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Web3 Galaxy Brain

Alex Masmej, Founder of Drakula and Showtime

10 April 2024


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Nicholas: Welcome to Web3 Galaxy Brain. My name is Nicholas. Each week I sit down with some of the brightest people building Web3 to talk about what they're working on right now. My guest today is Alex Masmej, founder of Dracula, Showtime, and Alex Token. On this episode, Alex and I discuss consumer crypto product design, team composition, and how to sustain setbacks including departing co-founders, the bear market, owing the taxman, and US work visas. We also get into the power of taste, long-term vision, and community in building crypto products. It was fantastic chatting with Alex, who's a dynamic and unique voice at the intersection of crypto and consumer. I hope you enjoy the show. As always, this show is provided as entertainment and does not constitute legal, financial, or tax advice or any form of endorsement or suggestion. Crypto has risks, and you alone are responsible for doing your research and making your own decisions. Damn, it's very interesting. Okay, I have so many questions. I came up with all these really smart questions for you, so get ready. What core mechanics did you test while building Showtime? And that's really my first question.

Alex Masmej: So Showtime was a project that I started. So to give a quick backstory on me, I was part of Metacartel, which was a computer homebrew club of consumer crypto people. way before it was cool, with Peter Pan, Koopa Troopa, a bunch of these people. We really were the OGs of consumer-facing crypto products. Then I did the Alex token, which was crowdfunding to go to SF. And then I did other use cases like unlock with Alex token, or do a group chat with me, or control myself, which inspired Snapshot, which is like a pretty big DeFi governance protocol. So I did all of these use cases. Really?

Nicholas: They inspired Snapshot? I didn't know that.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, actually, that's so funny because like the guy from Snapshot, Fabien, is French, and he was working at Balancer at DEX at the time. And he was like, dude, like, because everyone was like, dude, like, this is kind of a funny gimmick, but it's not really serious. This control my life. Like people, I was with Austin Griffith from the Ethereum Foundation. And we basically did this like signature-less voting on my life. Like what would I do in July 2020? I was like, you know, alone in my parents' place during COVID, nothing to do. And so people voted, I would run three miles. And I guess my Oracle was like Strava. And so I would post my Strava runs to show people I was running three miles. And like, they all voted with Alex tokens to get me to do this. And then the guy from Snapshot, well, X, I mean, future Snapshot was like, dude, this is so cool. This is how we should do DeFi. I'm going to start this company. And I was like the first Snapshot use case on like the snapshot pages. That was really fun. So like I really did a lot of consumer-facing social media X crypto native use cases. And so then I was like, at first I wanted to do the Alex token for everyone in 2021. But I think the tech was not there yet. Like there was no, like I can talk about all the breakthroughs that enabled Dracula. And there's many and we're still blocked in the space by a lot. But like, long story short, I saw digital art and it was a totally much like needed less tech. Like, you know, it's like very expensive prices. So guest fees were fine. You don't buy art every day. Yeah, exactly. Just a Providence. And it was secure on Ethereum, which is obviously it's not going to go down in a thousand years, hopefully. And so that's what you're confident on the other hand, right? So yeah, IPFS, if you like, if you've been from pinata, then you're kind of screwed. But, um, but anyway, so Showtime, I try, I tried so many mechanics with Showtime because, so I started them in 2021 and I saw an FT is rising. And so we did something. We did something with digital art and this did really well for like six months. And that's when we raised the funding that made us survive during the bear market, which was tough. Now, I'm sure it's pretty, um, it's, it's easier right now, I guess, to fundraise. Um, but, but like 2022, 2023 was super tough and we tried so many things.

Nicholas: So like, I mean, if I can make sense, I want, I want to go back to that. But does it make sense to have a completely different narrative for the VCs than what you actually are going to build? Like given. How hype driven. I'm really amazed watching crypto and AI over the last four years, just how meme narrative driven VC willingness to fund projects is like, it's, they're not making bets on people. They're making bets on what literally all their friends are talking about right now, because six months later, they're not betting on the same things at all, but at the time they would never tell you, oh, we expect this to be a success within six months. So they're changing their thesis so quickly based on the Twitter narrative, not everybody, but in general. Yeah.

Alex Masmej: I would say like, but I think maybe that's like also good investors. They have no shame in doing this because it's like, that's how you're going to do the best deals, but yeah, for sure. Like it may seem weird to people outside of the VC world, but yeah, for sure. Like, I think the narrative is going to probably shift a lot towards crypto consumer social soon. Uh, maybe some mixes with AI, like for instance, like I'm building this tick tock like app and it's hard to make a tick tock, but maybe AI like Sora could make it very easy. So maybe at some point I'll integrate some SAS or API tool. So it's very easy to create a Dracula video, but anyway, yeah, for sure.

Nicholas: For the algorithms for the, just for the recommendation engine that ticked off.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, actually that really sucks and we have to like work on it for sure. That's hard. And I think, yeah, it's not a commodity. I think like, yeah, either I raise funding now and then we hire like a solid ML person to tackle this, or if we stay lean, like we will probably like use some SAS tool. I think I'm talking to some AI founders who may help us out. So we'll see how it goes, but.

Nicholas: Yeah. I guess there's a lot of people doing AI infrared trying to commoditize it. Yeah. Commoditize a lot of the things. Yeah, exactly.

Alex Masmej: So that would be good, but it's, it seems like video moderation is not solved at like a SAS. No, sorry, sorry. Video moderation is solved. There's hive.ai and like. there's other tools that are pretty easy to plug in. But I think AI recommendation, that's really tough. And like tick tock and other teams, they have like really massive teams, but hopefully because AI is getting so good, maybe we get some more metadata from the videos we get, like labels and stuff. And then maybe that kind of could work with some SAS software that recommends the videos for us.

Nicholas: You just find, you find the ML engineer who is like awesome and finds it an interesting problem. Yeah.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, yeah, for sure. For sure. No. Yeah.

Nicholas: I wonder, I think I'm curious on, on recruiting, how do you, what works and what doesn't work? Or like, how do you build a team of people who can build as quickly as you're building right now? Cause I think you're, you're shipping like fast a lot. So it's an effective team. How do you pick the right people or how do you even find them in the first place?

Alex Masmej: I think, um, well, I mean, we found our team, I think in the past two years, mostly during the Belmar. So I think that was already a good filter of like, are you motivated by crypto? Um, and then I think like our team has shipped super fast last week because I think it went down like the first day we had like crazy traction and we were like working 15 hour days, like shout out to our team, like Jorge, Nishan, Airbud and Max, like the four, it's only four engineers. Um, and yeah, it's been pretty crazy. So I think just working super hard and then we are building on react native, which I think. I think a lot of crypto companies use. And so that way we can push to all, like we have literally PWA web app, Android and, and test flight Apple, uh, at the same time, which is great.

Nicholas: What is it about those four engineers that, uh, you don't need to say them specifically, but just like they're able to ship a lot very quickly. They they're working well together. And I feel like this is not, it's not obvious. It doesn't happen for free that people just work well together and can actually coordinate to make quick changes and fix things.

Alex Masmej: Yeah. I think like I give everyone. The authority to, to push on main, like I think as the founder slash CEO, like, uh, there's nothing sacred apart from the on-chain part. Like you really need to be careful about the on-chain part. Like we don't want to lose money. Like right now we have like five male volume in one week. So like, it would be a disaster if like there was some bugs at that level, but we got smart contracts. I guess like one thing that's good is like, we got the smart contract part, uh, like reviewed by Samsung, not fully audited, but reviewed by the goat of smart contract auditing. And, um, we had scope lift, which. Made our smart contracts work. And so they're like a really solid spark was like dev shop. One of the best. I think they work with optimism and I never heard of the scope lift. Yeah. Ben, Ben DeFrancisco. I think he's pretty known on like Twitter and stuff.

Nicholas: Yeah.

Alex Masmej: And so like we got the smart contracts done by this dev shop, uh, very elite firm and then smart, uh, yeah. Like smart contract, auditor, goat, Samsung sanity, check them. And they were all a battle tested. Cause actually like we use, um, or bonding curve from the sound XYZ. Uh. Um, sound swap protocol that actually it's funny.

Nicholas: They never really used, but I guess they discontinued it pretty fast, but I thought that was a very interesting product actually.

Alex Masmej: But I thought this was actually a really sound bonding curve. So I was like, I kind of want to reuse it. And so now it's being given a second life with Dracula. Um, and so, yeah, I think the spot talks for battle tested, um, they were rechecked and modified by two elite, uh, set of sparkle track people. And so I think once that part was done. Everything else is web to go fast and break things. Um, I think like, yeah, our app is a lot of integrations as well. Like, uh, I think Dracula is not possible without preview for embedded wallets, without Pimlico for a kind of abstraction without base, uh, layer two without the FOI for four. I think one funny thing is. we launched, I think two minutes after FOI for four, we still subsidized $40,000 of gas so far or some crazy. Wow. I think that's maybe like 30,000. And so it was not possible without FOI for four, because that would have mean like maybe four male of gas or like some insane amount that we don't have.

Nicholas: What, uh, which transactions do you subsidize everything?

Alex Masmej: So we subsidize two main things. One is every trade, but I actually, that's not very expensive. We take 1% fee. So like, you know, if anything, we actually reimbursed ourselves, but it's more of the, um, how would you call it? Uh, it's, it's creating a token. We say like creator tokens, although it's technically an NFT. Uh, but so we create the NFT bonding curve after the creator uploads one video. And I think that's a lot. And we're thinking about like, actually, if we go to a lazy minting model, well, like right now, a lot of people are upload videos, but no one buys their token. And so I'm like, okay, interesting. Like we could just have an optimistic, uh, display. And then the first buy triggers both the minting and the first buy. I think it could make sense. Um, it's like four videos right now. Like it's off chain. But we're thinking about integrating Zora pre-mints. So every video on Dracula is a pre-mint. And then the first minter gets a small incentive. Um, and, and, you know, like we get a small fee, the creator gets a fee, the user sharing it to get a fee. And so that could be like, I think what's exciting about my app is like, although it's pretty short term, it's like, you know, a friend tech forecaster, tech talk. There's so many ways we can make it grow that we will not be tired of integrating protocols. We really are the app layer. There are so many people. And whichever one does the best, we're going to like keep going forward with them. And so that's super exciting. Plus on the back of it, of course, the Fagaster social graph, and I'm very bullish Fagaster. I think what they've done is really amazing. So like, it's like. at the same time, it's, it's short term lift for sure. And like, people are like, oh, like you should like, you know, raise money right now because there's a lot of VC interest. But at the same time, I'm like, honestly, the more I build my app, like we are in early stages of this bull market. I think more people are going to check out our app. And hopefully unlike other bull markets, they stay because it's a more social app. There's like a video recommendation. Maybe there's things you will unlock some experiences to unlock. Once you have this NFT, we made the token NFT standard because it works with all the NFT gating tools.

Nicholas: So anyway, Is it 1155 or 721? 721, I think. Okay. Okay. Interesting. Yeah. So how long did it take to build Dracula from concept to where we are today?

Alex Masmej: So it was December. We were in Mexico in an offsite and like it was in December. Um, and so yeah, it's been actually like, usually I take like six weeks to build a product with our team. I would say, uh, it took more time here. It took like over three months, basically. I think like we had to, we completely erased our code base. So we've been iterating the entire bull market, sorry, bear market. And so we had a lot of tech debt because we had so many features. Showtime got pretty complicated. The brand was also a bit confusing because people were like, oh, it's showtime this art gallery. Is this, this pre-sale on Spotify mint? Is it this free NFT meta transaction? Like there was so many things we were doing. People were confused. So we were like, first let's reset the brands. And then our engineer said, let's reset the code base so we can like go faster. And so our code base is like full JavaScript, uh, react native in the front end. And then TypeScript, CRPC, AWS in the backend. So we completely erased everything. And so we built the app in actually quite a long time, three months. But I think it was worth it because, well, the 4844 stuff, it's pretty funny because literally we could not ship without this. Um, and so yeah, took, took quite a while. It took quite some time, but now like we're in a pretty good spot. There's so, so many things broken, but, uh, I'm confident we're going to, we're going to do well.

