The crypto space continually evolves, and the advanced use cases for NFTs broaden with it. In this episode, Jeff Kelley, Eathan Janney, and Josh Kriger chat with Alan Chiu of Boba Network about how they contribute to this growth. As the CEO and Founder, he leads the efforts to achieve Boba Network’s goal of bringing Ethereum to the next billion users worldwide. He discusses how they aim to make the space more accessible with multi-chain L2 scaling, augmenting solutions, and their hybrid compute capability. Learn more about Boba Network and the exciting stuff they’re bringing to the table by tuning in to this episode. Plus, don’t miss today’s hot topics with recaps of NFT NYC and discussions on NFT Parties.
Listen to the podcast here
Alan Chiu Of Boba Network, The Multi-Chain L2 Scaling & Augmenting Solution, Plus: NFT Party Continues, NFT NYC Recap, And More…
This episode features Alan Chiu, the Cofounder and CEO of Boba Network. Alan has more than twenty years of experience in building and investing in enterprise and FinTech startups. He leads the efforts to achieve Boba Network’s goal of bringing Ethereum to the next billion users worldwide. Boba offers fast exits backed by community-driven liquidity pools, shrinking the optimistic rollup exit period from seven days to only a few minutes while giving LPs incentivized yield farming opportunities.
Boba’s extensible smart contracts will enable developers across the Ethereum ecosystem to build dApps. It will then invoke code executed web-scale infrastructure, such as AWS Lambda, making it possible to use algorithms that are either too expensive or impossible to execute on-chain. Boba Network aspires to be the people’s L2 that puts users and developers first. The goal is to build a pragmatic L2 that is the first step towards opening Ethereum to the next billion users. Alan, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me.
Alan, you’re doing Boba. It’s a multifaceted and massive vision that we’re talking about here. We’re excited to unpack it for the show. It’s certainly not like other farming projects. I’d love to talk to you a little bit more about your origin story and how all of this came to be.
First of all, I came from a distributed systems background. I studied Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. I worked on two distributed systems startups that both had a successful exit. When blockchains came along, by then, I had moved into the venture space and became an investor. I still felt that I had to jump in and do something in this space because the permissionless nature of blockchains changes the game and takes the whole distributed systems space to a whole new level by introducing decentralization.
Eventually, a few years ago, I partnered with Jan Liphardt, a professor from Stanford Engineering, to start our company, Enya. We started exploring applications for blockchain and some of the more advanced crypto graphics techniques. After DeFi Summer happened, there was a lot of congestion on Ethereum. We thought that the infrastructure was not scalable enough to keep up with the demand created yet.
The thing about DeFi Summer was it was all crypto natives doing transactions on Ethereum. That alone was enough to drive gas fees to a pretty high level. What about the rest of the world? If you didn’t come in early enough, it was too expensive for normal people to participate, and that didn’t feel fair to us. We thought that to solve this problem fundamentally, we’ve got to increase the compute capacity of the underlying decentralized infrastructure. On top of that, how do we bring the benefits of crypto to everybody around the planet?
We needed to have all the brightest developers join the Web3 movement, but one of the barriers to entry for a developer is how little they can do in a smart contract. You can only perform basic computations. You can’t even do machine learning. Forget about being a top engineer at Google. Things are jumping into Web3 or talking about it. You take a loan and start learning what it takes to build Web3 applications. You’re like, “I got to throw away all of these advances in computer science that I’ve taken for granted for the last twenty years?” That’s not going to fly.
We decided we needed to not just scale Ethereum and blockchains in general. We also needed to connect the Web3 world with the Web2 world because some of the more advanced algorithms like machine learning are impractical to run on-chain. There has to be an easy way to enable this level of interoperability between the two worlds so that you can build one unified application as a developer. On the backend, you can choose what workloads you want to deploy on decentralized infrastructure in Web3 versus what you want to deploy on a Web2 infrastructure. That’s what gave rise to the idea of hybrid compute, which we launched on Boba Network in March 2022.
To clarify and question for you, when did those infrastructure needs come into your line of thinking as you were building out Boba?
When NFTs started taking off, we’ve all seen these crazy mints where the gas would go astronomical during those short periods, which meant these NFTs would only be accessible to the whales of the world. That didn’t seem fair to us. We wanted to make sure we were able to build infrastructure that would increase the supply of compute capacity of blockchains so that future mints won’t suffer from the same problem.
