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    The Browser (with Brendan Eich, Chief Architect of Netscape + Mozilla and CEO of Brave)

    enFebruary 15, 2022

    Podcast Summary

    • Brave Browser, Solana Blockchain, and Project Serum: A Powerful CombinationThe Brave browser offers faster browsing and improved privacy, while Solana blockchain empowers developers with high-performance transaction processing. Project Serum enables decentralized trading with low latency and composable protocols.

      The Brave browser is a faster browser because it blocks all the trackers, and it is based on Chrome, the Chromium open-source code. It's developed to protect users' privacy and is an ongoing commitment by the creators. Solana blockchain provides the most performative and efficient transaction processing capability for developers to build applications. Project Serum is a decentralized exchange that brings the central limit order book on-chain, enabling thousands of markets that operate concurrently, giving traders the low latency experience they're used to in traditional financial markets and trading on-chain in a completely composable manner through protocols built on top of Serum.

    • Brave's Basic Attention Token System Protects User Privacy and Supports Creators DirectlyBrave's user-centric design offers protection from tracking ads, improves page load time, and allows users to earn money from private ads. Its mission is to make the web safe and useful for everyone, driven by the creator's concern for user privacy.

      Brave's Basic Attention Token system allows users to earn money from private ads while protecting their privacy and supporting creators directly. The Brave browser blocks tracking ads and improves page load time by eliminating programmatic advertising's battery use and data plan consumption. Brave's user-centric design makes the browser the main platform for all activities, creating a new world of economics. JavaScript's evolution enabled the creation of web apps but also facilitated the development of the digital advertising ecosystem. The third-party cookie problem arose in the '90s, but the web's strong evolutionary force prevented its mitigation. Brave's creator's experience with Netscape drove his concern for user privacy and his mission to make the web safe and useful for everyone.

    • Brendan Eich's journey to Netscape and the company's success in the '90s.Netscape's success was built on forward speculation and multiples, not profitability. The IPO allowed the company to invest in various projects and expand further.

      Brendan Eich, the inventor of JavaScript, found his way to Netscape after leaving Silicon Graphics and working at MicroUnity. He met Jeff Weinstein at MicroUnity, and they both joined Netscape in the same week. Netscape went public in August 1995 and used the IPO to buy server-side companies and projects. The success of Netscape in the '90s was due to forward speculation and multiples, and not profitability, which was scandalous to Brendan as he came from SGI where they had to have three profitable quarters before IPO. Netscape charged for the browser in commercial settings, and the IPO allowed them to expand and invest in various projects.

    • The evolution of Firefox from open-source code to an independent browser revolutionized the browser ecosystem.Mozilla's decision to create an independent browser led to the development of Firefox, which gained a significant market share through the use of dynamic language and JavaScript automation.

      The development of Firefox was a result of taking the open-source code of the browser from Netscape and evolving it in the open. The idea of commercial open source was gaining popularity and the synergy of using dynamic language on the server to generate HTML with JavaScript automating it was slick. Mozilla had to decide whether to continue with the conventional sweetware or start something new. Initially, they were underfunded, but eventually, the team figured out that Firefox could be developed as an independent browser. The browser plugins for Firefox were initially written using XUL, a portable front-end stack created by Mozilla. The development of Firefox breathed new life into the browser ecosystem and gained over a quarter of the browser market share.

    • Building a Successful Volunteer Community and Open-Source Contributions for MozillaMozilla faced challenges due to Netscape division's perception, but encouraged open-source contributions to build a volunteer community. Pre-built binaries and the programmable front-end stack with extensions helped Firefox's success.

