Maybe Bitcoin Can Save Nafta, Facebook, and Walmart?


Money Quote Friday Jan. 12 2018

Or, how to get three stories into one headline. Happy Friday.

It was a week crammed with worthy stories, so here’s a bit of a retrospective, with a dollop of today’s most interesting stuff on top. Enjoy, and have a great weekend (oh, and by the way, the Shift Forum agenda is up. And it’s awesome. More on that in my next column).


It’s as if they read my piece last Friday! But of course these changes have been in the works for more than a year. Unfortunately, this changes nothing in the ad model, which is the driver of the toxic externalities. MQ: “Thursday’s changes raise questions of whether people may end up seeing more content that reinforces their own ideologies if they end up frequently interacting with posts and videos that reflect the similar views of their friends or family. And bogus news may still spread — if a relative or friend posts a link with an inaccurate news article that is widely commented on, that post will be prominently displayed.” Also: Did Zuck Just Drop Acid?

Ok, see, what I really meant was, blockchain is going to be important! My takeaway is the dude hasn’t really thought it through, still. MQ: “In the interview, Mr. Dimon added that “you can have crypto-dollars and yen and stuff like that,” a reference to the idea that central banks and governments would create their own bitcoin-like currencies that borrowed some of its technological advantages. Addressing initial coin offerings, or ICOs, which many virtual-currency related startups have used to raise millions of dollars with minimal disclosure, Mr. Dimon said: “You look at every one individually.”

I’m watching this story as an indication of how far this administration is really willing to go. So far, things look bad. MQ: ““He wants to at least throw this into doubt and show toughness before the midterm elections,” said CIBC Chief Economist Avery Shenfeld. “What isn’t clear is whether six months down the road this means the end of Nafta.””

Good: More base pay for new workers. Bad: Less workers. MQ: “But within hours, Walmart had undercut its triumphal message when news leaked that it was closing 63 of its Sam’s Club stores. Sam’s Club, a retail chain offering memberships, was soon trending on Twitter, and labor groups and Senate Democrats seized on the news to question Walmart’s motives and criticize the tax bill as failing to protect low-wage workers.”

I’m not a fan of the line of thinking employed by Damore, but this is why we have courts, no? So we can have our arguments in a civil fashion. We’ll see if it even gets there. MQ: “Google said it fired Damore for violating its code of conduct and advancing “harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace.” Damore meanwhile began a kind of press tour, denouncing the company for being close-minded and worse. In an interview with CNBC, for example, he compared being a conservative at Google to “being gay in the 1950s.””

I know the folks who run Kodak now. This is not as it appears, there’s certainly deeper thinking going on. But I’ve not been able to speak with them at length, and the longer form story is going to have to wait. Suffice to say, focus on the KodakCoin, not the miner stuff, which looks like a distraction. The token addresses a very real issue with digital rights for creators, the devil will be in the details, as usual. MQ: “If a blockchain-based system to track photos on the web sounds far-fetched, suspend your disbelief for a moment. It’s actually a problem that several startups in the blockchain world have tackled, with varying degrees of success.”

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