How Crypto and Web3 Will Change Social Media Forever

Wilson Wei and Ryan Li join Mint to share their vision for putting creators and users at the forefront of ownership. Their decentralized social graph, CyberConnect, attempts to solve many of the problems plaguing centralized social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Wilson Wei and Ryan Li join Mint to share their vision for putting creators and users at the forefront of ownership. Their decentralized social graph, CyberConnect, attempts to solve many of the problems plaguing centralized social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

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Mint Season 5 episode 9 welcomes Wilson Wei and Ryan Li, who share their vision for putting creators and users at the forefront of ownership with their decentralized social graph, CyberConnect.

In this episode, we discuss: 

  • 00:15 – Intro
  • 09:13 – What Inspired Ryan and Wilson to Build in Web3 Social?
  • 15:07 – Elon Musk’s Potential Acquisition of Twitter
  • 18:34 – How To Defeat Bots and Spammers in Web3 Social?
  • 20:53 – What Does Ownership Actually Mean in Web3?
  • 29:59 – Web3 Social Tools to Empower Creators
  • 33:08 – How Does Virality Work in the World of Web3 Social?
  • 42:38 – What is a Social Graph?
  • 54:12 – Big Picture Vision for Web3 Social
  • 59:13 – Outro

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Wilson and Ryan, guys, welcome to mint. Thank you for being on, how are we doing?

Wilson Wei: Awesome. Hey, Adam. Thanks for having me here.

Ryan, what’s up? How are you doing?

Ryan Li: I’m doing great. I’m doing great. Thanks so much for having me.

Intro

Guys. I’m very excited to have you on. There’s a lot going on social right now with Elon Musk attempting to buy Twitter and conversations around data ownership and creators liberating themselves using web three primitives, so we have a lot to talk about. I always like to start with intros first. Okay, so, Wilson and Ryan, who the hell are you guys? What does the world need to know about each of you, but more specifically, how did you get your start into crypto? We can start with Wilson, and then we’ll go to Ryan.

Wilson Wei: Sure. This is Wilson and graduated from UC Berkeley. And that’s how I met Ryan. We were in the same entrepreneurial club. And then I got into crypto in early 2017. We started off with by creating a pretty novel, you know, content blockchain called Lino blockchain. And then later on, we also introduced the lifestyle TV, the first decentralized live streaming platform. And then we got acquired. After a year break, we tap into building cyber connect right now. And I’m the co-founder of cyber connect. And Ryan.

Ryan Li: Yes. Well, I’m Ryan, also graduate from Berkeley. Before this, Wilson, we did the venture together with the blockchain with the live.tv, where we on boarded a bunch of creative streamers. And before that, I actually had a year and a half building this social application at Berkeley and Stanford, which didn’t really work out. But I learned a lot during that experience. Yeah, and that’s where I might, my step into crypto is really the steam blockchain, which was really kind of interesting back in 2017. I think that’s where a lot of inspiration for the live video was coming from, as well.

So, this club that you guys met in Berkeley, I also got started, I guess, with a lot of my entrepreneurial endeavors at the university as well. What is it about the club setting you think that kind of like, prompts you into now working in web three, I have my, like, hot take, but I’m curious to know how like starting in a club, meeting each other in the club, and how that’s kind of like, influenced your, your, like product mindset, in your entrance into web three?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, I think we did a lot of, you know, company touring, we went to a lot of the startup companies in the Bay Area, and also some other areas as well. And that taught us a lot, we got a chance to, you know, actually see all those entrepreneurs and see them, like grow their company from like zero to a multi-billion-dollar company, and also how their point of view or product and the whole ecosystem. And also, we learned there, you know, how hard it is to actually start a company, and how important it is to create value and remains, you know, always keep, keep going back to your mission constantly, don’t lose focus on of that, like we learn a lot from our previous entrepreneurs. And we got those opportunities based on The Club. I was, you know, precedent before Ryan and Ryan, after me, will tend to a lot of those trip up to gather opportunities, talk to top entrepreneurs in within the space for web three, we, you know, we didn’t actually talk to so many other like web three companies back then, or blockchain companies back then. But we have a very good environment, when we have a whole ton of discussion into Bitcoin and, for example, also the steam blockchain. And that’s how we got started.

Got it. What about you, Ryan? So, you joined us president after Wilson? I guess like what some of like the initial companies were that inspired you guys. I only asked this, by the way, because I was also in a similar situation like you guys. And I remember our club ended up going to Redwood, near Silicon Valley. And we got to tour all these like tech startups like offices, and I’ll never forget seeing boxes office and it was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever come across. And it really like sparked a lot of my motivation and inspiration to kind of do and enter more of the tech scene specifically, I guess. You guys already like tech centered when you guys entered the entrepreneurship Club? Where did that come afterwards?

Ryan Li: I was protecting senator. So, I, before that I worked at Facebook and Google before as interns and hacking on my site. So, I kind of knew what’s going on. But like the real inspiration part was like some trips to those companies I’ve never heard of, but it turns out to be, they are tackling something really interesting with very simple tech, actually, a lot of them are just great businesses.

Got it. How did you guys go by building the life? Like what was the inspiration for starting that initial project?

