Design, Distribution, and Tokenized Media: Insights from Jacob Horne of Zora

Jacob Horne, Co-Founder of Zora, shares insights on the crypto creator economy, content worth collecting, and the future of NFTs on the "Mint" podcast. Discover how Zora's platform enables on-chain creativity and collection.

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Mint Season 7 Episode 19 welcomes Jacob Horne, Co-Founder of Zora, a platform that enables users to create, discover and collect with ease, all in one place. We discuss his transition from building stable coin projects to spearheading the crypto-native creator economy, as well as his interest in design and experimentation at Zora. We also delve into onchain distribution and virality, the potential of NFTs, and the Nouns ecosystem. Finally, we explore Jacob’s creative process and the things he wished he knew when he started building Zora.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.

Time Stamps

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 02:13 – From Stable Coin Projects to Crypto Creator Economy
  • 07:58 – Jacob’s Interest in Design
  • 14:26 – Insights from Experiment with Zora
  • 18:27 – Understanding “Creating Content Worth Collecting”
  • 23:40 – Best Examples of On-Chain Distribution and Virality, and What’s Missing for TikTok-Level Distribution
  • 28:26 – What Web2 Creators Are Missing to Enter Web3
  • 32:25 – NFTs as the End-All Be-All Solution
  • 34:43 – Ordinal NFTs on Bitcoin and Zora’s Direction
  • 41:54 – Rationalizing the Nouns Ecosystem
  • 48:51 – Relatable Human-Based Values in the Nouns Community 
  • 51:46 – Unfunded Ideas for the Nouns Ecosystem
  • 54:46 – Half-Baked Ideas Being Tinkered with
  • 01:02:12 – Creative and Thought Process for Rallying Team Around Statements
  • 01:05:57 – Strongly Held Ideas that Differ from Others
  • 01:07:35 – Lessons Learned Building Zora
  • 01:10:23 – Outro

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Jacob horn Welcome to mint season seven, all about creating content worth collecting. How’re you doing? Thanks for being on.

Jacob Horne: I’m doing pretty well. How are you doing? You’re good?

I’m doing great, feeling good. Fired up, just came back from Eth. Denver. I didn’t see you there. Did you see things rolling on crypto Twitter.

Jacob Horne: One of my co-founders Tyson was there. And one of our protocol engineers were there. They said it was amazing. So, my fam was very high.

Did they give you any sort of, I guess, like topics of discussion that were trending at Eth Denver, any narratives?

Jacob Horne: No, I haven’t got the full debrief yet. I’ve got lots of photos of this, like hardware workshop that like Ian was running. And then yeah, I think Tyson was enjoying the high-altitude conversations and the high altitude physically. So, it seemed pretty good. Yeah.

Okay, sick. Well, look, I’m super stoked genuinely to have you on, big fan of Zora. For whatever reason, our audience overlaps with people who collect on Zora and the people who collect mint podcasts. And I’ve noticed that anytime I create content around Zora, or I have somebody from Zora, they love it, and the download count is actually significantly higher, funnily enough, so I’m excited to see how this episode performs. I think Jacob, a good place to start is, for those who don’t know you, and don’t know crypto, how do you actually introduce yourself to someone?

Jacob Horne: I say that my name is Jacob and I work in crypto. Pretty simple. Yeah, I guess one of the cofounders of Zora, have been working on Zora for coming up on three years now. Before Zora, I worked at Coinbase, I was there for about three and a half years, I had a pretty wild journey. There I started as like a design intern, and then ended up kind of spearheading the stable coin and USDC efforts internally within Coinbase and that was a wild experience. Before Coinbase, I was building a bunch of wacky Ethereum projects that I was tweeting about in college, which is how I actually ended up at Coinbase, funnily enough. And then yeah, that’s the like, 32nd Introduction to about 10 years of being in crypto. There’s a lot of depth to it. But yeah, that’s the extremely high-level thing. 

From Stable Coin Projects to Crypto Creator Economy

Wait, how do you go from like building stable coin projects and Ethereum wacky projects to then, like spearheading or partly spearheading the crypto native creator economy?

Jacob Horne: That’s a good question. I guess follow a little bit. And just like, yeah, I guess like maybe how I got into crypto was, I honestly can’t remember if it was my dad that got me into crypto or like a professor that was teaching computer science. But basically, like Bitcoin was amazing to me. But what was even more amazing is that you could just create a currency out of the box. And the immediate spark that went off in my head was like wait, you’re telling me you could create a cryptocurrency for like, any idea or like project but that’s wild. So, I started playing around with it from that perspective. And that was these things called Colored Coins at the time, which was kind of like built on Counterparty.

Is that like another shit coin?

Jacob Horne: No, no, no, it was literally like, how do you start to build crypto currencies on top of Bitcoin? So like, very, very rudimentary like, I guess, simultaneously NFTs and non, like fungible tokens. But it’s built on Bitcoin so literally impossible to build, which is how like, I kind of got immediately rabbit holed into Ethereum. And when that came out, I was like, oh, wait, this is literally 1000 times easy to build on top of a public blockchain. So, my, a kind of, like, I guess, perpetual side project while I was in college was like, how do you use cryptocurrencies to capture the value of like creative projects? And just kind of like exploring, like, tokenizing anything around that? And yeah, I was like, tweeting about it a lot at the time. I kind of had the head of design at Coinbase reached out and then Fred Ostrom, the co-founder of being like, hey, this is cool. There’s no many people talking about Ethereum out of Sydney, like, this is interesting, like, let’s catch up. And I guess that led to them being like, you should come to Coinbase and do a three-month internship. And I was like, cool. I’ll do a three-month internship, learn everything I need to know about startups, go back to Australia and keep doing my like project. That three months turned into like three and a half years. It was pretty wild journey. And yeah, I guess I started in design, which was interesting enough, because I was, you know, I was coming from a computer science degree. But I guess within Coinbase, yeah, I was like a very strong advocate for pushing for the most like on chain or like out there versions of what Coinbase could do, and had a few shots at that, which was like Coinbase should move into decentralized exchanges. We should think about like, the core business and how that gets disrupted. And that was kind of like part of Coinbase’s like 0x ray light era and then started to pay attention to Uniswap and bootstrapping a lot of liquidity for you like on that. And then yeah, I guess stablecoins was something that kind of found a good alignment with Coinbase long term. So yeah, it was like myself and two engineers got locked into a room for three months and helped build that into Coinbase. Alongside like, Balaji flew out to Boston to deal with, all that good stuff. And yeah, that was kind of like a big hero project.

