Mint Season 2 episode 6 welcomes Reuben Bramanathan, an expert on all things crypto law, product management, fund management, and more. Having worked at Coinbase from 2015 to 2017, Reuben has seen the industry evolve at a rate in which many don’t have purview. Now, he’s helping build IDEO CoLab for collaborative impact where he and his team connect organizations to shape technology’s impact on the world.
In this episode, we talk about:
His take on JPEG summer
How NFTs are introducing the mainstream into crypto
Securities laws regarding fractional NFTs
What opportunities in the space most excite him and IDEO CoLab
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Give me a quick background on yourself. Who are you? What were you doing before crypto and kind of where are you now?
I almost can’t remember what I was doing before crypto. It feels like a lifetime I’ve been around since about 2013 was a lawyer by training and working in a big law firm, found out about Bitcoin through some friends, got deeper and deeper into it. Ended up leaving that big law firm to start a small law firm focused on Bitcoin in Australia. It was 2014. And through that just kind of got deeper and deeper. I joined Coinbase in 2015 as one of the first lawyers there. Also did a bunch of product management work at Coinbase and started some new businesses, including the index fund there. And through that I realized you know, law was my profession and the set of skills that I had, but crypto became my passion.
I ended up leaving Coinbase in 2019 to start working with companies deeper in this space in DeFi and more recently NFTs social tokens and using my regulatory and legal background to help solve some problems at those earlier stages, help founders build, navigate some of those tricky issues. And through that got connected with the team at IDEO. And so now I’m full time investing with IDEO. But also, you know, we, we just spend a lot of time with the companies we work with and yeah, solving some of those hard problems that early stages.
Yeah. I think one thing I really like about your story is obviously getting started at Coinbase, which I’m curious about. How has that shaped your career in crypto? Getting started at like one of the best firms to work at in this space?
It was amazing. It was an incredible journey. A lot of ups and downs and, you know, living for that hyper-growth, and seeing those cycles in crypto is definitely, it gives you perspective. Every time that something new or exciting or traumatic happens, I think our tolerance to chaos is much higher because, you know, you kind of live through that. In those early days at Coinbase, the crew, there was incredible, just some phenomenal people to work with and to kind of have been there was just a blessing. And then to have that experience, as I said through the cycles, is really setting up a lot of former Coinbase folks to go out and go on to do even greater things.
Yeah, for sure. Obviously the first person that comes to mind is Antonio from dYdX. You also have a few people that kind of bridge from Coinbase who started their own funds. And it’s cool to kind of see your journey and help so many founders solve really critical problems, whether it be regulatory problems, tokenistic problems, right. What part of the crypto sphere, cause you’ve dabbled, you’ve also consulted, and you’ve also launched you on social token, throughout every experience, what have you found to be like the most rewarding one so far? What have you enjoyed doing the most?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I think what I enjoy most is just being there alongside the builders the folks figuring out the new stuff and that’s in my career that’s been the one thing that I think I’ve done right, is I’ve always managed to seek out the people finding and building the new stuff. And so for me, it’s kind of being there alongside them, whether it’s a, a tricky regulatory issue. The decision around, you know, the right move for communities some, you know, product-related stuff as well. I think that just, you know, just having been around long enough, I’ve been able to help a bunch of people. And honestly, through that, I learned as well. And I feel like you know, the companies that I’ve advised, I’ve learned as much from them as they have from me. So that’s just such a rewarding thing about building new stuff in uncertain territory together.
Yeah, for sure. I wanna pivot kind of to where we are right now in the marketplace. People are coining it as a JPEG summer. We have the cool cats, the board apes, the punks record level transaction volume across OpenSea and all these NFT marketplaces. And it’s kinda like NFTs are having their moment of fame again. How do you feel about everything that’s happening aroundJPEG summer?
Don’t forget the penguins. For sure. It does have some parallels with DeFi summer. Just that euphoria where so many new people are coming into the space and coming in for new reasons, you know, for so long people only got into crypto through Bitcoin through that digital gold narrative. And then even after that, you know, we had all the other coins at the peak of the 2017 cycle. And then DeFi summer really peaked because people came into crypto for DeFi. Not just for you know decentralized digital gold assets, but because of the new things that are being built, the new ideas of the borrowing and lending and decentralized exchange protocols yield, farming, all these things. People came in for different reasons. And we’re seeing that again in a different flavor now, which is even more powerful because as it turns out more people care about culture and art and communities and sport and gaming than do about finance. Right? So there’s a new reason that people are getting into crypto and that’s, what’s most exciting to see new people who wouldn’t have really gotten into Bitcoin or Ethereum or any other crypto for crypto sake, they’re getting in for the sake of the content and the communities and the new networks that have been formative of people. So I think, you know, you can kind of hone in on any individual NFT project. You can see the explosion of punks. Obviously you can look at party DAO just recently in the stuff that’s been built there. Rationalize NFTs. All of these are indications that there is demand from normies to come into crypto for different reasons.
One, how sustainable are all these profile pictures? And two, do you think it’s a good intro for new people to come into crypto and to experiment like this type of bubble, this type of chaos, this type of a casino? What do you think about that?
So answering the second question first, I think. Yes. I think there’s obviously, you know, some, some danger in a lot of like the frothy bubbly price, speculation stuff, but I think that’s always been the way in crypto. What attracts people is something that’s hot, that attracts attention and necessarily that means there’s price speculation, because everything in crypto is inherently financial or fnancializable. So that just means that that speculation is a measure of the attention coming in. And like I was saying, it’s really exciting that people are coming in for a lot of the cultural and art reasons as well. So it’s just another on-ramp into crypto. And I think that one of the things we’ve been talking about for a long, long time is how do we bring crypto to the mainstream? But really the question that we need to be asking is how do we bring the mainstream to crypto and NFTs have proven that this is one pathway. And of course it’s janky to set up Metamask and secure your private key and figure out gas and all that stuff. But people are doing it and people are doing it because they want to be a part of crypto and they want to be a part of space. So that’s not to say that, you know, we can disregard UI or all the, you know, making it easier for people to kind of onboard. But, the reality has always been in crypto that people find a way because they want the product so much. So as to how sustainable that is, that’s a great question. I think like anything in crypto, that’s going to be just more and more peaks and troughs and volatility. You know, there was a great post by Fred Wilson again this week that whether this version of NFTs is the exact version of the future, that’s up for debate, but it’s, it’s beyond debate now that NFTs are going to power web three and the internet of the future. What the internet was always supposed to be.
One thing that I see increasingly happening is, well, it’s obvious that these NFTs have market value. Obviously, people are trading them right, making money from them, flipping them, whatever, raising the floor, sweeping them, all these different tactics to kind of manipulate the market. But at the end of the day, the big bet here is that every form of media is going to end up becoming an NFT. Right? It’s going to have a level of ownership. Do you agree or disagree with that for starters?
A hundred percent agreed. Every form of media including every content, every piece of content, every post, every story, every fleet, every library, everything, whether it’s specifically an NFT or not, it’s an on-chain action that’s going to be cataloged, recognized and available to form your social profile in the future.
So, okay. We both agree on that. I think many people also agree on that concept, but right now, the tools in the onboarding products that are in place for Metamask to all these alternative crypto wallets, they don’t play on that narrative. Right now they’re focused on onboarding users to play and mess around with ERC-20s. Right? The second you open a wallet. Specifically Metamask who focuses on the Chrome extension. You have all your ERC-20s. You don’t really see your NFTs, even though they do store them. So the onboarding process on getting people to consume these NFTs, these media files, whether they be land rights, whether they be future PDFs, whether they be MP3s from an NFT album or an NFT film, that’s not in place right now to actually enjoy and consume. Have you seen companies kind of approach that problem? What do you feel about that?
Yeah, I think that’s definitely a huge area of opportunity to build products that let users really dive in there. I still think that it’s not the most pressing problem. I think because people are still finding their way into crypto because they want the product as janky as it is. And I kind of look at more things like security. You know, especially at the user end. I think that’s one thing that wallets could really focus on and do better in addition to, you know, improve user experience. But yeah, for sure. We’re going to see new wallet infrastructure. We’re probably going to see an evolution of the wallet to the profile. And we think about that a lot at IDEO. The wallet is a very financial lens to look through the way you interact with cryptocurrency. And like you say, you know, if for many people, the primary action to do with NFTs has to do with content rather than finance, then that experience should look different. But again, it comes down to that, you know, secure private key management. And then how do you translate that into your collection, your profile, your gallery, your display. So there’s going to be a few different ways to approach that, whether it’s a more lightweight wallet that kind of plugs into more fully-featured galleries or metaverses or spaces or something all in one. Yeah, that remains to be seen.
Why are you so excited about the security side? What is it about it that gets you going?
I would say I’m not thrilled by it, it’s just something that needs to happen. Both at the protocol level, the contract level and the user level. I think that’s one thing. I mean, you know, you can train or you can educate people to go through the clicks and the stages to send and bid and all that stuff. But if they haven’t backed up their private keys in a secure way, then that’s the fundamental problem. So I think that, you know, it’s great that the hardware wallet space is evolving. It’s great that user education is evolving. But I would say that’s still the main area of concern rather than just, you know, a nicer user flow.
When artists are trying to experiment with the NFT route and trying to take it one step further beyond just selling a JPEG or an MP3 file and really allow their fans to kind of go on their journey with them financially, how can they do that today without kind of like crossing the red flags of the SEC?
Yeah, it’s a great question. And I think, you know, music is a great example of an industry with very entrenched or big power structures that don’t always serve the artists. In fact, most of the time they don’t. And you know, again, it’s ripe for disruption where we now have a technology which enables artists and creators to engage directly with their fans, directly with their communities. Whether that’s through music as content, whether it’s through NFTs or other kinds of multimedia that, you know, they want to sell or give away or share with their communities, we’re going to see actual on chain, tokenized, royalties. That’s coming. You know, it’s just a matter of time. It’s going to be as disruptive to the industry as the internet was to the media, or as the press to Hollywood. I think that, you know, this is the true promise of web three, that this technology is here. What that means in the short term is that there’s still a lot of resistance from the traditional legal structures to anything different. So, you know, your example is a great one. What if an artist wants to share their upside with their community? What if they want to take them on the journey? There’s still limited ways in which you can do that.
One example, which I was really proud of because I worked on with the RAC so I can and what we did for RAC was we actually did an airdrop of his token to all of his past supporters. So went back and looked at people who had supported him through Patreon people who had been to one of your shows, bought much band camp, like all of the other ways that he’d built this community around him, folks that supported him in the past, and he was able to give back to them through the token. So it wasn’t an ICO, it wasn’t a sale, it was just given away. And he kind of aligned himself with his community that way. And then going forward, you know, those tokens can be used for other incentives or you know, collaborations or people in the community participating and supporting him you know, token data that says there’s a bunch of stuff you can, you can do. But I think that the long story short is, when it comes to a creator or an artist, actually giving back to their community, that’s a much more fundamentally less risky way than if they’re extracting value from their community. So, we could do a whole session on securities law and how we test that, but the TLDR is, I think that kind of aligns nicely.
What you’re explaining or describing from what I’m understanding is the utility component behind RACs token, the access component. And is that kind of like more where you’re leaning towards.
It’s a little bit about utility but it’s also about what the community expects and what they have to give up to participate in it. So if you’re asking them to buy your tokens from you, that starts to look like an ICO. If you’re giving them tokens or you’re letting them earn tokens, or you’re kind of well, you know, creating an economy where everyone shares in that value, that’s much less likely to be a security. And I I’ve written a little bit about this and some of the other things you can do within the community to make it about sharing the value rather than extracting value.
Very, very fascinating. And you talk about token gated content, and this is something that I’m personally very excited about, that we haven’t seen kind of experimented with to the fullest extent. I think the most prevalent example when listeners think about token gating content, and what that means is, when you buy a bored ape, you have the bathroom that you can unlock and you have this shared canvas that everybody can contribute to a pixel of art to the whiteboard, right? Every two, 15 minutes, whatever the time interval is. What other forms of token gated content, have you seen, that’s quite exciting that you think other creators can kind of implement or start tinkering with in their communities?
Yeah. There Are plenty of examples of, you know, token gated discords or telegram channels or forums streams, all this stuff is going to be token gated. That’s not to say that, you know, that’s the only model but it is one. You know, especially for creatives with a large audience you know, being on the inside, feeling like you’re part of the, the inner circle, I think can be really valuable for those token holders, but there’s also, again, NFTs being, you know, inherently public by default and that content being public. And the more that that content is shared and referenced, you know, the more valuable it becomes. So that is kind of the other end of the spectrum. So for a creator . It’s important to think really carefully about what you want to gate, what experience you want to create for your inner circle of fans and supporters, and then what you want to make public and the different trade offs between those two models.
Yeah, I think you’re right. All of these collab land bots, these Coinvise bots. These POAP bots, right? All these things contributing, whether you’ve participated at one point in time in a community and what that allows you to access, it’s a very powerful thing that we see more in like web two and a mass level, for example, like subscription, right? If you subscribe to an only fans account, you get access to certain perks, right. And if you upgrade there’s tiers to it, which is a very known model, but now it’s integrating it on the token front, right? One thing I want to talk to you about is this infrastructure bill that came out recently that made headwinds across crypto Twitter. For those who don’t understand it, can you give us a quick brief of what was kinda driving people crazy. And how do you feel about the infrastructure bill and kind of where it stands right now?
Yeah. First of all, the biggest takeaway is that the folks that are lobbying for fair and reasonable regulation for crypto, they’re super important. Donate to coin center and support blockchain association. These folks are doing great work. And what they were able to do was take this infrastructure bill, which is about like bunch of other stuff in the economy, but there was an amendment part of it which would treat basically everyone in crypto as a broker. What the intention of the bill is to make sure that the people who are actually brokers, Coinbase, other exchanges, centralized custodians, requiring them to report on user transactions, just like every broker in the U S has to do. And no one was disputing that, but the problem was the bill was so widely drafted that it could have included miners , validators, people who had deployed smart contracts or running DEXs, lightning operators, basically anyone who touched a crypto transaction, would make them into a broker. Which would mean that they had a responsibility to report the identity, the cost basis, all this stuff around transactions that they simply don’t have access to and they’re not in a position to do that. So I tweeted it. It’s actually not existential for crypto, right.
Crypto itself, well, it doesn’t care because the actual app, you know, the functions of the network , doesn’t really get impeded by these folks having to do more compliance, but it’s a huge problem for the crypto industry in the US. It would force a lot of these operations offshore, or it would mean that it’s simply not practical to run a node or a validator from within the U S in a way that people off shore could easily get around. It is trivial. So we’re still in a stage where that might go through and then there’s a few more stages after that in terms of whether the treasury and IRS would actually seek to enforce that against people who write contracts or simply validate, but it’s just really bad policy and it was a shame to say it rushed through so quickly.
I agree with you. I think it obviously stirred a lot of chaos across crypto Twitter, and I called my Senator and I read that script and did that whole process. And, my next question to you is, how does this affect creators in that future vision of what crypto wants the creator economy to become? Like if that went underneath the rug and that passed, right? Thankfully it got the attention of people who care about crypto and believe in it wholeheartedly beyond just the transactional component. But what does this mean for the future of the creator economy?
Yeah, it’s a great question. I think this specifically even in the broadest interpretation, shouldn’t include creators who are just selling NFTs or who are part of communities or running tokenized communities. But the broader issue of regulation, I think again, it comes back to securities law. Can you launch a token, can you launch, you know, a brand or fan or community token without running a foul of the securities laws? You know, my take in general is that the creators are the folks who have really been historically underpaid for the work, the content they create, the communities that they build and, you know, there is a narrative around crypto enabling and empowering creatives. It’s a way that for the first time, they’re actually able to realize the value of the content, of the work that they produce. And so there’s a stronger argument, you know, for these folks to be able to monetize than there is for, for example, you know, like a 2017 ICO, that’s just trying to, trying to pump its bags. That’s not to say it’s going to be smooth sailing. There’s probably going to be still a lot of gray area around social tokens. But to me, at least there is a stronger narrative for creators and like anything in crypto, the principle of decentralization and community contribution actually aligns pretty well with the securities law. The more decentralized the community is the more different participants you have that are adding value that are creating content, the less likely it is that your token is going to be a security. If you’re just one personal brand or team that’s doing everything, that’s actually more likely to make your token a security, because you are centralized. You’re the one responsible for adding the value and the rest of the token holders are more passive. So the more active, more engaged, and collaborative your community is, the less likely your token to be a security.
How do you feel about everything that’s happening around fractionalization and kind of where they clash and the legal system?
Yeah, there’s definitely still a gray area. Having said that, I think a fractionalized NFT is in general less likely to be a security than most ERC-20 tokens. And the reason for that is you buying a part of a whole and the whole is the content. It is the NFT, it’s the punk, it’s the API, it’s whatever. And your expectation of profit, and this is the Howey test, but you’re buying into this collectible, or this original, and you might speculate in the value of that original, but that’s much different to speculating on the value of a protocol or of a new asset that has a central team building. I still always thought that the NFT in general, your expectation of profit is due to the rarity or the demand for that asset, for that piece of content rather than, you know, the efforts of any other one person. So it’s not to say that it’s all in the clear. But I think around, again, back to this narrative of art and design and culture and content, this is simply the monetization of stuff that hasn’t been able to monetize on the internet very effectively before. And that’s very different to ICO’s and pump and dumps and rug pulls.
Why from a real-world example fractional art is a security, but from the digital world example, it’s not?
Well, it comes back to investor protection at its fundamental level. If you fractionalize the Picasso, someone’s got to hold the original, it’s gotta be in a vault somewhere. They’re responsible for that centralized point of custody. And yeah, you want to make sure that that actually exists and it’s not, it’s not a scam. But that’s very different to a fractionalized NFT. You know, anyone can verify instantly that it exists. Obviously, it’s non-custodial, so those same kinds of risks are not present in a fractionalized NFT in the same way that a fractionalized real-world asset is. I mean, there is certainly a possibility that a fractionalized NFT could be a security, if the way it’s marketed is like, you know, marketed like an investment, that’s going to have value-added because there’s going to be, you know, things built on top of it or whatever. But I think if we live in a world where an artist can’t sell an original NFT fractionalized from the start, then that’s a huge problem. Why shouldn’t an artists be able to sell 100 fractionalized NFTs as opposed to one original. The one original is clearly not a security. It’s a piece of art. So if we live in that world, I think we have a problem. I don’t think we’re there yet. I think that’s kind of the worst case outcome, but if you think about it like that, why shouldn’t a creator be able to sell the work in a thousand pieces rather than one piece? It’s the same outcome.
Should creators be approaching their token sales, their NFT sales from a fair launch point of view, or they be approaching it from doing a private raise before publishing it to the community to get involved?
Yeah, it’s a great question. We started fair launch capital last summer at the height of DeFi summer because there was an opportunity and there still is for people to raise funds in different ways. Whether they raise from the community, whether they raise from private backers or whether they don’t raise at all. And there’s still the things that are uniquely enabled by crypto blockchains are kind of self-sustaining in the way that they kind of pull capital, and then that capital gets allocated to projects within that ecosystem. So we definitely have seen that capital, those gains recycled into new projects. As the artist, I think that again, you know, for so long, they haven’t been able to really realize the value of their work. So I don’t think we should have an expectation for artists to kind of give away their work for free. But you know that there’s definitely opportunities if that’s what they want, if they want to give something back to their community, they can give away tokens. They can give away NFTs.
Some interesting models where, you know, there’s rather than a full, you know, unlimited open edition. there’s one of X, but then there’s, you know, another kind of you know, a replica of that, that’s its own edition that gets given away so that the folks that can’t afford to bid on the original or the one of 10 or the fractionalized, one of a hundred to do that. But other fans can still have a derivative or a print the equivalent of a print of the original that they can own as well. So there’s so many new frameworks and new possibilities that can be explored. I think that’s one of the most exciting things.
What are some of the more pressing issues in crypto that have yet to be seen?
Yeah, I think like I mentioned at the start, security at all levels. It’s still such a huge one. So we’ve been investing in some great projects in the infrastructure space in terms of security audits, bug bounties insurance. And we’d love to see more in the user experience space as well. So that’s , I guess probably number one. And then again, like there’s always still more efforts to kind of bring mainstream users into crypto. Having said that, I think, you know, the NFT summer is proving that that people are coming in. I think now, it’s almost like we do look still for the pain points. We look for the things that are really painful for builders, entrepreneurs, users, and solving them. But we also just see this like massive blue ocean of new opportunities. And we love talking to founders who have a big vision of how things will look in three and five and 10 years. And so, they’re also working on something that’s a pain point. One example is everything around DAOs . So DAOs run effectively like traditional businesses. They need, you know, HR and payroll and operations and treasury management and accounting that simply doesn’t exist and those tools need to exist right now. So that’s one, that’s clearly a pain point. On the investing side you know, we spun out syndicate protocol, which is really focused on making it easy for people to spin up any kind of collective investment vehicle on chain or off chain. So those are some examples of pain points, but on the other side, you know, looking at things that are happening in the NFT space seeing what happened with party DAO and you know, enabled by the auction house Zuora built. That’s like truly new primitives and new markets that are coming.
Final question for you. I know you’re a big fan of the development of the internet and the transition from web two to web three. You’re very vocal about that. One thing that I like is to pick apart the development of the internet. So web one was very much read-only, right? Web two made that transition and created social graphs, social networks, and connected friends online. Web three is entrenched by this primitive form of internet money, right? Ownership, decentralization. And they’re each like collectively eating one another. What do you think is going to eat web three?
Nice. Yeah. Huge question. I honestly hadn’t thought about it. I think we’re still many years away from the full web three vision, although we’re starting on that pathway now. And the thing about web three is that, you know, when people own their own content and data they can choose which platforms to use. They can choose where to share it and how to surface, but they still own it. At the same time they own the platforms that they’re using. So community ownership is we believe, fundamental to web three, the ability for users to own and control and have a say where the direction of those platforms goes in. So I guess after that, you can kind of extrapolate and see basically, you know, new platforms being built by communities rather than by centralized teams. The tooling just being there from day one, the pseudonymous economy being really part of web three and just, you know, enabling anyone anywhere to contribute, to start something, to contribute to something else no matter where they are, what they look like, which regime they live under. I think that’s really where we’re heading and that’s one of the most exciting things about web three.
Every single thing that you just mentioned is with the intention of bringing everything on chain. Right. Well, what happens when everything is on-chain and what risks does that kind of propose? And I think that kind of ties into what will eat web three? Once all that data is on chain, what comes after that?
Yeah. I mean, maybe there’s just an AI revolution where the bots are so much more effective at interacting with the chains than humans are. And yeah, maybe that’s when we kind of transcend into the, into cloud or the matrix or whichever utopian or dystopian future you want to want to believe in. But yeah, I think that at that point, Society looks much, much, much different. Both in terms of how we will participate in the economy and then how governments and, and traditionally logical operations, like the role that they play will obviously look very different as well. So that’s a deep future episode, but I can see that the, the seeds are already laid.
I think that’s a perfect place to end off Ruben. Thank you so much for being on mint before I let you go quickly, plug yourself where we can find you and everything that you’re working on.
Thanks so much, Adam. It’s been amazing. I’m on Twitter at @bramanathan, hit me up. My DMs are open any time.
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Let’s start with the basics. Who are you, what were you doing before crypto and where are you now?
My name is Jess. I’m the instigator of a project called Seed Club . We are a DAO that builds and invests in communities with tokens. Yeah. I mean, I guess I got into crypto in 2017. I was really fascinated with this idea of being able to own and have a say in the networks that are coordinating our economic lives and fell down the rabbit hole pretty quickly worked on a number of projects over the last few years, but I think really found my footing in this emerging social crypto space. So in just about a year ago, I think we’re going to have our year anniversary coming up soon and what I can figure out exactly when we actually started, but about a year ago the emergence of some early signs of value and opportunity within the social token space became apparent. And I was lucky enough to be joined by a great group of early collaborators to form Seed Club where, you know, today we’re 62 collaborators. These are the member owners of the Seed Club DAO backed and have launched close to 17 projects and currently recruiting for our third cohort, which will kick off at the beginning of September. So trying to put things in the social token space.
How did you come to the conclusion that you wanted to have a say in the projects that you use which have an economic impact on our lives?
Okay. I mean, I guess I was really early into social media and got really excited about the opportunity that sort of democratized access to distribution would bring to the table. So this idea of being early blogging, early Twitter, being able to like publish things and have people see it and you know, I’d run a business early on and spend you know, thousands of dollars on advertising before and just realizing how ridiculous and painful it was to pay for attention and really wanting to see an opportunity to have more direct to my audience or to my customer relationship. So I got really into social media. I was excited about it and, but pretty quickly it started to be apparent that, you know, giving a Facebook or a, you know, later Instagram or YouTube, like control or like the, the dominant being the monopoly, essentially over attention and access to you, to your audience was maybe not the best idea you can see what’s Facebook, you know, the, the idea of removing organic reach and instead forcing people to pay for advertising to get that reach was pretty clear example of that sort of S curve of adoption and development within these platforms where they’re, you know, platforms are all about building and giving and, and collaborating and you know, creating value for users to a point where they’ve captured the lion’s share of attention and sort of have this you know, viral growth or exponential growth themselves and then they start to turn that off and instead begin monetizing. So this like, you know, build an audience, then kind of sell them out in order to monetize model was pretty apparent to me and it was very frustrating to sort of think through like all this value and effort that has been put into building up a Facebook page or even you know, and then it was a YouTube subscription sort of subscriber base only to have it be algorithmically limited and really forced towards advertising. So that was like the direct example.
How have you kind of seen crypto approach this problem? Obviously it’s a big ethos and a big narrative for crypto in general, even more so with, with social tokens and NFTs, what are some examples that come to mind that attempt to kind of go after this problem and eliminate it and bring kind of power back to the users? What is like one of the more recent examples?
I mean, I think the jury’s still out on whether we’ll see like, you know, competitors to YouTube or Facebook or whatever, and that same model that we’re we’re, you know, cryptos are the central piece to it. I think Audius is probably the best example of this and other, you know, I think have 5 million monthly users right now and are seeing some really great success. It’s still is a tiny percentage of what something like Spotify would have as far as their monthly users and listeners. So I’m optimistic that something like that will happen that eventually once a consumer application rolls out like a true sense of ownership to its users that that will ultimately result in its growth. More projects like that going that direction. But you know, I think right now that what I love so much about the community token space is how visceral that feels like the idea of being able to ya know .So friends with benefits is a project that I’m sure you’ve talked about a lot here, the ability to sort of buy tokens that represent ownership in this community. You know, there’s a set amount of tokens and I own a percentage of those. And that gives me access to this community. And through my efforts, you know, I host a Thursday afternoon, social token chat there and been involved in supporting the project in other ways I can have an impact on the increased value of this token. And as more demand comes to that token, I get to see you know my value increase. So I think that’s a very tangible example of like having a sort of, I guess, profiting from the increased usage, the example of early Uber drivers or Airbnb years .Again, I think they’re used quite often and saying, well, these folks created a ton of value for these networks, but don’t get to profit in it.How do you actually have a say in these networks? And what does it say look like, and is it truly a say or is it more of like a, you know, a nice to have or like yeah. Is there ever really truth on these things?
Yeah. I want to bring up something because it’s super on par with where the conversation is heading right now. This article came out on Bloomberg. So basically the headline is Facebook, Google, and others should pay us for using our data, here’s one way to do it. This was published three hours ago, and a lot of people kind of argue that these conversations only live on crypto Twitter, right? The sense of ownership, the sense of being a part in having a say in a stake in the products and services. But obviously this is starting to exist beyond crypto Twitter, right? This being the most obvious example. And the writer, Peter coy is basically arguing that maybe there’s a way to get paid 10 cents for every single dog or cat picture you post on Facebook or maybe even $5 a month for your searches on Google. In return of them using your data. Right. And I assume I see you nodding your head to share with me a little bit about that. What do you think?
So like individual data, even bucket a data it’s not valuable. It’s the network effect is valuable in these communities and these platforms. So it’s the network of Uber, the network of Facebook. And so unless they’re giving equity to people who are creating value on these networks, then no amount of pennies and dimes being paid to from my interaction on the platform is truly reflective of the value that we’re creating. And I think that that’s why crypto is so innovative, like tokens represent ownership and a say, and a governance right. And sort of an indication of being early and all these things are what’s truly valuable. And I think the you know, we need to get to hopefully a world where we can give people tokens that represent something that’s much more equity-like that represents the value that they’ve created and either betting on something early or bringing a lot of value to a network early. And that is in assets, not in income.
Yeah, no, I hear you and I think a lot of these like more modern-day web three companies, there’s the element of starting a DAO and going strictly to the token model. But there’s also like this hybrid model of starting that LLC, and then bridging out into a token. And what’s interesting is the employees that get hired for these hybrid model firms. They kind of prefer more of the token route rather than the equity in the LLC itself, because the real value, the real liquidity, the real growth that you see like front on, in hand in front of you is from the token appreciation. So what would you say, how do you kind of determine between bridging that through that hybrid model versus going full throttle down web 3.0?
I just think it’s exciting that we can go full throttle web 3.0, like that’s the innovation. Is it right for everybody? Definitely not. There’s a lot of reasons why you want to have a you know a corporation that you raised into and the limitation of liability that exists for that. There was a ton of regulatory uncertainty that we’re dealing with still, no matter what model you go with, but definitely some, you know, more with, with some paths than, than others. So I just think it’s a very exciting that this is an option and because of how much less friction exists to bring people together around a multisig with tokens and a snapshot and to, you know, pull capital and go do cool things inevitably more of these things will be started and soon the question will really be like, do I really have to start a coin? I mean, the best founders are already asking me this already. Do I really have to start a corporation? And the answer is maybe. Maybe depending on what you’re trying to build and how you’re trying to structure it.
Let’s reference this article again really quick. This theory, this element of people want to own the products that they use. It’s an ongoing narrative. Jesse Walden is one of the godfathers of that narrative, right? It’s a known thing. But when I talk to my cousins, who I consider more of the normie crowd, okay. When I talk to friends, when I talk to people that work in traditional companies, right. They use these platforms they’re incredibly addictive and they just consume the content and they don’t really think twice whether or not they should own it. Right? When do you think we’ll start seeing that dynamic in that shift on a more main scale type of level, because right now in crypto Twitter, it’s very much so the belief. Right? But beyond that, beyond that Bloomberg article, I feel like many people don’t think about it as philosophically and as critically the way we do.
Yeah. I mean, I think a big part of that is that people don’t know there’s another option. Right. And so there’s an education component and I think, you know, as more people do realize that, that the idea of like, do I want to earn ownership to use a thing or not earn ownership to use a thing. I think that becomes like a pretty more obvious decision. But I think there is like an underlying concern here where like ownership in a purely financial sense, you know, traditionally has been very concentrated and it’s not for lack of trying to be more distributed. So the fact that most people don’t care about it and don’t know why to care about it, or maybe they can’t, maybe they, you know there’s sort of like a short-term profit need or earnings need that ways the ability to sort of hold long-term. And I think we saw Eric Arsenault from the Rarible DAO post something about this around like the experience being or people are mining, you know, Rarible tokens for doing things on the rebel platform and the vast majority are dumping it. And so you’re seeing a concentration of those tokens in the hands of more of a professional class. So I think like the reality is we’re going to hopefully just do a little bit better than the way it is right now. I think that’s what we’re seeing in Twitter generally. Like there is a more distributed ownership base for the most of these projects. There is a lot more choice and voice and exit opportunities, so we can, you know, move away into doing new things if we don’t like the way a community or platform is going. And so I think we’ll, you know, it’s unrealistic to think that we’re going to have 100% of the population being stoked on ownership, but I think we have a 10, 20, 30% increase. I think for me, this idea, like the concerning thing around our digital economy that we will live in, especially over the sort of web two era, was just how many winners there were, but just how many losers there were, there was no middle class in the creator economy. There’s no middle class in this sort of digital world. And the sort of like the impact networks have, you know, when our economies become networks that the normal distribution curve just seems to disappear because there’s no physical bounds to it. And so I think crypto now through the introduction of scarcity through NFTs and ERC-20s the ability to sort of earn algorithmically or through other schemes might increase the likelihood that we’ll have some semblance of the middle middle-class in a digital economy. And I think that’s something that we should be working towards.
