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: Delta CEO Ed Bastian refers to the Delta variant by its formal name, B.1.617.2, Damien Hirst challenges our perceptions of NFTs and “real” art, and Silicon Valley reacts to the growing trend of hiring globally and abandoning “return to work” altogether.
1. B.1.617.2 Air Lines
Much like Corona beer has taken on a whole new significance since the pandemic, Delta Air Lines has been hit with some unfortunate PR-by-association from the Delta variant. The company is taking precautions to encourage employees to get vaccinated by raising its monthly insurance premium by $200 for those who are unvaccinated.
Delta CEO Ed Bastian made a statement regarding the policy, but refrained from calling the Delta variant by its common name. Instead, he used its formal name, the B.1.617.2 variant, to avoid drawing attention to his own company’s name. Unfortunately, the ploy backfired — Delta began trending on Twitter as users made jokes about the odd name choice.
Adrian Hon, CEO of gaming startup Six to Start, shared the tweet, adding, “Please, Mr. B.1.617.2 is my father's name. Call me Delta.”
2. Damien Hirst’s art: NFT or IRL?
For those of you who thought NFTs were just a fad, think again — NFT trading is actually hitting record numbers. Sales volumes recorded on OpenSea, the largest NFT trading platform, hit $1.9 billion in August alone, a far cry from March's $148 million at the height of media coverage about the tokens.
Even one of the biggest artists on the planet, Damien Hirst, is getting into NFTs. Matt Hougan, CIO of crypto startup Bitwise, shared a tweet thread on why Hirst’s foray into NFTs is significant.
The project itself is rather unique: Titled “The Currency,” each of the planned 10,000 NFTs will correspond to an actual painting. Once buyers make their purchase (each work is only $2,000), they’ll have a year to decide whether to keep the painting or the NFT. Whichever one they don’t choose will be destroyed.
Hougan explained why Hirst’s work could bridge the gap between NFT buyers and art buffs. “What’s wonderful [about] Hirst's The Currency — particularly for non-NFT-natives — is how it is structured,” he wrote. “Hirst created 10,000 actual paintings of dots and put them into a vault, then auctioned NFTs linked to each painting.”
“But by forcing people to choose the NFT or the painting, Hirst makes people confront the “value” of art,” Hougan continued. “Which will be more valuable? A small painting of dots you can hang on a wall, or an NFT you can own that raises fundamental questions about the nature of art?”
Hirst’s project is already proving its worth. In the month since it began, $26 million in sales have been recorded from the NFTs.
3. No return to work?
For many startups, the concept of “return to work” doesn’t mean “return to office.” In fact, Silicon Valley is hiring globally for its top talent, with no plans to ever bring workers into a full time office. A tweet from VC Jeff Richards sparked a conversation about companies not looking to bring in a team.
“Conv w CEO last night ‘There is no “return to work,’” Richards wrote. “We've hired more than half our team in the last 18 months. They are all over the country, and we don't have office space. I don't know what the future model will be, but it certainly will look nothing like it did in 2019…’”
TechCrunch reporter Alex Wilhelm replied, “100% of early-stage startups that I talk to today are hiring globally by default, no offices in the future. IMHO raising equity capital to pay rent on office space will be as archaic as using equity capital to buy server racks in the pre-AWS days very soon.”
Not everyone agreed with Richards’ take, including Ale Resnik, CEO of real estate startup Belong, who replied, “Contra, I find that top performers with leadership potential are really pushing for more face to face collaboration. In fact our top top hire is requesting in person all hands every week.”