Bringing NFTs to the Masses with Brian Flynn from RabbitHoleApr 15, 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 Brian Flynn. He’s a founder at RabbitHole which is a company that lets you earn crypto by learning how to use the latest and most popular crypto apps.
BRIAN FLYNN: Thanks Diana. Great to be here.
HOST: Thanks so much for being here. To start out, I’m just curious, take me back to the start of your crypto journey. How did you get into the space in the first place?
BRIAN FLYNN: I’ve always been a big gamer in my life and always traded digital skins as a mean of making money in high school. Crypto attracted me from that angle and just gave me a little to play games and make money. I first got onto cryptos through NFTs after launching CryptoKitties because it was this interesting combination between NFTs and gaming. Then ended up writing a newsletter for a bit about NFTs and eventually landed at Dapper Labs the creator of CryptoKitties where I worked there for about a year and a half on different NFT applications.
HOST: Got it. You were super-early to the space because people are now just learning about NFTs in 2021 and you were deep in the space already back in 2018. When you first got introduced to NFTs how did you go about learning about it, wrapping your mind around the concept because people still have hard time with that today.
BRIAN FLYNN: At the time I was writing about NFTs every single week, there were probably only a dozen or so people talking about NFTs at the time and I was writing about all the crazy experiments that were happening and doing some crazy experiments myself. For example, I was selling NFT editions of my newsletter every single week with the premise that my newsletter readers can now invest in my newsletter and have each edition be a digital memorabilia, so if my newsletters were to blow up on NFTs in a couple of years then it’d be worth something.
HOST: Got it. Let’s just take a step back even further. NFT is nonfungible token. How would you explain an NFT to somebody who’s just starting to learn about it?
BRIAN FLYNN: NFT is a digital collectable. It's a digital piece of memorabilia that represents ownership. This piece of ownership in this collectable is entirely platform agnostic so you can bring it in from platform to another in the same way that you could potentially bring a Fortnite skin from Fortnite to a different gaming platform in itself. A lot of creators are using NFTs right now just to give ownership to their fans.
HOST: Got it. What do you see as being some of the major challenges to widespread adoption of NFTs? I know we’ve taken many strides forward, but there are still plenty of people out there who don’t know what an NFT is, never heard of it, never heard of the big artist drops that have happened lately. What do you think is the block there?
BRIAN FLYNN: I think it's a couple of things. One is the word NFT in itself is not very easy to understand the first time you see it. It's interesting because in the early days NFTs inserts in so many discussions around should we change, reword NFT? Should we change it to something else for people to understand what it is? NFT just like GIFs in some cases just caught on or mp3. It was a new file format that people just like natively understood and never asked what the acronym of it in itself.
I think the other thing that’s holding it back right now is the concept of crypto wallets is hard to understand for a lot of people. You need a crypto wallet in order to buy NFTs in the first place from your favorite creators. It will take a long time for people to understand that the wallets are this gateway and you need to know what a wallet is before you can have an NFT in the first place.
HOST: Got it. Okay. That leads me in a rabbit hole because the whole reason you founded RabbitHole, not to take your story from you, is because you saw some of the challenges to widespread adoption of crypto and you decided to create some educational tools to combat that.
Tell people a little bit more about what RabbitHole is for people who aren’t familiar and what are some of the cool things you can do on it?
BRIAN FLYNN: I like to describe RabbitHole as the treasure map for crypto. A lot of people don’t know what you can do in crypto, they don’t know places to earn, but this is a new digital economy with all these different kinds of different applications that you can now become sort of a digital worker in these blockchains themselves.
We’re basically just trying to give and showcase these opportunities to users who enter crypto the first time to show that this an entirely new way to earn a living off, frankly.
We have things in RabbitHole such as decentralized finance application, so rewarding users for doing their first lending and borrowing transactions. We have decentralized exchanges rewarding users for swapping for the first time or even buying and selling NFTs. We’re just trying to give these blueprints to how to get started in crypto and do your first transactions while rewarding you in the process.
HOST: It's pretty much free money for learning about basic things in crypto.
BRIAN FLYNN: Pretty much, yes.
HOST: Awesome, cool. Tell me more about the people that are using it right now. Is it still just crypto natives that are using it right now or have you gotten some good traction with the mainstream population?
BRIAN FLYNN: We’re spending a lot of time right now on our onboarding because we do have a bunch of people who are entering crypto the first time, they just want to discover where to get applications to deal. We’ll probably spend a lot of time on that. We’ve gotten some pretty decent traction in this space in NFT ways.
