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Luck is the residue of design” Branch Rickey

Grab your coffee or boba. It's time to talk Augur.

First off, I just published a quick read called Augur's Filppening. Check it out.

Effective DeFi Messaging

Note: If you don't care about crypto or DeFi, feel free to skip to the next section where I talk about my new trade on the 2020 election.

I recently looked at what it will take for Augur to reach beyond crypto “natives” and bring mainstream users onboard. 

Bringing newbies into DeFi involves a few layers, including product, liquidity, and user acquisition efforts. Another dimension that is critical but often overlooked, is messaging.

I’ve worked before with Augur and other projects on messaging, and I think that Augur is strong on this front, compared to most DeFi projects. 

I haven't talked about messaging here before, so I want to zoom in on that today and look at 5 Rules for Effective Messaging in DeFi.

1. Kill the Crypto Jargon 

Many DeFi projects toss around crypto lingo like “trustless” and “permissionless”. If they only want to attract crypto natives, this may be harmless. Otherwise, the jargon is some mix of irrelevant, confusing, and boring. 

It doesn’t draw people in. It puts them to sleep. 

For example, if I’m a mainstream user who knows nothing about crypto, my gut reactions to common crypto terms may look something like this:

“Trustless” — say what? sounds like something I can’t trust.

“Permissionless” — dafuq?

“Censorship-resistant” — why do I care?

“Protocol” — boooooring.

“peer-to-peer” — hmmm sounds like some janky, disorganized mess…

“Liquidity” — say what? (Except for folks coming from finance/trading backgrounds)

“Decentralized” hmm clumsy word and who cares anyway? 

Decentralization (and censorship resistance) is what enables the killer features, it’s not the feature!

For example, Augur is superior because it has no trade limits and lower fees. Censorship-resistance + decentralization enable these features, but they are not the selling point!

If a DeFi product is actually better than its centralized equivalents, users shouldn’t even need to be aware that what they’re using is decentralized. All they need to know is how it is better, not why.

Look at for a good example of avoiding crypto jargon. 

2. Laser Focus on Your Target Market

Product/market fit is everything. Yet, DeFi projects are often fuzzy about who they’re targeting and vague messaging. They don’t get specific either because they want to appeal to everybody or they don’t know their product/market fit…or don’t have one.

But specificity wins when it comes to messaging. To appeal to everybody is to appeal to nobody. 

As Confucius said, “He who chases two hares, catches none.”

Chase a thousand, and you may end up with a broken leg. 

Augur is zooming in right now on its initial market fit of high-stakes political bettors, especially around the 2020 election cycle.

Augur can be used for many things beyond political outcomes and even many things beyond betting, but right here right now, this is the focus. This is the target market. This is the beachhead.

One major caveat in the case of crypto, is that protocols like Augur need to focus on two layers of “user acquisition”: end users and devs building on (using) the protocol. While the focus may be end users, it’s important to speak to devs too, which demands a different sort of messaging. That’s a topic for another day… 

3. Distill the Why

Communicate what the product delivers for this market. What are the one or two value propositions that matter above all?

How does it beat existing alternatives? What can they get from your product they can’t get anywhere else? 

Effective messaging zooms in on the one or two key selling points. 

Augur has many advantages — you can create a market with a few clicks, without anyone’s permission — but only one or two features matter for the target user: no betting limits and low fees. 

These may not be the most important things for Augur in the long run, but they are the most important features for product/market fit right here right now. And that’s all that matters. 

4. Use Actionable Copy

Good messaging, and especially good copy, is actionable. It drives users toward a crystal clear Call to Action, whether that be making their first trade or joining an email list. 

The Call to Action is then relentlessly tested and iterated. This starts to get beyond the realm of messaging, but it’s key. Messaging should be results-driven. Last year, I worked with the Augur team to A/B test different copy and I expect these efforts will ramp up with v2. 

Messaging also serves a broader function of branding and *positioning*, though this may be less relevant for some crypto projects. Branding may be king where you have undifferentiated products (Pepsi vs. Coke) and companies that want to own the end user (Apple). These traits apply to varying degrees in crypto. Regardless, building a strong position in the (prospective) users' mind is critical. 

