Joining me is prolific indie hacker and Bitclout enthusiast Mubashar Iqbal (@mubashariqbal) to discuss the pros and cons of the new platform. Is it a scam? Is it not a scam? Are we all living in a real life episode of Black Mirror? We get to the bottom of your burning questions in this episode.
What's up, everybody? This is Courtland from indiehackers.com and you're listening to the Indie Hackers Podcast. More people than ever are building cool stuff online and making a lot of money in the process. On this show, I sit down with these indie hackers to discuss the ideas, the opportunities, and the strategies they're taking advantage of so the rest of us can do the same.
My buddy Julian was telling me the other week that I need to join this thing called BitClout. I've been super busy. I had no idea what it was. He was just like, just join now and you can figure it out later. It doesn't matter, just get on the platform. He kind of walked me through the process.
Julian's a smart guy, so I'm like, yeah, whatever. I don't know anything about cryptocurrencies. I don't know anything about the blockchain, but whatever. Let me just join this. The thing is that the way BitClout works is I think they just went through Twitter and they took the top 15,000 Twitter accounts ranked by followers and the pre-made profiles on their site.
It was already on the site, and I couldn't just like make my profile because it was taken. I had to basically prove that I am the owner of @csallen on Twitter and on BitClout. I had to tweak their thing, which is basically an ad for BitClout. What did I tweet? It's like my last tweet that's up right now.
I said, hey setting my BitClout and then I linked to my BitClout profile. I immediately got a flood of responses of people who are like, that's cool or welcome, or, yeah, I knew you'd finally be on board and other people who were like Courtland, I am so disappointed that you are supporting this obvious scam and Ponzi scheme.
Then I got a message from you, and you were like, hey, let's talk about BitClout and do an episode on the podcast. So, everybody's all over the map. What are your thoughts? What is BitClout? Maybe explain it to me. Explain it to listeners.
BitClout is kind of three things in one, which is, I think, part of the appeal to it.
The first thing is that it's essentially just a social media platform, but rather than being controlled by one particular company, it will eventually be a fully decentralized social media platform that runs on blockchain. All the content that gets submitted to the social media platform will be on the blockchain.
There's no one company, there's no one person there's no Mark Zuckerberg. There's no Jack Dorsey in charge there that says whether you can have that content on there or not. It will be spread out all of the world eventually, not right now, because it still is early, and it's still controlled by the developers kind of at this point. That's the first bit.
That in and of itself is really interesting, right? The fact that you do now have this kind of decentralized platform that people can kind of interact with. What they also did on top of that was they added this idea of a creative coin. Anybody who signs up for BitClout and in some cases, like you mentioned about 15,000 or so high-profile Twitter accounts, they preceded those accounts on there as well.
Anybody who signs up essentially gets assigned what they're calling a creator coin. The idea is, is that created coins value you is based on your reputation. Part of the reputation is what you're following is like on other social media platforms, whether it's Instagram or Twitter and all those kinds of things as well, but also eventually it will be how you interact with people on the platform itself as well.
There's this idea that your reputation is now something that can people can now invest into as well. They've kind of essentially built a stock market of the reputation of people. I can buy your coin. You can buy my coin. You can sell it if you think I'm going to do something stupid and make sure you don't lose any money.
That's the fun part of it for me, I think, is the sort of speculating on people. Mubs’ coin is worth like, what is your coin worth right now? I think like $1,100? Your coin is expensive, but I can buy a fractional part of it. I could buy 0.01 of a Mubashar Iqbal coin. I can bet this coin is going to go up in value. This time next year it's going to be worth 10 times more than it is today.
You're right. It's a stock market for people. There really isn't any other place to do that right now. There's no way I can trade based on who I think is going to be more popular or more valuable or more useful in the future. BitClout seems to be it.
I mean, obviously people have tried stuff like this in the past. People like Stolen, those kinds of things where you could buy people's accounts and things like that. Which was kind of a first attempt at that, but obviously it was one person can own one account, which was really weird.
Here, now, like you said, everybody in the world could buy any anybody else's coin. You can buy small, tiny amounts of it, too. You don't have to have to spend a lot of money on this.
The third thing, I think that's kind of interesting as well, is that they've introduced this concept of a founder reward as well. As part of me being on the site, I can control what my founder reward is. They come anywhere from zero to a hundred percent. Not that it makes sense for it to be a hundred percent, but essentially what that means is every time your coin is at an all-time high, if somebody purchases the coin, some percentage of that purchase will actually go to the person whose account it is.
I think it defaults to 10%.
Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So, every time my coins at an all-time high, if somebody spends a $100 to purchase my coin, they're only actually getting $90 of that coin, and I get the $10 instead.
That's a way to kind of incentivize people to be active on the platform and so that they can make a little bit of money just by using the platform itself without actually having to do anything exploding. That's kind of an interesting aspect as well.
One of the reasons that I'm not super into blockchain, crypto stuff is because it essentially felt like a solution in search of a problem to me. There aren't that many uses, everyone's so excited about the technology and everyone's dreaming up all these use cases.
But the vast majority of use cases that I've seen for crypto are things that you could probably just do with a database. It turns out like no one really cares that things are centralized in a database. Sometimes it's actually like a feature, not a bug. It helps you understand that there's somebody behind the application you're using and just making sure that everything is safe, and decisions are being made in a good way. They're kind of a steward.
