Mint Season 6 episode 2 welcomes Anatoly Yakovenko, co-founder of Solana. We spent nearly an hour exploring the current landscape of the creator economy on the Solana blockchain and why he believes Solana is well equipped to meet the needs of a crypto-native creator. We also discuss how creators should use on-chain data to build communities, his vision for web3 mobile, crypto retail stores, and so much more.
I hope you enjoy our conversation.
- 00:00 – Intro
- 00:22 – Current Landscape of the Creator Economy on Solana
- 02:11 – Understanding The Creator’s Role in Web3
- 03:52 – What Can We Learn From Web3 Creators Today?
- 05:29 – Why Crypto Is the Ultimate Tool for Creators
- 08:33 – Should Creators Focus More on Virality or Building an Intimate Collector Base?
- 09:56 – Creator Tools on Solana
- 14:09 – Why Solana is Better Equipped to Support Crypto-native Creators?
- 15:03 – How Anatoly’s Experience at Qualcomm Shaped the Early Days of Solana
- 16:22 – How Creators Should Leverage On-chain Data to Build Community
- 21:34 – Future of Advertising in Web3
- 25:00 – Web3 Mobile
- 30:03 – Why Apple and Google Aren’t Taking Crypto and Web3 Seriously
- 31:27 – Lessons Learned from Previous Failed Crypto Phones
- 32:42 – Web3 Mobile App Store
- 40:41 – Examples of Things That Can Only be Built on Solana That Can’t be Built on Ethereum or Any of The L2 on Ethereum or Flow
- 42:36 – What Are The Communities That are Very Unique to Solana’s Ecosystem That Don’t Exist Anywhere Else?
- 44:10 – Building a Sustainable Developer Ecosystem and Retaining People from Grant Programs
- 45:37 – Where Creators Should be Spending Their Energy in the Bear Market?
- 47:06 – NFTs Anatoly Collects
- 48:07 – If You Were to Build Another Blockchain Now, Would You Rebuild Solana?
- 49:16 – Outro
I hope you enjoy our conversation.
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Anatoly welcome to mint. This is our second interview. last interview we did. It was with BLOND:ISH. It was about a year ago or so. We were drinking. Oh, you’re drinking now. What are you drinking actually?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Hot water, has no alcohol, kind of tastes like a Lagunitas.
Anatoly Yakovenko: That’s awesome because it’s not alcoholic
Current Landscape of the Creator Economy on Solana
I mean, I’m excited to have you on part of season six, all about blockchain data, specifically demystifying blockchain data for web three native creators. Okay, so how to bring you on considering all the excitement happening on Solana. So, I think a good place to start Anatoly is, what is the current landscape of the creator economy on Solana today?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Yeah, if you’ve been paying attention, and I’ve looked at like the reports published by Mistoria Nansen, you can see that basically, despite everything else in the world, like going to shit, NFTs are still growing like crazy. And a lot of users are onboarding to them and a lot of creators and there’s days that we see 200,000 NFTs, minted in one day, you know, there’s over 17 million that have been minted on chain right now. So, it’s kind of a like, I think, like, I started thinking about it from a very high level. And I think in a world where there’s like these sets with artificial scarcity, they’re not really scarce in the sense that there’s so many clones, and so many NFTs, that it’s not scarce from a very high level, but let’s actually scarce his creativity. So, it’s very much creativity driven economy, it’s people that figure out that like, connection between community and culture, and like, the art and the brand, and everything else and able to capture it, and those are the ones that are succeeding. And instead of like, you know, the Instagram or Tik Tok algorithm that’s surfacing things, it’s an open free for all market. And that’s kind of pretty cool and exciting, and really new, I think, really new for the web, really new for digital content.
Understanding The Creator’s Role in Web3
You know, before NFTs blew up, it was very much like defi centric, and I think the creator economy, like with the entering of NFTs, all these PFP communities, music NFTs, etc. It brought a lot of culture, a lot of color, I guess to crypto, what would you say is like the creator’s role in web three in general?
Anatoly Yakovenko: This is tough. Because it’s a, I think I kind of look at it as like, there’s just like very different ways that all these things can play out. Some of it is just purely art, especially the one of one stuff, it’s just an artist building digital content, and trying to do cool things. Some of of is brands, like I think, trying to build a brand in a similar way that Hello Kitty is a brand or Lyon, France or whatever. And some of them are stories, which I think is kind of like, like almost like Marvel, like I imagine, like the next version of Marvel is going to come from some of these, like NFT projects, like where else would you be trying to build it, right? You’re not gonna do it anywhere else, right? I think. So., I think the art like the stuff that I think happens and like succeeds is when artist has some intent to like, either go after one of those, you know, with some focus, like either they are building purely art one on one pieces and building themselves up as an artist or have some intent of building a brand or a story around it and kind of taking it from there.
