If you want to make your Grandma fear for the future of humanity, tell her about BitClout. Explain that it’s a new website where you can speculate on the value of famous people. Like Twitter meets the stock-market, you can buy or sell anyone, anytime you like. Gwyneth Paltrow right now is priced at $6,003, Obama is going for $4,331. You’re not actually buying them of course but their ‘coin’ — something akin to a digital trading card for that person.

If she’s not wondering what the world’s coming to yet, try telling her how this unholy platform entered the…


“You can only do so much with a like on Instagram” said Donnie Dinch, founder of Bitsky, on a recent NFT-themed edition of Clubhouse’s Good Time Show. All the seeds of a historical turning point are packed in that pithy statement. The heady promise of NFTs is to give rise to a new type of relationship between fans and creators over the internet, one based on economics and ownership. And there is the tantalising hope in amongst the froth of one day making it easier for modest artists to make a reasonable living from their work.

Because being in the…


Its been a bruising year for the physical world, the real, corporeal world of bits and atoms. The urban world most of all — bars, restaurants, gyms, theatres, gig venues, shops, offices, cafes, museums, all shut. The buskers have retreated, birds are chirping amongst the skyscrapers in the City of London, the tube trundles on empty, like a ghost train.

We’ve retreated to our homes, and come to run our lives over internet cables: Zoom calls at work all day, ordering food deliveries online, kids attending lessons through laptop screens. It’s far from perfect, and most of us are itching…


1. Shops get a lot smaller

Building an audience for your business is harder than it has ever been, as Alex Danco said recently “Whatever your business model is, acquiring users is the new building factories” ¹. Competition for eyeballs is fierce. What happens if the plunging cost of high-street rent leads to a ‘flippining’, whereby it becomes cheaper to build a brand using physical space rather than online? If you have a shop in Oxford street, Shoreditch, Soho, you’ll be getting thousands of people coming past every day. At the extreme your shop doesn’t need to sell very much…


An interesting reshuffle of urban, physical retail space seems to be underway. First we had dark kitchens, now we’re getting dark stores — Dija and Getir two recent London-based examples. To some extent this is the logical extension of Deliveroo multiplied by the surge in online grocery delivery, but the pandemic seems set to wrought deeper changes in the high street. This week the Guardian reported that more than 17,500 chain store outlets disappeared in 2020¹. Expect this to get worse before it gets better, just in this morning’s FT²:

Renewal will surely follow, but the high street in coming…


Peter Thiel has described the cultural narrative surrounding AI as being broadly dystopian, consisting almost always of negative themes such as unemployment and mortal danger. He’s right — the latest story on the topic was about a guy who created a deep fake of Tom Cruise, then warned how dangerous this technology was¹. This outlook is now pervasive, Janan Ganash put his finger on it recently² in discussing Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun — if such a subtle thinker could be so heavily imbued with techno-pessimism it really says something about the general outlook of society towards AI¹.

But…


My response to the question ‘why do you use twitter?’ is always the same — you can find things there that you would never have found any other way. Naval and Nick Cammarata have both substantially influenced my perspectives on the world, and the reason Twitter, despite all its flaws, is a such an important product to me is I would never have found these people without it.

Clubhouse has something of that same magic: stumbling across something you would never have come across otherwise, but yet something you really value — something that quickly becomes part of the furniture…


Disclosure: I am an investor in Monzo

A new beginning
If part one was a lament for what could have been, part two is a vision for what could be. Because Monzo is young still, has outstanding assets (brand, 5m users, product culture, modern tech stack, rich data) and will hopefully soon have secured some breathing space from the pressures of the regulators. Right now everyone’s eyes are on the bottom line, but if the ship can be stabilised from a commercial perspective by the paid-for packages, eyes can turn skyward once more to re-imagination of the banking industry.

This…


Listening to Tom Blomfield on Secret Leaders¹ the other night, one of the key themes coming through was how he regretted not figuring out how the company would monetise earlier. A bank is not your normal tech start-up — the regulators won’t tolerate year after year of VC-subsidised losses when ordinary people’s financial lives are so deeply tied up in the company. What happens if the business fails and millions of people’s mortgage payments don’t go through? You just can’t have as something as serious as that back-stopped against capricious, animal-spirit VC money.

But its ok now, right — Monzo…


I went to an exercise class once, in a backroom upstairs in a fancy hotel in Piccadilly, which was very popular because the USP was that only 3 people could attend. It was as close as possible as you could get to having a personal trainer without paying full whack for one. Because personal trainers are a luxury, aren’t they, Boris Johnson has one and celebs have one but ordinary people generally don’t. Most people just don’t have hundreds of pounds a month to spend on exercise.

But people do spend on exercise. London has seen an explosion of boutique…

Tomhalloran

Data scientist, product junkie, one-time founder. London-based. @tgh44

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