Building the Infrastructure for Web 3.0 with Matt Lockyer from NEAR ProtocolJun 23, 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 our guest, Matt Lockyer. He is the Director of Developer Relations at NEAR Protocol. Which I’m sure a lot of you have heard of, they are NEAR’S and open-source platform that allows people to develop decentralized applications and scale on Ethereum.
So I’m very happy to have Matt here today, and to talk to him more about NEAR and what they’re building up there. So welcome, Matt. Thank you so much for being here.
MATT LOCKYER: Thanks, Diana. Pleasure to be here and really looking forward to chatting with you.
HOST: Awesome. So before we dive in on NEAR, I want to know a little bit more about your background, how you got into this space. So take us all the way back to when you first heard about crypto. What was it that caught your interest and then how did you start learning about it?
MATT LOCKYER: That’s a great question. It was like January 2nd 2017 and somebody asked to have like a piece of pizza with me and it was a really cold piece of pizza, because I’m in Vancouver, British Columbia in Canada and while it’s not like totally snowed over, it’s still kind of chilly in the winter. So he said he wanted to have a venture studio, he was interested in my teaching background and when I said, “What’s the thesis, like what’s it really going to be about?”
He said, “You know, emerging kind of areas of technology, like AIML, AR/VR” and that’s kind of why he approached me, because I have a background in graphics programming and teaching kind of creative code, graphics programming, building 3D stuff with code. Then he said, “Block chain” and then I was like, “Block chain, what’s that?” right?
Of course, I’d heard of Bitcoin, but then I’m like, “Okay”. Start going down the rabbit hole and I had a job at the time, so I was finishing up a contract and I was interested in joining this venture studio, but the venture studio never came to pass.
During my finishing up this contract in the spring of 2017, I was just like obsessed, so I went totally down the rabbit hole. Then come to summer 2017, I had a camper van at the time, so I basically took like a week-long trip and I drove up the west coast of Canada, on the mainland called the Sunshine Coast. I camped for six nights, and during this time I basically downloaded everything onto my laptop, the Ethereum developer tools, Truffle, Ganache, all this stuff that you needed to learn how to build dApps and I basically taught myself. So I was already a developer, so it’s kind of easy to self-teach, but I literally had the documentation for Solidity, the language, and I just read it front to back, while I was by lakes, by a fire kind of stuff.
So it was a good way to go deep, and then I went through the first ETHGlobal hackathon, ETHWaterloo, which was October 2017, and I mean that’s where I met everybody. The Crypto Kitties team was there, the original team. Kevin Owocki, the guys from Maker, Joe Lubin, Vitalik and his entire family, everybody.
It was really cool, it was like a who’s who of that community and I loved it. I really loved the Ethereum community, I love everybody in it and I’ve just had such a blast over the years, just participating, building and helping teams build and just being a part of what is crypto.
HOST: Yeah, that’s awesome. Okay, you know I would love for you to go ahead and answer that for any newbies listening, what is crypto? How would you explain crypto to somebody who doesn’t know anything about it, in a way that gets them excited and curious to learn more?
MATT LOCKYER: Oh geez, well that’s like a crazy question, it’s like super hard, but I’ll keep it as simple as possible. In the physical world we obviously have limitations on the kind of stuff that we can create and what we can create value around. Like, if I wanted to start a t-shirt company or a sneaker company, I can only make so many t-shirts or so many sneakers, as the physical world will allow me to. That obviously changes when you think about making a digital t-shirt company. So you basically just upload digital designs and now, all of a sudden, it’s unlimited as to how many t-shirts people could order or people could print if you were licensing the designs.
And that kind of interesting cause digital allowed everybody to copy information and information flow freely. And that’s obviously really good in some respects for various types of businesses like you think about software or SAS models, you copy it forever, right? That’s great. Adding another—adding another customer cost nothing. That’s a great business model, but it really sucks for other models, like where you are trying basically have gamification of scarce resources. So like, you have a video game, and you have some end game gold or currency. You have like special items like swords or whatever like some house or some aviator.
And the introduction of—and obviously, you can do that within one game, that’s great. You can back that up on a database, but the introduction of crypto allows users to basically take the items out of those games as if you were literally buying a t-shirt from one store and then—or pair of sneakers which a lot—I guess a lot of people are trading sneakers these days. So I’ll just use sneakers. I like t-shirts, come on, but people are trading sneakers. You can buy a sneaker from one store and then you can go online, and you can sell it to somebody else.
So that’s—you can do that because it’s a physical good that you actually take out of the one store and take on to a different marketplace, but with a game and like a centralized server, you can’t really do that. You can’t take dance moves out of Fortnite and sell them on eBay or some sort of black-market dance move dance market. What crypto enables, is it enables those game developers to tap into essentially an economy like a sub straight, a platform that is bigger than just their game. That is bigger than just their game database, and it allows player to actually take the game experience and own something—own something unique from it. Now obviously, crypto has a lot of financial use cases. The listeners might have heard of DeFi and obviously they’ve heard of Bitcoin.
I don’t have a financial background so a lot of what you hear me talk about probably is like these sorts of apps and social and game kind of use cases. So that’s kind of what I’m in to, but that’s what crypto means to me. It’s sort of this way to bring that physical property of scarcity into the digital world and give your users or sort of like participants in a video game or participants in some experience, a way to actually own something that almost feels physical, but it’s still digital.
HOST: Yeah, for sure. And so, for people who are listening, who maybe have a camper van and they’re ready to go out into the wilderness for a week and download everything to their laptop. What are some of your go to sources? Whether they’re podcast, or books or blogs or newsletters or Twitter people to follow, what are some of your go-to sources for “truth” if you will for learning in this space that you can direct people to?
MATT LOCKYER: That’s a really good question and you’ll probably get some pretty valuable gems out of me, ‘cause I was scouring the web for like the signal in the noise. And there is a lot of noise out there. So I just caution the listeners to—you really want to screen a lot of the people and the influencers you follow, and newsletters you sign-up for. Obviously, podcast such as this that are basically going to the people who building this space, Unstoppable domains, like obviously there you go. You can own a domain that you can take other places. You can sell on different markets. So, these are people who are actually building stuff in the space.
