted to see his prototype.

Carmack got a Rift prototype. Here's his May 17 tweet.

John Carmack tweeted an evaluation of the Luckey prototype.

Dan Newell, a Valve engineer, and Mick Hocking, a Sony senior director, pre-ordered Oculus Rift prototypes with Carmack's help.

Everyone praised Luckey after Carmack demoed Rift.

Palmer Luckey received a job offer from Sony.

  • It was a full-time position at Sony Computer Europe.

  • He would run Sony’s R&D lab.

  • The salary would be $70k.

Who is Brendan Iribe?

Brendan Iribe started early with Startups. In 2004, he and Mike Antonov founded Scaleform.

Scaleform created high-performance middleware. This package allows 3D Flash games.

In 2011, Iribe sold Scaleform to Autodesk for $36 million.

How Brendan Iribe discovered Palmer Luckey.

Brendan Iribe's friend Laurent Scallie.

Laurent told Iribe about a potential opportunity.

Laurent promised Iribe VR will work this time. Laurent introduced Iribe to Luckey.

Iribe was doubtful after hearing Laurent's statements. He doubted Laurent's VR claims.

But since Laurent took the name John Carmack, Iribe thought he should look at Luckey Innovation. Iribe was hooked on virtual reality after reading Palmer Luckey stories.

He asked Scallie about Palmer Luckey.

Iribe convinced Luckey to start Oculus with him

First meeting between Palmer Luckey and Iribe.

The Iribe team wanted Luckey to feel comfortable.

Iribe sought to convince Luckey that launching a company was easy. Iribe told Luckey anyone could start a business.

Luckey told Iribe's staff he was homeschooled from childhood. Luckey took self-study courses.

Luckey had planned to launch a Kickstarter campaign and sell kits for his prototype. Many companies offered him jobs, nevertheless.

He's considering Sony's offer.

Iribe advised Luckey to stay independent and not join a firm. Iribe asked Luckey how he could raise his child better. No one sees your baby like you do?

Iribe's team pushed Luckey to stay independent and establish a software ecosystem around his device.

After conversing with Iribe, Luckey rejected every job offer and merger option.

Iribe convinced Luckey to provide an SDK for Oculus developers.

After a few months. Brendan Iribe co-founded Oculus with Palmer Luckey. Luckey trusted Iribe and his crew, so he started a corporation with him.

Crowdfunding

Brendan Iribe and Palmer Luckey launched a Kickstarter.

Gabe Newell endorsed Palmer's Kickstarter video.

Gabe Newell wants folks to trust Palmer Luckey since he's doing something fascinating and answering tough questions.

Mark Bolas and David Helgason backed Palmer Luckey's VR Kickstarter video.

Luckey introduced Oculus Rift during the Kickstarter campaign. He introduced virtual reality during press conferences.

Oculus' Kickstarter effort was a success. Palmer Luckey felt he could raise $250,000.

Oculus raised $2.4 million through Kickstarter. Palmer Luckey's virtual reality vision was well-received.

Mark Zuckerberg's Oculus discovery

Brendan Iribe and Palmer Luckey hired the right personnel after a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Oculus needs a lot of money for engineers and hardware. They needed investors' money.

Series A raised $16M.

Next, Andreessen Horowitz partner Brain Cho approached Iribe.

Cho told Iribe that Andreessen Horowitz could invest in Oculus Series B if the company solved motion sickness.

Mark Andreessen was Iribe's dream client.

Marc Andreessen and his partners gave Oculus $75 million.

Andreessen introduced Iribe to Zukerberg. Iribe and Zukerberg discussed the future of games and virtual reality by phone.

Facebook's Oculus demo

Iribe showed Zuckerberg Oculus.

Mark was hooked after using Oculus. The headset impressed him.

The whole Facebook crew who saw the demo said only one thing.

“Holy Crap!”

This surprised them all.

Mark Zuckerberg was impressed by the team's response. Mark Zuckerberg met the Oculus team five days after the demo.

First meeting Palmer Luckey.

Palmer Luckey is one of Mark's biggest supporters and loves Facebook.

