SPOt-light #020 [ADA whale]

The ADA whale (Cardanoptera Musculus) is a marine mammal and a baleen whale. Reaching a maximum confirmed length of 29.9 meters (98 ft) and weighing up to 199 metric tons. It’s long and slender body contains millions of ADA, but researchers can only guess the rough amounts. It is the largest animal known to patrol the waters of CryptoTwitter and is known to be at the top of the Blockchain. Traditional behavior includes, but is not limited to: provide education, enjoy humor, poll participation, gulping up $ADA, FUD parrying and sparking insightful discussion.

Hello ADA Whale, welcome to the SPOt-light. You swim the waters of the Cardano ecosystem and are a valuable part of our foodchain. Tell us a little bit about yourself, what are your areas of expertise?

Hi there, thanks for featuring me on this series! So as most of you will know I value my anonymity, not really for personal reasons but rather for work related ones. I work in a conservative part of the financial industry where not only crypto is, shall we say, still frowned upon but I am also under the regulations and restrictions of no fewer than three major financial regulators, not to forget about social media policies of my employer. 

On top of that I deal with a number of high profile clients that I’m sure would not be thrilled to see me on here talking about crypto in general. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a very well-known investor to the outside world, but I am a bit of a spider in the web of a lot of money and I think discretion is important. In terms of me personally, here’s what I have generally disclosed before: I live in Singapore with my wife and 2 daughters, but I am not originally from here. 

How did your presence here develop? I imagine you don’t wake up and suddenly dive deep into blockchain, Cardano, FUD dismissal and poll hijacking?

I’ve been interested in Cardano pretty much from the early days. It’s a project that ticks all the boxes of what I look for in crypto, and it aligns very well with my world view which I would consider a mixture of Bitcoin-esque views on sound money and the ills of current monetary policy and politics, but also has an emphasis on seeing this new technology as something that won’t be a magic fix but could potentially serve to improve global inequity and inequality. I dismissed Ethereum early on because it seemed chaotic and not on a clear path, which as an investor is an enormous turn-off. Besides Cardano I still am a Bitcoin holder.

I was not an investor in the Cardano ICO and bought my way into Cardano mostly in 2018 through a bit of classic “dollar cost averaging”, literally hundreds of small trades at each and every price. Basically buying as the ICO whales were dumping.

In the early days I wasn’t really active on social media. Besides having plenty of other things to do, I was just quite happy to watch from the sidelines and follow along as the project thrived. Not everyone has interesting things to share and to me it seemed fine to just lurk in the background. I’m not really someone who loves attention and am very happy just to operate in the shadows, basically. In those days I browsed Cardano Twitter, Reddit and the Telegram groups but I don’t think I ever said much. In fact I was a more active participant in Bitcoin twitter at times.. which I now consider a strength because I’ve seen from up close how they think and operate.

That changed early 2021 for a very specific reason. Crypto twitter was a toxic place at the best of times, but with the rise of VC coins and adoption of Bitcoin and Ethereum by institutions it became even worse. Slander, misinformation and attacks against Cardano became par for the course and really intensified, as it was pretty obvious that this “people’s favourite” cryptocurrency with its globally dispersed community was in the way of people who came to siphon money out of this space as fast as they could, or who wanted to total victory and nothing less. I felt like my sense of justice could not let this slide, but also I think I felt there was a gap in the Cardano “big accounts” in terms of being able to go eye for an eye with the Solunavax people and even serious institutional investors (like Novogratz or Raoul Pal) coming at us from all directions. Someone had to draw the line. In a way I became the big Cardano account that I would have hoped existed already. If there was an ADA whale type person around in early 2021, I’d still be an anon.

Explain ‘Nice Poll’ in a few lines, and what does this tell us? Presumably more deeply than the meme-value suggests?

Everyone knows Twitter polls are pretty much useless. Whatever echo chamber is reached is going to win the poll. So winning a specific poll isn’t necessarily all that interesting. I think I replied “nice poll” a few times as a joke late last year on some random polls. But when I really started to pay attention to what was going on was when Vitalik did that poll which said something like “if Ethereum isn’t around in 20 years, which protocol would replace it”, and Cardano won against Bitcoin, Solana etc. Not just because of my own comment, but also because Charles and Dan and others retweeted it. 

What was very interesting was the response to that poll. There were the usual comments saying oh, look at the Cardano bots. In public it was generally dismissed. But the undertone that I sensed was “holy fk, what is going on over at Cardano”, people seemed genuinely surprised at how big our community was. You could sense that doubt, and you could sense that after that the Bankless boys, Cobie and other Ethereum influencers changed tone ever so slightly. There’s always been this meme of “they’re secretly accumulating ADA”, which I do not believe, but I think that behind their public facade of attacking and ridiculing Cardano this event shook them a bit and made them reconsider.