Spending a gigantic amount of ETH on gas is wasteful, so we have to solve that problem. We at Boba solve that by scaling Ethereum. We have announced a multichain strategy. We’re taking out technology and helping other Layer 1 partners scale as well. The overall goal is to improve accessibility to crypto and broaden it to the point where everyone on the planet can benefit from it.
You all are well on your way to doing that. It’s exciting stuff. I wanted to take a minute and level up to the 30,000-foot view. Some of our readers are on the end of the spectrum where they’re starting to understand some of the terminology we’re using here and some of the stuff that is essential to what you’re doing, but maybe they don’t fully understand. Can you explain to folks here that aren’t familiar with what you mean when you talk about L2 and then how that influences some of the basic inner workings of Boba?
That’s a great point. L2 generally refers to this whole category of solutions that make the underlying blockchains, generally referred to as L1s. It is faster, cheaper, and more scalable. Amongst all the different Layer 1s, Ethereum was the first to become popular. It’s also the first to run into a lot of congestion issues, which is why as a user of Ethereum, you see gas fees go up significantly when so many applications take off from transaction volume. That gave rise to a lot of innovation to figure out how we can scale these Layer 1s, such as Ethereum, so that gas fees would come down.
There are different Layer 2 solutions, but Layer 2 or L2 generally refers to efforts in scaling blockchains. Boba Network is an optimistic rollup, which is one form of Layer 2. We scale the underlying blockchain, such as Ethereum, by separating the execution of transactions from the settlement of transactions. It means instead of replicating the same computations over and over again across the entire Ethereum network. We’ll perform the computations on Layer 2. We’ll do them once and then store enough data back to Ethereum to prove that we’ve processed these transactions honestly in the way they expected. Any third-party verifiers come in and check and make sure that as a Layer 2, even though we have centralized execution, we haven’t done anything fraudulent.
We store enough data into Ethereum as a settlement layer such that even if Bona Network were to disappear, you can still recreate the state of the network from the data that we have stored on Ethereum and recover your funds. The nature of Layer 2 solutions like Boba Network has the ability for users to recover those funds even if we went away. That’s why we say we inherit the security of Ethereum because you’re not dependent on any individual Layer 2 solution’s own consensus protocol for the security of your assets. You’re still benefiting from Ethereum’s security.The permissionless nature of blockchains changes the game and takes the whole distributed systems space to a whole new level by introducing decentralization. Click To Tweet
We talked about hybrid computing with Boba. It’s one of your central elements, lowering gas fees and making faster transactions. Can you tell us more about hybrid computing in the NFT space?
Let’s say you develop writing on smart contract at a high level of what hybrid computing enables. You can embed an API call, move your smart contract, and call it an external API. It could be a Twitter API or your own API where you run a machine learning model behind it. NFT is a smart contract at the end of the day. You can embed API calls that call your off-chain gaming engine.
If you’re a game developer and you want to deploy on-chain NFTs that dynamically sync with your gaming engine, you can do that with Boba. You can also sync your NFTs with off-chain data. It could be the weather or how certain sports teams are doing. It opens up the design space for developers to figure out, “Now that I can develop and design NFTs that can change based on off-chain information, what could I do?” The sky’s the limit.
You mentioned this earlier. I’d love to wrap my head around it a little bit more deeply. You were talking about using something like AI or whatever genetic algorithms and engaging that with an NFT. We often talk about NFTs being little supercomputers. In a sense, you’re saying that although some of those capacities are there for computing using an NFT, it can’t get too complex. By having a different layer and using a hybrid layer, we can do a lot more and not have it clog up the system.
You can do a lot more with hybrid compute because, ultimately, the compute capacity on-chain is always going to be more limited than in a Web2 world because of the overhead of decentralization. There are certain things that you want to decentralize, but there are other things where if you’re executing a machine learning model and figuring out the valuation of an NFT that you want to borrow against, we don’t have to run that model on-chain. In fact, it’s impractical to do that. You can run that off-chain and call that from your smart contract.
For example, Web3 games. The gaming engines are not going to be running on-chain. They will be running off-chain, but if you want to synchronize your NFTs with the latest state of gameplay from the gaming engine, hybrid compute gives you an easy way to make that happen. It has one line of code, and the responses from your calls come back within the same transaction. It’s very easy for developers to adopt.
It is very fascinating stuff. I’ve been excited since the emergence of Web2 about the capacity to mind and visualize publicly available data as it changes. We were in New York City for NFT NYC and they had city bikes. I remember being fascinated that they allowed some of that data out there that you could look through./You could see the different paths people were taking and the most highly trafficked areas. Doing fun stuff with NFTs with that data seems like that’s what’s possible. It’s exciting.
