JS Party – Episode #198

The decentralized future

with Nader Dabit

All Episodes

Nader Dabit shares his motivation and experience on recently transitioning to focus on technologies and communities that support the decentralized internet. In this hot topics discussion, we cover all the buzz words you’ve likely heard over the past year. We have honest and nuanced conversations about the world of Ethereum, Cryptocurrencies, NFTs, DAOs, and Web3. Hype or hit? You’ll have to tune in to find out.

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Changelog

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Hi, everyone! We are so, so excited for today’s episode. This is a hot topic, y’all, so everybody, get your popcorn, get comfortable… We’re gonna dive in pretty deep. We have a very, very special guest with us today, Nader Dabit. Hello, Nader. Welcome.

Thank you so much for having me on. I’m really excited to be here, and I’m really excited for the convo today.

Yeah, we’re excited, too. I should say I’m probably gonna turn off my Twitter mentions after this goes live… [laughter] Just kidding, just kidding. No, we’ll keep it positive. With me today co-hosting is Jerod. Hi, Jerod.

Hi. And you know what, I brought some sunglasses… I thought maybe I’d throw these once, since this is such a cool topic… The future, right?

Oh, my God… Jerod, those glasses look amazing on you.

Thank you. [song excerpt, Corey Heart - Sunglasses at night 00:03:41.09]

I think you should just always wear them. You should be like those rappers that wear sunglasses indoors…

Just every episode?

Yeah… [laughs] It looks good. A good look.

I’m sold.

[03:55] Yeah, good look, good look. So we’ve invited Nader today to talk about the decentralized future, and Web3, and crypto, and all the buzzwords that kind of go into that space. Nader is a great guest, because he, like many of our listeners, has a web development background, and kind of really made a very intentional pivot into Ethereum development over the past year, maybe, Nader…? It’s been a year now?

Yeah, it was six months ago.

Yeah, six months. Not even. Alright. So with that said, Nader, why don’t you give us your back-story? We don’t have time to get into your full origin story. There’s a great Changelog episode that Nader was on in 2008, that we’ll link in the notes, so you can learn more about Nader’s background… But we’re gonna start at AWS. So you were director, or lead, or something at AWS, and then you were like “I’m done.” Tell us about that.

Yeah. Well, I was at AWS for over three years, like almost 3,5 years, and I was leading the developer relations team for frontend, web and mobile, which is – AWS has partitioned different groups that work on things. There’s like the Alexa group, there’s the serverless group… And I was on the frontend, web and mobile, so we were kind of building out SDKs for web and mobile developers, as well as tooling, and stuff.

So yeah, I was leading the developer relations team, or developer advocacy team for the last year, a little over a year, and before that, I was just a developer advocate for the previous two years. So I was there for a little over three years; I really, I would say, learned the most of any role I’ve ever had while I was at AWS. I made some really great connections, and friends, and… It was just a really good experience overall. I would not go back and change anything about it.

But while being there, I would say for the last year or so I did become a little bit bored, and just uninspired, a little bit, by my day-to-day work… And this was also during Covid, so it’s kind of hard to tell exactly the root cause. And honestly, we’re lucky to be able to even decide “Hey, I’m bored. Let me try something new.” But that’s kind of the way I felt. I wanted to try something new.

So I started keeping my eyes out for opportunities over the course of that year. I was interviewing, I was talking to people, I was reading, and I was learning… And I was just looking for the next thing that kind of sparked that original spark that I had when I first started becoming a developer; really, when I joined AWS, I had that feeling when I was working on serverless stuff… And I still like serverless stuff, it’s really interesting to me, but it doesn’t make me wanna wake up and be excited and happy for my day. It’s kind of like looking for that thing. And I had a lot of really great opportunities that started coming around because of just being a developer for ten years, and having that experience… You start landing some good opportunities.

One of the areas that I started exploring was crypto and Web3. I had some really great opportunities that were like senior and principal level within AWS, and then outside of AWS, that actually paid twice as much as what I ultimately took in the Web3 space, but they weren’t things that I was excited to go do…

No magic feeling, right?

Yeah, no magic feeling… And again, how fortunate was I to even be able to say something like that, right? So I recognized all that stuff. But I was looking for something, the next thing to excite me. I’d been speculating as an investor in crypto since like 2015, so buying and selling Bitcoin back in the day, and then other things more recently… And one of the ones that I looked into was something called the Graph Protocol. And it was the first time I kind of looked past the token as an investment and tried to understand why it was there and why people were buying it and using it… And when I started kind of looking into that project, the first thing I realized was that they were using GraphQL, and that was kind of like a big part of it… And that was really the first big eye-opening moment for me as a developer, when I started realizing that these tokens and these crypto-economic protocols were actually there for something other than speculation… Because honestly, at that point, even 6-7 months ago, I didn’t understand how smart contracts work. I didn’t understand anything past just buying and selling.

[08:12] So I started diving into why they use GraphQL, and that kind of took me down what a lot of people call this rabbit hole of the entire ecosystem, and Web3, and all of the people, all of the communities, all of the projects and all of the stuff happening. Conferences, all types of stuff. And I became really, really fascinated, and I became really excited, and I wanted to continue doing research. I started reading and I started buying books, and really getting – I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It was one of those things, like “Oh, this is freaking cool.” The reason that these things have become popular isn’t just because it’s like another currency, but there’s actually other stuff… And when you start peeling back the layers and seeing all this stuff, it really spoke to me as an engineer, because the problems that they were solving and the stuff that they were doing seemed so much more fun and interesting than anything I’d worked on really in my career, ever.

So yeah, at that point I did start considering “What if I wanted to make a move in this industry?”, but it wasn’t really anything I took too seriously, because of a bunch of different reasons… One of those being it just seemed so risky to me to turn down a half a million dollar type of opportunity that I had on the table to maybe join an industry that I knew nothing about; and I had zero experience… Like, why would anyone hire me anyway? And if I did, would I be successful? That’s kind of where I was maybe a couple of weeks before I ultimately tried to get into the role I’m in now. So that’s hopefully an overview of how I decided to even consider this area.

You said they were solving problems that were more exciting… Can you give us some examples of what problems were being solved in this industry specifically?

Yeah, so at AWS - and really, within the Web community - for the past few years we were doing some really great stuff around improving the developer experience, improving the user experience… When you’re in the area that I was in, like JAMstack, and also mobile development, we seemed to be solving kind of the same problems over and over and over. We had WordPress as the CMS like 10-15 years ago, whatever… The big rage at the time was like JAMstack and CMSes. So I felt like we’re basically rebuilding a CMS over and over and over, and that was one of the really hot things that I felt like was cool, but it wasn’t revolutionary, and it wasn’t that huge of a deal.