A lot of the use cases for the blockchain just haven't really materialized into applications that have been as killer as people have been predicting for the last 10 years. The main use case has been speculation. People just want to buy stuff and guess what the price is going to go up.
The big winners have been all these websites like Coinbase that allow you, or maybe Robinhood that allow you to trade cryptocurrency to the so-called greater fool who's going to buy it at an even higher price than you bought it for.
This has by and large worked very well because so many crypto enthusiasts are waiting for the day that it is going to take over that it is going to be super, super useful that they're just not selling no matter what. If nobody ever sells the price really just does go up. Yeah. So, Bitcoins are like $60,000.
It's kind of like, all right, well, the speculation aspect is fine, but what about the actual utility? Since that hasn't really been there very often, I haven't cared, but this actually is a really good case for the utility of the blockchain, a decentralized social network, a social network that's not owned by anybody is actually a really cool idea that people have been talking about for like 10 years.
The hard thing is building a social network is hard, whether it's decentralized or not, getting people to adopt a social network and getting a network effects to work. There's a reason there's only a few big social networking companies, because it's extremely hard to do. Millions people have tried to do this and most have failed.
Even the ones that got a lot of attention, like Diaspora, Mastodon. Mastadon’s doing okay, but it's not taking over. They just don't have it. They haven't figured out the growth part of things really. They figured out the technological decentralized part of things.
Maybe because BitClout doesn't care that much, we'll get into this, there's a lot of issues about how they've implemented it. It's pretty shoddily built, but what they really do really well is they index on this fund speculation thing.
Everybody wants to make money. Whenever anyone hears about a new crypto thing where you could probably get in early and make a ton of money, people were super excited. Everything about how it works is super smart to allow and influence and encourage this adoption.
For me to even claim my profile, I literally have to tweet about BitClout and then they've structured it so it's only the top 15,000 Twitter profiles that have to do that, which means they're guaranteed to get all of the most influential people. The day Elon Musk claims his BitClout profile is a day that millions of people were going to learn about BitClout cause he's going to have to tweet about it.
The whole thing is structured from the ground up to be a self-promotional thing and generate a lot of press and to get the users to advertise it. That's something that I think no one else has really, really done.
Well, unless it cost them a lot of money though, right? I mean, cause obviously, you know how many coins they've allocated to you. When they reserved your account and everybody else's account based on how many followers you had and all that kind of stuff, they pre-allocated you a certain number of BitClout.
In theory, obviously it depends on the price of BitClout, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, Elon Musk’s account, he's worth millions already and he hasn't even used it yet, right? So, the minute he claims it, and not that he cares because he's got more money than anybody in the world does, but there's a lot of stored value in his account already.
For the top 15,000, there's a big amount of stored value now. Obviously, it didn't cost them the amount that we're seeing now, because the speculation has increased the sort of value of that exponentially already. But they did do the, let's spend some money to make some money kind of approach this year.
And yes, there was a lot of pushbacks from a lot of people in terms of why are they reserving my accounts and why is my face on their site already and stuff like that. But I think at the end of the day, it's not going to cost them anything. II don't think there's gonna be any legal recourse out of that. It's going to have generated them a huge amount of interest. So, I think it worked really well.
Yeah, there's a lot of controversy on this because they pre-created profiles for people. They didn't ask anybody's permission to create these profiles. What are your thoughts on, is that an ethical thing to do? Is it unethical?
I'm not sure. Cause our whole point of this is that these are public profiles, public images that they've posted, and we can access them already. It's not they scraped somebody’s private information and then just use it everywhere. This is public information, public pictures that are out there already.
So, can you scrape it? Why the heck not? It's public already, right? I don't think they did anything wrong there. Now, in many ways, like I said, they're compensating you for that, right? I mean, they've taken your profile, but they've also given you 40, 50, 100 thousand dollars that's just sat there.
If you want to take it great. If you want to reach them and say, shut down my account, they probably will. They'll just keep the money, I'm assuming, that's associated with it as well. So, I mean, that's where I was like at first, I was like, well, that's not really a good thing in terms of like, you know, without asking people's permission taking their influence.
Then I was like, you know what? These people either have more money than they need, than they know what to do with, and they're more concerned about just making noise because ultimately if they don't want their information, I'm sure if they reach out, even though it's not public who's in charge, people know who's in charge of this thing.
If they wanted to reach out and have their profile taken down, I bet you, they can make that happen.
Yeah. I feel the exact same way. I don't, I'm not a big fan of the argument that someone needs to ask your permission to make a page about you on the internet. I mean, there are definitely lines that should not be crossed, right?
There's a whole thing about revenge porn. That's horrible. A lot of lines that shouldn't be crossed, like impersonating somebody. They were to create a profile for you and then have that profile start saying things and pretending that you're saying it, that will be a terrible line to cross.
But all they have is your Twitter handle and your Twitter photo on there. They say this profile has not yet been claimed. That doesn't seem to me to be a thing that's in any way bad that they did that.
What would it mean for things like Wikipedia and stuff like now? Will I need your permission to put your profile on Wikipedia? I mean, it doesn't make any sense at all.
