Mint Season 5 episode 19 welcomes Mike Dudas, Co-Founder of 6th Man Ventures, LinksDAO, and The Block, who shares his perspective on the current state of venture funding, how he raised $10 million in 24 hours to buy a golf course using membership NFTs, and tips for building tokenized communities.
This one’s quick but jam-packed with valuable info from the practitioner himself, so hope you enjoy our conversation.
In this episode, we discuss:
00:13 – Intro
01:50 – Lessons Learned As An Entrepreneur
05:22 – 6th Man Ventures Investment Thesis
10:30 – NFTs as Media Distribution
13:58 – Underground NFT Usecases
15:42 – What is LinksDAO?
20:55 – Biggest Challenges with Starting a Tokenized Community
22:41 – What’s on Mike’s Radar for the Bear Market?
Interested in becoming an NFT sponsor? Get in touch here!
Mike, welcome to mint. Thank you for being on. How are you doing?
Mike Dudas: I’m doing well. Thanks for having me on, man.
I’m excited to have you part of season five. I think a great place to start. This is where I start with everyone has a quick intro. Okay, who the hell are you? But more specifically, how did you get your start into crypto?
Mike Dudas: Yeah, so, I have been in crypto full time since 2018. And actually, purchased my first crypto in 2013. And it was passively interested, purchased for the first time because I was working at Braintree, and we were thinking about adding Bitcoin payments to Uber and Airbnb in 2013. And I was just interested in global, you know, low fee, censorship resistant, always on payments. Bitcoin obviously proved to be volatile and doesn’t work for that, stable coins actually can serve that purpose now, but that could be interested in them. Enter full time in 2018, saw what was happening with Ethereum. And smart contracts and ICOs are getting really excited about the potential for applications that networks that included you know, money in terms of and tokens to help basically incentivize people to do things, to help with governance, to help with coordination. And, you know, started as a, somebody found a company called the block to educate folks on news research about the space and then spent some time, sold the block last year in Paxus, running their stable coin business. And now, I’m a full-time investor.
Lessons Learned As An Entrepreneur
Nice. So, it seems as if like, you’re quite entrepreneur yourself from starting all these, like crypto companies, for the most part, yet the day to day of your life seems like you manage a fund and you’re betting on other entrepreneurs, what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned while being an entrepreneur that you look for while betting on other entrepreneurs?
Mike Dudas: Yeah, so I think the first thing is just you don’t have to have like, significant. I wouldn’t say like domain expertise, I like to say like a lot of the places that we’re investing in it really early stage of pre seed and seed and web three, your crypto infrastructure applications, you’re investing a place where there are no experts. At the same time, I want to find people who I believe are like, deeply authentic, where when they have a conversation with me, like it’s grounded in, you know, a passion, and there’s a reason for doing what they’re doing. I really like to dig in. As much of people, you know, investor as I am, like an idea investor. So, I like to really understand the authenticity of where somebody’s coming from, and why they’re like trying to solve a particular problem. And then I want them to be realistic about like, not only the technical components of what they’re building, typically, but like, hey, what’s the go to market? And how your why are people going to care about this. So those are just like the things that I look for. I’m not too hung up on the potential for folks to pivot, as I mentioned, like the idea could change, but I just want like a sensible hypothesis.
Got it. I know some of the biggest valuations came out of the bull market, and people were raising money on some of the craziest ideas, whether they’re credible founders and web three, non-credible, whatever it may be, what are some of the biggest mistakes you witnessed entrepreneurs make during this recent bull market?
Mike Dudas: Yeah, so I mean, so in crypto specifically, you know, one of the biggest errors that folks could make, and I have my own project called Links DAO that I started with some folks where we raise money by selling NFTs. And that money was denominated in Eth, we immediately convert to stable coin. So, one thing treasury management is just a critical problem that a number of projects have run into, when they kept their treasuries in their own native tokens and or Eth or soul, and therefore they have 75% or more, you know, discounted from the nominal dollar value that they thought they raised. That would be one. Two would be you know, aggressive hiring, by the way, it’s not just a startup problem, you saw Coinbase over hire significantly based on you know, projecting what happened in q3 and q4 of 2021 far into the future. I think a lot of, you’ve seen some correction, you’re gonna continue to see more. And then I mean, look, we all got caught up in it such as the startups like the belief that we were in you know, super cycle was kind of a joke and then that like yeah, now it’s a joke, but I do think a lot of people believe that you know, we were reaching longer cycles and we were gonna stay and that the, we were still so small and there’s such a, by the way, this is the case, but I think a lot of us, including myself, in some cases, and in some of the things I invested in and did and products that I like to price and purchase myself, thought that we would reach a broader audience more quickly, you know, projected maybe what’s going to happen by 2030 into 2023, or 2022.
6th Man Ventures Investment Thesis
So, what’s your investment thesis actually a 6th Man Ventures?
Mike Dudas: Yeah, so we’re basically investing in applications and infrastructure. You know, the term is like web three, but we truly believe that your applications and infrastructure that makes it basically easier to utilize crypto and crypto enabled products. Okay. We think that cryptocurrency that tokens, as I mentioned, are tokens for governance, for incentives, for payment, for coordination, can actually add significant value to applications can help to bootstrap networks, you’ve seen this with helium, we’ve seen this with some player in gaming, although the jury is still out on what models will be sustainable there. So, we’re like very, very bullish on the notion of, you know, any merging ownership, but the idea that you can basically have ownership of the networks, that you participate in, a piece of the network that you participate in. So, we believe that’s powerful for both business and consumer used cases. Additionally, you know, we believe that, you know, money and value that separate from any call it centralized authority, a government, a bank, a business as powerful as well. So, we’re investing in businesses and projects and protocols that are creating that, you know, future where, again, they’re networks that are owned, governed, incentivized, and fueled, sort of by their own token economies.
Yeah. Is there anything on that investment thesis or your overall belief in web three that you’d say like others may not agree with, that you guys are just like extremely bullish on?
Mike Dudas: I mean, I think it’s popular, I mean, it’s pretty contrarian to still think even today. If you tune in to Twitter, or the news or anywhere, we’re at a low in terms of people’s, we’re in that trowel of disillusionment, where, you know, you’re gonna hear cryptocurrencies outside of perhaps like Bitcoin and maybe Ethereum. Or maybe even there’ll be included, you know, there’s a lot of comments about these being your vapor and not having value, and you hear a lot of projects pointed to and tossed about as being Ponzi’s. So, I think it’s like, kind of contrarian right now, I see a new blog post every day from people who I know are investing in tokens regularly, that, like, tokens are an innovation, that crypto enabled networks are innovation, we still believe that deeply. And I’ve like seen it at work. You know, so we’re investing like aggressively against that. We are invested in a number of like playground games that will launch later this year. We’re invested in a number of web three enabled networks and to Dao structures where there’ll be launching more publicly later this year. So yeah, we continue to deploy into areas that I would say are publicly unpopular, but you know, we are remain bullish. And the good thing about that is, because they’re unpopular right now, evaluations are more reasonable than they were, as you mentioned earlier, are sort of at the bullish peak here late last year.
Right. You know, so I could assume that building the block, which is one of the more reputable media outlets IN crypto, you’ve learned a lot around the business of traditional media, because inherently it feels like a traditional media business covering the web three, landscape, but I’m curious while building out that business, you probably also discovered a lot of like traditional holes in media, that maybe web three consult, do anything come to mind?
