Web3 Galaxy Brain đŸŒŒđŸ§ 

Web3 Galaxy Brain

Furqan Rydhan, Co-founder of Thirdweb

15 November 2023


Show more


Nicholas: Before we get started, Web3 Galaxy Brain is doing a Gitcoin. If you get value from this show, please support Web3 Galaxy Brain today at Web3GalaxyBrain.com/Gitcoin. Each unique contribution helps direct quadratic matching funds to the project, so please contribute to Web3 Galaxy Brain's Gitcoin today. Gitcoin 19 is open between November 15th and November 29th, 2023. Visit Web3GalaxyBrain.com/Gitcoin to show your support. Thank you. 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 Furkan Raydan, co-founder of ThirdWeb. ThirdWeb is a popular Web3 toolkit for app developers. ThirdWeb is used by big brands and indie developers to drop NFTs, enable login, and power decentralized games. By the numbers, in September 2023, ThirdWeb had 50,000 active developers and 5 million active end users interacting with products built atop its tools. In this conversation, Furkan and I discuss ThirdWeb's focus on app developers and how that differentiates it from its peers. We dive into how he thinks about organizing its vast set of product offerings and what he's learned after many years building and exiting unicorns like Bebo and AppLovin. We also talk about working with ThirdWeb co-founder Stephen Bartlett and the content marketing approach he brought to the project. Finally, we touch on Furkan's venture studio, Founders, Inc. It was a pleasure chatting with Furkan whose years of experience lent him a mature perspective on startup cycles and the development of web infrastructure. 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. Hey Furkan, how's it going?

Furqan Rydhan: Doing all right.

Nicholas: How are you? Great. I'm super excited to talk to you today. So I didn't realize you host a podcast, don't you?

Furqan Rydhan: I don't host a podcast, but we do at Founders, Inc. over here, we do have like a bunch of podcasts that operate out of our place.

Nicholas: I saw something, you're on My First Million, and I thought they might've mentioned that you had a show. Or what's Cool Shit Hour? Was that not you?

Furqan Rydhan: Oh, Cool Shit Hour. Yeah, yeah. Me and Sean, who's, Sean's one of the hosts of My First Million. Me and him used to do this thing every week where we would basically get together and talk about all the cool shit. It's like I said, you know, around most of the time, like playing around with new technology. And you know, it's always fun to play with new technology, and then it's always fun to think about how it can turn into big business. And that's what me and Sean used to do. So it wasn't a real show, but it was kind of like, I would say, our own personal show.

Nicholas: That's fun. You see, you weren't like trying to optimize it for views, I guess is what you mean.

Furqan Rydhan: No, yeah. At the start, I don't even think we really even recorded it. Kind of over time, it turned into really good ideas, and that was great. But yeah, I haven't really thought of it as a show, or I haven't really thought about making a podcast at all.

Nicholas: The ideas got too good to share, or are you still keeping it up?

Furqan Rydhan: We haven't kept it up, mostly because both of us have gotten busy with kind of different business ideas.

Nicholas: Makes sense. I'm always surprised when I talk to people and they don't know 3rdWeb.

Furqan Rydhan: Yeah, same here, man. You know, I'm with you.

Nicholas: But especially in crypto, I feel like, I don't know, don't you guys look at the charts at all? Like, all the contracts are coming out of 3rdWeb.

Furqan Rydhan: Yeah, you know, and I think the industry is a lot bigger than most people realize. You have your kind of view of it, and everyone's view of it is a bit different in terms of the audience and stuff like that. And so, you know, that's kind of it. It's like, there's a bigger market out there. There's more people interested in it. And you know, it's important to keep kind of pushing that.

Nicholas: Do you have a sense of how many people, well, actually, when you say the industry is big, are you focused just on EVM or do you think about other chains too?

Furqan Rydhan: We think a lot about other chains, but today our tools are for EVM. And we've actually doubled down on that. I think end of last year, we made a pretty conscious choice to say, hey, our tools need to support any EVM chain. And so that started a lot of different work across contracts, infrastructure, tooling, to make sure that we could support kind of like every chain that shows up, every new chain that's created, every private chain, whatever you want to talk about. And you know, this year has kind of played out like that. And so I think a lot of our growth really has been focused in that line where, you know, focusing on EVM. There's kind of a feeling that the EVM stack is kind of like JavaScript with the browser in the early days. I mean, I got started super young and I got a chance to see the internet and I don't think people kind of saw like how the front end of the internet evolved. And you know, JavaScript wasn't the best language, it wasn't, you know, people weren't running around saying, oh, this is the greatest new language, it lets me do everything. It was the fact that it kind of was everywhere and became more everywhere and more everywhere. And EVM kind of feels like that today. It feels like the footprint for EVM has really expanded and it's starting to feel very similar to me at least.

Nicholas: It must be tempting, though, given your position in the market to experiment with things like Solana or Tezos back in the day, but you've resisted so far.

Furqan Rydhan: So we did actually launch some Solana feature set last year. And kind of from a focus standpoint, we've had to go away from it a little bit. It requires, you know, like whatever our feeling of Solana is, it requires a full set of attention, right? Like it requires us to put in the effort kind of all across the board. And it's just hard on a startup to, you know, take a section of the team and focus it on something different. And so ideally, we could take all of our effort and energy and focus it around a few areas that can produce kind of outsized returns.

Nicholas: I guess it's like what you're saying about this kind of shelling point around EVM and maybe Solidity too, as like a skill set that it's easy enough to switch from one project working in the same languages to another, but to switch stack entirely is a much bigger task for an individual employee.

Furqan Rydhan: Yeah. And also the network effects of the ecosystem. I mean, check out, you know, Base, Zora chain have come out this summer. There's no way they would be able to develop that kind of, you know, movement or attraction or any velocity in the industry, unless tooling could show up day one with, let's call it minimal effort. And I mean, that was our goal. It was like, look, there's going to be, we're going to take the entire internet, the entire, you know, production of the internet, and we're going to kind of compress it down into one blockchain like that doesn't add up. And you know, you're going to need a lot more compute or kind of what we call block space. And you know, to do that, you're going to need to expand out and it was either going to flow through different L1s, which it is, and it's also going to flow to kind of L2s and L3s. And now all of this EVM surface area, how do you take advantage of that? And if each one makes up a new language, like we're kind of screwed. So you know, like I think people have picked something that's allowed them to one, get started sooner and work with the network effects that are already out there. And two, allows tooling to show up, which creates kind of new opportunities really fast.

Nicholas: Do you think that network effect applies to Solidity also or specifically EVM?

Furqan Rydhan: It's tricky. I think today it does apply to Solidity. I can also see it where the, you know, we separate the language and the VM. Like you know, I'm a huge fan of Wasm and I think it's like potentially going to be involved in a lot of the, you know, different surface areas. Like I think we've seen like, you know, Arbitrum, Stylus and a few others kind of experiment with this. I think that's really exciting. You know, so like that's going to be maybe Wasm plus EVM, right? Or some sort of a different language that executes an EVM, but you won't write Solidity. So I think that one, I'm a little bit less sure of, but it feels like EVM is kind of, you know, currently kind of in the lead and almost like feels like running away with it.

Nicholas: Yeah, it feels like the L2 narrative, even in its state as it is today, is kind of maybe filling that requirement for some customization and lower cost options for more centralized chains, etc. App chains. It feels like maybe that's filling the void.

Furqan Rydhan: Yeah. And you know, I'll give you kind of like what my perspective is on, you know, Web3 or blockchains in general. Like, you know, I think we've always felt like, you know, blockchains are used for a lot of things. We saw the financial uses first. That makes a lot of sense with the features of it. But I do think that, you know, we look at a world where you have the internet, it's pretty straightforward and simple. It's client and server. Today most of the internet is, you know, clients or user-owned browsers code on your mobile device. that's user area. And then you talk to kind of these permission private servers on a backend, right? Usually owned by some company sitting in some data center. And you know, I've always thought about blockchains as, "Hey, what if these things were thought of as the public cloud?". Like here's a public cloud that you could just go and access, like no DevOps, no setting up of servers. You just go start using. And, you know, in that view where you could have any client talking to kind of public backends, you imagine that you're going to need probably 10,000 public backends or something really large to cover the entire surface area of the internet. And I think that's exactly what's going to happen. And I think it's really interesting to take potentially, you know, many internet use cases and the backends and servers we create for them and just change, you know, a few of the models. Like it could go from permission to permissionless. It can go from gated access to public access. It can go from kind of a trusted environment to a trustless environment. And that becomes really interesting. And I think that's been our long-term view, you know, is why we, you know, we work with a lot of like, you know, NFT drops and other things. But our tooling has always been really focused around the entirety of the ecosystem and writing any kind of code and being able to execute and communicate and interact with it. And it's really because we do believe that internet products will be built in Web3. And I think that's exactly what we're seeing this kind of past year.

Nicholas: I love how you come at it from this perspective of like permissionless, like an alternative to backends. Whenever I explain blockchain to people, I always go for like an alternative to AWS also. And I feel maybe it's something we don't talk about it so much because those of us who are working in it love that about it so much. But it's so, so much a given. But to people who don't understand blockchain, when they come to it, I'm always kind of perplexed by their inability to understand how cool it is to ship it once. And it's there for, I mean, maybe forever is a little bit exaggerated, but in a way that you don't need a credit card attached, etc. Like you would for alternative backends, like the status quo is today. It's such a superpower.

