Personal TikToks, Crypto Laundering, and Apple!
(site migrated, initially posted Feb 09, 2022)
👩🏽🎨 Creators: Moonlighting at Creator Companies is ... Complicated
🔐 Crypto: Can’t Launder Like Al Capone, Couple Launders $4.5 billion in Bitcoin
💰 Product: Apple + Stripe = World - Square? Accept Direct Payments on Phone
Today, The Information wrote a piece about the complications of being a creator while working for the platform itself — such as having a TikTok following and also being employed by TikTok. The majority of these platforms allow you to monetize your personal accounts with some restrictions. If you’ve read doubtiswelcome’s About, you’ll find that I dislike how certain employers can feel that they own you and your time. The fact that these creator companies don’t straight up bar personal accounts and monetization, knowing very well that creating content is hard and time-consuming is already a great step in the right direction.
Still, some of the restrictions can be frustrating. TikTok for example, doesn’t allow you to be part of the creator fund and they can block certain brand partnerships. Just the friction of running it through the company every time is annoying in itself. It begs the question, for a platform as ubiquitous as TikTok or YouTube, how much should the company restrict “personal usage”? And what counts as broad “personal usage”? If I worked for Stripe, and they restricted how I could use the Checkout product, I would be pissed. So why can’t TikTok employees be part of the Creator Fund, especially if they are framing it as the primary monetization mechanism? I get there are some optics issues around it, “oh are the employees being favored by the algo?!?” The platform should be transparent about these issues and concerns.
This warrants its own conversation, but the same The Information article highlighted a study about “Empowerment from Side-Hustles and Its Effects on Full-Time Work Performance” yet employers definitely frown upon it, or even worse champion it, but claw back their support when you actually start doing it. A conversation for another time!
Law enforcement arrested a couple for trying to launder $4.5 billion dollars worth of Bitcoin. 4.5 BILLION DOLLARS. That’s more than the GDP of several small countries, and estimates have Al Capone laundering south of a billion dollars.
Twitter is going wild over the web3 rapper wife and seemingly normal engineer/YC husband, even though it’s interesting, I won’t be talking about that. What’s more interesting to me is how the two of them “employed numerous sophisticated laundering techniques” and still could not turn this into cash. This flys in the face of the public opinion that “crypto is for criminal activities and money laundering.” I think this makes it pretty clear that a public ledger makes it possible to track these funds and the moment it hits an exchange, law enforcement can do what they need to do. It also proves to me that law enforcement isn’t as incapable as politicians had them out to be when referencing crypto. Not only were they able to arrest these “sophisticated launderers,” but they managed to seize $3.6 billion worth of the assets too.
Apple and Stripe announced yesterday that businesses could accept payments with just an iPhone. My first thought was how you wouldn’t need the clunky Square point-of-sale block anymore, but I imagine sellers will have both just in case they need to read the magnetic strip.
First of all, this is great for solopreneurs and smaller businesses, who can reduce the one-time costs of starting a business and accepting payments quickly. I’m excited to see this used more at farmers' markets and food trucks (yes that’s my life).
Secondly, I was curious how much revenue Square actually made from sellers, so I pulled up their quarterly report.
It’s clear the hardware of the blocks and POS devices aren’t the bulk of it, it’s the cut they take from transactions (someone correct me if I’m wrong). So this is substantial to Square’s business if Apple can cut out a lot of this. My guess is this includes online storefronts and other products, but time will tell if this carves out some of the pie for Square. What’s more wild to me is the Cash App Bitcoin revenue, what does that mean?? And how is more than Seller transaction revenue?? I’ll have to do some more reading.