Or the news, right? I can't, I need your permission to write an article about you? Or Twitter? If I want to tweet about Mubashar Iqbal, do I need your permission to tweet about you? Not really. The way the world works is anybody can say whatever the hell they want about whoever they want, generally speaking, with a few bounds and they don't really need to ask your permission and that's how things should be.
A little confusing to me why people are so up in arms about the fact that they made these profiles. I've thought about this with Indie Hackers, too. We have a giant directory of products and right now, the only way to get your product in there is you have to add it.
The thought has crossed my mind, there are certain products in here that I want people to add. What if I pre-add their products? We've got pretty good SEO. I bet you that their product would start ranking pretty high and then they would probably want to come claim it, et cetera.
Then you get into this whole Yelp territory, where Yelp is doing exactly that. It turns out that a lot of restaurants don't want to be on Yelp and they don't want to be reviewed. I think that in that situation, you should be pretty gracious about taking it down, but the idea that they would need permission initially, I think is kind of silly.
I mean, I think Yelp kind of crossed the line a little bit in terms of sales numbers and things like that. It's not like that BitClout was actually posting on their behalf or anything like that.
I think where some people have more of a stronger argument in terms of what people are speculating on me and I'm not participating on it, but, but the reality of that is that's happening now, right? Like, I mean, you could go to Las Vegas and speculate on anything that you want to kind of right now.
So, it's happening already. It's just happening on a public internet site at this point. And maybe, you might have issues with that, but I think that's not there for whole. I think that that's not something that you can really stop at this point because it's happening already.
The whole privacy debate sort of blurs aligned with this other conversation, which is having control over what other people say and think and do about you.
I think having privacy is completely different than controlling, you don't necessarily have a right to control what other people think and say and do, but if people want to speculate on some imaginary coin that is attached to your name, that's their right to do that, you know? That's just been the way the world has worked since time immemorial.
If you're a caveman and you walked out to hang out with your tribe, you can't stop them from gossiping about whatever sort of loincloth you're wearing. They're just going to do whatever they're going to do. That's their right. If you don't want that, you can basically stay inside your cave.
I think there's, besides Yelp, there've been other websites that have this issue, too. Did you ever hear about, are you familiar with Get Satisfaction back when that was big? People hated that website because they would put up a profile for your company and they're like, hey, do you need customer support for this company poster complaints here.
Every company had to Get Satisfaction profile with a thousand customers like I hate this thing, blah, blah, blah. Then you had to pay them to get access to your profile and then respond to customer complaints.
That I think is a little bit borderline. They knew what they were doing. They were sort of extorting you by publicizing bad reviews. But BitClout’s not doing that.
Literally their main complaint is that they use the avatar, right? They're using my image without my permission. A public image that they posted on the internet that they posted on social media platform. It's on every social media platform that they probably use as well. So, I'm just like, that just doesn't make any sense to me.
If you post something publicly, you gotta be willing and accepting for anyone to use it, however they want. It's just how it is.
Let's talk about this other point that you're making, which is a really good one, which is that not only is BitClout creating these profiles for you, but they're actually investing money into your profile.
I go to my BitClout profile. I've used this, not at all. I haven't posted a single tweet on BitClout. I haven't done anything. I haven't paid for anything. There's already $28,000 in market cap for my coin. And there's $10,000 locked into my BitClout profile. I apparently own $24,000 of the CSAllen coin that I could sell and cash out at some point.
You can't do it yet, we'll talk about that, but how do they get this money into people's profiles? Cause this is presumably very expensive for them to do well.
Yeah. I mean, it's appreciated over time because the price of Bitcoin itself has increased. Right now, I think there's 160 dollarish per BitClout and that's based on, there's a whole kind of white paper. It's not really. It's not a real white paper that they put out. It's kind of a white paper that explains how it works.
It’s a blog glorified blog post, basically.
Basically, the more BitClout they mint because people move Bitcoin in, will increase the price of BitClout itself, and then you can use that to purchase all of the coins and stuff like that.
Now that, again, they haven't officially announced this yet because the company that doesn't really exist, not really been publicly announced, but there's some big names that are behind it in terms of have supported the platform. Gemini capital, I think a16Z, Sequoia. All the big names that you would expect.
Yeah. Alexis Ohanian, the Winklevoss twins invested. Coinbase Ventures invested. They've given the crew behind BitClout a ton of money, immediately spent buying coins for all these influencers. And they have $212,942,895 worth of Bitcoin in their wallet.
Apparently according to the founder, most of that came from these investors who were like, h yeah, this is a good idea, here's some money. But a lot of it's coming from people who are now signing onto BitClout and buying BitClouts so they can buy these different creator coins.
Maybe the first thing to talk about at all, the implications of this thing existing. In their white paper, they kind of go through some really broad, cool ideas that actually are pretty cool, I thought, when I was reading them.
The first of them is this idea of what they call a stakeholder meeting. You could theoretically make it so that people who own your coin, people who've invested in you, are the only people who are allowed to respond to a particular tweet that you make. Or you could say you have to own at least a thousand dollars of the Mubs coin or the CSAllen coin in order to even talk to me on BitClout.
What's kind of cool is what are the implications of this? It essentially means you're probably gonna get a lot of feedback that's positive and constructive because these are people who are literally invested in your feature. They're not gonna, you're not gonna get a lot of trolls spending a bunch of money on you because they hate you because they’re really gonna buy your coin if they think that you're going to basically succeed.