Furqan Rydhan: Yeah. And we already pay for compute in AWS, right? We're already comfortable with kind of this like pay per second model. I mean, the blockchain is even, I think, better. It's like pay for the usage that you're going to do, and then you're done. And that actually feels like the right pattern, right? And maybe another analogy that works is like highways. You're in the US, it's incredible that you have highways between cities, right? It gets you around faster, it gets you moving. We basically pay through tax and there's tolls on certain areas. But really, it's awesome. We love this shared resource. We all get a chance to use it as long as we follow the rules. And I think the blockchains are the same. It's like public highways for the internet. And it's there, it's available to us. And I don't have to have additional setup. I just have to pay to use it. I think that's super cool. Now, when you talk about permissionless, we think about three attributes. So permissionless, trustless, and decentralized. When you look at like Ethereum, the chain, it's like all three. It's like the perfect kind of part of it. It's like has all three parts. It has kind of a very strong view on each one. And then I think there's going to be a variety of compute space available for us that, you know, maybe they don't have all three attributes or they're all three aren't the same kind of perfection. But the moment you take a private permission trusted server and you change one attribute of those, if you make it permissionless or you make it decentralized or you make it trustless, actually becomes really interesting. And I think of that as the wideness of the Web3 space. It's like even using signatures to kind of accomplish some tasks or making something that might be centralized, but access is kind of in a permissionless model. Or, hey, it outputs to the blockchain where you can read it as public read APIs. Each one of these different attributes can take a product that we love already on the internet and make it completely different. And I think that's really exciting. And I think that's what our mission here has been. And that's why we're continually excited about this ecosystem and pushing it.

Nicholas: - You're talking about it like superpowers or capabilities that can change how devs productize for end users. But I find people often get confused and worry too much about the end user application immediately. But it sounds like you have ideas about really specifically how we can use these blockchain affordances to reinvent things that we're familiar with in better ways. Maybe you have some way of explaining this to people that you're always using, or do you know what I mean? Like there's a difference between the developer audience and the customer audience. And that's our job, to do that simplification.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, and it has to start with developers getting excited. Like if developers aren't excited with the possibilities, why would anybody build here, right? Like that's, the builders have to first get excited. And we probably get too excited right away. We, you know, start with, wow, this technology is cool. Look at all these things you can do. And everyone's like, I don't care about the technology. And it's true. And it works in every emerging industry. I mean, I got, my first job was at a dot-com when I was like in my teenage years. I was 15 and I built an e-commerce company. That was my first company. I was 17, that was in 2001. And the e-commerce experience was very transformative because one, you know, e-commerce was not a word. Buying stuff online was not common. And even to the point where we got banned or blocked from payment processors, 'cause they felt like buying and selling stuff on the internet was too risky. It like reminds me so much of crypto, where it's like, wow, like really? You don't want to like have this convenience? It's like, no, that's weird. I don't want to put my credit card on this internet thing. And, you know, when you kind of experienced that, you're like, wait, why was I in it? I was in it because I was excited about the possibilities. I could see something potentially before others could, mostly 'cause I understood it, mostly 'cause I was technical. And I think that's the same thing with blockchains. Like the people that are excited, they get it. There's a lot of other stuff that has caused some negativity in the industry. And so that's probably why people have a maybe, you know, inverse reaction as well. But when you kind of like take all of that away, what do we want to do here? And it kind of turns out we like doing the stuff that we already do on the internet. Like what we're doing here with this Twitter space or using social media, we like that. We like playing games. We like being entertained. We like kind of working, you know, being, having access to our finances and other tools like that. And I don't think that that's going to change. Like, I don't think the, what people do is going to change. I think where people do it is going to change. And that's why I think blockchains are cool. They're this public resource where you can do things and, you know, we're going to do the same stuff. And so, you know, if we continue to develop tools to allow a game, a social network, an app, an experience to exist here, we will do the things we enjoy, but we'll swap out where the backend of that thing is. And I believe that's kind of where the world is going and where this technology is going to end up. But it takes time and it takes effort and you have to create it. And, you know, you can't get discouraged by it. I think the number one thing I've seen with emerging technologies and building as a founder, you know, and startup in it is you have to be around. You can't guess when that moment's going to happen. And we saw this recently with LLMs and AI, you know, two or three years ago, like through kind of Founders Inc, you know, my other company, we started investing in a lot of individuals that were thinking about this. And this was, you know, pre-GPT-3 and feeling was very different. And then you kind of have this moment where this thing comes out and it just captures a lot of the possibility in one spot and everybody jumps in. But it's like before that moment, like the, you know, very few people get it. And then something happens and it feels like, you know, 5% of people just onboard into it. And now it's like a thing. And then the hype's maybe too strong and then it's going to kind of dial down, but it takes these steps. It takes a while. And if you can't stick around, it doesn't matter how right you are. So I think the fundamental thing is, can you be around for when the industry reaches maturity or some, the next level of maturity so that your tools can kind of take value of it or your application will be useful.

Nicholas: - I completely agree. And I completely agree about people will just do the same things they already enjoy, but in new ways, rather than inventing entirely different things that we've never seen people enjoy in the past. I think you're totally right.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah. And that's why, you know, Forecaster, Lens, like that's why we're seeing this stuff. 'cause we already enjoy doing that. You know, we don't have to change what we enjoy doing. We just might not enjoy how it's done. And I think that's a huge part of this ecosystem that, you know, early on, like you felt like everyone wanted to reinvent every single part. And that just, you know, doesn't make sense. You know, I think some parts people are gonna enjoy, maybe how it's done or, you know, what are the attributes of it or what are the control models? Those are gonna change.

Nicholas: - Do you think we end up with self-custody popularly or no?

Furqan Rydhan: - Probably not for mass adoption, but I do think we'll end up with a lot of math-based security. So I think SSL is a good example of stuff that's gonna happen that people themselves didn't need to worry about thinking about it. And the tools I use, browsers, plus, you know, the other half, the application server that I'm interacting with, if both of them can agree to a protocol and I trust my browser, the little lock icon, we're good. And I think we'll continually see more conditions like that where I may not have to remember this, you know, 12-word phrase myself and keep it stored, but somebody else will help facilitate that for me. I don't know if they need to take custody over that because I think math and encryption will help us in many ways. And so probably more in that direction.

Nicholas: - Yeah, that's a very measured answer, I agree. Do you think passkeys are a big part of that or maybe just a salvo in that direction?

Furqan Rydhan: - So passkeys are cool. I think, you know, it's pretty clear. face ID biometrics are a preferred mechanism. I mean, I don't know if you remember before face ID on the iPhone, it was thought of as I will never scan my face. Hell no, no way. There's 0% chance I'm gonna do it. Apple makes this great kind of experience and everyone's doing it, nobody cares, right? And it's, one, you trust Apple.

Nicholas: - I still miss touch ID for what it's worth. - Yeah, touch ID was cool. - It was faster than face ID.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, yeah. But I mean, both of these are better than me typing in some sort of a password, right? And me typing in words. And so I think that that's there. I mean, there's other challenges with passkeys, right? Like how do you set up the environment? How do you host a server? Like, you know, the iPhone passkey doesn't really like overlap into other devices like maybe your Android device or a web browser. So there's kind of like a lot of nuances there still. But I do think that, you know, you can think about passkeys as a fantastic asymmetric key to use something with. And, you know, like I think one of the coolest experiments we've been doing is, you know, using passkeys to add signers or session keys to your smart account. And, you know, it matches a very similar pattern of how people add devices to their account and they're able to use it. And that's some of the fun stuff that I think is being explored right now. And I do think that some sort of face ID biometrics will be a huge influence in, you know, more seamless UX and giving people an opportunity to not have to remember these 12 words in a way that they're not equipped for.

Nicholas: - Absolutely. We'll get to some more detailed tech stuff in a second. But first, you mentioned that the industry is bigger than people realize. Do you have a sense how many people are active in this EVM ecosystem and maybe also the broader alt chain ecosystem?

Furqan Rydhan: - Hard to tell what the total number is. I think, you know, we have our own view in terms of what we see. And I think that helps guide us a lot. I think like we see kind of the industry wide reports fly out, like the electric app report, the developer report, and that tells kind of one number. And I just think that like for the framework for me is like, there's probably four layers to this that matter. The top layer is the how many users exist, like how many end users exist. The second layer is how many app developers are there. And the third one is how many kind of crypto or let's say low level developers are there. And then the bottom is how much block space exists and how much is being used. And the electric app report really talks about that third one, which is developers building for blockchains, either on core blockchains or on core protocols or something pretty low level. And that number I think is pretty accurate in what they say. But I think the app developer number is at a minimum 10 to 20X higher, but probably a lot more. And it's not captured in those reports because it's not how apps are built. Apps are generally not an open source protocol. You would just look for like a library, like a third web library or a Wagme or some common developer library that would exist. And the application itself may have very little crypto inside of it beyond that. I think that number is significantly higher than kind of the other reports show. And so I've also seen numbers from like in Infura or other providers. And typically I see numbers around 400 to 500,000 kind of active accounts, like developer accounts or some sort of developer usage number. And that feels pretty accurate to me in terms of the app developer layer.

Nicholas: - So that's like 500,000 people making projects with an NFT contract in it, something like that.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, or like some sort of like web, some sort of RPC usage, right? It's kind of like a simpler view and that could be reading stuff and literally no rights to blockchain. It could be creating NFTs. It could be a site that just shows you the value of it or links out to it or an aggregator or kind of other products. And I think as the L2 explosions happen, it's hard for that number to match now because the RPC providers just don't support that many chains. And you know, third web, when you go to third web out of the box, we support over a thousand EVM chains. Like I think 1,080 is our current number right now out of the box. This is a big number, right? When you tell somebody that they're like, wow, I didn't realize there's so many chains. It's like, yeah, okay, there's test beds and main beds, but yeah, there's a lot of chains and each one is a little ecosystem. Now it might be new, there might be only a hundred people in there, but hey, you didn't count those hundred and that's chain number, you know, 650. Like that's kind of a big deal. And as you kind of go up towards the top, like just way more. And so I think there's way more app developers. I think we're seeing the results of that as kind of more consumer focused products are forming. And it's exciting. Like I think it's one of the most exciting time in this industry is right now.

Nicholas: - So about 500,000 ish app devs seems like a reasonable number. Electric Cap says around 25,000 monthly active like blockchain devs, which maybe sounds about reasonable. Do you have a order of magnitude on how many active users, active humans maybe have ever had an activity in the last like two years or something? You know, bear market not withstand. Do you have a sense of how many people have played with NFTs and such?

