Podcast Transcript

A Deep Dive into the Mind of Web3’s Consumer Savant


Mint Season 6 episode 23 welcomes Gaby Goldberg, the self-proclaimed shit poster and investor at TCG Crypto.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:09 – Intro
  • 02:44 – Web2 Users vs. Web3 Users
  • 07:36 – Challenges Creating a Network Effect Using Tokens
  • 10:13 – Web3 Consumer
  • 17:56 – Curation in Web3
  • 24:19 – Digital Identity
  • 27:02 – Will Decentralized Identity Ever Be Centralized?
  • 47:39 – How to Build Product Defensibility When Data Is Open to All
  • 51:15 – Outro

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Gaby, welcome to mint, how are you doing? Thank you for being on.

Gaby Goldberg: Thank you so much for having me, very excited to be here. As we both know, it’s been a long time coming. 


It’s been a long time coming but we’re here now. And when I posted on Twitter and other platforms, people have a bunch of questions to ask you. So, we’ll have to get into that as well. But I think a good place to start first and foremost is, who are you, Gabby? What does the world need to know about you, we can start there, and then we’ll move forward.

Gaby Goldberg: Sure. So, my name is Gaby Goldberg. I’m an investor at TCG crypto. So maybe we can get into it in a little bit. But we are a crypto consumer fund, really focusing on figuring out what scale looks like in web three, and really focusing on investing in passion, whether that’s passion found in gaming, or in music, or in AR or in new markets that have yet to be really discovered and brought to market but really finding areas where people are spending a lot of time and a lot of their energy and oftentimes a lot of money in these really passionate areas and figuring out how crypto either unlocks or supercharges that behavior. And so, we’ve invested in companies like rabbit hole and Archive and Hume and a suite of others that we’re really excited to be partnered with. And I spend a lot of my time now thinking, both personally and obviously professionally as well about digital identity, internet culture, and kind of these pockets of the Internet where I think passion is emerging.

Are we happy with the current state of consumer in web three?

Gaby Goldberg: It’s a good question. You know, no one ever asks me how I feel about it. So, thank you for asking. Listen, I mean, we have a long way to go. And I think also just totally, candidly, the more time I spend in this space, the more I realized that there is so much I don’t know, and so much that we need to do, kind of as an ecosystem to create better consumer products and experiences to support these either new or emerging behaviors. There are definitely some certain areas that are early, but I’m really excited about. So, one of them is kind of online credentialing and how we figure out what a sense of identity and reputation looks like online, across both web two and web three. A big place where I’m interested in spending time and investing in is, sort of new interfaces for these consumer experiences. So hopefully, we’ll talk about wallets in a little bit. But I think kind of like wallets as an interface for interacting with web three, is largely kind of under explored and really excited about areas like that. So, I’m happy about it, because I’m happy to be here. And I learned so much every day, but we definitely have a long way to go.

Web2 Users vs. Web3 Users

What would you say are some of the unique behaviors that web three users have that differ from web two users, for example?

Gaby Goldberg: Interesting question. So I have sort of like a framework for consumer that actually, I think, in a lot of ways, stretches across web two, and web three. And it’s basically this four questions sequence. So why do people come? Why do people stay? Why do people share? And why do people pay? And I’ll kind of break them down and explain some of these unique kind of web three specific areas and answers to these questions. So why do people come? Is actually probably the most important one of what kind of you know creates this divide between web two and web three, a big reason why people come and try out web three products is because of a financial incentive to try them out. Maybe there’s a hope of an airdrop, or there’s another kind of like active token incentive, to go use a product and spend time there versus on a competing ecosystem or platform. And so, a good example, the blur Airdrop, even yesterday, the amount of activity you even are just seeing on ether scan, and other block explorers of dormant wallets, that now have become active because of this financial opportunity, in a lot of ways, is pure speculation. So, it brings a lot of these people to these platforms. So, it kind of leads us to the second question of why do people say? And I think this is actually really the important thing. And so, when I think about investing in web three consumer platforms, they can come for a token, maybe there’s you know, that financial speculation that kind of piques their interest, and they want to see what’s there. Obviously, it’s kind of just like human nature to want to have that incentive to go try out a product. But if they’re staying because of that financial incentive, or if they’re staying in the hopes that that token goes up and gives them some sort of financial return, it’s largely unsustainable. I think Stefan is a good example there, they did an amazing job of acquiring a lot of users. In a lot of ways, people who had never interacted with crypto before downloaded the Stefan app and set up a crypto wallet for the first time, to be able to earn this token. And that’s fine like as a means of, you know, clever acquisition hacks, I think it was super were smart. But in terms of sustainability of why are they staying there, if they’re only staying there because of the token, then at some point, like the music stops, right. And so, it’s kind of a helpful framework that I use to kind of think about these behaviors. And so, the financialization of all of these applications is not something to be overlooked, right? It’s one of like the most special parts about crypto, but I think sometimes you can kind of fall down that rabbit hole, and, you know, like, lose the forest for the trees.

So, why do people come? Why do people stay? There are two more sections, right?

Gaby Goldberg: Why do people share and why do people pay? So why do people share? especially for consumer products? You know, where’s your distribution coming from, right? I actually had like a little screenshot essay on Twitter a couple days ago about basically being good at social apps, kind of an extension of Eugene Waze status as a service. And I was talking about specifically web three applications that I think are really interesting from a creator perspective, when you see this flywheel getting created of take doing analytics, for example, people who call themselves dune wizards create these on chain dashboards of what’s going on in crypto. And it’s largely limited to just that platform, right? You go on to dune to see what’s going on. But the amount that those dashboards get shared cross platform, and people flex the fact that they’re doing wizard, it adds this brand equity across platform for dune and it makes dune better as a platform, when these creators can kind of rise and influence from dune. And so, you see that on other platforms as well. In this screenshot essay, I was also talking about block explorers, and how I think something similar could emerge there of you see, you know, the Nansen interns and Zach expertise of the world who are this quote, unquote, on chain sleuths. And they share these screencaps, either from Nansen, or from ether scan or some other block explorer about cool things they’re finding on chain, and it brings brand equity back to that platform. So why do people share is kind of where’s that distribution coming from? I think those are two good examples. And then the last one, obviously, is why do people pay? This is a super interesting one. In the case of web three native business models, and maybe we can get into it now or later. But the whole conversation around creator royalties, is a really, really good example of this question. Why do people pay? Not totally being answered and yeah, I think it’s a helpful framework, because the questions are actually quite simple. And if you don’t have simple answers to them, it’s like probably worth exploring.

Challenges Creating a Network Effect Using Tokens

The biggest challenge that I come with your first question, why do people come is, when you try to build a network effect based off tokens, then you misinterpret what product market fit sort of looks like because people, a whole sleuth, like you said, people sort of come in to grab the token wallets wake up from the dead. And they claim, maybe they don’t, maybe they hang out. But it’s hard to really figure out who the user is that really enjoys your product. And why they’re actually enjoying a product, right? I feel like it’s a common problem that a lot of web three projects fall for, right? When they issue a token, how do you come around that? How do you solve that problem?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, I actually, for consumer products, the only place where I’ve seen tokens, prop seemed to really work. And it’s hard, we’re still so early. And so, over a long enough time horizon, it’s hard to know how these things will change. But generally, for products that you can basically, you know, zero to one requires the token, but then from one to N, the switching costs are very high, and users are unlikely to turn, then a token might make sense. If obviously, there’s a real business model underlying it, and there’s kind of like a sink for the token itself. So, for example, a web three Uber that requires active work, zero to one as an acquisition hack with a token, but then one to N, you still need drivers who might turn to other platforms, that feels really tough to defend. So candidly, that’s where I’ve found kind of the most conviction in tokens in that kind of business model for acquisition. But I totally agree with what you’re saying, I think in a lot of ways, companies in crypto are essentially IPO and too soon by launching a token. And now you’re basically at the mercy of the public markets. And once sort of consumer perception of the product has changed, it’s really hard to go back. And it’s why I like seeing products that deliberately tried to stay small and focus on engaged users and don’t care about the numbers, forecaster is a good example, I know we’re both big fans. I saw even a post from Dan, was either today or last night, saying that Farcaster growing too fast. And they have to cap the waitlist to keep it smaller because you run the risk of having like an eternal September incident where too many new people come in too Farcaster and essentially overthrow kind of like the anchored culture or norms of the existing network and you risk ruining all the quality that you’ve built so far. And so, I think that’s a mature and smart way of approaching it.

Web3 Consumer

How’d you get your interest in web three consumer? I feel like everybody’s sort of investing in infra. And just a bunch of like infrastructure plays. And there are only a few people that sort of stand out across crypto Twitter and whatnot that enjoy consumer, I feel like I’m one of them. I really enjoy like the end user experience. And I guess maybe that may even tie back to your background like prior to crypto. Is there any sort of connection within that?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, I can definitely talk about background. And I also want to pull an you know, reverse card and incur the same for you. Yeah. But first, I think it’s an interesting sort of thought experiment to explore what is infrastructure and what is an application. This is completely taken from David Phelps, who have been really lucky to kind of work with and learn from over the past year or two. But I think it was either in a tweet or just in a conversation with him, I’ll try and find it after. But he basically was saying that everything is infrastructure for something else, it’s a little bit silly. So, kind of just like, humor me for a second. But take planes, for example, the invention of the airplane was infrastructure for the airport, which was infrastructure for travel agents, which was infrastructure for DTC luggage companies, which was infrastructure for so many people flying, that now you have DSA precheck, which is infrastructure for clear and like it goes and goes and goes. But basically, saying that, like apps beget infrastructure, which beget apps and like the cycle continues. And so, in a lot of ways, there’s also a great post that is shared very widely across web three called the myth of the infrastructure cycle from USB, and it’s a little bit similar. 

So, I try not to separate them so much. And I think a lot of ways, you know, consumer behaviors that are emerging can beget interesting, you know, I guess you could call them pieces of infrastructure. So, for example, people acting as on chain sleuths shows that there’s a real market opportunity for like better block explorers. And honestly, I’ve talked about that a lot over the last month, so I’ll shut up about it on this podcast. But that’s a good example. So that’s the first thing I’ll say of just like, what is infrastructure. But certainly, I spend a lot of my time thinking about real consumer experiences and looking at interesting consumer behaviors online. So, the story starts, when I was born, going way back, I actually grew up selectively mute, which is kind of crazy. But for a number of years, I grew up not saying anything. And it’s also you know, partly because of my age coincided with me spending a lot of time on the internet in the early days. And so, I grew up playing a ton of Minecraft and a ton of RuneScape. I had a viral Tumblr blog when I was a teenager, please, nobody go try and find it. But spent a lot of time basically crafting a sense of a digital identity, and particularly having a lot of online friends. 

And these networks were really, really important to me. And then as I grew up, and I went to school, I became really interested in how this was shifting, and especially seeing everybody else around me, either having had similar experiences as a kid or starting to have really similar experiences now. And I think now there’s a statistic where it’s like 60%, or 65% of Gen Z believe that their online identity is more important than their identity in real life. And you hear that at first, and you’re like, that’s crazy. But then you think about it and it’s like, okay, I got all of my jobs, from people that I met online. So many of my friends I met online, actually, I’m going on a weekend trip this weekend, with three amazing girls who are all met online, which is insane. And we’ve been friends for three years, things like that. And so basically this question of like, what is a digital identity? What is a real-life identity? When do they start to become the same thing? It’s very interesting for me. And then I guess the other thing around kind of like, digital identity, like the shift that I think is really interesting is basically this very high-level thesis of when the first wave of social apps really came around. So like Myspace or early days of Facebook, for example. They were all about how do we take our real-life friends or our real-life experiences and bring them online? 

So, for example, Facebook was taking your college friends and bringing them online, and even in the early days of Instagram, right, like how do we take photos that we take in real life and put them online and so obviously, no surprise for those used cases, those platforms worked really, really well. And we spent a ton of time online, so much so that we started to have these digital native experiences. And so, I guess you’ll kind of see where I’m going with this, it stretches across web two and web three. But as an example, we don’t just take pictures anymore, we take screenshots, and we put a ton of screenshots on Instagram are screenshots on Tik Tok. And now screenshots are kind of like the photos of our digital life. Or we don’t just buy physical art, we buy digital art, there’s a huge market for people who love to buy digital art and flex what they have in these online galleries. The sense of these, like internet, native domain names and senses of identity are really important to us. And so, I guess at a high level, across crypto, or not, just thinking about consumer products in our lives online, I’m really interested in the products that help us better share and understand what digital experiences look like.

So, I think you also asked me like, why do I care about consumer? Like, where does my interest come from? Simply because I don’t know how to code. And all my interactions come from being an end user, right? And using all these different products across web three, has really opened my eyes to kind of like tasting the sugar un web two and realizing what are we missing in web three from an end user experience, specifically so mint is all about the creator economy, right? Documenting the creator economy in web three, a lot of creators that try to transition from web two into web three, they try to bring their audiences with them, their followers across Tik Tok, Snapchat, YouTube, whatever, and try to bring them into web three. One of the things that I consistently see fail over and over and over again, is the funnel of bringing in a user from web two into web three, like how do you migrate an audience member a fan, to then get them to collect an NFT, right? And like, there’s so much in between that that’s involved that the process is completely broken. So, I faced this myself, right, trying to bring more of my listeners from Spotify into web three, or my subscribers from YouTube into web three, and the creators that I see, they also struggle with that, right? So, I think a lot of my interest comes from just merely being an end user, and being a super user in crypto and trying so many different things, realizing where the inconsistencies are, and yeah, I guess like falling, like having a knack for it, for my opinion. I feel like you approach it from like the investment perspective, but also from the end user’s perspective, I guess I approach it from like, okay, I create content, I try to build audiences, right? What tools can I use in web three to sort of allow me to empower that and scale that, scale that operation. That’s sort of how I think about it.

Gaby Goldberg: Well, I like that you called it a tool of like, it’s not you know, web three is like a means to something else, that’s more important, right? And it’s not even like, it’s this sort of like pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, where we need to onboard people so they combine NFT. It’s like, no, like you have this NFT, what can you do with it? What does it give you access to? Like, how does it make your communities more engaged, or more retentive? And I think the fact that you have to think about it as a tool is really important.

Curation in Web3

So, within your thesis of I guess web three social and your love for consumer, where do you think curation plays a role in all this?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, so I wrote about curation. Actually, before I was working full time in web three. And I basically said that there’s a ton of noise online, there’s so much new information being created every day, and that the real opportunities in the future are going to be and people who understand how to sort signal from noise and can basically have that trickle-down effect of curating, and then curators who will curate that. And then you keep curating all the way down. And you as a user, or as kind of like a yeah, as a user of the internet, you’re gonna want to put your trust in these curators, to tell you what’s worth spending your time and attention on. And actually, there were a bunch of people who are friends of mine now, but we’re in web three and read this and they were like, yeah, but you’re missing the point. This is crypto. And so, it’s been cool kind of seeing how that thesis has changed for me and how I’ve learned over time. I think actually, in my ideal world, I don’t know if this will ever happen. But my kind of like ideal end state for curation is, maybe every asset or every piece of content on the internet is traceable, and has provenance, like an NFT. And you can track the quote unquote, mileage of a piece of content on the web. 

So, a good example is, actually have a fair number of friends who work in crypto, but kind of got into the space because they were running these really big Instagram accounts, like the at girl account, or you know, like just girly things or whatever. But like these sort of meme accounts that got really, really big. And essentially, a lot of these accounts don’t create any net new information. All they do is they take screenshots of you know, at the time Tumblr, or tweets, and they you know, or existing memes and they basically curate them onto these pages. They have these really engaged audiences. And then they make their money in the DMs by negotiating sponsorships. And it’s crazy that so much value is created from these pages that don’t actually create any unique content of their own. And they still exist today, I follow a ton of them. But how interesting would it be if all of those pieces of content were traceable back to the original place that they existed online, and perhaps there were streamed payments back to the original creators of that content. There’s actually an interesting curation protocol that I’ve been seeing emerge online, but I really don’t know too much about it. 

So, I guess this is my alpha on the podcast, but it’s the entropy Twitter account, it’s like entropy with three ns or something like that. And there’s a bunch of really interesting assets or like pieces of media or pieces of content being curated. And you can see individuals are curating them through this protocol. But what’s really interesting is this account entropy has been able to build up such a powerful and large following in a short amount of time, by being someone who can separate that signal from noise. And it’s a really, really high value part of the stack to exist in on the internet. So generally, like this idea of internet native brands, created by way of curation is very interesting. On Instagram, some of the ones that I think are interesting are hidden New York or New Bodega or furniture archive. And the people behind this account, like they don’t make money by having their own personality on the account, but it’s just the things that they’ve curated and their taste and it’s particularly interesting, I write about this in one of my pieces, but basically the impression to entertain like a Tik Toker who’s like dancing, no hate to that at all. It’s like also a very interesting conversation. But the impression to entertain like someone like that on Tik Tok, versus the ability to convert someone to making a purchase, are largely kind of misunderstood as being the same thing, and they’re very different. And the latter, you know, the ability to convert someone to make a purchase, you see happen a lot with these anonymous curatorial identities online. Specifically in web three, some of the interesting ones are collector Daos. 

So, for example, TCG crypto, we hold a seat and Flamingo Dao, which pulls capital together to basically curate NFTs across the web. Or we also invested recently in a company called archive, which aims to be the first decentralized physical museum curating this one of one physical asset and wrapping them in a smart contract. And essentially, with both of these examples, Flamingo archive, where you can think of pleaser, or fingerprints, or you know, all of these other kinds of collector Dao examples, you can think of it sort of as this analogy, you go to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. But you also go to see the Mona Lisa, because it’s in the Louvre. And by way of collecting valuable pieces of art and culture, the Louvre has created this sense of brand equity, that now the assets that continue to curate will appreciate in value by way of being underneath that umbrella and that brand, and you’re starting to see similar things happen with these internet native brands, like Flamingo, like archive, like hidden New York or New bodega, right, the screenshots that they take and put on these curatorial accounts, helped drive trends forward. And so that sense of curation is super interesting to me.

Never thought about it like that. That’s really interesting. New perspective taught me something new. Where do you think curation plays a role, sort of like in a cross platform setting? So, whether it be multi chain, for example.

Gaby Goldberg: yeah, multi chain I haven’t even thought about. Although there are interesting examples, like, I believe it’s called quixotic, which is helping to basically aggregate collections in like a multi chain perspective. Ideally, it’s something like this idea of having pieces of content minted as NFTs and you can track them cross platform, I was thinking more in the sense of tracking them, you know, from Tumblr, to Twitter, to Instagram and seeing the flow of media as it goes through the hands of different people. I’m not sure if I’ve seen a real example of it working yet. Although the entropy example is a good one.

Digital Identity

When you think about digital identity, what is like the picture-perfect scenario five years from now? Like, what does a digital identity really look and feel like? What are the actions end users are taking with their digital identity? What does that environment look and feel like?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, so I guess kind of starting, you know, totally from the beginning. When we think about the internet today, it really was created without a native identity layer for people and so you see, kind of like the coping mechanism for this digital identity was really relegated to websites and applications, right? I have an identity on Instagram and I have an identity on Facebook and I have an identity, you know, on SMTP with email, and this kind of siloed approach may have been appropriate for the early days of the internet, because obviously, how could we have imagined where we’ve ended up now. But now with billions of people online every single day, there’s real drawbacks to having this siloed approach to identity, that’s not owned by the user themselves. And so, you see, you know, we still use usernames and passwords for just about everything, even though they’re obviously an insecure model, right? If your Twitter gets hacked, you’ve basically lost a major sense of your identity. And even still, even if you don’t get hacked, you are renting your identity essentially, from companies and centralized entities. And so, my identity in a lot of ways kind of like belongs to Facebook, when I connect my Facebook, to all these different applications. And so, when we think about digital identity in the context of web three, it’s really this premise that each user on the internet will have a unique identifier, right? Gaby, doubt youth is a good example. And you can natively link it to any piece of software and it’s stored on a blockchain. So, it has that sense of provenance. Now, it becomes sort of like opt in, right? Instead of, you know, like, I can decide where I take my identity and where I plug it into. And kind of the experiences that I choose to have on the internet, and the identity is kind of shared across all of these platforms, if I choose.

That makes sense. So, who will end up owning sort of the, I want to say like the web of all these identity pieces from your off-chain identity, to your on-chain identity. Is that like, is that an infrastructure play? Is that a single company play? Is that a decentralized play? It obviously, hopefully, we’ll all live on chain, right? In a very decentralized manner, right? But what does that look like from an application level?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, yeah. So, I’ll need to pause, think about how I really want to answer this.

Will Decentralized Identity Ever Be Centralized?

And I think we’re already seeing like pieces of this thesis sort of unfold, you brought up Ens is a great example. That’s one single piece. And then you have other companies and projects, building out other pieces of the puzzle, right? And we as users, we find out what we latch on to, and we sort of piece them together, by default, by opt in, right? Like we connect our Ens username to our Twitter handle, because that appropriate doesn’t exist fit in with culture, right? We find friends like that, right? Do you think it’s going to play out like that big picture or is there going to be some type of like centralized entity that’s able to sort of like, take control this entire, I guess, thesis around decentralized identity? What do you think?

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, so I guess the first thing I’ll say is, when I say all of this, I don’t think that companies like Facebook or Twitter or our existing senses of kind of like siloed, centralized identity are going to go away. And perhaps I shouldn’t say this on the podcast, but I’m not a decentralization maximalist, I think there are a lot of products that will continue to exist. But when we think about a decentralized identity, I like to think about it from beginning with the wallet, right? So, my view is that in five years, the wallet really is going to be one of the most important pieces of consumer data for individuals, but also for businesses, right? If I’m a business, and I can have the users who or the consumers who are super engaged in whatever I do, whether it’s a community or a brand, or something else, connect their wallet, now I get to know who they are, I get to know their spending habits, I get to know what other communities and brands they’re aligned with and figure out what cross promotion might be highly effective. And also, if they have that sense of identity, they’re right within Ens, ideally, then I can talk to them, right? And tell them, you know, with you know, by connecting your wallet, here are the experiences and access points that you have that previously were unavailable to you. And here are the interesting collaborations that we can create to make experiences for you as a user of our product better. And so, starting from the wallet, I think makes sense in that sense. And then ideally, also connecting your off-chain information there as well. So, you know, open sea, you connect your wallet, but they also for a lot of us, they have our email as well. And that’s the way that right now open sea can talk to us. And so perhaps in the future, like a real native web three communication layer, will bring more things on chain. But for now, I think a hybrid makes a lot of sense. 

I think ultimately, the way I see it is that, it’s going to be a bunch of independent products in companies, that try to piece all that data together. And the way they do it is going to be through various problems that the user needs solving. So, for example, right? There’s this company, or this product called link three, okay. They are a community and they’re able to sort of link wallet addresses now to discord handles, to Twitter handles, to all these sorts of like really important data points that creators and communities need, but they do it through an opt-in way, right when it when a member wants to join a Twitter space, they can RSVP via link three, and they self-opt in and fill out all that data themselves, right? And then link three provides that data to the community hosts, right? So, when I sort of think about, like what the interconnected data layer looks like, I really think it’s from a product perspective of different products being built, that sort of intertwine that information together, right? It’s like, for example, something that I do on the podcast is that I give out free NFTs to my listeners, I’ve been able to build a substantial database of wallet addresses linked to Ethereum addresses, right? Wallet addresses linked to email addresses, right? In a way that’s very organic and opt in because I create content via my newsletter. And then I reward people for reading and listening and clicking and sharing my content with an NFT down the line, right. And it’s all sort of an opt in, I think the interesting perspective is, trying to make sense of all that data for whoever’s capturing it, number one, right? Whether it be the creator who’s building an audience on chain, where now they have interoperable fans, right, that they can take cross platform with them, and sort of what that data means for them. Because I think there’s also a level of responsibility, and a level of, I guess, like, I guess, responsibility is the right word, of understanding what that data really means, right? And how you can use it to your benefit, to create better experiences. Activations, monetize better as an individual, as a creator, as a brand, as an enterprise, whatever it may be. Are you thinking about it the same way or what are your thoughts?

Gaby Goldberg: Yes, and I love what you said about giving the free NFTs to your listeners, NFTs is a business model, I think largely is continuing to be developed, I think the smartest approach that I have seen, is not using NFTs as like the primary way of accruing revenue to a business. But instead of figuring out how to strengthen the relationship between basically the business or the individual, or the brand, or the community, and your audience, and so even we have a portfolio company, medallion, which is doing this with musicians and essentially creating super fan clubs on chain. But the idea is, the NFT is not the end goal, right? The NFT is not the driver of revenue for the musician, but instead they want to figure out who their biggest fans are. What if you minted a free NFT that acted as an access pass into this community. And then once you’re there, what are the things that you can do with these wallets, and it becomes really, really interesting, the level of engagement that you start to see with these communities and with these fan clubs, in gaming, I also think it’s a really interesting and underexplored model, we’re investors in a company called branch, which launched a game called castaways, which is one of a couple games really pioneering this, quote, unquote free to own model, where you can have these free NFTs that are, you know, in game playable assets. But now when you have ownership of these assets, and you create these digital worlds and these micro economies within them. Now the sense of building something of value, and building something that is meaningful within the game becomes so much more real, because you add real world liquidity to the game. And so, you’re seeing people go into castaways, and they have these islands that were minted for free. And they go to the islands and they build these incredible little worlds on them, right? And maybe they’re catching all of the fish, and now they have a monopoly on fish. Or maybe they’ve got the biggest house on that island and now other people want to be a part of that tribe. And so now you’re seeing the secondary market for these islands become amazing, where it’s not a typical land sale where you want to buy the most expensive Island. Maybe you buy the worst one, right, and you build it up into something of meaning. Now that economy becomes something really, really interesting and valuable. But it all starts with that free NFT right, it shouldn’t be paid to play.

Another great example is a G money’s a bit one, is all free to mint thousand editions and it did hundreds of thousands of dollars of secondary sales, and was able to sort of sustain the project until where it is right now, another good example is this creator or music artists name sound of fractures, he literally just had a drop yesterday on sound dot XYZ was able to sort of like mint out, for free of course, but mint out 500 editions of his new song, using NFTs as a tool for distribution, right? So, the more people that sort of got their hands on the song, the more people listened to it, right? So, it’s not about like the 25 sort of collectors that you typically see from music artists. But what’s really cool is that, now he has hundreds of addresses that he can now sort of like tap into and build like a top like leverage this top-level funnel of free collectors and find ways to monetize them down the line, right? And I love that approach so much because it’s so much easier to give first than to take and by giving, you’re now able to give with purpose and get all this information on chain, on an aggregate level and be able to create really cool experiences based off what’s in their wallet, for example, right and based off what they like, I tried to do this with the podcast too. I noticed that a lot of my collectors across the season 2, 3, 4, 5 and season 6, they collect on different platforms. They like buying different NFTs. And I’ve been starting to create content around the things that they’re collecting because I’ve noticed that that’s what they like. So, I might as well sort of like create content around that. And it’s helped me a lot as a creator to, I’ve seen like upticks in episode downloads, I’ve been able to find new sponsorship opportunities through that. So, I don’t know, I love this whole concept of like, wallet information, wallet data. I think still, it’s incredibly under explored. But I think in the next bull market, it’s gonna be one of those big narratives that people are going to be latching onto, excuse me, and using to their benefit.

Gaby Goldberg: 100%. There are so many places I want to take this; I think this kind of like free to mint opportunity as a collector acquisition hack is so important. The whole thing is just an acquisition game, right? How do you get the wallets? And then once you have them, that’s not the end goal but what do you do with them? Okay, there are a few points that you brought up that I think are so interesting. So, I’m trying to decide which order I want to talk about on. I think the first one I want to touch on is, the whole creative royalties’ debate, and it’s very topical. But the fact that, you know, a lot of like, the most exciting projects right now are minting initially as spree mint is, I think, an interesting place to start. So generally, on the creator royalty’s argument, obviously, to bring folks up to speed, a bunch of the major marketplaces, magic Eden probably being the most notable one, kind of moved towards optional creator royalties. So, royalties that stream out to the original creator of an NFT, are not actually enforceable on chain, it’s at a marketplace level. And so now when you see the rise of other marketplaces, like pseudo swap, for example, that don’t enforce those royalties at all, people have been a little bit surprised that nobody actually wants to support these graders. And instead, they’re going so that they can have a cheaper transaction on a marketplace, like pseudo swap. 

And so, it’s very hard to enforce these things now, what’s the moat of a marketplace like magic Eden, when you have this extra transaction fee, and so that’s why they’ve added the optional, you know, the option to have royalties or not, for buyers and sellers. So, for me, I think the problem is twofold. The first one is, companies believing that they could use secondary sales and the royalties from those secondary sales, as a primary means of generating revenue, right, obviously, can be one line on the balance sheet. But as a primary means of generating revenue, I think it’s a problem. Because when you have a lot of liquidity, and you have a lot of secondary sales, and you’re calling yourself a community, what you actually have is churn, you have people leaving the community every time a sale is made. And particularly by taking a royalty on that you’re implicitly kind of agreeing, and you’re okay with the fact that your community is churning. So, I think that to begin as an issue. And number two, these companies call themselves communities, and they are lying to themselves by believing that communities can be sustainable and successful by making their primary means of revenue on liquidity and a constant churn of members. 

And so, I don’t believe it was the right way to launch a real community to begin with. And if you’re a company, you have to be okay with having a ton of churn in your business and your user base, to be able to make money. And so eventually, like, who becomes the buyer when the last buyer sells, right? So, I think that is the main issue, I think my view on what will end up happening, and I’m curious to hear your thoughts. But generally, my prediction is that this major kind of aggregated marketplaces, who are similar to like the Craigslist, or eBay of NFT, marketplaces, so like magic Eden, and open sea, etc., will not be able to enforce royalties on chain, because people will just move to other marketplaces. However, I think generally, as a trend, you’re seeing brands and companies and communities in web two, and sorry, in web three, but also in web two, want to own more of their relationship with their audience. So, for example, you’re seeing the rise of all of this kind of verticalized secondary marketplaces powered by companies like reservoir or hyperspace, or first may or all of these interesting companies that allow brands to launch their own secondary marketplace embedded on their site. I think we’re going to see that continue to happen, where brands and companies want to own the relationship with their audience. 

And perhaps then, if you know, you’re selling things directly on your site, and you hope that kind of like secondary sales continue to take place on your site, then you can say okay, you have to buy them on our site, and if you do, and we see that it was minted or sold or you know, when on secondary from our site, then then you have access to all of these perks and, you know, benefits that you have from being a part of the company or the community, for the NFT as kind have a tool. And sure, you can sell it anywhere else and not pay royalties, but you won’t have that same level of access. So actually, DigAdz, before they went fully zero royalties did something similar and I thought that that was clever. And so of course, it’s not enforceable on chain. But brands and communities and companies are still going to have that level of control over, you know, what you actually get, depending on how the transaction went through. But I’m curious, your thoughts.

I think creators are gonna end up flocking to the network or the platform that’s able to enforce royalties, if you remember, or something that I paid attention to really early on, during like the nifty gateway era of NFT, right? That initial heat wave of artists, corporate artists, Instagram artists flocking from web two into web three, using NFTs as a tool to tokenize their art make living, right. All this really cool things that NFT sort of became known and loved for from creators, is now being taken away from them, right? It’s like it’s a weird sort of, it’s a weird thing for those who came in during that era. For those who come in after this debate, right? I think it’s just going to be one of those things that they’re just going to have to expect and go with, right. But there hasn’t been another industry or another sort of like technology or another sector that’s been able to implement this level of transparency and this level of automation, that same way smart contracts have been able to, and that has really much so favored the creator. And I think creators really like that. I mean, who wouldn’t like that as a creator, right? I’m in favor of creator royalties, I think they’re great. I think they’re really, really great by design. And I think it’s needed, I think it’s really cool to be able to figure out and use the tool in different ways to sort of create monetization, whether it be through the primary sale, or the secondary sale and I don’t think it should be stripped away. So again, I alluded to earlier, I’m not technical, I don’t know how to code. So, I don’t really understand how the technicality sort of looks and feels like, if there is a way to make it enforceable, I’m not sure. But I think if there’s a platform that gets created in the future that prioritizes royalties, maybe to some extent, I think the creators will sort of flock to that, in my opinion. I don’t know. 

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah. I actually had a tweet last week, I just put it in the chat, it’s sort of similar. I basically said, or I’ll just read it aloud. I see a world where a new artist focused NFT marketplace is spun up featuring top artists and up and coming projects, and only buyers allowed on the site, are those who have opted into paying royalties on competing marketplaces. Oh, I love the share screen. Yeah, so you can see it here. Who knows? I mean, I think it’s an interesting idea. I think particularly it would work with one of one artist. I don’t know if like 10k projects. First of all, I’m just curious to see the longevity of 10k projects, in general. But I don’t know if creator royalties are as enforceable for projects like that. But I think particularly for one of one artist or NFT photographers, or things like that, where there’s really that intimate relationship with the creator and the buyer, I do think they’re going to be enforceable in that kind of sense.

I also think it’s kind of messed up to not enforce them, because we’re still playing and building in a world with constraints, right. And if we want to tap into mass adoption, we need to rely on mobile, as being one of those driving factors. And if we’re building around Apple’s guidelines of their 30% take rate, right? It’s really hard to issue NFTs on primaries at that level. And that’s why you have really creative people thinking of like free, as a perfect model for building an MVC, right? A minimum viable community, right? And sort of like bootstrapping liquidity from secondary sales. So, I’m not sure I’m and that’s why I’m like, also excited for technologies like the Solana phone, right, because while it may not end up being like the end all be all type of phone, I think it stands a chance, depending on how well it’s executed, to sort of like enable a new sort of adoption curve. And when we’re talking about web three social, web three consumer, excuse me, it’s like building all these new sorts of products and platforms and protocols, that tailor the needs and wants and desires of the web three native user, right? And that web three native needs, wants and desires are completely different than those of the web two users, right? So, it actually makes sense to spin up all these sorts of like new products to cater towards them. So, whether or not Apple ends up acquiring a product like Solana, if ends up doing well, I don’t even know if that’s going to be possible, an acquisition may be even possible, but it will definitely be putting more pressure on these corporations, then maybe that it may introduce a new conversation for secondary royalties. I’m not sure, like you brought up this concept of like free to own right, like that’s only applicable and really well executed. I think at scale when it comes to the mobile side of things, right. We can even talk about like web three mobile and web three social and whatnot, but I don’t know, do you think I’m losing you or do you think my head is in the right place? What do you think?

Gaby Goldberg: I think it makes a lot of sense. I think Solana phone is really interesting. I also love that Ethos S project Ethereum phone basically doing something very similar. I also think, outside of just this kind of mobile native OSs, we’re gonna see also a more open approach from the consumer side, but also even like from Apple towards web apps, versus actual apps on the App Store. Because it’s going to be, unless Apple does away with a 30% tax, which I don’t think is going to happen, it’s going to be the best way to actually have mobile native experiences for web three. So, I think my other kind of like prediction over the next maybe five years is like, we’ll see the rise of more just kind of like web apps for mobile. Generally, I think web three, mobile is a super interesting space, though. I mean, even as we saw the shift towards mobile, a decade ago, it really shepherded in kind of the quote, unquote, casual consumer. And I think there are a lot of, you know, we talked about interfaces at the beginning, there are a lot of experiences that are really not possible and will be uniquely unlocked by a mobile native interface. And so, stepping again, you know, we talked about it, but one of the big reasons it did so well in terms of user acquisition is it was on mobile, and you know, everybody has a phone even. This is a web to kind of tangent, but I think Replete launching, basically, like the code editor on mobile is so interesting, right? Not everybody has a laptop and being able to do that on mobile is so powerful. But other kinds of experiences that I think will be uniquely unlocked, because of mobile will be things like geo located NFTs, almost like a web three Pokémon Go. So, there are companies that are doing interesting things in that space, Mirage is my favorite one in this space, and then drop versus another super interesting one. I imagine we’ll also see a bunch more VR, AR type experiences in the future. I haven’t totally figured out my opinion on that at a high level. But Jadu is an interesting web three AR game and all these things are mobile native. And then, obviously, also, I think, web three wallets on mobile are going to continue to be massive. And so, rainbow is one that is already widely used on mobile, the glow wallet on Solana is interesting. We are investors in kind of like an explorer called Genesis, that’s mobile first, and really a beautiful consumer experience. So, I’m really excited about kind of all of these interfaces. But I imagine we’ve got a little bit of a ways to go, until we’re really mobile first for web three, just because of kind of the infrastructure that we have today.

How to Build Product Defensibility When Data Is Open to All

So, if we keep on building front ends, for a world where data is a commodity in blockchain, how do you build stickiness? How do you build defensibility? What does that look like from your perspective?

Gaby Goldberg: This is like the big question, right? I think it depends on what you’re trying to do. So, I think a big one actually is in brand and in brand equity. Perhaps there are token gated experiences, for a specific type of experience that you want to have. And that’s kind of the moat of, you know, I want to have a certain experience for a certain type of action I’m completing and web three. Specifically, I think wallets are a very interesting space. I put out a prediction, I can’t believe it was almost a year ago. That’s crazy. But it was my 2022 prediction in Mario Gabriel is kind of like what to watch in 2022 for crypto. And I basically said we’re going to see this shift from crypto wallets to web three wallets. And kind of how I would explain that shift, is generally to date all wallets have been built and designed around transactions, right? How do I buy and sell and custody tokens, and the wallets that are able to capture specific consumer behaviors at certain points in time will be really successful for that cycle. So, for example, in defi summer, all you needed to be able to do was to interact with defi, you want to be able to buy and sell and custody those tokens. And Meta mask was around for defi summer. And they skyrocketed to, I think half a million to 10 million users in the span of a year, because they were there to capture that consumer demand. Similarly, I think rainbow was a good example. After defi summer came NFT summer, and everybody wanted a highly visual way to show and display and explore NFTs as assets in their wallet. Meta mask couldn’t really do that. But rainbow could and rainbow skyrocketed and users.

