Today is day 2️⃣2️⃣ of my 30 day challenge.
Yesterday, I dived into the origins of the gaming industry. It's insane to think that a simple brown box developed in 1972 has led to a $350 billion dollar industry 50 years later. The gaming ecosystem is growing fast and now everything from mobile to on-chain gaming is rapidly gaining momentum.
Check out the full post here: "Picture a brown box transforming the entertainment industry"
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For today's post, I decided to write a stream of thought I've had recently regarding the passion economy. The overall idea is that the way we think about creators today is going to dramatically change faster than most of us think.
Today, we're used to seeing the few celebrities (writers, musicians, videographers, etc.) that make it to the top of their field. Mainstream creators, just like founders, have to take an early risk and go "all-in" with the hopes that their hard work will lead stardom. Most of us are conditioned to believe that unless you don't make it to a million followers and fame, it's not worth being a creator. And to be honest, with the way social media monetization models are set up, there's honestly some truth there. It's no surprise that companies such as YouTube and Twitch are focused on working closely with the elite creators on their platforms - it's best for their business.
Yet, with evolving technology and cultural shifts, the definition of a 'creator' is set to undergo a transformation. Technologically, tools such as AI & NFTs will only improve and make it easier to generate content, build a community, and monetize content. And culturally, we'll see a growing distrust of large institutions such as big media, big tech, big finance, etc.
I believe there will be two primary shifts in mindset that will change the way we think about entering the passion economy.
Entrepreneurs will stop glorifying the idea of building a billion dollar business with thousands of employees & VCs. Rather, they will focus on having more ownership over a smaller business and high quality audience they curate through content.
Content consumers will migrate away from the centralized, controlled outlets we're used to and will rather subscribe to content creators they trust to bring them the news they care about.
The role of creators is set to rapidly evolve this decade, with more individuals opting for a hybrid earning model that combines traditional employment and creative work. The migration from the labor economy to the passion economy is just getting started.
Hopefully some of these thoughts resonate with you. I would love to hear any feedback on my musings below. Remember, this post is not a well developed thesis - think of it as a train of thought.
The Great Migration
In the last two decades, we’ve seen the rise of platforms such as Twitch, Youtube, TikTok, Spotify, etc. that have completely changed the way the world spends their time and consumes information.
These platforms enabled thousands of digital creators to start generating content in unique and authentic ways that most of us could never have even imagined. Mr. Beast, Ninja, Addison Rae, Lex Fridman, and many more showed us it’s possible to make a living through a completely unconventional path. They showed us it’s possible to break out of the 9-5 jobs. They showed us it’s possible to build a brand off of passion, curiosity, & discipline. And most importantly, they showed us that anyone who is dedicated can build an audience.
People do in fact care about creators and are hungry for content that’s not strictly on cable television or newspapers.
However, even with all the growth we’ve seen in the creator economy in the recent years, I strongly believe that we are only scratching the surface and are still in the first innings. Being a creator (part-time or full-time) will start to sound a lot more normal in this next decade.
Personally, I think there will be two primary routes that will start the great migration from the labor economy (traditional corporate jobs) to the passion economy:
Creatorprenuer - Entrepreneurs will start by creating content & community building, then will focus on product/service development.
Journalist creators - The mainstream media glacier will increasingly melt away as people and corporations change their default news plug to citizen journalists.
Let's dive into each of these routes.
Creator First, Entrepreneur Second
I believe a high percentage of the next generation founders and entrepreneurs will start off as creators. It simply makes more sense. Of course, you’ll have the occasional Zuck type gigabrain that makes a world changing product “overnight”. But the reality is that most founders that are successful today iterated on a plethora of ideas before they struck gold and found product market fit. This doesn’t just apply to the tech ecosystem, but even areas such as retail products, consulting services, etc.
Currently, we’re all trained to think about starting a company in a rigid, traditional way:
You look for or stumble onto a problem
Iterate solutions, do market research, etc.