Furqan Rydhan: - It's hard to check because, you know, the wallet, unique wallets is just, we know this is right for one person creating hundreds or thousands of these pretty easily. So that can't be it. Again, similarly, like, you know, so we see about 50,000 active developers on third web, you know, last month, meaning they came to our product or platform in some capacity and they used some part of it. They were logged in, they were connected with the wallet or they were using it from their application. And so we see that as that number and we ended up seeing maybe like 100X view on what end users look like from there. And so that, you know, 50K might mean there's 5 million quote unquote end users or five to 10 million that are then, you know, hitting that webpage and may hit our info as a part of that or interacting with it. And so like, you know, I would imagine this number is a read only would be way higher than the right and that matches the internet, right? Like lurkers and people kind of just reading the internet, probably 100 or 1,000X higher than people writing into it. And so again, very hard to calculate, but if I took the right number and that's a few million, let's say this year, then I would probably take, you know, 50X from that or 100X. And I wouldn't be surprised if there's hundreds of millions of people that have gone to, you know, something with web three and read from some sort of an RPC and, you know, kind of seen something and most of them didn't do anything beyond that. And then there's probably, you know, single digit to low, you know, kind of 10 million users that have written to some sort of a blockchain and kind of, you know, like created a right action. But then this number is going to just skyrocket with, you know, again, like the far caster and the lenses of the world where look like we're going to onboard billions of people to do social, you know, that's going to balloon. And some of their tech is natively like kind of blockchain tech and some of it's not exactly the same, but I think it's very in line. And I always have a hard distinction, like do I count things like the Fediverse and Mastodon? There are some similarities, it's not exactly the same, but, you know, there's an interesting world view that, you know, when you look at those things in a more similar lens, that number actually probably may even add a zero kind of after that.

Nicholas: - That's interesting. I was thinking when you were talking about Coinbase or, you know, people who've visited OpenSea, but maybe don't have a wallet as some of these kind of view only users, but you're actually thinking about decentralized social media, which to me seems like very unclear if it will ever take off. I mean, obviously historically, and it's interesting that someone with your background more on the like business oriented, actually getting users through products that are truly adopted, that you're so focused on things like Lens and Farcaster and Mastodon, that's interesting.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, so I spent 2013, so basically like I spent probably 10 years building consumer apps. It was like a really big passion of mine. I built a live streaming network that reached, you know, over five to 10 million people called Blab back in like 2014, built kind of messaging apps, you know, other kinds of apps, a lot of stuff in the game streaming Twitch ecosystem. And it's just always like, you know, these are the kinds of things I enjoy on the internet. So I love building them and thinking about them. And, you know, I've also been banned from developer protocols. Like, you know, I've had my Facebook apps banned and, you know, right now we have a project that's running through Google and it's a nine week long approval process for some simple API. Like it's just a really big pain in the ass. And I think it's exciting to see products that would enable like developer ecosystems by default. 'Cause I think developers make great experiences and they tack on to things we do and make it better. So that's where the excitement comes from. And, you know, as we go towards more people using this technology, it has to go to activities that more people do. The reality is as big as DeFi could be. a small number of people are gonna use it because most people don't wake up thinking about how to, you know, do some complicated financial capability. They do that rarely. But most people wake up, they look at their phone, they go on social, they check their email, they message. And so, you know, one thing we don't say is we're not a blockchain company. And the reason for that is there's gonna be many kinds of decentralized or permissionless resources. I think blockchains are the first example that are working really well. You can make arguments about how IPFS or Arweave is similar, like storage has similar kind of properties. I think we'll see messaging networks and basically every kind of compute resource capability that exists as well. And, you know, if we have real-time messaging permissionless that can send some sort of a message sub even a hundred milliseconds, that's pretty fucking cool. And I think we could build just like really great products with it. And I think that's gonna happen. And so in that lens, then, like I could do everything. There could be an MMO that's built on purely, you know, permissionless or decentralized resources that could be emitting the game events, you know, to everybody. And I don't think that's out of the realm of possibility. And so I don't know, I just get really excited about all that.

Nicholas: And it sounds like you're not overly committed to blockchain as the answer to all of the problems.

Furqan Rydhan: - It's definitely gonna be one part of the equation. This is like the database of record. Most products have a database of record. They have a user table. They have these core entities that exist that are like central to their entire application. I feel like those are gonna live in blockchains. You know, blockchains are, a lot of people say they're a terrible database, but given the fact that I don't wanna do any DevOps for it, it's actually a great database. (laughing) You know, like, I just wake up and start using it. It's amazing. And, you know, I could even make a product that I don't have to pay for, really. Like, I just gotta host it somewhere. And that's pretty cheap. So, you know, like, I would argue that they're probably great databases in that lens. And so I think blockchains will be really, really important. And I just don't think we'll stop there. I think there's need for other resources like this.

Nicholas: - Before we move on, are there any of these sort of decentralized networking infrastructure that you're particularly excited about? Or, like, either networks that you use or, like, raw infrastructure that you're excited to use in applications?

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, I mean, I've got a chance to play with some L3s, like, kind of like on Arbitrum and stuff like that. Like, the speed is really impressive. I think we're gonna see more of that, which is, I think, really exciting. Messaging is one that I've been just following a lot, like the XMTP kind of view of the world. I think that we have, you know, there's definitely more challenges with the lower latency. There's definitely, you know, we've seen some spam problems. And I think spam's a good thing at the start, meaning if you're not getting spammed, you're not important enough, right? Like, if your platform doesn't get DDoS, you're probably not important enough. That's kind of like, it's a, you know, it's a checkpoint you gotta get past. And so, like, it's earlier. But speed, anything that becomes more real-time or faster is really exciting. You know, I spent three or four years working, probably actually longer than that, but I spent a lot of time in WebRTC. And when I discovered Bitcoin, the very, very early days, like in, I don't know, 2010 or 2011, it was kind of the first time I saw a peer-to-peer network, which I was really into. peer-to-peer networks always. And it was the first time I saw one that, like, had economic model that made sense, that made it work. 'Cause otherwise, it always went to spam. Like, back in the day with torrents, it was like, oh, it's like your upload versus download ratio. But that could totally be gamed pretty easily. And so, you know, it didn't have these economic models that made it work and could work in an adversarial environment. And so, you know, I think peer-to-peer anything is really exciting. I would love to see every kind of resource we use. There's not that many we need. Database storage that are, you know, really important data. I think that's what blockchains are. We need user data storage. And, you know, there's really fun projects being built around that as well right now. Like, I think Polybase is an example of one where they're thinking about this user database that's distributed and decentralized. I think messaging is another thing. We use queues all over the place in technology and infrastructure. You know, and then I think it's gonna be the media streaming, whether it's audio or video, and being able to kind of route that. And, you know, like, I've built a P2P audio network before. We could do this Twitter space with no servers and us just sending stuff to each other. Is it efficient? No. Is it something that's common today? No. Can it become that? Yeah, I think so. I think it could become really exciting when people have kind of more individual means to kind of do these things with.

Nicholas: - But you couldn't do it today with raw WebRTC. I mean, maybe with the number of people listening live right now, we could. But once it scales to like a thousand people or even past like a hundred, you need some kind of server, right?

Furqan Rydhan: - No, I mean, so audio is very small. And so I think audio can work really easily. I think one individual with, you know, five to 10 megabit upload can fit a decent amount of audio streaming, kind of one to many. But I think what happens is as people join, they're used as relays and you could probably scale this to whatever number. Now, as you start going many layers, maybe the latency changes, but if me and you were hosts here and we could submit audio to a hundred people each, we're good because now you have these kind of relays. beyond that, that can kind of drive it further. And again, if you could build in an economic model where, hey, somebody sees a show, gets over a hundred uniques. Well, now I'm an infrastructure provider. I want to make some money here. So I'm just going to show up and relay for people and pick up some of the revenue from this, right? And similar to blockchains, like it's a more deeper commitment, but I could show up as a validator or, you know, previously in the proof of work environment, you know, I could show up and be a part of this kind of economy. You know, do you need somebody relaying? Some computer, yes. Does it have to be an infrastructure server? No. And, you know, I think you could build a really large scale P2P kind of streaming network today. Video, a little bit more challenging because again, bandwidth goes up, but very doable still. And actually I've built one of these before. that could probably do it still. And I think there's better examples today of people doing it and building it.

Nicholas: - I remember, I don't know if it was for legal reasons or technological reasons, but both Dropbox and Spotify used to, on the desktop clients, do P2P syncing for files on Dropbox or for streaming on Spotify. I think as a early Spotify desktop user, you were uploading to other users listening. - Yeah. - But they stripped it out for some reason from both. I imagine for Dropbox, it was because people were just putting torrents in their Dropboxes and syncing them really, really quickly.

Furqan Rydhan: - You know, abuse is always a tough one. I think we're gonna experience that a lot in this industry, right? When you make things permissionless, like is everything allowed? I think that's always a challenge. - Yeah. - But also quality, like if I'm doing it as a P2P network, but the speeds are slow or it's not reliable, like people aren't gonna have patience for that. So, you know, like it has to match the same exact quality and capability that we're used to for it to become default or even usable. And so that's, I think, the biggest challenge with all the tech that we're working on is the same speed, the same experience, because, you know, the tolerance for people is they already have other options. And if you make it harder to do, they won't do it. If you make it the same, doesn't mean they'll do it, but that's kind of the starting point for all of us here.

Nicholas: - So what's the goal of 3rdWeb?

