Gary Vee is exploiting fans at VeeCon

Gary Vaynerchuk runs a convention called VeeCon and rather than hire professionals they have chosen to rely on volunteer labor.


Crypto Critics’ Corner video on radicalization:

Crypto Critics’ Corner interview with münecat:

münecat’s video on Gary Vee:

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English Transcript:

00:00:00:01 - 00:00:25:29
Bennett Tomlin
Gary Vaynerchuk or Gary Vee, as he's known to his adoring fans, is the Internet's monument to the excesses of hustle culture, and he has been taking advantage of his fans. Gary is worth an estimated $200 million, and runs a popular Internet marketing firm that, based on Glassdoor reviews, seemed to survive by convincing young people to spend their youth earning bad money in the hopes that the Gary Vee halo effect will help their careers.

00:00:26:04 - 00:00:50:23
Bennett Tomlin
Now, we should be clear Glassdoor doesn't really verify their reviews, so it's possible these people didn't actually work there. But I think it shows you one portrait of how these people who allegedly work close to Gary finally experience. Gary Vee also has his own convention called VeeCon, which is very different than “that con Vee” which is something I might shout out if I bought one of these to get in.

00:00:50:23 - 00:01:11:15
Bennett Tomlin
Tickets for VeeCon were airdropped to purchasers of his VeeFriends series one NFT. If you are a fan of internet culture, you may remember VeeFriends as the NFT scheme. He was able to successfully shill to Mr. Beast and Mr. Beast was able to shill to other cryptocurrency stalwarts like Logan, Paul in front of their adoring audience of young fans.

00:01:11:18 - 00:01:23:25
Mr. Beast
So I've rolled the money into VeeFriends because Garrett, same thing, called me. He's like VeeFriends. I was like, I don't fucking know. But last time I made money, Sure, sir. So I basically sold them all and moved the money in the.

00:01:24:04 - 00:01:43:27
Bennett Tomlin
I got a chance to talk about that a little more in depth when I was interviewing münecat on Crypto Critics Corner. So check that out after this if you want if you want to get into VeeCon but you did not purchase one of those VeeFriends nfts you can still purchase tickets on the secondary market. Current floor price for those seems to be 0.22 ether, which is a little over $300.

00:01:43:28 - 00:02:07:29
Bennett Tomlin
Also, every secondary market sale of these tickets nets. Gary an additional 5%, which is pretty nice for him. So why am I talking about VeeCon to you today? Is it because of the nfts? I do sometimes gripe about nfts, but not today, at least not primarily. If you make it to the end of the video, we'll take like 60 seconds to talk about the Nfts deal.

00:02:08:01 - 00:02:35:28
Bennett Tomlin
We're talking about VeeCon. Because of some of their other practices. VeeCon is, and I’m reading this directly. A conference unlike any other for business, innovation, technology, marketing and popular culture. We are talking about how Gary Vaynerchuk, who again is worth over $200 million, is staffing his convention. But first, we need to talk about how Gary has instilled in his followers this belief in the value of hustle.

00:02:36:00 - 00:03:00:26
Bennett Tomlin
münecat referred to him as the youth pastor of capitalism in her excellent video, which feels like a particularly apt description. He evangelized this in his entire message is largely that if you work hard enough, you can achieve things which seems relatively harmless until you actually listen to him talk about it. He twists it into an entirely false thing where he uses this idea that working hard can lead to success.

00:03:01:03 - 00:03:03:27
Bennett Tomlin
To make claims like the internet solved racism.

00:03:04:06 - 00:03:11:02
Gary Vaynerchuk
The internet fixed racism. Internet doesn't give if you're black, white, transgender from Mars It’s a market

00:03:11:08 - 00:03:14:00
Bennett Tomlin
or that being poor is an advantage.

00:03:14:07 - 00:03:18:25
Gary Vaynerchuk
You know what I think is a better advantage than fucking being born into something. Being born into nothing.

00:03:19:05 - 00:03:39:26
Bennett Tomlin
Both of which are untrue. I understand that he is trying to get at a message that is something like your circumstances do not define you, and if you allow them to motivate you, then they may be the eventual reason for your success. But that does not at all address the very real and systemic barriers which exist for people that make it far harder for them to find success.