Nicholas: That's pretty cool that you were shipping products at like a six week pace. That's pretty fast.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, I would say that's pretty fast, but like Merit.xyz does this. I think a lot of other teams in crypto just adopted this cadence. And like, uh, I think shipping fast is definitely the number one thing for any team. Um, and so, yeah, we did take some time. I think we're going to grow the team a little bit now from four to six engineers short term. Um, and so that's going to, I think maybe not like faster velocity. I think hiring new people is not going to increase it, but at least like, um, the, the product will be, um, like, I guess a little deeper in quality because right now it's like broken in so many ways. So hopefully we can fix it on more fronts at the same time.

Nicholas: It's very feature rich for a MVP. I mean, it's, it's more than an MVP. It's not for sure. It's got a lot going on. It's got trending lists. You have blood, you have degen fast follow integration. The, the tokens. Yeah. Like keys, whatever bonding curves, tokens. Um, why did you tell me more about this NFT choice? You thought that was important.

Alex Masmej: So, um, the bonding curve, it's not like, uh, basically I saw friend tech, uh, which was like this bonding curve with no standard, like the friend tech standard has no, I think you even report on it, but like, it's, it's, it's just nothing. And I was like, well, like if we want to be future proof, I think a lot of our app is future proof, which I think is great. It's like, we are this short lived casino game, but the info we're building on, I think. Can last for a long time. Like we have a kind of abstraction, like if we move, for instance, from this bonding curve, degen thing to fabric, uh, which is a bit more sustainable. Still, there's some incentives for early subscribers. We make USDC, we abstract your as a scene to USD. Now we have like a mainstream app. And so it doesn't, there's no migration needed or anything.

Nicholas: It's easy. It's exactly.

Alex Masmej: I think it was a big part of, of, of our stack for sure. And so, yeah, like, because we have AA, we can, we can switch. And so one of the consideration is if this token actually becomes. The Canonical Ukraine or super fan badge, then what can you do with it? And if we make it at NFT that's like Max compatible. So I think 7 21 is even below one, one five, five. It's like the original one. So like hopefully it works with all the brands. If we, if we do blow up and there's other composable apps that want to build on top of us. then that'd be great. and so that's why it's like a 721 bonding curve.

Nicholas: it's cool. the way you see it is like all this info that you can integrate and you'll just follow what people respond to. and because you have the account abstraction account as your kind of app account you can try lots of things.

Alex Masmej: yeah there's like one con with app account. it's like there's no interrupt and so that's a bit annoying. plus i think it could be improved like right now we're doing some rescue operations with people sending the wrong token to it or like sending like from the test net dracula address to like a main at dracula address wrong chain wrong chain.

Nicholas: uh so like chains are a little bit difficult.

Alex Masmej: yeah yeah yeah for sure like i think yeah like. sometimes people are like oh like when are you gonna do mainstream? like we should maybe do a fabric because it's like a more mainstream pricing mechanism and i'm so into that. but at the same time i'm like dude like some basic crypto stuff is not there. and so i think like all the meme coin hype right now is because there's latent demand that doesn't have mainstream products because it's too hard to make work at scale. and so i think that's that's why right now i think short term this casino approach we had this very brash red brand we had was the right choice. um because like honestly crypto infra is still like not ideal but it is growing super fast like i think or app could have not been built even an hour before. and so that means like yeah like every week literally crypto gets better. so i'm very excited. um but like i think until the summer at least uh crypto is still going to be this pretty niche product and so that's okay. if we're going to be able to do if we don't mainstreamize straight away what's coming in the summer that's going to change that. so i think like there's going to be more interoperability between um embedded wallets smart wallets probably foccaster frames. i think privy is working on interoperability between wallets. pemlico is going to be deeper integrated within privy. so like aa and eoa are going to be more like embedded wallets are going to merge with the cap structure a bit more like right now. what's a little weird is like we actually have a similar structure as foccaster where like you go on dracula we create you with signing with foccaster a privy eoa wallet and then that signs a wallet to create transactions for you. so it's like a signer wallet.

Nicholas: how does foccaster relate to privy in that?

Alex Masmej: so i think foccaster also has like a signer connected address receiver system. so for us it's kind of the same model with like privy and pemlico which is like users have an embedded wallet connected to their aa wallet. i think foccaster they always say that like it's safer because i think it's a different signature mechanism or whatever. each each.

Nicholas: um the public key associated with a private key in each app gets added to the i think optimism registry. so you just are authorizing a new signer on your foccaster fid from what i understand makes sense.

Alex Masmej: makes sense yeah.

Nicholas: so it's kind of similar to adding a signer to a.

Alex Masmej: yeah exactly. so it is a little bit like they've kind of done it. uh i guess like uh in-house and um yeah. but so we're using privy and pemlico and i'm pretty happy about them.

Nicholas: and how do you manage the like? what is the main account? is it because people aren't required to have foccaster right like forecast?

Alex Masmej: yeah so people are not required to have foccaster. uh you can sign with other methods. we actually did not bring connect your own wallet and people were like oh like that's. that's stupid because i have money on my base account. like i would love to use dracula but like i mean we saw front tech was also like pure embedded wallet and so i was like i think it's. i think the ux sucks like it's really like. also i feel like it's been less successful than normal frames. like any time you ask for people to deep link a wallet it's like asking for a horror story in ux because the wallet doesn't get it. it's very brittle while it connects us. really some troubles. and so maybe coinbase wallet they have like their own native deep linking. so perhaps there's less bugs with commis wallet but it's kind of a stretch. overall crypto ux with wallets is bad and so we're like okay like just send your money once it can be a protocol in the background. if you want to start to degen automatically we'll do it in the background but just set it once. it's the only painful task we're achieving and then the rest everything is handled by us. it's full crypto mullet. there's nothing else.

Nicholas: do you think that you'll did? you bring a lot of the showtime audience over to dracula. did they transition?

Alex Masmej: i would say uh some of them. but so like just to recap the last product at showtime before this dracula pivot was for music artists because i think we saw music nfts. um not really work out on l2s like because l2s were so cheap. i think economically the system broke where basically i have a hard fans. but now they're not buying for five hundred dollars they're buying for five dollars. so like and there's not a heart x more fans showing up. so like the economics are broken and so they all went back to tiktok and i was like oh like that's very interesting. like they use short form videos a lot and i knew that ted from farcaster is doing video. there's brian who's doing video content. i'm like i don't want to build like a text clone like. i want to go the opposite most orthogonal route and so i want to do this video client. video is the most popular content format ever. it's going to be easier and easier to post videos with ai evolution and so it started with them in mind. but actually the first crowd was the farcaster crowd. and what's i think a little crazy is. we started building this product with mainstream in mind because was too small and the last month about to ship this app we're like holy shit like farcaster actually is growing. so like a silicon valley person very rational i'm like all right i'll go to market. it's going to be farcaster. and uh it's funny because it worked it's grown a lot.

Nicholas: but uh there i guess there's an impression that there's not that many humans or that it's less like a lot.

Alex Masmej: oh interesting we have actually at the smog track level some bot protection. so we have sandwich attack at the protocol layer at the smoke track layer where basically you cannot buy and sell within less than 60 seconds. when you buy like the smoker track waits for 60 seconds because you can sell. so actually we try to avoid sandwich attacks at least. um but there may be some bots. i think it's. it's less but it's more. i think like. i think a korean trader like made it to number one and like we didn't think he was scamming anyone so we didn't bring him down or her down. but like i think it's just like people are just farming blood and farming. uh the account. i don't see too many bots um but i do see like yeah like a little spammy accounts like this. is why like we're thinking about like. do we put the videos on chain? maybe they're violating copyrights because it's reused videos. so maybe we have to sort that first. right now it's just a profile and so it's just a profile picture. so it's like it's a bit cleaner from a legal perspective and so maybe we need to sort out our mess before putting more stuff on chain. but yeah i hear you okay so there's some buts. i think impersonation was a bigger problem on the first day. um i think like we got a lot of uh sweat over, like, Jesse Pollack being faked and Nonlinear being faked. Fortunately for us, because the Farcaster crowd is so forgiving, they were both pretty chill about it. But, yeah, we took them down. Actually, it's pretty funny because AA is a bit centralized, so we can, like, nuke them, basically, before they sold. Really? And so, like, we saw, like, their two accounts.

Nicholas: Because you're not going to sponsor their transactions.

Alex Masmej: No, but, like, I think you can kill their Preview EOA, and so then no one can sign their AA wallet. So we essentially freeze their accounts. And so we saw the scammers, and the scammers, they had something in common, which they had, like, a biggest holder. I don't know if I should even say this because that's a little mean to the scammers, but we kind of punished the scammers. Basically, the scammers have a main account, and then they have, like, a non-account. that's their top holder. that's doing the insider trading, and they kept changing username. But we saw it on our database, and we froze these two. Like, we killed their Preview, so nothing can sign their AA. And so our team was like, oh, like, we're, like, a little bit Web2 here because we can kill people. And I'm like, yeah, but, like, you know, it's a bit like the Fockaster channel, like, you know, decentralized debates. Like, yeah, but, like, they're actively scamming people. And so it turns out that we actually have had little complaints about, like, these fake people because they bought a ton into the bonding curve, and now their funds are stuck. So essentially, we used the scammers' money, and then people could sell at a higher price, so they were fine.

Nicholas: Oh, jeez. So they're locked out of... Yeah.

Alex Masmej: And no one complained. I was like, maybe it's someone legit. Maybe I'm, like, you know, making theories in my mind that, like, they're not, you know, but I think they said nothing. I think they knew they were doing something bad.

Nicholas: Yeah, right, right, right. But it is scary to be able... I mean, it's not exactly self-custody, if you can...

Alex Masmej: It's not self-custody right now, for sure. I think, yeah, Preview... I think Preview Interop is going to be very interesting. I think they have a lot of security concerns around interoperability. Interop. Because right now, our app is actually abstracting the Preview UI. And I think that, like, that's a little scary to let apps abstract our UI. Like, we may enforce our UI in some ways, or maybe talk to browser, or maybe, like, wallet in-app browsers to say, like, you know, Dracula.app is, like, verified or something. Just like Farcaster is, like, whitelisting URLs right now. So, yeah, like, we... There's some concerns on, I think, Avid Wallet's AA side. Like, I hope our system is not custom and they end up merging and being more productized, because that would be a pain to Microsoft. I guess our users. But, yeah, for sure. Like, it's an interesting model.

Nicholas: Okay, but I have a question about this, because you're not concerned... Like, you're happy to be the app. You're happy to be... You don't care too much about controlling the account itself. You're happy to, like, use third-party providers to manage those things. Sign in with Farcaster, Preview... I guess the account abstraction kind of is the anchor, though.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, like, yeah, we... Yeah, like, Preview is actually self-custodial. Like, we don't actually own the user key. We can destroy the user keys, but we cannot seize them or, like, control the account, actually. So, I think I'm fine working with providers. I feel like working on the app layer, like, it's already so much infra work. Like, we have to delegate as much as possible. And already, like, it was really tough. Like, integrating Pimlico, like, was quite tough, because they're so new. It's also cutting-edge work. So, like, I don't blame the Pimlico team. I love the Pimlico team. And disclaimer, I also invested in Pimlico, so, like, I really love them. But it's, like, it's cutting-edge. And even working with them took some time. Every chain we were integrating, every stuff was a lot of work. And so, I think we don't have time to really build everything in-house. Like, that would be too much.

Nicholas: Yeah, yeah. Explain how you're thinking about Blood. Like, what purpose does it serve? And how does it work out of the hood? How does it relate to the other assets in the system?

Alex Masmej: Yeah, for sure. So, I think initially... So, we have to rework it right now. It's, like, week one, and people have gamed Blood like crazy. But initially, it's a point system where the more you use Dracula, the more you invite friends to Dracula, the more you create videos, the more you do anything that grows the app, especially buying tokens, you earn Blood points. And then you can spend that into creators on their videos. And we thought Blood would be, like, an upvote algorithm on our feed. Well, like, it's like the attention currency where you can bump stuff. Turns out there were so many loopholes that we actually stopped using this as the attention currency on the... algorithm. And so, we need to, like, recalculate Blood for everyone. There was a couple problems. People were gaming the create video stuff. We had, like, I think, 40 terabytes of videos uploaded because people were like, oh, like, the more I upload videos. So, we stopped that incentive. We stopped that incentive. And then people also were double spending because you could, like, tip yourself with Blood. And I think the system was too slow and somehow broke or something. So, but Blood initially is, like, trying to, like... quantify your usage of Dracula and then let you reward by giving more attention to people. I think we need to rework that a little bit. But one thing that actually is super interesting is, you know, it's a similar point system as many other crypto apps, including Frontech. And Frontech, I think, is launching their point system on-chain next week. And so, it's going to be a free playbook for us. Like, we want to be very different from Frontech. We have many differences with this app. But I think we're going to be, by, like, whatever they do next week. But yeah, so...

