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
Web3 development is happening at a dizzying pace, and while many of the lessons learned during Web1 and 2 can be applied, the revenue opportunities and security challenges with Web3 mean builders must work faster than ever. In this episode, Ray and Sergej explore the impending changes and deep dive into some fascinating and hard-to-imagine scenarios we may experience in the future.
- Sergej’s journey into Web3 and blockchain as the home of usable applications
- How DAOs and forward-thinking brands are creating new routes to market via Web3
- How NFTs provide you with the opportunity to invest in people the same way you invest in stocks
- The Metaverse and gaming as big trends in 2022
- Get our #1 Amazon bestselling eBook, The Definitive Guide to Connected Innovation Intelligence (CII). In this white paper, we explore what CII is, who it’s for, and how the world’s disruptors are using it to win in hyper-competitive markets. Download your FREE copy.
Web3 Builder, currently at Stealth Startup, previously Gitcoin
Sergej is a Web3 Builder with a focus on NFTs. He has worked in different startups and web agencies for 12 years and is now involved in several Web3 ventures as Project and Product Lead. He is also researching blockchain technology as part of the Center for Digital Technology and Management (CDTM) in Munich. Follow Sergej Lotz on Twitter to stay updated on the latest NFT projects, Web3 developments, and products.
Connect with Sergej Lotz on LinkedIn
Founder West & VP New Ventures, PatSnap
Ray is Founder West & VP New Ventures and the founding member of PatSnap in Europe. He started the London operation from his living room in 2012, growing the team to 70+ by 2015. Prior to PatSnap, Ray was BD Director at Datamonitor where he was an award-winning revenue generator across various verticals and product lines over an 8-year period. This journey gave Ray the unique insight and inspiration to start the PatSnap ‘go to market’ in London. Ray now leads corporate development where he focuses his time on creating new partnerships and go-to-market strategies.
Ray Chohan: Welcome, Serg. Really excited to be catching up with you today. I know we’ve been going back and forth on LinkedIn for quite a while, but welcome. And would love to kick off, Serg with your backstory, because you’ve got an interesting journey there with Gitcoin. Obviously, you’ve been an entrepreneur in residence at a few organizations. You’ve got a background in product. So I’d love to hear your background story and how you ended up in the wonderful world of Web3.
Sergej Lotz: Sure. Hi, Ray. And nice to be here. Pleasure to talk to you. And yes, so I am in this field already over 10 years, and developing applications on the web. I started as a front-end developer, an agency, and then I shifted towards product design, because I felt like I want more connection to the people, and so I shifted my career towards that. And later I went more for the managing positions like product owner, product manager, and was still focusing most of the time on Web2 and software as a service businesses, and business models. And then I went to Munich because they have – I was in Berlin before, and then I went to Munich – because they have here very nice entrepreneurial scene, especially for, let’s say, students. So I also registered myself as a student, joined an initiative called CDTM, it’s very famous here in Germany.
They’re basically a Center for Digital Technology and Management, and they produce, let’s say, most of the unicorn startups from Germany are coming from the center. So very strong team there and strong people you meet, very entrepreneurial as well. And while being there, I was exploring of course, multiple directions, what to do with my entrepreneurial journey. So I went into video as well, joined some companies there, tried out my skills, and then I was also thinking about AI and augmented reality, and then I also stumbled upon Web3. So before that, I knew of course, crypto and was also investing, just buying coins few years ago, starting 2017 I think. Buying Ethereum, Bitcoin, stuff like this, but just more as an investment. In the beginning of this year, I really discovered that you can finally build real applications on the blockchain, like on Ethereum blockchain, where people can use it indeed.
So it’s not just some speculation, but you can really create applications, which bring value to the people and basically also get paid in the Ethereum, the cryptocurrency. And it got to my mind really ticking and working, and I saw it on the NFTs and I thought, “Damn, this is so easy. There’s finally like a vehicle to get so many people to understand blockchain, because it’s so much more tangible.” Everyone understands collectibles, they understand trading cards, postal stamp marks, and the NFTs are the perfect way to onboard these people into this blockchain Web3 ecosystem.
So I thought, “Okay, this is the chance like it was 2008 with the App Store, like it was 1995 with Web 1.0. I don’t want to miss it.” So I canceled all of my endeavors until then, and completely focused on building in Web3. As I have my background in development and product and also entrepreneurship, I could of course, start already just by my own. But quickly I also found other people who were interested in this, developers, designers and also fellow entrepreneurs. So currently I’m working in multiple projects, focusing on Web3, on NFTs and bringing more people into the space and of course also creating value for the people who are already into this space.
And along the journey of course I joined Gitcoin, they had this amazing program called KERNEL and it’s perfect for someone who has this background of development, or is an entrepreneur or like a business background and really is motivated to get into Web3 space. They give you eight weeks of intensive, let’s say, meetings, like there’s Zoom calls, there are mentoring sessions, fireside chats, and they help you to understand Web3 better, and also to work on your own idea. Has a Y Combinator vibe to it. Exactly. And while I was doing this, I also was joining a lot of ETHGlobal hackathons, where I learned through other developers and also deepened my knowledge into Web3. So this was my journey, let’s say, till half of this year. And yeah.
Ray: Excellent. Serg, it’s interesting. So you first dip your toe from a speculation standpoint back in 2017, probably like the majority, right? Just doing some investing in ETH and BTC, which gives you skin in the game and can activate your learning curve. But I remember there being pretty much a crypto winter in 2018 and 2019. So did you back off in those two years and was it really NFTs, which really sucked you back into Web3, and wanting to participate and explore building in that space? Because I’m hearing that quite a lot.
It’s interesting. It looks like NFTs are hopefully a great Trojan horse, not only to get consumers, brothers and sisters, moms and dads, understanding what the hell the blockchain is in the first place in Web3, but also it looks like it also activated builders and entrepreneurs to go, “Wow, there’s actually some kind of mass. Well, many big adoption happening, and NFTs are quite close to the consumers.” So I was curious, did you back off in 2018, 2019, and it was really NFTs, which brought you back into the ecosystem?
