Remember Kim Kardashian’s notorious Kimoji system, where you could access hundreds of Kim themed emojis and gifs? The modern iteration of that is what the startup Genies is offering to thousands of celebrities, and ultimately to you as well. Genies is currently working with A-list celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Shawn Mendes, Migos, Cardi B, etc. to help them create dynamic and photorealistic avatars that they can share on platforms like TikTok and Instagram as a way to engage their fans, tell digitally native stories and perpetuate their brands.
For Akash Nigam, the CEO of Genies, avatars represent more than just a PR enabler for celebrities. As someone who struggled with social anxiety and always found it more comfortable to connect with others behind the keyboard, he sees avatars and digital identities as a way to be exactly who you want to be and recreate yourself to match your insides.
Especially in a world where there is so much toxicity on the internet, and judgment towards people’s physical selves, Akash views pseudonymous avatars as a critical step to building connections with like-minded people irrespective of your physical construct.
In today’s episode, we’ll explore where he thinks the future of avatar technology is headed. Including decentralized ownership and creation, a marketplace on the blockchain, and digital communities as the future iteration of country clubs and the Greek system.
ABOUT THE GUEST
Akash Nigam is the CEO of Genies, the world’s largest avatar technology company. The company has set the foundation for swift, widespread adaptation of avatars in society and culture, allowing individuals to authentically express themselves. The technology features digital wearable goods that can be sold as NFTs, a marketplace built with Dapper Labs, and API integrations for consumer platforms. Investors include Bond, NEA, Breyer Capital, CAA, and Tull Investment Group.
He is also the founder of the Genies’ investment arm, HUMANS, where they have invested in companies such as OpenSea, Dapperlabs, Clubhouse, etc. He is passionate about NFT identity projects and sees online communities as the future iteration of country clubs and the Greek system. He is also a proud member of the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
[2:20] Significance of avatars
[8:30] Importance of pseudonymity
[11:40] Humanoid vs creature system
[14:30] Use cases for Genies
[19:30] Avatar creation and marketplace
[22:20] Moving towards decentralization
[27:30] Online communities are the new country clubs
[29:50] How to facilitate positivity on Web 3
If you’ve been plugging into the world of DAOs lately, you’ve certainly heard of FWB (Friends with Benefits DAO). In many ways, FWB is the cool kid on the block, the connector that taps into all the right scenes. It’s brought creatives, artists, technologists, builders, and anyone who’s in the intersection of culture and web3 together. What differentiates FWB from any other social clubs or scenes, is that like any other DAO, its members have a shared bank account, powered by the blockchain. It makes decisions on how they want to operate, what initiatives they want to pursue, and how they want to spend their money collectively as a community. Alex Zhang, who has probably the coolest job title I know, is the Mayor of FWB. With extensive experience as a community builder, particularly for global communities with large budgets and corporate structures, he’s eager to disrupt that existing model and define what a more organic member driven governance structure looks like. He takes inspiration from fields like urban planning, architecture and organizational design to inform what a more robust, organized, and well-run DAO could look like. In the episode, we talk about the genesis story of FWB, how it became such a successful social club. We also explore future possibilities for DAOs, including how it can expand more into facilitating irl (in real life) connections, building vertically integrated tools, and growing to become more like cities rather than intimidating Discord channels. ABOUT THE GUEST Alex Zhang is the mayor of FWB DAO, a worldwide group of cultural creators, thinkers, and builders who convene digitally and IRL to collaboratively shape Web3’s future. Previously, he was the president of Summit, an ecosystem that connects and nourishes global creatives, entrepreneurs, innovators and leaders. He aspires to be the Jane Jacobs of DAOs. SHOW NOTES [2:00] What is FWB and its genesis story? [8:45] What experiences and skills help shape you for this role? [16:00] Urban planning principles and how it applies to DAOs [20:30] If DAOs become governed like cities, where does decentralization come into play? [25:40] How important is the physical/irl presence of DAOs? [31:30] What social tools are FWB building? Could they ever replace existing social media platforms? [35:20] How to attract people to a social club? What does it mean to sit in the intersection of culture x tech x people? [38:30] Highlights of FWB thus far
28 August 2022 • 40m and 15s