So I always look for—and I had always looked for when I got into the space, the people who are actually building product. Because there’s a lot of talking and talking and talking, but there’s not a lot of walking. John Paller who is actually the organizer of ETHDenver, and the founder of Opolis, which is also a great product. So Opolis is like—it’s like employment and kind of commence sub-straight where you can take like your health care from gig to gig, from job to job, from contract to contract, which is not sort of a common thing in the United States. So he always says that when he host ETHDenver which is a great conference by the way. It’s all just pure builders, pure real stuff. He basically says we got to focus on—we got to focus on less talkie talkie and more walkie walkie.
And then there’s Kevin Owocki from Gitcoin. So shout out to another great resource where you can earn crypto with Gitcoin, you can learn with Gitcoin, using the Gitcoin KERNEL program. There’s Kevin Milwaukee who’s also in Colorado, a little less talkie talkie and a lot more a walkie walkie, because he’s sort of set a standard for the other builders in the space, with all of the work and all of the building that they’ve done with Gitcoin. So just a shout out to some of the people that I know, but just rapid fire some more links and resources, Evan Van Ness, Weekend Ethereum, definitely have to subscribe to that newsletter, you can’t go wrong with Evan’s sort of collection of links from the NFT space.
I’ve always really enjoyed like staking economy. I don’t know if other people know about that one, but staking economy is a great newsletter. A lot of the stuff is pretty nerdy, but you’ll just sort of pick it up as you go along. And then more on the learning programs, Figment is doing like really amazing stuff in the space. They’re kind of an entire learning platform or sort of network, and they’ve got other protocols and other stuff. NEAR is a sort of a Figment supporter. We put a lot of course material into Figment, and Figment pays people to, to learn about crypto. So you can learn to be a developer, you can learn about kind of more soft skills, crypto marketing, things like that. So the Figment program is really cool.
And I I’d be an idiot, if I didn’t shout out, I’ve to type in the URL to remember it. If I didn’t shout out some NEAR resources, so there’s learn—what is it called it’s learnnear.club, which is kind of like our little club. And from there, you can actually jump off I think to Gitcoin KERNEL, the near Certified Developer Program, which is our own program and Figment and stuff. So learn near dot club is the link.
HOST: Awesome. Well, that should be more than enough material for somebody to go off the grid for a week and dive into this stuff and really do some good learning.
MATT LOCKYER: Maybe two weeks.
MATT LOCKYER: Maybe two weeks.
HOST: Yep, yep. Yep. All right. So I want to dive into NEAR and talk a little bit more about that. So to start off, why don’t you—for people who aren’t familiar with NEAR what NEAR is or haven’t heard about NEAR, why don’t you give us the high level overview of what is NEAR protocol?
MATT LOCKYER: Sure. Well, NEAR protocol is basically kind of like, I guess, one of these next generation blockchains. So started in 2018, development started and we just launched our mainnet in 2020. So if that gives you some idea about the, the amount of research and development that go into some of these crypto networks, it’s quite a bit. And we have quite a technical team as well. So they’re, they’re very bright, but still to adequately create such a network, and also to get a community going of validators, and people that will sustain the network. It’s quite a lift. So it was a tremendous feat for the team to launch last year, I’m really proud about that. I joined actually, just before the mainnet launch in May 2020. From what I can tell you, and I don’t know the whole story, because I wasn’t around back in 2018.
It was co-founded by Illia Polosukhin and Alex Skidanov, I probably said Alex name last name wrong, but no, no worries. Those two co-founders wanted to find a way to actually, to actually do kind of like distributed AI and train models across basically a lot of computers. But then they came to the point of compensation and sharing of your data and privacy and like open web challenges, right? So there’s this whole movement, you know, Web3, that was kind of—this was a very narrow use case in that wider conversation. And then they thought, Okay, well, we can probably attract a lot of talent. They’re both ICPI, I don’t know what that is.
There’s like, there’s like a World Chess Championship for programming, and they’re both medalists or finalists or something. And they obviously vacuumed up a whole bunch of other brainy coders and got to working on this. So the first focus was about scaling and getting consensus right and near launched this Whiteboard Series where they met with every other protocol in the space. Like you name it, Cosmos, Polkadot, Solana, Eth like the Ethereum researchers several times, you know, Justin Drake has been on the whiteboard series talking about Eth 2.0.
And this Whiteboard Series was like a way for NEAR to learn, but also a way to get back to anyone who is trying to build a crypto protocol and to be very symbiotic with all of the other blockchains in the space. So the Whiteboard Series from there, you know, NEAR was focused on scaling, and then they move to be focused more on developer experience and user experience because, I think, as a collective organization just around the time I joined in May 2020, the organization had been shifting towards, okay, we have this amazing blockchain, like really easy to, to build and develop on. But if nobody builds applications, then we’re hooped, right? You basically, you basically need traction, you need adoption, and you need other developers to like, the experience of building on your blockchain. So the focus, since I joined has really been on the on the app layer on the developer experience layer. So we have like dev platform team, which is amazing. And then we have my team, which is the Developer Relations team.
And, unofficially, I’d say that we build cool sh--, and we help other people build cool sh-- on there. But the sort of official thing is that we have a developer relations team, we kind of have traditional developer relations, as you would know it like support in like channels, and education and Docs and things like that. And I mentioned the education resources before. But then we’re starting to see people like myself and a few other people from the DevRel team, we’re actually starting to see a movement towards kind of more of like a BD, product-y kind of unit. So I can’t say too much about that. But there’s stuffs happening, and you’ll see like kind of an evolution of have pretty strong product teams, not just from the DevRel team on NEAR, but from the product team that built the wallet. There’s some sort of movement of a core group moving out there to do more product stuff. So there’s lots of kind of spin outs happening in the near ecosystem, which are really exciting. I hope that—what was your question?
HOST: That answer a lot. There’s a lot to unpack there. I think what I’m going to start with is, I think any technical people or developers listening would be really mad at me if I didn’t give you a chance to get technical, and explain some of the technical components of NEAR. Why don’t you explain for the developers listening, how does NEAR make it easier for developers to build these dApps, and explain, like, I know you guys have a cool Rainbow Bridge that links the layer one NEAR to, to layer two, I think on Etherium. Go on, explain all of that.