So, the story like really doesn’t end there. The question now becomes, what are going to be you know, the really big waves of consumer appetite and which wallets are going to be there to capture that demand? And so generally, I think we’re just going to see more wallet front ends. So even a couple months after I wrote that Mario Gabriel’s piece, I put out an article, stop calling it a wallet, basically saying and I’ll probably say I don’t have a better word yet. So don’t come at me. But I think the word wallet is a little bit limiting, because it insinuates that the things in your wallet are static and that they’re capital assets. And that already is very limiting to how we interact with web three and the things that we hold in there. So maybe, perhaps, again, don’t quote me on this, I guess you have to quote me, but, yeah, maybe there’s a passport, perhaps if it’s a wallet all around digital fashion, there’s a better interface for actually trying on digital fashion. And you can browse through the clothes hanging on a rack, instead of like a really shitty 2d image, like you see on open sea. And maybe that wallet is called a wardrobe. Or maybe there’s a specific front end for music NFTs. And it plugs into NF T’s that were purchased on specific marketplaces that focus on music. And maybe if you bought a glass music video NFT you can watch the video within the wallet or maybe you can play the songs on a playlist. And so maybe that wallet is called a discography or something. And so, again, I haven’t really flushed out a better word, because obviously, the word needs to be able to kind of take the thing seriously, and it’s not something to be taken lightly, obviously, that it’s like a high value and, you know, important thing.

The way I see it as like different front ends for different experiences. That’s how I sort of see right? 

Gaby Goldberg: Absolutely.


Like you said with music NFTs with the rise of people collecting music NFTs with the rise of tokenized audio, there is going to be a media player, right? Whether it be spin amp or future tape, right that people are tapping into, they just act as aggregation layers, maybe soon have marketplaces on a mobile front, right? That they sort of like monetize accordingly, based off the attention that people use and listen the application for right, I think there’s going to be many different instances around that. And I think, now we’re tying back curation, playing an even more important role, in sort of like showcasing the right assets, and the right experiences on that front end, in a world where data is so vast and so expansive, right, and when you have indexers popping up left and right, for all different types of used cases, it’s up to you, the creator, the entrepreneur, to figure out what type of experience, what type of front end you’re going to create for what type of data. I think this is a great place to end off Gaby. Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we learn more about your work? Show it away.

Gaby Goldberg: Yeah, so I’m on Twitter, Gabby underscore Goldberg, send me a DM, say hi, I’ll try and respond to most of them. And then I write on mirror, Gaby.mirror.XYZ. And first time I’ve said this, but I’m on Farcaster @Gaby. So maybe you should DM me there.

Sounds good. 

Gaby Goldberg: But thanks so much for having me. This was so much fun.

Thank you so much. We’ll have to do this again soon. Till next time.

Podcast Transcript

Rewriting The Music Industry: Web3 Protocols, Marketplaces, and Fandom


Mint Season 6 episode 22 welcomes back David Greenstein, the Co-Founder of We talk about his vision for the future of music, Sound’s protocol, their new 0% fee music NFT marketplace, and much more.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 01:17 – The Current State of Music NFTs
  • 05:04 – Lessons David Learned Since His Last Time On Mint
  • 07:17 – What Can Be Built On Top of Sound?
  • 10:09 – If Spotify or Apple Music Were to Release a Protocol 10 Years Ago
  • 13:15 – The Goal Behind Web3 Music
  • 18:47 – Thoughts Around the Consumption Layer for Collectibles
  • 22:01 – Strategies Working For Artists On Sound
  • 24:45 – How Exclusivity is Created On Sound
  • 30:35 – Biggest Challenges Creating
  • 37:48 – What’s Missing in Web3 Music?
  • 40:19 – What Will Take the Protocol to the Next Level?
  • 42:58 – “Web3’s Breakout Artist”
  • 46:20 – Thoughts For Web2 Artists Experimenting in Web3
  • 50:22 – Thoughts Around Secondary Sales of Music NFTs
  • 53:01 – What’s Next for
  • 55:33 – Outro

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David Greenstein, welcome back to mint. How you doing, man? Thank you for being on again.

David Greenstein: Yeah, it’s my first time doing a repeat episode. Figured there is no better place than mint.

The Current State of Music NFTs

Let’s go. I agree with you. There is no better place than mint. David, I think a good place to start because you’ve already been on, so if you don’t know who David is, go listen to the last episode. But I want to understand what is the current state of music NFTs from your perspective?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I mean, the main thing is that there’s been no stoppage obviously, we’re, you know, in the middle of like, somewhat of a bear market. But there’s been no stoppage of on the artist side of artists releasing music, in fact, like we’re seeing, you know, like, for us, like all time, releases on sound. And we even did 11 drops in one day, this past previous week, which used to be that we did 11 drops in like almost a month or like, you know, 15 days. So, I think the one thing that’s been really, really inspirational, is seeing all the artists continue to release music, because so much of what’s been going on is not tied to any type of bull or bear market. It’s really about, you know, releasing music in a fun, creative and like autonomous way, which is, which transcends a lot of the kind of market conditions of web three. And I think it’s something that really excites me. So, I think, to be honest, like the state of music NFTs is extremely health, from the perspective of like this, people still collecting every single day on the sound site. And there’s more artists than ever, that want to release and create music NFTs, which is something that has been incredibly inspiring, not just to me, but the entire sound team.

And what season are we on right now for sound? Is it season four, season five?

David Greenstein: We’re on season four, I wonder how long will go. But we’re obviously like, you know, we just launched season four and really like the main kind of change there. As we start to, you know, one of the things that has stopped sound from growing a little bit faster as we did a Twitter space for every single new artist on sound, because one of the things that we wanted to do is really highlight every single story of these artists and, you know, really tell the stories of like, why they were joining, you know, sound and why they were putting out that song that day. And so, you know, as somebody who does, obviously, you know, podcasts every day, these Twitter spaces are usually 30 minutes to an hour. And so, every single day, we probably done several 100 of them at this point, I stopped counting a long time ago. But basically, we made the decision to like not do it Twitter space, every single new artist, which has had the, you know, the benefit of being able to slowly start to onboard more artists, which has been incredible. And that’s obviously like how we’re able to get more artists on sound. And this kind of sets the stage for the conversation today. 

But one thing we’ve been consistent about, since the day we launch is that sound has always been designed and you know intention to basically be open to as many people as possible. Because the tools and music NFTs for any artists, it’s not just for sub as like a selection of artists. And so, the first major step towards that was basically, you know, the protocol, which is there’s kind of two parts to sound canning open. One is access to the contracts, and, you know, the same smart contracts that power, you know, sound and we kind of revamp them which we can get into for this like, you know, protocol release. And then the second is like the UI and the front end of being on the sound website. And that one was even more even more nuanced. Because of you know, how do you discover all the songs, if there’s thousands being uploaded per day? How do you, you know, how do you deal with like content moderation, if somebody uploads a song illegally, that isn’t theirs. So really, just being extremely thoughtful around that. So that, you know, the goal, obviously, is to find set of ears for every single song and we want to make sure that we’re able to deliver on that promise. So, the first step in that direction was really getting these contracts, these new contracts open, so that everyone has the same tools to releasing great music NFTs in a really gas efficient, fun way.

Lessons David Learned Since His Last Time On Mint

Last time you were on, we recorded the episode during season two. So, two seasons have passed, you announced the sound protocol. Honestly, a very monumental update in the world of music NFTs. I’m curious, what have been some of your learning lessons from season two, since the last time you were on two now?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think there’s like a couple main reasons why we like, you know, revamp the contracts and kind of move towards the protocol. One is like, we started to move towards like, the song is like the atomic unit for music NFTs, and so we wanted every single song to be it’s own contract, and therefore its own collection, that was a way that we were able to get end to end secondary royalties across primary and secondary sales. It was also like artists today, we originally started with like artists contracts, but artists themselves are not contracts, songs are typically under the contract. And so, it made sense for us to focus on kind of the song as the kind of base unit. We also, like saw a lot of like, you know, people obviously talking about metadata and different mint formats, and it was really hard to like, predict, like, what are all the like, you know, like options that people are going to want. And so, we really crafted the protocol and like a pretty modular way, so that each of these components, whether it’s like a minting module, or metadata module, or payments module, can all be configurable to support different use cases based on the artist’s needs. And it’s all permissionless at the base layer. 

So, if you want to, like not use the sound metadata module, and you know, plug in your own metadata module, you’re more than, you don’t need to ask for permission to do that. Until really like, we think like, you know, these contracts are like are going to become the standard for kind of music NFTs because of how gas efficient they are. And because of how like configurable they are. And that’s kind of reflected in kind of, you know, what’s been going on with kind of the early usage today. So, I think like last, I, you know, was on upload, which was like last week, to deploy a song contract was about like $7 on Eth layer one, which obviously takes into account like gas fees today. But that’s pretty good starting point. So, I’ve been excited about.

What Can Be Built On Top of Sound?

I would agree as well. And I think with the introduction of a protocol specifically for music, I guess there’s also like, there’s a vision of what can be built on top of the protocol. And I’m curious, from your perspective, what are some applications use cases, ideas that you would love to see the community experiment with and sort of implement on sounds protocol?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think the main thing is like, something we’ve always said is like, what are the things that you can build uniquely today that like things like Spotify haven’t been able to build before and I think there’s always, the first thing that was really obvious is that, there’s always been this tension between artists, and you know, somewhat listeners, because from a listener perspective, a lot of people like going to one place to discover and find new music because there’s a single destination for discovery, but artists oftentimes want to do custom websites or custom drops or have their own brand and that’s really hard to build, tooling that supports all those you know, custom drops and experiences because you just can’t think of all the possibilities and that’s also part of the fun of this and also from a more like a collector perspective, it might be more like intimate to purchase on artists website because it feels like you’re purchasing directly from them. But if you don’t even know about an artist in the first place, then there’s obviously a lot of value because of the you know, the buyers that are coming to sound every single day to just go to discover new people, so how do you help an artist like really engage their existing audience, but also how to help artists like continue to grow their audience and right now it kind of, you know, feels like you have to choose and so the first initial use case was basically to like let artists do drops on their own website, which was kind of a trend that we saw, kind of you know, happening and you know, artists want to have their own brand their own control. 

And so, we launched the protocol with like Reo Cragun in partnership with, who I know has been on the podcast as well. And basically, Reo did an album drop on his own website, own domain, but then it also existed on sound, you know, before and after the drop for like playback purposes. And so that’s something that I think has been really, really inspirational kicked off, a slew of them with like Daniel Allen, doing a remix album, Connie Digital’s did the same thing. Aman who obviously works at sound, did an incredible job for her song surrender on bonfire as well. So that’s been like one of the like, clear used cases so far. And then there’s a few more of the music NFT applications, that are starting to build on top of sound as well in terms of like doing other like, you know, forking like or doing a different mint experience that exists on sound and then having the audio live on sound afterwards. And then one of the things obviously, you know, that I think will be happening are like what are the other types of like audio minting that can be done that isn’t necessarily on sound today. So, I think for people looking to do audio smart contract creation. I think these contracts are the most cutting edge for obviously being able to mint music NFTs but I think applies to more audio or any form of audio NFT more broadly.

If Spotify or Apple Music Were to Release a Protocol 10 Years Ago

I want to do in hypothesis or another hypothesis, a hypothetical situation, okay, for a minute. Imagine Spotify or Apple music were to release or had released a protocol, like, let’s say, 10 years ago for the music industry, what do you think the music industry would look and feel like today?

David Greenstein: I think you’d see a much more multiclient world, where there’s so many other ways to discover and support music outside of the mains, you know, Spotify application, I think that’s kind of like, like the opportunity set that kind of exists today is like, it’s very, very hard. In fact, I can’t really name one, I don’t know if you can, but like about 1/3 party application that’s built on top of Spotify or Apple music, that actually has scale and traction. And I think that’s like more of like, you know, like by design than anything else. So, to me, it’s like, they’ve never really encouraged third party developers to basically build on top of, you know, a Spotify or an Apple or an Apple music because you either get rate limited, or you’re not able to, or you’re at the mercy of them cutting you off at any single time. And I think that’s something that I think has been really, really inspirational with cool is like, people don’t need to ask for permission to start building on top of sound, or the contracts. And I think, you know, it would lead to a world where like, what if artists can have their own kind of streaming platform on their own website, what if there can be other clients that like focus specifically on a certain genre of music, or on a specific particular type of artists at an earlier stage, you might be able to build these types of, you know, applications. And then the cool part is that it’s all kind of ties together, like, you know, maybe a stream on one effect, a stream on another, like, they’re all kind of interconnected, it’s still aggregating, like streaming and streaming. 

And so that, to me, is like kind of a missed opportunity today, because you’re basically required to get all the data aggregated the eyeballs, which is super powerful, but it comes at the expense of kind of the creativity, there’s only one experience for streaming today, which is what I think, you know, I think the kind of, like web three mindset is, is like, there’s already you know, spin and future tape. And a lot of three of the predominant, you know, music streaming, you know, then like, really ask for permission, I started building on top of sound, which is really, really cool and exciting to see. And so, you just build this like ecosystem, and I think that’s the thing to take away is like, I wouldn’t say like, the web through music space is like that old, it’s pretty, pretty rare. But what encourages me is like, just seeing how many experiments are being run, is something that I think is like, pretty cool as like a music. You know, I’ve always been, like obsessed with kind of the intersection of music and technology. And for so long, you know, it hasn’t been exactly the space that you’d want to build them. And so, to see this many experiments from like, you know, things like heads or Peggi, or song camp. And, you know, obviously, like the marketplaces like sound and catalog, and Zora everything, it’s been pretty, like fascinating to see. Because it’s like, you know, there’s so much like, there’s so much just like incredible collaboration, so much, at the end of the day, so much incredible music, that it really does feel like we’re just getting started.

The Goal Behind Web3 Music

You love saying that, you love tweeting that we’re just getting started. I think where we are in, in music NFTs today is, it feels a lot like it really feels like there’s a huge energy around, of course collecting and curation. But I feel like we’re still missing the component of listenership, right? Like a lot of these platforms, whether it be sound or like other sort of like creator base collecting platforms are like glass, right? They don’t really like highlight viewer count, they highlight more of like the collecting, right, the collecting experience around it. Is that sort of like the intention and the vision we’re building towards? Is the goal behind web three music to build more of like a collector-based environment around music, or do you think it’s more so to highlight the listenership, the viewership, and all these other sorts of components that maybe web two has done really well, for example?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think it’s a bit, it’s a really good question. And I think it has a bit of nuance there. Which is like, the reason why, like, you know, a lot of places have left out the views is that like, artists are, like coming out of an experience with like, something like Spotify, where, like, everything is about how many plays did you get, and I think the like, part of the notion of like, you know, the web three music space was about challenging that the number of streams is correlated with like, to how, like, impactful or how much emotional value that song creates, because you have artists that, you know, don’t necessarily have the highest number of stream counts that can sell out huge tours, and you have, you know, other artists that have huge stream counts that can’t sell out, you know, a 200 cap venue. And so, it kind of puts the challenge, like, you know, and flips it a little bit on its head and saying, like, hey, like, let’s focus on like, active relationships. So, let’s focus on the people that actually care about the music and really value the artists and their craft, and really like reward and celebrate those people and kind of like distance ourselves a little bit from like, the people that are more passively consuming music, now there’s anything wrong with that, which we’ll get to in a second. But that’s kind of what’s already valued today based on like, the Spotify ecosystem.

So, I think it was more of a feature than a bug to kind of not include that information. But I don’t think play counts are a inherently, you know, bad thing in the sense that like, you know, artists obviously want to have their music heard by as many people as possible. I think it’s the more the corollary, that that’s true, which is, you know, just because it’s one doesn’t have that many streams do not mean that that song is an incredibly impactful, I think in order to like, understand this whole music NFT landscape, you kind of have to understand the history of music in the internet. And that kind of starts with Napster, which is obviously you know, my profile photo avatar on Twitter, Napster, and also my spirit animal, but also like the Napster like, you know, logo. And I’m sorry that Napster, you know, product kind of showed that, like people want to listen to music for free, like the average music listener, wants to listen to music for free. And I talked about this, you know, in the famous debate with Kobe, but, you know, the music industry was like, we’re not gonna let you monetize music for free, because that’s just not the way it’s gonna work over here. 

So, Napster ultimately got shut down as an illegal business. And then iTunes kind of pops up. And I tend to actually did, something that I find quite interesting, which is like, it has a really active relationship between like, you know, purchase certain artists, because you’re not like running around, accidentally purchasing things. And so, in that regard, like, I think it was, you know, much more stronger connection between, like you and the music. And I also think it’s very akin to like CD and evolution of like vinyl, and you know, some of the more active forms of music consumption. The problem was the average music, you know, like listener doesn’t want to spend like that much money on music per year, which was kind of proven out. And then they were also used to kind of the Napster era, where everything was free. So, iTunes ultimately starts to decrease in it’s popularity. And then Spotify comes along and Spotify you know, from my perspective is like Napster, with for 999 a month, and that has been working for like the last decade and continues to work and don’t think it’s gonna stop working for a, you know, a selection of artists. But many artists on Spotify don’t, you know, like, aren’t streaming quite well and therefore aren’t getting paid. And if your music is on a storefront, and it’s not getting paid, it basically feels like Napster. And that’s kind of created this opportunity for music NFTs. And Spotify is like really pioneered the passive music listening, even monthly listeners, the primary metric on any artist profile is a passive metric, it is literally anyone who listens to a song once a month, and I can check out an artist right now on a playlist, that does not mean that I’m a fan of them. 

And so, there’s a bit of missing active consumption today. And then music NFTs, which, you know, like everybody likes to make fun of, the concept is actually quite simple. If anyone can listen for free, but collecting and or ownership is valuable to own. And I think that concept is pretty powerful. Because if anyone can listen for free is very akin to like a Spotify or a Napster type, you know, era where you know, you can basically listen for free, but the collecting aspect is very more like iTunes, vinyl, and like CD, but has this twist of like the social status, the scarcity, and all these little, you know, web three elements, which seem kind of innocuous at the surface, but are actually quite powerful. Because of you know, the fact that like, people have been running around the internet for as long as you know, I’ve been around saying like, hey, I discovered, you know, Drake before you or I was here first. And that’s like, the primary message in any artist DMs that it’s filled with, I’ve been a fan of yours since 2014. And music, NFTs are like a very clean, simple way to basically show you’re here first supporting artists through their music, get some, you know, like social status in return and like, really, really exciting. So that’s kind of the gist of it.

Thoughts Around the Consumption Layer for Collectibles 

If you look back eight months ago, one of the biggest conversations was around the consumption layer of music NFTs. And there was a heavy environment around collecting but you couldn’t really consume the things that you collected, they sat in your Meta mask, right. And maybe some of these wallets had like media native players, but they sucked to be frank. But now we’re seeing products like future tape, who just got acquired by Zora and spin it who is rolling out and getting more and more traction, sort of like building out like the consumption layer for media, audio, video collectibles. What are your thoughts around that? Is that net positive or do you see that sort of like going down the line?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think the first thing is that, like, music has always been meant to be heard by as many people as possible. And so, the more you know, product services, applications that are spreading music, and finding ears, the better for obviously, like the artists, which is at the end of the day, all that matters. And so, you know, obviously what we talked about earlier, like this, isn’t that like Spotify and kind of the DSPs, kind of missed out on was having this rich ecosystem of like third party applications, that kind of build on top of kind of the content, you know, minting kind of catalog. And that to me is like something that is like really, really exciting to see. And so, I think it’s really interesting that you can have different types of listening experiences based on, like, whatever that product is trying to solve, and then obviously, you know, on sound like we’re also investing a lot into, like discovery as well, in terms of how do you find out about these, you know, songs that are getting released, as you know, there’s more and more drops, even, like, you know, having 11 drops in one day. Like, that’s, that creates a whole different set of challenges that we didn’t face. And I think that’s something that like, I think, is kind of the era that we’re about to enter, which is like this, you know, obviously, like this, you know, sound is kind of takes a little bit of a node from this, but we’re like, we’re about to enter the like, web three version of the SoundCloud era where like, you know, artists are no longer gonna stop, or, like, no longer to have to, like overthink, like this whole release, because of like, you know, is it gonna get playlisted or all these things, and artists are gonna be free to like, just release music and you’re seeing, we’re seeing like, a lot of artists make a track, minted on the spot and just send it, which I think is something that has, like, been missing from the music industry today, because there’s so much paranoia around, is it gonna go viral on Tik Tok? Is it gonna get playlisted? That I think is going to take some time to get undone. 

But that is really what made this sound so like, exciting, interesting was like, artists were just experimenting with music, putting it out, there having no idea what was gonna go viral, it was not gonna go viral. And really just like, putting out it, like incredibly exciting, you know, music. And that’s something that I think is like, what’s been most encouraging, is we’re seeing more drops and less overthinking. I think music NFTs have, like started to hopefully simplify. Like, there’s really is just, you know, the JPEG and the wav file, and so not over complicating things. And, you know, that’s kind of been the formula that’s been working. And a lot of the artists in the space that are having the most success, are the ones that are like, consistently releasing, and as there’s more music being released, there should be more kind of homes to find that music and whether that’s on sound, whether that’s on, you know, spin app or feature tape, it’s overall incredible for the for the music ecosystem, and kind of like, lifts to the, like the promises of, you know, or the web three kind of ideals of like not having it contained and kind of one primary kind of application.

Strategies Working For Artists On Sound

So that brings me to a very relevant question that got asked on Twitter, for music artists looking to release on sound, what are some potential roadmap slash strategies you’re seeing working right now? And how might those strategies evolve as the platform grows?

David Greenstein: Yeah, I literally say that there’s two ingredients for like, what works on sound. One is getting music, like if the music is not great, there’s nothing that’s gonna, you know, help you on that front. And then two is like, release consistently and consistently like, there’s not really like a strict timeline on that. Like, I think, like, if I had to get like some very large spectrum, it’s like two to eight weeks, which is a very large, you know, timeframe. And anybody really doing that right now, is having a decent amount of success on sound. Because truthfully, like just the act of minting alone, is something I also said more recently, like the act of minting alone is the what? Is the w like, it is the win, because, you know, the more artists that are tokenizing their works on chain, the more possibilities and the more places that can discover them, the more places that can integrate with kind of the catalog, that is already really, really exciting. And I think that’s probably been one of the biggest shifts is, you know, obviously, like sound kinda was like very, you know, kind of like, like caught us by surprise, but like became very associated with like, obviously selling out because so many of the like, drops in the beginning sold out and still continue to sell out. But I think that’s like not something that like where as a brand, like, you know, like, you know, like caring as much about like it’s really like I think the things that we want to like leverage our brain to champion, are really artists you know, putting out incredible music, connecting with their like, you know, listeners in cool ways and if it sells out great but I always say like you can’t rug good music like if it’s good, it will eventually you know, find it’s audience, so I think that part is, you know, something that rings true for me.

How Exclusivity is Created On Sound

Let’s put it back to the protocol for a minute because something that’s really interesting about sound, that I feel like you’ve done so well David, is create this environment of exclusivity. And with that that’s attracted a really interesting group of collectors, based off how your team curates’ artists sort of like drives hype and excitement around. Yeah, around who buys what, what gets bought and how much gets bought and whatnot. And then you come around, you introduce the protocol. And I guess I’m trying to tap into your mind for a minute, like, what’s your strategy of releasing the protocol first, before opening up the platform to more people? Like, how do you how do you see that?

David Greenstein: Yeah, I mean, we talked about this like a little bit like the protocol is like, and the underlying like, smart contract infrastructure is like the first step to like opening up sound, because everybody should have access to the same contracts that are powering sound drops today, that shouldn’t be like just a privilege for people on sound, if anybody looking to do music NFTS should have like cutting edge smart contracts, for being able to release songs with, you know, decentralized metadata that’s permanent sort of, are we even having like multiple mint options, ability to do their own golden egg if that if they want to do so different, you know, minting modules, payment modules for, you know, integrating with things like zero splits, we feel like those are tools that everyone should have. And, you know, we don’t like, you know, I think I changed my twitter thing to David shipping. At the moment, it’s ready, like we launch it, we don’t wait. And so that’s something that like, you know, we felt like, a lot of artists would, would want to have access to this. And so why would we like, hold this just to ourselves, if, like, we think it’s ready. And so once, you know, we felt comfortable, we obviously wanted to put it out in the world, so that people, you know, whether it’s like artists, or developers or companies can immediately start integrating. 

And so, the contracts that we had pretty high clarity on, like, how that would work, and what the process is, I think, in terms of why we haven’t let people like just start uploading to sound more broadly. And, you know, like, basically, like open source the upload tool, which is something that is kind of next in line, and will happen, you know, sooner than people think, is basically because like, it comes with a much more complicated set of tradeoffs. And like, you know, we’re on both the product side and the legal side, product side being like, I think it’s really important that people can find the music that they want to find out about. And you know, if there’s 5000 uploads tomorrow on sound, I can guarantee you’re not going to find out about the ones that you really care about. And so, to me, that’s something that’s like, really critical is like, it can’t, you know, I think my dream for sound is like, as content grows, you know, Adam still feels like it’s a really intimate experience, the way that it is today with like, you know, the, the artists that you obviously are familiar with on the site. And so, one is like, how do we like separate content growth, from like, you know, music discovery, which I think is really important. And then two is like, the legal concerns, like, I’ve never been on, you know, the record saying anything along the lines of like, the people who make the music shouldn’t get paid, like, you obviously want all the stakeholders in a song to get paid. 

And so, you know, the last thing I want to do is have somebody monetize music, that doesn’t actually go to the person who made that music, because that doesn’t seem like what the space is about. In fact, it was all about getting artists paid. And so, the main thing is like, it will happen, like somebody will, you know, and this is ultimately like something that we should obviously learned from like SoundCloud, because it got them into a lot of trouble, you know, back in the day, and they took them many years to, like, reform their business to like, you know, like, accommodate like that content. And so, to us, it’s like, we want to make sure, like, we have, like, all of our, you know, ducks in a row before we like, you know, jump off the cliff. And, you know, say like, let’s open it up. So, I think it’s really just around having an actual strategy and not being reckless here, because it’s much easier to like, open the floodgates and just open it and close it back. And so that’s really why it’s been taking, you know, a little bit longer, but what I always like to remind people of is like, sound is still less than a year old. And so, it just takes time to build these cool things. And I’m usually pretty good at getting and this is really credit to the team that works on sound, and I’m really lucky to work with them because they’re the best team ever. And so really, it’s like, you know, it takes us it’s gonna take a second but we’re gonna get it right.

How big is the sound team now actually?

David Greenstein: we just had 15 people on, I think, yeah, the goals, I think like you’re in our grow a little bit more but like something that we’ve been really proud of, is like keeping them team as small as possible. Because really, like you know, the more autonomy and ownership each person has and the more we can have less meetings and more and more shipping and getting features out there for artists. So, I think that’s something that we’re incredibly proud of, is keeping the team as lean as possible and building an environment where everyone has ownership over the product and can release like ideas into the world and you see something broken go fix it. And so, for a while it was like probably, we did our last episode, it was probably like, you know, five to seven or it was it was really, a long time. And we needed a little bit of help to get the these features out a little bit faster. So that’s kind of the gist of it. And one of those people is somebody who goes by the name vectorized, who kind of like author and helped work on our smart contracts. And he actually like maintains 721A, which came out of like the Cairo Labs, which is like part of the Zucchi project and 2721A is like the main like NFT repo for, you know, from a smart contract perspective. And so having him work on the, you know the sound protocol, was something that was a true privilege for us, because, you know, he’s one of the best out there. And, you know, he’s done it, he’s done it before. And that’s why, that’s part of the, I wish I could take credit. But that’s part of the reason why the contracts are so optimized.

Biggest Challenges Creating

Amazing. I think one of the things that I respect about the season four release, and the season four announcement was, you introduced the protocol and then you also introduced monetization around sound, which I really thought was genuinely, really wise, because there’s value in being able to curate and being that brand, that sort of like puts artists on the maps. And there should be a take rate, a minimal take rate that comes with that. But providing all these tools in an open-source, fashion that allows anybody to build upon the sound protocol, like the way you sort of like introduced that was really smart. I’m curious, as you’re sort of like building out the sound protocol prior to launch, what were some of the biggest challenges in forming the protocol and putting it together? Like, did you have like a mood board sort of, when you were putting together the protocol, designing it and preparing it for release? Like, walk me through that entire process?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so first of all, like 5% thing, it was actually something that was like, pretty, like, you know, something that I believe from a product perspective is like, let’s get the product out there to the world, let’s make it free, let’s get you know, adoption, let’s see how people react, and then only turn on monetization, when we feel like we’re delivering enough value to the world, and people are happy, because you know, most of the time people are, if you’re delivering a service that people like, they’re more than happy to pay you for it. And the only time people get upset, is when you’re not delivering value and taking something and we never, we always wanted to under promise, over deliver. And so, for the first you know, three and a half million dollars, that sound generated for artists, we passed 100% of it, like didn’t take a single penny directly to artists, which obviously, you know, is a statement more than anything else. And then we started taking 5% of the primary. But again, that’s only on the like, sound like website at the protocol level, there’s actually a 0% fee, and we already deployed like fee less mentors, for people to basically build on top of, so if people want to build their own minting experience, the 5% fee is completely, you know, like up to them, or they can charge their own fee if they want to. But that’s only at the like, you know, like the essentially the UI level at sound. 

As far as like the mood board, we have like a couple, I would say like it’s more principles that we had, like, we wanted this to be a permissionless contract factory, we wanted to make sure it was not upgradeable. So that, you know, people, like, you know, artists had complete creative sovereignty over their own contracts, which was something that was really, really important to us. We wanted the metadata to be permanent and decentralized. That’s why we ended up choosing, we’ve wanted to have, you know, support our different like, metadata modules in terms of like, we have this thing called the golden egg, which is obviously very part of sounds brand, we actually moved the golden egg calculation fully on chain, which is like, you know, something that we invested some resources and time in. So, like, the golden egg is completely, like not tied to the sound back end in any way, shape, or form, which has been really, really exciting and kind of cool to kind of see. And then we have like different like, we want a different like auction mechanics essentially, like we have fixed option, we have range conditions, you know, maybe in the future, open additions or whatever the like, again, the used cases might be it’s the cool part is not having to think of all the possibilities today and knowing that we can build them in the future, like as they kind of come up.

So really, it was about the like composability, the like extensibility and the like modular aspect of like the sound contracts, that I think really, really got me excited. And then kind of like the secret source was really just like optimizing them to get them so cheap and like efficient, that you could actually afford to deploy a new contract for every single song, which obviously creates this, you know, massive amount of collections, because you know, they’re creating a collection for every single song, which obviously makes it a little bit harder to find these things on the you know, secondary marketplace. And, you know, we can talk about a little bit about this now, but obviously, like launching the sound market, which is going to be like the home for discovering music NFTs because right now like open sea, and all of secondary marketplaces are obviously incredible. But they aren’t, like necessarily optimized for music. And even unlike, you know, there are other tools that people have built first, deploying smart contracts. But something that at the core of sound was always like, for musicians, like nothing else. We’re not like building for other types of creators. It’s really, we’ve been laser focused on artists. And that is true, you know, in the product level, in terms of like how the pages are structured. It’s true on our profile pages. It’s true, you know, on the minting experiences but it also should be true in the secondary market. And I think, you know, artists like to be around other artists. And so, something that I think is interesting is like, I think open sea, obviously, in all the primary marketplaces have done like incredible works obviously, like getting the secondary market in the first place.

And one of the cool things about the market that we’re launching is like, a aggregates liquidity across all marketplaces. So, we’re not like, you know, it, you can list where we believe, again, same way with music, like you can list wherever you want list on open sea, list on list on, you know, looks rare, wherever you want to, wherever you want to list, but we also have like sound native listings, where you can list directly on the sound marketplace. And the cool part is that under the hood, that’s actually a, like seaport kind of marketplace, which I think is really cool, which obviously, is the protocol that open zero, rolled out. And so, if you listen to sound market, there’s 0% listening phase, or we’re saving buyers two and a half percent that open sea is taking on the open sea side, which is something that we’re really excited to kind of launch in our beta phase, where we’re having a 0%, you know, listing fee, and this was all kind of built with a new startup, that we’re friends of, you know, sound called first mate. That is kind of building, you know, marketplaces for startups. So that’s something that has been a really cool partnership as well. Obviously, they’re leveraging a lot of the new protocol stuff as well. So, it’s just been building with other builders.

So, collectors are getting their own unique marketplace for music NFTs, that sort of detachment entire experience of open sea, but they can still experience the benefits of listing right across all these marketplaces, but they can take advantage of the purchasing experience on the sound marketplace. 

David Greenstein: Yeah, the sound marketplace that kind of, to me offers like, you know, two or three main value props. One is that it is incredibly painful to go find out about music, NFTs on some of these larger marketplaces, it’s partially our fault, because we have every single song has it’s own contract. And so, it creates this like, you know, like, very large amount of like, links that you would have to keep track of and follow to like, find out about music NFTs. And so, one is just the discovery, I think is really awesome. Two, is that we have like the native listening experience, which basically comes with like a 0% listing fee. And therefore, you know, it’s obviously cheaper to list on the sound market. And then three, like this is like a home for like music NFTS and really just about, you know, having artists around other artists, which I think is also, you know, incredibly exciting. And obviously, like there’s the market is in it’s like beta phase. And, you know, we’re looking forward to adding as many music NFTs as possible. So, I think that’s something that is really, really exciting. And I’m really proud to get out this week.

What’s Missing in Web3 Music?

I think one of the coolest unlocks of the whole entire music NFT wave, is the ability to collect something, I think though over time genuinely, it’s going to become a little mundane and boring. And I’m curious from your perspective, like we’ve tapped into the first phase I feel like or maybe you could even consider it phase zero, because we’re just getting started right, of collecting something. Where do you imagine it going from here? Like, what are we missing to sort of, like, bring this entire experience together?

David Greenstein: Yeah, so I think like the collecting is kind of your entry into the music NFT world, I actually think there’s like, two kinds of main paths, were like collecting those. One is it the artists level, and like, I think the experiences that like artists can offer their collectors are just like literally the money, I wouldn’t even know if they’d gotten started. Like, obviously, we started making some really small ones, like, you could leave a comment, the golden egg, we recently launched, like exclusive listening. If you obviously like collecting artists, you know, when the next time they upload, you can start listening to the song early, which is obviously something that like, you know, like people already, like, you know, like listen to songs anyway. But I think like some of the, you know, other use cases that are really obvious, whether it’s like, you know, the wall to wall messaging hasn’t necessarily, you know, taken off yet, I think the like artists like enacting their collectors to like, help, you know, make decisions about like feature releases or future marketing strategies, I think it’s going to become a lot more of like, building that complex ecosystem and community around, it’s still incredibly painful for artists to like, engage with their collectors. 

And so, I think there’s going to be a whole set of experiences that like artists use, and I think artists have also just never had the tools to know who their like individual like believers are. And that’s something that I think is like, just seeing the artists come up with ideas to like, you know, to like, do things with people that, like, basically support their music, I think is literally just getting started. And then I think there’s a lot of stuff at the sound level that like collectors will be able to do in terms of like, hey, like, you know, maybe they’re able to influence like some of the curation on sound, maybe they’re able to, you know, like become curators themselves. So, I think there’s a lot of stuff that like we can do with collectors that I think, you know, we haven’t necessarily, like rolled out yet, which I think is something that’s really exciting. So, I think collecting is definitely like the entry point into the like music NFT world, but there will be other ways to kind of start to participate that don’t necessarily like involve collecting. So, I think that’s all for now.

What Will Take the Protocol to the Next Level?

Okay, okay, it makes sense. I want to also again, pivot, because all these sound protocol discussions are introducing sort of like side branches to talk about, but with introducing a protocol is with the hopes of sort of attracting a thriving developer community to build on top of it, right. I’m curious, like how do you? Yeah, how do you build a sustainable developer ecosystem and find one developer who want to sort of like build towards this web three, music vision? And then how do you sustain those people like, will sound have some type of like grant program? Well, I see start seeing you guys at like DEF CON, like what do you see from your perspective of sort of, like taking the protocol to the next level?

David Greenstein: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s not just the protocol. But like, we launched, we also launched, which I probably should have said, like, we launched an SDK and like, so basically, like a full set of tools to help developers engage with the, you know, the content on sound and make it as easy as possible, I think what attracts developers is obviously like making that data as accessible as possible. And then obviously, like, as easy to build on top of and then as rich like having a really like a complete set of information. And as long as that’s true, like people will start to kind of build these experiences on top of it, because there’s such a, like, kind of natural overlap between, like the developer community and kind of music, and some of the applications that people wanted to build, but it’s not necessarily have built, I think the main thing that like, you know, attracts developers is just showing that you like want them to build on top of it, and leading kind of with actions and supporting those projects. So even today, like you know, like having the three main you know, music listener, streaming players, like spin it, future tape, and blah, blah, like that’s incredible for the ecosystem, seeing bonfire recently integrate, has been really, really exciting. There’re some other ones that I can’t disclose yet that are coming out, that are big, that are starting to integrate even this like first made integration for the marketplace, there’s just been so many really cool and exciting things that it’s really just about showing concrete examples and making it less about, you know, some mythology that you can integrate the sound protocol and more about showing example apps, that people can actually like, relate to. And so I think that’s why, even when we launched the protocol, was very important to us that we had a concrete example of like what you can do, so that, you know, people can very tangibly understand and the reality they may not understand the sound protocol, or you know, all the things that kind of come with it, and in the beginning, but people can understand Reo dropping an album on his own website, it’s showing up on sound, doing a really cool bespoke experience. And that’s why we kind of paired it, I thought it was like the perfect example to kind of pair it with and Reo was the perfect partner. Because anybody who knows Reo, knows how awesome he is to kind of, you know, launch this with them.

“Web3’s Breakout Artist”

I want to also talk to, before your wrap up about like, macro current events that sort of took place. So, Warner and open sea sort of did a partnership to bring more of their artists into the space, we saw a couple of major record labels introduced their own like, I guess one sort of actually comes to mind, I forgot who but you might know off the top of your head, but they introduced like a music NFT fund of some sort, right? All these sorts of like more big picture initiatives. So, us Dejan sort of like made enough noise. You know, even though I feel like I played a very small part with collecting platforms like yours brought a lot of the scene to life, right. And all the other collectors that sort of like came through that billboards article of saying, like Daniel Allen is on the verge of becoming like web threes breakout artists, like all these headlines, all these interesting initiatives and activities sort of spurred external movement and behavior. How do you feel about that? Are we for that? Are we against that? What do you think? 