Oculus Acquisition

Zuckerberg wanted Oculus.

Brendan Iribe had requested for $4 billion, but Mark wasn't interested.

Facebook bought Oculus for $2.3 billion after months of drama.

After selling his company, how does Palmer view money?

Palmer loves the freedom money gives him. Money frees him from small worries.

Money has allowed him to pursue things he wouldn't have otherwise.

“If I didn’t have money I wouldn’t have a collection of vintage military vehicles…You can have nice hobbies that keep you relaxed when you have money.”

He didn't start Oculus to generate money. His virtual reality passion spanned years.

He didn't have to lie about how virtual reality will transform everything until he needed funding.

The company's success was an unexpected bonus. He was merely passionate about a good cause.

After Oculus' $2.3 billion exit, what changed?

Palmer didn't mind being rich. He did similar things.

After Facebook bought Oculus, he moved to Silicon Valley and lived in a 12-person shared house due to high rents.

Palmer might have afforded a big mansion, but he prefers stability and doing things because he wants to, not because he has to.

“Taco Bell is never tasted so good as when you know you could afford to never eat taco bell again.”

Palmer's leadership shifted.

Palmer changed his leadership after selling Oculus.

When he launched his second company, he couldn't work on his passions.

“When you start a tech company you do it because you want to work on a technology, that is why you are interested in that space in the first place. As the company has grown, he has realized that if he is still doing optical design in the company it’s because he is being negligent about the hiring process.”

Once his startup grows, the founder's responsibilities shift. He must recruit better firm managers.

Recruiting talented people becomes the top priority. The founder must convince others of their influence.

A book that helped me write this:

The History of the Future: Oculus, Facebook, and the Revolution That Swept Virtual Reality — Blake Harris


*This post is a summary. Read the full article here.

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Jenn Leach

Jenn Leach

1 year ago

This clever Instagram marketing technique increased my sales to $30,000 per month.

No Paid Ads Required

Photo by Laura Chouette on Unsplash

I had an online store. After a year of running the company alongside my 9-to-5, I made enough to resign.

That day was amazing.

This Instagram marketing plan helped the store succeed.

How did I increase my sales to five figures a month without using any paid advertising?

I used customer event marketing.

I'm not sure this term exists. I invented it to describe what I was doing.

Instagram word-of-mouth, fan engagement, and interaction drove sales.

If a customer liked or disliked a product, the buzz would drive attention to the store.

I used customer-based events to increase engagement and store sales.

Success!

Here are the weekly Instagram customer events I coordinated while running my business:

  • Be the Buyer Days

  • Flash sales

  • Mystery boxes

Be the Buyer Days: How do they work?

Be the Buyer Days are exactly that.

You choose a day to share stock selections with social media followers.

This is an easy approach to engaging customers and getting fans enthusiastic about new releases.

First, pick a handful of items you’re considering ordering. I’d usually pick around 3 for Be the Buyer Day.

Then I'd poll the crowd on Instagram to vote on their favorites.

This was before Instagram stories, polls, and all the other cool features Instagram offers today. I think using these tools now would make this event even better.

I'd ask customers their favorite back then.

The growing comments excited customers.

Then I'd declare the winner, acquire the products, and start selling it.

How do flash sales work?

I mostly ran flash sales.

You choose a limited number of itemsdd for a few-hour sale.

We wanted most sales to result in sold-out items.

When an item sells out, it contributes to the sensation of scarcity and can inspire customers to visit your store to buy a comparable product, join your email list, become a fan, etc.

We hoped they'd act quickly.

I'd hold flash deals twice a week, which generated scarcity and boosted sales.

The store had a few thousand Instagram followers when I started flash deals.

Each flash sale item would make $400 to $600.

$400 x 3= $1,200

That's $1,200 on social media!

Twice a week, you'll make roughly $10K a month from Instagram.

$1,200/day x 8 events/month=$9,600

Flash sales did great.

We held weekly flash deals and sent social media and email reminders. That’s about it!

How are mystery boxes put together?