What Can We Learn From Web3 Creators Today?
What are some things you think, like creator-based projects in crypto are doing right that I guess other like web two brands are doing wrong? Like creative brands?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Yeah. Well, I think what’s clear is that like, there’s a lot more opportunity for a very long tail in crypto right now, I don’t know if that’s going to change in like, you know, in the future, but like, right now, there’s a lot of smaller artists are able to enter and have like small successes. But those are meaningful, like life changing amounts for that artist, like, it’s very rare for an artist to make, like 50k, really rare. But we see that we, here we see those stories, like over and over. And that that I think to me is like what web three is doing well. It’s able to connect artists to small communities that can appreciate them without any middlemen, and then that is able to actually capture value. And like for that artist and for that community So, I think web two has done a really bad job of that, like, you look at Spotify or Instagram, or Tik Tok, probably Tik Tok as the most small artist friendly, where you can see unknown names kind of get famous. But like all the big ones, like it’s really, really hard to compete there as with a small following, right? Like, how many listens do you need on Spotify to buy a sandwich?
Why Crypto Is the Ultimate Tool for Creators
Right. Too many, way too many, you know, it’s crazy, that you’re seeing the like, a smaller subset of people creating even more value than those that are kind of generated through streams. For example, I think RAC tweeted this a while ago, where he’s like, I think 130 People generated the same amount of value, that nine point or 9 million people generated through streaming on Spotify, right. And when you talk about building like a creator economy that’s either user own or direct to the fan, you’re starting to see these like direct to fan relationships emerging in web three brain to primitive for that. But I’m curious from your point of view, like, why are crypto networks like the ultimate infrastructure for that? Like, why are they such a great primitive for connecting creators and fans together?
Anatoly Yakovenko: so, the business model is just totally different in web three, like web two is built upon the ad exchange. So, the goal of a platform that’s backed by an Ad Exchange is to maximize eyeballs. And the way that they’ve optimized that as they get the biggest influential brand that can, or you are like, you know, content creator, to generate as many views as they can. And then they steal everyone else’s data, and then serve them ads that they don’t want, right. And that’s the model that has scaled Instagram, Facebook, all these platforms. And for them, the longtail doesn’t really generate as much because the number of eyeballs is just not big enough. So, it’s very hard for them to actually scale up with what they want to do. It’s very much to me, it seems almost like closer to broadcast TV, where you’re trying to get the biggest audience right for your like Saturday night show. But that’s just like you want the biggest stars there all the time, because that’s the most generic kind of widest distribution content you can get. I think Tik Tok has changed that some somewhat a bit because that algorithm is so good, and it’s able to generate content directly to the user. Much, much better than I think that the news feed has. But I think crypto goes one step further is that there is no platform in the middle. There’re many platforms, there’s magic eaten than a dozen other competitors. And that relationship between the artists and the fan doesn’t go through magic even, it’s direct. Right, I have this NFT side and part of that NFC community, every NFT set that I’ve seen that has gotten any traction, all those folks have built their own marketplaces and tools and things like that and continue to function. Despite magic even being so dominant, there is still like no, no way for them to really control anything to be always in the middle. So, I think that I guess that’s the permissionless nature of crypto. And the way that business models work in crypto is you can’t really build a mode, and everything is direct and peer to peer at the end of the day.
Should Creators Focus More on Virality or Building an Intimate Collector Base?
So, do you think creators should be spending more time building towards virality or building towards a smaller collector base, for example?
Anatoly Yakovenko: It’s really up to that creator, I think this is almost like what kind of art do you want to make? Or do you want to do to make something that it’s more consumable, right and party or something more niche? It’s got to come from the soul of that person. And I can’t say one is better than the other because I enjoyed both, right? Like, I’m an enjoyer of both kinds of content. I think both can work. And I don’t think there is you know; I think there’s plenty of success in both. Like it’s really, really hard to predict because I think like crypto punks is very niche, these pixelated photos were really like, very targeted, like, you know, especially in the like in those early days. You couldn’t really like predict, okay, this is going to be almost like the icon for NFT. But they hit the right, that right combination of like appeal to a very niche community that was able to grow and kind of become this really massive brand. So, I don’t know like it’s got to come from the soul.