Mike Dudas: Sure, I mean, the biggest is that it’s really difficult to and you learn this, you know, as you’re covering stories that have multiple protagonists and your multiple takes to actually ascertain like, what the truth is, and so, you know, any news story or journalistic piece that’s presented is going to, you know, have the perspective deeply entwined of the person who’s writing it. And, you know, you’re never going to make anywhere near 100% of people who are, the subject of the story or reading it or impacted by it or happy. So, it’s difficult, it’s really difficult to some extent, no, not like it’s a no win. Industry and ecosystem is very, very easy to criticize, even, you know, really high quality journalism. And it’s really difficult in today’s you know, hot, quick take environment to defend, you know, journalism that has integrity against, you know, really loud voices who you cover whether that be, you know, a cryptocurrency exchange leader, you know, an influencer or somebody who has a pulpit to accuse the news of being false.
NFTs as Media Distribution
Right. So, on that note, how do you kind of think about NFTs as a medium for media distribution? Do you see like, how do you think about that really?
Mike Dudas: Maybe clarify that question. I’m not sure I think of NFTs, I haven’t, we haven’t done much in that specific area. I want to make sure I understand the question.
So, I think a good example is like tokenizing art and the collectability of art and the distribution of art, right, as a form of media. Yeah, right. Right. What are your thoughts are on that?
Mike Dudas: Yeah. So, one thing like to date, like, last year, at least, over the last 12 to 15 months, people showed a higher willingness to pay for, you know, to your point media, in the form of NFTs, whether that’d be art, whether that be music, not really video or other things. And even written stuff, like I know, there’s been, there’s mirror and some other NFT enabled publishing platforms. Ultimately, you know, we’ve talked about like, I think played around gaming, where you have NFT’s and tokens, the core of the game and the core of what you own, I think that’s going to be the largest, you know, initial manifestation of NFTs and quote unquote, media. But the, you know, I think it’s, you know, NFTs in their current form, where they’re like, you’re primarily like static Jpegs, or GIFs. Like your gifts, I don’t wanna be a boomer and call it GIFs. But like, it’s just kind of like, I don’t think we’ve really explored the space where we’re really changing the media landscape. I think, you know, there are other experiments that are happening with media that I’m not sold on things like decentralized studios, where you sell NFTs and then that community can sort of like vote on what the story or the IP or the creative, your output will be. I’m not sure that’s gonna work. I’m not super bullish on it. But like, I like to see folks experiment with those sorts of things.
So, I guess, you know, NFTs that is applies to like traditional media, I haven’t thought a lot about NFTs as it applies to the things where they are working with respect to media is they’re helping to create communities where people sort of identify with this new form of media, they’ve bought like the NFT, the picture, the JPEG, the identity that they have. And then you know that that community coalesces around it, to some extent, the art, but really, it’s about like, the value of the thing, and hey, we’re part of this thing together. And we self-identify, these aren’t novel concepts, but they’ve been, you know, really, really powerful in terms of getting people excited. I do think the money aspect of the stuff, you know, this speculative aspect is what has driven a lot of like the behavior and interest in you know, NFT enabled art to date. And so, to go beyond that, to things like more interesting, we’re going to have to give more properties to the NFTs that matter. You know, things like, as I mentioned, governance are input into creative direction. You know, token gated asset, token gated access and things like that. But we haven’t really seen those experiments materialize, other than as, like proof of concepts today.
Underground NFT Usecases
Are there any other experiments that you are kind of like eyeballing that have maybe not hit the main stage just yet around NFTs? Anything come to mind? I guess, I guess, just to add more context, I’m trying to understand what the next wave of NFTs look like, I feel like 10k PFPs have had their era for the most part. Right and trying to understand how this primitive can using other means.
Mike Dudas: we’re interested in like that we’re investing in like, it’s even the next thing, I think it’s just people will recognize that there’s enduring value to utility based NFTs, right? Like I have a project Links Dao, where the NFT that you purchase gives you the ability to purchase membership in the club, the ability to vote on the club’s rules, where the club will be, a bunch of other things then access to perks and benefits. So that’s one. They’re like utility base NFTs, like we invest in a company called po app, proof of attendance that becomes like almost like your passport of things you’ve done in places. So, I think that’s interesting. And then what that enables is okay, you have that po app in your, you know, in your wallet. Okay, that means you qualify for XYZ in the future. Yeah, I think that’s interesting, I think earning NFTs for doing different tasks. So hey, you were developer, you participated in this governance vote, or you built this particular thing. And here’s an NFT as proof of what you’ve done. Those are interesting next steps. But candidly, like, I’m looking for people who can imagine things more exciting and wilder than that, if I had all the good ideas, I probably would be incubating more businesses versus investing other people.
What is LinksDAO?
So, part of that, part one of these businesses is Links DAO. I guess for those who don’t know what it is, can you give a quick intro?
Mike Dudas: Yeah, so it’s basically a community-governed and community-created golf and leisure club. So, we sold 9090, NFTs, June, I’m sorry, January first, and second of this year, and the holders of those NFTs, basically have rights to make decisions about what the golf course and club and rules that their participants in and future members of will be. So, the beauty of this quote, unquote, web three golf and leisure club is one, we were able to sell off NFTs, which gave us funding to actually go out and make this reality, right, bring a community together, host events, you put infrastructure together to connect all of us, and you hire a team to go out and execute and scout out and find a course and launch it. And then the NFT allows us to do like token gating, and access to benefits of being a part of this community. So that includes like significant discounts, access to certain events and things of that nature. So, you know, it’s like a web 2.5 type thing. You know, to use a term that’s probably overused, but it’s a pragmatic use of the existing technology for fundraising and for community and governance primarily. And it’s been really, really fun, and the people stick around. Whereas a lot of these projects, you see them rise and fall in like two months. We have a really active community, six months on, and they’re really excited for when we buy this course later this year, and then launch it next year.
So how the hell did you manage to raise $10 million in 24 hours from 9000 memberships?
Mike Dudas: Yeah, so the.
And I remember that day explicitly, because it was all over Twitter, people were losing their mind. And the rate at which this community grew was insane. Unlike I’ve ever seen before, maybe the next biggest thing was constitution Dao, like next.
Mike Dudas: So, I think the thing that you learn there, and it ties to the cryptocurrency markets, as we’ve seen, is, you know, a community like that it’s very momentum driven. And so, we got a lot of momentum, like you start with an audacious, but achievable goal, like, we’re gonna, you know, buy or build one of the top 100 golf courses in the world. And then you rally folks around it, and you move fast. So, we went from that initial statement to the actual NFT sales 17 days. And while we did that, we basically put together including me, a very credible team of five or so core folks, and then had a number of folks who were actively involved and excited. It happened over the holidays when folks had a lot of time. And so, they could talk and look at stuff and that was part of the magic was doing it at the end of a long holiday break. And we were fortunate enough, yeah, that it was at a point in time when, you know, NFTs were extremely, extremely hyped. And you know, at that sort of crescendo, so the timing couldn’t have been better. And so, that’s been great. And then we sustained it with you know, media coverage, and now we’re in like, the, you know, like any momentum driven enterprise, we’re in the, okay, now things settle back to like a normal cadence of actually delivering it step by step. So, we have weekly community town halls, weekly updates on progress against you know, course acquisition, or operational things and you know, that cadence is fun and then we do every four to six weeks announcement like our recent one with Callaway where they are, you know, really big partner of ours, and they’re the largest brand of golf.
So that’s been fun. But, yeah, like just the telling a compelling story with a credible team. During the moment, you’ve seen this happen over and over again, it’s like how did you know other side, how to board a yacht selling $100 million worth of you know, digital land, having never built a gaming company. That was certainly momentum. How did, I mean projects that’s suck and like walked away like the pixel. You know. So, I think like, it’s been weird, but a lot of things have happened on momentum. I think the folks who are participating in Links DAO are fortunate that they chose to participate in one that’s like high signal unlike like a pixel, or some of these others where, you know, the folks were just happy to take the money. And we’ve been very transparent in the sense that you can see the Gnosis safe, like, removing like him is off a dime, nor has Jim the CEO, because, frankly, we want to use as little of the treasury on ourselves and as much on actually delivering the value prop that we promised to users. Like I have a full-time job.
