• The big question: Will the SEC allow it?
  • The monetary incentives are too big to ignore…
  • We just learned the real power of an Apple Watch…

Dear Reader,

It’s rare to see this kind of direct communication, especially considering that Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is months away from completion.

Not surprisingly, and perhaps a bit ironically, Musk has been actively setting expectations for the existing team at Twitter via his own tweets on the platform. Here are a few gems:

  • “Work ethic expectations would be extreme, but much less than I demand of myself”

  • That he will be “super focused on hardcore software engineering, design, infosec and server hardware”

  • “I strongly believe that all managers in a technical area must be technically excellent”

  • “Managers in software must write great software or it’s like being a cavalry captain who can’t ride a horse!”

  • “I also want to make Twitter better than ever by enhancing the product with new features, making the algorithms open source to increase trust, defeating the spam bots, and authenticating all humans. Twitter has tremendous potential – I look forward to working with the company and the community of users to unlock it.”

  • “Twitter will always be free for casual users, but maybe a slight cost for commercial/government users”

  • “For Twitter to deserve public trust, it must be politically neutral, which effectively means upsetting the far right and the far left equally”

The above comments are pretty remarkable in that they encompass such a wide range of Musk’s overall strategy once he gains control of Twitter.

The very first one is a favorite of mine. I favored something similar when I was managing large organizations… I would never ask an employee or team member to do anything that I haven’t done before or wouldn’t do again. It is a more nuanced version of the phrase “lead by example.”

This particular management approach is very important in times of crisis or in a turnaround. And we know that Musk sees Twitter as both.

Musk also has revealed his approach to engineering management, as well as his plans for improving the product. He intends to improve security, open source the algorithms to provide transparency, crush the spambots, and authenticate all humans. Awesome.

We even got a glimpse of the future business model – free for the casual users, and likely a price for commercial and government users of the platform. This will of course supplement the existing advertising-based business model.

And the capstone of expectations, which is the motivating driver for the acquisition in the first place, is to make Twitter as apolitical as it should be… the return of freedom of speech.

The result? While many current employees are nervous about what will certainly be a wave of layoffs of those that aren’t capable or willing to meet those expectations, interest in Twitter job openings has soared 263% since Musk revealed his above plans.

Having worked and invested in high tech for more than three decades, I’m not surprised at all. This kind of clarity is refreshing. It tends to lead toward highly-aligned, high-performance organizations.

This makes me even more bullish on the future of Twitter.

Telegraphing expectations in advance is a great way to prime the organization for what’s to come. For those who aren’t in agreement, they can leave in advance of the acquisition. 

It’s a fantastic job market right now. This will reduce some of the heavy lifting once Musk takes control.

And providing even more specificity, Musk shared that he intends to hold an IPO of Twitter, potentially within three years of the acquisition.

Basically, we have a timeline for how long Musk expects it will take to get Twitter cleaned up, functioning properly, and back on a strong growth trajectory.

My prediction is that he’ll be able to take Twitter public at a valuation greater than $100 billion no later than 2025. This will become a remarkable turnaround story in the history of tech, and a case study in business school. 

My only regret is that Musk didn’t do this while maintaining Twitter as a public company… It would have been a no-brainer investment. But I recognize that taking the company private is the fastest way to affect the desired outcome. 

This will be a lot of fun to watch.

Telegram is finally completing its ICO goal…

Telegram has finally come full circle. A native cryptocurrency has just been launched on the encrypted messaging app that will enable payments over the Telegram platform.

Now the question is – will the regulators strike back? There is some nuance around how this happened, so the answer might not be as simple as we think.

Back in 2018, Telegram had one of the most successful initial coin offerings (ICOs) in the short history of ICOs. It raised an incredible $1.2 billion.

And Telegram planned to use these funds to build a digital asset for its messaging platform.

But as we discussed back in May 2020, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) put a stop to those plans.

The SEC said that Telegram’s ICO was an unregistered securities sale. And that started a back-and-forth legal battle.

In the end, Telegram stopped developing its digital asset, returned the ICO funds to investors, and then paid a small fine ($18.5 million) to the SEC to stay out of trouble.

However, a group of passionate users within the Telegram community weren’t content to let the digital asset project die, creating a non-profit called The Open Network Foundation. Then they raised an astounding $1 billion in donations – almost the size of the original ICO – to continue developing a cryptocurrency for Telegram.

And here we are, over two years later, and it’s finally ready.

The foundation just rolled out wallet functionality within the Telegram app. And the Toncoin (TON) is now trading on digital asset exchanges. As I write, one TON is worth $1.95.

And the foundation built several interesting features into Toncoin.

For starters, users don’t need to worry about long alpha-numeric wallet addresses like they do with other cryptocurrencies. Instead, they can easily send TON to other Telegram users just by clicking on their profile or username.

In addition, users don’t have to pay transaction fees when they send TON. This sets it apart from most other cryptocurrencies.

