Crypto Mullets are the next wave of multibillion dollar web3 companies, and one way they’ll come to market is through on chain conglomerates powered by annuity-bearing NFTs.
Traditional conglomerates are, “a combination of multiple business entities operating in entirely different industries under one corporate group, usually involving a parent company and many subsidiaries” (source).
I believe this same model will come to fruition on chain to fund and create niche DAOs that generate on chain revenue streams. This model will be highly useful for music labels, movie studios and other forms of small creator collectives that can produce work that’s monetized through the blockchain.
We’ve learned a lot at Aesthetic about how early stage companies can best leverage design to become more valuable. We’re excited to share our learnings from working with 100+ companies over the last 18 months. We hope this will be helpful to the entire startup community, especially founders that are just getting started on their journey and are new to design.
Design is a highly diverse discipline, with dozens of different fields and specialties. Similar to software product development, the scope and scale of design teams is highly variant and meant to reflect the needs of their organization. For early stage startups — those that are pre product-market fit, or have early market traction — the design needs tend to follow a similar pattern, and then tends to vary based on the specific business model of strong product market fit companies.
People consume more digital content than ever before across a wider number of discovery surfaces, and tools for content creation continue to make it easier to express your creativity: whether it’s a blog post, a podcast, a video or a photo, new tools make it easier to create and distribute content than ever before. However, the same bottleneck still remains: time. How much time we have to invest into content creation is, and will always be, the limiting factor for content creators.
With a limited amount of time and an expanding number of ways to reach an audience, how do content marketers make ends meet to not find ourselves burnt out, lacking inspiration and creatively blocked? When you have 10 different social networks at your disposal and each requires a different flavor of content, how do you make the most of your investment into content creation to maximize the return on your investment?
Enter content repurposing.
When Snapchat launched Stories in October 2013, no one could have anticipated the ripple effect this would have across the software ecosystem. In the 7-years since its launch, every major consumer internet company has adopted its own flavor of Stories to give its users that familiar, lean back content consumption experience that they’ve grown accustomed to. Even though there’s no singular app that has monopolized consumer attention, it’s clear that the Story content format is the real winner of the mobile-first world.
The way companies with an ads-based business model make more money is relatively straightforward: get users to spend more time consuming relevant content and seeing more ads. For over a decade, consumer internet companies have been tweaking and improving upon the traditional feed-based content consumption model. First there was Google’s paginated results, followed by Facebook’s infinite scroll and Pinterest’s masonry grid. Each is designed to balance exploiting what the app already knows about its users with exploration of new topics adjacent to the user’s current preferences.
Stories were the first new discovery paradigm that completely changed the way social apps began to think about engaging with their users. Beyond just how users consume content, Stories also changed the way people thought about creating content. By making Stories temporal, the quality bar was lowered so users don’t have to overthink whether something they share should be a part of their permanent record on the internet. Suddenly, users weren’t worried about polluting their own self image (or their friends’ feeds) which made it a lot easier to create content at a much higher volume than they did with feed posts.
When mobile apps entered the scene in the early 2010s, sensationalist industry pundits exclaimed, “the web is dead!”. A large debate ensued about the role of the web and native apps, and people loved talking about which one would prevail. A decade later it’s clear that the answer is, “both”. It turns out, they weren’t competing in a zero sum game.
With social media’s rise, we’re now in round 2 of the, “web is dead” argument. There’s a whole new generation of internet users for whom the internet is their social media apps. In the same way that baby boomers viewed the browser as the internet, to Gen Z social media is the internet. This isn’t a surprise when looking at recent time spent metrics, but a less obvious and perhaps more consequential shift is happening underneath it all: content creation.
We estimate that content creation is happening today at roughly 100x the velocity in social media’s walled gardens as it is on the web at large. While there are still 100,000+ websites being created each week, there are 100,000,000+ social posts being created across the likes of Instagram, Tiktok and Snapchat. The vast majority of this social content is both temporal (it goes away) and opaque to the rest of the web at large. Social media content is invisible to the web, and is growing far faster. This presents a big risk to the web.
Spring has sprung, and the smell of fresh YC applications is in the air. It’s that special time that happens twice a year where thousands of budding entrepreneurs vie for a spot in the upcoming Y Combinator class.
For those among you who are preparing for your interviews over the next few days, I wanted to share some of the best practices that helped Andrew, Nate, James and me pass our interview and earn URX’s place in the Summer 2013 batch.
Each interview lasts about 10 minutes and the interviewers’ goal is to get as much signal about the team as possible. Because of this, the interviews are structured as a series of rapid fire questions that will cover a lot of ground. Having well prepared, concise answers that you can recall quickly is probably the single strongest indicator of success for your interview. We prepared for this by coming up with a list of ~50 expected questions, each with their own with 2–3 bullet point response. Then, we spent hours grilling each other and loaded them into a flashcard webapp for self testing. This took some time, but was well worth it.
As a startup founder, it's mission critical to know what decisions you should make quickly, and which you should make slowly. It's common to think that at the earliest stage your approach should be to, "move fast and break things", but not only did Facebook ditch that approach, there's mounting evidence that it was never a good idea in the first place.