Wilson Wei: Ryan, so, you know, live streaming, like we started off with the Lino blockchain. And then later on, we bought on the live. So, for the for the, you know, the leader blockchain, that the fundamental problem that we were trying to solve was the unfairness or the conflict between content creators and platforms. That’s how we got started. And we think live streaming, it’s a very good form of media, where users will generate a whole bunch of smaller transactions, and you can leverage the blockchain with that a lot. And also prevent a lot of the, you know, just botting. And, and, you know, like, just spamming the incentive system, because people are actually paying for tips or donations. Yeah, that’s how we actually got started.

Got it. Got it. You know, part of my journey into content creation started with live streaming. Prior to mint, I started this like Tuesday weekly segment called blockchain and booze, it started doing COVID. And the whole idea was to kind of like, bring people together over a drink while we were locked in doors. And that was like the first step for me into content creation. And then kind of like, inspired me to go be my own creator, as we’re doing right now, with mint. So now that you guys have pivoted into kind of building cyber connect, it’s actually quite exciting for me, because a lot of the ethos behind web through social, and I guess it’s more for you guys to answer. But I very much alignment, like being your own bank, for the most part, owning your data, owning your audience, a lot of these primitives that we’ll talk about, but I guess before we even get into there, before I answer those questions for you, why social? Like why tackle the problems in web three social? Why you guys specifically?

Wilson Wei: First of all, like why show, show? I think right now, web three and blockchain in general, are focusing so much on financial industry, we got all those tokens floating around, and NFTs. But in order for web three, to actually become more mainstream adopted, I think, social, it’s going to be a huge part of it. Without social like, it’s going to be just a, you know, financial game. And I don’t think that’s, that’s the whole purpose of web three and for us, like, we have years of experience building social platforms, tackling on problems on the infrastructure design for data and also content distribution in financial incentives. So, you know, we back in the live and Lino, we work with more than 60,000 live streamers. So, we know how it is like to be a streamer, and also the demands from users. Yeah, so. And also, we were pretty web three native team. We have been in the industry for more than five years already. Yeah, I hope that answered the question. Like, why us?

What Inspired Ryan and Wilson to Build in Web3 Social?

Yeah, no, that makes sense. I guess why you guys specifically, but I guess why? Why do you align with the problems in web two like web two social and how you try to solve them in web three? Because when he talks about a founder’s journey, right, you really have to align with like the purpose and the mission that you’re trying to build towards, right. And I at least for me, personally, I can’t go into something because there’s a lot of money and just commit to it and build something like I really need to align with the foundation in terms of what I’m building for like the purpose right so that was kind of like it does answer the question I guess also from like Ryan for you specifically like why? Why the interest to build in web two social like what are the problems in web two social that have inspired you guys to go and build into web three social?

Ryan Li: Well, I can’t wait, I think the social scene in web two has reached this like top of the S curve where the acceleration of growth has just stopped, like for the past 10 years like there is very little information except from Tik Tok probably the other thing that we’ve been using for the past 10 years or so around. And back, like eight years ago, when I was building the social application on campus, it’s like, you can build a great app, but they nobody will use it, because everybody has their own circle on those platforms. And they’re just controlling everything, building up their moat by having those users on the platforms, and you just cannot build a better user experience and expect people to come, that’s the point. Like there’s no innovation happening, that very little innovation happening in social thing. And having ownership back to the hands of users. And making platform less of a central place for those interactions to happen. But more like a top, a top bottom, bottom to top kind of approach where people can own different parts of the data, different part of the stack, could really be the maybe the beginning of something very interesting on web three social instead of hoping we’re going to be around with Instagram and TikTok for the next 20 years.

So, you’re telling me, it’s not going to be a good idea to be with Instagram and TikTok for the next 20 years for them to dominate the entire social scene.

Wilson Wei: Yeah, and I want to add on a little bit on the problem. Like, I mean, TikTok, and Instagram, and YouTube, those are great platforms. But fundamentally, the problem is like, they own all of your data, and therefore they owned a channel, they owned all the, you know, creator’s channel, no matter how many years you spent times to be on, let’s say, know, a male and follower. Those are not your data. And what we’re building could actually solve the problem would give back a channel to users, and especially, it’s going to be super meaningful for influencers, because there’s all ours, actually their social capital, that’s how we call it. And then cyber Connect will enable your mobility officers who capital meaning you could go to another platform, and still have the same amount of following because you actually owned those data. And that’s going to change the whole game that’s going to solve the relationship problem and internal mental conflict between creators, users, and platforms, because now we’re on the same, you know, table lately, you provide your service features, I own my data, and you don’t have the dominant right, bargaining power against me. So, I got more control over what I want to do. And what I want to do with my platform that could potentially solve the problem with the monetization unfair traffic distribution and other stuff. So that’s a huge problem. And yeah.