I remember seeing an article from Cooper and Kinjal covering this topic and I know a few others have kind of covered and wrote about it and you’re seeing this argument. I feel like you’ll see a lot of this art or these arguments prevailing. More specifically in like the creator economy and all these like random ass Tik Tok creators that are really just gamifying the algorithm, but they get a lot of views , but they don’t know how to really build communities, but they might have a small following subset. If people that engage with them and those are the type of like the micro economies that you’re referencing?
Well, I mean, I think the opportunity for many micro-economies to exist is exciting, I think the fact that those Tik Tok-ers , you know, in a world where Tik Tok was web three they would be earning for the value they’re creating. Right? So their ability to win the game, that is the algorithm is about the algorithm was what Tik Tok should reward. Ultimately they’re rewarding them with views right now. And they’re just unable to turn those views or those followers into revenue or money. Right. And so I think having, you know, the aligning an incentive scheme, such that the more addictive content that you can create, the more Tik TOK tokens you earn and therefore giving somebody an ownership stake in the network is the thing that leads to more of a, you know, a middle-class of creator. So creators need to be earning ownership, not just income off of these platforms for the change to happen.
No, I hear you. And I know a big part of what you guys do at Seed Club is really focus and prioritize these web three communities also dabbling on the creator side. But I know a lot of that has been shifted towards the web 3.0. Communities and a core component of these web 3.0 communities is the liquidity, right? That kind of drive power people get paid out in tokens. They still need to live their lives in the real world beyond the web 3.0 world cash out. Okay. And as you and I can both agree, it plays a large role in opening up the project to the community. Is there some type of framework you guys used to kind of incentivizing liquidity for native tokens as you grow these communities? Like, what does that look like from your point of view?
Yeah, so I think like we take a creator or a community-specific approach to any project. And so the first conversation that we have with somebody who’s building a community token is really to, to understand what the goal is and where they think a token can create value within their community. So, you know, we’re not talking about minting tokens right away. We’re not talking about liquidity, we’re not talking about revenues, et cetera. It’s really about trying to align their goals with what we see tokens being able to do. And so for many of the communities that we work with liquidity is not something that we recommend to even dive into early on. And I think it’s part of a much broader plan and it needs to be thought of as part of a strategy to ultimately unlock the most value that these tokens can unlock within a community. The second you have liquidity. Yes you do have the ability for people to cash out into Ethereum or some other token, but for many communities, that’s probably not a good idea. And you can just reference you know, startups, for example, where, you know, for many startups, you’re looking at 6, 7, 8 years before you have a liquidity event. And while that might seem awful in many ways and, and arguably it is in many ways there’s also a big benefit for community members to be aligned over the longer term, because the reality is you’re probably not able to create something of exceptional value in a course of a week or a couple of months. So the thoughtfulness around when some liquidity should be brought to a project, really, it sort of leads to, I think, more positive outcomes. You know, we even sort of put a lot of thought into like the distribution of tokens early on whether they’re NFTs or, or your ERC-20s because so much of I think the challenge in this space is how do you actually get people who truly care and want to create value within these communities to be owners of the communities when speculation is so easy to do. So, you know, I would say we have four or five tokens that we’ve helped launch out into the market. We’ve worked with 16 or 17 projects. Number of them are still running a playbook that’s all about building connection and value and standing the ownership base of their communities prior to releasing tokens to the open market. So I think that’s like the most important part as far as like, you know, incentivizing liquidity. We’re fans of a number of models, but one that seems to be leading is, is sort of whitelisting LP providers. So giving core team members or backers of the project, the opportunity to provide liquidity and to earn tokens. So much of the design of these token models, I think, especially in the ones that we’re talking about, which are community tokens, where, you know, mostly the tokens are supposed to live within the community treasury and are being used to invest in, in growing the project. You know, the idea of how do you actually, like who gets the chance to earn those tokens matters quite a bit. And you want to make sure that they’re aligned long-term, especially if they’re significant earners. So white listing token or liquidity providers seems to be a good way to go about doing that. And also, you know, the, Uniswap V3 provides new opportunities to sort of set tight bounds as far as what token prices could be. So there’s more and more options. And I think other tools are coming out that’ll make this easier. But I think the core point here is just to be very thoughtful about when you provide liquidity. Some, you know, friends with benefits, as an example, that’s brought up all the time to me, where they were saying, well, you know, FWB had a liquidity pool from day one. And my counter to that is like, yes, but nobody knew who the hell they were or why they might want to own one of those tokens today. When a token price is north of $50, anybody in their dog who’s been watching this whatsoever is going to look at that and say, you know what, probably worthwhile for me to punt an ether on this, because it might just pay off. And now all of a sudden you have your ownership base and pricing based, based on people who are just purely speculators rather than, you know, the amazing community members that Trevor and team were able to bring together.
How do you go by developing your community’s why?
I mean, I think it’s something that’s refined and not developed so much that it’s a core thing that we’re looking for when we explore whether it makes sense for us to work with the community or not. That’s a big part of like our application process for the accelerator and for the studio that we run, we’re really drilling down into that quite deeply. And the big piece here is like you know, a strong why I think sustains and allows you to sort of evolving and overcome challenges where any of the mechanisms like liquidity mining or airdrops, or, you know, play to earn games, maybe that are just being snapped onto these communities in the short-term PFP, chasing the profits of flipping NFTs. Like these are all going to get a whole lot of attention in the short term, but once there’s a deeper why it is to the importance of coming together and working towards something it’s going to be very short-lived and Seed Club’s model, essentially, as we take a small ownership stake in all the communities that we help launch, and we’re locked up in line with the founders at the very least. And so we want to be early diamond hand-holders, which means we are partners, which means we are marrying these founders in some way. Our brand is tied up with them and we want to make sure that there is a long term focus here. And so we’re very, very, very thoughtful about drilling down and checking whether this why is something that resonates, that makes sense that checks out that is aligned with the creator’s experience. And is something that actually, we think we’ll have, you know the pole power to maintain over the long term. I think, you know, it’s interesting that you described FWBs why as being clear, because I think I agree with you though, I don’t know how I would articulate it. So maybe that’s a counterpoint to that point, but I do see a number of people out there saying that, you know, the community tokens off, they don’t have a clear why. And it’s very hard to have a clear why, or at least it’s going to evolve over time. I think that’s a huge benefit. I think it’s like the idea of like what these tokens you’re really doing is creating a shelling point for attention and belief and ownership and responsibility and action around an idea. It can be something like a wall street bets community coming together to stick it to the man, or it can be a moms group that are coming together to mutually support each other through, you know, through whatever challenges they might be having. And you know, what we need to do through designing community tokens is best, you know, empower these tokens with that mutual belief and sense of belonging and that story and narrative that’s going to sustain beyond any sort of short term hype or excitement or their markets whatever may become. So I think the best community tokens are going to be ones that have a clear why, at least for now that motivates people to take action. I think one of the most ones that’s kind of blowing me away is what Krause House is doing. I don’t know if we’ve talked to those guys yet. So it’s a DAO that’s coming together to buy an NBA sports team. They have a mission to buy an NBA sports team. And that’s the look that I gave them as well. Like, are you kidding me? And yet people are like, heck yes, let’s do it. They don’t care that it may be completely unreasonable to go do, or there’s no possible way to do it. Just they’re United in this big vision. And that the team does a great jobs for driving short-term action and belonging and working groups and making stuff , et cetera. So I think like, yeah, sussing out the why and, and seeing what, what resonates is going to be interesting. I mean, I guess it’s how we’re going to be making bets on a lot of these things moving forward.
Okay. So from that point, right? What advice can you give creators in like future wave three communities on finding and discovering that why? How could they go through that process and do it successfully?
Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I think that the concern I have, even with the premise of the question is that it’s this idea of, of manufacturing something. And I think like, you know Derek Sivers, who’s the founder of CD baby always talks about how he only ever wants to work on companies that are being pulled out of him. He doesn’t want to start a new company unless it’s being pulled out of him. And I think that probably rings even more true in this world that we’re playing in right now where you know, forcing something and trying to manufacture something, is just probably not going to work. You really need to be able to get a number of people who probably even don’t know about you to come together and, and believe in a thing. And the way you do that is by having a, you know, a true bleed, deeply held belief in, in why something needs to exist and the progress you’re trying to make. And so I think there’s like any number of whys to be discovered. And I think that’s a personal journey for individuals to say, okay, well, what is this thing that I really want to put my time and effort and, and reputation on the line for? And I think a lot of the, probably the top streamers and content creators probably do have that wide deeply ingrained. Like there’s a, you know, a Casey Neistat. It was really about the creativity and the you know, discipline and the pushing forward of a craft. And I think, you know, he has been able to build a large audience around that and I would assume a large part of that audience would probably join a DAO that he created and could focus the effort of that crowd on something good that matters to them. And that would be a worthwhile pursuit. But I don’t think like sitting down and saying, okay, well I want to create a token or a DAO. How do I come up with a strong, why that’s going to motivate people is relative to the appropriate way to go about doing it. Very much feel like Seed Club. Like I describe it as like a you know, a horse that was just, you know, all of a sudden I found myself riding and I just feel responsible for, you know, driving it, steering in the right direction. Let’s make sure there’s water. It’s make sure it eats. And sometimes it’s bucking and sometimes it’s running sometimes it’s trotting, but yeah. You know, there, there is any number of times in my career where I felt like I was really just pushing a big Boulder uphill and this feels like I’m just running down downhill next to it. And I think the best whys are like that. There’s this sense of something that exists out in the world that should exist. And that can point to, you know, a number of projects that we’re working on that, that fit that mold like forefront is like, Hey, there’s just nobody talking about the data and, and the markets around and the people around social tokens, we should be talking about that. Jumped from the joint junk community, which is a B2B marketing community saying, Hey, there’s like, no , marketers or a big market here. People, they care about it more than most people. There no place for them to learn. Let’s go create something. You know, Matthew Shane from song camp literally was on our live stream and said, Hey, I had this kind of crazy idea. Should I go do it? And I was like, heck yes, you should go do it. And now they’ve been producing amazing experiences with amazing music entities. And they’re probably leaders in the music NFT space, despite the fact that there’s artists with millions upon millions, upon millions of followers that are coming into it, they don’t have that sort of deep ingrained sense of mission and community. So I think you know, if somebody is like, I want to get into the space, I don’t know, like, what is my, why my recommendation is you should join a community that resonates with you at first. Go get your hands wet there, figure out what’s going on. And then if you’re like truly have, have built sort of an audience or early community and you want to explore, you know, how to shape a token project in a way that makes sense. That’s really why we invented Seed Club. It’s an opportunity for people to like understand the intricacies and the nuances of what needs to go into launching one of these tokens and why running into it and just minting a token right off the bat, or even worrying about all these things, like getting a perfect economic design, et cetera, without really, you know, diving into the problem area deeply is just not worthwhile. And that’s, I mean, I watched so many projects come in from day, week one, and just sort of transformed by week four and five through our accelerator program.
What are some other key roles in DAOs that are required to make it successful?
Yeah, so I think there’s the core thing is there needs to be a core of an organization that keeps the heartbeat going and momentum building. And so I think, you know, there is sort of this often misguided belief that that is just a community that all of a sudden, a community just manifests and they’re gonna make decisions based on consensus, and everybody’s going to be pulling in the same direction and we’re going to create this amazing thing. The reality is there’s usually one or two or a small handful of people who are taking the responsibility to move things forward. You know, for Seed Club, in the earliest days, that was me. And now we have a team of three along with a number of Collaborators that lead our working groups. I think if you look at someone like friends with benefits, it would have been Trevor and a small group of people and now they have you know, five or six different working groups with, you know, operations and communications and various roles that are in play there. So it was really going to you know, I think that the, in our organization that rolls the instigator, but I think there’s, you know maybe a title is not the most important thing here is just, how do you find an, I guess you just require somebody who’s going to be taking that responsibility and pushing things forward. You know, much like other organizations, you need to have a finance focus, right? How are you budgeting? How are you deciding how to pay and reward people? There needs to be somebody who’s, who’s running operations, right? There’s any number of things to manage within the discord server or you know, transactions to engage or broader conversations to have. I think we can borrow from a lot of the existing organizations and think of like, what are the roles we need to have to keep this economic engine that we’re building growing? But I think what’s exciting is that there’s like all these other roles that can start to pop up. And I think each community really should just be paying attention to where, where there is value to be created or a need, and then figuring out how to match community members to that role as fast as possible. I think it’s a very hard thing to do. I don’t think, you know, I don’t think we do a great job of it yet. We’re really trying to get better at it. But I think that’s a big unlock is sort of identifying opportunities and creating opportunities for individuals to kind of step up. But you know, we see marketing and communications and meme, you know, meme dealers, the Elon Musk’s meme dealer, just, you know, et cetera. We’re seeing, you know, folks who are doing data visualizations, but I think the, the interesting thing is, what we’re seeing work really well is have some core folks that are taking responsibility for moving things forward and then making it easy for a broader crowd to come in and, and support those folks. So look, I think a structure moving forward would look like, you know, five or six working groups with one or two people in those groups that are by their part-time, but more directly compensated in a task with the responsibility of managing those groups and then giving them those folks, a budget to you know, quote unquote hire or recruit, or, you know involve other members of the, of the team or the, of the DAO in that effort. And so I think that’s one way other ways are a lot more chaotic and it’s really just about like fighting for resources and pushing ideas forward. And I think, you know, all of these experiments are worthwhile and it’ll be interesting to see. And I think it’s going to be about, ultimately, we’re going to see matching organizational structure with the type of DAO that is being created as being key. And it might not be super clear yet how to do that, but I think it will be in the coming months.
Do employment standards change in a DAO setting? For example, you talked about, for example, having six working groups? Two people, working groups, having someone part time leading that, managing it. How do people think about, or either, how have you seen people thinking about how do you guys think about compensation for these individuals? Obviously they’re paid through the native token, depending on their funding. They might even get a certain stipend through USDC or USDT right. Let’s say, they’re just like, they’re just the Genesis, right? Trying to incentivize people to come on board through their, why paying them through tokens what does that payment structure look like?
Yeah. There’s no one-size-fits-all here whatsoever. So I think like 90% of my time is spent working with folks that are leading DAOs and communities and working alongside them to help figure out what the right fit is for them. And, and I think like the best way, Joey DeBruin, who’s a, you know, a researcher in residence with us at Seed Club coined the phrase, or described the process of were saying we’re in the case studies phase, not the template phase of DAOs and social tokens and communities. I think we can pull insight from many, but we need to make those decisions relevant to everything from our why to our founding members, to the work that we’re trying to do. So like Seed Club, right? We work with many projects and the types of projects we work with are early stage, and they’re not out in the world and distribution is such an important piece to us. So we can’t be super public about all the projects we’re working on, which means we can’t just say here a community come and support us and help us figure this out. This is a challenge, because in many ways there were probably be a lot of value in better-involving folks to it. So we’re really trying to figure out what the right way to do that is. But for us, the idea of having some core members that are responsible for doing working groups here make sense and, you know, we’ll find whatever the appropriate sort of compensation is to you know, be competitive in the market and also you know, give people the type of upside that they want from participating in these communities early on. And, you know, I think the good thing is people who are joining teams right now are really collaborative. Right. I think that you have to approach it in a collaborative way. I know song camp just went through a whole discussion with our team around it and the community around it. How do we use these funds that we’ve, that we’ve raised, like where should they be used? How should we pay people? How should we think about paying people? Should we pay people? And it led to, I think, a better outcome than, you know, Matthew or I, or any sort of members of that team could come up with through engaging that community. And it also brought them closer together and there’s a deeper sense of ownership. So that sort of collective, like, you know, my salary through Seed Club was decided by a working group of people who did research and suggested something and then voted on it. And then the community vote, like our DAO members voted on it and it was enacted. And here we go. And you know, I think that’s just sort of like that, that process is probably key to building you know, consensus and authority and validity in that payment structure.
How do you differentiate social capital from financial capital?
Yes, I think communities, individuals will say DAOs a community like Seed Club needs to think through how we allocate both our financial capital and our social capital. And so financial capital would be, you know, how do we spend our budget? How do we, how do we spend our tokens? You know, do we back a project? How much should we back a project, etc. The social capital is I think much more nuanced and maybe the most overt way. It’s like, who do we want to align ourselves with? Which projects do we want to partner with? Which projects that we accept into our accelerator what types of projects do we work on? You know, I think increasingly we’re going to see the value of curation in the space grow. And when there’s an opportunity for anybody to launch a token in any community to launch a token and we truly believe there will be millions of community tokens out there, being able to determine which community tokens are of high value is going to be a big challenge. And so, you know, we think that by being thoughtful about how we align ourselves with projects today, we’ll be able to position ourselves to be that trusted voice in the space. And that our curatorial sort of partnership and backing of projects in the future will create value for those projects. And that partnership will be valuable for projects themselves. So that’s sort of like the investment of social capital. How do you actually build that social capital? I think is how we show up on a daily basis. Yes. It’s the culture of the DAO . Yes. It’s who we brought in first. You know, most of my first eight months of working on this project was really talking. I mean, I talked to people every single day, all day long, and a big part of it is trying to make sure we find great people to come and join us at Seed Club. And, and I’m just ecstatic by the 62 member-owners that we have today that are all not only outstanding operators or builders or artists out in the world, but they’re all great human beings. I sort of had this mental model of like if any of our team members were locked in an elevator accident, would they have fun or at least enjoy each other’s company? And I think across the board, the answer is yes. And so can I scale that? I don’t know if we can scale that, but I think it’s definitely the intention. So how do you like, to me, that’s more like the, how do we build an engine of, of increasingly growing social capital? But I think the people who do it the best, or are friends with benefits like that is purely social capital. It’s about the sense of belonging. It’s about the sense of, of like, you know, where do we, what do we build? What sort of parties do we throw? There’s all this intangible stuff that just keeps unlocking new levels of value. And you know, I think the sense of ownership and the creativity and like the irreverence and, you know, the, the way that somebody handles issues on discord or that the community responds to how you go and do fundraising, all these sort of things built into this growing a pie of social capital. And it’s unclear to me how sustained, or how much of a moat exists there or like, is it fragile or not? But I think it’s the important thing is to, I think, start thinking through how that, that there isn’t just financial capital that we’re allocating, but there’s also social, social capital.
How can communities push towards achieving on-chain revenue?
Yeah, I think NFTs are the core innovation here for social DAOs like FWB and like the bill and this actually expanding quite a bit. Right? So like PFPs, as an example, like communities like Bored Ape Yacht Club selling out a number of NFTs. And then building a really strong secondary market that can really sustain a lot of development and building within that community. That’s a great example of on chain revenue. You know, we sold off a series of entities that represented sponsorship over our creator crypto summit at the beginning of this year, that’s on chain revenue. The FWB example is on chain revenue. I think like what the tools that mirror are building with additions or on chain revenue for media DAOs you know, the ability to sort of want to sponsor and back and collect these things and show your signal. You’re supportive to a creator is on chain revenue, but I think we’re still really early days as far as on chain revenue goes. And I think the directions I’m interested or that we’re really trying to push is looking at like, what does subscription look like in these community tokens or like social DAOs , you know, owning seventy-five FWB tokens is great, but the likelihood is that I didn’t buy those from the DAO . I probably bought them from another person who was selling them on the market. So there wasn’t revenue that’s going to the DAO directly. It’s not always the case, but that’s often the case. And so some sort of mechanism where there’s a mixture of subscription revenue to unlock some extra benefits that also leads to a portion being paid out in tokens, I think is an interesting model that we haven’t really seen takeoff yet, but we’re eager to push that forward. And I think there’s, you know any number of interesting models that are going to come from the integration of communities and DeFi . Like I truly believe that the next a hundred million users into crypto are more likely to come from Kanye than they are to come from compound. Like what would communities and creators do well, right. They built the trust and authority of an audience. And so that means that they have the ability to communicate, to capture it. They have the right to somebody’s attention for some amount of time, whether it’s in an inbox or on a video. And the biggest challenge I think we have in crypto is that it isn’t obvious why this matters to start with, right. It isn’t obvious why a DAO is better than a corporation, or why borrowing on AAVE is better than borrowing from your bank or why staking something in a liquidity pool is actually valuable. And so we need to have people who have earned the right to that extra beat or two that gets the necessary information across to somebody to get them to go, oh, that’s kinda cool. And to be fair with the crypto world, most of the content that’s out there is really schemey and pump and dumpy, right? Like it’s like, here’s a token why you should buy ADA today and it’s going to be up a thousand percent and you know, what I think we’re not seeing it’s like, so, I mean, the example I’d love to give us what Packy McCormack is doing. Like the work that Packy does at not boring is phenomenal, right? He has a newsletter, 30,000, 40,000, 50, a hundred thousand people. I don’t even know thousands of people read and they read every single week because he’s built up that trust and the good that he’s done for the Ethereum community, the Axie infinity community NFTs is monumental. And so, okay. As more and more of these people come in, there will be more and more you know, web three interested folks in those worlds. And I think they will have the ability to introduce new consumers to DeFi . I think they will earn, you know great referral fees and, and marketing budgets and sponsorships for all those sort of things. I think those opportunities exists for DAOs and communities as well, and maybe are even better suited there.
I think you brought up a great example that at some point I’m a believer that Kanye is going to have the Kanye DAO, right? He’s going to host his own creator DAO, and there’s going to be exclusive gap X, Yeezy drops, you know, specifically for token holders and people are going to be, airdropped probably Kanye songs, unreleased songs, you know, or samples, or there’s going to be this whole element of web three, fun and developing and all these individual communities. And these are gonna be all the normies that come from the Instagrams, the Snapchats, the Tik Toks, cause that’s their main form of distribution to onboard them. So it’d be interesting to see how kind of that plays out down the line.
Yeah. Whether or not Kanye comes out and does create a DAO. We’ll definitely see hundreds of thousands of others do it. We’re seeing that it happened already, you know, RAC was an early example of it. And I think there’s a lot to be done there still. But a lot of these folks who are stepping into the NFT space, I think it’ll be the natural progression will be for community tokens. I think there’s a number of artists that are in the rally ecosystem. That as soon as you know, there’s more and more tools that roll out there, I think you’ll see them take advantage of that. But yeah. So this idea of like, I always I think I use Taylor swift as an example. I don’t know why. If I was like, I think a Taylor swift token and community token like a Taylor swift coin is like, not a great idea, but I think like a Taylor Swifty coin is a great idea and the difference being that you tokenized the fan community rather than tokenizing the artist. And I can almost like imagine there being competing Swifty communities that are bidding up on every single Taylor Swift NFT that gets dropped or the new album that gets dropped for or whatever. And so they’re kind of having these like Essentially like the BTS army, right. But swifty army that’s out there you know, supporting the artists, but could probably be directed in any number of different ways. And, you know, we’re doing this in, I think like the switch from like web two creator to web three is still a very challenging one because the vast majority of people don’t know why or what web three is or what a Metamask is, and it’s going to exist like that for a little while. But I do believe these big creators coming in are going to create that urgency or interest to actually learn. But right now, you know, we’re really focused on the web three communities and NFT communities are a perfect example of this. You know, one of the projects I was involved in, in launching is squiggle DAO , which is you know, a generative NFT art on chain art collection of 10,000 rainbow squiggles. We did not create them. They were created by the founder of a platform called art blocks, but we use them as a way of sort of getting people into a community, giving them some ownership in the community, focusing our efforts on kind of building a large invaluable collection of the community or have tokens that are community-owned and we’ve done that well, but I think what we really want to shift our attention to is how do we go be just like the best advocates for the fun and irreverence that a crummy squiggle represents out in the world. And so could we be throwing parties at the art blocks party that’s happening in Texas, this October, if you’re an ECC next year, you should probably walking into a squiggle DAO party. And there’s probably squiggle streamers that are coming up and just the fun, ridiculous pieces of all of this and I think the reason that’s valuable is that it introduces more and more people to this sort of unique art collection and really doubles down and increases, sort of more of an emotional connection there to a broader audience. So we’re going to see this just like a tiny slice of what’s happening in this weird obscure world of on-chain, generative art. Yes. Imagine what happens when you have communities of folks that are thousands, millions of people that are brought together because of the love of music and care about some of the same things that that creator cares about. It’s gonna be pretty cool to see.
One of the most exciting things that fire me up is, okay, you build these online communities, they’re vast and distributed, but the second you may start meeting them in person at all of these centralized events and see people face to face, there’s nothing more exhilarating knowing that I’m a part of this community, you’re a part of this community. We have shared value in this community and look at what we did together, right? There’s something very special and something very beautiful and elegant about seeing that come to life. Not only digitally, but physically too, through these events. I love that.
I feel like it has even more impact these days, given how distanced we all have been over the last couple of years. Yeah, an early supporter of FWB token holder to FWB. I’m stuck in a line with 400 people outside of the Miami club, trying to get into the FWB party. I RSVPd, nobody reached out to me like what’s going on. And yeah, I look over and there’s Trevor, who’s the founder of FWB still stuck in line with me as well. Right. Like just couldn’t get in. But the conversation in the crowd wasn’t like, oh man, I can’t get in. It’s like, oh my God, this is next level. This is I’m like, this just puts FWB on a whole other level. So there’s this sense I think of like belonging digitally. That definitely changes when you meet in real life. And I think that what I watched there was sort of this unlock of saying, okay, there’s actually a lot more value than just being a part of a discord server. And I think that’s what we’re going to start to see across the community and social token space in the next little while, is this understanding that we’re starting with these basic primitives, but truly it is the sense of belonging that’s over here, that’s over and above it, all that matters. And that can, you know, we talked to started off talking about the disproportionate power that platforms have on the online world. I think what we’re seeing with what tokens are going to do is say, well, actually, yeah, That the point to show your support for me as a creator, isn’t subscribing to my YouTube channel. It’s not subscribing to my email or following me on Twitter or on Instagram, it’s owning my token. And then wherever I go and bring that token, wherever whatever platform, whether it’s discord or something else, whether it’s a party in Paris or something else like that token becomes like the shelling point for our belief and our affinity around that community rather than something that’s owned by a platform. I think at the end of the day, that’s the truly disruptive piece.
There’s two more things I want to talk about is M club, which had a successful crowd sale on mirror. Congratulations for doing that. What an awesome thing to see, come to life. And so many like-minded people, 47 ETH that’s no joke. I think last time I checked, that’s like 140 K that’s going towards, which I want you to tell me more about, I know it’s a media DAO that lives strictly for mere creators. Tell me more about what you plan to do with that 47 ETH. What’s your vision?
So, I mean, the vision behind M club was to create a space for people who are interested in being a part of a zero to one moment in a DAO to have that opportunity. So we were really thinking through how do we best put our efforts towards creating, learning, and educational experiences within the Seed Club discord and the idea of doing like a course or just more of a media series didn’t quite click for us. Like there’s sort of like something different about getting your hands dirty and building these things that I think are essential to be able to actually learn from. So I think that’s like the underlying goal. And as we talked about before, we needed to be pretty clear about our why, and we’ve been big supporters of the mirror ecosystem from day one Seed Club of the first right raise. And we’ve been very active in bringing great people onto that platform and you know, song camp is another example of a project that crowdfunded and launched on that platform that we helped work with. And so, you know, it was pretty obvious to me that there’s a lot of opportunity in that ecosystem. And I also love this idea of not asking for permission to be able to create things that are going to benefit another group. Like I talked about out earlier, we didn’t have permission to launch squiggle DAO. We just did it. Talk to M Club is really about creating a grants-giving DAO or a DAO that’s focused on backing creators that are launching and doing cool things on mirror, or it’s not associated or aligned with the mirror company and organization sort of completely organic and ad hoc. And so we just sort of said, Hey, look, we’re looking to raise 20 ETH to put a pool together and give folks you know, a share of a vote let’s say, in this, in this DAO to create a way for people to, to help co-create something. And the focus we have is on backing great projects on mirror. That’s kind of it. And what we’ve seen over the last three weeks is a group of people come together align around a few core working groups create a season one game plan that was just passed. So season one is going to run for the next 60 days and really starts to formalize a lot of the answers to the questions that I think you’re getting at, which is like. You know, beyond just supporting creators on mirror, like, what does that look like? How do you back them? How do you decide to back them? What’s our role in the mirror ecosystem beyond just allocating financial capital you know, what does a media data look like? How can we be active in leading what that looks like? And so we have 185 members or token holders in the DAO . There’s about 35 who are super active every Wednesday at 10:00 AM. We have a town hall call where working groups are reporting back on what they’re working on, and these are just brilliant human beings doing cool things that blow me away every single day. Today we had Dennis from, from mirror sharing sort of the vision for Mirror . And I think that gave a lot of our community insight into like what’s coming. And I think it’s really exciting to see some of like what I think some people will call a pivot in the near future, but I think for those of us that have been watching, it will just seem like this further empowerment of creators and communities from a great platform. But yeah, I actually asked Dennis I’m like, what was it like for just like having just like a random group of people come up and say, Hey, we’re going to build a community based on your communities. It’s like, welcome to crypto.
I’m a proud supporter of MClub . I have one of the NFTs I voted to pass season one. However, you would define me as a contributor. I’m one of them. So I’m excited to see that come to life and what season one entails over the next 60 days. So more power to the core team that’s making that happen and bringing that alive. Another thing I want to talk to you about, in plug, you talked about this early on cohort number three for Seed Club. Super exciting stuff. So cool to see. So give me a quick brief, what are these cohorts? How can someone understand these cohorts?
So cohorts are how we organize our accelerator program. Essentially we create a thought. As you can probably tell I’m a big believer in the power of community. And I think small focus communities that have a purpose over a short period of time are some of the most valuable ways to collaborate, especially on the internet. So what we do is we recruit a few times a year to bring the smartest, most creative, interesting people that are exploring how to use tokens within their communities, or as creators themselves together to run through a six-week program that exposes them to the latest, greatest thinking of some of the smartest people that are in and around the social token and NFT space. And so, you know, the first season one was really a great learning experience for us. We worked with folks like RAC and Connie digital and Alex Masmej and Carlos from ForeFront and some of the folks that get Daniel to like figure out what they wanted to do and how they were doing it. And it was truly a good learning experience for us. And you know, for participating in these cohorts Seed Club earns a number of tokens from the creators that we helped launch. So we earned some of those wonderful tokens and they’re in our treasury. Our second cohort was really the first one where we really said, okay, let’s help people go from zero to one and we had 12 projects that we launched with. It looks like we’ll probably have 10 projects that will ultimately have tokens out in the world. You know, global coin research forefront. You talked to Jeff from John previously. The protein community is working on one right now. And, and, you know, there are numerous other tokens that are sort of in the works there. And that was really about really helping to, I think in many ways to simplify the project, but mostly I think it comes down to having sort of like the sense of being on a path or on the front lines together. Right. So we jump in alongside our builders and our creators to really help figure out the the nuanced details of each of their community projects. And you know, I think we had folks like Jesse Walden and Jacob from Zuora and James from collab land and Rubin, who’s just a wonderful legal wizard or you know, thinker in the space and a whole host of others Cooper Turley, you know really just the people who are thinking and building on the edges and exposing them to our projects and that’s so the project, sort of getting an understanding of how they should design their economy. How should they go to market, et cetera. You know, after that, the cohort is just sort of the starting phase. We run a continuity program. So all of our projects become, you know, as I said before, we’re long-term partners. So we support projects, you know, over the longterm number of projects that don’t have tokens out yet. I still speak with on a regular basis and we’re helping to sort of push things forward there. So it’s really just a joining, whatever cohorts is becoming a participant and a member in Seed Club, our job is to help them launch a great token. And if they’re able to do that, then they also earn a stake in Seed Club as well. And then hopefully are incentivized to continue to benefit and support other projects that come after them.
So it’s very much so like a mutual marriage. Like I support you. We get token allocations and then in turn supporting Seed Club. And you get tokens, NFTs, whatever that may be. Are they tokens? Are they NFTs? How do you provide that level of allocation?
