About the Frontier3 Podcast
Welcome to Frontier3 by PatSnap!
This series is dedicated to unpacking the innovation ecosystem of Web3. Featuring our Co-Founder, Ray Chohan, and various industry experts, Frontier3 explores how Web3 will fundamentally change how we live, work, and play.
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In This Episode of Frontier3
Ray is joined by Pat Kearney, the Head of Growth at Thirdweb, a software that helps developers build, launch, and manage Web3 projects. Pat shares his excitement about Web3 and the huge impact it’s making on businesses and communities alike.
- Explore the opportunities in blockchain moving from Web2 into the decentralized world of Web3
- Thirdweb, bringing the ability to mobilize and incentivize communities towards social goods in an inclusive atmosphere
- Thirdweb’s Mission: reduce complexity of web3, tooling for developers, provideseamless innovation space within web3, as well as updated and unique mechanics
- Reduced complexity in web3 enables builders and developers to focus on business logic, while cutting out the middleman
- The upside of dashboard: permission access and simplified on-chain analytics for no-code or low code builders
- Music is disrupting web2 and how web3 allows for artists to make a livable wage
- See what companies are taking huge leaps into web3, and what’s holding others back
Head of Growth at Thirdweb
Pat is the Head of Growth and Thirdweb. He is an expert in growth and strategy and has an affinity for storytelling and innovation. He is deeply passionate about skiing, DJing + music production, and the intersection of technology & culture (Web3, social tokens, NFTs, etc.).
Connect with Pat Kearney on LinkedIn
Co-Founder & VP New Ventures at PatSnap
Ray started PatSnap’s western operation from his apartment in 2012, helping grow the team to 400+ by 2020. PatSnap now serves 15,000 companies worldwide – supporting R&D, Innovation & IP teams with market and technology intelligence research. Their SaaS-based platform helps Deep Tech innovators connect the dots between technology, markets, and people. PatSnap officially became a Unicorn in 2021 and now has over 1,100 employees and 15,000 companies using its software across EMEA, North America & Asia. The ultimate mission is to provide intelligence that improves R&D and Innovation productivity to help innovators bring their ideas successfully to market. Ray also works closely with Blockchain & Web3 community and is a passionate angel investor in this space.
Ray: Pat, welcome to Frontier3. Great to have you on the show today. And it’ll be great to kick off from yourstory really, in terms of your professional journey and how you got orange pilled, red pilled, blue pilled,call it what have you into the wacky world of Web3, Pat.
Pat Kearney: Yeah. Thank you so much, Ray. It’s a pleasure to be here and I’m honored to be a part of the Frontier3 podcast. It’s been an up and down journey, I’d say. I started off my career in finance working for Merrill Lynch and UBS and a brief stint in consulting, and then got the entrepreneurial bug working for Epidemic Sound, a Swedish based music licensing startup, which is now I think well over a billion dollars and had an opportunity there to really grow their operations here in the US. Since then, it’s really been no looking back. Growing ventures in that early stage is arguably one of the most exciting opportunities you can have as an employee and to really impact the overall vision of the company.
And that led me eventually to agency-side, working more on measurement and facilitating one to one touchpoint experiences between brands and their stakeholders, what has become very much known as experiential marketing. And I think that foray into the measurement side and really working with brands to prove the ROI to their upper management and making sure that they’re focused on their goals and objectives eventually led to a foray with Superplastic, which is a collectibles brand similar to a Kidrobot, Funko, Kaws, but very much rooted in IP. So they’ve created characters that have social profiles and have their own personas, their own lifestyle and content that they’re putting out. And initially that manifested itself in the form of physical collectibles. And so this was right around the end of 2020.
I vividly remember being on a call with my colleagues and a couple of agency partners out in LA and one of my colleagues just dropped the term Web3 in the conversation. And I paused at that point and I was just like, “What in the world? Is this an app? Is this a brand?” And I remember for the rest of that day, diving deep, deep down the rabbit hole, as I’m sure yourself and many people as they take that first step and getting lost in a variety of Reddit threads, articles, Twitter threads, and come to find out it’s becoming this term that now is much more mainstream, but describing the iteration of the internet in a more decentralized capacity.
Pat Kearney: And once I saw that and you started to see the writing on the wall with NFTs at the end of 2020, Nifty Gateway and all the other platforms that gained popularity in early 2021. And from there it was just off to the races I think. As you extrapolate the market in general, I could get lost in DeFi in and of itself, but NFTs in its own right is incredibly exciting. And then I think even more so recently, DAOs obviously have captured quite a bit of the conversation.
Ray: So Pat, really it’s Q4 of 2020, you’re on that call with a couple of folks in LA and someone just drops Web3, and then you go down the rabbit hole? But obviously the ecosystem is absolutely massive and there’s so much nuance. We’re still super early from smart contracts to NFTs, to just different forms of blockchain capability. I mean, last week, I think I saw athena.ai, which now will bake in advance NLP and machine learning into NFTs. That just blew my brain and I was like, “God, this is too much to absorb. I just have to take this in baby steps.”