We were doing fun stuff, and cool stuff, but it wasn’t anything that was brand new… Whereas I felt like some of this stuff in the Web3 space that I’ll talk about in just a moment was kind of brand new… But yeah, I was just getting tired of seeing, and even crating myself, like “Oh, here’s how you create a blog using this stack.” We’ve created like millions of blog posts about how to create a blog. There’s thousands of ways to do it. It just wasn’t that interesting to me. So I would say that’s kind of the feeling that I was having around some of the stuff we were doing.

Databases are cool, but we were just rebuilding the same types of databases over and over, and… You know, people really have to go into details to even understand the differences between this new SQL database versus the other dozen SQL databases that were already out there. And I think when I started looking into Web3 and crypto, I started seeing that there were a multitude of different, interesting problems that some of them were in the process of being solved, some of them were theoretical and they haven’t been solved yet… And some of them kind of have been solved, and they’re iterating on new, improved ways of making that technology better.

But really, the captivating thing I think is around how digital currency and how tokenomics work, and how they can incentivize ways of collaboration, and also enable people to make money in places in the world maybe that they had seen a lot of less opportunity in the past… And the types of applications that people were building were kind of interesting…

[12:10] I would say a really great example of something that is concrete, that people can go and kind of look at and see the possible future repercussions of, that is happening almost as we speak, is this game called Axie Infinity. This is a game that is putting into practice a lot of the Web3 ideas… And Axie Infinity is a game that is revolutionary in a few different ways.

Before I talk about Axie, let me talk about Fortnite. I have a couple of kids, and one of their favorite games is Fortnite. Fortnite was really also kind of revolutionary. They gave the game away for free, and it was kind of like the first, I would say, big hit video game, like on Nintendo, or one of those platforms that people were able to get for free, that blew up and made a lot of money. So how did they make the money? Well, they enabled digital currency. They enabled also skins, which were clothing, and stuff like that.

So those two things were huge… And I spend now a couple hundred dollars a year on Fortnite for my kids, where in the past we would have paid like $80 for a game, and you never would have paid again. That was like the old way. The new way is like, you’re paying every month or every year money for your kids to play these games, because they–

I like the old way better.

…they’ve now enabled payments within the game. [laughter] But what is the problem with that? Well, I wouldn’t say that this is a problem, it’s more of like a limitation. The limitation there is like when the kid outgrows the game, then you’ve now dumped a thousand dollars into this thing and nothing has come of it. Maybe they’ve had a great time, and maybe that’s enough; that is a good thing, right? Maybe having fun is good enough. But what if instead, people can actually take the value that they’ve put into the platform, and maybe get some of the return of their investment back? Or maybe they can give it away to someone else and have them use it, and have a really, really easy way to do that.

So Axie Infinity kind of took those ideas of what Fortnite has, along with some of the Web3 ideas, and they’ve built this game that allows players to earn in-game currency; and they can also buy it. But they can also resell that on a liquid market. So as you play the game, you’re getting paid, essentially, to play… And it’s not a ton of money for maybe someone like a software engineer, but for people in other parts of the world, they’re actually able to quit their jobs, and they’re making more money, sometimes orders of magnitude more money just playing this game, than they would be able to working in like a local area, using their skillset.

So when I started learning about stuff like this - this is an example that kind of excites me, just because it’s so revolutionary… And applying these same ideas in a bunch of different areas maybe in the future is also really exciting. And I think the idea is – like, having the combination of the technology to make it happen, the actual implementation that’s successful, and then all of the different areas that have yet to be applied is very exciting, because that means we’re kind of still early in on making these changes, but we can see that they are actually things that can be applied, and they can be successful.

So yeah, that’s kind of like – I don’t know if I went too far into a tangent there…

It’s a good example.

Yeah, good example, a welcome tangent… I think a good case study too, for some of these ideas, and also just being able to share and reuse wealth in some ways… But bring this conversation back to the What a little bit. First of all, I just wanna say really quickly, I 100% agree with you - web developers, we are reinventing the wheel in different ways, and it is a point of huge frustration for me… But that’s a topic for another show; we’ll have to do that another time.

But to kind of bring this conversation back - so you are really a person who is very prominent in the educator community, and you are really big on teaching, and sharing your knowledge… And it’s so funny - a fish swims, a bird flies, Nader teaches, Nader gets into this crypto space, Nader is new to this space, and the first thing Nader does is write a full guide on full-stack Ethereum development, and it goes crazy viral. So can you tell us about that? What that was like, and what inspired you to do that, and then what’s life been like after…

[16:21] Yeah. I guess taking a couple of steps back from that, going back to when I did decide to kind of actually take the plunge and take a role here in this space - I had been investigating a handful of protocols, and I ended up coming back… There was maybe a half dozen or so projects that I was like “Okay, I would love to work with these people”, based on my initial investigation, and stuff… But the one that I ended up coming back to was the Graph Protocol, mainly because I was like, if anyone’s gonna hire me, I have a ton of GraphQL experience, so maybe they would be like “Okay, let’s give this person a shot.”

So I ended up applying, and getting the interview, and throughout the interview process I just felt like I was not good enough, and I wasn’t experienced enough… Because a lot of the stuff they were talking about was way over my head, just because it’s a completely different area that I’ve ever been in, again… But ultimately, I met the team, we talked about it, I learned that almost everyone coming into this space today has zero experience in this space. Why? Mainly because it’s growing so rapidly that there is no existing pool of talent to draw from, so they have to draw from the Web 2 world, or even just other parts of the world. Anyone that has applicable experience, community experience, and other stuff.

So I ended up interviewing, getting an offer, and taking the role. And it was a very, very, at the time, kind of scary decision for me… Because I did take about half as much money as I could have taken somewhere else… And I am joining a team that literally just created this new company about a month before I started interviewing… So a brand new company, less money, industry I’d never been a part of… It was all brand new to me, and rolling the dice almost, you could say. My mom and dad thought I was crazy… My wife is 100% always behind me though, so at least I have that going for me… But even after I took the offer, I was worried about how people in my network were gonna basically react to this… Because I’ve been so heavily in other communities before. This is such a big shift. But I knew that the things that were interesting to me had to be interesting to other people, because - how could they not be, when people actually maybe understand some of this stuff. That’s at least what I was thinking.

So the first glimpse that I got that people would be interested is I just sent out a tweet that was saying, “Hey, I’m writing this guide for building out a full-stack Ethereum app.” I forgot exactly the way I had phrased it… But it got way, way more attention than I ever expected it to be.

So that was my first glimpse in the demand or the interest in this type of content, ever, just from my perspective, in my network.

Yeah. I was wondering actually if you could just double-click on that a little bit. So what I find really interesting about the crypto space in general is, unlike the stock markets, the crypto markets are 24/7, and then they’re global. So it’s like – I just feel like that alone just creates a massive scale, for anything. If you’re having a conference, or a webinar, or whatever - it’s like, all of a sudden your audience just like 100x-es or 1,000x-es. I’m just curious if that’s a little bit of what you experienced as well… You had a much wider group of people that were all of a sudden interested in what you had to say?