Going into 2020 I was familiar with Jeff Bezos' Type 1 / Type 2 decision making framework, but I was less sure about how to apply it in practice. It's easy enough to reflect on whether a decision seems reversible, but it's deceptively difficult to truly know the implications of a decision before you make it.
In my experience running Aesthetic and advising founders, I've learned that it's a common mistake to overestimate the first-order reversibility of a decision while under-estimating its second-order effect on a company’s strategy. Decisions about company strategy should be made slowly and deliberately, whereas decisions about tactics should be made quickly. But, how do you really know whether a decision is just about tactics, or has far-reaching implications about strategy?
On May 2, 2016, we announced Pinterest’s acquisition of URX and began the next step in our journey. In that moment it was hard to comprehend how different this chapter would be from the one before it, and I’m grateful that I’ve gained some of this perspective in the first year being, “on the other side”.
In short- my biggest learning about product strategy from URX is the importance of aligning your vision with your business model. As with so many things in life, there’s a big difference between understanding things with your head, and knowing them with your heart. I think this is especially true for the “resilient founder” persona who has the fortitude to endure the endless sea of challenges that plague early stage startups.
To call the URX journey anything other than magnificent would be an understatement. I learned more than I could have ever imagined from that 3.5 year period — from raising capital to hiring executives, managing managers of managers to setting the right goals — I am simply not the same person as I was before URX. There are many great resources for founders that outline how to not fail, and what to do when it’s time to sell, so instead of rehashing what’s already been said I want to share my most unintuitive lesson learned from operating URX so that you don’t have to learn it the hard way.
The next wave of $1B+ crypto companies will disrupt incumbents by keeping an existing consumer experience in web2 while rebuilding its back office in web3.
Disruptive technologies create transformative business models when they enable a 10x better consumer experience (ie, Netflix with streaming tech vs. going to Blockbuster) or a 10x cheaper back office (ie, Instacart with mobile tech vs operating a grocery store).
Today, the blockchain is arguably a 10x+ worse consumer experience for anyone that hasn’t already been red pilled, but it can be 10x+ better in cases that rely on incentive alignment between large groups of people who don’t know or trust each other. This is the crypto mullet’s opportunity: web2 consumer products upfront, combined web3 technologies in the back.
Crypto mullet’s customers don’t think about wallets, tokens or crypto. Instead, they log in with their email addresses, pay with their credit cards and access the company’s services through a normal web browser/app. Crypto mullet’s back offices, however, are decentralized and governed using thoughtful tokenomics and encoded via smart contract. They weave together NFTs and FTs to align incentives through through profit sharing, shared upside, governance, etc.
For the least few years I’ve written out my own tech industry predictions, but I’ve never been bold enough to publish them externally. After spending the last 9 months going down the web3 rabbit hole, I thought it’d be worthwhile to call out 5 ways I think web3 will influence the software industry in 2022:
Most NFTs’ image assets live off-chain using something like IPFS. While this makes sense in many cases where the assets remain static, these projects are only using a fraction of the potential enabled by the blockchain.
In 2021 we’ve seen a few projects emerge where the image files are actually encoded into the smart contracts using SVGs (ie, Nouns DAO, Blockheads, ChainRunners) which enables a whole new level of functionality and composability. I believe this is going to be a critical part of NFT infrastructure moving forward, and 2 of these projects will break into the OpenSea Top 10.
Originally published May 24th, 2015
In URX’s first 2 years, we grew from 4 co-founders to a 20-person engineering, product and business team. With this growth, many of our internal processes and communication channels broke. It didn’t feel like we were moving as fast as we were before, and it took longer to get everyone on the same page.
After analyzing our current processes, I came up with a new set of tenets that guide how I operate as a CEO. Thanks to the way communication overhead scales exponentially as a team grows, I expect to have to revisit these continuously along our growth curve.
Originally posted October 17th, 2013
“Andrew, this is it — we’ve got the right team, and the timing’s perfect. If we don’t go for this now, we will regret it for the rest of our lives.” I could feel him thinking through the silence. “Alright dude, I’m in. Let’s talk to Nate and James and make this happen.”
It was a Friday afternoon in mid-January when Andrew, Nate, James and I went from being close friends to co-founders. Looking back, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but our excitement and eagerness was enough to get us started.
Originally posted February 1st, 2013
I feel so fortunate to have spent the last 1 year, 11 months as a student at the most forward thinking company in the world. Working at Google, I was surrounded with incredibly talented people solving difficult problems in a culture of creativity, learning and personal growth.
Today is my last day at Google and, while I am incredibly sad to leave, I am, “uncomfortably excited” about what the future holds. The relationships, experience and skills that I gained during my time at Google have given me the confidence to pursue my dreams of being a startup co-founder.
Some of the most stimulating conversations that I‘ve ever had have been over the amazing food at Beta, Charlie’s or Big Table. I will miss the lunchtime talks and impassioned diatribes more than anything else. There’s no way to explain the culture more than just, “Googley” — unique viewpoints, analytical thinking and creativity flowed through the hallways and was palpable on campus.