And you got so many scars, I’m just like, I’m like wait, don’t, like stop, like, let’s cover that. But wait, I don’t want to stop you. I’m like you have so many layers. That’s actually wild.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, and I guess like, layer into that protocol on Ethereum, which is starting to like flourish. So, like Uniswap was mind blowing to me, because I was like, wait, this is a team of like 10 people, who I think are going to structurally out compete a like 1200-person company. And I get the entire power of Coinbase with like a single function called this is like totally mind blowing. And it happened to be well timed with like the years Sox project, which I was like, oh, now we’re starting to talk a little bit because it’s like, we’re getting into creative projects, like this is fashion that happens to be using crypto. So, my like, side projects that I did to like remix that was like, well, if you have an entirely trustless market on chain, you should be able to create a trustless brand on top of it. So, I like spent the weekend creating like Aragon Dao called St. Fame, I made sure that that Dao was like the trustless owner and creator of the St. fame shot, which would be released the same way as Sox. And that it was all trustless, there were like Dao members, all this kind of stuff. And then you know, that was kind of the early spark to Zora and actually directly led to Zora in a lot of ways. Because yeah, no one cared about the Dao funnily enough, but there was a lot of excitement around the creative token side. And that was kind of The Spark. And I was like I can’t stop thinking about this. This feels like the jumping off point.

When I had your co-founder Tyson on the podcast, he was talking about how the initial idea for Zora came about what you guys were all start at Coinbase. So that entire story, all those layers, that was while you were still working at Coinbase. 

Jacob Horne: That was still, yeah. And doing things like through the first defi hackathon, had like Robert last year and the compound team come in. We did like Coinbase compound article, like all sorts of crazy projects coming along at the same time. And then yeah, I met my other co-founder Dee while we were doing like one of the first, like the first MBA partnership for Coinbase, like flew out to Chicago for the NBA All Star Weekend, talking to them about crypto, all this kind of stuff. Like it was a really wild time and a lot happening. It felt like a decade long career and like three and a half years. It’s kind of an awesome era for Coinbase. But yeah, it was all happening all at once, which was cool.

Jacob’s Interest in Design

I want to talk to you about also the wacky Ethereum and projects that you’re building. But I also want to go a step further and explore your design site because Zora has a very unique brand. And when I had Tyson on, I was asking, like, what did the mood board for Zora look like? And he was like, o h, it was actually like community curated. Like we just threw a figma link and a bunch of people threw ideas over there. And we kind of got to where we are today, where at least initial starters are but it seems as if you have a creative side to you. And I’m trying to understand like where does that start? Where does that stem from? Like where you like the coloring book kid? And you’re just like, always heads down with crayons, is that your persona or where does your interest in design come from?

Jacob Horne: That’s a really good question. I guess I kind of was but also wasn’t the crayon kid and then I love the crayons, but like, couldn’t necessarily draw that well. Shout out to figma obviously made. But I guess I’ve always had a really deep obsession with like the concept of brands and memes. And I feel, like Zora actually started as more of a meme and a brand has been a did this particular instance of an idea. Like for the first kind of like three months Zora was just the moon Sun Moon emoji, me tweeting very kind of like esoteric and extremely high-level statements. And then just like my favorite images that I was finding from like, Tumblr arena, or what I curated from the internet. And yeah, so I guess, and I have very strong opinions about Brandon and like, I guess the design side. So, it’s something that probably to a lot of the people in the Zora team are probably annoyed that it’s the case. But I I’m still like reasonably involved on like, very involved in the brand side and the design site, and I guess it’s just like it’s just something that’s a passion of mine, and I happen to have strong opinions about it. So, when those things overlap, that means I spend a lot of time on it.

So, when you’re building those wacky Ethereum projects, like what were the first few ones that you spend time doing?

Jacob Horne: The main one was called Horizon, which in a lot of ways is kind of what Zora is today, which is how do you have a creative idea or project, bring that on chain, create ownership in it? So the language I was using at the time was like, create crypto equity in a film. And we’re going to create a token around a film. It doesn’t exist yet, but we know we all want to make it. So, how do we create ownership in it that’s native to the internet without having to create a company? Because keep in mind, I’m in Australia, and it’s like, how am I going to create an Australian company is going to have global impact, like solving a very real problem where it’s like, I could collaborate with anyone around the world, using crypto better than I could use in the traditional system in Australia. And everything was really just like, honestly, remixes around the horizon concept, which is like, at what level do you create ownership? And is the community level? An artifact levels, they’re like a script, or like project level? So, the final idea and just kind of traversing up and down that stack, using, the ESC 20 tokens weren’t even really a thing, there was just like, you create a comment on what the form was. But yeah, that was the main thing and just kind of playing around with those ideas. And keep in mind, this is probably like a six- or seven-month window. So, it really isn’t that much time. And this is like 20, end of 2015 through mid-2016.

Do you think your parents still know or have any clue about what you do? Like do they get it?

Jacob Horne: My dad certainly does. Because he’s a brilliant engineer in his own right. So, I think he’s like one of the few people that can kind of go really deep and esoteric on it, and typically goes further than I can. And then my mom does too, she owns some NFTs, and she gets it and loves entertaining the ideas around it. Yeah, it’s more so like, like mother and father in law, maybe not so much or immediate family around me, they’re like, selling shoes. Like I really don’t get it. They, yeah, they liked the imagery. It’s like the old school.

Jacob, I feel like you just came back from maternity leave. And I feel like prior to maternity leave, you started the open edition strand, you basically kicked off the jack butcher’s project, and you just left. You’re like, alright, we’ll come back in a month from now and we’ll see what happens. Is that what went down? From an outsider’s perspective, that looks like exactly what happened?

Jacob Horne: Yeah, well, I mean, maybe you could say that open editions as a form have been around for quite sure.

But time, the time to open editions, is like you guys have been, because that was like the whole concept, right? It was like a very low mint; it was time to open edition. And it was something that you guys have been publicly talking about for a minute. But I feel like you’re like, alright, I’m just gonna throw this project out there. I’m gonna work with Jack Butchers and I’m just gonna disappear for a month, and we’ll see what happens.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, that’s funny. I can give my perspective. It’s like, our first-time open addition was New Year’s Day 2022 was the Zob. And it was like, well, this is like an iconic part of our brand. Let’s just make it free and it’s fun. And then that kind of blew our minds, because it was like, wait, there’s not 36,000 people that are in this. And this was like a crazy experience, and this feels interesting. So, all of last year, we were really going deep on our create tool, which is like, okay, how do we make it as easy as possible for people to do this themselves? And I guess like most things, you know, you launch it, you kind of Tinker away at it, you like invest a lot of time and energy into it. And it’s just kind of like this, and then suddenly, you know, people catch on, and then hockey sticks up into the right, and you’re like, oh, I guess that was always obvious, when in fact it was like, okay, there was a lot of months where we’re just working. And there were like spikes but didn’t really take off, to the extent that you could see it taking off. I would say rainbows orbs happened in December. And that was like a step function increase in the scale of ownership. Like that was like 136,000 people. And then yet with Jack Butcher and checks, Jack just picked up the tool and ran with it, we didn’t really do anything. I just saw him tweet it out. It was like 16,000 additions at $8. And then, you know, it’s kind of insane journey over the next month, where it’s like, holy shit, he’s pushing the limits of our tool in really interesting ways that we’ve now been building around and got some cool releases coming, so everyone can do similar things.

Insights from Experiment with Zora

Share more about that, like what were the interesting insights that arose from that experiment that you’re now tinkering without Zora.

