Sunday Scaries (02/28/21)

Hi everyone,

Writing to you from Los Angeles, CA.

It has been fascinating to watch the explosion of interest in NFTs over the last few weeks. “NFT” stands for “non-fungible token”, a type of blockchain-enabled asset that is especially interesting for artists and creatives.

Here’s how I put it to a friend of mine:

For the first time, you can sell copies of digital art without needing to print anything or create something physically. This is big news for animators and digital illustrators because they can finally directly monetize their creations.

NFTs allow artists to upload copies of their work to a decentralized file sharing service called InterPlanetary File System (IPFS).

Once uploaded, you can bid on the right to “own” the piece through an auction service. If you win the auction, your ownership certificate is appended to the original work, irrevocably granting you the right to transfer it to anyone else you want.

This may seem counterintuitive: if everyone has a copy of my piece, then how do I “own” it? Art in the physical work is based on scarcity — there can only be one copy of the Mona Lisa. But art in the digital world needs new rules. Since anyone can copy a file and save it to their computer, scarcity is now based on the “certificate” associated with the file.

Anyone can download it and view it, but only one person can be listed as the owner. In this way, NFTs allow us to bypass the biggest problem for artists trying to make money from selling their work online: copyright.

There are lots of sites promoting NFTs, but I personally use Foundation. If you know a digital artist or illustrator, you may want to let them know about NFTs and the growing opportunity they represent.


What’s new from me

The ideas in this book were unintuitive, yet seemed obvious once explained. That’s a winning combination.

I wrote up my thoughts on the a, plus compiled a list of my favorite passages for subscribers.


In this week’s edition

I’ve got something new this week. I wanted to share three of my favorite memos with you all. The writing styles differ, but each of them contains valuable nuggets about how some of the most effective leaders think about the future.


The Internet Tidal Wave (Bill Gates)

Bill Gates realized that Microsoft was headed off a cliff. Their legacy distribution model, which required customers to pay for updates, had the incentives all wrong. He realized this soon after the creation of the web and wrote the following memo to help the company change direction. Instead of writing software for large enterprise clients that relied on massive yearly upgrades, the Internet would allow for a new model to emerge.

Perhaps you have already seen memos from me or others here about the importance of the Internet. I have gone through several stages of increasing my views of its importance. Now I assign the Internet the highest level of importance.

Lindy score: 2047

Going Public (Elon Musk)

Elon addressed the entire staff of SpaceX with this 2013 memo titled “Going Public”. He explains the long-term mission of the company and why employees should not relish the thought of being publicly traded. It’s a blend of bluntness, inspiration, and earnestness that is missing from most corporate communications.

If being a public company diminishes that likelihood, then we should not do so until Mars is secure.

Lindy score: 2029

Why Facebook Should Buy Unity (Mark Zuckerberg)

Unlike the other memos, this prediction has yet to play out. AR/VR is still an emerging platform, and Facebook’s investment in these technologies is still up in the air. Despite that, Zuckerberg explains why Facebook needs to look past mobile and concentrate on the future platforms that will connect the next billion people.

Therefore, our goal is not only to win in AR / VR, but to accelerate its arrival.

Lindy score: 2027

Have a great week,

Phil