Who is in Charge? Tech Elites or the Digital “Mob”?

By Keith Teare • Issue #4 • View online

That Was The Week — 2021 Issue #4



The urge to knock power off of its seat is widespread. From the “speak truth to power” instinct through to the Black Lives Matter rebellion and, yes, even the assault on the Capitol, people everywhere are open to participating in bottoms up power. And in direct proportion, others want to stop them.

In this week’s That Was The Week we include lots of content relevant to these trends. Key among them is David Sacks piece written for Persuasion outlining how the “outsider” is confronted with being silenced or stopped by “insiders”. He draws a straight line between Trump’s de-platforming by powerful elites in social media, the banning of Parler, by the same elites, and the more recent closure of the “wallstreetbets” forum on the Discord app. He seems them all as part of a slippery slope to top-down authoritarianism.

That is complemented by the All-In Podcast where Sacks, Chamath Palihapitiya, Jason Calacanis and David Frieberg debate the issue – it makes fascinating viewing. My wife has decided she prefers it to Meet the Press and Morning Joe – for those news junkies among you.

Clubhouse is the most recent addition to the bottoms-up content toolset. After doing my first Clubhouse session last week, I now believe it represents the future of online streaming. Up until now, streaming has been passive and one-directional – as in, a stream. But with Clubhouse the software places individuals into three groups. Those on the stage who can speak – as if on Zoom. Those in the middle who have asked to speak, who are listening to the stream, can be brought onstage. And those in the audience can raise their hand and ask to be placed on the stage. They are stream recipients only. By combining streaming with interactivity, Clubhouse has created a more engaged, interactive medium. Hopin has done the same for events – with streamed keynotes, breakout rooms, exhibitors who can engage with visitors and so on. This is “watch parties” on steroids. We are close to adding “digital seats” to any event, have it streamed, and engaged with, in real-time.

With the advent of WebRTC streaming (see Millicast.com) where low latency video and audio can co-exist with interactive groups, the old experience of a stream and a chat (Twitch for example) is being upgraded in front of our eyes into a fully interactive audio/video alongside a latency-free stream. With Millicast, this can scale to millions of viewers with thousands of interactive groups. The future looks like Clubhouse, only better. Around.co is capable of similar features for team collaboration and webinars and workshops, where people sit around the content.

Zoom represents the first 1% of the change coming. The next phase will be the unbundling of zoom – where key use cases for video, audio and sharing, with streaming at scale, are integrated into specific applications for specific use cases.

The mob is about to gain powerful tools for watching, listening, discussing and assembling. Democracy is about to be taken to the next level and the Elites may not like the consequences.

Lots more below.

See you all next week

Keith Teare

The Insiders’ Game — Persuasion

GameStop was a warning: Elites are weaponizing censorship to keep the outsiders out

As the apex predators of capitalism, hedge funds are accustomed to raking in billions by driving companies into the ground and feasting on the carcasses. So there was widespread satisfaction last week when members of an online discussion group called WallStreetBets started beating the Wall Street bully boys at their own game. Ringleaders of the group noticed that hedge funds had taken a short position in the videogame retailer GameStop that far exceeded the number of shares available to trade. Motivated as much by revenge as by profit, these influencers in the group encouraged the 2.7 million members (since risen to around 8 million) to purchase the stock in order to drive the price higher and create a massive short squeeze. This quickly became a movement with a cause similar to that of Occupy Wall Street, except much more effective because it hit the intended target where they would feel it the most, in the wallet. “The only way to beat a rigged game,” one WallStreetBets leader said, “is to rig it even harder.”


E19: Robinhood’s GameStop decision: Why did it happen and how can it be prevented in the future?

David Sacks, Chamath Palihapitiya, versus Jason Calacanis and David Frieberg. They debate centralized versus decentralized power structures in the light of de-platforming and the closure of the wallstreetbets forum by Discord. They disagree strongly. I’m with Sacks and Chamath.


Reddit co-founder on GameStop: ‘The collective public cannot unsee this’ — TechCrunch

When Robinhood, a startup that promises to make finance accessible for all, temporarily limited trading on GameStop, AMC, and other memestocks, many retail investors were pissed that the fintech darling suddenly didn’t live up to its name. The specific reasons may have been short-term and technical, but the choice looked corrupt to the average person. […]


Elon Musk just showed how Clubhouse can succeed The Verge


Clubhouse is blowing up in China

Chinese users are suddenly flooding in to the group audio chat app Clubhouse. Here’s what you need to know.