There’s a lot you can do. It’s like connecting your phone to the Cloud.
I wanted to dive a little bit deeper into NFT bridging, moving between Layer 1 and Layer 2. We’d love for you to tell us what that would look like. I’m also thinking about some of the more advanced use cases of NFTs that we haven’t seen yet and what Boba could do to impact those. When I think about NFT LA, we had a pin on video streaming. There were all these music NFT projects. You mentioned gaming. I’m curious if you can fold other use cases into this conversation about the bridging possibilities.
Bridging is a great use case for Boba. Here’s the thing. When you mint a new NFT, you don’t really know how valuable that NFT is going to be down the road, but you’ve already paid the gas fees to mint it upfront. If you’re doing that on Ethereum, it is pretty expensive. On the other hand, most of the NFT trading activity is still happening on Ethereum. It’s the largest market. People are like, “I’m stuck. I have to do things on Ethereum.”
With the introduction of Boba and our NFT bridge, you can have the best of both worlds. You can mint your NFTs on Boba and enjoy the low minting fees. You can only bridge a subset of the entities you want to sell back to Ethereum Layer 1 and enjoy the much higher level of liquidity over there. You only need to incur Ethereum gas fees when you want to sell your NFTs, and only for those you want to sell or trade, as opposed to paying those high gas fees for everything you want to mint.
Is the cost to bridge over pretty nominal on the initial bridging before you sell them?
Anytime you touch your Ethereum, you’re going to pay more gas. If you’re staying on Boba when you bridge, you need to pay a little bit more fee, but you control the timing of when you want to bridge your NFTs over from Boba back to Ethereum. You can avoid those high gas fees. You’re not competing with everybody else in the world during the initial mint.
For those folks that are reading, there are even sites that tell you the lowest time of day to do that. You can plan ahead, so you don’t have to stress about it so much at that moment. That makes sense. What about some of the more advanced use cases for NFTs like we’re seeing with video streaming and in media? Is that similar to a gaming use case or are there some nuances there?
What are the video streaming use cases that you have in mind? I’m curious.
For example, there’s a live stream that is created as an NFT or a TV show as an NFT that they’re dropping some NFTs in real-time.
There’s a lot we can play with here, especially with Boba’s hybrid compute. For example, you can reward your community members based on off-chain actions. You can use hybrid computer off-chain APIs and see if someone has done something on Twitter or wherever. You can reward them with NFT drops. You can also check out how certain music or podcasts are doing on Spotify and then have on-chain actions that are triggered by the performance of these different podcasts or songs on Spotify.
This integration and interoperability between what happens on-chain and what happens in the off-chain world have a lot of benefits. We can create a lot more interesting applications. We’re talking about some of the ideas that have come up in a developer community that has started playing around with hybrid compute. There’s a lot more that will be invented down the road.
You answered my question. I’m sorry if I didn’t ask it directly. I could have. There are all these converging technologies that go beyond what we are doing with NFTs. That ability to differentiate between the on-chain world and the off-chain world and connect those two together is a very powerful concept.
Speaking of powerful, AWS Lambda, web-scale infrastructure, and being able to deploy that as part of the Boba Network, talk to us about that a little bit. What does that mean for users of the Boba Network? Talk to us about the features of it that helped with execution.
What that means is, as a developer, you have a lot more compute power at your disposal. What that means for users is that they will start seeing much more interactive and interesting Web3 applications. To give you a couple of examples, there’s a team working on an NFT landing protocol. If you have a collection of NFTs that are pretty valuable, you want to use them as collateral to borrow against. The protocol needs to know how much these are worth.
What this team has done is they’ve developed a data-driven machine learning-based model to put a valuation on entities. You can never run that kind of model run on-chain. What they would do is deploy that model on AWS and have the on-chain protocol invoke that model and figure out if someone wants to borrow against a certain piece of NFT, how much is that worth? That model spits out a number and the protocol can decide how much of that they want to loan against. That’s something that you couldn’t do otherwise.
There’s so much more in a DeFi space. For example, there’s this emerging trend of creating on-chain DeFi protocols that are tied to real-world assets. That requires a protocol to have a way to find out from the off-chain world how these assets are performing. Is this particular shopping center throwing off the cashflow that they say they are? How do you verify that? How does a variation in cashflow from month-to-month change the on-chain yield for that protocol? That’s something that we’ve seen a number of teams working on. It can be enabled by hybrid compute very easily on Boba Network.