Jacob Horne: The metadata updates, it’s basically like, jet and that’s another way of saying the image changed. So, like we make it really easy in our tool where if you create an addition, you can just like press a button and change the image or the video or the music that’s being displayed on your NFT. And that was mostly just because, you know, maybe you make a mistake, you want to edit it or update it and refine it. But Jack started to push that to the limit conceptually, which was like wait, I kind of have created this like $50 million billboard, which is a direct channel to people who hold this NFT in their wallet, view it on Zora, view on an open sea, view it everywhere. And it’s kind of like this big TV, that he has like control over and a direct channel to his audience with. When he’s updated it, I think like close to 15 times with some, like really cool remixes, and overlaps and collabs, and all that kind of stuff. So that is something we’ve been, we’ve double clicked on. And they’ve got some protocol, new protocol features that are coming around it, which is like, let’s assume that people do start to use NFTs is more of this kind of like channel, what kind of new protocol features can you build around that to create a longer lasting experience and ownership within each update and all that kind of stuff? So yeah, I won’t go too much into it. But like that’s the one area that’s been like, really fascinating to see. And I think Jack’s been a trailblazer and kind of like normalizing and making open edition seem like really attractive to a lot of creators in the space. And, you know, like maybe this is actually the internet native form of ownership for content. And just seems like the way they feed you, like, capture the ownership and value and attention that happened to be there at the time, and then create a really interesting kind of market and value system around a piece of content after the fact. 

So, let’s dive into that thought really quick, because I first want to talk to you about what do you think, sort of changed from the first era of open editions and the nifty gateway era to now what I call like, I don’t know, at the time was more digital art. But now you’re seeing video, you’re seeing photography, you’re seeing music, you’re seeing a bunch of other forms of content, sort of getting tokenized and the either timed or unlimited time, I guess, yeah, time to open additional format, like what do you think are the differences between those two eras? And how do you think they’ve sort of complemented each other?

Jacob Horne: Well, the biggest difference is that the, it wasn’t easy for everyone to just create an open edition, you’d have to work with nifty, you have to get accepted into their pipeline, get a date on their calendar. And you know, it wasn’t readily available to someone who didn’t know how to write smart contracts actually create an open edition. So, I think the tooling and accessibility is like a huge factor. And I think that has a bunch of downstream implications and there’s like kind of the main change. And then yeah, two, I would say, yeah, there’s been a general, I think shift. And it’s like, of course, we’re going to put, you know, capital A art on chain and this is an amazing medium for it. But now it’s like, what does it look like to actually put all of the content that we would usually post on YouTube, or Instagram or Spotify? It’s like, well, I’m putting him on these like web two platforms, why don’t I put it on Ethereum? And I get like, a lot of new benefits that crypto offers, as well as a lot of the, yeah, like mainly, like the value capture side and then a bunch of other longer-term things like provenance, and its platform agnostic and all these features. So, I think, yeah, I guess to kind of summarize, the two big shifts would be like, it’s actually really easy to do it cost like $3.02 minutes, like great addition. And then two, I think like both creators and collectors are realizing that it’s just as exciting to collect content as it is like, capital A art, you know what I mean? So, two big shifts.

Understanding “Creating Content Worth Collecting”

So, the whole theme for season seven is creating content that’s worth collecting. I’m curious, how do you understand that statement?

Jacob Horne: It’s a big statement, how I understand it is an interesting question. I guess the things that come to mind is that like, I think it makes, I think Ethereum and public blockchains are a 10x improvement on content ownership, ownership for the internet. And it’s a 10x for creators, it’s like a zero to one moment, like if you’re a up and coming YouTuber, it’s very hard for you to make any money from YouTube. You’re not gonna get like Mr. V style creator payments or even anything for a really long time. But if you can make 10 to $100 from your creators like very early crypto, like allows for that, and then builds in, you know, all of the crypto superpowers, which there might be long term upside if this thing is actually a viral thing in the future, or like really important and notable. So yeah, that’s the first thought that and then, yeah, I guess maybe we could double click on anything within that. But to make content worth collecting is kind of like part of this broader shift to where it’s like, if you’re gonna zoom out 30,000 feet or like 100,000 feet, the entire internet is like ads based. And that has just, you know, obviously decade’s worth of downstream effects on how we interact with the internet, how we value things on the internet, what types of things gets incentivized to create on the internet? So, what does it look like to shift to like the collectible style model? Which is, you know, if your value capture as a creator is now based on a different value system, which might be different to going viral, it’s actually about coming collectible. Do we see an incentive system that leads to higher quality content, or content that’s not meant to like to hijack your attention, but it’s actually to have some other type of long form resonance of long-term resonance or like impact. That can lead to better a better internet long term. Obviously, it’s a really idealistic and optimistic view. But I think that.

I’ll take it. So, you talked about like the rate in which creators post content on Tik Tok, you have to post like five times a day, you know, just to even get any recognition from the algorithm or so they say, right? But what you’re, what you’re sort of like explaining is that it shouldn’t be that way, or it could be that way. But there’s a different form of consumption.

Jacob Horne: All the above, it’s like, so yeah, let’s say you’re a creator, and you want to distribute your podcast. And you want to do it in a way that your community can have access to, it has the ability to expand its audience over time. And then ideally, you can make a living off it or a really great living off it. So, I think if you look at and if you assess each platform, let’s put like YouTube, Tik Tok, Spotify and Ethereum as a platform and your options there, with Ethereum being the odd one out. So, if you put yours on any of those three traditional platforms, it’s like it’s being monetized either via subscriptions or advertising. So, for the end user, a lot of times their experience is hijacked by having to pay that price for a subscription or pay an attention via advertising, so that’s not great. And then two, there’s a lot of algorithms in between you and that end user or that community member that wants to enjoy your content. So, if we kind of like talk about Ethereum now, it’s like if you put it on chain, one, there is now a way for your communities like find that directly, have it uninhibited by a paywall or an advertising role. I feel like that’s a really big little detail that like, goes a really long way, like universally free and accessible content that’s ad free and subscription free is something that’s unlocked by the NFT value system. And that, you get that from Ethereum. And now if your community really loves that content, and they want to collect it, they have a way to, you know, pay you as Adam, whatever the price is to collect that as an NFT. Keep it in their wallet, it’s kind of like an unchained save or an on-chain whack. And now you’ve earned value that you wouldn’t have otherwise earned on those three platforms. And then they’re really new thing is like fast forward five years, let’s say it’s like a really important or like historic podcast, that thing that was worth $8 might be now worth 500 or 800 or like 80, whatever it might be. It could be worth more than it was at the time of minting, collective value capture story for both the creator and both of the community, which is like really you. And one thing I like to say is like, creators are already creating that content is NFTs, those NFTs just entirely hidden and owned by Facebook and Google, and they sell at ad exchange, instead of being sold on like Zora or open sea, the backend. So, it’s like, you’re already minting NFTs every day, you just don’t really know it, because they’re keeping it hidden from you and monetizing it. Basically, behind the back of their, like massive platform. So, it’s like why should they own it when you can? And this is the system to do it.

Best Examples of On-Chain Distribution and Virality, and What’s Missing for TikTok-Level Distribution

Well, part of why they should own it. And you can create an argument is to have really good distribution and discoverability and building virality, right, which web three very much likes, there’s different applications and protocol, like lens protocol trying to tackle it by trying to merge the web, web two distribution and web three value capture under one roof. But we’re building towards that, right. What do you think is number one, like the best example of on chain distribution and virality. And two, what’s missing for us to kind of get the Tik Tok level by rally distribution, that a lot of creators actually put a lot of like emphasize on that’s important to them.