Creator Tools on Solana
So, things that come from the soul, you need a set of tools to create things that come from the soul, and I want to quickly highlight some of like the creator tool stacks that exist on Solana. So, the most obvious one is of course magic Eden, right as like the premier marketplace. But what are other tools that creators can tap into that otherwise may not be as familiar for example?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Yeah, there’s other marketplaces. So, exchange art, which focuses more one on one, PFPs fractal, which has its own kind of market style and open seas, obviously also in Solana. But the main one for creators is metroplex, where it’s really designed for users to be able to launch their own NFT set and get that like initial mint off the ground. And a lot of folks in those early days would run their own myths, they weren’t using magic Eden or anyone else as the kind of Launchpad my feeling, and this is coming from me just being like, four years and crypto and Cryptos, I think, doesn’t matter if it’s NFTs or tokens or products. It’s so launch oriented. There’s this like, this is how like, I think the industry is driven by these impulse events. Even though POS merge, the very technical thing, there’s a date and anticipation, like everything’s built up to that thing. I feel like if you put in the work and try to do it yourself, you’ll learn a lot and you’ll become a better artist, like a better distributor of your own art, you’ll be a better spokesperson and a better salesperson or whatever, you’ll have that connection directly with the fans. So highly recommend folks like put in the time and try something like metroplex where you run and you know, host your own mint and stuff. And there’s tools to like, make it easier, like Hola plex is built on top of metroplex for like self-hosting.
Sure. So, another thing that’s super interesting about Solana is about last year, actually July 2021, Solana announced the $5 million creator Fund, which was in collaboration with audios and metroplex, two companies we sort of we brought up earlier. It’s been a year, I wanted to do like a quick recap, if you have any pointers on that, like where are we right now, with the deployment of the capital. On the website, I said there was a goal to get 1000 creators on Solana, I feel like we like you guys achieve that well beyond your wildest dreams. But can you give me a little bit insight into the development of the fund?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Yeah, the fund was much more active in those early days. And like, these were just like, small grants to get folks like, photographers and like small community grants, but as soon as the ball started rolling, just the number of applications even people asking for those grants dropped off because people for became self-serve. Because Metroplex became so easy. And you saw magic Eden. And like these other marketplaces succeed to the point that artists like, just put the two together, okay, make heart, community and it goes to market and like, that’s always been like a really awesome sign for any kind of grand framework that we’ve done is when the ground becomes irrelevant, and there’s like, just growth happening on its own. But if you are an artist, and you’re thinking about like, there are, there’s some reason that you imagine you’d want to grant please apply like it’s still open.
Why Solana is Better Equipped to Support Crypto-native Creators?
Okay. All right. Good to know. I think another interesting thing about Solana is obviously the underlying network and infrastructures is arguably better tailored towards scalability currently, right. And I think for a lot of creators, they end up being starving artists. And they, a lot of people actually can’t afford to mint NFTs on Ethereum. And it tends to be a major barrier. It’s also a lot of the criticisms that many creators’ kind of bring to the network. Beyond I guess, like transaction fees on Solana, why do you think Solana is better equipped to empower the next generation of creators?
Anatoly Yakovenko: It’s been like, you know, ridiculously energy efficient like green from day one. So compared to proof of work networks that Solana is like a million times more energy efficient. You can think of one Solana transaction is like three Google searches. But even compared to proof of stake networks, like the EVM based ones, especially because we’ve optimized this thing to the hill for a bunch of Qualcomm nerds. It’s like I think by a factor of 10 to 100, more energy efficient than a lot of the proof for stake network. So, I’m pretty proud of that. I’m an engineer. I was like, I don’t know if I could live with myself working on proof of work. For many reasons, one of those just because how inefficient is, the other one is obviously like, I also live in California, and I see the environmental impact of climate change pretty obvious here. Got it. You know
How Anatoly’s Experience at Qualcomm Shaped the Early Days of Solana
You brought up Qualcomm and I think it’s so interesting. You spent over 12 years at Qualcomm. And I’m curious how your time over there has kind of shaped your early insights into developing Solana.
Anatoly Yakovenko: Yeah. So cellular networks, those are some of the largest networks in the world, you know, there’s like 5 billion people using LTE devices. And they are under constant attack from state vectors, like, you know, state funded attacks. And the kind of technical grid, and in like, perseverance that it takes to launch these things is insane. And I got to learn from some of the best people in the world, like, just getting really complicated code deployed to scale, and solving really hard problems. So, I’m pretty blessed to have worked there during that time, because that was really the time when we run from these like dinky flip phones, 2003 and folks remember Nokia like phones and like those LG wants to, the last device that was working on like the last project was this like, augmented reality supercomputers like in the palm of my hand, it’s just and that just took 10 years, so it’s pretty crazy how quick technology can move.