Biggest Challenges with Starting a Tokenized Community
What were some of your biggest challenges in starting Links DAO, let alone starting a tokenized community today?
Mike Dudas: Yeah, so the biggest challenges are, how do you transition sort of elegantly from that initial burst of energy and momentum, and the idea that we’re all participating, it’s chaos, but there’s some order to a scenario where you can actually execute on like, operationally doing things, and it’s not gonna be like, we like during the month of January, February, probably 100 plus people, you’re reaching out in the name of Links DAO to different partnerships. Prospective partnership partners, and so we had to do a lot over the first three months of putting in place, a true, you know, infrastructure for Links DAO that had your pods, right, so you’re marketing pod, your partnerships pod, your events pod, developer and engineering pod, etc. And then you’re nominating folks to actually lead those so that you had some order and some process, that was probably the most difficult thing that we’ve had to do. The other part is just explaining the fact that the NFT holders don’t actually own that, for us, like don’t own the assets that we purchased like the golf course, that would be an unregistered security sale. So, we’re raising separate funding, equity funding to actually do that purchase. So, we have that interplay between the corporate entity and the community. And just keeping that balance. And it’s similar to Google Labs, and mint DAO and the board ape community, you basically have the corporation, and then you have this community of holders. And really, you have to make sure that you deliver value and that it’s symbiotic. Or else the whole thing fails.
What’s on Mike’s Radar for the Bear Market?
I guess with the last few minutes that we have on the podcast, I really want to understand where your head’s at, for the bear market. bear market is a time of opportunity. You find the best projects, you find the best builders, and the ones who kind of last and stick through thick and thin. What’s on your radar for the bear market? What are you eyeing? What niches are you excited about to throw money at? Walk me through that?
Mike Dudas: Yeah, so the biggest thing is that you have to make an assumption about, like usage of crypto and crypto enabled products. And when that’s going to return and I think like are our guesstimate is it’s going to take some time for things to normalize, we probably aren’t at the bottom as of the end of q2 2022. Particularly as you see problems with these lending desks. And I think we have; we don’t really know how contain that stuff is. So, the assumption then is that, hey, we’re going to be in a bearish market for a decent period of time, most likely. And you have to adjust your expectation of like users. And that means that even a great product, it’s going to take more time for to catch on, because you’re going to have a less, you know, enthusiastic and a smaller base of folks who are looking for like the next great, you know, crypto application. So, what we’re focused on a little bit more than we were called three to four months ago, is investing in infrastructure. So, you know, the big problem right now is, you’re most of the apps we use today, we use on our mobile devices, like while we’re walking around and doing stuff, that’s pretty difficult with web three or crypto enabled applications. So, I’m excited, for example, about what Solana is attempting with this launch service. And we’re looking at different products, whether they be new wallets, and Fiat on off ramps, but other infrastructure that makes it easier to use your applications and mobile devices. And then you know, from a application perspective, I think we’re probably focused a little bit less than like, really, really way out there. Like I talked about tokens, the beginning of the conversation, while we believe in token enable networks, like there’s only a few categories where we think like it makes sense and we have a framework that we’ve developed in totally around that. And so, we’re looking for projects like where we think it naturally makes sense. And it’s not just like a user behavior where somebody is trying to drop a token, you know, on top of like, just an idea that they have. So anyway, yeah, we’re just probably shifted a little bit more to infrastructure and usability versus you know, maybe going way out there on the kind of like app spectrum just knowing that it’s gonna take a little longer for things to develop.
I mean, that’s a perfect place to wrap up, Mike, we’re gonna have to do this again soon. Before I let you go. Where can we find you? Where can we learn more about everything that you’re doing? Show it away?
Mike Dudas: Yeah. So just I mean, I’m on Twitter quite a bit and it’s at Mdudas, that’s the best.
You can’t miss him. You’re loud as hell, we love it. Thank you so much, man, till next time.
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Matt and Melissa, welcome to mint. How are we doing? How are we feeling? What’s going on?
Matt: We’re doing well. Thanks for having us. Yeah. Great. Excited to chat.
I need, more energy than that. I feel like this is a collab that’s been waiting to happen. You guys are building the creator economy. I’m documenting the creator economy. Like I need like a woo. There we go. OK. Okay, cool. How are you guys doing welcome to the podcast? Thank you for being on the way I kind of like to start these things is I like to start with introductions. Okay. So who are you guys? Okay. What does a world need to know about you? We can start with Matt and then move on to Melissa, but I want you guys to focus on, like, how how’d you guys get into crypto specifically in building for creators?
Matt: Yeah. I can kick off. So Mel and I have known each other for nine years or so met freshman fall, probably the second week on campus at Duke where we both studied computer science. Mel, well, she’ll give her intro, but she got into crypto well before, I did I graduated joined Uber as a product manager and then spent a couple years working on rider loyalty and, and launching Uber rewards. And so spent a long time, really focused on web two loyalty and some of the problems that that industry is trying to solve. May 2020 left Uber to start a company with Mel ended up pivoting actually about six months into the life of that company. And really we’re doing pretty open ended exploration and got really excited about web three. I started down the rabbit hole January, 2021 or so and really like what compelled me about web three was, it was starting to veer into creators, community, culture, all the things that I just care a lot about before I was sort of, an outsider looking in on web three and living vicariously through Melissa, but it started to really touch community and that’s where I got really excited to go down the rabbit hole and really haven’t looked back
Nice. Melissa, what’s your story? How’d you get into crypto?
Melissa: Yeah, so I actually got into crypto probably around 2015. I actually just happened to be taking a class on crypto. It was in the business school, so basically completely relevant to what I was studying. I was studying computer science and economics, and basically the class just changed my life. It’s called Intro to crypto ventures. Cam Harvey was the teacher shout out. He’s awesome. Basically changed the trajectory of my career. Like got really excited about crypto and all the ways that it was gonna like revolutionize all these different industries. I mean back then, it was a big focus on finance and like remittances and yeah, I mean, it just kind of like blew my mind that like, if you were trying to transfer money across country lines and you were trying to send money through Western union, it would take like two weeks and you would have to pay a bunch of fees. And that was kind of what clicked for me with crypto was like, wow, this like totally makes sense as a new monetary system. So that’s how I got started. And yeah, I started the Duke Blockchain Lab while I was still at Duke. One of the big problems I saw was that like Duke wasn’t really doing a lot in terms of educating its students on crypto. And I thought like there’s basically a paradigm shift happening and probably the people of our generation are gonna be the ones leading it. So started the lab to help students get projects off the ground and just to like educate the general student bodies. So that was a really good experience. And the lab is actually still going today, which is exciting, kind of had a little legacy see there. And then joined Coinbase basically after graduation as a software engineer on the consumer web product and spent three years there working on a variety of things, but yeah. Left in November, 2020 to start a company with Matt.
Nice. So, okay, Melissa, like yourself. Okay. You got started on the university level. What feels like very ingrained on the university level? I also got started there. You did the duke blockchain lab. I helped start the Trojan blockchain society. I only bring this up because like a lot of my love came into crypto because of what was happening on campus. Like I hated the school side of things. I was a bad student. I would get like Cs and Ds on all my exams, despite how much I studied at USC. And all the extracurricular stuff was like the only thing that kept me pulsating and kept me alive. I’m curious by starting the duke blockchain lab, what are like some of the more like transferable skills you’ve seen as a community leader to you now building products and being a software?