So if you go back to Q4 2020, and then going into 2021, was it specific parts of the ecosystem, which caused you to make that leap into obviously thirdweb, which we’ll come into shortly? But was it specific parts of the primitive that is blockchain, which made you really lean in and go, you know what, I want to steer my career in this direction?
Pat Kearney: Yeah, that’s a great question. I think at that point, I was familiar with blockchain and obviously bitcoin was very much in existence and I think many people looked at it as a joke, laughable, didn’t really see the opportunity, but from a technological perspective, I think blockchain and the value that it offered was at least in my eyes, very apparent. The idea of decentralization and progressing from Web2 of centralized players and having that back and forth interaction, but really housed and owned by one player, that next iteration of the internet was incredibly exciting.
And I think the first two areas that I really nerded out around were very much social tokens, specific to Friends with Benefits and the Whale DAO, and Whale and their vault of NFTs, if you will, which is their underlying valuation for Whale as a whole. And I think seeing how FWB was focused more so on the community aspect and bringing in elements of cultural expertise, giving access to individuals who really wanted to innovate and iterate within the space was really what captured my attention.
And I think if we extrapolate, especially now in 2022, from a high level, the thing that excites me the most is mobilizing and incentivizing communities to do certain things. And I from a base level, growing up Catholic going to Catholic school pretty much my entire life have a pretty rigid moral compass. And so I ultimately am most excited about mobilizing and incentivizing communities for social good and creating positive impact and I think that’s where I’ve seen the greatest opportunities.
But certainly, those initial social tokens, which now I think NFTs actually offer at greater value and functionality as it pertains to social tokens, but that was definitely where I nerded out in the first place and in getting an understanding of really the mechanics that will drive this space forward and increase adoption and those pieces that will resonate the most with a greater market.
Ray: Yeah. This community building, and I think Raoul Pal, the founder of Real Vision, who I love their content, he coined, well, I don’t think he coined the term, but he mentioned this, he said, “Culture is basically an asset class now and it’s an asset class that we can build Lego blocks on top of, and from a commercial standpoint actually will generate meaningful revenue.”
So it’s really interesting, that community dimension and obviously your background growing up, you thought, wow, this is a great business opportunity, but also in terms of your values as an individual regarding community and giving back, it seems like it has all these ingredients infused into one.
And it’s interesting you mentioned community and doing things which are different. I actually have seen something recently, it’s actually a golf project actually, Pat. So golf historically, sadly is only, well, the perception of golf is it’s certain types of communities who can only play golf or who have access to that type of sport, the cliche archetype of people who are members of exclusive golf clubs. So golf has always had that barrier to entry, right? It’s not like soccer or basketball where everyone can play.
So there’s actually a really interesting project right now in the golfing space, where someone just launched a golf DAO, they've raised 11 million bucks. It’s actually the former founder of The Block, which is an analyst company in this space, similar to Messari and some of the other ones. And when I looked at that project, I thought, wow, okay, again, another social good standpoint. This is more from a sporting context, but trying to make golf more inclusive.
I think they actually have Serena Williams as one of the backers or a person who’s part of the governance of the golf protocol. So this is interesting. I think that, for the good of the world element of it, I mean, that’s going to be limitless because it’s very inclusive and you can include participants from all over the world. So that makes perfect sense. Thank you for that context.
So then we come to thirdweb, which Steven Bartlett is the co-founder of, and Steven is huge here in the UK, because he’s on the UK Dragons’ Den. I mean his pod’s massive globally. So what was your journey into thirdweb, because they look like a fast moving horse? But that sounds fascinating how you’ve joined so early there. There’s only 17 people in the company if that, so it looks like you’re one of the early employees for that mission. So what’s the mission and background for engaging with thirdweb?
Pat Kearney: Yeah, it’s a great question. I was actually in a position towards the end of 2021 where I was essentially looking for a full on role within the Web3 space and I’m having a number of interviews, OpenSea, SuperRare, a variety of others that just didn’t really, I think hit the value props that I was looking for.
And it just so happened I was on a final interview, was just about to move forward with the offer and I got a LinkedIn DM from Catty who is very close to Steven, creative director at thirdweb, just brilliant, brilliant mind in how he approaches the space. And we had a nice conversation around what thirdweb’s approach is, had an opportunity to talk with Steven and Furqan the two co-founders. And I think it was after five minutes of chatting with Steven that I was pretty much bought in, if you will.