Yeah. So it’s still a model that we’re working through and hasn’t completely figured out how to do that well, but it’s definitely the founding intention we have. You know, I think like the imperfect example is like, how often we get described as like a Y Combinator, but for community tokens. The big difference is that you know, projects that that come through our accelerator do get ownership in an accelerator, what level that is and how we define that, I think is still something that we’re working on. But it just is such an obvious thing to us that, that the people who are leading the charge, who are learning, who are at the edges, who are you know, the experts in their field should be incentivized and rewarded for helping to support the next wave. And so if we have just sort of this flywheel of aligned and incentivized, amazing human beings in a space where the reality is human capital is a big limiting factor in our space today. It’s not financial capital, it’s talent, and the ability to take responsibility and move things forward. Folks who are able to join us and prove that out. We definitely want them to be meaningful holders of the club token.
When you started cohort one, I feel like there are a lot of things you learned throughout that process, especially also transitioning to two. And now applying those learnings, those lessons into three. Can you walk me through, is there anything, well, one, what, what are some things you learned going through one and two that you’re applying to three whether it be in the mentoring, the individuals that you bring on, et cetera, et cetera. And, what are the top 3 things you wish you would’ve known prior to starting Seed Club?
So I think like the big lesson in all this is, it just takes time. It takes time. And if you really want to get it right, you need to lean into that time and be okay with that. So I would, I think before we went into cohort two, I thought we would have all of our projects launched tokens by the end of the six weeks. Why not right? And the reality is like, that’s just a very unreasonable expectation and would lead to a worse outcome for our projects. And so we know we need to be a lot more patient and ultimately need to be improving and how we continue to support projects long-term. Like right now we’re able to do it because it’s small and we have a set number of folks that are there, but as we continue to scale up, we need to think through how we, as an organization, scale up our ability to support projects. And so I think that it just takes time and takes effort. And the limiting factor is people who kind of know what they’re doing and can jump in and really be helpful as boots on the ground. So I’d say that’s one. Two, I think, like I see communities today you know, more like startups, like I think we were taking the decision we will make on, on which projects come in to Seed Club , I think will increasingly look like similar decisions that are being made around startups. And I say that mostly to mean like, we want to back exceptional founders, exceptional creators, sessionable individuals and folks who have proven that they’re able to sort of overcome adversity and just continue to work on something despite, you know, maybe the initial game plan, not quite working out. So I think we were, you know, maybe not focused on that sort of second cohort, but we did a really great job at that. And I look at some of the ways that our participants are just sort of rolling with the punches and making decisions and bouncing back and overcoming some of the challenges that exist in such a nascent space and it’s super inspiring. And so I think we’ll use that to inform our decision-making process quite a bit, moving forward. And also I think like that we still are very much in the beginning of the idea stage here. You know, it was very easy for us to want to double down and say, we just want to do tokenized communities that look like friends with benefits, but for X and we’re really resisting that urge because I think there’s still many more ideas and directions that can be done. Every week, month, seemingly day, new primitives are developed. And we want to really just try to work with as many different, interesting projects as possible right now, instead of really doubling down on any one. And so I think that’s like a lesson that we’re going to continuously learn and keep top of mind. At some point it will make sense for us to be a little bit more focused, but I think there’s still so much more innovation to happen here that it’ll be interesting to see ultimately how this next cohort shapes up. One unique thing we’re doing this cohort is our token holders will be given the opportunity to make decisions on who gets accepted. So if you think about the club token will represent sort of sharing governance. So how do we run our organization? But we’ll also represent a direct share in like, who do we accept into our organization? So a curation tool. And so we have some exciting plans for lesser like TCRS type structure that will roll out. And so it’s, you know, it won’t be up to me. It won’t be up to any individual within our community to make that decision. It’ll be up to our token holders to make those decisions and you know, I think that’s gonna be a fun experiment to run.
Do you think we’re approaching like a black mirror type of scenario where people will start determining your level of influence and your worth based on how much you’re publicly traded at?
I think that happens today based on your follower, count on Instagram. I mean, as much as it does with the market cap, like I’m not super bullish on the idea of individuals having market prices on, their fame or celebrity, I think it’s going to happen. I think there’s, you know, billion dollar opportunities for the stock market of individuals or sports stars, et cetera. But the reality is for most creators and especially the ones that we work with, the idea of having a price on their creativity is just like the worst part of all of this is really something that they have to sort of deal with to be able to get the other benefits of it. And I think that the other limiting factor in the, in the personal token space right now is that the benefits don’t really come to creators. There’s not a good way of like bootstrapping your creativity selling by issuing a personal token. You know, I think platforms like Rally create a more of like a an economic design can lead to that, but BitClout doesn’t do that. Like you sort of have to like sell your BitClout and dump on your fans and it’s really just not a good way of funding, new creativity. So I think just to say there that like, it’s, I don’t think it’s going to see in its current state, I don’t think it’s going to see the level of success that many people do. I do think there’s a lot of exciting projects that are being built in that vein that are going to lean more into the social capital or the backing people up early, or we’ll probably use NFTs rather than, than ERC-20s to sort of represent that. And I’m pretty excited about that, but yeah, I think, you know, people will opt in to having market prices on them and, and it’s going, look, I think weird for the next little while and save some sort of broader context or platform that really thoughtfully integrates on it .And I just don’t think it’s going to be a point of interest in the, in the near future.
People shouldn’t think that I know what I’m talking about. I’ll throw one other thing out there cause I know we’re over time, but I think it’s like, there’s a lot of subtlety to all this sort of stuff. And, and really like what you’re asking somebody to do is really commit to something and committing to a personal token over the long run I mean, ultimately you’re going to want to retire or you’re going to die. And so there’s like a period of time where this is going to be relevant and somebody is going to get screwed. But somewhere along the line, a community or a DAO is something that you’re trying to build forever. It’s trying to exist forever. Even like a personality. So like somebody who might tokenize like the zombie that was just party bid for, that’s a thing that can live forever. Right. And so I think those types of tokens make a ton of sense and I’ll back them and we’ll align behind them. But you know, the Adam token would have a very short duration of value in my mind. And I might still buy it if there was utility and I would buy it to back you because I like you and I’m stoked on what you’re doing for our space, but it’s just, there’s like a lot of things that kind of have issues there. And I think one other maybe controversial point, and I don’t actually know how I feel about this, but I’ll throw it out there. But this whole NFT world where people are like music NFTs , right? People are buying music NFTs to support artists. But there’s this big push to have royalties be embedded in these NFTs . And I think one possible outcome of all of a sudden that’s shifting the idea from I’m buying an NFT to collect or to back , to support an artist who one were on buying an NFT to get access to royalty streams from an artist is that there’s a chance that these NFTs are going to be worth a heck of a lot less, or it’s going to distort the collector base to the point where it’s actually not that interesting to own these NFTs anymore. If I’m collecting them because I have intrinsic value and maybe there’s a benefit of there being some sort of financial value. That’s a very different thing than if I’m making a financial decision on whether I should own the rights to XYZ piece of music. And the reality is most pieces of music don’t earn any money and so when we start to represent the actual dollar value, that’s accruing to these assets the vast majority of them aren’t going to be worth anything. And so for many creators, I think it might be better off for us to be able to actually use NFTs, to represent the social capital, the creative capital, the sense of belonging, the membership in the community than it is to represent a revenue stream. I might be very wrong, but I don’t know.
Well, I just wonder, and I’m really just thinking aloud here, whether if, if we just start to put the focus on the you know current value of future cash flows, versus the value of being able to support somebody early on and being a member of the community that we’re going to devalue. It will be seen as they’re being less valued in the royalties than what might might’ve existed if you’re just making a bet from your intrinsic motivations. I think that the reality is it’s probably both. And the reality is it’s probably about what story do you tell? And if you go to like a crowdfunding website they’re using to back somebody is like, It looks more like a stock market and just showing like the revenues that are coming from it, it’s going to lead to a certain type of user or if it looks more like a crowdfund Patreon style thing with the music front and center probably looks different. So it’s by no means, am I saying this is the outcome, but I think a lot of people just think, okay, well, if we actually financialized these assets more, it’s going to create more value. And I wonder if that’s true. Like, I think there’s instances where it might not be true.
One of the most recent instances that comes to mind is Torey Lanez, the rapper. So yesterday he sold a million NFTs for a dollar. Each NFT represented his album. Okay. Now you can’t stream the music in the album yet. But the takeaway is that the way he promoted was from the point of view of like, you guys are gonna make money from this, right? Like you guys can flip that shit on the secondary market and I’m giving you guys bags. Like I’m looking out for my community. You guys are going to buy this for a dollar and that’s probably the lowest it’s going to go other than other than zero, but you guys are gonna be flipping this on the secondary, like all their, like everyone’s going with these profile pictures, et cetera, et cetera. Now, there is no real like, okay, you buy this NFT album and the intention of buying an album is to consume and enjoy the music from that album. And I went on that sale and I went to go like purchase. I was like, wait, does it make sense to buy a thousand copies of this album to flip and on a secondary market, maybe from an investment point of view, I’m not particularly interested in that. Like, I want to support the artist for his creative experimentation, with the medium of crypto in the medium of MP3 files. Right. And it just led me to buy like $1 worth. Right. But by the time I wanted to buy it, I couldn’t buy anymore because it sold out in a minute. The point being is like, now he issued a million NFTs. He sold a million albums. He went platinum in one minute, technically by the music industry terms. Right. But it was strictly from the point of view of go flip, this shit go make money. Right. Rather than from the point of view of like, I may do an airdrop down the line, like Uniswap did for its early supporters of its platform. Which is another interesting model, which he may even tinker with in the future. But yeah, just, just something to bring up.
Yeah. I mean, I think like the examples, like this are why, so my take on that is great. Cool. Like that’s a great experiment to run and he’s been able to hack to be a way to get it platinum, like, hell yeah. Like this is we’re early streamers were doing, I think. Right? So I think those experiments are worth it and worthwhile and all the power to them. I think like the big question is like, what’s next? And what expectations are you setting up? And I, you know, I think like the reality is the people who purchase those things are most likely purchasing them not because they want to be a part of a community. They wanna be part of like more of a speculative thing or the novelty of it. You know, by all means I think like, it’ll be really interesting to see what the secondary market of that looks like. And if there is long-term value there. And I think that the question is like, what happens, you know, next time? Right. So I think it’s at that, this is going to work out and there’s going to be a strong secondary market and when he comes out and does his next album, boom is going to be a big thing. But the likelihood of that happening in my opinion is pretty low. Like, I think you’re going to see a whole bunch of copycats copy of that model and kind of burn it out really quickly before he even gets a chance to come do it again and so his move really would be just like Jake, Paul’s moved back in the NFT craze is like, okay, you just done this big NFT drop. What do you want to do next with it? And I think, you know, look at what Gary V’s done with V friends. Like the friends is a top 10 selling secondary marketplace every single day, every single week. There’s, you know, there’s utility backed into it. It’s supported by a team they’re trying to do new, cool things. It was early. Yes. But there’s, there’s you know, a number of collectors that are big, you know, who’ve done really well from it because of the value that’s created there. And and I think like, Yeah, we both need to, I guess, balance off this how do we go do new, cool, interesting things, which I think you could argue that Tory Lanez did with like what where’s like the longevity that comes out of this. How can we like pivot this into something that’s going to last longer? I think that’s the hard part.
I know we put a lot of emphasis on the why and the purpose of doing something right. But even what’s like more so important is like, what is next? What is that long-term plan of continuously creating excitement, continuously creating utility from whatever it is that you’re selling, right. Continuously providing reasons to keep your community engaged in a discord server, whether it be through multiple events per week, like you’re doing an FWB or forefront, right? These are things that creators need to start thinking about as they build their web three communities, right. That engagement what’s the long-term plan. And like how can I create utility from whatever it is that I’m doing. Right. Is there anything else you’d add to that list?
I just think that there’s a lot of again, it’s about setting expectations, I think in large part. And so I think we’ll see successful projects that aren’t actively building out discord communities but have created other unique experiences across the internet. So I think like, yeah, no matter what, you’re in this world where momentum wins and so how do you maintain momentum? But I think there’s gonna be a lot of creative ways to do that. And it’s not all going to be about just trying to drive attention on discord or secondary market sales or what have you. But I think we’re in a world where creativity gets rewarded. Right? And so the idea that we can just go copy what somebody else has done and go run a game plan and that book and have it work is probably it hasn’t worked in most of the social media world and web 2.0 and it’s definitely most likely to work in web three beyond maybe the first early copycats. I think just generally we’re we should be building for the long-term we’re part of this brand new epoch, this huge, you know, inflection point in, in web three it’s brand new. It’s new enough that we all have an opportunity to sort of be a part of this rising ship. And I think those folks that take long-term you make long-term bets on assets. You make longterm bets on people you make long-term bets on, on ideas and on ways of being, I think those pay off. And so I would just encourage anybody who’s thinking about launching a token to just be thoughtful of that and you know, I think one of the things that I’m really happy to be in a position to do is to have a large amount of inbound interest for folks who are thinking about launching tokens. And I think what most people will say is that, you know, I do my best to, to take those calls and to help direct people into the right direction, because I think those little you know, the slight adjustments in how we’re focusing in, on what we’re focusing on, what we should be building, I think can have a really big compounding impact. And, you know, I’ve been blessed with this opportunity to have a bit of a voice in this space and I’m just going to continue to hopefully use it for good.
I love it, man. I think that’s a perfect place to end off Jess. You’re a pool of information and knowledge. Thank you so much for spending some time with me being on mint and, and sharing your knowledge with everyone. I hope to have you again before I let you go quickly, plug yourself. Where can we find you? Where can we find Seed Club? All the above.
@SeedClubHQ on Twitter or see seedclub.xyz. I am that tall guy on Twitter. You’ll be able to find me on the internet. Just follow Adam. He’ll retweet me every once in a while and it will be good.
Mint Season 2 episode 4 welcomes CEO and Co-founder of Socialstack Andrew Berkowitz. He’s building a protocol to power mission-driven social token economies on the blockchain that are backed by gratitude and abundance.
In this episode, we talk about
What determines the success of social token communities
Debunking social token myths
How to derive initial liquidity
Andrew shares predictions for where the space will be in 5 to 10 years
Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!
You’re building something really cool at Socialstack. So why don’t we just get right into it? Give me a quick brief about yourself and specifically tell me. What were you doing before crypto and kind of what you’re doing now?
Yeah. So my previous company was actually a podcast media company. So I graduated from Virginia tech in 2015 and kind of in the years after school, I spent that going down the entrepreneur startup routes and kind of my main thing was I started a podcast called the global startup movement and it was really something that evolved from me, just interviewing a different entrepreneur in a different city every week. To me, acting more as an independent media company and really focusing on finding the biggest issues in emerging market tech and innovation industries, finding the people closest to those issues and just bringing them on the podcast.
And so that kind of grew into a whole portfolio of brands. Our two flagship podcasts for that company were African tech Roundup, which focused on Africa’s digital transformation journey and the global startup movement. Which was kind of broader emerging market tech and innovation focused. And really the core of that journey for me, it was just living the early stage of the creator economy because we had these two pretty traction podcasts. We had a really high quality niche audience for both of them. I found it very difficult to extract meaningful commercial value from the podcast. And so I lived kind of all the challenges of being a creator in the early days of the creator economy starting to take shape. And so a lot of that experience kind of plays into now my ideas and vision for what Socialstack is starting to become.
And, you know, I think that as a creator, COVID accelerated a lot and kind of, you know, made it so that we now have viable business models that, you know, creators can even expand what they’re doing beyond just a lifestyle business, into something more scalable. And now that we have these new tools, these new web three tools NFTs and social token there’s kind of additional layer now that or additional toolkit that co creators have to work with to really get their audience in more skin in the game with what they’re building make their audience feel like owners as well and get them more engaged. So the, you know, vision for Socialstack was really on the back end of me spending five years building that podcast company.
I know you guys are really big on the mission-driven side of social tokens, and we’ll get into that in just a sec because you touched upon that for a minute. But, I want to learn more about how you got into crypto. Like, what’s that story? Everybody has a unique kind of way in. What’s yours?
Yeah. I mean, mine was pretty simple just back in college, you know, 2014, my junior year at Virginia tech just came across Bitcoin. That was when it was around like $600 just from some friends actually talking about it. So steam it by Dan Larimer, he built steam it, I believe in the Blacksburg corporate innovation center. And so there was kind of like, there’s this interesting blockchain community that’s in Blacksburg, Virginia that most people wouldn’t really be aware of. They don’t know it. That was my initial foray into Bitcoin. And so it was just very much so, just like the kind of college kids in a dorm room talking about it. And so I didn’t have that much money when I tell people, oh, I, you know, I got into Bitcoin back in like 2013, 2014, like, you know, I was a college kid. I didn’t have that much money to come in with, to the space with, but it really caught my fascination. Yeah. Been thinking deeply about the space for many years now. And even with the podcast company, a lot of the content that we covered was, you know, crypto blockchain focused, especially within an Africa context.
A lot of people tend to confuse the difference between NFTs and social tokens. Some even call social tokens, NFTs, right? Some people categorize social tokens as fungible and non fungible. How do you kind of think about the two and their differences and their similarities?
Well, I mean, I think they’re both in the same category in my mind, but they’re both different tools for how our creator or a community leader can actually you know, leverage the blockchain technology to start to provide some tangible ways to start to facilitate this process of earning and redeeming back and forth between themselves and their community. So I think finally blockchain has the tangible interfaces and tools where it’s now useful for the creator economy. And we’re seeing the initial use case of art kind of playing out over the past year with that. But you know, it’s, it’s at its core. It’s as simple as you just said, NFTs are non fungible tokens and social tokens are fungible tokens. And each in my mind will enable different components of the creator stack that’s forming in web. You know, I think NFTs are able to facilitate things that are unique items from content that the creator is producing to one-off event tickets or private like, you know, one off concerts conferences that you know, platforms like popup are currently able to facilitate. And then the social tokens really, the way we view it at Socialstack is it’s a way for an issuer, a creator, a community leader, a brand. To connect deeper with their community. And that really is a way it’s a whole new dynamic of community where the most active community members are going to achieve ownership in the community over time, simply by engaging and earning.
What are some of the more interesting, I guess, utility incentives you’ve seen kind of be driven through social tokens to date, anything specific come to mind?
I mean, there are a few early use cases on the Socialstack platform that have emerged that are really compelling and kind of speak to our kind of vision of where social token should go, which is you know, this is not a technology where we’re building something for humans to be traded like a stock market. That’s like that shouldn’t be, that’s not the vision. That’s not the future that I want to create for my kids.
That’s very much like a BitClout vision, Right?
Yeah. And you know, not to knock on what someone else is doing in this space. It’s like, I think we need multiple visions playing out in the space and then people can choose, you know, whichever culture community vision of the future that they want align themselves with. But really the tangible use cases that have emerged on the platform. I think there are three key ones. The first is an ecolodge, actually an indigenous owned ecolodge that’s based in equity. That’s basically using the social token as a way to reward people for coming to the Amazon and like doing experiences at the retreat center. They’re currently building out the next phase, which is building learning modules where people can learn more about the tribe, about the indigenous tribe, their culture, their practices, their traditions, and you can start to earn some of the social token in that way. Now on the flip side, you can redeem it for heavily discounted experiences at the ecolodge. And so it’s a really compelling use case for how a region can unlock ecotourism assets to create a socially driven means of exchange that might be even more stable than some of the Fiat currencies that are in some of these emerging economies. And, you know, a lot of them are pretty heavily reliant on the US dollar to kind of operate. And so it’s a really competitive use case and like there’s really exciting ways that, or really exciting directions that can go in.
That’s probably one of the most exciting use cases that I’ve heard personally. That’s the first time I’m hearing about it because there’s actual practicality behind it, right. It’s not mere speculation and it’s not just being rewarded for committing an action. Like you’re actually building an entire economy from this token, which is super interesting. But my question to you is. Where does this liquidity come from? How do they kind of think about that? Do they pump and create their own like uniswap pools for this liquidity, for their new social token ? Like how do they think about that?
Well, so that token is actually on Celo . Ubeswap is a fork of Uniswap that’s cellos, EVM compatible. You know, altered it. And so all Celo based tokens are traded actually on Uniswap or excuse me, Ubeswap. So liquidity is an interesting conversation in the space right now. I mean, both for social tokens and for NFTs, but specifically social tokens. It’s such an early stage of the asset class that most social tokens don’t have liquidity. And really the only liquidity comes from, us you know, the issuer setting up their own liquidity pool on Uniswap then adding liquidity to it and so that’s like, you know, V1 just reflective of how early of a nature of you know, of a rat in the space. You know, other players are looking at bonding curves and like, that’s something we’re actually exploring internally at Socialstack, as well. As, you know, when you put a token on a bonding curve, it’s a price discovery mechanism where the price and supply goes up, as people buy the coin and the price and supply go down along the curve as people sell the coin and so bonding curves are a really interesting way for a social token to kind of launch itself into the world with tangible liquidity. But I think right now people should be thinking about this space as, you know, ownership in the community network. And so the successful social tokens will eventually become DAOs. I think Alex Masmej said on Twitter, like social tokens and DAOs are one in the same and that’s true. Like any social token that gains traction will eventually come and become a full fully fledged DAO. And so liquidity will happen naturally in the long run. In the short term, people should be thinking about these things as either a reward point system on steroids or as kind of the ability to earn ownership in a DAO and you should be thinking long-term of holding these social tokens. And I think, you know, even the ones that do have traction right now, like friends with benefits. They’re not people who aren’t thinking about speculation right now. They’re thinking about long-term holding the social tokens, something, you know, being a part of something bigger.
Right? How do you advise creators that want to go more towards the bonding curve route versus the linear route? How do you think about that at Socialstacks?
Hmm. I mean, that’s a great question. I think that right now I would really focus more on like the fixed supply. Like, you don’t need liquidity right now. Like what you need is the initial, like people buying into the community because you, at the end of the day, like what is going to need to happen in order for your social token to be successful is you need brand ambassadors. You need to activate community identify and then activate community leaders that like really step up and take on an ownership role and start to become active in the DAO that is early in starting form. And so if you’re thinking of social tokens as like a new way that you’re gonna make money, like you’re not, you’re not thinking about it correctly right now because of the reality of where social tokens are. I think what bonding curves introduce it’s a shortcut to liquidity and it’s a shortcut to, to like that mindset, but I’m not the biggest fan right now of immediately putting a social token on a bonding curve. I think that it’s something that will come over time with the maturity of the space and the maturity and the tooling in the space, but right now you should be thinking about your social token as a way to incentivize the behavior that you want to see in your community and the most engaged members of your most engaged fans, the most engaged participants of the community that you already have, and that you’re continuing to grow. You know, they’re really, they’re going to rise to the top by earning the most token and then over time. You’re gonna, that’s going become apparent and the ones that really believe in your core mission as a community, like those are the ones, if you’re doing the fixed token supply routes, like those are the ones that are really going to be sticking around in the long run versus, you know, the kind of the emotion of speculation, which isn’t really, it’s not what we’re going for here.
Would you agree or disagree that every token that’s publicly listed on these markets is in one way or another, a social token to an extent?
I saw Jess Sloss tweeted that. I think that’s a little much, cause like, to me, the core, like innovation here with the social token component is like we finally have a cryptocurrency, a token mechanism where the value is derived solely by the underlying community, by the underlying social capital that the community brings to the table versus the traditional, like, you know crypto model, which is the values derived from the, from the technical component, from the network and the network activity, the transaction the technical component of the token. Obviously speculation will always be there. But I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think a social based currency is the trajectory of the social token space. And so I think that there has to be some sort of distinction away from like the technology component. The technology component is like the toolkit that you use to facilitate things like transfer, poking around, but like the value of Bitcoin or ether, like it’s derived from the technology and the network. Not necessarily like the social, you know, completely driven by the social value.
But then on the other side, you could argue that Ethereum’s community is like what drives a lot of the value and a lot of the participation and innovation. From the diehard Maxis that kind of rally and push the price and et cetera, et cetera. Right. So it does have that social element to it. Right. And I think maybe that’s where he was coming from, that every single token has this social aspect, right. That has this, I guess, this, this point of engagement where you need the community to drive that engagement and with Ethereum you do have your incentives while you probably don’t get I guess, rewarded for necessarily joining a discord. Right. And you get an X amount of tokens for doing so, like you do in all these other social token communities, right? But it has that social token component, but just a interesting statement.
I partly agree with that. Like, like the value and the reason when people tell me, like, this is an Ethereum killer, that’s an Ethereum killer because of like technology. It’s like that’s nonsense. Like the moat, a big part of the moat of Ethereum is the culture. It’s the community that forms around it. And so of course, like that is present in things, but like it’s only one core component. Whereas when I say social tokens, like they’re like the technology, isn’t what drives the value of any given social token. It’s the underlying social capital and you know, the value of the community there. And, you know, the market opportunities that the issuer is opening up for the token. And so I get what you and Jess are saying there, but it’s more like a social token maxi versus like, yeah like every cryptocurrency has some sort of social component.
I want to talk more about Socialstack for a minute. We kind of touched upon the whole mission driven piece that’s core to Socialstack and the direction you and your team want to go toward.
Yeah. So you, you cut out there a little bit, but I think I got the gist of that. So you know, really there’s in my mind there’s a couple of different versions of how social tokens are emerging and how people think about it. One is kind of what we talked about that BitClout model of you know, this is about trading people like a stock market and speculating on people in that way. I don’t feel aligned with that feature at all. That’s not the future I want to help. And the other, you know, the other end of that spectrum and the direction that Socialstack is heading in is social tokens are, you know, this is a way for a community to connect deeper within itself. You know, this is a way to really create something that’s founded upon gratitude and abundance, not on scarcity and fear, which is, I think a lot of what drives the blockchain space and like that scarcity component, like right. There is value in scarcity and I get that and we also need other systems and other tools where we can build economies where gratitude, abundance love is like the core of how these economies function. And that’s where I think social social tokens need to sit in the kind of stack of like different types of cryptocurrencies. And so Socialstack right now is focused on two components. There’s the roadmap of our product. And then there’s the roadmap of what we say, consciousness or culture. And so as we build the toolkit, the wallet, the community engagement app that we have as we build out the tools to actually run these social token economies and give that to people, we also need the kind of consciousness shift as a culture, as a society towards this concept of, you know, these mediums of exchange are about connecting deeper with each other about like a creator, rewarding their fans with that emotion of gratitude. And the fans reward, like giving back to the creator with, with that same emotion. And so we’re, we’re, we’re constantly asking ourselves, like how can we build tools? Whether it’s tools for gifting tools, for rewarding, specific kind of engagement, that’s a positive impact on the planet and the community like that’s how we’re thinking about things. So the current iteration of Socialstack we have kind of three core technology components that are the first part of our product roadmap and that’s the social token launch pad where we can issue tokens on either the open Ethereum or on other blockchains. We have our Socialstack wallet, which is a non-custodial wallet with email accounts and password recovery. And so there’s a little we don’t have to go in to this on the podcast obviously, but there’s a technical innovation we’ve put forward of how we create a noncustodial wallet with email accounts and essentially that wallet now is multi chain. So we’ve listed Ethereum based social tokens and Celo based social tokens. And we’ve built a Ethereum to Celo bridge workflow, which allows us to conduct all internal transactions from one Socialstack wallet to another, on the Celo blockchain. And so that makes the wallet very carbon friendly allows us to provide instant transactions and the most important is, there’s no gas fees because all of it runs on the Celo blockchain and there’s very minimal gas fees that we’re able as Socialstack to abstract from the user and so we’ve solved a couple of key challenges around social tokens ones right now with the wallet, which is a simple email based accounts to send and receive and then no gas fees. And then the final component in the toolkit is our Socialstack community app which basically facilitates that earning and redemption where an issuer can basically create community tasks for their community to reward them with tokens when they do complete it and then there’s a storefront where they can put NFTs or products for sale that can only be bought with the issuer’s social token. And so we’ve basically built out this toolkit right now that is reflective of where social tokens are right now and we’re slowly going to put out our roadmap and our vision for where this goes as social tokens, as an asset class, gain more liquidity and get more mature.
It’s super cool and one thing that I love that you even sell or you’re doing you’re so creator centric, right? You’re so creator focused. Like you said, you’re innovating on the wallet side from an email based web client type of wallet. Right. You’re innovating also on a few other features, but one thing that came to mind that I’ve learned from your team, that you guys basically collabed on this way to prove a listenership for audio and reward creators based on that. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
ATR U is actually the first Celo-based social token that we launched on Socialstack . And so it’s the social token of the African tech Roundup podcast, which is currently the leading tech podcast in Africa covering the tech industry and so that was the podcast that I built with my partner at my previous company. But now he runs that full time. He’s based in Johannesburg, South Africa as a Zimbabwean broadcaster broadcasting about business and tech in Africa for many years now. And so they’ve implemented something that they’re calling proof of play on the Celo blockchain. And so what they’re doing is they’re allowing listeners to earn their social token every time that they listened to an episode. And right now it’s, it’s a very, it’s it’s, you know, it’s MVP form. So I bet. So right now it’s, it’s being run through essentially a Google form. And they are doing payouts at the end of every month to listeners that prove through the Google form there’s a password in the middle of every episode. And so you have to listen to the episode, they put it at a different point every single time. And then you register that password in the Google form to show that you actually listened to that episode, and then you can earn some tokens. And so it’s a really valuable way for the podcast to do a couple of things. One is Any listener that signs up, you know, they have to register their Celo address. They have to register their email, their name, and a lot of questions that kind of help them identify more about this listener. And now they can see which episodes the listeners tuning into which episodes are actually mining, you know, the token through this Google form method and it’s a really powerful way to get the to have the most engaged listeners kind of rise to the top. Then the people that have the most tokens are going to be the ones that listened to the most episodes. And then on the flip side, they’re setting up all sorts of unique ways for the listeners to actually redeem the social token. So they’re reserving ad space that can only be bought with their social token. They’re reserving podcasts, consulting time from the host that, you know, can only be redeemed with a social token and they’re creating and establishing a network of African tech conferences where you’re going to need to hold a minimum balance of ATR U in any Celo based wallet and show that that you hold it there and you can receive discounts to a whole network of different African tech conferences. And so it’s a really compelling use case. You know how a podcast or cause it can again like use this technology to really deepen their relationship with their fans and allow the most engaged fans to kind of rise to the top. Because as a fan of your favorite podcaster like you want to be seen, like you, you want them to know that you’re really deeply connected with them and a part of their community. And they listened to every, every week or month or however long you, you put the, you put the episode out. And so it’s a really compelling use case.
You know what that reminds me of there’s this producer and a songwriter. His name is Harrison first. He has a social token, first. He was also on season one of mint and he did something similar with his songs where he basically rewards people who engage with his music and play with his music library, blah, blah, blah, long story short. Right. He basically tweeted. He’s like for those who can tell me how many times I mentioned this word in this song which proves that basically they listened to the song, right get an X amount of first tokens or get rewarded with a certain amount of things. Right. Which is, it’s a very similar use case, but how do you streamline that? How do you make that process less manual, I guess. And more, I guess, automatic, have you guys thought about that? Cause it’s such a powerful solution.
Yeah. I mean that, and that’s like one of the, I guess, core questions right now in the entire space, because there’s a lot of like, there’s a lot of developers. There are some people that have launched a social token and are kind of like, you know, operating and testing it out and feeling out. There’s definitely a connection, like a disconnect between the two of those, which is like developer, like actual, useful tools getting built and like what social token issuers need and like you know, we were a part of the last seed club cohort, and like, you know, even within seed club, there’s like still this dynamic of the tool kit that exists right now is so early that a lot of what we want to like enable, like it has to be like the manual process. And so for us, like, you know, with the podcast, we are thinking of like, what’s the most simple tool that we can build that would enable the broadest range of like, like use cases and uses. We’re actually thinking a little bit more on the reverse of the earning side, which is creating a way for a token permission to RSS feed, basically where, you know, this, this concept of like holding minimum balances of token in your wallet in order to unlock, you know, access tiers. That’s a really compelling use case for a podcast, or if they’re able to create different RSS feeds that you need different levels of token unlock access to which means you publishing Mint. Like you need to, you know, maybe hold a hundred Mint tokens to unlock the ad free RSS feed. And maybe there’s another RSS fee that you need a thousand Mint tokens and that will unlock, you know, an additional episode per week or month or whatever you want to enable there. So right now, I think again, there’s social tokens, 2021, and there are social tokens, 2025. Right. What do we need to build now where we can actually meet the market where it’s at versus like building for the future. And so, like, that’s solely what we’re thinking about right now. Like that’s simple use case of token permission in that RSS.