All you do is package a box of store products and sell it as a mystery box on TikTok or retail websites.

A $100 mystery box would cost $30.

You're discounting high-value boxes.

This is a clever approach to get rid of excess inventory and makes customers happy.

It worked!

Be the Buyer Days, flash deals, and mystery boxes helped build my company without paid advertisements.

All companies can use customer event marketing. Involving customers and providing an engaging environment can boost sales.

Try it!

Jack Shepherd

Jack Shepherd

1 year 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
Johnny Harris

Johnny Harris

2 years ago

The REAL Reason Putin is Invading Ukraine [video with transcript]

Transcript:

[Reporter] The Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Momentum is building for a war between Ukraine and Russia.
[Reporter] Tensions between Russia and the West
are growing rapidly.
[Reporter] President Biden considering deploying
thousands of troops to Eastern Europe.
There are now 100,000 troops
on the Eastern border of Ukraine.
Russia is setting up field hospitals on this border.
Like this is what preparation for war looks like.
A legitimate war.
Ukrainian troops are watching and waiting,
saying they are preparing for a fight.
The U.S. has ordered the families of embassy staff
to leave Ukraine.
Britain has sent all of their nonessential staff home.
And now the U.S. is sending tons of weapons and munitions
to Ukraine's army.
And we're even considering deploying
our own troops to the region.
I mean, this thing is heating up.
Meanwhile, Russia and the West have been in Geneva
and Brussels trying to talk it out,
and sort of getting nowhere.
The message is very clear.
Should Russia take further aggressive actions
against Ukraine the costs will be severe
and the consequences serious.
It's a scary, grim momentum that is unpredictable.
And the chances of miscalculation
and escalation are growing.

I want to explain what's going on here,
but I want to show you that this isn't just
typical geopolitical behavior.
Stuff that can just be explained on the map.
Instead, to understand why 100,000 troops are camped out
on Ukraine's Eastern border, ready for war,
you have to understand Russia
and how it's been cut down over the ages
from the Slavic empire that dominated this whole region
to then the Soviet Union,
which was defeated in the nineties.
And what you really have to understand here
is how that history is transposed
onto the brain of one man.
This guy, Vladimir Putin.
This is a story about regional domination
and struggles between big powers,
but really it's the story about
what Vladimir Putin really wants.
[Reporter] Russian troops moving swiftly
to take control of military bases in Crimea.
[Reporter] Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops
and a lot of military hardware
at the border with Ukraine.

Let's dive back in.
Okay. Let's get up to speed on what's happening here.
And I'm just going to quickly give you the highlight version
of like the news that's happening,
because I want to get into the juicy part,
which is like why, the roots of all of this.
So let's go.
A few months ago, Russia started sending
more and more troops to this border.
It's this massive border between Ukraine and Russia.
They said they were doing a military exercise,
but the rest of the world was like,
"Yeah, we totally believe you Russia. Pshaw."
This was right before this big meeting
where North American and European countries
were coming together to talk about a lot
of different things, like these countries often do
in these diplomatic summits.
But soon, because of Russia's aggressive behavior
coming in and setting up 100,000 troops
on the border with Ukraine,
the entire summit turned into a whole, "WTF Russia,
what are you doing on the border of Ukraine," meeting.
Before the meeting Putin comes out and says,
"Listen, I have some demands for the West."
And everyone's like, "Okay, Russia, what are your demands?
You know, we have like, COVID19 right now.
And like, that's like surging.

