Hi, welcome to your Weekend: Special Wyoming Edition!
Why devote a whole issue to Wyoming, you ask? Because the smallest state in the union has been been playing an outsized role in tech lately, writing laws that encourage the growth of cryptocurrencies, DAOs, and other instruments that are at the forefront of Silicon Valley innovation right now. Forget Miami and Austin; crypto companies like Kraken and Cardano are doubling down on the famously libertarian and laissez faire Cowboy State.
Also, because Sen. Cynthia Lummis is fascinating, and keeps a mounted jackalope on her office wall. Because we keep hearing about people relocating there. Because DAOs are falling over themselves to purchase land there. And, finally, because it’s January, high season in the Tetons, and wouldn’t a trip to Jackson Hole be lovely to think about right about now?
It all added up to a no-brainer: Wyoming, here we come!
the big read
The Beltway’s ‘Bitcoin Lady’: How Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis Became Crypto’s Most Powerful Champion
The junior Republican senator from Wyoming used to be unknown outside of the state. But by the end of last summer, she emerged as crypto’s public face in Washington. It’s a designation she’s embracing: Bitcoin, she says, is “freedom money”: “It’s ‘freedom from Venezuela’s totalitarian regime’ money. It’s ‘freedom from runaway inflation’ money. It’s ‘freedom from the Chinese Communist Party’ money. To me that just says ‘freedom’ to people who have no personal freedom in their lives.” Nancy Scola sits down with Lummis, and learns more about crypto’s best friend in Congress.
Following state passage of pro-crypto laws, distributed autonomous organizations are dropping serious coin on wild—and sometimes uninhabitable—tracts of land. The mission is to “build the future of real estate ownership on chain,” and the whole thing—the kidding-not-kidding desire to buy a town, the commitment to scooping up wild tracts of land, the whispers of wanting to purchase Kanye West’s 4,000-acre ranch—seems both on brand and completely off the rails.
In this week’s “Decamped,” we chat with Wesley Chan, a former general partner at Felicis Ventures and the founder of Google Analytics and Google Voice. In August 2020, he moved from San Francisco to Wilson, Wyo., where he now frequents levees and meets moose in his backyard. He's also appreciating the respite from Silicon Valley culture—“No one cares what you do,” he says. “That’s what I love about this place.”
Once the Wild, Wild West (or, really, just a fancy ski destination), the state of Wyoming is now a popular relocation destination for tech and venture capital entrepreneurs lured there by wide open spaces and world-class skiing. Tempted to join the rush? Then read on: We’ve asked a handful of Wyomingites, both longtime residents and recent transplants, about their preferred haunts. Whether you opt for luxe Jackson Hole, buttoned up Cheyenne or rustic Cody, here is where to live, eat, play and socialize.
Reading: The influencers are not alright.
Vox’s Rebecca Jennings writes a delicious review of the Hype House’s new Netflix show, where none of the members seem to want to be there. Back in 2020—a lifetime ago in TikTok years—the Hype House touted famous influencers like Addison Rae and Charlie D’Amelio and graced the pages of The New York Times. But by the time the Netflix deal was solidified, the top tier talent had fled, leaving a shell of what the content machine once was. While the series doesn’t seem all that fun to watch, Jennings makes a compelling case for it as a cultural artifact: a look at what social media fame promises teenagers and the often lonely life it actually delivers.
Listening: A viral TikTok “Open Verse Challenge.”
The Open Verse Challenge format is sweeping songwriter TikTok, as aspiring pop stars notice it’s an easier way for their songs to reach more users. In these challenges, the originator sings a few bars, and then leaves open an instrumental verse, allowing fellow TikTokers the opportunity to fill in the blank through the app’s “Duet” feature. Sadie Jean, a sophomore at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music hit TikTok gold when her song “WYD Now?” reached rapper and singer Lil Yachty’s algorithm. The “Broccoli” rapper delivered an adorable, heartfelt, and, yes, catchy reply—prompting instant virality. The Times cataloged the duet’s full journey here.
Noticing: A plague of NFT art heists.
While a metaverse art heist may sound sexy, the reality is just kind of sad. It turns out non-fungible marketplaces are flooded with stolen work, with artists telling NBC they’ve seen thousands of NFT listings selling their art without permission. It’s part of the broken promise of NFTs: anyone can log onto OpenSea and sell pretty much any digital image they want, potentially robbing artists in the process. And to get illegal posts removed, artists have to prove ownership by sending individual copyright requests—a tall order for some who are already struggle to make ends meet. One artist told NBC they’ve given up trying to flag stolen works at all.
Makes You Think
Until next Weekend, thanks for reading!
Weekend Editor, The Information