Jacob Horne: Yep, that’s a really great question. Well, I guess the empirically the best examples of this so far, probably been crypto punks, and they seem like they are both things that exist on chain that went viral outside of the realms of crypto to some extent. And then I think had like value capture that resembled that. Within the content space, maybe checks is actually one of the first examples of this where, you know, that was a meme that or an artwork that or a piece of content that Jack would have posted on Instagram or Twitter as he had for, you know, years, but he happened to mint it first and then posted second. And then we got to see the dynamics of, well, if it actually exists as an NFT first before it goes viral, you had, you’re able to capture all of that value back into the NFT, as you did. So maybe that’s the first inkling. And then I guess your second question like, how do we actually build this distribution natively on chain over time? This is something we’ve been thinking about a lot. I think our experience is kind of resembling this thinking, which is, you actually need to create a really good viewing and enjoyable experience for NFTs, which is like, hey, instead of making NFTs always like show up in this marketplace format, where you’re buying and selling them like trading cards, what does it look like to actually find the most enjoyable content that exists on a Ethereum? And then present it in a way where someone can actually watch it, listen to it, view it as easily and as nicely as they could on a traditional social media platform. It just happens to be built on this like, extremely powerful crypto stack under the hood, which comes with all these other benefits.

So, in Zora’s case, it’s the infinite scroll that you guys recently implemented on the homepage, right?

Jacob Horne: Yeah, that’s the first version. And I think we’re now building out is like, how do we get better search and discovery that is not market focus, is more content focused and creative focused? And then how do you start to like, instead of searching like profiles, and like a marketplace contacts profiles and like, wait, show me what they’ve created. And who else is collected this and like, there is this amazing and rich social graph that exists on a Etereum already even though it’s nascent, how to actually just start revealing in that way, instead of just always packaging up as like sold by for, well, sold by for, which is important, but it’s not like the core thing that, it’s not. I don’t think that’s going to be the difference between content living on chain and constantly on social media. Like it’s a, obviously it’s a crucial and huge unlock. But I think we need to start building experiences that make it easy to experience the content on a Ethereum first instead of on, yeah, instead of second, I guess.

I feel like the most obvious next step from a collector and a creator’s perspective is when I come to Zora, I connect my wallet, you guys detect what’s in my wallet and present me a curated feed. That’s like the infinite scroll accordingly. I don’t know if you guys do that right now. It’s just like what you guys’ curate.

Jacob Horne: Right now, the first version was just most recent. But yeah, I think as of, my team might kill me, but I think it’s March 13th. It’s gonna be a fast algorithm that’s trying to do exactly what you’re describing. And I think like a novel thing we’re doing is, we’re actually gonna be minting and open sourcing that algorithm from day one, to try and like one is just like, I think that’s like a very crypto way to do it. And then to actually opens up some really cool things where it’s like, well, what if you bring your own NFT with an algorithm in it, and we can just look at it and start to have a much more dynamic and open market for that kind of personalization.

When you say mint the algorithm, do you mean just like a text file that you tokenize?

Jacob Horne: Literally like a text file, and then it’s like, everyone wants to see what like how this is being ranked, like here it is, like, we’re not going to try to hide it or like, whatever people might try and game it, and then that’s fine, we’ll have a new iteration. But yeah, it’s literally just like here is the algorithm that is a basically a Json file, that gives us a bunch of like factors and weights. And this is how we’re going to look at Ethereum and interpret it.

What Web2 Creators Are Missing to Enter Web3

On the topic of on chain data, the thing that’s most exciting for me is understanding who my community of collectors are, and then creating content and ways to engage with them, and ways to monetize using that information. Because right now, I’m the platform in web three, I build a community of collectors, I can take them to Zora, to sound, to lens, and the list goes on and on and on. And with that comes a plethora of insights of understanding who these people are. So, I feel like more creators have yet to have that aha moment, specifically web two native creators and seeing what the potential of web three holds beyond monetization. Now that that data is transparent, there’s a layer of like consuming that data and creating unique experiences for your audience around that data. And it seems as if Zora is trying to tap into that approach, as well for curating really cool things for collectors. I’m curious, like what are web two native creators missing? Like one, what are they missing from that aha moment that’s gonna allow them to enter web three? For me, I feel like it’s the data. And it’s the elements of monetization. But even with the monetization, I feel like they don’t care. Like they can’t build viral audiences and become the Hollywood superstars that they want to be, using their creative endeavors that they can do now on other social platforms.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, there’s actually a high-level thing. If you imagine a Venn diagram of content that’s viral and content that’s actually collectible. There aren’t many creators in web two that actually fit in the middle of that Venn diagram. Like we’re top creators of web two are the top creators because they’ve learned how to cater to that value system, where it’s like the most viral creators in web two might not be creating the most collectible content or say in other ways, like there’s a lot of Instagram posts or Tik Tok that even though they have millions of views, I don’t know if they would have a large collected base, because maybe they’re really not that important. Or they’re not going to resonate on the level at which I actually want to collect them. I’m happy to watch it but I’m not happy to collect it.

But you’re assuming that’s a paid collect not a free collect.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, I guess I’d assume it’s paid. It’s a paid collect because yeah.

Liking something on Tik Tok is very analogous and ending up in your favorites folder is very analogous to collecting something and it being added to your wallet.

Jacob Horne: Well, yeah, there’s another nuance there where it’s like, likes on Tik Tok private, they’re not public, so that’s part of the story too. But I think generally speaking, what holds up web two creators is, I think there’s a misconception that by putting on Ethereum, you’re not allowed to put it on other platforms, which obviously isn’t the case. I think like what we say is like minted first and then distribute it as far and wide as you possibly can on every platform that you care about, because you will still get value capture on those traditional systems. But more importantly, you should get most of that back into the NFT. So, I think that’s a common misconception. The second is, I think there’s still like a bit of a hangover from the like, pre proof of steak, you know, greenhouse gas kind of wave that happened with like, one of ones and the only kind of crypto hot mania that happens. So, I think that’s like a, that’s still a somewhat of a huddle. Thought is, I just think, a lot of people just don’t like the aesthetics of crypto art as it is and they associate like, well, if I’m seeing all of this stuff, it doesn’t necessarily resonate with me. I’m going to put on Eth and no one’s gonna care, which isn’t necessarily the case. And yeah, I think they the biggest ones, and then four is they just don’t know they can actually do that. And if, a lot of people know what NFTs are, a lot of people’s first reaction to NFT’s is like, oh, that kind of wacko, like nerdy. I don’t care about that. But yeah, and then it’s like, yeah, why should I care? I just don’t think there’s many good examples of people earning the value they probably should be from their content using that system, but obviously that’s changing and will become more known over time as the podcasts like yours and more examples like Jack Butcher, or Latasha or whoever from the space. So yeah, there’s, it’ll happen, it’s like one of those gradually then suddenly things.