David Greenstein: I mean, it’s on the one hand, I’m like, no more music NFT activity, the better for a kind of pioneering this is like an emerging technology within the music space. On the other hand, like, it’s like, just a completely different field to kind of where we’re at. Like, I think sound you know, a lot of the native web three ecosystem is really focused on championing the independent up and coming artists, the artists that like have been overlooked by things like Spotify. And I think in general, like, it’s really hard to, like, build that community around something like a major corporation, or major label to kind of win over like, it’s just not like, you know, a lot of the principles are like fast transparency and accuracy. And I think it’s like really cool, and I think should be encouraged and actually give them a lot of credit for like, even wanting to experiment in the first place because they don’t have to, they make a lot of money as it is. But I think in terms of like, becoming the de facto solution for where, you know, music is going to be discovered. It’s just completely like you know, I wouldn’t say like it’s occupying too much mindshare, for me right now. So, I think really, it’s about supporting the current ecosystem, and you know, building like the true music NFT community, which I think is like, really started to take shape in terms of something that is another signal. To me, it’s just seeing all the artists collaborate with each other, making music, putting it out together, across, you know, not just sounds, but other platforms, it’s been really, really cool to see, I think companies are collaborating with each other, I think artists are clapping, or collaborating with each other. And every week, it feels like, you know, the movement is growing a little bit more, and you’re seeing an artist’s friend, come check out, you know, the web three space, and word kind of spreads. 

And so, I think that’s one thing that has remained true, since our last episode is like sound has still never spent a penny on marketing. It’s fully organic. You know, we still really don’t have a way to sign up for like emails or anything on sound, which is a terrible idea that we should probably figure out, but it’s been fully organic. And it’s really like the artists who deserve all the credit for it. Because it’s really artists championing kind of what’s been going on, telling their friends and their peers and, you know, making music with each other. And I think collaboration is actually one of the ways that you solve education, and you solve onboarding, because artists, you know, start, like, you know, like, they might throw their collaborator on a split, who doesn’t even know about music NFTs. But now they have to come claim the Eth that gets generated from the sale. Now all of a sudden, they have like a wallet, and they’re curious, and then they want to put out their own song and, you know, creates that kind of flywheel effect. So, I think, you know, we’re just getting started.

Thoughts For Web2 Artists Experimenting in Web3

Yeah, Black Dave said this best when we record an episode, he’s like, I think when you look at more mainstream artists trying to make their way into web three, a lot of them fail, because they don’t embrace the element of collaboration. They sort of come in with their status of being up here and us, web three through people were maybe like down here, but soon to be up here. But then he referenced Snoop Dogg as an example of like his entrance into web three, he did have a lot of experimentation. But one thing that he did really right, was sort of like call out a lot of like the up-and-coming web three artists, do a song with them, right, and then eventually release that on sound. And he got a lot of like the web three music cloud, despite how much of an icon he has already to begin with, right? But sort of like his entire entrance into web three was very felt organic, felt aligned with the community, which I really respect. And I’m curious from your perspective, like if you were to say anything to these web two artists coming into web three, right, that have done really well for themselves, have built listenership, they want to experiment what the web three route, what is that entrance? Like what does that look like? So, we talked about collaboration, looking at one of them. Do you have like a playbook or roadmap that you could maybe share? What are your thoughts?

David Greenstein: So, it’s still the same advice that I give, like even artists in the space, that are that are more native, it’s put out good music and release consistently. And like, I think like just the act of tokenizing, your music is already the sign that like, hey, you’re taking this space seriously. And the reason why I say released consistently is, you know, if you put out music, or you minted music NFT one time, and then you disappear for six months, it’s pretty hard to convince people that you’re like, genuinely serious about the space and come across, like, hey, like, maybe you’re just in this for the money. But when you release consistently, it kind of shows that you’re like, somewhat committed to like tokenizing your music. And then I think like a third, I wouldn’t say like mandatory, but I think a really cool gesture, is people who like set aside a certain percentage of their earnings to like, start collecting other artists in the space. Because I think, you know, if you show up for others, they’ll show up for you. And I think it’s kind of like, you know, kind of, you know, it’s less of like a take mentality and more of like a, you know, give mentality. And so, the more you give, the more you get in return. And I think some of the really exciting artists that have come into the space and done really well. They’re not just like releasing consistently or putting out incredible music, they’re also supporting a lot of the artists that were like, there before them, that they also genuinely appreciate. I think the one thing is like, I don’t think should be collecting for the sake of collecting, I think should be collecting people that genuinely inspire you. And that’s something that I think has been really, really cool. And that’s how like, friendships start to form and collaboration starts to form. And they might go from collecting somebody’s work, to doing a Twitter space with them, to them putting out a song with them. And that’s something that I think is a pretty repeatable blueprint and strategy. 

What are some things that you’ve collected recently, that you’ve sort of, like really fallen in love with?

David Greenstein: I’m saying neutral on this one, because I think I don’t play favorites. Any artists on sound are like, putting out incredible, incredible music. So, I let you guys on the collecting side, do that for me.

So, does that mean giving a nod wallet that just like collects very discreetly?

David Greenstein: if you can find it, go ahead, but I’m pretty like, you know, I stay kind of neutral on this one. Mainly because I think the main thing is like, just putting out the music alone and minting it is, as I said, the win. And I think it’s really, like there’s so much good music. It’s overwhelming. Like, I mean, looking at one of the days, I would like I would have said like that could be our whole months’ worth of music, you know, like a couple months ago. And so just seeing how much incredible music is being released and even like the artists themselves are like, getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and just building community around their music and it’s been just insane to see the growth that people have taken, over the last couple of months like months and that we’re talking months, so like, give people a year or two yours and like, let’s see what happens. And I really do feel like we’re on the precipice of like, something very major happening in the next three to six months. And I think we will get all those things that people have been clamoring for like the first breakout song, the first breakout artists, and there’s so many talented artists in the space. It’s just a natural reaction of what happens when you like, put talented artists together.

Thoughts Around Secondary Sales of Music NFTs

Two questions left for you. Okay. The first one is, how do you feel about secondaries for music NFTs? Are you a fan of collectors selling and reselling the things that they mint? We’ll start there, and then I’ll ask the next one.

David Greenstein: Yeah, I mean, so this isn’t not necessarily tied to music NFTs, is more broadly, I think the one thing about secondary sales, like you are kind of like rewarding people for exiting the community. And like, you know, like, if you have a lot of secondary volume, that means people are trading these things back and forth with versus in theory, you kind of want to reward people who like hold forever. So, I think as long as the value that’s being created, is generating back to the artist, and there’s obviously been a lot of famous royalty debates. More recently, I think, like, I’m okay, with, like secondary volume, it’s an additional source of revenue for artists. I don’t think it’s like, yeah, I think it’s like important to that, like, you know, like, these music NFTs are viewed as valuable and obviously go up in value over time, which I think has been the case for the majority of the NFTs on sound. But I don’t think it’s like, I have kind of like a, you know, I think the secondary marketplace is like, barely even gotten started. And like, it’s sounds so much across like 5 million in secondary volume, which is not trivial. And that’s obviously like an extra, you know, 500k that’s been paid out to artists. So, I think that extended, it’s pretty powerful. And I think, you know, once you build the tools for more discovery, you build things like sound market. Yeah, like the secondary market is going to be as kind of powerful as the primary one?

So quick tangent, wouldn’t you say there’s other ways to sort of like solidify one’s participation in an artist? So, does them selling the NFT sort of indicate their loss of love for that artist? Or is it maybe them just tapping into the economics of the beauty of having like an open mark and everything being tokenized and being able to sort of like profiteer, if there is room for that?

David Greenstein: Yeah, I don’t think like artists would even care if like their fans is very sold, if it’s like them, obviously, like having some type of economic empowerment, like if you can come in and support an artist to their music, and then you know, that support ends up being more something. There’s nothing wrong with obviously, like, you know taking, especially like, because a lot of people who made money on sound, have like taken it and just reinvested it into collecting more artists. So, I think it’s like I think, you know, in general, I like believe artists should be able to put out whatever music they want, I think collectors be able to sell and buy whatever they want. I don’t believe that there should be like constructs or rules around like, what’s acceptable behavior, I think we should adhere to like the web three ideals, and like free market economics, and just see where things go. But I think for people who like really have an emotional connection with that song, they’re going to continue to hold the music NFT. And, you know, I think that’s all that matters.

What’s Next for

And my last question for you, because we’re just getting started, what’s next for sound? What can we expect? So last one that we did was in April, or May, it’s been about like, six, seven months, I guess, since we did this interview, we’re obviously going to do another one. And in a few months to do another recap, what can we expect in the next few months? We talked a little bit about the marketplace, the protocol introduction, but yeah, from your perspective.

David Greenstein: All my bullets like, well, you know, we did the protocol, when we launched our new song page, we obviously have this like market coming out, which is like a bit of a surprise. I think the next step, I’m gonna stay pretty quiet on the product level, because there’s some cool things coming. But what I will say is that the goal is obviously to like get sound open in the next couple of months. And my hope is, by the next time we record, the part three is that we’re talking about obviously, like the you know, sound like the final piece, the final half is like the UI is fully open, that people can take advantage or upload tools open source. So, people can kind of, you know mint music NFTs and have access to these contracts, you know, at the UI level, and host their own drop parties, in their own listening experiences and own golden eggs and all this other fun stuff. So, I think that’s really when the fun the chaos begins. And I think that’s an I’m really, like, I think it’s gonna be the next chapter of music NFT is, on the artist side, you’re going to have artists, you know, like kind of releasing as they make songs and, you know, kind of bring back that sound clutter. And then on the collector side, it’s actually going to become a game of who’s the first to discover new music. I think today, the ecosystem is so small, that if you really want to, like you can essentially collect every single, you know, artists on sound and, you know, I think a few people have gotten really close to doing so. But I think the game gets a little bit more interesting when like, there’s so much music being released, you actually have to like, you know, use your taste or your judgment to actually choose which ones you want to collect. And it actually makes like you supporting an artist, actually even more valuable because now all of a sudden like your taste is like a curator or a tastemaker actually like means something today, I think it’s hard for me to get behind if you collect every single artist that means like, essentially your, you know, like the best curator, right? But I do think that if you know, there’s thousand artists on sound, and you collect the 10 that have done the best, that does technically start to mean like, hey, like, you might know, like, you might be able to predict the next one. And I think that’s really where this game is headed. A lot of fun stuff and, you know, I’m sure I’m sure it’ll still be in the thick of it. So, I look forward to that in part three.


Amazing, David, thank you so much. Before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we find sound? Show it away for those who don’t know.

David Greenstein: Well, first, we’ll start with sound, sound is on Twitter, at sound XYZ underscore, on Instagram, it’s just sound XYZ. My personal is D Greenstein one. You can find me with the Napster logo on Twitter. And yeah, that’s pretty much it. If I’m not there I’m probably listening to mint.

Amazing, like to hear, woof. Like, I’m gonna copy that one. I love it. David, thank you so much, till next time.

David Greenstein: No, thank you for having me as always, Adam.

Podcast Transcript

Blockchain Data’s Role in the Web3 Creator Economy


Mint Season 6 episode 21 welcomes Hildebert, the Dune Wizard and Data Analyst at Dragonfly Capital. Throughout the hour, we discuss blockchain data in the creator economy, metrics to measure the success of a crypto community, Hildebert’s perspective on royalties, the world of zero knowledge technology, trends that made on-chain data more favorable to analyze, and so much more.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:09 – Intro
  • 04:21 – How Do People Use the Data You Provide?
  • 06:17 – The Day to Day as Head of Data at a VC Fund 
  • 08:11 – Data Researching
  • 08:59 – Thoughts Around Data in the Web3 Creator Economy
  • 11:01 – Metrics to Measure the Success of a Crypto Community
  • 13:46 – The Art Cobbler
  • 14:18 – Hildebert’s Perspective On Royalties
  • 18:07 – The Adoption of Analyzing On-Chain Data
  • 19:41 – Tools For Understanding the Value Creators Generate
  • 21:54 – Where Data Lies in the World of Anonymous Wallet Interactions
  • 25:45 – What’s On Your List to Look into Right Now?
  • 28:12 – Interesting Stats or Trends in the Bear Market
  • 30:55 – What Are You Looking Forward to in Today’s Market?
  • 31:47 – Outro

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Hildebert, welcome to the podcast. Thank you for being on, a part of season six. How are you doing, man?

Hildebert: Great, great. Thank you for having me. It’s a pleasure.


It’s a pleasure to have you on, you’re destroying the streets of the on-chain data community. And when I did this season on on-chain data, I couldn’t really figure out who to bring on when I announced the season. But as I did more research, I found you and a few others from Dune, across crypto Twitter. So, I think a good place to start is who are you, man? What does the world need to know about you and how did you get your start into web three?

Hildebert: So, my name is Hildebert. I’m a French guy who, I got my start into crypto by doing an internship at a company called Keiko, which is an on chain, which is a data provider for central exchange data. So, trade data, Orderbook data or this and that also decentralized data, dec data. And then I went back to my master’s studies here in Amsterdam. And while we, I started my master’s studies, and alongside, eventually, I discovered dune and started to play around with it, to kind of understand the blockchain as a way to kind of fiddle and see, okay, how does this work and everything. And eventually, people started to take an interest from my work. And I get to realize, okay, this can be a lot bigger than just me like, getting interested into the data and, and digging in. And, yeah, so I started to take this more seriously. Eventually, I started in March 2021. And then I think, November, up until then, I was doing it just as a hobby on the side, then I started thinking more seriously then, and started to get some contract jobs, and basically started freelancing through the platform. I eventually dropped out of my studies in February, because I realized that at that point, I had gotten enough traction that basically my dune profile and building this out, as well as just my analytics career in crypto was more important probably than my actual CV, which I was never asked for in anything, in contrary to my dune profile. So yeah, from February, I took it seriously and I was like, okay, for now, I’m freelancing, but I’m waiting for the perfect opportunity. And what, and whatever job comes my way that I fully think is the right one for me. And that came out to be a data scientist position at dragonfly, a venture capital, pretty big one in the space, where I’m the first data scientist. And, yeah, it’s pretty cool. I get to do a lot of what I used to do in freelancing, but also a bit of working with portfolio companies or due diligence. And yeah, so it’s really a fun role.

So, when you started creating, I guess, charts, and web three, what were some of the graphs and areas of focus that you were known for?

Hildebert: At the very beginning, I started looking into defi, NFTs weren’t really a thing. Well, I mean, it was a thing, but it wasn’t as mainstream as it is now. And I looked into defi, I think I started with a crypto I was looking into, because I was investing and I couldn’t see any stats out there. So, I was like, okay, well, if no one has done it, maybe I can do it through dune, which was really cool. I learned basically, I didn’t realize SQL at all, at first, I just learned by forking other people’s queries and, and slowly building out some stats. So, I started there. And I also started kind of trend that I have, which is making Airdrop dashboards. So, whenever there’s a thing, I’ve done eight of them. Now, whenever there’s an airdrop coming, I’d say a notable Airdrop, from a notable protocol. I find it interesting too, because the only time I have to do it is whenever it drops. And I have to do it as soon as possible, so that it’s live as soon as possible. And I kind of like the challenge where each drop is slightly different in its mechanics. So, it’s a challenge of whenever it goes live, I have basically a timer and have to do the whole stats as quickly as possible, and then share it.

How Do People Use the Data You Provide?

Got it. That makes sense. So, of all these graphs that you’ve created, all these data points, metrics that you sort of analyzed, what sort of value does that bring to the end user? So, you’re the one creating it? How do people sort of interpret your data? Is it sort of to understand the market better, is it to sort of, is it to track what airdrops they get, like, how do they use your data? The people who have sort of fallen in love with your work?

Hildebert: Yeah, so I think airdrops is nice, but it’s not necessarily a big, it doesn’t bring a lot of value. It’s mostly to track how much has been claimed and stuff like this. It’s more of a fun challenge for me. The stats that people are more interested in from my profile are probably the micro stats on NFT marketplaces, which over the past summer, basically I took an interest for as the NFT started to explode, I guess. And at first yeah, there’s a lot of different sets. At first, it was global macro markets. So, comparing all the marketplaces and then looks rare came around and I did a lot of stats for looks rare, especially one dashboard that a lot of people were interested in, which is comparing looks rare to open sea. Because that’s it was trying to, the goal was to be competitors for open sea, so it was very interesting. So, it’s a lot of macro level statistics on a lot of NFTs. But there’s also, I did some gas, some stuff on gas, if you’re on gas, I did some stuff on staking. That’s one of my favorite dashboards I have. What else? I’ve done other. But yeah, I focus on a lot of things and whenever I have an interest, I’ll just look into it. If I can’t find the stats in a publicly and easily available way. I’ll make stat myself.

The Day to Day as Head of Data at a VC Fund 

Makes sense. I know dragonfly has an extensive portfolio. And as the data scientist over there, I can’t imagine how closely maybe you work with the port COEs at dragonfly. I guess my question is like, what is the day to day look like, as a head of data at a VC fund? What are your jobs look like? What are your responsibilities look like? Are you trying to find alpha for the fund of new opportunities to sort of invest in like, walk me through that a bit.

Hildebert: So, I yeah, I’m not a partner, where my goal isn’t necessarily deal flow or stuff like this. But my main goal is still research. So, to like I used to surface stats and share them and share the first within the fun, but also afterwards, maybe to the public, if it’s relevant, then there is also often a partner is going to come and reach out to me and say, hey, could you help me look into this project? I mean, what they share with us looks good, but maybe the stats, the on-chain stats don’t line up or do line up but maybe you can give us a clearer picture on this. So that’s the whole due diligence. And then one of the most fun parts that I didn’t really foresee joining dragonfly was, is working with portfolio companies. There’s various really in what I do, but it can be research. So, working on a research piece with them. It can be, yeah; I don’t know anything. But the concept of having these new companies that I could definitely see as the future of the space. Seeing them early and working together in the nitty gritty parts of the project, I think is really interesting. So, it’s a, it brings, I guess there’s, I used to do a lot of data surfacing. But data researching is, I think, even more interesting and more engaging.

Data Researching

Can you, for those who don’t know what data, researching really means, can you go into that for a sec?

Hildebert: I mean, so I don’t know if data researching is a thing. It’s a term but I mean, researching, like, so that you can just surface that. So that’s relatively easy in that, okay, these number of transactions on open sea, and this is a factual stat, right. But then there’s some other pieces, which is more of a curation process. So, it can be trying to do some cluster analysis, some all kinds of different analysis that aren’t factual stats, but more of an interpretation of the stats and trying to make sense of them. And get out some information out of it. That’s yeah.

Thoughts Around Data in the Web3 Creator Economy

Makes sense. You know, that one of the main reasons why I wanted to have you on the podcast and for us to have this discussion is because, all of season six was centered around like audience interoperability and on like, as you build communities on chain, right, what does that mean? And also, the data availability that comes with sort of these communities forming and spawning, right and all these tokens that they’re issuing and these collective communities that they’re creating, right? What does that mean in the grand scheme of things in the context of the creator economy? And while I invited you on, I would love to sort of have a discussion on where does data fit in the web three, native creator economy? What is your overall thesis around that? Do you have thoughts around that concept?

Hildebert: I think data is a bit, in general in crypto is still a very new thing. If you look at the beginning of the fast bull market, it was not really much of a big interest as it was, as it is now, used to be mostly technical analysis. That was probably the only data you got but I think gets not really as relevant as the other data points you can get. And I think that going forward, that is going to be seen more and more as a goldmine for the creator economy in general, because you can, that way there’s a feedback loop. And you can actually see based on past events, past data, actually see what works, what doesn’t. It’s currently very under exploited, I would say, there’s very little data out there. For the same reason, probably that, you know, ads in crypto aren’t really a thing. I mean, they when they are, they’re terrible, and they’re on. Yeah, it’s not, it’s not really a thing. And I think it’s because we don’t have actually, any data, or no one has worked on data that shows what works and what does not. So, I think that is a big focus that I hope to see a lot of in the next bull market, next wave of projects that come out of the shadows.

Metrics to Measure the Success of a Crypto Community

So, let’s say a community surface during the bull market, there in the bear market now. It’s tough, like 1% of all these NFT collections are maybe going to last, 99% of them are maybe trash, right and don’t know really how to sustain, don’t know how to build and sustain communities. From your perspective, what metrics would you look at, as a way to determine the health of a crypto community? Whether an NFT community, a Dao, one that’s run, maybe offer social token, any sort of metrics that come to mind that you would consider like, these are the optimal metrics people should be measuring, as they sort of like conquer the bear market?

Hildebert: I guess it’s a case-by-case things because tokens are used differently for different protocols. But there’s some important ones like in terms of holder, whoever, how many people are actually holding, if it’s an NFT, or ERC 20 or whatever you want to see, how many are holding? Is it just two people holding the entire supply or more diverse set of people who are holding it? I think that’s very important. And then it’s a very tough question, what metrics? It depends. It really depends. If it’s if it’s solely an NFT, then probably, I would say some volume, some, yes, on volume in general is healthy. Dying volume is a thing of whatever markets are dying down. But you don’t want them to flatline. You think it’s a healthy thing for people, for new people to come in, and also other people to leave the project. So yeah, I think the volume that is holding steady is probably a good sign in general for a project. If it’s dying down it’s not as good of a sign. But also, I think the whole NFT space right now is a bit cluttered with a lot of the same things, the same, like the projects are, in terms of what they’re doing. There’s a lot of similarities, there’s not much diversification. And now we’re seeing the downfall of a lot of projects considering no royalties. And for many that was their sole source of revenue. So, I think, or I hope to see a lot of innovation coming our way. I really like for example, one of the things I’ve seen is paradigms, art cobbler, which they’re working on, I don’t know if you’ve seen it’s a project, it looks very innovative in it’s mechanics, and I kind of like that.

The Art Cobbler

What is the art cobbler? What are they doing over there?

Hildebert: It’s an NFT project. And there’s a whole mechanic with the ERC 20 tokens, as well as NFTs. And then you, I guess I’ll send it to you afterwards. But it’s okay, you can, yeah, I’m not gonna go, it’s more complex. But essentially, it’s more full-fledged of a project than a lot of just 10k PFP projects that are just that. Not much more.

Hildebert’s Perspective On Royalties

Okay. All right. Well, I’ll include the link in the show notes after this. Can you give me your perspective on the whole royalty debate? What are your thoughts around that?

Hildebert: Yeah. So, on a technical level, it’s really hard to enforce royalties. If you don’t have the main avenue for everyone to go and buy, sell your tokens, you can’t enforce, unless you have shown that the marketplace, you favor is also favored by the community and they have some probably incentive or some incentive to go back to this marketplace rather than other one. Because if you don’t go to this one, then the entire volume is going to go through a marketplace that has 0% royalty I think, that’s the future because it’s very hard to enforce on a smart contract level. So, I do think that a lot of projects can sustain the royalties, especially with the, lately there’s been reservoir which is a project that allows you to build your marketplace pretty easily through an API and have integrate basically all marketplaces. And I think through there, you can probably have your own royalties, and as long as you show to your community that this marketplace is better to be used than others. It could be other mechanics than just typical NFT marketplaces we see right now; I don’t know if some kind of necessarily rewards or I don’t know. But there’s there needs to be some innovation and to make sure that your community sticks to the marketplace you want, otherwise, the fees will be undercut.

Yeah, I remember, during the nifty gateway era, when a lot of these Instagram corporate artists were making their way into crypto, the royalty component was a very strong like selling point for them, right? Despite being able to make hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars on a drop, they accumulate a lot more value, maybe not a lot more, but sometimes it would over like supersede the value that they made on the primary sales through their secondary sales, right? And there’s this like whole, like wave of anger and like this angry mob, just like roaming crypto Twitter, and I’m imagining just like people with picks and shovels, just like chasing the people that are kind of like taking away the royalty and I’m curious sort of what happens down the line because I’m a big fan of creators getting the royalties, I think it’s a novel concept that’s unique to crypto, that you don’t really see anywhere else in the industry, outside of crypto at least. So, I’m curious how that sort of plays out, do you think it’s a sustainable model long term or is it just like experiments sort of surfacing?

Hildebert: I think as long as the user, the end user sees the value in giving you royalty, royalty to the creator, then it can be sustainable, in that I still foresee a large portion of traders to actually use the marketplace with royalties. But it really needs to be that actually the creator is probably giving extra value or has showcases something that warrants those royalties, I guess, you can’t just easily live off royalty and do nothing, which is a common problem with many NFT projects, just launch and then I guess, bail and don’t do anything and just benefit from royalties. So, I think it’s very tough to enforce but if you’re good, and you can show to your like your community, that is something that adds value and will enable you to create some more on top of this project or whatever, I think it can be sustained.

The Adoption of Analyzing On-Chain Data

Yeah, that was a little side tangent, I want to jump back into the data because that’s your core. And when we were talking in the green room preparing for the interview, you were telling me how like up to a year ago on chain analytics was extremely niche and the sector grew immensely during the recent market cycle. I’m curious to hear your perspective on what macro events you saw sort of motivate this further adoption, of analyzing on chain data, anything come to mind?

Hildebert: Yeah, so if you look back to early in the cycle, in this last cycle, there wasn’t as much to look into in general on chain, defi summer was the big defi boom. And it was really the first big thing I think, coming out of Ethereum and other EVMs. If you look before it was ICOs, but ICOs already, there’s not a lot to look into necessarily. So, I think the diversification of what’s going on chain led in general to more analytics. So now defi was much more of a niche before. It was interesting, but it was mostly there was like a uniswap V one, which was barely used compared to the volume of C now, similar to also NFTs which also exploded, and gave away to a new sector that people don’t want to dive into and analyze. So, I think the diversification of what is going on on-chain is what changed the public’s view on the need for analytics.

Tools For Understanding the Value Creators Generate

Do you think the industry is missing anything, in terms of empowering more web3 native users with on-chain data, so that they can become more informed? Because I argue like one of the biggest unlocks for creators and communities when they build in web three is the immutability, the transparency and the interoperability that comes with building on the blockchain. Yeah, I feel like a lot of these individuals, they don’t really have the right access to the right information, tools, infrastructure to really understand what’s happening from the value that they create, right? Do you feel the same way? Do you feel differently? What do you think?

Hildebert: I think, in general education for in crypto is a bit lacking. And when you start, I know I was a bit lost of, okay, what’s going on, there’s a lot going on. But you don’t necessarily know until you’ve been there for a bit what’s going on and what to use when. And that is, analytics is one piece of this whole puzzle that I think needs to be worked on. But I think it all comes with the lack right now focus on the UI and UX in general. You know, if you don’t use, if you don’t know how to use Meta mask, which for you is probably easy and trivial, like for me as well. But if you’ve never used it, it’s not intuitive, and you don’t necessarily understand it right away. So, it’s kind of a barrier to entry in the old space. And so yeah, I think, probably like the early ages, or the early age of the internet, where at first, it was really unusable for the average user. And no one knew what to do until nice interfaces came. And you could actually understand easily without necessarily, you know, I foresee a future where you don’t necessarily need to know what chain you’re on or what like the entire how route through what is routed your trade or whatever, you know, this will be hopefully abstracted away into the back end. And you will just know that, okay, you swapped this coin for this coin, or you bought this NFT or whatever. But you don’t necessarily need to deal with the underlying I don’t think.

Where Data Lies in the World of Anonymous Wallet Interactions

Makes sense. I also want to talk to you about sort of like the macro vision of where transparent data lies in the future of web three. There’s new technologies like ZKs, right, like kind of like popping up left and right. There are companies like Aztec popping up, right, and I am at the hackathon here at Eth, Bogota, there’s this group that built like a PFP project on Aztec, where that sort of information can’t really be traced and tracked and analyzed on Dune or Nansen. Because of the nature in which it’s built and launched. Also, if Vitalik, sort of proposed a new token standard, I think it’s like a new ERC 721 token standard, where sort of the interactions between wallet addresses are anonymous, right? And you can’t really tell it, like everything stays private, between everybody on chain. Where does data, like the value of data, the use of data sort of lie in a world like that, a privacy enforced world that people are, other groups are sort of building towards? What do you think?

Hildebert: So, first of all, I’m all for privacy, I think it’s really cool to finally have privacy layer built on top of the blockchain we have and I think it’s going to shift quite a bit how we analyze things, how we analyze these projects, in that we don’t necessarily know who owns it, but there’s still a lot to be looked into. And then there is the on-chain data but there is also not all the data, for example, listings on NFTs aren’t actually on chain, they need to be called through. It’s off chain data through an API, whether it’s open seas, looks rare or whoever’s API, we need to actually fetch that to obtain it. And I think all these privacy layers will feed some kind of data publicly into an API, not the part where it actually reveals who owns or who interacted whatever, but there’s a lot of data that is, I think the future is gonna be entangled between on chain and off chain data. Not everything needs to be on chain. There’s a lot of projects that if, especially if you want to scale and have more, technically advanced projects that have a lot more going on and a lot more transactions that needed, then you don’t necessarily need always to use the blockchain. It may not just make sense. So, proofs are submitted and often are sufficient. And in a way to analyze this, is to probably have the off-chain data available somewhere and have the ability for the end user check that proofs match with the off-chain data. And then you can essentially do just as much as you would have done with on chain data. In terms of privacy ones, obviously, that abstracts away anything on holders and whatever other privacy feature they want to add but there’s still a ton to be analyzed. Even now, as an analyst, I’m never bored, there’s always stuff to analyze this. I guess my backlog is more like constantly growing than shrinking, which is a good thing. There’s just loads of things to look into. And yeah, even in the privacy world, I think that’s gonna keep going up.

What’s On Your List to Look into Right Now?

What’s on your list to look into right now?

Hildebert: So, my list I have, so I have some, give me one second, I have like staging dashboards, which is dashboards I’m working on. And I only want to release the dashboard whenever it’s fully, once I’m very happy with it, I don’t want to have something incomplete. The main thing I’m working on right now is, we working my whole NFT markets, statistics. And because there’s, it’s been missed, interpreted lately, due to the fact that it’s missing some marketplaces. And also, by default, it’s not filtering out wash trading, which definitely should be by default. But it’s just I haven’t, last time I did, it was kind of right after looks rare, the whole looks rare thing in end of January, February, and since then, a lot more marketplaces have come up, like pseudo swap, X2Y2, and others. And so my stats have been misinterpreted. I think I’ve seen it on Bloomberg lately and a few other places and they use my stats with what’s trading, not unfiltered. As the thing,as a showcase that okay, the NFT market is down 97%, which when you look at the bigger picture, it really isn’t true. Like it’s way too soon, as well, I’ve had been gaining volume, especially lately, and taking market share from the open sea and other marketplaces. And also, they’re using raw trade data for looks rare I which isn’t really representative, because in January, it was huge volume if you look at raw volume, but if you filter, there’s actually a lot less so. But that’s a, general thing is one of my goals as an analyst is to surface data that is easily accessible and easy to understand. So that journals and any big, I guess publications, can understand and easily access it. There’s a lot of misinformation in data. And also, because it’s more click Beatty to have dooming titles. But I think I’m trying to do my part in making sure these medias have the right data to work with. 

Interesting Stats or Trends in the Bear Market

Are there any interesting like stats or trends you noticed while kind of like surfacing data during the bear market? Anything you could share?

Hildebert: In terms of very interesting that I can share? I’m not sure there’s anything I can share that’s going to be something you don’t know or you haven’t seen. I’m looking into, I’ve looked into some staking data and trying to see how that evolved, postman merge, I wanted to see if the distribution of individual stakers was actually growing. Because I think once the merge has happened, there’s probably more confidence in the end user and that this staking system actually works and is more reliable than pre merge, a lot of you know, I was I guess a lot of people were probably expecting it to go wrong. And it has increased slightly in terms of share of people, who stake individually rather than going through liquid staking services or staking pools or stuff like this. But it’s a small amount, it’s not something that is yet to be huge. I think. Probably the Shango fork, when people will be able to withdraw their stake, will probably change that even further. But also give, I think, leeway for the liquid staking services to grow more as well because there’s a small period where you have to wait to get your stake in but also to stake and staking, liquid staking is going to help both on this front to have instance staking in and out at a small fee, of course, but also for whatever amount of Eth you want to stake, which is a big barrier to entry right now, not everyone has to Eth to stake. But yeah, I’m thinking that I guess the increase in confidence in the staking mechanism leads to more people staking individually but also through liquid staking.

Are you sticking yourself at the moment? Are you participating in that?

Hildebert: No, I am not. But I’m, I want to eventually stake, I will get my node up eventually.

What Are You Looking Forward to in Today’s Market?

I think I’m; I have a little bit of a problem to addicted on spending my Eth. So, I’m not staking. I just keep buying NFTs. One of the trends that I like to look at is, the rate of NFT collections, and how many there are in the market today. And there’s about a little over 180,000 NFT collections, as of what, Monday, October 10, 2022. And it’s been growing at like a 500% growth rate year over year. And despite the bear market, people are still creating, NFT sales are still increasing. And by the way, this data sort of source from into the block. Trade volume is still, it’s decreased by a lot but there’s still activity. And as someone who buys like a lot of music, NFTs, I’m also seeing a lot more activity kind of like happen on that niche factor. So, I’m noticing a lot more creators come into the space, I’m noticing a lot more web two native people kind of becoming more what web three native individuals, issuing NFT, social token Daos like, all very optimistic points of information for me to kind of like, continue my excitement of creating more content, right? Creating more of these episodes. And I’m curious how that sort of plays into effect a year from now, two years from now, I don’t know, the bear market is an interesting time. That’s all I’m saying. But I’m still optimistic. I’m still bullish, seeing NFT collections get created left and right, more and more and more. So yeah, I guess my last question to you, Hildebert is, what are you looking forward to in the bear market? What’s on your radar? And, yeah, we’ll end with that. And then we’ll let you go.

Hildebert: I’m kind of excited on what’s the whole scaling space that is growing, in terms of ZK, and all these filters that are being developed. ZK, in general, is a huge thing that is being worked on and a lot of protocols are coming out. I think today polygon announced their z k was beta, or staging, sorry, that’s what I mean. Sorry, that’s the word I was looking for. But and so I think that’s pretty exciting. Also, in terms of NFTs, I think it’s a very, very small market compared to probably what it will be in a few years, because right now they’re under exploited in their used case, they’re, by most not understood properly for what they are. And they can come into play for a lot of sectors that are yet to be looking into this. It could be music is still very small for NFTs and I think there’s an avenue where that grows. There’s in terms of, what else? There’s, yeah, there’s a lot of other markets. Of course, when I want to say this, I don’t have one in mind. But there’s a lot of other markets that can benefit from the technology that blockchains and NFTs help create.


Fantastic Hildebert before I let you go, where can we find you? Where can we find your work? Show it away.

Hildebert: Yeah, so I’m on Twitter as Hildebert, as well as on under the same name. And that’s the two biggest places where I at and I published my work, I will usually make all my dashboards available when it’s relevant. And also show them Twitter. Yeah, I think that’s it.

Amazing. Thank you so much for your time. Thank you for being on, we’ll have to do this again soon. But yeah, untill next time.

Hildebert: Thanks a lot for having me.

Podcast Transcript

From Coinbase Employee #20 to Building Farcaster with Dan Romero


Mint Season 6 episode 20 welcomes Dan Romero, Co-Founder of Farcaster, the sufficiently decentralized social network. Throughout the hour we discuss his thesis for web3, the current state of web3 social, building an audience as a crypto-native creator, what it means to be sufficiently decentralized, how web3 will beat the bots, and so much more.

Previously, Dan was the 20th employee at Coinbase and is an active early-stage angel investor across web2 and web3.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:09 – Intro
  • 03:37 – Dan’s Original Thesis For Web3
  • 07:37 – The Current State of Web3 Social
  • 19:23 – Problems to Fix With a Web3 Social Graph
  • 31:19 – Building an Audience as a Crypto-Native Creator
  • 36:18 – Measuring the Success of a Creator In Web3
  • 45:46 – What is Decentralized On Farcaster?
  • 53:25 – How Do You See Clients For Farcaster Evolving?
  • 01:02:15 – How Do We Beat the Bots?
  • 01:03:29 – Incentives For Developers to Build On Top of Farcaster
  • 01:05:56 – Outro

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Dan, welcome to mint season six. What’s up, man? How are you doing? Thank you for being on.

Dan Romero: Well, thanks for having me.


I’m excited to have you on the podcast, a lot is going on in the web three social space and what better person to talk to you than the one who’s building Farcaster, right? I’ve been on Farcaster, a lot of people use Farcaster, a lot of excitement across crypto Twitter, that also now migrates to Farcaster and vice versa. So, a lot to talk about. I want to start with you, though. Okay, who are you? What does the world need to know about you? And more specifically, how did you get your start into crypto?

Dan Romero: Yeah, so I think my background, I’m originally from Massachusetts, I went to school on the East Coast, worked in Boston for a bit and then eventually moved to Silicon Valley. I started on the operational side of things. So, it didn’t study something technical and undergrad, I grew up kind of always with computers, programming, kind of, you know, mucking around with the internals of stuff. But for whatever reason, major in college, but when I moved out to Silicon Valley, I had worked in consulting, so kind of got a job and more on the operational side of things. And I was working at a Saas company, that does visitor sign in software for iPads. And I just kept hearing about Bitcoin from all the smart people I had started to meet in the bay area. And I realized I didn’t have my own point of view on it. And actually, if you back up, when I first moved to Silicon Valley, a college classmate of mine Feddersen, one of the co-founders of Coinbase, heard that I was moving out, reached out, we got coffee, mentioned that he had just raised a Series a for Coinbase. And we’re looking to kind of hire out the first few employees. And I categorically dismissed him thinking that Bitcoin was a Ponzi scheme, why would you be spending your money on that, why don’t you work in a real tech company? Fast forward a year later, I actually had read the white paper finally, and couldn’t stop thinking about Bitcoin. And I think that the thing that got me most excited about Bitcoin, in the kind of early days enough to make the switch over to Coinbase, was thinking about it as a computing layer. And kind of thinking about, if you think about like computing history, you kind of go from mainframes to the kind of like, okay, PCs, then you add the internet, then you add mobile, and then you start to go away from the local machine to the cloud. 