MATT LOCKYER: Sure, yeah. So for the technical people in the room, and then everyone else, you’d probably skip ahead, I’m looking at the time, maybe I’ll need like, about six or seven minutes, I’ll try to stop myself. I love to get into these details, but also kind of work with metaphors, I was joking about skipping ahead, don’t skip ahead. I like to work with metaphors that kind of make it a little more accessible. I was told—I was told in academia, to make the presentation interesting, and then tell everybody, if you want to read more, you can grab the paper. So you can grab the many kinds of NEAR white papers and articles, a lot of them were written by our founders, Illia and Alex, good enough, and Erik Trautman, who’s the director of the NEAR foundation. They’re prolific, like they are publishing all the time. So you can always go into those resources and those blog posts, white papers, for more information.
I’m going to really quickly take you through, like the technical aspects of NEAR and why I think it’s kind of special for developers. So right away, something to understand is that NEAR like, a lot of the next generation blockchains, including Eth 2.0, is sharded. But NEAR’s approach to sharding is much different than anyone else’s approach to sharding. And that’s actually what kind of got me curious to learn more about NEAR. I met the co-founder Illia at Eth, Denver 2020, just before, COVID stuff, and I met him in person and we went pretty deep on this. So near is sharded. NEAR uses an approach to sharding that the developers do not need to write their applications in such a way that they’re—that they’re shard aware. They don’t need to know like, “Oh, my application is on shard, you know, x, y, z, but the DeFi app that I want to actually compose with is on shard A,B, C.
So a lot of this stuff is actually taken care of for you at the core protocol level. So that approach to sharding was really interesting to me. And as a developer, I really wanted to go to a protocol like a blockchain, that I could build apps on, consumer apps on that made it kind of, really easy and fluid to do so. And I didn’t want to have to worry about all these headaches. I had actually worked on a—with another block chain, and you had to kind of be shard aware.
They call it as a coder, like as a developer of an app, and I just thought, okay, well, this is going to become unusable. That’s one thing that’s really interesting. If you want to learn more about NEAR as—NEAR’s speed, finality, transactions per second, all of that Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism called night shade which is like a nod to some Sci-Fi character that I don’t know about, and I’ll probably get like dirty messages about not being like a Sci-Fi nerd now, because everyone at NEAR’s like a Sci-Fi nerd. If you want to read about all that stuff, again just go to the stuff. Go to the white papers and blog posts.
One thing I really want to talk about though, Diana, which I think is the best part about NEAR, is the account system. As a developer, everyone on NEAR has a human readable account name, so this is basically like taking a project like the ENS. Let’s not forget, amazing project, amazing work done by the folks who actually stood up the Ethereum naming service, but it is a project on top of the Ethereum. Not only do you have to learn how to make a Ethereum smart contracts and write solidity and deploy them and all of this sort of intricacies of the Ethereum blockchain. When you want to have human readable names, you got to go look at this other project, and then if you want to go in NEAR’s account system too, we have the concept access keys, so these allow developers to do really powerful things. Like I can create an account for you, Diana, and I could actually add an access key where I would be sponsoring your gas, but your access key for your account that I created for you, would only allow you to call one method in one smart contract. So I can kind of sponsor you to come on to crypto as a non-crypto person.
I know you know about crypto, but I can bring you on as a friend, and I can keep you in a bit of a sandbox while I’m paying your gas fees, and then when you kind of graduate—so let’s say you sell an NFT and you generate some actual revenue, it could be as small as like one NEAR token, you can pay me back for like the 0.05 NEAR tokens that I’ve sponsored you with. So there’s this amazing power in this access key system that’s part of our human-readable account names, and that’s like having - - safe as part of the core protocol, where you can actually add and remove keys.
Explaining this to developers, especially if they’re coming from the Ethereum ecosystem, they just get it, and when they see how powerful having that, that human readable name for an account and having those access keys are at the core protocol level, and being able to develop with those concepts without having to like run around and learn about all these other projects and stuff and read different docs and stuff like that. They see it right away like light bulbs start to go off, and they see the potential for mainstreaming users. They see the potential for sponsoring accounts and meta-transactions and Burner Wallets and all of this stuff that—shout out to Austin Griffiths who came up with Burner Wallets and stuff like that, and the MetaCartel family—the originals that came up with meta-transactions, shout to all those people, amazing work, and I would just say that developers who are sort of NEAR curious that we just saw that. We saw how awesome it was and we’re—it’s kind of like a compliment we just put it in the core protocol, so that’s what gets me really excited about NEAR. It’s a block chain that’s really designed for Web3.0, and it’s for these—it’s designed for kind of for apps, and it’s designed for people, I really love it, and I love building on NEAR.
I’m building—I’m literally writing contracts on NEAR like all day long. So I’m either helping partners, or I’m building my own side projects. I got to tease this side too.
I have generative art, it’s a generative art NFT marketplace portal whatever. It’s not going to be curated. It’s just going to be wide open, so people can just come and just hit it. The main app version should be out in a couple of weeks. I’m testing on testnet, doing user experience testing starting hopefully later today. I’ve had the contracts run through a couple audits internally with our team. We’re going to testnet for a couple of weeks, see how it goes with, with actual creators.
We have a discord channel in our server, so if you go to near.chat—if you’re interested in generative NFTs, you go to near.chat and join the generate under the data category it’s G-N-R-A. Yeah, I’m really excited about all this stuff. I’m also one of the people who’s pushing the NEAR standards forward, so we have a fungible token standard. We have a few different DAO standards, so we have SputnikDAO, you can go to sputnik.fund.
We have—we have MolochDAO, a version of MolochDAO that is coming soon, and we have Sputnik V2 for DAOs. So fungible tokens, we got Ref Finance which is basically a—it’s like a NEAR native implementation of like a Uniswap, so it’s like liquidity—liquidity pools and automatic market making. And we have an NFT standard with royalties, and I am currently working on two more standards that are like extensions for the NFT standard, and that’s like a multi-token standard, so you can have one NFT contract with many different types of NFTs in it, and then you can have lazy minting. So basically you can declare that you’re going to sell a million NFTs, and each user that comes and buys the NFT is actually doing the minting as opposed to the traditional sort of, I’m going to drop a hundred NFTs because people don’t really sell a million NFTs, but they should. So people say, I’m going to drop a 100 NFTs, so what they do is they pre-mint them, and then when people come to buy them they just transfer them. Lots of exciting stuff—again, I’m sorry, Diana, I forgot your question, and I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I think people got a—I think people got enough about why I’m excited about NEAR.