So like, we don't need your like,
bluster about what your demands are."
And Putin's like, "No, here's my list of demands."
Putin's demands for the summit were this:
number one, that NATO, which is this big military alliance
between U.S., Canada, and Europe stop expanding,
meaning they don't let any new members in, okay.
So, Russia is like, "No more new members to your, like,
cool military club that I don't like.
You can't have any more members."
Number two, that NATO withdraw all of their troops
from anywhere in Eastern Europe.
Basically Putin is saying,
"I can veto any military cooperation
or troops going between countries
that have to do with Eastern Europe,
the place that used to be the Soviet Union."
Okay, and number three, Putin demands that America vow
not to protect its allies in Eastern Europe
with nuclear weapons.
"LOL," said all of the other countries,
"You're literally nuts, Vladimir Putin.
Like these are the most ridiculous demands, ever."
But there he is, Putin, with these demands.
These very, very aggressive demands.
And he sort of is implying that if his demands aren't met,
he's going to invade Ukraine.
I mean, it doesn't work like this.
This is not how international relations work.
You don't just show up and say like,
"I'm not gonna allow other countries to join your alliance
because it makes me feel uncomfortable."
But what I love about this list of demands
from Vladimir Putin for this summit
is that it gives us a clue
on what Vladimir Putin really wants.

What he's after here.
You read them closely and you can grasp his intentions.
But to grasp those intentions
you have to understand what NATO is.
and what Russia and Ukraine used to be.
(dramatic music)
Okay, so a while back I made this video
about why Russia is so damn big,
where I explain how modern day Russia started here in Kiev,
which is actually modern day Ukraine.
In other words, modern day Russia, as we know it,
has its original roots in Ukraine.
These places grew up together
and they eventually became a part
of the same mega empire called the Soviet Union.
They were deeply intertwined,
not just in their history and their culture,
but also in their economy and their politics.
So it's after World War II,
it's like the '50s, '60s, '70s, and NATO was formed,
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
This was a military alliance between all of these countries,
that was meant to sort of deter the Soviet Union
from expanding and taking over the world.
But as we all know, the Soviet Union,
which was Russia and all of these other countries,
collapsed in 1991.
And all of these Soviet republics,
including Ukraine, became independent,
meaning they were not now a part
of one big block of countries anymore.
But just because the border's all split up,
it doesn't mean that these cultural ties actually broke.
Like for example, the Soviet leader at the time
of the collapse of the Soviet Union, this guy, Gorbachev,
he was the son of a Ukrainian mother and a Russian father.
Like he grew up with his mother singing him
Ukrainian folk songs.

In his mind, Ukraine and Russia were like one thing.
So there was a major reluctance to accept Ukraine
as a separate thing from Russia.
In so many ways, they are one.
There was another Russian at the time
who did not accept this new division.
This young intelligence officer, Vladimir Putin,
who was starting to rise up in the ranks
of postSoviet Russia.
There's this amazing quote from 2005
where Putin is giving this stateoftheunionlike address,
where Putin declares the collapse of the Soviet Union,
quote, "The greatest catastrophe of the 20th century.
And as for the Russian people, it became a genuine tragedy.
Tens of millions of fellow citizens and countrymen
found themselves beyond the fringes of Russian territory."
Do you see how he frames this?
The Soviet Union were all one people in his mind.
And after it collapsed, all of these people
who are a part of the motherland were now outside
of the fringes or the boundaries of Russian territory.
First off, fact check.
Greatest catastrophe of the 20th century?
Like, do you remember what else happened
in the 20th century, Vladimir?
(ominous music)

Putin's worry about the collapse of this one people
starts to get way worse when the West, his enemy,
starts showing up to his neighborhood
to all these exSoviet countries that are now independent.
The West starts selling their ideology
of democracy and capitalism and inviting them
to join their military alliance called NATO.
And guess what?
These countries are totally buying it.
All these exSoviet countries are now joining NATO.
And some of them, the EU.
And Putin is hating this.
He's like not only did the Soviet Union divide
and all of these people are now outside
of the Russia motherland,
but now they're being persuaded by the West
to join their military alliance.
This is terrible news.
Over the years, this continues to happen,
while Putin himself starts to chip away
at Russian institutions, making them weaker and weaker.
He's silencing his rivals
and he's consolidating power in himself.
(triumphant music)

