Photograph from Maksym Kozlov’s My Beautiful Tomorrow, a series of photos sent in by Ukranians in the 1990s with etches of the cultural remnants of the Soviet Union.

Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

- Victor Hugo, poet from the Romanticism movement.

A week in summary: Overcrowding In The ‘Club’

  • Bitcoin broke past the resistance of $20,000USD on Wednesday and reached all time highs shooting all the way up past $23,000. We previously covered some of the details as to why the price could surge. The current pricing of Bitcoin likely reflects several factors such as more people viewing Bitcoin: as a substitute for Gold, a deeper dissatisfaction with the US Dollar as a fiat currency due to low interest rates and printing, as well as more venerated financial institutions such as MassMutual’s purchase of $100M of Bitcoin.

    Some companies are so bullish that they are converting some of their corporate treasury into Bitcoin holdings. Michael Saylor, founder and CEO of MicroStrategy ($2.79B market cap) are so convinced about Bitcoin’s future that they have bought over $475 million worth of Bitcoin in various periods of 2020 and are looking to purchase another $650 million through convertible notes.
  • Jack Dorsey has been a busy man with Twitter and Square.

    Twitter has shut down Periscope (mobile video streaming app) and acquired Squad (screen-sharing app).

    Twitter has rolled out a beta launch of ‘Spaces’, a clone of the voice-only chat rooms social network Clubhouse. The latter’s popularity with celebrities and users-alike, have meant conversations being held within Clubhouse rooms have often trended on Twitter and even Instagram. There is also now a guide to finding the best clubs and topics on Clubhouse with FindClubhouse.

    Besides Twitter, Dorsey’s other startup, Square has been ramping up giveaways on its Cash App service as its popularity further explodes with Americans using it as a means to buy Bitcoin.
  • Besides Twitter, Clubhouse is also getting a new competitor - Realtime by a 23 year old Black founder. From observational experience spending time on Clubhouse, a large amount of the community is Black. There’s a really great emerging tech scene by the Black community but only 1% of  startup founders who receive funding are Black.

    Realtime is backed by several notable former social internet giants, Reddit co-founder Alexis Oahanian, Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler and Twitch co-founder Kevin Lin are investing.

    It comes after the announcement two weeks ago by Pharell of his creation of an accelerator for Black and LatinX founders,
  • Instagram is moving further towards eCommerce as it clones TikTok’s functionality of letting influencers tag products. Instagram is allowing creators to add product listings to Reel clips. That said, TikTok does have a partnership with Shopify and now one with Walmart also, with the launch of the Holiday Shop-Along Spectacular where creators featured fashion items sold at Walmart.

The #1 Creator Trend for 2021

As detailed last week, COVID-19 has had a massive effect on accelerating the adoption of technology trends by several years. A spiking of interest in Bitcoin by more ‘traditional’ institutions and the preparation by Coinbase for an IPO is testament to the number of people who in normal circumstances might not have cared for digital-only products.

This year has required a significant time spent in isolationism. With nationwide curfews and lockdowns being implemented again in Europe, it may come as some surprise that besides where to buy toilet paper and face masks, people have been wanting to purchase gaming hardware. Where to buy the PS5 and the Xbox Series X have been the most searched terms of the year in the US at #1 and #4 respectively.

The biggest trend of all for this year, has been the creation of a new class of A-List celebrity.

A Quick Quiz!

The answer is... (b) Charli D’Amelio.

As of writing, Charli has 103.2 million followers on TikTok. That is 60 million more than Mr. Derulo, 15.3M more than Rihanna and 14.6M more than Mr. Trump. As further context, the Superbowl is considered a flagship viewing event in terms of number of eyeballs. This year’s 2020Superbowl had 99.9M views.

Charli D'Amelio is only 16 years old. Her account is only 1.5 years old and she is from suburban Connecticut.

Charli’s immense popularity and youthfulness is not unique however. The highest paid YouTuber in the world is only nine years old. The creator from Texas, Ryan Kaji of ‘Ryan’s World’ earned $29.5 million this year from YouTube and another estimated $200 million from Ryan’s World branded toys and clothing.