Yeah, it was just definitely not expected, but it was very welcome to me, seeing it… Because I was really worried about “Okay, what if I go into this and it’s not what I thought it was?” Or maybe I go into this and I’m able to not really network and create the relationships – or really keep the relationships that I had in the past with people that I really cared about, and I always wanted to continue building those relationships. It is a 24/7 market, but it’s also an accessible market, that doesn’t need anyone to tell you that you can participate or you can’t participate.

[20:14] I think one of the biggest things that is interesting to me around any revolutionary technology is that it really is something that abstracts away something that in the past needed a lot more time, effort, work, and people to kind of make work… And to me, what you’re seeing now, especially if you look at stuff like decentralized finance, where you have these multi-billion-dollar protocols that are doing the same work with about a dozen or two dozen people, that in the past would have taken orders of magnitude more people… So we’re talking about thousands or tens of thousands of people within a traditional banking system to operate the types of operations, combining both software and physical locations and all this other stuff, that are now being done and abstracted away by teams of much smaller people… So that really excited me. The fact that anyone in the entire world can create a wallet and get paid really excited me.

One of the things that really excited me at first, honestly, was also the idea of stablecoins. When I knew about crypto, I only knew about Bitcoin and Ethereum, and that they’d go up and down every day like crazy… But in reality, some of the most interesting stuff is happening in stablecoins. And stablecoins are pegged against another piece of value in the actual physical world. And this isn’t that important for people in the U.S, whose U.S. dollar is very stable, but in other parts of the world, it’s actually really possibly game-changing, because if your currency goes up and down like Ethereum goes up and down, or even more – let’s say that it goes down to almost nothing, like it happens all the time, what if instead you could be able to have a very easy way to get paid and hold on to your value in a currency that stays the same?

I think this has really hit home for me, because I had had a family member that was visiting – or not visiting, he actually had to move from Lebanon to the United States as an economic refugee, because all of their businesses, and even their life savings and stuff ended up being stuck in one of the banks in Lebanon, because of the financial and political crisis that they’re having over there… And having a conversation with him, and seeing how someone’s life can completely be ruined almost by the limitations in centralized authorities. A lot of it has to do with money; people don’t wanna sometimes say that money is that important… Most logical people do, but there are people that will say “Oh, this isn’t perfect, so let’s not even consider it”, and then they’re sitting back on their half a million dollar or a hundred thousand dollar a year salaries, saying that “This solution isn’t perfect yet, so let’s not use it.” Meanwhile, people are literally having to flee their home country and lose all their s**t because the thing that may not be perfect would actually have saved them a lot.

I kind of have gone off on slightly of a tangent there, but that is some of the stuff that I would say interested me about this space when I decided to ultimately make the move into it.

Let me throw in another factor on the interest around this full-stack Ethereum blog post… Because there’s a lot of facets here, and I find it very interesting. Amal, you mentioned the global aspect and the 24-hour aspect… There’s another dimension here, which is that every cryptocurrency has built into it a set of fanboys/girls…

[laughs]

They do.

You can call them fanboys. I’m happy to be a fanboy.

Okay, fair enough.

I’ve got ladyparts, yeah.

[23:50] So if you think about it, Nader - let’s say you were gonna put out a post like “Hey, I’m about to write a full-stack blog engine on AWS Lambda.” Who’s going to engage with that content and who’s going to promote that content? Well, you have you and your immediate friends, and people in your sphere of influence. You have people who are legitimately trying to learn AWS, so they’re after that content, because they wanna build a career on that, and then you have people that work for and around, and are like partners with Amazon and AWS, and that’s like the people who are gonna amplify and be interested in that particular piece of content. That might be a lot of people.

But then when you go to an Ethereum blog post and you think about who’s interested in promoting that kind of content, there’s an entire third party, which is the bagholders…

[laughs]

Yeah, the people that are invested into that community.

The speculators!

It is what it is. And I think it’s actually – I think it has pros and cons, because each one of these companies who builds in this space has a mechanism by which they have “investors”, some who are serious, and some who are just riding the waves, who are basically invested in the success of that thing… So a lot of the amplification, a lot of that noise, good or bad - I think it’s both - is because we have incentivized parties… It’s almost like you’re the fan of a football team; that’s how much they care about these things… So it’s very interesting, just culturally, what’s going on here.

Yeah, those are actually fascinating points to me, because it is fundamental to how this space actually works. It also applies to a lot of different things in the Web3 space; the idea of ownership. Being an owner of Ethereum means you’re part of – you could almost think of it as buying stock in something like Tesla, or something. You want that company to win. I think one of the main differences here is that you’re part-owner of some token, and you might want that token to succeed, and you might be out there hyping it up… But you can also build software and applications with it. You can transact in the way that you might have in the bank with the U.S. dollar, but you probably don’t go out there and try to have the U.S. dollar succeed or fail. It’s not even probably an after-thought. Of course, you don’t want it to fail, but yeah, with the cryptocurrency you can kind of do all of these different things with it…

And it does provide incentives, in good and bad ways… So if the Graph token, for example, which is one of the tokens – I would say it’s the token that the Graph Network uses to make it function… People that have bought it in a speculative way might come into one of my tweets and say something stupid, because the Graph went up or down too much that week or that month, and they’re upset. So you end up having people that are interested either in the technology, or they’re not and they’re just speculating… You have all these people in the same discussions, in the same communities, and it’s definitely different.

That is really interesting. There’s so much to discuss here; there’s a lot to unpack. So we’re gonna get into Web3… Why? Why now? All that stuff, in the next segment. So we’re gonna take a little break, folks. Be right back…

Break

[26:59]

So you announced this full-stack Ethereum post… Tons of interest, you started working on it… What’s been the ramifications, or the pros and cons? What happened after that? Tell us the rest of the story.

Yeah, so the reason I wrote the blog post, coming back to that, is kind of like - when I first took the role, I wanted to start off by understanding, of course, how the stack works for building a Web3 app, or building a dApp is what they call it (decentralized app), so I started immediately kind of diving into all of this technology, all of these new tools, and things like that, and even a new programming language. And the first thing I realized was that there wasn’t a really great place for me to go and get all this information in one place. What I ended up doing was kind of bouncing all over the place. I would go to one YouTube video and learn one thing, I would go to some set of documentation and learn a different thing… And then I would go and try to put all of these things together myself… And then I’ve maybe found one or two videos that tried to string them together, but –

Are you trying to say that you centralized this information, Nader?

Aaahhh…!

I centralized this information. [laughs]

You centralized dApp info. Got it. [laughter] Also, by the way, dApp - awesome acronym. dApp - that’s amazing. I feel like that could be in a rap song, I feel like that could be a product, like an exercise product…

Yeah…

I don’t know, anyways. Or a dance move, dApp…

There you go, Amal. If you put dApp in a rap…

Yeah, dApp in a rap… Or it could be a dance move, like you’re dApping…

Isn’t that a move? Oh no, that’s –

I know…

…that’s dab.