The number of successful consumer applications in the web 3 space is still few and far between. Against all odds, Audius, an open source and decentralized music discovery and community platform was somehow able to strike a chord and gain mainstream adoption. They have racked up 7M monthly listeners and 50,000 artists, including heavy hitters like deadmau5, Nas, Chainsmokers, Steve Aoki and many more. So what exactly is Audius and how were they able to gain so much traction? Initially, it looks just like any other web 2 music discovery and streaming product, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. All data on Audius is open source, which means as a developer you can take the music library and build your own unique music application. Beyond that, listener data is open as well, which means that artists can have unfettered access to their fan base and use it like a CRM. They can create fan clubs, share exclusive streams, but more critically, if a platform like Spotify or Soundcloud goes down or changes their algorithms, artists will still be able to have a direct channel to their listeners. Finally, the governance structure of the Audius community is unique and Robust. Audius the startup is just one small piece of the entire ecosystem. There is also an Audius token, which is managed by the Audius Foundation, and stimulates the economic activities and incentives of the ecosystem. Finally, contribution and decision making is all done by the community in a decentralized manner. ABOUT THE GUEST Roneil Rumburg is co-founder and CEO of Audius, a digital streaming service that connects fans directly with artists and exclusive new music. Audius is fully decentralized, owned and run by a vibrant, open-source community of artists, fans, and developers all around the world. Founded in early 2018, Audius serves millions of users every month, making it one of the largest crypto applications ever built. Prior to Audius, Roneil most recently co-founded Kleiner Perkins' early-stage seed fund, KPCB Edge. At KP, he was responsible for seed investments into Blockchain and AI companies, including Lightning Labs. Roneil attended Stanford University and previously co-founded a Bitcoin peer to peer payment company called Backslash. SHOW NOTES [2:45] Audius’ role in disrupting the music industry [6:45] Components of Audius platform (listeners, artists, network contributor) [10:35] What does it mean to be the CRM for artists’ fanbase [15:00] How artists use Audius vs. other platforms [19:55] Enabling 3P developers to build new listening clients [23:05] Key drivers of growth [26:15] Distributed vs. centralized listening experience [30:25] Governance structure of Audius network [33:45] Role of CEO for a decentralized network [37:45] What it means run a ‘startup’ that has no concept of existing or having an IPO
27 July 2022 • 43m and 27s
In the last year, play-to-earn (P2E) games have become a promising new frontier for both blockchain enthusiasts who are seeking a deeper purpose in what NFTs and digital ownership can enable, and game developers who are intrigued by this new model of publishing games where it can bypass the walled gardens of the mobile app stores. However, given the nascency of this industry, there’s still a ton of skepticism. Common criticisms include P2E games being “not fun to play”, not actually helping people earn money, and not necessarily providing additional value to own game NFTs. For Yat Siu who was one of the first investors in Axie Infinity, he believes blockchain gaming is just scratching the surface of what opportunities it can unlock. Beyond immediate value, he is able to see the long term benefits through a philosophical lens. ABOUT THE GUEST Yat Siu is the co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, a global leader in blockchain and gaming with the mission to deliver digital property rights to the world’s gamers and internet users, thereby creating a new asset class, play-to-earn economies, and a more equitable digital framework contributing to building the open metaverse. He is a veteran technology entrepreneur and investor based in Hong Kong. He was previously the Founder and CEO of Outblaze, and began his career in Atari Germany. He has been an early advocate for the use of blockchain and NFTs in the gaming industry, which will allow gamers to enjoy true ownership of their own game assets, data and consequently, equity. SHOW NOTES [2:20] How Yat became interested in gaming [8:45] Gaining conviction for blockchain gaming [13:40] Permissionless nature of the blockchain [15:10] Extractive nature of mobile gaming [19:40] Principles of Play-and-Earn (GameFi) [25:20] Property rights in the Metaverse [34:40] Pervasiveness of monopolies online [36:40] Decentralized property rights as the foundation for innovation [44:10] Capitalism and inequality [50:40] Civility, governance and politics in the Metaverse [59:00] Education as the best defender of democracy [1:02:45] Future role of government and policies makers in Web 3 [1:06:20] Web 3 and GameFi investing landscape [1:16:30] Advice to founder and operators wanting to enter into GameFi
6 July 2022 • 1h, 20m and 18s
