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Scott Hickmann

Scott Hickmann

2 years ago

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joyce shen

joyce shen

2 years ago

Framework to Evaluate Metaverse and Web3

Everywhere we turn, there's a new metaverse or Web3 debut. Microsoft recently announced a $68.7 BILLION cash purchase of Activision.

Like AI in 2013 and blockchain in 2014, NFT growth in 2021 feels like this year's metaverse and Web3 growth. We are all bombarded with information, conflicting signals, and a sensation of FOMO.

How can we evaluate the metaverse and Web3 in a noisy, new world? My framework for evaluating upcoming technologies and themes is shown below. I hope you will also find them helpful.

Understand the “pipes” in a new space. 

Whatever people say, Metaverse and Web3 will have to coexist with the current Internet. Companies who host, move, and store data over the Internet have a lot of intriguing use cases in Metaverse and Web3, whether in infrastructure, data analytics, or compliance. Hence the following point.

## Understand the apps layer and their infrastructure.

Gaming, crypto exchanges, and NFT marketplaces would not exist today if not for technology that enables rapid app creation. Yes, according to Chainalysis and other research, 30–40% of Ethereum is self-hosted, with the rest hosted by large cloud providers. For Microsoft to acquire Activision makes strategic sense. It's not only about the games, but also the infrastructure that supports them.

Follow the money

Understanding how money and wealth flow in a complex and dynamic environment helps build clarity. Unless you are exceedingly wealthy, you have limited ability to significantly engage in the Web3 economy today. Few can just buy 10 ETH and spend it in one day. You must comprehend who benefits from the process, and how that 10 ETH circulates now and possibly tomorrow. Major holders and players control supply and liquidity in any market. Today, most Web3 apps are designed to increase capital inflow so existing significant holders can utilize it to create a nascent Web3 economy. When you see a new Metaverse or Web3 application, remember how money flows.

What is the use case? 

What does the app do? If there is no clear use case with clear makers and consumers solving a real problem, then the euphoria soon fades, and the only stakeholders who remain enthused are those who have too much to lose.

Time is a major competition that is often overlooked.

We're only busier, but each day is still 24 hours. Using new apps may mean that time is lost doing other things. The user must be eager to learn. Metaverse and Web3 vs. our time?  I don't think we know the answer yet (at least for working adults whose cost of time is higher).
I don't think we know the answer yet (at least for working adults whose cost of time is higher).

People and organizations need security and transparency.

For new technologies or apps to be widely used, they must be safe, transparent, and trustworthy. What does secure Metaverse and Web3 mean? This is an intriguing subject for both the business and public sectors. Cloud adoption grew in part due to improved security and data protection regulations.

 The following frameworks can help analyze and understand new technologies and emerging technological topics, unless you are a significant investment fund with the financial ability to gamble on numerous initiatives and essentially form your own “index fund”.

I write on VC, startups, and leadership.

More on https://www.linkedin.com/in/joycejshen/ and https://joyceshen.substack.com/

This writing is my own opinion and does not represent investment advice.

Ajay Shrestha

Ajay Shrestha

1 year ago

Bitcoin's technical innovation: addressing the issue of the Byzantine generals

The 2008 Bitcoin white paper solves the classic computer science consensus problem.

Figure 1: Illustration of the Byzantine Generals problem by Lord Belbury, CC BY-SA 4.0 / Source

Issue Statement

The Byzantine Generals Problem (BGP) is called after an allegory in which several generals must collaborate and attack a city at the same time to win (figure 1-left). Any general who retreats at the last minute loses the fight (figure 1-right). Thus, precise messengers and no rogue generals are essential. This is difficult without a trusted central authority.

In their 1982 publication, Leslie Lamport, Robert Shostak, and Marshall Please termed this topic the Byzantine Generals Problem to simplify distributed computer systems.

Consensus in a distributed computer network is the issue. Reaching a consensus on which systems work (and stay in the network) and which don't makes maintaining a network tough (i.e., needs to be removed from network). Challenges include unreliable communication routes between systems and mis-reporting systems.

Solving BGP can let us construct machine learning solutions without single points of failure or trusted central entities. One server hosts model parameters while numerous workers train the model. This study describes fault-tolerant Distributed Byzantine Machine Learning.