Got it. So how do you guys’ kind of understand the current state of web three social, like, where are we? It’s 2022? Are you seeing headlines of Elon Musk wanting to buy Twitter, we’re seeing all these like these like purpose driven revolutions of content creators issuing NF T’s tokenizing themselves building an audience on chain? We’re seeing like, like grassroots movements, kind of like sparking up that leads that may lead into something bigger. Right. And I know you guys have over a million users on your social graph specifically. So, what better person to kind of ask like, what is the current state of what three socials? How do you think about that?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, I think it’s exciting to see all those creators in an application trying out different use cases. But in general, like, web three socials is still, it’s pretty early stage. And I think mostly because the infrastructure is not 100% ready yet and that’s why we started with building cyber connect as the social graph infrastructure for developers. And it has a huge potential for social application and content distribution platforms to get into web three and be more crypto native. For example, like NFTs could solve the problem with a lot of the copyright problem, and the loyalty split problem. And then what we do or like, you know, what I just mentioned previously, but so kind of ownership problem and data ownership problem and the mobility of your social capital. Those are the one thing that is very different than, like between web three, and web two would be web, web three would be very user centric, meaning users are going to use their wallet as their account system and try to own everything Okay, instead of platforms owning everything. And I think that’s going to change the whole thing. And yeah.

Elon Musk’s Potential Acquisition of Twitter

Got it. What do you guys think about the current like offer for Elon Musk to buy Twitter? Can we talk about that for a second?

Wilson Wei: For sure. I mean, it’s pretty interesting. But I think like Elon, right now, Elon Musk, it’s, you know, holding on to deal because he’s suspicious about like the 5% of true or that Twitter claim to have the 5% like, less than 5% of bots. But, yeah, I mean, I personally, I love Elon Musk. He’s kind of like my role model I bought in Tesla too early on. Yeah, but I think he’s trying to, somehow, if let’s a Twitter, it doesn’t really matter whether it’s Elon Musk, or someone else, if Twitter become more and more decentralized, enabling users to own their channel, I think that’s genuinely a exciting thing to see. And by seeing their like, like, first step of, you know, enabling, recognizing the NFT as avatar for the, I think that’s awesome. Like to see more and more mainstream web two major giants who adopt a system. But fundamentally, what would change is the data problem. The question here is like when and how they would get to a point when they are willing to give up all those data back to, you know, where it belongs the user?

 So that’s the question like, is there an incentive to do that, like the way Twitter is run today? It’s very much like an advertisement model, right? And there’s power behind having so much data, not for Twitter, not just for Twitter for all these, like main web to social platforms and audio platforms, and a lot of these creator first platforms, is there an incentive to democratize and make the social graph like open source like he wants to, and gave users ownership of their data? I guess, from a Twitter point of view, like, do you see that world coming into picture from how things are run today?

Wilson Wei: I think, in the short term, it’s going to be extremely difficult. Because Twitter as a public company, their major goal is actually to make money and maximize their profits. And by owning those data, they remain as the dominant social media platform online, ever. So but if they could just, you know, think a little bit more longer term, and see how the web three world could potentially be much bigger than just a social media platform, they could maybe change their mind and try to convince their board members, you know, we’re chasing after something that’s, that’s going to happen, like within the next five years, or 10. And we want to maintain, remain as, as the leading technology firm, instead of, you know, being left behind by the whole revolution of web three, that’s the probably the only, you know, potential and, and if Elon Musk actually buys Twitter, I think that he might be the person but right now seems like this not happening, the deal is off.

How To Defeat Bots and Spammers in Web3 Social?

So yeah, it does seem like the deal is obviously on standby. Given all the botting issue in the spam issues, I guess, that’s a big problem in web two, social, like, it’s hard to authenticate users. And it’s hard to prevent all these bots and spammers, like, if you tweet meta mask, right, now, you’re gonna get a bunch of bots, saying that their meta masks support, right? And it’s like, it makes the experience less enjoyable. So, I guess my question to you guys, in a web three social standpoint, how do you mitigate bots? How do you mitigate spammers? Like what, what is the formula for defeating these bad actors online?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, so very interesting question. We’re exploring to that constantly. And, you know, one thing that would trying out as like, we recently come out with the product calling readout to and what we do is to verify manually with other projects that are trying to create their own page on LinkedIn dot 2 to and the thesis behind it, it’s we want to start establishing a group of trusted account, which is address space. And then starting from this group of trusted accounts, they are going to start making connections with different accounts. For example, the trust account could follow you know, 10 out accounts, and that would create another A group of trusted accounts and starting from this, you know, trust the standard group, expand the trust beyond that, and ultimately create a very healthy environment of real human engagement account system. And also, another way to do it as to use the assets that we have with tokens and NFTs to increase the cost of, you know, fixing a, a, you know, a bots account. For example, you could almost definitely say like, if your address has an, let’s say, crypto punk, or an ape, it’s going to be a root, you know, user behind it, it’s not going to be a bad attempt, but based off, you know, those assets. And so that’s, that’s our way to explore into it.

What Does Ownership Actually Mean in Web3?

Got it. Got it. So, another thing we keep talking about is ownership. And this is, ownership is a big topic that I have consistently talked about, I feel like on almost every episode, because the way I think about ownership, it’s still a gray area, like what does ownership really mean on chain? So, from a creator’s point of view, okay. When you say a creator can own their data in web three, what does that mean? Like, what is, what does that visually mean? What’s the benefit of that? And how do you think about that, that process?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, I think the example Yeah, let me take like, Tik Tok or YouTubers as an example. The ownership means that you only have followers. For example, you already have your YouTube channel, and if you want to create your tick tock channel the other day, and you could, you could have the same amount of followers. And that’s essentially how, how we, you know, defining the ownership of data, without the ownership of data, you will never be able to do that unless, you know, YouTube somehow change their mind and give you other rights to those data. And they will have like those two platforms that will have to be fitted into one account system, which is not happening. But the differences here in web three, it’s we have this like universally, pretty well adopted account system that is wallet base address base. So, everything that become much more interoperable. So, when you are establishing relationship between your followers, that’s address to address. And that piece of data. It’s valuable because it could be bought on to other platforms. And it could, be meaningful relationship.