While architects have had so much influence on how our cities, buildings and social spaces are constructed, their influence has not quite reached the virtual world. This is perhaps why we haven’t seen examples in the Metaverse of landmarks, versatile multi purpose spaces, or places that have outlived the specific game, use case or event that it was created for. Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg of Space Popular are pioneers within the architectural field, having developed curiosity for what virtual reality will emerge to become years before anyone was talking about the Metaverse. They integrate their expertise in traditional architecture with speculative and conceptual work to help people imagine where the future may be headed. Their perspective is unique, especially for the world of consumer tech, and helps create a completely new paradigm for thinking. In the episode, we cover a breadth of fascinating topics from: The architectural point of view, and how it transitions from traditional architecture to how it should be thought about in a limitless virtual realm A vision of the future where architecture will happen at the speed of the the spoken word Why portals will become the one of the most common design elements moving forward, the same way cars were in the past era ABOUT THE GUEST Space Popular is a research driven art, design, and media studio that explores the future of spatial experience through virtual reality, film, exhibitions, speculative writing, as well as buildings and objects. The studio is directed by architects Lara Lesmes and Fredrik Hellberg, both alumni of the Architectural Association in London (2011). The studio has completed buildings, exhibitions, public artworks, furniture collections, and interiors across Asia and Europe, as well as virtual architecture for the immersive internet. Clients, collaborators, and commissioners include national institutions such as MAXXI - National Museum of 21st Century Art, Rome, Italy; The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design –ArkDes, Stockholm, Sweden; Royal Institute of British Architects, London, UK; National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, South Korea; as well as independent galleries such as MAGAZIN, Vienna, Austria; and Sto Werkstatt, London, UK. Lesmes and Hellberg both have extensive academic experience having taught architectural design studio since 2011, first at INDA, Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok from 2021 to 2016, at the Architectural Association in London from 2016 to 2021, and currently at Daniels, Faculty of Architecture, University of Toronto sinde 2020, and UCLA Architecture and Urban Design since 2022. Their current MArch design and research studios both at Daniels and UCLA investigate visions for civic architecture in the immersive internet. SHOW NOTES [2:40] Architectural school of thought [9:10] Architecture’s existing role in entertainment, gaming and creating the Metaverse [15:40] Design principles for creating virtual environments [21:50] Value assignment [25:40] Importance of speculative projects [31:10] Creation at the speed of communication [37:00] Portals will become the most common design element in the virtual era [46:10] Enabling human connections as core utility of Metaverse [51:10] How can more architects play a role in this industry?
16 June 2022 • 58m and 10s
The term ‘web 3’ has become more and more solidified in the last couple of months, being broadly an umbrella term for the development of all blockchain based technologies. But how does everyone and their moms actively participate in web 3 is a whole other question, and an important one as web 3 needs to gain mainstream adoption to continue to be relevant. Peter Yang is working on tackling this problem through an education DAO called Odyssey. Through his journey of writing web 3 beginner-friendly content and guides, such as Curious Beginner’s Guide to Crypto, or Step to Step Guide to NFTs for Creators, he’s realized just how important it is to ensure that people have a guided path when traversing into web 3. Through Odyssey, he’s hoping to help web 3 products feel more intuitive, showcasing the utility value and pushing people away from speculation, and minimizing bad experiences such as scams. Perhaps the more interesting story though is Peter’s experience becoming a web 3 creator and successfully creating a DAO, having won the Product Hunt Golden Kitty Award in the first year! Having had years of experience as a product leader in the Web 2 world, he is really able to compare and contrast the two modes of operating. ABOUT THE GUEST Peter is the founder of Odyssey, an education DAO focused on bringing the next 1 million people to web3. Peter is also a product lead at Reddit and previously worked at Twitch and Meta. You can find his writing at creatoreconomy.so. SHOW NOTES [2:15] Reality of being a Web 3 Creator [3:00] Fluidity of roles in DAOs [6:15] What does it mean to onboarding people to Web 3 [9:50] NFTs vs. regular (fungible) tokens for Creators [15:05] Wallets as gateway to Web 3 [20:10] Peter’s experience starting a DAO [22:15] Fundraising for a DAO [28:00] Step to Step guide for starting a DAO [30:35] Are DAOs worth it? [33:40] L1s and L2s [36:10] Education in the Metaverse
1 June 2022 • 40m and 33s