Bitcoin invented a mechanism for a distributed network of nodes to agree on which transactions should go into the distributed ledger (blockchain) without a trusted central body. It solved BGP implementation. Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous bitcoin creator, solved the challenge by cleverly combining cryptography and consensus mechanisms.

Disclaimer

This is not financial advice. It discusses a unique computer science solution.

Bitcoin

Bitcoin's white paper begins:

“A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” Source: https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/training/annual-national-training-seminar/2018/Emerging_Tech_Bitcoin_Crypto.pdf

Bitcoin's main parts:

  1. The open-source and versioned bitcoin software that governs how nodes, miners, and the bitcoin token operate.

  2. The native kind of token, known as a bitcoin token, may be created by mining (up to 21 million can be created), and it can be transferred between wallet addresses in the bitcoin network.

  3. Distributed Ledger, which contains exact copies of the database (or "blockchain") containing each transaction since the first one in January 2009.

  4. distributed network of nodes (computers) running the distributed ledger replica together with the bitcoin software. They broadcast the transactions to other peer nodes after validating and accepting them.

  5. Proof of work (PoW) is a cryptographic requirement that must be met in order for a miner to be granted permission to add a new block of transactions to the blockchain of the cryptocurrency bitcoin. It takes the form of a valid hash digest. In order to produce new blocks on average every 10 minutes, Bitcoin features a built-in difficulty adjustment function that modifies the valid hash requirement (length of nonce). PoW requires a lot of energy since it must continually generate new hashes at random until it satisfies the criteria.

  6. The competing parties known as miners carry out continuous computing processing to address recurrent cryptography issues. Transaction fees and some freshly minted (mined) bitcoin are the rewards they receive. The amount of hashes produced each second—or hash rate—is a measure of mining capacity.

Cryptography, decentralization, and the proof-of-work consensus method are Bitcoin's most unique features.

Bitcoin uses encryption

Bitcoin employs this established cryptography.

  1. Hashing

  2. digital signatures based on asymmetric encryption

Hashing (SHA-256) (SHA-256)

Figure 2: SHA-256 Hash operation on Block Header’s Hash + nonce

Hashing converts unique plaintext data into a digest. Creating the plaintext from the digest is impossible. Bitcoin miners generate new hashes using SHA-256 to win block rewards.

A new hash is created from the current block header and a variable value called nonce. To achieve the required hash, mining involves altering the nonce and re-hashing.

The block header contains the previous block hash and a Merkle root, which contains hashes of all transactions in the block. Thus, a chain of blocks with increasing hashes links back to the first block. Hashing protects new transactions and makes the bitcoin blockchain immutable. After a transaction block is mined, it becomes hard to fabricate even a little entry.

Asymmetric Cryptography Digital Signatures

Figure 3: Transaction signing and verifying process with asymmetric encryption and hashing operations

Asymmetric cryptography (public-key encryption) requires each side to have a secret and public key. Public keys (wallet addresses) can be shared with the transaction party, but private keys should not. A message (e.g., bitcoin payment record) can only be signed by the owner (sender) with the private key, but any node or anybody with access to the public key (visible in the blockchain) can verify it. Alex will submit a digitally signed transaction with a desired amount of bitcoin addressed to Bob's wallet to a node to send bitcoin to Bob. Alex alone has the secret keys to authorize that amount. Alex's blockchain public key allows anyone to verify the transaction.

Solution

Now, apply bitcoin to BGP. BGP generals resemble bitcoin nodes. The generals' consensus is like bitcoin nodes' blockchain block selection. Bitcoin software on all nodes can:

Check transactions (i.e., validate digital signatures)

2. Accept and propagate just the first miner to receive the valid hash and verify it accomplished the task. The only way to guess the proper hash is to brute force it by repeatedly producing one with the fixed/current block header and a fresh nonce value.

Thus, PoW and a dispersed network of nodes that accept blocks from miners that solve the unfalsifiable cryptographic challenge solve consensus.