How Creators Should Leverage On-chain Data to Build Community
So I actually I want to get into the whole web three mobile side in a second but last thing I want to sort of cover on the creator economy stuff is you brought up the not the analogy, but the kind of like the very blunt statement that Facebook, Tik Tok, Snapchat, all these platforms, they make creators slaves to the platform, creators are forced to create content, and then Facebook, Instagram, Tik, Tok, WhatsApp, all these platforms end up being these walled gardens of data, right? But in crypto, everything is transparent. Everything is open. The Creator is the platform, right? Creators are can never be shadow banned by a network, for example, right? I’m curious, with data being so open, so transparent. With every single collector comes a new set of data that creators can kind of tap into. How do you think about on chain data from the point of view of a creator? Like how should creators be using on chain data to further build, further monetize for their own their Creator economy? What does that look like?
Anatoly Yakovenko: I think so there’s like, some obvious things that like the art and the wallets that is distributed in, those are your users, and you can track and like verify that and you can start building plugins, where users and discord can actually verify that their own some of your art or part of this NFT collection. And using that data set, right, people have started forming Daos, where the community is coordinating what like the direction of the art or the story, or potentially funds if this art piece is collecting secondary income into the Dao things like that. And that’s a like, that’s a very different thing. That’s never, I think it like reminds me of like 19s, 20s data collectors, or people were just like experimenting between like art and community, like all at the same time that, it was very intermixed, and it’s cool, like we live in, like a beautiful time where you can really just like, think of crazy ideas and go try them. I think what’s missing, still and I don’t know if it’s like really buildable or will it organically grow is like ability for folks that are content creators to be able to kind of move quickly and easily move platforms where that content is distributed but keep their subscriptions and keep that like fan base and kind of move them from one to the next. And like I think most of the pieces are there, you know the wallets that have your art, right and you can effectively like redistributed, ideally in the world where web three is fully adopted, you should be able to go from like Spotify to YouTube, to Tik Tok and bring all those rights together, right and give them content directly through those, through that like network graph that’s on chain. But we’re not quite there yet. I think initially, building that community and like figuring out like, which folks want to participate in Daos and stuff like that is a pretty easy way to get started.
Yeah, I think based off what you’re seeing right now is like for example, before Tik Tok became a thing. The platform was Instagram, like all the celebrities, all the influencers within there and then when Tik Tok became a thing, you started seeing like a shift of a new type of creator, right? And a lot of the Instagram creators that sort of had their following their virality they tried to come to Instagram, they didn’t see as much success as those who initially stuck with Tik Tok, and they built those crazy audiences. But you have that issue of like cross platform fan engagement, where I guess the blockchain is like the primitive, the opportunity to kind of enable the interoperability.
Anatoly Yakovenko: I think, like, I can’t imagine any other place, being able to build that besides blockchain. And I honestly think like, there’s bigger firms like Instagram are open to this, because at their heart, they’re just stuck with the business model that they have in web two, right? Like web three is just not mature enough for them to switch. I think at their heart, they still want to, like, build these awesome platforms for artists to connect, and like, connect with their fans and like, make awesome art. It’s just the only way that they can moneys for ads. For that to change, we need to have, like, I think, I don’t know, there’s like maybe 10 million people globally, that actively signed crypto transactions per month, not just hold crypto, because it’s like holding dotcom stocks in the 90s. But actually, signed transactions. And that’s just too small, right? It’s a large enough number to where you can see folks try and build audiences and stuff and iterate and like be extremely successful. But it’s not enough, I think for like the Facebooks, and like the Googles and Tik Toks of the world to really switch over yet.
Future of Advertising in Web3
What do you what do you think the future of advertising looks like in web three? Considering that statement?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Well, I’m hoping it gets like, I think there’s still a place where people want to like to promote, like decimate information that’s useful about new products, or new ideas or art or whatever. But I hope it’s less based around stealing your data and more about like serving the needs of the of the users. And I don’t like, I think that switch will happen. But it really needs to come from behaviors of consumers changing. And the crypto consumers have totally different behaviors like then, than the web two ones. And there’s more people on board to cryptos more people start getting into like these NFT communities and like having fun there instead of Instagram or Tik Tok, then things will shift.
So, I my hot take, I guess is because the blockchain is so open, you have so many additional data points that you can gather that you otherwise wouldn’t have across these web two platforms. For example, a lot of that revolves around like financial data, right? So as a creator, you’ve never really been able to access and see the net worth of your top fans or your audience, right? You’ve never really been able to see what other music they listen to in crypto. The more collectors you have, the more data points you unlock, the better experiences you can create for your community. You can see what other communities they’re a part of? What other things are collecting? How old is their wallet age? How much money do they have? And create customized experiences based off those data points and make more confident decisions based off that. I think there’s a level of like transparency and like, what’s the word I’m looking for? Like on Facebook, like your entire identity is doxxed. Right? In crypto, you can still access that data, but have that level of privacy alongside with that.