What we want to go for is the crypto natives and some context. That’s what's valuable at the end of the day is building a product for these crypto natives that finds work that they're already doing every single every. There are already hundreds if not thousands of people in crypto that work for multiple protocols and multiple networks as their full means of income that are doing these decentralized jobs in some sense and they're making a living. We want to give these opportunities to people who are qualified to do the work in itself.
We’re working on two different things here. Working on one first building a new type of reputation for these individual users, so giving them the right verifiable credentials and degrees and reputations to qualify themselves for these decentralized jobs. On the other side of things, just the work opportunities available to start earning in this world as well. It will start evolving from first this first beginner entryway into crypto towards this world of more sophisticated crypto natives doing and using it as a work platform similar to like Asana or like a - - projects and tools.
HOST: Got it. How long do you envision until everybody is using it? Like companies across the board are using this to onboard their people into this space.
BRIAN FLYNN: Hopefully soon. That’s the goal. It would be great if it was tomorrow, but it's not the reality. Ideally this is the onboarding platform for this new digital economy and we’re working pretty closely with teams right now to try and create their onboarding flow - - to these digital applications.
Frankly, there's a lot of things holding it back right now. Ethereum is very slow and expensive, gas fees are high so that’s inhibiting a lot of use right now. I think once we have much more scalable blockchains and better UX with crypto wallets I think we’ll have a lot more adoption coming our way.
HOST: For sure. Are there other companies out there that are doing what you guys are doing? I know on Coinbase you can go through these short video courses, answer questions and get free crypto, but obviously they're not trying to build this into something bigger like you are, but is there anybody else like you guys out there?
BRIAN FLYNN: There are a bunch of education platforms that write blogposts and articles about certain things but not in the sense of incentivizing usage directly and tracking that usage across the different applications.
HOST: Got it. Where do you see this space evolving and let’s start with the next year and then also maybe build into that what RabbitHole is coming out with in the next year.
I know this is an impossible question, but if you can envision what this space will look like in ten years, try to paint a picture for us there.
BRIAN FLYNN: It's interesting because right now there is a huge boom in NFTs and I think it's just at the beginning of it. Maybe in a year from now you'll have a ton of NFT creators or mentors in some cases, who are just trying to get attention for their NFTs right now. What people do right now is they do these drops on NFT platforms as a means of generating a lot of attention and selling out. Eventually that playbook won’t work anymore because everyone is doing it, so we’ll need new ways of getting attention. Then there will be these curation platforms basically people who are getting paid to have their NFTs directly on these platforms itself and it's going to be like the new record label.
These curation platforms are now saying maybe I want this NFT, this NFT, and maybe this NFT on my platform, and I’ll help the creator sell it and get a portion of the royalties when it's sold in itself. You'll see these different curation platforms popping out in the next year or so and even be entirely decentralized in itself.
People who make the decision of what NFTs should be on the platform are determined by token holders or people who own those platforms themselves, the users of the platform. That would be one interesting model to watch.
In the context of RabbitHole, RabbitHole is also a curation platform. We’re basically curating which opportunities are most valuable to the user in some context. We brand ourselves as the recruiting marketplace for this new type of digital work.
What we’re doing is now curating all these different opportunities to see what is relevant to a specific type of user and we’re getting to the point where we have everyone is transacting on chain, in a couple of years and do all digital work on chain, and now we can say what opportunities are most relevant to a user in the same way that in Facebook or Instagram you can suggest what products, to suggest for the user to buy.
What you do in blockchain is you can basically look at someone’s transaction history and they're completely anonymous so it's not like privacy inducing in some cases and say this person might be suited for this job opportunity to transact in this network because they’ve done all these other things on chain, and you could almost suggest what the best opportunity for them is. These curation platforms where they're basically suggesting and populating what data is valuable is going to become extremely important in the next year or two as more people are creating their own tokens and minting their own token on chain. That’s the one, two-year play for both the curation at RabbitHole.
Then I think on the five through ten-year horizon is where it gets interesting is where that trend of everyone creating tokens starts to accelerate you start to see all these sub-Redditt’s like WallStreetBets moving on chain. You start to see all these NFT. Basically, every creator YouTube creator, Instagram creator will be moving on chain and issuing their own NFTs and now giving those tokens to their fans and their following or community members. Then they can build their own communities and platforms that are entirely platform agnostic.
