A common factor in some of the highest grossing NFT sales is that they benefit a good cause. That’s great, but often times critics complain that NFT tech accelerates global warming and ruins our earth’s environment. Max Song and Jon O’Sullivan of Carbonbase and Project Ark chose to focus on NFT projects that shortcut the critics and directly benefit the earth and its wildlife. Eathan Janney, Jeff Kelley, and Josh Kriger talk with the incredible people from Carbonbase and Project Ark who are assigning NFTs to various endangered species to save them from dying out. They also share about working with the World Wildlife Fund to save the planet using blockchain tech. Stick around for Edge Quick Hitters and Hot Topics and find out how Tiger King uses NFTs to make money from jail, learn about the impact of NFTs in IP protection, and find out what smart ideas Max and Jon shared for how they’d save the planet if they we gave them a lot more capital. Find about out all this and more on this episode of Edge of NFT!
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Max Song & Jon O’Sullivan From Carbonbase On Saving Nature With Blockchain, Plus: Lawyers On NFTs, Error In Web Source Code NFT, Tiger King NFT And More…
We’ve got a great episode for you. Why did the World Wildlife Foundation choose to work with our guests to use NFTs to help save the planet and its wildlife?
How is Tiger King using NFTs to make money from jail?
What are some of the best do-good answers we’ve heard to that question of what would you buy if you could buy anything in the world?
Find out about all this and more on this episode. Don’t forget to head over to EdgeOfNFT.com to sign up for our newsletter and dive further down the rabbit hole.
We’re all here and ready to dive. Eathan, who’s joining us on this journey?
Our episode features guests Max Song, the Founder and CEO of Carbonbase, and Jon O’Sullivan, Carbonbase’s Business Development Manager. Carbonbase is a Hong Kong-based climate startup building data and blockchain tools with enterprise solutions for measuring, managing, and reducing carbon emissions. Carbonbase got its start as part of the MiraclePlus Accelerator Program, formerly Y Combinator China, with an acceptance rate of 0.9% as well as New World’s Impact Kommons SDG Accelerator.
Max brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to his role with Carbonbase. He has worked as a venture partner at Pacific Century Group and a data scientist in Silicon Valley. He is also a graduate of the Schwarzman Scholars Program at Tsinghua University and earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Math Biology from Brown University. In addition, Max serves as the Asia Director of the Kairos Society, a global network of youth entrepreneurs.
Jon holds degrees in international development, social innovation and globalization, and business and development. Jon has worked in several roles centered around international development, social entrepreneurship, and indigenous rights across Canada, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Europe. He also played a crucial role in the creation of Project Ark, which helps to save wildlife through the collection of unique NFTs. They are appropriate guests for our show. Welcome, guys.
Thanks for joining us. Max, we got a chance to meet at the DeFi Summit. This was a topic that we’re excited to have on the show because people love to talk about the environmental challenges of creating and minting NFTs and crypto in general. You guys are not only addressing those challenges but the broader issues around carbon emissions. Tell us a little bit more about what drew you to this set of topics and got you into the intersection of science in venture investing and climate change.
Thank you so much, Josh, Eathan, and Jeff. It’s a pleasure to be here. Jon and I are excited to share with you our journey getting to this point. I would want to preface this by saying that we’re living through extraordinary times. Seattle, where some of my friends and relatives live, went through a heatwave that killed off maybe 100 people in a city that’s not used to having weather above 25 degrees. Across the world, we’re seeing unprecedented amounts of environmental disasters become common day news.
What’s happening behind the scenes, in our opinion, is that the entire carrying capacity of the planet has been challenged by the industry activity the last 200 years of human revolution and mobilizing the energy stored in fossil fuels. We’re beginning to see the effects of this. Simultaneously, we also have this crazy technology that is the blockchain crypto digital asset sweeping the world and being able to now touch the lives of billions of people with little intermediation individually. We see ourselves playing this interesting role between these two things. On one hand, this revolutionary technology that’s now accumulated a market cap of $1 trillion plus. On the other hand, perhaps the greatest challenge on the survival of the human species.
Crucially, at the nexus here, is the ability for us to recognize the value. Much of the way that we calculate our GDP, our profits, and our net worth comes from the store of money. Money has a fascinating background history where the US dollar that we use is intricately tied to the exportation and utilization of fossil fuels, specifically, petroleum. If we want to change the way that we value things, we need to start from the base layer. The cryptocurrency revolution, the NFT explosion gives us now tools to redefine value and that’s the journey we’re on.
I come from a background in technology, where I studied a lot of machine learning computer science in California. I work there. I went to school at Brown University, where half the population went to occupy Wall Street and the other half went on to become heads of NGOs and other sustainability roles across major industries. I came to Asia in 2016. I was lucky to write a Master’s thesis as part of the first class of this program called Schwarzman Scholars, which started between Tsinghua University, the MIT of China, and then the founder of Blackstone. He wanted to build something else similar to the roads back in Oxford in 1900, except it was more tailored to the role that China would play in the challenges that we’ll see from a rising China to the rest of the world.No matter your political views or religious beliefs are, climate change will definitely be a wreck for everyone. Click To Tweet
I decided to focus my research topic specifically on green finance and climate change policy because I found that was the one thing that no matter what your political views and religious beliefs are, climate change is going to wreck all of us. In the absence of alien invasions, this is the thing that will bring us to the planetary scale of consideration for what we need to do together as a species. What I found in my studies was bleak. We are way further along with the reckoning that we’re commonly talking about. The things we’re seeing now, the things that come up in the news, are the tip of the giant iceberg, the systematic change happening underneath the way that the weather system works.
Fast forward, I spent a few years doing investments because I had an inkling that to be a serious player in the space, you need to understand how money works. On the receiving end of money, most of us need to understand how the ultimate allocators of capital decide the decisions we make so that we can then figure out if we can reroute some of that capital towards things that touch the world. I was lucky to work for a multibillion-dollar family office where I was helping them look at the crypto space as it certainly evolved from 2018 to 2020. I came to see the thing that was happening in the crypto space is providing a set of tools that will help us create new conceptions of value.
There are a few pivotal experiences we had. One is in 2019 December. I had a chance to go to the UN Climate Change Conference. This is the thing that meets once a year, every year, with all 190 member countries of the world of the UN come together and talk about what we should be doing next. Paris Agreement was signed at the COP21, the 21st conference. I was lucky to attend the 25th conference. It was a remarkable feeling because all of us here think that climate change is a problem. We think that there’s someone else in the world smarter, better-resourced, and more capable than us working on this problem now. They’re going to take care of it. We can work on our own jobs.