From a high level, thirdweb is really trying to create the picks and shovels for the Web3 space in trying to extrapolate or rather abstract away a lot of the complexity. And as we look at thirdweb as a whole, what we’re really doing is building tooling in the native frameworks or languages for developers initially to enable them to onboard and start creating and innovating within the Web3 space as seamlessly as possible and continuing to update and provide unique mechanics on top of our current feature set as the market continues to move and pushing that aspect of the space forward. So seeing what is going on from a macro perspective, but also understanding that this is how we see the space progressing.
NFTs for an example, very, very popular as PFP projects. That is probably NFT 1.0, if we had to dumb it down. And per your point, Athena seems already to be pushing that envelope forward in a meaningful direction. And I think it’s important that people understand that NFTs are not just some kind of visual art that is encapsulated within a smart contract, it is so much more than that.
And as the technology continues to progress and really the builders continue to take their vision and implement it, we will continue to see … I think music is probably the area that I resonate with the most because I have a background in DJing and producing and stuff like that, and you look at the complexity in the Web2 format, right? You look at Spotify, the major labels and the artists.
And you pay Spotify $10 a month, a premium subscription. Spotify then takes that revenue and based on plays and number of streams and their various models in the background will end up keeping about 30% of the royalties that are paid out, and then the remaining 70% then goes back to the labels, which keep the vast majority of it. Some of it goes to publishing, marketing X, Y, and Z. And by the time it actually reaches the artist, as I’m sure many people are well aware at this point, there’s very little left. It’s not a business. As an artist, if you don’t tour, especially in a pandemic where there’s all those considerations, you don’t really have a revenue stream or an income stream.
As we talk about that in a Web3 format, the technology enables all sorts of functionality to streamline the royalty process, to cut out the middlemen and to actually offer an opportunity for artists to make a living with communities that are passionate about their work.
And I’ll give a very tangible example. A close friend of mine, Sam Hysell, who's the co-founder of nft now, I think it was about two weeks ago, released his own track on the blockchain as an NFT. And there were, I think, 10 one of ones that were available for purchase and sold out within a day or two. It would’ve been the equivalent of one and a half million streams on Spotify to generate that same amount of revenue, which is wild.
Anyways, a bit of a tangent. To circle back in thirdweb, really what we’re trying to do is abstract away that complexity to enable initially developers and builders to segue into this space and start building and focusing more so on their end application, their business logic, if you will, and giving them the tools to do so.
And eventually those capabilities will manifest for a no-code or a lower-code builder like myself, for example, to be able to do the same things that are currently available in … We’re not building APIs, we’re building SDKs. And so I guess to give you a high level, the holy trinity, as one of our senior devs calls it, is the contract level that interfaces with our SDKs, which then also is available in the dashboard.
And the dashboard for a no-code or a low-code builder like myself has a ton of upside, but even for developers and as you look at brands and orgs that are going to have multiple individuals interfacing with a project or multiple projects within a greater org, there are lots of considerations around access permissioning, even as we talk about analytics, right?
On-chain analytics is such a complex area that we’re very focused on simplifying for our users because it’s important. You’re only able to make informed decisions based on the data you have access to. And I’ll just pause there, because that was a nice little foray into thirdweb and it hopefully created a couple more specific questions.
Ray: Pat, that makes sense. So just to simplify it, it seems like thirdweb is the Wix, Myspace, Squarespace for the developer community, right? So it’s trying to, I know it’s early, but trying to abstract away the complexity as much as it can considering we’re in what, January 2022. So you could be a builder in this space use thirdweb and a lot of that complexity is abstracted away and it offers some form of Wix, Squarespace, Myspace for developers’ capability, which is more out the box. And then they can focus on, to your terms, business logic and business outcomes. I’ll just pause there. Is that in a nutshell where we are today?
Pat Kearney: Yeah. Yeah, I would say that that’s a good comparison. I would counterpoint that the better comparison would almost be Stripe.
Pat Kearney: Specifically because Stripe has leveraged their underlying technology to make it very composable for builders to integrate in a variety of different formats. And so thirdweb 1.0, if you will, is very much taking that same approach from the developer perspective and giving them the tools and technology they need to build within the Web3 space in a programmatic format, so layering on top of whatever they’ve already built and bringing that closer to the blockchain.
Or we have the ability to really build, there’s a lot of really, really exciting stuff, one of which is actually launching tomorrow, projects that are forthcoming with some very, very large organizations, one of which I think would resonate very strongly with you. And Steven is I know very excited about it because it hits a close passion point for him in the sporting world. Keep your eyes on the trades and stuff like that because there will be some good news coming forward.
But I think ultimately we will see ourselves probably as an interesting combination of a Shopify and a Stripe, a little bit of Squarespace because we do want to empower the lower-code and no-code builders, but I think a lot of the innovation and opportunity as it stands now is going to be with the developers as we build in the spaces. It’s still early. I don’t know if you would agree, but I don’t know that we’ve crossed the chasm yet, but yeah.
