Ep 46: NFTs as a funding model? Can Google compete in product search? Distrust of tech companies is high.

A proposed golf course raised $10 mil with NFTs as the funding model. Can Google ever compete in product search with Amazon? What would it take? American’s distrust of big tech is off the charts but continue to use them

Ep 46: NFTs as a funding model? Can Google compete in product search? Distrust of tech companies is high.
Photo by Ruchindra Gunasekara / Unsplash

Part 1 Video Starts 0:13 - Does NFT funded Golf Course point to a crowd sourced model for funding of startups?

Part 2 Video- Starts 8:29 - Can Google ever compete in product search with Amazon? What would it take?

Part 3 Video- Starts 17:55 - American’s distrust of big tech is off the charts but we continue to use them

Reference Articles:

This DAO says it raised $10.4 million in 48 hours selling NFTs. Next, it’s planning to buy a golf course

The Last E-Commerce Duel Between Amazon and Google

Why Google Lost Product Search (Greg’s take)

Americans widely distrust Facebook, TikTok and Instagram with their data, poll finds

Winning Despite Mistrust (Greg’s take)


Greg: Welcome back everybody. It's 2022, and this is the first episode of the new year. So we hope everyone had a good, a restful holiday and nobody got sick. Although, lots and lots of people are getting sick, including my oldest daughter.

David: Sorry to hear that.

Greg: Yeah, she's over it now. All she and her roommates all got sick at the same time.

And so they they've all gone through curfew now or quarantine. At any rate, this is Episode 46 of the Near Memo where we talk about search social media, commerce, and anything else. That's on our minds at the moment spontaneously and extemporaneously. And I'm here as always with David and Mike.

And today we're going to launch into the NFT web three world with David. Yes.

David: Which a, an item that I think satisfies at least two social and commerce of our sort of trifecta of, of general topics and something near and dear to my heart, which is this new NFT. Offering a crypto offering from Lynx Dao.

So a gentleman named Mike Dudas, who's been in the local world sort of off and on much of his career. Uh, I don't even know what you'd call it initiated a a country club essentially that may or may not be private through a, an, some sort of initial offering via crypto. And then. Press has picked up on this as like some revolutionary concept, but in reality, it's just a standard country club where members contribute a certain amount to get the club off the ground.

And then either open it up to the public as a semi-private golf course or, you know, keep it private just to themselves over time. So it's a very old business model in the golf world that is now entered web three. And it's sort of astonishing to me that the, the, the. Covered it so breathlessly,

Greg: they credit 10 million bucks, right?

So nine bucks that's the trigger for the coverage is we raise a lot of money in a very short period of time,

David: roughly 2,500 people. I think I saw on one of the articles about it and I full credit to Mike for executing his marketing plan extremely well. Um, the weird thing to me is as, as a golfer, I would probably want to.

The golf course that I'm buying into, or the architect that, that is building the course or whatever. Uh, Mike has not announced even where the course is going to be. Um, but I think it highlights a really, you know, the, the, the reason I wanted to discuss it as a topic, you know, there is this intersection of sort of social and commerce.

And I think that, that, you know, it certainly has opened my eyes to, as someone who's not a web three and Ft, crypto expert, and sort of been cast. Following with a bit of a smirk. Um, you know, maybe there is a play here for thinking about how web three can apply to very old, very well established business models.

And you may actually be able to, if your offering is appealing to a extremely passionate niche, which golfers are, but maybe there's other niches out there that have this like, wow. Fan base who are addicts essentially. Um, there may be new, interesting ways to fund either projects or entire companies with this, this notion of a token.

So I think it's a really, it's just something that a friend of mine actually texted me over the holidays about it. And then, you know, four days later I saw it front page on, you know, golf digest all the way from golf digest to C and D. Um, and so it's, it's just an interesting concept. I think that the URL is links, dao.io.

Um, and again, just gets me thinking about, okay, maybe there are ways to to apply a brand new press worthy way of fundraising to traditional business models. And I encourage people to think about that.

Mike: Yeah, I S I was fascinated by it. You know, I shared the link with you, even when it came across my screen, but it had to hit CNBC before it did. I'm not subscribing to any,

David: like, you're not, you're not in the hardcore golfer demographic. I am not,

Mike: but I was fat. I mean, now, I mean, they haven't picked a course yet.