And so, each one of these new platforms offers really interesting opportunities for entrepreneurs and to build new products and experiences, mobile being the most recent, and in 2014, I thought, okay, Bitcoin is clearly that next computing platform, right, you can start to do new experiences that don’t live within a centralized database. And the first applications of that being money and payments. And so, I joined Coinbase, very much thinking it was going to be all about the new apps that were going to be built on top of the Coinbase API, which ended up being wrong. And I’m happy to talk through my experience at Coinbase. And what I learned there, but so I kind of went in with a very naive point of view, and then stuck around for five years, and, in many ways, got lucky in the sense that the market shifted. And something like Ethereum came along, and the company didn’t have doing well. But I always like to point out that I joined Coinbase, with the completely wrong thesis for what was going to be big, at least for Bitcoin. And I think we’re finally actually starting to play out some of the ideas that I originally were excited about in 2014. But that’s how I got started in crypto.

Dan’s Original Thesis For Web3

What were some of those original ideas that now you’re sort of seeing get played out right now?

Dan Romero: Well, the, the idea is that, there was like one very concrete idea that I got excited about, was prediction markets and there was a paper from the Marcous Center. I think Jerry Brito, who now runs coin center was still in academia and he wrote it, just talking about the history of different prediction markets, from a theoretical standpoint. And I’ve always just found that to be fascinating. I’m a bit of a political news junkie. And so, the idea that you could kind of use markets to predict elections better than polling, as I’ve always found intellectually Interesting. And so that they talked about potential using Bitcoin because one of the fundamental issues is, in the US if you want to offer a prediction market that’s considered a derivative, which is regulated by the CFTC. And there’s a notable example of a company that wanted to do a prediction market specifically for Hollywood movies. It’s called Hollywood exchange. They raise a bunch of funding, build out a product and they went to go launch this product, which essentially would allow you to bet on whether what the box office receipts for a movie would be, and Hollywood crackdown by during a bunch of lobbying in DC, which ultimately got the CFTC to shut it down, because they didn’t want people to be betting, especially insiders to be betting on whether a movie was going to flop or not, because then you would start using that information as consumer to potentially not go see that movie, because nobody would do that, which is kind of interesting, if you think about it from a consumer benefit standpoint, that Hollywood exchange would be great, for Hollywood it would be bad in the sense that they couldn’t really package up that movies and try to promote them. 

But CFTC decided that that wasn’t allowed and so that doesn’t exist. There’s actually now an exchange in the kind of more FinTech world that is not crypto related called Kashi. And they are one of the first kind of more consumer-oriented prediction markets that have found some amount of CFTC approval, or at least the set of markets that they’re doing. But I think that the other thing that I just generally got excited about in crypto is regulated markets are fine. And if you know Coinbase, the experience I had there did a lot with the regulation, and you have to get it right and actually ends up creating a lot of value for business because not a lot, a lot of people want to do it. Some people call that regulatory capture. But there’s a kind of aspect of the internet that I’ve always been interested in is permissionless innovation. And I think the ethos of the internet is, if you have a good idea, you should have a computer and the capability to program something, you should just be able to do it. And with FinTech, it’s much more, okay, if you can go convince people to raise money, and then you can go build out like a special relationship with other banks or card processing companies. And then you can put an API on top of that, right? 

A company like Stripe, or a company like plaid has done an excellent job of managing that. And actually, by virtue of them being very developer oriented, have significantly increased the number of apps that exist in the world of FinTech, because each of those kinds of apps that sit on top of a platter or stripe, they don’t have to go do those relationships directly, right. But what’s neat about crypto is there, you don’t even need the middleman, the API’s and the data and the value are directly accessible to the end user as well as the driver. And I think that that concept of removing a huge chunk of kind of like intermediaries is just like a concept that I think is really fascinating. And frankly, one of the most compelling reasons to work in technology for me, is you can actually build these things on the internet, that can exist as protocols that create coordination between humans, but honestly, rarely any one individual or company.

The Current State of Web3 Social

So, is that where social comes into the picture? Because of the things that you said that interest you, you didn’t bring up social media as like, the key word sort of within that entire explanation, and I’m curious, like, where does social fit into that vision of yours?

Dan Romero: I think 2014, I wasn’t thinking about social as a crypto thing in that. When I first started at Coinbase, we were Bitcoin only and the push was payments, which ended up again, not not quite playing out. And what Coinbase ended up becoming is more of an investment platform, but also a gateway into being able to take the coin or Eth. And then put it into whether it’s defi or any kind of permissionless, they build app on top of these blockchains. So that’s an important function, right? It’s not just purely financial exposure. But in 2014, at least when I was joining Coinbase, I think that was right around when Twitter was potentially hamstringing the API, but prior to that Twitter and had a very open API. And so, you had a very diverse ecosystem of third-party clients, I like to always point out that the pull the refresh, the kind of universal of you know, whether you’re using a mail client today, or Instagram, to just refresh your feed, that was invented by a third party, indie developer, Lauren Richter, who had an app called Tweety, which eventually ended up selling to Twitter, and then Twitter technically owns the patent for polar refresh. And they did something that’s quite honorable, they kind of said, hey, we’ll never prosecute anyone from using it. 

But that was an era where I think there was still a lot of promise in social media as potentially this API driven, yes, there were going to be kind of first party clients, but third-party clients, there could be a diverse ecosystem, especially for something like Twitter. Fast forward to 2022, I think we’re in a far different state of the world related to social networks, social media, in that they are more centralized. There are, I think, a stricter set of guidelines in terms of what’s acceptable use versus not. And I think in some ways, there are some good aspects of that, but at the same time, I think it’s kind of wild. If you think about something like Twitter. You have a bunch of people in San Francisco making decisions on what is acceptable speech for right use for the entire world which what? Right. Whereas something like the internet, again, it’s country by country. But to me, that’s a much more credibly neutral platform in the sense that the US has strong free speech laws. So if you maintain your own website, and you don’t fall afoul of very limited set of things that would violate free speech, that’s on you, and, or you and your hosting provider. Whereas if you live in another country that maybe has stricter limits on speech, that’s your version of the internet. But what’s neat is, it’s kind of is global, and you as an individual, if you can either get outside of your country, or maybe have answered anonymous way of publishing, you really can get access to the direct level of the protocol. Whereas with the social networks, you’re much more limited in terms of where that company’s leadership and jurisdiction is for the company. And then that kind of propagates out to the rest of the world. 

And so, I think, where my thinking from 2014 to 2020, 2022 era has changed is, we’ve gotten significantly more centralized with social media and social networks, they’re significantly larger and more present in terms of just public discourse. And I think we’re starting to see the seams where they just they can’t scale at this level, and maintain some of the core original promises that they have. You go back to the early product marketing for Twitter, as they were very pro free speech. Like that was actually their differentiator as hey, Twitter is a place to be able to express what you think, whether you’re in the US or a country in the Middle East, the whole Arab Spring was a moment for Twitter, at least in that moment and I think that’s changed quite a bit. And the question is, is like, as society should we have a neutral public square protocol that allows us to do some of the things that social centralized social media is significantly better than kind of open protocols, right? So, the open protocols here would be the web, email, RSS. But can you actually take some of the best aspects of centralized social media from the usability standpoint, discoverability and actually, bring those into something that looks more credibly neutral, like more traditional Internet protocol. And so that’s the thing that I got excited about, and why I’m working out.

Interesting. So, I think we’re seeing an increase of like senate adoption across what three social applications, whether it be from people trying to build applications to users trying to use these applications, or creators trying to create content and monetize through these applications. And I’m still trying to understand the space from like a macro lens. I’m curious to hear your point of view, what do you think is the current state of Web3 social?

Dan Romero: we’re early. I think there are a variety of different approaches, there probably more additional networks that pop up, and people with different points of view on how to do things. We are also in a slightly different situation, compared to maybe some other technology trends. And that if you take the examples of Twitter and Facebook, they were kind of in that first generation of social media, the web two social media boom. And so, a lot of the stuff is getting figured out for the first time for the most part, right? Because yeah, you had some earlier social networks, Friendster, right, Myspace. But the inflection point was really as society shifted over to mobile as being the dominant form factor, that actually massively increases the amount of social media to use, right, rather than being something that oh, I’m gonna go sit on my computer and use Facebook, versus being on the couch watching TV and also having Facebook open. And so, I think with web three, you’re not in a situation where you’re competing mostly against greenfield like in that here you are in a greenfield situation, you’re competing against mature web to social networks, for time spent, right. And so, if you think about social, it’s a zero-sum game, in that you only have a limited amount of time, you can’t spend time on two social networks at once. 

So, if you’re spending it on one social network, or watching Netflix, that’s the tradeoff. And so, I think we’re web three social is early days in terms of infrastructure development, both the protocol layer as well as app development on top, but also in the kind of figuring out what’s the differentiator versus the mature options that basically everyone is already on, right? It’s not like people are onboarding social media for the first time with web three social. They’re already on web to social media. And if anything, that’s actually where you’re finding a lot of those people as a developer of a web three, social media product, but the challenge is okay, I already have a big audience and web two social media, I have the habit of spend time curating my feed I like the algorithmic stuff that I’m getting, maybe you don’t. But to then actually get everything up and running and web three, that’s where we really are right now it’s can you actually offer something that is reasonably competitive, such that someone is willing to trade off time spent over here in web three. And so that’s actually something that we’ve been really focused on for the last two years, is building the initial client for Farcast, for the protocol. Because from our point of view, that the thing that’s actually going to drive the most switching is you have to have a base level of feature parity, right? You can’t say, hey, is really rough app, but it’s decentralized, no one, no one’s gonna switch to that. Whereas if you can get a mobile app that from a performance standpoint, feels pretty close, maybe not quite there. And then sufficient number of kind of people that are interesting, then you might start to get the early adopters who say, oh, this is actually kind of nice. It’s the spam bots aren’t here, or I actually have more control over what I see in my feed. 

But I think that’s a pretty slow process. Whereas maybe fast forward two or three years from now, and you have a variety of attempts and web three social that have kind of gotten that first stage done, you may start to see actually apps grow at a faster clip, but more mainstream audience clip. But I think where we are right now, isn’t that kind of early adopter deployment phase and then you have this kind of challenge of like, okay, well, how do you cross that chasm to mainstream? But I actually think that you need to focus on the first phase first, before you even worry about them, right? I think there are a lot of people who, when they think went through social, I think NFTs in a positive way kind of increased the aperture of what crypto can be for people, rather than this kind of like very finance, quantitative numeric thing. There’s a visual element, a very consumer element, yes, there’s a financial element to it. But I think as a result of that, a lot of people, especially with the kind of bull market of 2021, want it to proclaim, okay, this is cryptos, mainstream moment, and I can tell you having worked since 2014, people have been saying this is cryptos, mainstream moment. And I think I think it’s just the wrong frame, right? I don’t think we get to a sudden, okay, this is now mainstream because I think the analogy is people like to use oh, this is like 1993. And now we have Netscape, that’s why to kind of kick off this adoption. The difference is, there was no internet before. Whereas now with crypto, it’s a subset of the internet. 

So inevitably, like it isn’t a step function of a change for consumer, if you just kind of the simple thing of, okay, I can get an Uber with Uber or someone goes build the centralized Uber, you still get the Uber, whereas pre internet, there was no Uber, taxis or whatever. But the step function changes to the zero to one and I think we’re crypto is always, fairly or unfairly compared is this. I think that when people are being unreasonable, they’re trying to say it’s a step function change but it’s probably more incremental. And I think that’s even the wrong frame to be thinking about as an entrepreneur, because I actually think what’s interesting is if you can just actually shift to say what new experiences are things that are fundamentally not possible in web two, can you actually start to build. And so that’s one of the first principles in terms of building that we’ve approached with Farcaster is use the amount of web two or web three, as minimal as possible, like the amount of stuff we put on chain as small as possible, and then leverage everything else from web two. That’s great in terms of usability, and speed and all that and see if you can actually start to get to a fundamentally new experience. In our case, it’s a social network, where the back end is truly a protocol. And it’s permissionless. And then figure out okay, how do you scale that from there without trying to say that everything is fundamentally better? Because to be totally frank, like, it’s not like our client for Farcaster is like pretty good. But it is not as good as something like Twitter. Yeah. And so, there’s a lot of work to do.

Problems to Fix With a Web3 Social Graph

But I think that’s okay. Because just like having an open brainstorm session, I just reached, I feel like a stage on Twitter, I just crossed 10k followers, okay. And as a creator, as a content creator, like that’s like, a pivotal moment for me and for many other creators, right? But I still like going to these other platforms, because they act as pockets of information and they act as like a pocket of like, reset, right? Like, I feel like there’s too much going on sometimes on these mainstream platforms. Whereas in these new social platforms, it’s like, things are just like starting to cook up, right? Like it’s not there and that type the conversations you see having on those platforms are different than the conversations you have on the mainstream platforms, right? So, I see from like, an information pocket point of view, right. Another thing that’s super interesting is like, I know you’re big on history, right? And also, the way you speak, I noticed like you reference a lot of like, learning lessons and insights that you sort of developed and picked on, picked up on like, as you saw social media kind of develop. I’m curious, can you share more about like the history around the social graph, right? And if you build a web three social graph, like, what sort of problems are you aiming to fix, right, big picture? What did web two social graphs do wrong, that you think, yeah, like these, these more open permissionless, protocols can do right?

Dan Romero: Yeah, so I actually don’t think there’s a ton of great reading out there, you kind of had to experience some of it and I was fortunate that I was not super old yet. But I was in high school enough that I really got to see the full rise of web two social media. But the kind of things to think about are, you have the kind of early version of the internet, which is very much about read, right? So, it’s a kind of consuming information, weather information, sports called stocks, and then as the performance of browsers and broadband connections, you started to move to this kind of interactive model, where you could effectively use a web application as in lieu of using desktop software, right? And as that happened, you had the kind of first wave of social networks Facebook in 2004, Twitter, I think 2006 and, and a whole bunch of other ones that popped up. But what’s interesting is, in that era, the primary way of bootstrapping those social graphs outside of just people kind of friending each other on Facebook, specifically, because they went to school together. So that was actually gated on email. If you look at some of the growth tactics, this is what I’ve been told, at least, that Facebook used, it was kind of the contact importer, from your email address, right, like sign in with your Gmail or upload your contact list. And that in of itself, kind of it was able to create a pretty big graph. 

And what’s interesting about that is, so let’s say 10 of my friends had signed up for Facebook, and I show up for Facebook, because I was in their contact book, Facebook actually had enough information to make a recommendation of here’s some potential friends. And I think there’s the kind of apocryphal story of you know, getting to 10 friends is the magic number. And then Facebook users. Right, so that was the Facebook implementation is gate on email, based on school, get concentration in those schools, expand to other schools. And then eventually, once you have all the college students in the US, you can expand out for the rest of the world. And the thing I always like to kind of point out is, if you think about Facebook stopped being cool the moment it stopped being only for colleges, but because they had created such a high concentration of very engaged users at a, I think a critical cool juncture for society, right? Everyone younger than a college student thinks they’re cool, because they’re in college, and then people who are graduated from college, were back in college. 

And so, my theory on that is that that concentration of you know, basically, college students had this crazy half-life where even if college student engagement started to slowly decline on Facebook, it didn’t matter because the rest of the world wanted to kind of go after that original field. And then you eventually get to several billion people using the app, I mean, phenomenal success from building a social graph. Twitter is a little different, in that it was a little bit more SF tech scene, and the, you know, South by Southwest, and it kind of started actually, as a slightly older platform relative to, if you look at a lot of social networks tend to be younger. And the push with Twitter is, if you actually look at it, just didn’t grow that much in the scheme of things for the first five years. And it really, it’s an only in the last five, seven years that it’s had a significant, like really big impact on society. It really kind of around the 2016 election, I think Twitter became a lot more mainstream. Obviously, always high status from the, you know, the hashtag, are the out reply, but in terms of Twitter being used as kind of this true Internet public square, and in 2016, and after that’s where, you know, Twitter, and then part of is the President was using Twitter correctly?

And so, I think that network, I don’t have as much insight into exactly how the social graph develops. But that said, I also think one thing to think about with Twitter is, Twitter is not a social network for most people who use it, I think, on the order of 200 million people use Twitter every day, what percentage of people are actually tweeting, liking, replying is relatively small. Whereas I think most people use Twitter as an information feed and just simply a way to catch up on news. Whereas if you and I, the way we use Twitter is this kind of intellectual, you know, thought leadership network, where you’re meeting other like-minded people in your industry to kind of have a better perspective on whatever you’re working on. And that version of Twitter is what it started with, but really has not expanded. It didn’t, we didn’t have 100 million people all of a sudden doing threads on Twitter, right? And so that’s actually something that’s influenced our thinking with Farcaster is if you actually think of, of the addressable market that you have to go after in order to be something that’s competitive with Twitter, that total number of users are the 200 million people using it every day. That’s a daunting number and feels like we never get there. 

But if you reframe it to say, actually, the Twitter version that we’re trying to compete with early on, is go for the people who use Twitter as kind of this public intellectual social network, then that’s a far smaller number, and it makes it more achievable, right? Like, you go from being barely any way that the percentage of the way there to, okay, maybe you can get to like point 1%. And, you know, then point 5%, 1%, 10%. And so, I think that is a way of reframing what we’re going after. And the other interesting thing about people who use Twitter as a social network, is they’re the ones who hit the problems the most, right? They post about, you know, Meta mask, or the future of crypto wallets. And then they get all the crypto spam responding to them, right? You take a lot of time to craft, whether it’s a thread or a post for your podcast. And for whatever reason, the algo is like, oh, you put a link, we don’t want you clicking on the link, because that kicks you out of the app. Okay, it gets downright underrated. 

And so that is where I think the opportunity for a new social network, at least in the bootstrapping mechanism, it’s to go after the people that feel the acute pain points of Twitter. But the challenge with those people, and I think we’ve talked about this on DM, is you’re trying to build an audience. And so, you’re going to optimize for the platform where you feel like you’re gonna get the most reach and so for something like Farcast, or we’re approaching it with this kind of very deliberate growth, invite only 3000 ish people in a beta, it’s gonna be hard to justify for you as a content creator to say, hey, I’m going to spend more time on Farcaster because I really want to build my audience. If you feel like there’s more potential on either another web three social network, or realistically, something like Twitter. And it’s actually an insight that when we launched Farcaster, last year, I on boarded a whole bunch of people that I would call on my Twitter, friends and people in my professional network. And they had talked a lot about for a long time about the need for a decentralized version of Twitter. And so, I started working on this thing, I’m ready to onboard them, they go through an onboarding with me, they’re really, you know, excited. They’re like, wow, this is actually pretty decent, never come back. And I reached out to them and asked, why didn’t you come back, you told me that you thought this is an important thing. 

And whether they were willing to admit it or not, I think I finally figured it out. And this is obvious in retrospect, but I think you sometimes have to just go through the hard lesson of sure is, if you have 500,000, or 800,000 followers on Twitter, and you have 80 followers on a nascent social network, how are you going to justify spending the time on that network out of just pure passion or interest, but those people are busy. So, like, of course, they’re going to default to the thing that has massive distribution, because ultimately, if you’re playing this kind of public intellectual social network game, what you care about is mean propagation and idea, idea profit and so quantity does matter. Now, I think one thing I would say is, quality has been very hard to measure traditionally. And I didn’t want interesting thing about a decentralized social network, that is crypto native, like Farcaster is, one you cannot have a whole bunch of competing companies have full access to the entire data set. Right. So, one thing about Twitter, like the proverbial firehose, I think that that’s pretty limited and who has access to it, I don’t even know if they even give access to it at this point. But the idea is you can actually do a full measure of the entire network, you have to do sample, right. Whereas with something like Farcaster, you can genuinely, you can just actually index the entire network, right? And then what’s interesting is you can also look at the on-chain activity. 

And so, you can actually use that on chain activity in two ways, I think is interesting is one, you can quickly figure out if things look spammy, right? Because it’s very expensive to put you know, high value NFT or even $5,000 worth of Ethereum into a whole bunch of addresses to kind of fake account. Whereas contrast that to a Twitter account, you know, bot account, we’re, you know, I think lot of times, they just need a phone number which you can programmatically create and, and so I think that that becomes really interesting because you can actually start to measure the quality in by whatever metric you want, of your audience in a way that in web two, you get a little bit of it like Facebook and have some centralized reporting tools. But it’s pretty general and crude, whereas I think you get a lot more detail with web three, and maybe it doesn’t always fit the same, maybe we get a little bit more privacy on chain in terms of what we’re doing. But I think it’s an underexplored area. And I think as we scale Farcaster, I do think people are going to build some interesting tools, so that you have a much better understanding of your audience, building on a, you know, decentralized crypto native network like Farcaster. And yes, your audience might only be 10% or 1% of your audience on Twitter, but you have higher confidence that it’s actually a higher value audience and an audience that might actually refer your podcast to another front, right. And so, I think that’s like one element that we’re trying to figure out, because it’s just gonna be a really long time before we ever kind of reached the larger scale that web two social networks have.

Building an Audience as a Crypto-Native Creator

I’m curious, Dan, because I’m trying to figure out like, what does it mean to be a crypto native creator, let alone build an audience using like web three primitives, right? So, one thing that I’ve been experimenting with is like giving out like NFTs to my listeners as a way to kind of like prove their participation across seasons, right? And over time, like there’s been 1000s of NFTs that have been minted. And now I’m trying to use that information to create better content for them, right by seeing like their activity on chain, right, so that I can find better sponsors, etc., find better guests. So, if I noticed that a lot of people have been, for example, collecting music, NFTs, that tells me I should be having more music NFT related conversations. If I see a lot of activity around like web three social applications, right? Then I want to have more web through native social conversations, right? Hence why I did like this season on like, web three social media data, like interoperability, etc., right? And I’m trying to figure out still like, what does it mean to be a crypto native creator and build an audience in web three, right? Do you have any insight on that? Like, do you have any opinions on that?

Dan Romero: Well, I think you’re on the frontier. So, what you’re coming up with are from an idea standpoint is the innovation that you know, enough people doing it, you’ll start to start to come up with the new patterns, that may be more crypto native or web three native. And so, one thing that you mentioned that I think is really interesting, is you actually have insight into what your listeners, assuming you kind of correlate listeners on a web three social network, like Farcaster or other ones, you can actually look at their own trade activity, and then start to glean insights and say, oh, interesting. 100 people who are following me also have the new Reddit at avatar that’s on Polygon, I think. And maybe I should actually reach out to Reddit and see if I can find the lead engineer or product manager who did that product, as a way for you to offer a more compelling interview that is really relevant to your audience, or at least a portion of your audience. And then that person might never have been interviewed before in terms of like a, like a bigger podcast shows that tends to focus on the CEO or something like that. Right. And so, I think that those insights that you can start to permissionlessly get from your audience may offer better tailored content for your audience or like subset segments of your audience. I also think that the concept of fandom is, I’m not nearly as deep as some of the other people in space, who building dedicated companies to this but I just think it’s a really interesting concept because if you take crypto weaponry and put it this up, for as long as music has existed, there’s always been that kind of early fan hipster, who finds a band, really enjoys them when they’re kind of under the radar and you know, really passionate about it. 

That early passion creates some word of mouth which creates more and then that network effect, right you can kind of model a band like a social network, gets big enough that the band becomes more mainstream, which then brings it even more people but the original people who were early kind of get disaffected, like I liked them before they got big or they sold out or whatever. And just the idea that there could be a provable way, not even have a financial setup, just a provable way to say, oh, I used to listen to x artists before they were, the classic, hipster line and was like okay, well prove it like show me the music NFT or you get to a level where every Spotify streams somehow is in a decentralized data structure, we’re ways away from that if that ever happens, but you can generally understand the concept of that provable skin in the game historical on kind of an immutable ledger. It starts to open up some new interesting experiences, right? Maybe those artists now can actually say, hey, yeah, we’re really big. We do these big stadium tours. But every year, we do a concert in New York City at Madison Square Garden for our original 50,000 fans, right? And for the rest of your life, you have access to that concert. That kind of seems interesting. You can find someone like a web two person who hates web three is gonna go oh, wait, well, you could have had a fan club, and then you can find, yeah, you could do that. But I think like part of the beauty of web three is it changes people kind of to think bigger, or new paradigms. And the ability to permissionlessly do that is pretty cool, right? Imagine if you give a free concert to your original 10,000 fans, didn’t need to pay, just show up to the door, show me the NFT, that’s it, like no money exchange has pure brand. Can’t do that, web two for the most part, right? Like you’d have to maintain this list and well, okay, what happens when you want to switch providers, whereas if it just lives on the blockchain, it doesn’t matter like that NFT will exist. 

Measuring the Success of a Creator In Web3

Let alone try to get that information to like when a creator builds an audience on like a web two native platform, there’s only so much information that they can get access to, right? Whereas in crypto, when you’re building these audiences using either tokens or NFT, social, whatever it may be, right, like that lives immutably like, you can always go back to that record, like one thing that I’m thinking like, at some point, as the podcast grows, I can do some type of like David Letterman type of shit, where I just like rent out an auditorium and everybody that’s sort of collected my early season, or NFTs, they’ll have access to watch like a live interview with us, right? And experience that. Yeah, I think that’s really cool. I’m also trying to think from like, a monetization point of view, I think we sort of maybe just skim the surface of what monetization looks like, a lot of my bet is that all media will be tokenized to an extent, right. And all media, everything will be collectible, to an extent, in some shape, or form. And what does that look like in terms of monetization? So right now, a lot of creators, they measure success from like views on YouTube or subscribes, right? How does that look like in the context of web three, does that mean the number of unique holders that you have at scale, right? Does that mean like the number of primary and secondary sales you have? Like what gets, how do you measure the success of a creator? I don’t know. I’m thinking out loud over here.

Dan Romero: I again, I go back to this idea that I think web two is very much about quantity. Everything’s about scale, like total number of users. Cristiano Ronaldo has, you know, 100 million followers on Instagram or Kim Kardashian. And that’s how you talk about it. And Balaji has come up with this concept of like, being able to measure a fan economy is a far more interesting thing. So fine, Kim might have 100 million followers on Instagram. But what is the GDP of the Kim Kardashian expanded universe right? As a gimmick, but people laugh at that, right? So, he was saying this a couple of years ago, and now Kim Kardashian is potentially starting a private equity firm, based on the fact that he’s gonna potentially be able to use that distribution. And so, I think that what gets interesting is, if you can actually take the distribution out of the silos, like I have this many followers on YouTube, I have this many followers on Twitter, and you move it to kind of these decentralized credibly neutral kind of core data structures, where now the relationship is between the creator, the publisher, whatever, and the people who choose to follow them, right. And that is a, actually it’s an opt in relationship, right? Because the person can always unfollow you. It’s not like you own that follower forever. But the key is that no one can come in and say, oh, you know, our terms of service violation, we’ve decided that what you said here is no longer acceptable. You’ve spent 10 years building an audience, tough luck, but right you get kicked off YouTube or Twitter. There’s no recourse there’s no exit. There’s no oh, take your followers who you got here all their emails, now you can email them. 

And so, I think if you look at just the way web two social media is, you as a creator have to spend way more time, you either take the bet on these platforms will keep you forever, probably fine or you do the extra effort of hey, subscribe, also sign up for my newsletter. So, I have a direct line of communication with you. Whereas if these web three social protocols work, you as a creator, you just have a direct relationship. You want to send them a podcast, you want to send them a video you want to send them a cast, can basically come through a variety of different client’s applications channels, but that that relationship is a single relationship and it belongs to the two people who have opted to be in it, which I think is a pretty radical shift from what we’ve been used to in web two. And that also means you have freedom of monetization. Right? So, I think the kind of idea space for monetization is just getting started, not only because you have crypto with this kind of poor, financial primitive, and you can do things like NFTs, and defi and the remix ability and composability of that. But also, just the idea that, okay, I can do a traditional subscription, and maybe it’s done on chain, or maybe it’s done through stripe and a traditional web to platform. Fine, I think the challenge is when you are reliant on platforms, and in some cases, platforms that are relying on other platforms with the example of like, if you’re on YouTube, and then Apple iOS, like there are two rent seeking platforms that want to take dollars before they even get to you. I think the most extreme example, was, I think, meta-Oculus. They were trying to do a platform for that and then they had a like a Facebook like horizons platform cut. And I want to say if you did the thing on an iPhone, it had like an iOS, like, it was just like cuts all the way down, right. 

And what’s great about web three is like you can actually solidify through cryptographic proof, again, the average user doesn’t need to see this, but from a developer standpoint, that relationship between the creator and a person in their audience, as well as what also gets interesting, audience the audience connections, right. And so that’s another interesting thing that’s hard to measure. But if you think about it, what if you’re on Taylor Swift, and you want your whole fan club, maybe Taylor Swift is big enough to have like a custom social app that people are willing to even show up to, whereas most other artists or creators, you’re never going to have like a custom app that people are going to use, their basically, their time spent as an Instagram, their time spent isn’t in Twitter. And so, you kind of have to play the game there, because that’s where the attention is. Whereas I think with this kind of remixable, composable, open access social protocols, I think there’s a totally foreseeable future, where for the three or five creators, whether that’s, you know, video creator, or music artists, if I want to have a direct relationship with them, I’m using one of these open protocols, because it actually just does a lot of the plumbing for me. And then there’s probably some version of call it WordPress or whatever, where you can kind of or Squarespace, where you can basically, as a creator, have a mobile app, that the user is like, oh, great, this is completely interoperable. So, when you post a video, I can get it over here on Twitter, the Twitter one, if I want, but if I really want to go deep with everyone else in the community, I can use this token gated app that based on your show, and I can get really, really deep with other people who are members of the show.

 And we have seen this, by the way, with like the rise of discords, is an indication that there is demand for this, but discord, which look tremendous products and success in terms of just scale. But it’s imperfect in the sense that it’s not really optimized for mobile, it’s a game or product at the end of the day, right. And so, it’s a very desktop heavy experience. Whereas if you think about it, like when you as a as a creator, if you say hey, I have a discord and I have 10,000 people in my discord, you’re just like another little icon. And this whole long set of discord controls the notifications and all the experience, where you can imagine being, if you know, you’re my favorite Podcast Producer, I can actually now install your app, which didn’t take you a lot of effort in the scheme of things, no different than a website, because it’s using these open protocols. And now you get push notifications on my phone that are completely, you know, direct between you and your audience. And whatever the experience, right, and so that has a way off. And maybe we don’t get there, I’m a big believer that we will. But I think you need to get the infrastructure in place first, before entrepreneurs start to say, oh, this has become a commodity or this has become this kind of credibly neutral infrastructure, that I know I can actually go build these apps for these different creators, because this protocol is going to have some level of stability, right. 

And I think the example here is obviously email is an example of a protocol that, if I really wanted to take the brain damage and go build my own email client, right, super human being the most recent, you can do it. And there’s no, you don’t have to ask the email Consortium for permission, if you understand SMTP and IMAP, like it’ll just work. And what’s actually even kind of neat is, you can build an email client that works with Google. And Google just because at least in the email world kind of has to support IMAP because it’s kind of the Defacto standard. They don’t even really get to say it’s like oh, wait, so, I can actually build on top of your back end and you did all the hard part and just build a better client, which is what I think superhuman is today. Like they don’t even handle the like low level email plumbing. They’re just an IMAP client or a deeper integration with Google. But I think that that like becomes a pretty powerful thing, where if more stuff in social actually has that level of like permission list innovation, and in the case of the building on Google, that’s not even permissionless. It’s like, mostly permissionless. I think you just yield a whole bunch of more interesting experiences, which gets back to this monetization thing is, I think we’re just scratching the surface it just to say, oh, well, we’ll have Aves, we’ll have subscriptions. And then we’ll have some amount of, you know, NFTs, I guess, you’re just at the start. It’s like looking at the Internet in 1994 and predicting all of the different business models and new companies that have come out of it. 

What is Decentralized On Farcaster?

Right, right. One thing that Farcaster tends to be very public about in their branding and their image is that it’s a sufficiently decentralized social network. And I think when you come back to and you ask yourself, like, what does it mean to be sufficiently decentralized? And I’m sure you get this question all the time. I’m curious, what is the answer to that? What is decentralized on Farcaster? How do you make decisions on what to decentralize versus centralized, like, share with me your entire mental model around that?

Dan Romero: So, the way to think about how sufficiently decentralized works is, there’s a spectrum between centralized and decentralized, in terms of an application, right. And in a centralized application, most common example is a company runs a set of APIs, the company decides who uses those APIs, can revoke the API keys at any point. And that’s basically Twitter. There is no adjudication process for getting back on Twitter. Twitter doesn’t want you on Twitter, tough luck, right? Same thing goes for the developer. So, Twitter has a bunch of APIs. In a prior era, they were much more open, they changed over time and so that is very much the centralized approach. Other side of things, decentralized, right, so something like SMTP for email, Git is another good example of one, right? Like, I can go build a competitor to GitHub, and I don’t have to ask GitHub for permission. And it’ll work out of the box, because Git is a decentralized protocol that does not have kind of like a corporate owner, right. But the challenge, when you start to get out on the decentralized side of things is, the user experience tends to get very technical and way worse, right? You just need to know how to do everything. RSS is a good example of that, right. So, to use RSS, you need to know, oh, I need to have a feed reader. And it’s like, oh, I have a feed reader. And I need to keep all of my subscriptions in place. 

And so, the protocol itself tends to be the thing that is more decentralized. And then the spectrum in between is, where you can get to something what we’d call sufficiently decentralized. And so, from our point of view, rather than start with decentralized and work your way to centralization, it’s actually start with centralization. And then work your way on the spectrum to decentralization to the point where you can satisfy two conditions. The first is, in the case of a social network, any user can have a direct relationship with another user, and no one can take them away like that way from them, right. So, if you and I want to be connected, there’s no third party that can come in and say no, sorry, you can’t be connected. The most extreme example of that, obviously, is if you have 100 million followers on Twitter, or YouTube, and the platform comes in and says, sorry, you don’t have a relationship with those followers anymore. So, the kind of user-to-user relationship or creator to audience relationship, that is a core primitive in my view, for what decentralization is. And then the second thing, is the access for developers, right? So, if I want to go build on the data set here, and APIs, there shouldn’t be a single individual or company that can come around and say, sorry, Terms of Service change, we’re going to really actually monetize the advertising. And sorry, your app doesn’t work anymore. 

And so, from our standpoint, the way to accomplish that is the thing that needs to be decentralized is the, effectively the identity, which is two parts. The first is an ID number, right? So, every person on social media is represented by an internal number in a database is just an ID. And one nice feature of that, is on Twitter, you can upgrade your username, and you don’t lose your followers, right? It’s not like people were following Dan Romero before. And when I switched to DWR. I lost all of them. It’s because the way Twitter maps follow is just to that idea, right. And then the second thing is the user name, which that is much more of a status symbol and a kind of like a, what represents how you interact with these networks. And so, if you can remove that from any corporate company and API, it allows any user to choose whatever client they want, and not have to worry about lock in or anything like that. And I think an analogy here is Bitcoin and Eth. When you put it on a company like Coinbase, Coinbase is a centralized company over here, right? Coinbase can choose to kick you off Coinbase. But when Coinbase kicks you off Coinbase, you don’t lose your Bitcoin or Eth, you, we call it you know, mandatory account closure. That’s what happens with Coinbase for some compliance reason, they don’t take your money from you, they say, where do you want your money sent? Like, we don’t want to do business with you anymore. But you as the user have the ability to exit and then interoperate with everything else in the ecosystem, right? It’s not like special Coinbase Bitcoin, it’s no, it’s like, this is real Bitcoin. And I can move that to FTX, I can move into a self-hosted wallet, same thing goes for social network.

 So, in the totally centralized version, you get kicked off, there is no ability to exit and then interoperate with the same graph, you have to effectively rebuild it, right. Another example of this, and there’s actually more relevant for social media is email. So, I have sub stack. And for whatever reason, I might not want to use sub stack anymore, as a publisher, or sub stack, doesn’t want to host my content, there is no confusion that the email subscriber list that I have belongs to me, right. And if I take that list, and I moved to a self-hosted option, or a competing newsletter provider, I have an uninterrupted access to my subscribers that I worked hard to build that relationship with. And so, in our point of view, that’s the only thing you actually need to focus on the decentralization, everything else you can actually have it be the primary way people deal with stuff, is in a centralized client, right. And the benefit you get from that, is the centralized client is going to offer vastly superior user experience, because the economies of scale that start to happen, you probably have cloud-based services versus if you use the truly decentralized client, where you have to host everything yourself, you’re now dealing with what happens when the, you know, my client goes down, or the host doesn’t work, or I have to now upgrade it because there’s like a vulnerability in the, you know, the no JS package that’s in the open source software, it like the user experience is significantly worse. 

And that the easy answer is why do most people use Gmail, and they don’t run their own mail server? It’s just because it just works. It’s easy, right? And what’s interesting about Gmail is, you have a Gmail address that’s not exit with interoperability, if you have your own domain and use G Suite, you can move to a different host, right? Because you own the domain, you can just change where it’s pointed. But if you have a Gmail address, and you get really attached to that Gmail address, Gmail is not allowing you to move that to Yahoo and say, Okay, well, the Gmail address can’t belong to this client over here. Generally, I think Google is pretty good, in that you can use other clients that sit on top of it. But the relationship you do have with Gmail is they’re looking at all your emails in mining and data, right, for whatever advertising purposes they want to do. That’s part of it being free. But I think that the core of that sufficient decentralization is, find the thing that you need to be able to get to be a decentralized point, keep that decentralized. And then let the market develop in a way that you’re gonna have centralized clients that people opt into, and then people can choose more decentralized clients.

How Do You See Clients For Farcaster Evolving?

Yeah, I feel like Dan, we need to have like a three-hour long podcast episode, because I’ve maybe asked three questions in this entire, like, 53 minutes, and I’m impressed with how much you have to say around. Yeah, but I want to jump to some community questions that we had to come across Twitter, Farcaster, etc. Okay. So, this one comes from Martin. Okay, how he sees, how do you see clients for Farcaster evolving plus monetization plans in the future? And we can even do this thing like fire rounds kind of thing.