So the joke intensified and in the last few weeks and months I decided to nice poll pretty much any poll I laid my eyes on, of course helped by community members that tagged me any time one came up. We won every poll with Cardano in it. See it as a bit of guerrilla marketing, a message of “we are too big to ignore” to an industry that has been too prone to ignore us. I think we will probably keep winning polls given the sheer size of the community, but I’ve cooled it a bit on the nice polls because I think the message has landed and the joke has sort of run its course now. I’m inclined to enjoy childish banter though, so perhaps I will change my mind 🙂

With great power comes great responsibility. You seem relatively unmoved by the power you have (more then some, less then others) But you’ve stated on multiple occasions that this comes with it’s inevitable drawbacks. Can you name the biggest Pro and the biggest Con to having such an audience?

Great question. Biggest pro: feeling like you’re at the heart of a huge and amazing community, you see and hear a lot. Biggest con: every word you say is put under intense scrutiny.

Even though I never came here to grow a following (I mean technically I did come to have my voice get heard, but I literally don’t care about following in the sense that influencers may care about it), I guess I did organically grow a twitter account to 100k followers. 

What I’ve realised is that there are different phases to growing a twitter presence. Sub 1000 it’s a battle to get noticed. You can tweet interesting things and some of it gets no likes, but other times the big accounts will retweet you and be like “hey look at this interesting person, give them a follow”. Once that happens and you get across 1000, as long as you keep posting interesting content you will slowly keep growing, but you need the occasional viral tweet to give you a boost. In general in this phase you can also tweet whatever you want (hey it’s nice weather, or man I hate bitcoin) and no one will really pay you any mind. You chit chat with other accounts in the replies and no one sees it.

In the high thousands it starts to change and no matter what you tweet, it gets likes and attention. So you become a bit more mindful about what you put out there because if your views are controversial, this is where you start to get a lot of pushback and trolling. But in general you’re still just your own person and feel relative freedom to tweet what you want. Above this (say 10k-25k) I think is the part where many people bite the dust unless they go full influencer mode with lighthearted engagement tweets. Also your twitter following just starts growing no matter what you do.

Grow beyond this to say 25k and you’re now a proper voice for the community. People start to have expectations of you and requests for retweets start to become incessant. It’s also where I realised that, wait a minute, I’m not a 1000 follower person whose handle starts with “Cardano”, I have 25k followers and I have a responsibility in some sense to do my best to represent Cardano well AND on the contrary make it clear again and again that I do not speak for anyone but myself.

Towards and around 50k followers the game changes again and the pressure becomes quite intense. Everything you tweet has 25 likes in a minute, responses calling out any mistakes or bad takes come at you like machine gun fire. Found this a tough period to deal with. Probably the hardest, I nearly quit like 10 times and once or twice actually deactivated my account. Had this sense of I’m not getting paid for this, I don’t want to deal with this, I don’t enjoy it, I only came here to share my thoughts.. At the same time I realised I had a unique opportunity to keep growing and become a real twitter ambassador for Cardano, in some ways. Above 50k I felt liberated and it became easier. I realised that if I stayed authentic, was not outright causing offence, stayed away from politics.. I could basically tweet anything.

Why do you feel this following found you? What do you bring that fills a demand?

What I often hear is that I am able to put into words what many people think about Cardano or the broader crypto ecosystem. My style is probably best described as passionate, emotive or combative. In real life I think I’m a person with high EQ and I’m very keenly aware of it when people are spreading lies or misinformation, and I tend to go hard at it whenever I sense that is happening. When people use slanderous language to come at Cardano, I do know how to hit them back twice as hard.

I imagine that people enjoy that sort of thing, someone who calls out Novogratz on his shit and see him showing up groveling in the replies. I guess sometimes I go a little bit over the line but you’ll have to indulge me.

More in general I do threads where I try to share what little knowledge I command on certain topics. My regular tweets are probably best described as “thought to tweet”. I have no filter and am able to very quickly convert a thought into a tweet. Doesn’t mean that I always get it right, but my style is very authentic in that sense.

Whales tend to have more then 1 Million ADA in their bags, but we highly advise not to disclose any specifics. Is there a point where enough is enough?

I always say being an ADA whale is a state of mind. It’s a function of luck (how early did you discover Cardano), but also financial capacity before discovering crypto etc. In general we’re still super early with crypto, and this is risky business. So I might advice newcomers to allocate like max 10-20% of their investments to Cardano and then as it potentially grows in the future, that 10% becomes 50% or whatever, and you can decide then and there whether to leave it or whatever.

