Building & Growing Web3 Communities with Patrick and Graeme from Mirror xyzSep 21, 2021
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Host: Hey everybody. Welcome back to the unstoppable podcast. I'm your host, Diana Chen. And I'm here today with two very special guests. I've got Patrick and Graeme from Mirror, the decentralized content platform that I'm sure all of you have heard about, if not participated in the right race and contributed to. So welcome so much, Patrick and Graeme. I'm so happy to have you guys here today.
Graeme: Great to be here. Thank you.
Patrick: Yeah, thanks for having me.
Host: Awesome. So before we dive into Mirror, which I've got a million questions for you guys about Mirror, but I'd love for the listeners to hear a little bit more about your background, and who each of you are. So Patrick do you want to get us started and just tell us a little about your crypto journey. When did you first hear about it? What was it that piqued your interest and how did you get from there to here?
Patrick: Yeah, definitely. So I started at a school at Instacart as a software engineer. That was a lot of fun. First time working in and got an actual production code base, but then after three to six months, every project pretty much looked the same and so I was trying to figure out what to do next. And then randomly one day got an e-mail from somebody from this company called Darma. And they said they were starting a growth engineering team.
And they said that my past experience is something they needed and turns out Graeme was actually one of the people that—he was my hiring manager. And my first interview was with Graeme. And I still remember, we did a little—I don't think we did a coding challenge, but he was basically—I was trying to ask him—because I wasn't, like, super deep into crypto.
I wasn't one of those people who was 2012, 2013, got hacked by Mount Cox and all that lost private keys three times. I still was pretty new to it. And Graeme was explaining, I was like, oh, okay, what are you guys trying to do? And at that time they were trying to be a crypto-native Bank. Just the way he was talking about it, it was like people were not talking about other products that I had seen in that way where we're going to do it's this global permission-less system.
It's the future of the internet, technology, finance and yeah, just seeing his excitement I was just, oh wow, this is pretty interesting. And worst case I went through more interviews and was okay, I don't know if this company's going to—I don't know what's going to happen with them, but the people here are really smart and so worst case, yeah, just worked with really smart people for a few years and then I figured out from there and so that's kind of how it got started.
Host: Nice, all right. And Graeme, what about you? So you got into the space, I'm assuming before Patrick did, since you were his boss for a little bit. What's your story like?
Graeme: Yeah, so I actually worked a little bit a, a hedge fund that had a crypto currency called Numeraire that was founded by a friend of mine from high school actually, which had created. And he already got me into it and, and that gave a lot of legitimacy to crypto the fact that he was kind of betting his company on it. And then after that, I went to Darma the - - just graduated already at that time and had these crazy clients for building, lending and borrowing on chain. So I did that for three years or so before, you know, before Mirror.
Host: Nice. Okay. So, so then you're both working at DARMA and then where did the idea for Mirror come from and how did that get started?
Graeme: Yeah, so I was working on this NFT Metaverse idea on ARweave, kind of, like, far out there. I was right into the idea of gaming platforms on block chains. And I felt ARweave was very interesting, like, as a novel, like, storage platform. And Denis Nazarov isn't here, but Denis was working on FEEdweave, which is like Twitter on ARweave. So we were kind of working on very similar things and he was raising, at the time to build out a publishing platform on, on ARweave and I already wanted to do NFT gaming, but also I already wanted to do Kickstarter on Ethereum. So I had these two ideas that were conflicting, but very much in thinking on the same lines as Denis.
And so, yeah, we ended up, sort of, joining forces instead of doing separate projects, but he had already raised the seed at that point. So things were already, sort of, kicked off. Yeah, and that's sort of the finding—funny story; we met on Twitter and we didn't actually to meet up in person for like months. So we were building this whole thing without really, like, knowing each other personally, which is cool.
Host: Yeah. I mean, that's pretty much the way, that's pretty much the way you meet people these days, right? As every founding story is going to start with, yeah, we met on Twitter or we met on discord. We met on telegram and didn't see each other in person until months later.
Graeme: It's funny is Cavan [phonetic] and Toran [phonetic] had actually introduced us via e-mail, like months and months before, maybe a year before that because even then we were both interested in ARweave and we were, everyone's sleeping on this platform. And he made the intro, but we didn't actually do a call until we were both really working on the same thing. And then I think Sam Williams from, from ARweave actually like, push to get us to, to talk. So fascinating.
Host: Got you. Yeah. So Mirror is a decentralized content platform. So then where did this idea come from? Obviously, you guys identified some sort of problem or gap in the system that we have today in the Web 2 world and decided solve it with Mirror, explain, like, that thought process to me.
Graeme: Yeah. I mean, this is a lot of Denis's thinking at the time. There's a lot of platform risk, with the traditional publishing platforms. And it seemed quite obvious that somebody should build something on top of Farcoin or Arweave or one of these decentralized publishing platforms. And then you can create gateways on top of that.
There's a very straightforward story around that but then I think the other thing that's interesting is not just this unstoppable storage or publishing platform, but how do you integrate that with Web 3? Because we have all these amazing tools and I think it was something that intuitively to us, we didn't think the power of DeFi was necessarily going to make its mainstream adoption in the form of a FinTech Bank necessarily, which is kind of what, I was working on at Darma, but it might actually have these more interesting applications, for creators and for, you know, like a writer basically, crowd-funding their projects or doing NFTs of their work, something like that, weirder ideas that come through, that, sort of, emerge out of using these or like, integrating these different technologies.