It feels like there is almost a purist mentality. In some cases, the project will only look for Web3 solutions that are built on the blockchain and not look to other solutions that are out there in the world to help with processing power, data storage, and so on. What we’re doing with AWS Lambda, powerful algorithms, and giving people access on the development side and the user side is a good example for folks to look at how you take your company, services, and product or offering to the next level.
Don’t ignore existing technologies that are out there that weren’t necessarily built for Web3 but are completely available to it. Note that, in time, most things will move toward a world of decentralization, blockchain, and Web3, but they’re not there. It doesn’t mean you don’t tap into that power. Those are very cool and interesting use cases.
It’s got to be part of the natural evolution of Web3 to have more points of interoperability with the Web2 world and the physical world. Look at how the original Web eCommerce movement grew and at how mobile has grown. Initially, it was a niche in its own special corner of the world. Eventually, once you’ve grown large enough and offered enough utility, you start integrating with the physical world.
When the iPhone was first developed, I don’t think anyone saw the coming of Uber. It’s turning this phone almost into a remote control for the physical world where you can summon a car or a meal. That’s how Web3 is going to be as well. As we grow as a movement and as a community, increasingly, applications and products will be built that are integrated with the Web2 world and the physical world. That’s a sign of success.
When COVID hit, some sharp friends of mine did this exercise that I thought was interesting. It was imagining the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th order effects of COVID. You can do that with some of these Web3 things. The first-order effect was everybody was at home. The second-order effect was they couldn’t go to the gym. The third-order effect was either they started to work out outside or they started to gain weight. You can see there are different economic responses to all these different things.With the introduction of Boba and our NFT bridge, you can have the best of both worlds. You can mint your NFTs on Boba and enjoy the low minting fees. Click To Tweet
When you talk about Uber growing out of the mobile development revolution, you can do similar thought experiments about Web three and NFTs. That’s pretty cool. You guys are very collaborative in building this network. I could see you enjoy that aspect of it. What kind of partnerships are you guys looking at moving forward?
First, we have announced our multichain strategy and partnered with Fantom and Moonbeam to help those networks scale. We’re also in discussions with other additional Layer 1 partners so that their developers could benefit from Boba, especially our hybrid compute capability. In terms of the partnership, we would like to speak with more Layer 1 partners and help more developers level up their applications. That’s our top priority.
It wasn’t increasingly focused on gaming because games tend to generate a lot of transactions, which then lead to network congestion. It’s something that we are well-positioned to help solve. We’ve been speaking with game developers who are interested in adopting Boba. They may or may not be building on Ethereum. Giving a multichain strategy frankly doesn’t matter. We’ll go wherever they are. Game developers are also very familiar with the need to tap into off-chain compute capacity in order to deliver a satisfying experience for the gamers. As soon as they hear about hybrid compute, they immediately grab the significance of it. They become some of the first adopters of our hybrid compute analogy.
It’s nonstop progress. You have quite a future at hand. I’m super excited. With the impact of ETH 2.0, how does that influence your thinking or how would Boba operate going from proof of work to proof of stake?
It doesn’t change the operations of some of the technical work that we need to do, such as switching to a different testnet. By and large, we’re very excited about this switch to proof of stake because it’s going to reduce the energy consumption profile of Ethereum itself, which is great for the planet, and also remove some of the barriers to adoption for folks who have been concerned about Ethereum’s energy consumption. That’s great for the entire ecosystem.
Further down the road, it’s great for all of us in the Layer 2 space. The more compute capacity is available on Layer 1 and the cheaper transactions become on Layer 1, Layer 2 will ride down the cost curve accordingly and become even more affordable and accessible to more users around the world. We’re excited for the changes that are to come and, frankly, can’t wait for them to happen fast enough.
I’m scoping out your website. You guys have an easy grant program, which is great. You want to encourage people to try new things and use the technology that you’re building. On that note, we talked about the far-reaching future. We’ve talked about some of the puts and takes around the type of infrastructure demands you’re building on. I’d love to learn more specifics in terms of what’s on your roadmap.
There’s a lot on our roadmap. Let me touch on the highlights. One of them is figuring out how to decentralize the sequencer. It’s going to improve the robustness of the network and enable the rest of the ecosystem to participate in the operations on the network. Another area of research that we are focused on is evolving our rollup architecture to a next-generation architecture that uses zero-knowledge proof for validity proofing.