One of the challenges right now with the social media platforms is that when you're in a new community or a new creator and going towards a new platform you have to build that following from scratch. It's frustrating in a lot of cases. What you can do with blockchains and tokens is now if you can distribute that token to your fans and your following, you can now build an on-chain representation of that relationship saying this is the Instagram creator, these are the fans. Now you can build entirely new interface around that relationship in itself.
Decentralized social networks will no longer pertain to like one individual interface or platform but it will be spanning across hundreds if not thousands of different interfaces. These decentralized networks will be more of our, on the protocol level where anyone can now build the frontend or the interface that then it sits on top of and that is more in the five to ten years.
It goes back to what was the true vision of the internet. In the early nineties, the original internet was that anybody could create their own webpage and you can traverse between these different webpages and it was focused on website building. What happened was that these conglomerates started to spin out from Facebook to YouTube and Google where people are basically put all their attention into the hands of three to five different websites where all the data is being held between those things. Now they're breaking free from those chains a lot and spinning out of those conglomerates when now anyone is now just building their own websites but built on top of this on chain data. Where this on chain data is in a permanent way, where these NFTs sort of permanently on chain and then they're just building blocks for people to build their own websites on top of.
I think we’ll see a lot of interesting applications built on top of that. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw a decentralized Twitter built on top of NFTs in the next few years or decentralized YouTube built on top of NFTs. Or each of the tweets and the videos are NFTs in themselves and the entire - - of the application is built into that as well.
HOST: Got it. That was a lot, and I think especially as we’re getting into the five-to-ten-year trajectory prediction, whatever you want to call it, I think it gets pretty abstract because we’re getting into things that we’re basically trying to envision a new internet and this is like talking to somebody about the internet we know today back in the eighties, it's hard to wrap your mind around it.
What I always am curious to know is walk me through how this would work in real life. Say we’re ten years down the line and everything’s on chain and then there's a decentralized Twitter that I’m on and maybe I’ve got a decentralized website, all these things, walk me through what are the things I can do on it. What is my day-to-day like? I’m checking Twitter now. What does that even mean?
BRIAN FLYNN: Good question. Say I am a creator of a community, say you are a member of the community, I will give you a token that is now ownership in that community as well because tokens represent ownership. Any third-party developer can now look at the relationship between me and you and build an interface that represents relationship and maybe another developer can also build that context as well. It's basically permissionless building in some context where you can now build something that represents that relationship.
You can imagine all these NFT creators and communities that have the tokens doing the same thing. Now that they're giving out these tokens to fans as a means of ownership because they’ll no longer be about trying to maximize their own profit as an independent but more about coownership in these communities and you'll even see a lot of these communities trying to become distributing ownership would be the most important thing that they do in some context and trying to align people to build entirely new products built on that coownership of these communities.
It doesn't answer your question in some context in some way.
HOST: I’m going to jump in real quick. When you say for instance, we’re ten years down the line, me and you are connected and we have these on chain transactions, maybe we talk a lot about VR fitness or something. This developer picks up on that and goes, oh, there could be a whole community of people that are interested in VR fitness. I don’t even have to go outside to get fit, this is great. Then they could build a VR fitness product on top of that and sell it to us and get us to promote it to our community. Is that how it would work?
BRIAN FLYNN: Exactly, yes. They see that relationship between us that we have this shared interest and now that perhaps they have some NFT whether it's a new game that has some VR NFTs in it, NFTs in it, then they can sell that product to us because we know that affiliation that living on chain in some aspect.
That’s also entirely platform agnostic. That’s the important part here. This isn't just targeting in the same way that Facebook or Instagram does, but it's now looking at the chain as a means of representation and then doing targeting based upon that social graph and in that context.
HOST: I think that’s something that’s a little hard to wrap my mind around as well because now if you want to engage with anybody whether it's somebody on Twitter, somebody on Facebook you have to log into that specific platform. To try and picture a life where there are no platforms and we can still have these transaction and communications I think is just a little difficult to wrap my mind around.
BRIAN FLYNN: Yes. I think the important point here is that there still will be platforms, they just won’t be the big conglomerates that you see today. Instead of using two or three platforms say whether it’s like TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube, it will be more like 10 or 20 different interfaces all built by independent developers. Maybe it’s just that those 10 or 20 are the different communities or people you interact with. You will be able to go into those interfaces if you want to interact with that community specifically with its own website. Then there's entirely new smart contracts that live between each of those websites and the individual.