If you could eliminate one thing from the FUD-chain, what would it be? What is in your opinion the most detrimental aspect of it?

The FUD has held Cardano back more than most people realise. Not necessarily even the things you see on twitter, but what do you think happens behind the scenes? There have been instances where Ethereum people called up universities collaborating with IOHK and were like “I’d stay away from that Cardano if I were you”. We have American-Ethiopian bitcoin maxis that are harassing their government about working with us. I can deal with the misinformation in public, but I wish we could do something to stop the deliberate and malicious manipulation that happens behind the scenes by people who feel nothing but threatened by Cardano.

In terms of twitter FUD. I always go hard at it. Just this week there was a 150k follower account that was like “oh yeah this thing is vapourware and going to $0.10”. Aside from that price (who knows, it might), this is how these talking points stay alive. He’s a guy with a credible track record, he probably actually believes this. Another Solana person with 130k followers today tweeted “Cardano has TPS of 1 and doesn’t even have smart contracts” which are both obvious lies, and he knows it. I’m going to keep fighting against this every day and I feel like it’s having at least some amount of positive impact.

Many great researchers and critics get highlighted by you if they produce work you see contributing, or providing critical feedback that you deem necessary. One of them being the recent Alex Valaitis Article. What are the metrics you use to determine if something is worth sharing?

I would say that this is actually my weakest point. Articles and twitter threads are one thing and generally it is easy to determine which are of interest for the Cardano community (if they provide constructive criticism or share knowledge on a specific topic I feel we should be aware of, for instance). But it’s harder for projects that are building here. I want to see all of Cardano succeed and I feel a lot of love and appreciation for anyone building on Cardano. I invest for a living so I have a decent bullshit radar, but crypto is special territory and I probably too often give people the benefit of the doubt (see the Flickto saga, unfortunately). I also don’t want to be the arbiter who decides who succeeds or fails on Cardano. So there might be projects that I don’t feel passionate about myself but that I’d still want to highlight because others may feel differently.

All of YT, CT and Reddit is full of people shouting NFA. Its important to DYOR but AFAIK there are some universal truths to making it in one piece. What is your gem to share, if it could only be one?

Do you mean in real life/career or in crypto? In real life some of my advice would be (assuming that most readers are a bit younger, like in their twenties?) that showing up consistently is half the work, and in terms of work and effort put in, sometimes less is more. Don’t make them feel like you’re happy to slave away. Also, the real pay-off career-wise for the hard work you do in that part of your life tends to come in the next decade (don’t worry, it will happen). Always focus on optionality and exit opportunities. If I choose this path, where does that lead me to and does it create more possibilities for me down the line than it takes away?

In crypto, I have a lot of advice to share but basically don’t day trade, and dollar cost average in to projects you believe in. Ignore the narratives and understand that crypto is a social phenomenon and projects that see social adoption will long term outperform those that just have financial/VC adoption. Also, L1 > L2 > dapps tokens. The game to play in crypto is to find hidden gems that can do a 100x, but as time goes on and large caps get more established there will be fewer of those. 

So what you want to do is probably combine say an 80% allocation to proven projects (could be Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano etc) that are very likely to be around in a few decades, and on top of that try to find the hidden gems that could potentially give you the outsized returns that all of us OGs were lucky to see. Don’t get fooled into simply propping up our “bags”, but also realise that the chance that the 100x gems go to zero is significant. Once they pump, take profit into BTC, ETH or ADA.

Lastly, we’d like to give you an opportunity to mention some people, projects or other that deserve a shout out. Your reach far outshines ours, but honorable mentions are always welcome.

In general I would say that I take up too much of the spotlight and there are a lot of people in and around Cardano that are great ambassadors (whether officially or otherwise), or more knowledgeable than me and should in a rational world have more following than I have! People on the technical side like @SebastienGllmt, @danny_cryptofay, @_KtorZ_, @matiwinnetou, @Padierfind, @monad_alexander, @amw7,  but also @astroboysoup, @cryptofly777, @Reddspark1, @Kaizencrypto, @armyspies, @conraddit, @calvinsbrew, @tradingwithpaul, @theadaape, @deansepoch etc and many others I forgot here (sorry). Bit of a random list I know. Point is, I’m here to read what they have to say as much as I am here to share my thoughts!

We can do nothing but thank you again for the time you took to answer our questions and provide some insight in your motivations for Cardano and a variety of other topics. We’ll be whalewatching for sure and wish you all the freedom to keep expressing the views and ciritcism this space so desperately needs and values! Swim on!

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