The best white elephant gift 🐘🎁
I want your feedback on my first painted door: Moon.
I got a little sidetracked since my last update. I decided to leverage the FTX / custody discussion to my advantage and hustle with my “How to custody crypto” article. I solicited the BFF community for non-binary folks and women in Web3 to write their canonical “BFF’s Guide to Self-Custody” and got my first paid gig since leaving Google. 🎉 Now I’m back from Thanksgiving and continuing progress on what’s next as I figure out a business to found in the crypto custody space. Check out my painted door test to gift Bitcoin: Moon.
T+9 Weeks Status Update
28 of 50 user interviews completed (I’ve been holding off initiating new ones while I prep my painted door)
Quick Updates & Lessons Learned
I scrapped “Project Launchpad” - An education-forward crypto savings plan idea. I started writing up some educational snippets, and the minimum bar to explain this stuff is so high. I wouldn’t even wish this content on my mom (and she reads everything I write), so how could I possibly ask strangers to read it and then convert? I.e., I think it’s a dead end. It was hard not to succumb to sunk cost fallacy, but I realized I needed to walk away without tying up loose ends.
I’m code complete on the “Project Star” painted door - A product concept to gift people crypto, specifically Bitcoin. More on this later.
I soft-launched my NFT! - You can find details at https://www.mutantaurelius.com/ I’m particularly proud of an NFT mechanic I’ve created called “owner-managed tokens.” You can mint one for free on Etherscan.
I hopped into the fray of the self-custody discussion after FTX’s demise - I wrote “How to custody crypto” and the “BFF’s Guide to Self-Custody.” I tried driving traffic to it, and here are the results:
I got very few additional subscriptions to running towards xyz or new Twitter followers. Growing an audience is hard.
The most effective tactic for driving new eyeballs was using Twitter search and inserting myself into existing conversations about “self-custody.”
The most valuable result was getting introductions to people and being forced to interview folks for the BFF article. Thanks to the folks who made the intros! I got to meet the following folks and go deep on custody:
Ryan Bozarth - Former Head of Product for Coinbase Custody and Anchorage
Jasmine Xu - Head of Product for Bitski
Thomas Pan - Author of tpan.substack.com
Lyle McKeany - Head of Community at Invisible College
Where I could use your help
I’m shopping for a lawyer. Please send any leads for great product lawyers or firms, especially if they are familiar with crypto law.
Check out “Moon,” my painted door for “Project Star,” the gifting crypto idea. Any and all feedback is welcome. If you are intrigued by the concept / would buy the product if it existed, please let me know by completing the conversion flow in the painted door.
Help me share my painted door test. Please let me know if you know of a listserv or community of existing crypto users that would be receptive to me sharing the “Moon” site.
The specter of FTX - The news about FTX since the last time I posted has been… a lot. Prominent news outlets a) continue to hate crypto and b) aren’t giving SBF the skewering he deserves. The dialog about self-custody is dying down, discussion of regulation is up.
GPTChat - OpenAI has released GPTChat: a dialog-optimized version of their large language model, and it’s freaking mind-blowing. 🤯 My favorite threads: 1, 2.
Courage to be Disliked audiobook - In the self-help genre, but worth highlighting in the context of this newsletter. One of the key principles is that if you treat everyone as a comrade, your world can be bigger and happier. Thanks for being part of my community, comrades.
The best white elephant gift 🐘🎁
The #1 reason why people say they haven’t adopted crypto because they don’t know enough to invest. This reason was very exciting for me: I’ve worked in EdTech for six years! I have a unique position to apply education to crypto. It’s a very flattering perspective. Because it was so flattering, it took me a while to realize it was the wrong perspective.
People don’t buy crypto because they don’t know enough. They don’t buy crypto because they don’t care.
As I started to type up the things a person might want to know about crypto, I realized that the reader would have to really care to push through learning new jargon and new mental frameworks. And even if the reader had the time and patience to learn about new technology, they would have to learn a lot about the global monetary system to understand why it is valuable. And my research validated it: most people who own crypto started to own *years* after they first heard about the technology. Building a business idea on a multi-year-long conversion cycle does not seem like a route to success. So I scrapped my educational crypto idea.