So I think that like, something that we were interested in, probably more than, than the idea of just an unstoppable publishing platform, which is, you know, a much simpler kind of thing to do I think.
Host: Yeah, for sure. So one crazy thing to me is that Mirror's only been around for about six months or so, which it seems you've been around for far longer than that. Walk me through how Mirror has developed as a platform and how it's grown and how you've been able to grow it so quickly. Just take us back to the original days of Mirror and then how it's evolved till today.
Graeme: Yeah. So we have this, we have this this great blog post called the, the MVP before Christmas, that has—really details the story. We started working on the publishing platform really around December 10th or something like that. And we had the first person who wanted to use it, which was, Trent [phonetic].
He wanted to make this publication called state list and he wanted it by the New Year or something. So we made this arbitrary deadline and there was all these things to work out, like publishing into - - for one, but just that the whole sign up process. Like, how does somebody log in? Do we use Web 3 with something MetaMask for sign in? How do keys work?
Do you sign with your Ethereum address? If so, then you have to sign every time you do anything on the platform. That's kind of tedious. So thinking through the cryptography, we ended up actually using different signing keys, which we stored in the browser. So it allows you to automatically sign things, but actually explicitly signing it through something MetaMask.
Thinking through all these things there was a lot of complexity. And then we just rushed to kind of get it done by Christmas which was, which was very stressful, a lot of late nights, but we ended up kind of doing it. But that set the pace, right? Because once we had achieved that we just, we didn't really want to slow down. So we ended up, continuing with that kind of momentum and that led to the original decisions of—okay, now we have this publishing platform and it's token-gated.
So you need a token to get into it, which creates civil resistance, a civil attack is basically people counterfeiting their identity to create multiple accounts on the website to maybe just domain squat or something that. So we token gated it, but then we didn't want to issue tokens and just give it to people. And so we came up with the right race, which is actually kind of, like, one of the ways that it became very popular because people would see a list of candidates and then vote for them and that was kind of fun.
It was a staking game and that was kind of,—that was pretty cool. I think there were 17 people that were originally led into the platform before we made the decision to make it a race with voting, but those, were the early days and that's kind of, what set us up.
Patrick: Yeah. I remember back in December, when Graeme and I chatted and said I was in - - for a bit. And then I was yeah, what is—he said that he was at Mirror. I was, oh, that's interesting. What is it? And then he was, oh, we're still trying to figure it out because this was even before yeah. They shipped that first MVP and then we're still trying to figure it out. It's kind of crypto Sub stack. And I was, oh, okay. That's interesting. He was, like, yeah, but we're still figuring stuff out. And I was, like, yeah, that seems interesting, but is it just Sub stack with crypto payments? And it's like, I already went through that at DARMA where it's, oh—just I think it's a bit too early for—-like, Venmo just works pretty well.
And so even though in long term thing, that crypto is going to be used for peer to peer transfers, but then—so - -, I kind of put in the back of my mind, just kind of explored other ideas. Then a few months later ended up seeing—the thing that put them on the map for me was the tokenized crowd fund with John Palmer, as the SA token. And at that point I was oh, this isn't just payments with crypto. This is a new way of financing projects. This is a new way of sharing revenue and monetization strategy, not just subscription, you have ownership in this.
And it was still iterated a bunch from that, but, and then the next few months really was all around shipping individual experiments around our economic tools. And it's internally we view ourselves less as a publishing platform and more as an economic protocol. And so examples are; the crowd funding, there's the auctions, there's NFT additions, there's splits and then ideally we're going to add more over time. This first phase has been around just iterating, experimenting with different economic tools and now this next phase we're going into is like, how do we build a unified protocol? How do we build a scalable way to onboard people? How do we give people community members, like, ownership in this protocol as well?
Host: Yeah. I want to dive into a lot of that, a little bit more. Patrick, since you just brought up all of the different features, can you dive a little deeper into each of those features the crowd funds, the auctions, the splits, all of that, especially for people who aren't on the platform yet, and maybe haven't had a chance to take a look at it. Can you explain how each of those features work and help people understand how this is different from—so I've heard a lot of people, you know, like you said, compare it to a decentralized sub-stack or a decentralized medium and I just, I just want you to explain to people why it's different from that.
Patrick: Yeah. Yeah. It's a—lot of people talk about the Creator economy and yeah, to me, Creator economy means that the next small to medium size businesses are going to be these individual creators or these small teams or these small communities. And so Mirror's basically building the crypto tools to enable that enable creators and communities to have their own small, medium, or very large business.
And so if you think about a business, you have a bundle of different tools and services. So one of them is financing, raising money, the second one is monetization a way to make money. A third one, especially in crypto is governance. Once you have all this cash flow on chain and a treasury, how do you decide how to spend it? How do you make decisions on who, to hire who to onboard? So there's really a bundle of, of those three main things, like financing, monetization and governance.
And so, all the tools fit into one of those categories. And so crowd-funding, that's for financing for a project, for raising money. And then in terms of monetization, that's NFT additions, and then there's also NFT auctions; and to the auctions, you have one NFT and you can set countdown or a duration for the auction. And as soon as—and then also set a minimum price and then when someone bids that a minimum price kicks off the auction, and so people have probably seen that, if they've explored different NFT market places. And so, other one is NFT additions where you set a fixed price and then a fixed quantity and the people buy them. And then another one, in terms of monetization is splits.