Nicholas: You're not saying to integrate them because that is kind of your style now to even potentially do an integration.

Alex Masmej: That could be interesting to integrate Frontech. I feel like we are both doing, you know, speculate on creators. I think they're more into the Twitter crowd, Reddit crowd. I think they may have same with Reddit. I saw that somewhere on their new app. Versus we are more, like, mainstream, TikTok, more Farcaster. So, we'll see how it goes.

Nicholas: I had this impression yesterday looking at Dracula that it was, like, sort of, like, a video app for advertising your creator token. Like, the videos end up serving as a kind of publicity for the creator token. Does that seem right to you?

Alex Masmej: Yeah, I think, like, it's very interesting because one type of video content I want to see on Dracula is, like, on-chain NPC. Like, you know, you see, like, ice cream so good. Or, like, even my, actually, my younger brother, he's French, he's from Paris, like me. He blew up saying, like, oh, like, I'm going to walk one meter for every... I feel like you could do the same but with for every token purchased. And I think that could be so fun because you actually will make way more money, obviously, than, like, on social media. That's Web2. And so, you may actually do much crazier stuff. It's, like, actually, it's kind of like Mr. Beast. Like, the whole channel of Mr. Beast is he is spending tons of money from the money he's making from his channel. And it's kind of like this circular capitalism economy reinvesting stuff. I think with crypto, you can make so much money. Like, you could do really crazy things almost at the scale of Mr. Beast, but, like, with much less audience. Like, it's a much more capital-efficient content creation monetization system. And so, I'm excited to do that. And actually, on Monday, I guess this is a bit of a spoiler, but on Monday, we're announcing our, like, on-chain creator fund. Like, the TikTok creator fund, but, like, sponsored by Dijan because Dijan gave us a big grant. Oh, yeah. Because, like, it's a very symbiotic relationship with Dijan. We can talk more about this, but, like, you know, we launched the app, the Dijan price went up. They gave us a grant, so, like, our grant goes up in price. So, yeah, it's going to be exciting to see. But, yeah, the Dijan fund for creators is going to be announced on Monday, so we can actually know and iterate with creators what is the best content type that works on the platform.

Nicholas: And how are you approaching that? How are you going to decide how to, who to reward? I mean, because it's hard to come up with these mechanisms that don't get gamed, like you're saying about the uploads.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, yeah, for sure, for sure. So, I think it's going to be, like, an application form where, like, we only, we will triage the best, you know, video content creators. And so, it's going to be, like, hey, like, you know, how do you monetize? Is it, like, with Fabric? Are you willing to be using the Dracula token method? Or, like, what do you use on chain to, like, have your super fans? That's going to be one thing. Two, like, original content. Do you have ideas about original content on Dracula? And, yeah, I think we're just going to see what ideas people have. I think you should stay open-minded. But, yeah, we just want to know, like, are you going to do original content? Do you have any ideas? And then, what is your on-chain native things that you have already? Or are you willing to use ours? Or are you willing to start something new, like start a Fabric hyper-sub or something? And I think we'll see. And we should get maybe, like, a hundred people to start or two hundred creators, keep it, like, pretty low-key and just side-check with them. And then they will also probably get a lot of blood rewards as well. But right now, it's mostly going to be D-Gen.

Nicholas: Have you made an official statement about blood, if it becomes a token eventually?

Alex Masmej: We don't have plans for now, but, like, yeah, it's definitely something that we could do. And, again, it's like, I'm inspired. I'm excited to see how Frentech went from point to tokens. I think that playbook is still, like, early. I'm not sure exactly how it would do, but for sure, in our plans to do something like this. I feel like we gained so much from D-Gen, the D-Gen meme coin, that potentially, like, having your own in-app meme coin, would be good. Maybe not named Blood. I feel like Blood, actually, is a little controversial as a brand choice. Yeah. And people didn't like it too much. But, like, yeah, we could probably, like, do something on-chain, for sure.

Nicholas: I love your... You have, I think, a very unique taste. It's, like, a little further on the spectrum towards Nikita Beer. Like, you're not afraid of being a bit vulgar or, like, not appealing to elitist crypto intelligentsia tastes. Also,

Alex Masmej: like, I think, what's very funny is, like, Farcaster, like, I think, my friend Peter Pan, who's, like, also this very edgy guy, like, I mean, I'm not as edgy as Peter, I would say, but, like, Peter, I think, came to Warpcast and said, Farcaster is, like, Christian Rath. And, like, it just caused such a stir. Like, Dan was pretty pissed off and stuff. But, like, I mean, Dan is a boomer. Like, I think it's not even, like, an insult. It's, like, Dan is generationally a boomer. And, like, the Farcaster crowd is a little bit more conservative. They're more tech savvy.

Nicholas: I'm not sure he's literally a boomer, but, okay, yes. I understand what you mean. I mean, yeah, maybe. I think there's a certain kind of professionalism from the Coinbase cadre that's, like, it is a little Christian. It is a little...

Alex Masmej: And I think, honestly, like, Dan would love hearing this because every time someone commented on Farcaster culture, he was like, well, just build another client. Like, do another client. This is decentralized. I'm not responsible for my culture. I'm proud of the culture. I want to stay here in Farcaster. It's conversational. It's high IQ. And I think it's great. But to me, I feel like our vision is to get a billion people on-chain, make users and creators more money, I think, is what will get them on board. I think for developers, composability is great. And we will have some composable elements. We're already pretty composable with Farcaster, Dracula. But I feel like for us, at least on the user and creator-facing side, I think making them more money than TikTok, I think, is our goal. And so for this, I think we definitely need to be a bit brash. Also, people commented on the brand saying it's a bit explicit with Dracula, whatever. And I was like, well, you're saying this now that the app blew up. But if we were called videocast, do you think people would have cared as much? Maybe not. We want to be brash. And I'm very ambitious. I just don't want to be a small Farcaster client. We want to make our app as big as possible. And TikTok is going to get banned. We have a play if we improve the app and features and overall UX by the time crypto evolves to capture a big adoption moment in the space. And yeah, I also feel like Twitter is a smaller social network than TikTok. And so we want to go after the biggest one, the biggest content type. I agree with you.

Nicholas: I think literacy, or it's not exactly literacy. It's like willingness to read, I think, is lower than people who spend all day on Twitter might think. Based on their friends.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, exactly. And even Farcaster, I mean, they've been dominated by frames and DGN, which is not exactly Christian Rapp, and it's more speculation.

Nicholas: So yeah, I feel like they also have this nice, there's this beautiful thing inside Farcaster about. you observe the activity on the network as an input to your on-chain mechanisms. And then you give interfaces to interact via frames. There's like a nice loop within it. But do you ever think, I mean, you've embraced Farcaster, but I wonder, if you ever feel, because distribution is so important and Farcaster is fundamentally the distribution piece. So it is a little bit like the network is being stripped out of the apps if we continue to make apps on top of the same shared substrate. I mean, it's great in some ways, but presumably there will still be some kind of capture that happens. that people, I don't know. How do you think about it? Do you think about competing in terms of the network itself? Because in the prior era, and Web2 was like a hipstamatic versus Instagram, for example. Instagram brought the network and it was, I mean, a completely different category of product. Yeah. Yeah. But here you do kind of give it away in advance in a way.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, for sure. For sure. I feel like. what's interesting is we, I think, want to be at the application layer. We want to integrate the best protocols. And so if there's another protocol that gets more users, we'll have the incentive to switch. Even myself, like I was mostly ignoring Farcaster as a go-to-market strategy until frames showed up and I was like, okay, like I think now, it makes sense for us to dominate this crowd. And I think we did well. And I don't say dominate in a negative sum game. I think Dan is really welcoming of Dracula, even though it's like a totally different vibe and brand than him. Like he's still very excited about it. I'm very excited about Farcaster. I think short term, we have to be the leading Farcaster video client. Long term, it's tough to say exactly how we will become, but I think if Farcaster continues leading, we will keep using them. I think like in the future, as we build this, you know, TikTok, on-chain, billion user app vision, if we need to build missing pieces of the social graph protocol, maybe around creator earnings or stuff that Farcaster has not covered, we could do this. That could like be part of that vision. But honestly, like Farcaster has a pretty sound protocol. It's also non-financial. We would be down to potentially contribute at some point to like improve the protocol as well. Right now, giving feedback to the team because like we can cross-post videos with Nainar that you upload, but it doesn't show up on like Warpcast web. It only shows up on Warpcast the app. And so like, even just like feedback right now on the product.

Nicholas: What do you mean by cross-post? You mean like auto-post?

Alex Masmej: Yeah, exactly. Like when you create as a creator, it actually creates a cast on your name with the description as the cast tasks and the video. And it works well on the app. It doesn't work yet on web. And so we've sold that to the Farcaster team. I would say like we are aligned with Farcaster. And this seemed to be the leading social graph protocol. And as long as that's the case, that's great. But otherwise, we'll always integrate the best tools. And so that can mean Zora. Like there's a lot of Farcaster adjacent protocols like Zora, HyperSubFabric. Like we are also keen to integrate all of them and then grow with them. And I think I'm a big believer in the application layer being like really important. Like, you know, Coinbase, OpenSea, Uniswap. Like, yeah, they all have protocols, but like they're all known and used on the app layer directly. So I'm a big believer in apps. But I also feel like at some point we can also protocolize per se whatever we see lacking in the market so people can use Dracula and port over their social graph on other apps. I think that's important. But short term, I think there's a lot of great protocols built for us. Farcaster is a great social graph. Zora is great for minting. HyperSub is great for like a more long-term subscription. And it's like it's very thoughtfully designed to be in between FriendTech and Patreon. So we may switch to HyperSub. So short term, we are on top of protocols. I think, yeah, like Farcaster has nothing to worry about in terms of competition for social graphs right now. Like we are super happy to be on top of them. But we'll see. We'll see with the market. But I'm very confident with the Farcaster team. Like they're super talented. They're super great.

Nicholas: Yeah. I think they it hasn't been reflected in the daily active QDAU yet. But and maybe the growth is not as consistent in terms of real user or perceived real users. At least according to like the Ilemi Dune Dash and stuff like which I think says something on the order of like 60,000 active in the last two weeks that are kind of he deems relevant real users. But the bones of the protocol make me think that they may already have won in terms of social network for crypto. Because just attaching the wallet to all of your social engagement is such a awesome move. And they've done it in a seemingly credibly enough. I mean, they're a good team on a technical level.

Alex Masmej: So I trust that the protocol is No, I think like we actually yeah, like I wouldn't be scared about long-term Farcaster alignment. Like if anything we are proving their thesis right now. Like we are literally a gnat. that's going on them. I have a following. that's going on them. Like I have no incentive to leave their protocol. They're giving us such a great go-to market. And if we actually become mainstream and get more users in Warpcast we probably will write and you know create a Farcaster account on behalf of these people. So we may actually like actually like. I think one thing I was like thinking about that was so funny is like if I get a billion users with our app and we really succeed and we actually get more users in Warpcast whenever there's a protocol token with Farcaster I would get more than Dan. But it doesn't matter. It's like it's fair because like we are all trying to do this decentralized social graph and every person's efforts will be rewarded. But yeah anyway like that's not my goal to get the most Farcaster tokens. but what I'm saying is like if we grow out of Farcaster that's probably bullish on them because I don't You might be onboarding more users than Warpcast. Yeah yeah. I think like there's something to be said about the protocol fee. I think it's a little bit annoying. They have a protocol fee at some steps. Maybe too futuristic but I see WorldCoin growing very fast. I think WorldCoin may scan like 50 million or 100 million people this year. And so if you could like remove the fees for WorldCoin users that would be great. And so that's kind of one of the perks of Sybil. resistance is like if someone actually is Sybil verified social media becomes free again. No need for subscriptions on Twitter or the protocol fee on Farcaster to prove you're human. So there are some tweaks we could do. but overall super bullish on Farcaster love the team. That has been an inspiration as a founder like he's much more senior than me as a founder and leader. So, oh yeah, like I have and they've been super kind to us personally. So, yep.