They haven't figured out I don't what I sense that they didn't know how much they're going to raise, so they didn't know where they were going to end up, so they didn't even know what they could buy. So that's issue one. So people are buying into this sort of blind as you pointed out. It's

Greg: entirely speculative.

I, my, my, my recollection of the article was that there were almost no commitments or obligations that were extended to the, to the investors. So they've just correct. The it's very, very speculative. I mean, it's sort of a. Thing that they put on

David: a guy with it with a really strong, ethical track record,

Mike: ethical track ready in local and crypto.

Right. I mean, he's been in both markets. He's been in crypto for awhile. Um, although I had to stop following on Twitter because, because it's just too much crypto from my, from my. Um, but also there was some recurring revenue that came as a part of this token, where he was able to generate $300,000. Maybe it's a secondary, secondary market offering, right.

When these get correct in the secondary market

David: reaction, it's very standard among country clubs that you pay an initiation and an and some piece of that is equity. And some of it goes right to the club. The club's property. So,

Mike: all right. But on resale, it goes back to him to the club too. So I just thought it was interesting.

It was a recurring revenue model with it without having any no golf course shits, they've got a recurring revenue model, which I thought was offensive.

Greg: Yep. Well, there's, there's going to be some sort of regulation coming at some point, you know, of all of this, because I think probably not

David: by the USDA though or any, but I mean about the,

Greg: the, the, the feds will get into it and they've already made noises along those lines because, you know, I mean, for every ethical, an example, such as this one, there's some really, you know, there, there are others.

Doing things that are kind of shady at least is sort of my perception from from at least a evaluation standpoint, if, if not otherwise. Yep. Yep. Um, so, well, be interesting to see if, if this takes off as some sort of funding mechanism, as you suggest David it's a, it's a version of, of Kickstarters we were discussing before.


David: there's a lot, there, there's a big movement in golf right now to sort of reclaim Old municipal or even privately run, but public courses that are sort of falling off. Uh, there's a real golf has had a huge boom during the pandemic. And it, I mean, just strictly in the golf world, like this could actually be a model for locally oriented groups to sort of save derelict courses, which is.


Greg: Well, so,

Mike: um, I, I thought David, just one last thought, David, I know, I know at one time you were thinking about building a natural course, this may be your avenue to fund.

David: It'd be I it's. Uh, it's true. So a friend of mine and I looked at, at trying to, to buy a, I wouldn't say derelict, but a sort of neglected course just outside of Portland, about 12 years ago.

And Bad time to do it with the stock market crash and everything else. But it's definitely near and dear to my heart. I, you know, we, both of us feel passionately that golf should be a walking sport and that we should, everybody should be letting fairways brown out during the summer. And that you probably should.

Too many golf courses and deserts. Um, luckily we don't have a rainfall issue in Portland, so

Mike: a lot of sand pits that sound

David: that's right. Yeah. Minimal that's right. And no matter where you are, that the area of turf that you maintain should be kept, kept as low as possible. So, yep.

Greg: All right. More, more on the we'll start a golf podcast.

It's been a spinoff. So Mike we were talking also before we started recording about an interesting piece that I included in the newsletter. Um, a guy who is now the CEO of fabric, who was at both Amazon and Google talking about why he thinks that Google has lost lost the e-commerce battle, the retail commerce battle.

To, to Amazon and what the factors are.

Mike: Yeah. His name was my suit. And the title of the article was the last, the last e-commerce duel between Amazon and Google. And, you know, he brought up the I, the obvious fact that Google has largely through the need for income generation and increasing revenue has increasingly destroyed the value of the SERPs with ads.

And he felt that that was. Fundamental issue with their failing and products. Um, You know, and buried at the end of the article though, was that he noted that they had to have a shot for success going forward. It needs to address deficiencies in culture, which David and I have talked a lot about, but he then went on to say that they need to embrace the notoriously difficult retail business model, including logistics, which is something that Google has never wanted to do, which is to get their hands dirty.

Although we're seeing it now more. The manufacturing of both the home and the foam products where they actually finally, after it's almost 10 years since they bought Motorola, finally having some small measure success in manufacturing, they don't look, they've never done well in the real world. And so while I do think that adds, compromise the quality of their product, I think ultimately the loss was because Amazon was a vertically integrated retailer and, and they.