That’s a pretty significant technical undertaking, but at the same time, we believe that the benefits are very much worthwhile because it completely eliminates the exit window. We don’t have to work around that. We don’t have to rely on liquidity pools to provide workarounds for individual users. That is going to require quite a bit of engineering resources, but we have already started investing in that area.
One of the things we’d like to ask folks about is their inspirations. We draw inspiration from so many different places. Other than the stuff we talked about in this episode, what inspires you? What other projects in the space or programs or people are inspiring you?
I’m inspired by people who stay true to the values and the mission in a bear market. When we’re in a bull market, it’s easy to be a saint because money is flowing into you, but when times are tough and you’ve got to make tough trade-offs, that’s when your true values are getting tested. I admire the people who are staying true to the ethos of decentralization.
I admire the people who are still focused on the bigger picture of how we can make this world of the financial system a better one, one that is more inclusive and that serves more people around the world rather than excluding folks from access to financial resources. These are the folks that I admire and would love to partner with.
It’s hard to deny the importance there of us staying the course and having seen various downturns in the space. This is where the rubber meets the road. We have a cooling process that we’re in. The folks that stick to their guns will come out the other side in all likelihood and hopefully unscathed. We appreciate you sharing all this info on Boba Network. There’s a lot more where we left things off.
We do want to transition for a moment to talk to you about some stuff from a personal perspective. It’s a section that we call Edge Quick Hitters. These are ten questions that are built to get to know you a little bit better. We’re looking for short, single, or few-word answers, but we may dive in a little further depending on what we hear. Are you ready to jump in on these things?
Yeah, sure. Let’s do it.
Question number one, what is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
I remember buying this novel series that I was addicted to. The reason I remember is that I used my first scholarship check to buy those novels. It’s so memorable.
What’s the age there?
I was eleven.
Question number two, what is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
I remember my first job. That’s selling my time. My first job was delivering these morning paper routes.
Were you rocking a bike? What was your method of getting around?
I was walking. I was going from house to house. It was the most popular paper in my city, so almost everyone was a subscriber.
Question number three, what is the most recent thing you purchased?
That’s a go-to. Is there anything special we should know about? Do you have a coffee snob or a special brand?
I like cold brew. I also like a latte with oat milk. Those are my two go-to.
Question number four, what is the most recent thing you sold?It's got to be part of the natural evolution of Web3 to have more points of interoperability with the Web2 world and the physical world. Click To Tweet
Some stock and tokens in Q4 of 2021.
Question number five, what is your most prized possession?
My time. When I saw this question, I started thinking through everything I have, but nothing is more valuable than time.
It doesn’t get any more valuable than that. We agree. If you could buy anything in the world that’s digital, physical, service, or experience that’s for sale, what would that be?
I have everything I need in life, to be honest. I would go on an excursion to Antarctica. I would buy that experience to go to the extremes of the world to see the beauty of this world. It’s also a great reminder for me and for all of us how precious and fragile this world is. I was in Alaska with my parents. They visited a few years ago and they said it’s sad to see how much the glaciers have retreated even in just a few years. The contrast was stark. It helps you to get out of there and see the world in its most pristine condition because these conditions don’t last. We’ve got to do everything we can to help preserve it.
Question number seven, if you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would it be?
Resilience. I’m a pretty resilient guy. It is impossible to keep me down.
That’s one of those ones dealing with adversity, finding ways to overcome and keep charging forward. I try to pass that on to my son. We talk about it all the time. It’s a big one. On the flip side, question eight, if you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would that be?
Does hangry count as a personality trait?
I love that answer. That is so true. I can be very hangry at times. I wish I was like one of those Buddhist monks that could fast for four days.
I’m pretty terrible when I’m hangry. I don’t like myself when I’m hungry, so I don’t wish to pass that on.
This one is a little bit easier. Question number nine, what did you do before joining us on the show?
It’s pretty boring. I spoke with our accountant.
We were doing some accounting ourselves. Last one, question ten, what are you going to do next after the show?
I’m going to go grab lunch after this. It’s a late lunch. Speaking of hangry, I should really grab lunch.
That is Edge Quick Hitters. We appreciate it. Thanks so much for sharing with us. Eathan, word on the street is we got some hot topics to discuss?
The headline here is, “Formerly Rich NFT Buyers Party through the Pain.” This is an article from TechCrunch. It’s reflecting on the fact that the markets have dropped considerably. At the same time, holders of these various NFT collections have been very excited about them. They’re still doing some interesting things.