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, 3rdWeb's goal is to become the default tool for people building Web3 apps and games. Kind of defined Web3 before as, you know, this technology set that allows people to build, you know, applications or games and kind of talk to these public backends. We wanna basically fill the space between that public backend and the app or game. We're an embedded product. And that's sort of like, I would say, the simplest goal. Why do I say default? It's just 'cause like. when you look at how industries have gone and the tools that have become standard, they literally become the standard, right? Like GitHub, like, you know, and GitLab's kind of there, but like really the reality is, is like GitHub is what 98% of people think about when they're thinking about their source control. AWS for the longest time was kind of cloud, like cloud was AWS. And then it took Google and Microsoft to compete, like the literal giants of the industry once that network effect was there. You know, maybe you have some products like game engines where you have two, Unity and Unreal, like that's two, but like you don't have that many. And so I think in the end, there won't be 100 or 200 or 500 different default tools. Then there will be one or two. In this industry that covers a lot of the app and game capabilities. And I think that that's our goal. It's also why we're kind of pretty like hardcore open source. Like a lot of our tool is permissionless. Like I think we've tried to make it feel the same, but you know, I'll give you an example. Like when you deploy a contract or you import it into third web, that doesn't go into our database. It actually goes into an on-chain registry and your dashboard uses that. We pay it gaslessly. So you never have to kind of think about it or experience it. You could also just use it without us. And I think we've done that in multiple spots that we're really trying to build this tool. Everybody can use it and match the ideals of the ecosystem. And you know, I think there's some parts that can't work like that. Like literal infrastructure is gonna need to be hosted by us, but there's so much of the other parts of our stack and other things you need to do that we can set up where in theory you could use it on your own without us. And so our goal is to become the default, but not in a way where you're so reliant on us that we could go and screw you. I'd rather us always need to make sure we're the best, we can offer you the best experience, the best price, whatever it is, so you continually pick us 'cause you have an option to get away from us.

Nicholas: - What chain does that registry live on?

Furqan Rydhan: - Currently lives on Polygon, but you know, been exploring, kind of moving it around a little bit recently.

Nicholas: - And how successful have you been at this mission of becoming a default so far? Maybe you have some numbers?

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, I mean, it's hard to tell what the ecosystem penetration is. Some stuff, we've seen a lot of interesting behaviors, like when Base launched in the first few months of it, I think we drove some significant percentage of transaction volume through our stack.

Nicholas: And the orders-- - I saw that tweet that Jacob from Zora shared where 3rdWeb was number one in terms of contracts deployed on Base.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, yeah, so exactly. And similarly on the Zora chain, I think that's a cool one. It's like Zora is a little bit more of an app chain, but is also permissionless, and they do want to support kind of this wider ecosystem. And, you know, we enabled it right when they launched and we've been able to see a lot of activity there. And so it's hard for me to really grasp like what percentage of the market we are. I think one thing is we are capturing the attention of the things that are happening now. And so, you know, we're a lot deeper in the L2 ecosystem. We're a lot deeper in anything related to NFTs or anything related to creator or consumer. And then the areas where we probably don't have a lot of penetration is more of the traditional crypto like DeFi, I think we have very little right now. And it's something that we're thinking a lot about. On the gaming front, I mean, I have a huge background in gaming and that's where we've been able to kind of embed ourselves in a lot of games. And, you know, games take a long time to get to market and there's a lot of tests happening, but I think that's going to be an industry that we end up having a large kind of large percentage of.

Nicholas: - I've seen these numbers. There's a Dune dashboard from 3rdWeb that I think maybe is a little bit out of date, but there's some pretty crazy numbers like three plus percent contract employee penetration on a handful of different chains. I don't know, I forget which ones they are. 42161, do you remember which chain that is?

Furqan Rydhan: - Probably, I can look it up really quick, but.

Nicholas: - Anyway, the listeners can check. I'll put it in the show notes, but 42161, chain 10.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, that's Arbitrum 1, so yeah.

Nicholas: - Okay, what's chain 10? Which one's that?

Furqan Rydhan: - Chain 10 is Optimism. - Optimism.

Nicholas: And 137?

Furqan Rydhan: - Polygon.

Nicholas: - Okay, yeah. So you got between three and 4% above 3.2% for all of those that I just mentioned according to this deployer percentage. So that's percentage of unique contract deployers on each chain that use 3rdWeb. I mean, who knows? Obviously, these numbers are maybe difficult to be certain about, but it's clear that 3rdWeb is very influential in terms of contracts that are actually deployed. You mentioned apps and games. Who are actually using your contracts right now? Who are these people?

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, I mean, you know, folks like Coinbase and Emoka and kind of others like that. It's, you know, again, we're an embedded tool. You generally don't see our logo kind of everywhere. It's important for us to allow people to build things without having to present our logo in front of theirs. And, you know, so like all across the board, there's different spots, like there are spots on a variable where they're using our product. Mirror has areas that are using our product. And so, you know, it's a lot of the things that you're probably already using, but it's not gonna be in your face. And, you know, even recently, we launched a new 3rdWeb Connect product. One of the key features that we're thinking about is like, how does it not look like our 3rdWeb Connect on some random brand website? Like that doesn't add up to me. The internet doesn't work like that. Every login has been natively built into their website. They do so much work to design out a great web experience, and then we're gonna slap kind of a default thing over it. It's great to start, then for many it's gonna be customized. And so I think in the perfect world, you know, 3rdWeb's used all over the place and you kind of don't know. And I think you should just know the apps and experiences. And so that's forever gonna be kind of one of our goals.

Nicholas: - Maybe like Vercel?

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, Vercel I think is a good analogy. I think, you know, AWS was like that. You kind of didn't know it was AWS. Maybe you could guess.

Nicholas: - Cloudflare?

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, Cloudflare is a great example. Used all over the place. People don't necessarily need to know. And I think a lot of the technology we build is like that. Like we're talking about abstracting kind of pieces away, not because the technology is not cool, it's because look, we're servicing users. Like they think the app is cool. That's what they wanna do.

Nicholas: - But your users are really devs.

Furqan Rydhan: - Correct, exactly. They're application developers.

Nicholas: - Application developers. I think that's a very interesting, I don't think I've heard many people speak about it exactly that way. Usually people are talking in terms of crypto, web three, et cetera. But it's really about the enabling them to do applications. that makes 3rdWeb maybe different.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, and you know, we have tools for protocol devs. We have deploy and publish tools. We have all these cool things. And you know, thousands of devs use these like really custom deep tools. Those are things that are workflow tools. They're supposed to help you achieve some job. And so what's that job you're doing? What's the jobs to be done here? And so we wanna give you tools that help you do that, but that's not the thing that needs to show up on your website or your game. And you know, we go so far sometimes with this where like with gaming, we literally built a game. We built a game called Web3 Warriors. You should check it out by the way, if you haven't played it.

Nicholas: - No, I haven't.

Furqan Rydhan: - And it's, you know, kind of a Diablo style dungeon game and multiple levels and bosses. You earn NFTs and tokens. The thing is, is you never have to, you know, think about where's my meta mask? and how do I do that? It's all kind of embedded. And so we use embedded wallets. We use smart wallets. We use kind of account abstraction, Bundler, Paymaster so that all this can happen seamlessly. It's yours. There's kind of, you know, these earning items in there. Of course you trust the game engine to give you that. You're trusting the IP, right? Like you're trying to get this as you're beating levels in the game. But once you get that, it's yours and you have access to it. And that game, if you just download it and you started playing it, you wouldn't know it had anything to do with Web3. You wouldn't necessarily know that's a technology stack that exists here, but it gives you these additional capabilities. And I think you have to be able to, if we can't do it, then nobody else will be able to. And that's kind of the philosophy we've taken with most things we build is, we have to be able to create some sort of real world demo. that's actually a thing and how somebody would use it. And so, you know, the next one we have coming out is an e-commerce store that has, you know, kind of a built-in digital coupon loyalty kind of system using this tech. But you know, a digital coupon, we know what coupons are, right? Like we've had those all of our lives. A digital coupon is actually called a burn to redeem NFT, but it's kind of, I don't know, nobody gets that, right? Like the people that are getting it, they don't get it. And so if I buy something and after that I get this, you know, digital coupon or some sort of a, you know, hey, you earned tier one status in our store and that unlocks you into 3% discounts or, you know, an area of the store that's just special for you, or like. that's kind of what people are hunting for. And I think it's like, you have to first be able to do it. Then you have to showcase why it's cool. 'Cause a lot of these things you could also build with existing technologies and like where that kind of power comes from. And a lot of times it's composability, a lot of times it's ownership, but you know, if you can't build it and you can't showcase that, it's never gonna happen.

Nicholas: - Tradeability also, right?

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think, you know, whichever words you use, I think composability, you know, means one particular thing. I just like to kind of zoom out with these things and it's like this feeling of like, it's mine and I can interact with it and I can send it to you. And, you know, it's kind of like how we've done other stuff. And with ownership, like we've always cared about physical ownership. We've cared about, you know, the title to our car or something else like that. Making sure, you know, if you're somebody buying a watch and they love watches, they wanna make sure it's a real thing. They kind of go get that certificate. And so they have these parts where it makes it feel like it's theirs and it's a real one and it has kind of an ID to it. What's happened over the last, you know, one or two decades is our digital selves have just become significantly more important. We care way more about it than we've ever had. And so that's why ownership matters now. And that's a why now for this industry. It's we care way more about our digital ownership. Like if I told you, hey, you can't have your Twitter handle anymore. You're gonna be like, wait, wait, no, I need this. Like this PFP and this handle is like me, right? And I'm not gonna get rid of that. That's mine. It's like, today it's not yours. It's sitting in some database somewhere and it's kind of pretty obvious that this should be yours. You got it first and you built it up. You've invested into it, but it's not yours. And one day it could potentially not be yours. And that's a bit wild to me. When the level of care we have for our digital selves has just gone up so much, we need digital ownership. It's essential.