Sergej: Yes. You nailed it perfectly. Exactly. So as it was a crypto winter, of course, I haven’t sold anything. I just was still buying from time to time more, but I was indeed just knowing, okay, this is some kind of asset just to invest to. And I was not looking further into it, like what you can build of it. I was just investing in interesting projects, which sounds nice, but I never had the thought about, “Hey, let’s build something in Ethereum.” Or, “Hey, let’s do something with Solana.” Never came to my mind until indeed in the beginning of this year, I discovered Web3 and actually the same time also NFTs, because I think it showcases so easily the concept of ownership, which is one of the fundaments of Web3. And with this, you can build so much more.
Ray: Yeah. But I couldn’t agree more. I definitely think the NFT is that kind of mass market learning opportunity and participating opportunity. I think, that’s when it’s played out, which surprised me actually with the… I think it was NBA Top Shots, wasn’t it? In just literally in what? Jan, Feb of this year, not too far long ago, right?
Sergej: I want to say a month in this space, it’s already like a year. It’s so fast.
Ray: It’s absolutely crazy. So just unpacking Web3, because there’s so many elements of Web3, which seem to be exponentially grabbing attention, increasing developer activity, startup creation, capital flows. So obviously, you got things happening in DeFi, social tokens, which I think will come after NFTs maybe, and obviously naturally NFTs themselves. And then a whole bunch of other kind of layer one and layer two activity happening at the kind of picks and shovels end of the ecosystem. But for you, how would you describe NFTs? Because I hear different examples of that description. Everyone says, “How would you explain NFTs to your brother and sister if they weren’t in Web3?” So what is your simple explanation? Imagine I’m a 14-year-old kid. I’m a nephew for example, and you’re trying to explain to me what’s an NFT? What is Web3? How would you explain it?
Sergej: Well, I would explain them it’s what’s your own for sure on the internet. So for example, you have your own things. You have like let’s say toys. Yeah. You have your toys, which belong to you. And this is the same that you can have, as NFT. You can have something like this, something of value which can belong to you on the internet, and for sure, no one can take it away. And actually it’s even better than what you have in the real world, because in the real world, let’s imagine you have a car, still someone can come and steal it or someone can come and take it away from you by force, of course, right? And this cannot happen with you on Web3 with your own wallet, because when something is there in your wallet, only you have access to it and you own it for sure. So it’s basically ownership on the internet.
Ray: Okay. And Web3 as the next computing primitive, what excites you? What are some of the big macros? So looking at it, Serg, from a hundred thousand for overview, what are some of the primitives that really get you excited and make you want to jump into this new paradigm?
Sergej: Yeah. So definitely that you can have your ownership for the first time of things. This is like what I mentioned before, this is for me, one of the most important primitives. And then also I would say interoperability. So basically that everyone can see what is there on the blockchain, and this is the magic about it, because yes, maybe before in Web1 as well, you can have your own server and you would have your things there, and they also belong to you because you control the server, right?
The thing here is it’s on the blockchain and yeah, it is owned by you, but it’s visible for everyone. And with this interoperability, our developers, for example, can do something with the stuff you own. They, for example, can create a game, right? But you can then log into this game and you can use all of your, let’s say the example before, all of your toys as your skills, for example, as your weapons in the shooter game, right? You can just use this assets right away without giving some special permission before or doing some extra contract with them. And this is the, say, two of the most important primitives for me of Web3.
Ray: The market has been moving exponentially this year with so much attention, startup creation, investor activity, kind of mainstream consciousness. It’s pretty much in CNBC Bloomberg, pretty much every day in all the kind of major tabloids. Much of the stuff I read, I feel like they don’t really know what they’re talking about. It’s just kind of clickbait or catching headlines, but going now into 2022, where do you see some of the big events next year, Serg? So this year has been a year of building and building the community. What excites you around Web3, NFTs, social tokens? Is there something in specific you think is going to be a big event?
Sergej: Yeah. So I think what already now is set in stone for the next years is Metaverse. So Facebook is now even pushing it so hard with renaming themselves to Meta, and everyone else is now following, so I’ll guess, Microsoft and co they will follow the steps as well. So basically bringing this NFTs to everyone, this digital ownership, and then basically creating worlds where you can… Just something like you have seen in the movie Ready Player One, right? So you can basically have this virtual world. I think this will be like building doors, will be the topic of the next year. So I think also more focused on the gaming in the first place, like where I see the major volume coming from. But overall, what will really make Web3 and everything big, is indeed social and creator economy. So let’s imagine all the influencers will have their own NFTs and they will also somehow through them, or let’s say maybe… I mean, NFT is the standard as well. It’s developing.
There will be more functionality added to it as well, but let’s imagine they will have somehow all their followers as NFTs or each of the follower will have NFT from them. So basically they always have them with them. It does not depend on the platform anymore, but basically you can just go and leave. Let’s say Instagram, if you have one million followers, because you have them on the blockchain, you just can go to another Instagram, which has maybe better interface or better features X, Y, Z. I don’t know, but this is what will make it really big, because then people will understand, “Okay, I’m completely independent. I can just take my people where I want them to be.” And then also people will understand, “Hey, I can basically invest in this person, because now I have basically their NFT part of them.” And usually what makes NFT interesting in terms of monetary value is of course when they are scarce.
So this person maybe will say, “Okay, this are my 10,000…” Let’s imagine this influencer of one million followers, and this influencer will say, “Hey, 10,000 of my core fans NFTs. And if you get this, you have access to my special private club or like messaging or something.” And then of course those NFTs will also raise in value because if the influencer keeps growing and doing more stuff, more people will come in and they will start saying, “Hey, I want to get into it.” And I think this will be a huge thing, because then people will understand, “Wow, I can invest in people. I can invest in stocks.” And this will be so huge, because then… I also don’t know how the VC funds and everyone will react, because then the people will have so much power. They can then also fundraise a lot of money just because they are, and not because they ask some VC for this.
And actually right now there’s a great example, how powerful Web3 is. There’s right now, ConstitutionDAO going on, and they are collecting money to buy the US constitution from Sotheby’s. I think today or tomorrow is the auction. And they had a goal to collect 20 million in Ethereum to buy it as a collective. And so you will get back some kind of token, which represent your fractionalized ownership of this piece. But they collected, I think already over 30 million USD in Ethereum to buy this. And these are still the beginnings. I mean, how many people are into Web3 right now? Right? And they already can collect such huge amounts of money. So this will be really huge and it will influence also the role of fundraising and crowdfunding a lot.