NFTs as the End-All Be-All Solution

I feel like creators are still missing like their killer feature, killer product. That’s very much so with web three crypto native. Yeah, do you, but do you think like NFTs are the end all be all solution and it’s just a matter of time of innovating around those token primitives? Or do you think there’s something in the near future that doesn’t really like to capture the needs and wants of creators entirely just yet, that has yet to be created in web three?

Jacob Horne: It’s more likely than not that there is room for innovation at the protocol level, and maybe even at the token standard level. I think, yeah, we could look up five years from now and it’s like 721, 755. Like that’s some OG stuff that you know, kind of these all relics. Like, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s the case. Although I’d say like, they are pretty good. And that, yeah, there’s a lot of room at the platform. I think like it’s really a lot of platform innovation that’s required, I feel like without, if we’re moving generally speaking away from like, a collectables dominant market to a content dominant market. I think a lot of the UX and platforms that were existed in the prior kind of like growth cycle, like likely irrelevant moving forward. So, I think like, it could be the case that the whole marketplace era was actually like the kind of v1 skeuomorphic approach and it’s a good bridge and put one foot in front the other, there really now it’s about like, well, what types of new discovery and like consumption experiences can we start to build around this content, now that it’s NFT native instead of social media platform native? I think like, maybe some data in favor of that is just like, by making creating an addition take like two minutes and like, feel kind of similar to like posting a tweet or uploading a video to YouTube. We’ve seen a lot more creators do it and like go back and do it and so it’s, I think it’s helped move the needle on the creative side a little bit. But I think now it’s like, we’ve always wanted to improve on the creator side of them. And similarly, on the collector side, it’s like, how do we help them enjoy and collect that content in a way that feels native to crypto and an easy? So yeah.

Ordinal NFTs on Bitcoin and Zora’s Direction

That’s interesting. I want to talk to you about Bitcoin NFTs. Okay, okay. The giggle you’re like, oh, here we go. Any thoughts on ordinals NFTs that are minted on Bitcoin. Any insights, is Zora moving in that direction at all?

Jacob Horne: We had a project called I think they sold like 200 Eth worth of NFTs on Ethereum, that had a unique way of bridging ordinals and Eth NFTs together. It’s kind of like a big throwback for me, because it’s like there were red pep A were like one of the most significant projects on Bitcoin, like pre Ethereum and they were essentially Bitcoin NFTs in like 2013 through 2015. So, it’s like, okay, like what’s new here? And then, yeah, I honestly haven’t thought about it that much. It’s like one of those things where it’s like, maybe it’s a blind spot, but the fact that there is not the ability to create smart contracts on Ethereum, on Bitcoin, just seems to me just like fundamentally limits the interesting use of what you can do with NFTs on Bitcoin. Like I saw like a Google sheet was being used as a marketplace, like it’s already topped out of what you can do, this was like, my spicy takes like this is some great Bitcoin smart contracts.

So, rumor has it, part of Eth Denver, like one of the narratives that I was hearing is like Bitcoin NFTs are the next thing and like that’s one of the points of subject people were talking about, and rumor has it that stacks may be revealing something at the end of the month. That may be a version of smart contracts on Bitcoin, and I wonder what that’s going to enable.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, I wonder.

We’ll leave it at that. You’re like, you’re like you’re not so skeptical. You know, you’re not so like, you’re not so, it’s not so promising. But yeah.

Jacob Horne: It’s like holdings in Cryptos. Like they come and go. I’m very happy to be wrong, but I’ll kind of, it’s like a look at it. If it’s, if it’s still here in six months is probably a big deal. Yeah.

Okay, what about music NFTs? Do you think they found product market fit?

Jacob Horne: Well, probably not yet. I think music NFTs are always this insane. It’s like how has it not worked yet? is always the thing for me. Because it’s like wait, music has had the most tumultuous history on the internet since day one. And I think NFTs are literally like the triple kick flip tomorrow, like triple kickflip solve all the issues of music on the internet yet it’s struggle. I think it’s like early, I think like sound and catalog have done an amazing job of pushing it forward. But for whatever reason, collectors haven’t got their head around like I can’t see it. Like maybe, yeah, I guess.

Why is that? Why not?

Jacob Horne: I love music NFTs. Because it’s like, well, great like music has always wanted to be free on the internet. But artists and the musicians should absolutely be getting value capture from what they’re creating. And it’s like NFTs do both of those things at once. It’s free for the entire internet to consume. But it unlocks value capture for the musicians because collectors are willing to buy and collect their work and train them and you know, all the value cash that goes back to the musicians as a result of that. I think yeah, I don’t know, I’ve been collecting music NFTs for a while. I’ve always loved them. I think when I’ve spoken to collectors about it, they’re just like, but I can’t see it. And then I think there’s always these downstream things where it’s like, I can’t easily share music as easily as I can on Twitter. I can’t save it to my phone or as like easily as I can as an image to like my camera roll. Like I think there’s some just like little UX around the edges that like can add up a lot. But I think it’s inevitable, I think like will look up on sound and catalog will be looked at as like very ahead of that time and probably on the money for using the NFT for music. It just seems to be taking longer than I would have expected.

I know a lot of the early music NFT trends started on Zora, like same thing with podcast. It seems like a lot of the early forms of media before they have their semi breakout moments, kind of appear on Zora first. Why do you think that is?

Jacob Horne: It’s because we have a very flexible platform. We have essentially unbounded file size limit. So, it’s and then we just let you manage multiple file types. I think a lot of tools in the, that are out in the space of like very true to one media type, typically images. I think for us we, basically since our first version of the NFT tool, it was like we want you to be able to do text files, basically any file, like text files PDFs, websites, videos, music, like we just want to be able to account for all file types because it kind of makes sense that NFTs will eventually find their way into supporting any file type. So that means it’s like yeah, we usually see the first instances of a file type show up on Zora because it’s like hey, just uploaded and press go. I think it was like I remember RAC was maybe created the sixth ever NFT on Zora and that was like a song called the legend of Zora, that’s like this like awesome, like 32nd track but yeah, we.

How much is that worth? What’s the floor on that?

Jacob Horne: It was a one on one and I remember I collected it in. That was at a time where it was like maybe bidding in ERC. 20s is cool. So, I bid in like RAC token and yeah that obviously you’ve seen Ethos way since then. 

Why is that? I remember I remember creator coins had a moment, like two years ago. They were hot, like the RAC coin, the Alex coin. These like personal branded tokens and being able to buy into a creator’s community using their ERC 20. Why, do you think that slowly sort of died down?

Jacob Horne: I think NFTs were better form for it. It’s like, like it’s cool to be able to buy it. Like one, the link between the ERC 20 and the creator is like tenuous, it’s like, what am I actually buying here? Versus with the NFT it’s like, oh, I own this song, or I own this like image, or I own this video. It’s like it’s very explicit and it doesn’t require any trust to kind of like create a value system now. So, I think like ERC 20s were just like an early attempt at bringing the crypto value system across into that creative context. And I think it’s an experiment that didn’t play out because NFTs were the better form for it. So yeah, just kind of put it in that bucket of like, good early attempt at the experiment, but directionally correct but in practice was wrong.