Melissa: Yeah. I mean, the one thing I loved about it was just like starting something from scratch, basically like going from an idea from zero to one. And I think that kind of informed like, okay, like this is something I wanna do for the rest of my life. Just like build companies, build things that last beyond me. So I think that was the big takeaway. Like I started it like my senior year of college, like, Spring semester. So like, didn’t really have to do anything, but felt really compelled to do it. Cause I was like, I feel like the university really needs this. But yeah, I think the biggest takeaway was just, I really liked building things.
How Did You Guys Meet?
Yeah. Yeah. Makes sense. So, okay. Just so I understand, correct. You guys met in college, but then reconnected after graduation, right? Or did I miss that?
Matt: We’ve been friends all the way through we’ve been best friends for basically the entirety of that time, but went our own separate ways in the professional context and then joined up in 2020.
So how did you guys actually get to meeting backup together in a professional setting? Like what did that look like? Who approached who? What’s the origin story behind that?
Matt: I approached Melissa, so well, I mean we just, we’re friends, both living in the bay area, so we were seeing each other all the time. Around the end of, I guess it was 2019 beginning of 2020. I started to feel like I was ready to make a jump from Uber, wanted to start a company and had always sort of like had in the back of my mind that Mel was like the perfect partner to start a company with. I had never brought that up to her previously, but around January, February, 2020 is when I was like, what if we just started hacking on something in our free time nights and weekends. And we started that the pandemic then sort of added a bunch of chaos to our, our world. And that’s when I left Uber and wanted to just focus full time on building together and then, Mel followed me a few months later.
Got it. What was the first product you guys set out to build together? Cause you said you were building something for six months and then you pivoted more into the creator crypto space. So what was that initial thing that you were trying to go after?
Matt: We were building a consumer social, like events marketplace trying to build more of like a social front end to like an Airbnb experiences like marketplace. And so the first thing was that the pandemic made that a extremely tough idea to build and launch. But then, you know, who knows whether that would’ve been a good idea either way. That’s what we built first. It’s been a few months kind getting the MVP out, grew it to a few hundred users and we were able to get a little bit of traction, but really not enough conviction to keep building there.
Melissa, I saw you smiling in the green room. Do you have anything to add to that?
Melissa: Nothing more than yeah, basically the pandemic took a lot of wind out of our sales, but I think the great thing there was we just like built and tested and just reiterated really quickly is cuz we, we knew like events is like a really hard industry. A lot of people have tried it, but we just wanted to like give our own shot. And I think we knew that like, okay, let’s build test, like test out in the wild and see how it goes. Obviously like COVID kind of put a wrench in that plan but I think we actually did learn a lot through the process.
How Did The Idea Move From Events to Creators?
Yeah. I feel like the creator path was very much destined for you guys based off your past experiences as creators building communities and building loyalty rewards systems at Uber. Like it’s very much in tune and if you look back and you connect the dots, like it all makes sense from that point of view. Matt, I’m curious, like as you were working at Uber, as you were working on the loyalty reward side of things and you pivoted into doing this startup, when was like the aha moment when you were like, okay, this actually makes a lot of sense to go more towards the creator space and Melissa feel free to jump into if it was very much like a mutual thing. I’m curious to hear how the origin story kind of migrated from events into creators.
Matt: Yeah. So around the time that we were pivoting this would’ve been like end of 2019. I actually did launch house if you’re familiar. And so I did like the second one, I knew all of the founders from on deck and it was in Tulum. So I spent a month living in Tulum essentially in this hacker house of sorts and just by coincidence, my roommates like literally the three of us in a room together were Alex [inaudible] and Patrick Rivera. So Alex [inaudible] is starting Showtime and known as being one of the earlier people to tokenize and kind of really champion the social token movement. And then Patrick was actually it was before he joined Mirror but is now a founding engineer at Mirror. And so I got the crypto red pill via those two, just kind of like talking all day long. And Alex was pre-show time and spending a lot of time just on clubhouse talking about his social token. And we spent a lot of late nights jamming. And so that’s where I got really excited about web three in the social token and NFT kind of angle in particular, I thought had a lot of parallels to my experience building rewards programs. And just the way that you can use these assets to identify and reward the most valuable customers in the case of a company. But I think it applies equally to the most valuable contributors in a creative community. I saw that there was a lot of parallels to the insights I had from Uber. And it felt like what was really missing, was the tooling, the applications, the products to make these tokens really useful.
Yeah, that’s a good point. I feel like even today, the current state of the creator economy, which I’d love to hear what your thesis is around that and how you guys are seeing these things, but everything very much feels scattered. If you zoom out and you look at it from like a Hawks point of view, you have all these different audiences that creators are trying to build for themselves across different platforms. And they’re trying to use web three as a primitive to kind of tie it all together, own that community and form some type of direct monetization line between the end user, the fan and, and who they are. And there’s a couple things I wanna ask you. Okay. Creator is a very general word, many things fall under the word creator. Okay. So how do you guys think about creator and based off how you think about creators, what’s your thesis for like crypto and creator?
Matt: I can kick off and then Mell will jump in. But yeah. So when we think about creators, we think about anyone who is building an audience online, primarily and building a community around their content. And then just around like some interest or whatever the nature of that content is. So we have a pretty broad definition and, and we’re definitely building for all creators in bonfire, but for right now we’re taking a focus on specific verticals that we think are gonna be earlier to adopt web three. And so music is kind of that first vertical that we’re focused on right now. We have, I think, a broad lens of the types of creators that we could eventually support. But I think when it comes to the intersection of the creator economy and crypto or web three, I think that one of the things that’s really interesting is the way that the like kind of creator fan relationship has evolved where, it used to be very much one to many, very much kind of a parasocial relationship forming between creators in, in their audience where they’re putting out content fans are, are consuming it passively. And I think in web three, you see that flipped on its head where now fans creators are interacting directly. They’re in a discord server channel, like talking directly to one another. Even the lines between creator and fans start to get blurred where, there’s a lot of communities in web three, that there is no like central creator necessarily at the core. Even though maybe there are like a handful of creators who are like important, it started, or you’ll see something where it starts off as a creator, building a community around themselves, but then it kind of outgrows them in a way, or like takes on a life of its own where now fans are actually contributing in a variety of ways, whether it’s managing the discord or whether it’s like they’re creating their own content. You see this whole kind of dimension of curation and curators kind of rising to prominence. And so you see these like much more balanced communities where before it was very much, one to many creator fan kind of relationship. And so I think that’s something that we’ve certainly observed over the last year, that’s, I would say a pretty significant divergence from the web two creator economy.
Yeah. Makes a lot of sense. And Melissa, I see your head like nodding in the background. I’d love to hear your take on how you’re thinking about the intersection of crypto and creators, what your personal pieces is that and how that fits into like the micro landscape of where we are today.
Melissa: Yeah. I mean, one thing that we’re really excited about at bonfire is basically just being able to power the homepage of every creator DAO. I think the word DAO is similar to what Matt was saying. Basically changes the relationship between the fan and the creator. It’s more about the community. And I think we’re gonna start to see more of these creator DAOs form where it’s, it’s not just like one person on their own trying to make it, but it’s actually like a whole community community of your first supporters. And I love the idea of everyone, one winning, and it’s like a positive sum game and even just creators working together to just like build things and create. So yeah, I think in terms of where we see it going, like creator DAOs are definitely the future.