Suppose:

  1. Unreliable nodes

  2. Unreliable miners

Bitcoin accepts the longest chain if rogue nodes cause divergence in accepted blocks. Thus, rogue nodes must outnumber honest nodes in accepting/forming the longer chain for invalid transactions to reach the blockchain. As of November 2022, 7000 coordinated rogue nodes are needed to takeover the bitcoin network.

Dishonest miners could also try to insert blocks with falsified transactions (double spend, reverse, censor, etc.) into the chain. This requires over 50% (51% attack) of miners (total computational power) to outguess the hash and attack the network. Mining hash rate exceeds 200 million (source). Rewards and transaction fees encourage miners to cooperate rather than attack. Quantum computers may become a threat.

Visit my Quantum Computing post.

Quantum computers—what are they? Quantum computers will have a big influence. towardsdatascience.com

Nodes have more power than miners since they can validate transactions and reject fake blocks. Thus, the network is secure if honest nodes are the majority.

Summary

Table 1 compares three Byzantine Generals Problem implementations.

Table 1: Comparison of Byzantine Generals Problem implementations

Bitcoin white paper and implementation solved the consensus challenge of distributed systems without central governance. It solved the illusive Byzantine Generals Problem.

Resources

Resources

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_fault

  2. Source-code for Bitcoin Core Software — https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin

  3. Bitcoin white paper — https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf

  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bitcoin

  5. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/publication/byzantine-generals-problem/

  6. https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/research/uploads/prod/2016/12/The-Byzantine-Generals-Problem.pdf

  7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hash_function

  8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merkle_tree

  9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHA-2

  10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public-key_cryptography

  11. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_signature

  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proof_of_work

  13. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_cryptography

  14. https://dci.mit.edu/bitcoin-security-initiative

  15. https://dci.mit.edu/51-attacks

  16. Genuinely Distributed Byzantine Machine LearningEl-Mahdi El-Mhamdi et al., 2020. ACM, New York, NY, https://doi.org/10.1145/3382734.3405695

Max Parasol

Max Parasol

2 years ago

Are DAOs the future or just a passing fad?

How do you DAO? Can DAOs scale?

DAO: Decentralized Autonomous. Organization.

“The whole phrase is a misnomer. They're not decentralized, autonomous, or organizations,” says Monsterplay blockchain consultant David Freuden.

As part of the DAO initiative, Freuden coauthored a 51-page report in May 2020. “We need DAOs,” he says. “‘Shareholder first' is a 1980s/90s concept. Profits became the focus, not products.”

His predictions for DAOs have come true nearly two years later. DAOs had over 1.6 million participants by the end of 2021, up from 13,000 at the start of the year. Wyoming, in the US, will recognize DAOs and the Marshall Islands in 2021. Australia may follow that example in 2022.

But what is a DAO?

Members buy (or are rewarded with) governance tokens to vote on how the DAO operates and spends its money. “DeFi spawned DAOs as an investment vehicle. So a DAO is tokenomics,” says Freuden.

DAOs are usually built around a promise or a social cause, but they still want to make money. “If you can't explain why, the DAO will fail,” he says. “A co-op without tokenomics is not a DAO.”

Operating system DAOs, protocol DAOs, investment DAOs, grant DAOs, service DAOs, social DAOs, collector DAOs, and media DAOs are now available.

Freuden liked the idea of people rallying around a good cause. Speculators and builders make up the crypto world, so it needs a DAO for them.

,Speculators and builders, or both, have mismatched expectations, causing endless, but sometimes creative friction.

Organisms that boost output

Launching a DAO with an original product such as a cryptocurrency, an IT protocol or a VC-like investment fund like FlamingoDAO is common. DAOs enable distributed open-source contributions without borders. The goal is vital. Sometimes, after a product is launched, DAOs emerge, leaving the company to eventually transition to a DAO, as Uniswap did.

Doing things together is a DAO. So it's a way to reward a distributed workforce. DAOs are essentially productivity coordination organisms.

“Those who work for the DAO make permissionless contributions and benefit from fragmented employment,” argues Freuden. DAOs are, first and foremost, a new form of cooperation.

DAO? Distributed not decentralized

In decentralized autonomous organizations, words have multiple meanings. DAOs can emphasize one aspect over another. Autonomy is a trade-off for decentralization.