But this is like deeper future, I will say like maybe three to five years, but in a short term, I think next year, so we will see a lot focusing on Metaverse and gaming and basically all what you have, like skins in the game, which are also tradable right now. Like for example, if you look at games like Fortnite, people are buying expensive skins there just to show off, right? And this whole thing will just get onto the chain, so basically the people can trade it wherever and can have maybe better deals, better marketplaces for it, because they already know it, how it works. It’s nothing new, just different technology, which gives them more possibilities. And then the masses will come really with the creator economy. Yeah.
Ray: And Serg, you shared a lot there, and we’re hearing this pretty much every other day, obviously, the upside of NFTs of social tokens, but I’d like to unpack utility, right? So you describe a couple of examples of a compelling influencer having one million followers, but in terms of fractionalized ownership in their NFT, they only have 10,000. So automatically you’ve got some form of supply side scarcity there, right?
Ray: But in terms of the utility of me owning say the Serg token, like what will that really look like? Because at the moment I do hear some examples, but maybe I’m an 80s kid, right? And more Web2 in terms of the way I grew up. I was trying to explain it to my wife, Serg, and she goes, “Oh, honey, is that like a voucher then?” It’s like, well, we have vouchers to a certain restaurant, and we might get preference to book a table at short notice or discount on certain types of meals. And that was her quick analog knee jerk way of thinking about NFTs and social tokens or having a token in an influencer. But that seemed to me not so compelling when I think about it. It seems cool, but not in a way that you’d have [crosstalk 00:17:14]-
Sergej: You can describe it in this way, I think.
Ray: … that makes sense. It didn’t seem as juicy enough for me.
Sergej: Yeah. It’s not juicy enough, but I think it can be described like that kind in the way that you buy a voucher, but maybe also something which is really cannot expire more or less, and also, which is tradable with the whole world, and actually also just by you having it in your wallet, people can send you bids on it without you doing anything, because it’s visible for everyone. For example, when you think about OpenSea in their marketplace, everyone can see, you have this, let’s say voucher, right? And they can bid on it. So it’s actually sexier, I think like this, but I agree the description could be more juicy. And let me give you some maybe examples of utility. Let’s say if I would release an own such NFT, or like a token, what it could be.
So definitely what many people do is just gated access. So you’d say you have your Discord community or Telegram group, and the people can only go and read it, or like newsletter, let’s say, when you have this token. It’s very simple one. Then I think the greatest example right now is Gary Vee with his collection VeeFriends. So he released, I think, 10,000 of them and 9,000 of them are just admission to his next free conferences, and 1,000 of them are special. Some of them allow you to have a dinner with him or have a podcast episode of him. And when you think about this, for example, this utility is super powerful, because imagine you buy it now, you don’t use it. You just keep it, and then let’s say he grows and grows and grows, and his audience becomes like 10 million, 20 million, more.
And then of course, this place in his podcast, of course also grows. So it’s basically, again, he can sell it for so much higher amounts as he bought, or he can see it as an investment. And I think when you think about this, this way it’s way more interesting, because you are already part of the club. You’re enjoying all the benefits right now. Instantly, no, okay, every time you can sell it and get even more, but you have paid for it originally, although you’ve been using it the whole time. I think this is super fascinating for me.
Ray: Okay. Holy shit. That example is good then. So Gary Vee now, who’s already really huge. You buy one of his tokens, you hold because you think Gary Vee is going to continue to charge forward and a 20 minute kind of media session with him, be it a pod, be it a YouTube video, it’s probably going to be super value. I mean, it’s valuable now, right? But probably even more valuable in five, six years. So-
Sergej: Yeah. He only has, let’s say… I think there’s very few, actually. I think there’re only five or maybe 10 of those NFTs, which allow you even to do this. And the cool thing is, I think there’s even like a method to implement, and so you can basically use up this podcast thing, but you still have all the other, let’s say access, just by holding it. So maybe you will not have this podcast session anymore, but you can still access the private Discord, the chat rooms, et cetera.
Ray: What does this do to the traditional capital markets? Because in essence, this is opening up brand new asset classes at rapid pace, and traditional guys and girls have no bloody clue about this, really. So it seems like the knowledge to execute in this market and do good work, and for some folks, let’s face it, it’s going to be about capital gain, kind of increasing the size and value of their portfolio in a way. So just opens up a brand new GDP in essence, right? Like a whole new mini economy.
Sergej: That’s another thing because also what I see a lot right now, already in this NFT space, people see it even… Usually when you invest in stocks of a company, if you have a lot of them, you can vote, right? They’re like this yearly or quarterly, at times where you can also even give out your vote and stuff like this, but here right now, what I see a lot of people really see them even more than investor. Like definitely more than a fan, more than investor. They are really engaged. They feel like or like they also do a change even, influence the project, and the people really get also the best thoughts out there, because they can see with their input, they can also influence the project and they can make it even go even more higher.
So basically, you get all of this motivation from people. And I think definitely this will change economy a lot. Although, I think a lot of current Web2 businesses will either be fast enough to convert to this new business models based on this ownership of the people, like people who own the data themselves or own the tokens, or they will make space for new companies and projects, which will actually do the same, but like Web3 way. So yeah, I think this is really huge. I think it’ll impact a lot. I think all the web will change in the next, let’s say five to 10 years.
Ray: Yeah. So you think it’s a five to 10 year time horizon on us really hitting the peak of this adoption?
Sergej: Yes. So what it feels to me right now, as I said, it can change because still right now, this place is still small. So I just said it also in an interview before, when there is again, some event, maybe it’ll be some regulation or some fact, which will result in next crypto winter. I think this might slow down the things, because in a lot of people who are just there excited because of them flipping some coins or some NFTs and making money, they will, of course leave, and only the real builders will stay.
This could of course, slow down the adoption. But overall, I am very bullish on this whole field, because also, as I said, companies like Facebook, which are now going into Metaverse, they will not just stop all of their endeavors from one year to another, after investing so much into this technology and developing this space. They, of course, will push and more companies will come. So bright future awaits us. And of course the world Web3 will benefit from it.
Ray: Yeah. You said a couple of sound bites, which I want to unpack shortly, but you mentioned one thing DAO [decentralized autonomous organization]. I’m just conscious, there’ll be many folks listening to this who won’t have a bloody clue on what a DAO actually is. Serg, what’s a DAO?
