Ok, this might sound like shameless self-promo, but I’m hoping you will indulge me. I hope Hackernoon lets me run this article - I think they’ll let it slide cause Utsav is the homie, and also because if you can look past the self-promotion you will see I’m making an important philosophical point.
I started HellaDoge because I got frustrated with Bitclout. At first, I was really excited about Bitclout, I thought it could be THE Web3 site, but I was asking friends to join and they weren’t able to sign up.
I began to realize that BITCLOUT IS TOO COMPLICATED, just like the last Web3 company I started, Everipedia. It’s not just easy to sign up like Instagram, you need a Metamask wallet, which even I don’t have - I had signed up for Bitclout before you needed it, but they changed it and made it harder. Another annoying issue is that Web3 companies don’t pay you in Bitcoin, they pay you in their own shitcoin which is hard to sell. I had made $300 on Bitclout but I had no way of cashing out.
So I decided to launch HellaDoge, with the idea being that it will be just as easy to sign up as Instagram, and you get Dogecoin for using it, both for creating content and for passively scrolling.
The economics weren’t what motivated me to launch HellaDoge, but I’ve come to realize that’s the most important aspect. EVERY SINGLE WEB 3 SITE - Steemit, Bitclout, Everipedia - runs on the premise that crypto is going to turn the internet into an anarchist fantasy land where we no longer need ads because the users get paid from inflation. That’s totally insane!! Like it or not, one major reason the internet creates so much value is the targeted ads. That’s why businesses switch from TV and radio to the internet - because it makes your data valuable.
It’s messed up that Mark Zuckerberg steals all the “data money” and is resultantly worth hundreds of billions, but I think we should redistribute the payout from the data rather than simply destroying it.
At first HellaDoge was just going to run Google Ads, but it took Google a while to approve us and we already had some early users who were getting restless waiting to start getting the Doge. So I posted on my Facebook (aka the ENEMY app) asking if anybody wants to sponsor HellaDoge for $69 a month - users would see the “Sponsored Doge” every time they refresh.
I got a sponsor! The first sponsor was Underground Cellar, where the CEO is my homie from Y Combinator. He told me Underground Cellar has a lot of crypto customers, so he gave it a shot.
The first month we launched, HellaDoge only had a few hundred users. But Underground Cellar made $800 REVENUE from the $69 spend! That’s pretty crazy.
Now HellaDoge has been live for 6 months, still in beta but hundreds of thousands of users, top 50K Alexa rank in the US. But the coolest statistic is that we’ve already made thousands of dollars in revenue. We’re “Ramen Profitable” even with the users getting 80%. This is refreshing for me, after having started Genius where the CEO didn’t let us run ads for years - we had MILLIONS of users and were making zero dollars. He thought ads would deteriorate Genius, even though I had lots of fun ideas for lyrics-based ads.
The Genius CEO has the mentality of many crypto bros today about ad-free anarchist utopia. These people - usually with rich parents - seem to think capitalism is BAD.
I actually think capitalism is chillAF, you just gotta distribute the gains properly, then it resembles socialism.
The reason HellaDoge is making so much revenue is because the ads are insanely effective for other sponsors, just like they were for Undergound Cellar. Think about it: would you rather support a company who is wasting your time to give Mark Zuckerberg money, or a company who is giving YOU 80% of the money for your time??
COMPARING THE EFFECTIVENESS OF WEB3 ADS ON HELLADOGE TO WEB2 ADS ON INSTAGRAM IS LIKE COMPARING THE MARKET CAP OF THE TAXI INDUSTRY TO UBER: giving the users 80% of the money for seeing the ad completely transforms what advertising means! It goes from a hostile relationship between client and business to a symbiotic relationship.
HellaDoge gives ⅔ of the ad money to content creators, but ⅓ goes to the passive users. For now, it’s not much. But if the entire internet were giving 80% away, I think even a passive user could make $1K a month scrolling the internet. The “DATA DIVIDEND”, sort of like an internet-based Universal Basic Income. That’s the main reason I built HellaDoge: I want to end poverty.
But the point I’m trying to make in this essay is, the pie we are giving away 80% of in the HellaDoge system could be WAYYYY WAY bigger than the pie the existing internet is giving away. By giving the ad money to the users, the ads become a lot more effective. Just like ad targeting was the huge breakthrough between TV ads and internet ads, giving 80% of the money to users will be the big breakthrough between Web2 internet ads and Web3 internet ads HellaDoge is pioneering.
I’ve been drawn to stuff like this before, but HellaDoge can make it scale. Ever since I was a little kid I was really into coupons - they sent us coupons in the mail and I loved sorting through them seeing which ones I could use. I met the founder of Swagbucks right when Everipedia started and I thought it was a site that needs to start giving out Bitcoin. My Web3 philosophy is basically that Web3 can turn the positive psychology behind coupons into an economic revolution. HellaDoge can do for coupons what Amazon did for mail order catalogs! That would be so swag.
