Failed presidential and New York mayoral candidate Andrew Yang has swaddled himself in the sometimes comforting yet constantly stifling confines of Web3 and crypto. After years of trying to get people on board with the idea of universal basic income, Yang has since pivoted to crowing about how digital currencies are the best incentive to get regular folks’ voices heard in politics. Now it seems Yang is also betting that more people will volunteer in beneficial projects if they’re incentivized with a crypto carrot on a digital string.
As first noticed by CoinDesk, new filings sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission point to Yang’s involvement in yet another crypto-based organization. Apparently, Yang is the director and an executive of a project called Samarity. That enterprise is reportedly being headed by former Yang campaign manager Zach Graumann, who’s listed as their CEO. Graumann is also listed as the founder of Suit Up, a nonprofit company that connects corporations with schools for volunteer learning and work explanation seminars.
According to the Samarity trademark listing (just click on basic search and type in “Samarity”), the project focuses on promoting other charity projects by offering up cryptocurrencies for people participating in charitable services. Apparently, Samarity wants to offer incentives to get involved with volunteer work via incentive reward programs while offering an “online marketplace” for volunteers. Of course charity and volunteering is often its own reward, but why not also be paid in constantly fluctuating digital currencies as well?
The Samarity trademark was filed last year, though the project does not have many details other than what’s offered by these scant details in U.S. filings. The filing shows Samarity was offering a total $1.5 million equity offering starting Aug. 25, and so far one unnamed individual has taken up the group on $1 million of that stake.
Though this is well in line with his past efforts to remain in the limelight after his failed 2020 presidential run and his crushing defeat in the 2021 New York mayoral race. Earlier this year, Yang announced his new firm Lobby3 was intending to use blockchain technology for political lobbying. Lobby3 is technically a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), which promises those who buy in can get a seat at the voting table to determine how they try to influence Washington politics. Of course, buying even more of a stake in the DAO gives you even more “perks” like the ability to get into inner YangGang chat circles and vote on which events the titular Yang attends every year.
Yang did not immediately respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment.
Yang is just one of several folks who have tried to come back into the limelight with Web3-based projects as of the past year or so, but the man who once ran a very successful online-based campaign promoting UBI has long been into crypto.
Though only now are we seeing just how far he’s ducked down the Web3 rabbit hole. When Yang was asked in an April CNBC interview whether all this talk of crypto was just a promotional tool, Yang said “if you can take people who have never heard of cryptocurrencies and actually put them in a position to benefit, than that would be good for people but also help broaden people’s conception of what this technology can do.”
All this talk of Web3 does seem to distract from Yang’s support for UBI or ranked choice voting, which whether you agree or disagree with the tenets of either position are still intended to offer more people more freedom to participate in democracy. However, forcing crypto into anything—from political advocacy to volunteering—instead incentivizes demand for digital goods that have little worth other than being sold to the next, “greater fool.” Instead of emphasizing doing good for society’s sake, it instead takes a much more cynically capitalistic view of humanity, that people will only do what needs to be done if there’s a gross profit to be made.