So that's a way to—it's kind of, like a tip jar, but also a way to share revenue on NFTs. We've seen people use that as a way to—like, trustees lead, like donate to different causes that they care about. And so we've seen a lot of donations go to Getcoin, - - fund, et cetera. And then last thing in the areas of governance, that's one that we're still thinking through and Graeme is, like, the big brain behind the smart contracts, thinking through that, the implementations, how to make it like super gas efficient and governance is a thing, so yeah. And it'd be good to get Graeme thoughts on the governance part, how we're thinking about that.
Host: Love to hear your thoughts on that Graeme.
Graeme: Well, yeah, I mean the complex was, like, we just came off of like a really intense sprint. I'm actually exhausted. We did like 14 days of just very, very intense work, in the sprint to basically unify all of these tools. So it sounds like we have a lot of things, right. We have splits and crowd funds, in addition, to all that, that you just heard, how do we, how do we unify this? Like, how does this become a protocol? How is this like the merit protocol? Is it just a bunch of libraries that we've researched and developed and everyone's just going to kind of take it and unbundle it somewhere.
And basically the idea is that we want to, we want to create a community of value where everyone is kind of unified in working together to make something bigger, greater than the sub of the parts and that's really what a DAO is or a community is and the way to do that, I think is to build tools, to have a treasury that takes a fee on the usage of these tools, and then to distribute ownership and governance of that treasury. I think that that's—broadly speaking, that's what we're practicing in the space right now. Every protocol is basically just practicing this, how do we do this? How do we create value, create a set of tools, create communities and then, like, decentralize ownership of it so that it doesn't, it doesn't end up just enriching a very few number of people, in the way that Web 2 companies did. So that's kind of the goal. And I just view us as just building this muscle in the community right now of creating these things and centralizing them and that's kind of the process.
And so, yeah, the last couple of days that we've done, is deployed a treasury, linked some of our tools to it, allowed people to specify how much they want to pay in terms of the fee to that treasury and then that treasury actually will distribute ownership to the end user, which is claimable if they are a member of Mirror community—if they've gone through the right race, which is kind o, a, Know Your Community, KYC process. They get voted in or they get a right token consent from someone else and then they can, sort of, claim ownership over the treasury.
And of course there's a lot, there's a lot to, to go into, to in further detail, like, how do you do governance through that process? We've just seen today, UNISWAP, like, have quite a, quite a bad situation, like - - wrote about this week as well. Governance through coin ownership is not necessarily the best thing. And so we we're going to have to figure that out, but for now it's, like, the thing we're practicing is decentralizing ownership over this. And so we have some cool ideas, but yeah, we haven't really announced them.
Host: For sure. And for reference, we're recording this on August 19th. So, like this stuff that Graeme is talking about with UNISWAP and stuff, that's just for reference, it's going to come out later. So people are going to be like, what, what is he talking about? Okay, cool. So I, I want to talk about the right race. You brought that up a few times, and this is something that has been on every Wednesday on crypto Twitter. That's like, all you see in the newsfeed is everybody entering right race. And that's also when I get all these tags and DMs and notifications, just don't work for me anymore, but the right race is actually, I think, one of the most fun and engaging ways of onboarding that I've seen out of any Web 3 project. And I think a lot of people would echo that sentiment.
I think, like the one sort of, like, criticism that it's gotten is that it's, sort of, turned into—some people view that it's turned into a more or less a popularity contest, where if you just know the right people, then you can get enough votes to get on the platform and it's getting more and more competitive. So like when I joined Mirror, it was, like, back when—it just—every week I would just get some more votes and it took me quite a few weeks to get on, but nowadays it's like, if you know the right people—you just know six or seven of the right people, they throw you all of their votes and you're in and that's all it takes, but if you don't know the right people, that's a lot of votes to accumulate in order to get it.
So you guys actually just launched a new, I guess, not replacement for it, but in addition to the right race, this airdrop, can you explain what that is and the thought process for, why, this was created on top of the right race?
Graeme: Yeah. Well, I want to, I want to say, first of all, the right base was not intended as a growth hack. It was intended as a way to not have the team decide who gets in, but then we didn't really—I think in some ways we launched it as an MVP and people already d it and then it grew faster than we were able to scale it. And so it ended up being this thing where people already enjoyed it, but it was like—it was, it was, sort of, an artificially—it was too slow for people in a way.
And so, what we wanted to do was expand it, but I think that the, the popularity contest, criticism is sort of, correct. So the trick is to say, how can we actually be more sophisticated about this and, and actually expand the network in a more thoughtful way.
And while we were thinking about this Andrew Hong, who who's the data scientist at—he's working at consensus he did some network analysis, on Mirror, just to, sort of, trying to figure out, like how centralized those relationships really are and express that criticism with data. And that was really great, so we engaged him and I just said, well, why don't you come up with a proposal for us to actually do an airdrop that can release some of this, like, centralization, that's happening, and he did that.
And I worked with him, for a couple of iterations over the course of, like, a month, a little bit over a month, on basically, an algorithm where we could say, if you've interacted with the protocol by buying something, or if you are, voted in, in the right race, if you voted multiple times, you can, sort of, get a score of how much you're contributing, how much you care about this community.
And then we can wait that by sort of a, between this metric, which is going to measure how tightly niche you are to the current community that exists. And if we can find bridges to other communities, that would be really great. So if we could find somebody who has a community maybe in Asia, which, which is—like, not a lot of our current users—most of our users are current of American centric, we can bridge to new communities through that person. And so it would be good to give them more tokens because they can then distribute it out themselves and that was this week's experiment.