      Mozilla faced challenges in building a volunteer community due to the perception that they were the enemy of Netscape division. However, they encouraged open-source contributions and gave cvs commit rights to build a community. Mozilla's decision to provide pre-built binaries made their software accessible to 99% of people who could not compile on their local machines. The growth of Mozilla threatened Netscape division, which led to its shutdown by AOL. Mozilla was spun out with $2 million funding over two years from AOL and was led by Mitchell Baker as a nonprofit organization. The success of Firefox was due to its programmable front-end stack and extension ecosystem. Mozilla's roadmap aimed to build an app that could do one thing well by using a common front-end toolkit while giving advanced users extensions to simplify the UX.

    • The Importance of Firefox and the Value of BrowsersBrowsers may seem mundane, but they are an essential tool for accessing the web - something most people use daily. Innovative browsers, like Firefox, can offer additional tools and features for a better online experience.

      Firefox was a challenger to the market dominated by Internet Explorer, with its passionate team creating innovative tools like add-ons and search integration. The lead user cohort of the web was charged up for Firefox and early adapters loved it. It was an immortal and universal app that offered a better tool for something people use every day. People tend to discount the browser, but the value of the web is great and the majority of their days is spent on it. The browser was considered boring and easy to discount, but it turns out to be pretty important. The web content is also sticky and accretive. It's important to see the browser for its value and potential.

    • The Rise and Fall of Internet Browsers: A Look at Mozilla, Chrome, Dolphin, Flock and UCWebDespite early success, Firefox lost ground to Chrome due to its lack of focus on mobile browsing and privacy. meanwhile, Dolphin and UCWeb succeeded in Asia with targeted marketing and ad-blocking. Google created Chrome to improve user experience and later changed its privacy policy, leading to the founding of Brave.

      Firefox gained a huge market share but lost ground to Chrome over the years. Attempts to start new upstart browsers with different strategies like RockMelt and Flock failed. Dolphin succeeded in Asia due to its marketing and focus on mobile browsing. UCWeb succeeded in Asia by blocking ads. Mozilla did not lead on privacy as well as Apple did. Google's Search partnership was a major source of revenue for Mozilla. Google created Chrome to isolate the Flash player and improve user experience. Google later changed its privacy policy, which led to the founding of Brave.

    • The Importance of Prioritizing User Privacy in Advertising Practices.Companies must prioritize user trust and transparency by limiting the amount of user data collected for advertising purposes and ensuring compliance with regulations to protect user privacy.

      Tracking of user data for advertising purposes is a growing concern due to the lack of transparency and potential for breaches of privacy. While some people initially welcomed personalized experiences, the realization of how far data can be shared and utilized by malicious actors has shifted attitudes towards privacy protection. Companies like Google and Experian have faced criticism for their handling of user data, leading to increased awareness and regulation of privacy protection, such as through the GDPR. As such, companies should prioritize user trust and transparency in their data collection and advertising practices to mitigate concerns and comply with regulations.

    • The Economic Advantage of Privacy and the Rise of Privacy Consciousness in the MarketProtecting personal data can lead to better economic benefit. The market is shifting towards privacy-conscious alternatives like Brave and DuckDuckGo. Companies must respect users' privacy and adopt pseudoscience for analytics. Private ad businesses like Brave Rewards offer privacy while maintaining ad authenticity. It's essential to prioritize privacy to avoid being 'sheep to be shorn of their wool.'

      Privacy is important for economic advantage as users can demand a higher price and better terms by guarding their data. The rise of privacy consciousness is causing a shift in the market with the advent of browsers like Brave and search engines like DuckDuckGo. Users are no longer willing to be 'sheep to be shorn of their wool' and companies are recognizing that they must respect users' privacy to remain competitive. Marketers do not necessarily want to track individuals, but rather use pseudoscience to analyze audience cohorts that convert well. Private ad businesses like Brave Rewards, which use the Basic Attention Token, allow users to transact without giving up their privacy while still giving authentic attribution or confirmation of ads viewed or purchases. Monopolies can keep shearing the sheep until they're starving, which is why privacy is essential.

    • Brave Browser - A Private, Faster and Rewarding Way of Browsing.Brave Browser is a privacy-focused browser that offers a faster and more rewarding browsing experience. It allows users to earn Basic Attention Tokens for viewing ads and provides an alternative economic power through cryptocurrencies.