Rationalizing the Nouns Ecosystem

Part of highlighting specific value system brings me into the conversation of nouns. And what are your favorite communities on the internet and also very much home to Zara, like very native to Zora? You guys’ kind of like purchased a significant because noun NFTs from noun ecosystem. And I remembered when had Tyson on, he was like, alright, we can’t talk about this publicly yet. But this is what we’re doing, what we’re planning and we’re shooting the shit around different nouns related ideas and features and whatnot. And yeah, it’s come a long way. And I want to highlight really quick, a tweet that you push on the internet on Twitter, February 24, 2023, I can see a million different ways that nouns can augment and disrupt the protocol in crypto space. But I get much more excited by its potential as a creative universe and as a collective internet scale our project. So, anybody that’s not native to crypto, let alone nouns will be super confused what you’re talking about. So, let’s dive into that tweet but let’s first start about what is nouns? What is this ecosystem? How do you rationalize the noun ecosystem? And then we’ll take it from there.

Jacob Horne: I think, yeah, that’s a. So, put simply, nouns is a, it’s a Dao, it’s an NFT project. It’s ab organizational form factor. They’re like my three high level things which is super broad, doesn’t really tell you much. I think, yeah, shit, all right, well, nouns to me. It caught my attention originally, just because I had really interesting people and it was actually a fork of the Zora Auction House. And combined like the Zora Auction House with the compounds gov brava, and then NFTs, and just combined the like the ability to govern a treasury and NFT and a perpetual option into this like one machine. And I remember looking at it and I actually felt kind of jealous because it’s like, holy shit, I think this just stuck the landing on like, what I’ve always wanted to see and try and do in crypto, since, you know, starting which is like, well, I think this might be the way to create ownership and something really big and broad. And it’s basically like this is a mechanism that allows anyone around the internet to collaborate around the shared idea, and then allocate capital towards that. So, the way that nouns work is that there’s one NFT sold every day, the Eth from that NFT goes into a treasury and that Treasury is governed by the NFTs. So, one NFT, one vote. So, if I can use crypto punks, like a working analogy here to kind of help illustrate that. Crypto punks, actually two basically because they actually sold like a Eth. They sold their apes for like point one Eth, that Eth all went to UGA and then UGA was kind of entrusted with the ownership of the IP and the ease to forward that ecosystem as far and wide as they possibly can. And they did a really good job of that, by the way. And that was kind of like the structural foundation of the 10k PFP era, which had some problems, which was like the devs do something mean, is kind of the perfect encapsulation of what goes wrong with that model, which is you have, you know, thousands of people who hold an NFT, that actually have no power to work together to push forward that project. They have to point to that trusted very small team, to release and utilize that IP, like the odd and the brand, and then spends that Eth to forward it. So, you as an individual member, it’s kind of like this tragedy of the commons in a way where it’s like, I don’t necessarily have the individual incentive to spend the thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to put in mural and so on to like, create a fashion brand, or do any creative project. And in fact, in most cases, you’re restricted because the IP is owned by the team. So, nouns is kind of, I think, best thought of as like a kind of crypto punks 2.0 or a solution to that 10k PFP problem, which is instead of devs do something, it’s Dao do something. And it’s like, oh shit, I’m part of that Dao and I have every right and ability to push forward this project by putting forward proposals to the Dao for them to vote on. And by the way, all of the IP is completely public domain. So, you don’t even need to get approval from the project to use the art and use the branding and anything associated with it. So yeah, I guess that’s the structural difference now yes, there’s a million ways. There’re so many dimensions to it. Like there’s the fact that brand is public domain, is the fact that its value capture system is like I think entirely derived from its meme. That puts it in a really interesting position to do types of projects. I don’t think any traditional company or even Dao prior to this point has been able to find sustainably. And that three to one net result of that is like this might be the crypto native version of like Disney Studios. And I’m like and this ties into like the content world in a way because it’s like wait, nouns a sudden realize that part of its flywheel is to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions of dollars to incredible animation studios, to just produce amazing films, and then release them as collectible NFTs on the other end, and now they’ve figured out this like sustainable economic loop to produce amazing film. Like that’s kind of insane and that’s just one dimension of it. So how it relates to Zora is, I guess, one, I think we like to take the most powerful primitives that we see in the space or think of ourselves and like make it as easy as possible for people to run with. So, that led to nouns builder, it’s like we want to see more nouns style Dao out the space. How do we remove the barrier to entry to knowing how to deploy a relatively complex set of smart contracts to do that? And then two, I guess, is a long-term speculative bet where it’s like if this kind of crypto deep Disney dynamic plays out and it becomes a, you know, it does become an internet scale art project that’s producing amazing films and art and media and projects that finds a way, find its ways into NFTs. We want to support that, become a member of that organization and provide the infrastructure on the other side to actually do that. So, it’s like Zora can be kind of like a lot of the plumbing and infrastructure that helps nouns mint these things in NFTs in what we think is the best way possible. And where instead of aligns with Dao because we put a decent amount of money into the organizations will align ourselves with it. So yeah, that’s a lot but that’s like a high level of Zora nouns and kind of works and why I think it’s interesting.

Relatable Human-Based Values in the Nouns Community 

What do you think are the more like human based values that nouns encompasses, that more people can relate to outside of crypto?

Jacob Horne: It’s fun and that might be it. It’s like, well, I guess I was gonna say Dogecoin is another, that’s a crypto example where it’s like Doge was interesting because it’s an entirely memes-based currency. And it kind of found its stride once the Dogecoin subreddit kicked off and it was like let’s just spent Doge to help the Jamaican bobsled team compete in the Olympics because that’s like fun and entertainment. And that works because it makes the meme more recognizable. It’s kind of hilarious, entertaining, which meant the value of the token went up, which means it could fund more things, but obviously the Dogecoin cards didn’t have like, nouns is basically like an almost as structural solve to Dogecoin as well. It’s pretty in simple terms. What nouns means is if you have an idea that you think will just be widely received as a good thing for the world, nouns is probably more likely to fund that. The not because it has an economic model that allows it to benefit from that. So, it’s like there are a lot of projects that are funded by the noun ecosystem, which is like let’s help kind of like malnourished communities in Africa, like where they need to get their resources that you know how they can clean up and get some good food, all that kind of stuff. And nouns is willing to fund that because it thinks it’s good for the world. And the more that nouns is associated with good things, the more notable the brands, which means the more valuable the NFT, which means the more good things it can do. So that sounds like the kind of, I guess, really literal and charitable side. And then there’s a spectrum of like, you know, from that all the way to like Red Bull style stuff, where it’s like what’s just the most outlandish and crazy moments that we can create there, capture a lot of attention and capture a lot of imagination that nouns can find to be associated with because again, the more notable it is, the more money it gets, the more things it can do. So, nouns is kind of this, I guess, like new form of organization that has a value capture model, that continues to thrive, so long as it’s doing things that are broadly accepted is good for people because if it’s good then it’s good brands, which means gets more money and then that’s good, which sounds like I guess simple and kind of strange. But yeah, that’s what’s happening.

Are there any moments that you have yet to see be created that you you’d love for someone to kind of spearhead? Any creative ideas?