Sergej: Decentralized autonomous organization. It might be the next form of the normal company, the next LLC and stuff. I see a lot of projects right now organize themselves as a DAO. It means there is a collective ownership of the whole project, and yes, DAOs usually release their token, their coins, and then basically the…. You can imagine them like stocks and the more coins you possess, the more voting power you have on the proposals, which are coming from the community. So basically, everyone who is in the community also has usually some of this coins. Everyone who is in the DAO also possesses some parts of it. And then of course, they drive towards some goal. And those goals are usually proposed on some forums, like there are different platforms, how to do it. And then you can write your proposal and say, “Hey, we do need to change.” Let’s say simple example, “We want to change our login button on our application.” Let’s say, yes.
And then the people can vote for it and say, “Hey, this could be the design, should we go and change it.” And then there’ll also be developers who will implement this. And the cool thing is also usually the developers who are doing this, they’re getting paid in the tokens of the DAO, right? So this is very interesting, because everyone also the developer then, maybe if it’s an external developer, still becomes in the parts of a DAO, because he or she will get paid in those tokens. And this again makes you more invested, more interested in performing better because you know, okay, all I do is influencing the project, or let’s say, the company and towards growth, hopefully.
Ray: Yeah. I’m seeing some interesting projects within the DAO world, specifically within biomedical research. So I’m seeing a few universities doing early stage drug discovery research, but in the form factor of a DAO, meaning the contributors of ideas, IEP data, actually have skin in the game of ownership in the future upside, if that research leads to a license or a novel drug. So yeah, it is fascinating on how DAOs could replace the LLC, because the LLC, when it was formed was a huge innovation, right? Where you have limited liability.
So then you can attract investors, you can hire people, you can have people, employees or equity in the entity. I mean, there’s actually a book, the name slips my mind, and it talks about the history of an LLC and how meaningful of innovation that was in the capital markets. But DAO seems to just take it to a whole new dimension. And I’m guessing the possibilities are mind boggling, right? You know what this seems like, Serg? We’re discussing some of the macros here, NFTs, DAOs, social tokens, Web3, but I think in probably six, seven years time, we’re just going to fall out of our chairs thinking, “Wow, I never knew this was even possible.” Because it’s like with Web1, could we have imagined Uber, Airbnb?
Sergej: Absolutely, agreeing with you.
Ray: Think of that, right? Web1 was just read, right? It was like basically skeuomorphic ideas. So analog magazine I read online. That was Web1, I remember. I’m old enough, Serg, to remember it where you’re basically reading a magazine online, right? Which is cool, but that’s what it was. Who would’ve thought back in 1997, there would be a super computer in your pocket and you can hail a limousine in three seconds and [crosstalk 00:27:53]-
Sergej: Yep, fascinating.
Ray: … take that [crosstalk 00:27:55]. You’d have no fucking idea that’s even possible, right? Because you just can’t even imagine those extrapolating concepts.
Sergej: Yes, absolutely, agreeing with you. This is, I think how technology adoption also is usually. I mean, I have a good example for this as well with the iPhone. So I guess, you also had one of the first iPhones back then.
Ray: Yeah. I was in the queue buddy and back in [crosstalk 00:28:17]-
Sergej: Awesome. So maybe you imagine or remember still how it was done back then, the interface. So for example, your contact and your phone book, it was looking very skeuomorphic. It was looking like a real phone book. Do you remember this?
Ray: Well, to be fair. Yeah. I remember. And I remember being with V1 slightly, underwhelmed the battery life, other things, but it looked like a… It was a skeuomorphic UI, where it looked like an analog version of a phone book. Yeah. I remember.
Sergej: Exactly. So they tried to make it as simple as possible for the people, because people just expect what they know from the real world, what they know from the everyday life. They expect to see it here again. And I think this is what we also see right now with the Web3 and the NFT space. So people replicating trading cards, they’re replicating the vouchers ideas, right? And some of them also starting to experiment and doing something bigger, something more completely, let’s say Web3 native, but this is a long way there. So this is why we just right now trying to adapt everything we know from Web2, to Web3 kind of style.
There are people talking about, okay, how the Spotify Web3 will look like and stuff like this. But I think once we are there, and I guess your timeframe of seven to 10 years, I think it’s pretty nice. Then we will see some very solid products and use cases, which are completely evolved from this Web3 native space. And this will definitely blow our minds. I really curious for this time, I think our world will change a lot, and we’re right now in the beginning since. So exciting for me to be here and witness it and be part of it. It’s great.
Ray: Yeah. It’s interesting. Yeah. It seems like we are going to have winners of basically Web2 ideas, which have Web3 DNA, right? I can see winners there, but those winners are not mind blowing to me, they’re super cool. Don’t get me wrong. The fact of digital scarcity and digital ownership, that in itself is freaking awesome, right? Let’s face it, right? As the first piece of low hanging fruit. I agree with you. It’s going to be when we’re at that Airbnb, Uber phase of where we’re like, “Holy shit, I didn’t even know that was possible.” Right? Or what you see in some software applications. I know it’s quite an analog idea, but even what you can do with Slack now or Discord, it’s pretty cool, right? If you compare that to Web 1.5 in terms of the UI/UX and the capability of the software that Discord offer, right? I think it’s going to evolve a lot. There’s one project actually, Serg, which I think is non-skeuomorphic. Have you heard of a project called Loot? Does that bring-
Sergej: Of course, I heard about it. It made big news in the Web3 space in the NFT Twitter.
Ray: Yeah. That’s seems crazy, right? Obviously, you are the expert here. Could you explain Loot for the audience?
Sergej: Let me try. So basically what you buy are just words describing your items. So Loot is project focused on Dungeons & Dragons kind of game, and it describes your character. Like are you like an elf on ogre, which weapons you can have, and it describes it. Visually, it’s just a black box with those words written on it in Times New Roman, nothing else. And then I think also as a property in a metadata level, so it has JSON file linked to it, and I think it’s a property. So it also has the same words as properties. And the idea was basically that you have this Loot, you have it in your wallet, and then they play a lot of this concept of the, what I mentioned before, interoperability. So it means, okay, you have, for example, this elf of golden bow, and then you join any game, which supports this and supports the Loot.