But how do I get people to start caring about something they don’t care about?
When I first heard about Bitcoin, it was from my husband. I love him, but listening to him talk about Bitcoin back in 2013 was like listening to the Charlie Brown teacher, “wah wah wah blockchain wah wah wah.” He was always telling me about the price, “Bitcoin is $410 today!”. Sometimes multiple times a day. At some point, I decided to buy a bitcoin, so I would care about the price updates when he told me about it. It worked. Not only did I start to care about price updates, but I started to pay more attention to his updates about new crypto applications and products.
In the years following, my husband made a practice of buying $50 worth of Bitcoin and giving it to family members as stocking stuffers. Most family members humored him. Some even talked to him about it, but only one other family member bought any more Bitcoin that first year. Then a few more years passed. More family members started to get curious.
My husband isn’t alone. Of the 15 crypto owners I’ve formally interviewed, 13 have helped onboard a family member through gifting or hand-holding through signing up for an exchange. Informally, many of the crypto folks I’ve met have also discussed gifting to family members. In a conversation last week, someone told me that they’ve gone to white elephant gift exchanges in the last two years, and the gift of $25 of Bitcoin gets snatched up first.
So I’m narrowing in on gifting Bitcoin. Gifting because of all the reasons mentioned above. Bitcoin because it’s the #1 crypto asset that most people have heard of and because I and most crypto folks I know firmly believe that everyone should own a little Bitcoin insurance.
My first “Project Star” painted door, Moon, is based on the following principles:
People who already own Bitcoin are excited to share it with family members and close friends.
Accepting a Bitcoin gift should be incredibly simple, shouldn’t require any education about Bitcoin, and should integrate with familiar authentication principles (i.e., Google / Facebook / Apple account).
A Bitcoin gift should have an optional maturity date since it can take years for the price of Bitcoin to gain value, and it can take years for people to warm up to it.
I mocked up a painted door in Webflow over the last couple of weeks, and my next newsletter will include a how-to. Then I shared the initial concept with a couple of volunteers. HUGE THANKS to DI, SG, DS, TO, AY, SA, and SL for your thoughtful feedback. 🙏❤️🙏
In the spirit of vulnerability and posterity, I made the following changes to the v1 based on their feedback:
I spent more time explaining what a moon ticket is, how it works, and what outcomes to expect from the usage of the product.
I changed my positioning from giving people a reason to care → don’t leave your loved ones behind (the former was too snarky, and the latter is more about loss aversion).
I had an “earn yield” product that I decided to axe; while earning ridiculous amounts of yield is commonplace in the industry, recent developments and the minimal principle didn’t make it worth continuing to iterate on.
I’ve also received consistent feedback on the following but haven’t been able to act on it yet:
The name might be perceived as appealing too much to gamblers, but folks like the name and logo consistently, so they encouraged me to keep it the same unless I continued to get that kind of feedback.
Lots of questions about how to price and charge for custody.
Many questions about transaction fees and the strike price of a bitcoin at the time of purchase.
The last two bullets are unsurprising as they touch the core of the business problem I’m trying to solve. If I get positive signals about this product concept, I’ll turn my attention to answering the business model and legal questions I’d need to answer to bring this concept to life.
So, please help me out: Check out Moon. Would you buy a product like this? Who would you buy it for? When? If not, why? I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feedback. 🙏
Okay, I haven't actually received the payment yet since I have to fill out a W-9 and some contractor paperwork. This is all new to me, so the learning curve is steep. :)
In fairness to him, he did tell me about a lot more than just the price. But learning about Bitcoin, in the beginning, was so hard that it was hard to grasp all the concepts. I eventually asked him to explain it to me in a slide deck, which eventually resulted in this fabulous talk.
Several people I interviewed said they usually accompany the gift of Bitcoin with the advice to not sell for at least a year.