People often conflate the idea of the Metaverse with VR experiences, and while VR can be one medium in which people experience the Metaverse, it is merely a subset. The work that Phillip Wang and team is doing on their virtual social platform called Gather helps demyth this common misunderstanding. For Phillip, the CEO and Co-Founder of Gather, the Metaverse is about creating a strong sense of connection, presence, and place no matter where you are. The vision then, is for the Metaverse is to provide people with easier access to opportunities anywhere, whether it’s the ability to work, learn or socialize. To accelerate this vision, Phillip focuses on solving the problem of accessibility and cultural acceptance of the Metaverse. Instead of seeing the barrier to mainstream adoption as a technological problem, he instead sees it as a societal acceptance gap. He cites people’s frequent association to gaming and VR experiences as the Metaverse as a deterrent for them to participate, because they don’t identify or are not familiar with these platforms. To overcome this gap, Gather was inspired by the open nature of the internet. They built the platform as a 2D format in the browser, so that anyone who has access to the internet web browser can immediately jump into a virtual experience on Gather. As a result, the platform has seen organic creations of virtual workplaces, academic conferences, brand launch parties, housewarming parties and even weddings take place. They have successfully demythed the assumption that Metaverse experiences have to be immersive and 3D, and really opened new doors for new types of people to participate. ABOUT THE GUEST Phillip Wang is the CEO and Co-Founder of Gather. Prior, he spent time building technologies to support more fulfilling relationships across distances at The Siempre Collective, ranging from wearables, audio/video apps, to VR. Before that, he spent time at Facebook, Cruise, Microsoft, and as a researcher in deep learning at CMU. Phillip graduated from Carnegie Mellon with a degree in Computer Science. SHOW NOTES [2:45] Gather’s evolution from app, to VR, to web [5:15] How people work, learn and play on Gather [10:15] Importance of Metaverse products being accessible [11:45] Open source creation tools [13:35] Open Metaverse philosophy [22:45] Open marketplaces and trade across platforms [26:35] The Metaverse is not VR [28:55] Zoom fatigue and the future of work [31:55] AI’s role in building the Metaverse [36:20] Mechanisms and interactions post Skeuomorphisms
2 March 2022 • 43m and 13s
There is a tendency to think of technology as engineering and data-driven, but the art of storytelling and the power of intuition cannot be overlooked as central to building great products. Where engineering brings a product to life, storytelling envisions how the user will experience that product. And where data allows us to make decisions based on what we know, intuition allows us to predict outcomes based on what we sense given the patterns we observe. Especially when it comes to making innovative ideas a reality, the skill of being able to transfer these ideas to others’ minds requires great skill. In this episode, we talk to Morgan Tucker, who has honed his intuition and ability to story tell, and as a result has had a long track record of being able to imagine a future reality, and mobilize to bring a vision to life. Given his unique background of being a creative (having gone to art school) and operating both in design and product roles, Morgan shares his perspective on building social products and how to think about the path to creating a meaningful Metaverse. ABOUT THE GUEST Morgan Tucker is the Head of Product, Social at Roblox, where he has spearheaded new Metaverse experiences such as the Lil Nas X concert, the Gucci Garden experience, and the In the Heights movie launch party. Previously, he was the VP of Product at imvu where he built social avatar experiences. SHOW NOTES [5:30] Storytelling and emotional experiences in tech [7:50] How does a background in design inform the product experiences? [8:45] Pushing for innovative products or ways of thinking [12:40] Harnessing intuition in a data-driven environment [17:20] Building credibility as a creative [19:30] Marrying gaming and consumer social industries [23:10] Transitioning social experiences into 3D [28:00] Key insights for those building the metaverse [29:00] Trends in Gen Z socializing with tech [32:40] The ideal metaverse
10 February 2022 • 34m and 48s
As of late, other than the (unfortunate) plummeting prices of cryptocurrencies, OpenSea has been perhaps the biggest news story in blockchain tech. The world’s largest NFT (non-fungible token) marketplace has just raised a new series C venture funding round, valuing it at $13.3B dollars. If you’re skeptical about its new colossal valuation, here’s a stat for you: the platform experienced $14B in trading volume in 2021, which is more than a 40,000% increase from a trading volume of $33M just a year prior in 2020. If you’re unfamiliar with OpenSea or NFTs, Devin describes it as the gateway to the world of Web 3. You might have seen a surge of bizarre cartoonish looking profile photos on Twitter, or heard mentions of celebrities being part of the Bored Ape Yacht Club. These digital ‘profile photos’ are unique and can be owned, bought and sold. Different from digital goods previously, these goods are not at the mercy of any other platform. Even if say, Twitter, went down or decided to remove your profile, you would still be the recognized owner of the profile photo since your ownership is encoded on the blockchain. The new attributes of NFTs have really driven a cultural shift of truly valuing goods online to match the pace of our lives becoming more and more digitally native. ABOUT THE GUEST Devin Finzer is the CEO and co-founder of OpenSea, the first and largest peer-to-peer marketplace for blockchain-based assets. Devin has a background in software engineering at Google and Pinterest and sold his previous company to Credit Karma. SHOW NOTES [3:55] Origin of NFT Term [5:50] The Seascape of OpenSea, who are the users and creators? [7:40] Fastest emerging vertical [9:50] Why do people value intangible assets? [11:50] Technical limitations to current blockchain capabilities [13:55] Why have Gaming NFTs not taken off yet? [18:20] How to think about creating digital scarcity? [21:35] Lending and licensing [24:20] NFTs for real world things (“digital twins”) [28:20] What people don’t understand about NFTs? [29:30] Future jobs and technologies