Anatoly Yakovenko: Yeah, the goal of crypto I think, is to give you optional pseudonymous identities that you can switch on and off at any time. And I think that comes from the fact that all the blockchain data is public. So, developers have to minimize the amount they collect. And they never like force you to reuse the same ID or wallet or anything else, right? There’s no like username password in any web three application. So, it comes from this idea that the user is going to bring you whatever data they want to and then you just deal with that as the application you never tried to like to take more. And that allows the user and like wallets to implement privacy features, you should be able to switch identities and like totally disconnect between when you need to. So, it’s hard. It’s just really hard to build these technologies with great UI UX. I’m hoping stuff that we’re doing for like something like saga at least shows an example of it right on like in the space for, but that’s really, really tough. But I think you’re like right, like I think artists have, I don’t know if the tools are there yet, but like I think if you’re technically savvy, you can start building much better like models of like, what else your fans are listening to and what else, what other NFTs you know, that they have in their wallet and things like that?
Yeah. You know, speaking of saga, let’s dive into web three mobile. Okay. Part of why I wanted you to have on, first of all, congratulations on the introduction of saga. It made incredible waves online. What was, what were your initial like reaction seeing the community’s reaction on a web three mobile phone?
Anatoly Yakovenko: I was really nervous. I think, I expected I guess that we would get, I don’t know, fell flat on our face or that people wouldn’t get it. And I was really pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t just Solana people that are overly happy. But I saw people across the entire industry like we were on pathless. Like, in, I think what that tells me is that everyone in crypto feels this frustration that the Apple and Google are not taking web three seriously at all, like the Apple announcement, you know, 12 years of, you know, Bitcoin is 12 years old and zero features for crypto. And the stuff that we’re adding to the phone is really, really, this technology that’s really simple. Like when I was at Qualcomm, like six years ago, the tools to do this already there. So specifically, were storing and recovering the seed phrase inside a secure element on the device. So kinda makes it more like a hardware device. But I don’t want to compare it to something like ledger for cold storage, please use ledger but what that means if your seed phrase is in the secure element of the device is that your wallets no longer have to store your seed phrase. So as a user, you don’t have to trust your wallet with the seed phrase, the wallet just asked the operating system, the wallet can never steal it. And that actually makes the wallet devs happy because they can innovate and build more stuff, we can now allow wallets to be in the tap to pay loop. Like when you go to NFC Card or at a shop, you should be able to bring up Phantom. And we should be able to secure make that environment so secure, that we know that phantom can’t steal your funds, and like be able to process that transaction and should be able to pay for your coffee with whatever token you want.
When you open a web three app, you know like right now there’s a wallet connect button and you see 50 different wallets, then you go to a different web three app, and there’s a wallet connect button, there’s 50 different other wallets, that UX just goes away. Because the apps in the environment can basically get the public key that represented by your seed phrase directly from the OS, it’s almost automatically connected. And then when you need to sign it’s like the delightful Apple Pay experience, right? Just a little thing slides up, you tap the thumbprint and you’re good to go. And it’s secure. And like simple and easy. And our bet here and this is again, big risky bet is that, like this environment and the web three from the app store in the hands of 50,000 people that are actually actively using this device, signing actively in a day-to-day basis, is a better distribution channel than the big app stores are for about three deaths today, because of the restrictions in the app stores. And those restrictions come from this like inability of those firms to embrace true digital ownership. Like when you buy a movie from Amazon and say buy to own you don’t actually own it, you’re just renting it from Amazon, forever. You can’t sell it; you can’t use it in a Dao, right? Like there’s nothing you can do with it. Besides watch it or stream it to yourself.
When you buy an NFT, you actually own it, right? You can use that NFT and Daos. You can use it on other smart contracts, you can resell it. And because of that, like the business model of charging 30% flat or 20% flat on digital purchases doesn’t work. There’s no way magic Eden can tack on $2,000 to a mobile user and a $10,000 NFT. They can’t eat that cost themselves anyways. Right? So, it’s just impossible for web three models to work inside, like the default app stores. So, I think if we can prove that this works, my hope like there’s kind of kind of two-win cases here, right? One to me, like I’ll do a victory lap when somebody buys this phone because there’s an application like a web three app, but they want it so badly. And they’re like screw it. I’m gonna buy this phone, because I want to use this app and it’s awesome. That would be a victory lap. The other one is we succeed. And there’s enough growth to the point that Apple and Google decide, okay, we actually need to implement these features by default in our mobile applications, and then we’ve opened up, we cracked open web three for everyone.
Why Apple and Google Aren’t Taking Crypto and Web3 Seriously
Why don’t you think Apple and Google are actually taking this seriously? Considering all the excitement, all the potential innovation and existing innovation? Like why aren’t they waking up and making some noise themselves.