So we did the, we did the drop, I think, but yesterday. Yeah, yesterday morning, we did an airdrop, of 302 tokens that are sort of, like, very strategically allocated to people who have different network, but also care about Mirror. So that that's one experiment and we'll just learn from that and keep going and I think, I think we'll eventually get, get something that's interesting and good. Yeah.
Host: Yeah. And then I'm curious to hear too, what if you're able to share, what was the strategy that went into, deciding how much Mirror each person got airdropped?
Graeme: Yeah. So we did many, many iterations. It's all algorithmic. We did not decide, you know, per person what anyone should get. What we did is, we try to just be principled about saying we want to reward people who are participating in the community. We want more of more of that. That's great. Like say, for example; if you do the right race every week in your voting, it would be sort of, a travesty of justice if you didn't get any rights, tokens dropped, that would be terrible.
So at a minimum we want to reward that kind of behavior - - reward, but you know what I mean. Like, just, just honor those people's inherent interests in the platform. And then we want, we want to amplify people who might bring more diversity to the form because diversity is actually extremely important to Mirror for many, many reasons. And the right race has been pretty good about diversity, I think, you know, looking at what we have, but we still have centralization in terms of, who knows whom in these Networks. So we want to branch out to different networks. And so that's, that's basically we just amplified certain people in that sense.
Host: Yeah, for sure. Another thing I wanted to ask you guys about is—you've done a fantastic job of building this community of people who are on Mirror, or just obsessed with Mirror and entering right race. I mean, I know people who are, I can't write for my life, but they participate in the right race every week. They're super involved. How have you been able to build up such a strong community, especially in such a short period of time?
Patrick: Yeah, I think that's the—that is a really good question. I think it's the nature of crypto in general. I mean, I think multiple things. One of them is just crypto community, it feels in many—in some respects, like, within the Ethereum community, it feels we're all in this together and we're rooting for each other.
There's positive sub mentality and then, you know it's like on a macro level. And then specifically with Mirror; yeah, I think that it's fairly—I think what we're doing is with the Creator economy and all that, it's, like, the experiments that we're running, they're a lot of fun. And I think frankly, a lot of—Packy [phonetic] wrote about this recently where it's, like, a lot of it's around status and it's being on me and getting into the right race and yeah, definitely that's an inherent human thing.
And, and so I also think that yeah, people wanting to get in, we've also noticed that yeah, not everybody that gets in through right race to your point. People are, hey, I don't plan on writing. I don't want to write, I just want to be seen, I just want to be at the top there. I just want to get a bunch of votes so that I can vote my squad in.
And so I think frankly, that's another part of it as well, but yeah, we've viewed that—in many ways, that's the on ramp, that's the way to get people interested, downloading MetaMask, interacting with it, setting up their publication. And then now it's up to us to build more of these recurring use cases. That's really just, like, getting people into the door, opening the door, showing them the house and then walk in, and then now we got to make sure they get building gauging experiences, recurring things that they're using, the, a platform they're building businesses, they're building communities, they're having good time and they're using it frequently. And that's kind of our, our next phase of what we're trying to do.
Host: Yeah. So speaking of that, I'd be curious to hear from both of you, what are some of the coolest projects or, uses of Mirror that you've seen so far, whether by individuals or companies or, um, or, or anything, ‘because I I've really seen a spectrum. And I think, for people who aren't familiar with it, it'll help to hear some examples of how people or projects have been using Mirror to, you know, help them understand the full scale of what's possible there.
Patrick: Yeah. I think, yeah. I think general there's this new customer, there's this new persona of customer with crypto and their DAOs and there's, like, a whole spectrum of what the definition of a DAO is. It could be a massive DeFi protocol with billions of dollars in their treasury, or it could just be a telegram group with a, a multisig and just some funds and NFTs that they're collecting, but I think at Mirror specifically, one that we've seen that I'm really impressed with is called Song Camp.
And they're a music DAO and there are a bunch of musicians that they've tried to get record deals or they've been on Spotify and gotten hundreds of thousands of plays or millions of plays only to get a hundred dollars or a thousand dollars for this hit song that went viral.
And so they're experimenting—okay. What are new of collaboratively creating music and then also new ways of collaboratively earning revenue and getting paid directly for music? And so they started—they ran an experiment with the crowd fund and then that turned into doing these different camps.
And right now they have a themed camp called Electra and then they raise money through crowd fund and then not only did people end up getting fungible, ERC 20 tokens, they also got these NFTs and so they got both. And then the ERC 20 tokens gave them access to a discord server. And then in the discord they're doing this crazy game where they have to, like, unlock all these puzzles and figure out these riles and you work on it with people.
And it's this new way of working with people and collaborating and just building community online and then—so that's the benefit from people contributing and being part of the community, but then for the artists they're making 20,000, 30,000, $40,000 every time they drop a series of NFTs. I know that this week they had three party bids bid on their three NFTs and in total, it was like $50,000 and that's for, like, 20 artists and so there's - - some overhead costs, but each of them probably walking away with a few thousand dollars.
And so being able to see—and again, thinking about, okay, how do we have the next 10 Electras? How do we have the next a hundred, next a thousand electros across different categories?
Host: Very cool. What about you Graeme?
Graeme: Yeah, I think, I think we have to talk about party bid, party DAO. So internally we were talking a lot about variations on our crowd-funding and one thing that Denis was already into, was this idea of crowd-funding, a bid on an NFT.
So if you could have a foundation, sale auction that was going on, like, how could we, how could we use our crowd funding to basically bid on that NFT? And he tweeted about it and got into a conversation with somebody from Paradigm and they were going back and forth in it and seemed it had some promise. And so he crowd-funded it on his blog, deed.merit on X,Y,Z.