The individual interfaces are going to be more powerful from the sum of its parts than these entire conglomerates that we’re seeing today. The users of these platforms won’t be looking on chain seeing these social graphs. It will be more of these developers that are just building interfaces for these consumers and their users to interact within itself. It's kind of the distinction here.
HOST: Got it. Right now, if you're on Facebook you can only interact with other Facebook users. I can’t interact with your Twitter account. In the future you can interact with people cross platform. The platform isn't the main thing that we’re focused on.
What is this going to do to the big social media networks that we know today, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Are they not going to exist in the future? How is that going to work?
BRIAN FLYNN: That’s the golden question. It remains to be seen. The interesting thing about NFTs as a media lingo is it showcases that you can have a business model that not relying on ads. There's been so much scrutiny on social networks even in the past three years, especially around how all these conglomerates own their data and monetize your attention just to sell more ads. Now for the first time you can build a social media platform that’s not relying on ads, but represents ownership in these things directly. People can now buy and own different pieces of media on a platform and those platforms can now have co-ownership with the users themselves. It's no longer another corporation trying to appease stockholders, but now that these users of the platform are now financially aligned in some context you have to make that platform more valuable and build a business model together around that platform in itself. That is the big core innovation of decentralized social networks. It's not reliant on ads but more around the idea of ownership.
HOST: That raises another good question is how will ads work? Right now, we all know we’re not the customer on these social networks, we’re the product. Without us being on there and Facebook being able to collect all our data there is no Facebook. In the future how will ads work and ads targeting? Is it just going to be individual developers identifying transactions like we talked about like before our transactions between us on chain about us talking about VR fitness or whatever interests us, and then sending products to us through that or how will big companies like Google ship out these ads?
BRIAN FLYNN: Yes. It’s a good question. I think there will be two different ways. I think you'll still see the same ad model that you see today like you'll always be wanting to give attention to a brand or a product in front of what has a lot of attention from users. I think there will be another form of advertising that’s already being seen today in the NFT world.
One major trend that’s happening right now is that there's a bunch of NFT collectors who have lots of money and almost space makers in these communities. They basically decide what is valuable in some context. By the way, their addresses are known to everyone. What a lot of these NFT artists are trying to do especially when they're new is get attention from these space makers or from these collectors so then their art isn't as valuable. What a lot of them end up doing is transferring or airdropping their NFTs or digital art to these space makers for free and say you know own this NFT that I created, isn't it cool? Don’t you want it? That’s like a new form of advertising. It's the same as giving out your mix tapes on the street for free for people to notice you. This is like a digital forum of giving away something that you now have ownership on that you're going to sell. It's that model of digital ownership and trying to get people’s attention by distributing digital goods for free. That’s going to be the second model of advertising.
HOST: Like what Instagram influencers do right now. If you work with a brand, a brand might ship you free product or whatever for you to make a post and talk about them and things like that. That’s that model. With the first model I’m also wondering do you envision a scenario where the user owns their own data. Say I have data on who my followers are and I can maybe sell that to a company that wants to ship out ads.
BRIAN FLYNN: They don’t only just live entirely on chain in some context. A user of whoever’s doing the transacting data technically owns that data but everyone can see the data as a whole. It comes back to this concept of the on chains social graph it doesn’t have interface. Everyone will see that that data exists between everyone but it's not like this private encapsulation that exists today.
HOST: Another thing that just popped into mind, with everything being on chain how will people have privacy? Right now, some people have private Instagram accounts. You got to follow them to see their stuff. How can we make sure that not everything single thing I post and every single thing I tweet at anybody is just going to be out there for everybody to see?
BRIAN FLYNN: Yes. I would say that some things won’t be on chain. I think there will still be a reason for why you don’t want things on chain. Maybe it's more ephemeral. In essence when it's on chain, it just means that it's permanent and you have ownership around something.
Privacy will probably emerge in two ways in the social settings. One, it will be everyone either becomes anonymous in some cases and that may be plays out in a longer timeline where you might know someone’s handle but you don’t know their actual real name. That is one possible scenario.
I think another possible scenario is that blockchains just become more private as a result, so that you'll be able to theoretically maybe see one piece of someone’s transaction history but not see another piece of their transaction history. It's still remains to be seen of how that plays out but privacy is definitely one of the biggest challenges of public blockchains because everything is visible that a lot of people are trying to figure out how exactly it will work.