Dan Romero: Yeah. We have the initial client; I think we been building it for two years. It’s his certain level of polish usability, we have a mobile client desktop client. So, we’ve done a lot of work to kind of make it easy to onboard the Farcaster or the protocol. Everyone who onboards to so the company has named Merkel manufacturing Farcasters, the protocol. Anyone onwards to a Merkel manufacturing client has this really nice easy experience, gets in, now they’re active on Farcaster, which now also means that they’re an addressable user, for anyone who wants to build within the Farcaster ecosystem because now as a developer, building a new client or experience, I don’t have to worry about going to convince someone to sign up for Farcaster I already know that they’re there. I can actually just kind of focus on, okay, here are the active users. Let me let me try to market my product or go to market in terms of that and by the way, you can post in the feed and people will respond and you know, that their native Farcaster users, right so There’s some built in distribution there, which as we add more users to the protocol, then the distribution gets better. The natural place for clients to start, which has already happened is, simple view clients that are kind of just doing read only operations, right. So, most of the apps that have been built in Farcaster ecosystem today, have been kind of read only where they index all the data, or rely on a third-party indexer and then are able to show kind of a specialized view. So, an example of this is Insta caster shows all of the posts on Farcaster that had an image in it. Pretty straightforward, pretty interesting UI, relatively easy to boot up. 

But right now, it doesn’t have the ability to also use that client to then post back an image into Farcaster, we’ve been doing a lot of upgrades to the underlying protocol over the last few months, we’re going to hopefully get there and offer a much easier way for a developer to actually now go from just read access to both read. And that right access is where I think you’re going to start to see people do two things. So, the first is actually just, okay, I’m going to be a specialized client that does something really well, I don’t know, maybe surfaces, all the questions on Farcaster, other recommendations, and it shows it in slightly different way. And anytime you take an action there, maybe you like something, it kind of propagates back into the protocol, and then it would reflect in that that kind of like feed experience for other users. Those are probably the easiest place to start because they they’re smaller projects, maybe you can do them over a weekend or a week and you start from there. I think that the longer term, you’ll have people building completely new social experiences and using Farcaster to bootstrap the social graph, and all of those interactions, the likes, the replies, because it kind of get it out of the box for free. But those are apps that probably need a larger number of people, the more substantial apps, probably start to exist when you have 10x, or even 100x number of users, right. 

So today, we have about 3000 people using Farcaster. It’s a private beta, invite only been really deliberate about growth. So maybe 10x or 100x from here, 30,000, 300,000. That’s where you start to get developers who go okay, maybe it’s actually worth me, testing out this kind of weird social idea I have on this network, because that gets to them at least enough potential users that if you get 10% of them, now you’ll at least have an early user base that you can play around. And as the overall protocol grows, I think that the sophistication of the apps will get more and more sophisticated. And I think the natural way to monetize for these different apps are as the network gets more scale, I think you’re gonna see naturally apps do free with ads or something. But I do think in the early days, and part of this might be a norm set by our client, we plan to use subscriptions as the primary way to do monetization, because we actually think it aligns the values that we are hoping to have in terms of what the network should be, as this kind of a little bit more sophisticated pro feeling network, versus lowest common denominator scale of maybe some of the web two social networks. 

And the other nice thing is that it aligns how we built the product with what our users want, versus how to get them to spend more time so they see more ads, right. So, every subscriber we have, essentially, you can think of it as like Amazon Prime, where what Amazon is constantly trying to do, is they’re trying to find other things that they can add to the prime bundle that make prime subscriptions that much more valuable to their subscribers. It’s this kind of drive more value. Same thing for Netflix, right? Netflix is looking at how can we add better and more interesting content for the same price that we’re charging for people. But that is a fundamentally different model than something like Facebook and Twitter, they have to keep users happy enough but there’s always that kind of tension where they can dial up the amount of ads in the feed or just do whatever they want. Because they’re ultimately focused on time spent. Good example of this recently as Instagram because of Tik Tok is pushing on reels, the revealed preference, by the way, as people love algo feeds despite what people complain, but the push is a result of you were trying to actually compete in a zero-sum world of time spent between Tik Tok and Instagram. And so, doing the kind of change is, you’re focused on what gets our users spend more time versus does this actually what people want? And it’s a hard thing because again, the review preferences, people actually do like algo feeds but I would say it’s a slightly different model for us in that, you can imagine that the average person is spending 10 minutes a day on Farcaster.

We may actually launch a feature, that maybe it’s algorithmic, machine learning, or just filters that allow people to be more efficient in finding whatever they’re looking for and farcaster when they look at the feed, that it reduces the time spent from 10 minutes to 9 minutes and 30 seconds. In an advertising-based business, probably not a good thing, right? Because the amount of time you spend is probably how many correlates with how many ads you see. Whereas in a subscriber base business, you could argue that that is actually providing more value to the customer because now what they got is they got 30 seconds back, as a result of it being higher signal or more efficient for them, right. So, thinking of it as like a tool, versus this kind of almost a competitor to television of like, we just want you to spend time here and then look at a bunch of ads, I think is somebody that we’re going to try to experiment with. But if it works, I do think it sets an ethos in the ecosystem, at least for the early adopters. And I think more pro users, the people who are using the network as this kind of public, intellectual social network, that, I bet you if you could actually go back in time, if Twitter could choose a different monetization path, and probably would have done this, instead of trying to kind of always be this Facebook that never has the same scale or the ability to do the targeting. And I actually think their business would be in a fine place today, compared to basically it’s a public company that has never made a single, like the total cumulative mount of profit is negative is a public company. 

And part of that is also I think they’re overstaffed. There’s like 8000 people that work there and you can’t solve the spammer problem. But part of that also might be a set of incentives is that you don’t want top line numbers and an advertising-based business to go down, maybe a little cynical on that. But my point being is I think clients in a new ecosystem in 2022, may find success with subscriptions, thinking of themselves more as tools accessing this kind of public social network, versus we need to kind of be this lock in, and everything needs to be in the mothership. So that that’s one way.

How Do We Beat the Bots?

Okay. Couple more questions. How do we beat the bots?

Dan Romero: I tweeted this recently, I think Twitter could do this tomorrow, if they really wanted to just take the hit on their total number of users. And I think we’ll plan to do this with Merkel manufacturer clients, phone number, credit card on file. So, you know, don’t charge them but you know, maybe do a one-time charge of $1 till you have that. Coinbase, we ask for a passport, so you could do it another thing. And it should just be a set of steps, five steps to get verified and that’s how you get a blue check, not your celebrity or you work in some media organization or whatever or maybe you have two different types of checks, right. But I bet you a ton of people would go through the friction if they spent a lot of time on Twitter to get that checkmark. Especially if you could say, hey, the algorithm will boost anyone who’s verified and explicitly, we will not show replies from unverified people, you can use Twitter as an unverified way, like that’s a consumption mechanism. But if you want to participate in the conversation, you need to go through a little bit of back. So, to me, that’s what we do, recommend if you don’t have bots, plus, it costs money to register Farcasters username because there’s an on chain.

Incentives For Developers to Build On Top of Farcaster

Right, are there, Akil BVs asks, are there any plans relevant incentives to build on top of Farcaster to attract developers? What sort of new apps with social primitives’ slash used cases do you think builders can build?

Dan Romero: Well to the second part of that question is the world’s your oyster, if I get every new social app, the new primitive to go after because it’s a lot easier to grow if you have a viral new primitive. That said, I think, incentives, that’s something that we’ve tried a little bit. So, we had a couple of people build early apps last, like, you know, in the spring, and we offered them kind of a onetime block grants no strings attached for the summer. And just to kind of defense over costs, and encourage them to keep building the apps that they were doing that work pretty well. So, I think that we probably will do something along those lines. I think what’s important though, is people show organic interest. And there’s no promises like, oh, if I build something you’re gonna give me grant. It’s more of a, you know, when you see a good faith effort, which maybe doesn’t scale, but I think aligns you much more towards a organic community versus a strictly paid for mercenary community. So, I think we want to avoid that that part but there’s probably a pretty optimal trade off. And I think going back to the idea is, the one thing I think that I’m excited about is one primitive that every user on Farcaster has, is a private key. So, it’s the first network that just by itself, you’re signing up for Forcaster username, you have a public and private key, even something like signal, you have to actually verify with phone number. 

And so, you can imagine the amount of encrypted or zero knowledge, if you want to get more technical in the crypto side, types of experiences that you can permission to build as a developer, knowing that every single user and Farcaster in order for them to even be on forecast or half to have a private key that’s, that’s hot, right live, I think is an idea space that someone will build something really interesting. And to use a framework that I think a lot of people talk about, generally, social networks that succeed, offer some new type of speech or new primitive that enables people to communicate in a new way. And I think that entire space of new encrypted experiences and new zero knowledge experiences, is completely under tapped, partially because the It’s cutting-edge technology, right? Like you have to really understand it. It has not been, there’s no ruby on rails equivalent for ZK and so I think it’ll take some time for that to happen.


Got it. We’re way over, but I appreciate you staying a little bit longer. Dan, before I let you go. How do we get a Farcaster invite if those listening wants to join, and where can we find you?

Dan Romero: Yeah, so if you’ve made it this far, it’s proof of work. Proof of Work amount that if you DM me on Twitter, DWR and mention you heard the podcast, I’m happy to send you an invite. I think we’re really trying to be deliberate people who are thoughtful, optimistic, energetic, and if you spending time listening to podcasts, someone talking about web three social, you’re probably a good candidate for Farcaster.

Cool, cool. Thank you so much. We’ll have to do this again soon. But yeah, until next time, cheers.

Dan Romero: Cheers.

Podcast Transcript

Paradigm Placed A Multi-Million Dollar Bet On And Here’s Why


Mint Season 6 episode 19 welcomes the co-founder and CEO of, Sridhar Ramaswamy (ra-mas-wah-mee). This ex-googler previously led the largest search engine’s $115 billion advertising division and has his eye on a new focus: blockchain data. With their debut launch this week, followed by an impressive series A led by Paradigm, we explore how he’s building web3’s indexer of choice and how his time at Google lead to where he is today.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:13 – Intro
  • 04:27 – What It’s Like Managing Over 10,000 People and $100 Billion in Revenue
  • 06:32 – Leaving Google to Start Neeva
  • 09:20 – The Birth of Web3 Neeva
  • 16:10 – Less Obvious Applications Using the Power of Neeva
  • 17:41 – Web2 Search Versus Web3 Search
  • 20:36 – End User Blockchain Search
  • 22:57 – On-Chain SEO
  • 24:20 – The Future of Advertising in Web3
  • 30:15 – The Emergence of New Tech and Zero-Knowledge Proofs
  • 32:33 – The Next Trend for Neeva to Tackle
  • 35:02 – The World of On-Chain Data
  • 39:55 – Thoughts Around Data Access in Web3 Versus Web2 
  • 43:04 – Outro

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Sridhar, welcome to mint, thank you for being on the podcast, a part of season six. How are you doing, man?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Very excited to be here. I know, we started with some technical glitches, but I’m sure everything will go just fine.


Everything will go just fine and even better, I’m sure. I’m super stoked to have you on. It’s actually a privilege to be talking with you, a man of your level of seniority, doing what you’ve done at Google plus more now on web three, I’m super excited to dive in. I think a good place to start, Sridhar, is who are you? For those who don’t know you, okay. How do you typically introduce yourself to someone. And I’d also love to kind of like, tag along your entry into web three with that, too.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: That’s great. Well, I start by saying, I’m an immigrant came to get a graduate degree at Brown University on the East Coast, kind of tried my hand at being an academic worked at Bell Labs, the same place where the transistor was invented for a few years, before deciding to come out to the valley to work on software. And it was my true passion, super early at Google, none of us quite realized, the juggernaut that the company was going to become, started as an engineer, but sort of grew as the company grew, I went from being like, you know, a team of one myself, to leading a team of over 10,000 people and a business of over $100 billion, amazing opportunity there. But left about four years ago, to pursue a passion of mine, that’s Neeva. It’s a search engine with a very different goal. It’s to always be user focused, undertake search back to it’s roots. And really, web three came as a result of exploring the Neeva mission of sort of just making the world’s information available to everybody, started looking at web three and what was out there, I got super excited. And that was the beginning of another pun chapter and the overall journey.

So what employee number were you at Google?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: I think it was like 300 and something. It was a pretty big company, even by the time I got there. So, it’s not like 10 or 20 years.

Do you remember your initial motives and reasoning for joining that company such as so quote, unquote, early on?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: It was a very successful company already, I think the year Google was going to make $1.6 billion of revenue, it was like, in some sense, the best kept secret in the valley, here was this quiet little company working on a boring little problem search. And my god, they were printing money. So, I had some friends who had moved. And they said, it was an amazing place to work. And I had actually tried my hand at managing a team at my previous startup as a company called Epiphany. And so, I decided that I really just wanted to be an engineer to learn. Google is doing some incredible things, distributed computing, as we know it today, really has its origins at Google, they were sort of really good at taking low-cost machines and creating something very reliable. So, it was very exciting for an engineer to just go in there and learn. And there was this era of success in the company already. 

Did you did you have to have a startup sort of mentality entering at 300 people? And I only ask that, because you’ve been there for, you were there for a very long time. And I feel like you could get distracted very easily to work on other stuff. Right, based off the experience that you built up. I’m curious to hear that side.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Yeah, different people handle these things differently. There are some people at Google that switched from team to team, they’re like, oh, I work on ads, now I work on this, now I work on search. For whatever reason, you know, I stayed on with the same games for a very long time, I kept finding ways to challenge myself there were still like new things to learn. I started in the infrastructure team and then I learned more about advertiser tools. And then I learned about quality and machine learning, then about what it was to run and grow a very large business, dealing with customers. I can look back every year and say, like, yeah, I learned something new, learn payments, learn shopping. So, it’s just this incredible opportunity. Because Google as a company has had so much impact on so many aspects of our lives.

What It’s Like Managing Over 10,000 People and $100 Billion in Revenue

What’s it like managing over 10,000 people and being in charge for sort of being responsible for managing over $100 billion of revenue? And I’m sure you get this question all the time. But yeah, I’m super curious.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Well, I mean, first of all, the thing that you learn very quickly as a leader, if you truly want to be successful at it, is a service mentality. You realize that you know, you’re there to serve. You’re there to make the teams better. By the time your team is even like 100 people, most smart leaders figured out that they personally cannot do all that much, not compared to 100 people. And so, you very much have to learn what it is on to bring out the best in other people. You learn about motivation, you learn about, you know how to convey a sense of purpose to your team, you learn how to make each person feel in your team, feel that their work is worthwhile. So, in many, many ways, being a leader of a large team is a humbling learning experience. But you also get the privilege of betting on lots and lots of people. I became what I became at Google, because people like Eric Schmidt, people like Bill Campbell, or Larry Page, they saw things in me that I never could have seen. And I’m always grateful to people like that for giving me amazing opportunity. So, I’ve always taken it as kind of my job also, to take bets on people. And so, you spend a lot of time you know, coaching people, you spend a lot of time helping people truly excel, you problem solve. But you’re, you know, you’re a coach you are betting on people. And every big leader, you know, very, very quickly realizes that they are there to serve other people, they are there to motivate other people. It’s a lot of fun and you’ll learn a lot.

Leaving Google to Start Neeva

And I’m sure I could spend hours upon hours asking you about Google but I want to sort of transition now into Neva, at least the web two Neva, okay. Another, it’s an ad free sort of search engine, right? And it’s become your passion. That’s what you coined it. That’s my search is my passion. So, talk me through the transition of going from Google to then starting Neva and what did you sort of set to aim to do at the get go?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Yeah, towards the end of my stay at Google, I realized that, you know, any company that aspired to keep on growing, that was ads based, essentially would see no limit to how many ads it showed within it’s products. There are no natural limits, especially for a company like Google that honestly has no competitors. And so, I saw a world in which the search experience was going to get worse and worse. Funny story, true story. We were playing around, looking at Google’s UI on the phone versus that off Neeva’s. And, you know, a query that we tried was what to do in a car accident. If you try it on Google today, you will get four ads for lives. And on Neeva, it’ll kind of be like, first of all, it’s time to get to the side of the road, make sure that you don’t put yourself in danger. If like, if you’re involved with another car, and if they need help, make sure that you call 911. We showed this to people and there were some people that just went like ballistic, they’re like, I’m just in like a car accident, you guys are showing me ads like what the hell. So, you know, in many ways, that sort of is a sad outcome but it also points to the opportunity, which is you want, search is a very deeply personal function, you have a headache, you’re going to search, you’re bothered about something, you want to search, you want to buy something, you want to a search, you don’t remember the lyrics to a song, you’d like to search. And so, we wanted to take search back to it’s root, create just a worry-free, truly useful product. And that’s what we are in the process of doing. It didn’t come immediately after Google, you know, tried my hand at investing for a little bit with my friends at Greylock. That was fun, but I like creating things. And the early parts of conceiving of an idea and seeing like it worked out, is there like a cool product here to be created. That’s always the most exciting part. And so, Neva came a little bit after I left Google and I’m also very fortunate to have my co-founder and partner Vivek, in this journey. And yeah, this one has been our passion for the past three and a half, four years.

The Birth of Web3 Neeva

And now there’s a web three native Neeva, right? And that’s why we’re here today. That’s why I added you to the seasonal lineup for season six, because season six is all about on chain data. And yeah, you guys are sort of focusing your attention on what’s happening in web three. Talk to me about sort of what were some of your findings that we were like, wow, we need to enter web three, we need us maybe shift the product focus from web two search to web three, search and how did web three Neeva sort of come about?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Well, so web three Neeva actually is an independent company. Neeva is a big shareholder in that company, but it’s an independent company. The journey started with a simple question of what should web three mean for a search engine? You know, as a startup, we know that our strength is in going and exploring areas that others will be hesitant to explore. So, for example, if you look for a product on Neeva, we’re going to, we’re going to stack the page full of reviews, because we’re like, ah, you’re going to educate Adam about the product. And if he wants to buy the product, sure, we’ll show it to him. But we are not in a rush, as soon as you type of product name to get you to go buy the product, that is his element of education, that is always an important part of search. So, we started looking at this question four, how do we make it easy to find information from web three? Now, what exactly is about three, of course, there’s the on-chain data. And we started looking at that, we also realized that there was a lot of web three relevant information on Twitter, on Discord, on some websites, but this information was everywhere. 

So, we initially started to build out an NFT search engine, because we thought, oh, that’s very visual. It is clearly, you know, pretty popular. Let’s look at what it would take for us to index on chain data. And then we realized that at least when it came to NFTs, a lot of the information whether it’s metadata or media are actually off chain. Sometimes they’re on IPFS. But quite a few people also put them up on regular web two sites, not something I would recommend, but people do that. Anyway. So, we wrote a little crawler. And then we use the power of the search stock that we had built for, to run Neeva’s web search, which runs at petabyte scale, in order to create this NFT search engine, which we call Neeva XYZ, we kept it separate from Neeva, because we wanted to iterate very, very quickly. You know, there have been days in which I personally have pushed out like a dozen releases on a single day. And that’s the benefit of being a small team. There’s just five people and me, by the way. And the hide, like as a shoestring team, we built this great search experience. And then we started showing it to friends to get feedback. You know, I know a number of friends who had moved in web three or like that three, oh, geez. 

And while they love the idea of an NFT search engine on thought that a consumer product could be interesting. A number of them also said, hey, carrying at web three data, creating just obligations, knowing what’s going on. In, you know, in the blockchain, whether it’s Ethereum, or Polygon or Solana, that part was really hard. That’s when we decided to change the focus of the effort from creating like an end user search product, which is like Neeva XYZ is to providing a set of developer API’s. We also decided that we wanted to have focus, we wanted to have great investors, you know, for this new effort, you know, crypto emojis, and so be splintered off as a separate company. We are lucky to have the backing of folks like, like Paradigm like Greylock and Sequoia that invested in Neeva, but also people like Coinbase ventures, and a whole bunch of other folks that were very excited by the idea of creating amazing technology, to provide much better data to developers, get in early beta testing, we’ll have more to say about this in in a few weeks. But if you want to build any web three application, whether it’s a wallet, or an NFT minting site, or a gallery or a marketplace, or you just want to do analysis on this data, to figure out like hey, can you do time series prediction on NFT or defi prices? We’d love to talk to you. That’s really the focus of the company lightning-fast access to web three data.

Such a difficult problem to solve. Very difficult problem to solve, especially when there’s no real standardization around on-chain data. I’m curious how you attempted to sort of approach that problem, especially around the metadata when you’re trying to create aggregation sites, right? I know it’s a big problem in the music NFT side of things where you try to create like a playlisting site, right. But the music metadata is all over the place. How have you guys’ sort of approached that problem?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: In a few different ways. At one level, we looked at what was common to all the different categories of NFTs. So, we basically constructed this schema for NFTs, we constructed a similar schema for ERC 20 tokens, we’re in the process of constructing, essentially doing a whole bunch of data engineering, data diagnostics, to figure out how can we represent different defi products, whether they are like swapped liquidity pools or loans, and so that work can be done time consuming, but it is well worth it. And then something like search is a very powerful tool on top of it. This new company, which is called an XYZ, by the way, a little bit of an abbreviation of XYZ, you know, it’s not just a search API is also, it’s an API to get at the contents of what is on chain. So, if you want to know what’s in a wallet, but you want it to be real time as of a few seconds ago, you can use our API’s on, so there is an element of standardization that we did for common asset classes. But even for custom used cases, whether it’s the nouns project, for example, logging their own metadata, or other people like rabbit hole, we’ve had a lot of conversations close to 100 for the past couple of months, just trying to figure out, how do people want to index this data? What are the best tools that we can provide to, A, make it easy, B, make it flexible, but much more importantly, make it highly, highly performant at.

Less Obvious Applications Using the Power of Neeva

What are some of the more less obvious applications you imagine being built using the power of Neeva’s API for example real time?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: We’ve experimented with fun little projects like hey, can you write a predictor or bot wallet? As you know, detecting civil wallets is a game that lots of people play. And as things like Airdrops become more and more important. As a marketing tool, you want to make sure that you Airdrop to real people not, you know, not wallets controlled by a program. So that was like a fun little project, that insurance firm who worked with us over the summer did, I can think of other things. You just played around with it; can you establish a trust score for a wallet? Is this a real person? Are they holding real assets or is it one of these like pump and dump wallets? What can you say about things like that? Other obvious applications? Can you trace money movement across chains in real time? As you know, there are companies like 0x, like layer zero or Nomad that are creating protocols for moving money cross chain, can you track that in real time? So, these are all like, you know, I would say these are not the V one applications that we are creating. But these are the kinds of things that might be pretty fun to create on top of the data and infrastructure that we create. 

Web2 Search Versus Web3 Search

I’d argue that on chain data is just another form of data that somebody may want to search, right? And kind of get answers for and I’m curious from your point of view, how does web three search differ in compared to web to search? And maybe you could also take it from like, how does the product experience differ?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: I think web three search is still being defined, simply because the entities that make up the search are not completely clear yet. The great thing about the web, is that this notion of a web page, a page that had some information became common currency. Everybody, like literally think about it in the world, sort of implicitly understands what a web pages, they implicitly understand what a click on a link is, there’s nothing obvious about it, that you can go from one page to another. Remember, books had this but they’re more like bibliographies, you had to go to the end of the book, find the name of a book, and then maybe go look up the library index, was all painful. The web made all of these things instant. So, I think they’re still figuring out things like, what are the interesting concepts that you want to search over? So, when we think of NFT search, for example, we think in terms of is something that token, is something a wallet, is something a contract, one that mint tokens, but as you can imagine, there are other people, other things like, what is a collection? Or what is the person that corresponds that’s like a creator of different contracts? it’s not quite a lot. 

And so I think there’s this first question of, how do you like, you know, how do you figure out what is it that you are looking for, and then you begin to define like, the relationships between these entities on you know, Neeva on XYZ, you can just throw in some words, and you can search, and you can click on a token and go from there to the wallet that has the token or you can go from there to the contract that has the token, and then you can do like attribute filters on the tokens that are contract issues. It just makes navigation possible. I think over the next few years, as these concepts will become more and more solidified, and then people will truly be able to say, well, I am looking for a Dao that has these people in it. And why don’t you tell me? I think things will get clearer as these things grow in popularity. Right now, we are still trying to define what exactly we are finding. And this is a ton of information on Twitter on Discord, anything that claims to do web three search needs to bring all of these together as well. So, it’s a fun problem. It’s a big and it’s sort of a loosey goosey problem right now.

End User Blockchain Search

Right. I’m also trying to like I’m thinking out loud here. I’m also trying to understand like, does the user understand what even searching on the blockchain means? Like, what would they even be searching for kind of thing? Right now, it feels like we’re just searching open sea or ether scan, for the most part, right? Or maybe we’re using some analytic platforms to get some statistics and interesting insights, right? But I think like, if you think about the like the web two user and how they use a product like Google or Neeva, right? I feel like they go, they would obviously go and use that product with a different intent, as if they were to use a web three type of search product. And I don’t know if that user sort of exists in web three just yet, to kind of get to that level, you know, where my head is at?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: 100%. This completely makes sense. And many ways, what you are describing mirrors the development of things like the Yahoo directory, back when the web was very, very early, Yahoo literally had a bunch of people that constructed this catalog, this directory, that basically said, if you want to look for shops, look here, if you want to look for something else, universities, look over here. And over time, what happened is, there were so many stores, so many universities, so many other sorts of like sites, that it became impossible for anybody to categorize it. The reason you go to open sea right now to look for NFTs is because it is the definitive marketplace for NFTs. If you imagine a world where there are like 100 marketplaces, all of a sudden, an aggregation play becomes more interesting, if there are 20 blockchain. So, this idea of like looking at ether scan, which is already Ethereum data suddenly sounds a little bit silly. On this part of what we do, by the way, if you search on Neeva on XYZ, we will return data back to you. Whether it’s on Ethereum, or polygon or optimism or arbitrage, we are like, you know, continuously adding more chains. And so, search is fundamentally an aggregation play, it makes sense only when there are so many things that you and I simply cannot keep track, or we don’t want to bother to keep track of all the different places to go to.

On-Chain SEO

Yeah. Another thing that I’ve been thinking about in preparation for this interview is like trying to understand what is on chain SEO look like, right? Search engine optimization, as a marketer myself, right? I’ve done a ton of gigs where I try to optimize blogs or pages on Google to kind of come on the first search results, right? I’m curious what that looks like. In the future. I wonder if you have any takes on that.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: People are doing this today. Remember when you create a hot new collection, you get your friends to like go buy the NFTs from that collection. And so, it is all on Twitter, if you have a handle, yeah, you try to build up a following. In many ways. You know, the, the founding principle of page rank, by the way, is like this funny definition that says, a page of popular page or a good page, if other popular pages say so, it’s a little bit like high school phase, right? This is like you’re cool, if like the cool people like, let you in. And so, to a certain extent Twitter is also like that, you’re cool if a lot of good people follow you on Twitter. So, there are similar things that will happen. I think those things are universal in, you know, in nature, a collection of school. I don’t know if like Zink owns one of your tokens. And so, I think stuff like that.

The Future of Advertising in Web3

Interesting. Interesting, interesting. Okay, interesting. All right, let’s transition into advertising, where web three meets advertising. Okay. That is obviously a big hat you worked at Google. It’s something that you may know a little bit about, I’d argue. What does the future of advertising look and feel like in web three?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: That is one part of you know, web three, a lot of early players. They are actively against advertising that are, you know, focused on things like more value for the early users. So, the ethos of web three, the ethos of Daos around like community ownership, community management, you know, puts on a very odd user as community, or community as owners, I think it’s a different set of principles. I think Daos are very powerful. They, you know, hearken back to collectives that have existed, like in humanity for a very, very long time. So, I think, loosely coupled organizations working together, has a lot of promise but on the other hand, as they said, you know, things like what has value or what is popular is inherently a social phenomenon. And so, whenever that happens, that is going to be advertising, you see this today, there are, I’m sure you get a lot of token drops. And that’s a form of advertising, people are like reaching out and saying, hey, you should claim this token. There might be something cool that is out there. I think that is also an opportunity for social networks, where basically you decide on membership in a particular group, depending on whether you own a particular token or not. I see recommendation engines coming as NFTs become more popular. If you own the sets of NFTs, maybe you should consider owning something else. And that is always like whenever there are recommendations that are made, there’s going to be a promotional element to these recommendations, I think it’s early to call. But I think things like better Airdrop, which you can think of as marketing, early advertising, definitely have a role to play. But the whole ecosystem is super nascent. And then if you lay it on things like metaverse, truly immersive experiences, that have an element of web three, of blockchain of like, you know, decentralized state also associated with them. I think that adds an additional twist into how advertising will work. Overall, I would say the world of web three metaverse, advertising is very, very young. But it will develop, advertising arises naturally whenever there is commercial interest and that is a reason to stand out. I don’t expect web three are the metaverse to be wildly different.

Yeah, I think there’s a or at least it feels like there’s a notion amongst many users that they don’t want advertising. Like they don’t want that same experience, a lot of users feel like that if we introduce, for example, the most common or memorable form of advertising is like display advertising, right? It’s like, it’s like if we go back to that world, are we just moving backwards? Like, what are we doing, right? And I wonder, I wonder at what point we’re actually going to see like more web three, native advertising, air drops are a great example. What other forms of advertising sort of live and exist or have yet to live in exist in web three? We have yet to find out. I wonder if you have any more additional thoughts just around that.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: I think, as I said, the culture very much is that off, like, hey, let’s leave the worst of the web two world behind. And this sort of utopian promise of advertising will deliver great content to all of us, and it’ll all be free. Everybody has realized by now that there is no free lunch. And these ads can get more and more intrusive. In many ways a company like Neeva, is like the opposite of the web two model where militantly pro user, and the ads and the tracking. So, I think that is definitely the ethos. And the thing is, you know, blockchains also offer the potential for much lower transaction costs. Marc Andreessen calls the lack of payments on web two original sin. So, a lot of like low-cost services could not really be created, advertising became the way in which to monetize like, lots of eyeballs into something tangible. I do hope that, you know, things like gas fees come down low enough. So, through innovations that all of us desperately need, like microtransactions, like the ability to aggregate value in terms of what is being delivered to you and me, I hope things like that truly come to pass because the current world in which the minimum cost of moving any money, like in the real world is like 35 cents plus 3%, which is ridiculous. You’re just moving bits from one computer to another. And the sad part about Ethereum right now is like oh, wait, like what? 20 bucks, 50 bucks to move like one little bit of information, that’s a terrible place to be. But, you know, I think that our chains like polygon, where this is cheaper. But really, we need this kind of innovation, we need innovation in which like, value can be transferred with much less friction.

The Emergence of New Tech and Zero-Knowledge Proofs

Sure. I want to talk to you about also like new and emerging technology. How do you imagine like new tech like that of which Vitalik recently proposed, he proposed a new token standard for stealth addresses, for anonymous NFT ownership. And also like the introduction of like, zero-knowledge proofs, right? How do those play an effect on sort of the vision of what you guys are after, let alone the entire level of transparency, and openness of what crypto is today?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: You know, I’m still learning, I heard a bunch of amazing podcasts about zero knowledge proof, obviously, you know, companies like Stark ware projects like Stark ware, or CK sync, are super, super popular or the range. I think there’s always a balance in all societies, between like, anonymity, and sort of the openness or the visibility that is needed to prevent bad actors, and, you know, subversive elements within. And so, I think there’s always going to be tension there. I think like we all, just like, we all realize that a truly advertising driven like internet is a pretty ugly place to be. I think we also realize, you know, thanks to the various tech trends that we’ve all had on Twitter, that a place in which someone can be absolutely anonymous, also removes the incentive for any of us to be like civil to each other. So, I think there’s always going to be this balance between how much anonymity is provided by a platform, and whether that leads to like, good, you know, good behavior, I think a certain amount of this kind of attention is natural. And it’s also very clear that the current Internet, current online world has gone to like the other extreme of having all of our information, just get like, you know, bucketed and bottled up and sold and resold, it’s a pretty nasty place to be. So, innovation is desperately needed.

The Next Trend for Neeva to Tackle

Sure. I want to talk to you also about other products that can kind of spin up out of what you guys are building at Neeva. So right now, the vision is sort of provide really extensive, reliable APIs for developers, right? But I feel like by setting that level of foundation, you also open yourself up to a world of new opportunities, right. So, you may be focusing on the API section, because that’s what’s hot right now, right? And that’s what people need. Where do you think we’re going next? What’s like, sort of like the next trend beyond here?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Oh, there’s so much fun stuff to do, as I said, that are things like wallet trust scores, or better ways to figure out Airdrops, I can think of everything from, you know, hedge funds that use real time data to sophisticated modeling, of ERC. 20, like token prices, or NFT prices, you know, things like figuring out fractional ownership really becomes a thing. I think that’ll be interesting. And as more assets get digitized and gets stored, you know, on the blockchain, I think that’s going to be another interesting area, in which people will want to know more stats, even things like Dao warding records, the tooling for that is very poor. And so, being able to, you know, just have information, like how many people that belong to Dao actually voted? What’s the voting record? You know, how much are different projects raising? It’s a fun platform in which to build stuff. We’re also working with some early projects on things like goal ownership, so that people can make, you know, you can be part of like a social club or a network. And you can create new groups similar to WhatsApp groups, based on chain behavior. And, you know, you can get recommendations for groups that you can be part of. So, I think there’s a lot of fun applications that can be created on top of this data, not to mention things like oh, can we do real time aggregations for different kinds of contracts, like you know, how long protocols doing? How is something else doing? I feel really excited because it’s just really very early and here is so much to be built, and so many fun product ideas to support.

The World of On-Chain Data

I love seeing you say that and the smile that appears on your face as you, all those words come out of your mouth. Another thing I want to talk about, which is a core theme of season six is on chain data. Okay, we covered a lot about that, but more specifically how it pertains to the creative economy. A lot of my audience, the people who listen are creators, they are the musicians, the artists, the project founders, the community managers, even collectors and web three founders in general, as a whole. I want to talk to you more about like, the data analysis side of things, okay. Because there’s a big trend, kind of shifting towards how creators can either better use data, how communities use data today, whether it be through the financialization of the data, whether through understanding who your community is, and kind of creating better experiences. How do you see that world sort of emerging, especially with what you guys have going on at your company?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Yeah, I mean, that’s a whole other category of fun, you know, fun application. So, for example, one product that I think needs to be created is, let’s say that, you know, you want to create a new NFT collection. And you’re like, I think people that like this collection, are going to be people that like on this particular token, or maybe have done this kind of behavior, I wonder if that is a way to reach them effectively or maybe you start with like a set of people that you think would be excited about what you’re doing. And then you want a tool that lets you expand out, by the way for this is Deja vu all over again, for people that are worked in ads, because this is a product called similar audiences, when you start with a set of people and you try to expand out to other people that are like that. I’d say one of the things that is often disappointing, people don’t necessarily know this, about even pretty large creator ecosystems like YouTube, is that the number of creators that can make a living off of those platforms is shockingly small. Most people will be shocked to know that the number of people that say, make more than 50k, 60k on YouTube, is like tens of thousands, is not millions, you know, there are like, you know, five, at least 5 million software engineers in the United States, if you include the larger ecosystem, that’s 20 million people, all making, let’s face it, a pretty decent living. 

And to me, part of what platforms like you know, like Instagram, like YouTube, or even like, you know, Twitter or Tik Tok have not really done, is create like mass employment opportunities. That’s because these platforms are so powerful, that they don’t really share that much of their wealth, with the people that are creating, the platforms reap all the benefit, especially ad supported platforms, that is so much concentration of power, but they reap all the benefits of scale. Not really the creators, it becomes very head heavy. I love the NBA but let’s face it, it’s not going to imply like a million players, It’s very, very head heavy. I’m like, yes, all of us want to be Steph Curry, but there’s like one. And so, to me, what’s exciting about web three, and the creator economy is you get decentralized, you get to set things like I created this beautiful piece of digital art. And whenever it gets sold, there needs to be a way for me to realize value. So, this is why things like creators shares that can be burned into the contract. So, you get like a steady supply. And as the items that you’re creating grow in value, as they are traded, you also benefit from it. To me those are like the egalitarian aspects of that three, I think it’s an open question whether they’re going to scale to the level of like, you know, hundreds of thousands of people or millions of people. I have no issue with like top-heavy economies like the NBA, as I said, but we should also be careful about it, you know, things like that not becoming the aspiration for every teenager, not if they cannot support like millions of people operating at that level. And the hope with web three, and it’s not clear that we’re going to get to it, we all have to work towards it, is that it supports a broader base of prosperity than the Vette head heavy ecosystems that pretty much all the existing platforms like YouTube, like Instagram, like Tik Tok have created.

Thoughts Around Data Access in Web3 Versus Web2

I think web three will enable a larger middle class of creators, that can be. Yeah, that’s also what I’m hoping for, if you sort of look at what’s happening right now in web through the creator economy, and you measure the number of creators based off how many collections, NFT collections exist, it’s about 150,000, collections and communities that sort of exists today in web three. And of course, not all of them are making the same amount of value as Board ape yacht club, right. But as long as you have that, sort of like hustle, grit and entrepreneurial type of energy, or at least an ounce of that, you can find a way to not only use web three as a tool to tokenize your art, but you can find a way to monetize it as well. I think what’s also super interesting is that, as a creator in web three, you get to tap into all this interesting data to become a smarter, and a more intelligent and a wiser creator, data that you otherwise maybe not would have had in web two, right? From being a YouTube creator, a Google creator, etc. Do you have any takes on that? Any thoughts around that as well?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: I actually, I completely agree with what you’re saying. I think part of what the big platforms that the music labels before that have gotten away with is, the incredibly opaque pricing, and the opaque contracts that have hidden sort of a lot of things. And the nice thing about web tree is all of this data is in the open, and people can see what is creating value, they can get their fair share. And they can also like that is more, you know, chances for experimentation. If you did a project in a certain way, or collection in a certain way, and you saw that it had some outcome, and you want to do better the next time, you have the chance to do that. And part of what like an XYZ wants to enable is like all of this data to be easily accessible to people, so that they can reach better decisions.

Yeah, yeah, I’m a big fan. I really am excited to see one of the products go live beyond just the beta test that you’re doing right now. And kind of see where this vehicle ends up going. I’m curious, from your point of view, what questions am I not asking? Do you think I should be asking to be a better-informed creator in the space and how to use data to sort of build an audience, build a community, etc?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: I think you’ve gone through many of the questions, but I think, you know, having a sense for what creates value. And once something is out there, how quickly are you getting that information back? You know, are you able to come up with hypotheses that you can then test, that you can then check out in real life? I think the tooling around that is pretty early. But I think the openness of the data will lead to lots of companies like an XYZ to get this data, to give it to more people. And I said, I love that phrase that you used earlier, which is hopefully web three will lead to a much bigger middle class of creators of all kinds.


