08 January 2022 |

Jack Dorsey knows how to tweet

By Trung Phan

The reason behind @jack’s post-Twitter tweet rampage.

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Today, we’ll breakdown Jack Dorsey’s wild tweets since he resigned as Twitter CEO (spoiler alert: he’s very good at tweeting).

Other stuff:

  • An update on my “Smart Threads, Dumb Memes” Twitter strategy

  • Some notes on Theranos (and the janky prototype it used to raise $30m in 2006)

Jack Dorsey is on one

The first Star Wars trilogy — Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi — spanned from 1977 to 1983.

George Lucas rebooted the series with a prequel trilogy — The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, Revenge of the Sith — going from 1999 to 2005.

While the prequels suck, we were treated to one amazing payoff: Yoda going hard as a MFer. In Revenge of the Sith — after 28 years of teasing his abilities (1977-2005) — Star Wars fans finally witness the full force of Yoda’s mythical lightsaber and Jedi skills.

28 long years!

The Yoda story is pretty much what’s happening with Jack Dorsey right now.

The Twitter co-founder resigned as the company’s CEO at the end of November to focus full time on his payments/blockchain company, Block (formerly Square).

It also seems he resigned from Twitter so that he could use it more. As a civilian, @jack has let loose and been on a tweeting romp against VCs (particularly those funding Web3-related companies).

Here’s a telling excerpt from Alex Kantrowitz’s Big Technology newsletter:

“Jack was always a slightly restrained volcano,” said one person who knows him well. But in his capacity as Twitter CEO, “he held back.” 

Kind of like Yoda staying low key in all the earlier Star Wars films, Dorsey “held back” on Twitter since co-founding the social platform in 2006. But, we all kind of knew he was harbouring some serious Twitter skills.

How couldn’t he?

Today we’ll discuss:

  • What triggered Jack?

  • What’s his beef with Web3 (and VCs backing it) ?

  • Where are the funny tweets?

What triggered Jack?

When it comes to crypto, Dorsey only cares about Bitcoin:

  • His Twitter bio only says #Bitcoin

  • The only crypto currency that Block’s Cash App supports is Bitcoin

  • He’s publicly stated that the only crypto he owns is Bitcoin

  • …and when asked “how much”, he replied “enough” (translation: more Bitcoin than me)

  • At last year’s Bitcoin conference in Miami, he said “’I don’t think there is anything more important in my lifetime to work on” other than Bitcoin

Trung, we get it: he likes Bitcoin. But why?

Dorsey is critical of the existing financial system and believe Bitcoin’s decentralized, censorship-resistant and store of value qualities make it the ideal internet money.

As he told Joe Rogan: “I believe the internet will have a native currency. I think [it will be Bitcoin] given all the tests it’s been through, the principles behind it, how it was created. It’s something that was born on the internet, developed on the internet, tested on the internet.”

In his view, Bitcoin can provide fair financial access for billions of people that are under-serviced in the existing economy. Per Kantrowitz, Dorsey’s view on the value of Bitcoin was hardened by his 2019 trip to Africa: the financial systems in the countries he visited were broken, often with usurious transfer fees of 10-30%.

TLDR: Dorsey only fux with Bitcoin and all other crypto projects are a distraction.

On December 18th, The Wall Street Journal published an article titled: “Jack Dorsey and the unlikely revolutionaries who want to reboot the internet.”

The article bundles Dorsey and Block into the Web3 movement. He would later tweet “I have nothing to do with Web3” and that the WSJ was using his name to “generate clicks” (or as Marlo from The Wire put it: “My name was on the streets?”)

Within 72 hours of the WSJ piece — and without any Twitter CEO responsibilities — Dorsey went after Web3 and VCs with these tweets:

Noted for going on 10-day meditation retreats and rocking monk-like attire (not unlike Yoda), the outburst really caught people’s attention.

What’s his beef with Web3?

As stated in the above tweets, Dorsey believes that VC firms are capturing the value (and dictating directions) for many new — and non-Bitcoin — crypto/Web3 projects.

One example of what Dorsey may be alluding to: this chart from Messari shows that a number of non-Bitcoin public blockchain projects are primarily owned by “insiders” or foundations linked to the founding team:

(It should be noted that Ethereum — the 2nd largest crypto asset by market cap and where many Web3 experiments are taking place — was an opportunity anyone with an internet connection and some Bitcoin could have participated in from the early days: in 2014, a pre-mine of 7m+ ETH were sold for $2.2m…that’s ~$0.30 per ETH, which is now valued at ~$3,200)

The insider-ish ownership seems contradictory to crypto’s decentralized ethos (and, to Dorsey, is a distraction from the more important work of making Bitcoin the internet’s money).

I’ll stop here to say 2 things:

1. Web3 is such a buzzword, that I can’t even really tell you what it means. My amateurish heuristic: it’s a rebranding of crypto to include anything that’s a decentralized alternative to existing systems: BTC (vs. Gold), ETH (vs. centralized Big Tech services), NFTs (vs. media gatekeepers like art houses + record labels), DAOs (vs. Delaware corps), DeFi (vs. JPMorgan).

2. Since I just want to talk about funny tweets, here are 5 other things you should read re: the Jack vs. Web3 beef:

Where are the funny tweets?