00:03:39:27 - 00:04:02:09
Bennett Tomlin
What is messaging does do is convince his fans that effort will be rewarded even if it doesn't seem like it at first. And importantly, if you do not achieve it, then it is your fault. This is very similar to a concept they talked about in a crypto critic's corner video where I was talking about how cryptocurrency often acts as an avenue to radicalization in part because of the way it traps people.

00:04:02:19 - 00:04:37:16
Bennett Tomlin
It shows them examples of extraordinary wealth that people have achieved and then gives them a message that if they fail to achieve it, it is in part their own fault. Multi-level marketing schemes often will equip very similar message, and it's part of how they're able to get to their vulnerable marks If you truly believe Gary, if you take him at his word, if you were one of his fans and you believe that anyone can achieve these things, if they are willing to sacrifice enough and work hard enough, that means if you have not succeeded, then you are not sacrificing enough and you are not working hard enough, which is just not true.

00:04:37:17 - 00:05:02:29
Bennett Tomlin
Success. No matter what is in part luck and cannot be directly replicated. Many of the people who work the hardest over their entire lives will end up dying destitute. And again, there are very serious and systemic barriers that make success easier for some people than for others. The problem with looking at examples of success is that you are missing out on all the data included in the failures.

00:05:02:29 - 00:05:27:01
Bennett Tomlin
In a famous example, Abraham Walden, the statistician during World War Two, was trying to figure out how to better reinforce bombers, realized that counterintuitively, he did not want to reinforce the parts that were most hit, but the parts that released hit because the only planes he got to see were the surviving planes. And so the ones that got shot in certain places still were able to survive and make it back to base.

00:05:27:03 - 00:05:59:03
Bennett Tomlin
If you focus too much on the examples of success and miss out on the failures, you will fail to notice that for every success there is almost always a substantially identical story of someone who failed. We try to create these narratives and believe that success is driven by the unique attributes of the person succeeding because we all want success and if we get it, we want to believe it was a product of our unique goodness, but often meaningful portions of success, if not the majority of it, is driven by happenstance and luck.

00:05:59:04 - 00:06:23:26
Bennett Tomlin
Motivational speakers like Gary that rely on creating this vision of success in convincing everyone they will be able to achieve that outcome. Getting back to VeeCon,VeeCon posted this tweet recently. There was one word that really jumped out at me in that tweet, and yes, it was volunteer. This is supposedly an innovative business in technology and marketing in popular culture convention run by a centimillionaire.

00:06:24:11 - 00:06:39:13
Bennett Tomlin
Why do they need volunteers? So I decided to click in and see what they were looking for. Oh, also for fun. I made an AI sound like Gary Vee to read these sections from the article. The voice is the AI. You'll be able to see the words from the article. I'll put them up on screen. Just wanted to be up front about that with you.

00:06:39:14 - 00:06:44:07
Bennett Tomlin
We can tells you that if you volunteer, you will have the opportunity to.

00:06:44:07 - 00:06:56:04
Gary Vaynerchuk
Connect with like minded individuals, gain valuable experience and contribute to the success of one of the most significant events in business, tech and Web3 community. Also, I'm worth over $200 million.

00:06:56:09 - 00:06:59:00
Bennett Tomlin
They continue further down stating that.

00:06:59:01 - 00:07:04:04
Gary Vaynerchuk
Attending events has become a regular occurrence in our daily lives. Also, I'm worth over $200 million.

00:07:04:12 - 00:07:14:26
Bennett Tomlin
Which is probably true for a lot of people. I've gone to events though not many and not regularly. Though I am not typical, it continues with from.

00:07:14:26 - 00:07:20:15
Gary Vaynerchuk
Festivals to conferences. We have seen it all. Also, I'm worth over $200 million and again.

00:07:20:26 - 00:07:33:01
Bennett Tomlin
I'm not the target here because those are things I generally try to avoid in favorite staring at a screen. In my pitch black sound treated office. So again, not typical. It continues.

00:07:33:08 - 00:07:39:26
Gary Vaynerchuk
However, experiencing behind the scenes is a whole new level of excitement. Also, I'm worth over $200 million.

00:07:39:28 - 00:07:56:26
Bennett Tomlin
Which again, I've never run an event anywhere near the size of VeeCon. But every event I was part of organizing in college was incredibly stressful and I did not find them exciting. But again, not the target market though perhaps the problem is I'm not fully appreciating the fact that.