And then when you join this game, inside this game, you indeed have this elven character and you have this item. So in your wallet, you don’t have a visual representation of those items or something like this, but when you join a game, which builds upon Loot, and there are a lot of its white dots are so high because a lot of developers committed to it and said, “Yeah, we are building games, utilizing those items, those concepts.” And of course, also more because Loot is very limited, only 10,000. Like imagine you have a popular game, you have way more than 10,000 players.
So basically you can log in wherever and you get these items, even though you yourself only possess this blueprint of it. And I think this is what got the people excited in there, a lot of projects started from it also describing maps. So basically, describing worlds, justice words. So yeah, I hope this was simple enough explanation. I myself not involved into Loot. I also don’t possess any Loot. So it’s how I can describe it best.
Ray: Yeah. When I heard of Loot and I was just trying to wrap my head around it, I just attached it to infinite composability, right? Like you can just continue to build on top of that original canonical, right?
Ray: It’s no different from the original canonical of Bitcoin, right? When Satoshi wrote The White Paper, he left a framework and with a white paper and then the community built on top of it, right? And that’s become a trillion dollar asset, right? But it’s similar to Loot, right? It was a white paper. All the picks and shovels were there, the early stage ones. And then he said to community, “Go ahead, build. Do what you want.”
Sergej: Yes. It’s good comparison.
Ray: Yeah. I mean, I’m guessing the theory might be similar, but with some nuance. So this unlimited composability piece where you’ve got these infinite Lego blocks and contributors all across the world, you can add to a project. And then when they add and devote time and energy that manifests in digital ownership. I think that’s going to change how innovation is executed. Companies [inaudible 00:35:01] BMW or Tesla or Panasonic innovate, that they might even build products in that way.
Sergej: This is a very good thought. I think probably, this will happen sooner than later, because this is the best way you get this collective mind doing this all for you. This is what I tried to describe before with this, when you feel you are part of it, you really own, and you will be here because you hold some of those token. So like hold some of those NFTs, and you can of course build on it, because everything is openly accessible on the blockchain. This gets your mind excited and you get best ideas out there. So yes, I definitely think this is a great way how you describe it, will happen. Yes. And I think the companies which will do it first will get the biggest advantage, like I mentioned the example before with Uber.
So when every time the drivers, let’s say, drive someone and they will really own, like they’ll get paid in tokens, and tokens are basically representing as a share of this Uber of Web3, let’s say. I can also imagine a lot of better input from the drivers, because they’re then motivated to really influence something and even get more of those token, more of those ownership, or even building on top of it something. So I can imagine a lot there. I think the companies which will first adopt this, which form whatever form, maybe just like experiment first will be very successful as they’re tipping into this collective mind kind of thing.
Ray: It’s interesting, when you said obviously the Uber example analogy you gave there, obviously. Then they have ownership, then they have skin in the game. Then they’re even more committed. One way you see it already, which is crazy, because their energy and their work ethic is insane, is all those YouTube influences, let’s face it, they’re talking their book, right? So if someone as Solana, Degen, they love [Swell 00:37:02]. You can’t even call Solana, Degen now, it’s a great platform. But if you have X influencer, who’s invested early in a particular protocol, the amount of energy they deploy on writing content about that protocol, the ecosystem, the people, the applications, the future, the technology it’s insane, because they have ownership, right?
Ray: Ownership in the picks and shovels. That was never possible before. If you look at Web1 or Web2, you can’t own TCIP, you can’t own AWS or the cloud division of Microsoft Azure, right? Then you are not incentivized to beat the drum and build and do stuff and put all your blood, sweat and tears into it because you’re like, “Oh, what’s my real return for my time and energy?” Where it seems like the energy in Web3 it’s unprecedented. You see on YouTube people they’re doing like three, four videos a day.
Sergej: Well, if you see the artists right now, the same, they don’t sleep, the artists as well. And I’ve seen some of the best work from those people right now because of all of this. Yes.
Ray: Yeah. And obviously, you see some projects like Audius who have seven million monthly active users, which potentially would challenge Spotify. So that’s really interesting as well. And so obviously, we’ve discussed NFTs and that core primitive, but obviously I’m conscious how conversation is hugely biased, because as happy is, right? We’re only talking the positive things, but Serg, there’s been a lot of challenges, right? Let’s face it. Some of the obviously, the infrastructure build in the US, where they drafted the term broker as like so broad. Everyone is a broker within that agreement. So it does have an impact on everyone. And you’re seeing in Europe, US, obviously we’ve seen what’s happening in Asia, crack down from governments. But what do you think some of the challenges are ahead, real challenges for this to really get that huge adoption that we all think it can?
Sergej: Sure. So first of all, I think regulation is needed to get the mass adoption. So yeah, maybe some of the rules will be first, very like hurtful and also cause some maybe winter or like a bear market, let’s say. But I think this is the only way to get the real mass adoption. And besides that, what are the challenges, are definitely, let’s say, from the technological side, on Ethereum at least we are waiting for the release of Ethereum 2, where they change from proof of work to proof of stake, which will reduce the energy consumption of the blockchain by 99%, said by them.
So I think this is what we’re waiting for, because also right now, this Ethereum, for example, it’s not meant for millions of people to use it every second, because right now, even it’s already overloaded with transactions and you can see it on the high gas prices, on the high gas fees you need to pay for this network. It was never originally a gas. They have never thought about this huge scalability problem, which they have right now. So I think this is currently big problem. We have, of course, like let’s say, they’re called Ethereum killers like Solana, for example, or we also have Flow chain, which are of course solving this.
They have already proof of stake built in, and fees are low and transactions are super fast. The problem there is they’re not decentralized enough. So I think we still have this infrastructure problems, which need to be solved. And a lot of people have, also myself included, hope to this release upgrade to Ethereum 2, where a lot of this problems will be fixed. Then let’s say, when we go more to the customer, to the UX side of the whole thing, of course also there, we need a lot of development to make it more friendlier, because right now you create your wallet, you have your pass, a seed phrase, and when you lose it or someone gets it, you’re basically screwed.
There’s no admin you can call, no one who can help you basically. So if it’s gone, it’s gone, it can be, for example, if you have all of your identity bound to this wallet, for example, imagine then you get it stolen. It can really destroy your whole life. And I think this needs to be worked on, and there’re already some solutions, how we have social recovery that you say, you have like only piece of your seed phrase and you for people share it with three other people from your inner circle, so everyone has a part of it. So even if someone from the circle gets attacked, something like this, you’re not losing everything. So there are concepts working on this, but it’s nothing which is already standardized.