Anatoly Yakovenko: So, I don’t think it’s out of malice or anything like that. It’s simply because the number of people that actually actively use crypto but sign transactions with applications on a monthly basis is still really small. It’s about 10 million on aggregate. A lot of people hold crypto, but holding it is not really using it. That and that’s kind of the main problem, we have a lot of people that are like the space is based on, a lot of people that are really excited about, like tokens and their price, but not about using. So that needs to change, right, like we actually need users like, and I think it’s obvious to us in the last 12 months that all the main usage is coming from creator driven projects like art, like NFTs, and that doesn’t mean that defi is not important. It’s just in my mind, actually think that NFTs are defi under the hood. There are contracts there, there’s Daos, there’s all the stuff that make up defi are still in NFTs. But NFTs are actually gaining some like consumer adoption. So that’s the place to grow to the number of people with wallets and that’s the way to do it.
Lessons Learned from Previous Failed Crypto Phones
The attempt though to take crypto mobile is not a first like over the years, we’ve seen HTC make really bad, Samsung do the same, but nothing really fell in like product market fit from. What I see at least what mistakes you think they made and what you vision doing differently for saga?
Anatoly Yakovenko: So, I think there’s a lot of a you know, we might fail for perfectly just going out right there. I think what we’re trying to do that’s different is that make SMS a platform that is open source, there’s other devs contributing to it, that can enable other networks. If there’s people that want to add Ethereum to this will definitely take that code, we’ll get it audited, it’d be really silly for the Solana team to try to build an awesome Ethereum integration, but like, the code is open. And I think making it a platform will allow us to get, I’m hoping the next HTC cryptophone is actually using SMS. And that level of standardization having a constant like, like consistent like experience for users and feature set, an application store can get that network effect going. So that’s the hope and about.
Web3 Mobile App Store
So, what does a mobile app store really look like? Like what are the take rates? Is it user own?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Is the same, fees on digital purchases or transfers. That’s the simple thing. I think. In the future, the sustainable models should be based on like a basically a transaction rake, like but sub 1%, like half of a percent, like what you’d expect out of like, a normal credit card or whatever, or like debit card purchase, not 30% on every year, that’s insane. It should be no different than like, there’s no reason why eBay doesn’t have a 30% fee on physical purchases, but an NFT store does. And that’s just comes from I think this broken understanding of true digital ownership. But it’ll change. I’m 100% sure that.
I guess the last question I have about the phone is that you got to accommodate all the selfie loving people and all the photographers, and it’s a lot of that. Okay, so that was my next question. Like, what is the camera quality actually, like, what does that entail?
Yeah, it’s a really high-end camera and the hardware side. So, we can capture as much data and like, I think as take as good as great pictures as pixel. But I think there’s differences in like the Google Base, the Google Camera app and the app in the phone and I’m sure it’s some stuff is going to be better some stuff is going to be worse. But the hardware itself is awesome.
You should mint the first Solana selfie. Like the first Solana selfie, for like an unlimited edition free, just to get the community hyped on it. I think that’d be really cool. Another cool thing that you guys are doing that really makes you guys different from other networks is you now have IRL retail stores. You have the first one it just opened right? Is in New York?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Yep.
What’s up with that? What’s the vision behind that?
Anatoly Yakovenko: An opportunistic thing. I think COVID retail space dropped in price, like dramatically and this opportunity came up. And Raj and I are just like, trying to figure out is this a very dumb idea, but like, it was, it also seemed like potentially could be fun and could, like what we’ve seen, like succeed really well is like hacker houses. And like, all these physical events that we do, are like the heartbeat of the community and the network. Yeah. And those we do them like enough to the point that like the virtual hackathons get bigger and bigger, because there’s enough like glue at the physical layer, and that they can’t, everything can’t be virtual people want to connect, they want to smell each other, drink a beer together. Like, all these things are really important, I think, for community building. So, I think these stores are a way to really get a person that’s never use crypto, to get hands on experience with like buying an NFT. Or like, do like signing for their first transaction or setting up their seed phrase. And our hope is that like, maybe they’ll, it’s not gonna get a billion people, right? To use. But you got to start somewhere. And maybe those are the folks that tell their friends and get like the next, you know, the ball rolling for the next generation.
I think it’s such a fun way to create a low barrier to entry, like touch point for people to get engaged with crypto. I think it’s also an elegant store, I think. So, I read some features online. So, it has Solana pay, that’s accepted there. It has an NFT gallery. There’re interactive installations of like visualizations of what’s happening on the Solana blockchain in real time. There’s a private booth for people to set up a phantom wallet. People can also check out the new Solan, so like there’s all these like elements that allow someone to really connect intimately with the ecosystem. I think it’s actually brilliant.
Anatoly Yakovenko: Thank you. It’s also could fail but like, I think the point of the spaces, you got to try stuff like any intrapreneur any artists knows that like you’re gonna do 20 things before you find one that works really well. And it’s the process of doing them is that you learn how to connect with your fan base and your users.