I went to the place where the people are supposed to be doing that job in the room and I was terrified to understand that there was not a person in charge. There was a smattering of scientists who accurately could predict with three decimal places how fast the glaciers are melting. There was a bunch of diplomats and politicians who didn’t have the ability to make binding statements at the conference. There were 50 representatives from business at the 4,000-person conference. I came out of that depressed.
I was talking to Jon and other folks and friends of mine before we start working together. I was saying that there is an absence, a vacuum of changed making at the top level to drive climate change. We had 25 meetings for the confidence of the parties. We haven’t done much, to be honest. That was the impetus to starting this entity called Carbonbase. Our goal is to use machine learning, data science, Blockchain, and all of the other tools we have at our disposal to create something useful for this.
We had a special opportunity to host a TED forum with TED Countdown and the last speaker we had was from WWF. She told a compelling story of holding the last living species of a particular animal, a rhino, in her hands as it died. I was saying, “We are creating physical scarcity through actions. How do we represent that in a way that touches the lives of a lot of people around the world?” We saw NFTs as being a powerful way. That became the genesis of our work with NFTs. I’ll give the floor back to you. That’s a little bit of how we got here.
We’re interested in the application of NFTs and blockchain and some of these massive problems we’re facing in the world as opposed to collectibles of NBA moments or whatever, which are cool and fun and we like that stuff, too. It’s compelling to hear stories like yours. It’s great. Jon, how did you and Max connect originally to help bring Project Ark forward?
I was living in Kenya for about a year working with Nike, DFID, and USAID on a project to impact the lives of 1 billion girls by the year 2030 by investing in entrepreneurs whose products and services help young women. Max was speaking at a conference while I was there and we hit it off. We spent about three days rocking around Kenya, learning, talking, and trying to solve the world’s problems over a beer. I knew in my heart that’s the guy you got to keep in touch with. That was years ago. I hadn’t seen him in person since but he gave me a call and he said, “I started this company. We’re trying to save the world.” I said, “Where do I sign?” Here we are.
Project Ark came via that TED Talk. Anytime you hear a story of somebody holding the last endangered species in their hands while they die, it’s something that’s going to impact you in the heart, especially something that’s 550 million years old like a rhino. It’s a dinosaur. Conservation is 100% a human problem. Every case is a human problem and it’s going to require a human solution. Project Ark was destined what we hope to become this marketplace that directly funds animal and environmental conservation projects around the world. Whether it’s above land, under the sea, in the forests, or bees, whatever the case may be. If there’s a cause to be had, there’s a community to be found with it and a story to be told.
We are ultimately looking to create a triple win scenario between artists that are passionate about telling a story, want to give back via the power of their art, and want to get paid in the process. We want to connect those people with collectors that are purpose-driven, want to know that they’re creating some positive impact, and see that impact via the transparency of the blockchain with their purchases. Also, have something unique and valuable and hopefully, will increase in value on the secondary market.
The third part of this triple-win scenario is the projects themselves. We’ve spoken to everyone from the Jane Goodall Institute, WWF, Africa Peace Parks, and Global Ocean Coalition. We’ve spoken to every corner of the globe, different conservation projects. Every single group is fighting for the same grant funding. They’re spending 2/3 of their time fundraising sometimes. They are unable to host fundraisers because of COVID. There’s a massive resource gap.
What NFTs can do is help bridge that gap. At the same time, this could be arguably more important, NFTs and immersive art experiences can be provocative, emotionally evocative, political, inspirational, and educational. There’s a multitude of things they can do far beyond the traditional commercial of sad dying animals than, “Can we have $20 a month for your donation?” This is something where we can take it from doom and gloom to inspiration and all of those other things that we can do with NFTs.
The use case is straightforward with the scarcity of our planet’s resources and the scarcity of animals that we love, the rain forest, and this concept of NFTs having scarcity in different rarity levels. It’s a great interactive show-and-tell for the global citizen community.
To add to that, there is a place for all price levels here. We are working with some of the largest NFT artists and that’ll be announced and soon to come. We can sell one NFT for $50,000. That’s great. Why not 10,000 NFTs for $50 that can get every man, woman, and child involved in the sphere that they can feel positive about, can give them lifelong access to things, and can be a cool art experience. It’s important as well to share in the abundance like the biodiversity of the world and the number of people that can come into this NFT space that still don’t understand it or still are apprehensive about it. This cause is one that we can all get behind. It’s one of the few issues in the world that doesn’t start a flame war on the internet. I don’t think anybody wants to kill endangered species for the most part.
You got to listen to a Radiolab episode about a project where people were selling the rights to kill one member of an endangered species to fundraise to save the rest. It’s an interesting episode. The black rhino is the particular species in question in this episode. Referencing other podcasts. I also have another podcast, the Run With It podcast, where we bring on successful entrepreneurs to share business ideas. This is one of the business ideas that came up on the Run With It podcast, using the blockchain to help manage carbon emissions.
Within one of those episodes, we talked about an existing company called Nori, which does something similar to this. You can go to their site. You can purchase credits from those organizations and individuals that are capturing carbon like a farmer for example and then offset your own emissions for yourself or your business. How is Carbonbase different from a project like Nori? I know you are familiar with them.
We’ve watched Nori grow. I did a brief consulting at CoinList. Nori was a client of CoinList to do a little bit of fundraising as well. I like Nori. I like Nori, even more, when I found out that they invited Kim Stanley Robinson to give a talk. He’s the author of Red Mars, Green Mars, and The Ministry for the Future, which if you haven’t read it, it’s my huge advocate book that talks about the next few years of human history, cryptocurrency, climate change, and the reorganization of the world. We’re living through this book. The opening chapter of the book is what happened in Seattle.
Is this what they’re calling cli-fi, climate fiction?
It goes into this bucket. This is a whole another level of books I’ve read. This is going to be more feasible than people think. They have this thing called carbon quantitative easing, which is the mandate for central banks to print trillions of dollars that would specifically first go to fund carbon removal projects and then trickle down into the rest of the economy as opposed to what happens right now. We print a bunch of money and the first people to get it are the huge financial institutions that already have a lot of cash and then they decide where that money goes. There’s a lot of background stories there.
