(from the latest issue of the Indie Hackers newsletter)
The catch? There's currently no way for buyers to cash out:
BitClout may not yet have a way for buyers to cash out, but the blockchain social media platform surpassed 1M transactions this week.
What is BitClout? BitClout is a crypto-focused social media platform that monetizes influencers’ reputations into customized coins that users can buy and sell.
BitClout users can speculate on people's success, from Elon Musk to the rapper Blueface, with real money using BitClout’s custom blockchain. (And, if you want the Hollywood summary, this episode of Black Mirror actually predicted BitClout years ago.)
How it works: Every profile gets its own unique creator coin. Users convert Bitcoin into BitClout’s coin ($BTCLT) which can then be used to buy other creator coins. As people buy a creator’s coin, the price rises. As it sells, the price goes down. BitClout trades for $165.20 USD per coin.
Who created it: The open source platform was created by an anonymous group of developers led by a mysterious user called “Diamondhands.” BitClout was launched in March 2021, and Diamondhands told TechCrunch that there is no company behind the organization:
If you look at people’s existing relationships with social media companies, it’s this very adversarial thing where all the content they produce is not really theirs but it belongs to the corporation that doesn’t share the monetization with them.
The catch: You can't convert your BitClout back into BitCoin, and no major crypto exchange supports the coin. BitClout said it plans to create its own exchange function eventually. It’s also highly speculative, as you’re betting on someone’s popularity on the platform.
Controversies: BitClout is trading the reputations of celebrities without their permission, making the platform ripe for lawsuits. BitClout pre-loaded the top 15K influencers from Twitter, allowing users to buy and sell the reputations of Ariana Grande or Gary Vaynerchuk without their consent. Brandon Curtis, chief research officer at Radar Relay, recently issued a cease-and-desist letter to BitClout for using his likeness without his consent. This is likely the first of many legal challenges to the platform.
Is BitClout a scam? Many crypto personalities allege that BitClout is a hoax. Crypto investing blog CryptoPotato claims that some VIPs were allowed to pre-mine BitClout before it arrived on the public market, and they “are already sitting on huge profits.” CryptoPotato also reported that BitClout has been selling celebrity NFTs without consent, including Kanye West, Billie Eilish, and YouTuber Jake Paul.
Big backers: While many in crypto are still skeptical, BitClout has attracted some of the biggest investors in Silicon Valley, according to the New York Times. Sequoia Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Coinbase Ventures, Social Capital, Winklevoss Capital, and Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian have all backed BitClout in the latest crypto craze.
Indie hackers are also getting in on the game. Founder Mubashar Iqbal believes that BitClout is the best of all worlds: You can build a variety of apps, have built-in support for your work, and speculate on the success of others. He's gone all in with BitClout, according to his recently posted AMA.
Moving money: Decrypt reports that a single BitClout wallet has received more than $165M worth of Bitcoin. That means there are likely hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Bitcoin already on the platform.
Clout kings: Unsurprisingly, Elon Musk’s unverified account tops the list of most valuable personalities on BitClout with an estimated value of about $66K per coin, and 364 coins in circulation. He’s followed by AngelList founder Naval Ravikant, who’s drawing a value of about $45.5K per coin.
BitClout alternatives: Other platforms, like Roll and Rally, are also enabling their users to monetize their online reputations. Roll tokenizes your digital self into branded tokens called “social money” on the Ethereum blockchain. Rally allows users to buy and sell social tokens to gain access to special VIP benefits like unreleased content, private communities, and early access to tickets.
The bottom line: From Twitter to Facebook, social media companies have been monetizing their users’ clout for years. While it’s unclear if it will be successful, BitClout taps into a demand that allows people to directly monetize their digital life and reputation.
What are your thoughts on BitClout? Would you invest? Share in the comments!
📈 Coinbase hit a valuation of over $100B on its first day of public trading.
💘 Facebook is testing a video speed-dating app called Sparked.
👀 The FBI is hacking vulnerable US computers to fix malicious malware.
🚨 New Yorkers condemn the robot police dog patroller deployed by the NYPD.
👣 Android's new feature tells distracted users to look up while walking.
Check out Volv for more 9-second news digests.
MicroAcquire, a marketplace for selling and buying SaaS businesses and early-stage startups, just acquired Exitround. Both are marketplaces for buying and selling startups, but MicroAcquire happens to have been bootstrapped by indie hacker Andrew Gazdecki.
