Moving to

.. and some more news.


TL: DR for those in a rush - I am moving this newsletter from Substack back to its original home. The site is behind a password now but should be live tomorrow. You will be receiving e-mails from that domain going forward. See you tomorrow with Issue #1 of v2. I have no plans of launching anything paid immediately but everyone that has signed up for The Cipher so far will have free access to everything that goes on there. Thank you for sticking around.

Longer Backstory And Why Side-hustles Matter

I started writing publicly under my own name about two years back in 2019. It was the middle of a prolonged bear market and many individuals were wondering if what they are doing makes any more sense. Working in crypto is the fastest way to a mid-life crisis. You can make incredible amounts of wealth and wrap yourself in self-doubt with little effort. This is because the industry is nascent and a lot of us toil away without validation for what we do. When I began writing, it was partly to find my own voice. When the first few issues of this newsletter went out, I had written close to 200 newsletters under the name of a larger organisation. The downside of doing that is the censorship and self-containment one needs to do. One gets all the hate for things that go wrong and none of the upsides because they don’t own it. And trust me, there is a lot that can go wrong when trying to be creative under a brand you don’t own.

The alternative was to write under my own name. And that is what I did. Most of the initial pieces I wrote were simply compilations of on-chain data. I used to write to practically every source of data and seek help for access to data, then apply the lens of an analyst to construct stories. That intrigue helped me find TokenAnalyst, Nansen (recently backed by A16z), and Covalent (now valued at $450 million) before the rest of the market could. I have been able to leverage that edge by eventually being involved with two of the names mentioned there. Something I did to find myself, ended up being a commercially wise decision. A lot of what helped me make the decision to begin writing was reading “Ignore Everybody” by Hugh MacLeod. I strongly recommend getting a copy if you find yourself in a rut.

The other advantage was that as an (extreme) introvert working remote, these assets helped me network when I was away from the digital realm. My current job can be attributed to the fact that some of my colleagues used to read my writing. There are about ~100 funds subscribed to this newsletter and there is no way I could imagine writing to them. Many of them have been co-investors in some of the startups I have worked on last year. Working on a side-hustle builds empathy for processes you may not have direct exposure to in a stand-alone role. Working with designers and learning from marketers over the past few months have given a perspective a traditional venture analyst path would not offer. In other words - this newsletter has been a way for me to find start-ups, learn from some exceptionally smart people, and network. Win-Win. Sort of.

What’s Next

All is not that rosy though. I have struggled to maintain a routine in terms of writing and I apologise for that. I could blame it on the pandemic, but the truth is I have let this slide and be less of a priority. I will own up to that. The other is that creator burnout is real. So where do we go from here? My observation has been that the industry has evolved substantially from the bear markets of 2019. There are more institutions, analysts, and most importantly - founders whose stories need to be told. I have been thinking of creating a platform that compiles these and posts them more routinely. Alongside jobs, reading lists, and other general updates. As a new generation of analysts enters crypto - they will need a platform that helps them be discovered. And that is why I am moving to a publication.

It is also likely that Substack could de-platform crypto publications at some point in time as Medium and TikTok did recently. Ghost lets me collaborate and help others publish. It was always my plan to return to Ghost once I had a certain number of sign-ups. We hit that last week. Going forward, my plan is to take this from a single author publication to a multi-author, multi-medium one. This should explain why I had been tinkering with clubhouse quite a bit at the beginning of the year. I will be sending e-mails thrice a week. Or maybe not, let’s see. Thank you for sticking around and reading my writing over the past few years. If there is anything I can do to help - drop me an email. Also, if you are looking to collaborate on research or write for a large audience, drop me a ping on my telegram - @joel_john. See you guys on the other side.

P.s - Yes, it’s spelt decentralized in the United States, but most of the world does not spell it like that. I am trying to purchase the “Z” variation too for the domain. It is for sale at $20k. I think I can use that money for better things.

Signing out from Cipher for now..
Joel John