So let’s talk about DAOs cuz that was actually the next thing I wanted to bring up. So there’s a spectrum to DAOs. Okay. There’s being more token based. Right. And then there’s like the other side of the spectrum where it’s like, decentralized autonomously, right. Run. And I don’t think we’ve yet seen like a traditional DAO in the creator sense just yet. I think we’re seeing a lot of like token based communities that are trying to form like communities around their collectors for the most part. How do you guys kind of think about that? How do you guys think about like what DAOs are like right now on Twitter where they’re very romanticized and more people want to start DAOs than they do wanna like participate in DAOs for the most part. And then you have people just launching tokens and building communities around, like, what is the spectrum for you and how do you guys think about that internally?
Matt: Yeah, I would say that our thinking here has definitely evolved where I think when we started out, we certainly thought of who we were building for as the creator. By way of the creator, we were also gonna support their community, but it was really like thinking about building tools for a single person who was building a community around themselves. Where I think now there’s a lot more of like a community first mentality or community above, just the creator. And so within Dows you’re right. I think it’s a romanticized term. It gets used for kind of anything and everything. It really should probably be just called like an online organization or something a little more generic because most are not centralized or autonomous. But I think that if you think about online organization, clearly, you know, there’s gonna be a lot of subcategories within that umbrella. Like in a lot of organizations don’t look anything like one another. And so everything from like a protocol that’s basically developing a DAO to govern the protocol. Then on the other end of the spectrum, you just have like a tokenized community or even just a creator that issues a token and something that looks more like a creator coin. I think we certainly are trying to appeal to that latter side of the spectrum. So more of the social Dow creator, Dow creator coin community versus like building for a protocol. But I do think that there’s probably many, many markets kind of within the term Dow and right now it’s kind of all lumped together, but really like the needs of these different organizations are quite different and so we’re trying to sort of carve out this part of the spectrum, which is, the creator led DAO or the creator led community where tokens are used to represent and capture the value.
Are Creators Good Community Builders?
Do you think creators are good community builders?
Matt: I think a lot of creators are good community builders. I think that every creator now is gonna need a great community builder that may or may not be the creator itself, but if it’s not, then they need a community builder to work alongside them.
Yeah. Melissa, I wanna ask you specifically because you come from a community building background, like you’ve got your start building communities for the most part, right on campus at Duke. Like what are some of the characteristics that you see maybe creators lack, for example, when it comes to actually building, sustaining thriving communities, because a lot of creators wanna focus on what they do best creating in that whole, like other component of building a community around their creations tends to be tedious. So from you as like a community builder, what are some things you think people need to kind of like preserve within themselves the skills that they need to actually build, like sustaining pulsating communities for the most part?
Melissa: Yeah. I mean, certainly I’m not an expert on community building, especially on the internet like when I was building blockchain lab at duke, like it was mostly in person and so I feel like discord, like managing a discord is a whole different skillset that I’m not even sure I really possess.
Which by the way is like a full time job. Like that really feels like time job.
Melissa: Yeah. I mean, it’s also really hard. And I think probably a lot of the web three native creators are gonna be community builders to start out with maybe as a web two creator it might not come as naturally, just because of like the fan relationship that was popular in web two, like it’s mostly a one directional. And so a lot of creators probably aren’t used to that bidirectional like community relationships. So I think in that case, like having a community manager is super great. Like, I don’t think like the creator necessarily needs to be that person. Obviously they need to be like involved in the community, but I don’t think that they need to be the same. I mean they’re completely different skill sets.
Yeah. If a creator came up to you and they’re like, okay guys, like you’re the builder experts you guys have been in web three creator for a long time. Okay. How do I split my time between creating and community building? What’s your answer to that? If you have one?
Matt: I don’t know that we have one or at least not a great one. I would say the one thing that is pretty common within web three in its current state of maturity is like every community looks a lot different. I would say that we don’t yet have the best practices, the playbooks, like here’s step one, two and three. So we’re very much in this kind of like playground of experimentation phase where hopefully the ideas coming you know, from the creator for why they need a token or why they’re building this community to begin with. And then we just try to encourage that experimentation. Some of these communities start very much, community first or community only even, there’s not even like a traditional creator at the center. Others really are a lot more top down a lot more like, a new age fan club. I think both will exist. Both will be very sort of popular ideas in the future. And in terms of execution on either front, I think we’re still very early. I mean our general stance is like let’s enable as much experimentation as possible, such that as a space, we collectively develop the playbooks, the best practices, the insights on how best to use these tools.
Is Web Three The Perfect Medium For Creators?
Yeah. I kind of touched upon this in some of my commentary earlier, but I’d love to hear your guys’ point of view. Like why is crypto, why is web three, the perfect medium for creators?
Melissa: Yeah, I think when we were actually looking at exploring a bunch of different ideas, like back in early last year, we got really excited about the creator economy actually. And to me, like creators are just like entrepreneurs, like the internet native entrepreneur. And we definitely wanted a bill for them, but the problem that we kept coming up against in a web two context was that they’re like all these gatekeepers, like Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, they basically take all of the revenue generating potential from creators, like commoditizing them. There’s like the issue is that creators just didn’t have any ownership of their audience, of their content, of like the platforms that they were building on. And so we kept kind of running into this where it’s like, okay, we could build another monetization tool, but it doesn’t really solve the fundamental issue. And then when we saw like NFTs and social tokens started taking off, it just kind of clicked. It was like, wow, like this is actually game changing where it can actually really move the needle for creator to be able to now own their audience own the means of monetization and yeah, that just didn’t exist before on the internet or how the internet was set up. So I feel like, it just makes it is like a no brainer. I feel like for all creators.
Yeah. Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. Matt, do you have anything to add to that?
Matt: I think Mel pretty much nail on the head yeah, I would say the only thing to add maybe is just that within the context of web three, it creates like the potential, I think, to own your upside, like create these stronger more platform agnostic communities, but it’s not a panacea. You can’t just like introduce a token and expect all your problems to get solved. And certainly web three introduces some new challenges as well. And so I think that it is a technology which allows for stronger, more durable long term communities to get built, but it needs to be a very intentional and it’s a long term effort to like make that a reality.
All right, back to the episode, when you talk about like community building, when you talk about monetization, you mentioned and primitives and mediums like social tokens NFTs, my bet and maybe you guys would echo the same thing is like almost every single component of a creator that’s digital will end up being on chain to some extent from their tickets to their digital merch, to their plots of land online and the metaverse with their social tokens, to their EPs that they launch to their, one of ones of music, their additions, all these different things that will be on chain each have their own respective value. And you think about like that’s a lot of stuff. Like that’s a lot of thing. Those are a lot of things to manage a lot of assets to manage, let alone a lot of collectors and I guess, contributors, however you want to call them to kind of build communities around. What does that funnel look like today? And I asked this, cuz I don’t know, because I see all these creators exploring these different means to tokenize themselves from all those different elements that I mentioned earlier. And then when you try to think about like, okay, how do you actually build a comprehensive community, the tool to do that is discord or telegram for the most part, but the act, the practice of actually doing that, like we don’t have that roadmap yet. What are some of the best practices you’ve you’ve guys seen to kind of create like a comprehensive collector community around creators like on chain assets, for example?