Yeah, I hope so as well, I guess, before we wrap up, and I let you go. Sridhar, where can I find you? Where can we learn more about what you’re building? Show it away?

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Yeah, so our little website, which will get bigger soon is N.XYZ. And you’re lucky to get like a single letter domain. And then we are also on Twitter. Still hanging to N.XYZ handle, but right now you have to put underscores between all of the letters. It’s like underscore N, underscore X, underscore Y, underscore Z underscore, but just look for us

Also memorable by the way. Yeah, also memorable.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Also, memorable. Exactly. And, yeah, we’re going to be making a big announcement, hopefully in less than a month. And I’m super excited to be in web three. I know that, you know, these are tough times overall, in the stock market on web three. But the foundational infrastructure that is there, things like decentralized state, things like currency natively built into how these amazing systems operate. I think they are very early; I think there’s a lot of value to be created and a lot of work to be done. You know, I think of this as what the internet was, like, 2025 years ago, no one could have predicted, you know, the Internet of 2015 from like, the Mozilla of 1995. So, I feel it’s that early. There’s a lot of great work to be done. And the more we build, the better the outcome that we create. And I personally am super excited to be part of the journey.

Amazing. Sridhar, thank you so much for being on a part of the season. We’ll have to do this again soon. But till then, appreciate you and good luck.

Sridhar Ramaswamy: Thank you, Adam, lovely to chat

Podcast Transcript

The Creator’s Ultimate Guide to Web3 Social


Mint Season 6 episode 18 welcomes the founder of Aave and Lens Protocol, Stani Kulechov. Throughout the hour we discuss his vision for web3 social, how creators use crypto to communities, how creators make money on Lens, user-generated content as an asset class, migrating collectors from other chains onto Lens, how to use the lens social graph outside of their protocol, and so much more.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 00:12 – The Current Web3 Social Landscape
  • 03:15 – Web2 Social Problems That Web3 Aims to Fix
  • 08:31 – What is Lens Protocol?
  • 11:23 – Building the Web3 Social Network Experience
  • 17:23 – Thoughts on the Music NFT Wave
  • 20:55 – How Do Creators Make Money on Lens?
  • 22:37 – Tools Missing on Lens Protocol
  • 26:32 – The Asset Class of User-Generated Content
  • 30:42 – Creators That Own Their Audience
  • 34:22 – Converting a Different Collector Base to Lens
  • 37:53 – Leveraging Your Social Graph Across Other Networks
  • 40:48 – Risks That Come With Owning Your Social Graph
  • 43:55 – How Do You Build Collaboration Versus Competitiveness?
  • 47:27 – Community-Specific Applications Built On Lens
  • 50:09 – Scaling to Facebook’s Level
  • 54:18 – Sub-Communities That May Create a Cultivator DAO Experience
  • 56:09 – The Overlap Between DeFi and Web2 Social
  • 58:14 – How Does Lens Make Money?
  • 01:00:12 – Outro

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Stani Kulachov, welcome to mint, how are you doing my friend? Thanks for being on.

Stani Kulechov: Very, very good. I can’t remember when we last time actually did this.

The Current Web3 Social Landscape

Last time we did this, I was working at Draper going home and we were on blockchain and booze. And I think it was during the defi madness. And you’re the only person or one of the few people that I reached out to, to talk about their protocol in their application that actually answered me, and was able to put a face behind their projects. So, I’ll never forget that. You were super early on in my creator journey. So, I’m really excited to be kind of doing this episode with you and figuring out what are you working on now? What is lens and all that good stuff? So, I don’t think you need an introduction. I think the crypto community knows who you are. But I think a good place to start because I want to focus this conversation around web three social, okay. I’m curious to hear your perspective. Let’s just set the tone. How are you seeing the current web three social landscape? And any interesting applications, trends, or just anything in general to kind of give the listener idea of what’s happening in web through social right now?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, I think we were very, actually extremely early on web three social. So, the applications we’ve seen, and even the protocols are pretty much trying to solve like one of the earliest problems in diversity, social space, things like how do you create a profile that belongs to you and have portability between one application to another? And you have the two ownerships of that profile or how do you connect with between different peers? And how you can like, repaint that connectivity with the peers? And also like, how do you actually distribute content across the social landscape. So, there’s multiple different things that the early protocols and applications are trying to solve. And I think like a lot of things are deriving from the idea of that, we’ve been feeding and building this web two social where, you know, previously, it was very difficult to actually create and distribute content across the globe across the internet. And what the bigger social media companies actually did is they provided a platform for users, any user to actually create content, and then connect with their peers on areas that might be interesting to them. Now, we’re in the face of, hey, we actually can do this in a more decentralized fashion. So, what do we can actually recreate? And let’s try to recreate, you know, the Instagram of the world and the Twitter’s of the world. And, like, basically, we architecture in the current ecosystem and I don’t know if it’s that that’s the right way to do it. Like, do we should we actually try to decentralize something like Twitter? Or should we actually try to find new ways and new applications and use cases that enables because of the battery aspect?

Web2 Social Problems That Web3 Aims to Fix

Yeah. I think one of the more interesting things that I’m seeing on the web through social front is how creators build audiences, and monetize audiences in web three. And before we sort of go into the different tactics and strategies that maybe you’re seeing, I still want to kind of like unveil the problem that web three, web two social kind of like failed at, right? And how web three social aims to fix that, can you shed more light on that topic?

Stani Kulechov: Well, the way I see what’s not working in the web two social space is that you as a creator, you build this magnificent, exciting audience around yourself, for example, but you usually build up, you know, specific platforms. So, for example, many of us who are very active in the crypto space, we tend to build our audiences in Twitter, and we call it actually crypto Twitter, because all of our networking is there. But there are many creators that have audiences, for example, in Instagram, based on what they create, and what kind of content they’re actually creating. Or it might be Tik Tok, as well, or any other platform, actually, it can be even not that social, for example, Spotify, where you have distribution, and you have audits. So basically, what happens is that the creators, they’re generated this massive amount of user generated content and feeding the content liquidity into the platforms and end of the day they, it’s the platforms that are actually benefiting from that content, and barriers data points that the users are generating by liking different kinds of posts, sharing them, or just spending time watching one particular video. So effectively, ultimatelyzation actually happens within the platform in a way where it’s the platform that is taking all or most of the proceeds. This, for example, is happening with Tik Tok. Twitter is a good example where you might be sharing a lot of content to your audience, you’re creating everyday content, but it’s actually the platform behind that it’s getting all the monetization, and you are kind of like you’re benefiting to draw in your audience, but you really don’t have the portability of the audience or actually, direct way to monetize.

Yeah, I think with all the Elon Musk Twitter, Jack Dorsey field that’s happening online. Now. There’s like that whole court trial. One, I’m curious to get your opinion on the whole acquisition take and what may happen over there. But to what’s even more interesting is all these conversations that are surfacing between Jack Dorsey, Elon Musk, and how Jack Dorsey was like, I wish Twitter was a protocol, right, in a decentralized fashion. And sort of alludes to maybe what the vision that you have for web three social is kind of like coming in building towards right. Am I getting that correctly or what do you think about the entire situation?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, I guess like, what’s been happening there is that, you know, there’s definitely value creating a more decentralized networking, and way to share content, and also a more decentralized way of preserving your identity. So, I guess, like, what’s as be challenging for Twitter is that, in many of these platforms is that the way they’re build is that they’re actually, you know, extracting value from the users and from the creators, and that value goes to the shareholders. Now, in protocols, the idea is that a protocol is just a way of connecting with peers, and preserving some of the values and what the tree is doing with protocols also is, giving the ownership of those protocols to the users and letting the communities to steer how those protocols will be improved in the future. And to be honest, like, I definitely agree that Twitter can work pretty well as open protocol, it will mean that anyone can actually innovate and compete with the data. But also having something like on chain profile would mean that you could actually have the ownership of the audience you create, and yourself expression, and no one can actually take that away from you. So, giving those rights to the users brings a lot of benefits. And I think, why it’s valuable discussion now is that, we spend for the past couple of, actually a few years building this very fascinating financial infrastructure on top of the web two ecosystem. And now with the NFTs and creator economy, we’re actually seeing a lot of power and opportunity to actually empowering creators and empowering the actual users of social media. And I think that’s why it’s becomes even more, this discussion is taking place now than, than ever before.

What is Lens Protocol?

So, I think that’s actually a perfect segue to give me like a more formal introduction to what lens protocol is because you talked about empowering the user, empowering the network, to own their profile, own their content, own the data. Can you introduce, to someone who’s maybe not familiar with web three, for example, how would you explain lens protocol to them?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, so lens protocol, it allows you to create your profile once and retain the ownership of the profile. So, you’re not locked into any platform specifically. So, any application that is built on top of the protocol, you as a user have the flexibility to access those applications. And you don’t need to give up your follower base or profile into one particular application. So, this brings sort of freedom for the users. And also, it changes the dynamics because this means that anyone can actually freely build a better or new algorithm, how you find and discover other users or content across the lens protocol or across web three ecosystem in general. And also, the experiences actually have to compete first time ever on your kind of like a, I would say like, as a user, you can you can vote with your feet, which of the experiences are more just aligned towards finding, maybe content that you might like more or what values are important for you as a user, and what, it actually makes those applications more of communities. So, for example, Twitter is a community, but you can’t really actually affect how Twitter’s built in the future, besides giving feedback. But here, you can actually have skin in the game and actually vote with your feet. If you if you find an application, that it’s actually more aligned to what your expectations are, so it changes those dynamics quite easily. So that’s the kind of interesting parts that that actually, your profile is secured with the blockchain. But actually, it’s the applications that can choose how they reflect data. So, you can effectively use an application that reflects the data and stores it on a decentralized file storage, just like IPFS. Or you can choose an application that stores data in a cloud, just as a traditional social media application, but you still have the ownership of your profile. So as a protocol, it gives flexibility for the users, but also for the developers to choose how they want to build their application and how much decentralization they want to have in their own particular use case.

Building the Web3 Social Network Experience

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I remember in the beginning, when lens protocols sort of came out, it started with this tweet of yours kind of saying we’re gonna build Twitter on Ethereum. Right? When Jack Dorsey countered the whole Bitcoin should be the network of choice, or when they started integrating Bitcoin more religiously across Twitter, you sort of had this epiphany, like, we need to build Twitter on Ethereum. Right. And I remember initially, one of the sorts of features that stood out to you, that stood out to me the most as a creator was the ability to collect something, right. And of course, like in web three, collecting in supporting a creator is like it’s second nature. But the way you’ve sort of orchestrated is that, I can collect a post, for example, on Leinster, right. And I remember in the beginning, I was skeptical about it until I actually got on the platform and saw the power of being able to collect something. And it got me really rethinking of the entire model of building an audience in web three. And in web two, you sort of have the subscribes, you have these followers. But in web three, you collect and show your level of patronage, you show your level of contribution, by sort of proving you were there by having something in your wallet, right. And that entire shift sort of changed the way how I think about building an audience because I use a lot of web two to sort of build virality and distribution, but I use web three to capture that value. And now on Leinster, across lens protocol, all these cool applications are popping up, where I can actually do both. Now I can build an audience and capture that value in web three, which I think is super unique, super unique to Lenster, can you talk more about sort of building out that initial product flow, that initial experience for users to have that web three feel of a social network?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, I mean, obviously, when you create your profile, and you have the ownership also, whoever follows you basically have that relationship between you and your audience. So, you can actually move from one application to another, and you don’t lose that audience, which is very valuable for the creators. But what that audience does for you is that, you actually have a direct way to distribute content to your peers, regardless of the applications built on top. So, the applications itself are effectively tailoring the user experience, curating what data users should see and how they should discover new content. But as a creator, from creator’s perspective, effectively, like collect is what the founder of, from mirror actually pretty well, the collect is the new like, so effectively, you just don’t like what you actually like with skin in the game. Which means that you can do that contribution and in return, you get a user generated content that is actually an asset and creating music, generally content as an asset classis as well. And as a concept. It’s not really that novel, because we already have this idea of being able to share digital art across your own community in form of NFTs. And in return, you actually you get, as a user, you make a contribution as a fan, and get in return the asset and you are part of that community. And I think the same thing is happening in music, NFTs, and also it resembles me quite a lot. My spare hobby where I collect vinyl’s, to go to different record shops and buy vinyl’s because you know, I like the feeling of having a physical piece as music, and at the same time having like, a utility and hearing the audio, as well. 

And I think I think kind of like taking that concept in theater and thinking that actually, when we are paying for music, are we actually paying for listening or are we paying for distribution? Or are we actually paying to support the artists to actually create more in the future? And this is where the kind of like a radical mind change happens, where we have to think about like, is the way we create an IP anymore something that is reflecting what the thing about culture art content in general? And should we actually go directly to a model where, you know, we actually contribute to the creator by basically buying digital content and have that provenance as well. And I think that’s something that we baked into the lens protocol, in a way that all the content if you choose so, can be collectible as an NFTs, meaning that actually, it’s the market and the users and the followers that can actually benchmark and decide what content is valuable based on how they collect. And you can also charge for the collection or have it as free NFTs. But the main point is that when we look at also like content tokenization, we’ve seen previously examples where the dodge memes was token as NFT, Vinyl and cat as well, and the other one was sold for $4 million. So you’ve seen the retroactive tokenization of user generated content and memes, specifically, in this case, when it actually bringing that model into the spot where the actual content is created, and letting actually the early adopters of that content and early fans to decide how valuable or culturally relevant that content is and creating that value looping into that content.

One thing I didn’t know about you is that you collect vinyls, I think that’s pretty cool. How many how many vinyls Have you collected to date? Do you have a number?

Stani Kulechov: I don’t have that many. I think I have roughly, I think I have a couple of hundreds, one fifty or so. Probably even more.

Thoughts on the Music NFT Wave

That’s quite a bit. That’s quite a bit. So, on that tangent Okay, on the collecting Vinyl tangent, there’s just music collector, his name is Bin Zedeway. He’s, I’ve never met someone that loves music more than him. He’s a big music NFT collector. And he wrote this really fascinating blog post sort of reflecting on his experience collecting a vinyl to then collecting a music NFT because we’re already on the subject, what do you think on the entire like music NFT trend that’s happening, with all these artists kind of like breaking steam, finding creative liberation through their music? What do you think about all that?

Stani Kulechov: I think there’s little value in that, because I just see, there’s like a lot of layers at the moment that has been built in the music industry. And many of the monetization layers are based on the copyright, intellectual property, which is, which has been working to some extent quite well, up to this date. So, you can guarantee that, you know, musicians, when they create content, they can be rewarded afterwards as the content is consumed. But at the same time, IP has its own challenges. And I think because of the fact that you can actually verify who is the creator of the content and owner, you can create more interesting, parallel economies and monetization models that are based on the own chain aspect of content. So, for example, that if I, if I know that there’s a very good artist that is playing very good music, and creating very good music, I should be able to support it directly and have that contribution on chain. And because they have that contribution on chain, and I have that digital asset that creates me more accessibility to other kinds of things. 

But also, I’m more of a believer of this idea on chain, kind of like property, commercial property rights. So, I think that you could actually create content and revoke all rights to that content, in terms of intellectual property. And at the same time, you can create different kinds of on chain commercial rights. For example, if you want to use my piece of content. Let’s say that I create a nice drumkits and into your song, you can actually split fees that you collect between us together, so it’s more of kind of like a altruistic model and you’re actually kind of like attributing to other creators. But I just feel that that might be the more aligned model in our open-source economy and how we can actually build better monetization models compared to IP and the restrictions that they’re bringing, because I think that what IP is doing, and I’m talking from also my lawyer hat, as, as you know that I’m also a lawyer in my background, so basically, that you are limiting the innovation and creativity with IP. But in an ideal world, you don’t want to limit creativity. And actually, you want to get the creativity and innovation to thrive. And I think that’s what open source as software has been doing for a long time now. And I think we have to somehow translate that into all the kind of like a more creative industry as well.

How Do Creators Make Money on Lens?

Yeah, makes sense. On that thought of monetization, how do creators make money on lens? What does that look like?

Stani Kulechov: Well, in the protocol itself, we’ve baked a couple of interesting ways to monetize, one direct way to monetize is, allowing the users to collect the content NFTs. So effectively, you’re buying a digital asset as NFT from the user generated content from the creator. But at the same time, you can also if you have a bigger audience, you can mirror someone else’s content to your audience. And if someone collects that paid content, you can actually get middling fees, yourself. So, there is like, there’s the idea of monetization of actually, directly from the users. But also, the curators can get monetization by sharing the content to their own audiences. And these are the just two models that we have baked into the protocol. But if actually, you can build more into that, so you can build your own ways to monetize, you can still create some sort of transparent promoted advertising as well. And this is something that someone is actually building on top of the, our protocol or you can sell some sort of visualizations, as well. So, like, the protocol itself, it’s flexible on what do you want to use in your application, it’s more of like a business decision, what you have to do, by yourself or with your community.

Tools Missing on Lens Protocol

My favorite feature at the moment with lens protocol and just sort of how I’ve seen people use it on Leinster is the mirror feature. I think it’s one of the coolest things that creators can tap into as a way to incentivize virality, right, incentivize collaboration, and sort of like reward. So, the way it works that I’ve seen is like, let’s say you post a piece of art, right? And you can set this rule where every time somebody reshares it and mirrors it, they can basically earn 10% on that. Right. And it really aligns incentives. And it’s a cool way to kind of build a viral effect online. I don’t know, I think it’s really cool. Are there any other ways, any other tools that you think are missing from the lens protocol, from the tool stack on lens, that have yet to be built out? Anything you can share?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, a ton, I think like, we just, we kind of built the bare, like, bare minimum in terms of what you can actually do in social media. And so, the way the lens protocol itself is built, it’s sparker check based protocol. So, you first you create a profile, then you can follow other profiles and every profile can publish content. And the content can be reflected on chain, it can be off chain, in a decentralized file storage, depending on the application use case. So, you kind of like choose the amount of decentralization you want to have. But what’s exciting is that you have these different kinds of modules. So, you have follow modules. So, for example, you can create a smart contract-based module, which says that, you pay to follow, let’s say, a creator, but then if the creator collects monetization feeds from the collects, those are split with the followers, kind of creating some sort of creator crowd funding or something similar in that sense, and you can create different kinds of modules also for commenting. So, one of the earliest things because of the size of the lens protocol is that, there’s currently 80,000 profiles at the moment. And in the beginning, there was a few of the bots so we actually started very early to experiment, how we can get off, get rid of the bots that are in the protocol. And what we created is this kind of like a module where you can comment to my post, if I don’t follow you, but some of my friends follows you. And you can actually set the degree up to, let’s say, six or so. 

So, for example, if I set the degree two like two, it means that if we have a common friend, then you can comment, if I set it to three, that means that you can comment if we don’t have a common friend, but that someone has, my friend has a friend who is friend with you. And this is based on the idea of that every single person in the planet is connected by six degrees of separation of people. And it has been super effective at the moment. I think, if Twitter starts to use this, tomorrow, you stop seeing those crypto, spammy bots that you get all the time in your feed. So, this is a smart contract-based module. And I think the cover on smart contract-based modules and also like the composability, is that you can create these rules, and you can’t really circumvent them, because they’re smart, contract-based computation, and anyone can actually come in and contribute to the modules.

The Asset Class of User-Generated Content

I love that. I think that’s a really, really powerful feature, as a way to sort of curate quality, and a new experiment to see how you can use an on chain social graph, right, to kind of figure out connections, deviations, all these interesting things that we may be used in real life. But now you can sort of implement digitally. I think another cool feature of the mirror element is that one of the most direct forms of monetization that creators use today, is through affiliate links, right? Whether it be their Amazon affiliate link, or some type of brand that they collaborate with. So being able to embed that directly into the platform into the protocol, I think off the gecko is really powerful. I want to also talk about user generated content as an asset class, because essentially, when you start to implement, like the financialization of everything, give or take, even though there’s a lot of free collect options on lenses, the user has dictation over, what does it mean to a creator sort of to create user generated content that’s an asset class? And what’s the potential behind that?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, I guess it boils down to the same idea that you can create digital art as a collection, and then make it available to purchase or somehow gain within the community. So, the idea that these are successful, because it’s a way for you to participate in the community, and also by a digital good, which can be digital art in most cases, with different kinds of media later, threads, and so forth. The same concept is effectively extended also to content, that is videos, we’ve seen the NBA top jobs work in a similar way. And just any content that you produce, audio, text, and a making it as easy as possible. And I think like the creators, in general, as a user group is interesting, because even in depth to creators aren’t really that well supported, you know, so, the monetization aspect is one. So, you create you as a creator, you always start from the very low level of the food chain. So, you basically have to create a lot of content, you put a lot of proof of work, to actually ensure that the content is something that is interesting consumable. You have little competition, you gain, you have no choice than joining a bigger platform like let’s say Tik Tok and start actually creating a lot of content and creating follower base. And you can’t actually, you don’t have much of control, what you’re doing and your only kind of like goal is to create audience into that platform, and then hopefully, somehow direct traffic, right. But being able to actually create the content right on spot and also having your own distribution channel. It’s equals the same as walking with your own social network. So, it’s not just like it’s like, what Len’s protocol is doing is that it’s giving you your own social network and your own social identity. So that’s, you know, you can choose like how all these applications are reflecting your content. And being able to do that, and being able to distribute your content directly to your followers, without anyone can actually coming in between, takes these creators and puts them into a completely new position and also elevates the content itself. Because I know that this content actually exists as an asset class. And I know that I can get directly from the user, it creates different kinds of elevation for the creators, so they actually own their own distribution and relationships with their audience, which is significantly different than we have now in web two social.

Creators That Own Their Audience

I think a lot of the success of web three social is going to be dependent on used cases of creator’s kind of like seeing success through it, right? Either through building an audience either through making money. And because we’re so early, in the adoption curve of web three social, are there any creators that come to mind that have used a decentralized social graph as a way to kind of like, really, really push the value and push the example of what it actually means to own your audience what it means to own your distribution funnels? Any creators come to mind?

Stani Kulechov: I think in terms of like creators and less protocol, like we have a smaller music creator that come and actually drop content, there’s also like, there are doing it on a daily basis. There are also creators, for example, like the rides that came in did a significant drop within the lens protocol, effectively fundraising directly to their causes. And I think that’s, it’s a valuable tool, but also like, I’m more excited about creators that are coming into the applications, that are built on top of the lens protocol, and starting to create their audiences, which takes more time. The cool part is that, like, once you create your audience, it’s yours to keep, so you aren’t locking yourself into a new platform. And that’s a bigger an important factor to think about. Because if you start investing time into building audience into new application, and that application doesn’t take oh, and I remember this happening during the whole web two, beginning where you saw a lot of reddit, big competitors, and people were spending a lot of time there. And they didn’t go anywhere. You know, there’s Slashdot is still a place, like it even became that big eventually, you have contents of example. 

So, like, you’re actually like, your investment of time is more important, because you can actually wait that someone else creates another application that might be actually more interesting to you. And I’m looking into like, into those creators that are actually building those audiences, and constantly creating a narrative of what kind of content they want to produce. And from the developer’s perspective and application itself. I think like, my idea of like, creating decentralized, Twitter was more of a troll like I never thought about the idea that’s, you know, like competing a Twitter, because Twitter has a very strong social network. So effectively, because you can’t port your audience, and innovate and in web three, you will be able to jump from one application to another, very quickly the same way as you’re swapping one to another. So, it’s kind of like pointless to compete. But what you can actually do is, now that the barrier to enter and build those applications and leverage the fly deal of an existing social graph, you can actually build a new kind of experience, or curate the content in a way that it’s services, one, some sort of a type of activity that is fascinating, or something new, and get that fly deal effect. And I think that’s where most of the attraction will come, where we are seeing something new being built, instead of recreating the old.

Converting a Different Collector Base to Lens

Right. When I think about the evolution of web three social in the context of crypto’s history, I very much think back to 2017 to 2021, when NFT started picking up steam, creators started issuing NFTs and building collector bases, right? And now when I think about lens protocol, it’s like the next evolution of that to tie in that entire network together, right? Because if you’re just building a collective base on Ethereum, there lacks that content distribution through Twitter. But if you’re building on lens, right, and you build a collector based on lens, you sort of tap into the value of distribution in the value of monetization. I think what one of the interesting sorts of onboarding funnels that maybe you guys’ face is how do you port a creators existing collector base that’s already built on a Ethereum, polygon into lens? What does that look like? Because I know for me, I have a bunch of collectors that have collected my free NFTs. Right. But not all of them have a lens profile yet, right? How do we make that transition?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, well, currently, it’s easy, because you can actually collect content without having, I mean, the creator can set the contact rate creating the way where you don’t need to have a profile. So, you can actually not be a lens profile user. But over the long term, what we think is more valuable is that, every user that is collecting will have a lens profile. And effectively what we’re looking to do as protocol developers to be as much as more unopinionated, so where the protocol could be servicing as a network, how the namespace is working, how to create your own namespace and making a bit more flexible for developers to build, actually. And I think that what is interesting about content, actually, is that you can have the same content, but actually, you could create different kinds of ways of letting the user to choose where they want to mint their content. So, for example, I have some NFTs, where actually most of my NFTs are on Ethereum, I have a big chunk of NFT’s on polygon. And then I have NFTs also on optimism. So effectively, you could see the content in one network, but actually initiate a transaction to make that content into a digital asset, into in another network. But also, it boils down to a bigger, this question is, where do you want to see lens protocol? Do you want to see cross chain or do you want to see in a one particular ecosystem? And this is something that’s the community members are saying already how the cross-chain functionality will work and how the scalability will function. And there is also the argument of that because there is the middleware, which is now the lens API, then there’s other middleware, like the graph, which is more decentralized, where RSS free, which is also a way to index the data. And the idea is that while you could actually decentralize that middleware, and you don’t actually mind where the social graph is deployed, because you can get, you have all that data availability that you can capture, because we have a social, it’s more about data than a state.

Leveraging Your Social Graph Across Other Networks

So, on that same topic, you talked about being able to leverage your social graph across other networks. So, paint me a picture of how would a user leverage their social graph outside of lens? What does that look like?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, it’s interesting thing, because we put a lot of value into the social graph. So effectively, your social graph is the strength of your social capital. So, you can actually use that. If you want to distribute collaborative content to your audience directly, have monetization opportunities, but also, I see very valuable used case, in thinking of the civil resistance part. So, for example, if you take the example of a degree separation commenting module, so for example, if we’re able to get rid of the bots in the lens protocol, in the platform itself, you can actually use that as a service to basically have other civil resistant used cases. For example, if you have a game where anyone can participate, but you want to play with people, you know, or real or any other used case where you actually don’t want board activity, you can actually use that social graph. And you can look into, for example, who are the, for example, Adam follows or the people that Adam follows or their friends of friends. And from that, you can actually use that social graph in civil resistance. And another aspect where you can actually use it is, something where you want to create also a reputation score. So, the reputation score is also in that kind of like a civil resistant form. But also, you can create a reputation score. For example, if you want to measure what is your strength of your social capital that you apply into, let’s say, should you be able to legislate to comment on different posts, but for example, should you get a access to a particular user group or access to a loan? So effectively taking the social graph idea and creating more accessibility for the users in a decentralized way and because the social graph is on chain, that data is verified. So that’s the key kind of like a difference, because why do you want to have a profile and the social connections on chain is because you can use this data and that data is verified by the blockchain. And you can use in used cases like the civil resistance, or alternatively, in something like building an on-chain reputation.

Risks That Come With Owning Your Social Graph

What do you think are the risks or responsibilities for a user to own their social graph, to own their distribution, to own their content? What sort of challenges or risks come with that?

Stani Kulechov: I think one of the important things that you have to keep in mind is that, you know, you spend a lot of time of actually building social capital. So, first time ever, that social capital becomes very tangible for you, because you’re not building it into an application and building the follower base in a specific database, but you actually build it yourself. So, whatever you create, you have to also secure the same way as you secure keys, for example, that you might have. And there’s a lot of ways to actually make it a bit more user friendly, for the mainstream audiences, something we’re working on the lens team itself, but also like account abstraction, where you can add something like social recovery directly to your Ethereum addresses and on chain addresses, is something that will help down the line. But basically, securing your cases is one of the aspects that you need to mind. So, it’s more of a challenge of like outside of the protocol. But how do you actually do that. And there’s something we’re currently working. And also like, it’s more of a user experience, thing and a lot of user experience concerns is something that we’ve been addressing down the line all the time.

So for example, the way you interact with one of these applications build on top of the lens protocol. For example, if you go today and use something like Linster, or favor or orbit, the mobile apps, you actually post the content right away, and you don’t, you don’t sign anything, you don’t pay any gas, because you delegate your signing power to a dispatcher, which pays your gas and signs a transaction for you. And also, the UI is built optimistically that you see the transaction, you see actually the content being posted. But the blockchain logic happening in the back end, so you can actually continue your user experience. So, kind of like, when we were building web two social, we also have to rebuild the way we’re building applications. Because we’re not building any more finance, we’re building something where we have to meet the expectations of the users in the web two socials. And then another part, which is important is that you need to build the applications in the right way. So, you need to know where you want to use privacy more, for example, where you want to create transactions that are not on chain, or you can actually remove them later. And so, depending on the use case, and I think that’s the best way to achieve is by community guidance on how to build these different applications based on their used cases.

How Do You Build Collaboration Versus Competitiveness?

Makes sense. I want to jump into audience questions really quick, because one of them is very relevant to what we’re talking about. So this one comes from Charlie of decent dot XYZ. He basically asks on Twitter that there’s tons of vertical specific apps competing on the front end. Are there any concerns about power users always chasing like the next coolest feature, fragmenting maybe friendly activity and making web three social less fun? I guess the question is sort of like coming from the point of view of, if you have these decentralized social graphs, and you have endless applications building on top of it. How do you build stickiness? Right, and how do you sort of build collaboration versus competitiveness?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, it’s a good question, that it’s definitely something what will happen in the beginning that you see users being super excited about, hey, there’s one application and I will love to use this. And, hey, there’s a new application, which makes the same experience that I used on lens but now it’s a mobile, and hey, this application actually finds things I like, faster and actually more accurate way. And I think that’s happens a bit in web two social because we are users have multiple applications. So, you might be using, at the same time, Instagram, Twitter and Tik Tok for different reasons maybe Tik Tok because of the algorithm, and Twitter because of the kind of like a, maybe like a work network or electrical networks there. And like it’s already happening, but I think like inventing social, what I personally believe will happen is that you start to see more of like communities form behind of those applications. So, for example, that I feel Reddit has, as a web two platform has accomplished it to some degree where you’re actually using Reddit because that only that content might be good for you. But also, like, you’re excited about the values and how the moderation and other things are happening community based in Reddit, and then you can find also the relevant content for you in those subreddits. 

So, like, you’re very aligned with the community, the application community. So, you will start seeing that each and every application will have a community behind of it and they will reflect certain values. And this goes towards the recently what we launched with the cultivator Dao. So, cultivator Dao effectively is just a Dao that governs trust and safety, content moderation and curation within the lens ecosystem, but anyone can actually take that cultivator Dao fork it for their own kind of a purpose and have their own policies and said it behind a new or existing application. So I will say that all these applications, they become more of communities. And the reason they are not now in the two social is because they’re more of products where the users are kind of like look and you don’t have you have little choice of choosing algorithms, choosing experiences and have a say or even have part of the monetization that is happening within the platform. And you just choose to be a spectator and consumer than actually a community member. And this is what is going to change now.

Community-Specific Applications Built On Lens

That as you’re talking my mind is absolutely racing, because I’m starting to think what sort of application can I build for my community? Right, and maybe we’re entering a world where all these Daos, all these token base communities start having their own applications that they build out on this decentralized social graph. So now you have my mind sort of like going off on what else can I provide for my community on application web level that they might find interesting. Have you seen communities sort of build out like their own native applications that’s specific for their communities on lens, have we gotten to that stage yet?

Stani Kulechov: I actually saw, like couple forks of Leinster. So, Leinster is just a community to build applications. So, we don’t have a front end actually, for the lens protocol. They’re either built by third parties or community members and Leinster is a open-source front end that anyone can actually port, you can contribute directly, you can help the Lancer team to actually improve the application and it’s actually happening on an ongoing basis. And I’ve seen like couple of like forks where you people have created a smaller given it is, I think if Leinster will be something similar to Reddit in terms of like the ideas of you can create sub communities, we will see probably more of this kind of porting. And probably we will in the future. But that’s, that’s pretty exciting. Because like you can actually just have the user experience that you really want, your community and your committee values and algorithms that are most aligned with what you’re building and as a community in one particular user experience. So, I think that’s kind of like a valuable aspect. And I think another thing that is going to be very big is the monetization. So how the protocol and the front ends that, let’s even put it this way, like the monetization problem will be more on the front-end sides. So how the front ends will divide the monetization between the protocol and the applications because the applications actually, they are the ones that tried distribution for the protocol. So, there is a healthy feedback loop there and then the protocol needs the application because of the distribution and utilization as well. So effectively, we probably will see some sort of forks of the existing smart contract modules where you will see sure featuring between the front end and the protocol.

Scaling to Facebook’s Level

That makes sense. I want to talk more about challenges with building a social graph, let alone lens. This one also comes from the community; this one comes from Nima. How do you plan to scale to Facebook level of usage slash adoption while remaining decentralized and trustless? What does that look like to you?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, I mean, on the infrastructure level, it’s very much basically, going into more layer twos, in the sense that you can do a lot of transactions on Polygon, but down the line, what you need to do is, you have to get into a roll up where you can have a vast bigger throughput for the transaction. And so that’s on the infrastructure layer. And then, on the actual middleware, what we’re planning is to decentralize the middleware. So, we have the lens API, which currently is basically a way of indexing all the data on lens protocol and making it usable for applications that are built on top. And these applications are choosing either going directly to the blockchain or using lens API, or using the graph, or RSS fee. So basically, there, we want to create a decentralized network where network agreement of the data indexing and providing that as a service for the application. So, like, all that infrastructure stack isn’t really that hard, because there’s already a way to scale. The more challenging part actually, is the user experience. So how do you make the user experience accessible and something that works for billions? And when it comes to that level, you need to think of actually all the way down, how do you manage keys? How do you plan the key recovery for the users? And how do you ensure that best experience and also that the content is relevant. 

So, I’m more kind of like, thinking that the bigger heavy lifting is on the application level, and also on that user experience level, where you need to actually show that web three social is actually possible and it’s actually easy to use. And you don’t need to do big compromises to use something like this entire social media. And then there’s the question of like, actually, like, how much security you need from the centralization. So, something like decentralized finance you for example, you might need the Ethereum scaled security, but something where you’re dealing with decentralized social, you want to have the on-chain ecosystem, because you want to secure the profiles. So, no one can drop you out of your profile and your follower base. But then you can actually have a scale on that like, on layer twos or even layer threes and then obviously, on the content side is that not all content, but certainly to be on chain depending on the used case, I would say something like public Dao, discussion forums, could be completely on a public on chain or reflected into a public accessible endpoint like IPFS. But then something that is maybe you want to keep more private can be actually reflected to a cloud instance. So, you have to know what level of decentralization you will choose. And then also making the user experience easy. But the groundbreaking thing is that with lens protocol, you have that scale, so you can choose actually what you want to apply from the stack.

Sub-Communities That May Create a Cultivator DAO Experience

I also think as lens sort of encounters Facebook like adoption, there’s going to be pockets of sub-communities that care about specific things that lens will essentially be able to incentivize and empower, to sort of take ownership around that, one of them is the cultivator Dao that you guys’ sort of announced, when it came to when it comes to at least content moderation, instilling trust and safety in the ecosystem. I’m curious, are there any other sub communities or users or features that may be more relevant to create like a cultivator Dao experience for management?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, I think like cultivated Daos aims to solve mainly on the content curation aspect. But there’s multiple things that you can actually think about it regarding Daos in terms of servicing content, the content itself, but also the algorithm. So how do you rate different kinds of algorithms? What’s the benefit to it? And how you can actually make it more Dao centric. So how you can actually vote within the Dao, which algorithm is actually beneficial to the users? And those kinds of Daos can be very flexible? So that you don’t need to ask every single user on a application, like which algorithm you want to actually consume. But also, I think like the Dao as it is, is interesting, because you can create various different support systems for the craters itself. customer support, so anything that’s really requires some sort of a human assessment, smaller Daos are very valuable.

The Overlap Between DeFi and Web2 Social

Makes sense. Okay, so I have two final questions for you before we head off. Okay. Number one, you obviously have a deep defi background. I’m curious how you see the two overlapping defi and web two social, what does that what does that world look like?

Stani Kulechov: From more for like a builder’s perspective, I would say that’s, we’ve always had a vision of actually building access to users. So in with the audit protocol, we were able to build access to fair and transparent financial markets that work globally. And with the lens protocol, where you’re creating access to your own social, ownership, your own social identity, and your own social network. And I think like, it’s a broader kind of like idea that Internet brings accessibility by in general, that’s where I basically spend my time growing up. And with web three, were even like reinforcing their accessibility by giving you guarantees of ownership of the properties that that are there exist on the internet. And then the overlap is interesting question, because this boils down to the topic of how you could use the three social graph in a in a different kind of context? And I think that’s where reputation score plays quite big of a role, because you could actually gain access, you can also get accessibility into under collateralized loans as well. And that’s where things can become very powerful. We’re very far away from that idea. So, I don’t expect to see any decent implementations in the next couple of years. But as we start to see, like how valuable on chain verified data is, from the social graph perspective, then we’ll see a lot of interesting features coming up.

How Does Lens Make Money?

The last question that I have for you Stani is, how does lens make money, either on a protocol level, on application level? What’s your vision around that?

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, the protocol itself has already coded into the smart contracts, a way to collect protocol revenue. But what we’re more excited about is to figure out, how the front ends will actually start collecting the fees of the interactions that are happening, or the collections across the protocol, and then deciding what the fee is sharing together with the protocol, and the community. So, end of the day, I think, you could assume a feedback loop where the protocol needs applications for distribution and adoption. And at the same time, the applications need the protocol because of the functionality, but also, because of the network effect that you’re getting when there’s multiple applications plugged into the same social network. And because of these two, kind of like incentives are aligned, you will see that’s both the applications and the protocol. They want to actually see each other to succeed and share that revenue together. So, there’s definitely like the two built in collection modules for collecting content as NFTs, as monetization and also the mirroring. But I will be excited to see additional ways to monetize and across all the applications and I could see in the future even an interesting way where someone might originate the content on Lenser and someone else might collect it on orb and there is app specific fee sharing and that will be super cool.