We’ll get to the question where, what is a 2025 and 2030 kind of look like for you and Socialstack. Do you think mission-driven communities can reach let’s say like a, a billion dollar valuation? Do you think that’s a real world scenario for a social token community? That’s mission driven, right? That’s very social driven in a sense. Can they reach a billion dollar valuation?
Yes. Not for a little while I think. I don’t think any, I don’t think any social token community, even like the, the number one should reach a billion dollars right now. There’s not enough value in the space right now. It’s like to, to justify something like that, maybe in the next bull run in 2024 2025 , we’ll get there. But when, when we say mission-driven, you know, what, what we think about in this space is like, Social token communities it’s a way to align co-creative efforts and align people around a specific mission that the community wants to achieve together. And I think that that’s where we need to go with this space. And so an example of that is a surfboard company. I can’t name the company name yet because they haven’t announced it, but they’re basically going to be using their social token solely as a way to incentivize people to participate in ocean beach, cleanup days, plant mangroves. And do a lot of behavior around recycling and environmental cleanup. And then on the flip side, you know, the community can redeem those tokens for heavily discounted surfboards. Right. And so when we say mission-driven, it’s a question of what are you, what behavior are you incentivizing with your token? And like that will over time, start to align the community’s behavior towards accomplishing meaningful missions. And so I wouldn’t like, and so mission driven isn’t necessarily like a you’re not putting barriers around what the community can become. It’s just. Kind of psychologically framing, social tokens in a way where it’s like this is a really meaningful technology where people can come around and connect with each other and have economic incentives towards accomplishing meaningful things that we all know need to get done but currently aren’t getting done. So it’s like a little bit, if you, if you’re familiar with Charles Eisenstein, synchronet economics concept, like we’re as a team, we’re definitely inspired by that. And like, we want money to be just like a new framing of money where it’s something more meaningful than just, you know, a piece of paper that someone that somebody else says has value.
I have a hard time, you know, part of me sees like all these like micro-economies there’s this article that Cooper Turley and Kinjal from blockchain capital wrote on how crypto is birthing all these micro-economies, right. And how it’s going to be partly driven through these social token networks and whatnot and I have a hard time imagining what a billion dollar network may look like, what, what that’s going to be driven by, right. Who are going to be the key participants, how decentralized it’s going to be, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So by asking that question, I’m really just looking to see, like, how do you envision that? How does Socialstack envision that right. Is this a situation? Where is this going to be like a product-driven type of social token, right? Where it reaches a billion dollar valuation, because it has a lot of revenue and it has a team and it’s set up in a way where it’s able to drive profits, et cetera. You know what I mean? Like, yeah. How do you kind of see that? Do you see these social tokens being more social communities? Do you see them being more product driven communities do you see them more service driven communities driven by social tokens powered and framed through social tokens? Like how do you kind of think about that?
So, I mean, that’s a great question. So first answer is, it seems that NFTs are going to be the drivers of social token economies and the like, however that’s facilitated. I think, you know, I think it’s going to be facilitated in a way where. You have some sort of connective tissue, some sort of theme or some sort of mission that aligns all the participants co-creative efforts around. And so like an example that I’ve been thinking about for a while no, one’s really doing like, imagine if there was a solar punk social token and it was a central aggregator for artists to contribute solar punk-themed music art movies, media and there was a whole structure of auctioning, like a whole system for auctioning a system for corporates to interface with the DAO and get services from it. So I think, you know, where we’re going into a world and I’m more bullish on community-based and community-driven, social tokens than other forms of social tokens. But I think we’re going into a world where DAOs will be aggregators of talent. And people will contract with the DAO. The Dow will provide people on the contracting side with work. So they’ll, you know, be companies startups, other DAOs, that contract with a specific DAO that has like proved their core competency of a specific task theme. Ability to complete a search, a certain mission. So I think the compelling billion-dollar DAOs come in the form of broad community-based DAOs that have proven their ability to create differentiated products and services in some sort of area where there’s a lot of demand. And then there’s a bunch of revenue coming in by other outside parties contracting with that DAO =. That sort of, you know, social-driven DAO is where I see things going on the community token side. And then there’s gonna be all sorts of like smaller instances, smaller versions of that that are maybe like brand tokens, where it starts off just as like a reward point system on steroids but then eventually it turns into something where the brands that are honest about their value will attract people that want to participate in that. And so I, I mean, to be honest, you know, I don’t think anyone who tells you that they have any idea where the space is going is being honest, just because we’re still at such an early stage that like, you know, the direction that this space goes in is whatever we as like the active builders in it, Where it goes in, you know? And so I would love to hear your ideas on it. Cause I don’t know.
You know, like some of the top social token projects that come to mind are, like you said, friends with benefits. Another good one that comes to mind is $ALLIE. Even though it’s not in the billion-dollar range, nowhere near, I’m just thinking about an individual creator going public and launching a token on behalf of their brand for their audience and building interesting utility frameworks that incentivize buying and selling of that token. Allie comes to mind because she realizes that, okay I do something really well and that’s game. I play games, I livestream it and my fans love it. Let’s try to take it one step further and let’s try to do gaming tournaments. And the only way to access those gaming tournaments is with $ALLIE coin. You win, you spend and you earn an $ALLIE coin, right. And you start off small, but then you scale. And then you’re seeing her kind of develop her social token now into more of a modern day fan club through her DAO. So I don’t know if they’re going to be necessarily like individually driven right through these individual creatives. Like imagine if Justin Bieber had his own social token and he was doing really cool, unique concert utility or fan club merch utility or whatever it may be that he’s doing to incentivize. The buying and selling, like I see a huge network effect between that or if Kylie Jenner were to launch her own social token and assuming we’re five, 10 years from now and her fans understand crypto and they’ve onboarded and they have wallets, whatever. I could see her breaching hundreds of millions of dollars in valuation for her token, if she constructed her network and her flow and her funnel correctly, you know, I could definitely see that.
That’s like the core piece of it because there are celebrities that have gone into, you know, quote-unquote, have gotten into the social token space, you know, like Lil Yachty comes to mind. And like, that is a, it’s a textbook example of like, What not to do. That’s very inappropriate, the way he’s gone about it. And it’s like the antithesis of what we’re looking to do in the space. Like this isn’t about this, isn’t a new way for you to make more money off your fans. This is a way for you to connect deeper with your fans in a meaningful way and when I see celebrities just straight up selling their social token and then not really following up, like it’s very inappropriate and it I think points to a larger trend that’s happening, that I actually realized with the podcast company, which is the death of the celebrity and the death of like the ability for celebrity to just like, have that like aura about them, where they can just do things and get away with it. Whereas in this new world, like where now in a world where the community convener has completely replaced the celebrity and anyone that doesn’t properly fulfill that role they’re not gonna, nothing that to do is going to be sustainable. Yeah.
When you think about funnel or funnels, the way I explain this to creators, they have to completely reimagine what marketing communication kind of looks like on their end through Instagram, take talk Twitter. Everything that they do now needs to be centered around their token to an extent. They have to for the events that they have to the music they release, they have to completely reimagine this funnel. Would you agree or disagree? Like how, how do they kind of go by marketing and incentivizing people to buy into this without doing literally Lil Yachty’s case case? How do you think creators should be thinking about their funnel?
Well, I think it’s a question of what behavior is the highest value behavior that they want their community members to take. Like, do they want them to subscribe to their email newsletter? Like, do they want them to retweet something? Do they want them to join their private membership community where they meet every month on zoom? Like, like what are the highest value actions that your community members can take? And then you want to incentivize that behavior with token reward. So at this like most core and basic, like that’s really the answer. Like that’s how you incorporate tokens in your funnel. And then beyond that, how can you get creative? So one of we’re talking to a creator right now, a big YouTuber that does a lot of challenges. Like they, their audience, you know, it’s one of those things where it’s like comment below on what you want us to do in the next video and their, their fans basically comment. Like I want you to eat 20 hotdogs in two minutes, like some, some crazy challenge. And then each video they do challenges. And so for them, we’re talking about, okay, let’s flip that on its head. You give challenges to your fans, whether it’s, you know, clean up your neighborhood, your neighbor heard park cook a bunch of meals for the homeless, you know, do, do something good. And then you can earn token rewards by recording it, putting it on Twitter with a hashtag. And then submit that, you know you can submit on the the Socialstack community app. We have a feature where you can set tasks and then upload proof that you completed the task. It’s like, that’s a really compelling way for a market, like a viral marketing campaign, leveraging your fans to have them complete meaningful tasks, give them token rewards for completing it. And then they’re all tweeting it out and going viral themselves. Right. And so like, that’s a really compelling way to leverage tokens in your marketing strategy. On Socialstack community, we also have the ability to create influencer links where you can tie token rewards to that link. And so now, instead of like creating a doing an influencer campaign where you get 10 influencers and pay them thousand dollars or like, you know, paying them whatever. Now you can give them a link or they can earn your social token for each time that they drive. And so it’s, it’s really like the possibilities are endless. You’re only really limited by the tools that you have at your disposal right now. And your imagination.
Do you think that’s going to actually be done? Are they open to that or are they scared to mess with crypto?
No, not at all. I mean we have had conversations where creators are scared to mess with crypto. I think this past year of NFTs has removed that barrier for most creators.
I wanna ask you what was the most important thing you’ve kind of been taught throughout this process of starting Socialstack?
Well, I would say the most important thing is just like getting a full scope and awareness of how early we are. It’s pretty crazy. Just like the conversations I have with like some creators, the deep dive I’ve done into the space when it comes to like what open source tools even exist right now to like, enable this stuff. Like it continues to like, bewilder me of just how early we are . Which is both good and bad, right? Like the nature of crypto is like the earlier you get into the space, the more you’ll reap the rewards. And so it’s a, you know, it’s a double-edged sword, but like that’s a continued just like, whoa, like we’re so early, I would say that’s the core thing. And then the other thing is just like you know, with my podcast company, I was kind of a sole creator. I had a team, but a team of freelancers that I would, you know, just kind of on demand use. And so me and my capacity as a leader, like I’m learning a lot, just how to kind of lead a team, set examples for my behavior. Always be very impeccable with my word and, you know, just really think deeply about some of the ideals in the crypto space of decentralization, personal sovereignty. And how do you strike a balance between. You know, a leadership team of a project really you know, guiding it in the way that, you know is going to be beneficial for the culture, the brand, the community, versus just, you know, it’s a DAO . Go ahead, community, whatever you want, you know, so there’s a balance to be struck there. And it’s definitely an ongoing learning process for the team.
Who would you say are like the three most influential people that have kind of inspired you throughout this process? Do any come to mind?
Hmm. I would say Jess Sloss from seed club, for sure. Like he is somebody who is like, absolutely impeccable with his word. I’ve never really seen anything from him where there’s like been a disparity between his word and his action, like. And that’s very important too. Like there’s very important in the crypto space, and you don’t see that that much, to be honest, like there’s a lot of people in the crypto space that they didn’t earn their money through truth and wisdom over time, they just participated in the Ethereum crowd sale and that shows in the way that they manage the money, the way that they act. And so whenever I see someone that is very impeccable with their word and the space and always follows up on what they say they’re gonna do. Like, I respect that so much and I only see that from Jess. So that’s definitely the first one. Let’s see. I mean, I’ve really like what the entire friends with benefits team has done. Like, I think they’ve set in, in my opinion, they’re the only successful social token that is, in existence. And we can go into that if you want, but I think what Cooper, like, it’s so funny that there’s, there’s that meme of like those, like the Scooby-Doo mean meme of like, like pulling off the mask of like and when you research any successful doubts, For some reason and Cooper’s behind it. Like you always get to the point where it’s like, oh, Cooper of course, Cooper launched this. So I think he’s someone who’s had a really deep vision for where the space is going to go. And I really appreciate everything that he’s done for the space, just by setting an example. And then let’s see, I would say probably Alex Masmej is another one who’s like clearly a super young entrepreneur, but what he’s done was Showtime is really, really impressive. And obviously he is one of the pioneers in the concept of launching a personal token. But I’ve been impressed just watching him from afar of like how he’s really navigated and stepped up into a leadership capacity with Showtime.
Can you talk more about the friends with benefits point that you brought up?
Yeah, I mean look, I don’t feel, I don’t know. I don’t know any whale. Like I felt, I feel like it started off where the draw was that you’re earning dividends or like you’re there like earning and sharing in like the vault of whale. But they’ve kind of shied away from that because that’s a huge, like, secure, like, obviously it’s a security risk if you do that. So I feel like there’s kind of like the stale phase of that community where it’s not really clear. And so I don’t really consider that a successful social token. I don’t feel like there’s a genuine community that’s formed around it other than token go up. So that’s my opinion there. And I think friends with benefits have just like really set the standard in every single way. Like the party that they did in Miami at Miami Bitcoin week, I was there and I was like, whoa, like, this is, this is real. This is going to take social token and obviously friends with benefits to the next level, like, and it did, and they did a similar one in Paris, which I would love to hear your opinion of, because I wasn’t able to make it.
What do you feel like is a common myth about social tokens that you’re trying to debunk? If any?
I mean, I think the main one is just that it’s not like a real, there’s nothing real there. And like, like the people that say that, like, like. They don’t have vision. They don’t, they don’t see where it’s going. Like if you’re looking at the social token space right now and like judging it for like the snapshot in its current existence, like sure, that’s fair, but you have to have a vision for where this can go and, and is going and I was a part of that, you know, it’s very important that people with integrity really step up and take leadership positions within the sphere. Because there’s you know, there’s no saying where it’s going to go. Like, maybe it’s quite possible that by 2030, we’re all just traded like a stock market, you know, like that’s quite, it’s quite possible. That’s the vision of social tokens that actually wins out. I’m building and I know many other people in the space are building so that that’s not the reality that we’re building. So…
How do you prevent that?
By building other things by building others. Like this is the one thing I realized in my twenties, like there’s enough there. There’s absolutely nothing for you to fight against out there. Everything is in the air . Every enemy that you perceive out in, like, it’s, it’s something that you have often here. And so there’s nothing to fight against out there. If you feel like there’s something wrong or perverted out there in the world, then you need to take on the responsibility as much as you have the capacity to do, to build better solutions, new solutions that make that obsolete. And if you build something that’s true, honest and a better solution, then people will adopt it.
What do you think the future of social tokens kind of look like five to 10 years from now? I know you touched upon it briefly, but talk to me more, build that, build that painting for me for a minute.
Well, I think we hit a similar hype cycle to what we’re seeing right now in NFTs. Where you have this kind of mass adoption within a specific subset of the creator economy. So like NFTs right now it’s like artists are like really like getting the full value and brunt of like what NFTs are and can be. And I think over time, we’re going to start to see that bleed over into other areas of the creator economy. But there’s definitely going to be like a, you know, early majority, late majority. Yeah. That, that type of adoption cycle and social tokens are gonna be the same. I think we’re, we’re, you know, we’re NFTs we’re in 2018. We’re close to that point of the adoption cycle of social tokens, if not like, you know, there or a little bit beyond it. But I really think that five to 10 years, social tokens kind of become this, this world of new experimental models of social backed currencies, that in my opinion, should be mediums of exchange and really creates a world where communities, brands, creators with influence are able to incentivize positive behavior and positive action that helped to create a regenerative world that we all want to see. But now we have the economic incentives and. Community-like, community-driven structures to create that. And I think it was Charlie Munger that said, you know, show me the incentive and I’ll show you the outcome. And so we finally have the tools to come from scratch, create the incentives, create the systems and structures that will result in the outcomes that we want to see, which is regenerative planet uplifting communities and emerging economies and advancing and co-creating together meaningful causes. And I think that that’s where the space is going to go because there are people building towards that and we’re going to win.
Shout yourself out, where can we find you? Where can we find Socialstack? Give us the whole shebang!
Yeah. So you can find Socialstack at socialstack.co that’s our website. We’re all on every social media, Twitter @TrySocialStack. And then my handle is below @thewitzcarlton it’s like the Ritz call it Carlton, but with a w instead of an R. And that’s definitely the best way to connect with me. And yeah, like super open. We love to hear feedback, like social stack to the extent that we, like, we want this to be a co-creative vehicle. We have kind of a vision for where the product needs to go. And we also have a desire and a vision for where the culture and the community needs to go. And we want to kind of co-create that with the initial creators on the platform and with the initial community that actually engages. So join our discord, the links on our Twitter handle. And we’d love to see you guys there.
Mint Season 2 episode 3 welcomes Jeff Kauffman Jr., who’s building Parachute, a social token-driven consultancy firm focused on web3 solutions for brands and agencies. Jeff has made it his responsibility to provide entry-level social token exposure to many mainstream marketing and advertising executives via the community’s currency, $JUMP.
In this episode, we talk about the vision behind Parachute and $JUMP, how social tokens will change advertising forever, why he’s building an advertising and marketing network native to Web3, the early days of the internet and mobile adoption, launching creator coins, and so much more.
Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!
Adam Levy: Jeff, welcome to the podcast. Thanks for being on.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Good to be here. Thanks for having me.
Adam Levy:You got it. All right, man. Let’s get right into it down and dirty. Give me a quick brief about yourself, how you got into the crypto space. What were you doing before and kind of like, where are you? Yeah, man.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: I’ll so I’ll give you the quick 15 year journey to crypto. So my background is marketing advertising then in the sort of the enterprise agency world for almost 15 years, got my start just actually marketing on MySpace, believe it or not. So I really sort of grew up through the web two movement and saw that from sort of start to what I, I wouldn’t say finish, but to where it is today. And so that was super fun, loved sort of the birth of a new industry, a new models for brands and creators. But ultimately web two started to feel a little stale and a little over a year ago, I came across the concept of social tokens and personal tokens and that those keywords kind of triggered for me that crypto and blockchain and Web were starting to enter a phase that was more relevant to someone like myself, someone who’s not in finance, someone who’s you know, not a coder or a developer by any means, but someone who builds online communities builds brands and builds experiences. So sort of that combination of writing and industry and you know, see riding the ups and downs of all of that to then wanting to be at the start of sort of the next wave of what internet communities could look like.And yeah, here we are today. And yes, it’s getting off to a good start.
Adam Levy: I love it. And you brought up a cool keyword, web two feeling stale. What about web two is feeling stale to you?
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: So it’s funny because a lot of the sentiment around web was the exact same sentiment that web two had circa 2000 to 2008, which is we’re removing the middleman. The intermediaries are going away. And at the time the intermediaries weren’t Amazon, Google Facebook, the intermediate intermediaries were the large print publications, large TV networks and things of that nature. And so you know, that sentiment was super important for me because as someone who enjoys building brands the number one thing you want to do is connect a brand to a consumer, deliver a great product and a great experience and grow that relationship and web to promised them. Which is the same promises web three is making right now. So I hope we don’t make the same mistakes. But then over the years, what happened? Google, Facebook, Amazon, apple, they all became these huge intermediaries. So we just got centralization and intermediaries all over again. And immediately you start to feel as though you have handcuffs on, so 2010 to 2017 was sort of the heyday. I felt like there was a lot you could do in web two. And then the last three years, the clamps have just started to come down and it just felt like we were in handcuffs and it felt stale.
Adam Levy: So you brought up a point web to aim, to do what web three is doing right now, but people just built quote-unquote data monopolies and these huge islands that were gated and people became the product and very much so what we’re experiencing right now, obviously, what do you think is happening in web three that’s taking change into their own hands, right? Like what are users kind of like experimenting with from a point of view to make sure that web two doesn’t happen over again? What are you seeing?
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: It seems like social tokens, brand tokens community tokens. They go by a lot of terms, but I like social tokens as sort of the catchall and NFTs again, a little bit adjacent to the world of, of social tokens, but you can still build communities around both. It’s really the ability for the end user to control their access to a community, not decentralized platforms. So right now, if there’s a big community in a Facebook group or an a Reddit group how do you mobilize a million people? If they don’t like how they’re being treated on one platform, how do you mobilize them and migrate them to another platform? There’s really no way to do that. And so that creates data lock-in network effects, lock in, and the innovation sort of stops. And so tokens putting tokens in the hands of the end user and then allowing themselves to organize around the token and not necessarily the UI or the platform or the database for law , at it’s simple, or it’s at its most granular level organizing around the token allows just freedom and mobility across the internet. So as, as we start to see experiences, websites and apps built for tokenized communities. We essentially get this world of online tribes that can just move across the internet together. And that freedom is essentially you know, what, what I think is the polar opposite and counter position to, to web two, which is no ownership and very little freedom.
Adam Levy: Right, and I guess we can both argue that we’re part of that internet tribe that is working in a very much so decentralized manner, me through mint you through jump, which we’ll get to in a minute, but everybody kind of has their own entry into crypto into web three. Right. What was yours? Did you first buy Bitcoin and realize, all right, what is this internet funny money? Was it through a blockchain use case? How did you get your start in this space?
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Yeah, it’s funny. My first awareness of Bitcoin was back in 2012, 2013, and being sort of a brand guy, if you will. And not someone who understands deep, deep, deep technology type stuff. The brand of Bitcoin was a bit off putting to me. It just felt really scammy. It didn’t feel right. Just kind of seeing it on the surface. But the general idea of it was like, man, there’s something here and Bitcoin will kind of be the first experiment and then we’ll kind of see what comes after that. So, Definitely put a bookmark in it and kept track of it. And then as we approached 2016 as Coinbase sort of started to gain a lot of momentum and you started to see this really nice brand kind of developed within the space that, you know, brands can often give a lot of legitimacy and credibility started to pique my interest again. So definitely leading up to the 2017 sort of craze and bubble is when I actually started to make some of my first purchases, obviously like super speculative started the devouring every video I could of Vitalik talking about the vision of Ethereum, along with every other sort of conference or video that had been sort of put out there and, you know, got super interested in it. And then obviously the, the ICO boom, and the crash, and there’s a lot of sort of cloudy fuzziness around kind of what was happening. And I wasn’t deep into this space. So at the time I didn’t see really the, like the builders and the real like use cases that were starting to form. So I didn’t pay much attention to it. I was also highly consumed with building a business within the agency that I was working at and sort of scaling a web two solution. So I really just poured all my focus into scaling a social media business. And then in 2020, You know, it just kind of came to a head and it was just like, man, this is this again, that the web two is feeling stale. I’ve scaled this business, but I don’t really see, it doesn’t seem a lot of fun to keep scaling. And then again, kind of come across the term social token and personal token, and then just the, you know, the idea started.
Adam Levy: Sure. No, it makes a lot of sense. And, you know, Jeff, you bring such a unique point of view to this entire discussion, mainly because one you saw not only the rise, but the existence of my space. And then you also saw that transition to Facebook and pre IPO. Facebook is very different than post IPO Facebook. And I think newcomers who like gen Zs, right, that are coming into the space, they don’t realize these problems, right. They’re just end users. There’s just a product at this point. Right. And now we’re seeing the rise of these new primitive as these new ideas, these new forms , of one community engagement, community building and community ownership and what it means to be a part owner and something that you use, right. Something that you contribute your time, electricity, resources, whatever. Right. So when you’re seeing the development of my space, right, you’re being an internet community guy, right. An early, early user, you’re seeing the growth of Facebook pre IPO and how it kind of delivered a lot of its organic traffic before when IPO and the second one IPO that kind of like disappeared. Right? Where are we right now in terms of where web three is to where, what to was when you entered? What what’s the energy like right now?
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Yeah, I really, I feel like web three, social is 2000 to 2003. So like almost pre my space. Like if you go back before my space, Friendster was really. The, the thing that sort of led up to, to my space. And so I think we’re pre my space. I don’t even think we’ve seen. And it’s tough to say like like I don’t think the next wave of social platforms, I just, it, it, that’s too linear. It’s linear thinking. It’s like to think that there’s going to be another MySpace. I mean, another Facebook that kind of dominates. Like, that’s why I’m not, we can get into big cloud, but I’m not big on just a big cloud feels too linear. It doesn’t feel like this exponential just change. And, and what we’re seeing. So I don’t even think we’re yeah, we’re, we’re like pre to really 2002 to around 2002.
Adam Levy: Yeah. I could echo that. And just, just because you brought up bitclout for a minute. Right. And obviously, and it’s a point of discussion that I wanted to have with you more intimately, but we’ll bring it up. Obviously a bitclout is like that social experiment that hit the market, had all the backing of like the top investors that got a lot of attention, a lot of early capital initially. There’s a lot of hype, right? Tokenizing the top 15,000 influencers on a social media platform. And then adding a twist of decentralization. It’s going to get awareness obviously. And like you said, we’re at a stage right now where. I like that because you’re the first person to kind of tell me we’re in that early 2000, 2003 phase which basically means my space got started in 2003 big cloud is like that early iteration of what it could become, but chances are, or I don’t know, chances are, they might pivot right.
And become something else who knows you can’t really predict. But when it comes to like these creators, right. And now let’s get into the story of jump, starting a social token, just so people understand the difference between the social token that you started versus the ones that are on Bitclout. Why not launch jump on bitclout?
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Yeah, absolutely. The main thing that I see with Bitclout , to me, it just felt, so it just felt led to like, just, yes, it had this kind of underlying blockchain component. They tokenized the top 15, I think, thousand sort of influencers on Twitter. But everything about it felt so web two, to me and to me, the social graph is completely built around the individual and not platform. And, you know, unless there’s like a layer of Bitclout that, that, like, I’m not sort of seeing, it still feels like they’re trying to build the social graph around the blockchain itself. And it’s like this, oh, we went from a platform to a blockchain and I dont think that’s where it’s going. I think the social graph is around the user. And right now a theory seems to be the, the best place for an individual person to start to collect tokens and build their own social graph. Right. And, and in that sense, you know, still has all of the high level sort of beliefs and philosophies that , Bitclout is going for. But instead of trying to build around us a very specific blockchain use case you know, Ethereum is really allowing people to kind of create their own social graph. And to me, that, that seems like a a bigger sea change that we’re building social graphs around people, not blockchains and certainly not platform.
Adam Levy: Yeah. And I guess from that point of view, we’re building social graphs around people, but blockchains are the underlying infrastructure that are making it possible. Right. And just because we’re already on this topic, right. I, I think it’s fair point to now even introduce, jump. Right. And I’d love to kind of hear the story because we’ve been kind of seeding at it and teasing it throughout this conversation. So really quick, tell me, tell me about Jump, the social token you launched and parachute how those two kind of work in conjunction.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: So, to set the stage, I’ve got to go back to 2005 again, go for it though. How did the advertising, how did I get into community building? I was in college at the time. Wanted to go to the forefront of where I felt like consumer attention and consumer media were going so very similar to the way, a lot of sort of people who are graduating college and just entering web three right now, just kind of doing the same thing in 2005. I was very big into skydiving at the time. was making a lot of jumps at a local drop zone and just decided that I would start a MySpace page for skydive, Dallas. Didn’t ask permission, just got into it. Launched the page, started marketing skydive Dallas on myspace.
Adam Levy: That’s epic.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: In about a month, the manager came up to me at the drop zone and I only had about nine skydives at the time. So I was by no means sort of an expert, certainly was probably not qualified to be representing them on the internet, but he came up to me and he said, “Hey, we have these little comment cards. And at the bottom, it’s a sort of ask about your experience and how you liked your skydive. But at the bottom it says, how’d you hear about us?” And it was like, check a box, radio, TV, outdoor, whatever. But there was a little note that you could write. And a lot of people started writing MySpace on there and we were getting a lot of business from MySpace and I found out you’re the one, running it? We should compensate you. And so that was sort of my first client. It was a barter deal traded skydives for essentially social media marketing that allowed me to make 1800 jumps over the course of 11 years, which was just a blast. And so when I started to sort of move into the next phase of my career and I started to sort of think about really what I wanted to do. I wanted to jump into web three that’s, as simple as it was, and I needed to, and I needed a parachute to do that. So parachute and jump were sort of born.
Adam Levy:I love how it’s that simple. It’s like, that’s the inspiration. You’re jumping into web three. Okay, interesting.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Exactly. And so when I think about it, and I kind of am like everybody needs a parachute to jump in, that’s kind of where we are at this stage. It’s hard to do by yourself. You need a little help. I’ve certainly had help through my relationships at sea club. I’m gearing up junk to help others in a similar fashion, but unique to a certain industry. So when I really started kind of preparing myself to actually jump in full time and leave the safety net of a big corporation. One of the things that I did is I just put together sort of a trends and research presentation, and I presented to just a bunch of smart advertising and marketing people. So think like senior digital strategists founders of agencies Founders and CEOs of billion dollar companies. And really the idea was, Hey, this is what I’m seeing. I’m seeing this crazy. And this was before NFTs blew up. This was before anyone was really talking much about web three from a brand perspective. And so sort of middle of last year, 2020. And the response I got from everybody, super senior people, incredibly smart agency people was, man, this is fascinating. It’s definitely the future. I see why we need it. I see the problems with web two. I see the problems that this solves. I have no idea where to start. This is so foreign to me. It’s like, it’s like seeing the internet again for the first time. And so as I started to formulate, okay. That’s the sort of the feedback I did a little market research if you will, light market research, just kind of talking to people. That’s the feedback that’s most needed right now in my industry, which is fortune 1000 brand marketing enterprise agency services. And the question, the answer was super plain obvious. It was, we need a community for the industry to come together, to start to learn, to start to set best practice, best practices, and ultimately build the products and services that this industry that web three would, would sort of need. So, that’s where kind of jumped started to make a lot of sense and being able to work with a bunch of agencies and brands and help them jump into web three.
Adam Levy: You know what this reminds me of when, like I’m a big fan of, of the history of the internet and the stages of the internet from web one to web two and now web three. And quick side tangent, I’m curious at, what’s going to make web three irrelevant and what’s going to eat web three. Right. But, we’ll get into that even later. But, what you’re talking about right now, because we’re so early in the stages of adopting more retail level type of web three tech, it reminds me a lot of like these early internet advertising bureaus, for example, right. Like the IAB, right. The internet advertising bureau when mobile came out, right. The, the, the mobile bureaus that kind of helped an aim to educate agencies and advertisers. And is that, what is that what the vision is?
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Yeah, it absolutely is because when you look at the IAB in the nineties you know, if you wanted to learn about the internet, where are you going to write a print article about it? You’re going to talk on the phone? No, you’re going to build a website. You’re going to start a blog. You’re gonna start an email. You’re going to use the native tools of the space. And in doing that, just to build your community, using the native tools by default, you learn the builders learn, the community members learn. And so when it came to like, what does an industry association look like for this age? It was, well, we, we need to vote. Like if we don’t launch a token and we don’t interact with the token, we’re essentially making a huge mistake in terms of how we’re actually actively learning, not just reading articles and you know, tweeting, tweeting ideas, like let’s actually actively learn. So that’s where, you know, the really formalizing a community around a token became important. With that said, introducing a token is a different dynamic than an industry association that is really classified as a nonprofit, right? When you really look at like structure and architecture. And so it’s not really fair, it might even be a bit misleading to call, jump an industry association because of what that might mean, but it is completely fair to call it an industry community. And then I think it levels up the ideas and the ethos of what association wants to do, but I think it actually turbocharges it.
Adam Levy: So with all these bureaus and associations, obviously they would monetize them, quote unquote, through probably membership fees, et cetera, et cetera, education materials. I’m assuming I don’t know too much, I’m thinking out loud here right? But really this is a network effect type of thing. This is a community thing. And to get the resources, to understand, to really get a better hold of what web three is, you’re giving people that first step to buy their first token, if they haven’t already bought in Bitcoin or Ethereum, et cetera, et cetera. And with that, they get access into a community of like-minded people who are also after the same problems, solutions, challenges, et cetera and going through that tunnel together. That’s essentially what it is.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Yeah, absolutely. And the one thing that I’ll add to that is that to me, a token, having a token isn’t an either or, and like a business model, I still think you can have sponsorships around a tokenized community and we can get into what that means, especially when we’re talking big fortune 1000 brands and how they might interact with tokenized communities. I still think you can have online course material that sold USD or some sort of stable coin. You can still have advertising and sponsorships, and I think there’s a right way to do that within a tokenized community. And so , it’s really, we’re talking about the ying and the yang, the Batman and the Robin, the peas, and the carrots, two things that go together like really well, which is community equity in the form of a token and community cash flows in the term of all kinds of products and services that you can imagine.
