Y Combinator’s Garry Tan Goes to the MatRead more

Illustration by Josh Brill
Illustration by Josh Brill

When the Brands Came for Crypto: Can a Subculture Survive the Social Media Managers?

Giant corporations are suddenly tweeting “WAGMI” and putting .eth on their social handles. For some in the crypto community, it's “the most cringeworthy thing they’ve seen.”

Jan. 7, 2022 2:00 PM PST

Within the dark caverns and crevices of Twitter, there is a singular sunny corner: the lair of the non-fungible token influencer. Their tweets are littered with optimistic acronyms: LFG for “let’s fucking go.” WAGMI for “we’re all going to make it.” GM to bid fellow crypto believers a good morning. It’s a place where meme-inspired jokes sing in harmony with calls for a radical, utopian future. However, on a fateful day in early December, the worst fear of every internet subculture became a reality.

The brands arrived.

On Dec. 9, Pepsi tweeted that it would release NFTs (a series of microphones, for some reason), rewarding reply tweets with a copy-and-pasted LFG. In response, Budweiser congratulated Pepsi as its “brand friend.” They both declared WAGMI—just two sentient canned beverage juggernauts encouraging each other through tough times. “Every group chat I was in was talking about how that was the most cringeworthy thing they’ve seen,” said Anil Lulla, co-founder of cryptocurrency research firm Delphi Digital.

Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Former Apple design chief Jony Ive and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman. Photos by Getty.
Designer Jony Ive and OpenAI’s Sam Altman Discuss AI Hardware Project
Jony Ive, the renowned designer of the iPhone, and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman have been discussing building a new AI hardware device, according to two people familiar with the conversations.
From left to right: Blair Effron, Robert Pruzan and David Handler. Photos by Getty; Tidal Partners.
Exclusive Finance
Disputes, Employee Misconduct Rattle Centerview’s Silicon Valley Dreams
The San Francisco Bay Area–based bankers at Centerview Partners, the investment bank that advised Silicon Valley Bank’s owner and Credit Suisse through recent turmoil, got two doses of bad news last week.
Art by Clark Miller
Exclusive startups entertainment
MasterClass Takes a Crash Course in Frugality
MasterClass had a problem with the shoot featuring its latest star instructor, Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger.
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. Photos via Getty
Exclusive microsoft ai
How Microsoft is Trying to Lessen Its Addiction to OpenAI as AI Costs Soar
Microsoft’s push to put artificial intelligence into its software has hinged almost entirely on OpenAI , the startup Microsoft funded in exchange for the right to use its cutting-edge technology.
From left: Paul Graham, Garry Tan and Michael Seibel. Photos by Getty. Art by Mike Sullivan.
Exclusive startups ai
Y Combinator’s Garry Tan Goes to the Mat
Garry Tan was in his happy place. Surrounded by food trucks and techies basking in San Francisco’s September sun, the CEO of Y Combinator snapped selfies with entrepreneurs as he meandered through a crowd of 2,700 attendees at the startup accelerator’s annual alumni event.
Dave Rogenmoser, cofounder of Jasper. Photo via Getty.
Exclusive startups ai
Jasper, an Early Generative AI Winner, Cuts Internal Valuation as Growth Slows
Jasper AI, an early darling of the generative artificial intelligence boom, has cut the internal value of its common shares 20%, according to former employees who were notified by the company.