Nicholas: Yep, Dan's doing a great job. What are people buying when they buy creator tokens? Do you think this like product mechanism where the accounts each have a token? is that essential or is that just what the product is right now?

Alex Masmej: So that's what the product is right now. Right now buying a token doesn't give you anything. I think we didn't want to pretend to be something. we're not. Right now, it's a fun casino but we're transparent about it. Like you buy it with D-Gen so I think it tells you a lot about the nature of the token. but because it's an NFC I think we're like future-proofing to make our app more useful as it grows. and so first of all like very soon we'll have the screen showing you when you own a token. we'll have like a fun animation to show you that you own a token. You may have some advertising spots like maybe on a video you could see who's the biggest collector and so being the like biggest collector of a given artist of a given creator will give you a small ad spot I guess.

Nicholas: You could post a message choose a message.

Alex Masmej: You could maybe we could maybe have like comments on Dracula being only commented by collectors. that could be interesting too. So there's some short-term wins we could do but I think not exactly sure what would be the winning things right now. one cool thing would be just whatever the hyper subs are doing. we could do so like. I think Cooper totally is airdropping NFTs to people who subscribe. so we could maybe have airdrops. I think Dale did this with Dracula. actually he has his own personal token deal and he said whoever collects my token on Dracula. so basically I think I'm. I've tried the perks stuff many times and it failed many times. the whole like super fan badge that collects perks. I think we're gonna just see how the crowd evolves in terms of what is happening organically and we can productize whatever we see. that's working. but right now it seems like honestly status is the biggest thing. so we

Nicholas: could

Alex Masmej: maybe have them flex that like they own it or show it more on Dracula like show them status like we actually show the collectors before the videos themselves when you go to a profile and then to show that and

Nicholas: then

Alex Masmej: on the perk side as Ted Notlesso said which is I think is pretty smart. you don't want the perks to be gated content. gated like content wants to be spread around but you may want gated experiences and so of course everyone has seen friend tech with gated group chats. I don't know if group chat is the right format. I know there was some beef on Farcaster on gated live streams where like Brian was like. this is a stupid idea and non-linear being like no like you should run this. you should try this because live stream don't have many viewers like. if you were to token gate them that would be even worse. so not sure not sure. so still ideating on this but I would say like we first need to grow the app before gated perks of any kind become important like. I think that's what I realized it's like. for instance like Bored Apes was first just this image and then because they became so big I think you could use it for getting discounts at a Gucci store or like whatever perks catered to like their luxurious tech savvy collector community. and so I think same for us like we're still pretty small as an app and like first let the collector base grow so we can see what exactly works for them. but yeah I guess a chat room could be like a easy win. we could do that. we've done this in the past but it didn't work too well. so that's why it's like okay maybe now that we have users like we could do that but let's see but you're not.

Nicholas: it's interesting. you're not afraid to try features you're not betting the farm on any one feature like you could do chat rooms and it would not be a major commitment for you. I feel it's a kind of somewhat unique approach. I don't know seems a little bit different.

Alex Masmej: yeah I think well in 2020 like everything I did was like working so well and I felt like a genius. and then the bear market really humbled me. every single thing didn't work. honestly when we shipped to Canada last week I was not even that confident. I was like okay like. am I going to like feel awkward and like go to bed and be like holy shit? I need to try one more once more like. and so now I'm just like more data driven. I'm like whatever is working and I know a lot of very smart people that I talk to. like many ideas from Dracula was ideas from my friends that I just filter and then we like a sponge. I just like listen to all very smart crypto native people all day and talk to them and then like digest it and then like get the products out there. so I think well to be fair like Dracula is still technically dead I would say it's technically not working in terms of like. we had a big splash but as a clock ticking where if we don't move away from the bonding curve model it will probably just slowly die out. and so what bold moves could we do in the next months or two to keep being relevant is important and probably removes the fear of making bold moves

Nicholas: but making them fast too you gotta they have to be

Alex Masmej: yeah we have to be fast we have to be fast for sure. I would say like what's really comforting for me is like okay sure we're doing this. you know gambling mechanism on creators it's short-lived at the same time like we've built it ourselves like it's hard to build a video client on Farcaster and so we're probably are gonna be the only one for a while. like we also have this G-Gen thing. I have all the Farcaster elite like talking to me and being friendly with me and it's like this positive sum game because they have like a big token on Dracula so we have a lot of things going for them where the Farcaster community can iterate with us because it's a win-win for both communities. so like although we're short-lived I actually feel we are pretty well positioned to just iterate on stuff. it's like you know Woj with Supercast like. I don't know if it's a massive business but Woj is alone. he's making probably way more money than anyone in his town because I think he's in Europe like where I'm from and like I think it's doing something brilliant but with just iterating with the people. and yeah so shout out to to you Woj there's not that many people trying it doesn't? yeah exactly exactly. there's not that many people trying and so maybe now because of our small like head start people will start copying. I'm not sure.

Nicholas: but like I don't think that's really going to be relevant because it seems to me like what the long arc of your narrative. what's relevant is just your persistence and always shipping stuff. you're not stopping for long periods of time. so it's not so much I mean nobody cares with today how Showtime is doing like there's something more interesting that you're working on. so it's that persistence. you're building the muscle to be able to move quickly when opportunities arise and that's just unbeatable. it's the same thing. Frentech I think makes Frentech special. they did the same thing right.

Alex Masmej: no yeah for sure. like. Frentech is super special and like I'm very inspired by what they've done and although I was the only like I was the first personal token like they've definitely made it grow and and nobody cares today how Showtime is doing like there's something that you're working on. so it's that persistence. Frentech like Frentech is super special and like I'm very inspired by what they've done and although I was personal token made it grow and and grown that I feel and that's just unbeatable.

Nicholas: it's the same thing I think makes Frentech special. they did the same thing right. no yeah for sure. like Frentech is super special and like I'm very inspired by what they've done and although I was personal token like they've definitely made it grow and that I feel it's the same thing.

Alex Masmej: Frentech I think makes Frentech special. no yeah for sure. and like I'm very inspired I think makes Frentech special.

Nicholas: they did the same thing right and like I'm very inspired and although I was like I was the first like they've. definitely episodes is pretty good.

Alex Masmej: I think I just feel like your section of Builder is really good and like usually it's more founders and VCs and podcasts. and here hearing from the builders is really interesting. like one key hire i had who now is working at a16z crypto is karma coma and uh karma is like uh really incredible. and he actually taught me a lot about crypto. um because i'm not as deep into solidity as he is. and so i think just like the theme of like solidity developers spout doc engineers who can actually talk very well and have good communication skills are like really interesting to listen to because they know the primitives better than anyone and can tell us like where to push the edge. and so yeah exactly.

Nicholas: and the inspiration for the show was really just that these people don't usually get to talk. it is usually like marketers talking marketing bag and not really getting into the mechanisms which are what's powering all this stuff. and and like yesterday i talked to you do you know pete horn? uh jacob's father? yeah yeah that person that's that's jacob's father.

Alex Masmej: yeah whoa that episode's coming and he's also like a galaxy brain dude.

Nicholas: he's a og. he actually understands the evm he like. he's like solidity is a trash language. he's all about writing his own assembly interpreters in. fourth some super og language. uh from that's crazy custom drivers for hardware electronics anyway. uh so it's it's cool to talk to people like that where whoa. but i think the thing that this show hasn't done yet really is either go on chain or maybe give a venue like some some shelling point for the listeners because i feel like the listeners are also super high quality too like on the website you can see testimonies for people who listen and they're just like they're real devs they're real evm heads. so well i feel there's some opportunity there that i haven't yet figured out. but for dracula it's. i guess this was kind of one of the questions about the product. like what are the things that people are actually engaging with? they're speculating on the creator token price and they're farming blood seem like the top two mechanisms they like right now.

Alex Masmej: yeah yeah i think people are also using the feed a lot but they are dropping off because the feed algorithm is not good enough. and so um like we're gonna talk to like ai people around feed recommendation feed moderation. but i think short term we're going to probably correlate your uh like dracula profile with like your farcaster followers. yeah exactly so like we're gonna actually heavily boost people who have a 100k plus followers like you on the app.

Nicholas: um because people if you have the farcaster account you can show me all the videos from people i follow.

Alex Masmej: yeah exactly exactly we're gonna do that i think. first uh because we have to ship so fast like first because we have the follower accounts. now on farcaster it's going to be like the more followers the more you get on the feed. the second step is going to be uh in your following. uh if they have a regular profile and made a video show these videos first.

Nicholas: yeah um how many people are working on the team?

Alex Masmej: so we're six six.

Nicholas: um is vc funding necessary like dracula in the amount of time you did.

Alex Masmej: so i would say so yeah like we. so we raised from paradigm um eight million actually way back in 2021. that's like the very start of the company though like it was like my first job first startup and i was like holy shit like i don't need. like. people always told me like oh yeah your idea will change like you will be different. we literally built this like nft art gallery. it starts working straight away like on day one. i think we get a lot of really amazing names amazing. and then that actually like. i remember people telling me like oh like that's a lot of money like you guys are like two people at that point and like you have eight million. it's been two months like uh how are you going to spend it? and then part i'm told us actually no like there's gonna be a bear market and it's gonna be very tough for you and so we stayed very lean in a bear market. uh we were i think at most 10 people but then like shrunk six months ago because i still didn't see many signs of traction and so i felt like we had to constrain the team. and so six people and yeah and so now i guess it's working again. we are early bull market. i think we're well positioned if we keep making bold moves. uh evolve the brand to be a bit more mainstream. i think there's a path for us. but like yeah it's a pretty interesting time. and so without this team of funding a hundred percent actually i would say without the usvc funding probably in the western world it's not possible. like um if like if i was to stay in france like people have like like sometimes i have an anti-french bias but like people sometimes tell me like well in france you could have maybe raised like two three mil like it's still pretty good even with the salaries being lower. i don't think i could have sustained that long because it's been three years. and so i think like the grind you see for our company or even way more successful companies like uniswap or open c like they thrived off um vc funding when times were tough. so i think definitely the money was was really crucial. we almost ran out of it.

Nicholas: what uh what was the valuation?

Alex Masmej: 35 million in 2021.

Nicholas: but you're really riding those winds of that time.

Alex Masmej: yeah exactly it was like we did not raise peak. uh bull market i think could have been even crazier. but um it was definitely like quite um quite high at the start of the company and then there was a couple transactions. like our co-founder left um after like a year so it's been a while now and he like sold at 50 million dollar valuation and then we had like a couple of some angel checks at 50 million. so the last valuation of the company is like 50. um.

Nicholas: yep um how did you manage your co-founder leaving and picking up new technical? i guess you had. you already had some engineering staff. but how did you navigate like that hiring challenge?

Alex Masmej: so that was a little tough um because it was like a year in and i had never started a company. but what we realized is like he was no longer a good fit in terms of what we needed in engineering. like he bootstrapped the product. he created a product. i'm not technical in terms of back-end front-end. i know i know a lot about crypto infra but i'm still not a very good coder overall. but um he started this company a website an mvp that got us to where we are. so i'm forever grateful for him. but i think the challenge changed very rapidly to like hiring really good engineers and none of us had really experience in it. so we hired some people. but then actually like it was it was tough like we were very junior into growing a team and so yeah we agreed to part ways. um but we grew a lot from this experience and i have no ill feelings. but yeah basically like growing from rapid prototyper to like a leader of like a big team big technical team is a big challenge and so that was. that was tough but that was a while ago now. so i feel like we really like you know processed it and stuff like. it's been a long time.

Nicholas: but how did you how did you manage to to as a somewhat but not entirely technical like not a tech lead founder you technical but not a tech lead how did you manage to navigate bringing on the right technical staff?