  • Who’s on Clubhouse? China’s elites. More specifically: Tech workers, social media opinion leaders, dissidents, activists and journalists both in China and outside of China.
  • Clubhouse is on the Weibo trending chart. One day after Elon Musk appeared on Clubhouse, the hashtag “Clubhouse Invite Code” appeared as a trending topic on the Chinese social media platform.
  • What are users talking about? One big topic: Politics.
  • Invite codes are for sale.
  • Tech insiders are already talking about copying it.
  • Realtime audio chat rooms are nothing new in China.


Welcome, Facebook and Twitter. Seriously.

There are now more than 500,000 paid subscriptions across Substack, and the top ten writers collectively make more than $15 million a year. It’s still early days, but this thing is happening.

If Facebook and Twitter are earnest in their pursuit of this opportunity, I implore them to go all in. They have enormous influence and can make a big positive difference in the world by taking the lessons from Substack to heart. This is about more than just doing the right thing for writers; it’s about improving the entire information ecosystem.


Spotify credits podcast popularity for 24% growth in subscribers

Strategic shift beyond music content helps streaming service to grow advertising income by 29% to €281m

Spotify recorded a doubling in podcast listening hours in the fourth quarter of 2020, as locked-down listeners hunting for entertainment tuned in to Michelle Obama and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, driving a Wall Street-beating 24% year-on-year increase in paying subscribers.

The audio streaming company, which now has 155 million paying customers, saw its total monthly user base, including those on its free, advertising-supported tier, grow 27% year-on-year to 345 million.

Continue reading…


No, Getting Rid Of Anonymity Will Not Fix Social Media; It Will Cause More Problems

There’s an idea that pops up every so often among people who are upset about misinformation online but don’t actually understand the realities of online communities and the dynamics of how it all works: it’s the idea that…


What It Takes to Really Raise Capital in 2021 with Point Nine Capital

Each year, Point 9 Capital surveys founders and investors to explore what it takes to raise capital for SaaS companies. In this guide, Christoph Janz, a Founding Partner at Point 9 Capital, gives his data-backed insight into what investors are looking for in the year ahead.

The post What It Takes to Really Raise Capital in 2021 with Point Nine Capital appeared first on SaaStr.


Venture capital is going to get even bigger, faster, and more expensive this year — TechCrunch

The venture capital market has skewed later and larger in recent quarters, something you might have felt in the rapid recent pace of new unicorn formation. December was a hot month for new unicorns, for example. So was January. February likely will be more of the same.

Powering those unicorn births are huge rounds led by large funds. In 2020, for example, there were at least 97 global fintech rounds worth $100 million or more. That number was up from 92 in 2019 and 66 in 2018. Each preceding year was a prior record.


How European venture capital weathered a rocky 2020


The European VC market has quietly kept on building a head of steam in the past 12 months, regardless of a pandemic that otherwise threatened to cripple entire sections of the private equity industry, Unquote Data showsSilicon Valley’s iron grip on venture capital is slipping — Quartz

Silicon Valley’s iron grip on venture capital is slipping

Tech watchers have been itching to write Silicon Valley’s epitaph for years (indeed, many already have). While America’s preeminent tech hub is not dead yet, the data shows it is beginning to give up ground to smaller startup hubs across the country.

The Bay Area has for decades claimed the lion’s share of venture capital deals in the US. That hasn’t changed. But lately, its share of deals has been gradually declining. This year, predict analysts at the private equity research firm PitchBook, it will drop below 20% for the first time in their dataset, which stretches back to 2006.



For more than 100 years, companies have existed in a binary world, either private or public. Private companies have been highly restricted in how they can raise money, sell stock, provide employee liquidity, and otherwise manage their ownership. Public companies …

The post CartaX appeared first on Andreessen Horowitz.


Elon Musk: “I Am A Supporter Of Bitcoin”

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, voiced his support and optimism for Bitcoin during a conversation on Clubhouse.

The post Elon Musk: “I Am A Supporter Of Bitcoin” appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.


VISA Announces Pilot API For its Banking Partners to Allow Customers Direct Bitcoin Purchase

VISA, the world’s leading payment processing giant has announced a new Pilot API program for its banking partners that would allow customers to purchase bitcoin and other crypto-assets seamlessly. VISA has joined hands with Anchorage as the technology partner for the pilot program. First Boulevard, a Kansas-based, Black-focused digital bank, will pilot the APIs, designed

The post VISA Announces Pilot API For its Banking Partners to Allow Customers Direct Bitcoin Purchase appeared first on Coingape.


UiPath and Databricks set the stage for direct listings with huge funding rounds

Cloud software developers UiPath and Databricks announced mammoth financing rounds on Monday, and both are now set up to go public in a non-traditional manner.

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