It says in the article, “NFT world’s version of survival looks a little different here. At an event this week, Bored Ape Yacht Club hosted a festival with Future, LCD Soundsystem, and Amy Schumer performing. Tame Impala headlined Kevin Rose’s Moonbirds event where token holders could get owl tattoos on-site. The NYPD busted up token-gated NFT parties.”
A lot of this happened during NFT NYC week that we finished up. There’s interesting stuff here. Here is the rest of the paragraph from TechCrunch. I want to know more about this story. It says, “A project hired dozens of protesters holding up signs saying God hates NFTs to stand outside their event. One NFT startup hired a Snoop Dogg impersonator, Doop Snogg, to walk around their event as a tacit pseudo endorsement.” These folks can’t help but have some fun here.
There’s a little bit more modesty when it comes to a lot of the parties and how they did things. We’ll talk about this a little bit more, but I thought it cool how Cool Cats and the Goblin Crew opened up their events to everyone. In fact, we participated in a few events that were open to everyone as well. You didn’t have to have an NFT New York pass.
As much as there’s this interesting dynamic around exclusive partnerships, memberships, and participation, people wake up during a bear market and say, “We probably need to expand our reach a little bit more. We got to let more people know about all the cool things we’re doing because eventually, the cool club might shrink, and then there’s no one left to be cool with.”
The article’s sensationalist. What they miss there is it’s not partying to take the pain away. NFT NYC is a reflection of New York. It’s the hustle and bustle of New York, everybody coming together and making stuff happen. There’s a little bit of chaos, a little bit of pizazz, and all that stuff coming together. It’s why it works. It’s New York. That’s what New York is all about.
There were relationships that were being built, relationships that were formed, information that was being shared, and ideas that were coming to life. Almost universally, we were talking to people that were all about building. It wasn’t, “I lost out on this,” or, “I lost out on that. What about the prices on this?” It’s like, “Here’s what we’re focused on. Here’s why. Here’s how we’re going to do it.” To me, that was the cool thing about it, and I feel like that article misses that.
It feels very different to me than it felt in 2018 when the last crypto winter hit it. People are building in different ways. There’s real value being created. The infrastructure is there. Web3 is here and it’s so early. That’s what NFT NYC at the highest level to me was. It wasn’t about partying your sorrows away. It was about, “We’re all here. Let’s continue to build and make cool shit happen.” That’s what I took from it.
I have a follow-up on that. We touched upon this briefly when we talked about Bill Gates continuing to diss NFTs that a lot of these collections are, in essence, networking groups that are probably orders of magnitude better than some of the networking groups that exist out there. There’s somewhere you get together with a bunch of folks in relatively standard industries and give each other referrals. It’s very staged and dry. It’s very interesting to see what’s going on. These parties, as it were, are a place where people want to be in a fun, exciting environment, but they’re doing business and coming up with great ideas and making them happen. It’s a great point.
There’s one other thing that I found interesting. It’s not as obvious to look at these assets, be it Ethereum, bitcoin, or NFTs. Flip the perspective on its head a little bit. One thing that I’ve noticed is if you look at the relative value in Ethereum, I’m getting offers on NFTs for more Ethereum than I used to get offers for.
That’s quite interesting because that’s a case to say the NFTs themselves are holding a certain amount of value despite the fluctuations in various currencies, be it the dollar, Bitcoin, or Ethereum. When you hold an asset that, for example, has some type of utility, maybe it’s a ticket to an event, club, or networking group, then the value in that can hold steady regardless of the underlying asset that you purchased it in.We're well on our way to finding out the real utility for NFTs. Click To Tweet
If you’re holding Ethereum, that makes some of these decisions easy. You hold or sell based on the price point that you’re seeing there. Alan, what do you think?
The NFT space is pretty broad. There are so many different types of NFTs. Some of them are useless, but many of them are useful. It’s all part of the course of figuring out how new technologies are going to be used. We’re well on our way to finding out the real utility for NFTs. It’s healthy to see so many different developers trying different things with these new technologies.
In terms of partying, every industry has conferences. Conferences are always attached to parties. It’s not unique to the crypto or the NFT space. Even in industries such as commercial printing, accounting, and financial reporting, there are still parties that go on. It just isn’t getting reported because they don’t draw as many clicks.
Honestly, those parties aren’t as fun. Maybe because the topics in it aren’t as fun. One thing that has made parties part of the Web3 space is people enjoy hanging out with each other. They want to do it longer than during the day. Probably another reason is there are a lot of projects. There’s a lot going on. You have to differentiate yourselves from everyone else in the space and do cool things. There’s an opportunity there to find more ways to bring people together during the day. We did a live episode, which was fun. We did a rooftop event that was more casual. It’s so easy to take these threads, pull them, and make them appear to be something they’re not.