HOST: I know that's something that I've seen conversations on Twitter about this too is there any way to buy NFTs anonymously? It seems like everybody that buys the high-priced NFTs you can figure out who bought it and go check them out and stuff like that. What if I just want to buy an NFT anonymously. Or what if somebody wants to go buy an OnlyFans NFT and maybe they don’t want everybody in their network that they're buying OnlyFans NFTs. Are there ways for people to buy NFTs anonymously today?
BRIAN FLYNN: The way people buy NFTs anonymously is just by creating a new wallet so they’ll just spin up a new wallet and fresh address funded with ETH and then buy the NFT itself. Yes.
HOST: Last thing about decentralized social networks. Are there any decentralized social networks that exist today and if not, how long until we see these play out in real life?
BRIAN FLYNN: Yes, they do exist today on very small scales is the answer. There are platforms like Mirror that’s a decentralized medium, like a publishing platform, where you can now create your own articles and mint them as NFTs. It showcases the relationship between the writer of each of the articles and also the person who owns each of those blogposts as itself. Because that on chain representation relationship exists, that is technically a decentralized social network. The thing is that platform still has hundreds of users, it's not big in some context. I think that’s okay.
The interesting thing that’s going to play out here is that people are going to look at decentralized social networks and blockchain applications and paint the market as tiny. They're going to see it only has 50,000 users as opposed to the hundreds of millions of users that these social network platforms have. The interesting this is that because it's an entirely new business model based off ownership the average revenue per user is astronomically higher than the ads model rate. It's a factor of 10 to 20x higher because now you have people transacting and buying things in the platform because they want ownership, they're investing in the platform in itself. That’s going to be a tough challenge with the decentralized social networks.
It needed some context. NFTs in itself is also a decentralized social network just without the platform to do them in. There are some people creating galleries and showcases to show off your NFTs and that is theoretically a decentralized social network but just again, very primitive, very early-stage days like this is even before Myspace even exists in equivalence. It's still a long road ahead.
HOST: For sure. I’ll be curious to see where we end up in the next 5 or 10, 20 years. Switching gears a little bit here, I want to talk about social tokens. This is something that you also spent a lot of time thinking about. You Tweeted a list of questions about social tokens back in September of 2020. Thanks Mason Nystrom for digging this up for me, but I want to go through some of these and ask if you have come up with answers to these yet, now almost six months later.
I guess a good place to start is tell people who aren't familiar with what social tokens are, what is a social token. Then maybe take a step back and talk about what are other types of tokens so there's product tokens which are NFTs that we just talked about. There are social tokens, curation tokens, community tokens, personal tokens, all these different types of tokens, break it down for people, what's the difference between all these things.
BRIAN FLYNN: The interesting thing with definitions and early stages is that they use these definitions as a scaling point of ways to talk about that these things exist. The definitions are always changing. The thing with social tokens directly was it encapsulates a lot of things, encapsulates personal tokens, an individual issuing their own token around their own personal brand. It encapsulates community tokens, so a brand or a community issuing their own token as just a means of fan engagement. Even like media tokens, medias can issue their own tokens to now provide access to digital economy with its fans and its followers itself. I think that would encapsulate a definition of social tokens like at this very moment. Again, that definition is changing daily.
I think in a broader category and zooming out there's just two categories of tokens. There's NFTs which is nonfungible tokens and then there's fungible tokens which is ERC-20s or what social tokens lies on there.
HOST: Talk a little bit more about some of the uses of social tokens.
BRIAN FLYNN: The most popular use case that’s probably used by 99% of social tokens is gated access. It's this concept of you need to hold a certain amount of tokens in your crypto wallet in order to access this community or this person. It's no longer you have to pay a subscription to get access to this community, it's just buy this token and hold it and now you have all this access to all this community and this content.
The interesting thing with that over subscriptions is that now you're basically investing at the same time that you have access. Maybe it costs a hundred tokens when you're getting access to this community, but maybe the price of that token goes up in the next few months because more people are getting access to the community and they're demanding access. It has better price discovery in some aspects with these social tokens in itself.
For example, I created a social token called $JAMM back in the summer of last year and I used it for a token gated access to a newsletter whereas you needed a hundred social tokens of $JAMM in order to access my newsletter and at the time it cost about $10 to access the newsletter but after two months of writing it's ended up costing $3 to access the newsletter each week. It just evolved as - - . There's a whole host of social tokens. I think it's a lot - - questions in that Twitter thread itself so I’m happy to dig into it more.
