The Power of Myth, The Empire of Pain, Software Is Eating The World, Blockchain Gaming, Alexis Ohanian

December 4 2021

“Until you’ve lost your reputation, you never realise what a burden it was or what freedom really is.”

- Margaret Mitchell

“We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
- Joseph Campbell

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

- Carl Sandburg

A. A Few Things Worth Checking Out

1. Only a few trading days left in the year. How has your year been?

I always love looking at these mosaics of returns.

2. I think this chart and the thesis around it will be something we will be talking a lot more about.

3. Project Brazen is the new project from Bradley Hope and Tim Wright, they co-wrote Billion Dollar Whale (about Jho Low) and Bradley also co-wrote Blood and Oil, both books we have discussed before.

Their recent post on the new funds from Jared Kushner and Steve Mnuchin, and the Middle East Cash Grab are great reads.

4. Loved this post from Patrick O’Shaughnessy and it’s been my playbook for whatever I have done.

5. Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty, is a deeply researched and well written book, with more twists and insane plot lines than a soap opera.

The Oxycontin story is beyond infuriating, and the TV series (on Disney+) starring Michael Keaton is a must watch.

6. This data surprised me.

7. I’ve started reading 2034: A Novel of the Next World by Admiral James Stavridis & Elliott Ackerman. It’s an authentic, geopolitical thriller that imagines a naval clash between the US and China in the South China Sea in 2034-and the path from there to a nightmarish global conflagration.

This Carnegie Council podcast with the authors is a good introduction.

Thank you Yaser for flagging.

B. The Power of Myth

Joseph Campbell was an American author and teacher best known for his work in the field of comparative mythology. His work on mythology and culture was influential.

The Power of Myth is a book based on the 1988 PBS documentary Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth. The documentary was originally broadcast as six one-hour conversations between mythologist Joseph Campbell (1904–1987) and journalist Bill Moyers. It remains one of the most popular series in the history of American public television.

The book starts with the universality and evolution of myths in the history of the human race and the place of myths in modern society. Campbell thought that modern society was going through a transition from old mythologies and traditions to a new way of thinking where a global mythology will emerge.

The main theme of the book is the universality of myths—what Campbell calls "mankind's one great story"— that occur throughout the history of mankind, no matter which epoch or whichever culture or society is considered.

Myths are the body of stories and legends that a people perceive as being an integral part of their culture. Before the invention of writing, these stories and legends were handed down from generation to generation in the form of rituals and oral traditions. The reappearance of certain themes, time and again, in different mythologies, leads to the realisation that these themes portray universal and eternal truths about mankind.

Here are 2-mins on the Hero’s Journey, our journey and finding your bliss:

Their discussion amazingly in the late 1980’s reached the conclusion that there was a lack of effective mythology and ritual in modern American society. They found that nothing compares with the powerful puberty rituals of primitive societies. They claimed that the exclusion of classical studies from the modern educational syllabus has led to a lack of awareness of the mythological foundations of western society's heritage.

This, combined with an increased materialism and emphasis on technology, has led to modern youth becoming alienated from the mainstream of society and inventing their own morality, initiations and gangs.

I can’t help but think about the narratives & mythology being spawned today on twitter and discords, and the associated new socio-political ambitions of the next generation as a reaction function to making sense of the world without an over arching mythology or religion being provided to them.

One of the myths that Campbell identified was the Hero’s Journey, which you will notice across many stories and movies:

Some Joseph Campbell quotes that stood out:

“If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path. Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.”

“Where you stumble and fall, there you will find gold.”

“There is perhaps nothing worse than reaching the top of the ladder and discovering that you’re on the wrong wall.”

“Myth is much more important and true than history. History is just journalism and you know how reliable that is.”

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

C. The Tech and Crypto Section:

1. Seeing these charts reminded me of Marc Andreessen’s original Software Is Eating The World essay from 2016.

Sharing what are the key paragraphs for me:

But too much of the debate is still around financial valuation, as opposed to the underlying intrinsic value of the best of Silicon Valley's new companies. My own theory is that we are in the middle of a dramatic and broad technological and economic shift in which software companies are poised to take over large swathes of the economy.

More and more major businesses and industries are being run on software and delivered as online services—from movies to agriculture to national defense. Many of the winners are Silicon Valley-style entrepreneurial technology companies that are invading and overturning established industry structures. Over the next 10 years, I expect many more industries to be disrupted by software, with new world-beating Silicon Valley companies doing the disruption in more cases than not.

Companies in every industry need to assume that a software revolution is coming. This includes even industries that are software-based today. Great incumbent software companies like Oracle and Microsoft are increasingly threatened with irrelevance by new software offerings like and Android (especially in a world where Google owns a major handset maker).

In some industries, particularly those with a heavy real-world component such as oil and gas, the software revolution is primarily an opportunity for incumbents. But in many industries, new software ideas will result in the rise of new Silicon Valley-style start-ups that invade existing industries with impunity. Over the next 10 years, the battles between incumbents and software-powered insurgents will be epic. Joseph Schumpeter, the economist who coined the term "creative destruction," would be proud.

2. Paradigm is one of the most respected names in crypto VC, and they just closed the biggest crypto dedicated fund ($2.5bn). Matt Huang, one of the founders was on the Bloomberg Odd Lots podcast discussing their vision for crypto and how they plan to invest.

3. You’ve already been hearing a lot about Axie Infinity, it’s just one example of what blockchain gaming is enabling and this report is a good place to understand the evolution and the ecosystem.

4. I spoke with Alexis Ohanian on behalf of Pi Capital last week. Alexis is a tech entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He co-founded Reddit out of college, which has become one of the largest websites in the US and is now worth over $10B. Ohanian has been a longtime champion of crypto and was an early investor in Coinbase. 

Now, through his new venture 776 he’s doubling down on all things crypto.

We discussed DeFi and the role of community in crypto, the NFT surge, the blockchain gaming phenomenon and how Web3 is going to reshape the future of the internet.

The big idea that I’ve been thinking about since the chat is “MVC” - minimal viable community. In prior cycles, the discussion was around shipping a “MVP'“, a minimal viable product. These days the key to success is having a community around your product or idea. Once you build the community, you can build a product / service around them. The community gives your idea the benefit of network effects and viral growth.

Your community will drive your success. Web3 turbo charges this phenomenon, because it turns “users” into owners. Owners are more likely to be engaged with, and build the product / service they are a part of.

Alexis also has a new podcast called - Probably Nothing.

The introductory episode had a great quote from Tiffany Zhong (his co-host):

“NFTs are tokenised memes, and we are living in a meme economy”

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