Adam Levy: Right. So , my next point of discussion is that everybody can launch a token. And these people that are joining your community will soon realize how easy it is and how quick it is and how cost effective it is to just launch an ERC 20 or whatever the token standard is. But the hardest part behind launching a token is building that network effect, creating utility, creating value. How do you think about that? Is there a framework that you use in kind of deriving this value and creating perks, quote, unquote, or talk to me more through that?
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: So really, you know , you’ve got to figure out a way to create value around the token, like the value for holding the token for using the token. And in that sense, a lot of the fundamentals of building businesses and building brands actually come into play. Granted, you have to translate that knowledge into the new tactical forms of like, what can you do at a very tactical level that’s new and different, but the fundamentals are the, like the high level strategy doesn’t necessarily change. And the example that I’ll give for that, because I think it’s by far, the best example is Bezos, what he claims is Amazon’s strategy. And it hasn’t changed in 25 years. I think Amazon was founded in 94, which is the goal is to deliver products faster and cheaper. That’s it? That’s the strategy. It doesn’t change. That’s the business strategy. That’s the brand strategy, everything ladders up to faster and cheaper. And in that sense, you can introduce all kinds of tactics and components and ways. To execute against that strategy. And so launching a token is not a strategy that is not new, like you haven’t like unlocked some sort of new strategy. You have unlocked a new tactic and that tactic is super powerful and not a lot of people are using it right now. But the strategies are essentially the high level mission is essentially the same. So if you looked at jump’s mission statement versus the IAB mission statement in 1994, they probably look very similar, which is create a space for education and learning, create a space for people to meet and network create creative best practices for building brands using web three and helped start and, and sort of fuel the next generation of marTech, which, you know, the whole new adtech and MarTech stack has to be built for, for sort of web three. And so, that high level strategy is not probably that too different from many associations leading up, but how we do it. And the tactics that we use are very, very different. So I would just encourage everyone who’s considering launching a token to actually spend a lot of time thinking about just the good old fashioned business plan.
Adam Levy: Yeah. So that’s a really good way to submit faster products in the most cost-effective manner. Right. Amazon strategy, share with me more about what, what jumps strategy is, right. And what that like longterm roadmap kind of looks like.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Yeah, absolutely. So, you know, Creating a space to learn creating an ability to network with individuals and then create a best practices and, and sort of build web threes, adtech and MarTech stack. Right? Look at what a token does to that and how it kind of supercharges that, no industry association has ever been aligned with a token. Really it’s a, you pay a membership fee, you’re a part of a community. And really the value you get is somehow extracting that value back towards the company that you’re involved with. So if your goal is to kind of rise through the ranks and be president of the industry association, you actually still care more about your company than you do the association, you would care about the association to the extent that it helps you in your own company. And what a token does is it aligns your company’s success as well as the industry association success, because you essentially have stake in the social capital now, tokens, you know, depending on how you design a social token and the purpose you give it, you know, you can get in the crosshairs of the sec and it can become a currency. But ideally all social tokens that you launched there, they are utility tokens. And you have to build that utility into it. Now, supply and demand takes effect over any good that can be traded and price discovery can happen into sneakers or some sort of collectible and those aren’t necessarily securities. So the same thing can happen with a social token. And so when you think about sort of the future of what this industry community can look like, we can start to imagine a world where in every top agency, enterprise agency. So let’s take just the top 200 several people holding a jump token, and then you look at every marketing team within you know, fortune 1000 brand, someone in there holding a jump token. And then you look at web three adtech and MarTech, you know, people that are deep in the web three space. Imagine them holding a jump token. And now you have these mega resources in the form of capital from fortune 1000. You have incredibly creative minds at all these agencies starving for new ways to do creative things. And then you’ve got all these innovators in the web three space and they happen to all be aligned with a token. So there’s a much stronger dynamic in terms of win-win across the board, because your stake is not just your own personal desire to benefit your own company. You actually want to see the community grow and your tokens actually give you stake in that social capital.
Adam Levy: So there’s two point of views here. How do you prevent this from being an investor’s paradise, right? Where they pump and dump and speculate on the behalf of fortune one hundreds, tens agencies, whatever they may be there, the capital that they put in there, how do you prevent investors from speculating on that? And two how do you communicate that to people? Right. We get it right. We get it. We’ve seen the reality of what it could become, where it is right now, but agencies who are more, I guess, cautionary around crypto, how do you explain this stuff to them in a, in a more, I guess, meaningful way that resonates with their level of understanding of crypto, beyond it being for criminals, beyond it being a stock market for random shit coins.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: So the first question, how do you prevent investors from speculating on it? That question first is a premise that that speculation is bad. I think it can cause some people who are new to the space and potentially holding jump to seeing those wild price swings and a tokenized asset could be definitely alarming or concerning. But, I don’t view speculation as bad. I think speculation serves a purpose. And and then also, I don’t think you can even prevent it like once a tokens liquid, like you can’t prevent speculation, so it’s just going to happen. And so really the idea is to not get distracted by your ultimate goal and your ultimate mission, and then the people that are really aligned with that goal and that mission they’re going to do exactly what, what you as a community leader are doing, which is you’re ignoring the price swings that are heavily driven by speculation. And you’re going to focus more on the mission and the purpose. To start, jump is not tradable. And I don’t even know when the jump token will be tradable when, whenever it makes sense. Right now, you have to earn it. And that’s sort of the first step towards you know, putting the token in the, in the right hands of people that want to use it for the purpose and the utility that it is, you have to earn it. And right now to date, we’ve got about 150 beta members. We’ve got 80 agencies represented from across the globe. We’ve got members from Shopify, Netflix, Tik Tok, Prudential, Amazon. And so these people have essentially earned the token by being the first to request access and and, that’s sort of the way I went about building the community as I wasn’t super public about it. You know, I posted on my own social channels and sent out emails to, you know, really close colleagues that I respect and who want to innovate. But as far as like mega PR releases or some like super fancy website, that explains what jump is. I stayed away from all of that. And it was really just, Hey, this is web three. We’re going to learn about it. It’s jump, request an invite. And so those people that were essentially very curious minds and heard just enough of the story and made the effort to request an invite without knowing much. And then I had some zoom calls to sort of onboard people. Essentially their first reward for being curious, people in this field is to receive jump tokens. That’s their first reward. And then moving forward, we’re about to enter season one. And we’ll have two teams. We’ll have an events team and a research team, and essentially to enter the community you’ll have to contribute to the researcher, the events team, and by contributing to the community, you earn tokens, which then give you more access to the community. And at some point, whenever those tokens are tradable it’ll make sense. Obviously, when you start putting tokens into the wild. Anyone can set up a liquidity pool and start trading the token. You know, that’s just the nature of the game. But it’s just like, once you start selling t-shirts, anyone can create a secondary market for your t-shirts. So it’s not like it’s that it’s that different. It just happens at a much quicker pace and probably a much bigger scale, especially coming up throughout the years.
Adam Levy: Yeah. I love how controlled and how focused it is on trying to achieve like not a validation, but kind of getting the initial energy built up within that community before scaling it and getting it much larger. Right. Cause obviously. There is a problem that needs to be solved here, right? And the social token solve that through community coordination, right. And validating equity, right. And validating proof of participation, et cetera, et cetera. Right. And the beauty behind what I like that you’re doing is you’re keeping it controlled, but also you’re aware that there could be quote unquote, a bad actor within that, that wants to take his experimentation to just another notch and create a unit swap pool or a sushi swap cool and create an ETH pair or whatever it may be, whatever the token pair may be. Right. And just put it out there wild and allow more members that you necessarily wouldn’t have won to join, to get into the community. And I think when creators are kind of thinking about how do they build their social token community, whether you’re a Lil NAS X, and you’re you have a fan base of millions, or you’re an individual like yourself that wants to create more awareness for a topic. I think there’s two models, either releasing it out in the wild, right. And letting people ape in quote unquote and buy it, or having a core individual sort of meant this on their own, in their own wallet. Not really create a multisig quote, unquote, that’s managed by multiple people, but you as individuals, Jeff Kauffman Jr. You determine who comes in and who doesn’t. And I think there’s something unique about that with creating that intimacy behind a community. And just to add on to that, you know, I think one of the biggest misconceptions people have is they’re aiming for masses, right? They’re aiming for millions of people in the community, but what you’re proving it’s use case dependent.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Yep. Yep. Absolutely. And I definitely don’t think it’s wrong to just sort of release a token and let people ape in and kind of do all that jazz. I think that’s more sort of natural for where the blockchain and crypto community has been up to this point. But I do think that like every industry there’s evolutions and there are different use cases and you know, jump is certainly very you know, it’s very centralized in, in a sense right now. Now the goal is to get it to a very decentralized place, but that does not happen overnight. And I think a lot of people forget how long certain projects took to actually get to true decentralization and aligning with that ethos. Now at the same time, I think we all need to sort of sit back and understand that there are plenty of reasons to have a very centralized and creative sort of actor in a sense. And so, like some examples that I’ll give is that a musician. While they , or a band might have a token and a decentralized community, the community is not necessarily dictating what that musician is thinking about and creating about and that exact song and that like that algorithm that’s in that musician or that creator’s head and how they wake up and how they feel and how they get to that next hit song or that next hit album. Now there’s certainly like that interaction with the community, but that actual song that’s being created is not necessarily created by the community. It’s certainly created in some sense in tandem. But yeah, I think there’s a lot of room for a very centralized sort of actor who partners with their community but isn’t necessarily giving out just full control and ownership and just being like, okay, and now you create every single song and album ever released under my name and that sort of like that’s Bitcoin .
And, you know, that’s, that’s the, just the full Satoshi goes into the back and there’s now , all these actors that keep that platform up, you know, there are ways to bring the metaverse characters to life and this community-driven like avatar, that’s controlled by the community. And like, and that’s kind of, that’s, that’ll be a fun space to play in, but for the time being, while we still have people that want to be extremely creative allow them to be creative. But these tokens allow them to partner with their fan base in any way.
Adam Levy: What I love aboutthe jump story is, and I touched upon this earlier is the, you can be centralized and still utilize decentralized technologies. You don’t have to go from zero to 100 instantly, right? There’s a process to it. Right? And for future creators who are looking to experiment on this, whether again, your little NAS X or Jeff Kauffman Jr. There are stages to, to releasing and becoming more quote unquote decentralized. Right? And you’re seeing a lot of these fair launch models kind of go into the ecosystem. The biggest one comes to mind is Andre Conje . I feel like I’m butchering his last name, but from yearn finance. Right. And he’s very big on this ethos of fair launch, no premine, no VCs, none of that stuff. Here’s a project. Here’s a problem I’m trying to solve you guys do what you will with it. Right. All still developed, but. It’s two different models. And I think it’s a misconception that people have with like, okay man, how do I go decentralized? Right . Initially, like, I don’t even know the first thing about decentralization. I grew up in a society where all I’ve known is centralization. I have to rework my framework and the way I’ve kind of approached it, like people don’t realize that there is no CEO, necessarily. There is no CMO. There are no executives that kind of manage. There might be not nonprofits that help fuel and fund these ecosystems. But the majority of the traction, the network effects happen many times beyond someone’s control.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Yeah. And you kind of touched on, we grew up with centralization, whether even though we’ve got a whole new generation of bright minds that are coming into this space, they still grew up with centralized school, centralized government, centralized healthcare, centralization, centralized family. Right. And there’s not necessarily a bad. That’s not all bad, but that is a behavior that is so hard to sort of unlearn, but we do need to get there. I’m a huge fan of de-centralization. and we need as much of it as, as we can, but you can do it in a very progressive manner. And so one of the things that I challenge people to do in launching a sort of a tokenized social tokens and community tokens is to think first about what is one single behavior that you can decentralize. One single thing and get really good at decentralizing, that single behavior. And then, you know, you’ll start to lay the foundation and the sort of the culture to sort of spread that. And then maybe one day you can become fully decentralized. You can actually become a DAO. Cause right now, most DAOS are, they’re DOs. They’re a digital organization. It’s not decentralized and it’s not autonomous, but that’s okay. It doesn’t have to start there. And so if, as long as you’re up front with your community, even if you’re calling yourself a DAO, no big deal. Just say, Hey, we’re not fully decentralized yet. It might take us a year or two. I think two years is quick. It might take us some time, especially when we’re talking about culture and human capital, because that is much different than just software.
Adam Levy: Yeah. I think like that quote right there, one behavior at a time, right. And starting small one baby step at a time, one stair at a time. Right. And building from there. When people enter the space, it can get very overwhelming, very fast. Right. And that whole point of view is like, okay. And I want to pick your brain on this a little bit more designing one behavior at a time. How do you approach that? What does that look like? So let’s talk about it from jumps point of view for a minute. Okay. You’re trying to build a network of like-minded ad agencies ad tech, marketing tech, et cetera, et cetera, people to educate them on the future of web three and what it can become. That’s the vision, that’s the mission. That’s the goal? What does that first behavior look like in your ecosystem? How does that look like from your point of view?
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: So the goal is to decentralize research and events. So kind of going back to the two teams that were there. And so the way we’ll do it, we’ll do it in classic agency style, which is, there’s always a briefing and you start with a briefing and then you move into a brainstorm. And then those ideas that kind of the community rallies around will then formulate into the working groups and the projects within research and events. And so in that sense, the ideation of what projects fall within research and events was very decentralized. It was the community kind of came up with it. Now, you know, I had to kick off the process, which was very centralized, sort of planning and structure. You know, then I have to do the work within discord to set that up. So that’s very centralized. And so there’s centralized components of, of bringing that together. But that first, like that would be a huge success for our community just to brainstorm on what the working groups would, would be, and then come to consensus on those working groups and then to start working in those groups. And then if we sort of map that out several months and maybe a year or two, the I, the ideal scenario would that an event idea would happen or would come to someone, they would start organizing the community around that idea. And then that event would happen. Done and that’s the vision that’s decentralized and that came to life without any centralized actor within the jump community. So how do, how do I empower that? And then in turn, create others in the community to sort of empower that. And so one of the things that we’ll have within jump, as soon as the community reaches a little bit larger, still as we’ll have a, what we’re calling city nodes. So ways for agencies and people that are in the same cities to connect. So if jump can sort of put out the resources in the form of tokens to hold the local event, and then that of that bounty and that event just happens and it’s grabbed, and it just goes with very little oversight. Or no oversight from, you know, the centralized team and the, the Genesis team, if you will then we’ll start to see like that actual behavior kind of come into life, hopefully pretty soon.
Adam Levy: And the reality of what you’re saying on paper, it sounds fantastic. But the reality of these organizations is that as you build towards decentralization, you’re really banking on the fact that you’re going to have a lot of self-motivated and self disciplined individuals, more leaders, less followers, right. To an extent, right. And in a world where society has only so many leaders and more followers, right? How do you avoid the bureaucracy that will come and streamline efficiency? I think it’s a problem that a lot of DAOs true DAOs, haven’t figured out just yet. One example comes to mind and I’ll let you answer it for this one example is friends with benefits. They introduced season three and they basically have leads managing events, projects, this and that. Right. And with those, you have core individuals that get, I guess, I don’t know what the pay is, whatever it may be, but they basically get compensated from the Dow and become essentially like decentralized employees, contractors, from what I understand. Right. And they, they are like the leaders that coordinate and manage specific departments. How do you kind of view that when one, all these people, they already have full-time jobs, right. And they’re working at Amazon, it’s already consuming a lot of their time. They’re working on these ad agencies, et cetera, et cetera. How do you build a system that motivates and incentivizes leadership versus being a follower.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Yeah man, that is a billion dollar question. See whatever unlocks that is going to start really do it. Cause what we’re talking about. Talking about coordinating human capital, natural capital. And that’s, what’s so fascinating about this space. And so in the absence of being able to perfectly program everything into software, then you have to start relying on the human brains form of software. And you have to sort of have these centralized actors. And so that’s where, you know, you need even stronger leadership. And I think that when we start to talk about the bureaucracy of organizations, I actually, I feel like that’s when leadership is breaking down and you’re having weak leadership. And so you’ve actually got to somehow cultivate even stronger forms of human leadership when you’re really relying on a decentralized team to self-motivate self act and do it without a lot of oversight. So really, you know, the future is the stronger the leader. I think the more likely they’re going to gravitate towards this sort of environment, because really strong leaders, they don’t want to micromanage they want to empower people and these systems give them a lot better opportunity to do that. And so I think we’re going to naturally see our strongest leaders and businesses and society start to gravitate towards this sort of model. And when you have strong leaders, I think that’s what gets us through the bureaucracy component until we can start to code the coordination of human capital into software.
Adam Levy: Yeah, I it’s, it’s a great point. Let’s pivot for a minute and talk about the future of digital marketing, the future of advertising from the first point of view of decency, centralized social networks. Okay. Now the platforms right now, their business model is ad revenue, right? Probably other miscellaneous like fields, whatever, but majority ad revenue. I, as a Facebook marketer, I can go and set up a campaign, target a specific audience based off the interest, demographic, whatever people become the product, but on platforms like Bitclout, it’s no longer that scenario. Right? How should digital advertising agencies. And I guess also brands and it’s probably two different answers. How should they be viewing decentralized social networks when it comes to engaging with their core communities and their customer base?
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Yep. I love this topic because I think the natural place for a lot of people who are not deep in the world of advertising and marketing and actually care about doing it in a really in a way that’s has a lot of quality and adds value to the person that’s being spoken to and the brand itself. You know, I like to use a couple of old school examples, but I also like to start with a quote from Peter Thiel’s book zero to one, which was you have product and you have marketing and unless your product is at least 10 X better than the user switching costs, well people wont try your new product. And you’re like, well, why not? It’s a, it’s five X better, but the end user, whether it’s a business customer or, you know, B2C sort of play, the switching costs are too high, especially when demographics start to get older and you’re having families and you’re buying houses and you’re working, your parents, you know, are getting older and whatnot. When you start to hit, you know, the later twenties and your thirties and your forties switching costs become really, really difficult. And so I love sort of how Peter Thiel sets that up. And he’s like, well, if your product’s not at least 10 X better than you’re going to have to win with marketing and you’re going to have to build a brand. And so what is marketing? And that’s where a lot of people just kind of go to, oh, marketing. If they’re not in this sort of field, they go straight towards, oh, it’s okay. And that’s just one tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny little sliver of marketing and what marketing is. But it’s really important for us to think about, like, as we move into web three, there will not be a less need for marketing and advertising, there will be a greater need. And the reason is there will be more decentralization and a greater importance on building your brand, whether it’s a community brand or a protocol brand or whatever the mission is, there will be a big need to build that brand and do it in the right way. So I see marketing’s evolution is actually coming into a bit of a golden age and, and I think a better place than where we’ve been. And what I hope is that when we look at marketing budgets and where marketing budgets go. You know, we’re talking about, you know, the analogy is the fortune $1,000 marketing budgets and ad budgets are almost, you know, it’s certainly not at the level of the institutional sort of hedge funds that are now considering buying Bitcoin and Ethereum, right. But it’s the institutional equivalent of branding and communities and, and all of that. And so unlocking those budgets in a new way and bringing those budgets into web three is going to just fuel the growth of the ecosystem. And what I hope is that we, that what I hope gets removed out of the advertising and marketing ecosystem is rent seeking marketing dollars where it doesn’t add value to the experience or the end user or necessarily the brand. And essentially that’s what Facebook certainly has become. You’re renting your audience and your ad presence. Doesn’t add value to the experience. And that second part is so important. And I’ll go back and I’ll use a skydiving example real quick. One of my favorite magazines when I was jumping was parachutist. And in that magazine, there were a lot of ads and I love every single ad. Why? Because it was the builders and the creators and the event organizers and all the people that made up the community were essentially advertising in that magazine. And in that sense, those products and those services and those events. Added to the community and those ad dollars fueled the magazine, which supported the community. And so I actually think there’s a huge opportunity for ecosystems and brands to actually advertise within their communities. And it’s actually a value add even more so than the magazine example that I gave, because I was just a membership of the United States parachute association. Well, what if that was tokenized? And so instead of buying an annual membership, I actually bought tokens. And those tokens traded a value based off of the value of the community and the desire of people to be part of that community. And so that’s where I think that there’s actually sort of this opportunity for advertising to, again, start to become a value add and the problem with the print industry and the television industry.
And a lot of those advertising sorts of channels is that we’re talking about atoms and paper is actually really expensive and it’s hard to scale. And so it’s hard to create real strong business models around really tight and small communities that can support themselves. And so I think that we can start to reimagine the world of advertising because essentially the cost of the media has come down hopefully the creators that are creating that are, are being compensated fairly unlike they are now. And then those ads actually add value. Unlike Facebook, it doesn’t add value to my experience, but when I’m looking at my skydiving magazine, every ad added value to my experience.
Adam Levy: I love that example. That’s such a clear example, but what about from the point of view of let’s talk about influencer marketing for a second , and let’s, let’s kind of transition into the five, 10 year point of view where you’re going to have hundreds of thousands, if not millions of creators, tokenizing themselves and their communities and giving their fans and audiences a ride for their quote unquote money and experience, right. And brands like Nike, like Patagonia, Adidas, the food network, et cetera, et cetera. Right. How are they going to be thinking about influencer marketing? And I have a hunch from buying into their networks where I’m buying their social tokens, but I’d love to hear your point of view on that. What you kind of see formulating down the line.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Well, first to start with fortune 1000 brands, the idea of them launching a token anytime soon is especially an ERC 20, like social token, sort of like that, that is a, that is actually a long way off. I think it’s the legal component of a publicly traded company launching a token like that, the learning curve, but also just the regulatory, uncertainty and risk is going to take a long time. That doesn’t mean that the industry isn’t going to move forward. What I feel like we’re going to see is we’re going to see just the explosion of tokenized communities forming in a bit of this mass Exodus of attention from web two social networks. And so wherever that attention goes, then brands sort of need to go there too. And so what I hope that happens, what I believe will happen and what I hope the Jump community sets the best practices and standards for. Is that, when I work with a brand we want to develop, we want to essentially build that brand. And so what is a brand is a brand, a logo. Nope. Is it a product? Nope. We like to define a brand as a promise, and it’s the promise that you’re going to live up to X, Y, and Z as best you can every single day. And that’s where you have to like really work hard to outline your brand values and then how that translates into goals. And so if you’re Patagonia, which is a great example, they’ve been doing this for a long time. You know, they’re famous for saying we don’t spend dollars on advertising. We spend a lot on marketing, which is marketing is not just placing a single ad, but what you can start to see sort of formulate is brands that really understand their values and their goals and their promise that they want to live up to every day. Hopefully those brands are making the world better through whatever product or service they’re providing. Hopefully we will be able to, as an industry, match them with tokenized communities and influencers that just share the same values and goals. And so when you start to think of like, what are the goals and what are the values of this community and what brand can actually come in and play a sponsorship role to help them achieve that. So imagine sort of, you know, what would Jordan be without Nike, where would jump man as a brand be without Nike and that sort of combination? How is that going to play out? When we start to see the upstarts of these brands start to align with these creators and or communities, and essentially the brand comes in and rather than spending Facebook generates $25 billion a year on ads, 80% of which comes from 100 advertisers. So 100 advertisers are footing the bill for the entire ecosystem. Most people don’t know that. What if those brands start to redirect their dollars to communities that align with their goals and values and start to support those communities? That’s where I hope we see things going. And the reason we couldn’t unlock that before, is this just really hard for a community to capture the value and unlock their own social capital. Tokens give them a way to do that now.
Adam Levy: Wow. That introduces a whole new rabbit hole to fall down like brands re-imagining companies reimagining how they’re investing every single penny. Rather than spending it on these paid ads, which all these drop shipping models, right. That kind of came into existence and all these new friggin brand to end consumer companies that drop ship products from China, from local us, whatever may be right. You’re telling me right now that they’re going to have to reimagine and actually plug and play into these individual ecosystems, which one on one makes me think it’s a very daunting task. How do you find and source all these individual communities that align with what you’re looking to promote and get out there? And two, and I guess this is more of like a question that we can talk more about later, but I think it ties into it. It’s like when these tokens fluctuate in value, how does a brand really determine what they associate themselves with or not? Does a token price determine that as well?
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Oh man, that’s a big question. I think if we’re being, if we’re really focused on our goals and our mission, then we’re not concerned with the price, whether we’re or a community we’re looking at. Like, it kinda goes back. If you look at early early 2000s videos of Bezos talking about Amazon and he’s just like, I don’t care what the stock price is like. Did we deliver more products? Did we, did we improve our shipping speed? Did we bring price down? Did we give people more selection? And are those the metrics that we’re focusing on and holding ourselves accountable to? And I think if you’re doing that, then the token price just kind of becomes a thing that, you know, it’s obviously going to grab some attention, but ultimately, you know, if that’s the focus, I think any community is going to fail.
Adam Levy: So just to touch up on that one point, the first point. So how do brands find these communities now? Obviously they, right now, they live in discord. A lot of them do. Okay. But how many discord servers can you jump into this court also limits you with how many discord servers you could join. Right. So how do you, how do you do that, right? How do you find these communities?
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Absolutely. So we’re super early stage. One of the event teams that I hope will gain traction within the jump community is what we’re hoping to host the first ever web three adtech and MarTech hackathon to start to build the tools that will help brands do this. So, okay. We’ve got. Let’s fast forward two years from now, we’ve got a thousand tokenized communities that have members of 50,000 people, or more soon as we got 50,000 people, that’s a decent size audience to sort of like communicate and work with. And certainly if we’re talking about tokenized communities in the millions. Those are really important communities to get into. And if there’s a lot of them, it becomes tough. Okay. So how do you do that? You start to look at some form of user interface that will allow you to sort of survey the landscape look at what this community is about. And there’s all sorts of data points that you can sort of pull. So if we use just a web two example, very common to leverage social listening tools put in a couple of keywords and then you start to build this cloud of emojis. In other words, and other similar accounts that sort of LinkedIn, you kind of start to understand what that social graph looks like. And you can start to understand if that’s the influencer that you want to engage. And so what I anticipate happening is as the tokenized communities form and scale, we’re going to start to need to have these tools that are so essentially a form of next generation of social listening and community management. And so yeah, those, those are the tools that we’ve got to start building, and that’s part of what we hope jump’s role will be. And when you imagine that world of brands and agencies and entrepreneurs aligned around a token, you start to see that we’ve as a community, we’ve actually created the supply and the demand. And we’re aligned with the token around the creation of those tools.
Adam Levy: I love it. It’s super powerful. When do you think all this is going to come to fruition? Like right now, obviously Facebook Tik, TOK, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, et cetera, et cetera. These are things that we use and we rely on. When do we start kind of like how many years what’s that roadmap you think predict, throw a number out there. What do you think is going to be that point where we feel comfortable with web three tools and strategies the way we do with web two tools and strategies.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: So, one thing I feel like we’re going to live in is web two’s not going to just disappear overnight. I think web two strategies are going to support web three strategy long time. So we’re not throwing sort of the baby out of the scene, but so, but what about the scale of web three? And then maybe when does the flip happen right? With like mobile took over desktop. When does web three marketing and community building takeover sort of web two. And so I think on the, on the conservative end, and I don’t think a lot of people who are building in the space want to hear this, but 10 years. On the conservative end. On the aggressive end, I think we start to see incredible use cases that set the stage within the next two to three years, we’re going to see a big brand partner with a huge community that has global reach, and they’re going to do something together that every brand and tokenized community is going to be chasing after and starting to build around. And so I’m really excited about what that first use case is going to be. I hope it comes from the jump community. I hope we find the brand that wants to align with the community and do something super special. Like clean up the ocean. I don’t know. Well, you know, we’ll, we’ll see what happens. So yeah, that’s, that’s sort of the timeline on it. One of the things that you have to realize about some of these transitions and one of the reasons why I wanted to build jump is I want to speed that up. I don’t want it to take 10 years and jump as a way to speed that up. And so what do I mean by that? So when you look at these marketing budgets and a lot of these decision-making you have mostly people in their thirties and forties and sort of the mid-level to senior director type positions in VP positions , and then you have like CMOs and things of that nature. So kind of starting in your fifties and sixties. And so we’re talking about educating and reaching retraining, a generation of people and how they operate. And seeing that change in web two, seeing dollars transition from TV to Facebook and seeing the mental leaps that the old CMOs and the senior marketing directors were having to leap through in order to say, Hey, I’m going to shift just 10% of my TV budget into social. And then now, you know, they’re going to start to have to make those decisions of how do I shift 5% or 10% of my budget into these web three strategies, especially when on the surface to most people, it still feels like a scam. And so how do we do that? Build a community around it. Hopefully people learn by doing, hopefully the jump experience spreads super fast to these brands and agencies. And at the same time, web three communities are rising up and we can start to create those sort of case studies as soon as possible.
Adam Levy: I love it, Jeff. You’re a wealth of knowledge. Thank you for sharing this with us. Thank you for being on. Really quick before I let you go. Where can we find you and learn more about jump and parachute? Give us, give us the rundown.
Jeff Kauffman, Jr.: Yeah, absolutely. So you can find me on Twitter at @jeffkauffmanjr. You can find, jump on Twitter at @jumperstweeting , and then you can sign up for jump and participate in jump at www.joinjump.community.
Mint Season 2 episode 2 welcomes Neil Harbisson and Pol Lombarte, two biohacking artists leveraging NFTs to remotely alter their bodies. Cyborg-artist Neil Harbisson was born color blind but he can ‘feel’ and ‘hear’ colors, thanks to a WiFi-enabled bone-conduction antenna that is permanently implanted into his skull.
Together, Neil and Pol experimented with a new state of NFTs where the buyer can directly send colors into Harbisson’s head. On the side, his friend, Pol Lombarte sold ‘access’ to his heartbeat as an NFT where the buyer can alter his heart rate from afar at any point in time of the day.
In this episode we talk about the early days of transitioning into a cyborg, the curiosity behind selling access to one’s body, fears and concerns behind this level of biological manipulation, how much he’d consider selling the NFT for, the vision behind this level of experimentation, and so much more.
Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!
Adam Levy: Cool, Neil and Pol guys welcome to the podcast. Thank you so much for being on how you guys doing?
Neil Harbisson: Good, thank you.
Adam Levy: Good, good. I’m so excited to share your story. You guys are two unique individuals in your own respect. So why don’t we just get right into it? Give me a quick brief about yourself, how you kinda got in the NFT world. And we can kind of go from there. We can start with Neil and then go to Pol.
Neil Harbisson: Well I’m Neil Harbisson and I’m a cyborg artist . So my art is to create new senses , new organs and embed them in the body. Like this antenna is an example is an antenna that allows me to extend my perception of color beyond the visual spectrum. So it’s an antenna that allows me to sense from infrared to ultraviolet vibrations we might have then and I create an NFT that gives access to my tablets.
Adam Levy: Awesome you guys are the first people that I came across to introduce like a bio-hacking element to an NFT drop. Right? What, like what prompted you? I guess you’ve all, even before we even get to that, can you talk to me more about the relationship between between you guys? Like, how did you guys meet? How did this collaboration come to life? Share with me a little bit about that.
Neil Harbisson: Well Pol is an art student and, we both live in Barcelona and we were both interested in NFTs. Well, we were interested in creating a type of NFT related to cyborg art. So we thought that the best way to mix both arts crypto art and cyborg art would be to create an NFT that connected. The owner of the NFT to our bodies. So that’s why we came out with a lot, to explore that union between these two arts.
Adam Levy: Yeah. And I guess the, the relationship, I know, Pol, you mentioned as an art student and you guys met at the art school that he was studying at, or how did you guys kind of come in contact with each other?
Neil Harbisson: The street.
Adam Levy: Just like that?