Alex Masmej: or how did you what did you learn that let you do that over time i would say actually like it's an executive from coinbase called harry tormy who was like pretty helpful in terms of hiring front-end engineers. um and like we have really good direct native uh engineers in airbot and nishan and so uh coinbase is very pro react native and so they helped us hire. so i think that was on that front. and then in back end we uh we hired some people i think um one from inbound and another one uh from just like reaching out to to someone who was like working with someone else and we we took them. so yeah i think like we we built the team i would say like the front engineers was like. shout out to harry tormy for creating that team at coinbase and really helped me hone with hiring uh vc's like uh paradigm and dragonfly also helpful in giving um you know resources for hiring like uh documents to how to hire people or even just sourcing. uh shout out zack skelly who was one of the main hiring leads at zero x who now is the head of talent at dragonfly. i think he's one of the best hiring person for crypto native talent specifically um. and then also like i hired some really incredible people in the past and i think that's really important to me because i think that's that are no longer part of showtime. but miguel pedra fita who now is at world coin was like our first ever employee and like he was really curious and super smart and that was very interesting to have him. and then karma coma of course like legend in symbolic execution. uh really interested into zk building almost now with a 16z. so um yeah i'm sad he left for a 16z crypto but i think that's a better place for him.

Nicholas: what are the best properties for this early stage startup team? i guess you talked about like a prototyping phase that you went through to get sort of a proof of concept which actually had to your surprise maybe traction right away. but that sort of proved that you were able to create stuff and then post funding you're building out this more professionalized team i guess. is that? uh right i suppose it's different properties.

Alex Masmej: i think there's different types of founders and entrepreneurs like i think the dan romero route is like i'm going at coinbase. i'm like meeting gate. we have this like people and team and bond and trust and so i think that's a very smart way of doing things. because like he's obviously built a much bigger company than i did. for me it's a bit weird because i'm like this force of nature. i have no job. literally my entire life is building startups and so i have to iterate my founder level on the go. and so we started with like literally me and like a rather junior engineer who was my co-founder at a time and then i traded away there away there and honestly right now we're going through another level up. moment we have dracula and there's a lot of senior engineers wanting to reach out and so we're going to go to from four to six and it's going to be very senior engineers. so like i'm excited to continue growing organically that way versus like already top tier super senior experience leaders from day one um. but so yeah i think like always iterating on every front uh is great and so. but the team right now i mean they've made uh dracula work so they're also really great. and um there was a lot of work to do. i think people sometimes see the user interface being a bit clunky and and you know tools being slow like but but sometimes it's like guys like you know we're working on top of crypto infra like uh it's a it's a mutual common project and sometimes it's like for instance there's no on the test flight app sign in with um fockaster. well it's not built yet by privy. privy is a top tier team uh disclosure also an investor. but like privy is amazing. and so um but they haven't built it yet. sometimes it's a lot of stuff that's like not due to our engineers and actually their work is pretty remarkable.

Nicholas: in a in a couple months it is i mean it's a very big app. that's what i was saying. it's not.

Alex Masmej: it's not a yeah it's pretty feature rich.

Nicholas: yeah yeah yeah yeah um but you didn't. you didn't decide to delete any of those features along the way. you you felt they were all important.

Alex Masmej: pre-launch yeah i think. um there's no feature that i feel doesn't have its place. i think. um the feed is is not really high quality in terms of sorting but works on most devices. the blood system is a little broken right now we could have like i tried a bit more. i think we wish we built more. actually like when we launched the impersonation stuff was crazy and so in 24 hours we shipped the fockaster username display. uh so people could cross check uh a creator legitimacy before buying into their token. but like yeah actually i wish i launched more. it seems like. um. there's also the thing with crypto. it's like crypto is the low barriers to industry meaning that anyone can build an mvp very quickly building on the cutting edge of the cutting edge and like building a pretty fully fledged product like i mean fa cast or they've. i tried on it for years now like it's a very good app but i took them a very long time. yeah and so and even then like you know we just shipped delete like today or like yesterday. same for fracaster like war because i think had delete casts like not at the start and like so. if anything i feel like this is funny. like ai is growing super fast but not fast enough for teams to build fully fledged apps very quickly. it still takes a long time.

Nicholas: um it feels like that hasn't really hit yet in terms of like making front end kind of throw away. yeah easy to build.

Alex Masmej: yeah yeah maybe maybe devin.

Nicholas: uh yeah like the ai it seems to me that like layer zero's willingness to traverse tech hard forks is essential in many project success. like zora ethereum polygon come to mind where it's. you know they changed out not just a part of the engine but like frankly the whole engine for each of those projects. or maybe ethereum not the entire engine.

Alex Masmej: you said layer zero.

Nicholas: yeah sort of not the company but like the social dimension the community that underlies each of these protocols their willingness to traverse these kinds of hard forks is really essential for the teams to be able to make major upgrades but unforeseen technical requirements for what people actually want to do with their protocol like polygon for example plasma to pos to zk zora shared creator contract auction protocol maybe on-chain marketplace open edition like. these are completely different products but you know they have some similarities in terms of aesthetics maybe. but primarily it's the community and the people the followers on social that they keep going and you know. like if zora becomes you know they have a chain but it could become some. you know it could move to a zk layer three on polygon in two years if that's what's required. so the willingness to do this is it seems to be like really essential to some project success. maybe bitcoin is like the obvious exception to that where a resistance to change is actually kind of core to the identity. but i'm curious if you think about community. uh you like growing a community. i mean you did this whole big rebrand to ditch all the tech debt from showtime. but i wonder if you have any thoughts or if that's not as important to you. and it's more like if you create a mechanism that's interesting then a new community will show up.

Alex Masmej: no that that's very interesting. i mean even bitcoin if there are resistant to change it still is a community that has strong values and so for sure like crypto is a very community-driven approach like for instance it's interesting to see like you know the optimism versus arbitrum crowd like arbitrum um seems to actually ship a little faster but optimism has a stronger community hold and so i think it's both two great strategies. but so yeah i think for us like um it's gonna be interesting. i think right now we are taking and collaborating the farcaster community. so we can like maybe like again like maybe divert a little bit in terms of branding for people who want something a bit different a bit more fun um. but um in terms of like community culture yeah i would say like a more fun culture maybe like uh yeah video based um. yeah more like lightweight social media culture would be great. um less conversationally and more like like a more professional and more like entertaining. i think is is our goal um and um. but right now i think it is a little early to know but because we start with the farcaster crowd i feel like there is the farcaster crowd who like overlaps between the more fun entertaining side and the um farcaster more elite ethereum intelligentsia community. so i think we're gonna see as we go. but like um because it's like a creator mechanism i feel like they can enforce their own culture on the app um and we can also see what people are doing and what exactly excites people and maybe build more for them. so i'm waiting to see um how the community evolves. but we decided to go with farcaster. i think they're great people like they're curious they love to they like to try new apps um and so yeah if you have any tips on community building that would be interesting to to know. but for now yeah definitely we're farcaster community maybe like a more fun entertaining side but still these kind of crypto study people to start.

Nicholas: yeah uh i mean i think it's about um providing a shelling point. i think a farcaster channel is a perfectly fine modern shelling point opportunity. uh especially for something so deeply integrated with farcaster and then just providing examples of the kind of behavior or cultural touchstones like jacob for example at zora has been very good at this by providing a kind of thought leadership that people can get around in terms of creator monetization and creator empowerment and on-chain um on-chain not meaning a technical thing but instead meaning a cultural thing um that people have gotten around and also i think if you look at his career a lot of experimentation iteration like i don't know zora zine um zora topia. uh zora engineering like the zorb is obviously a pretty great. uh branding move um or rainbow also sort of you know conquering some emoji uh territory memetic territory and uh aligning. also just telling people constantly that they're the best designed wallet like it's not. especially at the time it wasn't necessarily true in a lot of ways um but just having a certain kind of polish and then telling people that you're the best seems to have worked for them. there's so many different examples you can follow. i mean i think ethereum is the most exciting one for me in some ways because vitalik is just such an inspiring leader and frankly to me a moral icon like a moral icon for sure. yeah i don't know him personally but it's really incredible. like i really i i mean no one's a deity or anything like that it's not to i don't know i don't know idolize someone. it's just like wow that's. we're very lucky that the living founder who is the thought leader on this one project is actually someone who seems to have an incredible moral compass and um yeah just truly admirable human as far as far as i can know him from the internet at least. um but yes i think there's so many different things to do. uh it's very exciting. i i have a couple questions. one how do you? you don't seem very stressed? uh you you. maybe it just doesn't show but how do you get through it all you know?

Alex Masmej: i would say like. uh it seems like my mood is a bit volatile and i think that's actually something i need to learn from dan romero from brad amstrong which seems to be like you know steady like things are not as good as it seems in the bull market seems not as bad as it seems in the bear market. there's a great piece by federsam from paradigm called surviving the crypto winter or like surviving crypto cycles that i need to take inspiration from. and so it's like i can be very upbeat when things are going well and also a little depressed when things are going not well. but i would say like what always keeps me going is that as soon as long as we don't have a billion users on chain uh and that's gonna be with using social media because social media is social by definition versus finances is a bit anti-social and so it's gonna be hard to tell your friends about it as much. and so as long as we don't build a social media on chain app with over a billion people i will never give up and i think that's what's keeping me going and keeping me upbeat. and even right now like you know dracula has some success but we have like 25k weekly active users. so it's good. it's like maybe we took like a quarter or like a third of the farcaster crowd. hopefully we can grow it more. we can write accounts to farcasters. so like collaboratively we build the farcaster social network together. but it's still a super super small. like um it's very early days. so i think i think it's going to be a little bit harder and like you know have a shelling point as you're saying around dracula and so that could be great. and maybe dracula is like a kind of anti-brand. so we could be like hey together we can defeat uh this chinese spyware knows that known as tiktok we launched on fight for four day. we also launched on the tiktok congress ban bill moved to uh this chamber of senate or something um. so it was a pretty hilarious launch day. timing um. but so yeah like we we need to make progress on this and as long as we're able to do that we're. it's not done. i think that's keeping me motivated. but i'm definitely stressed at times for sure like i think the first day of launch we were like super stressed out the dracula team. we did not even celebrate. i think that like yesterday was like the first day. so it's been like. you know nine days since the launch took nine days for me to fully process and be like oh my god. like it's been like a year. this has worked really well. uh obviously it's very short-lived in terms of the pricing mechanism but we're really well positioned. that's kind of where my mind is right now. and yeah excited for uh tomorrow and next week to to keep working.

Nicholas: so it's somehow keeping your eye on this vision of yeah yeah i on the prize for sure i underpriced long term.

Alex Masmej: uh you can do more things in 10 years. people underestimate what they can do in 10 years but overestimate what they do in two years. and so yeah it's been like three years now that i started this company. i felt a bit awkward seeing this. now that dracula is doing a bit better i feel a bit more confident. but yeah it's been a long time and same for many of the other companies like zora like open c like they've been at it for a long time too.

Nicholas: farcaster. zora just said it was. it's been four years since they started farcaster. it's been three something three and change. i think. yeah open c was building for what? four years before the bull market?

Alex Masmej: yeah yeah open c was 2017 so even older. so yeah actually like compared to some crypto companies doing really well today we are actually a little younger but still overall like relatively old as a startup i would say over two years old. it's a little old because time goes so fast in a startup.

Nicholas: so yeah there's a steep job thing about. uh you know it takes five to seven years to build anything real something like that.

Alex Masmej: yeah that i don't know if like. that's what he said but i still agree. also still this is like my biggest idol like i i love with cooper that like i'm the french steve jobs or at least i try to be. um i guess right now the steve jobs in crypto is is john palmer. i think party dao is fantastically well designed and john palmer physically looks like steve jobs.

Nicholas: uh oh that's interesting too kind of. i don't see them but i know what you mean.

Alex Masmej: i know what you mean but like party die is really really well designed like he has really amazing design scales. we actually worked in the past with blaze who is a designer at party dial.

Nicholas: that's interesting. i to me i feel like uh dwr is like sort of firing on all cylinders and and and varun and everyone at the farcaster team of course but uh as as kind of iconically represented in an individual dan seems to me to have really nailed it with the essential parts of the farcaster design feel very very strong. um and like they finally came into focus just now it wasn't really because of the coinbase quests but somehow the airdrop meta finally reaching. uh and i was actually kind of surprised that they were willing to put a registry on solana too which i think is a good sign because i i would have i would have taken them from greater evm purists than that so interesting move.