On Twitter, you have a lot of, quite frankly, angry mobs of people who will do nothing but troll people, harass people, et cetera. Twitter does allow you some moderation controls. You can make a tweet and say only the people that you mentioned can respond to it.
But this is kind of a more organic way to kind of make sure that, almost like a company would do, like we have our shareholders meeting, you have to hold this many shares to even come and have a say. You could theoretically now do that on your own.
Some people are doing this, not quite as formalized, but there's been a few people. I think there's a user on BitClout called @craig and he's been doing a weekly, I think Zoom call where the top 10 holders are allowed to join. He looks at the people that are following him, he sends them a message with here's a link to the Zoom. If you're in the top 10, you can attend, you can talk with each other and kind of have interactions. Only the top 10 are allowed in as well.
Some people already started to use the platform like that as these are the people who want me to succeed, I want them to succeed as well. Then they can all kind of figure out how it all works out as well. So, it's starting already.
I mean, I started a project called BitClout follow, which is kind of like the We Follow, but for pick out specifically. We Follow with something that Kevin Rose started at the beginning of Twitter, which is kinda this organized directory based on categories of people who are active on Twitter. So, if you're looking for somebody to follow about indie hacking or whatever, you can go find a list of people who want to talk about the hacking.
I kind of built the same thing, but for BitClout. I've now got like 300 people who have submitted their accounts. What I've told people is if you own some of my coin, I'm going to prioritize viewing your submission first. Just kind of as a way to incentivize people to just the coin, kind of really helps in terms of your bank account. I think the BitClout follow coin is worth more than my personal coin this point. It's gonna be interesting to see how all of that stuff works out as well.
But yeah, I think there's a really interesting possibility that mixing of the social media aspects of it, but also the financial aspects of these people actually have a financial stake in your success. The way that you can reward them in the way that you can interact with them is kind of built into the platform as well.
I love this idea of mixing money and social media. This has already been a trend that's been happening over the last six to 12 months. Twitter, for example, is introducing something called super follows, where you're basically going to be able to pay for exclusive content from people that tweet, which is kind of cool. I could say, oh, this tweet’s only for my super followers and that cost $10 a month to subscribe to me.
I think the coolest thing about it is for the longest time people have been clamoring. We've all wanted to like pay for social media because the alternative is everything is financed through advertising and that creates some pretty terrible incentives.
Facebook and Twitter, whoever is going to show you the content, it’s probably gonna make them the most money, but whether or not that's the healthiest content for you to see, or the thing that you actually want to be reading.
But if money is actually baked into these platforms, if I could pay Facebook a fee to use Facebook and not see any ads, I might actually start using Facebook again, or if I could pay Twitter or different followers or people that I, you know, influencers on Twitter to get certain content, I might use that.
With BitClout, all the money is basically, the entire platform just runs on money. You can do literally any conceivable thing. Gate your inbox so only people who invest in you can message you, or people have to pay a certain a number of your coins back to you to be able to like your tweets. It's just a bunch of different stuff here.
I'm a fan of the fact that the internet has finally evolved to the point where we're more comfortable with money being baked into things. It's not like we have to find all these weird advertising models to support every platform.
I think the thing that makes it palatable to me is that there's not a company behind it, standing behind saying what you can and can't do in here. Cause that's the problem with me, just any platform that's going to be centrally closed.
They're going to have a big say about what you can and can't do. What are the things that you can talk about? The things that you can and cannot say. I’m not going to get into the whole politics of it right now. But you know, in terms of that, the fact that it's decentralized, I think is the thing that really enables that other thing, because otherwise you're always going to be in the back of your mind, you're like, am I really going to invest all this time to build up this thing on Twitter? Just to have Twitter say next week, sorry, we can't have you on the platform anymore.
I still think there's some, we still have to figure out what's the legal implications of it, of social media far from being completely decentralizes and nobody being in control anymore. But that to me is less scary than having one company in charge or there's one company in charge.
It's not like the government's in charge and the laws of the land set what's allowed and what not. We're literally putting all of our hands into Mark Zuckerberg into sort of people like that. It's up to them to kind of impose whatever they think is right. And I think that's, that's scary.
That's scary for anyone building a business on the internet. If you're a huge on YouTube and YouTube decides they don't want you like, kiss all of your subscribers, goodbye. You're screwed.
If Google wants to close your Gmail account, who are you going to complain to? Only Google and they probably don't have enough customers where people would even listen. I think one of the big shifts the last years and people moving increasingly towards newsletters. They’re like, you know what, I don't want to build up my following on social media. I can be shut down anytime. But if I own my email list, nobody can shut me down.
But even that's not really true because the vast majority of the people on your email list are probably all Gmail users. If your sender address basically gets a bad reputation in Gmail’s eyes, they could basically just like black dot you and you're screwed. You gotta build up your center reputation all over again.
You're gonna have to maybe walk me through some of the technical details for how this works, but what I understand from reading the so-called BitClout white paper, the underlying technology itself is decentralized, which means that all of the accounts, all of the tweets that they're making, all of the value of their coins, who holds the coins, it's all public information than anybody can build on top of and nobody controls that.