Ray: Yeah, we’re really early. I mean, I think if you’re always in the community and tracking all the headlines and some of the detail, you feel like we’re past early, but I was at my sister’s yesterday for dinner and my brother-in-law’s from a Web2 background, he’s a builder, he is an engineer and more on the data side and he’s like, “Ray, could you unpack … I know you’ve got this pod now and I know you’re all into Web3, but I don’t understand it.” We spent last night, I was just walking him through NFTs, just some foundational things, which he should just look at, to activate his learning journey. And when I was speaking to him, he was like, “Yep, we’re getting it on team calls now, but we don’t know what it is.”
So really this whole paradigm shift on what the primitive of the blockchain will enable, I feel like we’re in 1997 of where the internet was, really. And if I look at NFTs, Chris Dixon of az16, I love his stuff, he goes, “You have to see NFTs right now like a webpage. In Web1, webpages were basically online catalogs. That’s kind of where we are with NFTs.” So it’s super early.
And to your point, I love what you were covering around … I mean, what you’re alluding to is the stunning exponential design space for NFTs, right? Right now it just seems like expensive JPEGs to be fair to most people, but if you really look underneath the hood, the Lego blocks, which can be built on top of NFTs, the design space, I mean, we’re not even 0.5% of the way in. I think 2037 will be like, oh my God, this is crazy this is possible from NFTs, right? Because who’d have thought in 1996 there’d be Airbnb, Uber? No one would imagine that. Or enterprise applications like Slack, for example, people probably didn’t think that back in ’96.
So yeah, I share your sentiment and actually to your point regarding music, it is actually scary. I think with Spotify, I think the number’s nuts, where it’s a tiny percentage of Spotify artists who actually earn over 50K a year in terms of revenue. That number is supposed to be minuscule compared to the number of artists on Spotify. So I love your background in music because you’ve had frontline experience of the pain, which artists through.
And I think there’s organizations like Audius, royal.io, which are doing some great work in that space as well. So yeah, it’s fascinating to see you’ve got this really unique blended background of music already in technology. So I can actually see why you really leaned in, on your current organization.
So what is the long goal for thirdweb? Is it one day to get to that holy grail of where it can be a mom and pop shop person at home who’s got no-code or very low-code knowledge and they can spin up some form of Web3 capabilities? Is that the long term dream, north star?
Pat Kearney: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think it’s iterative, day by day, but from a high level, we really want to capture the whole space, I think as it relates to NFTs, gaming in marketplaces. And I think back to your point about that conversation with your brother-in-law, a lot of that initial legwork is going to be education and really doing that in a digestible and snackable way, similar to how content preferences have shifted quite a bit and finding those bits and pieces that are going to resonate with a general audience. And so to me, I see that a lot of it in the IRL experiences as we talk about people going to their local Starbucks or going to a venue that they happen to frequent a lot or supporting an artist at a live show, things like that.
And I think thirdweb, as it relates to that conversation will continue to empower both on the building and the tooling side and making sure we’re keeping an eye on the space and innovating from our products and feature set. But I also think we’re probably going to end up going downstream quite a bit and starting to innovate there. And this is where it’s probably best to get our CEO, Furqan on the phone, or our CTO, Jake, who are incredibly literate from a technological standpoint.
An understanding of indexing I think is one of the things that we talk about quite a bit, because as we talk about indexing, you’re indexing the entire blockchain, which is just pause there, because that is insane. And so there’s a lot of infrastructure considerations in going more downstream, but I also think there’s a ton of opportunity per your point of supporting small to medium sized businesses in the future that will absolutely have value in terms of being on thirdweb, but also in empowering their own business objectives.
As the market continues to innovate, as the greater economics start to change and Web3 becomes more mainstream, it’s going to be very important for them to one, be able to take that first step and understand this is Web3, and then how can I interface with Web3? Where is my opportunity? And then just to go back again to NFTs and how early it really is in that iteration, we’re going to start to see NFTs that are packaged or wrapped in so many different formats.
I think one of the aspects that really interests me is as we talk about education and empowering builders to take that first step of building their first app and they’ve achieved an NFT, but then five to six tutorials later, they’ve built an entire end to end marketplace and they now have, that NFT has now progressed.
They’ve gone through those levels of learning to now be essentially a badge of commemoration or of a skill level that they can then get hired with within, for lack of a better way to put it, the thirdweb hiring portal or whatever we want to call it down the line. And so I think that’s how I see both initial and long term vision and making sure that we continue to develop the product, to make it as seamless and easy to use, whether you happen to be technically minded or not
Ray: Makes sense. And so looking at phase one of thirdweb, who is your target audience there now, Pat? Where are you guys seeing exciting traction?
Pat Kearney: It really is that core developer audience who primarily have either a curiosity for the space or are already active within the space. And to your point, there’s also brands and orgs on the side that are curious and need to know more. They need to be educated, to understand how they can integrate it, at least in this initial phase and then keeping it open ended and composable so that they can continue to build on top of their initial campaign or initiative moving forward.