Got it? Yeah. So, Ryan, I guess, from your point of view, you’d like being more of a tech minded person here and the CTO of Cyber Connect? How does this work from a more infrastructure level, because a lot of what Cyber Connect is about is creating an ecosystem that allows developers to build on top of and to build applications so that you can take your following from one place to another? So, when you’re designing this, this protocol, this ecosystem, what goes into actually making it successful? Like, how do you think about that?

Ryan Li: Yeah, of course, well, first of all, visually, like only a piece of data, it kind of means like, I can show you the data without like showing you a central platform of displaying that data, like I can tell you that I have this amount of followers without relying on YouTube telling you or telling us that that’s the amount of followers that I have. But instead, I can show you a ether scan, where I can show you something that’s very neutral, you can replace it easily, and shows that the others are watching our lives in a decentralized store, which everybody can rely or trust on. So, to design a system that we have, we aim for very scalable, very performance system, and also making sure that all the data integrity are kept safe, and all the data are always available. So that can be like so out of them is growing them down. Like I wouldn’t just take away that piece of data, throw it in the garbage can, that doesn’t work. And we have to make sure that all the followers Adam has here always wants to them like has to be initiated from some account that’s authenticated to initiate some action. So, in the end, it’s very similar to, what we had was very similar. We started out with the on-chain approach to save everything on chain, on polygon or on Solana, some cost efficient, effective way but then in the end, we actually have much more performance system that’s sufficiently decentralized for now so that we can onboard the amount of user that we have like almost a million users right now. And all data are safely backed on those decentralized stores are like so people can always rely on, okay, this is not just cyber going to tell them what data is but also everybody can check on are we.

So, let’s go back to this concept of ownership for a minute. Okay? When you say you own your data, the way I think about it is, and I’m testing in public here. So, every single season, I issue free NFTs to my audience, okay. And I do this in an effort to kind of give back to them as a thank you. And also, to solidify the participation early on in the podcast. As I grow as a creator, as the platform grows, they can prove that they were there before, the people who joined in season 10, for example. And that’s what I think about of owning an audience, when they own an asset that came from you, from your smart contract address, that NFT, that token sits in your wallet, that’s a form of ownership from the Creator to the listener, to the fan, right. And with that, you know, and I don’t think it exists yet. But with that, I feel like I could tap into data that otherwise may have been restricted from more of like web two platforms, for example. So, let’s, let’s think about this out loud, I would love to brainstorm with you guys. Okay, so over 6000 NFTs were collected just as the example. Now, through that, I can see really interesting information that I otherwise would have been able to see if it was coming, let’s say from Spotify, or Apple Music, or Instagram or Twitter, for example, then the most important metric, I’d argue is like net worth, right? Like, how rich, how affluent is my audience, for example, right, which is super important, because as I create more content, as I create a better experience for my fans, I want to know these things, because it will, it will kind of dictate how I lead my content direction, for example. And that’s a metric I remember doing like Facebook ads back in the day when I was doing like, like amateur e commerce and shit. I remember that was, that was a data point that Facebook would never really give me I would always have to find like, zip codes and try to find, like, where are they living? Like, are they in Beverly Hills? So, if they live in Beverly Hills, I can target people in Beverly Hills, and based on that they may have money, for example, right? But with this, it’s a little bit different. Like, am I thinking about this the right way? Are you guys thinking about that similarly, like, guide me here?

Wilson Wei: I think that’s definitely one of the potential uses of it. And would, you know, with the connection data that we are establishing here, you could also come up with, you know, analytics, for your follow up base. And everything is address base, you know, but other than, like, their wealth and their assets, or tokens, I’ll be more interested in who they are. And how they’re connected with other communities, like who they really present them, like how they present themselves into the space, because the web three, it’s not going to be like, you know, might not be as, as that ad driven as web two. So, I would, I’ll say like the potential of leveraging those data and knowledge to build a community that, that it’s really tight and loyal at a much better potential use of those data.

For example, Wilson, so let’s use again, the NFTs like the 600 free NFTs, for example. So based off that, seeing what part of community what which communities they align with, which communities are part of. So, with that kind of like logic, I can then go and see, okay, how many of the people that collected my free NFTs also hold a board A? Right. How many of them collected a specific pull up from Eth Denver? For example, right? These types of scenarios? Right? Can you elaborate on that for a little bit?

Wilson Wei: Yeah. Ryan, Ryan?

Yeah.

Ryan Li: This is just something I’ve been I’ve been dreaming about. So, before this, there’s no way for you like from, from Spotify data coming back to you, there’s no way you can tell if they like this particular YouTuber, right? So, what’s the preference or what their interest lies outside of this platform? But with the same address being used across different platforms, you can tell oh, maybe this is also asked if I can, I can have a better demographic view of all the different users and find those interest groups that could never exist before. Like now, probably you have a better view of oh, maybe they’re all NFT collectors, or maybe they’re all just plugged farmers. That’s a really cool value. Or you can discover some interesting communities around who are the other people that also listen to Adams mint podcast, and also share some experience similar as I would I do like, or whatever I can, I can find all the other holders. That to this means five, five, but also was also holding, let’s say, Eth Denver, a poll app. We’ve all been there. We’ve all found out about this, mint to the vibe, that creates a unique group of people that can have great conversation.

