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Do You Believe in Magic?

Do You Believe in Magic?
Do You Believe in Magic?
Hi all
A brief note to say, no video with this issue. I ran out of time. But no fear. I will do one and sent it separately.
This week sees the parting of the ocean, perhaps somewhat appropriate for the Passover weekend. On the one side the believers, believing in startups, Bitcoin as an energy store and an investment-grade asset, Remote digital events, Medium as a platform, NFTs, and yes, Microsoft, believing in the blockchain as a trustless identity platform. Trustless is good by the way, It means we can trust without needing proof. The believers’ number in their ranks Geoff Ralston of Y Combinator, Nick Grossman of Union Square Ventures (along with his colleagues), Hopin, the $5 billion startup, Ev Williams of Medium, The buyer of a $500k digital house via NFT, Chamath Palihapitiya, Marc Cuban, Fidelity Investments and Packy McCormick of Not Boring fame.
The non-believers include a similarly impressive list. John Thornhill of the Financial Times piles into Sam Altman for believing in automation and a workless future. Casey Newton at The Verge piles into Medium after speaking with 14 departing employees, Mark Zuckerburg begs to be regulated by Washington DC, presumably because he has stopped believing in himself, Lauren Goode at Wired piles into Slack for enabling direct messages between all Slack users.
All progress is uneven, for sure. And whenever brave individuals and teams stretch beyond what is already normal to create something new there will be detractors mocking them, laughing at them, scorning them. And, for a while, the detractors seem sane and the revolutionaries seem crazy. But as Steve Jobs told us, it is the crazy ones who make history. The critics only disbelieve it is possible.
I was planning to discuss the Y Combinator “scaling” piece by Geoff Ralston and make it this week’s lead, but when I stood back and read the other content I realized that if I did I would be joining the non-believers.
My initial idea for the cover image looked like this:
Is Y Combinator Factory Farming Startups?
Is Y Combinator Factory Farming Startups?
Whoops. That was a close one.
Y Combinator has been making history since its formation. It is true that 300 startups given almost zero time to pitch is hard on the startups, not to mention the investors. But those are 300 startups that loved the chance and the cash injection. Some of them will become very successful if only a few.
As for Medium. Ev Williams is pivoting the project and not for the first time. His letter to employees is honest about the past and that he is committed to trying again, this time as a writer’s platform, not as an editorial organization. He is brave, honest, and decisive. All you can ask of a leader.
Nick Grossman explains why when Iceland uses its energy to mine Bitcoin, then Bitcoin is acting like a battery, storing energy and turning it into value. In times when the world seems to think Bitcoin is the cause of global warming, this is a bold and correct framing of its role.
And NFTs? And AI? Are they delusions and improbable? Maybe. But most likely not. The future of digital artifacts as holding value and the end of work due to automation is nothing less than inevitable. It just does not seem so yet. So, this week, we recognize the crazy ones and we also publish their detractors. You, the reader get to choose. I think I made myself clear. And if not, one of the favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt, and often quoted by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington, can end this editorial:
The Believers
Scaling YC
Bitcoin as Battery
Hopin buys two more companies as it triples down on video focus – TechCrunch
Medium Editorial Team Update. We announced a buyout and leadership… | by Ev Williams | Mar, 2021 | Medium
Medium Offers Buyouts to Editorial Employees - The New York Times
Breaking Down OpenSea’s $23 Million Raise in NFT Boom
Photograph: Guardian Online
Photograph: Guardian Online
Bitcoin Billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya Says He’s Buying Crypto Art, Calls NFTs the Next Frontier of Digital Assets
Billionaire Mark Cuban is building a digital art gallery for NFTs
Asset management giant Fidelity files for a bitcoin ETF
Microsoft Rolls Out Bitcoin-Powered Identity Platform
The Dao of DAOs
The Non-Believers
The delusions of techno-futurists who ask: crisis, what crisis? | Financial Times
The mess at Medium - The Verge
Facebook wants Washington’s help running Facebook
Slack Now Lets You DM Anyone. So Long, Work-Life Balance
Heard in Silicon Valley
The a16z Marketplace 100: 2021 - Andreessen Horowitz
Taming the hybrid work chimera: Tips from Slack, WordPress, & Salesforce chiefs - Josh Constine's PressClub
Sovereign Writers and Substack
Battery Ventures: VC Investments Are Way Up.  But Deals Aren’t.
EU Deploys Region’s Largest VC Fund to Create Local Unicorns
The gap at pre-seed in the UK is real. 👀👇🏼Number of first rounds in the UK have dropped to 2012 levels, while follow on rounds are at an all time high.
Startup of the Week
UiPath IPO: everything you need to know about the stock - Protocol — The people, power and politics of tech
Robinhood files SEC paperwork for public offering
Tweet of the Week
Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro was read on BBC 4. The audio is on the web.
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Keith Teare

That Was The Week is a editorialized and curated weekly look at developments in tech, startups and investing

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Keith Teare, Palo Alto, California