BitClout.com proper is just a client that these people built on top of it. But you could theoretically build your own competitor to it and have access to all the same accounts and data and information, and people could log into your competitor instead of logging into bitcoin.com and there's nothing they could do about it, which means that theoretically, if somebody, if BitClout.com shut down your account and they said, we hate you, you're not allowed to log in here. You can just go to a BitClout competitor log in there, and everybody can see all your stuff. It's impossible to really de-platform, I guess.
Yeah. I think that that is exactly the idea, right? The blockchain and the content is now basically a matter of public record and it's just a matter of somebody still needs to be the arbiter of what you can and can't see, but you have the freedom to choose who you want that arbiter be, right?
You can go to Facebook, and they could build a client interface into the blockchain as well. You have the freedom to choose who you want to control what you can and can't see. Ultimately, if you want to build your own platform or if you want to build your own software and then you can see everything, it's up to you to kind of control what you can and can't see as well.
That's all the big plan, you know, it's not quite there yet because they haven't open source the code that manages all of the blockchain stuff and that yet, but as soon as that's out there any, we will be able to run their own code on the blockchain and then we have to build whatever services they want on top of that as well.
Super fascinating. This is also not a new idea. Have you heard of Blue Sky? It's Jack Dorsey's, Twitter’s, his attempt to do the same thing.
He announced in December via tweet that he's finding a team of people, what did he say? Let me pull up his tweet. He said Twitter is funding a small independent team of up to five open-source architects, engineers, and designers. Up to five, that's an interesting number, to develop an open and centralized standard for social media. The goal is for Twitter to ultimately be a client of the standard.
It's almost exactly what BitClout is doing. Twitter.com is just one interface through which you could access all these tweets, but then other people could build on top of it. He gave a bunch of reasons why they didn't start this way earlier, but they want to do it now.
He said centralized control, the way things are now makes it too hard to enforce policies. There's too much burden. When he tweeted this, it was the middle of the US election. Trump hadn't conceded yet. Everyone was saying Twitter should block this block that. I'm sure he was like, ugh, this sucks having to have this responsibility.
Number two, he said the value of social media is in the recommendation algorithms, but they're all proprietary. So, you can't choose alternatives and it would be nice if you could. Right now, Twitter by default ranks all your tweets by their own proprietary algorithm. They don't just show you the fire hose of every single tweet in chronological order.
Potentially somebody could use Blue Sky to make a different client and organize tweets however you want. Like on BitClout, they have this idea, what if you organize your tweets based on people who own your coin versus people who don't. So, that's kind of cool.
Then the last thing was that basically the incentives right now are aligned for these networks to always promote the content that's the most controversial. Whatever is going to stand out, whatever's going to get the most shares, the most angry replies, that's what they're going to promote. Maybe you want an alternative network that doesn't do that.
Supposedly these are all the reasons why Twitter is now going to invest in up to five people to work on this Blue Sky project.
It's weird that they would propose something like that, just because it makes no financial sense for them to get to do that. I always still have in the back of my mind, but there will still be, you have to run the software, you have to run the servers, you have to do all that kind of stuff to kind of power it.
The thing with the blockchain is you've obviously got the mechanism to reward the people for running the servers. If you can pay to mine coins and sort all that kind of stuff, you've got the financial reasons as to why people would run the nodes that would power this.
You kind of separate the financial incentives for why do I want to operate this thing? Well, because if I can get more people active on my nodes, then I can make more money that way. Versus I want to control the advertising. I want to control what people see.
I think that's why this is really interesting technology to me is because it splits that what you show versus how you run the system now is deep coupled. Right now, like you said, there's financial incentives to kind of show specific content in a specific order in a specific way. Once you get into like the blockchain and BitClout and stuff, you kind of split this other sort of operational expenses and how people make money as well, how you make your money now on BitClout is by speculating and kind of appreciating the value they coin.
I am also similarly skeptical of Jack’s tweet. My prediction is this that they're going to put together this team of researchers. It’s going to take them forever and a day to do anything. Then three years later, no one's even going to remember that they even did this.
Cause if you look at the incentives, you're right. What incentive does Twitter have to allow people to create alternative Twitter competitors that are better? They have zero financial incentive to do that. Why would he even announce that?
Probably just because he was getting a lot of heat during the election. Back when Diaspora was big, they had this huge Kickstarter to fund their alternative to Facebook. I think their biggest donator was Mark Zuckerberg because it makes him look good because he's like, this is never going to work. It's going to fail. I don't care if they get whatever amount of money. It’s going to fail because it's super hard to do so let me look like a good guy and donate to this.
One of the similarly, I guess, sketchy things about BitClout is that there's a lot of trust that you have to have a lot of trust to use the site. Number one, there's been a lot of crypto scams that have happened over the last decade.
This could easily be one of those crypto scams. They've got $213 million in their Bitcoin wallet right now. People are putting money into a BitClout. There's literally no way to take it out.
There is no feature on the website that says, I've been speculated on Mubs. I made 10 X my money. I speculated on Ryan Hoover. I tripled my money. Now I have all this money. I want to take it back out and convert it into US dollars.
You try to do that, they're like this feature has not been implemented yet, which is obviously raising all sorts of red flags. Do you think it's safe to invest in BitClout? Are you putting your money into it?