Yeah, exactly. Anywise, sorry. Distracted. So you were looking at YouTube links, and blogs, everything was everywhere…

Yeah, so I was like “I’m gonna document essentially my learning process, and find all of the most modern tooling, and show people how to put all this stuff together and build a full-stack app. Because for me, again, I was coming from the AWS Amplify serverless world, and one of the things I was always interested in was putting the pieces together and building out full-stack applications… Because to me, people, when they accomplish building out something that they can actually run in their browser and interact with - it feels like they’ve not only accomplished something, but they understand how all this works together… So I always felt like that’s important, to put all these things together…

So yeah, I’ve put together a blog post, I talked to a few engineering teams in the space, asked them what their stack was, and used that stack to create an example project, and I tried to implement a lot of the most important ideas into a single blog post.

So yeah, I put that together and I launched that, and it actually did so much better than anything really I’d ever written before in my life, in that set amount of time at least. I have stuff that has had more reads over time, but in a couple of months it had been read - or watched, because I ended up creating a YouTube video of it as well - well over 250,000 times. So to me, that was really awesome; it was exciting for that many people to be excited about it, but it was also pretty eye-opening that people were that interested in this stuff.

So it really was altogether a great success for me, I was happy with it. It made me realize that people are hungry to learn this type of stuff, and let’s get more people out there talking about it and doing it… So I think, of course, because of what I did, but it just happened so maybe that I’m coming into this space at the time that other people are starting to become interested, and we’re starting to just see a lot more people doing stuff here in Web3, creating learning materials, creating companies, creating DAOs, all kinds of stuff. So yeah, in the last six months it seems to have really been blowing up.

[32:01] There’s something really magical about getting into a growing ecosystem in community early. Rust has been kind of going through this, and Node had that 12 years ago, where someone made the first CLI command parser package, Yargs, and Yargs is the official golden standard; no one’s made a better thing that was as widely adopted since. It’s almost like whoever gets there first gets to claim or set the tone…

When Node first launched, it was like - there was nothing. And Ryan Dahl was like “We need packages.” So it was fertile ground for anybody to get in early and lay claim, like you said.

Yeah, exactly. Lay claim, I think that’s exactly the terminology, Jerod. So I think what’s really interesting to me is that you’re kind of coming in at the kind of peak, tip of the spear, best-in-class technology background for web development. You’re coming in from Amplify, and serverless, and performant React applications… So I think for me, someone with your background getting into this space, and then trying to make a full-stack application - I truly feel like you probably were making something that was very unique and one of a kind, in many ways. I don’t know how many people in that space have your background, or the capacity to use the latest and greatest of web tech to create a dApp. See, I used it in a sentence, everyone. dApp, dApp…

[laughs] Very good.

Well played.

But yeah, I don’t know Nader - would you say that was your experience?

Yeah, and another thing that I think is a huge deal, that maybe had a lot to do with the interest that was there was that - to me, up until (I would say) I started following other people in the Web3 space, I felt like the communities were very siloed. Either that, or I just was completely unaware of what was going on… But I could probably point to a time late last year where my entire Twitter feed for days, weeks or months even wouldn’t even really mention anything about blockchain, or crypto, or Web3… And that has completely changed now. Of course, I’ve started following a lot of other people, but I think also what that told me was that there wasn’t a lot of overlap between the communities.

There wasn’t a lot of people in the React community, speaking at conferences, but also building blockchain stuff… And there wasn’t, vice versa, people that were in this space, out there being involved in the React communities, at least not a lot of that. There may have been some, but I didn’t see a lot. So I think that being able to have a massive following of people on different channels, including my blog, and just being able to expose them to some of these ideas was just probably a good mix of people that were interested and hadn’t seen a lot of this stuff, and me being able to kind of like be the person to show it to them.

Yeah, there’s one other person that comes to mind… I’ll try to find her name at some point during this show… I think Preethi, something…

Right, yeah, yeah.

Yeah, she spoke a bunch of React conferences, and I think was kind of prominent in the React space, and she transitioned over into the blockchain world… But she transitioned like 3 years ago, four years ago… It’s been a while.

Another thing that’s happening is that there’s more opportunities now, in addition to the speculation, because there’s now more use cases. We’re also in a bull run for cryptocurrencies, so that’s gonna bring in more people, of course… But back when Ethereum first launched, you had the DAO use case, the ICO, so you had the crowd investment use case… There really wasn’t much else you could do with these things besides speculate. And then the DeFi thing started to happen - decentralized finance - and I think there’s a lot of snake oil in that whole deal, but maybe it’s just unregulated markets; I don’t know, there’s some features there for lending stuff that’s cool, maybe… And then what happened recently, in addition to the stuff you all are talking about, is NFTs really have become this interesting, wild, new use case for these decentralized networks… And a lot of people wanna mint NFTs and don’t know how to… So what do they do? They hire somebody who can do that for them.

So there’s lots of opportunities to get involved in and around building auction houses, and minting platforms… So this is really brand new. I mean, 2020, 2021… I’m not sure how long it’s been going, but the NFT thing is very real. Now, maybe it’s just a fad, but it seems like a legitimate use case that’s bringing lots of people to the table.

Yeah, NFT is a whole different, completely new area as well. When people are asking “What is Web3?”, it’s kind of hard to even explain it in one sentence without sounding kind of like crazy, because there’s so many different things. I think fundamentally why is this stuff happening, or why are these new ideas being able to start to come to fruition right now - I think when you fundamentally look at the technological changes that have happened, there really has only been one change… When the internet first came into existence and we started seeing a lot of developers building things, a lot of the reason that we were able to come to a consensus around how to build stuff and have things that all of us understand how to use, no matter where we are in the world… For instance, like HTTP, a protocol that we can all trust, that we can use and interact with without a centralized intermediary, or because of protocols that people have created, that are consistent, that anyone can use. So SSH, HTTP, TCP - all these things are part of how the internet functions; it doesn’t matter where you are. And that means we have certain types of functionality that we can program into the internet, but we have certain types of functionality that we cannot program.

The two main things that have been enabled by blockchain technology, that were not available before, that we had to make up for, were programmable digital scarcity, a.k.a. money, and also state. So the way that we got around that in the past was building out massively complex infrastructures to support that.

Wait, when you say “state”, what is state? State as in like state-state? Like, literally state?

Yeah, state, like saving information.

Yeah, yeah. I just wanna make sure that’s the state that we’re talking about. Okay…

Yeah. So when you look at the PayPal founders, if you kind of listen to how they describe creating that company, it sounded kind of like a nightmare. The way that they describe all the stuff that they had to do to get this thing functioning, they basically were saying that – I forgot which founder said this, but they thought that no one would ever build anything to compete with them because of how complex it was to make that a thing.