Their web search around that. So I don't see how Google can compete with Amazon in that arena. You know, his thought was an Amazon is going to fail too for the same demand. Everyday Amazon

Greg: is going to get greedy and, and

David: screw up its user experience. Right. Which has already happened, which has already happened.

Uh, at least according to one of observer that I think we all know John Henshaw, who now runs coy Wolf former founder of Raven. Um, so he's, he's actually built a, an Amazon search engine, which I think uses Google at, on the backend because he's found the product results to be so littered with ads on Amazon and that Amazon's algorithm simply doesn't return what you're looking for.

So I think that the, the degrading inexperience is already happening on Amazon. Well, w one

Greg: of the, one of the points that Massoud made. That I don't think you, you brought up yet was the, the user experience is better on Amazon than on Google, that, that on Google, you know, you have to click through to a retailer site and then there's, you know, there's a multi-stage process there, whereas on Amazon, you know, it's a, one-click buy, they've got your payment vehicle, et cetera, et cetera.

And so it's just a cleaner, better experience not to mention that customer service. Much better generally speaking on Amazon and you're dealing with a disparate bunch of retailers on, on Google. So that was

Mike: that's right. And the one area that we've noted in the past, where Google has done well is when they did create this integrated experience around food that I wrote about on your media last year, where it was a magical purchase experience, even though they didn't control the delivery or the production stack, they were able to put together.

A flow that really worked in the restaurant world. The question I have is can they replicate that in other arenas? You know, we know they've partnered with Shopify and WooCommerce and these others to bring more products in. Um, they just recently released this product, I think today or yesterday, they announced it.

The shop feature. In the SERPs that you, I think isn't his newsletter, but you know, the, the question I have is can they put together a, a flow and a group of customers, of businesses that have an adequate inventory that they can, could compete in the product search to once again, become a destination for product search and, you know, they partner with lo you know, they're working in local.

They're. All of these other efforts. I just not sure that who I read the best buys at creating their own advertising on their site. It's like the question I have is who is going to partner with Google to give them the ability to compete, even if Google controls more of the stack like they did in the restaurant thing.

Greg: Well, I mean, go ahead, David.

David: It's going to be an interesting dynamic. Obviously there's going to be plenty of negotiations between Google and all of these you know, traditional brands like best buy, like target, like Walmart who are offering their own marketplaces to, to some extent, I don't think Greg, you and I were talking about this less vertical retailers like Walmart and target, I think would be extremely eager for the scale of eyeballs that the Google.

Um, and I think that the, the purchase experience, I mean, there's already a checkbox for buy on Google in Google shopping. And I think that there's, you know, whether Google ever gets into the actual fulfillment game, the way, you know, Amazon services LLC does for certain Amazon prime orders. I, you know, doubt, I don't see that happening either, but the ability to fulfill an order with effectively two day shipping for Walmart and target and some of these.

Sort of major horizontal e-commerce sites, I think is a, is a real possibility. So I think that I'm never wanting to give up on Google if its ambitions are strong enough, that they'll figure out a way, just because of the scale of eyeballs that they've got.

Greg: Well, target, target, and and and Walmart both have fulfilled.

Uh, vehicles, right? I mean, Walmart started this, this out that they started. I forget what they're calling it. I forget what the services, but they they're, they're, they're going to outsource that or they're not outsourcing it. They're making it available to third parties and target target has shipped and is doing a lot of fulfillment from stores.

So, I mean, I think those guys are in a much better position than Google is to do fulfilling. And Google, you know, Google ran Google express for years in attempted to be kind of the fulfillment partner or a delivery partner, not a fulfillment partner, a delivery partner for for a lot of retailers as the anti Amazon, they tried to build a coalition of traditional retailers to go against Amazon and that fell apart.

Um, and you know, my question. Google's willingness to follow through or to commit to things. I mean, we've seen historically that Google has a lot of good ideas, the lunch things, but they don't commit to them. You know, they're not willing to do what it takes to see them see them over a long period of time, or to devote the resources, to build, to build, you know, momentum and an audience there, except in certain core areas that are already selected.


Mike: this is their culture though. They, they, if it doesn't succeed the way search succeeded, which was virally, they're not that interested in it. And they give it a fairly short timeframe. They test it, their newsletter product. I don't think it was out for 90 days.

Greg: Well, a lot of those, a lot of those one 20 products are just, you know, one and done.