Neil Harbisson: I was working in this way, then I see him . Well, cause I, my aunt then, sometimes, I meet people because of the internet. So I guess we met because of the antenna and then he was interested in creating his own organ, cyborg organ. So he started project creating this heart, a digital heart. A second heart. And then while he was creating it we thought it would be good to mix both things NFTs and this type of effort , this actual project is to create works of art with the digitalization of these heartbeats. So it’s like, how have you going use these heartbeats to create other, other artworks. Like he’s, he’s grading a clock that keeps going forward depending on his heartbeats. So that’s, if his heart goes fast, the clock goes faster. So, and then he’s also creating a light that works with his heartbeat. So he’s working with his heart and time.
Adam Levy: Yeah, it’s a super fascinating one. When did you guys get kind of like fall in this, into this fascination of biohacking? When did that start for each of you?
Pol Lombarte: When Neil and me I’m was on a train going, from Barcelona to Matera and talking and talking. We think about NFTs and first Neil said , I want to build , I an NFT of my perception of God.
Neil Harbisson: But, and then we kept talking, but yeah, my introduction to biohacking or what I say more is neuro hacking because my aim is not to hack my body, but to hack my mind by creating new senses. I started in 2003, when I was studying music and I was interested in using technology even a different way and then I thought that would be interesting to create a type of technology that would alter my perception of reality. So since 2004, I’ve been hearing colors afterwards. I agreed that the, another implant in my knee that allows me to sense the magnetic. And now I’m also creating another, organ that will allow me to sense the passage of time, but by the next 24 hours to go around the body. So it’s the fascination of opening up our senses with technology and exploring new forms of art.
Adam Levy: where do you find the doctors to kind of do these procedures? I feel like these are very, very unique things to conduct on the, on the body and I remember seeing one of your interviews at Google and basically a lot of doctors actually rejected you from the start, right? They didn’t want to conduct these types of operations. Where do you find these individuals and how do you kind of convince them to go forward with something like this?
Neil Harbisson: It’s the other way around. Some doctors read articles about this movement and they get in touch with me, interested in helping or collaborating. And then we have now a network of doctors and nurses and biohackers that are interested in helping us create these type of surgeries, because most of them are still not accepted by bioethical committees. So we need to do this, procedures, underground for now. Yeah. Pol , I remember
Adam Levy: I read in the article that talked about your NFT drop, that you were messing with an EKG sensor, right? And you were still experimenting whether or not to install it permanently in your body. Have you actually gone forward with that? Have you done the surgery?
Pol Lombarte: No, that I did not do. We are still developing my music not to be as practical as possible. This is the first prototype.
Adam Levy: So can you, can you explain it to me a bit? So what am I looking at exactly? I see a few lights flashing. I see a few wires. Can you walk me through it?
Pol Lombarte: This is a electrocardiogram. We started doing, you know et cetera. And I am-
Neil Harbisson: He’s sending, this work here. Yeah, so this is the exact thing he used heartbeats, and then it’s sending, sending these heartbeats by Bluetooth to the internet. You can see his heartbeats, wherever. If you have the connection, the link you can see his heartbeats live. So now it’s quite the big system. It’s his first prototype , but he’s next. They just know to make it smaller. And then at some point it might be able to have it invented here in this area. And that’s his first prototype now. Okay. This stage, next stage is also that he will be able to receive vibrations in his body so that the person that owns the, NFT will not only be able to see his heart rate, but also heartbeat, but also he will, or she will be able to do an outer heart, his heartbeat by sending vibrations to his body.
Adam Levy: Got it. And Pol , do you, do you have to charge that device? Is it run by batteries? How, how does it get its electricity and its power?
Pol Lombarte: It was with, this battery and that’d be good. It can be charged. It can be charged, is very big as you see. It will be more practical the aim is to use body energy, not external energy, but now this is the fastest way of creating this system. But it’s, as you say, it’s not very practical yet.
Adam Levy: Mm sure. Can you can you share with me more about the story of you guys kind of discovering NFTs for the first time? What was that first instance of an NFT you came across? Was it a piece of art? Was it a piece of music? Tell me a little bit more about that.
Neil Harbisson: Hmm. Wow. People kept emailing me, asking why I have you done any of these though? Have you got an, I have no idea what it was. So I kept trying to understand what it was. And it took us quite a few days. We both started to understand the system and then we wanted to find out how to make them ourselves. And then it was a, because people kept asking if I had any NFTs . That’s how I suddenly became interested in NFTs . And then once we learned about it, we find it very, very relevant. It’s an art that’s going to live forever. So it’s. A very interesting area for us to explore also a good space where you can innovate because it’s such a new art movement that you can actually create new types of art forms with there.
Adam Levy: Yeah, no, for sure. I think when I, when I came across your story of how you guys were basically, I know you don’t like to call it biohacking, but basically whether it be messing with your mind, messing with your heart, right. In attaching a crypto primitive to it, that’s like the first of its kind that I’ve come across. Right. And did you guys have any, any fears or any concerns kind of going down that route with allowing that level of experimentation in the hands of someone else, even though you guys purchased each other’s NFTs. Right. But let’s talk about scale for a minute. If you guys plan or when you guys plan to do that, and we can talk about that as well. Is there any fear, any concerns that come to mind when taking this and scaling it?
Neil Harbisson: Yes, because we are basically selling access to our body and to our minds. So it is that’s why we decided to buy each other first, but then we need to be very careful of who will help. Well, I mean, we can’t do anything about it, but once we, once I sell access to his heart and he sells access to my head it will be, yeah. Anything can happen. The person that purchases this access can potentially annoy us a lot basically or alter my perception of color. In a way that might alter my life. And also if we finished this access to his body so that people can other, his heartbeat so it can alter his life, but it’s an art that has some risk. And we both like art that has a little bit of risk there’s many cultural things like sports that have risk or learning social activities that have risks, like finding mountains. This is an art that has some risks, both because we don’t know who will buy access to our bodies and how they will treat us that secondly because this merging with technology also has the a bit of an unknown.
Adam Levy: Yeah, sure. Actually let’s backtrack for a minute, right. Because I don’t think we got into the full story of what the NFTs were. Exactly. So can you, can you quickly tell me like the story from a to Z on what you guys put out on open sea and into the crypto verse and both you and Pol and how that kind of collaboration.
Neil Harbisson: So I have an antenna implanted in my head then allows me to perceive the vibrations of color from infrared ultraviolet and the other one has internet connection. So my NFT is basically access to my head via the internet. So the person that purchases this NFT . Send colors to my head, which is with a mobile phone, you can use your camera and then you can just string like images directly into my app. So I can certainly sense the colors from the mobile phone. So people can alter my perception of color by sending colors to my head. And then Pol sold an NFT where you can visualize and see his heartbeat, real value. And the next stage is that the first one will also be able to alter his heart rate by sending vibrations through his heart. So he has sold his heartbeats in a way, and then I’ve sold my perception of color.
Adam Levy: Crazy. Absolutely like absolutely crazy. That’s so cool. That is such a cool use case to attach to a non fungible token. And I know it feels like an everyday thing for you guys, but from an outsider, who’s not really in tune and ingrained with your level of experimentation, your level of art, right? That risk art that you talk about. I see NFTs as either music pieces as either a digital art or video pieces. And you guys are really introducing like a new level and you add a new layer into the crypto verse that you don’t, you don’t really see. Do you guys ever think about that or has it just become so ingrained in your process that you don’t really think twice about it?
Neil Harbisson: You know, the. We just, yeah, we just thought it was, it was the best way of merging our current art form because if we were musicians or even white papers, I guess we would have done something. But if our art use our body, if we want to create NFTs related to our art form , you have to be an NFT connected to an organism because it’s, we see the cyborg. Cyborg art is not only cybernetic. It needs an organism. So the NFT have to be connected to a living organism, which is us. Now, the thing is what will happen when we die? Cause the NFT will still be alive, but we won’t. So that’s also something that we have to to think about. And the, when you purchase the, the NFT, this is also state that what happens because at some point our organisms will die and then the NFT will still be alive. So but then surely you will still be able to send colors to my head once I’m dead and you will still be able to send vibrations to his body once he’s dead.
Adam Levy: Yeah, that’s going to be an interesting experiment and how that plays out.
Neil Harbisson: Our cybernetic organs can then continue being alive once the rest of our body dies. But there’s different ways that we can solve this problem, but the, the NFT will still be able to work properly.
Adam Levy: I understand the concept. I understand what the NFT is, but how would I actually, okay. Let’s say someone purchases an NFT. How do I go about changing the color that you actually hear ? Right? It’s not necessarily see it’s the vibrations that in the frequencies, right. That go to that, your inner ear. Right. That’s how it works from how I understand it. Right. So how do I actually go about doing that? What does that process take me through that flow? So I purchased this NFT. What’s next?
Neil Harbisson: You have a link that allows you to use a camera or from your phone to send colors to my head . So it’s a unique link that allows you to connect to my connection in the back of my head. And then the mobile phone. It’s just, it’s an app that allows you will see and hear the colors that you’re sending. It’s the vibration of the, of the actual color .
Adam Levy: Got it.
Neil Harbisson: It was a thing that I already used before there was five people that had permission to send colors to my head with, with their mobile phones, but now it will only be one person and it got it being done through an NFT .
Adam Levy: And the same process is for Pol as well, if I want to change his heartbeat.
Neil Harbisson: Yes.
Adam Levy: Okay. So, there would be a similar link that I would go to and. Got you. But how do you actually, and I guess this one’s more for Pol , how do you actually alter your heartbeat? How do you do that? Like does the NFT holder need to do an action that will then increase it? Do they send heat waves that spike up your temperature? Or like how does that work?
Pol Lombarte: Well, that is still my NFT. Then send me and we arranged them in, in a part of my body once I got here. And when I received the duration I’m sounding as big as it is. It’s something unexpected. Exactly is not expected. So these are done by fabrics and the owner of my NFT can visualize, in my car. So it basically, I view it if someone, yeah, I don’t know if it’s unexpected, if you receive an unexpected vibration in your body, even if it’s a small vibration. If it’s unexpected, you won’t be able to alter his heart rate is something that they.
Adam Levy: Got it. Got it. That’s, let’s, let’s play more in this scenario where now it’s in the hands of the open public and someone random purchased it. You guys are sleeping, right. And they start increasing your heartbeat. And some person starts changing the colors that you hear and you feel. Does that worry you at all? Like one day you’re gonna wake up, like at three in the morning, you know, let’s say it were to happen. Let’s just say, okay. And your heartbeat starts accelerating and you start hearing all these frequencies and all these vibrations. Does that concern you at all?
Neil Harbisson: A little bit, but I mean, in my case , the person might be able to wake me up or annoy me while I was sleeping or this person might be able to color my dreams. If these colors interact with my dreams, this person might be coloring or altering my dreams by sending specific colors the same way that if he’s sleeping and someone I’ll just hear his heartbeat, it might wake him up or it might alter his dreams. So I think as long as we see as a, an art performance then, and we keep track of what, how we are experiencing those interaction with the stranger or the owner that is interacting with our bodies. I think we willlike it. I mean, we won’t be, I mean, and if it’s an, if it’s a bad experience at least it will be an interesting experience.
Adam Levy: So cool how you guys are ballsy and daring like that. Because to the average person, that sounds like a nightmare, but you guys actually welcome that level of experimentation, that level of risk taking. And with high risk comes high rewards and great stories. So I really applaud you. I I’d be curious to follow up later when you guys do decide to scale it and you do decide to put it in the hands of the public and kind of retrack and hear what those stories that you probably didn’t really estimate or expect kind of occur. Let’s talk about more I know you guys are very vocal on cyborg rights. It’s something that you’re very vocal on and you talk to a lot of governments about and recognition from the materials that are in your head to to how you should be treated and how you should be classified, et cetera, et cetera right. What is the current state of cyborg rights? What does that look like right now?
Neil Harbisson: The basic right would be the freedom to decide which body we want to have as a species, which is a right that we still don’t have. If you want to have an antenna implanted, in your head , for example, you will find it very challenging to find a way of doing it legally or in a clinic. Even if you want to pay it, it will be difficult to do it in a way that it’s legal right now. So that’s the first right we think we should. Allowed to decide which organs and which senses we want to have as a species. So that’s a basic, right. And there are still no countries accepting these type of experimental surgeries most bioethical committees will not find it ethical if you go beyond visual perception or if you go beyond human perception or if you add new body parts. So that’s one of the challenges. A country that will, at some point accept adding new organs and new senses. And then also accepting that these implants are parts of ourselves, not property but organs. This is also another challenge. So if someone pulls the antenna out . It shouldn’t be treated as damage to property, but physical aggression, that’s something that we’re not accept that in any legal, not legally. I mean, it would be challenging to see that. So it’s slow a process, but I think it will, we will see. In the near future when now we have laws regarding humans, laws, regarding technology, and we will soon find laws regarding humans that are technology.
Adam Levy: Sure. Do you, do you feel the same way, Pol? Do you feel differently?
Pol Lombarte: Yes, I am.
Neil Harbisson: He doesn’t identify so much as a cyborg.
Pol Lombarte: Yes because at the moment I’m not feeling like cyborg cyborg. I am, I am doing cyborgs.
Neil Harbisson: He’s just creating, he’s a cyborg artist, but his sense of identity is still, he still doesn’t identify as a cyborg. I defined it as a cyborg doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have an implant. It’s just, if you include technology as part of your identity, I think you are already a cyborg. Many people have implants and don’t identify these implants as part of them. And that’s why they don’t identify as cyborg and then many, people don’t have implants, but they identify technology as part of their identity. So, and they identify as a cyborg.
Adam Levy: Yeah, no, it makes sense. Makes sense. Do you guys see NFTs kind of improving the future rights of cyborgs somehow?
Neil Harbisson: Probably. I mean, in NFTs, this can be used for legal documents and legal things that once this is normalized, I think we will see yes, a way of using NFTs also to help cyborg rights , you know.
Adam Levy: Yeah, cause right now, the way I guess they’re being used right now is through art through fashion, digital, real estate music. Like I said, you guys are the first instance that at least I’ve came across where there’s some bio element to it and sooner or later legality in transferring ownership through NFTs for larger assets. I could see it bridging into human rights. I’ve worked rights and whatnot. And so I guess like what’s in store for you guys in the future, when it comes to integrating your way of life and how you guys identify as with this new form of technology, what do you guys have in store? Share with me some alpha leaks. What can we expect in the future?
Neil Harbisson: Well, the fact that the NFTs . Never really died because once they’re in the blockchain, they’re very undestructible. If we enter the blockchain, we ourselves enter the blockchain then which inspired me we’ve started to go by, in my case. My sense of color is in the blockchain now in, in, a part in some way, my color perception won’t ever die. If his heartbeats are in the blockchain, Part of his heart will never die and so, you know, the way we try to find ways of entering the blockchain, not only this example, but many, maybe more parts of ourselves can enter the blockchain and how to connect the blockchain with our bodies. Once our bodies, die. This is something that we’re thinking about.
Adam Levy: Yeah. Yeah. How would you go and price these I guess interactions? Cause again, I know you guys went ahead and purchased each other’s NFTs just for the test run, but, do you have like a dollar amount in your head? What does that look like?
Neil Harbisson: No idea. We use the smallest possible amount of in .00001 Ethereum this area we bought each other. And after that it’s really. No idea how to.
Adam Levy: I feel like if you’re going to let someone take over your state of mind, right. Or your state of your heart, that comes at a big price tag, especially if they’re able to alter that your perception of reality and your, your heart speed at any given time. Right? That’s a, that’s a premium type of feature, right? Do you think a hundred thousand dollars for an NFT of that sort is too much? Do you think it’s too little? I know you said you don’t really know, but let’s, let’s tinker with them. Let me test your mind for a bit a million dollars too much?
Neil Harbisson: We would sell for 100,000 for sure.
Pol Lombarte: No, no, no. I mean a hundred thousand.
Adam Levy: Paul Paul’s like, no, at least 10 million.
Pol Lombarte: 100,000 Is a lot. I think I would.
Adam Levy: You would do more or less?
Pol Lombarte: More
Adam Levy: More. Okay. 200,000?
Neil Harbisson: I don’t think if you, if you had an offer now, I don’t know. I would, I would, that’s a lot. I there’s there’s that you can buy a house here. yeah, but yes, it’s maybe this thing, I like this. I we’ve put ourselves in a situation that makes us think, and that’s why we enjoy it so much. It makes you think of, and also where does the level of cross as well? We need to trust each other now because I have his heart. He has my head. So at least we trust each other, but from the moment we have to trust strangers is yeah, we have to trust that they will be good to us. They won’t be annoying. Part of the it’s. Yeah.
Adam Levy: Yeah. Wow. I really stumped you with this.
Neil Harbisson: I have no words of describing this , especially when we talk to our parents, it’s really difficult . Your parents don’t understand what you’re doing.
Adam Levy: What was the reactions when you guys will Neil for you transitioning into a cyborg and Pol kind of tinkering and experimenting with your, your heartbeat? What, were the reactions?
Pol Lombarte: So reactions they understand, or my friends they understand that what is, what is that I am doing. But my parents after two months they understand they like it.
Adam Levy: They like, they like it. They’re like, okay, this is cool.
Pol Lombarte: Yes, yes they like it.
Adam Levy: Wow. Hmm. Interesting.
Neil Harbisson: Parents, I don’t think they, they understand the NFT thing. Yeah. But then this was in 2004 and my mother was a bit scared. You can just ask for that? Well, lots of news about the dangers of mobile phone antennas. And that was when I said my mother will have a, I will have an antenna implanted into my head that in my head, she said, this was not, not a very good idea, but now they’re completely used to it. We never talk about the, antenna just a part of my body for over 17 years. So it’s completely normal, but that at the beginning, my mother especially didn’t like it.
Adam Levy: Crazy crazy. Are you open to talking about, cause I know it takes a specific unique surgeon to do this type of surgery. Are you open to sharing how much it costs to do something like that? Are you public about that?
Neil Harbisson: The surgery was free
Adam Levy: It was free?
Neil Harbisson: He did it for free. Yeah.
Adam Levy: For free?
Neil Harbisson: Yeah. Yeah.
Adam Levy: Just to be, but he also stayed anonymous too, right?
Neil Harbisson: Yeah.
Adam Levy: So free and anonymous,
Neil Harbisson: I paid for the materials. Renting the space. So in total, it’s less than like around 7,000 or 6,000, having all the material within didn’t have to be done very small, the biocompatible material the machine to drill the head renting the space, was around 7,000. But that doesn’t mean that this past 7,000, it could cost much, much, much less. I mean yes, all the new organs on your senses can be done in, very variety of prices, because it depends on the material you use. How big, where you have it done. If the rent, the space you rent is more expensive, less expensive. It’s difficult to say how much it’s not like a, it’s not like a mobile phone that big cost.
Adam Levy: Yeah. And is that $7,000? What, what currency?
Neil Harbisson: Euros.
Adam Levy: Euros. 7,000 euros. Okay. Yeah, super. Super cool. Yeah, guys, I’m excited to see your journey in the NFT space and what you guys come up with. And before I kind of let you go and we conclude the interview quickly, tell me where we can find you guys and kind of stay tuned with what’s next.
Neil Harbisson: Instagram. We both are in Instagram, like my name’s Neil Harbisson and because this long back there and a hash definitely. That’s why we are constantly posting story.
Adam Levy: Amazing guys. Thank you so much. I, and I, and I hope to have you again.
Mint Season 2 episode 1 welcomes Don Diablo; an industry-defining NFT artist, Dutch DJ, record producer, musician, and songwriter of electronic dance music who is known for his electronic style of production and vocalizing in most of his songs. He led a multi-industry career ranking sixth in the 2020’s top 100 DJs by DJ Mag, as well as amassed millions of dollars in sales for his crypto-inspired fine art.
In this episode we talk about the origins of his early inspiration into music, how his dad plays a major influence throughout everything he does in life, his career as a top 10 global DJ, how he broke into the NFT space, getting featured at the iconic auction house Sothebys, his latest NFT drop, and so much more.
Interested in sponsoring future seasons? Get in touch here!
Adam Levy: Mr. Don Diablo. Welcome to the podcast. There you go. Hexagon. How are you doing, man? Welcome.
Don Diablo: Good. How are you doing?
Adam Levy: I’m feeling good, man, at ETH CC in Paris we’re finally in the same time zone. And yeah, I think every time we call, every time we chat, it’s either 5:00 AM your time. Cause you never sleep. And it’s like 3:00 PM somewhere for me. I don’t know. But anyways, dude I’m so excited to have you on. You’ve been so busy during COVID and this last year and I’m excited to kind of break down your vision for how you see NFTs, how you’ve been experimenting with NFTs. But before we get in there, for those who don’t know you, which I find is pretty hard, but for those that don’t know, you tell me about yourself. Who are you? And we’ll start there.
Don Diablo: Don, that’s actually my real name. My father named me after and before it was his real name was Don van fleet grew up in a family, two brothers, the youngest brother in the east of the Netherlands, very much near the German border. So I speak German as well. My dad sold peat moss yeah, he was the sweetest man alive. So he’s taught me a lot of things. Not only just how to be a human being or be a man, but also how to be creative. And so he’s been very supportive. So it has been a big force for me going through this creative journey especially in the last couple of years after losing him. And yeah, it just made me realize the concept of time. So from there on, you know, I started to value mostly the concept of time. I started building my own sort of future both musically aesthetically, visually, emotionally initially through music. Then I ended up adding all kinds of different layers, fashion comic book series visuals, video, and yeah, that’s just kind of grown into something bigger and to tech and eventually now into NFTs, which I love because it’s, you know, it’s bringing all of my sort of different backgrounds together, all of these different disciplines. And yeah, my nickname was the diablo growing up. So it became Don Diablo. That’s kind of a little, a little intro to yours truly.
Adam Levy: Amazing. You know, you’re very vocal about your father having a very big impact on your life. I’m curious, what were some of those, like early instances of creativity that he kind of introduced to you that sparked kind of where you are right now.
Don Diablo: You know, he really like he showed me it was okay to be different. Right. I guess I kinda grew up in almost like a big fish kind of way, cause I wasn’t really much around. So he, you know, he kind of just made us dream bigger and just had a lot of imaginary friends growing up because where I lived there wasn’t really, there was no one there. There was literally a monkey living next door to me, he’s older neighborhood. So they had a monkey as a pet and over like, no one from my sort of age bracket was there, didn’t really do much with my brothers. So it was very much a sort of a solo approach. And my father, he traveled a lot for his work, but he was a massive like talking fan. So in my second name is Pippin named after the character from Lord of the rings for like knights and king Arthur And yeah, that just kind of formed a big part of my childhood, I guess, just that imagination. And also musically, you know , he listened to captain Beefheart Frank Zappa Roxy music, Tom waits you know, he wasn’t listening to the stuff that was on the radio that he used to have songs that were like sometimes have like 28 different temporal changes, different key ranges, like literally, maybe songs that are 20 minutes long, but sometimes these guys would just go into the studio, not even have a song written that would just go in and just do it. Just kind of let their creativity speak. Later on, my name giver, captain beefhart, Jonathan Frakes he went from music into into painting. So, you know, that also showed me as an artist you can have like different disciplines, you know, that you concentrate on. You know, kind of grow into going from music into art was kind of a normal thing to do. Later on obviously when you kind of go out of that protective bubble, you’re like, oh shit, the world doesn’t really work like that. The will is actually horrible. You know, like people are horrible and you know, you have to kind of like just thrusted into the world and then it just reality starts dawning upon you. And my struggle has really been, I kinda just always wanted to keep that kid inside of me alive, making sure that, you know I would always have that spirit and sort of that you know, will to push things forward or to think differently.
Adam Levy: Yeah. You know, your early, I guess, inspiration with music, right. Coming from your dad and all these unique artists and albums that kind of influenced your, Genesis as a teen producing music. Are there any albums in particular that come to mind that stemmed your music journey that he, that he introduced.
Don Diablo: Oh, that’s actually a good question. One of the earliest albums, I remember my dad playing was Trout Mask Replica by captain beefhart. Obviously like pink Floyd played a role growing up. But then I remember one day , it was almost dinner time and my dad pulled up in front of the house and he just sat there. My mom was like, can you get your dad because we need to eat. Right. So I was like, okay, I’m going to get my dad. So as I approached the car, my dad was just sitting. There was kind of just holding the steering wheel, just like, forward facing. I was like, what’s happening here? And I heard from, I heard, I heard this sound coming from . I’m like, okay, let’s do this. So I opened the door, music comes out loudly and I see this tape like lying next to him with this smiley on it. Right. And this is like, It’s an asset. It’s like, okay, cool. What’s this? My dad didn’t say anything. It’s just like, come in and just sit down. So just kind of like we were listening through these bleeps and blobs and I was really into rock music back then. And yeah, I was like, well, what’s this music made with computers. Wow. Cause I always wanted to make music, but I didn’t, there was no one to be in a band with. So it was like, how do I do this? Right. I’m 13 years old. So nobody wants to play in your band. So you’re, like no music making that is, I guess. And then yeah, I was just fascinated. Just started wondering like, wait so you can, this music is made by one person on a computer and it sounds like it’s from the future and it’s looping, it’s evolving. It just kind of fascinated me. So I asked my dad, can I have the tape and later on he introduced me to the prodigy, got this album music for the geo to generation. He’s like, you should check this out. I was like, okay. And that’s kinda, just kinda, yeah, I guess took me over, still into rock music, but then the idea of being able to start your own band with a computer that’s that gave me the ultimate freedom, right. To learn to , I guess, just become a one man band and have all these voices in my head, talk with each other, become their own band. And that’s kind of just started off a whole new era in my childhood, I guess.
Adam Levy: Do you ever revisit those albums as you produce songs right now and kind of like look back and listen to their, their harmonies, their, grooves, and like compare it to what you’re doing right now. Do you ever do that?
Don Diablo: You know what? I never did that until the pandemic hits, to be honest, I never really listened back to my own music. I usually, I hate it to be very honest. I mostly just generally hate everything I do after I did it. I have like, ah, yes, I did it. And then I’m like, ah, that’s the worst thing ever . So it’s really, really hard to, it’s always been an internal struggle for me. That’s why I’m always, I, you know, I always have discussions with this about, you know, my friends or a family or girlfriends. So like it’s never going to be enough for you. It’s never going to be good enough. It’s never going to end. There’s always a next goal. And I think the same goes for the music. Right. It’s funny when the pandemic hit, I was like, okay, I gotta, I’m just sitting here. Like all my friends everyone’s locked in. I’m alone. Right? I’m a single guy. Like I’m just sitting here in this church that I was just built walking around these different floors creating music, but also like just having time to reflect. Right? So started opening these old boxes, found these CDs from when I, you know, started out making music when I was 13 or even 12. I’m not, I don’t remember. I think I put out my first record when I was 13 and all these little ideas and I was like, that’s cool stuff in it actually, if you think about it, because the thing is when you start, you have the innocence, right? That’s what all creativity, when you start, there’s no pressure. They’re just ideas, thoughts of just randomness of you trying to be not actually, they’re not, not trying to be anything, just a hundred percent being creative without thinking about what’s going to happen with that creativity afterwards. Right. So you’re just doing, and I think not overthinking and as you make music and you become, like, there is a point where you decide, okay, this is a hobby I’m just gonna, you know, get into real life, get a job. Life takes over you do your thing. Right? So in my case it, it went the other direction. I was like, I never wanted to be a full-time musician. I started out making film actually. And I guess it just kinda like yeah, it just happened. And I think I was already like maybe 10 years into the game making music professionally. And I think my mom said to me, like she said something to me that made me realize like, oh yeah, I’m a professional musician. You know, like, this is what I do. I make my income with this. And I live from this it’s actually, but up until that day, I was like, this is a hobby. Like I’m just having fun and just, oh, you know, never thought about making any money from it. So hence the fact that in the first, first 10 years of my career, I never got paid for anything. I was in a strangled contract. I was ghost producing for other artists for the first five or six years of my career. Just literally sitting in a basement somewhere, just grinding away, making music for other people, other projects. Now I’m looking back on those projects and they they’re actually, it’s cool because I don’t look back on that period with bitterness cause those different influences and styles have really kind of made me more diverse as a creative, I would say otherwise, I might’ve been stuck in just making one type of electronic music for instance. Becuase in the electronic music scene it is very judgmental. If you are chosen for this, then you have to do keep doing this. If you kind of vary from that, you know, you really kind of risk your fan base, like getting really angry. So I, for me, moving forward was always a goal to have a very open minded fan base. So I guess basically just become a fan. Of me, of what I’m doing rather than of a certain song. Right? I think if you want a real career, you have to think ahead. You have to like always surprise people will be a step ahead. Sometimes shock them a little bit. Sometimes disappoint them because that might not be what they want at that point in time, but it might be what they want maybe five years down the line, 10 years down the line for me, it’s always about, it’s been about not running a sprint, but running a marathon. Right? So, you know, during the pandemic went into these boxes found these CDs, that tape mini discs, actually, that also brought me back to a funny point, because I remember it’s, you can only work on one thing at a time, which is a crazy thought that, right.
Adam Levy: Which, I find hard that you’re saying right now, because I feel like you have always something coming up and once that’s about to go live, you have like three other things that you’re building in the pipeline.
Don Diablo: Yeah, well back then, if you’re like you, I need, so let’s say you make music. There wasn’t any, there wasn’t total recall. Right? Right now, just you open your laptop, laptop, desktop, whatever MacBook you have, all these projects, you can work on them at the same time or different people all over the world. But back then, it was like you had a mixer. You had all these gear was incredibly complicated. To be honest, if you look back on it, you’re just literally reading manuals of samplers, drum, computers synthesizers of machines delays. All of these things are like, where do I start? It’s not like you could go on the internet, look it up because there was no internet. So it was really just like pioneering with no one around you. Like, how the hell am I going to do this? Just hooking up all this gear. If you look at all these picture for me and my old studio, I’m literally, I literally weighed 60 pounds more than I do now. Literally just sitting on a chair all day eating and just figuring stuff out, right? Yeah, just looking back on that I’m actually, that actually made me pretty proud like that the patience that I had, and it also gave me the discipline to understand if you really want to learn a craft, it’s not just about watching a YouTube video, downloading some loops and throwing some stuff around. I think a lot of creativity has become a lot easier, right? Like you want to be a photographer? Well, I have a filter on my iPhone, you know, it has like three lenses can even do a portrait mode. You know, or if you’re a musician, you know, there’s, you can just go on splice sticks with some loops and, you know, whatever. It’s like, I think arts become, you know, people have become more indifferent to it because it seems like it’s easier to achieve something that looks quite, you know, acceptable professional or impressive sometimes even. So I think that’s why a lot of creators are struggling mentally because how do you stand out from that? I got lucky in that sense that I grew up in that generation of you know, really having to figure out how the hell to do this. And there wasn’t really that much out there yet. So yeah, I went back found these CDs. There was a track on there that I sampled by a group called enigma. I really liked them because they were literally an enigma. Nobody knew who they were or was it one person, it was all this sort of church sounding, kind of music, choirs and very mysterious. Obviously I had no idea how the world works. So I was like, this is a sample. I can’t use this. How do I clear this? They’re never going to allow me, but I, I want to do something special for this album. And, really, you know, this, this is why the album it’s going to sound different. It’s going to be influenced by the pandemic. Not literally, but indirectly, I guess. Because a record like that wouldn’t have happened. What I did as I sampled my old record from when I was 13, then turn that into a completely new record. Like the way I would make it now in 2021. And yeah, I just sent it to, to to enigma. We found them it’s some mysterious story of a man living on an island. It took like a year, so actually to get a reaction it’s clear now. And it’s now coming out on my album, Don Diablo and enigma from the deep. And it’s, especially if you listen to those lyrics, you know, we came out from the deep to learn, to live, to learn how to love. No, it’s really simple, but it’s that those words still resonate me after all those years. And it also, to me, it shows like good ideas, good arts. They will stand the test of time. So yeah. Yeah. It’s been, yeah. It’s been definitely a journey.
