It took a lot for me to overcome my nerves and ask people (you wonderful folks) to support my writing. We’re not used to this model. We mostly consume content served by aggregators with a big brand and huge reach like publishing companies or social networks.
So we expect content to be free. Creators contort their efforts to please the algorithms that get them views and clicks. Consumers consume what they’re served. And behind the scenes, everybody on the platform is monetized in oftentimes questionable ways.
But that’s starting to change. Creators are directly connecting with their audiences–tools like Stripe, Memberful, Patreon, and Substack make it easy to set up. And as a result, we’re seeing a gradual cultural shift towards preferring to directly support the creators we like.
While aggregators offered previously unseen reach to potentially millions and millions of people, creators had to give up control and participate in indirect monetization schemes (like ads, selling of user data). Directly connecting to audiences gives creators more independence and a closer relationship with those that value their work (and a better business model, in most cases). I’ll write a whole post about this some day. It’s a wonderful thing.
This is an example of product-channel fit (finding the right distribution channel for your product), and it’s the topic of this week’s update. Dapps need ways to reach users, but there isn’t a good channel for distribution yet.
Airware, a company that raised $118 from top-tier VCs to build an operating system for drones, suddenly shut its doors to the surprise of the startup community. Why? A bad bet on distribution.
An ex-employee explained:
Airware was […] so far ahead that the drone hardware on the market wasn’t sophisticated enough to […] test out their software/train their algorithms. So they spent shitloads of money designing bespoke hardware, including two drones in-house […] Both projects were scuttled as hardware from [OEMs] caught up to needs, after sinking tons of engineering time and manufacturing into them.”
In a tale as old as time, a startup with the ingredients for success failed because they were too early to the market.
Tren Griffin observed a parallel between the fundamental challenge for Airware and distribution of software during the DotCom era.
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If you aren’t already familiar with my work, I write long-form analyses on building and investing in crypto, and the impact of crypto on society.
My readers include investors at Union Square Ventures, a16z, Village Global, Multicoin Capital, Scalar Capital, and Polychain and builders of Bitcoin, Ethereum, Zcash, EOS, Tezos, 0x, and Coinbase.
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