Crypto Has A Use Case

How Braintrust Used Tokens to Kickstart a Market

In the last 6 months over $2 trillion in crypto value has been wiped off the face of the earth. In the investment business, we would consider this outcome “bad.”

You may expect me to take this chance to toot my own horn. Over the last year, I have written about how NFT art was just MLMs for rich people, how raising capital via token sales is mostly advantageous in that you can easily get money from morons, and how the pursuit of IRR has corrupted the crypto movement. Many other commentators have utilized this market downturn to do exactly that and dunk on crypto. And honestly, I get it! Many (most?) crypto people are annoying in their zeal. When confronted with uncomfortable facts about web3’s problems, most believers turn to vague hyperbole rather than concrete evidence as a rebuttal.

However, crypto isn’t a religion, it isn’t a movement, it is a tool. A highly specialized, novel tool that can be used in a specific set of circumstances. Many of the so-called use cases offered today are garbage, but there is one that works beautifully: kickstarting a niche network.


The worst project I ever had was for a former Engagement Manager from McKinsey. He wanted to know the square footage of every UPS warehouse in the United States for a presentation to our executive team. No data set like this existed, so I had to make it. 

I spent four days—four. whole. days.—tracking down the address of every UPS warehouse then using a tool on Google Maps to measure the building. To double check my work I would compare the number of docking bays and then estimate the volume going through the facility. By the end of that experience, I presented my manager with my best estimate. He promptly decided that we would skip that portion of the presentation and my work went into slide 45 of the appendix. Note: Murder is technically legal if they deserve it. 

This was obviously a stupid exercise. Stupid because my methodology was flawed. Stupid because the manager hadn’t thought far enough ahead about what he would actually do with this data. However, it was mostly stupid because I was being paid $85K a year—I was a very expensive way to do this. We could’ve easily outsourced the labor to a freelancer for faster and cheaper. However, it wasn’t like we could just post “need someone to click on Google Maps for 4 days” on Twitter—the person willing to do this task is not obviously available. We simply didn’t have the time or resources to find/vet candidates. Note: I recognize that this is a long intro for a section but I have wanted to vent about this for five years and now I have 50K people that read this column. Who needs a therapist anywho? 

Freelancer marketplaces exist to solve this exact problem. You have some constraint-bound task to get done, you post a job on a marketplace, and the service matches you with a freelancer. 

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