I have to admit I'm a little surprised by how little attention the NFT collapse is getting, relative to the amount of credulous stories that we were seeing about it just a year ago. Wild that there seems to be zero accountability from the large number of people who used their social capital to fuel the craze. Rolling Stone put Bored Apes on their cover! Lebron James and Madonna were hawking these things! Why have we not seen any camera phone videos from chastened-looking Jimmy Fallon or Reese Witherspoon where they bite their lip and say, "hey guys, so sorry I convinced you to blow your life savings on clip art"? It's like everyone has just nonchalantly walked away from the crash.

Expand full comment

You've explained (very well) the desperation driving people to invest in shoddy schemes, but what is the motivation of the financial media?

There's been a series of failures by media reporters (Theranos, WeWork, SBF, Twitter, NFTs, etc, etc), and there's never a reckoning by reporters or outlets.

Do these reporters simply fill column space without analysis, or are they naive and gullible (in which case, they're in the wrong job)?

Expand full comment

That doodle cartoon is dire, my god. Feels like the intro to a “fun” orientation course for your company’s new SAAS database solution.

Expand full comment

"NFTs were (and are) vehicles to exploit people - particularly Americans - who are desperate and fairly questioning their place in a world that has continually turned upon providing basic social services and the ability for its citizens to thrive. There are few honest ways for the average person to accumulate wealth — it’s near impossible to buy a house, the rising cost of living means few have the capital to invest in the market, and most Americans are woefully unprepared for retirement."

There was a very good point made on this from a YouTube video on "passive income" scams— which are basically the same thing as this NFT stuff— that it really comes down to rents. They see the fat stacks of mostly-unearned money that landlords and the like (such as IP and natural resource holders) make and think "that's not fair, I want some of that too."

Then a fake version of it is promised to them, and they get rugpulled.

Notably, *this isn't even capital we're talking about*. Capital is productive. It does stuff. And, really, building a profitable business in a competitive market involves a lot of work and a horrid amount of risk. What they want are RENTS, which you can accumulate by sitting on your ass doing nothing. That's the dream of "passive income", which is really just rent by another name.

Honestly the Georgists deserve way more credit than they get.

Expand full comment

This reminds me a great deal of when I was working as an intern for a startup called homewarehouse dot com in my summer holiday from university in 1999. There was an offer of either $20 an hour flat or $10 an hour with stock options. I took the full cash.

One day at lunch, co-workers were talking about the potential of the future IPO. I bluntly stated that it felt like a get-rich quick scheme and everyone was shocked to learn I hadn't taken the options. After that point, I was a pariah as clearly I wasn't drinking from the same chalice.

Unsurprisingly, homewarehouse never reached IPO. It was gutted and sold to Walmart for parts, becoming the underpinnings of their initial walmart.com. Those who were vested got a small buy out of their stocks. My co-workers saw nothing other than working at half the salary I had earned.

It begs the questions as, despite having lived in San Francisco for 15 years and through two dot-com cycles, do I personally know anyone who has become exceedingly wealthy? While I know "of" people who have, the answer within my personal circles is a massive no.

However, do I know anyone who has won a large lottery prize? Yes.

Expand full comment

"Doodles shows a deep loathing for creativity, storytelling and their ideal customer."

The same animating philosophy of the next big grift (and IP piracy-palooza), "AI".

Curious (not really) that so many of the same VC/SV players have their fingers stirring the water in all these ponds. "You, too can author the next American Masterpiece, or win a prestigious award for your [not actually a] photograph! (Just don't look at who's really profitting.)"

Expand full comment

“The NFT hype was a long con on customers and the media at large — a classic scam where companies built the appearance of value without ever actually generating any.”

A succinct description of the pixelated shit show. I just wrote about similar, though I hope that, from these JPEG ashes, can come use for the technology.

I don’t hold my breath though.


Expand full comment

You keyed in on a really important sub-plot of the whole NFT collapse, which is just how lazy and uninspired most of these supposedly "creator" oriented projects are. Yuga Lab's "Dookey Dash" is a prime example of this. Its a boring, uninspired game and you'd think a company worth $4B (or whatever inflated value it actually is) would be able to come up with something at least rivaling Pokemon Go. But nope.

Also notice how the first instinct for so many people who signed up for the "Dookey Dash" contest was to cheat. A common refrain of the crypto/web3 community is that its made up of people who are really committed to using the blockchain to build a better version of the internet. I'm sure that's a fair characterization of some of the web3 community, but its not the correct characterization overall. It's obvious to anybody paying attention that the crypto/web3 world is dominated by cheaters, thieves, and grifters. As Yuga Labs learned, you can't even launch a simple video game contest without it being immediately overrun with scammers.

Expand full comment

I can definitely see the appeal of a get-rich-quick scheme in a zero-sum economy where most avenues of social mobility have been blocked. The addition of anonymous deals with cryptocurrency also makes it very difficult to go after the scammers. And they also have some level of plausible deniability, although wash-trades to boost the value are good evidence and the blockchain never forgets.

Expand full comment

Exactly this.

Elon Musk, the chief executive and chairman of the largest U.S. automaker by market cap made a material public statement on a social media site that he had secured funding to take his company private at a share price higher than the market price.

Shares surged.

Turns out that there was no deal and the statement was knowingly false.

Federal law provides for serious criminal and civil penalties, including jail time, large fines and a permanent ban from holding officership or C-level management roles in a widely held corporation.

None of those were pursued. He got a slap on the wrist, the SEC issued a toothless directive to ask the board of directors to edit his social media, and within a week he was complaining that the SEC “inhibits innovation.”

Fraud is acceptable now, so long as you’re powerful and influential. Only small time fraudsters — like people who lie on their mortgage applications — get prosecuted.

Expand full comment

NFTs just seems like a different spin on the scam that is the MLM. Astoundingly, so many idiots got suckered by it too, that's really the strangest part. Greedy, greedy, idiots.

Expand full comment

Amen. It's worth remembering that this horrible industry ALSO took root because the regulators were captured. There's nothing new or even technical about bitcoin. It's just a plain list, common in every program. There's nothing new or technical about NFTs. The securities agencies have plenty of laws against this type of fraud, but they were paid and revolving-doored into closing their eyes.

Expand full comment

I'm not exactly outraged by this story, actually I think it's hilarious. Who lost their money on this transparently spurious bullshit? A bunch of bored Silicon Valley and Wall Street types who just had to be in on The Next Big Thing? Suck it up, you preening self-deluded jagoffs. It's also hilarious that these stupid fucks never learn.

Expand full comment

I remember listening to an interview with Beeple who at the time had just sold his NFT "Everydays: The First 5000 Days," and thinking to myself that this is just has to be a joke. Close to $70M for a piece of digital art??? I could understand spending money on a nice small Vermeer, were one to turn up at an auction, but this is just more crypto nonsense.

Maybe Beeple is just off laughing at the insanity of it all.

Expand full comment