      Brave is a web browser designed to protect user privacy and provide a faster browsing experience with low battery consumption. Its ad network allows users to earn Basic Attention Tokens for viewing ads, with 70% of the ad revenue shared with users. Brave's approach to advertising is different from conventional ad tech which tracks user data. Instead, Brave puts all the ads into a catalog through a link to the creative for the ad. The catalog gets updated several times a day and the machine learning on the mother of all data feeds is in the browser itself, which does the ad matching. Brave offers users the economic power to challenge central powers and accumulate wealth by fighting back through cryptocurrencies and other options.

    • The Challenges of Online Digital Advertising and Solutions for Fraud Prevention and Simplified Payment OperationsOnline advertising fraud is rampant due to a lack of security in JavaScript. Brave's audience segmentation protects against re-identification. Modern Treasury simplifies payment operations with direct integrations with commercial banks.

      Online digital advertising is often fraudulent due to the lack of security property called integrity in JavaScript, which allows fraudsters to override standard objects and cheat. This leads to a conflict of interest between Google and the ad buyers, as Google still gets the fee when the advertising money is stolen by fraudsters. While some ad tech may not be as precise, Brave is able to coarsely segment its audience for targeting in a manner that does not allow re-identification. Despite using fairly simple machine learning algorithms like support vector machines and Bayesian, it does a pretty good job in matching segments. Modern Treasury's payment operations platform offers faster and simpler ways to build products that move money, with direct integrations with major commercial banks.

    • The Evolution of Brave Browser from Gecko to Chrome Fork and its User GrowthBrave Browser switched from Gecko to Chromium Blink based browser to get more users off Chrome. Though still a fraction of Chrome's user base, lead users who love the product are integral to Brave's success in the crypto, blockchain, and decentralization space.

      Brave browser had to switch to a more complete Chrome fork, which made it look a lot like Chrome, but helped them get users off Chrome. They started with Mozilla Gecko but couldn't continue to use it due to several issues with it. Brave core-based browser, their maintainable version of Chromium Blink, was very popular and doubled users for five years in a row. While Brave has 50 million users, it's still a tiny fraction of the browser market share dominated by Chrome with 2.65 billion users. Lead users who understand and love the product are crucial for the success of any browser. They are the ones who favor Brave now and are working on crypto, blockchain, and decentralization projects.

    • Decentralized Future of Crypto: Challenges and Opportunities.Web3 and crypto are the focus of interesting founders and technologists due to interoperation across different EVM compatibles. Zero knowledge proof ensures user identity and ad performance verification while maintaining anonymity. Decentralized crypto is facing challenges from regulations but has support from banks, family offices, and companies.

      While new blockchains are much more energy-efficient than Bitcoin, the most interesting founders and technologists are focusing on Web3 and crypto. Ethereum, despite its slowness and high gas fees, is still attractive because interoperation across different EVM compatibles is already supported. KYC is required for anti-money laundering, which is why zero knowledge proof is now being used to protect users' identities. In the long run, a zero knowledge proof system directly on-chain will allow users to verify ad performance and maintain anonymity. Despite challenges faced by regulations, the decentralized future of crypto is looking bright and is being explored by banks, family offices, and companies, compared to resistance from big tech and politicians.

    • Brave Browser to Integrate On-Chain Wallet for Multichain TransactionsBrave Browser's upcoming integration of a native hot wallet directly into the browser will offer users self-custody options and a more secure browsing experience. However, caution must be exercised against phishing scams and secret phrase management.

      Brave is building its own native hot wallet directly into the browser and will be the first browser with a secure on-chain wallet. The browser will blend with the Brave reward system and be multichain. Self-custody has a shot at being useful, but it's complex and password reset options will make it safer. The extension on a browser is weaker in terms of its power and security model compared to a native app, and users must be cautious about phishing scams pretending to be offering support. Certain companies are trying to aggregate all wallets for a nice experience, but users must be careful when dealing with secret phrases as most people are not yet trained on what they mean.

