Mint Season 6 episode 19 welcomes the co-founder and CEO of n.xyz, 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.
- 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.
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