Alex Masmej: that's interesting for sure i think. well that's what it allows. uh that's what the signer allows i guess which is pretty interesting. um because yeah like you signed with farcaster with a different and then like yeah i think the dichotomy of like connected wallets versus your actual account is great.

Nicholas: is it still on optimism that they do the the registry? then? maybe you don't know either but i think so.

Alex Masmej: i mean like the registry is on optimism for sure. i think connected addresses is maybe a different thing. so yeah your farcaster account lives on optimism but you are free to collect the farcaster frame so that you can you know mint an airdrop on solana and create some other things you attach.

Nicholas: uh anyway let's not if we're not.

Alex Masmej: your account is likely on optimism unless i'm wrong.

Nicholas: yeah right but like the public key of your wallet is added to is associated with your fid but there also is an association with the edsa keys in the clients like in warpcast which are different different curve. um anyway yeah yeah we'll let the listener go look at the actual docs rather than uh listen to us guess um you do projects before they're socially acceptable. how are you able to deal with the administrative debt that this causes? because there must be legal problems and just accounting problems and all kinds of administrative like. it's not insurmountable but there must be the equivalent of tech debt in by doing things that are before society is ready for them like alex tokens for example or interesting.

Alex Masmej: so the x token actually went pretty soundly legal wise like um. so i created the alex token in france and so france is like so behind on any crypto legal taxation. they didn't even know it was legal and they're like i don't know what's coming or anything. and so i i got 20k off ramped 20k that year paid a third in taxes so my taxes were fine. i would say though like talking about taxes i got completely destroyed in 2021 because i was very wealthy on paper and i was meeting loot and stuff making millions of dollars and then i got liquidated. i really had like massive uh losses which to me was fine because i was like i had the french mental model which is it's only framp that gets taxed. but i come to the us and i don't realize on-chain transactions are taxable and uni swap actually is breaking the law system because a swap does not go through usd. you can swap dgen to if there's no usd equivalent but actually the tax system like pinpoints like a usd price at that time and that was really what bit me because if you were to sell to eth and if goes down then actually you're losing

Nicholas: people if you if you hold assets that drop in price you can owe more taxes than you have assets to cover

Alex Masmej: and so like. literally i've been through like irs basically like something like personal bankruptcy or something like. not as bad as this but like something like that it was. it was terrible but actually it's funny.

Nicholas: see this is what's amazing. you're not dwelling. i think there is something in you that i want to understand which is your.

Alex Masmej: well you're. i was like pretty like this was a tough moment for sure when we got the when i got the irs stuff. it was terrible like bear market connected to the market and i'm being hit with a tax bill i cannot even pay five percent of like. what am i gonna do? i had to decrease my salary for my company because any salary thing would go into taxes. so like my lawyer was like just decreasing our salary. so it was a tough time. i would say no like. obviously now it's it's fixed

Nicholas: but that didn't up your your immigration anything or this so

Alex Masmej: that i was very scared of that because like the alex token gave me an 01 visa which is like a very prestigious exceptional talent visa but i mean like it's like a lot of times it's-

Nicholas: That's amazing that that got you the visa.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, this is what's funny actually how naive I was because doing the Alex token, saying I want to move to the US, moving to the US is actually very difficult as a European immigrant. Well, expat, I would say. I think what's really tough is, so you need money and you need, like the lawyer is pretty expensive. So I guess it was paid off. You need also like news and like prove that you're successful.

Nicholas: And so I got it, but- Also as a not like credentialed technical founder.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, yeah, exactly, exactly. Because I think like many founders that are technical, what they do is like they judge hackathons. and judging hackathons, like each little hackathons, you know, like it's co-founded by Liam, who's like a very successful TLC fellow, Forbes type person. Although he's very anti-hype, like I'm just saying Liam is very credentialed. If you speak at hackathons, that also takes your O1 boxes.

Nicholas: Oh, that's great for me to know.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Nicholas: Where are you from? I'm from Canada, but I don't have technical credentials.

Alex Masmej: I think Canada is easier. You can get on a TN visa. Like there's just other ways. But as a French person, it's a little tougher. And, but I made it. And so, but like the, I was very scared I would be deported or something. But what happened is, yeah, like I think the IRS basically is not the same as the immigration officer. And so it's two completely distinct things.

Nicholas: God bless bureaucracy that they don't know what each other is up to.

Alex Masmej: Exactly. They don't know. And also the U.S. was basically saying like, hey, you know, like if you're not cheating, if you're just like a very bad crypto trader, that's not illegal per se. You will just pay more taxes because you're late to pay them. And so that really like made me relief. It's like, oh, okay. I'm just going to have financial hardship. Hopefully like it's fine. I'm totally fine. But like it will be harder financially for me in the coming years, but it's nothing that's going to get me to jail or like revoke my visa in any way. So I was pretty happy about that.

Nicholas: I love your optimism. I hate to dwell on it, but it's, I think you may not recognize it completely, but you're, yeah, I think you will win because you are resilient.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, I agree. This is like, I think a quote of Steve Jobs is like 50% of success in entrepreneurship is perseverance. And so I would say so. I would say like, I'm kind of brute forcing success because I may not be like, yeah, I think Peter Taylor is like this very controversial quote, which is like, I think every founder has mental illnesses. And like, I'm not like Elon or, or I guess autism, like Asperger's syndrome, which make them very, very smart. I'm more like hyperactive and I don't see it as like some, you know, mental illnesses or like, I don't find it as an excuse. It's actually a superpower. because like, I don't do drugs, but I don't know, like this is going a bit like R-rated, but I don't really do like drugs at all. But like I tried Molly, like MDMA once and I was like, honestly, but I'm very happy. It's really the same thing. Like I don't have like any different stuff.

Nicholas: Well, sure. It's just, it's just. all these drugs are just unlocking some potential inside you anyway. So maybe you have easier access to something similar to that experience.

Alex Masmej: I think I have like definitely like high natural dopamine, which is great. And yeah, I'm pretty hyperactive. I can be hyper tired sometimes, which is a bit annoying. So my mood is volatile, which I think is something I need to learn to master. Maybe not. And then maybe I should lean into it. But like seeing Dan Romero and Brian Armstrong being very stable. I'm also like, you know, I want to win. I don't want to like do something that's not working.

Nicholas: But also maybe there's just different styles too. I think one thing that's, I mean, you're on the internet presumably just as much as me and vice versa. And I feel social media has really taken this turn in the direction of like, it's ironic, unless you've read like Marshall McLuhan or something where it's totally predicted, but we're constantly sold by technologists, the idea that technology is going to unlock a more rational glucose monitoring world where everyone is perfectly, you know, there's no more hangovers. There's no more death. There's everything is calculated. There won't be any jobs left because AI will be perfectly anticipating everything and serving all of our needs. And the economy will be run by algorithms that are so perfect that there's no variance or surprise or downside, et cetera. And it's like, actually you get like a self-help YouTube shorts world. Like actually what the world is like Joe Rogan and company, you know, comedians are now telling you how to, what to do in the first 20 minutes you're awake. I don't know. It's just like, it's not, the reality is not the technology paradise. Actually culture is surprising to some, not surprising if you're very prescient, but it's not, I don't anticipate. like human, human nature doesn't seem to have changed that much since very, very old texts. So it doesn't seem like. actually even these technology, like digital technologies, they don't seem to really change. And I think as a product, yeah. And as a product founder, obviously, you're tapped into this stuff about like, you know, serve people's base needs, not don't get too much.

Alex Masmej: Like status, status will persist. Even if people will always find status games. And for instance, like, you know, people still watch chess. Like chess is a very fast growing sport. Despite chess being beaten by computers for the past 10 years, no one cares about watching AI chess. Same even for like, just like track running and like you should build like, yeah, we have cars. We can run faster than the cars. People still care about the status of the human being. Um, well, I think that's gonna be very interesting. It's like, there's going to be the Olympics this summer. And apparently there's like a parallel Olympics where people can be doped. People can like, I think I saw an ad for it like last year or two years ago, like the X games. And like the teaser video was very Epic because it was like, you don't know my name and you can see some images of like teaser, just like of his leg. And you can see, it's a white person and like, I can run like faster than you should bolt. And it's like very surprising. And it's like, you're going to see me at the Olympics or whatever. So I think it's called the X games. I think drug Olympics. So like X Olympics or like something like that, but it's gotta be funnier than just drugs too.

Nicholas: Right. It's like you can do implants potentially. I don't know what the limitation. Yeah. Yeah.

Alex Masmej: Yeah. I'm not sure what's going to be the limit. I think it's right now. The XM is going to be more like, um, medication only, like not physical changes to your body. Cause it could be true cheating. Um, but yeah, so even in this tech augmented world, there's still going to be status games like this drug Olympics. So, um, yeah, that's going to, that's going to remain for sure. Um, and even like, even if we solve poverty, like I feel like some apartments vision is like abundance of wealth with world coin intelligence with open AI fusion, energy, GPU, like abundance of everything. So we don't have scarcity of services, but even in that world, I feel like, well, do we go to Mars? Do we conquer other planets? Do we escape the solar system before the solar system explodes on us? Like there's still like a quest, I guess the human species has to do.

Nicholas: I, maybe I wish I, on a level, I wish I was just more able to be a simpleton optimist and by, by the hype. But you know, it's like we've had like say dishwasher or a washing machine really automates a very annoying tasks or just slow tasks and awesome washing machine. Rather than having the washboard or whatever the fuck you would have to do. Um, or like sharing a bath, you know, plumbing to me is also an amazing one. Like not having to share a bath water, uh, go outside to take a shit. Um, and just the cleanliness and the hygiene. Um, but at the same time, like if you go, maybe you're in the States now, but I imagine France is something like Quebec in terms of you go to the doctor and it's like, shit is not that good. Like there's some things that are amazing technological feats, but the reality is that like, organizing humans has not evolved at the same pace as specific productized technological. Like you still have to clean your house. It's not as if you can just like flip a switch, close the door and the house just like vacuums all the dirt away and it's clean. We don't actually get the full, we get certain things and other things remain the same. So any of these like super big, I think at the end of the day, like human labor is still going to be cheaper for lots of applications. Like today, like there was an article that just came out about someone who shadowed, a startup that did some kind of task rabbit kind of startup. They didn't mention the name of the startup, but somewhat like a researcher was embedded with them and wrote a academic paper about how they automated. And they had some numbers like single digit number of engineers and they had like 120 or 150 people in the Philippines doing hand labeling of content. And it really made the app basically be able to get VC in the next round, like every, every time, you know, because it feels, but it, because the, the real and the engineer, the story goes, and obviously like we've known this for 20 years, but that the engineers just decided, well, we'll test features by having them done by humans instead of trying to develop some kind of ML solution ourselves. And then ultimately it's like, well, maybe we just keep the humans doing it because it's actually not that expensive at certain kinds of scale. Or maybe that ends up being training data for something else. Anyway, I just don't think that like human labor is going to go away. I think human labor is just sadly in some, in many ways, not that expensive or people need, need the money.

Alex Masmej: Yeah. Makes sense. Makes sense. Yeah. I think Elon said like humans are underrated. Some Tesla supply chain was like roboticized a bit too much. And so they had to go back.

Nicholas: He was always selling this vision at that time of like this, the, what, what were the limits of physics for the speed that you could have a car travel through the factory? at what rate of meters per second. And so that you could see it get a car finished in a few minutes or something like that through a roboticization. But then I think he realized that the robots just aren't there yet. And he was kind of upsetting his labor force by saying, I'm going to gleefully automate you and it will be so much better than you are. And in reality, he needed them at the time.