That is really cool. Look I’m a big fan of building a better world for creators, I think you guys are taking the right steps to do it. I’m building an audience over there, I’m actively on there, so if you’re listening to this and you’re on lens, hit me up at levy chain. Stani, before I let you go, where can we find you on lens? Where can we learn more about Leinster? Show it away.

Stani Kulechov: Yeah, so you can find me on Leinster, so it’s or any of the applications built on top. So, my handle is Stani.lens and feel free to interact with me and also, I assume this video will be available on the Lens protocol for collect. So, remember to hit the collect button. 

Exactly. Stani, thank you so much. We’ll have to do this again soon. But till next time. 

Stani Kulechov: Thank you.

Podcast Transcript

How to Leverage Social Media Data in Crypto


Mint Season 6 episode 17 welcomes a dear friend and mentor Joe Vezzani. He’s the CEO and Co-founder of LunarCrush, a social media analytics platform empowering traders with top-tier insights and sentiment on your favorite crypto projects.

In this episode, we discuss key strategies for navigating through a bear market, the evolution of the web3 social landscape, on-chain data vs. off-chain data, how traders and creators can best leverage data, common pitfalls analytics fall trap too, and what Joe is focused on in the bear market, and so much more.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 02:08 – Intro
  • 06:09 – Ideas Before LunarCrush
  • 08:24 – NFT Social Analytics
  • 13:57 – Key Strategies for Navigating Through a Bear Market
  • 17:30 – Evolution of the Web3 Social Landscape
  • 24:36 – Owning Your Data
  • 27:07 – On-Chain Data Versus Off-chain Data
  • 31:22 – How Traders and Creators Leverage Data
  • 34:31 – Common Mistakes People Make When Using Data While Decision-Making
  • 40:07 – Things Joe is Excited About During This Bear Market
  • 47:10 – Outro

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Joe Vezzani, welcome to mint.

Joe Vezzani: What’s up?

What’s up? I’m gonna have a hard time doing this interview. I feel like I’m gonna break character too much. 

Joe Vezzani: How many episodes have you done of this?

I think we’re approaching 160

Joe Vezzani: 160 episodes and out of those 160 episodes, who do you think was the best interview? So, meaning like, they’re the best, everyone else slightly worse, or you probably don’t care about those people. So, like, who was the number one?

Should I call out the bad people? Is that what you want me to do?

Joe Vezzani: No, I’m not saying that. But if that’s what you’re saying.

You know what, I think this is going to be the best interview. Okay, I’m convinced, people that I really enjoyed conversations with. So early in the season, I had these two guys on, they barely spoke English, so, it was hard but their story was the most fascinating. They were the cyborgs that sort of experiment with their bodies. And they have like, one has an antenna that’s like surgically implanted into his head. And he sells NFTs that give people access to the camera of his antenna, so that they can manipulate his color vision at all times. And then his buddy has like a pacemaker. And he sold an NFT that gives people access to manipulate his heart rate at any given time. So that was probably like the most fascinating guests I’ve had on. Nobody has topped that.

Joe Vezzani: Is it like a standard deviation of like how high the heart rate could go. I mean, you can.

You can kill the guy. No, I don’t know. But he had no limitation.

Joe Vezzani: If he could, he’s like, fuck it.

He’s like, fuck it, just like hit me at 180, welcome to the podcast, a part of season six. This feels a little formal, yet informal. You’re an OG in my podcasting days from Draper going home, doing blockchain and booze together. And now here we are, how are you doing?

Joe Vezzani: I’m good, man. Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. I mean, it’s, you know, I couldn’t be like 160 episodes, and now I’m on.

Now you’re on, I know.

Joe Vezzani: You have to go through 160 people.


Let’s not go there. Let’s just get into it. I love starting with a quick intro. Okay. For those who aren’t familiar with you, Joe, and your epicness, and all the cool things you’re doing with LunarCrush, give us a quick background.

Joe Vezzani: So, I’m CEO co-Founder of LunarCrush, LunarCrush is a social intelligence tool. So, what we do is we aggregate all of the world’s social media data, that’s crypto NFT, and stock specific now. And we aggregate that over time, so that people understand what do the communities look like, across each of these projects, or companies or communities or, you know, Daos, whatever it may be, we try and help people and protect investors by giving them a little bit more intelligence and a little bit more research in a world where, you know, sentiment and social has such a great impact on what’s going on in the markets. We help people kind of dive deep into that. And so, you know, started it back in back in 2017, 2018, co-founders, John, and Dan. And yeah, man just been cranking ever since.

So how did you actually get your start into crypto? Because I feel like you’re an OG, you’re as OG as it gets, at least from a 2017 perspective, but you’ve been a professional for a minute now. How did you get your transition into web three?

Joe Vezzani: Yeah, I actually consider myself like, almost like a second-generation OG in a way where I mean, I bought my first Bitcoin in January 2015, probably sold it in January 2015 at a loss, and, you know, just kind of found Bitcoin and just, you know, always looking for interesting industries popping up. And it’s more about the people that were in and around the space at the time, you know, I played a lot of video games as a kid, but also, you know, worked in finance, and have done a lot of things. And so, it’s all kind of this like, weird crossover of, kind of, like just gamer type folks that I grew up with and that type of mentality, but also, like a crossover with money and, you know, financial instruments in a way and was like, what is going on over here, and, you know, kind of consider myself an entrepreneur at heart. And, you know, I was like, I need to start something, I need to do something in this space. You know, just too exciting too many people that I saw that I just respected and you know, or whether they were, you know, they were ultra-risk takers or just wacky or just into kind of counterculture type things in a way, it felt like that in those early days. And, you know, I was all in.

So, you’ve known the other two co-founders for a minute now, right? You guys worked at an agency together, right? Like a digital agency, a design agency, remind me.

Joe Vezzani: that an ad agency, John and I have worked together. Yeah.

And then how did Dan come into the picture for LunarCrush?

Joe Vezzani: Dan, and John had built a little, like website building CMS company together. Like they build superfast websites, and it was, you know, your agency can build sites very quickly, or consumers can build out site. So, they built a cool little app. It’s called blocks, it’s still, you could still make websites on there. And they had worked together on a couple of other things prior to that. And so yeah, man, just, you know, they were friends. And so, I knew Dan, through John. And so, John, and I just kind of going back and forth on crypto craziness, we had a bunch of different ideas that we wanted to launch. And then we came up with kind of what we thought would be, what LunarCrushed in, it turned into, and we just went to Dan, and we’re like, yo, do you think you could, like pull this data and kind of get it together in a way that makes sense? And he’s like, yeah, maybe I figure that out. And that’s the beginning. 

Ideas Before LunarCrush

The rest is history. So, the ideas that sort of spiraled before LunarCrush came into existence, you remember what those ideas were?

Joe Vezzani: Tons of ideas. I mean, we had, I mean, there was one. It was like a lot of there were some interesting ones around, like restaurant suggestions. So, like, like lunch suggestions based on, you know, kind of what you were interested in eating, like, we kind of think about, like Uber Eth, but not having to make the decision, you know, so like, basically kind of like, on how you felt and everything else, like a recommendation engine around that, that was kind of cool. We had one that was kind of LunarCrushy, which we’re always kind of talking about. And we kind of have features in LunarCrush with like influencers and everything that we have, that kind of plays off this, but we really felt that any sort of talking head out there from a financial industry, so think like a CNBC or, like Jim Cramer’s of the world, and every one, these people are constantly making calls out there of like, this is going to go up, or this is going to go down, or here’s my call right here. And then they can either delete those tweets, or delete that Reddit post, or they can kind of move something. And so, we kind of had, we wanted to find, we wanted to create at one point of a platform where it was kind of memorializing people’s financial calls. And so, we kind of always felt that there was this outsize return for attention, for people that were, you know, kind of click Beatty, or, like, just pushing on hot button issues out there, like kind of Twitter, but we felt like, man, there’s probably someone that is trading so much better than that person, or is so much better of an investor that should have clout, you know, so we were kind of say, like, there’s a, you know, there’s a supply and demand issue there. So that’s still something that we kind of think about a lot and can definitely play into what we do at LunarCrush, but yeah, man we had like, like, we’re constantly to come up with ideas, but where there’s like 20 to 30 ideas at one point, we created like a decision matrix and just, you know, weighted everything on what we thought was gonna potentially go and then you know, kind of you build what kind of fits into your talent to, any time in place, what’s ready, being early is the same thing as being wrong.

NFT Social Analytics

Yeah, I’m a big fan of LunarCrush, because you guys have a very unique product in the market. And you guys’ very much aggregate social insights and sentiment around what’s happening in the space across multiple platforms. And now you guys recently introduced the NFT side of things, right, and tracking sentiment around NFT communities. That was released last month, a couple of months ago. Right? What has been the progress and so far? Like, how are you seeing people utilize a tool? Has it been utilized the same way as are utilizing the other sort of ERC 20 based social metrics, or are you seeing anything different?

Joe Vezzani: I will say the NFT community is a lot friendlier. It’s a lot friendlier. When we post things out to Twitter on that people will congratulate other influencers, will they call these are the top influencers on this thing, and people will be like, go Adam, or this is awesome. This person’s great. A lot of times in crypto, it’s very tribal, and people are like, you know, fuck that guy. Like, why is he beating me, which I don’t think is the right way to think about it. No, we’ve seen, you know, NFTs are probably 10 to 15% of the traffic we get now on the site, which is pretty cool. And that’s kind of continuingly growing, it’s becoming a larger piece a bigger share of what we’re doing. And yeah, we’re, you know, we launched crypto, it was just kind of you feel it out, you know, which communities do you add, you know, where’s the attention? Where’s the audience? How do you support that? And so, we launched a couple of months ago, and I’d say we are in kind of reconnaissance phase of just seeing what the community thinks about it. How are those communities using it differently than, you know, potentially using it for or trading with crypto, how are people potentially going to integrate our API into maybe what they’re building, but we felt with NFTs, we also launched it, I would say, like, you know, smack dab in the middle of a bear market, you know, people don’t even want to, like open their phones and look at their portfolio, like, I have no money left. But I think, you know, when you think about crypto and you think about the type of information and data that you can get back, you know, there are no earnings reports and 10 Ks, you know, I was talking about this of, you know, there’s not a very specific way to delineate value. And it’s very community driven, but there are some fundamentals there, people can still draw their lines and charts, and they can still look at wallet addresses or you know, maybe GitHub commits, even though you can’t see all the GitHub commits. And so, there’s really no value in that. But you can, with NFTs, it’s just pure community, it is just what is the sentiment of that community and that project, and who is a part of that. And so, it’s a more, I would say, you know, native sentiment driven, you know, community driven marketplace. And so, for us, it’s pretty cool to kind of see that happen. And I think we’re still figuring out, we’re still learning.

Part of the reason why I wanted to have you on this season is because it’s all around on chain data, and data in general and crypto. And as more creators sort of enter the space, and as you guys’ sort of added the NFT social Insights tool, I think it’s interesting, maybe if you could even share some trends or interesting findings, you’ve sort of discovered, you or your team, or maybe someone in the community discovered that, maybe it wasn’t as apparent as, yeah, as not having that insight, for example.

Joe Vezzani: I’ve been from a global or a macro perspective, right now, I think the interesting part to me, you know, being in the industry for four years now, as an operator, and, you know, being an investor a couple years before, this is the,, you know, as we always say, like the kind of the base level of, you know, community members, or contributors, as we call them in the industry is a much higher number than it was like in the last, you know, bear market, there’s a ton of people waiting on the sidelines right now that are, you know, know exactly how to use a Meta mask wallet or have money sitting in Coinbase, or have connected bank accounts to the, you know, to the web three ecosystem that are just waiting in the wings. You know, they’re out there, and everyone is feeling what’s happening from a macroeconomic standpoint, right now, inflation is hurting people, you know, I just posted last night, mortgage rates are at seven and gas prices are at seven in California. Right, I just drove by gas station this morning. It was 659, 689 and $7 for gasoline and, you know, to own a, you know, million-dollar house, which, you know, is not that crazy out in California, like, believe it or not, you know, it’s gonna cost you $8,000 a month to own something like that. And it’s a two bed, two bath, like, things are all out of whack right now. And I think that’s kind of making its way through the system. But, you know, kind of what I’ve seen is that the community is there, the community is strong, and the builders are building. Yes, there have been, you know, some blow ups in the space. I think we had our, crypto had our Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns moment this year. And I think it’s going to come back 10 times as strong after that, because of what we’re seeing, and how many people are still talking about crypto and are out there and what the communities look like, and what’s growing. So, you know, I think we’re collecting anywhere from four or 5 million posts a day, which can mean a billion to 5 billion engagements. So, people interacting with those posts a day, they are out there, those are pretty big numbers. And so, people are out there, and they’re ready to go, I think when things kind of come back.

Key Strategies for Navigating Through a Bear Market

Yeah. What do you think is the best way on strategies to sort of navigate the bear market, because you’ve already been through a few cycles, and you’ve obviously stuck through, you’ve built a company, you have users, like you’re figuring it out, right? And a lot of people that may be entered through this last cycle, whether it be creators, everyday users, they’re sort of maybe seeing this downturn, maybe losing faith losing hope. They’ve issued maybe NF T’s and they were maybe optimistic about them, but now sort of seeing the dust wave sort of kind of like scatter across crypto Twitter, because also engagement online, I feel like has decreased right? Like it’s maybe even gotten quieter a little bit, but I feel like more quality like the people who are there are there like they stuck through thick and thin, right? But for those who are going through it for the first time, how do you sort of advice someone to navigate the situation?

Joe Vezzani: Well, if what you’re saying is true, that person is probably not even listening right now. They’re just like, oh my God, but if they are listening, I would say, you know, my kind of story right now is you know, think a great uncle, he just turned 101. And, you know, he, I think he had his last startup he started when he’s like 92. And like, like, sold it when he was like 97. All right, so it’s like that was a five-year-old business, like, it’s older than LunarCrush. That business was long older, and he started at 92. So, I’d say if you’re like, 25, and you’re like, oh, my God, it’s like, you could start a business and 62 year or whatever or at 60 some years, odd years from now, and still run a business and maybe sell it, like the time horizon and the way that people are thinking about what’s in front of their face versus what’s happening 3040 years down, the line is just outrageous. Right now, this is a long game, and I think even been through a couple of cycles, and just kind of get numb to it a little bit and you just try to make the adjustments and you are kind of, you know, as you get older, you kind of see around the corner just a little bit more. Because you see a little bit of the signs in history repeats itself to a degree. You know, what do they say history, does not repeat itself, but it rhymes. Like, it’s kind of you kind of see some of those things. 

And so, I’d say, if this is your first, like bear cycle, I’d say like, just be stoked that like NFTs even exist. And like, you get to even be a part of that, and just go learn, right? Like, if you had to go tried to do a startup yet to go get a job for a little bit, go get a job for a little bit, you know, enjoy that. And, you know, maybe do a couple of things, especially if you’re in your 20s go travel, go figure things out, you know, if you’re highly obsessed, and you need to be starting a company, you will be and you’re just gonna naturally figure things out based on just the grind that you go through. So, if your heads down, and you’re gonna go do that, you just, you’re going to figure it out. If you’re curious enough, I would say and so if you’re an investor, you’re someone out there, that’s just a community member and excited about what’s going on in the industry, I’d say like, just keep enjoying those communities and keep trying to add value where you can, keep carrying the industry forward. And then they’ll look for ways that you can go work for potentially companies, that are still hiring in web three that, you know, are, you know, that way you can get the experience because we will hit a day where, you know, there will be a lot of people with enough experience in web three, where that’s not just a differentiator, to say like, oh, yeah, I love crypto. So that’s enough to get me a job there. It’s like, you need to start kind of figuring out how the infrastructure works and get some experience.

Evolution of the Web3 Social Landscape

Yep. And I think that sentiment applies whether you’re starting a company, whether you’re a creator, starting a new project, minting NFTs, whatever the action may be, just sort of powering through learning, trying to find a way to give back and not just take right in the bull market, a lot of people extracted value that didn’t really get returned back into the ecosystem. And now, everybody that sort of power through is trying to find a way to still like build momentum, sell out a drop, but it needs to be done in a more strategic way. I feel like using LunarCrush, you can even kind of like figure out what those sentiments are, what the behaviors like what the energy is, like across crypto Twitter, amongst other platforms. I’m curious to hear your point of view. On a recent trend that’s sort of emerging in web three. And across crypto, Twitter web three social. And we’re seeing a lot of new, like decentralized social applications emerge, and that are sort of creating like a new environment, one for creators to build communities and to monetize communities, two I guess, also, from your point of view, like different, like new markets for people to trade and speculate on, for example, how are you seeing this news social, web three social landscape sort of evolve? Do you have any thoughts about that?

Joe Vezzani: It’s not fully decentralized yet. It can’t be. Right, we still have a couple of missing pieces in the infrastructure, right? We don’t have an AWS for blockchain. Right? There’s, you can’t scale an application. You know, imagine like Instagram and like waiting for like the transaction. Right? Like you’re waiting, you’re waiting, you’re waiting. It’s like, oh, I gotta pay gas fee on this, or I have to have a wall with something. It’s like, it’s just not possible yet. But there are these kinds of blends, right, like a web 2.5. And a lot of stuff is like that, I would say. And so, I would say, you know, to the purists out there, they’re just like, this is not even, this isn’t what three, right, which is interesting to think about. But I would say from a social perspective, there’s a drive, right? For that, because people are nervous about their data. Right? They’re nervous about, you know, trusting, massive corporations because of the complexity of those massive corporations. Right? Like, it’s not necessarily like Facebook is evil. It’s, you know, how are the controls in place for the three to 400 potential admins at that company that are just, you know, everyday people that are out there, trying to live their lives that make a salary, and you know, even if Facebook’s paying that person $500,000 a year or a million dollars a year to be an admin of that. It’s not a lot of money for someone else to come in and exploit holes, right? And so how do you have those controls in place? It’s like you can’t and so I think it hasn’t been solved completely yet. And so, I think that the consumer out there is just they want their data. I mean, you see it in all the privacy commercials, you know, Apples, I think I think Apple is trying to own privacy. And now Google is trying to own security, like they’re picking different words that mean kind of same thing, because they want, Google is like, hey, we’re gonna keep all your passwords secure, right? That’s like their ad right now. And Apple is all about, like privacy and creating mass emails. And there’s this shift there, and everyone’s trying to get out ahead of that.

It’s such bullshit, though, because this whole marketing scheme on security and privacy, and the reason why we have data exploitation, and sort of like surveillance is because they all started on these hardware devices, like they enabled that, right, and the level of access and security that they kind of granted. And the features that platforms were able to build alongside on iOS, whatever Android, like, they were the reason like they were the foundation. So why these exploits happened, right? And why we’re sort of like in this new evolution of decentralization, of interoperability, of data ownership, of network ownership, right? These are ethos and values that didn’t exist, I guess, like maybe 10 years ago, when a lot of this stuff was brewing. But now you’re starting to see the consumer mindset shift. And there’s a reason why they’re targeting all these new marketing campaigns towards the consumer, because now people care about that stuff, which I think is a very bullish signal for web three.

Joe Vezzani: Yeah, I mean, that’s where it was going, which is, that’s why I think people want that, right. They want to own their data. And there’s a massive opportunity that’s being missed right now from, like, from a machine learning and an AI standpoint around your data, right? Because, like, this is why encryption is so important. And this is why owning your own data is so important. Yes, it’s because it’s yours, right. But it’s what it could potentially unlock. Right? Imagine if, you know, I had this camera open all day. And this camera, and maybe I had a watch on or I had some glasses on that actually got my blood pressure, right, not just my heart rate, which I actually just talked to an amazing company, go through TechStars program that’s doing that, where you know, my blood pressure, you now have a computer vision on my face. And I’m working all day. And between the two of those, it’s now picking up, hey, it knows that my blood pressure is going up at this point in time. It knows that maybe I have I’m like my face. Like I’m squinting or I’m doing these things, I’m upset. And I can get you know, if you’re in the zone, or you’re focused, you’re doing something, you can get a notification that says, hey, it looks like you should take a break, right? Your heart, your blood pressure is now going up. Right? You look like you’re upset, right? Like the if you’re driving a vehicle, right? And you’re it looks like you’re tired or, you know, a baby’s crying the backseat God forbid, leave a baby in the backseat like that does happen, which is crazy to think about. But I don’t want some company having all that data, or something that’s crazy. It’s like, hey, what if you want to walk naked around your house all day and like, hey, it’s like, hey, it looks like you have added a couple of pounds. Right? Or whatever else it may be. I don’t want someone else having that data. I don’t want 400 engineers at Google.

You don’t want that?

Joe Vezzani:  Depends on how you are. I mean, if you’re like, you know, maybe it’s like, you just gotta put it all out there anyway, you just post off to the internet, you get out, I think that would be a great, you know, I think Bezos did that, didn’t he? And so, I think I think the amount of intelligence that you could get from this is unbelievable, right? But I don’t want 300 engineers at Facebook, looking at that data. I don’t want 300 engineers, you know, wherever else it may be having and having access to that. And so, you know, this is where I think the rub is for web three is, can we get to a spot where I do have full autonomy over that data, it is encrypted to a level that is not breakable, right? Like quantum computing is potentially coming here. And how do you find things that are quantum resistant? Now people are talking about, it’s crazy that we’re even talking about some of these things, but it’s out there. But it’s like, man, I just want to own my regular data, right? And I want to be the person that’s out there so that I can pick the algorithm to go and, you know, I could say, hey, I do want to know if I’m, you know, if you need a bunch of angst and I need to go like listen to Taking Back Sunday for a couple hours, you feel better, you know.

Owning Your Data

So double down more on what you mean by owning your data. Because in web three, there’s this whole notion of like, you are the co-owner of a network, right? You own your community or your community kind of like they have a level of ownership amongst each other in the value that they create. They even capture more of it, as someone who’s building data products, right? How do you sort of further understand the concept of owning your data? What does that really mean? So, you talked about the ability to sort of like, say yes or no to things that sort of use your information. How does it go beyond that? Because that tends to be the sentiment that I hear over and over again, like, I can basically turn off this accessibility from a product or a company using my information like, no more like, you can’t leverage that, right? How else do you see that evolving?

Joe Vezzani: Well, that’s step one. But even if you give someone that data, like how encrypted is that data, right? And can they, you know, say I give someone access to that data, and now they’re storing it on their side, right? And so, everything that I’ve given them at a point in time, sure, I can turn it off. But is that enough of a step forward and I own this data, and I know that no one will ever see it, right? And this is my data. So, when I say owning data, I mean, it’s yours, like no one else has access to it, you own it, no one else owns it, or has it or even has it, it might own might be the wrong word, right? Because it’s who owns what data? And how and why and what is proprietary, right? Like what is a novel piece of data, right? If I use Facebook’s platform, and my data is on there, and I upload a picture, or I upload that picture to Instagram, that’s whose data now, it’s a picture of me that I uploaded to an account. I’m paying, their advertisers are paying them for my attention. Who owns that picture, right? It’s an interesting thing to think about. And right now, it’s like, it’s out on the internet. Yes, it’s public forum. It’s out there. But what’s that ownership look like? And I think web there is moving so quickly and disrupting this so fast that, you know, I don’t even think regulation is even going to be able to catch up to some of this stuff, just because it’s gonna go so fast. And so, I think that’s the cool part. Like the sovereign side of, the sovereign individual is, hey, if the government’s not going to do it, not going to protect me, someone else is going to protect me, I need to protect myself. And so, I feel like there’s that just kind of like macho vibe that is in web three space where people are like, well, we need this to ourselves.

On-Chain Data Versus Off-chain Data

Right, right. But the way we’re sort of doing things right now, is that everything’s on an open network, across multiple open networks. And while things tend to be anonymous, users have choice whether or not they want to Doc’s themselves to an extent, right. Maybe there’s like more advanced tools like chain analysis, that can sort of track the activity online and piece of back to individual in the real world. But in general, like activity, individuals, they tend to be anonymous online, and something that I sort of look at, and I appreciate when it comes to building an audience, monetizing an audience, and web three is sort of the level of access and transparency you have that information, and being able to build and become either a smarter creator or a smarter user, on how you navigate your way across the internet, right? And in the decentralized internet. And I’m curious, like, for someone who’s building, like social sentiment, right? And maybe, and I’m not sure how much of it is actually on chain data versus off chain data, like do you have a percentage mix or is it all off chain?

Joe Vezzani: We don’t pull any on chain data. So, for us, you know, if you’re gonna say, hey, would you guys go in? You know, what is your roadmap look like? Would you go and add? You know, I mean, we have RPCs, that we’re hitting, and we’re pulling data constantly to understand what’s going on these chains, whether it’s for NFTs, and we’re looking at different things, but we’re not showcasing that in an analytics format, or a time series way in any way. For us, it’s, Hey, we’re gonna go grab, what’s the community look like on Tik Tok? Or what’s the, what are these discord communities look like? You know, what other kind of social media, you know, can we pull or go deeper on the analysis of the social media that we have. And so that’s kind of what we see the value as and our mission is to kind of create transparency across social for investors or anyone that that is part of it. But I also love what’s going on with a lot of the the on-chain analysis, because data is important, right, and you do get smarter and operate your business and you can create better products, and you can create more efficient businesses, if you do have the correct analytics to know what’s going on, right? Or if you’re a startup, you know, imagine going to an investor, you know, and them saying, like, oh, what is the user base look like? Or do you guys create enough value that people want to pay for it? Do you have a business there? And you’re like, yeah, we just don’t really know. Like, we just don’t know what all what’s going on, because it’s all anonymous and all everything. 

And so, I think you have to get smarter and work with the KPIs that you get as a business. And, you know, the KPIs start to change, and they start to adjust. And I think a lot of the web two companies are gonna have to take a deep look at this and say, hey, I can’t drop a SDK that does attribution, you know, across like my five apps and drive ads to that to do paid media in these places, you have to get smarter. And that’s where, like what you’re doing here with this show. content creation is insane. It is the, like, I forget where I heard this, but it was someone talking about what’s harder? To create Kim Kardashian audience, and then launch a shoe brand, or to launch a shoe brand, and then try to build Kim Kardashian audience to sell those shoes? It’s impossible to build Kim Kardashian its audience right. And so, it’s like, right. So, it’s like, these content creators and the media is changing. And so, it’s so impactful, and so important to go down that route, because it’s also your built-in organic audience that’s going to drive the brand, it’s going to drive that affinity and the faster people can figure that out. I think the better and there’s this point in time where someone’s an influencer. And then it’s like a brand, right? And you can tell the different way that those people create content, right? Like when you see a tweet from Nike, versus, you know, a tweet from a NFT influencer, right? The Nike thing is like, oh, we created this spot, or we created this thing. And here’s how we want you to feel about what’s going on. And then the influencers, like, here’s how I feel, here’s what, here’s the way I want to see the world. And so, people are, it’s easy to build a brand around that, it’s easy to build products around that. And so, if you’re building a business, you need to think about that in an interesting way.

How Traders and Creators Leverage Data

So, give me some examples on how you’ve seen either, traders’ creators leverage data, because in many instances, Joe, like what you guys are building is very analogous to what’s happening on chain, right? So, you guys are sort of scraping open networks, open ecosystems, right, and making sense of the information very much. So how a lot of these on chain like analytic tools, for example, are scraping on chain data and trying to make sense of that noise.

Joe Vezzani: Well, using the data that we have, you know, there’s a bunch of different types of customers that we have, or users that we have, or community members, right, because everyone, you gotta remember everyone’s goal, when it comes to money or investment is different. It’s a completely unique and individual. And so, you might have someone that’s just coming into the industry, that’s trying to understand what’s going on, maybe they land on LunarCrush, and like, oh, cool, I could see, you know, what chain links community looks like, over time versus, you know, maybe what API threes community looks like, over time. And that’s interesting. And so, I’ve done some research, and I think that, you know, Oracle’s are a interesting way that I want to, I think, are going to be very valuable in the future. And so, I’m going to pick one of those, remember, I’m going to pick both, right? Because both are pretty solid, right? And so, we give you that kind of extra dimension, to make a decision on for things like that. And, you know, or discoverability, right, like, you’re out there, and you’re saying like, man, what projects are out there that are interesting, I’ve got, you know, I want to, you know, look at a project maybe that is smaller, maybe it’s a small team, you know, maybe they only have a couple mentions across whatever, like, you know, social media site that’s out there. Or maybe I saw something or a friend messaged me about it. 

Now you can come and get that kind of extra layer, extra dimension of, it’s not just the price and the market cap everything else. It’s like, what does this community look like? who are maybe some of the influencers that have posted about this? Oh, dang, I saw this influencer, I’ve seen this influencer, I’m like, 30 other tokens that have gone to zero, probably stay away, right? Like, so there’s those types of things. We’re trying not to make judgment calls too much. Because, you know, we do want to provide the cleanest and most organized source of data possible, so that people can make those educated decisions on their own. But people ask us, like, oh, why did you guys listen to this shit coin or this scam project? And I’m like, well, first of all, how do you know that this camp project? Do you have any, like, Who are you right? And second off it, if we don’t list it, and show that this, you know, we calculate spam and we calculate, you know who the influencers are, if we don’t show that, they don’t have anywhere to go to make that decision. They’re just in the dark again. And so, you know, you have to look at the good and the bad, and you have to kind of create a playing field, that’s even. And that’s doesn’t change very often, so that people can over time kind of know, the decision and the decision doesn’t change on them. And it’s not like we’re changing the algorithm a year later. And now suddenly, it’s different, right? Like you kind of benchmark these, you know, you benchmark the way that you collect and what these, you know, these metrics look like, so people can get a little bit smarter decision.

Common Mistakes People Make When Using Data While Decision-Making

Yeah. What are some of the biggest mistakes you see people making when using data to guide their decision-making process? Any come to mind?

Joe Vezzani: Maybe too much. They’re relying too much on the data, and they’re not going a little bit with what their intuition is. You know, I see it as, I forget if it was like base camp or something. I think his name is Jason Freedberg, Freedberg and he was talking about, I mean, they never took VC money. You know, and they didn’t really even have like KPIs. They probably had some KPIs were like, hey, how much money did we make this month? Is it more than we had to pay? You know, but it was very light touch. I think when it came to roadmap, and you know, tons and tons and tons of user testing, I would say, and like, oh, we need to, you know, ABCD test this color on the homepage, right? It’s like, no, no, like, you don’t need to ABCD test that and have a designer just like hate their life while they work for you creating like AB test for like, in perpetuity. So, I think sometimes too much, too much data is maybe a burden, I think it’s finding a KPI that’s so valuable that you don’t even want to tell anyone want that KPI is, and boiling that down to one or two things that you think really impact your business or really impact your investing strategy. Find what works for you, what your, everyone’s risk tolerance is different. You know, I’m sure you got people aping into crazy, you know, projects that are coming out. Yeah, they’re just like, you know, like, you know, and like those people a little sadistic, right. It’s like, almost being addicted to gambling, like, they want to go to zero, right? They want, like, they need to get there. There’s a little bit of that. So, if you have a friend like that, like maybe, you know, send it there’s a one 800 number to send them.

 But I think it’s more about it’s more about finding what works for you, what’s your risk tolerance, and, you know, then kind of working your way out from there, because trading is very difficult. It’s very hard, you know, even like, investing can be seen as trading in a way, you know, first off, it’s like, what’s in your funnel, right? What do you actually see, right? Like, if you’re coming on to your VC, and you’re gonna launch a fund, it’s like, do you just think you’re gonna get like the best deal flow? You think we’re just gonna walk in your front door? Like, no, it’s not. So, there’s a time period to understanding. You know, are you seeing and do you have enough preview? Do you have enough time to dedicate to it? I think, for the most part, I think most people probably don’t. And so, I think the future is, in order for in our space to kind of keep swinging that pendulum towards the consumer and giving them power over some of the institutions and some of the kind of the not level playing field that’s happening out there, is to create more automation. You know, it’s kind of like with Robin Hood, like, everyone’s an investor now, right, like, Robin Hood made options easy. Like, who can make options easy, it’s impossible, right? But it’s like, if they figured that out. And they made the interface so simple, that people can figure out how to do that. We can make crypto easy, right? And we can make investing easy in a diversified low risk basket of projects. We can make that happen. And I think that’s another piece that, I saw Michael sailor post something about, he was like, oh, bitcoins up at 6% in the last two years. And then like Google, Apple, blah, blah, blah, all these things were down, right, all these equities were down.

And then, you know, what he didn’t mention was there’s like 48 others, whether it’s a layer one or a large cap crypto project, that’s now a massive Dao and ecosystem fund and has a larger VC fund than most VCs in the country, is up to 1,914%. Right? It’s like they’re just glancing over. And these were two-year timelines as well. Right? And it’s like, sure, like, you could say that, you know, maybe sometime in the future that those things might not exist, but like, you were talking about a two-year timeline, and you glanced over 50 to 100 other projects that just absolutely destroyed the return of the kind of main project out there. And I think there’s something interesting that because, you know, the S&P 500 is only 500 stocks, QQ is only 100 companies, right, the Dao was 30 companies and so like to not pay attention to the top 100 to 200 projects in the web three space that have outperformed everything. Even if there are only 250 Crypto projects going forward, that’s still a massive piece of the market. Everyone’s like oh tens of thousands go to zero, well so do tens of thousands of companies go to zero every year people start, lots of pizza shops, and they don’t make it and so I think it’s, people just are, they’re not, their perspective is so skewed because of what, you know their feed looks like, their individual feed and my new thing now is don’t trust your feed. Like I just told you they’re like five.

I just saw you tweet that, yeah. 

Joe Vezzani: 5 million posts a day like having, who I see I see like you posting like some dumb things on Twitter and then like John replying to them and like that’s it right? That’s like three people and then I’m just telling you there’s 5 million crypto specific posts a day and 5 million engagements on top of that, like you can’t see what’s going on.

Things Joe is Excited About During This Bear Market

Crazy, wild. As we continue our path down the bear market, Joe, what’s on your radar? What are you looking forward to? Any new topics, any new sort of primitives, ideas, communities? Show away? Like, I’m curious to get some alpha, because you’re so close to the data.

Joe Vezzani: What are you saying? The bear markets are going to continue? You’re saying we’re going down? I think maybe it’s over.

Whether it’s down or not, it’s going to it’s like, it’s still walking forward. That’s how I sort of see it. It’s like, it’s not going up yet. It’s not going further down. But it’s sort of steady. And if the tide may sort of continue at that pace for a minute.

Joe Vezzani: Okay, September 27. That’s Adams calling the market? 

Yes, yes. 

Joe Vezzani: 2022. Yeah, I do think, I think we’ve got a lot of uncertainty still out there. I do think that the worst of at least, the major kind of news form from Crypto is kind of through or through the woods, on a lot of that. So, I think there’s just going to be this choppiness. You know, as everyone kind of trades off the same narrative, you know, which is also interesting to me, because it’s like, you know, if I’m the chairman of the Fed, and I’m saying I’m going to raise rates in the United States, and then suddenly, like, you know, maybe my company is on, you know, the, the DAX in Germany, and my company now goes, you know, the value of my company goes down, because of like, the chairman of the US, I feel like, that’s also just kind of interesting, like, it just shows you how correlated and how uncertain everything is right now. But, you know, when you think about different technologies that are being built right now, you know, what I’m starting to see the beginning of right now that is coming to market, is the industry is going to start kind of horizontally scaling. So as opposed to, you know, when you think about you can vertically scale. So, like make Ethereum super-fast, low fees, everyone just can be on Ethereum. Because it’s just epic. And, you know, there’s no gas fees, and there’s no, I think you don’t need a bridge over that’s like a vertical scale. And then you think horizontal scale is, you know, going out from there. So going to different layer ones. So going to the, you know, the polygons the world, the stacks the world going, you know, off to Cosmos, right. 

So that’s kind of the horizontal scale. And so, another layer out from that, though, is what you’re seeing across, you know, by Binance application side chain, or polygon super nets, I think avalanche, sea chain, maybe and then, like cosmos kind of pioneered this with like the internet of blockchains. I think they’ve been just kind of, the brand has been obviously beaten down a little bit by what happened with Tara. But you still see really solid projects rebuilding over there. Because the interoperability and the composability part of being able to kind of move around from standalone blockchain to standalone blockchain is very intriguing, I think. And so, you know, you can almost think about it, is if you’re going to create an application sidechain, or you’re going to create some sort of standalone blockchain, I’m not calling it a layer one, right? Like, it’s not like these projects are going to have a standalone blockchain and then go, like, for the most part, kind of compete with Ethereum, or compete with a polygon. That’s not what they’re doing. They’re saying, hey, like, I want to be my own gas fee. And I think that the transaction speed, and the decentralization is great enough, that that’s the, that’s kind of the trade off, right. So almost think about spinning up like a test net on Ethereum, you know, and you’ve got six to eight nodes, or whatever you have. And now imagine that being its own standalone blockchain that you build your own application on. And, you know, you could kind of bridge back and forth to whatever kind of chain or ecosystem that you need to, but for whatever the specific purpose is of your application, you are spinning something up, you’re spending a couple of nodes up for that specifically. 

So, I think that’s an interesting thing that’s starting to happen. And I think we’re gonna see more of it. And it’s because the infrastructure is getting a lot more simple to do so. So, you know, it used to be very hard to go, you know, buy a bunch of boxes and stand up like servers in your garage. You know, I think we’ve all seen like, HBO, Silicon Valley, who’s got like, blow through the wall, right? Like, they even had a name for it. I should know, I watch that show so many times, it’s hilarious, but you know, that was the way that you know, servers used to be run. You know, it even used to be, you know, the dumb terminals, right? And an office, you’d have this IBM mainframe sitting in this kind of back office and then you’d have a terminal, so you’d have your monitor, you know, it would go to this mainframe and then like in the 90s, you started have like processing speed increase and then like the amount of space on you know, the personal computer increase and things moving back to the house a little bit, cable started to kind of go out there and Ethernet went out there and so then it started to go there. but they were like zip drives, and that you’re a lot younger than I am. But there’s that thing going on. And then like the cloud came, and it was like, right back, right. And now we’re almost going to a dumb terminal again, like I’ve got my phone. And it’s all up there, which when I say up there, it means it’s in a data center in Ohio, or a data center in Oregon or wherever it may be. But I think that, my point there is, it’s gotten so simple to spin up a cloud instance and build a, you know, a cloud app that runs super-fast and can be all over the world, there’s an advantage that you can build huge businesses on top of that infrastructure. 