Web3 Social Tools to Empower Creators

Got it, yeah. So, it’s funny I’ve been talking about this like scenario because there aren’t any tools out there just yet that empower creators on a very simple level like there’s NFT analytics, there’s doing analytics, we need to know sequel to kind of query data to kind of learn more about these addresses. But there’s nothing that’s like plug and play that you can just copy and paste an address, and boom, you get your answers like that, right. And I did this experiment, I think it was at Eth, Denver with this artist, her name is Queen George. She’s an independent music artist. And we put together a concert, essentially, at Eth Denver, we issued tickets as NFTs on polygon. And the sole intention was to try to get in growth hack, like a few 100 core Ethereum collectors to come and attend the concert. Because at the concert, we had the opportunity to mint a one of one song that people could kind of scan their phone and kind of get the link from the QR code. And we did this entire, like funnel this entire experience. And it made us think afterwards like wow, like there’s a whole interesting like opportunity over here for Queen George as a music creator. And to tap into data that she otherwise wouldn’t have had access to through Twitter or through Tik Tok, or through Spotify or Apple Music because their power comes from the data, for example, amongst other things. So yeah, I’m interested to see how this kind of like plays and plays forward. Another question I want to ask you guys is, a lot of, I guess what web to social platforms aim to do is empower the creators because without the Creator, there is no platform. That’s an argument. So, in web three, what kind of tools do you think creators need to kind of liberate their creativity? How do you guys think about that?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, I think, you know, we already mentioned one of the most fundamental infrastructures, the data ownership. And other than that, would be a whole bunch of, you know, explore, exploring into like, NFTs I will say and then something that we’re building like Link three, I think that could potentially become a hub for creators to manage their community. I think for web three, it’s not too much of solving the problem of content delivery, it, it’s kind of like solving the problem, it could better solve the problem of how you form a tight community, almost like a VIP group of fanbase. And you can, you can leverage a lot. Other tools like NFT and for example, like we recently read the newest essay from Vitalik. Talking about, like, so bound token, that’s something pretty interesting as well. If, you know, if we come up with a, you know, a soul bond token, and that could become another tool to, you know, give you the badge, which is nontransferable, but give you the status of being Adams number one fan, you know, that will be interesting. Yeah, a lot to explore into. But those are the, you know, examples that I could come up from my head right now.

How Does Virality Work in the World of Web3 Social?

So, speaking about sold on tokens before this, like keyword even came out, this new buzzword. All of the NFTs are non-transferable, like it’s intentionally made, so that you can’t sell them on secondaries for the sake of being able to solidify that this wallet address interacted with the podcast at this date at this time. And that’s it, it’s there forever, you know, and there’s something special to that. And it’s funny, because now you see on open see, like, if you go to the smart contract address, you try to see people sell it for more than just won’t, it won’t sell it because it is nontransferable, right. So, I think this concept of non-transferable NFTs with no secondary value, are still very new and very early. But I think solidifying one’s participation or engagement with the Creator is a great use case for them. For example, I want to talk about virality for a minute, because virality is a very key component of social Of course, arguably TikTok, like killer feature, one of them at least is they’re able to make almost any creator, like famous, like, reach 1000s to hundreds of 1000s to millions of followers really quickly, like they’ve, they have an interesting model. And I only bring them up because I think a lot about this in web three, like how does virality work on a decentralized level? Does the decentralization affect the widespread, I guess, reach of content? Is it independent of one another? And I only ask this from my point of view, because I don’t, I don’t know. Right? Like you guys are the experts here. But I figure if a web three social platform were to get legs, it would need that viral component to track creators and to build an audience. How do you guys think about that?

Wilson Wei: And that’s a, you know, something that we have been working on. It’s what we call the social data network. And that includes a whole bunch of recommendation system. I think Tik Tok, it’s really good at recommendation algorithms. And that’s like one of the key components of how they make your video content viral by pushing the right content to the right people. And that’s what we would think it’s called like interest graph. You know, you have the social graph, that’s your connection, your interest graph, it’s like what content you will be interested in, what other people that you’re not following, that might be interest to you. And that could be built on top of the social graph. And right now, we’re trying to aggregate a lot of the data from on chain and off chain, for example, whether you hold the same poll app batch, or whether you vote it, or the same snapshot proposal, whether you are holding the same NFT collection, those kinds of things that add up together to build up a pretty good interest graph for each account and each user. And based on the social graph, like the secondary connection, and that third, multiple degree connection, could also add on to that into scrap and empower a better version of recommendation system as well. So, I think there’s a chance in web three, the whole recommendation system could work collectively, instead of just belonging to one single platform. And that could potentially change the, you know, the basics of the how influencers, or creators get viral, and they could have more information on onto those supposedly Blackbox algorithm.

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, on the other side, though, if you make these algorithms accessible to multiple platforms, and you are welcome competition, like heavy degrees of competition, because if you can take for one your following anywhere. And then on top of that, you can apply the same like, how did you call it you said interest?

Wilson Wei: interest graphs.