And that crowd-fund ended up being backed by whole bunch of people who were actually developers and designers and stuff and we didn't know that, in the beginning, but it was like, you know, there was somebody from - -, it was Anna Carro [phonetic], who'd worked with us at DARMA and she was a smart contract developer. There was designer from, from UNISWAP - - and a bunch of other people as well.
And they all got into a Discord at the end of the crowd-fund and they all had these party tokens that, that allowed them to create a discord that was token-gated. And they started discussing, like, what we can do with this. And John Palmer became sort of the lead PM on the project and assigned some roles. I had a role for looking over the smart contracts and then Anna was going to write them and then Anish [phonetic], who was at Paradigm w now, he did the frontend and they built a product together.
And I think that that's what a DAO is and I think that that's the promise of these tokens, right? It's, like, you can create a token around an idea, with a narrative, spell that in this blog post and then the community around it can go and build something and that can turn into a billion dollar idea. And then you can go and decentralize it with community because, you have these tokens so easy to, sort of, algorithmically pass around. That's kind of amazing and beautiful and I hope it, I hope it works out exactly like that because it's a wonderful story, yeah.
I think that that's, that's exactly the kind of thing that we wanted to do with Mirror starting on day one, it's kind of ideal
Host: Yeah. Party bid and Party Dao that's been super fun to watch how that's developed. Yeah, that, that's, that's definitely a really good example of a big success story out there and super glad that they did that with Mirror, but yeah, I love all the projects.
I love seeing all the projects that get funded on me and launched on Mirror, and launched because it's, it just goes to show that Mirror is so much more than just a publishing platform. It's not just for bloggers that want to write stuff, but also for the individual content creator too.
I have seen people be able to write, you know, really, thoughtful pieces and mint them as NFTs and sell them or get people to tip them for it. And I think that that is also a really good example of what we're going to see more of in Web 3, with just content creators, being able to monetize their content a lot better than they have been able to in web two.
Patrick: Yeah. I think in the short term, definitely is a little tricky and, and one of my favorite quotes is that, that the next big thing is going to start looking a toy by Chris Dixon. And it kind of seems that it's just, like, really nerdy, technical people on the fringe are using it and think it's cool just because it's a novel.
That's how most things started, whether it's the internet, or whether its computers, whether it's mobile phones, et cetera. I think we're in a similar stage now, and it's tough with gas fees, definitely you have to pay fees to get—convert from Fiat into ETH. You have to pay gas fees every time you buy something or you transfer things. And so yeah, definitely in the short term, there's some challenges, but I think in the medium term, in next few months, there's going to be a lot of interesting stuff where yeah, you're going to start seeing, crypto-native of social experiences and social apps for, like, favorites, end up being some sort of NFT and badges and likes and subscribers are this token. They're able to display—where you're able to earn value from and different things that.
Host: Yeah, for sure. In speaking of the future, what is the future for Mirror both in the short term and in the long-term.
Graeme: Oh, I kind of this, uh, this new token distribution thing that, that we have going on. I think that that's novel and it's going to justify, I think the right race and sort of, the, the civil resistance factor, quite a lot because I think it gives us a super power to be able to do grants a little bit better in the community to kind of understand that our community doesn't have whales in it. It's very much one token per person at this point.
And we can do things a UBI drip, which is something we're experimenting with and all the stuff is running in production at the moment. I mean that and we'll announce that pretty soon. So I'm excited about that, but then there, there are all these other things too. I mean, we, we really want to lean into, what Patrick was talking about, with these DAOs—these, like Creator or media DAOs and giving them new tools, to build a Web 3 media company.
I think that that's a huge opportunity and I hope we can serve—and I hope it'll be a lot better to build it on, there than to try and do it, you know, separately because you'll be part of this community that's very supportive. And then I think, technically moving to L-2s, you know, something we think about all the time and I'm always researching that and we're always, like, very close to making a move, but, it's, it's still not, it's not ready yet for us to do, but I think it, you know, that solves the problem that Patrick was talking about, with the gas fees, just being really high to do tipping or something like that. It's hard to do.
Host: Yeah, yeah. 100%. And I've got some—we got a bunch of questions from Twitter actually, when I announced that, I was going to be bringing you guys on the podcast. So I'm going to pull a few of those lots of really thoughtful questions. The first one I've got here is; what was the most formative past crypto and non-crypto experience that heavily contributes to their vision of Mirror today. And maybe each of you can share personally, if you know, you have some personal experiences or collectively since you worked together at Darma.
Graeme: Yeah. I can give a quick—I did tweet about this actually. So I was at this company that really it's mission us to distribute scholarships, college scholarships to students. And we partnered with over 300 colleges in the United States and did billions of dollars of college scholarships. And I, that was so important to me because I just really thought that education tech and, and making sure that people could get into college was—I just thought that that was really important at the time, but the problem was that it wasn't native internet money. It was a promise for college to go and fulfill on their end.
And when I discovered Ethereum through, through Richard at Numar [phonetic], it was just so clear that this is going to solve a lot of problems and it was just going to be a much better experience.
I was, it was through that, that a, I got it, it just clicked for me. It was like we were building these things, you called scholarship evaluation engines, which is basically a smart contract to evaluate whether you should get a scholarship or not, but it was all just in Ruby code and it wasn't like, and it wasn't real, it was kind of a prototype. And I was just thinking the whole time once I knew about it, that I could just write these contracts in solidity and it would be real and guaranteed, and we wouldn't have to worry about anything falling through the cracks in terms of, like, the agreements with colleges or anything that.