Nicholas: - We do. Although it's been interesting. I'm reminded of like adoption in early years of Signal and like Snowden leaks and stuff like that where people just couldn't care less in the mainstream about giving up their privacy rights, for example. Just was not a concern. Could not imagine Facebook. I mean, there's the classic blog posts from Zuck in Harvard before he'd even dropped out about like, why are these idiots? Why do they trust me? You know, this kind of stuff. And yet users seemed not to care, but maybe over the arc of a decade or two decades or three or four or five, people have adopted things like Signal either at the application level or embedded in other applications where the developers have adopted it. And then maybe the same thing applies to like ownership of social media identities. Right now, it would be pretty hard to convince someone to switch from Instagram to Lens if they have a big Instagram account. You know, it's like not relevant, but it only takes a few de-platformings for, it really only takes one de-platforming for people to realize why they might wanna own that account directly.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, I mean, I think there's two things there. One, what happened over the last 10, 15 years? We went from a more open internet to like five, you know, five surface areas that control a giant part of it. That didn't exist before. And the pains of that didn't exist before. And the problems of that didn't exist before. And so now like, will mainstream care about it? Maybe not. But once, you know, 3% of people care about it, it happens. That's kind of like how it works. And so that's, that trend is happening. I think if you went around and you asked, hey, you like big tech? You like Facebook? You like Amazon having these giant things? Everyone would be like, no. It's cool. You're actually saying stuff that's in support of Web3. Did you know that? And then they're like, oh, no, no, no. I'm not trying to support blockchains. But like, that's really what you're saying. You're saying that you don't want these giant organizations to have end-to-end say over kind of everything. And so how do we take some parts of it? And I think the, you know, the most bullish signal you could ask is threads from Instagram. And whether it's successful as a social network or not, it's kind of built on some of this tech, right? Like it's not just a simple, regular thing that they created. that looks like everything else. It's using Fediverse and these tools where, hey, another domain can show up here. I can attach my handle to my domain. It's kind of crazy. It's like Facebook or Meta is creating this, you know, federated social network. And they feel like they are the ones that need to do that. That's like a pretty crazy signal, you know? Like the company that was built on the social graph.

Nicholas: - I was surprised. - Like, yeah, it's very surprising.

Furqan Rydhan: And I've heard some statements from people there around, yeah, we need to make sure that creators can create their decentralized social graph from us. So what they're seeing is they're writing on the wall that creators are going to get big. I mean, look at the Mr. Beast of the world. Like Mr. Beast, there's never been a creator that big ever, right? There's never been individual people that had that kind of reach. At some point, they become bigger than the platform or big enough where they are the platform.

Nicholas: And I don't think-- - You see that a little bit in the streaming deals.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, and the streaming deals, you know, I've got a chance to work at Twitch for a year, kind of an interesting experience to see kind of how that goes. And yeah, you gotta fight for it, right? Like you're switching between Twitch and YouTube. People were kind of, you know, Ninja I think was famously kind of one that left Twitch, you know, went to a platform 'cause it paid him more. But like, this is gonna happen. And I think we're gonna see, you know, building a YouTube is not as hard as it was 15 years ago in terms of the base core technology. And now if the backend can be swapped out to something more permissionless, I think you're just gonna start seeing these kinds of products and platforms where the creator themselves can own at least their digital footprint of it and maybe their distribution of it. And then the YouTube part that becomes really valuable is the aggregation of demand. And once everyone can read the same API and access the same database, I don't know if that results in one giant platform anymore 'cause I think other people will create experiences that are more important and relevant to niche users. So in the same way that YouTube broke apart traditional TV or content where anybody can create, now there's, you know, you could go watch YouTuber with a thousand subscribers and you could love them and it doesn't matter. You have a channel that nobody else has and you're excited about it. I think Web3 will kind of break apart these platforms where the front might look different or feel different and it's maybe only a thousand people are using the front face of this kind of, let's call it decentralized or permissionless YouTube, but it's still cool for those thousand people. And then the long tail of that means actually it's not in one spot anymore. 'cause we all got read access. And read access to blockchain is one of the coolest things. It's like, I can just go get it. I don't need anybody in my way. And I don't know, I find that super fascinating.

Nicholas: - Yeah, that's an interesting idea. that maybe, because one transition I think a lot about is how the switch, like the wedge opportunity of the iPhone and the subsequent smartphone adoption and app stores actually didn't really change majorly the top 10 apps. The top 10 apps mostly existed, except for TikTok and Snapchat. All those companies existed prior to the invention of the iPhone and the app store. So there really wasn't that much disruption of the technology companies through what should have been, you know, on the surface of it, an extremely disruptive event. Actually, it is still just whatever, manga, mama, gaffa, whatever you want to call it. So is the same thing going to happen in crypto? It's interesting because you're saying at the same time there will probably be a power law around the infrastructure facilitation tooling, things like Vercel, Cloudflare for web three, maybe third web, seems likely. Seems like it's already doing pretty well. But at the same time, maybe the fact that we have permissionless deploy and read access universally makes it so that there are a proliferation of smaller interfaces that only really need to succeed with a niche. because, you know, some AI spun up a unique video streaming platform for you that's based on Polygon or something. And it's just, you know, suitable for your particular fetish subgroup of Fortnite players or whatever. And it's not relevant to a wide audience, but it's so tailor-made and running on software that was easy to spin up because it was like public infrastructure. So maybe that maybe shifts the score in terms of user adoption towards smaller things. I'm still not sure I'm convinced, but it's an interesting theory.

Furqan Rydhan: - So the internet is filled with different communities. I think Reddit is a really great example. Like every subreddit has kind of a pretty different feel and tone to it. You know, I like to kind of have a variety of different subreddits that I've followed and joined and you don't get the sense that there's the same people anywhere. And you kind of get, we form ourselves around these communities. And I think that's the essential part. And apps have always been kind of the central thing. And then the community was inside of it. I feel like that inversion is gonna happen. It's like, we're gonna just have communities and there's probably gonna be apps within that. Then maybe talk to a more central protocol or area or something, right? Like that, you know, it's gonna be there, but it's not hard to imagine that, you know, the pendulum is swinging back away from the big central thing, more towards this community-centric internet model. And I think maybe, you know, 10, 15 years again, it'll probably swing the other way. And I think that's forever gonna be kind of a pendulum where, you know, you're gonna go from things that are gonna feel tight and suffocating to like really open, but then it brings a different set of problems and then you're gonna want the other thing back. That's kind of one view. On the App Store, the disagreement I would have is gaming. I mean, none of the big mobile games were traditional studios really. And actually when, you know, we were starting App Lovin', a lot of, you know, like a lot of like what we saw was like traditional gaming being like, oh, mobile gaming's not real. That's fake gaming. You need, you know, two years to build it and a hundred million dollars in 3D graphics. And turned out that mobile gaming was different. It was meant for a different use. It was five minutes of quick fun when I'm on the bus or something, you know? Like it wasn't meant to replace that thing. Also turned out that mobile gaming was bigger. It turned out to be a bigger need in industry than traditional gaming. And that's not wild. And so like, you know, is there a mobile gaming equivalent that's going to happen? Probably. And, you know, a lot of games got big, like the Candy Crush. There's a lot of games that got hundreds of thousands of players and it's just a little fun game that I enjoy. And, you know, the long tail there is pretty massive. And so, you know, like, I think we're going to just see a lot more experimentation. It's hard to predict if this is what happens. And I think, so I don't want to get into predictions. I predict a little bit with my time, right? Like where do I want to spend my energy? But fundamentally, like, I do think that we're going to see it. I'm excited about what happens on Forecaster. for that reason, right? Like they went permissionless. It's pretty cool. Like, and I think similarly for us, like Forecaster went permissionless, all of a sudden third web tools are fully enabled for it. And we've started seeing people start building with that. And like, that's awesome. That's going to create new front ends for the Forecaster ecosystem. Are all of them, you know, apps that I use? No. Are all of them the default app of Forecaster? No. But we're probably going to have hundreds or if not thousands of front ends that allow me to test the Forecaster protocol in some way, whether it's finding people to follow, whether it's things that are happening, whether it's other items. I just think that like devs get creative, especially when they're excited and we can build cool experiences that are different. And I don't think everyone wants the same thing.

Nicholas: - It's interesting what you say about games, especially because you're right, that that category has been very disruptive. And also similar to social media, it's like, there's probably way more human hours put into Twitter than, and other kinds of social media that are text-based than other forms of reading prior. And same thing about gaming with like casual games or even, I love hyper-casual games. That's kind of my favorite sub-genre. But there's all, or like idlers. Someone was showing me like an idle RPG the other day that they just put out. There's all these interesting categories that are in the same way that Twitter is not considered literature or like stand-up comedy is not considered poetry, even though these are like explosively popular categories right now. And the same way hyper-casual or casual gaming is not considered like elite or important or whatnot, but actually these things are consuming a lot more of people's attention. And somehow the culture is just very, very slow to catch up. And like, you still don't get respect for having like people reading what you say on Twitter every day. You get more respect socially by having like a book that nobody has ever read published. And yet like where the people actually are is in these new internet things. So for gaming in particular, like that's a domain where app stores like Steam and Epic and App Store, et cetera, are like both very enabling, but also super restrictive. So you could imagine third web or other kinds of like web three tech suppliers opening it up, even though gamers are so resistant right now because they perceive of NFTs as like a further grift from Ubisoft or whatever. But eventually, like obviously they're going to see the value of being able to, at the very least, sell their stuff when they decide to stop playing some game. So it seems like a potentially very disruptive category.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, and I think this is where, you know, and early in industries, the grifters show up. It's always there. They were on the internet, they were in mobile, they were in social, like they exist whenever something new is there 'cause there's some quick money to be made. There's a lot of, you know, there's like not good financial discipline from every area of the industry. And that just causes the wrong people to show up. And so in some ways, like crypto prices crashing is the best thing ever for like Web3 apps and games. 'Cause now you gotta build real apps. yeah, and you know, and so when you look at things like play to earn, while there's actually really cool models sometimes, most games already have a great economy. It's, I spend my time to enjoy this thing and you're gonna give me some value for my time. And whether I keep the value on my shelf, 'cause I loved it and that was a fun experience I had, or later I, you know, I earned something really big, like something valuable and my time was kind of worth it. And I wanted to get some money back for it. Great. And you know, people want these things. There's, you know, every kind of game like MMOs or other games where I earned rewards or, you know, like some of it is just personal. Like I just want this on my shelf as like, yeah, I crushed that level. I got really far and I got something for my time.