HOST: For sure. First of all, one thing that I find interesting about social tokens is that a huge complaint of social media for us today is that it almost makes us less social even though it's called social media. It's inhibited our ability to just have in person conversations, call up somebody on the phone and build genuine community because we’re constantly engaging with all these followers that we've never even met before on Instagram. That’s the criticism of our current social media internet 2.0 situation.
What I'm hearing you say is there's a lot of potential for social tokens to build community in a more genuine way and I want to hear you talk out that thought a little bit more too.
BRIAN FLYNN: The interesting thing with social tokens is that because it represents ownership in the community and creating that relationship now everyone involved had an aligned interest in the success or the outcomes, and this was never the case before with the subscription model in some cases because it was almost transactional, where you bought into something because you wanted access to the creator or some context, but you didn’t care about any other people in the community. Unless you join the community for the community itself.
I think there's two problems with this. One is it has the potential to form better relationships because people are in it for a reason you could match people who have interest because you have their own chain social graphs to do better matching. The reason why this never panned out is because people care more about speculation and the financial interest of the token as opposed to the community building in itself. Once it becomes about speculation and about financial interests, people become greedy. This is one thing that’s going to be the challenge with social tokens is how can you form human relationships with people in the context of crypto when everything is about the price or about investment and I don’t have a good answer to that honestly.
HOST: We’re still so early stage and it will be interesting to see how all of this evolves. If you envision us being ten years into the future, do you see everybody holding their own social token?
BRIAN FLYNN: Yes, I think everyone is going to be issuing their own NFTs and from the NFTs they’ll be able to fractionalize those NFTs to give ownership to other people. If I have an NFT I can give you say 20% of that NFT and when it sells, I’ll get 80%, you'll get 20%. I think friends will do that with each other to give financial outcomes to their friends and the community member as a whole.
The fractionalization of NFTs in itself represented in social tokens is going to lead to everyone issuing their own tokens. There's obviously a lot of regulatory issues there that can definitely be brought up. I think it's the point where that Pandora’s box has been opened and that we’re already on this trajectory for everyone to have their own social token through the proliferation of NFTs.
HOST: For sure. I can’t remember if we were talking about this on air or off, but you mentioned earlier that the concept of likes and follows right now that we know of is not going to exist in the future and rather it would be you issuing your own social tokens and NFTs and things like that to get followers in essence.
Essentially what you're saying is everybody will have their own social tokens and then anybody that wants to quote/unquote follow them as we know of today, could buy one of those social tokens or buy an NFT or a part of an NFT and in that way they're essentially deemed as a follower.
BRIAN FLYNN: Exactly. Buying a new token is the new follow and bidding on an NFT is a new like is the methodology right now.
HOST: What about for people that are not content creators. We’re not talking about the Instagram influencers and the YouTubers; we’re just talking about the average Joe who let’s say the lawyer down the street who has Facebook to keep in touch with all their high school friends but otherwise isn't a content creator of any sort. How will people like that be able to issue their own social tokens? Are we just assuming that their friends will want to pay money to them to be shown on the chain as a friend of theirs or how will that work?
BRIAN FLYNN: It's a good question. A lot of people have chats in high school with their friends and stuff like that. What ends up happening is that they’ll be able to come invest with their friends in some context so that maybe they have like a running joke from high school or something that they're passionate about together which is why they're friends in the first place. Maybe they want to create their own NFTs as just a way to show their fandom to that brand or that information itself.
You'll basically be able to share an upside of those creations in itself. It'll be interesting because the number of NFT minters is going to increase exponentially because it's the easiest business to start in the world. Even friends and the average Joe is going to be creating their NFTs just because it's a new way of transferring value and having digital ownership between different people. Then they're going to want to give some fractional tokens, some fractional social tokens because they want their friends and family to share any upside of what they're doing in itself.
It'll be pretty common that a lot of NFTs will probably be a joke and honestly, they’ll probably never be sold. A lot of people will just have NFTs because it's a different hobby for most people. In that context and following that mindset, most NFTs and social tokens will probably be playful. They’ll be so playful to the point where it will feel very normal to mint it and sell and bid on NFTs. It won’t feel very financial at all. You be able to bid on different tokens, you can bid with your friend’s token, you can bid with the Kardashian token for example or the - - Emilio token. It will feel very normal in that context to be using different tokens in different playful ways.
HOST: Another question that you had posed to yourself and I’m wondering if you found an answer to is, can I have the same social tokens across all platforms or is each platform going to issue their own special social token.
