Hi-Yo Silver

(recorded 10.28.22)

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On this edition of the Gang, we avoid politics to focus instead on the emotional state of the post-pandemic Happiness dimension. A dour reformed conservative of the New York Times columnist ranks brought this up, but I couldn’t bring myself to read it. Instead, I enjoyed the reverberations of Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. How cool is that, I think to myself, as most of the group prefer to second guess it. Last week, when it became clear the deal would close, CNBC set about handicapping what happens to Tesla, Starlink, dancing boosters, and all the other titles in the catalogue. My favorite is the Boring Company. But at the heart of it, this movie is about the Street’s insistence that Twitter is a mistake, an accidental hippie cult without a reason for living in the world of serious enterprise. One commentator, whose name I will redact as unnamed conspirator 2, was increasingly negative about the deal actually closing. So yesterday, as it closed, he switched to calling Musk some version of a Bond villain. That reminded me of the mad scientist in Help, the second Beatle movie, repeatedly ending his ravings with the coda: I could, dare I say it, rule the world.

As Facebook’s world appears to unravel, Wall Street is hard at work trashing social stocks as they wait for the downturn to show some results. With no Facebook to kick around, Twitter oddly seems a more conservative bet than funding endless augmented landfill in the post-PC Helmetsphere. I’ll settle for some iGlasses and an electric hotspot Sprinter to power remote editions of the Gang.

  • Funded like Amazon Prime does with free shipping, only instead a wide open all you can eat subscription to a bundled mix of streaming and newsletters.

  • YoutubeTV-like unlimited recording and personalized notifications in return for monitoring permissioned access to when I mute and unmute what personalities and talking heads in politics, business, and streaming.

  • This is not so much the Creator economy as it is the stream formerly known as advertising, now refactored as directed analytics and dynamic group registration. Think CostCo gas prices with less churn.

What’s the chance this maps to some of what Musk is thinking? It’s likely nonzero. I wouldn’t have bet much on landing multiple boosters back from space, but after a few of these experiments not crashing and burning, it gets harder to discount the thing. Our fascination with Musk may start with the loose cannon aspects, but at some point it becomes instructive to see what others with influence and assets are thinking. Ellison and Andreessen covering some of their bets individually is interesting, but both of them speaks more to what happens next. Settling at 54.20 may be called a big overpay, but how the deal moves forward with employees and wooing subscribers-plus-ads is about the churn and bundle economy. Wall Street is handicapping social as replaceable and unfixable. I’m not so sure.

I don’t pretend to know what will happen (that’s actually what I am doing, pretending) but we’ll know a lot more when the midterms wind down in the Georgia runoff in December. The Georgia runoffs in 2020 ended up surprising lots of us with the provisioning of 500,000 electric charging stations in the Inflation Reduction Act. I’m less optimistic about the seriousness with which the electorate is taking things this time, but if not, then the stage is set for 2024, which really starts the next month after this year’s holidays in January 2023. Buying Twitter came down to a bet not on paid media but earned. Going private buys time to ignore pandering to Wall Street raiders and compete directly with upstarts like Substack or even acquire them. No wonder the CNBC prognostics are so outraged. They may get their revenge in time, but it’s probably easier to go after softer targets like Snap and the linear TV 10 PM hour. Unlike newsletters, they have all this 24/7 airtime to fill and no Musk to scratch anymore. Like I said, where’s my flying electric go-anywhere studio.


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