Nicholas: And so I think-- - Achievements, Xbox achievements were huge when they came out.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah. And they're, you know, so like, I think we inherently like doing these things.

Nicholas: - Change people's relationships to games totally to be able to like rep what you did, even just in this totally superficial way, like so underexplored in actual games. But do you think there's some specific thing that has to happen for like an actually popular game to come out of Web3 Tech?

Furqan Rydhan: - I think it's, there's gonna be some faith for the people that are doing it, that it's better. I think that's always the first thing. Somebody has to see that. And I think there are people doing that. I mean, you've seen even Zynga at this stage kind of experiment in this ecosystem. I doubt it's gonna happen from the incumbents. Usually what it feels like is there are new incumbents. And in mobile, if you think about it, while you had, you know, like, was the CTO of this kind of ideal lab called Monkey Inferno. It was started by this guy, Michael Birch, who sold Bebo to AOL. Bebo was a giant social network in the mid 2000s in the UK and kind of Europe. And then, you know, we got a chance to actually buy it back and build some stuff around that brand kind of after. And, you know, you had MySpace, you had Facebook, you had, you know, Bebo, you had Friendster. These were all web-based. And then Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, they're all mobile. Now, well, yes, Instagram did end up in Facebook's hands, but the writing on the wall at that time was Facebook was gonna die 'cause it wasn't gonna make it to mobile. Them making it to mobile was such an incredible thing for their company. Like, I don't think people know how big the risk was. And it wasn't because mobile at the start was exciting and it was clear, it was 'cause it was happening and they had to catch up. Like, it was already happening. You could already see that pool going on. And that doesn't happen from people that are already winning. It only happens from the people that wanna create something new. And so I think for something like Web3 Gaming or Commerce or any other industry, social here, like forecaster winning, wins winning, pushes any incumbent to care about this. And if they can't win, then the incumbent's like, why do I care? 'Cause even the new thing that's exciting, nobody wants it. And so I think that first has to happen is like some faith in somebody to say, I'm gonna build something awesome. And once they do, that's there. In gaming, what I'd love to see is just like, the things I earn, back them with digital assets, allow me to have P2P economies, which is pretty natural in games. And I think game studios will make more money because people will care about their IP more. Games basically produce IP, they emit IP. And that's their fundamental thing that they do. Now, how they do it and the philosophy of it and the exciting stuff around it, that's where their creativity comes in. That's why we pay them. 'cause they're the best in the world at that. And I think if I could care about my thing more, I care about the IP more, which is a pretty massive flywheel for them. And so I think the game studios that have figured out that they're IP producers, they kind of get this tech. They just need to weave it in a little bit simpler rather than reinventing the whole model around kind of financialization. What we don't want is a bunch of investors to show up and ruin the game. We want a great game, that's it. And then I want my ownership. I want a composability. I wanna build an ecosystem inside here. Me spending effort to make the game more valuable by building a, hey, here's a leaderboard of all the cool players, that benefits the IP, right? Like it gives my effort applies to that IP as a ecosystem developer. That's a huge value add. And historically games have been extremely closed with developers. It's really hard to get an API. I never understood it. It never has been a culture in the game developers to enable that. But man, I've seen just so much value everywhere else when devs can get ahold of something. Now, maybe they're worried about, how do they make their buck? And I think that's why they got to kind of own it from the core area and program it in. And why some of the stuff around royalties really sucks is ideally we have a great model here that can be programmed in and work forever. And that would be huge. It just gives new ways to do things that I think would be essential. We have a very short-term view of the industry right now. And so those are some of the things that I think still need work in this ecosystem.

Nicholas: - Yeah, do you think on an app chain, someone could enforce royalties or some system like that, more specified?

Furqan Rydhan: - Man, yeah, yes, for sure. And I've actually seen some cool ideas forming. So there's a few kind of L2s that are now starting to play with specific functions or capabilities. So maybe you have a certain call, like delegate, that's really important. It's kind of expensive. or a certain encryption scheme, like for pass keys. I've seen basically these new L2s go, "You know what? We're gonna arbitrarily make these opcodes really cheap. Like it might've cost 100K gas. We're gonna make it free. We're gonna make it five.". And it's hard-coded in to be extremely cheap for that function is a very important capability. I think we'll see the same thing with royalties where it's like, "Look, this chain, it's for these kinds of products and they need these capabilities and we enforce it here.". And so that's what you have to do. And I think there's, I've been a few that have said a few words around this, and I think we'll see it a lot more over the next year where the chains are customized for the application type and they're tuned for it and there'll be better environment for that to thrive.

Nicholas: - Yeah, we saw this week, Yuga and Pudgy Penguins say that they're threatening to leave OpenSea and Blur over the royalties issue. It's basically like volleyed perfectly for the smash from Yuga to do an app chain with ApeCoin and enforce royalties, et cetera. It's just like so easy in a way for them. It makes so much sense.

Furqan Rydhan: - It does, yeah.

Nicholas: - So ThirdWeb offers a ton of products. How do you group them internally?

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, I think there's four groups. So wallets, contracts, payments, and infra. Those are the four high-level groups that we think about.

Nicholas: - Wallets, contracts, payments, infra. Okay, interesting. And on the website, you also break it down into various solutions. I noticed gaming is the first one, then minting, loyalty, marketplace, chains, AppChain API, Web2 onboarding. Are those kind of the ways that you think of or would like people to think of ThirdWeb?

Furqan Rydhan: - The solutions are what people tell us that we do for them. And so we get kind of simple-minded, like, "Hey, a bunch of customers call it this.". Like they keep telling us, "We want Web2 onboarding.". Great, like that's the solution now because that's the thing that we help you do. So we're gonna organize around that. So like solutions are what customers have told us and what has resonated with them. And we just kind of work backwards from that.

Nicholas: - So simple. And you mentioned like Coinbase and Animoca as two partner companies or like users of yours. Are those like the most exemplary? or are there other big projects that are using ThirdWeb under the hood?

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, a lot of big projects using it under the hood. I think Mirror is one, like their subscriber NFT is kind of something that they've used of ours.

Nicholas: - Oh, cool.

Furqan Rydhan: - You know, a lot of games kind of have it embedded in, you know, so it's like kind of one of those things where, you know, most of the capabilities is under the hood. There's a lot that it's like, you see tons of volume from it and you're like, "Hey, what is this thing? How come? nobody else knows it?". And you go and it's like, "Oh, like in Japan, this is like a friend tech of Japan.". And it's like thriving and just, again, our bubble here, we just don't know. I don't see that in my view. And I just happened to, you know, search something and, you know, somebody was like, "Oh, like they're using ThirdWeb under the hood.". I'm like, "Oh sure, I didn't even know that.". I go and poke around and I'm like, "Oh shit, this is that address that's like, you know, sending a ton of volume here.".

Nicholas: - Are they just ending up on ThirdWeb or are you doing marketing that's working in these other markets that maybe like American-centric Twitter doesn't know about?

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, I think we are one of the companies that have taken a massive view on growth and marketing and not, you know, throwing giant hackathons with millions of dollars, but like a very concerted content effort. Like the flywheel I always love is we can do something where we can put more fuel in it and we can do it more. So we produce a lot of content and we're able to distribute it heavily. And it's targeted towards developers and that then ends up driving a lot of that back. And so I think about marketing's job is to basically be the megaphone and product's job is to take that and make them successful. And if that flywheel, we could just keep running, like we'll win. And, you know, it's in front of us. We just gotta keep doing the work every single day. And, you know, it's hard. It's every day there's tweets and YouTube videos and you have to put resources and effort towards it. And we've got a fantastic team that has done that and we just gotta do that a lot more.

Nicholas: - How do you make money?

Furqan Rydhan: - So we don't really today. We've just recently started kind of testing revenue items. But today we've been offering things for free. So some of it doesn't cost as much money, you know, deploying our contracts or using things on chain. Like it doesn't cost us anything. You pay for it yourself. You know, kind of over the last year we've rolled in a lot of infra. Like we learned, you know, like I think October last year we were getting like hundreds of support requests a week in our Discord and all the questions were like, basically it was like, "Oh, you need to get a paid RPC.". And it's like, "Sucks.". Like, "Why? "You gotta go somewhere, sign up, do something.". And so we built kind of an RPC edge, bundled it in, we built IPFS items, bundled it in. A lot of that plumbing that is literally just pipes we put in and a lot of that went away. And I think this year we're starting to think about like, "Cool, is that where our monetization is? "or are there other interesting models?"? I don't know, we have to figure out over the next maybe six to 12 months, like, you know, what does the business of 3rdWeb look like? But I think we're still first focused on like, "How do we build a great experience? "and make sure devs can be successful?". Like, that's still, I would say, the core important part of our company. And it's why it's we're a venture company and why we didn't make a token and all this other stuff and why we raise money is 'cause we know it's gonna take time to really get to that perfect spot where we can start thinking about revenue and scale. So like, I think at this stage of the business, we're starting to experiment with it, but we don't have a clear idea yet.

Nicholas: - Do you want indie customers or big customers or both?

Furqan Rydhan: - Both. I mean, I think it starts with startups and kind of smaller projects that become big. And if we think about that same kind of thing I was talking about earlier where the incumbents don't win, it's probably the new apps and new startups. So like, I want those to succeed the most because they become the giants in five years. But obviously there are larger entities that are excited today and our tools should be able to support them. So, you know, it's like GitHub has, you know, every developer using it. And then you have GitHub Enterprise that's focused on kind of the large entities. Mostly those large entities showed up on GitHub after all of the devs in their company already loved it. And I think that's probably the order of operations is make devs love your tools. And then from there, like everyone's kind of gravitate towards you and you should be able to serve a wide set of customers.