Nori invited the author to come and speak at one of their company events. When I saw this on the Medium post, I was like, “These guys are in the know. They’re doing the thing. They understand that the blockchain is the tool to help transform this part.” The way that we see them working is that they’re focused on the agricultural carbon capture part. They’ve set up a bunch of farmers around North America and are empowering them to receive funds from the carbon they store.
On the Carbonbase side, we’re focused on the enterprise. We need to get a bunch of big companies, especially Asian companies, that go through the beginning of the process of understanding carbon footprints and then help them on the journey of purchasing credits. We found that, by a large, a company can buy 50,000 times more credits than an individual can. If you have limited time and energy, you try and get one of these clients on board. In Carbonbase, we helped make the first shipping company carbon neutral in Hong Kong.
We’re helping a large real estate company go through a process of labeling their products to be sustainable versus non-sustainable. In the pipeline, we have maybe a municipality that wants to go carbon neutral. Also, a large energy provider. These are the large anchor groups that we work with. Because we have this desire to touch the lives of a lot of people as opposed to only the corporate, Project Ark allows us to do the international thing. Jon has an incredible presence online. He’s been able to find, identify, and recruit tens of talented artists to come on and make art on the platform.
Specifically, what’s interesting is that we’re the first group in the world to have this working relationship with the WWF. They have been approached by people who want to donate crypto to them. They’ve said no because they weren’t sure of the source of funds. We had to spend a long time convincing them that we were credible as a counterparty that we cannot besmirch their name or lose the reputation that they have in the world. Fascinatingly enough, the WWF is one of the founders of 1 of the 4 existing carbon registries in the world.
Nori’s long-term goal, from what I understand of their market presence, is become a registry. The registry is a powerful concept. It allows you to become the central bank because you get to decide what projects are worth receiving credits for. If you plant this tree, you don’t get credits. It’s worthless. If you plant this other kind of tree, you do get credits. There are market incentives to plant the second tree. The WWF was instrumental in creating in the beginning what’s called Gold Standard. Now, that is the Harvard of carbon registries. That is the hardest registry to get into. That’s the one that focused exclusively on SDG impact.
There are windmills that do great work for renewable energy. They don’t have a lot of social impacts. One ton of CO2 removed from a windmill is about $22 of social impact. One ton of CO2 removed for a cookstove is about $160. For a biogas and methane digester if we’re using animal poop and turning it into clean cooking fuel, it’s about $460. There’s a spectrum upon which the positive externalities of the way that you do CO2 can ripple through the economy you work in.
The reason WWF found us is that they had separately come up with the idea of building on their carbon credit model of the idea of a wildlife credit. Why not assign value to the existence of animals the same way that we assign value to the removal of CO2? That was the internal pilot that they had designed and we came to them with the idea of launching NFTs. The two met each other and decided to become one. That’s where Ark is now.
There are many ways to flip the measurement and usage of credits on its head from individual animals, vehicles, which we don’t tie that much into like personal usage of vehicles and whatnot. It’s always been a compelling study in my mind of thinking through that and not just relying on the current norm but thinking outside of the box there. There are many critics of blockchain and its impact on the environment based on the computational needs of proof of work and whatnot. What are your thoughts on that? What’s your response to critics that say, “You’re focused on carbon emissions but you’re using blockchain to help promote it?” How do you reconcile that?
I will tell you about the experience that we had. When we first started this, the Ethereum and MetaMask were where all the collectors live. What’s the cost-benefit analysis here of us trying to raise money for these organizations? When we went ahead with that, quickly, the blowback came. We had done all the calculations we possibly could about what it would be like to mint 800 NFTs a minute long, this level. We figured out that would be the equivalent of a cruise ship going about 25 kilometers.
For example, we are in talks with a group called Saving the Survivors. They rehabilitate rhinos that are victims of poaching. If we can raise $1 million to cover the medical bills of these rhinos for a year, whatever the case may be, are we going to say no because a cruise ship travels twenty kilometers? That was the cost-benefit analysis that we’re having. At the same time, we had already committed to 5X our carbon offsets for this to make sure that we were, in fact, carbon neutral.
What we did was we started hunting for a solution. This is a crazy rodeo. It’s hard to figure out which bull to ride and the proof of stakes like Tezos, Cardano, Polygon, and all of these was coming up. We had a wonderful hire, a gentleman named Taha. He’s head of our blockchain development strategy. He went out. He got on Discord. He partnered up with a couple of the Polygon devs and a software engineer from Tesla. They started working around why is it that after the merge with Polygon and OpenSea could the metadata not display properly?
We found a workaround. We had a code to ourselves, it’s pennies for gas fees. It’s 99.8% less emissions as a Layer 2 solution. In addition, we can mint any size of NFT. You could put a ten-gigabyte NFT out there if you wanted. This was quite exciting. Taha had about seven job offers in 48 hours just from the news spreading on Discord that somebody had minted properly on OpenSea and Polygon. This is our solution for now and we’re quite happy with it, to be honest with you. It ticks a lot of the boxes off.
That being said, it’s fascinating how fast the blockchain community is adapting to the problem of emissions far faster than any of the banks or the other industries that have taken 30 years to divest and still haven’t. It’s rich when you see some of the arguments that start. Ethereum 2.0 was supposed to come out for years. Look at how fast they’re trying to get that out the door now. That’s large because of the emissions question.Animal protection is one of the few topics that doesn't start a flame war on the internet. Click To Tweet
At Project Ark, my number one goal is to put money in the pockets of groups that are changing the world. As new blockchains come along, new opportunities come along, we want to be fairly agnostic as to who we work with. We are 100% cognizant of the emissions question and we’ll always have that front and center because we are cognizant as well of the optics for the groups that we work with. We certainly wouldn’t want to besmirch their name or do anything bad simply for us to go and sell NFTs. We have the Layer 2 Polygon solution and are involved in many discussions with other proof of stake blockchains to see what we can do in the future.
It’s been exciting to see all the focus on more energy-efficient minting across many different projects, from Enjin to Tezos to Proton. These are all projects we’ve had on the show. It’s great to see this focus. I have a more fundamental question as we think about your roadmap moving forward and all the different cool things you guys can do. As we’re going through some reflecting on the experience, I had in Thailand with my girlfriend where she researched diligently the place where we can hang out with elephants that were most appropriate. These are elephants that had been abused and are in retirement and enjoying banana leaves, bananas, and having a great time. We spent the whole day with them. It was one of the most impactful things I’ve ever done in my life. How do you translate that type of experience to digital with the projects that you’re doing? How do you match the metaverse, the physical world, and the digital world together to bring greater awareness to this cause?