DAOstack CEO Matan Field says a DAO is a distributed governance system. Power is shared. However, there are two ways to understand a DAO's decentralized nature. This clarifies the various DAO definitions.

A decentralized infrastructure allows a DAO to be decentralized. It could be created on a public permissionless blockchain to prevent a takeover.

As opposed to a company run by executives or shareholders, a DAO is distributed. Its leadership does not wield power

Option two is clearly distributed.

But not all of this is “automated.”

Think quorum, not robot.

DAOs can be autonomous in the sense that smart contracts are self-enforcing and self-executing. So every blockchain transaction is a simplified smart contract.


Dao landscape

The DAO landscape is evolving.

Consider how Ethereum's smart contracts work. They are more like self-executing computer code, which Vitalik Buterin calls “persistent scripts”.

However, a DAO is self-enforcing once its members agree on its rules. As such, a DAO is “automated upon approval by the governance committee.” This distinguishes them from traditional organizations whose rules must be interpreted and applied.

Why a DAO? They move fast

A DAO can quickly adapt to local conditions as a governance mechanism. It's a collaborative decision-making tool.

Like UkraineDAO, created in response to Putin's invasion of Ukraine by Ukrainian expat Alona Shevchenko, Nadya Tolokonnikova, Trippy Labs, and PleasrDAO. The DAO sought to support Ukrainian charities by selling Ukrainian flag NFTs. With a single mission, a DAO can quickly raise funds for a country accepting crypto where banks are distrusted.

This could be a watershed moment for DAOs.

ConstitutionDAO was another clever use case for DAOs for Freuden. In a failed but “beautiful experiment in a single-purpose DAO,” ConstitutionDAO tried to buy a copy of the US Constitution from a Sotheby's auction. In November 2021, ConstitutionDAO raised $47 million from 19,000 people, but a hedge fund manager outbid them.

Contributions were returned or lost if transactional gas fees were too high. The ConstitutionDAO, as a “beautiful experiment,” proved exceptionally fast at organizing and crowdsourcing funds for a specific purpose.

We may soon be applauding UkraineDAO's geopolitical success in support of the DAO concept.

Some of the best use cases for DAOs today, according to Adam Miller, founder of DAOplatform.io and MIDAO Directory Services, involve DAO structures.

That is, a “flat community is vital.” Prototyping by the crowd is a good example.  To succeed,  members must be enthusiastic about DAOs as an alternative to starting a company. Because DAOs require some hierarchy, he agrees that "distributed is a better acronym."

Miller sees DAOs as a “new way of organizing people and resources.” He started DAOplatform.io, a DAO tooling advisery that is currently transitioning to a DAO due to the “woeful tech options for running a DAO,” which he says mainly comprises of just “multisig admin keys and a voting system.” So today he's advising on DAO tech stacks.

Miller identifies three key elements.

Tokenization is a common method and tool. Second, governance mechanisms connected to the DAO's treasury. Lastly, community.”

How a DAO works...

They can be more than glorified Discord groups if they have a clear mission. This mission is a mix of financial speculation and utopianism. The spectrum is vast.

The founder of Dash left the cryptocurrency project in 2017. It's the story of a prophet without an heir. So creating a global tokenized evangelical missionary community via a DAO made sense.

Evan Duffield, a “libertarian/anarchist” visionary, forked Bitcoin in January 2014 to make it instant and essentially free. He went away for a while, and DASH became a DAO.

200,000 US retailers, including Walmart and Barnes & Noble, now accept Dash as payment. This payment system works like a gift card.

Arden Goldstein, Dash's head of crypto, DAO, and blockchain marketing, claims Dash is the “first successful DAO.” It was founded in 2016 and disbanded after a hack, an Ethereum hard fork and much controversy. But what are the success metrics?

Crypto success is measured differently, says Goldstein. To achieve common goals, people must participate or be motivated in a healthy DAO. People are motivated to complete tasks in a successful DAO. And, crucially, when tasks get completed.

“Yes or no, 1 or 0, voting is not a new idea. The challenge is getting people to continue to participate and keep building a community.” A DAO motivates volunteers: Nothing keeps people from building. The DAO “philosophy is old news. You need skin in the game to play.”