But so primarily we’re really speaking to and empowering technical teams within orgs and individual or decentralized developer teams that need specific tooling to enable them to build quicker and iterate. I can’t tell you how many conversations, Ray, that we’ve had maybe six months ago with a dev team, oh, we’re going to go out and actually just try and develop the contracts on our own. We’re going to take that foray into Rust or Solidity.
And a month later, maybe a couple weeks later, maybe two months later, you get an email and it’ll be like, “Hey. Yeah, we tried to do this, but it actually is a heck of a lot more complex than we anticipated and we really just want to keep pushing this forward. What can we work out and how can your tooling or specific contracts and stuff like that streamline our go to market?” And we keep coming back to this one word, but accelerate is really what we’re doing for a lot of our partners and accelerating to again, allow them to really focus on the business logic and to recommend and provide expertise on how they can get there.
And so sometimes it’ll be situations where they have a very, very specific use case that they want to achieve and we’ll end up doing some custom development and working with an external dev shop to really get them from start to finish, but then there’s tons of examples of people coming in and us already having the existing tooling and frameworks for them to essentially plug and play right off the bat, whether it’s …
Secret Food Society was created by James Brooks, who’s an influencer in the UK actually, who really focuses on food. And he was able to do this, I think it was a hundred PFP NFT drop with one line of code, which he was able to embed within his website. He is technically minded, but he’s not a developer, very much like myself. Then you’ll have someone like Filta, which is a face filter app. And they’re very much like a Web2 consideration and they’re utilizing the SDK as a layer underneath programmatically to create on-chain face filters.
So that’s a little bit, a more complex build where they’re going to be interfacing directly with the SDK, but all of that tech was already in existence, so they’re not having to go out and develop contracts on their own. They’re able to see from a business perspective, what kind of royalties they’re generating, what their payouts are like, the analytics from a wallet perspective and stuff like that. So yeah, that’s the current thirdweb 1.0.
Ray: Okay. Just pausing there. So with the working with developers directly at the brand level, because I know there’s a bunch of these decentralized teams who are getting a customer base from all the big brands, because a lot of the big brands have done nothing internally, but are you actually seeing a pickup where you’re seeing technical teams directly within brands, be it small, one or two headcount, who are like, “I’ve just joined brand X and I’ve got to build something,” and then also some of the large agencies who are now servicing their customers with a Web3 capability? So when it comes to brands directly and large agencies working with brands, what does that cohort look like for you guys?
Pat Kearney: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think oftentimes we’ll see dev teams specifically within larger orgs or brands, they might have a three or four person headcount, maybe higher, who are incredibly bullish on thirdweb’s tooling and SDKs because they know it will make their go to market much, much easier, and also their internal conversations much quicker, much more streamlined. They’re thinking through a lot of the questions and considerations that maybe upper management might have around permissioning access and stuff like that.
But then you’ll also see smaller brands who may be working with an external dev who might be a full stack developer. And I think oftentimes that’s where we end up having that conversation around, oh, well maybe we’re not ready, we’re going to try and develop the contracts on our own.
Pat Kearney: And there’s that timing consideration where they’ll come back and realize it’s actually not quite as simplistic or straightforward as they’d imagined.
And then on the agency side, oftentimes we’ll see it’s education to get the agency onboarded and understanding how they can go back to their partners and enable deeper conversations around the space, or it might be like a co-pitching scenario where we’ll actually go with them and work to both educate the brands and brainstorm and provide them some creative direction around this is the direction that you can go now, this is how we see it progressing in the next 3 to 6 to 12 months.
And again, it goes back to that conversation around keeping it open ended and composable because as you and you I have gone back, the market is still so early, it’s going to change in the next two weeks. It’s going to change probably in six months, and God forbid, two years from now, it’s going to be very interesting to see where everything lands.
Ray: Yeah. It would be great to get a pulse because a lot of our listeners are part of the LinkedIn community. So spinning into January this year, we’ve had Nike I think, maybe at Christmas or was it Jan? I can’t remember this pace is moving so fast, but you had Nike acquire RTFKT and just bake them into the Nike mission. You’ve had Adidas build on that initial release and do a little bit more tentatively, but they’re still moving quick. So I’ll look at Nike, Adidas, they’re in, and then they’re there. I’ve seen Mercedes come in this morning with some stuff, very light, but interesting. It’s a competition to win a G Wagon, so they’re dipping their toe very slowly.
At a broader level, what’s the pulse of the market, Pat? Obviously you’re on the front line of brands, individual teams, servicing brands, agency-side where it’s more evangelizing education maybe, generating revenue right now. What’s the pulse of the market? Where do you think we will be in say October of this year from what you’re smelling just in January of this year?