And it’s a big problem for the mass adoption, I think, because many people they just cannot have one password, which you can never lose, you can never change, and this to bind the wall, let’s say capital and their identity. I think it’s a very high thing to ask from someone just to bind it, basically. One time, if you post it somewhere or you lose it, it’s all screwed. So I think this is one of the bigger problems there. And again, what I see also right now, a lot on the space, of course, because we used to know from crypto, so many traders, and let’s say, also many scammers, which been in crypto before, also right now into Web3 space and trying to of course scam you somehow.
So I think this also needs to be reduced. An example, you said Discord is an amazing app, but there, for example, really hardly can keep up with this, because so much scam is happening right now in Discord, especially in all of this NFT projects and on their servers. There’re people getting DMs with some links. You click on this link and they somehow try to steal your seeds phrase, try to steal your wallet and happens a lot.
So I think it’s very unfriendly for someone who is getting new to this space. You need a lot of explanation saying, “Hey, don’t click any links, never share your seed phrase, even if they say they are your admin, even if they say they are your mother. Never share your seed phrase.” Stuff like this. You need to explain this. And I think this needs to be changed, be more friendlier so we can get the mass adoption.
But it’s getting worked on. And I think perfect example for this is the upcoming release of Coinbase NFT. They’re working a lot on this, like how to make it super simple for people to open a wallet, to get somehow backup phrase, explain videos, like how not to get scammed, and stuff like this. And also Discord. I think they’re fighting a lot right now versus this scams. They recently implemented report button. So the things are moving.
Ray: It’s interesting. You covered the UI, UX piece. I think that’s a huge dimension. I couldn’t agree with you more, Serg, because obviously, MetaMasks, and fair play to them, they have tried. They’ve got to what? 12 million monthly active users, which is tiny, but still a good signal for the future.
Sergej: I think 21 million now.
Ray: Oh it’s 12. Shit, it’s 21, correct me if I’m wrong, 21, so it’s growing, right? Which is great. But most people who use MetaMask, they’re like, “Holy shit, this is so confusing.” Gas fees they start moving from a stable coin to another asset. And then going back to a stable coin, then trying to go back to fear. That’s not going to create mass adoption, no way. My sister’s not going to use that. And obviously then you’ve got Phantom wallet, which I hear good things where people who do use that say that it’s smooth, very simple. But again, all the nomenclature is very crypto, quite Web3 hardcore still.
So it seems like if someone can nail that where someone non-Web3 can just go on their phone and use it and doesn’t even have to think about the blockchain, blah, blah, blah. They just understand the use case. I think that’s going to be a huge moment. It seems like people are working hard and fast, but how far do you think we are from that? Because I still don’t see some huge progression on that front.
Sergej: I think we’ll see a lot of huge progression in that front in upcoming one or two years, especially I think Facebook will push something out there that you maybe can even if you have a Facebook account or something like this, you somehow can generate a wallet. It depends on their plan. So they know if they’re planning to really also join, like let’s say, something decentralized like Ethereum, or they will build something on their own. But I think companies like Facebook or Microsoft, or in this case, I said before, Coinbase are working hard on this to make it as simple as possible. And of course, I mean, they want more users and then this is their motivation to get more into this.
MetaMask, on the other hand, they just released their part of consensus, and they just released this news, I think yesterday, it was that they got a new round of investment of 200 million USD. So I believe maybe this is meant they will now invest even more into the MetaMask. Of course, what I know right now, MetaMask was always more this developer thing. It was built by developers, for developers, and they’re now trying to bring some better UX into it, but of course, it’s very confusing for someone. The apps needs to be as simple to install and to use as WhatsApp, I would say. And there, I think we are really a year or two away, but I’m pretty sure big companies will solve this definitely, because it’s in their interest as they want to have more people using their services. So like more people going into the Web3 overall. So yeah, I think this will be solved in the next one, two years. I’m pretty sure.
Ray: Yeah. I hope so. Because I think that’s going to be great not only for the OGs in this space, we’ll probably appreciate it as well, let’s face it, but also kind of Joe Public, right? Getting that mass adoption and getting that hockey stick that everyone talks about. But Serg, I was looking online, I could see you were speaking at a BMW future forum where they had a track around Web3. That’s interesting. So how’s that linked to the automotive space? What were some of the topics being discussed or what are some of the blue sky ideas within the classic OEM space?
Sergej: Interesting. This was indeed a forum, I just was there yesterday, and it’s more like a future. It’s a series of just events, which are talking about the future technologies, and BMW they are sponsoring this series of the events. So basically, the events, sometimes they’re talking about Web3, but they can also talk about artificial intelligence, augmented reality, whatever. So it’s not that BMW made a statement there about Web3 and NFTs. It’s more like they’re looking into it, right? And that’s why they’re sponsoring all of this future talk about these technologies.
And there were no statements made about them going into this space at least yet, but I guess it’ll not leave alone anyone, like everyone will at some point implement some kind of Web3 strategy or even maybe as simple as releasing some NFTs. Like imagine you own a car and then you also own the NFT to this car, basically as a proof of your ownership as well on the blockchain with this car. And then imagine always NFT has all this technical information, which you usually only find in the book, which you need to find in the car first. So you have it directly in digital.
I can imagine a lot there. I think also many brands will leverage this. Actually, yesterday Adidas dropped their first POAP NFT. So proof of attendance protocol, it’s called, but it’s basically kind of NFT. So Adidas dropped the first NFTs, I think brands. And I also want to add this to what we have spoke before about MetaMask and having better user onboarding. I think brands like Adidas and co they are also super interested in getting people on board with this NFTs and stuff like this. Maybe I can even imagine some brands creating a very nice on-ramp to get people just create their wallets. And then of course, once the wallet is created on the Web3 space, you can of course use whatever wallet application you want. So this can be also good-
Ray: Yeah. We actually had a chap called Diego who’s part of the Adidas team on our pod, actually, literally earlier this week. So it was great to see what Adidas dropped in that space. And this is just version one, right? Like they’re probably gently dipping their toes. It will be fascinating to see how that evolves in the sports apparel market. Yeah, for sure.
