Words of Power

(Part 2 of a series eschewing BORING fundamentals in order to give you actionable tips. Read part 1 here: http://excreteum.com/2017/07/04/crypto-scams-crypto-shams/ )


In the distant world of Pathfinder, most spellcasters spend their entire careers learning and mastering the spells that make up their calling, but there is another way. Some turn their backs on the rote memorization and formulae that traditional spellcasters use to create magic, and instead unlock the power behind the spells themselves, the fundamental building blocks of magic. Such a spellcaster learns the words of power, and through them, learns to control the very forces underlying magic, shaping and wielding them like no other.

Likewise, amongst founders of cryptocurrencies, there are people who disregard fundamentals. Instead of mastering the blockchain, they hone their silver tongue until their power words get starry-eyed investors to part with millions of ethers.


Pictured: average CEO of an Ethereum ICO.


After extensive research that may have consisted on going on tokenmarket.net and opening up every link, we bring you this non-exhaustive list of words to watch for.


“Decentralized …”


Cryptocurrency started as a solution to a specific problem: how to remove the trust issue from cash.

Applying decentralization to anything else isn’t an automatic improvement.

Being trustless and distributed is useful in domains where nefarious actors have incentive to cheat:

  • a decentralized money can’t be devaluated by a central authority to bail out their buddies.
  • a decentralized ledger can’t be corrupted by liars who want to rewrite history.
  • a decentralized programming machine is a stepping stone behind any potential usage of the above properties, just like a motor engine.


To be honest, nobody knows what to do with it besides dice games and token factories, but damn if the logo isn’t cool.


All of the above: useful.

But what’s the point of…

…decentralized storage? Dropbox works well enough for most of us, and it’s free.

…decentralized computing? How many people truly need to rent a render farm for their CGI (and how many people don’t even know what this means), and why wouldn’t they go through current solutions?

…decentralized entertainment? There aren’t many barriers to publish anything on the Internet nowadays.


In short, you want to make sure decentralization is a solution to an existing problem rather than looking for a problem to solve.



“It’s Ethereum, with…” 


Any solid project has a distinct identity.

“My new thing is like this old thing you know, but with a marginal improvement”. Not exactly inspiring.

Marketers will tell you the formula is a necessary bridge for understanding. Shrewder storytellers might say good technology is built on the shoulders of giants.

Ask yourself how that worked out for the many Silicon Valley startups pitching themselves as the next Uber of something or AirBNB for something. First-mover advantage is crucial in business. Once a company is the darling of the markets, the next challenger will have to bring a technological leap rather than an incremental step. Even if the first company has appalling management, it’s not enough in itself to bring them down.


“So three old men, two middle-aged guys and a woman walk into an Uber meeting…”





Noises at night are disruptive to your sleep.

A traffic accident is disruptive to traffic.

The market crash of 2008 was disruptive to people’s savings.

Sometimes, you have to break previous inefficient systems to build something better. But those who revel in the act of destruction so much they use “disruptive” as a synonym for “innovative” might have lost track of the goal.


In a world of revolutionaries, convention is what breaks the mold



“This market is $120B/year”


Remember when TV killed the radio? You don’t, because this didn’t happen.

It’s rare for innovations to replace previous markets entirely. By default, society resists change. Just to reach a sizeable market share takes years.

In a new industry where the barrier of entry is low, who’s to say your implementation will win out over others?

Naming industry figures is just an attempt to trick your brain into associating that big dollar number with the company being pitched. Just about every industry is a billion-dollar industry. It has as much relevance to your investment as water being wet.


Did you know the juicing industry accounts for more than $5 billion in the US alone?



“20+ years of experience in the industry”


Which industry?

Bitcoin is barely 8 years old. Ethereum is about to hit its second anniversary. 20 years ago, the man behind Ethereum was learning to walk.

If you have been in finance for 20 years and aren’t rich to the point you could self-fund your crypto project, then you have:

  • missed the web boom of 1999
  • missed (shorting) the housing crash of 2007
  • missed investing in Bitcoin in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012…
  • missed investing in Ethereum in 2015, 2016, early 2017…


Unless you did make a lot of money, only to burn through it. Not very reassuring.


If you’re a programmer, the languages you’re fluent with and the projects you’ve contributed to have more significance than the years you’ve spent warming a chair.

Years of experience are not a proxy for results.



“Advisor: Vitalik Buterin”



From our Lord and Savior himself.




Cryptocurrency is a new field pioneered by young, creative people. They operate on the edge of convention.

Run away from the buzzwords. These are the sad signs of the 20th century corporate world hoping to grab a piece of the pie. In an unregulated market, you’re the golden goose for their snake oil.

There is more value to find in projects who don’t need to prop themselves up through tired marketing schemes.

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