CONFESSIONS OF AN ICO CEO (Part 1)
Death of Dogma, a new breed of Sociopath, the promise of Transparency
Zach LeBeau, SingularDTV / Breaker
Part 1: Dogma is dead… Long live Pragmatism!
Dogma launched the blockchain industry. It was born from libertarian principles, disrupters who dreamt the end of omnipresent government and corporate control. Ironic how the entrenched legacy establishments have taken over the narrative. They have the control now. We gave it to them. We offered the olive branch of cooperation and consensus. Stupid? Let’s evolve together! Let’s teach “them” about blockchain. Why would we do that? Because they have the money and power to validate “us”.
Whatever the excuse, “they” get to use this technology to create bigger and better versions of themselves. China improves the efficiency of their autocracy through the issuance of a national cryptocurrency. Facebook, pretty much the same thing. Wall Street creates more markets out of thin air, packages new financial instruments to buy and sell. Banks become more… banky. Helping artists from getting screwed over by publishers and distributors?… well… that’ll take more time.
I held onto the dogma for as long as I could, until the pragmatists slowed everything down — the lawyers, the regulators, the accountants, compliance — to analyze, try to understand, to dilute, water-down, hybridize. In most cases they twisted everything up so bad it was no longer viable to use blockchain as a solution. This is how the internet began. Dogma and decentralization — such high expectations. That changed when the money flooded in to build its infrastructure.
Same with blockchain. Lots of promises. Lots of ideas. Only a handful of decent ideas make it to the next round. Everything cool about blockchain has turned trendy. Now anyone can wear a nice shiny blockchain around town, if for nothing more than innovating their back office. I see so many of them speaking on panels at conferences, they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about. Btw, if you haven’t seen our documentary on blockchain, Trust Machine, check it out on our Breaker DApp.
So let’s not forget that blockchain is just a tool, not a vehicle to house political beliefs, hopes and dreams. It’s not a reason for living, right? Bankers are into it, so it can’t be that meaningful or cool anymore. Everything’s so damn pragmatic now.
Pragmatism doesn’t pioneer. Pragmatism doesn’t launch industries. Pragmatism can maintain. It can hold onto resources. Play it safe. It can even innovate to reinforce itself. Live to fight another day. Yes, of course dogma has its downside too, but we’re not talking about that right now.
When I got into this business back in 2013, I did so on a rocket ship of ideals. The crypto and blockchain conversation was newer back then, everything was more black and white. Us against them. Satoshi Nakamoto set us free. Is it about transparency and decentralization? Or about getting rich from magical internet money? It was about both!
If you’re like me, an idealist that craves instant gratification — tough combo — and if you equate wealth to your ideal, then blockchain was heaven on earth for a few years. Tailor-made for idealists and fiends. Since the last run-up, moonshot, bubble — whatever you want to call it — the landscape has “mediocritized”. So many of those fiendish dogmatic idealists are gone, replaced by the established mediocrity of legacy conservatism… pragmatism. Many of the idealists said “to hell with it all!” after they made big money. Retired to a sunny tax haven, on an extended leave of absence. Not wanting to deal with the sociopathy of international capitalism. Yeah, I get it. I hope some of them come back soon.
SingularDTV and Breaker have also succumbed to the pragmatism. I’ve seen it coming since the USA strong-armed the most progressive jurisdictions around the world to adopt their hardline views of regulation back in 2017. Pragmatism is the right and responsible thing for SingularDTV and Breaker. What we’ve created and learned from the past several years will give us the best chance to make a positive impact in the world, to make money and energize our SNGLS tokenized ecosystem.
But, there’s a bit of emptiness around the breakfast table these days. It’s more than an awkward silence. It’s a need for more ideals and dogma in my cereal. Hence, the birth of the SNGLS DAO, which is supposed to be purist and extreme. Zealots engaged in research and development of decentralization for the sake of decentralizing. Our SNGLS 2.0 Whitepaper is worth a read. I don’t think there are any final answers in that paper, there’s no such thing… it’s all about iteration — endless iteration — for the sake of innovation and enhancing the Dapps and services of SingularDTV, Breaker and others.
Blockchain isn’t so cool because legacy mediocrity is partying on it right now. That sucks. But life is a series of cycles within a series of phases, or the other way around. I’m confident it will become cool and worth living for again soon…
CEO 101 : Random Thoughts
Of course there are exceptions to every rule, but money changes everything. Hire your friends, they cease being your friends. They become your employees. Attitudes change when people become dependent on you for their livelihoods.
If a collaborator has character faults when things are in the planning stages, when all is relatively calm and cool, those character flaws will amplify when things start moving faster and pressure ramps up. They’re an explosion waiting to happen in the cockpit of an airplane. Choose your partners carefully.
When you have money, people will come to take it from you for the purpose of advancing their own agendas. Lawyers will tell you a contract is everything, but in reality, a contract isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. It’s all about leverage, position, circumstance, confidence and luck. I’ve seen people and companies get screwed for big sums — and let it happen! They lost because they never stood up for themselves. Didn’t want to rock the boat. Didn’t want the public to know. If you believe in what you’re doing, and stay active in expressing it — being most effective in face to face situations — you’ll have the advantage over those trying to fuck you over. Their conscious has only so many layers of armor and rationale before their guilt is exposed. Truth and justice does win out, but only if you stand up for it, and have enough money to pay lawyers to enforce it.
Internal governance in SingularDTV and Breaker is a hybrid horizontal field of consensus divided into various hierarchical vertices. In the beginning, when it was just me and a few others, I represented the top of a single vertical. As we grew, the vertices were determined by foreshadowing a need, then hiring the person best suited to fill that need. That led to me hiring and firing over 60 people trying to find the right combination of team chemistry. It’s not about the best on paper, it’s not about Harvard or Yale grads. In a startup environment, it’s all about those that understand the company mission and actively add to it, roll-up their sleeves and do the work of a whole team. What the governance structure in SingularDTV has evolved to now, is vertices determined by the most capable individuals who take the initiative to move things forward. A meritocracy of sorts. This is the best governance structure I’ve encountered so far.
About SingularDTV / Breaker
On October 2, 2016, SingularDTV raised 580,000 ETH. ETH was at $13 that day. Our target was a modest $7.5m, which we achieved in 15 minutes.
Our mission is to prove rights management of Intellectual Property is not only possible using blockchain technology, but can cure the ills of artists and rights holders screwed over by distribution and publishing companies. DeFi is all the rage now as blockchain begins its next iteration but rights management is real, viable and has game-changing potential for the entertainment industry.
The discoveries and innovations SingularDTV made since 2016 has lead to an inspired next phase. You can read about it here, SNGLS 2.0. Our consumer strategy is an obligatory long-game, our suite of business to business services aims at bringing revenue into the company in the mid-term and our open-source rights and content management protocol run by the SNGLS token is in the works.
Part 2, “A New Breed of Sociopath”, coming next…
White paper: https://github.com/SingularDTV/snglsdao-whitepaper
Project Management Portal: https://github.com/SingularDTV/snglsdao-pm