There’s one thing that is difficult to do. A lot of people that struggle to wrap their heads around NFTs say, “I can’t touch it. It’s not tactile. I can’t hang it on a wall. I don’t understand it.” We live on our phones 90% of the day anyway. With VR, AR, gamification, and all of these new immersive experiences, there is a way to bring the absolute wildest places to our doorstep in a far more impactful way. One relationship that we do have is a partnership with Chainlink where we’re developing smart contracts that use their Oracle data sets to create what we want to call living art.
Let’s say we’re supporting those elephants at that refuge in East Asia. It’s raining that day. The elephants have rain. If it’s the wet season, it’ll be lush and green. If it’s dry, it’ll be dusty. If the herd grows, we could drop a baby in there. Every time you look at your wallet or you look at one of those TV screens on the wall with your NFT plan, you can feel some genuine connectivity to it. At the same time, we view the holders of our NFTs as lifelong Project Ark family members.
Let’s say you hop on the metaverse on VR one day and we’re going to be hosting two indigenous elders from Kenya that’ll be talking to you all about how they incorporate modern science with indigenous knowledge and what they’re doing to preserve the land in Kenya. If you’re ever in Kenya, you get a free one-day pass to the park. These are the types of things that we can offer people going down the road. As we get more resources, more community, these offerings will become far more robust. I’m of the opinion that as far and wide as we can go and as innovative as we can go and anyone who reads this, shoot me a DM. I answer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and I’m open to all ideas and partnerships.
That’s great to hear. That’s the type of thinking that’s going to make waves. This refuge, the only way they communicate with me and my girlfriend is Facebook. They have a Facebook group and they post updates on how the elephants are doing. One of them passed away. I’m thinking how cool it would be if they could incorporate NFTs into their community. This nice woman posts pictures and she messages people. There are many more ways that she could activate her community and keep them motivated to participate in more elephant rescues.
That would be a perfect case for a POA. You get your ticket to the refuge and that ticket is your NFT. You scan the QR code, we’ll send you the email, and you’ll have the digital copy. You then can get edited videos and updates every week or whatever. If you sponsor a specific elephant, you see the feeding process. You get a discount next time you come. NFTs are the Patreon of the art community and potentially businesses and organizations. It can give you constant access to your consumer to keep them updated on what it is you’re doing. You can airdrop that stuff right into the wallet. I do know that there are some companies as well that can upload memories directly straight to the NFT itself on-chain. The sky’s the limit on what you can do.
I am a huge proponent of making sure that we don’t end our relationship once people buy. That can’t be the case. Once you buy something, you need to have access to anything and everything else that we have down the pipeline. We’re a scrappy young group of under-resourced people, new to the space, and doing our absolute best. We’ve got an amazing pipeline of some of the world’s best organizations. It’ll take time for us to create that community curation that makes NFT sustainable. As much as we can do that, that’s the name of the game for us.
It’s great to know about what you guys are working on and your passion for it and to leverage this technology that we all believe will become ubiquitous. It’s a real social good. I appreciate that.
To create the immersive part of things, we’ve also been thinking about what it takes to build a giant virtual ark. Project Ark is named after the biblical reference to Noah, who put all the animals he could and save them from extinction. We see ourselves through on that similar journey but using the tools of technology this time. One of the digital creatives that we’re working with is this company called Chicken Waffle. What he’s done is create this Mad Scientist Studios that’s able to produce VR and AR experiences. He’s done it for Lady Gaga, The Weeknd, that whole celebrity set. Now he’s doing what he wants to do.
He has a bunch of huge VR spaces already built that don’t exist on the metaverse. He’s not a crypto person. He’s a digital creative person. We’re exploring this junction together and saying, “How do we take your amazing creative potential and let’s build some stuff that can exist in perpetuity?” If you are a collector of one of our beautiful Romanian NFT eggs or if you’re an owner of a bison head made out of the landscape sculpture of the mountains, you can have that piece to be displayed here. Also, you can bring your friends and come see it. That’s what we hope to facilitate in terms of designing experiential worlds that people can visit in regards to space and time.
Chicken Waffle is Microsoft’s biggest partner in VR. They’ve got a club that they’ve put almost 50,000 people. They’ve got the first VR comedy house as well. We have an additional partnership with a company out of LA called Baby Lion Media. This is a black and Latino-owned full end-to-end media production house. They worked on Marvel films, Netflix, all the good stuff. They also have a partner group down in Argentina.
These guys are also crazy mad scientists. They’re amazing. They’re working with everyone from Google, Amazon, and Tetra Pak, the world’s largest packaging company to create crazy experiences. They also partnered with Unreal Engine so they can drive animals in the metaverse. You can get behind the wheel of an animal and experience it. We’ve got these two partners, which we hope will be along for the long haul. Hopefully, they’re going to be the ones that carry us into the metaverse and the whole brave new world of gamification there.
The real bridge to the metaverse and enabling many of these things is hardware, some hardware that makes it easy for us to access the metaverse. What are your thoughts on that? Is there a product that you see in development or a company that you see leading the way that’s going to help us bridge that gap? What’s the iPhone that’s going to connect us to this world?
Jaron is the smartest metaverse VR guy I’ve ever met in my life.
I bought an Oculus during quarantine and I had a chance to try it out. I had bought the first-generation Oculus when it first came out. It’s gotten a lot better since then. There are about 5 million headsets in the world. It’s an inkling. There are a few apps where you can have your own space and people can come to visit you. I met a guy who was building his house and I came to go and hang out with him while he’s building his house telling me how he wants to decorate it with pictures of his family in VR.We’re at the genesis grounds of this. It’s happening. This creative effort and the pouring in the people who want to do stuff here hasn’t hit the mainstream. I can see the grassier tails of it. The other part that’s super crazy is Roblox. People are buying more expensive Gucci Roblox bags in Roblox than they are in the physical world. To me, it’s a telltale signal of how people change their consumer behavior.
We had DIGITALAX on. People are buying $30,000 meta-jackets. We have the LUKSO co-CEO on, Marjorie. They’ve collaborated with Chanel. Anything’s possible. You guys are set up here to do some crazy stuff. We’re going to be watching and anticipating whatever’s next. In the meantime, we want to get to know you guys personally a little bit more and do some Edge quick hitters if that sounds good to you.