Pat Kearney: It’s a great question, a challenging one I will say and exciting as well. I think we’re going to see a lot of Veefriends style access and membership functionality towards the middle and later of this year, as brands start to really, I think upskill their knowledge and start to see the different functionalities and use cases in effect. So seeing other contemporaries really making that jump into the market.
Pat Kearney: And I think Veefriends is such a wonderful example because it really was a first mover in the space in that context of taking an individual like Gary and focusing on the things that he really loves whether that’s FaceTime conversations or gaming, dinners and the more recent mechanics that they just rolled out. And I think it’s going to take brands a while, I would guess towards the end of this year. Some will be earlier, those that push the space forward. But a lot of it will be incentivizing, rewarding their fan bases, stakeholders for the loyalty that they’ve shown and probably creating unique mechanics as it pertains to the brand voice or brand story in an initial Metaverse kind of capacity, if you will.
That is high level I think, where we’ll see, and there will be outliers probably like Nike, probably it very well could be Gucci, just seeing how they’re approaching the space. And having an inside scoop on the project that they were working on with Superplastic, I think next year we’re going to start to see significant innovation.
And I think some of it is the UX consideration of onboarding people to the space, in addition to technology catching up. And you see stuff like Magic Link or Tara having better onboarding and UX experiences for those crypto curious who had not taken that first step. And then we’ll probably continue to see DAOs really pushing the space forward in the most part, in my opinion, as you look at ConstitutionDAO, as you mentioned, Links. ConstitutionDAO is such an interesting, interesting concept.
Ray: that one, wasn’t it?
Pat Kearney: It was wild. I’m a little annoyed at them because they won the Golden Kitty Award for Web3 on Thursday against us and a couple other contemporaries. But at the same time you have to give them all the kudos because I think of half of the donors that ended up donating to the project, half of them had not had a crypto wallet before. And I think actually Veefriends is a very similar-
Ray: Wow. Just pausing, I didn’t know that. I didn’t know that detail. So with ConstitutionDAO just for the audience, just to remind them, what was ConstitutionDAO again? Was it like owning the constitution in the form of an NFT in essence or actually buying-
Pat Kearney: Yeah, exactly. So it’s like initially-
Ray: But also buying the original as well. You’d own fractional ownership in the original US Constitution, the documents?
Pat Kearney: Precisely. And unfortunately, they did not end up achieving their goal, but I think from a principle and a concept standpoint, it’s incredibly powerful and Veefriends is a similar way. You look at a lot of the tent-pole or hero NFT projects, which back to our earlier allusion really are, I think culture manifested in Web3 in the best way possible. But then you look at Veefriends, Veefriends, a lot of the early adopters and users of Veefriends did not hold a Bored Ape DAO or did not hold another NFT. More than likely the only NFT they held was that Veefriends NFT. And so I think that’s super powerful for people to understand that if the concept is strong enough and you make the on ramp simple and intuitive, then you can bring people who are maybe not endemic to the space currently.
Ray: Yeah, I agree. I mean, because I use Metamask. I was showing Metamask to my brother-in-law last night and he is technical, but even he was like, “Ah, Ray, is it safe? Does my NFT sit in the wallet? Does my remaining balance sit in the wallet?” I mean, even when you use OpenSea and it’s wrapped ETH to put a bid on something, I know that would freak still 99% of people out, even folks who are developers in Web2 might get a bit cautious.
So this is interesting. You’re seeing this? Obviously, let’s look at it. So there’s one end of the trend, which is just the brands and they’re building, obviously Veefriends as an example, but then you’ve got Nike, Adidas and then all the other ones gently adding some form of NFT drop and then dipping their toe. But then on the other side of the convergence trend, you’re talking about UI, UX, right?
And it’s interesting, that’s moved quick in the last two months because if you look at Coinbase, I was listening to their VP of product, who actually was on nft now, your buddies. I love nft now. I think they’re awesome. But their VP of product’s really impressive, Pat. He’s ex Instagram, ex Airbnb, and they’re launching their NFT marketplace. And on that, you can just purchase via your card, your debit card or credit card. So it’s going to be super easy. They’ll do the custody for you, so people don’t have to worry about that.
I think you had MoonPay over the weekend, launch a capability where you can just whip out your card. See, my brother-in-law would completely get that and then great he could buy some NFTs, which he’s passionate about. So I completely agree. It’s that on ramp from UI, UX standpoint, just to make the masses feel comfortable with it, and then the brands dipping their toe in a little bit more.
But interesting you mentioned Veefriends, if I look at what Gary did, his first drop was pretty meaningful because he actually programmed in, I think it’s three years in a row you get to attend his annual event. So I think the average floor price was like $2,000 for his first drop and I think they’ve gone up to 40 now because he’s building that community and that event’s going to have its own cool community too, and he’s going to build on top of it.
And then also you add, I think Impact Theory. I think there’s a … Oh God, his name. I think it’s Tom Bilyeu.