Since Dorsey started going after Web3 and VCs, he’s pulled out the full repertoire of sh*tposting tweets:

Post a meme to get a point across

Use an expressive GIF to communicate disdain

Cutting and dismissive comment

Sarcastic guy

Using another community’s lingo against them (Beanie is a partner at GM Capital; GM = good morning in Web3 parlance; GN = good night … think about it)

As if that range wasn’t enough, Dorsey also invented an entirely new way to diss people online. Whenever someone tweeted a string of buzzwords — and presumably ones he didn’t like — Dorsey just replied with “Words.” (Yoda shit).

Who woulda thunk it: the co-founder of Twitter is good at Twitter!

Dorsey’s most notable exchange was with Marc Andreessen, the co-founder of the Netscape web browser and VC firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), which happens to run one of the biggest crypto funds in the world ($2.2B).

Dorsey had some contentious tweet exchanges with a16z general partner Chris Dixon. Not long after, Andreessen blocked Dorsey…leading to this tweet:

The story takes a wild turn from here: Dorsey fired out more tweets directed at a16z, then Andreessen went all-in on the “blocking people” joke and has unleashed a wave of hilarious “block” memes:

There’s more:

In sum: the 15-year wait for Dorsey to be out in the wild has led to some very quality tweets (and not just from @jack).

15 long years!

ADDENDUM: I always suspected Dorsey was a sh*tposter. A few months back, I did a video tweet trolling Zuck and Facebook’s Clubhouse clone. And @jack snuck in a like on it hahahahaha

Smart threads. Dumb memes.

In last week’s 2021 year-end wrap, I said that my Twitter strategy was the first 4 words of my bio: “Smart threads. Dumb memes.”

The strategy has been firing on all cylinders in the last couple of days:

Smart thread

I wrote a thread about BlackBerry vs. iPhone. It popped off and BBC asked me to join the NewsDay radio show to opine on news that BlackBerry was shutting off phone functionality on legacy devices.

Before doing my 5-minute segment, they introduced me as a “Canadian Technology Expert”.

I don’t know if they meant to say I am an expert of Canadian technology. Or if I am a technology expert who happens to be Canadian. Neither description is true LOL.

More hilariously, someone challenged me to say the phrase “encrypted wall of energy” — as a nod to Michael Saylor’s catchy definition of Bitcoin — during the interview. Mission accomplished.

Dumb meme

Also, last week, I discussed the concept of “context collapse”. It’s the idea that when a piece of content intended for one audience ends up in front of another, fighting (and hilarity) ensues.

On cue: I typed up a (pretty clear) joke about how Apple has gained $2.7T of value under Tim Cook’s watch (but that he has only captured a fraction of it).

The quote RTs — almost all from audiences it wasn’t intended for — are amazing:

For some reason, the Independent picked up the tweet and turned it into an article (meanwhile, Digg unceremoniously called me the “Twitter Main Character” for that day).

UK media is developing an affinity for my lowbrow content. And I’m here for it!

PS. To all the readers that replied to the last email, yes I’ll be writing a context collapse article.

Thoughts on Theranos

Last week, Elizabeth Holmes — the disgraced founder of Theranos — was convicted on 4 of 11 fraud charges related to her blood testing startup.

The best coverage of the case is from John Carreyrou, the WSJ reporter who broke open the Theranos fraud story. He wrote the popular book Bad Blood and created a must-listen podcast series reporting on the trial (Bad Blood: The Final Chapter).

In the final pod episode, he predicts that Holmes will get a 5+ year sentence and serve 3 years for good behaviour (conversely, he interviews a legal expert that expects no jail time for Holmes).

The most interesting exchange on the pod is with Tyler Shultz, the grandson of George Shultz, a former Theranos board member and the US Secretary of State under Reagan (1982-89). Tyler worked at Theranos and became a whistleblower, causing a huge rift with his grandfather (who fell under Holmes’s spell).

Tyler is semi-happy with the result:

“I just needed…at least one guilty verdict to be vindicated. So having four [guilty verdicts] was great. That was a win. I think it’s a little disappointing that all four [guilty verdicts] were related to the investor fraud and not to the patient fraud. Because, from my perspective…people like [Theranos colleague] Erica and I put our necks out on the line not to save Betsy DeVos’ $100m [investment] but to…save patients from potentially getting bad medical results.”

His grandfather never apologized for taking Holmes’ side (and passed away last year).

Prior to the pandemic, Tyler did meet George in person one last time. And the former Secretary of State seemed to acknowledge the reality of the Holmes situation:

“I went over to [George’s] house and he told me a story that during Fleet Week in San Francisco, when the Navy [brings the fleet], he invited Elizabeth to give a speech to US Navy sailors. And this is before she was exposed. I don’t know what the exact year was. He said that with tears in her eyes, she told this group of young men and women, that she was ‘honored and humbled that her life’s work would be saving the lives of US service men and women’. And he said, he just could not believe that anybody could get in front of these people who would be willing to lay down their lives for our country and lie to them as confidently and convincingly as she lied. And even though he never apologized for anything, this was kind of his way of saying, I understand the extent to which she was a fraudster. The extent to which she was a pathological liar.”

Here is the prototype blood-testing machine that Holmes used to raise a $30m Series B (the company would raise $700m+ total). Ugh.

Last thing. In September, I wrote a thread about the Theranos blood-testing technology (and why it failed):

See y’all next week!