Matt: Yeah. I think the, the playbook’s definitely being written in real time, but I think one thing that we’ve certainly seen is community members, fans, they need to understand what’s going on. And I think one thing that we’re seeing increasingly, and it’s only gonna become more and more of an issue as, as time goes on is like, how do you just make sense of dozens or maybe even hundreds of assets within a community. I actually think that that’s where social tokens become really important. So that’s definitely part of our thesis is I think in NFTs are really achieving a lot of the same ends that a social token can things like membership into a community as a sort of a identifier for who is this community member as something that accrues status and functional benefits and perks. But I think as you mint and create more and more NFTs a social token becomes increasingly important for how you just like make sense of the value within a community. So instead of gating by one of 57 different NFTs, you actually have a token that everyone understands is kind of the fungible asset of the community. And you can basically have value accrued to that one asset instead. And then I think the last just sort of maybe point I’d make there is right now, it’s like we think of every NFT and every token as, as being really an asset where I also think a lot will look a lot more like objects where like in the physical world not everything that is unique is also considered like an appreciating asset. Many things are really just meant to be used or are more utility in their function. And so I think not everything that is on chain will be considered an asset and something that people assume will appreciate in value many will just be like more like objects. They’ll be your event ticket which gets you into the event. And then after the event, it really has nothing except for sentimental value. And I think like, that’s totally okay. And so I think that’s sort of a dimension that we haven’t quite tapped into yet, but if you think about like five years from now, are we all just gonna hold like 11,000 NFTs and like, which one of those will be the ones that we think are true value over time versus like, what are the ones that are, you know, mementos or keepsakes or like things that are actually meant to just be used?
Yeah. So, okay. So let’s break this apart. So for those who understand, so you just basically broke down what you’d use, like a social token for versus an NFT. And how do you differentiate, compare and contrast it, I think that’s very, very wise that you brought that up because that was one of my questions as well. Another thing I wanna ask you guys is, okay, sure. You’ll have objects. I like that word. How you kind of call them objects because whether like I wouldn’t consider like a board, a yacht club NFT an object, I’d consider like an on chain ticket to concert as an object, like you mentioned, but they still have their own like respective values. And when you think about social tokens and you think about this underlying, like you think of an ERC 20 token standard as like the index token for all the other assets, that’s kind of like what I’m picking up that you’re putting down, is that correct? The social token ends up being a peg to all these other on chain assets, whether they be all the other social tokens from like the EPS or the other artworks and other crowd funds to the one of ones to the additions, they all funnel down into one asset. That’s how you guys are thinking about it, which I agree by the way. Yeah.
Matt: Right. Yeah, exactly. I actually think Daniel Allen’s, a great example of that, where he’s issuing NFTs across a variety of different platforms, but he’s also appending, Hey, every time you buy one of my NFTs, I’m gonna airdrop you Overstm. And then when it comes to, gating the discord, when it comes to participation in the community over time, those benefits only need to accrue to the Overstm token, but all NFT holders had an opportunity to earn that Overstm by their patronage. And so it’s sort of a way of as the career goes on as like project four, five and six come out and there could be now hundreds and hundreds of NFTs out there it’s like Overstm is the thing that governs the community and not like a bunch of different unique NFTs, which I think is a lot harder just to corral.
Melissa: I think also the Daniel example is really great where, I mean, the Overstm token basically got created because of his original mirror crowd fund. And it’s kind of specific to that album, but you can start to see like he created the overstimulated, but you can start to see where in the future, maybe he launches like the Daniel token or the Daniel Dow. And now it’s not just the overstimulated album, it’s all of his albums kind of ladder up into of this one token and people who hold Overstm can maybe convert it to Daniel. And now you have something that basically represents like your entire life’s work and not just like a specific instance, like a specific album or concert, or kind of like how we’re thinking about NFTs today, which are kind of like one off instances.
DeFi Meets The Creator Economy
So that’s very much where DeFi meets the creator economy, right. Because what you guys are explaining right now is basically like a take on set protocol where you pull a bunch of assets together and you create like an index token of all that underlying value. I’m trying to think like, okay, what does that really look like from a technical point of view? I wanna get a little dirty with this because I wanna understand, and not only from like a theoretical level, but also from like a fundamental level, if someone wants to do this in practice, for example, right. So you have your tickets, you have your, one of ones, you have your additions, you have your crowd fund campaigns that you do on mirror and all these other assets, how do you actually take all those assets and peg it to one asset? Like technically. So like the interface and the product that I’m imagining that comes to mind, like I said earlier is like set protocol. Like you take all your DeFi ERC twenties, and you create like an index, like forefront has a social token index, or Bankless has a bank index. The list goes on and on. How do you actually do that with a creator asset today from NFTs and 721s and all the other token standards I’m like blanking out on all of them.
Melissa: Yeah. I think a simple way to do it is just, you have a treasury that holds all of the like creators NFTs that’s where like revenue flows towards all the on chain revenue. And then the token is just like a governance token has rights to that treasury or rights to some streams from that treasury. And that’s honestly like probably the simplest way to do it. You don’t even really need to create an index or anything complicated. That’s kinda how I would see it now, but I think we’re seeing it play out in real time.
Melissa, you bring that up and another thing that comes to mind and Matt, I’ll let you jump in, cuz I feel like you wanna say something due to this cuz Overstm itself, the project itself, accumulates revenue, accumulates revenue from catalog from sound it accumulates revenue from Spotify and all the other streaming services. And then like you’re trying to architect is the Daniel coin. Let’s say if, and when that happens, whatever, I don’t know, but let’s say it’s like one asset specifically that then pegs to all these other assets that then all the collectors buy that one asset to get exposure to everything in a ecosystem. But then like I try to think, okay, but now the creator might have revenue for like the personal token, in addition to like the project token, like the Overstm token in addition to the personal token. So like, okay, how do you actually do that from like an accounting point of view? How do you do that from a collecting point of view? Like these are the type of things that I’m starting to think about as we kind of peel this onion, what do you think?
Matt: Yeah, well, I definitely think it’s gonna be at least for the foreseeable future a little less like surgical than that. Like it’s not gonna be a precise index in the sense of like there’s, I think there’s not gonna be a lot of like on chain mechanics that like enable the token to like exactly track a bunch of different assets. I think instead what’s gonna sort of happen is there will be one token, which is thought of as the like community token, the community asset. And that’s the thing where benefits accrue over time, maybe by holding that token, like you’re participating in governance within the community, maybe by holding that token, whenever there are NFT or something that’s dropping, you have early access to that thing or exclusive access to that thing. And so it’ll be more about like the benefits accruing to that token, as well as the governance rights over the treasury. And then as you mint, more NFTs you can choose to do it under the community that is governed by like the map token call it. I do think that there’s gonna be, creators who have multiple communities that could have different community assets associated with them. And I think it can get a little bit sort of messy when you project that a little ways. But yeah, I think that it’s, it’s not gonna be quite as maybe just surgical in the definition of this one community token mapping, the value of all of the other assets that live there. I think it’s gonna be a little bit more I guess just soft than that, the relationship. Yeah,
Governance And The Creators
When I ask these questions, I think it’s good to get somewhat like very messy like that because I think a lot of stuff out there tends to be very high level. And for other creators that wanna like follow Daniel’s footsteps, Valencia’s footsteps, Charlie Crown Mark the list goes on and on and on. Like there needs to be comprehensive guides to kind of understand that. So you guys are providing a lot of clarity on that matter. Matt, you brought up governance. It’s a very interesting topic for creators because on the extreme side, let’s talk like black mirror side. You think about fans controlling every movement that a creator kind of makes on a very extreme side. So they get to vote on what they eat. They get to vote on who they talk to. They get to vote on like all these other, like, very like, like really scary type of like governance types of decisions that could come with an asset. But I like to think of it as the latter, you know, and I’m curious to hear, like, how do you guys think about governance in a creator stance? What does that really look like? What are the tiers of governance? How much do you actually involve your audience and your fan in the day to day of what you’re doing versus on a granular level to the project perspective? Walk me through that. How do you guys think about governance and creators?