MasterNodes must stake 1000 Dash. Those members are rewarded with DASH for marketing (and other tasks). It uses an outsourced team to onboard new users globally.

Joining a DAO is part of the fun of meeting crazy or “very active” people on Discord. No one gets fired (usually). If your work is noticed, you may be offered a full-time job.

DAO community members worldwide are rewarded for brand building. Dash is also a great product for developing countries with high inflation and undemocratic governments. The countries with the most Dash DAO members are Russia, Brazil, Venezuela, India, China, France, Italy, and the Philippines.

Grassroots activism makes this DAO work. A DAO is local. Venezuelans can't access Dash.org, so DAO members help them use a VPN. DAO members are investors, fervent evangelicals, and local product experts.

Every month, proposals and grant applications are voted on via the Dash platform. However, the DAO may decide not to fund you. For example, the DAO once hired a PR firm, but the community complained about the lack of press coverage. This raises a great question: How are real-world contractual obligations met by a DAO?

Does the DASH DAO work?

“I see the DAO defund projects I thought were valuable,” Goldstein says. Despite working full-time, I must submit a funding proposal. “Much faster than other companies I've worked on,” he says.

Dash DAO is a headless beast. Ryan Taylor is the CEO of the company overseeing the DASH Core Group project. 

The issue is that “we don't know who has the most tokens [...] because we don't know who our customers are.” As a result, “the loudest voices usually don't have the most MasterNodes and aren't the most invested.”

Goldstein, the only female in the DAO, says she worked hard. “I was proud of the DAO when I made the logo pink for a day and got great support from the men.” This has yet to entice a major influx of female DAO members.

Many obstacles stand in the way of utopian dreams.

Governance problems remain

And what about major token holders behaving badly?

In early February, a heated crypto Twitter debate raged on about inclusion, diversity, and cancel culture in relation to decentralized projects. In this case, the question was how a DAO addresses alleged inappropriate behavior.

In a corporation, misconduct can result in termination. In a DAO, founders usually hold a large number of tokens and the keys to the blockchain (multisignature) or otherwise.

Brantly Millegan, the director of operations of Ethereum Name Service (ENS), made disparaging remarks about the LGBTQ community and other controversial topics. The screenshotted comments were made in 2016 and brought to the ENS board's attention in early 2022.

His contract with ENS has expired. But what of his large DAO governance token holdings?

Members of the DAO proposed a motion to remove Millegan from the DAO. His “delegated” votes net 370,000. He was and is the DAO's largest delegate.

What if he had refused to accept the DAO's decision?

Freuden says the answer is not so simple.

“Can a DAO kick someone out who built the project?”

The original mission “should be dissolved” if it no longer exists. “Does a DAO fail and return the money? They must r eturn the money with interest if the marriage fails.”

Before an IPO, VCs might try to remove a problematic CEO.

While DAOs use treasury as a governance mechanism, it is usually controlled (at least initially) by the original project creators. Or, in the case of Uniswap, the venture capital firm a16z has so much voting power that it has delegated it to student-run blockchain organizations.

So, can DAOs really work at scale? How to evolve voting paradigms beyond token holdings?

The whale token holder issue has some solutions. Multiple tokens, such as a utility token on top of a governance token, and quadratic voting for whales, are now common. Other safeguards include multisignature blockchain keys and decision time locks that allow for any automated decision to be made. The structure of each DAO will depend on the assets at stake.

In reality, voter turnout is often a bigger issue.

Is DAO governance scalable?

Many DAOs have low participation. Due to a lack of understanding of technology, apathy, or busy lives. “The bigger the DAO, the fewer voters who vote,” says Freuden.

Freuden's report cites British anthropologist Dunbar's Law, who argued that people can only maintain about 150 relationships.

"As the DAO grows in size, the individual loses influence because they perceive their voting power as being diminished or insignificant. The Ringelmann Effect and Dunbar's Rule show that as a group grows in size, members become lazier, disenfranchised, and detached.

Freuden says a DAO requires “understanding human relationships.” He believes DAOs work best as investment funds rooted in Cryptoland and small in scale. In just three weeks, SyndicateDAO enabled the creation of 450 new investment group DAOs.