Alex Masmej: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, it's good to like shoot for the moon. And then if you fell like you're in the stars or something like this, like I'm, I'm sure like by pushing so hard, he probably pushed a robot parts already quite a lot. But I mean, like maybe that's like the optimist in me, but I do feel like we are cracking the final piece with AI, becoming a robot. I've been so smart lately. Maybe I'm too much into SF circles and now they're all like pilling me into AI stuff. But like, I think a Tesla robot is actually coming pretty soon. And so finally we may have a robot cleaning our house and doing some like cleaners duty, which is still made by humans right now. And yeah, like I think some stuff like seeing a doctor that you mentioned or like even traveling will finally like improve. Like for instance, like traveling from SF to Paris is like 10 hours. But I think like, I'm excited about boom, supersonic to the supersonic planes. So like it could be only five hours and like, even like SpaceX rockets to take you like, it's cool. Yeah. The SpaceX like 45 minute, like intercontinental intercontinental flights. Yeah. Yeah. That'd be so amazing. Like in half an hour, just like you could like live in Paris and then commute somewhere else. Like maybe that's a true remote work. It's like, or maybe even like remote, I feel like could actually work. I feel like right now, a lot of people are like, oh, But what if like the vision pro becomes like so realistic that now it's like really the same thing. And it can really read every visual cues and stuff. So I think we actually like for now humans are underrated and like tech is not there, but like, I think very, very quickly we're going to see a change in the next 10 years. Yeah.

Nicholas: I think humans are not going anywhere and there will always be an appeal to other humans of humans. And it doesn't mean that, I mean, humans also can want anime girlfriends, you know, like it's not forbidden.

Alex Masmej: That's right.

Nicholas: But, but at the end of the day, I think people will always, I think people will always be drawn to the unknowable humanity of a real human. And that if you have infinite potential, like it's like a video game where you're allowed to save whenever you want as many save slots as you want. I think AI will feel potentially like that. Maybe there will be constraints. People will put around. AI is where you can't undo commits where you can't play back and forth through the history of safe checkpoints. But I think humans will have by our limitations will remain interesting to other people because I mean, it's more interesting to have a, there is a, a real girl behind the K-pop star than just a perfect digital production will end up being a bit boring.

Alex Masmej: Makes sense. Yeah, I think that that makes sense. But I would say like humans who want to remove and lift their biology, their biological limitations will be able to. And so that may create like two human species, I guess, and like the techno forward one and the one who wants to be to be less tech facing.

Nicholas: Yup. Yeah, absolutely. Are you monitoring anything that's going on in the telegram or defy spaces that like us NFT posers might not know about? Are there any tendencies that are interesting to your tastes in those spaces?

Alex Masmej: Telegram? I mean, I'm pretty often on telegram. I think like seed club has a interesting group chat.

Nicholas: But I mean like bots or things like, like full products that exist elsewhere in the ecosystem that are not as attached to being apps, but are instead like interested in making money or I don't know exactly what.

Alex Masmej: I think like near has some interesting applications on top of telegram where like you can like do some yield farming and stuff in mini telegram apps. But yeah, I think it's mostly very speculative and financial. There's also blast the layer two, like they have a tornado blast bots. But, you know, basic like trading sniping bots, not super. I think beyond trading, I think telegram is pretty much a bot app. that's maybe for like authentication. Like for instance, well, coin has like a telegram widget where you can verify yourself. So like you don't have to do some silly captchas every time. NFT gated group chats could be done on telegram too, before we prioritize them on Dracula, maybe in the future. So, but yeah, telegram, right now it's like interesting, but for me, it's honestly just more like DMS and crypto because they have the username that signal doesn't have, I guess signal added a username, but the overall UX of telegram is just a bit faster and better.

Nicholas: Are there any other like parts of the space that you take a look at that are maybe not like? there's this kind of, you know what I'm saying? This sort of anglophone American centric NFT Dow adjacent, you know, now it's very optimism, Coinbase, far catcher makes sense, but there's like a whole other side of the planet that's playing completely different games.

Alex Masmej: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. Yeah. I would say like one thing that's very funny is like, usually like France is very bad at tech historically, but when there is a company that works well in tech, I always explain why it worked in France. And so I would say one thing that's very big in France is fantasy sports as NFTs. Like we have so rare, which is like this, massive startup. So rare.

Nicholas: So old too. Yeah.

Alex Masmej: Yeah. It's so old, like four, four years old or something. And they're doing really well. Like they have retention numbers, like Netflix, people just keep buying the sports card. And it's funny because Americans just suck at soccer. And so of course we had to be as Europeans, the one bringing the soccer, like the NFT top shop, but on chain. So that, I think that's pretty, that's an exciting vision. I think he's like, you know, ESports is 10 billion. We think because of crypto, we can be 10 X bigger than ESports. And we have FIFA every year as a game. But what if every year there's like dozens of games released versus just one, because the FIFA cards are permissionless. And so he really wants this like composable gaming, social network on top of sports. So that's kind of scaling the human feeling, you know, like sports, like not really AI or robotic driven. But so, yeah, he's working on this and that's really big in France. I think people got very inspired by the success. And that's really outside of, as you said, like the DAO, Ethereum, EVM, Solana, Farcaster, Intelligentsia. And so there's many replicas of them. There's also like Chili's, I think, which is like a ERC 20 token for like celebration of players or some stuff like that. So like mixing DAOs with like, so I guess, as you said, culture is very important in Europe. Like sports culture is really big. And that's something to care about. And sometimes it's under the radar because I think for like smart tech people, sports is tribalist and that's not really what they like. But in Europe, that's really the culture. And I've seen like entire co-working spaces of crypto startups focused on sports. Like that's how big this is.

Nicholas: Wow. Wow. Wow. I want to know more about what's going on in Asia. Also, I feel there's like a completely different culture.

Alex Masmej: Asia has probably quite a lot. I would say like. one thing is people in the U.S. usually overlook Tron because Tron blatantly copied the Ethereum white paper. But apparently it's very used for USDT in Asian commerces. Yeah. And so that's why I always like to keep my, you know, stay open minded of other networks. I still feel like some are like, you know, BS like Cardano, for instance, which is more like this religion. But like Tron seems to be like used. It's like no matter how bad the leadership of a company is, like if it's socially and culturally winning in some aspect, then that's great.

Nicholas: Yeah. I have two more questions for you. I don't want to keep you forever. On crypto culture. Is highly speculative crypto culture going to become mainstream culture? Or will crypto culture diffuse into mainstream applications in a more subtle way? Or will, we'll just be in the future, sure the speculative element of crypto will just not be the only thing that people are engaged in and new things will become popular over time that will appeal to a broader audience without being so speculative or something else. it may be different.

Alex Masmej: um yeah i think like something in the middle can work. i think speculation is a superpower and we should have some amounts of it. i feel like maybe microtransaction will be the future where like you all pay very small amounts and so on aggregate it will not. uh it will actually matter like you will be able to earn money but for the everyday user it won't be that much like. i don't think twice when i meant a zora nft. usually it's super cheap especially on base right now. um but in aggregate for the creator that's a lot of money. like we dropped a mint for dracula on zora and i think we're still making like a high dollars or two high dollars a day and so that's quite meaningful maybe not for us as a a bit more funds but like for the average creator i think that's that starts to become like a solid amount. so i think yeah speculation is a superpower. of course it's very exaggerated now and because of the infrastructure crypto is not mainstream. yet it's because it's a small crowd who all made it there. they're all. like you know the selling point is more speculation for speculation sake. but hopefully i think like. i think fabric is a good uh uh steward of like long-term speculation being healthy the price of a subscription not being volatile and you may make money as a fabric subscriber but that's not the primary thing. so i would say yes like. it will definitely be a part of crypto's future because value is volatile. the world is very chaotic the world reprices a lot of things constantly and so it's good to be closer to that but it doesn't. it shouldn't be like front and center everywhere because i think one people would become a bit tired of it like. i don't think people care about finances as much as crypto people do.

Nicholas: um i don't think it's a mainstream activity.

Alex Masmej: yeah even like checking the stock market. i remember as a kid i was like this kind of irks me like um always thinking about my net worth and stuff. i feel like i'm so used to it like i check zero on quite a lot. i think zero on the wallet was like a wallet tracker. so they track stuff even you may have forgot about on chain. they said the average user checks the app like seven times like it's such a power user app per day. yeah yeah pretty crazy. and so this needs to be gone. uh maybe not on the creator side because the creator they're making a living. they actually are complaining about not earning enough online but for the user it should be very very small.

Nicholas: uh this is a place where dracula could could innovate. where it seems to me like when you listen to mr beast talk it's only money. actually what do you mean?

Alex Masmej: like? mr beast only talks about money all the time. it's only like dollar signs.

Nicholas: i spent that much no but i mean in terms of his craft i think having the youtube analyst who's been doing this for a long analytics which allowed him to see specifically where people drop off in the video. and if you look at other younger uh or just other youtube creators they're they're very focused on like optimizing. for this metric like mr beast talks about optimizing the first three seconds or the video that previews that autoplay previews in the thumbnail as you open the youtube app as becoming more important than the thumbnail itself because his video shows up first in your feed and it's already playing and so the thumbnail you don't even see it. um and just really like mega optimizing where people drop off of the videos. i think giving people those analytics allowed it's the same way that tiktok like manipulates creators by giving them a bump on their like fifth video or whatever you know. i don't know the specifics of how they do it but the creators are aware that their willingness to create is also being gamed by the algorithm. the algorithm is not strictly user optimizing it's also optimizing creator creations. so they will give you a hit of views in order to keep you going uh by maybe distributing a video more than they otherwise would just strictly based on the video's quality based on your posting habits and their desire to optimize you into posting more. so i think like giving users the analytics on their performance such that they might be able to optimize them. is this side of the sort of pro trader mode of like checking your xerion seven times a day as a creator? it makes sense you're right to check makes sense but especially if there's something you can optimize like give me some information that i can do something with which i feel almost nobody right now we don't really does.

Alex Masmej: yeah yeah we don't provide analytics for video views the same way youtube does that? any kind of details whatsoever actually like? i talked to nikita beer briefly before launching dracula and nikita beer is like this really like known person to like over optimize every single flow of a social app. and he told me like i needed to have full feature party with tiktok if i wanted to launch such an app and we did not have full future party i think what does that even mean?

Nicholas: tiktok has so much in it so many yeah for sure. like it doesn't even make sense. they have like ai filters. i guess he means the core tiktok product maybe.

Alex Masmej: yeah i think like. well the two things i think i'm missing is the analytical product as you said and the other thing we're missing is an edit screen like right now. videos is just straight uploads sure and there's no like you know all the ai filters music and stuff and there are some companies that kind of provide tiktok ui as a service that we could use.

Nicholas: see i feel you're in a very different lane than than maybe long term. you're right to focus on this creator lane. the the product that exists today at least is much more about its frentech keys but you can advertise for them with videos and it actually doesn't. what matters is not that i care about you as a creator. what matters is that the videos draw attention to the keys or to the yeah creator tokens in your language yeah. so i from that perspective i don't think that the video creation tool is. of course video creation is something you should eventually have but what about analytics?

Alex Masmej: so like? will the analytics be like? okay like this? is a conversion to keys that that we see and that you should.

Nicholas: something like that something like that something something like uh or to me the thing that i don't understand about the product yet is are the users primarily discovering videos from inside of the app or elsewhere? and maybe i think elsewhere from fact?

Alex Masmej: answer a hundred percent.

Nicholas: yep yeah so if it's from elsewhere then you really as the creator you want to be under the current. and this is the question like how much do you want to focus on the product design on what the current thing the current mechanism you're optimizing for? but right now what it seems is like i want people to see my. i want to post the most sensational videos possible because i want people to click on them. if they're seeing them off site or send me blood or buy my keys or just have the. it's the keynesian beauty contest thing. i want them to think that my account is going to be more sensational in the future and more people will find out about it in the future so that based on the video they're watching right now they want to buy in now. but i don't know that that's really. given that the bonding curve i think is yeah probably not the longest lived mechanism. yeah for sure but but for for in terms of building a v1 analytics product for creators i think it might make sense to give them essentially insights into how am i successfully converting people from off-site to on-site and then from on-site to key purchase.