And in the past few years,
he's effectively silenced anyone who can challenge him;
any institution, any court,
or any political rival have all been silenced.
It's been decades since the Soviet Union fell,
but as Putin gains more power,
he still sees the region through the lens
of the old Cold War, Soviet, Slavic empire view.
He sees this region as one big block
that has been torn apart by outside forces.
"The greatest catastrophe of the 20th century."
And the worst situation of all of these,
according to Putin, is Ukraine,
which was like the gem of the Soviet Union.
There was tons of cultural heritage.
Again, Russia sort of started in Ukraine,
not to mention it was a very populous
and industrious, resourcerich place.
And over the years Ukraine has been drifting west.
It hasn't joined NATO yet, but more and more,
it's been electing proWestern presidents.
It's been flirting with membership in NATO.
It's becoming less and less attached
to the Russian heritage that Putin so adores.
And more than half of Ukrainians say
that they'd be down to join the EU.
64% of them say that it would be cool joining NATO.
But Putin can't handle this. He is in total denial.
Like an exboyfriend who handle his exgirlfriend
starting to date someone else,
Putin can't let Ukraine go.
He won't let go.

So for the past decade,
he's been trying to keep the West out
and bring Ukraine back into the motherland of Russia.
This usually takes the form of Putin sending
secret soldiers from Russia into Ukraine
to help the people in Ukraine who want to like separate
from Ukraine and join Russia.
It also takes the form of, oh yeah,
stealing entire parts of Ukraine for Russia.
Russian troops moving swiftly to take control
of military bases in Crimea.
Like in 2014, Putin just did this.
To what America is officially calling
a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
He went down and just snatched this bit of Ukraine
and folded it into Russia.
So you're starting to see what's going on here.
Putin's life's work is to salvage what he calls
the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century,
the division and the separation
of the Soviet republics from Russia.
So let's get to present day. It's 2022.
Putin is at it again.
And honestly, if you really want to understand
the mind of Vladimir Putin and his whole view on this,
you have to read this.
"On the History of Unity of Russians and Ukrainians,"
by Vladimir Putin.
A blog post that kind of sounds
like a ninth grade history essay.
In this essay, Vladimir Putin argues
that Russia and Ukraine are one people.
He calls them essentially the same historical
and spiritual space.

Kind of beautiful writing, honestly.
Anyway, he argues that the division
between the two countries is due to quote,
"a deliberate effort by those forces
that have always sought to undermine our unity."
And that the formula they use, these outside forces,
is a classic one: divide and rule.
And then he launches into this super indepth,
like 10page argument, as to every single historical beat
of Ukraine and Russia's history
to make this argument that like,
this is one people and the division is totally because
of outside powers, i.e. the West.
Okay, but listen, there's this moment
at the end of the post,
that actually kind of hit me in a big way.
He says this, "Just have a look at Austria and Germany,
or the U.S. and Canada, how they live next to each other.
Close in ethnic composition, culture,
and in fact, sharing one language,
they remain sovereign states with their own interests,
with their own foreign policy.
But this does not prevent them
from the closest integration or allied relations.
They have very conditional, transparent borders.
And when crossing them citizens feel at home.
They create families, study, work, do business.
Incidentally, so do millions of those born in Ukraine
who now live in Russia.
We see them as our own close people."
I mean, listen, like,
I'm not in support of what Putin is doing,
but like that, it's like a pretty solid like analogy.
If China suddenly showed up and started like
coaxing Canada into being a part of its alliance,
I would be a little bit like, "What's going on here?"
That's what Putin feels.
And so I kind of get what he means there.
There's a deep heritage and connection between these people.
And he's seen that falter and dissolve
and he doesn't like it.
He clearly genuinely feels a brotherhood
and this deep heritage connection
with the people of Ukraine.
Okay, okay, okay, okay. Putin, I get it.
Your essay is compelling there at the end.
You're clearly very smart and wellread.
But this does not justify what you've been up to. Okay?
It doesn't justify sending 100,000 troops to the border
or sending cyber soldiers to sabotage
the Ukrainian government, or annexing territory,
fueling a conflict that has killed
tens of thousands of people in Eastern Ukraine.
No. Okay.