The coming of age of Gen-Z is possibly one of the factors as to why this new class of A-List celebrities have risen. This year, 1 in 10 American voters were Gen-Z (ages 18-23), with their votes having had a significant impact in helping the Democrats win the White House. Their coming of age also reflects an increased spending power. Gen-Z are digital natives and they prefer to spend both time and money online.

They are also the most significant group of users on TikTok with 39.9% of users being teens and 26.1% in their 20s. Gen Z have helped fuel the viral growth of TikTok and alongside the ever increasing ease in putting content online with a tap on the record button, they have influenced the popularity of showing content that shows ‘real life’ over polished aesthetics. TikTok videos such as ‘exposing panera’ by Panera employee, briannaraelenee, go more viral than highly engineered and planned content.

The most popular concert of this year has been on Fortnite, Twitch and YouTube. There were 12.3 million concurrent Fortnite players during Travis Scott’s concert earlier this year. Being held entirely digitally has empowered others to create similar types of concerts. The Ally Coalition’s upcoming live streamed concert on Twitch has enabled low-fi bedroom music video creators like 21 year old Clairo to perform next to more established musicians like Lana Del Rey. Real life > Polish.

The Biggest Creator Opportunity Of All

📺 YouTubers are building videos empires without a TV network.

Isolationism this year has brought an increased desire to feel connected.

This has created a massive market for participatory shared experiences. According to a study by YouTube, 58% of livestream viewers report that watching live streams helps them feel connected to something bigger than themselves. The same viewers cite that the live comment makes them feel like they are a part of the fun. This connection is even more prevalent among Gen Zers, with 7 out of 10 saying that YouTube videos make them feel more connected.

Participatory experiences were very popular this year across the world in the fitness space. Besides Peloton who more than doubled their subscription numbers, many people turned to YouTube. The top trending UK YouTuber creator of 2020 was Joe Wicks. He was also #1 in trending and #1 in breakout creators. Unlike Mr. John Wick, Joe is very PG friendly and he live streamed his fitness workouts during the UK lockdown. Mr Wicks brought on his wife and even his children into the workouts.

Likewise across the world, many fitness instructors have had to go online and creators such as Chloe Ting in Australia and Marina Takewaki have found enormous success in creating a sense of participation with their audiences.

The opportunity for building out more digital fitness products remains. As London goes back to lockdown with the warning that there may be a new COVID-19 strain spreading, many people are looking again for shared fitness experiences. Likewise, many fitness instructors have had to go online and creators such as Chloe Ting in Australia and Marina Takewaki have found enormous success in creating a sense of participation with their audiences.

Participatory experiences can extend beyond video. These experiences can be turned into concerts, products and a sense of community fandom. For example, popular YouTuber, MrBeast who is known for viral giveaway stunts, has launched MrBeast Burger. Partnering with virtual kitchens, he has been able to create and sell burgers across the U.S. through UberEats and engage his fans with a viral loop of being able to watch and also take part in a ‘stunt’.

Brain Gems

Corruption, Rent Seeking and Multiple Equilibria (by Tyler Cowen & Alex Tabarrok)

Rent seeking is an economic concept that occurs when an entity seeks to increase one’s wealth without any reciprocal contribution of productivity. In the video, Cowen and Tabarrok explore how rent seeking can create a snowball effect and drive out productivity activities in a way that is self-fulfilling.

The History of the World’s Largest Overseas Japanese Community (by Jay Allen)

A few years ago, it came to me as a surprise that one of the best places to get sushi in the world outside of Japan was not Sydney, Toronto, Frankfurt or California but in Brazil! I love a good Brazillian rodizio but Brazillian-Japanese sushi is just as amazing. Brazil has the largest overseas Japanese population in the world. Allen gives a fantastic overview of the history and hardships faced by this diaspora.

Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (by David Cain)

Western economies have been built in a very calculated manner on gratification, addiction, and unnecessary spending. David discovered that he spent less when he was travelling around the world than when he was living a 9-5 life in one of the least expensive cities in Canada. He writes on a Western culture of spending on unnecessities. Buying stuff we don’t need to fulfill a vision of what our adulthood would be like, broadcast our status and other psychological reasons that don’t reflect how useful the product really is. This leads to a cycle of the eight hour work day - working to have a lot more cash but a lot less time.