So to enable digital payments, all of these millions of dollars and all of these hundreds and thousands of hours of work, from thousands or tens of thousands of people, along with all of this massively complex infrastructure had to be put in place… And even then, it’s still not idea, because in order to use that, you have to be an elite person, especially at first to have used it, because you couldn’t have used that all around the world. And even today, there are two billion people probably that can’t access it, because you have to have all of these things put in place to use them.

Like a traditional bank account?

Yeah, we have a way to actually get around that by programming our own digital scarcity. All you have to have is an internet browser. You can now receive and send payments between parties.

The other thing is state. So to save information - how do we do that today? Well, we have a centralized database somewhere, like AWS, that if we don’t pay the bill, goes away forever and we lose all of our information. Maybe the data leaks, maybe it gets hacked, or maybe we just – I don’t know, there’s all types of stuff… Maybe it goes down because AWS has an outage in U.S. East 1. But there are a lot of things that are not ideal, and I think that with blockchain technology we’ve unlocked native payments and native state… And early on, with Bitcoin, it kind of jsut showed that these types of decentralized protocols were possible, but you couldn’t really write a program in Bitcoin. And I think the reason that you’re seeing it start to become a thing now is that the evolution of that technology and the improvement - you’ve had increased transactions per second, so higher throughput per second, reduced costs…

[40:07] For instance, Solana is a good example of a blockchain that has fractions of a penny for a transaction… So you have all of these things that are kind of happening, that are now starting to become mature enough for people to build on, that people are taking advantage of them… And the things that they’re unleashing are also, I would say, really interesting to people that are developers already, but they also enable people to make money. In the United States, where we can make like a couple hundred grand a year for a senior developer, we might not be that interested in this stuff… But let’s say you’re making 10k as an intermediate or senior developer somewhere else in the world, and you can partake in a protocol and increase your wage by 10x because all these projects are international and they’re completely decentralized, and they’ll hire anyone, anywhere, it doesn’t matter where you live… It’s just very, very interesting to a lot of people.

And that’s a really good segue into what I really wanted to get into in this segment, which is Web3. So let’s break it down as much as we can…

What is it?!

Right, what is it, and what is it not? And in particular –

We’ll give you more than one sentence.

Exactly, yeah. What is Web3 in a tweet? And another question is really “What does Web3 have to do with blockchain or crypto?” Specifically, if we’re talking about standardized protocols.

Well, the first thing that I would say, beyond being able to program digital money and digital state, one of the interesting things that I kind of, again, fell in love with when I started looking into the Graph Protocol itself, is this idea of serverless infrastructure protocols… And when you think of serverless, it’s kind of now used more of the term to describe a type of backend solution that abstracts away a lot of the complexity and allows you to just have an API that you can interact with. And if you look at some of the writing by some of the people that I admire the most in the serverless space, they talk about this idea of a spectrum of being serverless or not serverless.

So really, the first time I think that you start really seeing people talking about serverless with serverless functions, where you just have a function that you can call anytime, you don’t have to build it or maintain that infrastructure; it just runs and it scales for you, by the way… And I think back when I joined AWS and I started there, one of the things that interested me the most was how really great and interesting serverless technologies were… So when I started realizing that people were building out these decentralized infrastructure protocols and that tokens were powering them, that was really interesting to me, because I’m already interested in serverless; this is just kind of a more decentralized way of building serverless applications.

And ultimately, I think it will be a less expensive and cheaper way for people to build these serverless services. A really great example of this is LivePeer. LivePeer is a live streaming protocol, and at the very least, it’s around 10x cheaper than anything else that’s out there… And I’ve looked at some of the use cases that people are using it for, and it can be up to 100x or more cheaper than using a service from something like AWS.

The way that it works is people have the opportunity to basically run one of these nodes that does the processing of the videos on any of their infrastructure, and they make it part of the LivePeer network… And then someone that needs to do any type of livestreaming can basically leverage that entire decentralized network and LivePeer will process that however the stream actually is processed. I don’t know the nitty gritty details around this, but it will basically send that processing to one of these nodes, and that node will kind of like do the work and enable that functionality using a decentralized network, as opposed to a centralized service.

[43:53] And the way that the people get paid for running this infrastructure is their native token. So you have these cryptocurrencies, a.k.a. tokens that power these networks. The people running the infrastructure get paid in those, and the people that are consuming them can also pay in those tokens, or they can just pay in U.S. dollars, I believe with LivePeer, and they can manage that processing under the hood. But the way that these infrastructure protocols typically run is via some native token, and they call it typically something like a work token, or there’s other ways that people talk about this stuff…

But the tokens aren’t just for buying and selling on an exchange, they actually are for securing the network, for managing the network, for enabling participants within the network to be part of what in the past would have been run on AWS, but instead you have maybe a more efficient way of doing this.

Yeah, it’s all your opperationalized costs. So how is that Web3? How is that an example of Web3 in action?

Well, I think it’s part of Web3 because it’s been enabled by cryptocurrency, it’s decentralized, people are able to own these tokens… And also, if you are part of building one of these protocols, you’re often allocated tokens. If you’re participating in the community and you’re building out infrastructure, you can be given part of these tokens as part of your work, therefore you’re kind of like part owner as well. And like Jerod mentioned earlier, when someone is rooting for Ethereum, instead of having people (I would say) buying shares of AWS instead, maybe it feels like they have a little bit more ownership, and they do want that thing to succeed, so you have thousands of people that are not only working to build out these protocols and these systems, but you have thousands of owners, and it kind of creates a different type of incentive structure that is really interesting, and I think it’s extremely powerful when it’s actually done at scale.

That makes sense. For me, the themes that I’m hearing are really decentralization, ownership, more cooperative models, and more redundancy and localization and access, right?

That’s with the web infrastructure stuff.

Yeah. So if we were gonna tweet what is Web3, what’s your tweet?

[laughs] My tweet is gonna be “Check out my blog post “What is Web3”

“Check out my blog post.”

Okay. [laughs]

I will just say “Web3 is the decentralized web.”

Alright.

That doesn’t explain it well enough for everyone to get it, but I think the core – it’s decentralizing web infrastructure, decentralizing wealth, decentralizing ownership, decentralizing opportunity… So all of these things that in the past were centralized, there are ways to make this a little bit more equitable and lowering the barrier to entry for people to participate in financial markets.

Again, like DeFi, for example… Let’s say you’re one of the two billion people in the world that can’t open a bank account, or even, by law, if you’re a woman, you can’t open a bank account in 50 countries, I think… Let’s say that you’re one of these people, and you instead get on your computer and you start working with this DAO, and you’re starting to make money, when you wanna put that money to work - well, in DeFi, you can do that; you don’t have to ask any person in the world to give you the opportunity. You can do that yourself. And I think that’s a big difference, that people, again, outside of the United States and parts of Europe maybe, don’t take as something that is that big of a groundbreaking achievement… But it is for a lot of people, and I think that we’re gonna see more and more of those types of things in the future.