It's like they launched them with great fanfare. Nothing else happens after that. They atrophy and then they.

David: Yeah. I think the difference for me here is that their, their market position relative to Amazon has changed substantially in the last eight to 10 years. Uh, I think Amazon would not have been the number one product engine eight or 10 years ago, and now everybody's.

And so they may now finally see it as the, the real existential threat that I think it poses for at least. CPG space to Google. So

Greg: well, Eric Schmidt made that comment about Amazon being Google's number one, commitment and leaving. It was like in 2014, I think is when he made that comment. And, you know, people were like, what, what are you talking about?

Amazon's not a search engine. Um, but it, it turned out to be really true, really prescient and. You may be right. That they may now really see this as, as such a a significant threat that they're willing to do more or do uncharacteristic things. But the question is where will they do them? I mean, I had previously thought that their com combination of local inventory and e-commerce was a really smart strategy.

Um, and I think, you know, they could build on that, but I don't think that that's enough now, you know, just showing products from both local retailers. And e-commerce is enough to, to undermine Amazon's kind of brand equity and momentum and sort of speaking of that unless anybody wants to say anything more about the Google versus

David: Amazon going to interrupt your

Greg: segue.

Yes, my final, my final the final item here is uh, something that was written up earlier this week was a poll by the Washington post and George Mason university about trust and. Issues like data usage and privacy. And one of the striking things was that of the main companies listed. And it was like, I don't have the full list here, but it was like Facebook and Amazon, Google, apple you know, sort of the usual suspects Microsoft was in there of the only company that was trusted either a great deal or a good amount was Amazon.

That was the only company that cross. 50% threshold, meaning more, more people trusted it than not. And that was at 53%. So just, just barely. Um, everybody else, Facebook tick-tock Instagram, Microsoft, apple Google were, we didn't cross 50% and companies like Facebook and tick-tock and Instagram had large majorities, 70 plus percent 60 plus.

That did not trust them. They were, they were not trusted at all or, or you know, had had limited trust. And there was a lot of paranoia expressed in the survey. Seven out of 10 people said that they thought their phones were listening to what they did without consent, which is not happening. But listening is sort of a broader metaphor of tracking.

Capturing data is, is accurate. So there there's, there's a lot of paranoia and distrust out in the world. Um, and what's, what's fascinating to me is that these are the services and companies that we interact with every day. And we could not run our, you know, we three could not do our jobs exist without using these tools and companies.

And yet here we are as a, as a country. Um, fundamentally distrusting these companies that we are, are dependent upon. And I, I just, you know, and I, I, I, Amazon is the only one that sort of comes out looking pretty okay. In this, and even apple with its you know, apple, apple, Google, and and Microsoft we're sort of in the middle and even apple with all its privacy marketing is still not above.

You know, it's still a little bit underwater here. So that, that, that is just a kind of a fascinating paradox to me. We use Facebook. We use Google, we'll use all these services, and yet we on some very basic visceral level. Do you know?

David: And Mike truly couldn't live without apple devices. We know that. So in some, in some cases it's even more than being able to do our work.

It's being able to write. I

Mike: survived. The interesting antidote is my wife who wanted to disassociate, wanted to. I have less information in Google's hands. And so I helped her set up her iPhone to be private and to use duck, duck go. And so she has largely stepped away from Google and, you know last two years, maybe she has expressed the desire to step away from Amazon, but hasn't been able to right there, right.

We live in a rural market where you can't get things locally and then you need something. Where do you get it? If you look, you know, Amazon's the obvious place. To some extent, though, this distrust reflects the control and influence that corporations have in our society and the abuses that they have used with them, the amount of politicking they do and the influence they've had over policy and all of that stuff.

So it really reflects the contradiction of our society as much as it does any of these specific industries. Companies. And this distrust is reflected across the political spectrum. Largely drives Trump supporters as much as it drives AOC supporters is a life experience in which these companies largely are not trustworthy and they're driving too much of our life is.

And I, again, I don't think it's any specific company. The corporate relationship to government in general. There's, there's a, there's

Greg: a, you said a lot of stuff and we, we don't have time to go into all of it. I mean, there's there, you know, distrust is sort of a endemic rampant in our society generally. Um, but, but I mean, I just you know, I, I we've, we've talked a lot about how facing.

