Wiser! #51: Gary Vee makes $91m in 90 days selling NFTs (he had never heard of NFTs 9 months ago); Instagram hits 2 billion users with TikTok catching up fast; Roblox, Snap, Apple and AI, all in this issue of Wiser!
In this issue of Wiser!;
- Gary Vee made over $91 million in 90 days selling NFTs of his own sketches
- Instagram hits 2 billion users (but isn't telling anyone about it!)
- What you should know about Roblox
- The family safety app found to be selling location data on your kids.
- Snap and Apple in the battle to boss the AR smart glasses sector
- UK Gov to set up AI standards plus a roundup of the latest algorithmic stories
- What did Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Google look like in the beginning
- Tim Cook's secret China deal
Gary Vee made $91 million in 90 days selling NFTs: WTF!
BackStory: Entrepreneur, winery owner, and social media "influencer" Gary Vaynerchuk, aka Gary Vee, had never heard of NFTs 9 months ago. But after 50 hours of getting his head around it, then drawing 10,000 sketches, he made over $91 million in his first 90 days.
To read Gary Vee's story, go here...
TakeAway: Like me, you're probably trying to get your head around how this can happen. It makes no sense...or does it?
Like any piece of art, it's always a matter of perspective when it comes to a perception of value. But that's not the point here with VeeFriends, the 10,000 series of 1-2 minute sketches of animals by Gary Vee. Because the point is that NFTs mean 2 things. First, it's all about a new way to own digital assets. They're not only an immutable and digital record of ownership but also a means to automatically assigning other benefits and conditions of sale in a digital contract, aka smart contract.
Second, it is all about STATUS. You buy one of Gary Vee's entry-level pics for $50k and you get bragging rights. You get to be part of a very exclusive community. You also get free access to his events for the next 3 years. And the more exclusive the sketch, the more access you get to actually be with Vee.
It's this latter point that is the takeaway. Because it plays to a very basic and long-standing trait of human behaviour, which is to signal 'status'. This is what is driving these mind-boggling and hard to explain valuations. This will inevitably subside and burn itself out. But this new mechanism for owning and trading digital assets is here for the long run and will become as ubiquitous as wifi and contactless and 5G.
Here's one of the very first articles I wrote for Wiser! back in March, on this very subject...
Did you see this?
Premium Members receive Wiser! Insights on the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month. These are long-form essays that take a deeper dive into a current trend and topical theme from the Tech Economy.
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Instagram looks over its shoulder at TikTok as it hits 2 billion users: but don't tell anyone!
Back Story: Instagram has reportedly reached the heady milestone of 2 billion monthly active users.
This is according to anonymous employees who broke the news to CNBC. The MetaFacebook-owned company has not yet, and probably won’t, officially disclosed the actual user numbers. The last time Instagram publicly reported user numbers was in 2018 (when it hit 1 billion MAUs), so it's not in the habit of reporting them. But given that they have spent the last 3 to 4 months under scrutiny for potentially causing harm to kids and teens, it's unlikely they'll be blowing their own trumpet on this one.
Talking point: In 2012, when Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion, the platform had around 50 million monthly active users. It took just 6 years for them to get to 1 billion, and only the next 3 to double it to 2 billion.
It's common knowledge that MetaFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's #1 priority is growth (some say at all costs but I couldn't possibly comment). But the issue for Instagram is less about growth and more about staying ahead of TikTok, the fast-growing short-form video app that just crossed 1 billion users in September.
TikTok reached its first billion users in just three years after the app merged with Musical.ly. While Instagram is still outpacing the Chinese platform, it’s unclear how long that will last. The best that Instagram can do is roll out features that just seem like TikTok clones. Don't believe me, check out Reels Visual Reply. I rest my case.
Aside from the issues around the harmful impact on adolescent girls' body image, Instagram is also under fire for making it easier for teens to find drugs. In an attempt to counteract these issues, the platform has take a leaf out of China's BigTech Crackdown and rolled out a “take a break feature,” which prompts users to close the app if they’ve been on it for a set period of time. They also announced the introduction of new parental controls.
Instagram head to face questions about child safety in Senate hearing. Source: The Verge
Instagram surpasses 2 billion monthly users while powering through a year of turmoil. Source: CNBC
What you should know about Roblox
Back Story: One of the most successful players in the metaverse world is Roblox.
Founded in 2004, the platform now has 47 million daily active users globally and 9.5 million developers who build out so-called “experiences." These are user-created games that are focused on building immersive worlds within existing gaming tech, rather than investing heavily in nascent tech like AR and VR (think more Fortnight than Horizon Worlds).
Over 8 million small and big-time game developers are using Roblox as a means of promoting new games. Due to this, Roblox has been home to over 40 million different games, at least since 2008. Roblox developers have amassed combined earnings of $328 million.