So that was really formative and then I worked at Numar just a little bit and they were doing this thing with token staking, where you could basically, stake on something that you believe in and then if you are wrong, the token gets burned and if you're right, you get some interest. And that was sort of an interesting piece and that informs, I think, like, right race is basically a staking mechanism; that's basically where the idea comes from.
You can even, like, vote on somebody and then participate in their success and then, yeah—and then Darma doing DeFi I think was critical in just going through the bear market and kind of understanding how the cycles work, I think was quite very formative too.
Host: Yeah. What about you, Patrick?
Patrick: We're in a supercycle, but yeah, for me, probably—so I was—like I said earlier, I was at Instacart before DARMA and one of my first few months there, it was, like, we get an e-mail—it was either an e-mail or during an all hands and they said, oh, tomorrow, or like next week we're going to have shoppers doing a protest in front of the building, and they're all going to be—they're upset because they're not getting paid the amount they think they should be paid or it's changing underneath them. And they just they're upset with Instacart, the marketplace and at the moment, I was just, oh, this is crazy. It's, there's—and then we had someone present internally, a product manager and she was like, look at the data. This is a small cohort of all the shoppers, like in aggregate, people are making more, but that always stuck as me in terms of, like, the tension between a marketplace and the participants.
And it's like, at first they maybe have seen with Ubers,—like a first, it said, say, okay, it can be really cheap rides. They're subsidizing, they're just trying to grow. They're trying to increase the number of drivers. And then also the number of rider because then that just creates a positive feedback loop. And so—but then at some point you end up needing to whether you go public or something else happens and you need to start charging more increase prices, improve your margin, make more money and not be burning as much cash.
And so at that point there is this, like, fundamental tension between, the network participants and then the network owners and the controllers. And yeah, that's—seeing that up close and seeing the shoppers and not really—in theory, they could go find another job, but it'd be a much nicer if they'd owned equity in the underlying platform and underlying system and we're able to make decisions, we're able to take all the code and create their own version of it and compete based off of market mechanisms and not just a monopoly or other things as well, just access to capital. And so yeah, over time that, that definitely has stuck with me.
Host: Yeah, for sure. That makes sense. Another question is they—the person said a Mirror Products has been screaming to exist since the beginning of Ethereum, why, in their opinion, did it happen now and not two years ago or two years from now, what were the "Goldilocks zone magic" that made things come together?
Graeme: Well, I think, I think that there were some, some iterations apart to try to do social and networks and those didn't necessarily work out. I think, I think more importantly, they're, like, take yourself back, like, two years in this space, not a lot was working. Two years ago Ether was at $80 down from its higher, 1,200 and people were very skeptical that was going to come back.
I remember watching an interview with Fred Wilson from USV, just complaining about the Ethereum foundation and what they were doing and making all these mistakes. And everyone was, sort of, questioning whether we'd be able to make it through and, and whether things would work and those were basic things like, you know, DeFi didn't exist, like, you know, DeFi was invented around that time and so there wasn't a UNISWAP or anything that, that was really working, um, in a, kind of. obvious way with - - market fit.
So, I mean, nobody—I don't think anybody would really have wanted to build a Web 3, like, Mirror product at that time. I think it just would've been too far out, rather just focus on, on DeFi maybe, and see if that works. That would be my take on it. I just think people weren't really thinking about it even NFTs—NFT, like, that really surprised everyone, I think, over the last year.
I don't think people really thought that it was going to break out the way that it did. And I can say that having worked with a lot of people who are already big in NFTs now, you know, when Foundation started, for example, it wasn't an NFT platform. They were actually doing real world objects that you bought on a bonding curve because the perimeters were around DeFi and not around NFTs.
And they, they were amazing, in that they, they pivoted to something just before it exploded, but NFTs were not like the big thing that they are today and people didn't necessarily think that they would be, I would say. So I would just say—yeah, I mean, we're just, you know, new things emerged and, and, it was hard to predict that it would be possible.
Host: Yeah, for sure. And then here is, sort of, like a more philosophical question, but, how does the team approach the question of NFT durability, philosophically and practically, where are people in the space getting this wrong today? Love to hear both of your thoughts on that.
Graeme: Yeah. I mean, I think it's a huge, huge issue. And, and when I was—just before Mirror, I was thinking about this and I thought that the, the NFT platform needed to be on ARweave because it's, so it's so hard to, to try and make NFTs that have, you know, guaranteed, token - - or like, the underlying image, whether that would actually be something that persisted, you know, forever, it's hard to do. I think it is recoverable.
So if you do have an NFT, that's linked to something that ends up dying, so for example, if the server that, that renders all of your content goes away, I think you can still wrap the NFT. So you can have kind of a wrapping function that solves that problem.
It's much better if you are able to at least do a hash of the content, or store the content on another platform and then include that a link to that in the contract. So that's the kind of thing that, that we do at Mirror with our NFTs. It's at least store, some verifiable information so that if you do need to wrap it in the future, because the underlying API goes away, you can—for example; if - - goes away or ARweave or anything that you can still, you can still match the hash, the content with the online—with the NFT and then wrap it, wrap the whole token and it can, sort of, keep its provenance.
Host: Yeah. And that's a, that's an interesting point because I think what a lot of people don't realize is that with a lot of NFT art, the art actually isn't, like, on the block chain as much as—I don't know how to explain it from a technical perspective, but can you explain that whole phenomena? And I guess, like, nobody really cares clearly, because people are still buying these NFTs and just assuming that, they're going to get to keep it forever, but that that's not actually the case. Right, Graeme?