No matter how much affection you feel for Ukrainian heritage
and its connection to Russia, this is not okay.
Again, it's like the boyfriend
who genuinely loves his girlfriend.
They had a great relationship,
but they broke up and she's free to see whomever she wants.
But Putin is not ready to let go.
[Man In Blue Shirt] What the hell's wrong with you?
I love you, Jessica.
What the hell is wrong with you?
Dude, don't fucking touch me.
I love you. Worldstar!
What is wrong with you? Just stop!
Putin has constructed his own reality here.
One in which Ukraine is actually being controlled
by shadowy Western forces
who are holding the people of Ukraine hostage.
And if that he invades, it will be a swift victory
because Ukrainians will accept him with open arms.
The great liberator.
(triumphant music)

Like, this guy's a total romantic.
He's a history buff and a romantic.
And he has a hill to die on here.
And it is liberating the people
who have been taken from the Russian motherland.
Kind of like the abusive boyfriend, who's like,
"She actually really loves me,
but it's her annoying friends
who were planting all these ideas in her head.
That's why she broke up with me."
And it's like, "No, dude, she's over you."
[Man In Blue Shirt] What the hell is wrong with you?
I love you, Jessica.
I mean, maybe this video should be called
Putin is just like your abusive exboyfriend.
[Man In Blue Shirt] What the hell is wrong with you?
I love you, Jessica!
Worldstar! What's wrong with you?
Okay. So where does this leave us?
It's 2022, Putin is showing up to these meetings in Europe
to tell them where he stands.
He says, "NATO, you cannot expand anymore. No new members.
And you need to withdraw all your troops
from Eastern Europe, my neighborhood."
He knows these demands will never be accepted
because they're ludicrous.
But what he's doing is showing a false effort to say,
"Well, we tried to negotiate with the West,
but they didn't want to."
Hence giving a little bit more justification
to a Russian invasion.
So will Russia invade? Is there war coming?
Maybe; it's impossible to know
because it's all inside of the head of this guy.
But, if I were to make the best argument
that war is not coming tomorrow,
I would look at a few things.
Number one, war in Ukraine would be incredibly costly
for Vladimir Putin.
Russia has a far superior army to Ukraine's,
but still, Ukraine has a very good army
that is supported by the West
and would give Putin a pretty bad bloody nose
in any invasion.

Controlling territory in Ukraine would be very hard.
Ukraine is a giant country.
They would fight back and it would be very hard
to actually conquer and take over territory.
Another major point here is that if Russia invades Ukraine,
this gives NATO new purpose.
If you remember, NATO was created because of the Cold War,
because the Soviet Union was big and nuclear powered.
Once the Soviet Union fell,
NATO sort of has been looking for a new purpose
over the past couple of decades.
If Russia invades Ukraine,
NATO suddenly has a brand new purpose to unite
and to invest in becoming more powerful than ever.
Putin knows that.
And it would be very bad news for him if that happened.
But most importantly, perhaps the easiest clue
for me to believe that war isn't coming tomorrow
is the Russian propaganda machine
is not preparing the Russian people for an invasion.
In 2014, when Russia was about to invade
and take over Crimea, this part of Ukraine,
there was a barrage of state propaganda
that prepared the Russian people
that this was a justified attack.
So when it happened, it wasn't a surprise
and it felt very normal.

That isn't happening right now in Russia.
At least for now. It may start happening tomorrow.
But for now, I think Putin is showing up to the border,
flexing his muscles and showing the West that he is earnest.
I'm not sure that he's going to invade tomorrow,
but he very well could.
I mean, read the guy's blog post
and you'll realize that he is a romantic about this.
He is incredibly idealistic about the glory days
of the Slavic empires, and he wants to get it back.
So there is dangerous momentum towards war.
And the way war works is even a small little, like, fight,
can turn into the other guy
doing something bigger and crazier.
And then the other person has to respond
with something a little bit bigger.
That's called escalation.
And there's not really a ceiling
to how much that momentum can spin out of control.
That is why it's so scary when two nuclear countries
go to war with each other,
because there's kind of no ceiling.
So yeah, it's dangerous. This is scary.
I'm not sure what happens next here,
but the best we can do is keep an eye on this.
At least for now, we better understand
what Putin really wants out of all of this.

Thanks for watching.