The first part, buying a little slice of the company, requires Apple's participation. The speculation part, however, doesn't. I could write a webapp that simulates the stock market, declare that it contains X "shares" of Apple at Y price, and people could speculate on them, much as they do in the real stock market, all without Apple knowing or caring.
That is, of course, exactly what Bitclout is: it replicates the "bet this company will do well" part of the stock market, without the "own a little slice of this company" part. But for people, rather than companies.
I draw this analogy in order to try to answer the question: is Bitclout really stupid? And it seems like the counter-intuitive answer is, maybe not totally. These days it seems like investors don't really care about the ownership conferred by stock. I mean, they do for a small startup or LLC, but for blue chip stocks with no dividend, the "ownership" part is kind of vestigial; they're just vehicles for speculation.
So what would happen if you made your own "stock market" app, where people could speculate on "shares" of stock that don't include any actual ownership? Would it work? It seems like it might. There are certainly problems: for one, there's no moat - nothing stops 100 developers from making 100 more such speculation sites. For another, they wouldn't be rational; my Apple "stock" might go up when the real AAPL stock goes down, for one reason or another. But the real stock market seems kind of irrational at times too.
Not sure where I'm going with this; Bitclout still seems stupid to me, but less so than when I started typing this...
I don't know how I feel about them. Actually, I do know how I feel about them: instinctive distaste and sometimes revulsion. But that's just an emotion. What do I think about them? Is it all just a microcosm of finance in general? Is pointless zero-sum gambling really so bad, given it induces a sense of excitement and entertainment, if nothing else? I'm not quite sure, at the moment.
You'd get shut down by the SEC for running a "bucket shop".
Let's say someone like Elon Musk wanted to launch a personal IPO. He raises $1B for a share of his personal wealth. There's instantly a value floor, because if his total market valuation becomes less than the amount he raised he can always buy back his own stock and he gets a bargain on the money raised.
E.g. if the IPO price was $1 per share, and now the market is $0.90 per share, he effectively gets a 10% discount on money he originally raised back at the IPO -- hence the value floor.
Bitclout is nothing but a popularity contest with the participants hoping a greater fool will buy in after they do.
This is exactly the kind of thing you read before a bubble pops.
This already exists. It's called a CFD (Contract For Difference)
You don't have to exercise the contract, you can just sell it to someone else.
That's not accurate though. It's a bet that the expectation of future dividends from the stock will rise. Popular stocks these days don't really do dividends, but that's because they can better spend the money to grow rather than pay out.
But there's still the general sense it might happen eventually and that's why it somewhat makes sense to give these companies high valuations. A fake share has a guaranteed lifetime dividend of $0.
> In one of his famous letters to shareholders, Buffett said that perhaps Berkshire Hathaway might institute a dividend 10 or 20 years down the road. This was in 2018 when Buffett was 88.
This article just reiterates exactly what I said. Berkshire can do better than just giving money back to shareholder by investing the money in itself. The reason shareholders are ok with this is because the growth fuels the potential for larger future dividends. Even if the company grows until the heat death of the universe, the logic behind increasing the valuation of the company is that the ability of a company to give dividends has theoretically increased. You don't need to bet on actually receiving them. But the stock has value because if the company stops growing, the company will pay out instead.
If it were all about size, then a shrinking company would have negative value. This is obviously incorrect.
* Closed source
* You can buy but not sell tokens
* Anonymous, unaccountable developers
* They send your seed phrase to their servers 
This is a blatant scam, and New Yorker should be ashamed of themselves for giving it oxygen.
 No, really, they do this. https://mobile.twitter.com/_prestwich/status/137996387179279...
Its sad how many articles get made on how Bitcoin is a scam where it has potential to transform the way people use traditional finance/money/investing. But an obvious scam like this gets front page praise.
Also, BitClout uploads your private seed/keys to their server on every API request - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27467634
Everything about BitCloud screams scam and as the comment linked above said, the New Yorker should be ashamed of themselves for publishing garbage like this.
"Cory Doctorow: Wealth Inequality Is Even Worse in Reputation Economies" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=11226549
Previous threads specific to cryptocurrency implementations:
"A New Digital Currency Whose Value Is Based on Your Reputation" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=8053051
"Whuffie – how to build a reputation currency in Ethereum? (2014)" https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13427028
Wow, the article read like it was written by BitClout PR. Stories like this with no balance are incredibly irresponsible.
Glosses over the fact that its closed source and anonymous founders. Towards the end they also mention that there's no official way to get your money out:
> When he discovered that there was no official way to get his money out of BitClout, he saw an opportunity.
Is it just me that sees all these things as red flags? The article compares the founder to Bitcoin's founder, although they do mention the possibility of "the beginnings of grift"
> It is unclear why the main founder insists on anonymity, though it may have something to do with mimicking Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by the unknown founder of Bitcoin. Whatever the reason, diamondhands runs the risk of creating a kind of Elizabeth Holmes effect: like her Steve Jobs-inspired black turtleneck, the BitClout founder’s mimicry of Nakamoto may appear less like a signal of validity and more like the beginnings of a grift.
> (On June 12th, the supply of bitclout will be capped at fewer than 11.5 million coins, at which point the price of the currency will be determined purely by supply and demand.)
It's no coincidence this came out 2 days before the advertised "deflation bomb". What happened to journalism?
[EDIT] I think the prices are made up... Someone is "worth" $1,000, but you can't get your money out and they mint new coins. Every account has a different amount of coins associated with it. So if I want to buy a share, they (BitClout) just pick a price, they mint new supply and that's the new price. Again, you could have coins "worth" a lot, but that doesn't mean you can get that value. I tried checking out BitSwap, the exchange mentioned in the article, but there's no market, just a button to "Get Priority Access". It seems incredibly scammy.
Its unfortunate that there are a ton of articles on how Bitcoin is a scam where (despite its flaws) it has potential to transform the world, but an obvious scam like this gets glowing press.
It seems like the article is written to make the reader to feel like they missed out. This is almost certainly not the case. I actually happened to have come across Bitclout around the same time the article stated Sigil Wen did. And a few friends and I all put in a couple hundred dollars worth of btc into it, exactly as Sigil Wen did. Over the next couple of months most of us saw our bitclout balance drop. No one had a balance grow to thousands, then millions. We all put those bitclout tokens into various celebrity accounts and they mostly dropped over time. Sigil Wen is either one of the lucky ones or he knows a lot more than this article leads you to believe. A quick search for him shows he eventually became the founder of BitSwap, so take what you will about what this article might be getting you to think.
It's unfortunate that anecdotes like these will cause so many more people to lose their money, who don't understand that they're gambling, and with more than they can afford to lose.
I wonder if that huge transaction volume is the same money going round and round.
While you can't redeem BitClout tokens from BitClout, two sites claim to have a secondary market. One is "down for maintenance." The other has an order book with one ask and zero buy offers.
(The URL is "join circles" but I'm not telling you to join, I haven't even joined, just sharing the info...):
There it is.
Your literal ponzie scheme can't collapse if you don't even implement withdrawals.
This is nothing revolutionary: The Hollywood Stock Exchange was a similar project