Matt: I think it’s completely to be defined by the creator. I think different creators are gonna welcome different levels of participation. And the token is meant to just be a way of conferring rights. Like when, that governance opportunity is opened up. But I think in the same way that as a shareholder of a company, I don’t get to decide everything that company does operationally, or even within most Dows, it’s not like everything goes up to a vote, right. It’s like there is a kind of mutually agreed upon like structure of like what governance rights, the token confers. And I think in the creator case, different creators are gonna have different approaches to like where they want participation from their community in the creation itself. So I think it’s gonna be highly, highly varied. I don’t think that people will come to understand owning a social token as meaning they get to govern every aspect of like a creator’s life. I think that would be bad for all sorts of obvious reasons. But I think instead it will be a way, for when a creator’s looking for engagement participation within their community that token is the way that they do that. It’s the way that they actually gate that participation and also reward the people who have been collecting that token. So I think that maybe governance in the creator context is gonna look quite a bit different than governance and the more protocol context. And I think all of that is still very much a work in progress, like as web three, as a space I’m still figuring out how governance like works.
Yeah. Melissa, how do you think about governance in a creator stance?
Melissa: Yeah, I feel like it’s less that the token gives you ownership in the creator. It’s not like a social token in the sense that you get to control them, their creative work. I think it’s more in the sense of like, you get to control maybe a treasury, and that’s what the governance token is used for, or, it becomes less about a singular creator. Like maybe it starts out with just one creator, but eventually it becomes like a group of creators that are creating together. And because people in the community are also contributing and it’s not just like the creator leading it forever eventually becomes a community. And I feel like in the worst case becomes like only creator led because obviously what happens when the creator decides like, Hey, I don’t wanna do this anymore. I wanna make music. Or anything like anything could happen. Like that’s stuff that people don’t really talk about. So I feel like the sooner that you can make it about the community and less about a singular creator, the better yeah. Cause it’s like, I mean, creators don’t live forever either.
Yeah. Yeah. That’s like, that gets me thinking like, okay, let’s think about like the band Queen, like they’re band of creators, in their own respect musicians, iconic musicians and Freddy Mercury has passed away, but the queen legacy continues. You know, what does that look like if there were assets to kind of tie that all together and to bring that stuff on chain? Another thing I wanna ask you guys, is governance a need or a want for creators? Do audience and fans need to participate in governance or is it a feature that makes it like the entire, I guess, process more fun? Do you know what I mean? Do creators need governance? Do audiences want governance or need governance? And it’s I guess it’s like a very like maybe philosophical question, a very like high level, like thought provoking question, but I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.
Matt: Wow. Yeah. It’s a heavy hitting question. I think that you need governance when you are doing something like crowdfunding, a bunch of Eth, that, the creators is saying that they’re gonna use to build a project or saying that, certain types of value are gonna be routed back to the asset holders or like the token holders of the project. Then I think governance, we comes really important cuz you’re talking about like, this giant sum of money and you know, for me to have confidence investing in that thing, I need to know that I have some rights to governance over, you know, where that gets used or how it gets spent, et cetera. I think that’s sort of different in my mind than like engagement or contribution where it could be like it more creative engagement or creative contribution. It could be, things like voting on, on the next album cover or voting on who opens for my concert. I think that type of stuff is community contribution. It’s like engagement that I think could be really enriching and it could be really powerful. I think it’s very optional. It’s very like nice to have certain creators will want that others, won’t want that at all. I do think of that as being pretty different than like governing a treasury and that’s where I feel like it’s most required or it’s at least required for collectors, I think, to have confidence really collecting in these communities. So that’s maybe where I would draw the line.
Yeah. Melissa, anything to add to that on the needs or wants of governance? Cause I have so many more questions, but I know you guys are just like so into it. So I’m curious to hear.
Melissa: Yeah. I mean, I agree. I think when there’s a treasury, I think that’s when governance becomes important, but I don’t think every creator necessarily needs a treasury. Like it could be that the token is just for a reward point to reward contributors, people who are day one and just be able to distinguish between the fans that have been around for a while. So I think it’s not necessary, but I think it, does become like really interesting when you start to involve more of like these tokenomic models and that I think it’s yet to see like if that is a great model or not, if you financialize everything, but I think you can start to get really just interesting models where everyone is aligned financially and see how that plays out. So it’s not a solid answer, but
Yeah, let’s go back to the DAO spectrum from just like a token based community to like completely decentralized and autonomous. Okay. A lot of token based communities, they use platforms like Snapshot or Tally, or even like the discord reactions as a way to kind of dictate a path forward. And when you think about on chain governance versus off chain governance for creators and their fans, how do you differentiate the priority between the two? Like when should someone like Daniel be using a discord react on their messages to decipher a direction versus putting something like on chain and having it permanent or off chain using snap? You know what I mean? Like how do you kind of decipher which path to go in and which context?
Matt: Yeah, I think it maybe maps to I guess like that distinction I was trying to draw before between, like, you know, if it’s gonna be a material use of treasury funds or it’s going to have implications for the value of the asset, then I think it’s very critical to involve the community in a way that is a little more robust. If it’s who’s gonna open for my concert, then I think, it’s very much like discord reaction is just enough way to get signal in almost like a social contract that, okay, this person who won the vote is actually gonna be opening and that’s all that’s really necessary there.
Yeah. Makes sense. So guys, let’s talk more about Bonfire. Okay. We talked a lot about like general high Eagle type of stuff, excuse me, I’m curious cuz you guys actually summed it down to be something really interesting. So the front page for creator DAOs. Okay. And this is very evident with the page that you guys built for Daniel Allen. Okay. That showcases his different assets. For example, like his treasury to his discord links to buying, the Overstm token and actually doing the swap on there for all these different, like really cool gadgets and components, for the creator itself. So when you think about building the homepage for a creator, what does that really look like? Big picture for you guys?
Matt: I think the first thing is that there needs to be just a, a public way that somebody can arrive and learn what is this DAO about. What is the Dow? What are the assets that are connected to that community? Like what are the various perks and benefits of participating in that community? Who is the artist? What type of art do they make and like where can that art be enjoyed. So I think that’s the first thing is there does at least for a community that is public and there needs to be a public way for people to understand the value of the community. I think that there’s a big part that is a very critical part of our roadmap, which is also like what about the private or community only sorts of events and experiences that maybe live behind the token gate and like, how do you, whether it’s content or events or other, types of value, how do you allocate that, to the token holders or the community members? I think there’s definitely an aspect which is like public versus private and probably you want both depending on what it is, exactly that we’re talking about. And then I think the other thing is just right now, there’s a ton of focus on buying your way into communities. But if you just look historically at the creator economy, most fans are paying with engagement, their attention, their time, their passion, and not with dollars. And so I think we have a kind of limiting form of social tokens right now, where for the most part they’re purchased. I think that earning and the ability to actually like, be a valued member in a community because of your fandom or because of your non-financial patronage. I think that’s a really big, sort of gap in today’s web three meets creator economy. So that’s another thing that’ll be a focus for us.
Yeah. That makes sense, Melissa, anything to add to that?
Melissa: Yeah. I think like a big huge need is just to onboard the community that you have already into web three. And I think there’s like discord is not the best first entry into crypto, I think, but I actually think what Matt was saying around earning, like being able to earn your way into community and not be your first experience with crypto, I think is actually a really great experience cuz you like getting Fiat into a meta mass wallet to go purchase something. That’s a lot of friction to get people to go through for like an asset that they might not even really understand or understand its value. Whereas if you’re earning something it’s like kinda like a reward at the end of the tunnel where it’s like, okay, I get to learn all these different things. And then at the end I get an asset that gets me closer to my favorite creator. So I think earning is just gonna be a great way to onboard new people and to web three in general.