Interest graph, you can take that same interest graph and implement it onto a different platform, I guess, and how do platforms build a moat? Like, how do you build stickiness?

Wilson Wei: I think, yeah, that’s actually like, how we imagine the future, platforms should build their moat based on the ability of creating a good product experience, is just taking data, you know, building up those data wall, building great experiences. And also, natively you know, when user go to your domain, when user go to a website, when user download your app, you know, those traction, those network are your moat, down to the bottom, they should compete against each other based on the user experience and the service that they provide. And that’s a very healthy, competitive environment.

No, no, go ahead, what were you gonna say?

Ryan Li: I think that’s what happened to defi as well, right? Like, apart from what, what happened on and all that, but people have their like, you’re not bound to a defi protocol, because they hold your assets, not like what banks do, right? Like you and I only have like one or two banks in you ever worked with. But you probably have way more defi protocol you play around with, and they all compete for a better service. But are you supposed to they’re interested in.

Ponzinomics.

Ryan Li: But it’s actually more efficient, right? Like there is more difficult because that’s the existence than the banks that do have a significant amount of traffic. Because people, they don’t hold user’s asset, they actually just provide a better service.

I guess that that gets me into our next point. The market did take, like a dipper for the most part. How do you guys think that affects, I guess, education, how that affects content creation, and just more widespread creator growth in web three?

Wilson Wei: I think for sure. The general market, it’s going to be less interested because of the market. But I’ll see the trend changing because the basics are not changing. We saw great talented teams working on products and efforts and money that put into you know, projects that try to be a wider range of adoption. Yeah, yeah. But when the market is down, it’s down like things will tend to grow like slower, but not like stopped growing. And I’m just happy that like, within the last couple of years, a lot of the smart money and smart people are getting into the industry. And I saw that still happening even when the market is down, people are starting to clearly, you know, understand this could be the potential future, and this could be a huge change. And it’s not a game of just one year or two, it’s a game of a decade or two, or even longer. So, yeah, like for us, you know, we’re here for the long term, we’re well prepared for a bear market. We’re well funded with a very top group of selected investors. We’ve just recently announced our series A.

Congrats on that, that’s huge. Was it 15 mil?

Wilson Wei: Yeah.

No big deal. Just a quick 15 mil. That’s awesome. That’s really cool.

Wilson Wei: Yeah, so I think it’s not it’s not like necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes when the market gets like too hot, creates a lot of problem. You know, the problem with Luna, it’s the same thing. I think it’s, it’s so hot, and the bubble growing too fast, or affecting so many other people. If we got more of a reasonable market sentiment, users and products, and teams will have more time to testify to a lot of the experiments happening in the space. Therefore, I think it’s healthier in the long term.

Right? You agree as well, or you have a different take?

Rya Li: i Well, I agree. It’s good to have the cycles where people can just take breather and think outside of NFTs to launch this week, right? Like in the hot market, people are just launching defi protocol and NFTs and everybody’s opinions are speculating them. And you always feel more like you always feel like you’re missing out. But actually, there’s nothing much happening in those really hot markets, but like, really the build phases during the bear market, like oh, well open seas, it was like uniswap, they’re doing 2019 where nobody cares about NFTs or defi, and they just keep on building. And that’s what was happening next. So, it’s great to see those times like that people can slow down and build and also, we get less Bots as well. Like we were, hopefully we get fewer bot.

Yeah. Are you saying on Twitter in general on cyber Connect?

Ryan Li: Everything every channel that we have. There are way too many bots. Hopefully.

What is a Social Graph?

The funniest spammers are the are the Sirs like Hi, sir. Like, hello, sir. All those random DMS, you know, one thing you guys keep mentioning? And I guess between the three of us, we kind of understand what we mean. But for those who don’t know, what is a social graph? Can you quickly define that? Either of you?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, sure. So, a social graph at its base basically represents the relationship between users or entities or organization, you know, a quick example would be your following or followers on TikTok. On Instagram, that’s your social graph, your connections on Facebook, your local address book on your cell phone? Those are your social graph?

Got it. Got it. So, when you think about like data, and the data collected through a social graph, right, and infrastructure, like you guys are developing? What is security look like? So, because blockchains are so accessible, and so open? I feel like it’s a threat to privacy at times, especially when users connect their ENS to their Twitter profiles as well. And of course, they, I mean, I do that, I’m guilty of that. I do that. But I feel like I do it strategically where everything is not on there. So how do you guys think about security and privacy on a social setting, when everything is inherently public?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, I think it’s a pretty obvious problem. But it’s not necessarily the most important or urgent problem. I think a lot of the social media or data are supposed to be public, or for example, your Twitter, but if you link it to your wallet, you better do it with your wallet that it’s, you know, you are comfortable with the public knowing it. And the more challenging question would be privacy data that, you know, really sensitive, like for example, your close circle like fretless, or your social graph in your messaging app. Those should be more sensitive data. And for those data, first of all, it should not be stored on any publicly accessible blockchain. And we have seen some great efforts in the encryption. Vertical for example, like ZK roll up is great. And then improving a lot on their scalability. And once we get to a point, when we have more, you know, encrypted and privacy reserved infrastructure ready, we’ll start to see more use cases and applications tackling into the more sensitive kind of abuse cases.