You mentioned a few of the things that we did out there. We had a full complement of our team on the ground out there doing all kinds of cool stuff. We have some big takeaways here. Eathan, I don’t know if you want to hit the highlights on those, but you collectively had some great takeaways from us based on our activities.
Let’s take some takeaways from NFT NYC. I wrote a couple down. We could riff on this a little bit. We’ve got the insider track on NFT LA 2023, which we announced. That’s relevant to talk about for NFT NYC. We officially made the announcement. While we were there, we continued to get great feedback on NFT LA 2022. We’ve heard from many that were excited to join us, including sponsors, speakers, and attendees. They were all high-caliber quality people.
I met a guy who said NFTLA 2022 changed his life. He met a partner and started a project. We got a lot of other great feedback. We got some constructive feedback from some folks as well. We’ll be fully honest. We’re happy to be able to hear from people and be able to address those things. We’re already in meetings and talks to make 2023 orders of magnitude better.
The coolest thing for me always is if someone comes up and talks about NFT LA that they are pumped about it. They tell you experiences or other things they dug about it. The way that we interwove art, entertainment, and sports into the event was part of the DNA of the event because it’s part of the DNA of the city. We were talking before about the hustle and bustle of New York. In LA, it’s a little bit different. The vibes are different. It’s more chill vibes. It’s more built around hanging out in an environment where it’s less FOMO and more chilling with your friends.
There’s art, entertainment, and sports were interwoven into every aspect of Los Angeles. There’s showbiz. It’s part of it. These are all the elements and the DNA of NFT LA. We integrated well in 2022 and we want to build upon heading into 2023. It is cool to hear people talk about it and be like, “I dug it. Here’s why,” not even knowing we had anything to do with the event. We put our blood, sweat, and tears into the damn thing. That’s the best reward of all when people give you that feedback. Recommendations for how to take it to the next level in 2023 are always welcome. NFT LA is from March 20th to the 23rd, 2023. Go to NFTLA.live for the whitelist.
Alan, I know you weren’t able to make it to NFT NYC, correct?
No. I wasn’t there.
Have you heard some buzz, though, from afar? I’m curious what it looks like from a distance. Was there anything from your team?
Not too different than what you described. I’m most curious about what people are still building and less about who shows up at what parties. There are still a lot of builders, and they are focused on the long-term and not perturbed by the short-term turbulence.
At that point, I learned some cool stuff that I didn’t know about what was going on on the building side. Shout out to the team at Magic Link. They had a big sponsorship in NFT New York and I had no idea about Magic Link. Did you know about Magic Link, Alan?
Pretty much their whole thing is with this Magic Link. You can create a wallet and be onboarded to a project and pay for it with a credit card. In the background, you create a wallet. These guys came out of nowhere. They are trying to solve the problem of, “How do I get my grandma to have a wallet?” They figured it out. That was some building that’s been going on. They launched in a meaningful way. I’m enjoying getting to know what they’re doing better.
Was that the guy we met on the sidewalk with a credit card machine, or is that a different project?
That’s another one. That’s another cool project that maybe we’ll collaborate with. We’ll give him a shout-out since Eathan mentioned him. To the people who are curious, it’s Ammer Wallet. This is a credit card tied to your wallet and tied to your crypto. This guy came out as ZUG. Baron Davis and he are buddies and doing some cool stuff together. I may have gotten some Barons along the way, which is pretty exciting. I don’t know what I can buy with those Barons, but I’ll figure it out at some point. Hopefully, I can at least get a ticket to one of his basketball games. He does that at the complex in LA. It’s another cool example of building.
There are so many more examples of people building for the future. I enjoyed learning about those projects at NFT New York. There are massive amounts of infrastructure projects that are being built during this downturn. Alan, you would have found what you were looking for there. Those were some of the most interesting conversations I had.
That’s why we sponsor ETH New York. Their team’s putting on Boba ETH New York. I know one of them is from MIT and is building a new NFT marketplace that uses hybrid compute. I’m super excited about what they’re working on. As soon as I find out when they have to deploy on a network, I’ll let you guys know.
Please do. There were a couple of other points we wanted to hit to highlight from our experience out there. Eathan, do you have a couple of others?