Yeah, amen to that. Thank you so much, Nader.

Break

[47:37]

Wow, so Nader, that was very poetic. I do agree that taking a truly global lens, where - in the West we have all the privilege and access in the world, but looking at countries where… I mean, I was surprised to learn 50 countries in the world (fifty, like five zero), a woman cannot open a bank account. That is wild, right?

Is that true?

I think it’s 48, or something like that… But yeah. By law.

It’s a shame.

You know, Jerod, I grew up in the Middle East, I grew up in Dubai, and Dubai, by most standards in the Middle East, is extremely liberal… But I remember growing up - and I don’t know if this has changed, but I think you needed like your dad’s permission to open up a bank account, or your husband’s permission to open up a bank account as a woman… So I remember that being a thing when I was growing up. Granted, a woman could go to a night club and wear a bikini and whatever, but God forbid you open up a bank account, right? Anyways…

Yeah…

So taking the global lens, clearly, Web3 is potentially a good catalyst for kind of democratizing access, and all those other things you were saying… So that’s really exciting. Can you share some of the things that you’re excited about with Web3? And I’d love to also hear some of the downsides too, because it’s not all glory and good.

Yeah. I think it’s important to 100% be clear about this not being some panacea (or however you pronounce that), that there are trade-offs. I think that’s one of the problems that you see in the Web3 space a lot of times, that people are only acknowledging the positives. And I think that that is actually not a good thing. And what you end up having - it’s people that see these discussion from the outside and they think everyone is just full of crap, because all they’re talking about is the good stuff. So yeah, it’s extremely important…

And just to clarify on the number of countries from that thing I referenced earlier… I did a quick Google search, and it said that there are at least 72 countries in the world where women can’t open a bank account, and that was written in 2019… So I don’t know the exact number, but yeah, it’s still a problem. Anyway…

In addition to some of the stuff I mentioned - yeah, I’m really interested, I’m excited about play-to-earn gaming. You’re starting to see a lot of people in the gaming industry that are really high up, like the head of Zynga, the head of YouTube Gaming, and a handful of others publicly talk about them starting to implement these ideas in their games, via NFTs, via cryptos, and maybe via some other mechanisms… But the idea is there.

When you see Axie Infinity going from almost nothing to over two million daily active users, 500 million dollars a month in transactions, 95%of that money sticking with the actual users, not going to the centralized platform - it’s a very compelling case, I think, for a lot of people to take notice.

[51:49] I mentioned accessible and stable currencies - we talked about NFTs for a little bit… We didn’t really talk about them a lot. They’re very controversial. I think that the fundamental technology that empowers and enables NFTs is really interesting. I’m not the type of person that thinks that selling and buying images on a marketplace like OpenSea, which by the way just surpassed Etsy in volume, which means that a lot of other people are interested… But it’s not maybe the most interesting thing to me for that use case. But I do think that what you’re gonna see is people using NFTs as ways to put real-world assets on a digital marketplace and make them accessible to the world, just like DeFi has.

One really exciting example that I am actually diving into and trying to figure out myself and be part of if I can are people that are doing fractional real estate. Let’s say you want to be a real estate owner in New York, but you’re making like 100k a year or 50k a year - you’re essentially just completely locked out. You have no way to really participate in that market. What people are doing now, and it’s already been done in certain parts of the world, but I think we’re gonna see more of it, is that people are buying a building or a real estate via either a DAO or some other type of organization like that… And they’re taking it and they’re fractionalizing it in the form of ERC20 tokens; they’ll attach that piece of land to like an NFT and then they’ll fractionalize it… And then anyone can buy and sell ownership into that piece of property on an open, liquid market.

So let’s say you have $1,000 to invest, you really think that this part of New York is gonna blow up in the next 2-3 years based on you living there and understanding the community… You can actually just take $100 and just buy ownership into that in an instant, and then resell it the next day if you want to… But also anyone in the entire world can do that. And I think that that implementation of what NFTs might offer is interesting.

I also think of the idea around creators and people being able to buy into a community and have some type of community ownership for a few different use cases like fundraising, like people just monetizing their work, and things like that are interesting.

One really good example of this is this artist - I forgot his name, but I tweeted about him not too long ago… He’s actually a JavaScript developer, but he created this generative art using JavaScript, and he created an NFT collection, and he sold over 3 million dollars in NFTs over the course of like a few minutes, and he gave all of that money to the JavaScript community that wrote all of the open source libraries that he built his career upon.

Now, why wouldn’t he just ask people for that money, if he really wanted to do a fundraiser? Well, it’s kind of hard to get people to hand over three million dollars. But when you give them an NFT that they can put and sell on a liquid marketplace, it provides some financial incentive for both parties… Because not only are you just handing over money to this platform or to this person, but you’re getting something back in return. If you had bought one of those NFTs at the time, it’s probably worth maybe double of what you bought it for… But it’s kind of like a win/win situation. If someone wants to help and participate and buy into helping someone else succeed, and then they’re getting something that they can kind of hold on to, a value out of it. And I think that, again, ownership - you’re gonna hear this idea of ownership over and over again… That’s pretty interesting to me.

And another thing around NFTs is definitely the environmental impact, and I think we’re gonna talk about that when we talk about the trade-offs, and also get more clarity as to what that discussion is.

That’s fascinating. Each one of those topics is its own episode… So with that being said - a good segue into the downsides. So let’s talk about those downsides. Environmental impacts are huge. That’s really what I think a lot of the division, and drama and debate in our community is about. Can you speak to that? And I’m sure there’s other downsides, too… I can think of also just – anyways.

[55:55] Yeah, yeah. There’s a couple of areas that I’d like to highlight. And first of all, I’ll start with environmental impact. That was one of the reasons that I never really also got too interested in a lot of the things happening in this space as well. When I started actually diving into what was really going on, I did realize that there is a huge movement within the Web3 and blockchain space for environmentally friendly consensus mechanisms. So really, the environmental impact all has to come down to what is the consensus mechanism for coming to an agreement around what data is actually true or not true on the blockchain.

So the original implementation of this is something called proof of work, and that’s what Bitcoin is built on. And just like any technology, you have improvements over time; people come up with better and improved ways of doing things. So over the course of time, people have realized that this is not sustainable, so almost all of the newer chains that have come out are using environmentally-friendly consensus mechanisms like proof of stake, or proof of history, or a combination of the two. And there might be one or two other mechanisms.

But over the course of the past few years you’ve had almost all of the new blockchains and all of the smart contract chains with the exception of Ethereum actually already running on these environmentally friendly consensus mechanisms. With NFTs being the most hotly debated topic about this, there are three main chains that NFTs run on - Solana, Ethereum, and Tezos. Now, Solana and Tezos already are environmentally friendly, and Ethereum is actually merging their proof of stake merge, which has already been kind of tested out on a couple of test networks in the next couple of months.

