For the past few days I’ve had the chance to spend some time on BitClout, a whimsical new decentralized social media app that allows you to invest in the people, creators, and personalities you like. I am very impressed with the platform, which is quite rare for me, since I tend to be skeptical of new consumer tech apps in general. This is why I decided to write down my thoughts and articulate why I believe BitClout may be the next big thing in consumer tech.
I think BitClout will succeed by becoming the most efficient way to monetize your online presence. The basic tenet of BitClout is that anyone can buy a user’s creator coin. Each creator coin represents a stake in a user, and the price of each coin reflects the amount of money locked in a specific profile. You can have a creator coin too by simply creating a profile. The white paper explains the mechanism in detail and why it’s mathematically sound, but the TL;DR is that the more people buy a creator’s coin, the more that coin will be worth!
The implications of this new asset class are profound. First of all, BitClout opens up several new mechanisms that were not previously possible on a regular social network. The most obvious one is that early supporters of a successful creator will achieve greater returns on their investments compared to the people who discovered the same creator later on. Imagine liking your favorite YouTuber before it was cool and buying their coin when it was worth a few dollars! Not only do you get to support someone’s work that you care about, but you also get the bragging rights to say you were there early!
Another implication is that creators have access to an easy way to monetize their creative pursuits early on in their careers. Currently, you can use ads on YouTube, Substack, Gumroad, OnlyFans, or services like Buy Me a Coffee, but these don’t capture the dynamic nature of a creator’s persona. Most creators use a mix of Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, podcasts, and Substack, alongside many other platforms, but there are no ways for a fan to support or invest in them in aggregate. Most of these platforms also come with expensive fees and difficult terms that make it hard to break even unless you’re a top 1% creator. This means that BitClout is a much easier way to monetize your early work compared to any other alternative!
In addition to monetization, I believe BitClout should also be able to address many of the issues with current social media platforms. Every post on BitClout is permanent and your creator coin is tied to your account, which means that it is in your best interest to keep a clean track record on the platform. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, if you say something inflammatory, your account will forever be stained and people will sell your coin. Similarly, your account cannot be cancelled. If a lot of people agree with you, they’ll be able to vote with their creator coin and there is no centralized authority that can ban you. Last but not least, if you really disagree with someone, you can block their account, which means you don’t have to see their posts ever again!
Cicero Denounces Catiline (1888)
Similar to a public square, nobody will ever be able to stop someone from shouting obscenities, but BitClout introduces the kind of moderation that regular social networks have been lacking until today. I suspect that in the long-term the quality of conversations on BitClout should be higher than those on most social media platforms without having to hire hundreds or thousands of human moderators.
I’m also excited about how BitClout can evolve. One of the most appealing parts about the platform is related to all the applications and behaviors that users will build and discover. The white paper states a few ways in which BitClout can be extended (e.g. premium creator content available only to creator coin holders, creator AMAs with coin holders, etc.), but the real magic is tied to all the applications users will build on top of BitClout that we can’t even think of right now. This is possible since BitClout is going to be open sourced and anyone will be able to run a node, not just the owners of bitclout.com. This has enormous downstream implications for competition and privacy in the social media landscape. As Ben Thompson argues in The Web’s Missing Interoperability, creating interoperable and open social media platforms can lead to more competition for existing players like Facebook and Twitter and better outcomes for users when it comes to privacy and experience. Since the value of BitClout is directly tied to the value of the creators using the platform, the incentives couldn’t be more aligned.
BitClout is in its early stages and there are many challenges ahead. The launch has already created some controversy around the pre-loading of celebrity Twitter profiles. However, BitClout carries many of the hallmarks of a successful product and I am bullish: it solves a real problem for many creators, people are willing to use it despite the lack of polish and early bugs, and it comes at the right time - when the limitations of centralized social media platforms are becoming increasingly evident.
Thanks to Kate Northrop and Olivia Zhang for reading early drafts of this essay.