Thanks again for the amazing insights. It’s inspirational. Edge quick hitters are a fun quick way to get to know you a little better. There are ten questions and we’re looking for a short single word or few word responses but feel free to expand if you get the urge. We’ll go back and forth between you guys if that works for you. Max, let’s start with you. What’s the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
There was a book sale when I was six years old next to my house and you can buy as many books as you want in a shopping cart for $20. I pushed a shopping cart and loaded it up with a bunch of books.
Was In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat in there or something like that?
There were a lot of books on advice for divorced women and stuff like that.
That sounds like a great response to a Brown essay question. I hope you use that.
To be honest, it’s probably one of those books at a Scholastic book fair, too, where you’re rolling with $20 thinking you’re a big baller and you walk out with the dumbest book that you never read. It’s probably one of those, if not some fries at the cafeteria. I have a horrible memory, to begin with. I couldn’t tell you. It’s probably something I could eat or consume.
Jon, what’s the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
It was a hockey stick or something. My dad was upset with me because I wasn’t supposed to do that. I genuinely feel like we’re playing some road hockey, a buddy wanted it and I said, “What’s going to cost you?” I sold my hockey stick.
The deal was made.
We’ve had quite a few unmentionable first sells.
You’d be amazed. Max, how about you?
It was a henna tattoo. My girlfriend in college and I started a henna business because we wanted to create cool, long-lasting temporary symbolic things. We got a huge line on the campus to go and get tattoos from her.
Max, what is the most recent thing you’ve purchased?
It’s probably the book I mentioned, The Ministry for the Future. I was excited to get a copy of it that I couldn’t find a physical copy. I had to buy a Kindle one. In general, most of my expenditures have been either crypto stuff or VR games.NFTs are the Patreon of the art community. Click To Tweet
You’re in the right business, for sure. Jon, how about you?
It was my friend’s birthday, so we went for a round of golf. Ironically enough, I was in BTC Miami for the conference making some deals and I left my wallet in an Uber on the last day. I got my wallet back from Miami and I don’t know where it is anymore. I lost it somehow in the golf course. I had to pay via some Apple Tap there. Nobody’s charged my card yet, so it’s sitting somewhere on the 9th fairway.
It’s a tough one.
It sounds like you need an Internet of Things marker on your wallet there.
Everything I own needs to have a Tile on it. I need GPS trackers on everything. Otherwise, I’d lose it.
We’re getting a picture of your day-to-day life, Jon. We got it. Jon, what’s the most recent thing you sold?
Probably those NFTs. We sold three NFTs to a group of CryptoPunk holders who were inspired by what we’re looking at. We hopped on Twitter and sold some of our NFTs from a gentleman named Shawn Barry, who is one of the composers for Cirque du Soleil. He’s a phenomenal lifelong musician. He has an entire album dedicated to endangered species. The art was done by an amazing young artist out of Canada named Taylor Frost and she does phenomenal animal pieces. She paired up with him, did a little collab, and we sold that to some CryptoPunk holders.
Max, how about you?
Jon and I are working day night on Project Ark, so that’s probably my answer, too. Non-crypto-related stuff, one thing we managed to sell was some carbon-neutral calculation for a data center developer learning about how the internet is generating emissions these days.
Jon, what is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession is an F2 Savannah. Her grandfather was an African serval. She looks like a little leopard cat. She’s long and super athletic. She doesn’t like me at all. She only cares for my girlfriend. She’s good to look at. That’s probably the most prized possession.
That can be the thumbnail for our YouTube video, you pick her up and her scratching you.
I have one of those while I’m wearing my Tiger King jacket. We use it as the shot for one of our YouTube videos that I did called Not So Fun Facts On Climate Change.
Max, what is your most prized possession?
It’s a picture that I managed to get signed when I was doing an internship at NASA Ames down in Mountain View. It was the four astronauts that came back from the space mission. They came to visit the base and wanting to do something so they sign a picture of their last flight. That was the last shuttle before NASA turned off their shuttle program and then waited three years and now, they’re on SpaceX rockets.
Number six, Max, if you can buy anything in the world, digital, physical, service, and experience that’s currently for sale, what would it be?
If I had the money to purchase it, I would probably buy all of the remaining carbon credits available in the world. That would drastically drive up the price of carbon and make a whole bunch of people carbon entrepreneurs. That is probably the best positive way that we can incentivize people to participate these days.
Jon, how about you?
I’ve worked with a group called the I See Maasai Development Initiative. They are one of Africa’s first indigenous-owned and operated nature conservancies. They fund everything from primary schools to the Maasai Mara’s first library, vocational institute, and river restoration. They’re one of the last true indigenous tribes of the world. If you spend two hours with them, it changes your life. It feels like we lost something in the Western world that they still got it. If I had unlimited sources, I would move there. I would buy up all the lands so no more ranchers can take it and can’t fence it off. I would bring the Maasai Mara back to the people. I want to retire there, to be honest with you. I left my heart in Kenya. I’ve been back several times. That’s a group that we hope to work with Project Ark.
I feel like a lot of people, when we ask these questions, do genuinely want to do something or buy something with a charitable component. You guys have such concrete answers and experience. You know exactly how to make a difference. It’s awesome. Let’s shift gears a little bit to question seven. Jon, if you could pass on one personality trait of yours to the next generation, what would it be?
I feel like this would sound negative but it’s shamelessness. I have always been able to insert myself into places I probably had no qualifications being or I have no hesitation to message the CEO. A lot of people are afraid to take the opportunities presented to them or they have this huge imposter complex. Fake it until you make it. Say yes to everything and learn how to do it later. Go for it. That type of attitude would be the one thing that I would try to impart upon the younger generation.
Josh and I own a Bold As Fuck Bat from Gary Vee’s collection. That’s fitting for you. Max, how about you? If you could pass on one personality trait of yours to the next generation, what would it be?
It’s the desire to find your own answer to things. Much of my life has been guided by this sense that most of the world is running on predetermined answers. If you look beyond the vanilla statements, you find a whole bunch of complexity, ambiguity, and sometimes misinformation. We’re living through a situation now where all the information coming into us, we’re being bombarded with stuff that is maybe real or maybe not. I hope that anyone I get to work with, education or with my children, can think on their own and investigate and not take predefined answers as a given.
Reasoning from first principles is such a valuable skill that many of us lack or don’t implement even if we have the ability.
Max, question eight, if you could eliminate one personality trait of yours from the next generation, what would it be?