Adam Levy: Yeah. And you brought up a few things that I want to dive into. So you brought obviously the pandemic and all the activity that you’ve seen in the music you’re producing, the art that you’re creating the idea of building a brand that exists beyond yourself. Right. And doing more things that, like you said, usually artists, they drop a single and then when they try to pivot and do and do something else, their audience kind of backlashes, but you’ve somehow managed to, to build not only your brand, as future and open-minded so that people that get attracted to it already expect that stuff. Right. And you, you talked about also the point of view of basically producing music that you love and that’s important to you, right. And, and how you did that and stayed independent, which is a very common theme in crypto when it comes to ownership, owning your stuff and centralizing that process. Versus being attached to devious labels and all of these contracts that take you as an artist. So we have a lot to break down here. Okay. I want to, I want to pivot really quick and talk about like your early days in crypto. I remember seeing articles about you in 2017 about you experimenting with, with cryptocurrencies, launching your own token, et cetera, et cetera. How did you get into crypto? What, what’s that story exactly? Was it through Bitcoin? Is it through Ethereum? Share with me a little bit about that.
Don Diablo: You can do this and you can, it can make you very rich, yada yada, but again, the idea of potentially jeopardizing other people’s lives or, you know, endangering people when it comes to finances just, it didn’t sit right with me at the time. I don’t want to become popular or wealthy over other people’s backs. So I, I, I felt like I couldn’t control the narrative enough with like doing 200 shows a year, still making music, doing a radio show, running a fashion line, running a record label. It felt like it was too financial for me then. Even though I already had invested a lot of time, energy resources into it, I decided to pull out and kind of had my eye on NFTs shortly after, because this is exactly. What I was missing. Right. It was, it’s the idea of, you know, combining everything I just mentioned. The blockchain for thinking is transparency and arts, you know, that’s, to me just was like, okay, this is the thing I should be diving into. And this is where I think I can Excel. So that’s short kind of lead in to how that’s kind of just the, how that developed for me is I really, do, take my time for a lot. I’m a very patient guy, like literally I can even this, like when I started this sort of this new music genre and people were like, Hey, I’m cool, but who’s going to play this. Like, there’s no, there’s no platform for it. So it’s just you. So my idea is cool, but I got like eight years. And in those eight years I’m going to build. You know, a platform I’m going to build other people that are going to make the same style of music that will be a community. Once those people pop up, I’m not going to resist other people trying to between brackets copy, or maybe even improve my sound. If you will, in a more positive perspective, I will embrace them and we will create something of a new, a new era, a new sort of you know, a new community, I would say where it goes beyond music, right? So it became hexagon, hexagon became a platform for a lot of young talents to discover who they were, because, you know, for me, it was like, okay, this is an opportunity to not just make it about me. I created a radio show so I can support other people’s music. I created a fashion line because I was, you know, I like to wear, you know, dope clothing, but it’s usually very expensive. So it was like, what if I can make exactly what I want to wear, but also make it affordable for people. So you don’t have to pay like $700 for a jacket, but still, you know, for a reasonable amount of money can buy something that has all the extras, all the ideas attached to it that you would normally pay for very expensive item. And you can really sort of the idea of just not just being a part of people’s lives through music, but also through fashion, something you, where you take the work just grew into this whole world. And then the comic book series game. And then it was like hexagon hexagonians . Those are the fans. And it became hexagonia as a planet we want to go to cause that’s kind of where everything is, you know, it’s in the spirit of everything we’ve created. So I think if you’re an outsider, you’re like, who the hell is this Don Diablo guy? And what the hell is he talking about? And why? You know, you want to go when you go to a concert, like people are dressed the same way. They’re like, there’s this logo. Well, this is the logo stamp. The logo is such, it’s like a, the logo I created because I didn’t want to have a don diablo logo. I wanted to have a logo where everybody could feel they’re a part of this too. You know, we’re a part of this together. It’s not just about me. Like I rarely use a Don Diablo logo. For me, it’s kind of all interconnected, you know, it, it all works together, whether it’s my arts it’s the music, fashion, comic books it all comes together and it stands for futuristic anarchy. Right. So it’s really kind of just this symbolize of the idea of like in the future, we can rewrite the rules. And even I guess my fans know if you look at pictures from me from back in the days to think actually I have one from my yearbook, if you look at like where I came from maybe…
Adam Levy: I’m so excited to see this.
Don Diablo: One second. If you’re listening on a radio, you’re you got to tune in on the video things. I don’t know if I can.
Adam Levy: Wow. Wow.
Don Diablo: Okay. So people know my journey, right. I decided it was either go left or go, right. It was like either I’m going to just stay or in my room, never go out. Never make any friends. You know, just be the loner, just you know, spend my life just, you know, with the glass half empty then I just went through these phases and I think, you know, music gave me that freedom to be like, Hey, I, people are interested in me now. Right. They don’t hate me anymore. Cause I’m, I’m making dope beats. And it gave me a sense of belonging to somewhere. Right. And I think it wasn’t until I had this, this record that did really well in, in the UK. I never really was embraced by my own country. So I think as well, if you’re an artist, you kind of have to look beyond the border sometimes because sometimes you’re the right person born in the wrong you know, the wrong place sometimes in the wrong body. Like there’s so many different things that you know, that can make you feel a certain way, but then later on you realize, wait, it wasn’t me, right. I was born in the wrong place. So later on that switch, when the, when abroad started to embrace me, my home country started to embrace me. And now it’s, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s been good. But it’s definitely started outside of my country for me. And I had my first booking in the UK. I saw this picture because you have to imagine, I don’t really have, there’s a period of my life where I don’t have any picture. This is the only picture I have of that period almost. So there’s like a, maybe a seven or eight year gap. Where I was taking the pictures and I never wanted to be in those pictures. And then someone took a picture of me doing my first gig in the UK. I was like, holy shit, who is that guy? You know, like it just made me realize like, damn, I had a bad skin. I had a, and I didn’t go to the hairdresser for like nine or 10 years. So my hand was like right up to my bum pale as, I don’t know what, so I just started realizing I don’t have to do to be, you know, to be like this. So that’s kind of where I started switching my life up a little bit. And then as obviously you go through ups and downs, you let it go a little bit more. And then now during the pandemic, I was like, okay, there’s no excuse anymore. I need to catch up on a little bit of sleep. Cause I used to sleep two, three hours a night, max, you know, before the pandemic. So I’ve switched it up. Like now two to five hours I have a trainer comes by every day. Lost again about I’d say like 30 pounds and kind of just on the right track again. And now we realize, okay, well, if I feel healthier, I got more energy. If I got more energy, I can do more. But I, you know, usually I’m, too stubborn to realize that.
Adam Levy: Your brand of future anarchy. It’s such a, those two keywords future anarchies is something that really trickles down within the crypto and blockchain space. Right? And you’ve like, somehow you’ve already positioned yourself years ahead of your time with, with hexagon to already align with this niche that you really broke into, that you’ve already been like experimenting with, but had a lot of success over the last few months, starting March, 2021. And I want to, I want to talk more about these NFT drops because one, a lot of the trends that you’ve been seeing from these successful jobs have been strictly digital, right? Digital audio, digital video. You’ve taken it to another level. You’re combining the physical with the digital super on par with the whole future anarchy. Right? So everything that you do is calculated to the T. I want you to tell me a little bit about these drops and I’ll go ahead and read them really quick. So March, 2021, you had the Genesis NFT, April, 2021. You had destination hexagon and May, 2021. You were featured in the one and only Sotheby’s, which is wild, right? Which is crazy for infinite future collectively bringing in over $2.4 million in sales in three months, right? As a musician, now you’re transitioning into becoming a fine artist, right? And you talked about artists releasing singles, fans being attached to that core brand, but you’re pivoting, right. You’re growing with this future anarchy point of view that aligns in so many different niches. Talk to me about COVID talk to you about quarantine. What the hell happened these last few months? Like, dude, it’s, it’s crazy to see that those transitions, right. And how you’re really taking your level of creativity , your level of experimentation, how you’re thinking about that in a new fashion, using cryptography, using blockchain technology. Right. So talk to me about COVID and the creative process behind launching those three projects.
Don Diablo: Yeah, that’s a, it’s a deep, long question actually. First of all, I was like, this is the scariest thing I’ve done in a long time, literally. Right. It’s like coming up with my Genesis piece and dropping my first NFT was super scary. It was like back going back to school or releasing your first record. I literally waited around in clubhouse rooms for maybe six months, literally just listening in to people and just, you know, being a part quietly, being a part of the community until someone brought me a stage, it’s like, Hey, are you like the real Diablo? I was like, I guess I think there’s only one. And then we started talking like, Hey, what if you’ve been doing? And I started telling them about my work and then it just started rolling from there. I got embraced by the community. I felt really supported, which was great because I felt so lonely because of the pandemic. You know, I was missing my fans, missing my friends, missing my family. And for the first time I felt connected with these people. I didn’t know, right. Through an app on the phone. And they so graciously made me part of the community and all these people from different backgrounds kind of came together to right whether it was photography or digital arts or music or finance sometimes all of these people came together with a vision. This is, you know, this is a space where we’re going to be innovating and we’re going to be pushing things forward. So right at the beginning of the pandemic actually did this I MTV saw, they kind of follow me on on my socials. Like, Hey, we would like to shoot on a script special with you for our new season. Usually I would say no, because I’m very private about my private life, but here I was like, Hey, well this just how’s everything I build is such a part of me. And I’ve always been making art. Right. But what is art like the whole concept of what art is in general? Is arts a painting or sculpture? Or could it be music or could it be a combination of different things? It slowly started to shift. So. I wanted to create something that I want to make my own mark. Right. Because everybody at the time was just the role, like out there on the, all the platforms, whether it was super rare. Nifty gateway or foundation beautiful digital visuals loops infinite loops with music attitudes, beautiful arts, I was like, great I can do that because I have about 3000 different loops that I’ve created over the last 15 years that I’ve never shared with the world, because for me in general, making art and being creative, doesn’t always mean I have to share it with the rest of the world. I think that just kind of trickles back down to me being that little kid and just creating and sometimes just being very insecure about, Hey, does the world want this? I think they know me making music, so they’re not interested in my art. So in comes this whole new movement and the definition of art starts reshifting right. Somebody who is layering different textures of sound we’ve seen as a, as an artist versus, you know, a painter who’s layering, different layers of paint, right. Or a sculptor. I think when it’s 2021 and we’re in a different era. So all these things started to shift. Then I was like, Ooh, but everybody’s already doing that. So I need to add my own my own flavor, my own twist, something unique to it. So I’ve always been very physical you know, with, with, I mean, physical instance that I like collecting physical things, even as a kid, right. Collecting star wars toys. And for me it was like, Hey, I need to, I need to combine everything that I am about as a person into my Genesis B. So I created actually what I really wanted to create was something actually based on my love for star wars, a holographic piece that implement. A piece of music. The music piece actually was a piece that I started almost 19. Never finished it, or maybe I did finish it because when do you really finish anything? When you’re creating art, sometimes it can take you 20 years to create something. Sometimes it takes you a day. But I was like, Hey, I put, I put so many years of working through that song. I, really want to share that with one person and also you know, I want to make this sort of a combination of everything. So created this digital animation of my first keyboard that I bought as a kid that got me into music. Even before I started making music and then I added this cabinets with a cartridge. If you put the cartridge that actually holds the NFT into the cabinets, then boom, your artwork pops up. It actually isn’t part of the NFT. It Because, the NFT is the video and the music obviously, but made me sort of a different type of artist, I guess, within, within the scene. And yeah, I, after that, my mind just exploded because I, to be honest, I’ve been working on this for a couple of years. So I already had these pieces in my house. Even if you look back at the MTV cribs episode which was recorded I think, you know, almost a year before, so for me it felt so full circle because there was all that I, there were so many ideas, but the idea of creating something then you know, perfecting it, cause there were like many prototypes and then the Genesis drop game and it just scariest thing I’ve ever done, but it got bought by an amazing collector. I actually ended up flying to Dubai to meet him. We had these great conversations and it changed my whole state of mind because the thing is when you become an artist, you started really small and you’re looking for human connection. Right? You want one person. I remember growing up, I, the first thing I did, I made a mixtape with my music on it. And I went to the local record store and I said, I have five of these tapes. I want to sell them for five euros. Right. Do you think I can put them here in the wall? And they were like, so cute. This kid. Right? So every day I came by, never sold anything until like maybe a year later, someone was like the owner of the store was like, were like guess what? Somebody bought your tape. Right? The idea of one person listening or interacting with what I created just blew my mind. So then life takes over right?. You were like, if you have a few hundred followers, a few thousands for me, grew into a few million. Then the pressure comes and you’re like, you’re playing these massive shows. You’re playing in front of 60,000 people. Right. You’re just gazing into you trying to look at the faces, but it just sometimes becomes very blurry. So for me, I, at some point I just ended up and the last shows I ended up playing with this, these, these glasses that shine light into my eyes. So I could just kind of zone out a little bit and not focus on how many people were in front of me, just be in my own zone. And I think once I take those glasses off, I’m completely comfortable. And you know, then I have full vision. So for me, the, it just became so big. I never expected that. And now with this, you bring it back all the way to the origin, which is like, so it’s something, the one person I really love the idea of, of, of making one of one art actually born out of necessity because time I never really got accepted to platforms like nifty gateway. And I was received with open arms by the kind folks at a super rare, but they’re, they come from a fine art background. Right. So, but they immediately understood my vision, my idea, they followed my journey. So I felt like, Hey, I need to make them proud as well, trusting in me because they don’t really let any musicians on there. So I now need to make something that’s worthy of their fine art approach to NFTs. So all of these combinations, all of these things together made me push harder, create something you know, that I will be proud of. That will be unique. And hopefully we create a bond where the connect with a collector.
Adam Levy: So, one of the things. People know music for when they produce music, it’s meant to be enjoyed by the masses. Right. You’re like, re-engineering that from, from that drop, which I found super interesting when you’re working on a film for over a year. Right. And you’re producing and, and this is for the second piece. Right. And because the, the, the first of the Genesis piece was a really beautiful holographic keyboard, organ kind of thing, right that you were building and iterating and tinkering with, as a kid that you then brought back.
Don Diablo: Now I have museums just calling me up and they want that piece in the magazine, in their collection. So it just switched quickly. But there, I was like, Hey, what am I going to do? Am I going to do the same thing again? But you’re right. Again, I was like the art, isn’t just the piece itself, right? The art is also delivery the whole story around it. So that, that, that’s, that’s what I love about NFTs. Right. It’s it’s not just. Okay, well, here you go. There it is. It’s a loop for me. There’s so much you can do with, you know, creativity beyond traditional art or with a smart contract. Here was like, okay, I want to make this film. And I want to work on it for a year, make it the dopest thing I’ve ever done. And then maybe just have one person see it because you know what, like the thing is, people will consume so quickly, you work on something and you work with it on it with your whole heart and you have your fans or sometimes haters or whatever people from outside, they look at it, they scroll through it, they consume it and the next day they’ve forgotten about it, right? Because there’s so much out there. So to me, this is like, Hey, also bringing back to realization. I was like, Hey, this is a lot of work that went into this. And it’s just gotta be one person that’s gonna see it. And, you know, That also is part of the art. It’s the realization for the rest of the world that you have to take in account that these things take a lot of time, a lot of effort, especially now. But everything with music and film and everything is streaming, right? Everything is digested. That’s also where my first Genesis piece idea came from because I wanted to stream art. That’s why I started creating these cabinets. And that’s how I started controlling people’s wifi. That’s how my third piece came about, which we’ll talk about in a second. But the second phase really was about disrupting right, doing something that was bigger than ever, also because people were doing a loop here, a loop there, which is amazing as beautiful, but I was like, Hey, I’m Don Diablo. I need to go over and above. Like, what if instead of a 20 second loop , I can create a film, right? Like a film that trickles people’s imagination. I’ll create a trailer. And then the one hour film stays inside this box, inside the box. Now, there’s a flash drive. That’s password protected. And then yeah, that film is there maybe 10 years from now. Some people will see it, maybe not, but it will always , keep its value. And the thing is, once you share something with the world, or once you it’s almost like being a relationship, right. Once you, you give yourself completely, sometimes people take that for granted, right. Because they already have it. It’s like being in a marriage, you have to work really hard to keep appreciating each other. Right. So that’s kind of where, so I think it’s good to be able to talk to you about it now, because sometimes you’d be like, there were like, some people were angry, like, what is this elite approach to things like, don’t worry. Like I’ve got stuff. I’ve been giving you guys music for free the year, you know, you don’t, you’re streaming it to take it. You know, you can have a subscription, but at the end of the day, you get it for free. You got music videos for free, you get everything for free and I’m dropping a record a month. So I’m literally overloading you with contents because I love you guys, but I also need to do something for myself and I need to make a point. So did, this was the hardest thing is like, how do you merge that new world with that world you used to live in? And people that don’t understand it. So some fans became angry or like, oh, this is horrible. You’re just, you’re making millions now. And just, you know, these people were like don’t respect or understand what you do, but it’s, I can assure it’s actually the complete opposite. It’s this, this is, these are, these are people coming from a very interesting backgrounds or very interesting visions you know, are very woke if I, if I say so. I appreciate fine art. Like, you know, I I’ve sold some pieces, not off the market as well to people who would own Renoir. So Monet’s, you know, and they’re, they’re now see, Hey, this is a different generation. I would like to own a Diablo, but Don is very picky. Like I really kind of sometimes source. I want to know who’s going to buy my piece almost right. Because I want to know it’s going to end up in the right place. They’re like children, you need to make sure. So for me, it’s never really been about making money because I took big risks like this. I already invested a lot of money upfront into something. I never knew if it was going to actually give me anything. And to be honest, I’ve done that my whole life. I had less literally I’ve I have in my garage, 10 projects that didn’t work. That costs me everything. I just earned on the, all the projects you just mentioned. So I think that’s what people don’t see. It’s all the effort, all the craft, everything you put in. Before you come with that, that they actually eventually will learn to know. I would get to know. And I think it’s hard because you can’t communicate in that way with people on social media. You can’t tell them the full story. You just have to give them the snippet because the span is, you know, it’s minimal.
Adam Levy: And one thing I love about those, those two drops is, again, it ties back to the whole concept of future anarchy right. And experimenting with what’s possible from a NFT point of view, because the main narratives around NFTs is that all digital files will be pegged to these ERC 721s , these NFT tokens. And there’s going to be a level of ownership on the internet versus copying. Right. And you took it upon yourself to merge the two. And I think part of being in hexagon, being a hexagon, and from what I’ve seen behind your cult-like community, Like we talked about at the beginning, there’s this level of open-mindedness there’s this level of futurism. And with that comes your ability of tinkering and messing around and trying sorts of things to keep hexagon alive, keep it fresh. And I think that also ties to your third piece now with Sotheby’s right. What’s that story like? Did they hit you up? Did you hit them up? Because what is it? It’s like one of the oldest auction houses and only the best of the best.
Don Diablo: Yeah. I, I need to get one thing off my chest. So because of what I said previously. I’m very grateful in this sense cause I have very open-minded fans. And I think if you know my story now a little bit it’s then you understand how this came about. Because the story is, is, is long and it has a long, a lot of winding roads. And I think a lot of people, when I, when I do a show, for instance, it gets kind of emotional because. A lot of this music, especially when you make electronic music, people see it as throw away culture. But a lot of these records, you know, these are really records about my life. And that’s why I’m also creating a futuristic theater play at the moment which will be premiering end of the year. Because they kind of, if you connect all of them together, sometimes you have to take a helicopter view and just kind of see and put everything together. Because nowadays it’s very hard to have a career as an artist because, you know, we need to be on Tik TOK or whatever. That’s the only way to have a hit. So people just having the patience to really understand, look into your story and then use that as a mirror to look at themselves because at the end of the day, that’s, to me, that’s what art should be, right? It’s whether it’s music or photography or painting or sculpture. To me, it’s all art, you know, or, or it’s not art at all, whatever. It doesn’t matter. It’s creativity. I would never say that I’m creating art. Like that’s, you know, again, I think it’s kind of all up to the people and for me yeah, you have to. I’m very grateful because I have people who’ve been on this journey with me for a couple of years. And if they get into the boat, now they can, it’s very hard an outsider to understand the scope or , you know, the whole sort of helicopter view. And that’s why I’m grateful, you know, for the fans that I have, because they have been very supportive even of me 99% of my fans for you know , this NFT journey, because they understand that this is something that’s going to be part of the future. And they know that I am all about the future. And the same thing goes now, I’m doing this huge project with the United nations, with the idea of what can you do with music, right? So. Came up with the concept stream to be green . So every time you listen to certain songs we will be re greening planet earth or Africa in this case specifically. And that, again for me, is something to think about moving forwards, changing the way we consume and also changing the connection between between people. I think sometimes it’s better to have you know thousands really connected fans versus a couple of million people following you as an influencer. I think it’s really about human connection. So that brings me to my third piece for Sotheby’s, which was like pretty insane. You know, when I got invited to, to be a part of this, and to be honest, that’s just the start, what I’m doing. Cause there’s, there’s, there’s going to be more together with Sotheby’s. No, just, they have a very forward-thinking vision and I love you know, they’re very traditional, but at the same time, you know, they, they, they accepted me with open arms. They understood my story. They gave me you know, an opportunity that now has changed my whole life to be very honest because that opened so many doors to so many new endeavors beyond NFT. You know, for me, NFT it’s it’s it’s a lot of people don’t see it as, as real art. But my concept is my idea that I have is to bring that into the museums, right? And to, to keep pushing forward on, on combining traditional collectors of maybe, you know, more traditional arts versus people who are, forward-thinking bringing those into the scene, versus maybe even people will never collect the art at all. Young people getting them interested into art and collectibles have always been a big thing obviously, but everything is so tied together. I think we’re in a, such a paradigm shift where everything all thought processes are changing and everybody’s kind of just opening their brain. I think also, obviously because of the pandemic, because we have to think differently because the world has changed, it is changing. And I think, again, my whole idea when this pandemic started the first day, I said to my mom never let a good crisis go to waste. You know, I have to, you know, this is the time I have to kind of put all the pieces of the puzzle , my whole life, everything I’ve done from making videos and film to making music, to making fashion, to making collectibles already for myself or for my friends making furniture, making arts doing all these things, combining them into one piece. That has been my, my journey in NFT. And now, you know, it feels so special that everything that’s coming up is merging all of these things that I’ve learned in my life. And the third piece at Sotheby’s really was the main feature of that was the idea of like, you have a cabinet in your house, which brings me back through streaming art into your house. Right. You buy this piece and from there on, we will be connected for life, right? So this means I don’t even know what’s going to happen. And I think if you’re listening to everything and what the hell is he talking about? So the idea is, is a cabinet comes with a cartridge. The art piece is on the cartridge. It’s a beautiful see-through cabinet , which is an art piece in itself. If I may say so, and the then after that you take it home and then I log into your wifi. And from there on I, it gets, it gets interesting. I can literally just go and share messages when you aren’t in there maybe 10 years from now. Maybe there’s nothing for a year. Maybe there’s something every, every week. Maybe I put a piece in there that as a new piece that, that never got released or so it just, again , there’s a connection. That’s very personal. And I think, again, that brings me back to that being part of the art it’s literally cause everyone’s like, well, it’s just for one person. The whole point is it’s not because it’s meant to, it’s the message. That is also a very big part of the art, the message that other people get from it. So that means we appreciate into human connection. You know, it’s the whole story around it is part of the, piece, if that makes sense. So it’s not just about what that one person does with it. It’s how does that make you feel? How does it make you feel when you hear about this? What can you do with that? How does it inspire you? How do you value my music, my arts, whatever. Now, after hearing this. And I think, you know, we have to slowly start bringing back the idea of what’s great. If people are creating has value. I think also this is why someone like Beeple now, I’ve known Mike for a long time. I’m actually in the 5,000 days piece if zoom in, there’s a picture of me in there of something we worked on a couple of years ago. And I’ve always seen him as an incredible artist, but the thing is when people see it on Instagram, for free it’s, it’s nice, but they never considered that to be art because art has to be in a museum or it has to be you know, sort of valued or seen in a certain way that, you know, people wouldn’t see musicians or digital creators as real artists. And I think it’s 2021 , right. We have to shift, obviously, as all of this is moving along, a lot of people came in you know, when there’s opportunity to opportunism. So I think it immediately instantly became a lot harder obviously then the crash came . So then everyone’s like, what am I doing now? But I think this was really about pioneering. Right? Right now I’m working on a piece with Trevor Jones and a lot of money. I mean, they were there from the beginning.
Adam Levy: Is this some alpha leak right now? Is this an alpha leak?
Don Diablo: It is an alpha leak. It’s fine. It’s all good. Okay. You know we’ve been working on this piece together where we have these, one lives in the UK the other one is in France, there’s myself and in the Netherlands for different generations, different backgrounds. One is a digital creator. One is a painter one, you know, has been making music. So. Bringing these worlds together, these different generations, it’s never happened. We’re living in a time where people get to work together from such different backgrounds and disciplines creating such new forms of art. It’s exciting. And I think, you know, if you can get your hands on one of those pieces, it’s going to have emotional value is going to have historical value. And also at some point, maybe even financial value beyond what you’re probably grasping now, because this is the start of a revolution. Right? So I think whenever we look back on it, years from now, this will be something that has changed a lot of things beyond NFT it’s been a way of thinking much like, you know, the whole web and crypto community in itself. It’s growing. Obviously it scares a lot of people. It scared me in the beginning as well. But what you don’t know scares you obviously. And, you know, especially now with all of the governments, kind of just the NFTs really put the spotlight on it because people started mentioning numbers and it was like, oh, damn, like, where does all this, where does all this lead to, where is this going to and how can we control it? Right. So I think it’s going to be a very interesting couple of years moving forward.
Adam Levy: Let’s talk about that for a minute. Right? You’ve seen the NFT space. You’ve seen the crypto space grow over the last few years. Right now, NFTs are having their moment of fame. There was a little bit of a dull moment, but now we’re seeing that snowball effect kind of kick in again, with all these avatars from the board apes to the cool cats, et cetera, et cetera. So, NFTs are having their moment of fame again, but what would you say if any, are the challenges right now for getting new users and new creators kind of on boarded into the NFT space? What have you seen kind of stifled that process?
Don Diablo: To be honest for me. I never look at… everything you’re mentioning is based on finances. Right? So it’s like people would see something maybe being less successful because of finance. It doesn’t bring in as much money. But I think again, when there’s a beginning, there’s, there’s these, these pioneer pieces, right? These, OG pieces, you know, if you go and grip the r.io, you will see, I think I have two pieces in the top 20. Right. But I think that’s like an extreme, it’s like it put a lot of pressure on myself and a lot of people like, you know, I talk about it with Trevor on a lot of, and some of the artists I’m working with, like when you get like all of this pressure on your shoulders, like it can also change the whole concept of, you know, freedom and creativity, which we refuse to do. And I think we have to let go of that a little bit. It’s not really about, you know, It can grow. It was here and then these people came in and that people wanted those pieces because you were getting pieces from pioneers. Right. And when you have, whenever you get something like that, that’s going to be valuable 10 years down the line. If you’re patient, if you’re a HODLer. Right. So for me, but it’s, not a hot potato game. Right. So I think it’s really now, if you want to come into the game and your creator just do it. If somebody, at the end of the day, if you were creating a, somebody who wants to point, they 0.1 ETH for something you’ve created, it’s a great start, right? Grow, to 2.1 ETH and grow from there and, and grow. It’s like every normal way of approaching success, you have to begin, especially even, it might even be harder for people who are already successful because they have the concept of why can’t, you know, if I go below a certain threshold, I’m taking a step backwards. So that’s even more scary. I think when you’re starting out, it’s exciting because it means it’s a way for you to communicate with the world, to reach them and, you know, to build something new that wasn’t there before. And I think, again, there’s no, a lot of people came to me starting artists, but also like mega stars and music, art fashion. They wanted to collaborate with me. And it’s like the big question, like, what’s the hack? Is there a life hack? I’m like, there is no hack . I’ve been working on these pieces for, you know the three pieces we mentioned specifically for over like almost two years. Right? So it’s not like, Ooh, NFT is hot now. I’m just gonna go, what can I sell on the blockchain? It’s not, that’s not the way it works. You have to come with something that has real value, like a company, right? The same with when you launch. If you want to launch a new currency or coin, right. There’s the white paper has to have a story. You can’t just expect people to just buy it. And just so I think it’s the same for art. People are not just buying the art. People want to buy something from an artist, right. So they have to understand the story behind you, and then they will value and understand the art. So I think that’s the way you have to approach it. You really have to bring across the story and why the speech is valuable because it literally could be three lines. You know, that’s what we know from minimalistic art from back in the days. Right. So it’s really how you perceive it within your mind versus how you value the person that created it. Then add to the actual piece. If it gives you some type of emotional feeling, then it’s worth something for you. And that’s always been the foundation of art, right. It’s always really about what does it do for you? For me when I buy art, I buy something that makes me feel something not because I think it will be worth something or will be worth more somewhere down the line. And I think that’s why a lot of big creators got anxiety. Cause they felt pressure. I talk with a lot of creators you know, regularly and they’re like, I’m like, why haven’t you put out anything anymore on the platforms? They’re like the pressure. When I had the last drop wasn’t as hyped. I did just drop a nifty and it wasn’t as hyped as the one that the guy before me did. And I felt like really pressured. So I think what we have to realize is that that initial boom is stabilizing now. And now it’s really about valuing real arts and real efforts. And I think the same goes for, you know, anything moving forward. It’s, we’re still learning. We’re still growing. And I think. It’s exciting because for me personally, I get to work with all these different people. If I, can mention all the stuff I’ve been working on now it’s insane. Right? So one of my things that I, one of my dreams I wanted to do, actually this isn’t an NFT, but it’s still, it’s a collectible. I will be launching soon together with Star wars and Lucasfilm and Disney them trusting me. I’m actually-
Adam Levy: Is that another alpha leak?
Don Diablo: Alpha leaks all over the place. It’s going to be super dope. And I, I was like a little bit, like I got a little bit like impatient, cause I was like, Hey, why is this taking so long? And they were like, well, you’re like literally the only person, the artists like artists that they work with, you know, the whole franchise of star wars. They work with brands and companies, but they don’t really work with a person. So it actually, sometimes I have to take a step back and realize, Hey, what is happening now is insane. Right? All these things. It’s like, it’s a movie. It’s yeah, it’s one of those things you’ll tell later for your kids and be like, yeah. Or even do it through your grandkids. You’re like, sure. Grandpa sounds good. We’re part of the future map.
Don Diablo: “Alrighty. It’s all good”. It’s not to, I think the one thing I have to realize, I sometimes I just have to stand still appreciate it, enjoy it, but I’m just excited to really keep blowing things up, you know, to keep disrupting. I feel like that’s my position that I have here, it’s really taking the medium and then not just being lazy with it, but just cause to be honest, I could have made a lot more money cause I could have done collections, collectibles, you know, but for me that was-
Adam Levy: You could’ve done the open editions. You could have done those big hype drops, but you, thought about it differently.
Don Diablo: Because yeah, I saw people like people like do it, please. Come on. I had all these platforms approach me. Let’s do an open edition. Let’s, you know, make a couple of million. I was like, it’s the thing is now you see it, right. The secondary markets have crash for a lot of artists and they’re like, you know, you know, I don’t, again, I don’t want to do that to whoever, you know, is collecting my work. I want it to stay valuable to them emotionally, not financially forget about money, you know, too, this has never had to be about money, but sometimes it has to be to make an impact to show people that, Hey, this piece, boom, this is what it’s worth. Right. Because when I first, when I did shows, there were always promoters, like, Hey, we also want to do the live stream for free and just added on top of that. I’m like, yeah, just kind of sold my last last year for 1.2 million. So kind of shows that you shouldn’t always be taking things for free. Because you’re, you know, you’re already, for me, this is about the people that are in front of me. I don’t want the pressure of the rest of the world watching me and this being on the internet for the rest of my life. This represents a certain value, but also it represents a certain pressure. And when I do something like this, I want to spend a year on that because I put this on the internet . So it needs to be pretty good, amazing because you know, that’s what people deserve. And I think because there’s already so much out there, you owe it to yourself or to your fans, your, to your new fans and I think that really was what that was about for me. And, and yeah, I can understand that it gets misinterpreted, but again, the whole thing in itself as a whole is a part of the art. It’s the message that is the art.