Pat Kearney: Tom, Tom Bilyeu, yeah.
Ray: He’s done Founder’s Key and then you have ownership into the rights and then it could be … He’s trying to build the next Disney. So if I look at Gary Vee and Tom, they’ve taken the big risk because if you look at these drops, a lot of it’s reputation risk, right? That’s why a lot of the brands are being very gentle because they’re worried about over promising and under delivering, where Gary just went in hard with his conference, which seems big. But I know he does conferences all the time, so it’s probably not the biggest deal for him. But if I look at Tom, he’s baked in quite a bit.
So is there any brands that you’re seeing who off the bat are promising a lot, hence they’re really leveraged on the NFT capability being the business? Because at the moment all the rest are very delicately, they’re not baking it, it’s just art and maybe one or two attributes. So they’re being very careful. They’re taking the right advice and gently going in. Is there any brands which have shocked you where you thought, wow, you guys are taking some risk and you’re all in, that shows me you’re all in on Web3? Anything which has grabbed your eye on that front?
Pat Kearney: That is great, a great, great question. I think Superplastic has done a good job of making that nascent introduction. But even still, I think they’re still somewhat endemic to the Web2 space. And I think a lot of the brands that we know and love and talk about on a daily basis, Facebook, Nike, Adidas, whoever it might be, they’re going to have difficulty making a very clear foray from Web2 into Web3. It will probably be in bits and pieces or certain tests and some of them will get it wrong and that will delay and cause them to take a step back.
I think the other piece is knowing the audience consideration, right? It’s like, as you look at Veefriends, and I think Gary Vee as a whole, that brand has been building. He’s been building that community for, I don’t even know, over 10 years. And I would argue that everyone that follows and is passionate about Gary Vee, probably would buy into almost anything that he does because they believe in his ethos and his approach to, I think life and business.
You could say the same thing about Tom. I mean, Tom has a really, really holistic vision when it comes to Impact Theory. And even if you listen to some of his podcasts or like when he was on nft now, it was almost like he had a conversation and two or three days later, he was fully bought into Ethereum and bitcoin and building into that vision almost immediately.
And so I think there’s a dichotomy there. You have bigger established brands that are going to be slow to move into that space and you will have visionaries that could be a part of a more agile company, or maybe just an entrepreneur or a founder in and of themselves that have more agility and freedom to move into that space. Some of it being how the business is set up and structured, but also what is their community like? What is their audience and how will they respond? Will they resonate with that initiative?
We’ve had so many conversations and I’m excited to launch this project tomorrow, because it is going to be really one of our more exciting forays into the gaming space, but again, and again, in conversations with gaming brands and gaming esports orgs, they’ll talk about one, you’ve seen a lot of players, a lot of esports players, a lot of streamers get involved with NFT projects or at least even on the traditional influencer side and a lot of rug pulls, a lot of controversy and just some bad press. And I think that has given a lot of these brands cause for pause, as I say, because they don’t want to open themselves up to litigation or liability in that regard, but they also don’t want to turn off their core customers.
And so it’s going to be a slow but steady burn I think in terms of figuring out what that first initiative in the space is, and how they’re going to ensure that they’re actually doing something that’s going to resonate, reward, or empower their community.
I think what we will also see, I don’t know if you follow Rex Woodbury and his newsletter Digital Natives, which is one of my favorites, but a couple weeks back he was talking about Web3 very much as a backend revolution, and I think we’ll probably continue to see this iterate this year is that we’ll see less people talking about crypto, we’ll see less people talking about wallets.
I mean, inevitably we’ll have to talk about wallets, but some of the more specific technological aspects will start to go away as we talk about abstracting complexity and really focusing on the core concepts that an average user can understand and take into their own principles and understand how this is going to impact them as a stakeholder, a fan of this brand, or a fan of this individual. And from a brand perspective or the creative perspective, communicating that initiative clearly, simply, so that the user can understand why, and why they should be involved is going to be super important. And I think that’s going to be a major focus for the rest of the year.
Ray: Yeah, I couldn’t agree with you more, Pat. And I’m really happy it’s going that way, because if you look at the first couple of years, we’ve been talking about the protocol layer and if you look at it from a Web2 standpoint, that’s TC/IP and Linux, or talking about iOS or Android. Obviously from an investment standpoint, spectacular, it’s the first time in history where Joe Public can own a network, that’s crazy. So the folks who understood that back in 2015 onwards, congrats to them, fair play, they were smart enough to see that.
But I couldn’t agree with you more. I like it now moving forward, because it’s more outcome based, it’s more value based, and it’s now tethering in fashion, art, music, things that ignite our soul, things that we deeply do care about. So I think this phase is going to be a lot more fun and a lot more inclusive for people from all backgrounds. And also the language will change from L1, L2 to okay, this NFT drop for this game and I get what it is because I play it and I’ve been a gaming fan my whole life, or I’ve been a sneaker fan my whole life.