Nicholas: - So is the goal that app devs be able to like just use third web and not need any other sort of infrastructure and backend provider for doing web three stuff?

Furqan Rydhan: - That would be ideal. It's like you need unity to build a game. You might need a few other things, depending if you're outside of kind of their scope. But the physics engine is not a separate module that you have to buy from a third party. And then the graphics part is not separate. Like I think like app devs just spend too much time in web three, signing up for plans and enterprises and negotiating price. It's just a pain in the ass. Like I need to do eight things. I need contracts. I might need to write them. I might need to pick up some stuff off the shelf. I need SDKs. I need connect wallet experiences. I need embedded wallet, maybe smart account, bundler, paymaster, RPC. Like it goes on and it's like, man, we're putting a huge tax on a dev who actually should focus their entire energy on a great app or game experience. - Yeah. - And so that's always been. the goal is that we need to take care of everything in a reasonable amount of stuff that you need to do on the app front. And there's the areas where you need to customize and do your kind of magic for your experience. You should be able to focus on that.

Nicholas: - Do you facilitate fiat checkout?

Furqan Rydhan: - We do. So we bought a company called Paper. That had a checkout embedded wallet product and we started migrating that in. And so we do offer fiat checkout for NFTs today.

Nicholas: - Do you think about on-ramping? That seems like a big problem in the app chain. future, on-ramping to these app chains. - Yep.

Furqan Rydhan: We think about on-ramping and we think about sponsored transactions a lot. And actually, if you pair this with what I told you, that any EVM philosophy, this is a hard problem right now, which is I want to support NFT checkout on the thousand chains.

Nicholas: - Yeah.

Furqan Rydhan: - And it's hard for us without having the thousand currencies. And so we're working on building our tools so that the devs could, if you're already on the chain, you probably have a closer access to those funds or a want to keep those funds. And if we could allow you to do these things with kind of your own funds, I think that's probably the perfect world. so we could support everything.

Nicholas: - Dev pays with a credit card, but has like Paymaster Bundler on every weirdo EVM chain out there.

Furqan Rydhan: - That would be perfect world. Yeah. I mean, this is a hard problem that we're trying to do right now.

Nicholas: - What about straight on-ramping the users? Or I guess the idea is that because it's an app dev, the users shouldn't have to worry about such a concern as like KYC-ing in order to on-ramp and basically do it via the app dev's account on third web.

Furqan Rydhan: - I think some products are going to exist where you have to pay to play, but I think most of the internet is free to play. And I think Zora recently said something like this, like. it would be cool if the first way you got crypto is by earning it. And it's like such a powerful mindset where people can show up for free and they can start doing it and then they have these assets and items that they've earned. They're going to be here now. They're going to exist. They're going to like this thing. They have something here. And if I told you, you first have to pay the dollar, then maybe you get the payoff later. It just kind of doesn't sit right with the internet where most of it is read first. - And so like, I think perfect world devs, we help devs craft an experience where people can show up, they can utilize Web3 and crypto and be able to kind of earn an asset or something first. And, you know, I think from there, people stick around, they like it, they enjoy it. And then, you know, whether they pay money or add kind of funds in, I think it comes from there. But I really love that philosophy that Zora kind of threw out there around the first bit of crypto you should earn and not have to pay for. - Yeah, totally.

Nicholas: We've been talking about count abstraction a lot on this show lately. What's 3rdWeb's answer to AA?

Furqan Rydhan: - And the answer to AA is a kind of full stack. So we have contracts that we call account factories. that lets you spin up accounts under the hood. We have, you know, integrated bundler and paymasters. That plumbing is just there. And then we've created actually, and we haven't really announced or launched this yet fully, but we have actually recently created a backend product called Imjin, which is a backend server that is the developer's kind of server. It lets you create backend wallets that can connect and do things on chain. And one of the key things is it can be the session key backend for a smart account. And so the way it works is your user signs up, you create them a smart account, and they can play your game. They can earn assets. And when they want to maybe sell that thing or trade it or do something with it, they, you know, the backend basically requests a session key. This is the developer's backend. It has a backend wallet in this Imjin product. And now the developer can get, you know, session key access to something, facilitate that transaction, do the thing that they need to do. But then the user only gave very limited permission to it. And I think our view has been, how does this help UX and ecosystem? And how does it allow more people to get involved and start using these technologies? And so, you know, that's been our main focus.

Nicholas: - Does 3rdWeb offer a rollup as a service or will it?

Furqan Rydhan: - We probably won't offer a rollup as a service, but we are working with a lot of the chains that come out to make sure that 3rdWeb is available on day one, on the Genesis block, ideally. I think we've done a lot of work to make sure that we can do that very fast and efficiently.

Nicholas: - What's your day-to-day like as CTO?

Furqan Rydhan: - I'm not the CTO. There's a guy, Jake Liu, he's the CTO. Yeah, so I'm one of the founders. Yeah, no worries. The titles, they're all basically the same. I do think a lot about kind of product and technology. So I have kind of two companies. So I have Founders Inc, which is kind of like a personal company that I built, you know, my studio to where I invest from. Done a lot of stuff there. That's where 3rdWeb was born. And so I spend probably about 25% of my time focused on that. And then I spend most of my time on 3rdWeb. And, you know, I think a lot about product and technology, you know, but then I like to be on kind of some of the customers and sales calls and like to kind of read everything that's going on. I think at the end of the day, my fundamental job is to make sure that our vision is set and we get the talented people here to kind of, you know, accomplish the goals that we have here. And lastly, to get the hell out of the way of anybody doing the right stuff. Like, you know, I need to make sure I get the right people here, make sure that they have the agency to run and operate and autonomy. And then, you know, I'll see them do work. that's gonna be better than, you know, I could tell them to do.

Nicholas: - Awesome. I have so many questions left. I'm just trying to choose which ones I should prioritize. Do you think about ZK at all? Or is that like too far in the future for it to be relevant for the stack that 3rdWeb offers?

Furqan Rydhan: - I think it's like, it does enter my mind and I play with it. I read a lot about it. I've tried, I'm not the best engineer in the world. I can learn a lot, but I'll never be kind of the hardcore software engineer. So like, I've tried to build a few circuits. I've tried to do a few other things and I will continue to do that. ZK reminds me of where AA was a year ago. It's like, we know this is gonna be really important, but it totally wasn't ready for any major adoption yet. And I think, you know, whether it's one year or six months or two years, you know, I think there's a forward looking view that ZK is gonna be essential in this ecosystem. And I think for me personally, like I want to make sure I continue to learn and absorb what it is and then start understanding where it kind of fits.

Nicholas: - Are we gonna get hosed on the insufficient robustness of the OP stack and other optimistic rollups as they exist today?

Furqan Rydhan: - I think there's, if anything, this year probably caused more energy people to kind of experiment beyond that. So like, I think OP stack and others kind of showing up and getting some spread is really cool. But I also think it's pushing other teams to go find the next wave of improvements and capabilities and expand on that. I don't think it stops. I think it just continues, you know, there's gonna be probably one or two years of pretty significant growth. And also I think improvements in this ecosystem, especially around the chains.

Nicholas: - Do you think about restaking?

Furqan Rydhan: - Not much, to be honest, so yeah.

Nicholas: - Cool. Are there any other like hot topics that you're interested in for like the next six months or a year that we haven't mentioned yet?

Furqan Rydhan: - I think, I would say the most important topic I think about is we went from having very limited block space to kind of having a lot. And now I'm like, all right, who are the block space consumers? Like those people, it's time to show up and it's time to start shipping. And so I think that's the main thing I think about is, great, we got the block space, let's use it now. 'cause we're not yet, you know? Yeah, let's go.

Nicholas: - Okay, I know you have to run. So I have to ask you, how did you meet Steven?

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, so at Monkey Inferno back in like 2013, 2014, I met Steven, he came over there and he worked with us for about maybe six months or so. We got a chance to launch a product together and got a chance to work with him for about six months back then. This was before he started a social chain, like just right before. And he kind of went on and started a social chain, did really well there. And kind of like late 2020, I like to just really think about new ideas and I write down like these really shitty notes. And then I just send them to people I find interesting that are in my network. And he just happened to be somebody that I sent something to. And I think he's pretty close with KeriVee and had kind of seen some of the thinking around, you know, a little bit of the early NFT wave that was happening there. And he was like, "Hey, this reminds me of like Web2. "This reminds me of social media. "It reminds me of a shift, "like a massive shift in how things are happening.". And I sent him this thing, which at the time was a totally different idea in our studio. And he's like, "This is really cool.". And he had some riffs on it. And we were like, I was like, "Okay, "we're gonna create this product in our studio. "If you wanna be involved with it, let me know.". And he was like, "Yeah, I'm down.". He had just kind of like exited from social chain. It was kind of like playing with some stuff and had kicked off his podcast. And, you know, from there, like we basically built something in our studio for maybe six months, a few different ideas. And, you know, as we were going to like the third idea, I remember taking the code base and copying it over and deleting all the stuff inside. And I was like, "Hey man, like, "why isn't there a framework here that I can start from? "Why isn't there like Next.js or like some other thing "that I'm used to in other kind of environments?". And I looked around and at first I was like, "Okay, we're gonna go and find the company doing this. "We're gonna make a huge investment in them or buy them "or something. "There's something massive here. that's gonna happen.". I looked around, I didn't really see anybody doing it in the way that I felt like was necessary. And it's kind of one of those like, "Fuck it, I'll just do it myself.". And, you know, me and Jake basically hacked a prototype in a few nights. And I spent two weeks or three weeks on... I just reached out to every single person I knew that might have any thought around this or interested in it. And I was just posting on Twitter about it. And it was something that people actually wanted. And I would say like, I think we did like a few hundred calls in like a two-month span, like eight to 10 calls a day. Basically like showing this thing, pitching it, spending the night kind of hacking it, improving it. The demo was pretty shitty, by the way. The product was pretty shitty at the time 'cause I wrote it. But, you know, the demos would break sometimes. I just switched tabs. Like, "Oh, it worked. "Look, see.". But the key thing was, does anybody give a shit? Because, you know, for myself and Steven, like it's like you have to kind of make sure... Like I can't just take any project on and take my time out. It's like a lot of other value already going on. So you have to kind of understand the realness of it. And it turned out that was there. And so I had that experience working with them.