What did the mood board look like for designing a Solana store?
Anatoly Yakovenko: I believe so I just see the results for any designs afterwards.
Okay. You’re like, Alright, the logo lights up. That’s great shipping.
Anatoly Yakovenko: Every time I’m like pleasantly surprised. I’m like, holy shit. This is even, this is better than I expected. I’ve gotten really good to just completely trust Raj on like all the design stuff.
I think we’ve seen a lot of like retail related ATMs like Bitcoin ATMs, crypto ATMs. I’m actually quite bullish on retail stores being like an a really powerful vehicle for mainstream crypto adoption. What does that really look like to you in the grand scheme of things? Like do you imagine a store in every mall? A store in every neighborhood? Like what does like a crypto retail really look like?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Honestly, I think this will go into waves where we will need more physical connections, maybe more stores, maybe more hacker houses, maybe more persistent, like stores or like a good persistent base. But they could transform into like internet cafes or whatever, right? Weird stuff that we don’t expect.
That’d be cool.
Anatoly Yakovenko: Until enough people on board and then it’ll kind of fallen into history. Right? Like, people forget about it. But like this initial bootstrapping phase, I think is gonna be really kind of hard and interesting. And like, we’re doing the stuff right now that doesn’t scale and then trying to see and figure out where we can actually get the next users.
Interesting. So, what else? What other tactics have you guys tried that is on that same like mindset, like, let’s do stuff that doesn’t scale to see what traction is like, and then find ways to scale it. What are other things you’ve done?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Well, I mentioned the hacker houses a bunch. This one is after.
Which I’ve been to, by the way, they’re great. I really enjoyed them.
Anatoly Yakovenko: This was also like really counterintuitive. We did a bunch of hackathons prior to break point. And when we did break point, a bunch of the devs on their own set up a hacker house. And like, they were just having a ton of fun, just like working and building together during the whole conference. And we thought like, what if we just like ran with it? Like people seem to be really into getting together because we’re all just been a lockdown for two years. There’s probably a lot of pent up like, just human connection out there. So, the energy like every city, and that was true and like what was really cool is that like every city is so different. You had very technical like stuff happening like in Prague Eastern Europe or like London. But then super media focus like folks in LA. And like very business-oriented people in New York. And like very like defi trade people focused on Chicago. And each one of those cities is a different personality and pockets. And that was like, to me really, just really interesting to see how that’s just different from city to city. And again, I don’t know, like, I doubt we can scale it to 50,000 or something getting on boarded through hacker houses. But I think right now, it’s really important to onboard the next 1000. And this is where I think that that can actually matter.
Examples of Things That Can Only be Built on Solana that Can’t be Built on Ethereum or Any of The L2 on Ethereum or Flow
I want to transition like, I guess more of like the ending part of our conversation to talk about the future Solana. Okay. I’m curious, like, what are some examples of things that can only be built on Solana that can’t be built on Ethereum, or any of the L2 on Ethereum or flow, for example?
Anatoly Yakovenko: So right now, I mean, like, the biggest examples are serum, where the number of transactions per day that serum is doing is larger than most of the networks combined. And that’s because that’s a second NASDAQ style exchange market makers and bids and asks an order and like cancels and just the level of throughput necessary to maintain it, and the transaction prices to be so cheap, that no other network comes close. And despite us being live for, like, you know, over two and a half years now, still surprised, no one has been able to, like demonstrate it. Again, anywhere else, I think that will probably change in the next two to three, five years, but it’s not going to be in EVM compatible are like a Ethereum and roll up style environment. So, the kind of use cases that enables is outside of this, like kind of very boring finance thing, is that users that are, web three users that are more consumer oriented, like folks that use you know, the web, they want a fast response time, they want cheap transactions, they want the stuff to almost be a feature, right? But like kind of goes away, you’re not really as aware of it as you are of like, when you’re using a Ethereum. And this is what it enables, like people build like, like messaging apps and things like that, like checkout dialectic and literally just have a real time conversation with people by using this like on chain messaging primitives.
What Are The Communities That Are Very Unique to Solana’s Ecosystem That Don’t Exist Anywhere Else?