Alex Masmej: but that's that's a very good point. yeah i feel like we could have um we could have a system to tell people that and i think right now we need to like just have algorithm just work a bit better and so just showcase the biggest main thing. yeah yeah so we first like we won't have this for you algorithmic recommendation but we will have very soon forecast our follower probably as soon as this week. then i think from then on we can do the creator fun where we're just iterating what kind of content is best. i think hopefully one thing that's really cool is that it will be a different type of incentive because the incentive of being sensationalist is less important because everything is a parallel like there's. most people are not creators and and most people are also not key buyers they're just lurkers on the app. like um we have i think 15 000 trades but 25 000 weekly active users. so that means 10 000 people did not buy anything and so and that's still like a very massive trade crowd right. so like the as we scale it will be even less. and so what's interesting is i think um we should um like like i think people advertise their keys to their buyers and it will not be as uh it doesn't have to be that clickbait. it only has to appeal to the small crowd of people who would buy. and so i think to me that's an interesting concept because we may have a little bit less loud logan paul e people. it may be but it may be like a little bit smarter or maybe like yeah like you wouldn't need to keep thriving for like the biggest number of views because let's say you have a hundred people and that somehow maybe like you know there's future price mechanism like like future revenue streams like the zora or hyper sub where actually at some point you are satisfied with your living and you don't have to be pure sensationalist and you can be a bit more core to your own taste as a creator. so basically what i'm saying is hopefully the algorithm is actually a bit better than youtube and others which is like optimizing for views. i think optimizing for keys may be a more sane long-term algorithm very casino as we said. but if we add zora hyper sub it could potentially be a bit better.

Nicholas: but it sounds like adding zora hyper sub etc. it's it maybe de-emphasizes the importance of the keys in the first place because you have these alternate revenue streams. yep it sounds like if it's if i can detect. no no but i just mean in general it seems like the part of the puzzle that you're trying to capture or sort of navigating around potentially capturing um is to be a place where creator monetization is iterated upon until you find the right way to do it. so i think that's a good example of something like you don't want to be the forecaster network you're not trying to replace that you don't want to replace zora or um fabric or any of these things hyper sub you're. you're trying to be a place where that monetization can sort of come to fruition around some kind of account system. but it sounds like maybe even the token the keys are not maybe the essential piece they're just sort of an attempt in the puzzle. and blood i think also is smart in this way because it's to give people a free way to interact. i think is really important too because of the power while all you're describing it's just yeah yeah yeah exactly but it doesn't have to be earned.

Alex Masmej: uh it can be. uh no it doesn't have to. no sorry blood can only be earned and so we may have blood in a purchase the same way as warpcast does in our purchases. but right now that's it. um you have to um you have to earn your way through it and it can be like it's just like one scroll gives you one blood which is pretty funny. um but yeah okay sounds good. um no yeah i totally agree. i think like we we will try to make the transition from the key value to other mechanisms smooth um and so one thing we can do potentially with fabric is fabric is going to have on their v2 protocol a discount incentive and so we could be like hey as a key holder you get a free first month of the fabric subscription and so that way i think we can really get people to migrate to the other model. some people told me well you know you're still building a casino in a casino industry right now like don't you want to stay um a bit more bonding curves? maybe a second wave is going to come and that's going to help uh your growth. so maybe it will be opt-in. uh but the creators i'm pretty sure. if we if i propose it i'm pretty sure ted is going to say yes i'm pretty sure cooper is going to say yes i think a lot of people are actually to the hypersub to the hypersub yeah to opt-in to this more sustainable fixed price mechanism.

Nicholas: because they don't have keys or they do already they do.

Alex Masmej: they do like they try to time. uh they try dracula. sorry uh they made actually a lot of money off their fee like we made creators i think 300k in a week in the pure trading fees.

Nicholas: what's the split? how does it work?

Alex Masmej: so it's it's like front tech but like basically it's a bonding curve and so it's a. it's a nice contract. the percentage of trading fee is five percent for the creator system as front tech unlike front tech we don't take five as well we take one. oh okay we take well s. the reason why i think we wanted to do that is because we um it is less steep than front tech. it is more affordable than front tech like i think my key i mean we made a dj price go up like crazy but i think my key is probably still like a thousand dollars and that's like the most expensive versus on front tech. i think racer was like thirty thousand dollars. yeah so we are like you know at least one of the magnitudes cheaper and and i have like 250 holders or something versus like he has like 30. so we definitely became much much less and because of this we had to make the spread a little bit lower and so we took on upon us versus like decreasing the creator.

Nicholas: uh what are you excited about next for the product or just in general?

Alex Masmej: so next i think we have to fix the algorithm. uh we have to potentially move the videos to zora. that's going to be very exciting i think to have like every like literally we could have instantly frames because zora links our frames and so we already have frames actually with profiles and videos but we could have frames of the videos themselves as well on on farcaster. um so it's like the videos could be on zora. we could potentially do the move to fabric at some point. um i'm excited to basically build on top of all the protocols and see what works best as you said and then like you know lean into the strength of the decentralized social media also like a rebrand. it's gonna be pretty fun. i think we probably need to rebrand at some point and so i'm thinking maybe we'll go 180 and we'll be sunshine and like you know this is like really bright brand or something. um but yeah there's a lot of things we have to do for sure but the vision stays the same. it's like let's build like a let's beat tiktok and i think we can monetize creators better than tiktok. and actually it seems like tiktok at scale is struggling like the bigger their creator is the the more their pod is split thinner and thinner and so they can't pay them. so we want to beat tiktok. lots of things to go uh but i think short term all the protocols you love in um the chain we will integrate and hopefully you'll benefit from that as a creator and even as a user.

Nicholas: i think what's intelligent about integrating all of them aside from just i mean the obvious i don't know like basic strategy is that it seems to me that the successful people in crypto the successful creators in crypto actually hop from trend to trend quite often. yeah sort of their success is it's not based on a single minting protocol or mechanism at all it's much more absolutely so. i think even as a product if you have the resources uh financial and engineering to continue integrating different things then you also kind of become a place where it is relevant to have a profile as a creator because there's always new tokenization opportunities or different kind of mechanisms people can play with. so i think that makes a lot of sense too. yep yeah for sure for sure millen i don't know if i'm pronouncing that right. uh thoughts on the tiktok ban.

Alex Masmej: i'm excited. i think it's fun. uh i think it's opportunity.

Nicholas: client like.

Alex Masmej: i think this is what like moment of zen. uh the podcast where dan romero uh the demo host every week. i think dan said like it's crazy that we don't have reciprocity as the us like. they keep banning all of our apps. why are we not banning tiktok? um so uh yeah i would say like. it seems like it's. uh it's great like. i mean it's not that good either that the us is doing it like it's still so centralized and so ideally we want to build an unbattable tiktok and i think that's fair for everyone.

Nicholas: like. oh now that now that china is capable of building apps that are better than facebook right the us turns the third thorean. yeah yeah well just or just. in general it's just like. i mean you can't even beat them. you can't even beat them you have to like. but i mean i agree with you about reciprocity. um but it is funny that there seems to be a lot of people who are i don't know if it's not the coolest place to build a social network anymore.

Alex Masmej: right now it seems yeah yeah for sure. yeah hopefully i won't have as many problems in front of congress than than tiktok. uh or suck um things should be fine. yeah i think making creators earn is going to be net better and i think it's gonna be a lot harder to lobby um crypto people because we like. it's like self-custodial in a way and so i think the pushback from creators if we actually pay like they will be lobbying congress way more. because it's like actually i'm making this living like tiktok has less people vouching for them in the u.s. there are some people defending tiktok like some creators but it's uh it's still pretty small because it's not they don't have a big financial stake. i think it could be bigger like if i guess i were to come down like uh as if people are making a living on farcast or any of these platforms. i think they'll be. they'll have stronger defenders because you can own a stake in the network you participate in. and so tiktok i think i think because yeah it's like.

Nicholas: they also have a cultural problem because they're perceived of as being at least they're painted by the institutions as chinese spyware chinese spyware or that their users are sort of deadbeat gen z right right yeah blue hairs or something. so which i don't think is true. i i i think a lot of people are on tiktok.

Alex Masmej: yeah i'm on tiktok i like tiktok. i think it's great.

Nicholas: yeah um uh i was curious what you thought of that id ammo id.

Alex Masmej: oh yeah well i mean french people are really talented at building social apps. um it seems. uh yeah i love i love yeah the zenly team i think biggest exit as a consumer startup in europe. um yeah i know sorry mike brady who's like doing social on that app. um i think they're doing a great job. uh i think they're building like a mini app system. i would say though like because they have like this kind of p-real photo and then like the. i love the id app because i have like this like mood board of my own taste. so i love this app. i think it's really well crafted. um i think like my biggest thing against like social apps like these is that they're not web 3 like they. they see web 2 as leaving some gaps in the market that is to be filled. and instead of being like let's go and build a web 3 app and build a future. actually let's go back and build this nostalgic web 2 og app. i feel like it's like going the opposite way like you should bridge over to web 3 and that's going to be a big deal. but i mean yeah web 2 they do have this.

Nicholas: there's this idea that some people are obsessed with or think that there's an opportunity around private social networks or right right like real group chats evolved somehow. yeah yeah yeah it's not and it's not clear that it's ever really worked.

Alex Masmej: yeah for sure. i think telegram is probably the winner there. or like just group chats like i message like that's probably you don't need much else really like you have all the media and stuff. there could be a fancier layer doing. but i mean to be frank like zenly is incredible and it's a beautiful product and it worked really well. so but i like abo amo. i think if they continue that could be their own little group chats. i guess it's like air chat with naval like that's like naval's group chat app. um so it doesn't have to be big i think if people still seem to care about it. so but i'm curious what doesn't have to be big?

Nicholas: what matters about? uh web 3 to you like because it's not entirely decentralization. obviously dracula has a lot of centralized stuff going on. it's so basically self pure self-custody anarchic uh decentralization. but it seems to be like the financial. uh hooks that are enabled by decentralization are the most appealing to you right now at least.

Alex Masmej: yeah i would say like um yeah reward people more fairly. uh increased economic freedom as coinbase says is very important to me. i would still say like decentralization and self-custody is actually a better vehicle to deliver this. so like long term it's always good to decentralize further because um people are forced to be fair in a decentralized system in a way. um so i still care about self custody. i'm just like more pragmatic and be and you know like let's do a product that's maybe web 2.5 and then decentralize it. uh but for instance like yeah like i think it's yeah like to me self custody is not the main reason why i'm building this up. it's more for making people earn more and even users earn their fair share for participating in networks. but yeah like decentralization is really needed. like even for instance we're thinking about integrating zora. well we're going to put all the videos on ipfs. right now they're not on ipfs. so by creating this new earning mechanism. that's actually pushing all the videos on chain which makes our app one layer more decentralized and now people can build another client once we ship zora. actually that could be pretty funny. like we could be vampire attacked. um maybe that's like to our detriment because we never know. but like um. so like decentralization is pushing actually more and that's great.

Nicholas: and what sense could you be vampire attacked?

Alex Masmej: um i'm not sure. actually maybe people could drop the blood token. i think there's already like some blood. uh there's like. it seems like a blood vampire attack happening right now. it seems like uh people have texted me like they're getting getting direct cast from fuck fuck esther and on saying they're releasing the blood token. um but no yeah i'm curious about empire attacks. i mean we're still pretty small so i don't know if we're like a big target.

Nicholas: the chat wants to know if you're if you'd integrate with pearl pearl.

Alex Masmej: so we did actually something with pearl on launch day. uh that was pretty fun. uh i think people could bet on like the number of cast likes i would get or something. i think i lost because it was like late in the day or something but i like pearl. i think pearl is great. i also like poly market as well. um i think production markets are gonna be huge. they could be like the financial community notes equivalent on farcaster and you could have like someone say something that's technically false and the wisdom of the crowd with prediction market could predict it. um that could be interesting.

Nicholas: yeah um all right this has been a wonderful conversation. thanks for coming and having this long chat. uh it's cool to get to talk to you while you're like in the thick of it and to understand a little bit of your psychology. i'm sure people are going to enjoy this.

Alex Masmej: thank you so much. yeah i really enjoyed this. this was fun.

Nicholas: hey thanks for listening to this episode of web3 galaxy brain. to keep up with everything web3 follow me on twitter at nicholas with four leading ends. you can find links to the web3 galaxy brain and i'll see you in the next episode. topics discussed on today's episode in the show notes. Podcast feed links are available at web3galaxybrain.com. Web3 Galaxy Brain airs live most Friday afternoons at 5 p.m. Eastern time, 2200 UTC on Twitter spaces. I look forward to seeing you there.

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Alex Masmej, Founder of Drakula and Showtime