27 January 2022 • 37m and 8s
Web 3 has become the canonical term to describe new internet products that are decentralized, user owned, and orchestrated with tokens. It is compared to web 1 where the internet was user owned, but highly technical and not user-friendly and web 2 which formed centralized, and eventually extractive platforms that offered consumer friendly experiences and enabled billions of people to access the internet. DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) have become the primary social organizing entity within web 3. Gaby describes it as basically a group chat with a shared bank account. As a member of a DAO, you own tokens to that community, and therefore fractional ownership of the group and ‘skin in the game’. You have liquidity so you can leave the DAO as soon as you sell your tokens. In this episode, Gaby helps us understand the emerging social behaviors and products that are being created within the web 3 paradigm and why they are better solutions to today’s socialization needs. She helps us walk through web1, 2, and 3 and their distinct characteristics, we explore the idea of the modern friend, we get into detail on the mechanisms of DAOs and some of its current benefits as well as flaws and potential solutions. ABOUT THE GUEST Gaby Goldberg is an investor at TCG Crypto, where she focuses on the firm's investments at the intersection of consumer and crypto. She previously invested in early-stage consumer and internet businesses at Bessemer Venture Partners and Chapter One. Gaby writes regularly about culture, identity, and ownership in web3 at https://gaby.mirror.xyz. SHOW NOTES [3:50] Shortcomings of social products in the web 2 era [5:05] How online relationships look like today [8:50] Why online social behaviors emerge from same core motivators as offline [10:50] Key characteristics of web 1, web 2 and web 3 [15:40] Is web 3 really better? [20:00] DAO explainer, successful examples and existing shortcomings [23:05] Canonical technology stack of DAOs [27:40] Positive outcomes that have come out of DAOs [30:40] The social token paradox
21 December 2021 • 40m and 10s
NFT games is the new topic that’s been gaining major momentum in the metaverse/web 3 conversation. The fundamentals of NFT games is that the ownership model of game assets are user owned and transactions are encoded on the blockchain. This creates a utility value for NFTs where it can actually live in an environment where it brings tangible value to people, rather than just being say a jpeg piece of digital art that’s hard to show off. The magic of NFT games shows through the economic opportunities that it creates for people. A simple example is Axie Infinity which is the most popular NFT game right now. In the game, people can buy these axies, which are these adorable pet creatures that you can train to get better and better at battles. As your axie wins more battles, it appreciates in monetary value. Based on the work you do ‘training’ axies, you can make money off of your hard earned work (through the appreciation of that asset). In fact, a huge fraction of the population in the Philippines have started to rely on playing axie infinity as their main source of income. While the Axie example is straightforward, as you can imagine, for more sophisticated games and experiences, the infrastructure to power these transactions gets more complex. In this episode, we will explore the building blocks to help foster the NFT game ecosystem for developers, players, brands, influencers, etc. ABOUT THE GUEST John Linden is the CEO of Mythical, a next-generation game technology studio creating universal economies driven by player ownership of NFTs with utility. Prior to Mythical, John was the President of Seismic Games (acquired by Niantic Labs), developer of Marvel Strike Force and Magic the Gathering: Valor’s Reach. Prior to Seismic Games, he was a Studio Head at Activision Blizzard on the Call of Duty and Skylanders franchises. Before entering the games industry, John was the Co-Founder / CTO at Adknowledge and at OpenX and built his own startups, Planet Alumni (acquired by Reunion.com) and Litmus Media (acquired by Think Partnership) SHOW NOTES [5:50] What are NFT games and how do they make games better for people? [13:10] Understanding collectables culture [16:10] Economic engine behind NFT games [18:00] How to have zero gas fees [23:15] Developer interest in building game economies on the blockchain [25:50] Focusing on assets over tokens [29:10] How can NFT games live on the Apple Store? [31:10] New roles and jobs that NFT games can create [36:55] Why are NFT games becoming mainstream now?