HOST: Good. Yes. I think people got a good taste of it. Hopefully people didn’t fast forward in the beginning when we were doing a technical talk, because it turned into something very relevant for everybody. Lots of—
MATT LOCKYER: [Interposing] We should do something like, oh, you missed it all. Go back.
HOST: Yeah. Yeah. Go back and start from the beginning. Lots to unpack there. You mentioned a few things. I’m really interested in NFTs and DAOs, so I want to talk a little bit more about those things and how that applies to NEAR. So why don’t we start with NFTs. You said there’s an NFT standard, that is the ERC-998 I believe, can you talk a little more about what is this NFT standard, and then also like what is happening with NFTs on NEAR. Everybody’s talking about NFTs right now, so bridge the gap for people between NFTs and NEAR and how these two things work together.
MATT LOCKYER: Sure. Yeah, let’s go back though to—so the ERC-998 is actually an Ethereum NFT standard that I was developing with another—I came up with this idea, and I sort of got a lot of people interested, but then only one guy stuck around to actually help me do the work, and his name is Nick Mudgen so it’s like @mudgen on Twitter and I believe it’s at M-U-D-G-E-N. I think. I hope. Sorry, Nick, if I got it wrong. He now works on the Aavegotchi project, and he uses a variant of the work that we did back in the summer of 2018, and Aavegotchi’s, I think at the beginning of this year. Think of it like how long it takes to just launch a complicated NFT. Going back to the original idea, let’s talk about composability and composable NFTs for a sec. There’s obviously projects nowadays that are really popular, there’s set protocol, and shout out to @DefiNft on Twitter, so it’s just @DefiNft, but the project’s called Charged Particles, the founder, Ben, is super awesome, and basically these are NFTs with fungible tokens inside them, so they’re charged up. So pretty cool concept.
HOST: We had Ben on the podcast, so if you guys haven’t heard that episode yet, definitely go back and listen to that. And that was Episode 39, so go back and listen to episode 39 with Ben Lakoff Charged Particles. You’ll get to hear all about that project.
MATT LOCKYER: Yes, I think Ben’s awesome. We were hanging out on Clubhouse a bunch back when people hung out a Clubhouse for like two months. And so if we go way back, though in, I think it was, April 2018. I just wrote a Medium article, and I wrote some really terrible solidity code so that the ERC-998 looks nothing like what I wrote in the Medium post. But I just wanted to prove that this was a possibility. And basically, I called it Crypto Composable.
So I wanted the ability to basically sell like—if I were to sell you an NFT, Diana, or if I were to sell you five NFTs, I’d have to go transfer, transfer, transfer, transfer, transfer, right? And there’s no way to actually pack up an NFT into like a bundle that you can sell—that I could sell to you, and then, on your end you could take one sub-NFT out of the bundle and sell that. So why did I, kind of, like, where did I get the idea? Well, you know, CryptoKitties had launched and think in November 2017. And then, I think around January, February, someone had done like CryptoKitties Hats, or like hat—Cat Hats or something, I don’t know — I don’t know where the—I don’t know where that project is. But basically, you could stick a hat, on your CryptoKitty like a Fedora or something like that. And then I saw a couple other projects that were like, buzzing about. Oh, we can do—combine in this token with this token.
The Crypto hat’s thing was actually ERC-20 tokens that you sent to your CryptoKitty that were like non divisible. So it’s like a bit of a hack. It was sort of bolting on something on top of NFTs. And I thought, okay, everybody is going to start doing this, and if they don’t do it in a standard way, it’s going to be terrible, right? Because the entire space of wallets, exchanges all sorts of swaps and stuff, they’re never going to understand what is inside what, unless you have like, a standard way to describe it.
So I wrote this article about an Avatar in a video game has maybe like—maybe that Avatar owns an item like a backpack. And then that backpack can own like a bunch of extra equipment, but the Avatar itself could also own a sword, could actually even own fungible tokens like Gold and stuff. And then if I go sell the Avatar on OpenSea, for example, you could buy the Avatar and get all of the items inside, the fungible tokens, the non-fungible tokens, all the way down.
So me and Nick Mudge, we hammered away on the solidity code for months. I booted up a discord server in 2018, called Nifty Magicians, and we just—everybody just came in, we hung out, we talked about NFTs. It was great. But then, of course, crypto winter rolls in, I had some very, real life kind of got to earn money, kind of concerns. So I gave over the stewardship of the community to a few other people, but eventually, the flavor kind of, died out, because, the mainstream users were not coming. They weren’t coming even up until 2019 or 2020 even, for that matter.
Now look at NFTs, right? They’re blowing up. I think I’m getting a message about ERC-998 probably, like every week, at least on average. And so somebody is messaging me, they want to know more about it. I mean, I’m obviously citing Nick Mudge’s contributions, and that he’s already launched it with Aavegochi. He has a standard called the Diamond Standard Tool. So I’m trying to direct people where I can, but I’m really excited to also be building on NEAR now, and be able to build composable NFTs on a platform that won’t absolutely destroy you financially when you try to build a composable NFT of just three or four items, because it’s so expensive.
So that’s the story behind ERC-998. I guess, it’s a story about how I really got deep into the Crypto ecosystem and booted up my own community around NFTs, and—for me, it was like a, learning experience. Some people would look at that and say, oh, the standard is still in draft and Nifty Magicians is a ghost town. And some people would say, oh, that’s like, kind of like a failure. And I’m like, well, not really like, not—not if Nick has launched this with Aavegochi, which is a great project. And not if Nick and myself and a bunch of the other people who stepped up to create this community, we learned a ton along the way of how to basically speak to the crypto community, and how to build a fun exciting community.
We were hosting—we were hosting community calls on a bi—on a—I think on a weekly basis, and then we moved to bi-weekly, back in 2018. And I mean now, that’s like table stakes for any Crypto project got to have a community call, got to have a community update. I mean, I was writing those on Medium. So it’s fun. It’s fun stuff and we learned a lot. Yes, I think that I get you to like the ERC-998 stuff and I think the second part was, what about NFTs on NEAR?