5. Show Don’t Tell 

Image, video, and concrete examples win over words. 

For example, Augur can use words like “no limits” or “limitless” or more catchy phrases like “Bet a Buck or Bet a Billion” to convey its value prop. But once v2 launches, it can do more than tell: it can show. 

For instance, it can have a ticker of the biggest recent/real-time bets or a display of the top 5 biggest trades of the day. Or maybe a table comparing the liquidity on offer on PredictIt vs. Augur for the top markets (it can also compare the odds and fees). 

Or to get more concrete — humans are bad at visualizing large numbers — show a digital stack of 20 dollar bills to visualize these figures. If 50k is on offer on an Augur market, the stack will be about 60 times higher than PredictIt’s.

Or just show a GIF of a user plugging in a mega bet on the Augur UI. This conveys the value prop and shows how simple it is to use. 


Maybe one reason more DeFi projects don’t follow these guidelines is that they require sacrifice. To avoid crypto jargon, you must sacrifice technical precision. To focus on your Number One selling point, you must omit everything else. To target your most promising market fit, you must put aside other markets.

People don’t like sacrifice. 

But without sacrifice, there is no success. Hmm sounds like something else Confucius would say…
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Trading Update: Bloomy > Bernie 

You can see my Augur trade history here.

As things quiet down on v1, I’ve focused my trading on PredictIt, though I also have some trades on Augur's Iowa Caucus market.

In the last few days, I’ve made my first large trade in a while, picking up shares of Bloomberg in Super Tuesday states like Virginia, North Carolina, and Texas in the 5 to 10 cent range. 

This trade has as much to do with Bernie as it does with Bloomy. Let me explain…

Things are looking good for Bernie in Iowa right now. But are they looking .65 good? That’s the price his shares are trading at on PI and Augur, implying a 65% shot at victory. 538’s model, on the other hand, gives him 37% odds. I think reality is somewhere in between.

So while I’m bullish Bernie, I’m not .65 bullish. Is there any way to go long Bernie without paying for these overpriced shares? Are there any markets that are not (over) pricing in the odds of Bernie taking Iowa? 

I think so. 

Let’s play out the scenario. If Bernie wins (convincingly) in Iowa, he almost definitely takes New Hampshire and likely Nevada. 

At this point, middle-of-the-roaders and the Democratic party establishment start freaking out. They need to back someone who can beat Bernie, and they need to do this fast. So where does their support coalesce around? 

Biden? He’s just lost two or three elections which sucks the life out of his chief selling point: being “electable.” Buttigieg or Warren? They’ve shown minimal support beyond white, educated voters, which you need for Super Tuesday and beyond. 

Meanwhile, there’s a candidate lurking in the background who’s middle of the road, has quietly been ticking up in national and Super Tuesday state polls, has shown some traction with non-white voters and is perceived as "electable" in the General. Oh, and while his rivals have been shuffling around Iowa farmhouses, he’s been pouring millions of ad dollars into Super Tuesday states. 

Look at the recent spikes in Bloomberg’s ad spending in Super Tuesday States. There’s no competition. 


North Carolina:

I looked at ad spending in every Super Tuesday state. Same thing across the board.  

And one more thing, who would be the ultimate Bernie foe, his sharpest contrast? A billionaire. (No, sorry, not you Mr. Steyer).

Do I think Bloomy will win the nomination? No. But I think that his Super Tuesday shares will soar if Bernie does well in the early states. In case Bernie doesn’t take Iowa, I've hedged with some other candidates on Guesser's Iowa market. 

Let’s see what happens…

Note: this isn't trading advice, just a look at what I'm up to. I probably have no idea what I'm talking about here. 

Say Hi

Thanks for reading, guys. Feel free to say hi with any thoughts or questions, and I hope you have a great rest of the week.

Happy predicting,


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None of this should be construed as investment advice but just some thoughts. Remember that both holding Ether and trading on Augur is high risk.

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