Hopefully find product market fit
Grow the product into a full fledged business
Now, obviously this path to building a company works - I’m not arguing that. But how can we improve the success rate of budding entrepreneurs? Most people who get started on the founder journey end up failing. It’s an arduous process that requires a ton of experimentation and appetite for risk. Most products that get built fail because people either don’t need them or they’re not built to solve x problem correctly.
But what if ambitious folks that want to start a company or build a product or provide a service or grow a small business start off by being creators first? Meaning they can initiate their journeys by writing or speaking about a domain space they want to enter and are passionate about. This will be useful for five reasons:
They'll have time to research the landscape effectively and figure out if they even care about x thing that they initially thought was cool
They'll build an early community and identify their true fans that are excited about x thing as well and want to see you succeed
They'll identify a problem with the help of their audience that actually needs to be solved and already has a backlog of people ready to use
They'll find other people who want to work on the product/service thus making it easier to recruit possible co-founders or early employees
They'll be able to find curious and passionate investors interested in backing the idea
A good example of someone on tech twitter that took this route is Trung Phan. He started off by creating memes, growing his newsletter out, and building a community that became quickly loyal to his thought leadership. From there, he started working on a AI research app called Bearly. His product had immediate distribution to over 600k followers on Twitter and people from his community excited to use it and give feedback.
For the average entrepreneur, I believe this approach - starting as a creator - is generally more effective and doesn't require immediate commitment to a single idea. This allows for sufficient time to conduct user research, understand a domain space deeply, etc. Most importantly, it allows the founder to build a community before they jump to building a product.
It’s no surprise that a majority of tech & business twitter has become wary of mainstream media, especially since Covid started. In fact, since the Elon Twitter takeover, many prominent figures in the entrepreneurship space have been increasingly vocal about the selfish motives and hypocrisy of traditional journalism. And if you’ve been on tech twitter for ~5 years, you’ve most definitely seen a transition in the way people are consuming news. Many people in tech now depend on niche creators that they trust to provide them with authentic and straightforward breakdowns on what’s happening.
For example, let’s rewind back to November 2022 when the FTX fiasco was going on. Most of crypto twitter was solely getting their updates from twitter accounts such as 0xfoobar, autism capital, and Mario Nawfal The reality is that many of the articles coming from “normal” news sources weren’t factually correct or could be trusted to give the story without pushing an ulterior narrative. And writers such as 0xfoobar knew what they were talking about. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather trust someone who has actually used a crypto wallet to explain me what was happening. And what’s cool is that we even saw the rise of some crypto legal experts pop up in the space that were giving their takes on how the court proceedings would work, what the charges would look like, etc.
The point is, the crypto community rallied together and brought each other the best version of the news as possible. Now, to be perfectly clear, I am by no means saying that every twitter writer could be trusted or that they gave a perfect account of what was happening, but rather trying to underscore the fact that many of us didn’t need to (or want to) read the NYT or Business Insider to understand the situation. There was a clear, superior alternative.
People want news from creators who have skin in the game, not journalists looking to hit a clickrate quota.
Also, recently, even top founders and company PR reps are going to top individual creators to give their statements or thoughts. For example, just in the last year, Mark Zuckerburg, Satya Nadella, and Sundar Pichai have all showed up in interview with top tech creators such as Ben Thompson and Lex Fridman.
Over the next few years, as we see an increase in creators developing a footing in niche areas of different industries, I believe more and more news will be broken by citizen journalists, not mainstream media outlets.
Although, there are still many gaps and holes to be filled with the idea of citizen journalism.
While the model of citizen journalism presents its own set of challenges, its merit cannot be ignored. Solo journalists definitely have the potential to take a significant share of the mainstream media market in the future as the process becomes less expensive and intensive.
That's all for today's post!
I hope you enjoyed my train of thought. Just a reminder that there's a lot more to unpack here and look into in terms of data, infrastructure realities, costs, etc. However, this was just a fun start to a thesis I would like to expand on slowly as I venture into my own creator journey.
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