    • Balancing Security and User Experience in Crypto and Blockchain TechnologyWhile crypto brings enhanced security and economic opportunities, user experience can be complex. Companies are integrating crypto into daily lives to make it a win-win. Developing crypto wallets with careful UX can make the future super awesome.

      Crypto and blockchain technology have brought unprecedented levels of security, privacy, and economic opportunity to users. However, this comes at a cost of a complex and anxiety-provoking user experience. There is a trade-off between security and user experience, but it doesn't have to be one or the other. Companies like Brave are trying to make crypto be a positive-sum game by integrating it into users' daily lives. Similarly, virtual wallets that can be topped up with crypto or draw on crypto to purchase goods online can make e-commerce more secure. The user experience of crypto needs to be developed carefully since design is still an art, and the space is too large to do A/B testing in any credible timeframe. Nevertheless, with more chains and careful UX development, the crypto wallet of the future can be super awesome.

    • The Endurance of Servers and the Advantages of Decentralized Systems with Muscular ClientsWhile there are trade-offs for the guarantees and latency of servers, the use of decentralized systems with strong cryptographic protocols and muscular clients can provide better privacy and security properties, ensuring a fair deal, and extending Web2. Additionally, companies can improve employee engagement and retention by using virtual experiences like Mystery to make their events fun and exciting.

      While decentralized systems and peer-to-peer networks make sense, servers will endure as there are trade-offs for certain guarantees and latency. Brave with strong cryptographic protocols and muscular clients can provide better privacy and security properties out of the server, ensuring a fair deal and extending Web2. Even for proxy forms like Infura runs, or Bison Trails, there'll be servers users want to go to. Mystery is a perfect example of how virtual experiences can make company events fun and exciting. They take over the entire process from scheduling to planning and ensure that employee retention is tracked and engagement is maximized. It's a crazy journey for Mystery, and their success shows that people want to have more fun in company activities.

    • Brave's Quest for 400 Million Users to Challenge Google's DominanceBrave aims to build a world where users have greater control over their machines. To achieve this, the company needs to grow its network to 400 million monthly users, incorporate cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, and enhance its platform for creators and fans to connect without censorship. Self-custody can empower users to make peer-to-peer transactions without relying on third-party custodians.

      Achieving 400 million monthly users will give Brave enormous clout and distribution opportunities, allowing the company to compete with established superpowers like Google. At this scale, users will have greater say over their machines, and Brave can offer more decentralized options for creators and fans to directly connect without being demonetized or censored. Brave's vision is to create a world where users are sovereign, and this can be achieved through the creator economy and NFTs, which have logistic curves and exponential phases. To make this vision a reality, Brave must continue to improve its platform and network, and incorporate both Moxie's cryptography and cryptocurrency/blockchain. Self-custody can be added to all sides of the Brave ecosystem, enabling peer-to-peer transactions without relying on custodians.

    • Blockchain technology and the challenges to Established Tech GiantsThough blockchain provides more direct sending options for law enforcement, the entry of new companies to the market may pose a problem for established tech giants like Google. Convincing users to switch to privacy-focused products will require marketing strategies.

      Blockchain technology can still allow law enforcement to do their job while providing more direct on-chain sending options. There are risks involved with big tech misbehaving and the possibility of a bad macro event or crypto getting banned. As the industry grows, more companies may enter the space with their own wallets, but it may be difficult for established companies like Google to innovate in this area. Brave's competition primarily involves getting users to switch from Chrome and Safari, but there is a large pie to divide up. Marketing will also play a crucial role in convincing users to switch to Brave or other privacy-focused products.

    • Book Recommendations and Community Involvement on the PodcastExpand your reading list with thrilling and insightful books, value old books for their hidden gems, and join the Acquired LP Show's community to discuss and connect with like-minded book lovers.

