Adam Neumann’s Cult of ‘We’ Is Now the Cult of Web3


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WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann’s redemption story has begun, in accordance with Silicon Valley legend Marc Andreessen. His venture-capital agency has poured $350 million into Neumann’s residential real-estate startup Movement, citing the entrepreneur’s “classes discovered” — an understatement contemplating WeWork’s rollercoaster journey from $47 billion flexible-office large to its near-collapse.

Maybe unsurprisingly, there’s no point out of a smaller funding that can also be a redemption of types: Neumann’s championing of tokenized carbon credit through a startup known as Flowcarbon, which is apparently unaffiliated with Movement although each are backed by Andreessen Horowitz.

Whereas the $70 million in funds Flowcarbon raised in Could make it much less vital, the agency’s current delay of its cryptocurrency launch seems to be like a cautionary story. As frothy moonshot investing strikes from We to Web3, blockchains are too usually proffered as an answer to many issues: extreme jargon covers confusion about viable use circumstances and retail crypto-traders are susceptible to getting fleeced.

The thought behind FlowCarbon is predictably noble and utopian: Assist battle local weather change by fixing the opaque and fragmented marketplace for voluntary carbon credit issued by firms to buff their inexperienced credentials. “Goddess Nature Tokens” — $38 million of which have been reportedly bought as a part of the fundraising – would bundle collectively tokenized credit registered by initiatives like reforestation and discover consumers trying to offset their very own carbon footprint. Or, as Neumann stated final yr, generate income whereas serving to the setting.

However sticking a blockchain into the buying and selling course of seems to be loads like a hammer looking for a nail. The issue with the carbon-credit market is an absence of oversight and guidelines which have seen poor-quality credit get bought and re-sold with out lowering any carbon dioxide within the environment. Blockchains document, they don’t filter for rubbish: As carbon-offset program Gold Commonplace has put it, poorly-managed tokenization of carbon credit might find yourself both a waste of power or a “rip-off.”

This isn’t a brand new criticism of crypto, but it surely’s a obtrusive one as VC cash pours into Web3 with obscure and heady techno-optimism. Some $267 million was poured into local weather or carbon-related crypto offers in 2021 and one other $156 million this yr by means of early July, in accordance with knowledge cited by the Wall Avenue Journal. Explaining why creating an intangible crypto-asset out of an already-intangible carbon asset will “incentivize climate-positive behaviors” — as Andreessen Horowitz put it when asserting its funding in Flowcarbon — is beginning to sound as complicated as Neumann’s well-known description of the We model as “elevating the world’s consciousness.” 

Current tokenized carbon initiatives haven’t precisely incentivized behaviors of the constructive sort. The Dayingjiang III hydropower dam in China’s Yunnan province just lately bought tens of millions of carbon credit to nameless entities through crypto platform Toucan, in accordance with Bloomberg Information, regardless that it’s been working since 2006 — not a giant assist for the setting. The scope for abuse has develop into so apparent that nations are cracking down on offset offers, whereas Verra — a carbon-credit challenge register — has introduced a halt to tokenizations pending new guidelines.

Whereas Flowcarbon claims to have a extra discerning method to bundling belongings, it seems to be on paper like extra complexity and opacity somewhat than much less. There’s no proof that tradable carbon tokens behave any extra sensibly than the numerous different speculative cash on the market. Because the under value chart of 1 challenge, Klima DAO, reveals, being “backed” by carbon credit is not any safety in opposition to the bursting of a speculative bubble — and in addition suggests retail buyers are being taken for a probably harmful journey.

Clearly, there may be potential in cleansing up the inefficiencies of the carbon-credit market. But it surely’s not clear but why it is a downside that must be solved by this particular platform somewhat than different establishments like banks, that are constructing options of their very own through the Carbonplace platform. It’s somewhat ironic that the one apparent demand crypto companies may need for credit, specifically to offset wasteful crypto-mining, is never talked about.

So whereas consideration shifts to Neumann’s return to an apparently extra grounded and bricks-and-mortar world, full with the narrative of “classes discovered,” it’s value keeping track of the Goddess Nature Token as an indicator of the place the VC-powered cult of We finally ends up subsequent.

Extra From Different Writers at Bloomberg Opinion:

Greensill’s Ghost Will Hang-out the Finance World: Lionel Laurent

Police Ways Are Chilling India’s Crypto Winter: Andy Mukherjee

• This Crypto Winter Will Be Lengthy, Chilly and Harsh: Jared Dillian

This column doesn’t essentially mirror the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its house owners.

Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist masking digital currencies, the European Union and France. Beforehand, he was a reporter for Reuters and Forbes.

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