So as I mentioned before, we have our core NFT standard, which is really awesome, super strong, and it allows for a lot of extension and composability with other standards. And then we had a royalty standard, which we worked on with the Mintbase team. So shout out to Mintbase, Mintbase.io, they just launched on the NEAR mint like a week ago. Great team, love the people over there. They’re just super warm and kind, and they have this huge community called CreateBase, which it’s kind of like a, I don’t know, like a sister organization, but it’s just the artist community. And they’re like almost 1000 people on Telegram, I think, and there’s all these nearmintbase.io stores popping up.
Mintbase started on Ethereum, and just like a lot of people, they were kind of crushed by the fees, because Mintbase is an approached NFTs is very grassroots artists focused. A lot of artists online, you can’t roll up and say, oh, yes, for every edition of this painting, you’re going to have to spend like 50 to $200. And it depends, there’s like surge pricing like Uber, you just can’t say that to some digital artists who isn’t really a technologist, but they want to actually do our work and stuff.
So shout out to Mintbase, we worked on the royalty standard, that allows royalties to be fluidly paid out to a whole ton of people, so you can create NFTs on Mintbase and other NEAR NFT platforms. And you can actually list royalty recipients and they’ll receive a perpetual royalty of the gross sale like no matter whether it’s on like secondary or whatever. So that’s great. We also just had an in house NFT marketplace that just launched for Bitcoin Miami. There’s a lot of NEAR people down there, and we have an NFT lounge going on. Can I get you the link to that? I’m just going to share all of that, I’m going to share up all these links.
HOST: For sure. I’ve been seeing that all over Twitter actually, and that’s like the one thing I would say I’m having the most FOMO about right now, I’m like dying to see that and be there in person.
MATT LOCKYER: Yes, so if you go to nftgallery.eventbrite.com, that’s an easy one, right? Like nftgallery.eventbrite.com. That’s the NFT lounge in Miami right now, literally happening right now. It’s from 10 a.m. to midnight, every day, Thursday, Friday, Saturday during Bitcoin Miami, and they just launched Pluminite. So if you go to—I just volleying links on people through audio, but I hope listen. Pluminite is P-L-U-M-I-N-I-T-E, Pluminite. That is a in house NFT marketplace gallery. There’s like free domain, there’s like a few free Mints and we’re, we’re just having fun over at NEAR, we’re just having fun. We’re making NFTs, we’re having a whole blast.
HOST: Matt, are these things that people can access later on tobe? Because just for reference, we’re recording this at the beginning of June during Bitcoin Miami, this is going to be released after the fact, and so when people are actually hearing this, can they still go to—are there still links they can check out for pluminite or for these NFT galleries?
MATT LOCKYER: For Pluminite, yes, but the NFT gallery is probably passed, I’m sorry. I got so in the hype and the FOMO of these events happening that I just realized while I was speaking to, I was like, Oh, man, they’re probably going to listen to it later. But yes, Pluminite, you can check out mintbase.io. You can definitely check out all these, NEAR is working with other developers in the ecosystem as well. I’d be missing something huge if I didn’t say, we’re also working with collab.land.
If you’ve ever joined a discord group, and you had to have a certain amount of tokens to join it, you have probably used collab.land. So they invented this sort of token curated chats. James Young, the founder, is like the godfather of token curated registries which were a big hit back in 2017, 2018, and he also was one of the cofounders of Moloch DAOs. So amazing stuff that we’re working on with them and more to come, so more kind of announcements will be coming up about some pretty big projects that we’re working on.
HOST: Nice, nice. And then taking a step back and looking at the NFT ecosystem as a whole. Where do you see NFTs going in the future? And again, like right now, for context, we’re recording this beginning of June, everybody is like freaking out about how the NFT value has been dropping like crazy. People are, kind of like, questioning the whole NFT ecosystem. So from your view, where do you see NFTs being in the long run? Are NFTs dead? Obviously, not. Just explain why they’re not, and where you see NF T’s being in the long term.
MATT LOCKYER: Yes, I’m not questioning the NFT value stuff at all. I actually—now is the time, I’m going to give you some really strong opinions. I’m probably going to get some, mean messages. I don’t think million-dollar NFT sales are particularly healthy for NFTs ecosystem or the economy, or the technology. The reason why I say that is because, I think, the only thing it does, really, is it attracts a lot of eyeballs, and the question is, what are those eyeballs? It’s largely a lot of people who are coming into NFTs, because they think there’s money here, and that’s good in some respects, and of course, we do need a lot of really strong kind of capital formation around teams of builders that are launching, like real products and stuff.
I just think that the hype and the mania is not the sustainable stuff that we want to do with this technology. So where I see NFT is going is well beyond just the simple sort of, I’m buying a JPEG, or I’m collecting a video, or an experience, and basically stating that I’m the owner, or using that as a way to flex or social, that—the scientific term social signal. I think that we’re going beyond that and we’re going into using NFTs to really create relationships between the creators and their collectors, curators, or just their fans.
We’re seeing NFTs being used as access. We’re seeing NFTs being used as a way to create a level of analytics that a creator can’t get because they’re stuck in a platform like Spotify or YouTube, and that ability to sell something that creates almost like its own social graph. But now it’s like a socio economic graph, because people kind of bought into the creators. They kind of bought in to be part of this graph, this fan base, but then, maybe they traded it and then this graph kind of evolves over time, so at one point, I might have been into some artists, some creator and then I sold the NFT, but that just got bought by somebody else.
You’re building these graphs and you’re identifying who your super fans are in this living breathing socio economic kind of graph, which is a very powerful concept. I think using games, whether they be economical, or whether they just be kind of like social games, or just like little to do tasks like, retweet this and I’ll drop an NFT to you. I think using games is starting to become like a new kind of modality for NFTs. Get an NFT and then, if you had a Gen-0 NFT, you can retweet to qualify for this next NFT, or you have to find another friend who has like, a Gen-5 NFT, and you guys have to come together and you have to show up at a webpage at the same time. You have to tweet the same thing, and you have to do some game to like smash your NFTs together to unlock some new potential, some new value.
So I think that you can actually get your—you can get a direct relationship with your fan base. And then you can piggyback by using Crypto and by using NFTs. You can piggyback on existing behaviors of gaming, you can piggyback on existing behaviors of like, sort of saving and holding, voting like so. So using your NFT—if you had to burn your NFTs or you had to burn some social tokens or whatever, to basically accomplish something, if you had to burn those items, then all of a sudden, your fan base has to make choices, and you can use that to A/B test what actually is good for your fans and what they’re truly interested in.