It’s hard. Jon and I share this problem. We have some back problems. It comes from the fact that we’re on devices and computers too long. I hope that if I do have children, they have much healthier lives than I physically do at this moment. That gives them a lot more vibrancy and the ability to intimately participate in all of the riches of the world.
The physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual intersection all ties together. Jon, how about you?
Procrastination. That’s probably the worst. Putting things off that can be done now. No more back problems, either. We got to have a better work-life balance. That also comes with getting the stuff you need to get done when you need it to get done and then focus on your time elsewhere.
We’re in the same boat. Jon, question nine is a little easier. What did you do before joining us on the show?
I showered and put a shirt on. I often don’t like turning on my camera because then I can be free to look however I want to look. If anyone asks, I say, “It’s 99% fewer emissions to keep your camera recording, so you’re aware.” I got ready for once. It feels nice. I got to go grocery shopping anyway.
Max, how about you? What did you do before joining us?
I went for a swim and then I came back. I was doing a lot of emails before this.
You’re being productive.If you look beyond vanilla statements, you will find a whole bunch of complexity, ambiguity, and even misinformation. Click To Tweet
Inbox zero. Max, question ten is the last one for you. What are you going to do next after the show?
We’re lucky to work with a global team. We stay up late. The next thing is to go chat up the large industrial chemicals maker in the US and try to get them to purchase carbon credits.
Making it happen. Jon, last one, question ten, what are you going to do next after the show?
Thirty things-to-do list. First, I’ve got to get a proposal out to create some augmented reality art pieces for the largest NFT showcase in Beijing. There are going to be 500 screens in a 5,000 square foot facility. It’s headed up by the Stratosphere DAO with SABET, Gabe Weis, WARHODL, and those guys. Chicken Waffle and us will be doing some different AR stuff for them. I’ve got another proposal. I got to get into Major Dream and the guys down in the Caribbean working on the new LUX blockchain that launched. I got to get another proposal into the WWF to be working with blockchain skins so we can create some wild companions for the blockchain gaming world. I might eat.
You guys are working on some cool stuff. That was Edge quick hitters. Thank you for indulging us in those amazing answers. It’s great to get to know you a little better. Max, I know we got you on short time here and you have to run. If we could though, we talked a little bit about doing a giveaway for our readers. Could you give a little background on what you were thinking?
We have several things in the works for you guys and I’d love to share them with the incredible community you guys have. I want to say thank you so much for having us. It’s been a pleasure talking to you guys. You guys are also mission-driven people. There’s a lot of resonance. It’s a fun conversation. A lot of our artists made a special Earth is non-fungible NFT. It is something that we’ve been able to share with the participants of the DeFi Summit. We got a lot of good feedback. It’s a nice beautiful little thing that hangs out in your wallet that looks NFT-ish but also has this message that reminds us of the world we live in. Beyond that, we have NFTs that we’ve created for the WWF. They are Romanian eggs that hatch and contain other art NFTs. We have anywhere from the bronze egg all the way to the platinum ones. They serve extended offline physical Safari-type experiences and the online art experiences we have.
That’s great. Thanks. It’s generous of you. People will be interested in the giveaway. Max, I appreciate your time, for sure.
Max, how do people reach you if they want to get ahold of you?
On Twitter, I’m @Pericarus. We also respond actively on Carbonbase and Project Ark Twitter accounts. Please shoot us an email. My email is Max@Carbonbase.co. I love to meet all the incredible people who find this episode interesting and feel like they want to be involved in any of this.
Thank you again, Max. It’s great having you on.
Thank you. It was a big pleasure. Hopefully, we’ll be able to talk more outside the show itself. You guys are fabulous, amazing individuals. I appreciate all of the time you guys have in creating this journey for Jon and me to go through. I love to be in touch.
Same to you.
Let’s hit some hot topics. It sounds exciting. The first hot topic on the agenda here is, “Can I sell this as an NFT?” A Lawyer Answers 10 Questions About NFTs. I know probably the three of us understand some of these things covered in this article. For example, when you buy an NFT, do you own the rights and the license to use the thing that you’re buying the NFT for? The answer to that is no, you don’t but you can. NFTs can come with legal agreements that you own the rights to an image, a music file, a movie file, or whatever, and the rights to exploit it economically. For the most part, a lot of these big sales that we’ve seen do not come with those types of rights. They come with the provenance, the bragging rights, and things like that. Any other interesting things you guys find about this one?
This is a great evolving discussion. There are some projects that are trying to make NFTs a little bit more meaningful. I talked to someone that’s using NFTs as proof of transaction for land deeds. That’s tangible and real. In addition to that, we posted on Twitter some of the guys we know behind EcoFi that is fictionalizing real art. I was in front of a Pablo Picasso that’s going to go in a vault and be fractionalized as an NFT. It cannot be sold at that point. The value is in the fractions, the NFT. The only way that someone can sell that art is they have to buy all the fractions up and then they can take possession of the art. Otherwise, it’s locked in a safe with insurance. Folks are realizing the importance of a real possession of the art. People are getting more creative here in solving some of the problems that come up in this article.
There was a Frida Kahlo in that group as well. It’s a beautiful piece.
As an aside, we’ll have these guys on the show. They’re cool. I was in a room with some of the great Masterworks of our time. Talk about resonance, it was incredible. The idea that every human being can own these pieces of art in fractions is one example of the power of NFT, it’s to go beyond what everyone likes to say, “It’s this JPEG file that doesn’t have value.” That’s not the case anymore.
There was a question about parody law, which a lot of people use. Especially if you look on YouTube, they’ll provide commentary about other videos or IP released by other people and things like that. It falls under this fair use law. The courts interpret these things on a case-by-case basis. There’s no blanket way to handle that stuff. Even YouTube’s AI identifies the things that are considered copyright infringement and removes them automatically.
It’s hard to get live people to review this stuff. This is something that we haven’t seen a ton of yet in NFTs, but it’s coming up. It’s bubbling up a good amount where you’re using other people’s IP but running it through a parody, a commentary, or some feedback as a third party, and then selling that. It’s an interesting thing. The issue with it for a lot of big brand things, whether it’s a media company or a company like Nike or something like that, it always has a staff of attorneys constantly looking for anything that infringes on their IP.
I have a funny example of that. When I first got into the food space over a decade ago, it was via a food truck. One of the things we were doing on my food truck is we outline the whole thing in industrial Velcro. In five minutes, we could change the entire branding on the truck. We had big plexiglass signs that we would change the branding. One of the things that we did was called Bubble Wrap. It was bubble tea and summer rolls, a little fun concept.
