There’s this axiom in both venture and the creator economy: bet on the jockey, not the horse. Like a lot of people, that’s always been my philosophy: I bet on humans. The systems, the businesses, the content they create are just results of them being great leaders, systems thinkers, storytellers, and entrepreneurs.
The first time I ever met Zack Honarvar, I remember thinking: if I could buy stock in this guy, I would. We now work together, which is my bet on him. But imagine a world in which him and I not only are building businesses together, but also hold ownership in each other. We are now more committed to each other’s successes regardless.
This is an idea with the potential to disrupt the future of how we invest, create, and communicate. Let’s start with what it is:
BitClout essentially commodifies human capital through a native cryptocurrency. It has allegedly assigned 15,000 coins from top Twitter talent, that only have to opt-in if they want the financial upside. But the beauty is that everyone, not just your favorite creators, can have a coin.
There’s a marketplace of exchange — where prices go up and down, based on buying and selling, just like any other market. These are quite obviously very speculative markets based on the perceived current and future value of the individuals listed. There is a high associated risk with this (see: essay yesterday for reasons why).
The first use case for BitClout is pretty obvious: it’s creators. This marketplace formalizes the “I started watching at 10 subscribers” behavior we see in YouTube comments. Fans can buy into their favorite creators early, and ride the wave.
But BitClout has the potential to reach far beyond just creators. It will empower regular people, entrepreneurs, thinkers, researchers, designers, and everyone in between.
Because underpinning the technology, you can kind of see that this is meant to better align incentivizes for all individuals towards long-term thinking, accountability, and integrity.
Now imagine it for yourself for a moment…
If you woke up this morning, knowing there were people who had a financial stake in YOU, then you’d probably design your day a bit differently. You’d think before eating that seventh donut or making that risky bet.
Now, take it further. Imagine having a board of advisors and shareholder meetings. Imagine giving your mentor a coin so she’s more invested in your success. Imagine holding equity in your closest friends, so you’re all invested in each other’s success. Imagine buying stock in someone before you push them to your audience. Imagine betting on yourself by buying your stock back in a dip, and then watching it rip.
Now think about your investments. The accredited investor system has closed a lot of opportunities off to regular folks. You probably can’t invest in Notion, right now, for example. But what if you could invest in the founder? Additionally, businesses fail. 10 years ago, none of us knew if Tesla would succeed. Not even Elon. But would you have bet on Elon — over the long-term to figure out something? To build something beautiful for humanity? I think so.
If the rumors are true, that this project is a Naval brainchild, then this system is basically a crypto-mirror of his “get rich without getting lucky” tweet storm. That entire thread is based in this idea of productizing yourself, which is about gaining leverage and assuming accountability. A coin assigned to you, with real value, is both evidence of leverage and accountability.
The moral question is — does this financialization of a person lead to some kind of ridiculous dystopia where everyone is listed on a human stock exchange?
Truth is: we’ve been doing already. We’ve created these marketplaces for clout already — on Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. That’s what the exchange of likes, views, and subscribers is. I think this system actually shifts us away from some of that. It pauses us to think about the long-term impacts of who we are becoming, and where we’re investing our time and energy. And potentially, helps us realign.
My prediction is: BitClout, or something similar, will not only formalize fandom, but also the development of human capital.
I think this is a huge play, and I’m excited to see how it goes…