29 November 2021 • 43m and 9s
Jacob Navok is the co-founder and CEO of Genvid, which is the leader in interactive streaming technology. They are working on one of the most interesting problems in the pursuit of the metaverse vision which is, how do you get millions of people to concurrently be participating and interacting in one live experience with no latency (delay or lag)? This is as opposed to what’s happening right now with server sizes of around 50 people in say Fortnite concerts. Jacob was the co-author of the networking and compute articles in Matthew Ball’s Metaverse Primer series. There he outlined the technical and infrastructural limitations and challenges we have today to make the metaverse a reality. Beyond the buzz around what kinds of new use cases and consumer experiences the Metaverse will enable, it’s important to think about the foundations. What is the infrastructure and computing power we will need to actually power this future? This is not something that will be solved by any company alone, but a collective effort of all the builders of the internet. ABOUT THE GUEST Prior to founding Genvid, Jacob led worldwide business development and strategy at Square Enix Holdings, reporting to the CEO. He also built their cloud gaming division, Shinra Technologies, where he met many of his Genvid colleagues. SHOW NOTES [5:20] Definition of the Metaverse [7:20] Why VR is not representative of the Metaverse [13:05] Concurrency and the challenges of hosting live, synchronous events with millions of people [17:35] Twitch as the first example of massive multiplayer concurrent gaming [19:40] Rival Peak, Genvid’s Live Interactive Multiplayer Reality Show with AI contestants [22:50] Hacks for the concurrency problem [25:30] Why decentralized systems don’t work well for live 3D experiences [27:15] Future use cases of live synchronous events [30:30] Social platforms like FB, Twitch, Discord as identity systems of the Metaverse [37:15] Why FB keeps investing in AR/VR [39:10] How will life in the Metaverse be different from the real world?
4 November 2021 • 42m and 26s
The creator economy, crypto, and the metaverse have been probably the buzziest concepts of this year (or in tech at least), and Kyla Scanlon straddles all three of these worlds on a visceral level. She is a content creator who focuses on financial education, which entails explaining to people hard to grasp concepts like crypto and other vehicles for decentralization. And by being a creator, she naturally occupies a majority of her life in the online world, aka, the Metaverse. As a GenZ (or as she’d like to say, a Cusper, which are are GenZ folks on the cusp of being a Millennial) and an online creator, she has forged a livelihood online through her work, and as a result, has made many rich relationships with people online, even more so than offline. In her own words, she is a prototype for the concepts that she creates content around. This is what made my conversation with her so interesting and meta. Foremost as an educator, Kyla explains and unbundles difficult web3 concepts such DAOs, NFTs, Social Tokens and Defi. From her creator perspective, she explores how these emergent concepts directly impact her life and her work. Finally, as a GenZ, she muses about why these concepts (especially this desire for decentralization) are emerging for her generation and what it might be a cultural reaction to. We explore some real issues for GenZ such as the growing sense of loneliness, the dark and exhausting elements of creator culture, and the repercussions of growing up with information overlap and no room for processing and introspection. ABOUT THE GUEST Kyla Scanlon is a popular financial content creator and educator. She started options trading in high school, previously worked at Capital Group and was a participant in the TAP program. She is now building a financial education company to onboard people to the world of investing. You can subscribe to her financial content on substack, Youtube, TikTok or wherever you like to consume your content. SHOW NOTES [3:55] The power and influence of creators [8:30] DAOs as a community organizing vehicle [13:50] NFTs, digital ownership, and how they can serve creators [20:40] Social Tokens and the idea of monetizing every aspect of yourself as a creator [23:55] The loneliness of being a creator [25:40] Living life more online than offline [27:40] The Metaverse as a solution to information overload [30:20] Loneliness [32:35] How to create the right education framework for younger generations [34:35] Defi and the future of finance [36:10] Why decentralization matters for GenZ [38:00] The Debt Ceiling, economic collapse, the Fall of Rome
21 October 2021 • 42m and 27s