What about bottoms up? Like what are the communities that are very unique to Solana as ecosystem that don’t really exist anywhere else?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Are validator communities really like, these were folks that like drive into the middle of nowhere to set up data, like boxes in data centers, it’s a very, like, you know, chewing glass for them was like, this is where that whole motto chewing glass came from this from the folks because such a pain in the butt to do. But uh, I think our devs are unique and separate community from a lot of Ethereum devs. A lot of that came from us using rust, and a different runtime. So, there wasn’t, you know, we didn’t have a run of people copying and pasting code from Ethereum. It was actually you have to build everything from scratch. And that meant that this was an opportunity for devs to go and like be creative. They had a chance like in an open canvas, right to let go and build something unique. Versus when you launch an EVM, like Ethereum and compatible environment. All the stuff that’s in Ethereum is copied over instantly. So, you don’t actually get a chance to like, build a whole new community. And that’s pretty unique. And similarly, I think there’s not a ton of overlap between the NFT folks on Solana and Ethereum folks, there are some, but I think because NFT enjoy them anyway. But it has been like pretty unique.
Building a Sustainable Developer Ecosystem and Retaining People from Grant Programs
Got it. I guess a few more questions for you. Okay, I know Solana also established a pretty powerful grants program, programs. Excuse me, I think my broader question is like how do you think about building a sustainable developer ecosystem and like retaining people from the grants that are handed out?
Anatoly Yakovenko: So, what I think is actually retaining folks is when they’re able to get to like, like an MVP, fundable, like company stage. And the grants are there to kind of like, reduce that, like initial energy costs to go start working on something. Maybe there’s like a big technology piece that needs to be unblocked first, or things like that. But we see that like, what’s actually retaining people, is that those ghosts are building stuff may be comes from a grand, some of them are like really small, just 5k go like fixes bug. But that like inspires them to go build a product in a hackathon. And when they do that, they realize that they have something unique. People self-join and form teams and those hackathons. And before the hackathon is over, some of them get funding, like instantly, and like, you know, that’s been like a really surprising but really fast-moving way for folks to like, onboard.
Where Creators Should be Spending Their Energy in the Bear Market?
So, last couple of questions, okay. Number one is, where do you think creators should be spending their energy in the bear market?
Anatoly Yakovenko: I mean, the kind of always, you know, I would say, practice your art, right? And focus in on like, deepening what you love, kind of follow your soul, so to speak. And I think if you do that, and you’re genuine, a community will form around it. And that’s gonna be the thing that like, kind of carries you forward. With that in mind, I think I err on the sight of shipping quickly, like ship fast iterate, that maybe, I don’t know if that’s a good advice for creators, but it’s a really good advice for engineers, and I think maybe creators too.
I feel like creators are so emotionally attached to their creations, that it’s so hard to even release a song, let alone an album, or an EP or a new piece of art.
Anatoly Yakovenko: The few folks that I know that are artists generates so many sketches and like, different like versions of the same song. It’s just like, an unimaginable amount of content. And like, I think, if you’re building in crypto, like there’s something to be said about being kind of open source about it, and like, letting people see how the process and how things are made. And that’s been a really good bootstrapping process for just developers like being really open with them from the from day one, like letting them see the mistakes that you’re making.
NFTs Anatoly Collects
So, on that same question, okay. What are some of the things that you’ve been collecting that you love and adore and follow on? Like, how can we get Anatoly to be a collector? What does that look like?
Anatoly Yakovenko: I do, I hate like, you see me switch my profile picture, stuff that like pops up and I do it. I try. I don’t have time to be a mint like, early in a mint. So, I’m always late to the party. I don’t have like any thesis or anything like that. I just think that there’s some things that pop up that have like, capture that like culture moment. Or like capture that, like, the spell or the community or whatever, they did something really cool. And I’m like, okay, I gotta go get that thing. And I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen to maybe like, two years from now. It’ll be on Christie’s Anatoly NFT collection.
If You Were to Build Another Blockchain Now, Would You Rebuild Solana?
Solid, very solid. Alright, final question for you. Okay. If you were to build another blockchain now, would you rebuild Sol?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Oh, my God, man. Raj and I like sometimes say never again. So much work. Yeah, I think like, if I like so far, the way we like, I look back and like I think about like, did we make your own decisions and what I realized that like, we just got lucky in a lot of the decisions that we made, like we made them blind for the limited information that we had, but like, we got so lucky with working on rust and using that as a smart like language, we got really lucky on making this a parallel environment and just like focusing on the low latency part. And we even got like it was some of the mistakes that we made, like the fact that we didn’t have, we didn’t copy like the mempool fee market. We actually got to see what works and innovate there. So, I guess yeah, I would probably remake Sol but try to do it faster, I guess. I don’t know.
Okay. All right, solid. Anatoly. This was great. Before I let you go where can we find you? Where can we find more about Solana, the web three mobile scene, the new retail store?
Anatoly Yakovenko: Yeah. Go to Solanamobile.com. There’s a bunch of stuff there. Preorder the saga phone. You can follow Solana, Twitter or myself a Yakovenko.
Amazing. Thank you so much. We’ll have to do this again soon.
Anatoly Yakovenko: For sure. Thank you.