BRIAN FLYNN: Because tokens are platform agnostic that you'll be able to carry your tokens from one platform to another. What was interesting is that platforms itself can have its own token to have the co-ownership in the platform. I think a good example is if there's a decentralized Twitter or a decentralized medium those will each have its own token to represent ownership in that platform but within that platform it will have different social tokens representing each of the people creating or publishing on those platforms in itself.
I visualize a world of different levels of tokens here all playing out that have programmable cash flow traveling from one level of token to the next level of token as well.
HOST: Got it. Then the last question I wanted to pull out from your long list of questions is, what is the psychological effect on creators having a price tied to their work and how does it compare to the number of followers on Instagram. What's the long-term effect of this? Do you see this as the same thing where you could say people can lose self-confidence or beat themselves up about not getting more followers on Instagram in the same way that they might beat themselves up about not having anybody invest in their tokens and NFTs, or do you see the effects of that being stronger?
BRIAN FLYNN: This is an interesting question. Something I spent too much time thinking about when I truly shouldn’t honestly. I added my own social token and I did it mostly as an experiment to see what it would feel like and be like - - never happened. In the same way that a lot of Instagram creators check their following every single day and sometimes they get upset if they have unfollows, imagine those effects at 5 to 10X stronger because there's a price attached to it. Imagine if for example, you get, and this is a terrible scenario, but imagine you get sick or something bad happens to you or you can get cancelled. Then your token price drops like 30, 40% and you lose most of your net worth as a result because all your net worth is tied up in your social token. That has had some pretty devastating effects on the individual in itself and the feedback that exists with tokens is going to be a lot stronger in social media platforms today because it's much more in real time. Things happen so fast.
You could even see this today with crypto like if someone has insider information, you'll see the market respond first because you can basically buy up tokens in the market before the news hits. The same thing will apply in social tokens where you'll get this faster feedback before the news breaks of what's happening.
It's definitely a problem and it will definitely happen and I’m interested to see how we can curb the effects of that because I think it's going to be a big problem even for the adoption of social tokens.
HOST: For sure. Have you thought about any possible solutions, maybe something that you'll be working on in the future?
BRIAN FLYNN: It's a very tricky scenario. There's always a scenario where you might want to issue your own stable coin that doesn’t have a price attached to it. That way you're just issuing digital cash to some aspect. You don’t have to worry about the price anymore, but then you don’t give ownership to your fans, they're not able to coinvest.
I think you'll just see different levels on the spectrum between these super-volatile token structures other than more conservative token structures like sample coins, but nothing that comes to mind as a solution at this moment. Just trying to focus on crypto education RabbitHole.
HOST: For sure. In this next segment we call this explain your Tweet. This is where I go through your Twitter account and I pull out any interesting or cryptic or funny Tweets and I give you a chance to explain them. The first one I’m going to pull out, this is something that you just alluded to slightly, this is a Tweet from March 7th. You said benefits of moving the university model on chain, one, digital work can be cryptographically signed through digital identity. Two, progress of student known by platforms when they connect their wallet via transaction history and three, on chain ISAs to motivate student earn while you learn.
A lot of moving pieces here. I’m going to give you chance to explain what you meant by all that.
BRIAN FLYNN: I like to think about this in the context of digital work and things that we’re doing on the internet. I think the physical world, the physical jobs definitely apply to this so I’ll start off saying that. If we think about how online courses were today especially coding classes, like if we’re taking a course on say Codecademy and we’re making a lot of progress on that, if we move off of Codecademy and try to freeCodeCamp for example our progress isn't saved on freeCodeCamp, it goes away. We have to start completely new. What's interesting about if Codecademy and freeCodeCamp was on chain, then you’d be able to know the progress of the user so each time they go into their coding the many training modules and courses that is all saved and verifiable proof on chain that they’ve completed those courses. Now you can tell what the skill level of that user is or that student is because they went from one platform to another.
It becomes interesting because now that all this progress of the student is on chain, now you can do things like unchain ISAs where you can say this student showed this level of knowledge, they have a good chance of learning this stuff and learning this skill in the next two months if they follow this trajectory. You can do a lot better pricing of these ISAs because you have this on chain data of the student in some capacity.
Even in the context of the Lambda School which does off chain income share agreements where people want to learn coding - - they don’t have any data to say how well this student will perform and how well they’ll go through and get the job in the future. It's all based off an application process. Now because the digital identity is on chain with all the progress from all different learning courses it's much easier to price that information and underwrite that student for their education as well and transition to a digital economy.