Jacob Horne: Yeah, I’m so close this shot straight in my face.

I’m going to take this part out.

Jacob Horne: First, blue skies in New York.

Unfunded Ideas for the Nouns Ecosystem

So, let me ask that from the beginning. Are there any projects that you have yet to see be created that kind of fit into your creative moment capture idea that you just sort of talked about Like anything you wish, the nouns would sort of produce or members of the nouns ecosystem would fund it that have yet to be funded?

Jacob Horne: And there’s a lot of things. Yeah.

What’s the most compelling thing that’s on your mind?

Jacob Horne: That’s a good question. The most compelling thing that it can probably do in the short term is just fund, I think like film and TV is actually something that it’s just like, I think nouns is well placed, is within its own of what’s like, I think possible in the next one to two years. It’ll actually like find traction and the pitch to like any traditional or any creatives really is like hey, you basically have complete creative control over the work that you want to create. All you have to do is use the nouns creative universe, like the characters, which are really expansive characters, and I think you can even push the limit in the form, like it, it doesn’t have to be pixel form. There’s kind of creatives that already pushed it into, you know, cartoons, but I think you can even just take visual cues and go into live action, when it’s maybe it’s like 3% nounish aesthetic, but if there’s a story that you want to tell and package up, and you have like a good sense of what it would cost and how long it would take, I think like the Dao would genuinely entertain that. And it might be easy to get funded by noun and is like selling to Netflix or a universal or something like that. I think a little more out there is, I guess this is within the crypto world. Like I think nouns is in a unique position to fund the creation of new public protocols, because it doesn’t have a economic model that relies on fees. I think it could create public and free protocols. That can solve a lot of like problems we’re seeing and maybe the NFT space and stuff like that. Again, for like developers, it’s a similar story. You have like complete control over what you build. It just has to have nouns branding on it. And then in the real world, I think like yeah, I think it’s like, playgrounds feel like an interesting one. Like, can nouns just like generally speaking, improve the quality of playgrounds, and just like put 50k to 100k towards a bunch of playgrounds around.


Jacob Horne: Yeah. I think it can be as weird as 

Get them while they’re young.

Jacob Horne: Yeah. You can do a lot of things. That’s part of the point, is like it’s literally as expensive as we can think, is really doesn’t have that much of a constraint mandate, which is part of why it’s interesting.

Half-Baked Ideas Being Tinkered with

Let’s transition out of nouns for a minute okay. I want to talk about, I wanna talk more about you actually. A while ago, I think it was like a year or so ago, you released this hyper structure article, kind of like explaining what a hyper structure is, future of hyper structures, were Zora fits into that thesis and whatnot. Are there any half-baked ideas that you’re tinkering with right now, that you have yet to publish?

Jacob Horne: Yes, I basically have, yes, there’s a few. There’s a lot.

Let’s talk about them.

Jacob Horne: I’m trying to sort through ones that we’re not building as to.

Like what keeps you up at night? I know you’re one of those people that just constantly thinks about the space and thinks about it very creatively and critically. What’s been on your mind that’s been sort of bogging you down recently, in a positive way, of course?

Jacob Horne: I think the thing I mentioned earlier around the metadata updates. When I wrote the hyper structures essay, that was actually I had COVID, I was basically a fever dream. I had like three big ideas that came from that, which was like the hyper structures essay and then two other ones. One of them was this basically channels concept that I mentioned to you earlier, which is like when we released his Zobs. We have 36,000 wallets, and collectors that help resolve that because we built it in an immutable way, if there was no way to update and communicate to people. So, the big thing was like wait, how? All we have is Twitter to communicate with the study’s 6000 holders. And that’s very lossy for a bunch of reasons. Like I wish we could just talk through the Zob and start to build a network on chain and these more like dynamic and living NFTs that allows us to basically communicate through the NFT. So, I think with time driven additions and metadata updates, were like two out of three steps at the protocol level. So, I think unlocking what I think could be like a really compelling form factor for creators to basically build a channel on chain. So yeah, so I guess the part of that that keeps you up at night is like, I think that NFTs need to be way more dynamic than we view them. And I was kind of a purist, and when we were building Zora too, it was just like it has to be immutable. These NFTs like a onetime thing. It’s just the same image or the same media that you’re looking at. But I think more recently, it’s like no, I think these NFTs, and much more living things and we should be treating them much more like websites or like on chain fees than we should static images that don’t change forever. So, I think that’s been like a long running thought.

Why is that? Why should we treat them more like TVs and websites and static images?

Jacob Horne: Partly because we can and it’s like and then partly because there’s just a ridiculous amount of, I feel like underutilized distribution. Like with time to additions we’re seeing NFTs with thousands of holders hold these things. And then all they can do it do, is like look at it once, but it’s like I feel like the distance of being able to like punch through that and allow you to say like start to communicate directly through those NFTs, with your community feels like way more compelling solution than having to go through Twitter all the time, or any other platform, like you literally have a direct line to every one of your collectors, that just happens to be blocked by the fact that these things are mostly immutable. So, it’s just like that, that just feels like a, that to me is like I think that might be the next like, year of rapid experimentation for us, which is like what does it look like to treat these energies more as living objects? That create a trade longer and more like constant relationships, through versus always having to release a new NFT all the time? Yes, that’s like a big running thread. And then the third, which I guess overlaps with nouns, which is how do you actually just create pure ownership and memes and organized around a meme? And I think like, I think nouns like solve that problem. It’s just gonna take a long time for us to realize that they solved that problem with the mechanism. But I think about that a lot with the Zob and like Zora, because it’s like with Zora was created, you know, there weren’t any compelling Dao models. I tried with Aragon; we’d seen a couple of ERC 20 Daos. They weren’t particularly exciting, or productive or seemed like good to me. So, I think it’s like, what does it meaningfully look like the Zora as an organization to go on chain has always been a big question. Like, I don’t want to, I don’t want to launch a token. I want to launch an org that can like work in this function. I think there’s a really big difference between those two things. And I think nouns a good first shot at it, but I think that there’s even room to experiment and like push the limits of that model as well. So that’s something I think about a lot because I think I’d rather Zora be on chain and off chain just for a whole bunch of reasons.

Regarding the first one, being able to update NFTs and create dynamic experiences, treating websites as or trading NFTs as websites and these dynamic things that live on the internet. I feel like that’s challenging, especially in today’s market because creators are really in between the marketplace force and creator royalties being stripped. Like we need to see more innovation on primary sales and then being able to capture more of that initial drop and really innovating on the secondary sell. If you if you predicate your entire experience on the first on like that primary sale and try to tie on experiences around a dynamic as an NFT. You kind of lose the monetization factor that comes with the secondary sale like I don’t know, maybe I’m thinking about this too. rigidly and I haven’t experienced all possible, I guess, like avenues of what this could be.

