All posts in “Software”

A hard look at token sale mania by a true insider


Moshe Hogeg is a fixture in the Valley mythos. This Israeli founder of Yo (yes, that Yo) and Mobli, he recently became one of the most prolific ICO investors in the world with a thesis that, in short, that states he will put small amounts of money into every sane token sale.

Hogeg (whose company advertises on a weekly ICO newsletter that I started but do not write) recently posted some interesting commentary from inside his latest ICO, Sirin Labs.

As an aside, when searching for the website I found a copycat site that also claimed to be the Sirin ICO – a problem that plagues countless token sales. In short, had anyone clicked the top link they would have sent their money into a black hole.

Moshe Hogeg. Photo courtesy of Holatelcel

Back to the commentary: Hogeg posted on Facebook about his experience, saying that he wanted to address some falsehoods in the ICO space. “I wanted to share my thoughts with you on $100M in 24 hours,” he wrote.

“There is no such thing. Nonsense. Anyone who tells you that you can raise $100M in 24 hours is a liar. The truth is that I spent four months traveling from conference to conference all over the world to present Sirin’s vision. At first I did it badly and after a few times I did it very well. We did a lot of things that were simply condensed into 24 hours, but they were the product of a lot of people working for months,” he wrote.

He continues:

– There is no easy money. Anyone who decides to raise capital via an ICO just because they think it’s easier than raising capital from funds is making a big mistake. That might have been the case until June, but since then there have been hundreds ICOs a week, of which 99% can’t raise even $100,000. Four people with a whitepaper should not receive more than $100,000. It’s healthier for the industry and right for everyone.”

– If you do not have a significant advantage in raising capital via an ICO, don’t do it. It’s much more worthwhile to raise money in the traditional way, create value, and hold the tokens yourself. You’ll have a much better chance that their value will increase if you have long-term investors! HODL!

– Real value is not measured in days or months, it is measured in years. Bitcoin and Ethereum are one example of this, but every successful company in the world builds value over a long period of time. When I invest in a company I don’t even look at its value in the first year. As soon as the capital has been raised, that’s when the real work begins, and you have to work hard to make the dream a reality. Dealing with the token price all day only damages these efforts and makes people forget what the goal is. The goal is not the price of the token, the goal is to build a solution to problems, and if that is done well, the token price will reflect that in the long run.

It’s vitally important to note that when an investor as plugged-in as Hogeg is decrying the get-rich-quick token schemes entrepreneurs are seeing online then there is a major problem in the industry as a whole. The old rules haven’t changed just because cryptosales can bypass Sand Hill investors in their comfortable pants and Patagonia vests. Those guys still matter, although they will matter less and less.

In fact, the rules have gotten tougher. Because token sales are deeply decentralized, entrepreneurs must bring value to the table in ways that “team and a dream VCs” never did. While it seems like a hoot to raise $100 million in a few minutes, having an “investor” base that can pull their money out and tank your token in seconds is a real and dangerous threat and one that most entrepreneurs ignore in their quest for riches. When you raise money via token sale you get a fraction of the capital “raised” and you are now in charge of an internal monetary system alongside your actual product. Founders who can be both a Chief Customer Pleasure Officer and Central Banker are few and far between.

Still excited about token sales? I tried to explain how they worked here but it is still best to listen to experienced and battle-tested CEOs, even if they did found once a company that was the laughingstock of Silicon Valley. They are clearly currently laughing all the way to the crypto bank.

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Digital ethicist James Williams talks about the rise of bad social media


James Williams is a doctoral candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute. He studies the ethics of attention and persuasion in technology design and spoke with us about the rise of attention-grabbing advertising and media and how we can fight back against the onslaught.

I talked to him just before Thanksgiving for this enlightening episode of Technotopia.

Before fighting against bad advertising Williams worked at Google on “advertising products and tools.” His work now is aimed at reversing exactly what he built and he wants to use the tools he made to help fix advertising.