Um, he has very high negatives, but yet people continue to use Facebook. There's a lot of anecdotal evidence that people have stepped away from Facebook. I hear people saying that all the time on Twitter and LinkedIn, but the numbers don't really reflect, reflect that there, their ad revenues, their user numbers don't really reflect that.

But it's also, it's also reflective of the fact that these are monopolies. We, we have future. Now, interestingly, one of the things that I'm running in today's newsletter both brave and go reported big gains in 2021. Uh, you know, brave is a browser, although they do have a search engine now, and that go is primarily a search engine, although they also have a browser, a mobile browser.

And so it seems like just incrementally people are sort of migrating away from these major companies, at least in a couple of cases. And interestingly Dr. Goes market share is is going to surpass Yahoo search search share this year. So that's, that's a pretty interesting milestone

Mike: to circle back.

Brave uses a blockchain advertising model to reimburse searchers. When they agree to see ads, they actually get paid for the ad in some small amount for watching the ad. So it circles back to David's point about the vet. Um, blockchain in some contexts. So,

Greg: yeah, and there's, there's a much longer discussion to be had about, about uh, whether or not users are willing to trade their data for small, you know, blockchain style payments, micropayments.

Um, there have been a couple of experiments along those lines that I think haven't been very successful, but it's an interesting, it's an interesting idea for another, another discussion. I would just

David: have one, one thing on the trust front Of the companies you mentioned, Greg Amazon is a largely, not a media company that champions streaming video.

Right. But they're not, you know, they don't have a social property for example. Um, and they don't, they don't really return information in a way that gives them a choke hold on, you know, what people see and what they could

Greg: see if they can promote this information or.

David: Uh, so that's number one. And number two, they're also largely not a hardware company.

I mean, yes, there's Alexa devices, but I don't think they're nearly as widespread as an Android phone or an iPhone. And so I think that maybe it's just much to their dismay and much of their dismay. Exactly. Not by choice. They've certainly tried any number of times, but I, so I wonder how much of that is just a function of, it's actually just easier to avoid Amazon if you don't want to use, you know, if you don't want to buy it.

Uh, whereas as you said, it's basically impossible to avoid Google, apple and Facebook these days. So,

Greg: I mean, Amazon has good. It has a good reputation, not withstanding the, in their customer. Service is legitimately good. Customer service is very good, not withstanding the proliferation of fake reviews on Amazon and not withstanding the, the manipulation, you know, the Amazon.

And the manipulation manipulation of SERPs to promote Amazon basics. And some of the things that doesn't hurt consumers necessarily doesn't hurt consumers and consumers. Aren't aware of that. Right. And Amazon has done a great job in, in it's it's sort of end to end consumer experience now with all the return centers, Kohl's whole foods.

Um, you know, ups stores, they have done a great job in giving people a good customer. Great. I ordered

Mike: a food product from them that I can't get locally anymore. For some reason, miners chicken stock, which is my favorite chicken stock. And it came in rotten and its foodstuffs are not returnable. So I went through the return process.

Learned it wasn't returnable on that home, but they'll give

Greg: you a

Mike: refund. Well, exactly, but it wasn't obvious in the no retail. Box, but I immediately got the chat and within three minutes, the chat bot I think, was ready to give me the refund, but I think they ultimately gave me a person and they gave me a refund.


Greg: perhaps that'll be our miner's chicken stock will be our first sponsor on this podcast. All

David: you all you Blumenthal, fanboys out there, know what to send him for his birthday. Now

Mike: that met the bourbon either. I'll take,

Greg: I want to send you to do an ad for minus chicken stock

Mike: is the only bully on I've ever or bullion tight.

That like, I even add it to my own homemade chicken stock. That's it's like, it just rounds out the chicken flavor so I can go the last two I got were rotten from Amazon. So I'm a little getting a little gunshot here and I'm a little worried about where I'm going to source it. You'll have to go

Greg: directly to the company I guess.

And you can pitch them on the sponsorship at that same time.

Mike: All right. I'm not sure what benefit they would get from it. I go to my right minors. Stack and every

Greg: week you are the most authentic pitch man that could ever exist. So, you know, you can be the, you could be the influencer that really sets them on fire on social media.

So, all right. Okay. With that, we'll uh, in the another podcast, we'll see you next week and have a good week weekend. Um, had

David: a great year

Greg: happy 20, 22. Yes, exactly.