      The hosts of the podcast discuss their vacation reads and recommend books worth reading. These include Project Hail Mary, Open, San Fransicko and Dynamic Economics. They recommend these books for their thrilling style and killer observations on society, anthropology, and hierarchy within firms. They also emphasize the relevance of old books which are often underappreciated but still provide valuable insight. Moreover, listeners can benefit from checking out the Acquired LP Show and get involved in the Acquired Slack community to discuss and hang out. Finally, the podcast acknowledges its sponsors and wraps up by thanking the listeners.

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    Statsig: https://bit.ly/acquiredstatsig24
    Crusoe: https://bit.ly/acquiredcrusoe

    Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

    Stratechery (with Ben Thompson)

    Stratechery (with Ben Thompson)

    Ben Thompson joins Acquired to discuss the business of Stratechery itself and celebrate 10 years (!) of the internet’s best strategy analysis destination. Even beyond Stratechery’s enormous impact itself on business and tech over the years, Ben’s work inspired a whole generation of business content creators — this show very much included — and it was super special for us to give the Acquired treatment to one of our own heroes. We cover the full history of Ben pioneering the subscription internet media business model (indeed SubStack’s seed round pitch was “Stratechery-in-a-box”), and how + why he’s evolved the business since and is now doubling down both on podcasting and a broader vision of the Stratechery Plus bundle… including for the first time content not made by Ben himself! Tune in and enjoy. 

    If you want more Acquired, you can follow our public LP Show feed here in the podcast player of your choice (including Spotify!). 

    Sponsors:
    Pilot: https://bit.ly/acquiredpilot24
    Statsig: https://bit.ly/acquiredstatsig24
    Crusoe: https://bit.ly/acquiredcrusoe


    Links:

    ‍Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

    Nvidia Part I: The GPU Company (1993-2006)

    Nvidia Part I: The GPU Company (1993-2006)

    He wears signature leather jackets. He can bench press more than you. He makes cars that drive themselves. He’s cheated death — both corporate and personal — too many times to count, and he runs the 8th most valuable company in the world. Nope, he's not Elon Musk, he’s Jensen Huang — the most badass CEO in semiconductor history. Today we tell the first chapter of his and Nvidia’s incredible story. You’ll want to buckle up for this one! 

    Sponsors:
    Pilot: https://bit.ly/acquiredpilot24
    Statsig: https://bit.ly/acquiredstatsig24
    Crusoe: https://bit.ly/acquiredcrusoe


    This episode has video! You can watch it on YouTube

    PSA: if you want more Acquired, you can follow our newly public LP Show feed here in the podcast player of your choice (including Spotify!).


    Links:

    Carve Outs:

    ‍Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.

    Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

    Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi

    Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi dropped by the Acquired studio for an Eats delivery, so we broke out the cameras and asked him to hang out for a wide-ranging conversation. :) We talk about his 20 years working with Barry Diller, starting his career at Allen & Company, how the Uber CEO search process ACTUALLY went down… and oh yeah, the massive transformation that’s happened at Uber over the past few years. When Dara took over the company it was bleeding huge sums of cash, losing share to competitors and embroiled in one of the biggest corporate controversies in recent memory. Fast forward to today and it’s turned cashflow positive while also having tripled revenue to over $30B (on $120B in GMV) and solidified its rideshare dominance in the US. And in perhaps the biggest change, it’s done it all while staying out of the headlines. Tune in!

    ACQ2 Show + LP Program:

    Links

    Sponsors:
    Pilot: https://bit.ly/acquiredpilot24
    Statsig: https://bit.ly/acquiredstatsig24
    Crusoe: https://bit.ly/acquiredcrusoe

    Note: Acquired hosts and guests may hold assets discussed in this episode. This podcast is not investment advice, and is intended for informational and entertainment purposes only. You should do your own research and make your own independent decisions when considering any financial transactions.