Technotopia is a podcast by John Biggs about a better future. You can subscribe in Stitcher, RSS, or iTunes and listen the MP3 here.

New Destiny 2 Alexa skills let you ask Ghost to do stuff in-game


Destiny 2 fans will know that you get your own virtual assistant of source in the game world – Ghost, who sort of floats around and guides you. The new Alexa skill for Destiny 2 allows you to ask Ghost to do a number of things for you, including provide guidance about your in-game mission, calling backup, equipping different armour and weapon sets and providing lore and fictional world background info.

This is clearly an example of ‘brands being brands’ ™ and teaming up to make each other look cool, but the integration is actually pretty neat, especially because it works with a physical, Wi-Fi connected Ghost speaker accessory that Bungie and Activision also revealed. The speaker doesn’t have Alexa on board directly, but can pair with Alexa devices and provides an even more realistic simulation of actually speaking to the in-game companion character.

Alexa-based voice commands for calling up info and doing things like equipment and inventory management without having to open sub-menus and dig through complex visual interfaces in games actually sounds like a super cool feature that could be applicable to a range of different titles and genres beyond Destiny 2.

The Alexa skill for Destiny 2 requires on the game, and an Alexa device like an Echo to work. But if you want to grab the Ghost speaker, it’s an $89.99 pre-order with a ship date of December 19, 2017.

I already use Alexa to control my home theater, fans, my lights, my thermostat and a lot more, so why not also use it to up my gaming skills? Here’s hoping this turns into a trend.

Instagram now allows optional photo and video message replays


Instagram has tweaked a couple of its direct messaging features to make them a bit more flexible and interactive. You can now automatically capture and remix photos sent to you in replies back to friends, and allow photo and video replays to be replayed more than once.

The remix feature lets you capture the original photo message and incorporate it into your reply, complete with the option to “remix” it with added stickers, text and doodles. You can also resize the image and incorporate it into your own visual response – meaning if you’re truly dedicated you could create a never-ending chain of remixed responses that drives you totally insane from its incomprehensible unknowability.

The other big change, and possibly one that’s more impactful IMO, is that Instagram now lets you choose to allow replays on photo messages sent to friends, instead of having them expire permanently once viewed. That’s a super cool feature, and a great option to have.

The single view expiry was a bit of a holdover from similar features Instagram was emulating from Snapchat, but I think the option to replay is much more at home on the photo sharing social network. You still have the option to fade away after a one-time view, too, so people can be as ephemeral, or as semi-permanent as they want to be.

iOS jailbreak repositories close as user interest wanes


A few years ago jailbreaking your iPhone was all the rage. The cat-and-mouse game of hackers versus Apple was great fun and some of the open source products available to jailbreakers – namely the Cydia alternative app store – added amazing features and customizability to the iPhone. Some devs even launched only on jailbroken phones, thumbing their noses at Apple’s walled garden.

Now, however, the jailbreak community is shriveling up and blowing away. Now two major repositories have closed, leaving very little for the active jailbreaker to install and run.

First ModMyi has closed, announcing that it didn’t make economic sense to maintain the repository:

After ModMy, Mobile Nations (ModMy’s parent company) and SaurikIT finished our discussions, there was a clear but sad result to the issue of Cydia and repositories. ModMyi was not plausible to keep going as server costs were insane and the money the repository generated was way below the required amount to keep the repository, not with an economic gain, but to even keep it non-profit.

Second, MaCiti closed last week, the result of a “death spiral” in jailbreak popularity.

The lates iOS version has not been jailbroken and, given the insecurities of running a jailbroken phone including unwanted terminal access into the phone itself, it’s not likely many will adopt it. Even the most popular service, JailBreakMe is sitting idle. That said, true fanatics aren’t giving up.

“With all the talking going around about ‘jailbreaking being dead’ or how it’s dying, I’m here to reassure everyone that this subreddit’s discord is still active every day,” wrote Aaronp613 on Reddit. “I know times have been a bit tough for everyone, but that just means we need to focus on what we have at the moment.”