Posted in Money on January 23rd, 2018
Only the early bird gets the worm. From time to time, we see an opportunity and that opportunity presents a window of opportunity for someone to seize. They either get it, or they don’t. The people who get it the earliest, often have the lowest risk and biggest potential for gain. The people who come next carry more risk and less potential for gain. Finally, the remaining people may not get any gain at all, though sometimes they do well. This holds true for everything: for instance, the “opportunities” in the Nikkei have done much better than those who came later, even if those who came later did well (the early birds won the biggest).
When Jason first heard about bitcoin in 2010, he thought bitcoin was completely stupid. Jason knew that no one would adopt bitcoin due to its technological complexity. But Jason decided to visit a bitcoin meetup one day since it happened to be taking place near his work. At the meetup, Bob gave him a dollar worth of bitcoins, approximately 25 bitcoins at the time, while showing Jason how to store it securely through several means. Jason thanked Bob for the bitcoins and didn’t think much of them. He still felt bitcoin offered nothing of value. Seven years later, Jason overhead a discussion from co-workers about bitcoin with someone remarking that one bitcoin was $5,000 and Jason remembered his gift.
Opportunity opened briefly and closed quickly.
One of our favorite observations has been people who’ve plagiarized or heavily used our content as their own. They read one of our posts, copied it, or wrote something almost identical as if it was their idea and marketed it. To be fair, they did a better job marketing their content than we did, but they failed to see what would happen next while we did. In their rush to steal content, they failed to see the bigger opportunity. To use a metaphor, they may have walked away gaining tens, while we walked away gaining millions, as they were unable to predict what came next. Many people can easily steal or lift content – as it takes no work, but are completely unable to predict what happens next. This hasn’t been true for this site of ours – we’ve had other sites with incredibly accurate content that was also stolen. Still, people failed to see the next event and we were careful to not share it.
Our favorite example of this was a Twitter user who copied our concern too late for his audience without understanding what he was saying (but, hey, why not copy someone and pretend to be the expert?). The opportunity switched and he missed it. He relied on theft to fake expertise, while we nailed another prediction because our expertise exceeds market analysis. His audience did as well. After all, you are a reflection of what you read and who you follow. Again, we don’t blame people for stealing – if you’re a better marketer of content than we are, why not steal it?
But what happens if we stop producing content and what happens when the next opportunity arises and you miss it: if I had read that post, I could have had [the equivalent of 25 bitcoins] without cost, you may someday realize.
With all that considered, what about now? What’s the best opportunity? What’s the biggest area of concern? You don’t know. Right now, Jason could take the same risk as he did before with the possibility of a similar or larger return. Even if we’re wrong and he gets a hundred multiple return, that still trumps index funds in some cases. Opportunities do not always exist, so the “next bitcoin” (to use a mental image for an example) may only be an opportunity for a year before the risk significantly increases.
As we retire from producing free or low-cost content, we’re grateful for the experience, as it taught us about the marketplace of media. We’ve all criticized media, but how many of us consider the media’s audience? Perhaps there’s a well-written critique there.
We have created a new model for our content: the subscription based production model. We produce more content if more people subscribe. We don’t produce anything if no new people subscribe. In a sense, if you plagiarize or pirate our content, you guarantee we stop (and thank you for saving us time!), whereas if you stay honest, you increase the probability that more people will subscribe as well. In the case of our podcasts this could mean the difference between possibly paying several dollars per podcast, or several cents per podcast.