The best games are often built by those who have developed a mastery over human psychology and motivation and Kenshi Arasaki one of them. He is the creator of multiple hugely popular mobile, free-to-play games, and he shares his principles and insights on what makes games enticing to players and sustains traction. We deep dive on why a master of psychology and human incentives is the recipe for creating good games. We’ll cover how to create an environment for interesting emergent social behaviors, capturing the full spectrum of human emotion as a means to create true community bonds, and what it means to create a perfectly competitive environment where people are motivated to progress. After all his experiences in gaming, Kenshi is most bullish on the opportunities NFTs are able to unlock for the industry. We explore the economic implications of the evolving vertical of play-to-earn games and how it can make spending time in virtual worlds a worthy and legitimate investment of time. We’ll talk through some of the challenges that NFTs are facing as well as what it means for gaming and virtual experience beyond, to have a real mechanism to enforce digital rights. ABOUT THE GUEST Kenshi Arasaki is the CEO and Co-founder of A Thinking Ape Entertainment, a gaming company that has produced some of the top free-to-play mobile games It was recently acquired by the Embracer Group. He is an angel investor and jpeg/nft enthusiast, and is the primary author behind US patent 8918725 for systems and methods to support real-time chat on mobile devices. SHOW NOTES [4:30] How to create initial traction for games and effective mechanisms [11:00] Importance of helping people express their full emotional spectrum in virtual experiences [17:00] Maintaining a balanced virtual economy [21:10] Tapping into fundamental human motivations [27:20] Play-to-earn games [29:50] NFTs, digital ownership, and interoperability [33:20] Creating native containers for NFTs [37:40] What NFT would Kenshi want to build
7 October 2021 • 40m and 56s
Games are now becoming the most popular place for kids and young adults to hang out today. This phenomenon became very evident during this pandemic, where time spent on popular games like Fortnite, League of Legends, Animal Crossing and Roblox exceeded that of other popular apps like Youtube and Instagram. Moreover, gaming platforms like Twitch and Discord have begun to replace traditional social or communication platforms as the primary way in which people socialize. What’s more astounding is that people are starting to use gaming platforms for much more than gaming. High production value digital concerts like the Travis Scott or Lil Nas X concerts took place inside of Fortnite and Roblox. People started to have business meetings and school graduations in Animal Crossing. And watching streamers and influencers play Among Us on Twitch became this cultural phenomenon that mimicked a purely digital, real-time, reality show. In this episode, I explore with Jon Lai, who has been an instrumental figure in bridging the gap between the gaming and consumer tech industries, the factors that are making gaming become mainstream and his predicted trends of the trajectory of the industry. ABOUT THE GUEST Jonathan Lai is a partner on the consuming investing team at Andreessen Horowitz, focusing on games, next gen social, and the creator economy. Jon serves on the board of Singularity 6, StarStock, Elodie, and Mountaintop. Before a16z, Jon led the North America business development & investments team at Tencent. Prior, Jon was a product manager at Riot Games, the developers of League of Legends, before the company was acquired by Tencent. Jon is a lifelong gamer and can often be found roaming the fields of justice after hours. SHOW NOTES [6:20] Historical context of gaming, what does a gamer looked like before and now [9:00] Why stereotypes around gaming changed [10:30] Core elements of game psychology and gameplay [16:40] Rise of streaming and why it’s so appealing [21:45] Capturing and sharing content gaming and virtual experiences [27:30] User generated content’s role in building the metaverse [29:40] Blockchain and NFT games, Play-to-Earn model
21 September 2021 • 44m and 32s
While most of us are active participants of social networks where we share ample detail about our personal lives, much fewer of us lead active lives in persistent virtual worlds where that life is completely deviated from the one in the real world. Second Life, created by Philip Rosedale, was an online virtual world platform that took the world by storm in the 2000s. Astoundingly enough, the platform still maintains about one million regular users who, for a lack of a better way to put it, live a second life there. Different from other massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs), Second Life never set out to be a game, but rather an organic world where any set of possibilities can happen. As a result, true life, culture and societies started to form. In this episode, I explore with Philip what were the elements and factors that enabled such a unique occurrence to happen. Moreover, why other major social consumer products that also birthed from that era, the likes of Myspace, FB, Instagram, never took the