Opinion: Killer Whales misses

Killer Whales is an entertainment product co-produced by HELLO Labs and Binance-owned CoinMarketCap, which borrows heavily from the concept and visual language of the more popular shows Shark Tank, Dragon’s Den, and Tigers of Money

Just like in Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den, Killer Whales’ entrepreneurs take the stage, pitch their idea to a panel of investors, and field questions. Then, the investors either dismiss the idea or begin negotiating the terms of their potential input. Sometimes, they’ll even compete with their fellow sharks to provide the most enticing terms to the entrepreneurs.

So, what exactly do these entrepreneurs stand to gain if they’re chosen by one of the ‘Whales’? The answer appears to be ‘mentorship’ from the judges. Indeed, during the first episode, Ran Neuner nominates himself as an advisor to one of the projects.

This is one of the biggest differences viewers familiar with Shark Tank will note: there’s no discussion of terms of investment because there is no investment on the table.

Shark Tank already suffers from the problem of businesses going on the show without any serious intention of receiving investment, hoping instead that the promotional value will be enough for years’ worth of Instagram ad campaigns. These instances can sometimes benefit the show itself, with the ‘Sharks’ calling out these opportunistic business owners and providing the necessary friction to keep things interesting.

Read more Opinion: Cryptocurrency reality shows are awful

In Shark Tank, you can receive actual investment (though the deals often fall apart after the show), while in Killer Whales, you can receive mentorship from a group of people who have little valuable mentorship to provide. This feels like it compounds the problem of entrepreneurs primarily seeking out a venue for self-promotion.

The first firm we are introduced to in the first episode is Lumara. Lumara is a real-estate platform that, in part, hoped to enable people to “buy property with bitcoin.” Currently, it has enabled 0 transactions and has 20 houses listed on the platform, most of which look to be targeting Bitcoiners who may want to relocate to El Salvador.

Today, the company looks to have pivoted from ‘premier crypto real estate marketplace‘ to a ‘leading nationwide developer of container homes‘ with no mention of crypto. Sixty percent of the judges thought the original idea would ‘sink.’

The second firm we’re introduced to is Pundi X, a Singapore-based crypto exchange that primarily offers a cryptocurrency payment terminal. You can use its token to publish ‘apps’ to the Android 7.0-based terminal. Android 7.0 was released in 2016. Sixty percent of judges thought this idea would ‘swim.’

The third firm was Ape Water, which sells (you guessed it) water that has a disinterested-looking ape on it. This is the firm that excited Neuner so much that he volunteered as an advisor on the spot, immediately seeing the potential of expensive simian-branded hydration. This was the ‘winning’ firm for this episode, with all the judges choosing to ‘swim’ in the Ape Water.

The final firm was Plastiks, a firm that is trying to figure out how to sell companies certificates on the blockchain that symbolize an effort to remove or reduce plastic. These entrepreneurs have a straightforward pitch for why it’s important for their firm to succeed: “If we fail, the world is fucked,” they declared.

Plastiks also claims to have some type of investment or relationship with Google, though it seemed somewhat unclear. The firm’s owners definitely referred to ‘investment,’ which led to the judges talking about the cap table, which would mean it was an investment in equity. However, there were a couple of moments where it seemed that they actually meant that Google purchased some of the plastic credits. Protos has reached out to both Google and Plastiks to clarify and will update if we hear back. Sixty percent of the judges decided to ‘swim’ with this firm.

Less Killer Whales, more Filler Whales

This first episode didn’t contain any significant discussion about these projects’ revenue or profitability. Stripped of that type of detail and lacking the financial stakes of investment, the whole thing felt a little empty.

Mario Nawfal takes a break from hosting X Spaces about Elon Musk to mention that he is seriously worried about Liquid Death as a competitor to Ape Water, but he swims nonetheless.

CryptoWendyO swims with every project because why not?

Ran Neuner knows what it’s like to lose because of all the money he put into a Ponzi scheme, which failed, so he swims with Plastiks because the entrepreneur has failed before. 

None of these are folks that anyone seems remotely excited to have on their side, with some of the Whales even joking about not wanting to work with each other.

None of it feels like it means anything; there’s no excitement, no disappointment, and not enough insight to make even a single moment worth watching. Perhaps the different judges in later episodes would be more entertaining, but I doubt anyone will see them.

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