Sergej: Maybe some addition to that. So they dropped it yesterday for free. So you could claim it for free, it’s via POAP and it’s done in xDai chain. And if you pay some gas fees, you can transfer it to Ethereum Mainnet. And they, of course also made it limited, scarce there. I think only 10,000 of this NFTs, which are just the Adidas logo in 3D rotating. And imagine what? Already today morning, the cheapest you could buy an OpenSea was 0.2 ETH, for something which was for free yesterday.
Ray: Holy shit. Yeah. I mean, to me, that’s got bubble DNA, Serg, when you see stuff like… I mean, it’s great that they’ve done it. I love it. I mean, Adidas is an amazing brand. But when you have something dropped for free and then it starts pumping the next day, and there is no utility yet. I feel there’s a bubble around NFTs at the moment. The technology is going to be great, but there seems to be this kind of early typical 2017-ish feel to it. Not as crazy as ICOs. I’m not saying that, because it’s legit brands, great brands, and there is some utility. But just all the volume and price action on OpenSea, and I think Foundation App, I mean, they have more serious art, but it’s still crazy price action. That seems like that’s nearing its top. What do you think? I mean, that’s just my opinion. I can be wrong, but what’s your thoughts?
Sergej: For me, it reminds me of what happened to the internet companies in the beginning of 2000s, right? As we had this dot-com bubble and this reminds me of this. I think many NFT projects, especially those where there is no big brand behind it or no, let’s say, team which is publicly known, just some anonymous guys who’re creating some kind of NFT project. I think most of them will fail, because, I mean, it’s, maybe you can pull off some cool art and some nice roadmap, but let’s say, the hard part is the execution. So keeping a team together for more than one year, make them motivated. Just like a normal company, it’s hard to build a team. This is why most of the startups fail, because they cannot build a proper team together. It’s not just because, sometimes the idea of course is bad, but the other thing is the team is not good working together.
And I think here is the same, but we have as a brand like Adidas, I think behind it. I cannot imagine them abandon those things if they’re already starting exploring it. This is why I think also in this case, maybe it’s not a bubble with their brand, but I would say most of the NFT projects you can find right now on OpenSea, they will not be worth the money you pay right now for. They’ll probably not to be even worth the gas fee you need to pay to sell them in a couple of months, even. So because of course everyone is trying to create something. Also, because OpenSea is I think still relatively small company and they do this wall reporting requests manually. Sometimes you can even fall for a scam, because someone just copy art from some artist from somewhere else and just puts it like, it looks like legit and you can go into it and buy it, and it’s a fake collection.
So there are a lot problems there as well. So yeah, I want to be careful with what I buy on open market, yeah OpenSea, because a lot of them of course will probably just be scams and will not deliver what they promise. Even if they’re, as I said, sometimes people put their real name out there, but still who can guarantee you that they will deliver what they promise. This is why I like, of course, some brands or like some projects where are some brands behind it. And I think Adidas is a good example for this. Looking forward what they will make with their… Utility is not defined yet, but I’m looking forward what will come.
Ray: Yeah. I think what Adidas done yesterday is awesome, because you raise a really key point there, Serg. They’ve got legacy, right products, amazing athletes, phenomenal history. So them following through on anything that they compose into an NFT, they’ve got skin in the game, right? Reputation risk, brand risk, so they’re going to follow through without doubt, right? And they’ve got a great track record of following through on product. So yeah, I think the big brands coming into this space, I think those are going to be the really interesting outcomes, and obviously, some of the emergent brands as well, which will build in the space as well.
Sergej: Maybe one more thought to this, because I told you before, that you can… Everything is open on the blockchain. So what I see often happen even if one project, let’s say, had cool original art, and the team already left, but NFTs are, let’s say, in the communities out there, it is still possible to revive the project, because just our developers or let’s say our entrepreneurs can come there and say, “Hey, we build something on top of these NFTs. So we’ve added this.” Let’s imagine they say, “Okay, NFTs are not for us. They will leave the space again.” But they’re right now, 10,000 of those Adidas POAPs out there, right? So some other sneaker company can come and say, “You know what? Because you have this, you maybe can now have 30% off one product on our website.” Or something like this.
They can leverage that, because it’s all open there and you can read the blockchain. So they can say, “Hey, connect with the wallet in our shop. You have this Adidas POAP? Hey, we will give you 30% off, or let’s say, 30% off on any Adidas in our web shop.” Something like this. I can imagine that. And it’s possible. So you can see, even if Adidas says, “Hey, we are not using this NFT ourself, there will be no utility done.” Someone else can still build something on it. And I think this is the magic of Web3, because of this, everything is openly available on the blockchain, everyone can use it.
Ray: Yeah. I think that the way it’s completely open, completely composable, it’s going to be limitless, right? It’s just down to human ingenuity on what’s possible. I can’t agree with that more. There’s one concept, which was crazy, Serg, which I think, I heard Tim Ferriss randomly just spitball this idea. Then I think I just had a dream about it randomly, because it maybe just got to a part of my brain, which I thought was just really deep, and also really compelling. So if you look at Sorare, right? You know the team at Sorare in France?
Sergej: Yes. I know the project. Great project. Amazing.
Ray: I think Sorare is like, I think they’re cool. That’s a no brainer in the sports market, but it’s interesting, right? With Sorare, obviously, they create their own fantasy league, right? And that’s been around for a long while in Web1 and Web2, right? Even Web1.5 where people create their own fantasy leagues. But now what you’re going to have is people create their own dream team. Obviously, you can track the performance of the players and then each player token goes up, blah, blah, blah. And that’s an obvious use case, but now you’ve got real value associated with it.
So I think you’re going to have huge excitement and adoption, people aping into joining Sorare and trading the cards and building fantasy dream teams around the cards, and they’ll create a league around that. And I think they’re already doing that. But this is even more crazy. I actually think you are going to have a sabermetrics moment. So you know that movie with Brad Pitt? I forgot the name of it. It’s the baseball.
Sergej: Yes. I know that movie. Yes. Moneyball, right?
Ray: Moneyball. Yeah. Moneyball, right. You are probably going to have some big tech organization or investor come in saying, “I’ve track to fantasy league team. It actually does well. Why don’t we assemble that team in real life?”
Sergej: Brilliant. Yes.