Within a month of getting our Twitter up and running and everything, I started getting pinged by Bubble Wrap, the company, for infringing on their IP. I didn’t touch it. It has nothing to do with shipping. I should be able to use this name for a food company. It has nothing to do with it. They were aggressive in trying to get this thing shut down. It was amazing. I was like, “This is what these guys do all day long, looking at anything close.”
Jeff, that reminds me of our friend in apparel that created a name for his t-shirt brand that conflicted with a campaign that Calvin Klein had run ten years prior. They did not use that terminology anywhere. They forced his hand to change the name of his company after they were a year in existence.
I feel like this thing is coming down the pike in NFTs in a big way. Also, as you guys know, there are companies within the space that have a ton of IP around NFTs. The second they decided to start enforcing it, people are going to have a rude awakening.
Before we move on to the next topic, Jon, the carbon emissions issue has a lot of legal implications. I don’t know how that intersects with NFT. Have you seen anything interesting in law?
The law doesn’t even exist. It changes from country to country or region to region, EU versus North America. The laws got to catch up and the law goes a lot slower than people can “innovate” things that they want to do in the art space and the NFT space. There is a wonderful lawyer named Esther Babb that we are working with from a company called Monax. They can do a sixteen-line code API that gives ironclad IP protection to all of the creatives that mint on that platform. She can put that API into any marketplace and it takes care of it on the back end.
She was a former Goldman Sachs. She was introduced to us by our head of climate investment that used to be executive director of Goldman Sachs. She’s got the goods. She knows what she’s talking about. She’s trying to pioneer a bit of the space legally. It’s going to take some crafty lawyers like it takes crafty accountants to hide all the rich people’s money like it will take crafty lawyers to figure out what’s real and what’s not in this space. Until the dust settles, there will be a constant precedent set as new and innovative ways to handle things come along.
NFTs in the corporate space are going to advance this quite a bit. I know that one of the largest essential oil companies in the world is NFT. They’re tracking the supply chain to ensure that there are consumer protections that people can check if it’s a knockoff or not because they’re having huge problems with that on Amazon. Once the big money gets behind it, we’ll have special interest groups that are fighting regulators to get the little loopholes closed up. We’ll see what it looks like in the future.
It’s an interesting overlap with all of this and what you guys are doing. Urge the audience to look up the monkey selfie copyright dispute. There was a picture that a guy claimed ownership of but that was taken by a monkey who was holding his camera. In the end, they decided that he did not have the right to the image because the monkey was the one who pressed the button when the photo was taken. Who knows?
I’ve seen that one. It’s the monkey selfie, and he’s smiling right in the camera. It’s a funny photo but I would have been pretty angry with that.
Let’s hit on the next topic. That was interesting to explore. The next one is Web source code NFT sold for US$5.4 million contained a serious error, “Mikko Hypponen, a Finnish security researcher, identified a serious issue with the code in the visualization that would have prevented it from being compiled and run.” This speaks to the integrity of the NFTs that you buy. Do you own the errored version or do you own the error-free version? If you bought that NFT for that much money, is there some reconciliation that you have a right to there?
If we’re saying is it something or nothing on this one, for me, I’m saying it’s nothing. In this case, the provenance, the fact that it came from the guy that wrote the code, originally took a picture of the code and then sold that along with all kinds of other stuff. It’s the history of the code. There’s some video associated with it and some other cool things. To me, it’s the source that is the real value here. The guy that wrote the code originally, whether or not you can take that code from the image and deploy it and compile it properly. For me, that’s enough. I don’t mind it. $5.4 million, that’s the market value of what he listed. That’s my take.
You can always count on some stickler though, to find the typos and make a big deal of it. The next hot topic up for grabs here is Tiger King Joe Exotic launches NFT auction from a prison cell, “Tiger King star Joe Exotic is the latest celebrity to try and take advantage of the popularity of NFTs by launching a range for auction from his prison cell in Texas. He’s teaming up with MORE, a cryptocurrency platform and membership club, to offer cryptocurrency-themed digital artworks, fifteen digital trading cards, and authentic audio recordings from prison for sale.” An interesting overlap here with what we talked about wildlife and such.Getting a better work-life balance also comes with the responsibility of getting the most important things done. Click To Tweet
What’s the problem with it? We all love the Tiger King in a very morbid way. Are people having an issue with launching a company from prison? I’m fairly certain that Martha Stewart’s empire continue when she was in prison. I’m fairly certain that there are multitudes of other people whose business interests continue in prison. The man has a brand. I don’t know if there’s a charitable aspect included in what he’s trying to do. I would assume that maybe he might have an angle like that. If somebody wants to capitalize on their brand from prison, there’s a multitude of other people he’ll be employing and feeding in the process.
The zoo that he ran is 100%. We should close all zoos in reality if we’re talking about the issue of people in prison being allowed to capitalize on their brand, more power to them if they can help their friends and family and employ them around it. We don’t want murderers doing the same. He was charged with something along the lines. I probably put my foot in my mouth. I shouldn’t say anything about it. It was a great show. It was an entertaining show. We all agree.
That’s what he’s doing in prison, he was trying to set up Carole Baskin. It’s interesting.
I’m somewhat familiar with the Tiger King. He’s a kooky person. I didn’t know he was in prison.
Jon, you mentioned him.
You got to watch the Netflix show, Eathan. The thing for me here is Tiger King kept us entertained while COVID was running rampant. It was a difficult time. Once again, the Tiger King has risen from the ashes to keep us entertained during a mini crypto winter. There’s some real synergy here. His timing is usually on point.
It’s like the train wreck he couldn’t look away from. His treatment of animals, Carole Baskin is no better. Roadside zoos are not the London Zoo or the Toronto Zoo. They’re not multimillion-dollar institutions that have a large part to play in breeding programs or studying animals. It’s a roadside zoo. That was bad. For the love of God, he gave us some good zingers that summer. It was like Anchorman all over again from the 2000s. You had great quotes for a while. More power to him. I’d imagine there’s a number of people that are being fed from it. We’re heading into a bear market. Everybody’s got to get employed.
There’s a cultural take-one-for-the-team pattern I see here. There are certain personalities that dig themselves into a hole. Isn’t it great to watch them suffer through it? Especially in the United States, we do have some respect for that, at least until it crosses a certain line where we then have to create some giant shaming of them via the internet.