The platform has been played and downloaded in over 180 countries. A third of the daily active users are in North America followed closely by Europe. In the last quarter of 2020, Roblox registered over 9.73 billion hours of playtime on the platform, making it one of the most engaged platforms in the world.
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Snippets of Insight and Information
A roundup of the top Artificial Intelligence stories
I tried something new this week. There were quite a few AI stories to report on this week, so I put them all on a separate page rather than list them individually. This link to the page is here...
Who will win the battle to dominate in AR glasses?
Augmented Reality glasses are going to be a huge segment of the wearables space and you can expect a huge battle between Apple and Snap to dominate the consumer space. Apple already boss the wearables sector and Apple CEO Tim Cook has made no secret that he sees AR, not VR, as the future for the metaverse.
Snap have been showing off their first-generation true AR glasses to a select audience. They boast a bold design that has a similar aesthetic to Tesla’s Cybertruck, and they come with a sturdy, magnetized case that can be turned into a charging stand.
The glasses are light to wear, with flexible sides that can bend out from the head enough to accommodate prescription glasses underneath. They include stereo speakers, onboard Wi-Fi, a USB-C port for charging, and two front-facing cameras for capturing video and detecting surfaces.
However, the biggest limitation is with the battery, which lasts for only 30 minutes of use. Read the full review in The Verge.
Meanwhile, the rumours are that Apple’s AR headset will contain 3D sensing modules for picking up on positional changes and even hand gestures. Besides gesture control, Apple AR’s vast suite of sophisticated sensors will apparently enable object detection, eye tracking, iris recognition, voice control, skin detection, expression detection, and spatial detection.
Even your kids' data is up for sale
Life360 is a popular family safety app used by 33 million people worldwide. It has been marketed as a great way for parents to track their children’s movements using their mobiles. However, it seems that the app has been selling data on kids’ and families’ whereabouts to approximately a dozen data brokers who have sold data to virtually anyone who wants to buy it.
Related story: The Wall Street Journal reports on the impact of Apple's decision to stop providing tracking data on users (with Google threatening to do similar).
Inside Tim Cook’s Secret $275 Billion Deal with Chinese Authorities
Apple’s iPhone recently became the top-selling smartphone in China for the first time in six years. China is Apple's second-biggest market and the company owes much of that success to CEO Tim Cook. The foundations were laid years ago when Cook secretly signed an agreement with Chinese officials promising Apple would do its part to develop China’s economy and technological prowess through investments, business deals and worker training. That deal was estimated to be worth more than $275 billion.
Source: The Information
Machine Learning used in the making of "The Beatles: Get Back"
The 8 hour documentary on Disney+ recreates the writing and recording of Get Back, the last of The Beatles albums. Using previously unseen footage, director Peter Jackson used AI and machine learning to clean up and restore the 50-year-old video and audio footage.
Source: Slash Film
First version webpages of Amazon, Facebook, Twitter and Google
This is a look back in time to the first generation of the Internet, aka Web1.0. Do you know the year that each of the BigTech giants started? (Answers at the bottom of the page).
Is Craig Wright Satoshi Nakamoto?
The identity of Bitcoin’s fabled creator remains a mystery, despite high hopes that an unusual civil suit brought by Australian computer scientist Craig Wright would lead to Nakamoto’s unmasking. Predictably, it didn't! The big question for me is; if you were the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto, sitting on around $50 billion of Bitcoin, why would you feel the need to go to court to prove it?
Funny? I thought so
Cameo has seen a 30% rise in requests for c-list celebs to make job-quitting messages. They cost between $5k and $25k and this one is my fav!
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Amazon 1995: Founded in the garage of Bezos' rented home in Bellevue, Washington. Bezos' parents invested almost $250,000 in the start-up. In July 1995, Amazon opened as an online bookseller, selling the world's largest collection of books to anyone with World Wide Web access.
Google 1998: Google Inc. was officially launched by Larry Page and Sergey Brin to market Google Search. Page and Brin were students at Stanford University in California, where they developed a search algorithm at first known as "BackRub" in 1996, with the help of Scott Hassan and Alan Steremberg.
Facebook 2004: Originally launched as FaceMash on October 28, 2003, before changing its name to TheFacebook on February 4, 2004. It was founded by Mark Zuckerberg and college roommates and fellow Harvard University students, in particular Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes.
Twitter 2007: Twitter was designed in 2006 by Evan Williams and Biz Stone, each of whom worked at Google before leaving to launch the podcasting venture Odeo. Williams began experimenting with one of Odeo’s side projects, a short message service (SMS) then called Twttr. Engineer Jack Dorsey joined the management team, and the completed version of Twitter debuted at the South by Southwest music conference in Austin, Texas, in March 2007.