Investors Welcome, or Investors Beware?

I’ve watched discussion unfold over the past couple of days about @timcliff’s post regarding investors, and I believe I have something to contribute on the matter.

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Pay Attention! Pop Quiz on the Next Two Sentences!

First, let me state in bold text that I agree we need investors. Nothing I say here will contradict what timcliff said there.

The Whole Ball of Wax

I think he’s addressing only half of the issue. Sadly, the half that’s getting ignored by most of Steem’s top players is the half that will keep investors far, far away from our blockchain. We might pull in a few speculators, but the long-term reality of this is that if we don’t have a viable product, we have no business campaigning for people to back it.

Okay, so the Steem blockchain itself is extremely viable. @Sircork listed its strengths here, in this post. However, Steemit is not performing so well. While merely a front-end interface for the blockchain, Steemit is the primary encounter most new users have with Steem. Certain developers and Steemit, Inc., have made it clear that Steemit is not their priority, and have largely ignored the dissatisfaction of thousands of users as well as an utterly dismal retention rate. @paulag recently produced statistics showing that fewer than twenty percent of users remain on the platform for an entire year. A track record like that would alarm the hell out of any entrepreneur or startup if this were their business. Even worse, smart investors will look at those numbers and run—fast, in the opposite direction.

Talking Shop

Steem is headed into its third year, which is a critical time for any business venture. It’s definitely time to start making a pitch for investors. However, I believe we’re behind the eight ball if timcliff expects this push to be effective. We can sell the idea of a successful blockchain driven by social media, but until social media is successfully driving it, it’s purely speculative.

The flaw in thinking here is viewing Steem through the same lens as other cryptos. Its main selling point was supposed to be the user interface. But the user interface drives more people away than it attracts. This is a problem. This is something investors will look at hard.

I understand that Steemit, Inc. has not made Steemit a priority, and part of me understands why. They’re looking ahead at all the ways the blockchain can be utilized, not just seeing it as the engine to serve one interface. But here’s the rub—bad public relations is bad public relations. Lack of willingness to produce a marketable product, lack of marketing in general, lack of top-down support for community initiatives that have the potential to help tokenize the Web—these things do not a good investment make. If we’re at a point where we want to attract the real money, we have to show some real results. Personally speaking, I think that’s where our time and energy needs to focus right now. Let’s demonstrate exactly how Steem will generate ROI, and investors will line up at the door.

Challenges

Recently someone shared a link with me to a YouTube video about minds.com. Gary Franchi reported this month on his YouTube news channel that minds.com had “crushed nearly all competitors,” and said, “no major social media network uses blockchain technology except minds.com.”

Hello? Am I the only person who saw this and wanted to scream bloody murder?

So I left a comment about Steem. And this is the reply I got back:

I confess that for now, I make no effort to onboard anyone to Steemit. I have brought people here, yes. And I’ve campaigned hard for new users among writer friends and publishing contacts. But people have difficulty getting accounts, have difficulty navigating the platform, and quickly become disgusted by what they see here. Bots and whale wars and shitposts—yeah, every bit of that is old news for us. But you know what? Investors, like potential users from my professional circles, take one look and run the opposite direction as fast as they can, and they take their money with them.

So as leaders in a very active professional writing community, several of us at @thewritersblock decided to do something about this problem. The blockchain does not confine us to Steemit. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Creative use of the blockchain is encouraged. Next month, my Discord writing community will launch a brand new interface developed by @instructor2121 that’s aimed at attracting mainstream users and investors. Yes, we will have an SMT. We’re doing everything it seems that Steemit, Inc., hoped to see in the future of this blockchain. Yet not a single player on Steemit who believes investors are the key has shown an interest in supporting our initiative.

Here’s my suggestion: if you want investors to take the Steem blockchain seriously, then get behind the communities and developers who are working round the clock to provide something worth investing in. We will market and promote and infiltrate mainstream networks and do everything humanly possible to demonstrate the utilitarian function of our coin and our user interface, because we want our projects to succeed. Since it’s all tied to the Steem blockchain, this will accomplish the goals you’re after as well. Take time to learn what the different communities are working on, and how their efforts could impact the Web. Make sure the best of those efforts succeed. Make sure Steem lives up to the hype. Otherwise, all you’re selling to investors is a pipe dream.