Graeme: Yeah. So some of it is which is really cool to see that. That is—I love when people do that and UNISWAP did this. When you provide liquidity to your UNISWAP pool, you get an NFT and that NFT actually has its, its content, like the graphic for it is an SVG that is store in the contract. And so everything that you need resides within the world of Ethereum, it's all there on that block chain. It doesn't reach out into the external world and refer to something that is outside of that closed loop, so that's beautiful to see.
For the most part, it's impossible to do that when you have very sophisticated images. So with most art works, you wouldn't be able to do that. And so it needs to refer to something that lives outside of Ethereum and that's where you kind of get this issue because all of your Ethereum contracts are immutable, but that's not necessarily true of the image that you store depending on where you store it.
And so there are some protocols for files—internal file storage. For example, ARweave is one, and IPFS is another, but they're still very early and they're not particularly proven. And so we'll have to see how those mature over time, but a lot of people are just storing the images on S3, which is Amazon, you know, file storage system, which is quite dangerous because if you don't pay that S3 bill, every month that, that image is going to go away and the token, might be sort of compromised because of that.
Host: Yeah. I think that's pretty a crazy thing that a lot of people don't realize or maybe realize, and just don't care about because they're riding the hype and just excited to be in the space, but thanks for explaining that. Yeah, and then Patrick?
Patrick: Yeah. To your point before I forget, so I think that's exactly what you said. Many times people just don't care, don't mind because there's other abuse cases and, like, one way I've heard it explained that I really like is like, there are three types of NFTs. One is, there's a fully centralized NFT where no information lives on a public block chain. And for example, that's something NBA top shot, that's just basically, like, a file that lives on their server.
And then second type of NFT is like a pointer where certain information. There's like, an event happened on chain; there's some record of it, but the actual artwork itself, the actual file lives on some other remote server somewhere. So that's the second one, the pointers. And then third is fully on chain and that's what Graeme was talking about with something UNISWAP or even more generative projects, like art blocks, all of those are basically just like contracts, solidity contracts and they use these different type of compression methods for ways of storing lots of data and, and all this crazy stuff and that's super interesting.
But for example, with top shot, it's a, the real benefit for most people is just trading and flipping them or just showing them and holding onto them for a bit. And for certain things, it's kind of block chains themselves. It's like—Bitcoin is great. It's the most decentralized block chain, but it's not as expressive. It doesn't have as much flexibility. And I view these different storage techniques, it's the same way that over time, it'll get easier to be more expressive with fully on chain art, but it's kind of, you got to make trade-offs.
And if you want to be more expressive, if you want general purpose use cases, you use a block chain Ethereum, you use a combination of on chain plus off chain. But I think over time the strong form of this technology is going to be fully on chain art or some variation of that.
Host: Yeah, for sure. And then bouncing back to the original question too, Patrick, I'd love to get your views on, like, how you view, this question of NFT durability is going up and down. We had this crazy NFT hype cycle in the beginning of this year, and then it seemed to die down for a bit. And then here we are back in it again. How do you view the durability of NFTs long term?
Patrick: Yeah, I think long term, they're definitely a very, very important primitive and the thing right now is people are memeing it because it's, like, oh, it's a JPEG. But I think that the important thing is that, yeah, it's this new type—it's digital property rights is one way people have explained it. It's this file format that now has value encoded in it and you can share it globally.
So I think just the underlying technology and the new properties that it has and the new things that it enables, I think over the long term, they're going to win out. And once things get easier around gas fees, around onboarding, around integrating with different products, but I think in the short medium term, yeah, it's definitely going to be cyclical, like most things. It's a—that's kind of the traditional path of any new technologies.
People get too excited about it. They over financialize it, people want to be—people are quick flippers. They're just in and out and just want to make money. And they're not here for the long term, but with every cycle it brings in more interest, it brings more entrepreneurs, brings more engineers, brings more investors that are legitimate and ended up staying for the long term and building on top of all the infrastructures that was laid down in the previous phase.
And so I think over the long there's definitely going to be cycles bumps up and down, but I think that, yeah, medium to long term, I think just it's a new type of file format for the internet.
Host: Yeah, for sure. And I, I think the, the main thing has helped it to grow so much is really the community that people have been able to build around these NFT projects and the social signaling that you're able to do when you have a crypto punk as your Twitter profile pick that automatically signals something to everybody that follows you or everybody else on Twitter about you, without them know anything about you.
So, I think those are really the most powerful things, at least the way that I see it. And then—these next two questions, I'm going to combine it for the sake of time. So essentially what people want to know is, there are, sort of two sides of this, you, of how to use Mirror. You can either build a project on Mirror or you can sort of use it as a writing platform and share your writings with people.
And so from the project standpoint, what are some projects that you guys are most excited to see built on top of Mirror by third parties that we haven't seen yet? And then from the content standpoint, people want to know will a platform Mirror allow writers more freedom and less reliance on ClickBait and how will this change? The type of content that we see produced
Patrick: In terms of third party, I can do the third party tools one. And so one thing that constantly hearing is discovery want easier ways to find what's trending or what's latest or what's featured, or what do other people like, say, that's one massive, massive area that we'd love to see third parties build, us work with them or whatever it ends up looking. And yeah, I think that they could do—I think the crypto, the traditional way, the Web 2 way is you have a bunch of data. You put it into this algorithm, machinery learning algorithm, you run a bunch of experiments and see, okay, what keeps people the most engaged or whatever metric you're trying to optimize and then you ship the algorithm to production and then there you go.
