Owning and operating any well-positioned platform is a fabulous idea and quite lucrative -- as long as you're on the right side of it. Being the "product" of a platform like Google, which takes your attention and mindshare and then slices and sells it, obviously isn't as much fun or as financially beneficial. Being a Google user is a lot like being the patsy in poker.
But as remarkably astute and technically clever as the developers of these huge aggregations of humanity like Facebook and Google have been, their most critical and game-changing insight -- which basically turned them into the gatekeepers of the world -- has been figuring out just how lazy we all are. How we readily trade our privacy, attention, and ownership of our personal data for convenience, ease of access, and to save time.
Instead of taking all of the five minutes required to sign up for a new service or site on the Web, hundreds of millions of us opt every day to link and subscribe using our FB or Google account credentials instead. The process is so quick and easy that we never even think twice. Who needs more accounts, permissions, and passwords? Let the platforms do the heavy lifting for us. Forget about how insecure and foolish it would be to use the same password/account to sign up for hundreds of different services.
In sum, this was a very bad deal, as we're belatedly realizing, and now's the time to try to unwind it and take back control of our own destiny. We don't have to operate under the thumb of someone's else's tech, but we have to be careful and thoughtful about how we make the next migration so that we don't end up simply jumping from the frying pan into the fire.
Sadly, millions of people who jumped mindlessly into the crypto currency craziness didn't make the right choice. They bought into a bunch of decentralized finance (DeFi) bullcoin about the virtues of being free of any kind of central platform.
That's just one of the many things about crypto that doesn't make a lot of sense to me -- the whole idea that there's no central bank, regulator, or middleman like a traditional bank, so token holders are "free" of the rules, monetary policies, and especially the instability that those various restrictions can impose and represent. The utter foolishness of this "free to be me" formulation has really come home to roost in the last few months as the massive declines in the values of crypto currencies have closely tracked the overall collapse in the Dow and Nasdaq averages.
Turns out -- as Janis Joplin should have sung -- that freedom's just another word for suckers getting screwed. And, as she does sing, it's also likely that millions of these crypto investors will soon have "nothing left to lose." Much to their chagrin, the poor Covid-bound multitudes and aspiring freedom fighters who were sucked into crypto and stablecoins without a clue as to what they were buying are now learning some expensive lessons. In addition to the coins being unregulated, insecure, and rife with fraud and manipulation, a few of the companies that are holding their crypto aren't in any hurry to give it back or readily convert it into cash. They may not have a dime by the time the whole thing is unwound.
Things haven't been smooth in the crypto world for quite some time. Almost 500 accounts at Crypto.com were hacked for close to $30 million. Some employee at OpenSea stole the company's entire email list. Stablecoins are just another set of oxymorons sold to actual morons as hyper-secure tokens tied to the dollar. Which turned out not to be the case. In regard to some widely held tokens, such as UST and Luna, holders can most likely count on kissing their money goodbye. Leading crypto finance companies such as Celsius Network, Binance, and Babel Finance have all frozen withdrawals and their executives have made some truly scary comments about not ever giving their users access to their "investments."
It may be true that the gearheads and techies who are deep into the whole blockchain environment and who "roll their own" aren't dependent on anyone other than themselves and their mining capacity. But for the vast majority of the civilians who have put significant hunks of their money into Bitcoin or Ethereum, there was basically no way to play the game without Coinbase or one of the other transaction hubs which -- dare I say it -- operate simply as fee-making intermediaries between the prospective buyer's bank or credit card and the unseen and anonymous seller.
If you want to buy either BTC or ETH, you need to open an account at Coinbase, verify your identity, and create and fund a wallet (on or offline) by connecting it to a legitimate source of dollars like your bank account before you can begin to buy or sell. If this sounds a lot like opening a traditional bank account or applying for a credit card, you aren't wrong -- you just haven't drunk enough of the Kool-Aid quickly enough to fall for the story that there's something new, special, and valuable going on here.
The implosion of crypto currencies doesn't diminish the eventual value and utility of the blockchain in many kinds of commercial and legal transactions. And it doesn't mean that there aren't new opportunities in the world of platforms. I call this area DeY rather than DeFi, which is too narrow, because the new movements will be all about decentralizing you.
In the DeY stage, we're going to see new offerings that can provide highly desirable, decentralized and personalized benefits to end users without surrendering control or a material portion of the economics to those platform "owners." As long as YouTube continues to take 45 percent of every ad dollar earned by a video playing on its platform, the hunt for better and far more equitable deals will only accelerate.
This is why new DeY companies like Bemyfriends are so interesting, because they represent the emancipation and empowerment of individual makers and creators. In the past, we all sold ourselves too cheaply and surrendered control and ownership of our attention and efforts in a regrettable trade with the major social-media platforms. Now's the time to change things up.
The money going forward in the decentralized Web 3.0 economy is going to be all about direct revenues controlled by the creators, where the provider "monetizes" its relationship with the end user -- through tips, dues and memberships, and subscriptions-- rather than the indirect and frankly modest portion of ad sales revenues provided to creators and influencers by today's social-media firms. Even more importantly, the emphasis can be on true value received, quality content, and continual connection rather than maintaining a soulless stream of prompts, taunts, ads, and clickbait distractions. The shift is simple, sustainable, and far more authentic. The talent is no longer being used to sell advertisers indirect access to fans -- instead the talent is selling fans direct access to the talent itself.
Bemyfriends' b.stage product provides all the connectivity, interactivity, community, commerce, and other engagement tools in a single, fully integrated, owner-built and operated platform. Any artist can take something they love making and make much more of it. This is a strong step toward rebalancing the commerce equation and returning control to the creators who can now efficiently connect to, deliver value to, and monetize their dedicated fan bases without paying a monstrous tariff to the big tech guys. The new decentralized world is a much more equitable and balanced rev share kind of economy.
The three basic components of these new platforms and relationships aren't limited to any single genre or type of creative. Everyone in any business wants to turn their customers into lifelong fans and advocates, and tools like b.stage make that dream a reality in three specific ways. First, the creators have full control of their data and content. Second, creators can more equitably and beneficially monetize their work by building long-term, sustainable connections to their fans. Finally, all of their time, energies and efforts are directed to, focused on, and housed in a single, fully integrated home base which they own.
A business that depends on resources it doesn't control isn't really a business; it's a hostage to the whims and vagaries of others. No one wants to deal with the monkey when the organ grinder is in the room. Control your destiny, or someone else will.