Human Speculation

What to make of BitClout?

A still from Black Mirror's "Nosedive", of course

On the fifth and final page of the BitClout “one-pager” there is a line that reveals the big, hairy, audacious goal that animates the controversial new service:

“BitClout is decentralizing social media in much the same way as Bitcoin is decentralizing the financial system.”

What does that mean? Well, to start, BitClout is a website that launched a couple weeks ago and lets you buy “social tokens” that are tied to Twitter accounts, on the theory that if A) BitClout works, and B) the creator rises in popularity, then the price will rise and you’ll be able to sell the tokens at some point in the future for a profit. 

(Basically it’s a stock market for people that runs on blockchain technology. It’s like Klout, but publicly tradable.)

One weird thing about BitClout is that most of its top users haven’t actually ever signed up. Their accounts were auto-created, and yet people have spent literally millions of dollars to buy their tokens.

For instance here’s a list of Elon Musk’s biggest shareholders. This is some serious dough!!

Human speculation might be the most startling feature of BitClout, but it’s just the beginning. The thin edge of the wedge, so to speak. They also let users post status updates and view a feed of posts from users they follow. Like a sort of decentralized version of Twitter:

For now the main way to buy and sell BitClout creator coins is on bitclout.com, but, much like Bitcoin, the data that powers the service exists on a public ledger, which means anyone can run their own “node” without permission from anybody, and anyone can view the complete record of all transactions in the history of the service.

In the long run BitClout would like to be not just a complement to Twitter where you can speculate on creators’ success, but an actual substitute. Except instead of all the money going to the platform in the form of ad revenue, creators would have a crypto-native way to monetize. They could offer exclusive content and priority access to token-holders, and similar to NFTs, fans could signal to creators that they really believe in them by buying a bunch of tokens—much more effective than just replying to all their tweets! 

One way to look at it is that it transforms the “following” relationship from a binary value into a scalar...

Learn more

This post is for
paying subscribers

Subscribe →

Or, login.

Read this next:

Divinations

Inside the Clubhouse

The surprisingly compelling audio app that has consumed my life

241 Apr 24, 2020 by Nathan Baschez

Divinations

Finding Power

An introduction to Clay Christensen’s most underrated idea: “The Conservation of Modularity”

100 🔒 May 4, 2020 by Nathan Baschez

Divinations

Substack’s Ideology

The point isn’t just to make money—it’s to change the systems that human attention flows through. You can’t understand Substack without understanding this.

106 🔒 Mar 16, 2022 by Nathan Baschez

Napkin Math

How Startups Can Survive the Creator Economy Winter

The Race for Revenue Share

39 May 19, 2022 by Evan Armstrong

Divinations

Mastering the Market Cycle, by Howard Marks

My chapter-by-chapter summary, with notes and reactions

1 🔒 May 20, 2022 by Nathan Baschez

Thanks for reading Every!

Sign up for our daily email featuring the most interesting thinking (and thinkers) in tech.

Subscribe

Already a subscriber? Login