If that wasn’t enough, imagine, also building the narrative where your fans are part of the minting, are part of the creation process. This is like the marriage between, I think, Crypto and NFTs in particular, and user generated content with a strong brand and a strong creator, that sort of intersection is going to just explode. I think it’s going to make people—I always say it’s going to melt faces, because it’s really going to be, a crazy, hugely democratized kind of thing. A lot of people would say, well, it’s happening here, it’s happening in Steam, or it’s happening on Fortnite, they’re doing all these cool games and stuff like that. And that’s all well and good, but we know most people who are listening to this know why we’re in Crypto.
It’s great that it’s happening in one game, it’s great that it’s happening on one platform or service, but people can get cancelled, and creators can have their revenue streams cut in half, and their fan base is just ripped away from them, Facebook pages shut down, YouTube accounts shut down, and on top of all of that, fans can have their scarcity diluted by these big platforms. Like, you buy a dance move that you thought there was only going to be 500 of, so you do that economical thing of holding your dance moves, you don’t use your dance moves, and you think that you’re going to be the last person to be able to dance this dance move at a really big concert in Fortnite. Then all of a sudden Fortnite goes, hey, selling this dance was really lucrative for us, we’re going to sell another 5,000. And all of a sudden, oh, you’re not special anymore, but you were planning to be special. And so that can really crush the relationship between the fan and the game and stuff.
I think that we’re going start to see really smart creators leveraging this stuff. I think as early as this fall, I think we’re going to see a real big kind of explosion in NFTs and use cases that are beyond the table stakes, which is basically right now. Okay, you can mint an integer, and you can map it to a JPEG, and that’s table stakes now and you can let people buy and sell those on OpenSea or Rarible, or whatever platform.
I think we’re going to see real, purposeful utility that’s building relationships between creators and their fan base, and building this graph—socio economic graph. I don’t know, I should probably write a Medium article and get in front of all of this stuff that I just said, but somebody’s already probably written it as well, just like I see people writing about, composable NFTs now and I’m just like, I just keep posting my Medium article from 2018. I’m like, yes, guys, it’s all in the manual, its right here.
HOST: I mean, you for sure, we got to get on Medium or get go get on Mirror and start writing there. I’ve talked to so many people about the future of NFTs, because I think it’s fascinating and because we’re in such early days, there’s so much you can speculate about. It’s like the sky is the limit with how far your imagination takes you with the types of projects that can come out of the NFT space. I think the stuff that you just said is selling the most, like, interesting used cases that I’ve heard here from people in that are deep in the space. So I think it’s super cool.
Something else you mentioned earlier that I want to get into is Sputnik DAO. And this is another project or component of NEAR, and I actually was exposed to Sputnik DAO during DAO Rush Week, last month—I think it was last month. I got on Discord, and I can’t remember his name, but somebody from your community was on Discord and gave me a demo of Sputnik DAO, and all of it was super cool. I would love for you to tell our listeners a little bit more about what Sputnik DAO is? Like, who can use — who can create a proposal on it? Like how do you use it? All that good stuff.
MATT LOCKYER: Sure. Yes. So Sputnik DAO or if you’re using the Russian pronunciation, it’s Sputnik, or Sputnik or something like that. Basically, it’s—you can go check it out at S-P-U-T — I want to make sure I spell all this stuff correctly, I got it here though S-P-U-T-N-I-K.fund, so Sputnik.fund. You can actually find out that we just hit 100 Sputnik DAOs today. Now, obviously, we don’t have like a millions and millions and millions of Dollars in Treasury under all of these 100 Sputnik, you know, Sputnik DOAs. That’s not the point with Sputnik DAO, the point with Sputnik DAO, the point with NEAR in general is to be very happy, to be very fast, to be very experiential.
So we—you can spin up a Sputnik DAO and you can put like, $50 worth of value in it. You can take proposals, you can vote, you can do all of the proposal and voting, and stuff for pennies on $1. Then, you can actually allocate $50 of funds. It actually makes sense to do so in a DAO, I mean, amazing concept, right? I think that’s what DAOs were actually supposed to be. I have a tweet, too, I mean, it’s obviously not my clip. It’s a tweet of Steve Jobs, talking about interpersonal computing back in 1993. He was basically saying, we can use personal computers to network them together, to spin up groups around an idea, almost like a mini organization, get some work done, and, then dissolve them. That’s actually what I love about the NEAR Team, and just the wider community.
You mentioned the community member that gave you a demo of Sputnik DAO. What I love about this community is that they are really about just spinning something up and doing something, and having some fun, and then just allocating funds and dissolving. That’s what’s really cool about it, like you can actually do all of this stuff, relatively frictionlessly.
We gave away a ton of grants during ETHDenver back in February, the virtual one on 2021. And that was all through Sputnik and people just couldn’t believe how easy it was. They just went to Sputnik.fund, they wrote some text, they said, like, okay, proposal, and they just asked for like, 10 NEAR tokens to buy some pizza or something during the hackathon, and we were like, yes, sure.
And I mean, it really changes the game, when you get like down into that sort of like great UX. And Sputnik V2 is coming with a lot more—a lot more features where you can have different layers of voting and different layers of proposals and stuff, so it’s pretty comprehensive. So just keep your eyes peeled for that. It’s just great stuff. I really love what’s happening there. And I think that’s the same sort of flavor with which we launched NFT projects, like Pluminite is a low cost, easy to experiment. And then, projects like Mintbase came to NEAR, because of obviously, low fees and the ability to send out transfers to 10 or 20 different royalty recipients, and not actually have it cost a fortune.
HOST: Yes, for sure. So I know you’ve like shouted out a lot of projects that are built on NEAR already. But a question from the community hotDeFi summer on Twitter wants to know, which NEAR project do you think is flying under the ETHDenver or undervalued at the moment?
MATT LOCKYER: Ooh, that’s tricky. I want to just preface anything I say about shout outs to projects, if I missed shouting you out. I’m sorry, but I like—I have a mind that just works with what comes next. So basically, I just shout out the names and stuff.
There is another NFT project on NEAR that was actually the first it’s called Paras, it’s paras.id. They’re doing an incredible amount in revenue right now. It’s a couple of guys from Indonesia, and they thought they were going to do like an identity protocol, but then they pivoted to an NFT platform, and three weeks later, they launched, so pretty interesting story there. Paras.id, its P-A-R-A-S.