I got to say as to where we’re talking about this, there’s going to be a John McAfee coin dedicated to figuring out what happened there. That’s my prediction. If it hasn’t happened, I’ll be surprised.
We didn’t put that on our hot topics but that is something hot to talk about.
I am in a couple of Telegram groups with some heavy crypto natives and they were posting all the links to the blogs and the terabyte dumps. I don’t know what’s true. Maybe you guys can elaborate. Has there been information dumped via Whacked coin or something like that? Is there something like that? I don’t know. It turned into a QAnon conspiracy nonsensical tirade, so I tuned out. I was trying to learn about it for an hour to be like, “What the hell’s going on here?” Whatever it takes down the powers to be, I’m all for it.
John McAfee, I didn’t know much about him before all this is going down. I’ve been maybe doing more research than typical as other people might. He’s a fascinating character. I did not realize he was deeply into yoga as well. He opens a yoga center and maybe even published a book on the topic. He’s a complicated and entertaining character, to say the least, if not extremely intelligent.
That wraps hot topics. Thanks for playing with us, Jon. Good stuff, fun stuff. Before we close out, where can folks go to follow you and the projects you’re working on?
@WeAreProjectArk is our Twitter and Instagram. You can follow us there. We’re active on Twitter. My own is @JonnyO89, you can follow me there. That’s mostly me being a buffoon from here and time and time again around Instagram. Join the Discord. Follow us on Twitter. We have a pipeline of years and years of projects. There’s going to be something for everyone. There are ocean conservation projects and indigenous rights projects.
There’s an exciting one. We’ll be working with an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker from National Geographic. I don’t know if you guys have ever seen the documentary Fantastic Fungi but they’ll be documenting how these 2,000-year-old trees talk to one another through the mycelial fungus in the soil. We’ll be PlantWave technology that records plant biorhythms. We’ll be NFT-ing that.
We’re talking all the big auction houses. We’ve got Soho House in a negotiation to do some shows. The sky’s the limit. The number one thing we need is more community, more people that share our mission, share our ethos, that wants to support us, and that want to participate. We’re finally getting our technology and our onboarding process in line where we want anyone and everyone who wants to help to be able to help. This is a world that we share, a species, and an environment that we are obligated to steward. If anyone wants to get back via the power of their art or collects art, we are always here for it. Hop on to our website, Project-Ark.co. You can learn more there.
That’s where our readers can stay up to speed with this collection around plants talking. I can attest. I went to a sound healing event in Venice, California because this is where stuff like this happens. The sound healer plugged up an AMP system to a plant and the plant led the sound healing session for us. I felt good after that. Maybe there’s something to what you’re saying.
A lot of our NFTs in our genesis drop have 8D binaural sounds that are mastered to fit right around the head. You can feel it. It incorporates PlantWave technology to record some of the dronings in the background. Some pieces, you don’t know what vibe it’s going to give you. Some pieces work great. Other times, you’re like, “I don’t know about that.” All of a sudden, you put it all together and it’s amazing.
They connect to the oxygen in the room and the breathing of who’s in the room and the energy. They’re connected to their environment.
I had a meeting with the CEO of PlantWave and we are going to be hopefully formalizing a partnership moving forward. They can record any biorhythms of any living thing. There’s lots of new and exciting technology coming out there as well, too.
We appreciate it. We appreciate you being on. For our readers, be sure to tune in next episode as Josh and Eathan will be broadcasting from Puerto Rico, where they’re traveling to uncover the world’s best piña coladas, tastiest tostones, and the most secluded powdered beaches. We have reached the outer limits at the show. Thanks for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on this starship. Invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey so much better. Go to iTunes, rate us, and say something cool. Go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Jon, thanks for sharing all your insights.
Thanks for having me. It’s great talking to you.
- World Wildlife Foundation
- Kairos Society
- Project Ark
- The Rhino Hunter
- Run With It
- The Ministry for the Future
- Gold Standard
- Saving the Survivors
- Chicken Waffle
- Mad Scientist Studios
- Baby Lion Media
- Unreal Engine
- Jaron Lanier
- DIGITALAX – Previous episode
- In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat
- Not So Fun Facts On Climate Change – YouTube
- @Pericarus – Twitter
- Carbonbase – Twitter
- Project Ark – Twitter
- @WeAreProjectArk – Twitter
- Instagram – Project Ark
- @JonnyO89 – Instagram
- iTunes – Edge of NFT Podcast
About Max Song
Max Song is the Founder and CEO of Carbonbase. He was a venture partner at a HK-based family office, where he conducted research into investments focused on AI, TMT and blockchain/digital asset opportunities. Max previously worked as a data scientist -first at DARPA-funded machine learning company Ayasdi in Silicon Valley, then as a visiting DS at Snips in Paris, and rotated through several of Formation 8 VC’s portfolio companies.
Max has a passion for public speaking and interacting with interesting people. He had the chance to open the iGEM World Championships in front of 1,000 people. He has attended and held workshops at Thiel Fellowship’s 20 Under 20 Summits, and was invited to Moscow as part of the 100 Young Innovators at the Open Innovation conference. He gave a TEDx talk at Brown about a globally distributed organization called OneSalon – that provides intellectual, emotional and experiential stimulation on a weekly basis.
Max was selected as part of the first class of Schwarzman Scholars, where he completed a Master’s at Tsinghua University and wrote his thesis on US-China cross-border investment opportunities for renewable energy. He is a graduate of Brown University, conducted research in genetic engineering at NASA Ames, co-founded Brown’s first startup accelerator, worked as a Teaching Fellow at Singularity University. He is currently a part-time PhD student focusing on climate finance and public policy.
About Jon O’Sullivan
Jon is a proponent of complex systems change, viewing a problem in its entirety and analyzing the relationships that influence and intersect over time. He believes true social change lies in being able to challenge people’s priorities, beliefs, habits and loyalties that uphold and sustain the status quo.
Jon holds an Honours Bachelor of Social Sciences in International Development from the University of Ottawa, two diplomas in Social Innovation Management from the Amani Institute and the UN University for Peace, Centre for Executive Education. As well as a Masters in Globalization, Business and Development from the #1 ranked Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.
Jon has worked in a number of roles centered around international development, social entrepreneurship and indigenous rights across Canada, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Europe. Jon is a staunch proponent of the notion that the private sector must play an integral role in the reduction of global poverty, improvement of livelihoods, and of course the fight against climate change.