Equity for Early Employees in Early Stage Startups: The Future of Social Media and the Rise of Synthetic Kinship

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Sep 11, 2023

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Equity for Early Employees in Early Stage Startups: The Future of Social Media and the Rise of Synthetic Kinship

In the world of early stage startups, equity for early employees is a crucial aspect to consider. For those first key hires, it's an art, not a science, to convince them to join your dream before it has taken off. One way to ensure their commitment and dedication is by making them feel like founders in terms of ownership, emotional attachment, responsibility, and overall understanding of the startup process.

As startups evolve, so do the business models they rely on. The last generation of companies heavily relied on advertising as their main source of revenue. However, startups today are exploring new avenues such as subscriptions, in-app payments, and e-commerce. This shift allows them to prioritize user experience and time management, promising a better use of our most valuable resource: time.

Several upstarts like BeReal, Poparazzi, Mastodon, and Post News are emerging to meet this opportunity. They are shifting the focus of social media from being purely social to being more media-oriented. This shift aligns with the growing trend of people seeking out specific types of content and reducing their desire to use social networks for finding online kinship.

Traditionally, social media companies have delayed monetization to prioritize growth. However, incorporating subscriptions and in-app payments into their business models can provide some degree of downside protection. Even if an app becomes a temporary trend, offering a paid product can still generate substantial revenue. TikTok has already paved the way for social networks to act as gateways to e-commerce, proving that there's potential for further growth in this direction.

The future of social media lies in creating functional, multifaceted economies. Platforms like Roblox have demonstrated the power of running in-world economies, monetizing through avatar accessories, game upgrades, and special experiences. Instead of obsessing over capturing attention, the next generation of social media giants will focus on creating immersive and engaging experiences within their platforms.

While humans crave kinship and a sense of belonging, the rise of synthetic kinship is becoming increasingly plausible. In future decades, it's not far-fetched to imagine humans having dozens of synthetic friends and loved ones. We might interact, talk, play, and share with these AI creations just as we do with real humans today. This concept may seem dystopian, but it opens up new possibilities for social experiences.

The founders of future social media platforms may solve the cold start problem by generating billions of synthetic personalities to interact with human participants. Even with a small user base, the incorporation of AI-generated characters can make the platform feel active and vibrant. The lines between human and artificial beings will become increasingly blurry, leading to unique and immersive social interactions.

In conclusion, as early stage startups navigate the challenges of attracting and retaining early employees, prioritizing equity and creating a sense of ownership is crucial. Simultaneously, the future of social media lies in shifting towards media-oriented experiences, monetizing through subscriptions and in-app payments, and creating functional economies. The rise of synthetic kinship presents new opportunities and challenges, blurring the lines between human and artificial beings. To thrive in this evolving landscape, startups should focus on incorporating innovative business models, prioritizing user experience, and leveraging AI to create immersive social experiences.

Three actionable advice for startups in this space:

  • 1. Prioritize equity and ownership for early employees: Make them feel like founders and provide them with a sense of responsibility and understanding of the startup process.
  • 2. Shift towards media-oriented experiences: Explore new revenue streams such as subscriptions, in-app payments, and e-commerce to prioritize user experience and time management.
  • 3. Embrace the potential of synthetic kinship: Consider incorporating AI-generated characters and experiences to enhance social interactions and create immersive environments within your platform.

By incorporating these actionable advice, startups can position themselves for success in the evolving landscape of early stage startups and the future of social media.

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