Due to SEC regulations, FlamingoDAO, a famous NFT curation investment DAO, could only have 100 investors. The “LAO” is a member-directed venture capital fund and a US LLC. To comply with US securities law, they only allow 100 members with a 120ETH minimum staking contribution.

But how did FlamingoDAO make investment decisions? How often did all 70 members vote? Art and NFTs are highly speculative.

So, investment DAOs are thought to work well in a small petri dish environment. This is due to a crypto-native club's pooled capital (maximum 7% per member) and crowdsourced knowledge.

While scalability is a concern, each DAO will operate differently depending on the goal, technology stage, and personalities. Meetups and hackathons are common ways for techies to collaborate on a cause or test an idea. But somebody still organizes the hack.

Holographic consensus voting

But clever people are working on creative solutions to every problem.

Miller of DAOplatform.io cites DXdao as a successful DAO. Decentralized product and service creator DXdao runs the DAO entirely on-chain. “You earn voting rights by contributing to the community.”

DXdao, a DAOstack fork, uses holographic consensus, a voting algorithm invented by DAOstack founder Matan Field. The system lets a random or semi-random subset make group-wide decisions.

By acting as a gatekeeper for voters, DXdao's Luke Keenan explains that “a small predictions market economy emerges around the likely outcome of a proposal as tokens are staked on it.” Also, proposals that have been financially boosted have fewer requirements to be successful, increasing system efficiency.” DXdao “makes decisions by removing voting power as an economic incentive.”

Field explains that holographic consensus “does not require a quorum to render a vote valid.”

“Rather, it provides a parallel process. It is a game played (for profit) by ‘predictors' who make predictions about whether or not a vote will be approved by the voters. The voting process is valid even when the voting quorum is low if enough stake is placed on the outcome of the vote.

“In other words, a quorum is not a scalable DAO governance strategy,” Field says.

You don't need big votes on everything. If only 5% vote, fine. To move significant value or make significant changes, you need a longer voting period (say 30 days) and a higher quorum,” says Miller.

Clearly, DAOs are maturing. The emphasis is on tools like Orca and processes that delegate power to smaller sub-DAOs, committees, and working groups.

Miller also claims that “studies in psychology show that rewarding people too much for volunteering disincentivizes them.” So, rather than giving out tokens for every activity, you may want to offer symbolic rewards like POAPs or contributor levels.

“Free lunches are less rewarding. Random rewards can boost motivation.”

Culture and motivation

DAOs (and Web3 in general) can give early adopters a sense of ownership. In theory, they encourage early participation and bootstrapping before network effects.

"A double-edged sword," says Goldstein. In the developing world, they may not be fully scalable.

“There must always be a leader,” she says. “People won't volunteer if they don't want to.”

DAO members sometimes feel entitled. “They are not the boss, but they think they should be able to see my calendar or get a daily report,” Goldstein gripes. Say, “I own three MasterNodes and need to know X, Y, and Z.”

In most decentralized projects, strong community leaders are crucial to influencing culture.

Freuden says “the DAO's community builder is the cryptoland influencer.” They must “disseminate the DAO's culture, cause, and rally the troops” in English, not tech.

They must keep members happy.

So the community builder is vital. Building a community around a coin that promises riches is simple, but keeping DAO members motivated is difficult.

It's a human job. But tools like SourceCred or coordinate that measure contributions and allocate tokens are heavily marketed. Large growth funds/community funds/grant programs are common among DAOs.

The Future?

Onboarding, committed volunteers, and an iconic community builder may be all DAOs need.

It takes a DAO just one day to bring together a passionate (and sometimes obsessive) community. For organizations with a common goal, managing stakeholder expectations is critical.

A DAO's core values are community and cause, not scalable governance. “DAOs will work at scale like gaming communities, but we will have sub-DAOs everywhere like committees,” says Freuden.

So-called holographic consensuses “can handle, in principle, increasing rates of proposals by turning this tension between scale and resilience into an economical cost,” Field writes. Scalability is not guaranteed.

The DAO's key innovation is the fragmented workplace. “Voting is a subset of engagement,” says Freuden. DAO should allow for permissionless participation and engagement. DAOs allow for remote work.”