And it's a very top down centralized process, but of course the crypto-native way is something that looks more like right race, where you have this token, you have this way to stake your tokens on certain content or on certain publications and then if you want to make it really interesting, you could have a pool, a prize pool each week or each month. And then the top 10 people each week, each month, they get to split the prize pool or they get in varying degrees. And so I think things that'll be really interesting.
How do you—and Graeme talks about it as a game. And I really like that framing of—this really is—it's where applying game mechanics with money to all sorts of online media in content formats, whether it's writing, whether it's producing videos, whether it's creating NFTs, anything, creating these game-like formats with tokens is going to be really interesting.
Host: Yeah. I think we're seeing a lot more gamification in everything and I think people are finally realizing the power of gamification and how effective that is in engaging everybody, the normies too. Graeme, what are your thoughts?
Graeme: Yeah. Yeah, Blockchain is for games, is kind of just, - - phrase that, um, kind of, like, landed in my head maybe three years ago. Because I realized—I think from my experience at, at Numar maybe, you know, just, it sat with me, that the things that work well in the space are game, and everything that tries to be something else kind of, it doesn't work. Maybe that goes back to Trent's question about, why there wasn't an early Mirror?
Well, you know, it's like, things that aren't games just tend not to work that well. And I just, I, I remember having the whole list of these are the things that work, these are the things that don't work and the things that work were always just fun. And there were games and, and, what is a game? Google's not a game goal is an information service you go there you're just trying to find something. Whereas Bitcoin is an accumulation game, like, a wealth accumulation game. Those are just different, different things.
And so, yeah, I think the idea of building these collaborative games, you can build on each other, um, and be really complex things, you know, DeFi is kind of, just like, yield farming, right? Like yield farming is a game, right. It's not really a bank account; it's yield farming. That's the frame that actually resonated with people. And then, you know, building these like, profile picture communities, I mean, it is kind of, like a game of which tribe is the best.
And, so I think as long as things are games they, they tend to, they tend to work in this space and I would just recommend people think about that. It's even part of the—I think about it as the founding myth of Ethereum is that vitae was like, you know, playing this game and then the rules changed on him. I don't know if you this, but this is the myth, whether it's true or not, I'm not sure. But he was really frustrated that the, the company could, like, take away his avatar, that he, he had built up over time.
And so he went and was like, I'm going to build this other thing where people can't change the rules and it's like immutable contracts and that's kind of, like, the finding myth to me. And so I think of it as, you know, continuation from that it is a gaming platform and we need to build cool games. And games don't have to be trivial.
Some of these are important things—if you read that book; infinite games, the point of that is that, we want to build long lasting games with each other that are collaborative and that actually gives us a lot of meaning. And so we're—humans are kind of game playing creatures and creating and DAOs are, like, basically, ways to create games.
Host: Yeah. And then what are your thoughts on the content piece? Like, have you seen that the content on Mirror has been stronger than content that you would find on say Medium or another blogging platform?
Graeme: Yeah. It's, it's really early to say that, and I think it would be biased just by the right race, the quality of writers who get into there. So definitely, I mean, obviously the average is going to be a lot higher than the average on Medium, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the incentives are what created that.
I think that in the future, I would love to say that, yeah, the writers who, who post content on Mirror have a lot more tools, economic tools that allow them to fund their research. For example, we had one writer, Emily Cole, who funded a book on Mirror, she weighs I think, $90,000 and then she went to go write a new book and she was already a novelist. And so she's writing a next book and people already wanted to be part of that.
Similarly, with Ethereum in film, in - - gardens, like, they raised, you know, a million dollars, I think, to go do a film. So it's quite clear that you can fund your writing through this process and you don't have to do click baiting and you don't have to do ads. You can be a quality writer. And so I think that that's, that's the story that I hope plays out for sure. It's still very early.
Host: It is, it definitely is. Personally, from what I've seen, definitely higher level of content that I've seen on Mirror as opposed to any other publication. And even for me personally I feel a lot more pressure to be more thoughtful in what I publish on Mirror the then on, you know, like medium for instance, which is probably a big part of the reason why I haven't published very much yet on Mirror, because I just feel so much more pressure there, but I think that's a good thing because that—I think that's an ultimate win-win for everybody, for consumers, for writers, for everybody. All right.
Well, to typically we to end every episode with a segment called explain your tweet, but in the interest of time you have both escaped this. So let's just wrap it up. If you have any final thoughts, feel free to share otherwise, just go ahead and share how people can get ahold of you personally, if they'd to. And then also, for people who are interested in learning more about Mirror, or maybe getting on the platform and crowd-funding something or writing something, what is the best way for them to do so?
Graeme: Yeah, I think Twitter, Twitter is probably the way that most people in the space communicate. So I'm Strangechances on Twitter and firstname.lastname@example.org, if you want to e-mail me and g.Mirror.xzy. If you know, you want to connect with me or wherever or on Mirror itself.
Patrick: Yeah, same here. On Twitter, Patrick X. Rivera and then P@mirror.xyz and then p.mirror.xyz. And then to learn more about Mirror, you can go to their homepage, Mirror. xyz, and then there you get it, some information on right. Race airdrop and then also ideally the next couple weeks launch a new landing page with more info on Mirror.
Host: Awesome, can't wait. Thank you both so much for taking the time, and, coming on here. Thank you everybody for tuning in, and we will be back again soon with another episode of the unstoppable podcast.