I've put a few hundred bucks in. I'm not putting my entire life savings and I’m not going to mortgage the house and put it onto my coin or anything like that. Do I think it's a scam? No.
Based on what the reporting is in terms of who's involved, like you said that $200 million, it didn't come from the people using the platform. It came from investors who in many ways have been rewarded already because the money is now in their coin, which is on the platform.
Is there likelihood that that this platform will succeed? Yes, because the investors want it to succeed now because their coin is now worth way more than they invested already. Also, some people have taken money out. They're just doing it off of the chain right now. There's various Telegram groups and things like that, where people basically said, look, I've got a hundred BitClout coins that I want to sell. Somebody said, well, I'll pay you, and then you just send them to me afterwards.
It's interesting trying to assess whether or not something's a scam. We all have our different criteria and different things that we look at. The credibility of the investors is really a big thing. You know, these aren't no-name name, total idiot investors.
These are the who's who, some of the top VC firms, probably the top two VC firms in Silicon Valley have invested. A lot of people who are staking their public reputation on this, like the counter argument to that is how many competent, well-known people invested in Theranos?
That was a scam the whole time. How many people invested in WeWork, which is a basically failing business model propped up by the charisma of the founder. Maybe on the other end of the spectrum, you've got Ja Rule who got scammed by the Fyre Festival guy and thought that was going to work out. So, there's a possibility, things still don't work out.
One thing that gives me a lot of I guess confidence is that unlike Bitcoin, which is, invented by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, who even knows who that is, this was invented by some guy named Diamond Hands is his pseudonym.
But everybody actually knows who it is cause he went around to the investors, convinced them to invest. The secret’s out. His name is Nader. He's on Twitter. You can talk to him. He talks about it. He doesn't deny being the guy behind it. If he runs with the money, people know who that guy is, they know where he lives or they could find them.
There's a difference between, is this a scam and is this thing real? I think it's real. I don't think it's a scam now. It's real. Now, does that mean it's going to succeed? Does that mean that you're actually ever going to make all the money back that you put in? Does that even mean that you're actually going to make a fortune out of this thing?
It's the stock market. No! Because very, very rich, very, very smart, very, very, PhD people lose a ton of money on the stock market every week, every day, every month, every year. If you think you're going to just like, come in and speculate and make a whole bunch of money, no, you’ll probably lose it. Just like you do in the stock market.
Well, there's a lot of risks. There's number one, you trade poorly so you're gonna lose all your money. Number two, there's the platform risk itself, where BitClout in particular. From what I can tell there's this guy, twitter handle is _Prestwich. His name is James Prestwich. He has been on a tweeting storm to take down BitClout. He's done his own crypto companies before, he's worked as an auditor for blockchain technologies.
He's like, this website is total trash. It is completely insecure. Every time you log in to the website everybody in the BitClout team can basically see your password. You're not supposed to code websites like that. The average Bank of America employee doesn't know my bank credentials and couldn't take my money. But the average BitClout employee, could theoretically empty out my account, take all my money.
It's super insecure. They just didn't build it right. That's the tip of the iceberg in terms of all the different problems with the website. There's a platform risk thing where they might just get hacked or they might just lose all your money or they might have an employee run away with all your money. That has nothing to do with you not being able to trade. It has to do with the fact that this particular BitClout client that they built isn't really good.
The upside to this is pretty massive, though. I'm probably gonna put some money into it. Probably not very much because I don't want, again, it's just not wise, but I know people, friends and friends of friends, who put in 20, 30, $50,000 and have turned it into half a million, just speculating on people because right now it's like the Wild West.
For example, here's what I would do if I were on BitClout right now, buying people's coins. I am, just not, I don't have any money in the platform, so I'm not buying anything. I would immediately go to my brother. I actually texted him this morning. I'm like, have you heard about BitClout? And he's like, no, not really. And then he looked into and he's like, oh, here's my profile.
I'll go to my brother whose profile is basically empty and his coin’s worth $3.25, which means nobody's bought his coin. I would just buy a bunch of his coins because he’s a popular guy. He's got a lot of Twitter followers, just, nobody’s thought to buy his coin on BitClout yet.
It's pretty much guaranteed that, assuming BitClout does well as a platform, people will eventually buy as coin and it will be worth significantly more than $3.25. So, what everybody's doing in this sort of early phase is just looking for these overlooked investments. These people who no one has thought to buy their BitClout yet, because the platform is so new and it's basically just kind of free money that you also can’t access or ever withdrawal.
No, and that's what a lot of people have been doing. They’ve built various like scraping bots. They look for Twitter when people are announcing that they've signed up for BitClout and stuff. The minute somebody tweets it, they go and purchase the coin. Then it will kind of appreciate immediately, because again, everybody else sees that tweet now, and then everybody wants to purchase that coin as well.
I think the thing that's really interesting to me is, obviously, look, I don't think Facebook and Twitter are going anywhere, right? They're an established part of the internet economy, of society as a whole. What percentage does BitClout need to take?
If they took 10% of the user base from Twitter and Facebook and everybody was like, you know, I'm not going to tweet anymore. I'm going to use BitClout instead. How much is that worth? If you can buy that now for like 0.00001% of value will be in a year, how much are you going to make on that? That to me is the interesting thing is that it's not that it's going to be the only social media platform ever to exist from now moving forward.