In 20 years, DAOs may be the AI-powered self-organizing concept. That seems far away now. But a new breed of productivity coordination organisms is maturing.

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Jano le Roux

Jano le Roux

1 year ago

The Real Reason Adobe Just Paid $20 billion for Figma

Sketch or Figma?

Illustration

Designers are pissed.

The beast ate the beauty.

Figma deserves $20B.

Do designers deserve Adobe?

Adobe devours new creative tools and spits them out with a slimy Adobe aftertaste.

  • Frame.io — $1.3B

  • Magento — $1.7B

  • Macromedia — $3.6B

Nothing compares to the risky $20B acquisition.

If they can't be beaten, buy them.

And then make them boring.

Adobe's everywhere.

Like that friend who dabbles in everything creatively, there's not enough time to master one thing.

Figma was Adobe's thigh-mounted battle axe.

  • a UX design instrument with a sizable free tier.

  • a UX design tool with a simple and quick user interface.

  • a tool for fluid collaboration in user experience design.

  • a web-based UX design tool that functions well.

  • a UX design tool with a singular goal of perfection.

UX design software that replaced Adobe XD.

Adobe XD could do many of Figma's things, but it didn't focus on the details. This is a major issue when working with detail-oriented professionals.

UX designers.

Design enthusiasts first used Figma. More professionals used it. Institutions taught it. Finally, major brands adopted Figma.

Adobe hated that.

Adobe dispatched a team of lawyers to resolve the Figma issue, as big companies do. Figma didn’t bite for months.

Oh no.

Figma resisted.

Figma helped designers leave Adobe. Figma couldn't replace Photoshop, but most designers used it to remove backgrounds.

Online background removal tools improved.

The Figma problem grew into a thorn, a knife, and a battle ax in Adobe's soft inner thigh.

Figma appeared to be going public. Adobe couldn’t allow that. It bought Figma for $20B during the IPO drought.

Adobe has a new issue—investors are upset.

The actual cause of investors' ire toward Adobe

Spoiler: The math just doesn’t add up.

According to Adobe's press release, Figma's annual recurring revenue (ARR) is $400M and growing rapidly.

The $20B valuation requires a 50X revenue multiple, which is unheard of.

Venture capitalists typically use:

  • 10% to 29% growth per year: ARR multiplied by 1 to 5

  • 30% to 99% growth per year: ARR multiplied by 6 to 10

  • 100% to 400% growth per year: ARR multiplied by 10 to 20

Showing an investor a 50x multiple is like telling friends you saw a UFO. They'll think you're crazy.

Adobe's stock fell immediately after the acquisition because it didn't make sense to a number-cruncher.

Designers started a Tweet storm in the digital town hall where VCs and designers often meet.

Adobe acquired Workfront for $1.5 billion at the end of 2020. This purchase made sense for investors.

Many investors missed the fact that Adobe is acquiring Figma not only for its ARR but also for its brilliant collaboration tech.

Adobe could use Figmas web app technology to make more products web-based to compete with Canva.

Figma's high-profile clients could switch to Adobe's enterprise software.

However, questions arise:

  • Will Adobe make Figma boring?

  • Will Adobe tone down Figma to boost XD?

  • Would you ditch Adobe and Figma for Sketch?

VIP Graphics

VIP Graphics

1 year ago

Leaked pitch deck for Metas' new influencer-focused live-streaming service

As part of Meta's endeavor to establish an interactive live-streaming platform, the company is testing with influencers.

The NPE (new product experimentation team) has been testing Super since late 2020.

Super by Meta leaked pitch deck: Facebook’s new livestreaming platform for influencers & sponsors

Bloomberg defined Super as a Cameo-inspired FaceTime-like gadget in 2020. The tool has evolved into a Twitch-like live streaming application.

Less than 100 creators have utilized Super: Creators can request access on Meta's website. Super isn't an Instagram, Facebook, or Meta extension.

“It’s a standalone project,” the spokesperson said about Super. “Right now, it’s web only. They have been testing it very quietly for about two years. The end goal [of NPE projects] is ultimately creating the next standalone project that could be part of the Meta family of products.” The spokesperson said the outreach this week was part of a drive to get more creators to test Super.