I think as more digital jobs exist, whether it's coding or curating or even NFT minting, I think all these things can now be done on chain and a whole new university model can be developed around these digital jobs of saying here is the best way to go from being an NFT creator to this NFT hotshot, here are the different steps you need to do, here's everything you need to learn and be proving that on chain. Then even getting a loan for starting your NFT business because you’ve proven you’ve done all these education modules because it's all verifiable on chain, that’s the future that we’re moving towards right now where the certified proof is basically giving you this progress - - on chain and getting the potential to earn while you learn almost.
HOST: Got it. Do you see this completely putting universities put of business with the current model that universities operate under or do you still see universities being around for STEM majors and certain majors but not for others?
BRIAN FLYNN: Yes, I think they'll still exist for STEM for jobs in the physical world. I think just anything digital would move to this new model.
HOST: This next Tweet that I’m going to pull out from March 5th of this year. You Tweeted soon there will be thousands of community-owned curation DAOs, all of them will be following the same playbook competing on finding Talen and Minty and selling NFTs. A large slice of each NFT sales goes towards the creator and the remaining towards the DAO. This is something we didn’t get a chance to talk about today, but talk a little bit about what you mean by that. Maybe start from the beginning like what is a DAO, and then get into what you meant by that Tweet.
BRIAN FLYNN: Where do I start on this one? What's interesting about NFTs in some context, I think I mentioned this before, is that you can give ownership to friends or families or even curators, people who help you sell your NFT in the first place. If you think about what's happening in music right now and a lot of artists are issuing its own NFTs and even dropping their record labels because they realize they don’t need their record labels any more to make money.
A record label model is still going to exist, but it's going to exist in the form of curators which are going to be entirely decentralized to some extent. These curators are basically going to say this music is valuable and present it as an NFT, and we’ll help the artist sell it and sell it to a fan for a high amount of value. That curator can now be decentralized and into the form of a DAO which is basically just a collective that’s owned by a bunch of individual users empowered by a token. The curator DAOs for example are the new record label and there will be thousands of them and they're just the media brands or the talent agencies that are now just curating these different entities and helping the talent sell their NFTs to their fans basically brokering the deal in some aspect and getting financial upside.
HOST: I have one more Tweet to call out. This one should be a quick one. This is from March 8th. You said collectively owned brands is the digital equivalent of locally sourced food. What does that mean?
BRIAN FLYNN: You're going with my most RabbitHole Tweets.
HOST: These are just the most cryptic ones.
BRIAN FLYNN: Exactly their the most cryptic. The interesting thing brands are evolving in three phases. There were brands with IP with certain first stage before the early 2000s. Then after 2000s it was creators as the new brands or communities as the brands or the next new brands. Then there's this third stage evolving which is co-owned brands or collectives are the new brands. Would you rather pledge your support for a collective that you can be a part of and have some financial upside or an internet celebrity that you're just showing your affiliation to or your support and I think this is going to be, in the same way that IP in brands were challenging like the creator model in the early 2000s, I think you'll have the individual celebrities and the creators challenging the collective model. A lot of the independent creators are going to try to be independents - - most financial upside but what's going to win here is the collective brands that are now co-owned by a bunch of creators and users. It's more of the collective being the - - like they're supporting the whole as opposed to the individual. It's easier to predict the whole because everything is more transparent in some cases. That’s all I got for that one.
HOST: I will say that your Twitter is just full of cryptic Tweets like that. I could have literally—
BRIAN FLYNN: [Interposing] I don’t understand half my own Tweets, I’ll be honest.
HOST: Okay. I think they're fascinating and I would love to go through and dive into all of them, but for people listening you should just go follow Brian on Twitter and maybe Tweet at him and maybe he’ll get back to you about what he means by these.
Thanks so much Brian for doing this, taking the time to be on the podcast. I enjoyed the conversation and can’t wait to see some of the things that we talked about today come to light in the next year, or five, ten years. Before you go just tell people where they can find you if they want to get ahold of you personally and also where they can go to learn more about RabbitHole and what are some of the cool things that they can do initially once they find RabbitHole and sign up for it?
BRIAN FLYNN: You can find me on Twitter @FlynnJAMM, two Ms, two Ms, and you can go to RabbitHole at RabbitHole.gg and sign up there.
HOST: Awesome. Thank you so much Brian. I enjoyed this conversation. Thank you, listeners, for tuning in and we’ll be back again soon with another episode of the Unstoppable Podcast.
BRIAN FLYNN: Thanks for having me.