Flying under the radar, though, let me think. I’m trying to think of what do I know about that’s coming up? Well, I do think that the work that collab.land is doing, like they obviously have a Ethereum and stuff already running, but the work that they’re doing, I think, a person like James Young, he’s a futurist and he’s kind of lives—his reality is everything that I just talked about, about next Gen NFTs. He kind of just thinks, oh, yes, it’s happening, whatever is going to happen, no problem. But I think that not a lot of people are realizing the impact of some of the things that they’re working on right now, and some of the stuff that they’re building on NEAR.
There’s some big launches coming, so there’s some stuff we can’t talk about, but obviously, I think that that’s kind of a—that’s a snoozer right now, but it’s going take off probably the summer. Other projects—I know that there’s a bunch of DeFi projects, but I’m not the—again, I’m not the best person to ask about that stuff. But yes, I don’t know, just you got to follow—you got to follow the NEAR Protocol, Twitter, so like, at NEAR Protocol, and then there’s a whole bunch of NEAR community people, there’s like NEAR daily, NEAR weekly, and like all these little kind of like little parent accounts, but they have the best links.
There’s also ants guild, which is like, the original external NEAR community guild, so they’re not really part of NEAR but they cover NEAR, almost like a decentralized media company. And that’s like, I think, it’s at 4NTS Guild. They’re called a NTS Guild, but with a four so like, cool.
HOST: Yeah, very cool. No, I love it. Okay. And then, I’ve got another question from the community. This one is from Puck on Twitter, Pack or Puck, not sure what they go by, but they want to know, what is new for NEAR in 2021? Where do you see NEAR in the next year? And where do you see NEAR in five years?
MATT LOCKYER: So what was that? What’s new for NEAR in 2021?
HOST: Yes, and then, where do you see NEAR in one year? And then, where do you see NEAR in five years?
MATT LOCKYER: Okay. So in one year, we obviously know that NFTs made a bunch of like big headlines, and then they kind of dropped off. And there’s a lot of people speculating, what’s going to come next? Is it DeFi2.0? Is it DOAs-1.0? And I’m talking about this in terms of hype. Obviously, the questions around probably like, what’s going to be hype, right? Like hype, hype AF, as the kids say.
DAOs 1.0 has never really hit, right? We’ve never had like in scene two to three months run of just DAOs, right? So that could happen. I definitely think sooner than people expect, NFT 2.0 is going to happen, and I do think it’s going to happen this fall. I think NEAR is going to be really well positioned. There are some launches that are happening this summer that are going to, again, melt faces. That are going to really make NEAR like a viable contender for a place where you can not only do NFTs, but do NFTs that are like NFTs 2.0, like all of the use cases that I that I described. And probably then some—there’s lots of games launching on NEAR which is very interesting. And game companies that are taking the tack of becoming the SDK for NFTs and things like that.
So I definitely think that there’s a great chance for NEAR to be a part of that narrative of NFTs 2.0. And again, I’m sorry to say that I can’t speak a huge amount about the DeFi stuff. But let’s talk about that bridge for just one second, because the bridge is cool and Aurora as well. I’d get like excommunicated from NEAR if I didn’t talk about Aurora.
So simply put Aurora is Ethereum on NEAR, like it’s basically the EVM, it runs on NEAR. You can actually go to Aurora and you can use MetaMask and basically just switch the network to the Aurora network. So I can’t underscore this point enough or like emphasize it enough. This is crazy how technical and how safe secure, but also how well thought of the user experience is for things like working with Aurora. So if you’ve ever work with like an L2 as a developer, like a layer 2 or side chain or whatever the calling on these days, cause some debated about that on Twitter.
If you’ve worked with them you’d notice that there’s like tradeoffs or ooh, you know. You can do everything. You can do an Eth main app, but you got to just, you got to just do these little tweaks. You got to move this or spin that or do whatever, right? And then when your uses get on them, oh you just got to bridge this. You just got to do that, and it’s all these little movements.
What I can tell you about the Aurora experience and Aurora with the Rainbow Bridge is that it’s just super. It’s like the most frictionless experience ever. There’s an incredible leading it and that’s actually also one of those teams that’s actually like spinning out of like NEAR course. So true to kind of decentralization, NEAR is actually spinning out a lot of the product teams that are building some of the stuff. Myself with kind of NFT standards in consumer apps in DAOs, we’re going to be spinning out over the next, sort of six months.
The Aurora team is spinning out, I think that’s already been announced. There’s like a Cypherpunk Guild for privacy stuff built on NEAR that’s already spun out. I think they announced on Twitter this morning that they’re like their own legal entity now. I don’t know why the Cypherpunk Guild needs to be like a legal entity. It’s kind of funny.
But anyways, last thing I want to say about that Rainbow Bridge 2, is that the Rainbow Bridge it’s been up for I think the beginning of April, I want to say. And there’s been an incredible amount that’s already been transferred on it. It’s very, very, very easy to use and there’s an upcoming upgrade to it that will allow somebody—so if I want to make an NFT Marketplace and I want to mint NFTs on NEAR, because it’s cheap and easy to do so. So I want to bring a bunch of artists in and they want to mint on this NFT Marketplace which is very simply a website. If I want to open that up to users with the Ethereum, users with the Ethereum can just come to that website with their MetaMask, be on their Ethereum Mainnet so they don’t have to change anything and literally make one transaction. One transaction and the app can actually pick up what they want to do with the bridging of ethe - - USDC, USDT, you name it.
The app can actually pick up that transfer on the other side and make like a bid or purchase of an NFT. So without actually doing anything, a lot of the user experience and the things that you would normally have to go through like 14 different steps to do, are collapsed into just the one easy transaction eth you know how to do which is basically like a smart contract transaction. So that’s what I think’s amazing about projects like Aurora, projects like the Rainbow Bridge and the kind of stuff that we do at NEAR when we’re building products for real users. We’re building products for crypto users that don’t want to have to got to think too much when they want to use another chain or use another app.