So at that point, you’re gonna have almost 100% of NFTs, if not 100% of NFT transactions happening in a way that is very environmentally friendly, definitely more environmentally friendly than packing up a piece of art, putting it on a plane, and sending it across the world. In fact, it will be more environmentally friendly to transact art digitally than physically, and there is no if, and or but about that. If anyone tries to have that conversation - it’s just not logical. It will be almost like having a database operation that is a little bit more than kind of like your average database operation, but it’ll be to that magnitude, as opposed to now, where you are actually spending a lot of energy to do that.

So NFTs will be ultimately environmentally friendly. Really, the only chain that people are gonna be using that is of any significance after the merge will be Bitcoin… And I personally am not for Bitcoin; I’m kind of against Bitcoin, and I don’t like a lot of the stuff happening in that community. I don’t really like the fact that most of those people don’t care about the environment, and there are a lot of other people out there like me that feel the same way.

Yeah, yeah. At least there’s a choice there, right? And I’m glad to hear that communities are rectifying that. What about some of the downsides around “No physical arbitrator”? When you’re transacting and you need to dispute something, there’s a lawyer, there’s a bank, there’s a government, a town, or whatever. The traceability factor being kind of anonymous is great, but then there’s also downsides too, where people’s wallets get stolen, and whatever else… Do you see that as kind of a downside that’s of concern?

Yeah, totally. People can lose all of their money, and there’s nothing that anyone can do about it. That’s a huge risk for anyone transacting today with most of these decentralized Web3 wallets. You can use something like Coinbase, or another centralized wallet, that is a little bit more – it’s not more secure, it’s actually less secure, but you have a little bit more centralization and maybe protection around those sorts of things.

If you’re the average user, that doesn’t really maybe understand how some of these wallets work, and you accidentally lose your private key, for example, and you delete your wallet, there’s no way to get your money back. If you give someone else your private key, either in a screenshot or however else - maybe they hack your computer - you can lose all of your money. And I think that that is a major concern for people that either don’t know that that’s the case, or don’t know how to mitigate that type of stuff. Even for experienced people that have been in this space for years, you hear people that have made mistakes, and people have been able to get their private keys and they lose their money, for example…

[01:00:18.10] A really popular social engineering hack is someone messaging me on Discord, and trying to somehow get you to screen-share, and then they ask you to open your wallet, and then they kind of like screenshot something there.

So yeah, that’s a big concern… And I think one of the ways that people are going around mitigating that is that we’re building and innovating in the user experience of how to manage that, and having some form of backup, usually through some type of multi-signature wallet, meaning that can give access to a handful of other people, and if they all get together, they can kind of unlock something… Or maybe you have like a social mechanism where you have your mom, or your cousin, or your wife, or something, and all of you can get together to unlock it.

I don’t know if you guys know about care bears… Care bears, when they all get together, they shoot love out of their hearts, and then something magical happens. Care bear for crypto! Anyways… So that’s really interesting. I’m glad that that’s happening, and I have no doubt that there’s innovation happening there; it makes sense. But it is a reality - scamming, grifting, malware… That is a real thing. And forget crypto. Just - you know, your grandma gets a phone call from some dude in central Asia, who’s like, “Hey, grandma, send me a bunch of money.” That happens. So how are we protecting that? Is there gonna be a Bitcoin police? Or not Bitcoin, but - like a crypto police?

There’s no way to recover this stuff…

Yeah, it sucks.

I mean, you can basically see where it’s going though, because it is all on-chain, and I think there was some type of recent news where –

Reverse-engineering.

Yeah, someone basically sent – you know, they hacked that facility in the United States a few months ago, and they got Bitcoin, and they found those people somehow… I don’t know how they did that; maybe they tried to cash some of it out. But yeah, ultimately, if you send it to an exchange, then the exchange can kind of identify you. There’s definitely drawbacks, again, around kind of like the scammer type of thing. When you’re dealing with any type of money, when you’re dealing with ways that people can make money, you’re gonna automatically get people that are in it just for the money, and you’re gonna get scammers… You’re gonna have all these people all in the same discussions sometimes, and all working for the same goals. We’re trying to make things successful, but these scammers are just trying to just get rich off of it… So you have new dynamics.

Right, that makes a ton of sense. Where there is money, there will be thievery, or whatever… That’s not new. That’s since wealth has existed, I guess, right?

Yeah. I mean, we’ve had financial scams that have happened (I would say) forever, and really, the thing that you can think of - this analogy is kind of like, we’ve lowered the barrier to entry for financial programming and financial participation… We’ve also lowered the barrier to entry for scammers and people taking advantage of those people.

What about privacy? That seems a concern to me. So if you’re not doing anything wrong, why do you care? Well, maybe I don’t want all my transactions on chain. And there are some privacy coins, some efforts - I’m not sure those exist in the greater Ethereum ecosystem… But as private citizens, we don’t want all of our transactions to be public on a ledger, even if they’re pseudonymous, and maybe you can’t know who it is, but - let’s face it, I think law enforcement has proven they can figure out who you are with block explorers whatnot.

So is there privacy coins in Web3? Is here any chance for that ot be an aspect of this, where you’re transacting anonymously AND privately, and there’s no traceability?

[01:03:49.23] Yeah, there’s a couple of privacy coins; I don’t know enough about them. I haven’t investigated them enough to know whether I would use them or not… But I also think that not everyone needs to use crypto or Web3. I think it’s more kind of like now we have other ways to do things, and other ways for us to build applications, other ways for people to participate financially.

If people are still wary of the drawbacks, I would actually encourage to wait until things improve, or maybe just don’t use it at all… Because yeah, if you have concerns that are legitimate, that you feel are concerning, like most probably do, I would say definitely investigate those and decide whether or not you feel like the trade-offs are worth it or they’re not worth it.

To me, it’s really fun and interesting to be able to transact so much and so quickly using these wallets. You can trade between coins, you can do DeFi, you can buy NFTs, you can send money to people… In my DAO, I mint these tokens for free to get people into my DAO and send it to them for free for people that can’t have gas… Yeah, there’s all kinds of fun stuff.

There’s also financial (of course) incentives, but again, not everyone probably wants or should participate in this stuff. So I would say keep an eye, if you’re still wary about this stuff - just keep an eye on the innovations and improvements that will happen over the next 6-12 months and check back again with us a year from now. Maybe we’ll have adjusted some of those, and maybe we haven’t, I don’t really know… But yeah, I definitely think that these concerns that people have are legitimate, and I would encourage people to check out my thread that I kind of wrote, maybe going into stuff a little bit more in detail… As well as a blog post that I wrote called “Getting into crypto as a developer.” I have linked in that blog post another thread from someone else that kind of talked about it… And I think he was a little bit more critical than I was, and I encourage you to read both of those.