trajectory that Second Life did. We discover the importance of enabling people with capabilities that make them feel truly human. Things like photorealistic avatars, having last names, and the ability to build beautiful and useful everyday objects. We learn that culture emerges once there’s curiosity between people and what each other are doing. Philip cites that when people started to build architectural structures like homes in Second Life, they grew invested in their lives in the virtual world and the idea of having neighbors and a community. Finally, contrary to popular belief, it’s quite difficult to maintain multiple lives in the online world, and that many of those who became dedicated to their lives on Second Life felt it hard to balance with their real lives. Finally, Philip provides an overview of his thoughts on the various mediums and technologies that are powering virtual experiences. A shrewd insight on why VR adoption has not taken off is that it’s impossible to wear it for long enough to truly establish a connection with someone new. He’s excited about spatial audio as a communication medium that promotes more empathy, and he believes AI will play a crucial role in world development in the metaverse, although they won’t and should not replace the role of humans. ABOUT THE GUEST Philip Rosedale is the founder of Linden Labs which created Second Life. He is currently the co-founder of High Fidelity, which is focused on designing rich 3D audio spaces that mimic real life experiences, but more broadly aims to build technology that helps people be together online in the most natural way possible. He is a serial entrepreneur, having previously built and sold FreeVue and was a Time 100 recipient. He holds a physics degree from University of California, San Diego.
12 September 2021 • 44m and 36s
Digital identities have far evolved beyond a simple username and emoticon or a profile photo and personal page. It’s become a way that people can express themselves in a wide spectrum of ways and find meaning in new online communities. In this episode, we explore how Gen Z has different trends in how they display their identities online compared to Millennials. Whereas Millennials approached online identity in a more curated and performative manner, Gen Z shows a strong desire for authenticity and embracing imperfection. Moreover, identity and status is more rooted in context to a community rather than purely through broadcasting on social feeds. Beyond that, people have started to tap into experimentation with new forms of identity, such as through the use of synthetic media and transhumanism. An example of synthetic media is CodeMiko, which is an avatar mapped to the person’s real life actions and expressions. Transhumanism pushes the boundaries further through creations of purely virtual identities and personalities such as Lil Miquela who has amassed 3M followers on Instagram and has done multiple collabs with brands and celebrities despite being a purely digital creation. Finally, we explore the proteus effect (how online personas affect real world identity and perceptions) and the new roles and use cases to be expected for people to take on online. Rex predicts that the metaverse will help democratize access to goods and experiences in a way that the offline no longer can and enable people with more agency and autonomy to pursue their true interests. ABOUT THE GUEST Rex is a Principal at Index Ventures, a global venture capital firm, where he invests in consumer internet and consumer software businesses. He’s particularly interested in how people and tech intersect, including online communication, creators, and digital economies. He shares his thoughts on his blog, Digital Native. Before Index, Rex worked on go-to-market at Airtable, impact investing at TPG’s Rise Fund, and was a Knight-Hennessey Scholar at Stanford. TIMESTAMPS [1:30] Online identity for Millennials vs GenZ [6:20] Experimenting with new identities through synthetic media [9:10] Reasons for wanting to be fully anonymous online [11:20] Reality privilege and proteus effect [14:40] Transhumanism [20:30] Decade of status to decade of community [21:20] New roles and responsibilities in the metaverse [31:35] Challenges to watch out for as we embark on creating the metaverse
25 August 2021 • 40m and 11s
Our lives are becoming more and more digitally native. As we have fewer physical barriers to socialize, work, learn, entertain, express ourselves and create, growing aspects of our lives will become untethered from the physical world. This reality might excite you or it may induce fear and anxiety. Either way, I believe we shouldn’t just wait and watch for this mysterious future to unfold. Rather, we should seek to explore how to positively define and shape the future we want to create on the internet, together. Each week, episodes will help demystify what the Metaverse is or could be and explore its implications on our culture and society.
25 August 2021 • 1m and 58s