But one thing which is interesting, Pat, a little bit of pattern recognition from what you’re sharing regarding your journey, if you look at history, it’s actually the native players who end up being the next Amazon. So an example, I think there’s one brand, you might want to check them out, they’re called Cult and Rain. I think they’re a sneaker brand or something like that. But if you look at that brand from ground up they’re Web3 native, that’s their core foundation of their business. So they can go all in from day one.
Then you’ve got more skeuomorphic motions, skeuomorphic meaning existing business, it’s been around for a long time. And if I look at those brands like Adidas, Nike, and I’ve got a lot of respect for Nike actually with that RTFKT acquisition. They seem very innovative for a large company, but all the rest will really gently come in and move a lot slower.
From what I’m seeing, it looks like the native brands, the native projects, like you mentioned, Friends with Benefits and some of the other DAOs moving quick, those are the ones which are going to end up just being huge and just build out their own markets. That’s what I’m sensing in the market. I don’t know if you share that sentiment or do you think it’s actually going to be the Web2 brands who will also grab a big part of the pie early?
Pat Kearney: It’s funny that you say that and I’ll definitely have to check out Cult and Rain because I think any endemic Web3 brands that is not either infrastructure related or building up tooling for the space itself is incredibly exciting, but I’d have to fully agree with you that anyone that is native to Web2 and is very, very much established in that space is going to have a hard time really making an initial leap into Web3, fully adopted.
And I think we’ll probably see a lot of, as you said, skeuomorphic use cases around having Web3 initiatives or Web3 elements to their business, but I don’t think it will ultimately become the overarching principle for their business use case, if you will. I think we’ll absolutely see that next wave of major players coming out of the endemic Web3 brands that are being built today or over the next four to six months. Who knows? And I think that’s what’s most exciting about the space.
Ray: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I think that’s going to move really quick. And so looking at more at the blue sky, exciting stuff, obviously you’re now knee deep and all into this, what really excites you about the ecosystem during the next 12 to 18 months? What’s really blown your mind, something our audience can look up on Google and just research in terms of, be it NFT capability, smart contract capability? What should we keep a close eye on?
Pat Kearney: I do have a feeling that OpenZeppelin is going to continue to create some interesting technology in the space, as we talk about underlying infrastructure. I would absolutely keep an eye on thirdweb, just shameless plug, but I do know in the next two weeks we’ve got some really, really incredible product innovation coming out and just knowing who we have on the team. We just added another senior dev who is incredibly talented, and so I can only imagine that we’ll continue to innovate on our product set and pushing that space forward.
Let’s see. Beyond that, I really think keeping an eye on music, I think that’s going to be the first market that really has the Web2 space disrupted for Web3 version, if you will. I think so many artists are frustrated with the current state of the world, right? And we talk about Spotify, it was supposed to be the change. It was supposed to be better for artists and it wasn’t, it just simply was not. And I’m sure at this point they’re frustrated. You put so much time and effort into producing this art only to have it garner X, Y, and Z royalties over time.
And then I think that the final piece that is really exciting to me, there’s a project by the name of Lost Worlds that I’m really close with a couple of the guys that founded it there. They essentially, it’s proof of location. And so you have to be within a certain radius of GPS location in order to be able to mint. And they’re building out a ton of functionality on top of that that is very, very exciting.
But given my passions around DJing and just IRL events, that is something that really gets me jazzed about this space and being able to go somewhere. The concept of being able to go on a hike and once you get to the overlook or the final trail head of that hike, you’re able to earn an NFT for outdoor activity, like cardio or whatever it might be. And let’s say that NFT, suddenly you’re in a national park and within the smart contract there is also a split that goes back to the national park service to promote wildlife conservation or something along those lines.
We talk about impact again and social good, that’s what really gets me excited is we’re in a space now coming out of still being in a pandemic, but there’s also such political polarization, to have something, to create something that regardless of where you stand on those issues you’re able to resonate with because it’s pushing us as humans forward, that is really what gets me incredibly excited about Web3 and all that there is to come
Ray: Well. Awesome, Pat. I mean, we could probably go on for hours, but this has been amazing learning about your journey. Congratulations. It looks like you guys are building something very special there at thirdweb. So hopefully let’s catch up for maybe part two in Q4 of this year and see how far we’ve come, right? God knows where we’ll be by then, but it’s definitely going to be a super exiting next eight to nine months.
Pat Kearney: Yeah. Yeah, I really appreciate you having me on Ray and I really enjoyed our conversation. Would love an opportunity to obviously come back, but who knows where we’ll be at that point?
Ray: Awesome. Nice one, Pat. Have a great start to the year and look forward to seeing you again soon, my friend.
Pat Kearney: You too, Ray. Take care.