So I just think there’s a tremendous amount going on right now and like lots of stuff to follow. So I hope I answered that person’s question in five years, I don’t know. It’s too far from me but in five years, I don’t know. I’d love to see a lot of big brands, a lot of big businesses and a lot of like maybe existing ones but, but I guess where my heart lies is more not with the incumbent, but like with the start-up. Unlike with new people who are kind of native to this eco-system, I’d love to see them having a lot of success and I’d love to see them in five years building on NEAR.
HOST: For sure. For sure. All right. Last thing Matt before we wrap up here. As a Podcaster I’d be you know, I have to call this out, but NEAR has their own podcast, Next Creators podcast hosted by “Sasha” from NEAR and then you occasionally you hop on and co-host as well. So tell me well, a little bit more about the podcast. Like what types of stuff do you guys talk about, what’s like the long term vision for it, do you enjoy hosting more or do you enjoy being a guest in a podcast so much more. That’s always a question I have for podcast host, because personally I like hosting so much more and so I’m just curious to hear from other people as well.
MATT LOCKYER: That’s a great question and yes, shout out to “Sasha” or Aliaksandr Hudzilin. You can find him on Twitter. He’s pretty easy to find. I think his profile picture is kind of an Uncle Sam, but his face is like being—his face is kind of like deep fake into like an Uncle Sam poster that’s like, I want you. So “Sasha” does an incredible amount for the NEAR ecosystem. He’s working with the Human Guild right now which is basically getting founders that are either close to user or have launched on Mainnet. Access to community, access to users for user trusting, access to funds, to basically likes sponsor, account creation and basically on-board users. So shout out to all the work he’s doing there with Human Guild. And his podcast is awesome.
Like if you want to go deep into like the crypto rabbit hole or the crypto idea maze, as I’ve heard it called, then you know, “Sasha’s” podcast is a great place to be. I’ve had a lot of fun hosting the podcast and I haven’t hosted in a while, but some of the people we hosted were just awesome. I think we hosted—I always—we’re not going to forget his name and forget how to pronounce this especially—oh, yeah, I think it’s the J Delanoue, sorry, from Fairmint which is a very, very interesting podcast. We hosted Robin Smith from The Defiant. The creative video guy that you probably all know about and that was so funny and so hilarious I think my cheeks hurt after kind of co-hosting that one with Sasha.
And we have Marguerite from Blockade games from Neon District and dropping all sorts of fun NFT stuff. I mean she’s a pioneer in the NFT space so. And these were like friends and acquaintances that I had made over the years and I brought them to the podcast and I said to Sasha, hey, what about co-hosting and let’s put these people on. And yeah, I love hosting, but I also like being a guest. I think that there’s a lot of noise in the space and there’s a lot of things that need kind of just clear clarity and demystifying so. And I also want to thank you Diana for the Unstoppable Domains podcast. I’ve listened to a few episodes, because I was interested in specific topics and stuff, and you’ve been doing a great job as well.
HOST: Thank you so much, Matt. I really appreciate that. I appreciate you taking the time to come on the podcast today. And before you go, tell people where they can find you if they want to connect with you personally. And then remind people where they can go to check out NEAR, and then what are some like initial cool, fun easy things that people can do on NEAR.
MATT LOCKYER: Sure. Yeah. So I’m findable on Twitter as Matt, with two Ts, D as in David which is my middle name. So there you go, still my identity. And my last name which is Lockyear, as in Lockyear private keys up, I don’t know. So it’s like Lock Y-E-A-R. I always just say lock your sh-- up. Sorry for swearing on the podcast, but, yeah, you can find me, I’m very easy to find and then I will just put it out to any founders, entrepreneurs or existing crypto projects.
If you need help understanding like the NEAR ecosystem or you need help, just even thinking through like crypto or blockchain use case or NFTs or something like that, feel free to reach out and ping me. As far as the Developer Relations Team that’s kind of what I do. No hard feelings, I’m not like a hard sell guy, if I tell you a bunch of stuff, and then you decide to go build on Ethereum, I don’t care. I think NEAR is pretty easy and pretty awesome, so if it’s right for you, it’s right for you, that’s great.
And where they can learn more about NEAR? So docs.near.org is a great place to learn more about NEAR. And there’s also that learnclub.NEAR, I mentioned, is it learncom.NEAR? No. It’s learnnear.club.
HOST: Learnnear.club. Yeah. I think that’s it.
MATT LOCKYER: Yeah. So there’s lot of ways to find out about NEAR. What something fun and cool they can do on NEAR. They can go to mintbase.io right now and they can like set up a store. You can go to wallet.NEAR.org and you can just get your name. So you better go—I mean Diana, you better go get Diana.NEAR if you can.
And I know that there’s actually—well there’s some talk between NEAR and Unstoppable Domains 2 about all this kind of connecting like names and things like that, so that’s pretty cool. What else can they do like is fun on NEAR right now. I mean there’s just tons of the NFT stuff. There’s also the Rainbow Bridge so you can go to—it’s a Ethereum.bridgetoNEAR.com because we’re probably going to maybe have some other bridges at some point in time. Don’t know when, don’t know how, Ethereum.bridgetoNEAR.com. You can try to bridge. You can send like tokens to your NEAR account. You can also visit us on testnet so if you don’t want to spend a fortune if gas prices are high. I’m sorry. You can try it on like WikiBit. You can try it on Ropsten on the Ethereum side and then you can try that on the NEAR testnet so you can get an account there wallet.testnet.NEAR.org I think, or testnet—no. wallet.testnet.NEAR.org I think.
Yeah, anyways so like lots of fun stuff. I think if you didn’t get it from hearing me on Diana’s lovely podcast here, I love to talk so I’m open to talking to anyone who wants to chat about the crypto start-up.
HOST: Awesome. Awesome. I love it. So Diana.NEAR is taken already, but I just snagged DianaChan.NEAR as you were talking so at least I’ve got that, I’ve got my full name. Very excited about it. Thank you again, Matt for coming on the podcast.
M1: Wait a second. I want to do the hosting. Diana, how easy was it to get that name on wallet.NEAR.org?
HOST: Oh, Matt, I literally did it as you were talking, so I think a minute, a minute to do it. So everybody should go on in NEAR—wallet.NEAR and then grab your NEAR name.
MATT LOCKYER: What an amazing user experience.
HOST: It was amazing. Thank you, Matt. Thank you listeners for tuning in, and we’ll be back again soon with another episode of the Unstoppable Podcast.
MATT LOCKYER: Thanks Diana.