So this deployment has the potential to be absolutely transformational for Telegram.

Telegram is a huge messaging platform with over 500 million monthly active users. And with the launch of Toncoin, these users can conduct economic activity directly through Telegram. That makes the platform even more attractive.

But the big question is – will the SEC allow it?

From Telegram’s perspective, the company itself had nothing to do with TON’s development. The Open Network Foundation raised all the money via donations, and then handled all the development work. There’s certainly no way the SEC can reasonably construe this as an unregistered securities sale.

So I’m very curious to see if the SEC finds any issues with Toncoin and Telegram’s deployment. Its response (or lack thereof) will give us some insight into how the regulatory climate around digital assets is evolving.

Square Enix is following up on its NFT ambitions with some big moves…

When we last checked in on gaming giant Square Enix, it had just made an announcement that shocked the traditional gaming industry.

Square Enix sent out a letter outlining its plans to transition from a Web 2.0 to a Web 3.0 company by adopting blockchain technology and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). That was right at the beginning of the year.

Well, Square Enix is following up in a big way. The company is now selling off legacy assets to help fuel the migration to Web 3.0. It is literally migrating away from Web 2.0 gaming assets and reallocating towards its Web 3.0 ambitions.

For the sake of newer readers, Square Enix is one of the most successful gaming companies in the world. It’s best known for the Final Fantasy franchise. And Square Enix also created games like Kingdom Hearts, Tomb Raider, Deus Ex, and many others.

Interestingly, Square Enix’s passionate fanbase was generally unhappy with the company’s original announcement. Fans voiced concern over their experiences with Square Enix’s gaming franchises changing. And many traditional gamers didn’t want to deal with the perceived complexities that NFTs would bring.

Still, I suggested in January that the monetary incentives would be too big for Square Enix to ignore. And sure enough, that’s the case.

Square Enix is selling off the gaming divisions behind both the Tomb Raider and Deus Ex franchises to a Swedish gaming company called Embracer Group. The price tag? $300 million.

And Square Enix will use these funds to invest heavily in blockchain tech and the development of NFTs. That’s the move.

This is the first time we have seen a major legacy gaming company sell assets specifically to fund the shift to Web 3.0. This is a huge deal, especially considering Square Enix got so much pushback initially.

Clearly, we are at the start of a massive trend here. I think we’ll see more legacy gaming companies follow Square Enix’s lead. 

The economic incentives enabled by blockchain technology and NFTs are just too attractive to ignore. And they drive network adoption faster than Web 2.0 gaming as consumers have real financial incentives to participate.

We are going to see a lot more NFT-based games hit the market this year. To learn more about how to play this explosive trend, readers can go right here.

And I’m very excited to see what Square Enix can do in the Web 3.0 space. This company has so much creative capacity, the potential is massive.

The best technology for detecting heart problems…

I just went through some incredible research from the Mayo Clinic. Mayo clinicians teamed up with researchers at Apple to run an interesting test.

And the results were surprising…

The team at the Mayo Clinic collected data from 125,000 electrocardiograms (ECGs) using a traditional 12-lead ECG machine.

This is the old machine where doctors place leads at several locations around our chest and torso to monitor our heart rate… I’m sure many of us have experienced this in the past. Then, patients are placed on a treadmill to see how the heart responds to increasing levels of stress.

The Mayo Clinic took this data set and then applied artificial intelligence (AI) to look for signs of a weak heart pump. This is a challenging condition that’s hard to diagnose because patients typically don’t have symptoms.

Yet 2–3% of the global population has a weak heart pump. And roughly 9% of everyone over 60 years old has this condition.

People with a weak heart pump need to be very mindful of their condition. If they overstress their cardiovascular system, it could lead to a heart attack and potentially death.

So identifying a weak heart pump early can be a lifesaver. There are treatments that can help the condition if it is caught in advance.

That’s why the Mayo Clinic ran this study on its ECG archive. Once the AI was trained on the data set, it was applied to data set, collected by an Apple Watch. Apple employed the AI to monitor 2,500 people who wore an Apple Watch throughout the day.

The test was to see how well the use of an Apple Watch could identify a weak heart pump when empowered with artificial intelligence. Believe it or not, the Apple Watch with AI was able to meet or exceed the ability of the complex, expensive, and time-consuming 12-lead ECG tests.

This means that a simple consumer electronics device, combined with this AI, can monitor the heart as well or better than expensive medical equipment. What a fantastic development.

And this shows once more the power of “convergence.” This is a trend we’ve been tracking in The Bleeding Edge where AI combines with other technologies to drive innovation and make new discoveries.

This is particularly potent in the medical field, where AI can help make insights like this study. And there’s one “convergence” company I’m especially bullish on. Any readers who’d like to learn more can get the full story here.

Regards,

Jeff Brown
Editor, The Bleeding Edge


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