Got it. Got it. Okay. So that comes to my next question then. So, because the hype around social media right now, with Elon buying, it’s creating more conversations and creating more awareness in general. And with that comes more competition for like web three social graphs. How do you guys think about the competitive landscape? Is it a one size fits all? Like one winner, can multiple winners exist? Would you see like interoperability between competitors? Is that a thing? How do you think about that?

Wilson Wei: I think it’s possible to have like multiple networks, okay. Some serve for maybe, you know, for example, you could have like a subgraph. For the gaming community, in a very specific use case, you could have another grab for content driven platforms. In terms of like competition, I think it’s, it’s not, it doesn’t worry us as that much like, I think, I believe that we were the first one out there, and we’re the accumulated the most data. And that will create a huge network effect. But if someone else come in, you know, create another type of social graph, as long as they provided a good service, or in certain verticals, I mean, it makes sense to have like multiple parties providing different type of graph.

How do you guys think about development on a social graph? Because a big part of cyber Connect is empowering development groups and developers in general to build applications using the social graph? So, I guess my first question is, what does that look like from an infrastructure level? Like, how do you empower a group of individuals to build on top of something? Because I’m not a developer, I don’t understand that into what are some of the more like successful applications using cyber connect today?

Wilson Wei: Okay. Ryan can take the first question.

Go for it.

Ryan Li: Well, we want we want to experience to for developers to be like, let’s say if they’re building a game, they’re gonna publish it on Steam, where they don’t want to manage all the social graph, like because people have friends on Steam, and they can immediately tap into this the existing user base, and how are people playing the same game together. So, we’re providing those SDKs for developers to build when they’re like, let’s say, if I build a game, they can tap into cyber connect, social graph with the SDK and APIs. And when they released the game, all the existing users can bring their existing friends and followers and followings to this new game and start playing with those existing friends that they know and for any more social applications. It’s the same site, it’s like back in 2010 when applications are voting on top of like Facebook, sign in with Facebook, and you get all your, all the signups, new signups their friend lists, and you can tap into that graph and wreck to do interesting stuff around them like Tinder, what are the Facebook integration? Where they were trying to recommend that second degree friend like the friend of your friend, the friend of your friend to you in the in the Tinder feed?

So, wait, they were doing that?

Ryan Li: And they were they were also blocking out all your friends on Facebook and not showing their profile and yours.

That makes sense. So that’s really funny, though, I didn’t know that.

Ryan Li: Those are those are like 30 days of Facebook; people are building on top it. So that’s what we want the experience to be like for the developers they can easily tap into, because we don’t own this data. All users don’t own data, they have to say, to use my data, give me a better user experience.

Got it. Got it. So, with that, what are some of like the more successful applications?

Wilson Wei: Um, right now we have like more than 2025 developers are already integrated with cyber connect. And I’ll give you a couple examples like for example, Project X Cid, they are already using it. So, when you are following each other through those Project X ID. You’re establishing connections on cyber Connect. And we created that, you know, we help them to bootstrap the whole idea relationship between their ecosystem, within their ecosystem. And another more intuitive example would be, for example, meta puro. They create a, you know, a structuralized forum for different projects. And also, they have their own forum. And, for example, one of their forum examples would be the open Dao. And so, by integrating with cyber connect, first of all, once a user logged in, even for the first-time logging into the forum, you already know like, like, what kind of a, you know, what are the addresses? What are the users they’re following? And therefore, you could do recommendations of a list of topics that they might be interested in, or a list of posts from those like your following accounts. And then also establish the connection there. In a decentralized manner, we also empower that as well. So essentially, like, a lot of the apps leverage cyber connect as a for two reasons. Number one is to solve the costarring problem, whenever you want to create a network, just like how, in a mobile era, when a lot of the mobile apps are trying to request assets to query your data from your local address book, right to bootstrap there. But within Web three, within this address, space account system, there’s no such thing. And therefore, we’re here to provide that to help them to solve all those problems and could immediately provide the user experience with an existing social graph. And then number two, just be aligned with the ethos of building a decentralized application, you need to give back the data ownership back to users. And if they tried to do it by themselves, it’s going to be problematic, they’ll have to do everything that we built all over again. And but by using just simply our SDK, it’s super easy for them to, you know, to provide that service.

Do you guys have any, like specific visions for applications that you’d like to see built? Like, do you have any specific ideas that you have yet to see someone kind of encounter or problems, you have yet to see someone solve, that you guys would be interested in funding, for example?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, for example, like, you know, you know we’re building link three, and I truly believe this, this is a great application with great demand, you know, and some other potentials as well, like, for example, like, right now, addresses doesn’t mean anything at all, like, some of users already have their EMS, and you kind of know their name. But it needs to be, you know, the address and account has to be able to represent somehow a identity and status. And that’s a great opportunity for projects to tap into and create like a platform, maybe like LinkedIn, or some other opportunities would be like content platforms, I think that’s pretty cool as well. Because with all the assets that you could leverage with, it’s much easier for content creators to, you know, generate profits, and, and establish a very loyal group of fans. And obviously, games, games will generate a whole ton of social networks. People enjoy playing games, and it’s very intuitive. You make friends in different games. And that’s how we build up the whole network.

