I first started writing this blog, or some variation of it in 2018 under the name “Protocol Weekly”. It was meant as a growth hack for my first startup and a way for me to reach out to teams that I admired and liked in the space. What I didn’t realise is, it’d stick with me for many more years to come around. You can still read some of these on my Medium.
The idea was simple: reach out to teams and get them to provide updates of what they did that week and then send it out. It was actually inspired from Eric Meltzer who had a newsletter called Proof of Work. I’m not sure what happened to him. I checked his Twitter and he checked out of the game 2 years ago. Anyways, thank you for the inspiration (if you’re reading this)!
It’s strange. As I reflect back writing this, it’s crazy just how hard it is to stick around and keep doing the same thing year over year. Not because of the commitment and discipline, but just the harshness of being in this industry. When I started writing, the only other blog that still exists from today is decentralised.co (shoutout to Joel and the team for going strong after many years as well) and probably Arthur Hayes.
Most people who write in this space stop for a variety of reasons: getting too rich, losing faith in the industry, losing intellectual curiosity or just starting the next stage in their life (starting a family). It’s sad though because so much of crypto’s knowledge is tribal and as we have someone fade, that collection of history fades as well. Half the issue of this industry is that most people learn the hard way rather than reading from those that came before them.
Anyways, I got a little side-tracked. Going back to the history of this blog. Over the months and years, the teams started to provide shorter and shorter updates and my commentary started to get longer and longer. At the same time, I became interested in DeFi quite a bit — so I rebranded from Protocol Weekly to DeFi Weekly. This was the blog post where I announced it.
Shoutout to CoinJazeera for some of the most entertaining blogs from that era. If you weren’t around, then this probably won’t make sense
The rebrand to DeFi Weekly also coincided with the time that I shut down my last startup and started working full-time at Immutable. My motive for the time was to learn to become a better investor and share my thesis for investments online. Here’s my thesis on ETH.
Looking back, this was probably one of the most important things I did for my future. The loop between investing and writing is so strong that I would love to see more research done around it. During that time, I managed to have a lot of investors reach out to me because they found my writing interesting and were wondering who I was. The other bit here was my interest in DeFi meant I was writing articles that were cutting-edge at the time.
For example, of the first DeFi exploits that ever happened was with Andre and Curve (before it became really large). I spent time on the phone with all the DeFi people you know of today and debugging what happened. Reading this today, I’m still proud of the quality of work I put out back then.
During this time, one of my favourite writers was Tony Sheng and his blog. If you want some real OG DeFi writing, his blog is the place to be. He’s still around but unfortunately stopped maintaining his blog. During this time I got lucky and interviewed some of the most prolific people in crypto history. My Degen Spartan interview is pretty fascinating to look back on. All of his top picks, if you invested then, and held on today would be up multiples of 10. Right place, right time kind of vibes looking back
As the months passed by, I ended up starting ARCx and announced it first on this blog. It was a pretty magical time as it was the birth of DeFi Summer. I didn’t realise just how succinct I had gotten at explaining very technical crypto concepts and how much the space needed it. My Youtube channel which I used for explaining concepts and that I linked to this blog grew to thousands of subscribers pretty quickly: https://www.youtube.com/@DeFiWeekly
Looking back, I underestimated how much work launching a new startup takes and the challenges that come with it. I still managed to write articles consistently (not on a weekly basis, but more on a fortnightly basis). During this time I put out some bangers that I still reference back to this day:
As DeFi started to become stale and my interests began to lie more in identity, data, being a founder and random philosophy — I rebranded again! This time, just renaming the blog to my name.
Not the most exciting title but the one that gave me the most flexibility. If I’m being honest, my writing took a bit of a nose dive from here as I spent time figuring out what people care about reading and what I’m good at writing. Some pieces weren’t the best in that, but at least I didn’t stop writing. That’s been my only goal. Whatever happens, don’t stop writing.
As what we were doing at ARCx started to make more sense and I started learning valuable insights from operating in the space, I managed to start producing articles that were far more interesting and resonated to real problems facing the industry. These articles are the ones around airdrops, CAC/LTV and more. They’re the results of years of hard work and investigation.
While writing this blog post I forgot myself just how many twists and turns there’ve been in this journey. I also forgot how many people that I used to know online, don’t exist anymore or have moved on. In some ways it feels a bit lonely being one of the few left from a certain era or generation of crypto. I still have plenty of friends from that time but the ones who used to write or be quite public, have mainly gone. It also heightens my respect for those that keep going and are still alive today (eg. Brian Armstrong).
This industry is really harsh and surviving it through all the volatility can be a real challenges. The graveyard of those who used to be in the arena is abnormally higher in crypto and there isn’t even a graveyard to inspect them all. It’s also interesting to see how you as a person change as you go through the years and how writing gives you a strong recount of that.
So, what’s next? Well a few things on my agenda for this year:
I’m trying to establish a habit of writing everyday. It takes about 10 years to become a world class writer (looking at Matt Levine, Ben Thompson and Paul Graham here). I’m about half way through my journey. If I can step up my frequency this should hopefully make me better faster. While I know I can’t write every-day for sure, at least trying to will increase my content frequency. This more raw content, I’ll be paywalling since I don’t want to fill my free readers’ inboxes with work that isn’t my most polished.
Writing more about the work I do and what I’m building. At ARCx we’ve pivoted so many times that most people don’t really know what we do anymore. That’s going to change this year and you’ll hopefully see the captivating problems we’re trying to solve in the realms of data, identity and reputation.
Links back to #1, but build more discipline and systems around my content. I’ve been kind of bootlegging it for the past 2-3 years since the startup has taken most of the living force out of me. It still does but at least I have more resources and experience in place. I want to raise the standards of this blog by having high quality visuals, more types of content (solo podcasts) and get better at cross-promoting my work.
(Optional) Depending on how the business goes, I may be going to a lot more conferences this year and flying around a lot more. If this does happen, get ready for lots of meetups. The first meetup for this blog happened in Paris this year and was one of the best meetups I’ve been to (totally not biased haha). Connecting people is such a joy.
There are some lofty goals in the above but I always believe that by striving for the moon, even if you miss – you’ll land on some stars.
Whenever I get asked by someone on what tips I have to write online. I offer this single one: just do it and keep doing it. Nothing else matters. Far too many write one perfect post and then stop posting after 4 weeks. Like 99.9%.
Last but not least, thank you to everyone who’s been reading for the past few years. You’re kind of like my thousands of friends and support me along my journey from all corners of the planet. I want to try to be more authentic on this blog and share more of me. It just takes more courage I guess? One of the best feeling is when I go to a conference and I meet someone new who actually knows my blog already and we form an insta-bond.
Without this blog I wouldn’t be able to live the life I do, so thank you.
I’m excited for another year with you all.
Read More: kermankohli.substack.com