And so, with crypto and with web three, we’re now going to continue to build out that infrastructure. And so, it’s going to be much more simple for projects to kind of build out application side chains that are easy to use, and more of that content is on chain. So, the transparency increases, you know, imagine, like Coinbase, like just saying, hey, we’re gonna build on an application side chain, and we’re have these nodes that are run by these, who knows consulting companies or whatever it may be, proof of authority, kind of like V chain, kind of pioneered some of that stuff, but you have Coinbase doing that, and trying to bring as many transactions on chain as you can. When you send money to Coinbase, it goes to like, their Coinbase wallet. And then, you know, they have other kind of sub wallets, which, you know, they have their own kind of internal system there, which is interesting. If you think about Coinbase everyone’s doing that. They could have just picked usernames. But you have a wallet address there. But you could just put anything else, which I think is like was a really smart move for them, because they’ve trained everyone, but so yeah, that’s what I’m really, I’m excited to see kind of what that does, right? What kind of projects are going to be built? How does it look when you know, there’s 500 standalone blockchains that are would probably have launched some sort of token or anything else? You know, it’s like, why doesn’t like when people talk about ape coin, you know, they’re like, oh, they’re gonna be on their own chain. You know, it’s like, it’s not that big of a lift, you know, as it potentially used to be.


Right. I think those are all really good insights. And I think it’s also a perfect place to wrap up but before I let you go, Joe, where can we find you? Where can we find LunarCrush? Show it away

Joe Vezzani: Yeah, just at LunarCrush on Twitter and at Joe Vezz. 

Let’s go.

Joe Vezzani: See me and Adam banter back and forth.

If you dig YouTube, you dig deep enough, you’ll find some old cringy videos but classic videos to say the least. But yeah, man. Thanks for being on. Always welcome on. Until next time.

Joe Vezzani: Alright brother.

Podcast Transcript

A Deep Dive into TYCHO’s Open-Source Community


Mint Season 6 episode 16 welcomes Scott Hansen, AKA Tycho, and Matt Jones, founder, and CEO of Medallion. Throughout the hour, we discuss Scott’s new open source community, the collaboration with Medallion, the similarities and differences between blogging and building a web3 community, bridging fans into web3, finding a balance between documenting and creating, and so much more.

I hope you guys enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:16 – Intro
  • 04:51 – How Blogging Helped With Community Building in Web3
  • 06:20 – The TYCHO Open-Source Community
  • 07:28 – The Medallion Passport
  • 09:47 – The Connection Between Fans and Creators on Medallion
  • 13:17 – TYCHO’s Balance Between Documenting and Creating
  • 14:43 – What Does Open-Source Mean in the TYCHO Community?
  • 17:02 – Building the Medallion Experience
  • 23:00 – Interoperability on Medallion
  • 25:07 – The Size Intentions for the New Community
  • 28:35 – Unique Features to Come
  • 35:21 – The Communication Strategy
  • 38:20 – The Next Chapter for TYCHO
  • 43:46 – Outro

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Matt, TYCHO, guys welcome to mint. Longtime coming, part of season six. How are we feeling, how are we doing guys?

TYCHO: Good, good. Thanks for having me.

Matt: Yeah, awesome, man. Great to be here.

Man. Is this your podcast debut?

Matt: It is. You got it, my debut. Dude.


I’ve done so many debuts for people being there first podcast, so I’m stoked to have you on. I’m really excited to dive in into the Tyco open-source community, everything that you guys are doing on medallion. But before we get into all that, okay, let’s start with really quick intros, just so the audience can kind of get an idea of who you guys are. If they’re not familiar, Scott, we can start with you. And then Matt, take it away.

TYCHO: Yep. My name is Scott Hanson. I’ve been recording music as TYCHO and creating visual art as ISO 50 for about 22 years now. And yeah, just kind of out of blog back in the day and did kind of web two, social media stuff here and there, but I’ve always been pretty engaged in community building. And that’s been a big part of TYCHO, so it’s really cool to be talking about this today. You guys.

Amazing, Matt, how about you?

Matt: Yeah. So been in and around music and technology for close to a couple of decades now. started my career, actually putting on concerts back in England, straight out of high school, I suppose would be the equivalent. And then started a b2b e-com company, helping artists sell tickets directly to fans and then later into Song kick and then ran that company. And yeah, it was a wild ride. And then now CEO of medallion, which we kind of, I suppose, you know, got off the ground in earnest at the beginning of this year. And, you know, yeah, we’re off and running. And it’s, it’s really exciting.

Matt, were you the kid in high school that used to rent out like the warehouses and like, try to like scan people for tickets at the front door? Was that you?

Matt: Yeah, no, not the warehouse, it definitely. It was outside of London. And it was like, old, like billiard room holes, like school churches, and things. It was, like, less glamorous, but still pretty cool. Like, it was like a real interesting generation of artists, like, you know, Mumford, and Dao and balls and glass animals and stuff like that. So, it was like, it was amazing to be around. And so yeah, no, it was a cool experience. So yeah, but quickly, kind of moved into technology after that. But yeah.

I feel like we all had that friend in high school that used to sort of do those kinds of parties. But not to get too much into that. Scott, I’m really excited to have you on the show, and kind of cover all of the new things that you’re doing, and the NFT side of things, but I want to sort of get started with more of the early days of TYCHO because you had this music blog, and you’ve been building communities for so long. I would love for you to sort of talk about what role communities have sort of played in your success, whether it be from the blog side, whether it be from the fandom side, the art side, or maybe all the above?

TYCHO: Yeah, I mean, I think it’s been a huge part. And I think it’s, it was the foundation that this whole thing was built off of, is, you know, the blog, definitely attracted like other creative professionals. And I think the music kind of lends itself to that process. For a lot of people, it’s very useful to listen to while you’re working, coding, you know, doing graphic design, video work, stuff like that. So, I feel like the blog attracted those types of people, a lot of those people in the beginning, and then we all ended up collaborating, or, you know, just became friends or met them at shows, things like that, that really connected me to a wider creative network, which I really didn’t have at the time. And I think, you know, because a lot of those people were, you know, were for either ad agencies, or did you know, video stuff, they would end up doing placements for the music, and I think, or they ran blogs or their own. And so, it’s just this really interesting way to kind of get the music out and in through the creative network. So, a lot of the shows ended up you know, we’d be a chosen, you’d realize, like, a lot of these people were either from the blog or their graphic designers themselves. And so that was just always compelling to me that that the music brought it almost like spoke specifically to these people. Sure. And then, you know, obviously later it, it reached a wider audience. And I think those were kind of the traditional social media years. And just slowly we’ve seen, you know, that the message become a lot more filtered. And I don’t feel like there’s the connection there was in those blog days. So, you know, web three, and particularly this platform that we’ve developed with Medallion is particularly compelling to me because it feels like those days, it feels like you’re speaking directly to real people. And, you know, you’re actually connecting with them, as opposed to just hoping for the best and throwing stuff into some random algorithm.

How Blogging Helped With Community Building in Web3

Can you talk more about the features of the blog that enabled for more sort of interconnectedness between readers and yourself and how that sort of translates into what you’re doing right now, in web three, because it feels like almost like web one, ask, you know, the blogging site. Social media feels like web two and like now issuing NFTs and all these tokens as a way to kind of like bond people with aligning incentives is like the new era of that. I’m curious how you sort of see the distinction between both.

TYCHO: you know, I think there’s a few elements, I think the conversational nature of it, it feels connected, they know that they’re directly connected to you. And I think there’s many expectations that set there that that’s really beneficial. I think, another big thing is kind of the feeling of ownership. I think anytime you have this token, it’s like a, you know, we call it a passport for our community. And I think anytime you have that, and you’re able to give that to a fan, it’s a tangible thing, and they feel connected to the space, and they feel like they belong in this space. And I think there’s something really powerful about that. And I think the portability of it is really cool, too, you know, that this thing can be taken to the discord, this can be taken to other communities, this can be taken, you know, or to other platforms, I think that’s you know, a big part of it, and the ability to gate the access and say, like, these people are invested in this community, and they feel the investment. And so, we’re gonna give them more, and we’re gonna give them more of a connection and more content and be able to collect all that in one space. I think those are all kind of, for me, the really powerful aspects of the community.

The TYCHO Open-Source Community

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I think that’s also a great place to sort of introduce the TYCHO open-source community. What’s the quick one liner? Like, what’s the takeaway behind this new community that you’re starting, Scott?

TYCHO: I mean, I like sharing my process, like almost like, in an educational way. Or at least just, you know, coming up, I always like, you know, idolized all these musicians and producers and wanted to like, emulate what they’re doing. And, you know, it’s just like a black box, you’re just listening to this two-track recording and trying to figure out how they did all these things. And I feel like it’s so powerful for young up and coming artists, or just anybody wanting to get into any creative endeavor, to be able to see the process of another artist, I think it’s so educational to say, like, here’s how they did it, here’s the end result, how can I take that and use it in my, my own work. And so, you know, that’s something I’ve wanted to do more of, but I felt kind of limited by the platforms and the way that you share media and the types of media you can share and all those things. So, for me, this presents a really cool opportunity. I’m going, I’m in the process of making the next record. So, I think this is a great opportunity to be able to share that process with people.

The Medallion Passport

So that sort of like introduces a medallion side of things right, Matt? And Scott, you brought up a really interesting keyword passport. Why passport Matt? Like where does passport sort of fit in the greater vision of what you guys are building a medallion? And why is that like the perfect entryway to kind of like lowering the barrier of confusion and threat that web three typically brings to a fan? That’s not I guess, crypto native.

Matt: Sure. Yeah. I mean, I don’t think we can take any credit for the word passport. I think that was all Scott and that the you know, the, you know, the crew surrounding Scott, I think is like, perfect word for what it is. I think that, you know, it really feels I don’t know, for those who have not experienced it, it’s a TYCHO dot community. And I think it really does, it feels like you are entering this like very unique, special world that is only about TYCHO. And I think that’s really hard to find nowadays. And like, you know, there’s obviously all these incredible platforms out there that, you know, have, you know, a ton of users and a lot of activity, but like they’re not exactly close-knit communities are very focused on one particular subject matter. And I think that, you know, it really is feels like a special place where you can connect and like, you know, find, you know, one you know, essentially one on one connection with the artists is kind of the primary thing that we’ve created there, I think the things that are going to be really exciting that we’ll explore in the future, is like how to develop like fan the fan connections in that same setting. I think the other thing that you know really grasped me when we did this, is it just like it kind of felt like a bit of a rebirth of like, the artists website in a way like you know, the artists website has become this kind of, I don’t know landing page that goes to all these other places and it felt like a kind of redundant bit of real estate where now it’s like, okay, like I go here because I am interested to engage with the artist, in this case TYCHO and I think, you know, now you get that engaging experience and obviously there’s a lot more to come but like I definitely think passport, to answer your question was like a very accurate, you know, word on what we were trying to create there.

The Connection Between Fans and Creators on Medallion

So, when I created an account on the on the website, I sort of saw the entire flow from a product point of view. And Scott, when you were talking about like bringing back the feel the energy, the vibe of the blog days and make We seen that with web three, and the incentive alignment, the ownership components, it really felt like that, like, I joined the website. And the first post initially was like, felt like a blog post, like it felt like, I was very much like directly communicating and kind of like having a direct line of connection with you as the creator, right? As the artist, right? So, props for you guys for sort of like, kind of like bringing that experience together. I’m trying to think, what does that look like at scale, though, for a fan, for a community member? What does that look like at scale for medallion site?

Matt: Yeah, I’m happy to dig into that. And maybe Scott, I’m sure you’ve got a ton of thoughts on this, too. I think the onboarding is really important. I think that a lot of people get caught up in, you know, web three, and blockchain and it becomes like this really abstract world, that not a lot of people feel comfortable talking about, or really don’t really understand. And I think, you know, it’s just another, you know, way the internet is moving forward, right? And like, you know, it has so many powerful attributes. And what we basically tried to do, is kind of bring it to the masses. And I think that you’ve got a lot of, you know, artists that have these incredible legacies, such as TYCHO that have these very vibrant audiences of all demographics. And like being able to build a product that caters to everyone was really the goal, that we were trying to get to with the platform was just like, hey, you can be crypto native or not, and still be, you know, get the same experience and get the same benefits. I think the other thing that was really important to us was making, you know, and this was definitely something that came from Scott, was like making this community free, right? Like, you don’t need to be one crypto native, but two like, you don’t need to pay to like experiences, sure, there’ll be some paid things at some point. And just the same way you buy music, or you go to shows but like, very base level to engage with the community, you can just dive in, and like get all the benefits. So, you know, for us, like those were like two pretty big pillars that we were trying to make sure that we hit because we felt like that is what musicians and artists are really into and like are really important for their communities. So yeah, I mean, Scott, I don’t know if you’d add anything to that.

TYCHO: Yeah, I mean, I think to speak to your earlier point, too, I think having this kind of cohesive aesthetic, where it’s like this is information and content presented in the way that the artist intended it and has designed. So, you know, combining all the great things about artists websites, but with all these powerful new tools, I think that’s the, you know, a really compelling aspect of this. And I think, generally, just the idea that this is so open, and then there can be so much more to this, I think is something I’m really excited about that just to see this thing build and evolve. Because, you know, we’ve been presented with all these new technologies over the years, you know, I’ve been doing this for 22 years now. And I’ve seen everything from, to Facebook, to Instagram, and it’s like, you know, they all show you this thing, and it always feels limited in some basic way. And this, this feels very open ended. And so that’s, you know, I think, it remains to be seen what this will become, but I think it has the potential to kind of become whatever we make it.

TYCHO’s Balance Between Documenting and Creating

Yeah, you know, one thing that I like doing on the podcast is sort of, trying to relate these to other creators, because at the end of the day, like this is meant to scale to some extent, right? This fan to artists connection, it’s not just supposed to end with you, Scott, like the goal is to sort of bring that out to many, many more artists. And I think one thing that you’ve done really well Scott, is sort of find the balance between creating and documenting, and a lot of creators that come into web three, they have a hard time kind of on the community building aspect, because they really get the creatorship right, they either get creating music, creating art, they get that stuff, right. How do you find your balance between documenting and creating?

TYCHO: Well, I mean, that’s always come naturally, me just because, you know, photography is one of my favorite pastimes. And I’m a graphic designer, I was a web developer. So, like, I come from that background of creating and posting, you know, content, framing it in a way. And so, for me that always came naturally. And also like, you know, like I was saying before, I always love like, behind the scenes and like seeing a peek into the artist’s process. So, for me, it’s important to document those things, and to have some reference for that, almost like a scrapbook. So, like that always and I’m sending that stuff out to traditional social media. It’s just it feels so disconnected and disparate. And you have all these different platforms. So, I’ve been looking for a place to collect all that into one space and this definitely feels like it.

What Does Open-Source Mean in the TYCHO Community?

Yeah, you know, open source is a term that’s often using like computer science and applies publicly accessible code, right? That anyone can kind of see modify, distribute as they see fit. And I’m curious, where does this phrase sort of fit into the big picture as it pertains to community building? like in web Three, your moats or your stickiness or your flywheel sort of generated by the community that you’re developed. And it’s hard to fork community, right? In your context, like this idea of open source, right? Like, what does that really mean to you in the grand scheme of things? Is it meant for other people to come in and sort of create their own versions of what you’re sort of documenting, producing? Or how do you sort of see that term open-source fit into your new community?

TYCHO: I think it’s a few things, obviously, these communities, like you’re saying, you know, they’re organic, and they’re kind of self-fulfilling prophecies or whatever, however, you want to say, you know, the community creates itself and it becomes what the community kind of whatever direction it nudges it. And so, you know, you can, you can start with whatever you want, you can create a foundation, but it’s going to grow into to whatever it wants to become, in kind of in an organic way. But I think, you know, the other side of it is opening up the process and showing people this is how this stuff is made. And this is how I go about it. And I’m, you know, hoping that they can take that and apply that maybe to their own process or their own process of learning how to do these things. And then I think finally, like, a good example is just, like, I just put out this Dj Mix, and I was creating the cover for it. And I was on, you know, speaking to the community and kind of saying, like, here’s this version of it, this is where I’m at right now. But I want it to become this, what do you think and like, turned out there some other graphic designers and like, they came out, and we did like a back and forth, almost like a real time critique. And like, those are the kinds of interactions and then that ended up becoming the cover, like, I really learned a lot from that process and seeing, you know, because you lose sight, sometimes as an artist of what, of how people are interacting with your work. And this is one of those grounding moments where you remember, like, okay, these are real people. And they’re taking this in, and they’re internalizing it in these different ways. And to really get that instant, real time feedback was just like a really powerful experience, it again reminded me the old days of web 1.0.

Building the Medallion Experience

Yeah, Matt, when you’re designing a product, like medallion, what are some like design principles, you sort of carry in your soul, essentially, as you sort of built like the ultimate experience for creators to be able to bring their fans together, like, what did that look like? And how has that evolved since the initial idea of medallion?

Matt: Yeah, it’s a good question. I think the first answer is, I definitely didn’t do all of it is a big team behind this. And, you know, I’m just one of many contributors here. So big shout out to the team that’s got us this, you know, to where we are, I actually think that the actual concept for the product is not really varied. Like I think it was really simple in the beginning, it was like, how do we essentially bring an artist closer to fans, and I think we’ve thought that the blockchain presented the best. We thought that the blockchain really represented the best way to do that today, like this idea of like, you know, fans living in these kind of closed ecosystems and not allowing artists to build direct connection or valuable connection or have any kind of, you know, control about how they speak to their audience, in what format and what system and stuff like that, really presented the opportunity of like what if we can move, you know, if we can create fans and identity in like, open source or like, you know, in a decentralized environment, that can kind of open up all these new possibilities. And so, the product was really geared around that idea, I think the second thing that we were really focused on was like, giving fans the ability to essentially participate, own, contribute, in a system that like meant something to the artists, e.g., like, there’s a lot of things around web three and crypto right now that kind of live in their own, you know, isolated areas, like whether it’s projects, or whether it’s, you know, all sorts of different things that there are, we thought it would be really valuable to create a system where all of those things could belong on the one roof for that artists, like so in the TYCHO community, in the open-source community, like, you know, there’s going to be like a, you know, there’s a roadmap of things that we’re building and that we built that, you know, really represent what fandom is in relation to TYCHO. And I think having those all-in-one places really gives fans incentive to wanna, you know, own that stuff and like participate and really like kind of show off like their fandom for the artists and I think that that was really absent like today. So really, for us, it was like those two core things. It was like one like, how do we kind of give artists the ability to you know, have a direct connection, one and two, how do we give fans a reason to want to kind of, you know, demonstrate or showcase their fandom. And how would we do that? So, yeah, that’s kind of what the product is doing right now, I think.

What is the like web three sort of enable for communities and fans that web two fail that from your perspective?

Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I want to go deeper into that. Okay. And the reason being is because when creators sort of, they hear web three, they hear NFTs tokens, they sort of get skeptical, right? And for one that’s sort of building a platform to use crypto primitives, as a way to bring these two parties closer together. I’m curious, what is the like web three sort of enable for communities and fans that web two fail that from your perspective?

Matt: Yeah, I think it’s kind of back to the two things I said, I think for an artist, it’s like, I think Scott can answer this himself. But I think the way, what I’ve heard, and I think the market feedback we’re getting is that, you know, artists want the ability to have a direct connection and the blockchain, you know, enables that for them, like this idea of understanding what your audience does, and being able to reward them better for the things that they do, or having like, a deeper understanding, or being able to generate loyalty and stuff like that, I think is something that is very tricky today. And like not saying it’s not possible, I’m just saying it’s not that obvious. And it’s kind of tricky. And I think for fans, like, there isn’t really a way that you talk about your fandom for a specific is like, you know, if you’ve been to loads of shows, and like listen to thousands of hours of music, like rarely really talk about that, and what? And to me, it seems very fragmented the way that that is today. And it seems to me as well. And definitely, I think the team that medallion, which is like the best place to bring that all together is the artists website, like everything we’re doing is artists branded, or, you know, essentially customized to the artist. And I think, you know, there is this really nice idea of bringing back, you know, the, you know, the first place that you would discover, hopefully an artist, would you go to the artists website. And, you know, I remember the days of like, that was the first place you go to, and now unfortunately, I think it’s like one of the last places you go to, and I think that, you know, we can definitely, I think change that I mean, maybe I’m sure Scott has probably a better answer than I did. But that’s I think, some of the stuff.

Yeah, Scott, I’m curious if you have anything to add to that?

TYCHO: Yeah, no, I mean, that sums it up pretty nicely, I think, you know, it goes back to like, you know, when I was a kid, when I identified with an artist, or I really internalized what they’re doing, you know, you want it this way, it’s almost became a part of your identity, you know, you wear a shirt, you wear a rush t-shirt to high school, and you’re making a statement. And it’s like, people, I think music fans have lost all these little things, like you get the pin at the show, or whatever, all these things that show like, you’re invested in this artist or these artists mean something to you. And it’s part of you now, because you’ve spent so much time with them. I think we’ve lost that ability as fans over time. And I think, you know, anytime we can find a way for the artist, to give that opportunity back to the fans, I think is really compelling.

Interoperability on Medallion

Yeah, I think also part of that from your side. Scott, as a creator is like also talks about this, I mean, you talk about this concept that I’ve sort of seen online as like now artists sort of own their data, right, and being able to curate experiences by having more control, because the middlemen are in the picture, right. Because when you build an audience on social media, right, on these web two platforms, you are kind of gated and limited by the tools and resources and the abilities that they sort of impose on you. And if you want to bring that community elsewhere, it’s almost as if you have to start from scratch. And for example, like when we saw the era of Tik Tok sort of arise, a lot of the Instagram artists that sort of build their audiences, either even on Twitter or Instagram, whatever it may be, now tried to build audiences on Tik Tok like they lost a lot of their edge because they have to start from scratch, right. And a concept that you sort of talked about is like this element of interoperability, right, being able to take your fans and your community across multiple different experiences. Can you sort of talk more about that? 

TYCHO: Yeah, I mean, I think the other big thing about all those platforms is, they were never designed for this purpose. And you’re always using you know, I remember Facebook didn’t even have I think you had to, like set yourself as a public figure or something back in the day, like it wasn’t, they didn’t even really have a mechanism for you know, a band. So, like, none of these things were ever designed for that in the first place. People were just leveraging them because they had large user bases, you know, it’s like, okay, here’s a lot of people I’m sure some fraction of them are fans, let’s use this to get the message out. But it wasn’t particularly designed for it. So yeah, like, obviously, you don’t own the data. You don’t really have any understanding of who these people are beyond like an avatar and whatever name they use. So, like, I think, how do you forge a deep connection with someone who you really don’t even understand who they are, you know, on any basic level. So, I think this tool have been designed from the ground up for artists to communicate with fans, I think is obviously the most powerful aspect of it and it’s something that I think so far you know, we’ve seen it allow through a much more direct connection to the fans. And I think that’s huge for artists in this era. 

The Size Intentions for the New Community

So, this is a question for both of you, are you guys designing this new community to sort of fit and tailored towards a million fans or a smaller group of people that are more of like your true, true fans? Like, how do you sort of see that strategy?

TYCHO: Well, I think, you know, from, I think TYCHO has always been a relatively small but very passionate and engaged fan base. So, you know, we’ve been successful and been lucky enough to be where we are now, because of how engaged this fan base has been. It’s not about this massive scale. And so, for me, this fits perfectly, this is like, I think this will be at least at the beginning, a small, obviously, you know, Instagram is just like a billion people or whatever. And, you know, so you have this giant potential audience, but really, you’re not really connecting with many of them. And even the ones who have, quote, followed you, you still aren’t really, you don’t have access to them in the way that you once did. And so, for, for me, I would rather have a smaller, more passionate, more engaged community that I’m speaking directly with, then some massive potential pool, where you’re connecting with a very minuscule fraction of what’s out there.

Yeah, what do you think Matt, do you think artists should be sort of optimizing for building virality in using web three tools? Or should they really be honing down on their, like their true, true, small, small kind of niche group of fans?

Matt: Yeah, I think this is a fascinating topic. And, you know, there’s a lot of studies out there, there’s, you know, the thousand, true fans concepts. I’m actually, like, personally, I think the way that we’re kind of building the product, and the platform is similar to way Scott is describing it, I think that the metric is moving away from like, impressions to like engagement. And I think that, you know, this idea of like, oh, I’ve got this many followers, but like, one, I have no idea who they are, and I can’t really reach them directly. And be like, you know, if I’m asked to post something, or put something out there, I don’t know how wide it goes. I’m, you know, sitting alongside a lot of other content. So, I think what that really points to is like, this platform that’s integrated into an artist website, where they own the keys to all of their communication with their fans, that metric then becomes is like, how engaged are my fans and like what of my open rates like on my email blasts, and like, when I do post something, how many fans are engaging? And like, I actually think the key thing for us is like, how do we build a dimensional profile of every fan? And how do we figure out how to keep that fan engaged, and wanting to come back and consume more and be more in tune with what the artist is doing. So, for us, I think it’s more about, you know, serving that, you know, call it whatever you want, a subset of fans that are looking to come back and engage more content. And I think that is the way that kind of I personally, I think that is a way that a lot of people are choosing to engage now anyway is like, you know, the bigger, you know, more open platforms are a little more tricky to kind of navigate, and people are like, searching out, like more closed and, you know, more, you know, intricate communities. And I think that’s what we can build here. So yeah, for me, it’s like number one metric is definitely around that stickiness and engagement. 

Unique Features to Come

So, I think that’s also a great place to introduce, maybe like the roadmap essentially, with this new community that you guys are kind of like building collectively, using medallion as the foundation and Scott you kind of creating all the fun stuff around it for your audience to kind of join along the ride. What are we expecting here? Like, what can we expect? What sort of things are you integrating uniquely, that NFT sort of enable, for example? Or just in general, I’d love to learn more about what you guys have in store.

Matt: Sure. Do you want me to go first, Scott? 

TYCHO: Yeah, go ahead. 

Matt: So yeah, I mean, I definitely a couple of caveats. I mean, one obviously, like we can’t divulge everything, but we can give you guys, you know, a good view on what’s coming. I think secondly, like, Scott, and Brian, and the whole, you know, the crew have been like, so instrumental in the way that we’ve crafted a lot of these features and the way that we’re bringing a lot of this stuff to market. So huge tip of the hat to everyone involved there. Yeah, so I think the easy way to explain it, is that we are looking to create platform features that sit alongside everything that I found us today. So, like right now they’d like to sign up for email lists or join platforms like we’ve created the onboarding experience. We’ve just created something, you know, with the contribution mechanic where fans can like, choose to, you know, download assets and contribute to artwork or other things, we’re going to see more of that around music and other things like that. I think the other two milestones will be like music releases and how we do that. And then the other one will be around like a live music experience. I think the other stuff around the edges will be like fan-to-fan engagement features that we build, that really kind of, you know, help fans communicate with one another, discover, and like, share experiences together. But I think like the three, the kind of three milestones that I knew, sorry, the three buckets that I put the roadmap in are like one, giving fans access to things in different ways, two giving fans the ability to own things. And the third thing is around participation, giving fans the ability to participate, you know, one on one with the artist, or in a setting with the artist, but also one on one with each other. 

Scott, anything to add to that?

TYCHO: I think, for me, one of the most interesting aspects of this, is the ability to tell a cohesive story. And I think, to Matt’s point earlier about creating higher fan engagement and having them follow along, I think, you know, any artists journey, you’re it’s kind of a narrative arc throughout your career, but even down to the granule granular level, like getting ready for a tour or making an entire album, you know, when you try to tell that story on social media, people miss entire pages, or entire chapters, depending on what ends up getting fed to them. And, you know, I’ll talk to people I know are really engaged, and people are paying attention. And they’ll have missed shows in their town, or the fact that I’ve been making a new album, like all these big things, and it’s like to be able to tell that story all in one place in a linear way and have this flow and have it be accessible, all in one place and filtered to the fans. That’s huge for me, especially at a time like this when I’m working on an album. Because, you know, at the end of the day, I want to be a storyteller. And I know the story isn’t just the end result, the album, the story is how did you get there? And who did you become along the way? And what happened, you know, throughout, and I think the ability to tell that story in one place and present it the way you want is huge.

Matt, why do you think fans want to own something? And what does that really mean?

Matt: Yeah, I mean, I think for every fan is different. I think, you know, I you know, for some fans, you know, you own something to unlock an experience, like you buy a concert ticket to go to a show, you know, for some fans, they’ll buy, you know, records because will vinyl records because they want to collect every release, some fans never open their records. I never played it, you know, like, I think it’s totally different for everyone. I think just in our head, like I think ownership is just one node of like fandom, right, like participation is another one, like attendance is another one, but like ownership definitely features right. I think, you know, Scott will tell you firsthand, like, you know, we did a you know, there was a preorder recently, you know, that was sold out. And I think, you know, people are always gonna want to buy stuff, right. And I think that, you know, that’s something that I think right now that you don’t, I think it’s really tough and ecommerce to figure out how to reward fans for that stuff, right? Like, you know, I don’t think artists have been given the best tools to figure out, oh, I want to know, you know, how many of my fans have bought every single vinyl release for the last 15 years, or like have been to all of these shows. And I think it’s a shame because I think a lot of us really want to reward fans for that loyalty from the early years. You know, I can’t tell you how many artists we talked to that. They’re just like, that’s one of the number one pain points is like, I want to figure out who was there at the beginning, and like really kind of reward them for being there. You know, and I think probably Scott is probably one of those artists that probably sees a lot of that. And I think for us, like I think web three and blockchain unlocks a lot of those possibilities. I think like the ability to reward people on chain and build loyalty on chain is massive, like unparalleled to what it is in web two. And I think for us, we have, our challenge is going to be able to figure out what that system looks like to make it interesting for fans, because right now is not that interesting, right? And I think that is what we have to figure out. And that will take time, but will also take, it will also mean working with artists that want to push the boundaries of what it is and try and test and, you know, early on in the NFT, you know, adoption cycle, like the environmental impacts was a huge learning curve that a lot of people had to go on. And I think right now we’re at a point where, you know, I think fans are coming back around to like why NFT can feature and why web three is important and like the education issue around the environment is a lot better than it was. And like, I think, you know, some of the L ones have done a really good job of that stuff, especially at polygon, Solana like they’ve done a really great job of like, educating users on why this is, you know, not as bad as everyone thought it was. But do you know what I mean? Like, it takes time to bring this stuff around, as well as kind of trying to say.

The Communication Strategy

Yeah, and I think part of that is developing the right communication strategies to sort of describe what kind of value you’re getting by collecting whatever it is that you’ll be collecting. And I’m curious as to how you guys are approaching that, because, yeah, one of the biggest hurdles is like the second somebody hears NFTs, you know, they get completely zoned out, you know, and Scott, I’d argue your community is actually much different, because you’ve been in the space for a long time, like you were part of the nifty gateway era. You were also I remember us sort of like speaking very publicly about your relationship with Justin Blau and participating in that music festival, the idea that he had very early on, I’m curious how you guys are approaching the communication strategy. And we can, of course, focus on Scott’s community, but also at large, it’s a big problem that sort of faces the entire creator economy?

TYCHO: Well, I think, you know, there’s always going to be, I think, we have a, you know, a pretty tech savvy fan base to begin with, because it’s a lot of creatives and a lot of people in technology, things like that. So, I think a lot of them are much more, you know, accepting of new technologies. But I think, you know, like Matt was saying, the onboarding process is, can be totally pretty traditional down to an email and a log in, and you can, it can be that for you, if you want it to be that simple as a fan, so and that was important to us to keep that open to everyone, and not just people who are crypto native. And I think the beauty of that is that over time, I think everybody’s going to see, anybody who comes in here, tech savvy or not, is going to start to understand the value of this thing as they interact with it, you know, the problem with forcing them to be crypto native out of the gate is that, you know, you’re going to cut out a vast swath of people who probably would be receptive to it if they just experienced it. So, we’re trying to give them this sort of hybrid experience, where you can get in the door, and then you can interact with it as much as you want in the future. And I think most people will see the benefits pretty quickly once they’re in there.

Yeah, I’m curious how you’re sort of integrating your past experience, the past collectors, sort of from like, the nifty gateway area and the and the other NFTs that you sort of issued? Where did those fans come into place?

Matt: Yeah, I think, well, you know, the model that we sort of developed for the discord was to give them access to specific areas of the discord based on holding, you know, token gated spaces. And I think that, you know, that’s gonna be the idea with Medallion is that you’ll have different, they’ll be able to interact in different ways with the community, or they’ll have access to earlier, you know, drops or tickets or merch, things like that. I think that’s all evolving. But the idea is that that will be integrated. And I mean, that’s the beauty of being able to integrate web three here is that there’s portability. So, if you’ve interacted in some way in the past, with us in the web three space that’s going to be portable into this community.

The Next Chapter for TYCHO

Yeah. What questions do you think you guys, you think I’m not asking to you guys, that’s super important to kind of understand this next era for you, this next chapter for TYCHO as a whole.

TYCHO: I mean, for me, the big thing, and we’ve sort of touched on it, but I think it’s worth diving deeper into is just like, from the artists perspective, I think people think of fandom as this artist’s fan relationship, as this one-way street, this artist has a megaphone, and I think that’s been shaped by social media, is this megaphone on top of a hill, just shouting out some message and hoping that someone hears it. And the people who do hear it, maybe they internalize it, but there’s nothing coming back. And like, you have to remember, like, you know, you play these shows in front of all these people. And it can become sort of abstract and you just think like, this is work and this is what we’re doing. But then after the show, you’ll go to the merch booth or you meet somebody, you know, a fan outside the venue, and they have all four vinyl, or they, you know, it’s clear, and they have the shirt and they’re like, I’ve been to so many shows, and it finally hits home like these are people and they’re interacting, this is like, you know, this is affecting their lives and the things that you’re doing have an impact and like you, it’s really easy, at least for me, you know, I’m speaking for myself to forget those things when you’re in a studio almost your whole life and especially with COVID when you didn’t interact with fans that much at all. And so, these are those opportunities to see like, okay, this person is really invested in this and this means a lot to them. Like there’s a reason behind this. I’m not just doing this for a living like this is something I’m so passionate about. It impacts my life in such a positive way, but like it’s also impacting other people in a positive way. And I think to be able to remind artists and have that two-way communication, I think is really important to artists as well. And to our creative vision and to our inspiration. I think that that really helps you kind of like, keep going when sometimes you feel like I don’t know, you know, if you’re falling on deaf ears and who’s even listening to this stuff.

Right. What about you, Matt? Like, what do you think, from like a platform point of view? Like, what am I missing over here? Because this sounds very exciting. You know, this next era, it seems like very multi-dimensional. And from the looks of it, it seems like you guys are actually cracking the code around where fandom meets web three, right. And it really just ties back to me logging into medallion, and like your platform. And based off what you’re telling me, Scott, like you wanted to kind of encapsulate this vision of the first blog era and integrate like web three pruners into that, like, I felt that, you know, like, I really did feel that. But what do you think I’m missing in this entire experience?

Matt: I don’t know if there’s anything you missing. I think one thing I would love to just kind of follow on from an earlier question that you asked, was just around, like the way that NFTs are presented to fans, I think is like a really interesting topic. I think a lot of people have a lot of different opinions. I think that the way that you know, I think to Scott’s earlier point, like the TYCHO community probably skews more towards being more tech savvy, as Scott says. So, like, you know, there’s previous collections and things and like, to your point, nifty drops and stuff like that. But to the more kind of, I suppose, how do I say it, more analog artists, it does present like a really tricky, you know, problem of like, how do you present this new technology, and especially with all the headwinds that it’s had around speculation and you know, the environment, I think that the two things I would want to touch on there, which are really important is, to try and to bring fans into this new era is like, one education on why like, I don’t think that a lot of people take the time to explain why, I think a lot of people talk about like, oh, this community and utility, but I think it kind of ends up being these empty words. And I think a lot of people, a lot of artists in music are confused as to why would I do this? And I think, you know, the why is becoming more apparent when, with what we’ve done with Scott. And what we’re going to do with other artists is like, why would you want to join this as a fan? And why would you want to participate or buy these things? There’s always an answer, I think, and I think if there isn’t an answer, then we shouldn’t do it. And then I think the second thing is about, you know speculation, I think is like I’m not sure that music fans really want to sign up for that, like, you know, this idea of like investing in things or like buying things, because later on it will have, you know, a value, I don’t think those are the kinds of communities that are so actually looking to build. And I think for us, like just nipping it in the bud that this is a safe environment. That’s, you know, not about speculation. It’s about loyalty and rewarding fandom and stuff like that, is another hurdle we have to jump over. And then like you have the environmental thing around the side, which as I said, I think is changing rapidly. But like, I think those are the fundamental two points that I think are really, really pivotal in like this new set of technologies, like rising into the mainstream and like being adopted by, you know, artists, such as Scott, and others.


Yeah, I think time will tell if we’re taking the right actions to educate people, you know, but definitely, I’m really a fan of how you guys are approaching and I’m really excited for this next step. Before I kind of let you guys go and wrap this up. What are some dates we should keep in mind? What should the community keep in mind? Some final words?

Matt: I think, I don’t think we have any firm dates. But I think towards the end of this month, and early next month is going to be a ton of activity. I would say in general, like there’s been generally activity every week in the open-source community. So, keep your eyes on that.

Any final words from you, Scott?

TYCHO: Oh, yeah. I’m excited to see how people interact with this. And to see how it kind of evolves out of that. It’s, it’s been a great start, and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Amazing. One thing we’ll have to do, again, is a recap in a few months or so to kind of see the actions that you guys took to onboard people and see sort of what the outcomes were. So, until then, I wish you guys well, and yeah, best of luck.

Matt: Thanks so much.

TYCHO: Cool. Thank you. Thanks Adam, we appreciate. 

Matt: Thanks, Adam. Take care.