John Oliver and his writers employ every tool available in trying to make the case against a person, place, thing, or idea.
So you know the team behind HBO's Last Week Tonight is pretty well stocked with ammunition if the host skims past something and tells his audience to Google it on their own time... and then it turns out the thing they're leaving out is a sex abuse scandal.
Such was the case on Sunday, when Oliver turned his formidable wit on the rise of cryptocurrency, the increasingly popular form of "blockchain" global financing -- think: Bitcoin -- that's all the rage with technologically proficient young men who have always been certain they understand the way the world really works and everyone else doesn't, but had trouble articulating this unless both of you were very high and at least a little scared.
All of Oliver's 25-minute report is worth watching, as usual. But we wanted to highlight the appearance of Brock Pierce, a Minnesota native, successful child actor, and serial tech entrepreneur. With a background like that, you'd think Minnesotans would be positively begging to claim this guy as one of our own. Why we don't is going to become obvious in a minute here.
Pierce had minor but significant roles in both Mighty Ducks and (thoroughly questionable) D2: The Mighty Ducks, playing the young version of Emlio Estevez's character Gordon Bombay. Bombay, you'll recall, was haunted by a moment of athletic failure that occurred in childhood.
Cue Brock Pierce.
The young Brock Pierce appeared in a few other films, and did some commercial work as well, probably peaking with this ad for Gushers. (Remember Gushers?)
But Pierce would soon leave the entertainment industry behind and move into business, surfing the wave caused by the dot-coom boom as one of the founders of something called the Digital Entertainment Network. When the bubble burst, and the company went belly up, it turned out Pierce's company might have had more fundamental problems than a structurally unsound business model. This is the part of Pierce's story John Oliver glossed over, instead encouraging them to Google "brock pierce scandal."
Somehow, Pierce's career in the tech industry didn't end there. He's now a partner at a start-up called EOS, which, according to its website, offers "software that introduces a blockchain architecture designed to enable vertical and horizontal scaling of decentralized applications" Sounds great, where do you send all your money? Turns out, that's how many really reacted: EOS' parent company (Block.one) raised $1.5 billion in investments to launch its (coming soon! Still!) app-making program.
Pierce, who made money as an early believer in cryptocurrency (his net worth might be north of $1 billion, roughly half of which he appears to have spent on leather bracelets), has become a de facto spokes/salesman for EOS. As he explains in one clip Oliver excerpts: "Everything that exists is no longer going to exist in the way that it does today."
We won't spoil the rest, or the 19-minute monologue that came before Brock Pierce's appearance -- which, frankly, is some of the best onscreen work he's done since that Gushers commercial. Consider this a classic "Where are they now?" story, only it's one you didn't need, don't get, and only makes you feel old and uncomfortable... sort of like whatever this product is Pierce is hawking.