00:07:57:01 - 00:08:29:16
Gary Vaynerchuk
The VeeCon volunteer program offers a unique opportunity to join the team connecting over 10,000 people in the web. Three business marketing industry. You will gain a front row seat to learn what it takes to put on a show and be a key player in providing the best experience for our community. Aside from contributing to the event's magic, you'll have the chance to network with like minded individuals who share your passion for technology, meet industry leaders, field experts and entrepreneurs, and engage in conversations to help you take the next step in your career.

00:08:30:01 - 00:08:41:16
Gary Vaynerchuk
If you're looking to start making valuable connections, volunteering at VeeCon is the perfect way to do so. Join us now and be a part of something special. Also, I'm worth over $200 million.

00:08:41:20 - 00:08:59:25
Bennett Tomlin
The heart of the pitch for VeeCon volunteers here seems to be that volunteering will allow you to network with all the other people who have decided to attend VeeCon when you aren't busy doing whatever it is you've been assigned to do. Presumably, though, even VeeCon recognizes that, that's asking a lot of volunteers.

00:08:59:26 - 00:09:17:26
Gary Vaynerchuk
However, your efforts will not go unnoticed and you can also expect some perks in return. Free VeeCon staff shared an exclusive look into the future of business and Web3 and marketing. Amazing networking opportunities with game changing speakers and companies. Plenty of experience to put on your resume. Also, I'm worth over $200 million.

00:09:17:29 - 00:09:35:25
Bennett Tomlin
That's right. If you volunteer for the center millionaire Gary Vee, they will give you a free T-shirt and experience. You'll give them hours of your labor. Let's scroll a little further back up in this article and see which parts of the convention need volunteers. Maybe it's not very many.

00:09:35:26 - 00:09:47:16
Gary Vaynerchuk
Below are some of the teams you could consider joining. Talent NFT Land VeeFriends Gallery Field Day Apparel Operations, Media Press. Also, I'm worth over $200 million. Oh.

00:09:48:09 - 00:10:09:26
Bennett Tomlin
It's the entire fucking convention. Basically every team I can think of that they would have for this convention is taking on this. Unpaid labor is depending on this unpaid labor. And these people who are volunteering are volunteering, at least in part because they have bought into the marketing shtick of Gary Vee. Work hard enough and eventually you will make it.

00:10:10:00 - 00:10:39:03
Bennett Tomlin
And so people will volunteer for this because they see this as an opportunity to hustle and maybe make it. Gary is worth over $200 million. Gary is worth over $200 million. He is asking for skilled contributions across basically every team for the entire conference, for a convention branded entirely after him open to people who bought an NFT with his branding that marketed itself as becoming his friend VeeFriends.

00:10:39:08 - 00:11:01:19
Bennett Tomlin
And he now needs free labor from these same fans to make his convention work. And unfortunately, this isn't even a Gary unique phenomenon. Any artist or creative watching this video is probably pointing at the scream and wanting to scream about the times they were offered to be paid in exposure rather than money. And many, especially when they were young or desperate, would take those deals in the hope of it.

00:11:01:19 - 00:11:24:22
Bennett Tomlin
Eventually leading to the paid work that you need for things like rent and groceries. You can even look at the existence of unpaid internships as the same thing, offering to pay people in experience for their labor. And for the record, I think unpaid internships are fucking exploitive. What I think makes Gary's more insidious is the exploitation of the Parasocial relationship.

00:11:24:22 - 00:11:48:04
Bennett Tomlin
Parasocial relationships are one sided relationships like the one you develop when you follow someone online and have this feeling of familiarity. It describes fans of many things celebrities, influencers. It can even extend to bands or sports teams. And it's this belief that you really know this person, even though you've really only consumed their content and seen the thing they want to convey to you.

00:11:48:05 - 00:12:08:12
Bennett Tomlin
Often when you examine a Ponzi scheme, pyramid scheme or multilevel marketing scheme at the top is a charismatic leader who will speak at conventions to waves of adoring fans were being promised that they will eventually make the wealth they dream of. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Gary.

00:12:12:13 - 00:12:33:10
Bennett Tomlin
There are tons of neo celebrities and influencers and YouTubers who have also realized that they can take advantage of this Parasocial relationship in ways that vary from the uncomfortable to the reprehensible. How The reason that companies pay for influencers to do sponsored posts and for YouTubers to do ads and podcasters to do ad reads is because they work pretty well.

