Week 15: Better Than It Looks, New Crypto Projects

Briefing: Declinism is chic, but things are better than they look. | Hivemapper cameras allow drivers to earn Solana-based HONEY token in exchange for providing fresh maps of local streets.

It’s Better Than It Looks

John shared a great book with the team recently titled “It’s Better Than It Looks” by Gregg Easterbrook (2018). I wholeheartedly agree with Michael Sherman’s WSJ review of the book, “Mr. Easterbrook wants to make optimism intellectually respectable again.”

We’ve written before that negativity and pessimism are seductive. Large portions of the media and investment management industries thrive on fear-based narratives.

Movies like the Big Short glorify those clever or lucky few who profit from collapse. There are countless examples like these articles above, but I picked these two because any purchase of US markets in 2015 or 2017 would have obviously performed incredibly well through today. Well over 100% increase in both cases.

Back to the book, Greg Easterbrook organizes his thoughts into powerful questions: Why haven’t we starved? Why do we keep living longer? (despite our bad habits) Will nature collapse? Will the economy collapse? and How did ‘declinism’ become chic?

Journalists know they will get coverage when they predict doom regardless of the outcome. The Atlantic published a great article about this recently: Why So Many COVID Predictions Were Wrong.

Regarding the economy, you may not agree with the government printing money, but we are all far better off today than if we had gone into lockdowns and let the economy continue without support. While Powell and the Fed are attempting to raise rates and sell off the Fed balance sheet, you can bet they will stop or reverse these actions if needed.

When faced with challenges like COVID, Russia/Ukraine, and dramatic price action in public markets, it’s easy to forget that good things can happen too. Greg sums it up well when he says that you might not approve of the future, but you’ll be able to live in it. I encourage everyone to read this book to strengthen your optimism muscles.

“One of the fundamental conflicts in human attitudes about life is between catastrophism and dynamism. The catastrophism view, embraced by a strange coalition of far left and far right types, is that the world not only is going downhill but can only go downhill. The contrasting view, dynamism, is that we’ll muddle through and, in the main, circumstances will improve. People and technology will adjust to evolving conditions—which is what’s happened so far, since the human story began. Dynamism hardly promises that we’ll approve of the future—only that we’ll be able to live in it, and that a better world is coming.”


Crypto investment flows in 2022 have been focused primarily on two areas: raising new large crypto-focused investment funds and keeping existing projects alive for longer, whether it’s a $2.2 billion raised to help support the future of the Luna/UST stablecoin or $150m raised by Axie to support victims of their hack.

There haven’t been as many truly original projects emerging as last year, so I was happy to see that Multi Coin Capital recently invested in Hivemapper. Their goal is to incentivize drivers to use Hivemapper cameras to create fresh maps of local streets like those on Google Maps while commuting. The incentive here is the Solana base HONEY token. The specialty Hivermapper camera is probably necessary at this stage, but I can’t help but think about the eight cameras natively built into the Tesla Model 3. It’s easy to envision a future where a Tesla owner will opt into Hivemapper to start earning their tokens in exchange for capturing street view images.

Token economics can help incentivize behavior, and I’m excited to see the many creative ways we will be able to power decentralized systems and get rewarded in turn. Whether the token will be worth anything largely depends on how many people decide to use the system. We ordered a camera to experience the system firsthand.

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