Yeah. That makes sense. Let’s talk more about this problem space that you just brought up Melissa. So I wanna wind it back for a second. A lot of people, a lot of creators need to find a way to bring their audience from social media, into their web three native communities. So what does that really mean? So we look at like creators who have fans across Instagram, Tik Toks, Snapchat, Facebook groups Twitter, it the list goes on and on and on where that’s like their main form of communication to their end user. That’s how they communicate stuff in a story, right? They do a swipe up, they have a call to action, a link and bio and that entire journey needs to be optimized from like one destination to another destination. So you guys are kind of saying that bounties earning your way into a community is like a really good incentive and a really good way to kind of build that initial traction of moving a user from like a pillar platform to like a sub platform. That’s how I’m understanding it.
Melissa: Yeah. We definitely think of it as a funnel, as like you have these big social media platforms where maybe you have a really large audience and then you go from there to your most dedicated community members who might want to join your discord or just have more engagement. And then those are the types of people who will then go to your personal website, your bonfire page, and find ways to earn to interact and like engage in new ways. So I think we definitely think of it more like a funnel where it’s not gonna be all of your, not everyone who follows you on social media is gonna really care about your community, your token. So I think like you end up with probably the people who are most excited about you and your community that actually end up making it through.
Building A Bridge Between Web Two And Web Three Audiences
I think you’re absolutely right. Not, everybody’s gonna care about your web three initiatives, right? And the question is like. Now you have to build a whole new audience, but a web three native audience. So you’re already, you’re creating content for TikTok. You’re creating content for Instagram. You’re creating content for Snapchat, for Facebook groups, for all these different platforms. And now web three is another medium, right through quote unquote discord. Discord is like the To go kind of destination. And when you think about it, like, all you do all day is create content for the most part or whatever your respective creator medium is. Right? And now you have to focus on building a whole new type of community like Daniel Allen’s community on Spotify or on Instagram, for example, were not necessarily the people who contributed to his crowd-fund across Twitter, in Mirror. And now he’s dedicating a lot of his time and attention to build for that community. Right. So I guess part of what I’m saying right now is like realizations as I’m creating these interviews. And as you guys are kind of building products for creators and seeing like, okay, this is just, this may be another hurdle for creators to overcome, but it actually may be one very worth it because of the opportunity behind it to create like direct communication and lines of ownership and monetization between one party to another. But I guess my question to you is like, okay, how do you actually do that now? How do you dedicate your time to now focusing on a new class of creators, right. A new class of audiences that otherwise wouldn’t really, really care about what you’re doing on web two, for example, which it’s more homework, right? More time, all these things that may be very daunting, for example.
Melissa: Yeah. I feel like we’re kind of in this world right now where people are kind of on like this content treadmill, I guess, where, because of the algorithms you’re forced to like be creating content all the time. Whereas I feel like with web three, like you don’t actually have to do that anymore. Like you can monetize and sell your work as like NFTs and then like you can focus on like creating like pieces of content that you think are gonna be super valuable versus like a lot of it. And I think that’s the big difference where like, yeah, you hear about like creator burnout all the time because the algorithm just dictates that you need it otherwise, like you’re gonna lose followers, but if you can find like a few hundred people who are, who really love you then that like, you don’t have to have that constant pressure anymore. That’s how that’s how I would see it. Yeah.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, I definitely think that it allows the 100 true fans, 10 super fans to sort of self-select and support the creator. As Mel mentioned, that means, maybe not needing to produce as much content and you’re not as beholden to the algorithms because you aren’t creating for pennies of ad revenue. You’re actually able to just create for your fans for the community who like loves your work. But then I think the other big part of what you said that, that resonated was today, you kind of do have to make a choice between like, do I engage with web three by creating like a new audience of maybe your asset collectors, but they actually didn’t like follow my music before I started putting out NFTs. And like, there’s kind of like a clear distinction there, but I think over time as the space becomes more mature, like those things really should be one and the same, it’s like the people who are collecting your NFTs should be the biggest fans of your content, not the biggest fans of NFTs. And like right now you have this where like, as a musician, you can announce that you’re gonna be putting out NFTs and your biggest fans might hate you for it. Like they could be like the ones, you know, commenting on Twitter and like ripping you apart for it. Yeah. Where really, they should be the ones who are most excited. And so I think right now we’re in this kind of like awkward teenager phase of maturity, where like, you do have, have to make some of these trade offs, which you really shouldn’t need to make, kind of as the space continues to mature and mainstream adoption is a little further along.
Converting Viewers And Listeners Into Collectors
Yeah. How do you guys think about the balance between, well, not really a balance, but how do you get more viewers, more listeners, more Watchers into collectors?
Matt: I think the simple answer that I would say is you, well, two things, I think one is you create a lot of utility for the assets, which those biggest fans are going care the most about. And so, why is it called a social token? It’s like partially it’s because a lot of the value is derived socially versus like purely financially. And so if the thing that holding this NFT gets me, is access to every concert, then that’s gonna appeal much more strongly to the real fans versus somebody who’s purely in it for speculation reasons. So I think creating greater utility is going to mean that the real fans are gonna value those things relatively higher than somebody who’s only in it for financial reasons. Then I think the second way that you get your fans to be collectors is you allow them opportunities to earn the assets. And again, it’s like let them contribute in non financial ways via their engagement, via their like loyalty via their passion, and then give them assets in return for that. And I think that’s another way that you end up with your fans being the ones who hold those assets. And if you think of this as almost like this open source CRM that, isn’t controlled by any platform, and can’t be taken from you as a creator, it’s like very important to get those assets into the hands of your actual fans and like the people who care most about, what it is that you’re about the type of art that you create. I think that both of those are, are big key unlocks and things that really just take a lot of product and tooling to, to enable.
What’s Next For Bonfire?
Yeah, yeah. Makes a lot of sense. Yeah. For everyone that’s listening, I think there’s a lot of alpha in here. I think there’s a lot of opportunities presented. Matt and Mel, you guys are very, very in it, like in the weaves, like you guys are the onion, that’s like getting peeled in my opinion. And I’m very excited for your journey, I guess before you wrap it up and I let you guys go anything you want to add? Any shout outs? I know you guys had the Daniel Allen project that you put together, you guys announce the public launch of bonfire. I know you guys were very much in stealth mode, doing stuff with rally. Matt, I remember you were telling me that thing behind the scenes, anything to add on that front, what can we expect from Bonfire in the next few months? Fill me in I’m excited.
Matt: Yeah. I mean, the biggest thing is just building, trying to get the platform ready for really just self-service on the Ethereum side. As mentioned, we’ve been in rally and partner closely with that team for the last several months, but, really wanting to just sort of achieve platform parody and make it available for anyone on main net as well and then polygon will be a big focus for us in terms of scalability. I would say like, that’s a really big focus. The other big focus is gonna be on kind of those two things that I just mentioned utility and really trying to, solve for where we see gaps in the market today and, and try to help creators, I guess it’s really like helping the reality of like the value social tokens. And when I say social tokens, I mean, NFTs and fungible tokens, it’s like having the reality of the value that gets created, like match the potential. I think that, there’s a couple of big gaps that need to be solved for that to really happen.
Yeah. I love it. I’m excited for you guys, Melissa, any last words before we wrap it up and we share our socials and all that?
Melissa: Nothing to add.
Guys, this was great. Where can we find you, Matt? Where can we find you, Melissa? Where can we find Bonfire? Give us, give us the rundown.
Matt: Yeah. On Twitter, I’m at Matt_Alston, cause I was sort of late to the Twitter game.
Melissa: Nice. Yeah, mine is MelissaZhang13, or you can find us just at Bonfire tweets.