00:12:33:10 - 00:12:59:23
Bennett Tomlin
And part of the reason they work pretty well is because of this preexisting relationship with the person doing the ad read you. The audience are more likely to see it and the product they are endorsing positively because you have this built up sense of familiarity with the creator. Exploitation of these parasocial relationships also, in a sense, includes these celebrities, influencers and YouTubers using these parasocial relationships to take advantage of their fans sexually.

00:12:59:24 - 00:13:22:03
Bennett Tomlin
This is a common problem, and it's really just because parasocial relationships effectively are way to accumulate power over people and people take advantage of power. Gary Vee uses it to get people to work his convention for free, and Mr. Beast uses his parasocial relationships to make sure that his products look as good as possible. On the Walmart shelves.

00:13:22:04 - 00:13:51:08
Bennett Tomlin
You see, after reading this, we can plea for unpaid leave. I was reminded of this recent tweet from Mr. Beast. He asked his 18.9 million Twitter followers to please help out his business by using their time to improve how his product looked on the shelf. Now, after a couple of days of backlash, Mr. Beast recognize this might threaten the Mr. Beast brand and decided that he was going to make a donation to charity, the classic rich person solution to bad publicity.

00:13:51:12 - 00:14:19:15
Bennett Tomlin
Listen, I'm not going to pretend having people fix your candy bars is the worst exploitation. It obviously isn't. I also won't pretend that having unpaid volunteers at your convention is the worst exploitation, though, considering even the operations team needs volunteers. There are some things that could end up hilarious here. I think both of these cases just are specific examples of people who cultivate these parasocial relationships chips taking advantage of them for unpaid labor.

00:14:19:16 - 00:14:42:26
Bennett Tomlin
Both of them have also cultivated their audiences by showing these extraordinary past to success. Series focuses and working endlessly until you make it. And the fact that that often centers around creating content which is not a great path towards a sustainable lifestyle for most people. Mr. Beast does it more directly by having a bunch of people touch a briefcase full of money until one of them gets it.

00:14:42:27 - 00:15:07:12
Bennett Tomlin
In both cases, these are not reliable or replicated, but path to success or wealth for most people. But they make it seem that way to their audience, which helps deepen this Parasocial relationship. Gary Vaynerchuk is a center millionaire. He can afford to pay people working for him. He should not take advantage of the fact that he has convinced his fans that they will be rewarded for this eventually.

00:15:07:12 - 00:15:30:19
Bennett Tomlin
He should pay them for their work. Now to everyone out there, you deserve to be compensated for your efforts. Now, I promised you 60 seconds and an f TS. So let's take a quick look at the NFT. This is the podcaster Panther, which as a podcaster I was curious about it once sold for 120 ether, which at the time was worth about $348,000.

00:15:30:20 - 00:16:01:11
Bennett Tomlin
Currently it is for sale for 23.9 ether or about $33,600. That's about a 90% crash in price in dollar terms. However, currently the best offer for it is only 13.5 ether or about $19,000. That's a 95% decrease in price. Paying to be friends with Garry Hurt sometimes doesn't. At least it gets you in the weekend though, right? Garry also had another NFT series called Book Games, and to get that one, you had to buy 12 physical copies of his book.

00:16:01:21 - 00:16:23:23
Bennett Tomlin
And since that one was given out to people who bought books, it was never really as popular. If you try to access the book games website and the VeeFriends website, it currently returns in 500 or an internal server air. Clearly, Gary cares about this line of Nfts and is putting effort into them right now. This collection is far less valuable because again, they were given away for free.

00:16:23:24 - 00:16:46:16
Bennett Tomlin
Here's an example of one of the most valuable ones though. Again, remember, was created by the guy who called his media company, Vaynerchuk Media. His NFT collection VeeFriends in his convention. VeeCon it's named Humility is Delicious. Yes, this is the real quality. This is one of the ones that had a reasonably good sale at one point for one whole ether, which was worth about three grand.

00:16:46:17 - 00:17:04:16
Bennett Tomlin
Now the best offer is 0.045 ether, or about 60 bucks. 98% decline. Brutal. Okay. I think your 60 seconds are up. Thank you all for joining. And remember, you should absolutely be paid for your labor, especially when you are working for a centimillionaire.

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