Yeah, we’ll link to both of those, the Twitter thread on drawbacks, and then the getting into crypto, as well as a bunch of your other blog posts and tutorials, in the show notes. Just really quickly, before we get off this topic and talk about your DAO real quick – is it DAO or DOA?

It’s DAO.

Yeah, DAO. Thank you. Taoism is a religion. Did you guys know that? Of course you knew that…

I didn’t, yeah.

[laughs]

Yeah. Anyways… Very beautiful religion, too.

This new one kind of is too, if you think about it. [laughs]

Yeah, good point, Jerod. You can always count on you for the jokes, Jerod. You’re so much funnier than I think you realize. Anyways… So what would you say to critics who see Web3 and crypto as a simple ploy to redistribute wealth from a few, to just a different few? Because we have talked about - okay, global scale; a lot of people are now gonna have access to participate. But in reality, it’s a lot of –

Yeah, there’s a lot of early adopter…

Yeah, a lot of white male and pale people that are profiting, right? [laughs] So how is that changing the status quo?

I think it’s a little bit of both. You have people that are getting new opportunities to financially participate, and then you have other people that are taking advantage of it, that are getting wealthy. You have venture capitalists that are coming in…

Yeah. Can we just invent something where we don’t allow them to participate? Can we have a “no VP allowed” technology? Like, honestly… Even cannabis - cannabis is starting to get legalized in the United States and in North America as a whole, and they’re just swooping in, corporatizing this, and it’s like… They ruin everything. Anyways, I’m sorry for the tangent.

Aren’t they enabling innovation though? I mean, I see plus sides…

Come on.

Alright, alright.

All these things - they need investment to exist.

It is both, though. No one can sit there and say that everything is perfect, or that the majority of the benefits are going to people that are under-represented, or that haven’t benefitted in the past… But I think what is happening is that you are seeing the barrier to entry for some of these things that in the past were not there now being accessible. And people are participating in all different parts of the world, and all different economic classes.

[01:07:58.26] I would say some of the interesting things that I’ve seen personally are - especially with the Graph Protocol, people that helped create and build out some of the initial infrastructure maybe a year and a half, two years ago - a lot of these people are living in parts of the world, like in Brazil and in South America, and other parts outside of the United States and Europe, where from talking to them, the salary and wages there are in the range of like $10,000, $5,000, $15,000 a year, but their participation in building out this network, them getting those tokens has made them literally wealthy. Even here in the United States they would be considered wealthy. And by participating in building out these protocols, they’ve gotten that.

Another example is DAOs, something we’ll go into in just a moment. In the past, you might have jumped into like an AWS Discord, and you might have gone into Stack Overflow, and you might have spent a month or a year of your time helping other people build stuff… And the only thing that you really have to show for that is maybe a few points on Stack Overflow, or nothing in Discord. With DAOs, you’re often given tokens for your contribution. And one of the DAOs that I am finding really interesting is called Friends With Benefits.

And actually, what does DAO stand for?

DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization.

Oh, okay, Decentralized Autonomous… So DAO, dApp… Y’all have some really fun acronyms. And by the way, Friends With Benefits is, first of all, a hilarious romantic comedy, but very insinuating…

[laughs]

So tell me about this Friends With Benefits DAO.

Yeah, Friends With Benefits is like a social DAO, and they call it like Web3 Creators, or something like that. But to get in early, you could have either helped participate and do stuff within it, or you could have bought $20 worth of tokens… And that community has kind of grown over the course of the last year, they’ve built out products, they’ve done events and they’ve done a few other things, and now they’re kind of doing their next level of growth. They’ve actually taken venture capital. But that $20 or that work that you had done over the course of that year is now worth a minimum of around $15,000, and it’s kind of the idea of instead of working and participating in these social channels and not really getting anything out of it, you actually get money out of it.

Now, some people are gonna say “Why should people get paid for doing that stuff?” To me - I make a couple hundred grand a year, it’s not that big of a deal. But it might be a big deal, and it might be a huge deal to someone that makes that much in an entire year for them to just get that from participating in this community, making those types of contributions that they used to do for free, but instead getting something out of it. Essentially, they have ownership of that community, and I think what you’ve ended up seeing with some of these DAOs is that they ultimately become the next types of like Google, Facebook types of size companies…

Maybe not that big, but pretty big. And instead of it being owned 50% by Mark Zuckerberg - or 80%, whatever, I have no idea - and then the other top 95%owned by a small number of people, you have it now distributed between thousands of people that all worked equally to make that thing succeed. That is interesting to me.

That’s fascinating. I think we’ll have to come back in a few months and do a whole show on this, once those have matured a little bit… But just real quick, before we end this, what’s the barrier to entry for a DAO?

Some of the DAOs allow you to just join for free, some of them ask you to mint some type of token… But either way, you have to have, for the most part, some type of token to get in. And the reason that that’s the case is to kind of give ownership to everyone that’s there, and also provide them a way to liquidate that ownership.

So for a token, you can basically sell that, either on some digital exchange, or maybe like an NFT would be like OpenSea, or some type of NFT marketplace… But yeah, most of the time you can get a token or buy a few ERC20 tokens, or work for those tokens by participating in the Discord, and then you can participate in that way.

For the Developer DAO, which is the DAO that I have created for developers, the token is completely free. All you have to do is just go to the website and mint the token. And you do have to pay the Ethereum transaction costs. When you pay that cost, you get that token sent to your wallet.

And really, the reason that there is any type of cost at all is to kind of have some type of way to prevent civil resistance… Because if this token is gonna be worth money at some point, what’s to stop someone from minting all 8,000 of those for themselves? Like, how do we equally distribute ownership between a large number of people? Well, there is some type of way that we can do that with needing someone to mint.

But what I’ve been doing is actually setting aside a few thousand of my own dollars, and just minting those and sending them to people around the world that can’t afford even the $20 minting cost. But that way I know that that person is real, and that they’re kind of in it to be part of the community, and they’re not just in there to kind of speculate.

That’s awesome. Well, Nader, it’s been an absolute pleasure. We’ve covered a lot in this hour and change, so I wanna say thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure. Where can people find you online?

Yeah, check out @dabit3 on Twitter, and if you’re interested in the Developer DAO, it’s @developer_dao on Twitter, and dev.to, I’m also @dabit3. That’s my blog.

Okay, yeah. Not to be confused with dabit2, dabit1, or dabit100 on Twitter. As we know – we’ve had a fun little thread recently on the number of Dabits on the web. He’s Dabit3! [laughs] So yeah…

Yeah, yeah.

Alright. Well, thanks everyone. It’s been a fun show. We’ll catch you all next week. Take care.

Thank you.

Outro

[01:13:41.12]

Horse JS

RxJS. Please don’t.

Changelog

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