Welcome to another edition of Business Twitter, where we collect the best tweets to come out of Silicon Valley so you don’t have to. This article is part of a newsletter — if you want a weekly Business Twitter roundup sent to your inbox every Friday, subscribe here.
This week: A transgender Netflix employee speaks out against the company for refusing to take down a controversial Dave Chappelle special, a serial entrepreneur explains why dog ramps are such a hot business, Coinbase founder Brian Armstrong unveils his company’s policy proposal for regulating digital assets, and a Wharton professor shows how startups with more Twitter influence tend to get more money.
1. Teaching an old dog new tricks
Not all startups have to sound cool. Case in point: Alpha Paw, a company that makes dog ramps. You know, the kind for dogs that are too small or old to reach high couches or beds.
For entrepreneur Ramon van Meer, buying the company in 2018 for $300,000 was a great way to grow a business without having to start from scratch. Since then, he writes that he’s sold $35 million worth of dog ramps. But why dog ramps?
“It's a very specific problem for a relatively small but targeted audience that you can explain very well in a video,” van Meer wrote in a viral thread. “Similar [to] real estate, I look for ‘crappy fixer-uppers’ in ‘up-and-coming areas.’ I know how to fix and increase value, I am not great [at] building.”
Van Meer wrote about the mistakes the original founders made when running Alpha Paw — there were no Facebook ads, no email marketing, and a “crappy” website. Van Meer’s first fixes were to revamp the site by moving it to Shopify, update ad copy, and get emails out to potential customers.
His strategies helped build a so-so business into a powerhouse, and now Alpha Paw is expanding into other pet products like dog food.
2. Dave Chappelle’s Netflix controversy
Dave Chappelle is one of Netflix’s biggest stars. But due to his comments on transgender people in his latest comedy special, “The Closer,” Chappelle is facing backlash from critics and the LGBTQ community. Netflix is also drawing criticism for not pulling the special from its platform altogether.
One transgender employee’s tweet thread went on the topic went viral. Terra Field, a software engineer at Netflix, laid out a list of Black trans women who were killed this year, linking Chappelle’s comments to real world violence.
She added: “Promoting TERF ideology (which is what we did by giving it a platform yesterday) directly harms trans people, it is not some neutral act. This is not an argument with two sides. It is an argument with trans people who want to be alive and people who don't want us to be.”
Field also crashed an executive meeting along with two other employees, leading to a brief suspension that made the company look even worse in the eyes of critics. All three employees are reinstated now, but Netflix has since doubled down on its stance, with founder Reed Hastings telling employees that Chappelle’s multi-year contract isn’t changing anytime soon.
3. Coinbase’s Digital Asset Policy Proposal
In its latest move to take the problem of regulation into its own hands, Coinbase drafted a policy proposal for how the US should regulate digital assets. Founder Brian Armstrong has expressed his frustration with the SEC before, so it’s not exactly a surprise that he’d attempt to influence the policies affecting his company.
“We hope [the proposal] will help chart a course for clear regulation of cryptocurrency and web 3.0 in the US. It's critical to bring clarity to this space and ensure America remains a financial leader,” Armstrong wrote in a thread.
Coinbase evidently put a lot of effort into ensuring the proposal would be taken seriously by lawmakers. Armstrong added: “We completed more than 75 meetings with stakeholders in government, industry, and academia to help shape this proposal, and we feel it represents a consensus point of view. It's inclusive and democratic by design.”
For a more detailed look at the proposal, check out this thread by Coinbase Chief Policy Officer Faryar Shirzad.
4. Twitter great for VC funding?
Wharton professor Ethan Mollick is an expert on entrepreneurship and business education. But there’s some things that an MBA can’t teach an aspiring startup founder, like the power of Twitter for raising venture capital.
In a recent tweet, Mollick shared an academic paper correlating Twitter-savvy startup/entrepreneur accounts with a bump in VC funding.
“Twitter really does have influence with venture capitalists,” Mollick wrote. “In fact, this paper shows it can help startups make up for bad networks. If your (non-NYC, Boston or Silicon Valley) startup has a standard deviation more influence on Twitter than average, you raise $1.5M more from VC!”
Back in August, Mollick shared another paper on more benefits Twitter has for entrepreneurs, writing, “Technologies that are hot on Twitter get higher valuations, though they don't lead to more successful exits. Overall, the effect is small & VCs pay more attention to stronger signals.”