Someday I hope HellaDoge also incorporates surveys users can take to get more Dogecoin, on top of the social network. Facebook is making a half-assed attempt at this, giving users a $5 Amazon gift card for taking surveys (called “Faceook Viewpoints”). But I don't think anybody does it.
The first Web3 site I ever used was earn.com. You got bitcoin for surveys. It was the only Web3 company Silicon Valley invested in who is kind of doing what I’m trying to do. That’s because Balaji started it, and he’s the only person in Silicon Valley who understands crypto.
But earn.com never got traction because it’s too boring. SOMEDAY, HellaDoge can end poverty, if we take over the whole internet. But for now, the users aren’t doing it for the money. Nobody is paying their rent with Doge! OUR USERS ARE IN IT FOR THE PHILOSOPHY. None of us want to be Mark Zuckerberg’s slaves. And our sponsors like it because the users like it. When a user sees an ad on Instagram, there is ANGER. When a user sees an ad on HellaDoge, there is LOVE! The more ads, the more Doge.
I think HellaDoge will eventually replace Instagram and Twitter, because the tech behemoths won’t be able to catch up. The big Silicon Valley VCs invested $200 million in Bitclout and the site is awful, has terrible content, impossible to sign up or cash out, and users are quitting!
Silicon Valley is pretending to care about Web3, but deep down inside they want to prove it won’t work.
20 years ago, Google wanted to pay! Youtube still pays, probably the only Web2 site that pays lots of users. Google also wanted to pay on Blogger.com, but it never caught on.
But then this guy named MARK ZUCKERBERG came on the scene! He said that paying the users makes them feel like it’s work, and it’s better to make them think it’s a game. Paying makes it not fun.
Mark Zuckerberg’s philosophy was why the CEO of my first company, Genius, forbade me from paying the users. I tried to start something called “CASH GENIUS” after we raised money in 2012, where some editors can get a $100 check for doing important things like putting up the lyrics to new albums. But the editors got mad, they said I’m discriminating in how I distribute the money.
The Genius CEO cancelled Cash Genius and said it was a stupid idea. He told me about Mark Zuckerberg’s philosophy. He said that if I want to pay a user, I can hire someone full-time to come work out of the NYC office. Because it was my only option, I tried that a few times, hiring a power user to join full time. Every single one of them got fired after a year. IT MADE NO SENSE TO HIRE THEM FULL-TIME. The funny part was, these were good editors, but as soon as they came to nyc they’d stop actually editing anything on Genius, and would only focus on preparing for stupid meetings and office politics.
The problem with “Cash Genius” was that getting paid in DOLLARS is not as fun as getting paid in doggy coins. Dogecoin is more like video game points, except worth money. So it’s still fun, but you get paid.
Right now, Facebook and Twitter have thousands of employees making 6 figure salaries who use their site less than I do. And I get paid zero! I’ve noticed that when people work full-time for a tech company, they treat using the product like it’s KRYPTONITE! The only exception is people who work for Facebook are still addicted to Instagram because, let's face it, EVERYONE is addicted to Instagram. They have no choice! But no FB employee uses Instagram as much as I do.
Why are they getting paid 6 figures?? Why do these companies need giant offices nobody is even using??! Such is the psychopathic nature of capitalism, these companies keep doing pointless, destructive things to create “shareholder value”.
Look at the pathetic Web3 attempts Facebook and Twitter have already made. Twitter is giving us TIPPING, which is useless. You can already tip someone bitcoin if they are on Coinbase, all you need is their email address. And now, Twitter is giving us NFT PROFILE PICS, which are the stupidest, most pointless use of blockchain technology in history. This guy who drew an ape cartoon made billions. Did he really deserve that much? Is this Web3 or beanie babies? Web3 can end poverty, but Twitter is using it to enrich the cartoon monkey artist instead.
And then Facebook with its pitiful Libra, getting called to Congress, having Zucc sit on a pillow to look taller, and then scurrying off, doing nothing. The one smart thing Facebook is doing is they have finally started to pay creators, basically anyone on Instagram with over 10K followers can make $500 a month doing Reels. So they are starting to get the point. BUT HOW DOES THAT HELP THE AVERAGE PASSIVE USER? The users with less than 10K followers, which is 99.999% of them, get NOTHING! And these are the users Facebook relies on to go out and buy the things they are shown in ads. That’s how Facebook makes billions of dollars a year, giving it an almost-trillion dollar valuation!
It’s time to overthrow Zuck, but this is not a violent revolution, it is a revolution of LOVE. Forget about Instagram, HellaDoge is COMMUNISTAGRAM. Businesses: spend $69 and $55 of it goes to your audience. They will love you for it in a way no one on Instagram could ever love you, not even if your marketing person makes the funniest memes.
USERS of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your Zucc...