Video Futurism: Networked & Monetized, with Anirudh Pai of Superpeer
Neo-China arrives from the future, as a networked and monetized video platform called Superpeer. Anirudh Pai explains why he believes education will merge with the influencer economy, in the form of paid video-calling. Other topics include George Orwell, Africa, and Reed's Law (the lesser known cousin of Metcalfe's Law).
✦ Anirudh's newsletter: electricsheep.substack.com
✦ Anirudh's podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/conservative-curious/id1517105543
On where the truth takes place
Think about it like this, the most interesting conversations always happen after class. What if there was a way to bring that online and make it also shared? People don't really want everything layered over with a veneer of political correctness. A lot of people just want the truth, and the truth is often found, not in classrooms, but in the bar, two miles away where everyone gets together, just as it is in Davos...
What the West will learn from video culture in China
The consumer culture in China is radically different than anywhere else in the world. And that's namely through video. People have been doing this way longer than in the West and influencer culture, you can say, started and became popular in China.
And that's because of the array of platforms that many of these influencers had. And when we think about an influencer, it's not really just somebody who's an Instagram model. All of us have specific knowledge in one domain. And they found ways to monetize that through all these different platforms. So you can look at Youku, which is like the Chinese YouTube, they might have these private WeChat groups and they might do live streaming events with this group and they're essentially living in video. So their entire day is just hopping from different video platforms to one another. They monetize through that. And for a lot of people, that's their job. That is what they do. And that's a very respectable career.
One example of that I always remember is Sina Weibo, which is what people call the Twitter of China. To give you an idea of how early China was on their shift, in 2018 Sina Weibo did about $35 million, paying out creators with about, I think, 2 million paid subscribers overall.
And the way they made money was, they had a 70/30 revenue share, but that's pretty crazy still. That people have been doing this in the East way longer than in the West.
On Reed's Law and Superpeer's vision for networked video
So a network effect is where the marginal benefit to each user increases as another user gets added, like Facebook, but what many people don't know is Reed's law, which is that the utility of these very massive networks scale exponentially with the network as well. So what that means is, when you have a big Facebook group, people split off into microcosms, right? And so it's like almost a Petri dish where some groups come together, others go around, and they're still finding their fit. But we have these various Schelling points where people come together and that's really the reason behind the Superpeer brand approach, which is... You might have these massive communities, thousands and thousands of people, but look at how many of those people talk. It's not actually very many, right? How many of your friends on Facebook do you interact with on the daily? Probably less than 10%, right? It's not a big sum by any means. And so when you want to design something like this, one thing you have to wonder is, how can we, from top to bottom, create the best experience and make it very easy for people to connect with one another, even inside networks, and make these communities that have thousands of people even more engaged by letting various members come together in these smaller groups and create those bonds? That, I think, nobody else is doing.
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