Jacob Horne: Yeah, maybe we should have done this podcast a month from now. And we’ve launched it. The pod, so it’s like yes, I think cannibalizes the secondary, but I think unlocks way more value capturing the primary. So, it’s like yeah, instead of having to try and monetize the volatility of your NFT, which is kind of wack generally speaking anyway, because it’s like if you’ve misaligned incentives between the creator and the community, it’s like what does it mean to actually skew to a perpetual primary market and then create moments within it to build scarcity? I would rather just show this and maybe we do. Maybe we bookmark this part of the podcast, and we pick it live but yeah, I think it’s way more simple than it sounds. And then the net result is that yeah, I think creators can actually have a true on chain network with that community that they can broadcast that work out to, and then allows for that communities to collect within each of the moments that they’re basically changing. So yeah, if you really yeah, that’s the, that’s what.

It’s like super vague, but also like.

Jacob Horne: I always get in trouble for this. I share a lot of ideas too. I’m gonna keep it vague and let us build it and then I can just, we can come back to it maybe in the future.

Creative and Thought Process for Rallying Team Around Statements

I consider you like an original thought leader in the space, like you really have your thoughts that people rally behind. I’m curious, what is your creative process look like and your thought process of coming to statements that you end up kind of like rallying your entire team around, to build towards? Like how do you develop original thoughts in web three? And thanks for critically the way you do, I’m trying to think, I feel like it’s such a unique skill set and so difficult to come behind. Like I even have a hard time asking that question. You know, like because it’s a weird question to ask. I feel like you have your own thoughts, you have your own way of looking at the world. And through that you come to your unique ideas as a team, right and push the spectrum forward.

Jacob Horne: Well, I’ll take it as a very nice compliment first of all, but I guess part of my process is, I try and use everything and push it to the limit. So, it’s like I just love using something the second that comes out, and then sitting there. I love to try and predict everyone’s roadmap basically. It’s like if I was in someone else’s shoes as a builder, like what would I build? What do I dislike about what they’ve built? What do I really like about what they’ve built? And if I was in the driver’s seat for the next six months, what would I do? And like when I look at any tool in the space or any protocol or anything like that, I’ll basically use it and then put myself in those shoes just because I love thinking about that because it’s such an interesting state of mind to be in. It’s like, you know, if you’re in Hayden’s shoes a year as well, what was your next six months look like? If you’re in Devon’s shoes at open see, like what would you do for the next six months? Likewise, Blair and I think you can maybe. So, I think that’s part of just like, that’s what I do every day, I’m on the internet. I’m just like, I’ll use something, and I’ll try and think about like, okay, where’s the edges and what would I do for the next six months given this point?

That might be as simple as that. And I look at a shitload of images, I love arena. I used to love Tumblr, as an array mixing and combining concepts and artworks and I don’t know there’s really, I feel like there’s a really interesting, I found that one of the most fruitful things for me is just to take images that resonate for no other reason than they resonate, and then combine them with concepts in the written statements. And then just like magic happens from like, I’ve got to figma like probably like 260 pages, why each page is just like doing that for any given thing. And the language, I really obsess about the language and the words around it, like hyper structures is maybe like a really good example of that, which is, I was just, that essay came from me being really frustrated having to explain my view of protocols for like months on end, and I was like, fuck it, who’s gonna write, I want to send a link and I wanted to give the same diatribe every time but it needed a new words like capture it. It has to be a word that kind of like hits and resonates and strikes a chord and I feel like you know yeah, quick we’re starting to do that now without like, enjoy a CRM is something we’re gonna probably say every day for the next like six months. Because it’s like, it’s really simple, but I think it hits our ideas in what we’re trying to do. Yeah, I mean, find people who can shadows and shadows ideas and bounce around and critique them, whatever.

This sparked a new random, like quick question. You spend so much time in figma. Do you have a preferred font weight and kind of like, I guess typography?

Jacob Horne: Arial Narrow, minus 6% spacing, and then whatever size is needed.

Strongly Held Ideas that Differ from Others

I love that. Back on the road. Are there any thoughts or ideas that you feel very strongly about but a lot of people disagree with? 

Jacob Horne: Yeah, a few, I think most protocols. I just want to tell for a while, is like I think like Uniswap style protocols will be free forever. And if not that instance, some competing instance, I think like the nature of how protocols operate and run I think they’ll likely net to near free and that there’s value captured at the edges either by people who are participating in the protocols, like LPS or platforms built on top of it. And that I think most ERC 20 tokens are dead long term. I just have a very strong belief that the ERC 20 token model in almost all circumstances for a Dao just is like net worse than maybe an NFT form. It’s because of the downstream value system. I think content makes sense on chain that feels like really obvious, but a lot of people would probably still disagree with that. Sure. I think I have.

I get hit around that

Jacob Horne: Still. Yeah, I have a strong opinion that maybe one of ones were like really superb, really skeuomorphic and it was a good era. And I think there’ll be ones that survive but maximizing broad ownership is actually the thing to really optimize for if you can, even at the expense of short term if, there’s a lot, those are ones that came to mind.

Lessons Learned Building Zora

My final question for you because I know we’re way over at this point, but this has been so, so, so good. I’m stimulated like completely stimulated. The last question I have for you, Jacob is, knowing what you know now after buildings Zora to date. What are some things you wish you knew when you got started?

Jacob Horne: If I was to go back in time and give advice to myself, it’s like, do the obvious, I think I very feel like almost all absorb who have recently. I would optimize on the interesting instead of the obvious just because I found it interesting and novel. And I think the net result of that is that you’ll likely always be early, but maybe too early. I have a greater appreciation, the way I kind of ,the aha moment for me as I was like going through all of my favorite companies of all time, was like the Netflix DVD really spoke to me, is like a sign of pragmatism, which is they had a really big and grand. Netflix had a really big and grand vision for the future and could see how the Internet and streaming would like change film and TV and how it was distributed. But they had the pragmatism to like to start with Netflix DVDs and just like using, literally make DVDs to people like physically distributing them. And that got them started and that was right for the moment in time and help them get towards that larger vision. So, I think I have a much greater appreciation for what’s short term viable. And instead of like always choosing the long term interesting. So, that’s probably the biggest change I’ve had and then I guess this is an obvious one but like things always take. I feel like if it if someone says something’s gonna take five years, it’s probably going to take one. If someone says gonna take one to two years, it’s probably gonna take 10 and there’s like really no, it’s like timing is just really hard.

If you say we’re expecting adoption, the next five to 10 years, you know, they’re saying.

Jacob Horne: I’m like, yeah, for like, for a lot of things, it might be way quicker. Yeah, it’s like the shorter the prediction, the longer it’s going to take. The longer the prediction, the shorter it’s gonna take. Yeah, that’s a very, you probably have 50 at 50% hit rate on that. Heuristic but yeah, I guess. Things always take longer than you think. But you can do more in a short period of time that you think to. So, that’s probably the net outcome of that.


That’s a great place to wrap up. Jacob, this was incredible. Thank you for your time, part of season seven. I’m glad we got to do this, and we’ll be minting this episode as an NFT, we got sick animation in the works as well that you saw earlier. But before I let you go, where can we find you Jacob? Where can we learn more? Show it away.

Jacob Horne: Follows Zora, it’s go to, we can show you the most enjoyable things around Ethereum. And then I’m on Twitter JS_ Horne and yeah, rapid fire tweets. I guess. 

Amazing. Till next time. 

Jacob Horne: Thanks.

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