Big Picture Vision for Web3 Social

Yeah. I guess as we as we kind of wrap up the conversation, I want to leave you guys with one final thought that let’s think for macro for a minute. Okay. We talked about data ownership. We talked about protocols. We talked about interoperability. We talked about what creators, I guess, kind of like look like in web three. I want to think about big picture like what is the grandiose vision for web three social look and feel like?

Wilson Wei: Yeah. I think first of all, we’re going to have a lot of the web three native in decentralized platform providing services that we have already on the web two and also services that we’ve never seen before. You know, for example, like NFT, kind of iteration. And second of all like those like by defining those, like decentralized platform, I think it’s do fundamentally the key is to enable a user centric web instead of a platform centered web. So that’s starting from the bottom, like the account system, the data ownership. And then later on, like empowering all the interoperability for users to choose across all those platforms, and then eventually evolved into a real user centric app. That’s some people call it the metaverse. But I think like this, you know, user centric concept, it’s, it’s basically the backbone of the future that we’re imagining.

What about you, Ryan? How do you think about that?

Ryan Li: Giving people the ability to own stuff that holds value, it doesn’t really need to hold value, but exists in a longer horizon and might really change how people interact. Like, there’s no way for you to show what your, I don’t know, I’ve never used Myspace before. But there’s no way for anyone who has used Myspace before to show what they have done there. But probably in 10 years, you can still show people? Well, I was the one of the participants in Adams, well mint five, because I have this NFT, I think that kind of unlocks a lot of interesting social interactions and provides the content types. To show what they’re interested in, where the community they belong, and using all these different user own assets, gifts, applications, the ability to build stuff, that doesn’t necessarily have to be like from the ground up. So, cyber connect kind of provides very interesting components that are very crucial infrastructure for them to build the graph, the social graph, while they can always leverage on the existing like assets and NFTs that the people have owned throughout the years. That’s my thinking on this, that’s like, never could happen in web two.

Oh, yeah, go ahead.

Wilson Wei: I noticed that, you know, ask the question about macro. So, I think people might not notice how important it is for users to own data, and also all those assets, you know, on web two era, we have billions of users on the internet, and none of them have the rights over any kind of property. All of the things that we do on web two was, you know, would purchase services from different giant platforms, you purchase that equipment, you purchase this membership, but all those are services. And on web two users will be, user and creators will be able to own stuff, including their own channel, and data. And those consider as the core means of production. And by enabling users to own like, basically enabling them to have the property right. And plus, you know, we’re have other smart contracts to facilitate transactions and cooperation between different parties. I think those are the two key fundamental elements to create a free market, and motivate individuals to, you know, to maximize their productivity in the long run. And I think that’s a dos of the free market as well, like enabling, you know, individual property rights. And also, you know, you have some kind of like consensus over contracts and legislation to facilitate all kinds of collaborations. That’s changed the whole thing. Yeah.

Outro

I agree. I mean, I’m a big believer in this vision of kind of like creators owning their audience, it’s obviously a lot of what I talked about in the podcast, ways of owning your audience is by issuing assets and forms of tokens to for people to collect. And with that you unlock all sorts of data and interesting like benefits that you otherwise wouldn’t have been able to experience on traditional platforms. So this entire vision of a user own internet of have a user own social graph of people being able to kind of control their audience not from like a negative point of view, but more so they have more ownership and say, as to how they reach them, how they grow with them, how they build with them, how they interact with them, and be able to take their audience from one platform move it to another because, like, if you guys recall, for everyone that’s listening when Tik Tok came out a lot of the Instagram artists and migrated to Tik Tok weren’t able to build as viral kind of like followings as those who were on Tik Tok prior. Right? So then you have this rise of brand new influencers and brand new individuals that are kind of like leading the charge on culture, on pop culture, and it affects like it messes up and now you’re forced as a creator to create content on Tik Tok, and then build an audience on Tik Tok, and create content on Instagram and build an audience on Instagram, and then on Twitter, and then build an audience on Twitter and then on Spotify and all these different places. And it’s just gets it’s like way overbearing for me myself, personally, I already feel that pressure, I feel that pressure trying to do things on tick tock and build an audience on tick tock, and that I have to abide by the specific algorithms, just to build some type of audience when I wish, I could just kind of take everybody that’s collected my NFT in the past, bring them over to one platform, be able to grow them simultaneously in a new form of content. So, I really, I really get this vision as a creator, it really makes sense. I’m excited to see how you guys’ kind of tackle this in the future, especially with this new series A. And I guess before you wrap up, like where can we find more about cyber Connect? Where can we learn more? And where can we find you guys specifically online?

Wilson Wei: Yeah, so go to our Twitter, cyber connect, and then our website as well, cyberconnect.me. And the best way is actually to go to link3.2cyberconnect, that’s, it has everything. It has my profile, Ryan’s profile, and everything that you need to know about cyber Connect.

Cool. We’ll put that in the description. What about you, Ryan?

Ryan Li: Well, yeah, I think that Wilson said it well, go to link3.me You’ll find everybody there. You can also see all of our backers, or is it the stories behind the scenes or mirror blocks? Cool.

Amazing, guys. Thank you so much. And shout out to this awesome collaboration that we’re doing for season five. I guess I’ll end with this season five would not be possible without you guys, I am a big believer in what you’re doing. I’m super excited to kind of see you guys spearhead the forefront as to what web three social is and what it’s going to become. So really excited to be working with you guys and to kind of like discover the vision and learn more. Till next time.

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