It doesn't have to be. Even if it makes a modest inroad into the social media space and becomes another player, then you've already got massive, massive, potential, massive, massive value that you can pull out of that thing.
Another thing people have been tweeting about this, that I'm curious to hear your thoughts on are that it feels very dystopian.
There's a whole episode of “Black Mirror” where it's social credits and this woman is running around and every interaction she has with people, they can basically like upvote her or downvote her. She has a certain number of points next to her name. Once her points are low enough, nobody wants anything to do with her and her life is just one unfortunate event after another because things are just so hard.
BitClout feels kind of the same. You can imagine a future in which everyone has their own coin on BitClout that's worth a certain dollar amount that kind of reflects on how valuable you are as a person.
We're doing it on Twitter and Facebook right now. The more followers I get, the better I feel about myself because I got more followers. There's not that direct correlation between a USD value attached to it right now, as opposed to the number of followers and the number of likes every tweet that I send or the number of retweets it gets.
It's happening right now already. It's just a little bit under the surface and it's a little hard to figure out. BitClout’s said, let's just rip away all of the band-aids and stuff, and we'll pull back the curtains and we'll just call it the way it is. This is what you're worth.
This is what's really going on, yeah. That's what makes it super exciting and super fun. I mentioned this earlier, if you are holding somebody's coin, you have a lot more influence over that than if you had, let's say you bought a share of Coca-Cola stock.
There's not much I can do to make Coca-Cola stock go up. I can start telling all my friends about Coke or whatever, but that's not going to matter because quite frankly, Coke’s so big that my shares aren't worth anything.
Whereas if I buy stock in my buddy who I know that next week he's going to launch some big project, I can basically front run everything. It's like I'm an insider trader, right? I'm an inside trader. I just know all the details and I can buy stock in things that are ways that are so small people who are so unknown that I can single handedly move the needle. I can make their BitClout price go up because I tweet about it.
That completely changes the game. I don't know, what's like the biggest analog for that? Maybe angel investing, where you're investing in companies before there are other investors and you can tweet about them and blow them up. But with people it's infinite. There's so many levels down you can go where you can have way more influence than if you buy stock in public companies.
One of the reasons I am kind of really excited about it is especially for somebody like myself, right? You've seen my long list of things that I've built over the years. I mean, to be completely frank and honest, most of them aren't worth anything anymore.
They were just fun, little side projects that I built at the time, and it's more hassle to kind of build the monetization aspects into those things. It takes more effort than it's worth into how much value you can kind of extract out of those.
With some of my BitClout, I almost don't need to worry about that anymore. The more things I launch, the more people are talking about me, the more my reputation increases, the more my coin will be worth. So, I'm kind of indirectly, but always directly, making more money every time I launched something, every time I announced something that's real. I mean, I'm not just talking about just announcing stuff that doesn't exist.
If I actually build and launch something, it has, it will have an impact on the value of my coin. Even if the project is just a six-month long project and it’s cool and it's fun, it's still going to raise the value of my coin. If it ends up being a project that kind of launches and kind of takes off and spins off on its own, it's very easy to spin that into its own coin and just kind of let it run all by itself.
That's true. It's almost like there's short-term investing. I get a tip, I think the stock’s going to jump up with the next day, but then I'm going to dump it because I don't truly believe in the underlying asset. I just have a tip. I think things are gonna pop.
Versus long-term. I'm long Stripe. I think 10 years from now Stripe’s gonna be worth a trillion dollars so I'm just gonna hold. Now there's way for me to long-term invest in you. I don't have to go to you and be like, what new project are you working on? Let me draw up a SAFE or something and invest in your project.
I can just be like, hey, I'm going to buy Mubs’ BitClout coin and hold onto that for 10 years cause I'm pretty sure that 10 years from now Mubs will have been doing amazing stuff and some of them will have caught on. It's just going to be better.
I love that aspect of it. And you can basically get the proceeds of that. 10% of it anyway and start using it immediately to fund whatever you want to do.
It's effectively what people have been doing with, well, people are talking about doing with things ISIS and kind of things like that, too. I think the other elephant in the room is, okay, what does the U S government think of this? That's the other elephant is some of the things that you saw, some of the things we talked about in terms of insider trading, I mean, effectively it is insider trading, right?
If it isn't really a security, you can't really do insider trading. So, the question is, is this really a security? I don't know. It's going to be interesting how the IRS treats this, and it's gonna be interesting to see how the Us government treats this. It's going to also be interesting to see since it's a decentralized blockchain, how much influence does the U S government have on this thing as well?
Can they impose any restriction on this? Yes. At some point you're going to want to pull your money out. So, they have some say about how you pull your money out. But ultimately, if it's a platform that could run anywhere on the world on any number of servers around any part of the globe, I don't know what they can do about it.
I’m curious about what the best strategies will be. There is one strategy where you don't do anything of usefulness yourself. You don't do anything of utility yourself, you don't make anything, you don't care about your own coin. You're just constantly speculating on other people's coins. This is already what investors do. It was one of the main complaints about Wall Street: what do you guys actually create? Nothing. You're just moving money around.