Adam Levy: Yeah, and this very much ties into the next point. I want to talk to you about, of how NFTs are kind of going to change the music industry as a whole. Right. And right now people see NFTs as art, maybe even a little bit of a music, but they got their moment of fame through art. But I think what people aren’t really noticing that these collectibles they’re they’re proof of ownership, they verify status. They verify symbol. For example, when artists are growing and they’re producing music and they’re starting off on sound cloud, they have their core listeners of let’s say a thousand listeners per month, 10,000 that are like starting to pick up on their work. There’s no real way to validate, improve that you are a juice world fan before juice world became juice world. Or that you were a Don Diablo fan, right. And NFTs allow the fans to be a part of a journey. Right. So imagine you could issue an NFT. Two juice worlds, a thousand listeners, and be like, congratulations, you’re within my first a thousand listeners. I want to show some appreciation and you can prove people now by the NFT that you are.
Don Diablo: That’s the next step for me is really yeah, it’s, it’s always been about the fans. Like everything I do is for the fans, right. I, wouldn’t be alive to be honest, if it wasn’t for the fans or people who appreciate what I do, because on this vast planetit’s filled with emptiness and shallowness, like what’s really why am I here? Right. So it’s really hard to find any purpose. So doing this together with people who are in the same state of mind and understand that is really what it’s about. So obviously this being my new sort of being the big thing in my life right now the ultimate goal will always be, how can I make this you know, so that it’s, it’s a valuable for my fans . So, you know, it’s the same with an album, people getting impatient, right? They’re like, why is that? Why are you not like, why no album, why this or that? Well, it’s already there. If you look closely, it’s being formed, right. Nowadays everything is formed publicly. It’s it’s being formed in front of your eyes. It just, then at the end of the phase, it will just kind of just some box we’ll move around. And you’re like, oh, here it is. Oh, Dan, was it? It was there all along. Right. I think here it’s the same case. I’m creating, I’m doing this so that at the end, obviously we can, oh, it will bring us all together. It’s not to alienate anyone. It’s always bringing people together. So, but in order to do that, you sometimes need to disrupt. You need to try things you need to experiment, need to learn. You need to also make sure you have the finances to do these things, right? So there’s a lot of factors that come into play, but most of all, you need is great value. That’s always been my thing. Like I don’t value myself as a human being. I’ve struggled with that my whole life. I don’t value myself as an artist. I’ve struggled with that for my whole life. But sometimes there was this, there’s this momentum that you create and there’s an undeniable value it’s cemented in this case, on the blockchain. Right. So that’s what really gave me goosebumps. It was, you know, in these club houses kind of just, everything went full circle and it felt like, you know, this is something that will be there, the rest of your life, because the internet is a fleeting thing right in. And especially when you’re an artist, people will forget about you. You will be forgotten the one day you’ll be in the grounds. Nobody will remember you, but that’s what I love about what we’re doing here. This is what this will always be there forever. Right. So we’re trying to be that pile of money. Well, so it’s really about yeah, I guess what we should learn from this as well as artists starting in this, this can create a value that you will, you can kind of hang on to the rest of your life because it’s always going to be there because nowadays you create something it goes on the internet, then, you know, the next day there’s a bunch of articles that topic you know, or you make or you make something. And the next thing doesn’t do as well, people will always go on about that. The last thing you created, then that’s all of a sudden who you are. So I think here, it’s like really creating these moments that are everlasting, that are there for forever, for everyone to see. And hopefully that can add to your value, the way you value yourself as a, as an artist and as a human being. Yeah, and I think the same goes for crypto in general, right? People are , if you were woken up, have you changed your life. You know? And, people say that these are life hacks, shortcuts, whatever. But at the end of the day , They’re not because that’s just the type of person that you are. You know, you, you actually do deserve this because hopefully what you’re doing you’re putting that, whatever you earned into creating , something bigger, that’s going to help more people or help people around you. Or you can just have one person in your family or maybe, you know, a friend. And I think that in itself has created so many positive news that people are just forgetting about it because they’re all just like, oh, we’re trying to go around the system. You know, breaking rules, anarchy, chaos. It’s not really what it’s about. It’s really what you do with what you’ve earned and making sure that you’ve earned it because I’m not religious, but I do believe there’s something up there that’s watching me. And I feel like, you know, this is a reason why as a kid, I never, I never drank alcohol. I never did drugs. I I’ve never done it until this day. I don’t know what alcohol tastes like. Right. I’ve never smoked cigarettes because that was the only thing at that time when I was 12, but I had to offer as far as like, Hey, to show whoever’s up there. I really want this. I’m really serious about this. I’m going to work 19 hours a day, seven days a week for 20 hours straight to have a shred of success. Right. And then people come to me, they’re like, Hey, yes, I’ve been making, I’ve been taking pictures. I’ve been creating digital arts. I’ve been making music for the last two years, but it’s just not working. I’m getting depressed. I’m stressed. My family won’t support me anymore. I’m like, I’ve been in a situation literally where I was like doing this for so many years that people just like, what’s this laughable. They were like, Don, let it go, man. Let it go. You’re doing this for 15 years. You had your best time. You know, you have a decent brain go and do something, you know, grown up. But I think.
Adam Levy: Go get work in banking Don, go, go, go, go.
Don Diablo: No, I was good at school. So they were like, Hey, well you could be a brain surgeon. Like, you know, you could save people’s lives. I’m like, that’s not what I want to do. I want to save you know, people’s lives in a different way. Right? I want to start with my own. I want to find a value and a place on this planet. And from there on, hopefully give other people hope , and maybe inspiration, but the whole concept of being successful, like, because you see this so easily on social media nowadays, you’re like, Ooh, I just need to put some, you know, to be an influencer or whatever, or like, have some certain aesthetic. And from there on like, I will be successful. Even for me, my first, the beginning of my career, I remember I’m on Facebook. I only put pictures of the back, cause I didn’t want people to see my front . And I think like , after four or five years, I’ve put a frontal picture. I’d be like, oh shit, there’s a, that’s the face of the music. But I never wanted people to have a face to anything because it’s like, I want, I want the concept, the music, the arts for it to speak to them, to, you know, do them for themselves. Right. But I think what we’ve forgotten again, I guess the point of this story is that it takes a lot of hard work. Right? All the stuff we see on socials, they’re like the exceptions to the rule. Like, oh, this guy became successful. It happens in my scene a lot as well. Right? It’s like someone comes in scores an accidental hit, career blows up, but that’s what you see on TV. When you hear on the radio, what you see on social media, honestly, shit is hardcore. You really have to, I always ask you know, someone was starting out. So how do you go about it? So you really want to be successful, right? It’s not working for you. Do you have a girlfriend or. Yes. Okay. How much time do you spend with that person? Yes. Okay. So do you eat three times a day? How many times are you going to sort of the toilets? How many, you know, how many hours are you asleep? That’s all too much time that’s spent on not being successful. Literally you have to grind, grind, grind, grind, grind, bleed bleed bleed, take all of these, you know, deceptions take all of these failures, take all of these people that really are just going to screw the screw you over. Cause that’s the foundation of my career. Literally people taking advantage of you, but then slowly because they take advantage of you. They give you a little platform. You just take that. You’re like, okay, cool. I’ll take the beating. I never got paid for it, but Hey, I’m going to move on because at least two or three people saw what I did. And then you just keep building, building, building it’s really about just constantly letting go of all the frustration, anger, and fear and disappointment, and just still being able to be positive and be creative. Because at the end of the day, with all of this pressure , you still need to be that kid creating without any influences from the outside, add up all of this together, you might have a chance of a very good career.
Adam Levy: Yeah. I think those are really wise words for someone starting out. And I think from your point of view being as successful as you’ve become in the music space, and you’re starting to see like the experimentation between audio NFTs, video NFTs, what do you kind of seeing the music space looking like five, 10 years from now with the intersection of NFTs? How do you, imagine, like, do you imagine publishers having the same business model as they have today with them being very capital intensive, being like VC’s essentially giving artists an early paycheck taking all of their, or a lot of their, you know, their ownership or do you imagine creators kind of reversing that model and publishers just riding along for the appreciation by NFTs buying social tokens, rather than actually owning? Like how do you imagine this space kind of looking like in a few years?
Don Diablo: Well, you hit the nail on the head, right? So I think, again, it’s not just, even if you’re not into NFTs, it’s much bigger than that. Right? It’s the same with crypto currency is even if you don’t have crypto, it’s really about, can it change the way you think about banking, about systems, about regulations, about the world around you. Right. If it does then, you know, that’s already a very positive effect. I think here it’s the same thing. If you’re not even into NFTs, maybe you can embrace the idea that artists haven’t been given, what they are but they’ve been deserving off. Right? So for instance, take, let’s take my label. I have a record label hexagon. One thing I changed immediately was usually you get like 15 to 20%, right. At a record label at 80% goes to the record that I really started to go like, Hey, okay, cool. We have costs. But if we kind of break it all down, if you want to go break even maybe have a slight profit. If we give, if we have the artists maintain 50% of their rights, it would be a partnership, which seems a lot more fair. Funny thing is that a lot of artists don’t even care about it that much. You’re like they just signed the contract, like cool. They never really think about that because they’re used to just getting abused. Right. Which kind of annoys me because I want them to value what we’re giving them. But unfortunately it’s really just about hype and moving along and just doing as much as you can, from a label perspective, there isn’t really much loyalty, I would say then which sometimes hurts from that side. But I think you really have to start realizing as an artist and people from the industry as well, that we haven’t been getting what we deserve. And I think the reason why I was able to move so quickly in the space, in the NFT space, because I didn’t have a publisher, I didn’t have a record label cause I’ve always been independent. I’ve always done this alone. It’s just been me. People always ask me, who’s the team behind you. It was doing this and doing, do that. It just all comes from me. Right. So obviously I have great people that work for me with me but all of the creativeness, all of the ideas, all of, all of that plus all of the ownership lies with me. I think that’s very important because somewhere along the line, as artists, all of these different you know, things come into play that that are not important for the actual art. And I think now. What I want to see this to come out. What I want to come out of this is the idea and the concept of that, what we are creating is has value and that there are too many people around it, right? That there’s so many people that have to make money from other people’s creativity and to take advantage of them that has to change. So especially obviously the first one, I mean, one of the, the basic foundations of NFTs is that once somebody resells your piece, you’re still able to get you know, you can, you got a percentage of the resell, the secondary sale. And I think that, you know, that’s something that’s not just amazing for NFTs . It’s something that has to happen on art. It’s sometimes happens on art still, but generally, you know, speaking to a lot of my friends who are from the traditional fine art industry, it never really hardly really happens.So they’re now considering moving their physical pieces. To you know, to sell them through the blockchain. So I think , it’s just the beginning. I think everybody wants to crush this whole thing. Everybody wants to go and now look at like, Hey crypto. Yes, we, you know, it all went down, you know, we’re in a, in a pickle, but obviously we’re HODLers as well. It’s all going to go off again. The same goes for NFT. It’s not really just about what you see and what you’ve seen. And you know, it’s really about what is to come and what we can do with smart contracts and how we can change the world in general, how it can connect people, how it can cut out the middle land, which is a shame sometimes because I know middleman has to make money too. And I feel for the middleman, but at the same time, just does allow people in this case, artists who probably wouldn’t would have never been able to sustain themselves, suddenly become a full-time artist and they are able to sustain themselves without actually other people from the traditional industry, believing in them, they can start believing in themselves again in themselves. And I think that’s the beauty of this, right? It’s those are the stories that are untold. And I’m telling you a story that’s that maybe is an exception. But there, the beauty of this is, all these artists I talked to and I buy smaller pieces. You know, I buy a lot of smaller pieces because if, you know, two, $300 can change a person’s life. If you get that , if you sell 5, 6, 7, or eight pieces, it’s sustainable, you have a, a way of living from your art, which was never possible before all this was happening. So I think to me, that is the real revolution. It’s, the underlying foundation of everything that we’re not seeing everything. It’s hard to explain that to people. It’s hard to show this to people, but at the end of the day, it’s always going to be about , you know, the, the, the bigger picture it’s always going to be about the, what do you know, what does you know, the sort of the bigger number of people have to benefit from this? And obviously there’s the exceptions and anomalies. They’re exotic . They’re interesting to talk about, you know, but to me, that’s, hopefully just something we’re talking about now, and hopefully down the line, this will be a change of mind, a change of vision, an opportunity for people to hopefully realize their potential as artists.
Adam Levy: Yeah. I want to ask you about your community Hexagonia , the hexagons, right? You have Hexagonia, you have this virtual kind of like brand that you’ve built and many people when they’re building brands and they’re building communities, they have a hard time getting the cult-like like element. Like if you do some in-depth research on Don Diablo and hexagon, you’ll see the tattoos that people have imprinted on their bodies permanently. That’s crazy. There’s a level of alignment. That’s unique to your brand and the people within. If you had three tips right now for future creators, whether they be in crypto, in the music space, wherever they may be creators in general, what would be those three tips you’d give to someone that say, this is what I suggest when it comes to building this community in the sprint. How do you do that?
Don Diablo: Tough question to be very honest, the honest answer is honestly honesty. It is really just about when you think something is too scary. It’s too different that’s when you know you are on the right path. I always kind of look at it. Let’s say it’s always something that I miss. Right. So when I started creating the the music that I’m creating at the moment, which has a very futuristic element, it wasn’t there at the time you have music that was being played at these big raves and you have music that was being played in underground clubs. I was like, I want to make something out, you know, that has the energy it can, so it can be played on the big stages, but at the same time, it has a sort of a, you know, it’s a little bit more subtle, so to speak. And at the same time I created the signature. So it doesn’t matter if I hop into a different genre. Now there’s a signature sound, a small signature that now people will know like, Hey, this futuristic. I could produce something for another artist. This is a Don Diablo sound, right? I think that is important when you, when he wants to build a community or when you want to build something that goes beyond one art piece, you have to create something that is a recognizable signature. And this takes time. You’re, you’re always going to go like, Hey, it’s not that unique, is it? But it really, sometimes you have to grow into it as well. And sometimes it takes years. So there’s that. And also, I think, you know, other than that, you have to do things from your guts , right? Personal ly you have to also gamble really big, to be honest, I’ve always literally invested everything I have into my career. I never really, up until two, three years ago, I lived in the same house since I was 19. My accountant was like, Don, you’ve done pretty well. You know, you still live in this apartment that you’ve been living in your whole life. You don’t really have a car. I always wear the same shoes. It’s like live a little, but again, for me, I’ve always reinvested everything I had into my career because that’s the biggest, best investment you can do. It’s not really about you know, just all these other things, going out to expensive dinners or showing other people that you have money is the most useless thing you can do. It’s really, really cool to me to invest. I used them, you know, even when I was 19, I did my first music video. I, the record label wasn’t at the time, it wasn’t going to support me. So I worked three jobs, saved all this money and I put my own money into the music video that then the copyright was owned by the record label. But again, you have to let go of that idea of. Things are not being fair because this is the biggest tip I can give you. Life isn’t fair. It’s never going to be fair. Things are never going to change. You just have to plow through it, find a way somewhere and there at the end of the road, that will be something that hopefully will give you a shred of happiness. And again , nobody can be happy, right? But there are moments of happiness that we can experience. And that is all that I’m trying to do here. And I think a big part of that is letting go of all the things that happened to you because otherwise as an artist it’s going to kill you. So I think it’s really, those are the pillars of how I got, where I got to and sacrifice. You have to be willing to just go hardcore, man, just go hardcore. This has to be your life. Yeah.
Adam Levy: I think those are wise words. All right. I want to finish off with three last quick round questions. Okay. Let’s do it right. Most memorable concert you’ve ever played. What was it?
Don Diablo: Wow. Good one too. If I may, one was I was shooting a documentary for MTV 15 years ago. I’d like to stay in South Africa and I went to all these aids orphanages and it was intense. I remember interviewing this lady holding her hand and we looked into each other’s eyes and there was such an intense connection. I never met her, but there was a human connection. Right. And then after I wrapped the item and we were standing outside, I was just kind of like, just kind of literally just kind of getting my breath. Right. And then she, she literally was rolled out of the hospital. She had passed away while I was standing outside . So I was the last person she talked to. Right after that I was brought to a school for aids orphans. Right? So it’s there. I was like the, there was the gear that they gave me. It was literally one CD player and a mic. I was like, you understand? I have to mix, I have to have two players because I have to mix from on to the other. I was like, okay, what am I doing here? So I just, what I did, I just put in a CD press play. I was literally on a table. All these kids were around me. And to be honest, it was the worst show I’ve ever done, but it was also the best show because these kids, they went in, they loved everything I did. At some point I found a CD on the floor, blew the dust off of the CD and they had this quite old music, this traditional local music on it. And they went, exploded. best show ever I did. Another one I did was the Chinese wall. Honestly.
Adam Levy: The great wall of China, really?
Don Diablo: The Great Wall of China. It wasn’t allowed to do anything there, there was a lot of politics, a lot of things and they were like, are we opening it two, three days before we got canceled. And then miraculously, they said, okay, we’re opening it. I did my show that the energy was insane. Then it started pouring rain and everything stopped. So I was literally the only person that played on the great wall that day. And , I will never forget how bizarre that was, you know, doing that. So there, yeah, those are two of my sort of weird, not very obvious, but yeah. Well, remember,
Adam Levy: I wonder when they were building the great wall of China, there would be like, all right, we’re going to have Don Diablo.
Don Diablo: Yeah. If you think about it, there are so many great stories that are untold, but yeah, that’s definitely one of them. It’s a longer story. That’s actually what’s cool is because the funny thing about that was actually had a better slot later on in the evening, but I got, I got screwed literally by an agent and they pushed me down on the lineup, which is the story of my life. Right. So I was like, okay, I’ll just do it. You know, that’s just how it happened, like how it goes. And at the end, that ended up to be the one slot that actually you know, ended up playing. So I think again, sometimes you just have to take the beating, probably this all happens for a reason. Yeah.
Adam Levy: All right. Second question. Favorite song you’ve produced. Which one is it?
Don Diablo: Oh, wow.
Adam Levy: I know, I know you said , you don’t like listening to your music. But, there has to be a song that you’d like you felt the most connected to, to an extent whether you’ve remixed, whether you created yourself. Which one is it?
Don Diablo: It’s probably going to be a song. I wrote for my dad when he was sick in the hospital, he had cancer. I, there was this xylophone in the hallway that is for kids to play around with. And I was just like playing a little melody . And I just turned that into the foundation for a song later on that I wrote as a letter to my father that I never got to reach to him. So I turned that into a song. And so hopefully, you know, maybe he’s up there and he could still hear it. And that ended up becoming the main theme song for standing up against cancer. This is a huge television fundraiser, and that really opened up such a new dimension to me, people suddenly felt like Don Diablo isn’t a robot. He’s a human being. It opened up the doorway to my country. They embraced me as a human cause I always tried to do everything so well. And I really, I was there on TV. I broke, I had to speak about my father who had just passed away a few weeks before. I heard the song in the background, the melody that I’d written in the hospital hallway. And it just kind of just became, you know actually ended up in the top 10 funeral records in my country which is weird, but very honorable, I think like it’s nice to be in a, in a chart, but this was a very special chart. And I got these letters from hundreds and hundreds of people who understood the letter. They were like, Hey, I don’t, I didn’t really communicate with my father either. And I played him the song right before he passed away. And if we held each other’s hands and it was exactly what I needed. I got postcards from people like one, I remember one postcard from a father and a daughter, and they were somewhere standing in front of a mountain. They were like, we want to thank you. We haven’t had contact with each other for many years. We heard your song. I sent it to my father. He cried, we didn’t have to say anything else. We met up here, we’re together again. And it’s all because of that one song. So we want to thank you. So I have these letters and, and sometimes, you know, it makes you realize the impact of the arts of music. And so that record will always be special to me. It’s maybe not my best production one or the sickest dopest beat or whatever, but it’s, or really came from the heart and the beautifully sung and, and co-written with JB Cooper who then became a mega star. After that, I actually discovered him in a bar while I was living in the UK. It was still just literally playing bars. Then after that he had a, I don’t know, his record or had a billion streams, whatever I did. So it all just kind of went full circle there. So that record will always be special to me.
Adam Levy: Nice. Okay. Last question beyond your parents who has been the number one influence beyond family who has been like that, number one influence on your life?
Don Diablo: Ooh. Very good question. Okay. It’s funny, like, I wouldn’t say there is a number one influence, but I think you look like if I look from a music perspective, I grew up with music from, you know first of all, like rock music rage against the machine and Nirvana , then I went into electronic music, was basement Jaxx chemical brothers, Fatboy, slim, daft punk, later on, I got to meet all those people. I got to tour with them and you know, that was amazing. There’s always been one artist also in music that kept changing and evolving constantly mobi, you know, he started out like really aggressive hardcore music. Right. And then he really went into like making elevator music and he did all these things were very left, very right and always had these amazing visualizations with it. There was always a story behind it. You know, I love the idea that you can be that all that, that person in all these different things wrapped into one person. So that also made me, cause when I started out as Don Diablo, I started assimilating to mobi into hardcore music, which was like literally just raves and hauls of people just going absolutely berserk. And that showed me like, Hey, you can go from there. Your music being used for all of these massive movies and, you know, making this music that’s being played on elevators. Literally you go and go from super left. Super. Right. Right. So that, that is always been something I kept in mind like, Hey, cause I, there was a point where people like, you should not change your name because you have this history and this history is, you know, it can maybe change the way people perceive you for what you’re doing right now. Because you know, some art people see a history that’s not in line with what they expect as a dirty thing, or as a bad thing or something that could be, you know negative the same goes for this. Right. And like, nowadays I’m talking to museums like very traditional museums, right? Like should now be erasing what I’ve done before, because like I’m talking, you know, I sometimes feel, I feel like I’m not worthy. Right. Or I’m like, Hey, they’re just, I’m literally like talking about. Being a part of these, these legacies of these museums that have all of these, artists there, that I’m, I feel tiny. But then I think back about that concept, like, Hey, no, it’s not, there’s no reason because this is a part of your journey, a part of your story, because you have to have to have gone through all of this. And that is what makes you an artist and him going from left to completely, right. And I’m back to the middle and then reinventing himself over and over. Funnily enough really really changed my perspective and to finish that off and to make it full circle, there was one other person. His name is Tom Goldenberg , he’s a Dutch guy and is one of the few people I really looked up to musically in my country. His artist name is junkie XL. I had a poster of him in my bedroom. You know, I love what he did. I love he went from rock and he went into making electronic music and he did it so well. So sophisticated pushed the envelope. Then when he had this huge hit with, with Elvis, right. A little more, little less conversation became number one all over the countries. That’s cool. I’ve done that I’ve got to move into. Hollywood became the right-hand of Hans Zimmer. You know, did all these huge scores from Batman to God knows what , then he’s just like, okay, I’m ready to venture out. Became one of the five biggest composers in Hollywood, himself doing anything from Madmax to justice league to the dark night. And then boom in came, this thing got contacted by his team . Like, Hey, we’re doing an NFT drop. You know, we know you’re killing it in the game. Can we have some advice? I said, what are you offering? It’s the score of your life? It’s like, it’s the sidetrack of okay. Like, okay. What does it mean? Well, he’s going to create 20 minutes of music based on your life as a soundtrack . I’m like, so you can buy this in an NFT, right? Like 20 minutes of music from one of the top five Hollywood composers in the world. Right. I got to be honest, I want to buy this, you know, like, I don’t know how to help with this. So long story short, I ended up winning the auction and now I’m talking to Tom, constantly friends, and it just blows my mind. Everything is now going full circle, right? This, this person who you grew up with now, you’re talking to, and he’s, he’s going to create music for you based on your life. And I am a musician. So what is life? This is so meta, right? Like it’s crazy. So I asked him, can I use this for my documentary that I’m making you know, and they’re like, yeah, of course. So full circle exploded there. And I know the thing is, you know what I know, like, I know he’s a better musician than I am. Right. So I think this is not a thing that I it’s the same with games, like, right. I can take my loss. I guess that’s what it is. I think, as an artist, it’s very important to realize there are going to be people that are better than you. You’re never going to be the best, right. You might be the best for a second, but then the next second, you won’t be the best. And I think yeah, me knowing that he, this is just inspires me so much and I’m still learning. And this is another thing as well, think to round it up is if you want to grow, if you want to learn, if you want to be successful, you got to still get out there and still learn. That’s it. Right. You still, I’m still educating myself every day. I’m still not in the state of mind that I’m successful or I’m there, or I’m still at the bottom of the mountain. I reached the mountain. I will acknowledge that I reached the mountain I’m climbing, but I have a huge bag of rocks on my back because all of the luggage that I’ve had, all the disappointment, all the anger and all the fear. And sometimes I throw a stone out because I know that’s not right, but I’m still struggling to get out. It’s things like that. Yes. And I’m like, wow, this is so mad at us. So cool. And this is all because of, you know, because of what’s happening now because the, the, the whole crypto community NFTs the way digital art, the way art is being revolutionized right now. And man, what a time to be alive, dude.
Adam Levy: I think that’s a beautiful place to end off, done. You’re a pool of knowledge. Thank you so much for coming on. And best of luck with all these new drops with star wars and everything else that you have coming up. Thank you for being on.
Don Diablo: Thank you for being an enlightened man.
Los Angeles, CA — August 12, 2021 — Adam Levy today announces the release of Mint Season 2, a leading audio and video series exploring how the creators of today are building the communities of tomorrow using web3 primitives like social tokens, NFTs, and DAOs, to name a few. Enjoy all 15 episodes in season two now for free by visiting https://adamlevy.io/mint-season-2/.
Those who register for season 2 will have the opportunity to claim an exclusive Mint POAP proving one’s participation in this month’s series. As Mint’s community develops, claimed POAPs will unlock future perks and provide access to unique content, proposal votes, and more. Get yours now by submitting your email at https://adamlevy.io/mint-season-2/.
Today’s premiere of season two includes 15 exclusive episodes consisting of 1-on-1 interviews from top web3 creators, investors, and founders, all collectively tinkering with cryptography to help make their creator economy a reality. Available to enjoy across all video and audio streaming platforms, the podcast answers the most frequent questions creators and communities have when tinkering with web3 technology.
“Season 2 welcomes some of the brightest people building in web3 and I’m so excited to be sharing their stories across 15+ hours of content,” said Mint Founder and host Adam Levy. “I’m hoping that future creators and web3 communities leverage their stories when kickstarting their own path into the crazy world of crypto.”
Having recently managed Operations for the blockchain fund Draper Goren Holm, Adam has helped incubate and accelerate over 15 leading crypto and blockchain startups like LunarCRUSH, Totle, PrimeDAO, and CasperLabs, to name a few, while producing mass community events like LA Blockchain Summit and Blockchain & Booze. Now, he’s helping onboard creators and their communities into web3 by sharing their stories through Mint.
From modern fan clubs where the people own the artist to multi-million dollar communities surfacing overnight, this season welcomes the best stories emerging out of web3. Hear the untold journeys from 16 notable creators, web3 founders, and thought leaders who are tinkering with social money to make their creator economy a reality.
Season two’s guests include:
Don Diablo: An industry-defining NFT artist, Dutch DJ, record producer, musician, and songwriter of electronic dance music who is known for his electronic style of production and vocalizing in most of his songs. He led a multi-industry career ranking sixth in the 2020’s top 100 DJs by DJ Mag, as well as amassed millions of dollars in sales for his crypto-inspired fine art.
Andrew Berkowitz, Founder and CEO of Socialtack: He’s building a protocol to power mission-driven social token economies on the blockchain. Socialstack is on a mission to build community, culture, and infrastructure for leaders who are driven by true impact to build new economic systems based on gratitude and abundance.
Jess Sloss, Instigator at Seed Club: He’s building an incubator for the crypto space helping creators and communities launch and grow successful social tokens. Previously he was the co-founder at Blimp, a collaboration space for real estate professionals and led Community for Protos Asset Management, a leading provider of systematic crypto and Defi exposure.
Stani Kulechov, Founder and CEO at AAVE: He’s building the widely successful, open source and non-custodial liquidity market protocol that earns anyone interest on deposits and borrowed assets. Stani was studying law at the University of Helsinki when he first got into Ethereum and he started exploring how it could impact the traditional financial system.
Jeff Kauffman Jr., Founder of Parachute: He’s building a social token-driven consultancy firm focused on web3 solutions for brands and agencies. Jeff has made it his responsibility to provide entry level social token exposure to many mainstream executives via the community’s currency, $JUMP.
Wuki, Dj and Founder of $WUKI: Wuki is the genre-blending solo project of Denver-based producer Kris Barman. Influenced by the sounds of Detroit ghettotech and Chicago footwork scenes, Barman’s ability to seamlessly mix booty, breaks, electro, and house into hard-hitting club-shakers has become a trademark of the Wuki sound. Furthermore, he’s reimagining what it means to build a community around his music through his social token, $WUKI.
Josh Katz, Founder and CEO of YellowHeart: The blockchain expert went from fetching tuna sandwiches for Clive Davis to designing NFTs for bands like Kings of Leon. More recently, he’s pushing out one of the first mainstream creator DAOs for the American pop rock band Maroon 5
Maria Shen, Partner at Electric Capital: Maria is NFT obsessed. Currently, she’s a partner on the investment team at Electric Capital. Prior to Electric, Maria was CTO and co-founder of a startup that helped SMBs easily create their supply chains with manufacturers around the world. Prior to that, she worked on search technology at Microsoft, with her features shipped to more than 1 billion devices.
Andy Artz, Partner at Social Capital: He’s on a mission to advance humanity by solving the world’s hardest problems by investing capital across early stage startups to transformational public companies. He’s also a major proponent of the decentralized social media platform BitClout following his own creator coin $ARTZ.
Pet3rpan, Investor at 1kx: He’s a DAO and NFT thought-leader whose work is widely known across the early stage token investment firm 1kx. He’s also a Community organiser and summoner at MetaCartel, as well as the Co-founder & blood mage at MetaCartel Ventures.
Carlos Gomes, Founder of ForeFront: He’s the Founder of Forefront, contributor at MintFund and Seed Club. He works as a software developer at the crypto exchange Huobi, is the founder of social token website ForeFront and even launched his own social token called $SWAGG.
Neil Harbisson and Pol Lombarte, Cyborg Artists: Cyborg-artist Neil Harbisson was born color blind but he can ‘feel’ and ‘hear’ colors, thanks to a WiFi-enabled bone-conduction antenna that is permanently implanted into his skull. Together, Neil and Pol experimented with a new state of where the buyer can directly send colors into Harbisson’s head, and on the flip side, Lombarte sold ‘access’ to his heartbeat as an NFT where the buyer can alter his heart beat from afar.
Jonathan Dunlap, Founder and CEO at MintGate: He’s building tools through MintGate for creators to experiment with token-gated content via NFT access passes and generate secret links for events, videos, music, websites, and blogs, to name a few.
Reuben Bramanathan, General Partner at IDEO CoLab: He’s an expert on all things crypto law, product management, fund management, and more. Having worked at Coinbase from 2015 to 2017, Reuben has seen the industry evolve at a rate in which many don’t have purview. Now, he’s helping build a platform for collaborative impact where him and his team connect organizations to shape technology’s impact on the world.
Erikan Obotetukudo, Founder and Managing Partner at Audacity Fund: She’s investing in Black/African led crypto startups targeting trillion $ markets worldwide, while focusing on the importance of how NFTs will change Africa forever.
Season two sponsors include Coinvise, POAP (aka Proof of Attendance Protocol), Socialstack, Celo, and PrimeDAO who are supporting Mint by collecting the show’s five non-transferable NFTs. The NFT grants each sponsor a shared vote into proposals, ideas, and future updates being implemented into Mint’s ecosystem as well as certain promotions across 15 episodes.
Mint with Adam Levy is a new audio and video series exploring how the creators of today are building the communities of tomorrow using web3 primitives like social tokens, NFTs, and DAOs, to name a few. Each month, a new season rolls out with ten to fifteen untold journeys from notable creators, web3 founders, and thought leaders, who are tinkering with social money to make their creator economy a reality.