What it means: The exit game traditionally favors buyers, but MicroAcquire is shifting the power back into the hands of founders. The acquisition of Exitround expands MicroAcquire's existing marketplace and adds emphasis on seamless founder exits.
While tech headlines tend to focus on unicorns, a growing number of investors are becoming interested in acquiring lifestyle businesses. (Example: Tiny Capital, which takes inspiration from Warren Buffett, albeit at a smaller scale.)
At the same time, more and more people are building side projects. But not all of these founders are prepared to scale up. This is where platforms like MicroAcquire come into play.
What’s next: MicroAcquire is part of the “businesses as products” meta trend.
Companies like Flippa, FE International and Empire Flippers are making it relatively easy to buy and sell businesses.
The average business sells on Empire Flippers for around $200K. Since launching in 2012, its marketplace sales to date have totaled nearly $150M.
FE International facilitated $60M in business sales in its first six years. And Flippa, which lists simple websites for as little as $500, hit $100M in its first four years.
Check out the full post to see this week's other three exploding topics.
And join Exploding Topics Pro to see trends 6+ months before they take off.
Would you buy an early-stage startup? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Free trials are a smart choice when prospects are cold, but warm prospects may be another story. Consider charging for your trial in order to increase revenue.
Like many companies, Ahrefs offers a 7-day trial; the difference is that they charge $7 for it. While this is an unusual choice, it's working for them. And the reason seems to be that people who land on their site are already warmed up. They know what Ahrefs does and the value they provide. How do they know this? Because most of them come from Google to their blog, which talks about the product's features a lot. Many others come from word of mouth, which is bound to come with some context about the product. And then there are those who come from their courses, which are essentially low-key tutorials. So by the time a visitor is considering a trial, they'll probably be willing to part with a few dollars. Not only does this boost revenue, but it decreases support costs for low-intent users too. If you're in a similar position, consider giving it a shot. If not, follow Ahrefs' example and start warming up your visitors.
WhereByUs is an media brand that has built local new organizations in Miami, Seattle, Portland, Orlando, and Pittsburgh. The company was founded by Rebekah Monson, Chris Sopher, and Bruce Pinchbeck, and its newsletters are netting more than $1.5M ARR. They are also the same team behind LetterHead, a set of business tools for quality newsletters, which has hit $25K MRR.
Chris, Bruce, and Rebekah didn't set out to create a newsletter. They simply wanted to make the city of Miami more accessible. They began hosting workshops with locals about issues affecting local communities, including housing, affordability, and transportation. One thing became quickly apparent to the team: Miami needed a resource to keep the community updated on new events in the city.
After a year of researching the habits and interests of people in Miami, they launched The New Tropic, billed as:
A newsletter all about Miami, delivered fresh daily at 7 AM.
In order to understand Miami, the team immersed themselves in the local lifestyle. That meant understanding things like the daily morning commute, the local bar scene, the local school systems, and much more.
They collected an immense amount of information during the process, and later sat down to examine the notes to find patterns in the types of interests. Notes were divided into various categories like transportation, traffic, taxes, food, and dining.
Chris, Bruce, and Rebekah decided to send The New Tropic over email since it was a seamless way of shipping the product.
Right from the start, the newsletter had diverse income streams. They charged for memberships and subscriptions for premium content ($96/Year), and monetized through ads.
They continued to host local events and ran marketing campaigns for local brands.
After building out The New Tropic in Miami, Chris, Bruce, and Rebekah worked on a playbook for building similar brands in other cities.
But one barrier remained: How to source the content?
This was no small feat. The key was to get the vibe of the city right, which required local creators who are entrenched in the fabric of the local community. The team ended up finding a couple of local creators in Seattle who knew the city very well. WhereByUs provided them with the user research playbook, the tech stack, and the payroll, and the creators worked on the content.
The final touch was naming the newsletter appropriately. The Seattle edition is called The Evergrey, as a nod to the weather!
Research at length: Spend a lot of time studying your users. This cannot be stated enough.
Keep the brand authentic: Authenticity is crucial in building brands that last. Stay authentic at all costs.
Spin out stuff: Always be learning when you are creating. You will find plenty of new and interesting products that you can spin out from your main project.
Check out the full episode on the Indie Hackers Podcast.
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Special thanks to Jay Avery for editing this issue, to Nathalie Zwimpfer for the illustrations, and to Bobby Burch, Priyanka Vazirani, Josh Howarth, James Fleischmann, and Ayush Chaturvedi for contributing posts. —Channing