Whereas other industries build things that are of utility, or you can take the other approach where you're like, no, I want my coin to be amazing. That's an incentive for me to do amazing things. I want to be better. I want to write really good thoughts and ideas. I have a great podcast or build cool products and you sort of get richer because you’re being amazing and you own part of your core.
I mean, for me, it's because of who I am, because of what I do, I want to do the second. I want to do that because I know I have a direct influence on the value of my own client, right? I know if I build and launch things, I know what the impact is of that. Just speculating and posting other people's coins, the risk just goes way out the window in terms of you're going to think something's going to happen, you're going to invest in people, people aren't going to do things. People aren't going to launch things the way that they're supposed to launch things, and they're going to say weird things and people are going to sell their coin and stuff.
Just like with the investing in stocks, it becomes way riskier and it's outside of your control about whether it succeeds or not. Now is the upside higher on that? Yeah, probably because you're able to spread your time and your funds across any, just like any venture capitalist does now, they don't invest in one thing, they invest in a hundred things and one of them makes a fortune.
Like I said, I only put a few hundred bucks into this thing because I think, I think there's potential there, but I'm essentially investing that in myself at this point. I've been spending the last two and a half weeks I've been on the platform focusing more on growing my following. I've got like 600 followers already on the platform and stuff, because I think longer term, the more engaging that you can be on the platform, the more value that you can add on the platform, the more valuable your coin will ultimately be anyway.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I mean, I'm looking at your personal BitClout account, your coin price is with $1,100 per coin and a total market cap of like almost 60 grand. Then you for your project, BitClout Follow, you also made an account for that, and it's worth even more than you are already.
It's going for $1,300 and it's got a total market cap of $64,000. It's making me think, okay, I need to get Indie Hackers on BitClout. I need to get every project I do on BitClout and then you don't have to pay any money. You’re not buying and trading anything. You're just building your thing and other people are putting money into it.
You can still invest in it early. I bought BitClout Follow when it wasn't worth anything because it wasn't worth anything. I bought eight or nine coins of it back then when it cost me less than a hundred bucks. That investment is now worth like 20,000 bucks or whatever it is.
That's investing in yourself becomes a lot easier as well. Yeah. I don't have to worry about setting up legal companies, S-corps and LLCs and all of that kind of fun stuff. All I got to do is transfer in some Bitcoin, hit purchased, and I've invested in myself.
Also, in terms of my side projects and stuff, it's a good indicator of whether I think I'm onto a really good idea or not. If I can get some smart people investing iin that coin early, it means, hang on a second, I think I might have something here, especially understanding who they are and kind of where they are in the industry and stuff like that is like, well, you know, I'm not just wasting my time here because I know that the smart people…
That's where the speculating I think is kind of interesting as well. Right now, people are speculating that these ideas have value and understanding who they are and understanding why they entered and why they purchased those coins, I think is, is also really good for founders and creators like myself to kind of understand why people are investing as well.
Listen, I can talk about this for hours and hours and I'm sure we will offline, but hopefully listeners know a little bit more about BitClout now. I urge you, don't take any investment advice from us.
We are not professionals. We're not telling you to go do this. I think that it is extremely risky and there are any number, we haven't even covered half the things on my list that might go wrong with the site. It was dead. It was literally down for half of March and you couldn't even use it.
I tried to send some to BitClout earlier yesterday. It was just like, you can't send more BitClout that is in your account, and it was less than one then what was in my account. They're trying to work out the kinks and who knows if this thing's going to get hacked or go down, but assuming it does work out and assuming lots of people adopt it, I think it's pretty promising and at the very least will be a lot of fun.
The biggest investment that you make in any of these things is your time, right? Whether you're on Facebook or Twitter and stuff, you spend hours posting stuff, interacting with people. Your biggest investment is your time. I would rather invest that time in BitClout because the upside for me is the sky at this point. What's my upside on Twitter? I don't have an upside on Twitter.
There really isn't I was talking to, um, Ashley Higgins who runs like product and strategy at Product Hunt. I was asking her like, where's Product Hunt going? She was saying, well, the way I look at products is, the first thing she thinks is, what question is this product answering? Or more specifically, what problem is this product solving?
That's how she always looks at things. I think for social media in general, that answer has been changing over the years. It used to be connection, right? What was the point of being on Facebook? To connect to your friends and your family and talk to them and like, isn't this so cool? We can love a group chat. It was so new.
Then with Twitter and Instagram, it became kind of like status. It's like, wait, now there's all these strangers who follow me. There’s a little number representing my followers. I guess I’m a high-status person because all these random people think I'm cool and look at all these likes that I'm getting.
Now I think it's just like, it's this purest form of money, right? I want to make money, I want to fund my projects. I want to pay for the roof over my head. I want to be able to buy food. I want to be able to live my best life.
That’s the question that BitClout is asking and, what is more motivational than money? Very few things. It's just super direct and to the point, because you can exchange it for whatever you want. I wouldn't be surprised to see this being widely adopted. There’s a much stronger reason to use BitClout if assuming it works out and it's not a scam and the website doesn't crash all the time, then there is to use something like Twitter at the end of the day.
Well, Mubs as always, thanks for coming on the show. Do you want to let listeners know where they can go to find what you're up to on BitClout.?
BitClout/u/mubashariqbal is my profile. And then obviously all my other projects are on iworkedon.com, so just find me on I worked on.
All right. See you later.
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