Ray: So the canonical of that team in the analog world was born from Sorare. And that team in the real world wins the Champions League, wins the LaLiga, the Premier League, whatever league they’re in. Wins UEFA Cup, whatever cup, but the canonical of that team was originally from Sorare. Imagine-
Sergej: I can imagine that. Amazing. Yes.
Ray: Imagine the fandom around that.
Sergej: Crazy. Yes.
Ray: Why couldn’t that happen? Because you’re saying, “Okay, this player plays right back, left back. These defenders, look at their stats.” And also when you are signing those players, look at the attraction to those players and say, “Listen, do you want to play in a Web3 dimension? And in terms of your salary?” And look at incentive, hey, it’s a brand new way of assembling a team. So really sexy and compelling to probably a pro athlete. Also, let’s face it, their agents, their pay scale. Their pay scale could be off the charts in this Web3 format, because their performance is not only their salary, but if we know it increases their value of their token, like it’s insane how you could attract players with that model.
Sergej: Absolutely. This is a great use case. I think this is already where you think already beyond what we have right now and really like more this native born thing. Amazing, right? Yes.
Ray: And look at the fans you could attract. Oh no, you could form new clubs and you’d have fans saying, “Oh, we’re Web3 fans. We only support Web3 type franchises.” Or you would have classic franchises like Manchester United, Liverpool saying, “Holy shit, we need to adapt to a Web3 model.” And if you’re the owner of that club, why wouldn’t you? Your returns are huge, and let’s face it, they buy the clubs for the returns. But yeah, they love the sport, and of course, they’re passionate about the sport, but let’s face it, it’s a business, right? It’s a business.
Sergej: I can imagine a DAO running something like this. Imagine if a DAO, which putting this teams together, like a football DAO, which will then collect the same way. I told you yesterday, they collected 30 million for constitution. Imagine this DAO collecting the money to attract the best players.
Ray: Yeah. It would be crazy, and it would be data driven, because each player you’d know their performance, you know how many yards they run. And then obviously, using sabermetrics type machine learning, obviously you’d still have a manager, of course. It’s not going to be like a cyborg team, right? But it’s the convergence of Web3 machine learning, best in class sports coaching to create the ultimate sports franchise for the Web3 era, which has revenues and growth you can’t even fathom.
Sergej: Totally agree with you. Will come sooner than you think, probably.
Ray: I think that might happen here. Sorry, we’re going a bit nuts here. It’s end of the week. So I feel like I’m drunk at the moment, but it has got me thinking that thought, and I actually dreamt about it. After I was like, “Holy sh**.” I will not be surprised if that happens, because it’s happening anyway in the analog world, the way sports franchises are purchased and the revenues pumped into them and the players join. This won’t be surprising, but… Sorry, I’m completely spinning off there and rambling on about a completely different topic. But Serg, I mean, today has been a great conversation, but in terms of your goals now, I can see you’re currently an entrepreneur at a stealth startup. I can see on LinkedIn. Can you tease the audience on roughly what you’re working on or the ecosystem you’re trying to build something in?
Sergej: Sure. I will happily do so. I’m supporting multiple projects right now, usually from a product and growth side, and leading the developer teams often. But the one project, let’s just say, where I focusing right now most of my time, I will also announce it soon on LinkedIn, working together with a brilliant team. We already, I think, over 18 people, and this will be video for Web3, video for the Metaverse. So imagine you have something like Google Meet or Zoom, where you don’t log in with your email and password, but where you log in with your wallet, and then you can have your NFT as your profile picture. You select NFT, for example, and then you also get a virtual background which matches this NFT theme. Or you can even have your face swapped.
For example, you own a CryptoPunk, you go into the meeting, and this will be meetings for Web3 for the Metaverse. So there you don’t want your official first name, last name. There you want your name, which you have in the metaverse, right? And then also of course, usually the people right now who are into Web3, into the metaverse, they associate very strongly with the profile pictures of the NFTs. So when you then select this CryptoPunk, let’s say, and it becomes your face, and you don’t even need to set up anymore because of course, for the UX, we save this. And when you log in, it’s already all set up and you’re just there, with your cyber CryptoPunk hat replacement, and just can have your calls or your video meetings like this or recordings. I think this is what will excite people, and this is what we are working on.
And then later, of course, also token gated meetings, like imagine have a free company, so you release your own NFT, your own token for every employee. So you’ll have a batch, and this is the security thing. And then you can even leak this meeting link on Facebook, on LinkedIn, wherever. People cannot get in, because they connected the wallet and they will see, “Hey, you don’t have the NFT, which allows you to join the meeting. Sorry.” So this is what I’m working on. And yeah, I will share more information soon.
Ray: It’s interesting. So all this is interesting. This kind of gated way of having access is compelling, right? Because we do this in the analog world, VIP access, special room access. Humans already had that habit for a very long time, right? This is just a digital form factor of it.
Sergej: Yes, definitely. This is also big for the creators, I think. I can imagine in the near future already a lot of creators having their streams token gated. So basically, you need to buy some NFT of a creator, and then you basically can access the stream wherever it is. And the cool thing for the creator is of course, they can just select which streaming platform they want to use. And they’re pretty free, because they say, “Okay, it doesn’t matter which link I sent you, you can only get in when you have the NFT. NFT is your key.”
But you don’t need to have a login on specific platform or something like this. All you need is just to reach to this link somehow, and then you will get into the meeting onto the video stream, whatever. I think this will be huge because it makes the people again more independent and you can have this. You know actually, exactly how many people have this NFT, which allow them to join the meeting. You have like say 10,000 of them, they know this is the maximum capacity. Like how many people can even watch. It’s pretty cool.
Ray: Well, Serg, we’re going to keep a close eye on this project. Thanks for sharing. I mean, we could probably talk for hours today, because it’s been fascinating learning about your journey, and thank you for unpacking NFTs, various other vectors of Web3. We definitely got a new part two buddy, because I don’t think an hour was enough, but it would be great to have you back on maybe in Q2 of next year, and see how the story is unfolding in the market.
Sergej: Awesome. Would love to join this episode again, and was a pleasure talking to you, Ray. It is such an amazing conversation. I see how we pass ball from one head to another and creating even more ideas in this space. Very inspiring. So thank you for being here.
Ray: Nice one, Serg. Hopefully see you soon, buddy. Take care.
Sergej: Take care.