A 2021 pitch deck from Super reveals the inner workings of Meta.

The deck gathered feedback on possible sponsorship models, with mockups of brand deals & features. Meta reportedly paid creators $200 to $3,000 to test Super for 30 minutes.

Meta's pitch deck for Super live streaming was leaked.

What were the slides in the pitch deck for Metas Super?

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View examples of Meta's pitch deck for Super:

Product Slides, first

Super by Meta leaked pitch deck — Product Slide: Facebook’s new livestreaming platform for influencers & sponsors

The pitch deck begins with Super's mission:

Super is a Facebook-incubated platform which helps content creators connect with their fans digitally, and for super fans to meet and support their favorite creators. In the spirit of Late Night talk shows, we feature creators (“Superstars”), who are guests at a live, hosted conversation moderated by a Host.

This slide (and most of the deck) is text-heavy, with few icons, bullets, and illustrations to break up the content. Super's online app status (which requires no download or installation) might be used as a callout (rather than paragraph-form).

Super by Meta leaked pitch deck — Product Slide: Facebook’s new livestreaming platform for influencers & sponsors

Meta's Super platform focuses on brand sponsorships and native placements, as shown in the slide above.

One of our theses is the idea that creators should benefit monetarily from their Super experiences, and we believe that offering a menu of different monetization strategies will enable the right experience for each creator. Our current focus is exploring sponsorship opportunities for creators, to better understand what types of sponsor placements will facilitate the best experience for all Super customers (viewers, creators, and advertisers).

Colorful mockups help bring Metas vision for Super to life.

2. Slide Features

Super's pitch deck focuses on the platform's features. The deck covers pre-show, pre-roll, and post-event for a Sponsored Experience.

  • Pre-show: active 30 minutes before the show's start

  • Pre-roll: Play a 15-minute commercial for the sponsor before the event (auto-plays once)

  • Meet and Greet: This event can have a branding, such as Meet & Greet presented by [Snickers]

  • Super Selfies: Makers and followers get a digital souvenir to post on social media.

  • Post-Event: Possibility to draw viewers' attention to sponsored content/links during the after-show

Almost every screen displays the Sponsor logo, link, and/or branded background. Viewers can watch sponsor video while waiting for the event to start.

Slide 3: Business Model

Meta's presentation for Super is incomplete without numbers. Super's first slide outlines the creator, sponsor, and Super's obligations. Super does not charge creators any fees or commissions on sponsorship earnings.

Super by Meta leaked pitch deck — Pricing Slide: Facebook’s new livestreaming platform for influencers & sponsors

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Alex Mathers

Alex Mathers

1 year ago

12 habits of the zenith individuals I know

Follow Alex’s Instagram for his drawings and bonus ideas.

Calmness is a vital life skill.

It aids communication. It boosts creativity and performance.

I've studied calm people's habits for years. Commonalities:

Have mastered the art of self-humor.

Protectors take their job seriously, draining the room's energy.

They are fixated on positive pursuits like making cool things, building a strong physique, and having fun with others rather than on depressing influences like the news and gossip.

Every day, spend at least 20 minutes moving, whether it's walking, yoga, or lifting weights.

Discover ways to take pleasure in life's challenges.

Since perspective is malleable, they change their view.

Set your own needs first.

Stressed people neglect themselves and wonder why they struggle.

Prioritize self-care.

Don't ruin your life to please others.

Make something.

Calm people create more than react.

They love creating beautiful things—paintings, children, relationships, and projects.

Don’t hold their breath.

If you're stressed or angry, you may be surprised how much time you spend holding your breath and tightening your belly.

Release, breathe, and relax to find calm.

Stopped rushing.

Rushing is disadvantageous.

Calm people handle life better.

Are aware of their own dietary requirements.

They avoid junk food and eat foods that keep them healthy, happy, and calm.

Don’t take anything personally.

Stressed people control everything.

Self-conscious.

Calm people put others and their work first.

Keep their surroundings neat.

Maintaining an uplifting and clutter-free environment daily calms the mind.

Minimise negative people.

Calm people are ruthless with their boundaries and avoid negative and drama-prone people.