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Explaining Web3/Crypto/NFTs/Metaverse to extreme skeptics

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Greetings all,

In this week’s episode of Ventures, my guests Greg Gallimore (Digital Experience Design (DXD) Leader for Gensler’s Northwest region), Joel Fariss (Gensler Strategy Director), and Mike Anderson (CoFounder of Alphi.xyz), and I sat down for a conversation exploring how Web3 will transform the built environment. Physical places are now inextricable from the Internet. Our buildings have become “smart,” collecting, sharing, and applying intelligence to the “user experience” of the built environment. The metaverse has opened the door to entirely immersive virtual experiences of a place. With internet mediated communication, physical proximity is no longer a precondition for access to community and knowledge. What does all this mean for the future of human experience, collaboration, and community? We discuss multiple aspects of this at length in this episode.  

Check it out: The Internet of Places :: with Greg Gallimore, Joel Fariss, and Mike Anderson

Ponzi schemes all the way down?

I’m currently on a plane heading to NFT NYC this week. Me and thousands of other people who own (arguably) overpriced JPEGs are going to hang out IRL and meet people, deepen connections, and dream about what the future of these various collections, communities, and products can look like.

In recent conversations with extreme skeptics about all this “Web3/Crypto/NFTs/Metaverse” stuff, I’m reminded yet again that not only is the Web3 world hard to explain, but there are people who are actively trying to stop it all together.  

For me, I like to start by simply following the money. Over $82B USD in volume happened on Ethereum last month. That’s a lot. In fact, about $1.23 trillion USD is tied up in all of crypto.

If we zoom into NFTs, on Ethereum alone, well over $1B USD in NFT purchases happened in the same time period.

Why are people spending that much money on JPEGs?

Yes - there is undoubtedly a ton of hype/ponzi-like schemes, pump-and-dumps, etc… This is unfortunate, but happens in every open marketplace. If we look past this, however, these communities are IMO one part new “country clubs”, one part art collectibles, and one-part tradable financial assets. This is a powerful combo.

In fact, if we zoom back out, Boston Consulting Group predicts that on-chain, tokenized assets will likely become a $16 trillion USD market by 2030 (a 50,000% increase). The explanation here is that so many real-world assets (RWA) are illiquid and clunky, and blockchains will facilitate creating markets for tokenizing basically everything.

As this happens, just imagine what will happen to video games, art, token-gated communities, collectibles, “gear” you buy for your metaverse characters AND yourself IRL, concerts, restaurants, real estate, insurance, etc…

So, the momentum and trajectory is pretty clear IMO. Yes, certain governments will try to stomp it out (and have certainly tried), but there are a ton of people who believe in free markets and limited government regulation. I have a hard time imagining collective/coordinated worldwide regulation that kills it (or even anything puts a huge dent in it besides the 90% price swings that inevitably happen anyway).

There have been plenty of crypto-adjacent failures the last year or so that have freaked everyone out, and there will undoubtedly be more, but once people realize that the underlying technology is going to change the Internet and commerce (Web3) the way that relational databases did in the 90s (Web2), activity and prices will start to soar again.

Of course, the bigger question is “is this good?”

Well, I certainly am a fan of the Icelandverse. Getting outside and having periods of flow, in nature especially, is foundational to human happiness.

Perhaps we can create incentives for people to unplug from the metaverse once in a while and go for a hike with IRL friends? Yes, there will be plenty of money to be made here as well. :)

Have a great rest of your week!