Yeah. We were talking about building. We were able to co-host an event featuring Animoca Brands. The crowd they wanted to bring together happened to be quite a large crowd that wanted to attend, and they were quality people. We hosted this Animoca Brands friends and family event. What we got out of that is that particularly, they’re regrouping, revaluing, and getting ready to reach even higher.
That party or event that we hosted in NYC was also sponsored by CetiK and Anti Fund. We had an enthusiastic crowd there. It was an afternoon rooftop event. Great connections were made all around. Inspiration was a theme of the moment. We had each of the sponsoring parties put a representative up to chat for a minute. Everyone had something great to say about inspiration and building moving forward.
Alan, do you spend much time following the happenings on the Animoca Brand side of the house?
I check in about once every couple of months.
They are the guys that are in the middle of it and have this consistent DNA. When you talk to almost anybody from that organization, you feel the same feeling. They’re rowing in the same direction. It’s all about community and advancing the ball for Web3. It’s so cool to see so many people from that ecosystem hanging out together in real-life. The vibe was so cool and the conversations were great. You could see the relationships forming, the inspiration being sparked, and all that cool stuff we were talking about before. It was very cool. I felt grateful to be in the presence of so many cool people with so much good information being shared across the board. It was a great event.
They are one of the few that are true believers in the ethos of crypto and decentralization. They’ve been able to build a community around them that share the same values, so I respect what they’ve done.
I’m excited to do more with them in the future.
Should we have one more focus topic from NFT NYC and then wrap it up?
Let’s do it.
I thought that it was fascinating to see augmented reality coming strong. It’s great. There’s this recurring theme in augmented reality of it bringing people together. We saw that in an interesting way. We partnered with SoHo Technique and a new app called WeDREAM and presented this cool VIP event across five-plus gallery spaces throughout SoHo where everything cool is going on in New York. There was augmented reality art. What was cool about it is it was an event and people could experience it together. It could be something where people could be sharing a live moment and have fun. Did you guys meet Lawrence’s mother? Lawrence’s mother was there at the event.
I’ve met her several times. She’s a wonderful woman.
I was able to demonstrate some of the augmented reality art. It was such a wonderful moment connecting with her. This type of thing spans generations, different crowds, and communities. Something cool is bubbling up with augmented reality and also the way that it brings us together, especially post-COVID.
At the end of the day, NFT New York attracted a crowd of at least three times as many folks in 2021. There were a lot of people reunited with people they hadn’t seen in a while and took stock of what had happened and what’s next. I also saw a lot of big brand use cases that were using augmented reality or gamifying their experiences around their brand. I didn’t know that Ben & Jerry’s is in the NFT world. I didn’t know that there are airlines that have lounges powered by NFTs or the guys at Sweet.
One of the Animoca investments has worked with 80 brands on a variety of projects. Ikea is working on augmented reality projects too. This was what I learned. It was very encouraging. Coming out of NFT LA a few months ago, I learned that so many brands are on the edge of potential adoption. I look at AR as one of those great use cases for these brand experiences. I met a guy that is working on a shopping mall experience in Malaysia that is entirely based on an augmented reality shopping experience. He was at our other event we did, the NFTC event. There are so many cool things happening in the space, and augmented reality is certainly one of them.
I can’t wait for Apple glasses or whoever comes up with something rad in the AR world. That’s going to be the game-changer.
To wrap this one up, we didn’t mention it, but diversity was a key theme there. We co-created a handful of events on those themes featuring women, Eth Summit, and Southeast Asia in partnership with Enjin. In general, it’s important to support the underrepresented creative classes, which is wonderful. We’re looking forward to what’s next and for us to have our inspiration for NFT LA 2023.
Alan, before we cross too far into the world of hangriness, let’s let folks know where to go follow you and everything that you’re doing with Boba.
Word on the street is we’re going to do a little giveaway. Keep an eye on our socials for the details on that. To all of our readers, we’ll have something fun for you to share out there. We’ve reached the outer limit of the show. Thank you for exploring with us. We have space for more adventures on this starship. Invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey all so much better. How? Go to Spotify or iTunes. Rate us and say something awesome. Go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks again for sharing this time with us, Alan.
Thank you all.
- Boba Network
- Ammer Wallet
- @AlanChiu – Twitter
- @BobaNetwork – Twitter
- Spotify – Edge of NFT Podcast
- iTunes – Edge of NFT Podcast
About Alan Chiu
We help companies capture the business insights they need while preserving data privacy, using technology built by Stanford engineering professor Jan Liphardt and team.