Book time with me at devcon this week

My hypothesis on how to get the most out of conferences

Good morning from Osaka, Japan.

I’m here for the Ethereum developer conference. I tend to avoid conferences. They are expensive, time consuming, and you rarely learn anything new—if there’s an interesting talk, you can usually read the talk or watch a recording later. But devcon is the single biggest gathering of crypto-interested people on the planet so flying halfway across the world is almost definitely worth it.

In my experience, the most valuable way to spend your time at conferences is to have or schedule one-on-ones with people.

  • To have: schedule in advance or in person and sit down for 15-30 minutes with an idea of what you want to accomplish beforehand

  • To schedule: serendipitously bump into people and upon finding a mutual interest schedule a follow-up after the conference

This may seem like common sense but until recently, I’ve spent more time than is useful watching talks and attending meet-ups and parties.

So this year at Devcon, I’m going to try and spend the majority of my days in 1-on-1s. If you’re attending and want to meet up, please put some time on my calendar. I’ll be prioritizing entrepreneurs raising money and investors in the space. But I will do my best to meet everybody.

Looking forward to making some new friends and reconnecting with old ones. And I’ll share a post-mortem of my strategy after the event

Joining Multicoin Capital

I’ve joined Multicoin Capital.

I couldn’t be happier with the fit. I’ll be making investments, supporting founders, and thinking out loud. This job description directly mapped to what I found myself already doing for fun and profit.

As Kyle mentions in his post, we’ve gotten to know each other quite well over the last couple years. Kyle was actually one of the people that inspired me to start writing about crypto. He was always happy to give me input on my pieces even before I had built up a reputation and audience in the space. Many of my first newsletter subscribers came from him sharing out my work.

Over the years, we’ve regularly collaborated on pieces and deals. Through these collaborations and two appearances at Multicoin Summits, I’ve gotten to know the rest of the team as well. There are a lot of excellent people in the space but Kyle and Tushar have assembled some of the very best.

So I think it’s going to be a very good fit and I’m looking forward to working together to fund and support the next wave of entrepreneurs building tools for freedom.

I want to close with a thank you and some thoughts on inflection points.

Many many people, some of whom I knew well and some whom I’ve really only interacted with through favorites and retweets were extraordinarily generous with their time and insight as I was figuring out what to do next

There’s a meme in tech about people saying “how can I be helpful” without any substance behind it. But when people show up to be helpful at inflection points, they can make a material difference. And those people you remember forever.

A goal of mine is to be there to help at inflection points as often as I can. And I’m very grateful for the people that were there to help me at mine.

Anyways, I’ll be at DevCon next week so if you’re building something cool let me know so we can hang out:

Easy games and hard games

Life is an easy game

As a player, I think of games in two general buckets.

  1. Easy games that are mostly player versus environment (PvE)

  2. Hard games that are mostly player versus player (PvP)

Of course there are more game types than this (like very hard PvE games like Dark Souls) but these two buckets account for 99% of my time playing games and the vast majority of content on Twitch.

Easy games are like World of Warcraft. While the primary thing you’ll do in WoW is fight, the experience of WoW is much more like going on a hike than fighting someone in a boxing match. Show up enough days and you’ll reach max level. Do it consistently enough and you’ll get the best equipment in the game.

Hard games are like League of Legends or any other esport title (e.g. Counterstrike, Hearthstone). To win, you have to perform at a level greater than your opponent. And after you beat that opponent, there’s a mountain of players even better than you to continue trying to beat.

I’ve gravitated towards hard games in my life. I competed in every hobby I picked up including video games. And continue to seek and enjoy the challenge of zero-sum contests.

But it occurred to me this morning that life is more like an easy game than a hard game. You don’t wake up every day and have to fight and best an equally skilled competitor to make progress. You make progress by showing up. Show up consistently and you get a chance—no guarantees, though—of reaching the best end-game content.

Unlike easy video games, life isn’t on rails. There aren’t quest givers that guide you through to the best stuff. When you die you don’t get to try again. So there’s a lot more variability in outcomes. But it’s a cozy thought to think of life as a play-through of an open-world easy game. Much better than a constant grind up some hard game ladder where you only win if your opponent loses.

Availability bias

Here’s a common workflow for one of my blog posts:

  1. Be curious about something (e.g. what does the global macro environment mean for bitcoin)

  2. Read a bunch of stuff

  3. Encounter an interesting, new-to-me concept that might help explain what I’m curious about (e.g. this simple explanation that “there's a big supply of savings floating out there, but there's nowhere near the demand for investment. And that lack of investment is bad news for economic growth.”)

  4. Write a post tying those topics together

Smashing together two concepts to see what comes out makes for good posts. They make you think. But they’re not always right. So you have to do a fifth step:

  1. Research all the other concepts that might be relevant in explaining the thing your curious about

This step is important because otherwise your posts, overall, will suffer from availability bias—the “human tendency to think that examples of things that come readily to mind are more representative than is actually the case.” The new idea will seem more explanatory simply because it’s new and occupying fresh space in your brain.

Availability bias is especially insidious if you get a lot of information from twitter or chat groups. Topics du jour seem more important and more true than they actually are. There are few thrills more enjoyable than “aha!” moments, but I’ve found it helpful to check my availability bias when I feel the onset of an “aha!”

Louis Vuitton skins

I’ve previously said the biggest flex in gaming isn’t a rare skin but a high competitive rating. I still think that’s true but here’s an announcement that Louis Vuitton is releasing a set of League of Legends skins.

Nicolas Ghesquière, Louis Vuitton’s artistic director for women’s collections, will be designing a series of in-game character skins along with a clothing capsule collection

This is an interesting experiment. The two otherwise unrelated brands are each trying to gain something from the other.

  • League wants to be even more “mainstream” to expand its player base

  • Louis Vuitton wants to expand their brand to digital (one of their strategic priorities mentioned in their 2018 annual report)

And both want to sell some stuff and make some money.

If this works, I expect to see every major consumer brand try to get into selling digital goods. It’s a great business. They’re cheap to make, non-transferable so there’s no secondary market to worry about, and they’re not substitute goods for your physical products.

The risk is brand dilution. If a premium brand isn’t—for whatever reason—coveted in game, that would decrease demand in the real world. For a toy example, imagine LV releasing toilet paper you can buy at Costco. That would probably be bad for LV.

So if the reception is poor, I expect they just pull the skins and never speak of it again. If I had to guess, I’d say this is more of a one-time gimmick than a lasting trend. There’s a lot of benefit for both brands to be the “first” major partnership of this type. Second, third, and n-movers won’t benefit as much from the PR.

What would it take for this to work at scale? Real scarcity. Now that would be interesting to see.

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