Nicholas: - But there were other things, right? There was Alchemy and Infura and Quicknode. There's other things out there that were doing some overlapping stuff, but maybe not as focused on like app developer as the customer.

Furqan Rydhan: - Exactly. That's exactly the thing. Everybody puts the same words on the website. We help Web3 developers succeed, right? We give you everything for a Web3 developer, but you really don't. You have a particular perspective. And our perspective was, we need to be the embedded piece that's in the apps that helps them solve that problem. And, you know, it's all these little things like, "Oh, you got to like take your contract and the ABI. "and figure out what the hell that is, "copy it into your like front end project. "and then run type chain or whatever. "And then you got these types.". Man, that's a lot of work just to get something that should be out of the box. I didn't even start yet. And I had to do like days of work, maybe weeks of work sometimes of what it felt like. And so we just took a different view at it. Like it wasn't the RPC hosting that was the problem. In our minds, it was, "How the hell do I build an app around this? "How do I put it in my website? "How do I put it in my mobile app? "And how do I put it in my game?". And so that's what we didn't see. We didn't see somebody doing it in the way we felt. And, you know, it could have been naiveness and totally possible that there was somebody doing it properly. And we could have found something there, but we also felt like, "Hey, this is something that we could do.". And it was exciting. We wanted to do it. And, you know, probably one of the best decisions we made.

Nicholas: - Yeah, it's an interesting nuance there. 'cause it's like you're checking with customers or potential customers if they would care about this thing, but you're not overthinking the competitors that are already in the market who could convince you to psych yourself out about like there being an opportunity that's unique enough. So it's an interesting line that you walked.

Furqan Rydhan: - There's a thousand reasons why I shouldn't do this. That's every startup. I could tell myself no in all of them. I need one really good reason why I should do it. That's what I'm always hunting for in anything. And I think that's it. Like, I don't care why I shouldn't do it. If I find the reason why I should do it, like we're gonna use that only.

Nicholas: - It's interesting that Steven in with all of his distribution on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, et cetera, doesn't really seem to promo 3rdWeb from what I understand, right? It's not like using his social acumen like directly through his channels to promote 3rdWeb, but instead maybe his involvement on sort of the content centrism of your marketing strategy or something?

Furqan Rydhan: - Exactly. His audience is not gonna help us win. And he has done stuff.

Nicholas: - Right, he talks about like being in business, right? He talks about like being a leader and doing founding stuff.

Furqan Rydhan: - Correct. And you know, really like it comes down to, we need our own content strategy. Every single company in the world is a content creator. They just don't know you. If we take that mindset, and this is kind of what he instilled in our team, the strategy that he set, and the team that he built kind of on our marketing side, but really focused around this is how do we build our own flywheel? Because like he's been able to do for himself. And this was basically his company, our social chain was creating this for other companies, other brands, other individuals. But like that's really it. Like that's the thing. It's our company needs to be a content creator. It's not just Steven's audience and his numbers. That's not gonna get us to the long, you know, win condition that we want. The way we get there is we build amazing tools that we tell the world about, specifically the developers that need them consistently. And we consistently listen to them, and we understand their needs, and we build the next stuff, and we tell them about it. And if we could just own that flywheel, individually as Third Web, we are sustainable and we can win, independent of any one of our reaches. And that's essential. This company is its own entity, and it needs to be that. And so, yes, what he did for himself, we could have just tried to use that. I don't think it would have been as successful. Instead, his application of what he did for himself into Third Web and that strategy is the most important part. And it's something that he does, like. he's one of the clearest thinkers that I've ever worked with. You know, like he understands that. He understands what we need to do for this entity, and not just like use my reach. Because that's not actually the right audience here. I don't know how many web 3 developers there are in his audience. There's maybe a few, but what's better is we have our own reach, and we can kind of create that, and we control our destiny as a company.

Nicholas: - It's like a bigger lift for the company in terms of responsibility, but it's also more meaningful to achieve it than just getting some free publicity off a big YouTube account. It makes more sense. - Yep. - And it seems like you've brought some of that DNA into Founders, Inc. also. Like you're doing not only startup incubation, but also content and VC. So content plays a role there too.

Furqan Rydhan: - Yeah, and I think just, you know, I literally have grown up on the internet. I've seen social. I've built stuff in the era of the internet. I've built social products. I've built live streaming. I've spent a lot of time thinking about these things. You know, when we started Founders, Inc., it was kind of like, you know, not really like a plan. It was just, I had many exits that happened. There was Applovin. There was early crypto, kind of Bitcoin, Ethereum, you know, selling Debo to kind of Amazon, Twitch. Like there's enough like flood of cash where like I don't need to work. And I was like, okay, what do I want to do? I was angel investing a lot at the time, but you know, really angel investing is not that fun. It's like you meet a bunch of cool people, you get really excited, and then you write a check, and then you're like a monthly update away. And I was like, this is not actually what I want to do. While these companies are fun, this is not exactly how I'm trying to spend my time. I want to build more things. And so I kind of created the company as a vehicle to like put some resources around me to let me build stuff and be more involved. And so we really have like 2 sides of our business. At Founders, Inc., we have a studio where we incubate companies. Kind of where 3rdWeb was born. There's been others like this. We spun out, I think, 6 companies now, kind of from the studio. And we have 2 or 3 kind of in there now. And we created a pretty cool experience where if you're a founder that maybe your previous company didn't work out, or you want to be a founder, and you're like sitting at your job and kind of moonlighting it, we'll actually hire you to be a founder or to be a founding team member. And your job is to come in and start a company. And we provide the resources, both cash and kind of the space. We built this 10,000 square foot lab here in San Francisco on premium real estate. Like you have this incredible view of the Golden Gate Bridge and all these things. And we built this lab so that founders can come here and work with people like themselves around them. And then kind of the second part of our business is our capital side. And I would hesitate to call ourselves... We're not a venture fund. Today, we've been mostly self-funded. So I think we've done about 90 deals and maybe $9 million worth of deployment all from our own capital. And the goal here is to find really early stage emerging tech founders. Many of them are, I would call, negative 1 to 0 phase. And some of them are 0 to 1. And so we really think about these two areas. And so if you're at negative 1, you're a builder. And what we want to do is take you from builder to founder. And if you're at 0 to 1, you're already a founder and we want to help you build an epic company. Like you're going to be going through this thing. And we pick industries that are very exciting to myself and a few partners here at Bear Jover. Today, that's like Web3, crypto, AI, ML, VR, AR. And then we got this kind of like fourth bucket of like brain-computer interfaces and robotic arms and drones and like kind of all these things. But these are all technology items that I feel like are obviously going to happen. And we just want to participate now. And I don't know when they're going to happen, right? Like with AI, it took a while to kind of really come back and hit it. You know, with Web3, kind of the hype cycle is there and many people are kind of down on it right now. But it's really busy and exciting and that's going to continue to thrive. And so like we focus on these emerging tech areas and we've just built, you know, this kind of electric facility. Like I don't know if you ever make it out of San Francisco, but if you do, you should come by. I think you'll have a blast. and I think one particular thing there that we did was media is essential. The goal of this place is to emit content. We literally built a podcast studio and a media room and have kind of a video editor on staff to make sure that this place can do that. And it's not just for us. There's like five or six other shows of other people that are happening. I think there's like maybe a longer view that creators are going to be like startups in the future. And the idea of being a creator is not as big as a company today. But I think we'll be. And so I don't know, like it's really exciting to see that happen and just people gravitate towards it. And people have showed up here and be like, you have a studio, can we use it? And we're like, yeah, cool. You guys are doing something interesting, try it out. And then they're here, they're here for a while. And so the energy is really electric out here. And so like, I think we set that up to just be more hands-on and kind of like. it worked really well and so did Third Web. And so now that's kind of like. the new problem I have is I got two things that are working really well and kind of thinking about how do I, I can't do all of this. So like, how do I find really talented, interesting people to come join? And I'm happy to give autonomy and responsibility to somebody else who wants it.

Nicholas: - So sweet. I completely agree with your sort of thesis around like making directionally correct bets and just swinging and swinging and swinging until opportunity and your presence match and you knock one out of the park. I think that's, I mean, how else would it work? That's obviously how things have to work. And also, I think Stephen's relationship to Third Web and your perspective on content, which also kind of echoes some of what like Andreesen and Stripe Publishing have been doing, like Stripe Press with like everybody is a, you want to control your own narrative and not be dependent on intermediaries to be getting that narrative out. I think this, like maybe Stephen on some level to me represents a kind of rare thing today, but maybe it will be less rare in the future, which is like content creator, founder. And the founding is not just the content creation business. But I mean, obviously we see this with Mr. Beast and Feastables and stuff like this also in a different kind of scale of the market. But I think there's a lot to be done there at the intersection of like content engagement and technology software development. So very cool to see you're working on that.

Furqan Rydhan: Yeah. I worked with this guy, Sean Puri, who runs a podcast, My First Million. He was my co-founder six or seven years. I just sat next to him and just kind of watching him build this podcast, you know, seeing kind of him thrive, seeing Stephen thrive, like being at Twitch, seeing other creators do this for a living. It's just really interesting. I'm not a content creator myself. I mean, that's not my natural thing, but I do understand it very well. And I see how this is a job of the future. Like a lot of people talk about AI is going to take a bunch of jobs and oh my God, what are we going to do? It's like the likelihood of jobs going away has forever been happening with technology, right? Like machinery was one, cars, trucks, all these things took away certain kinds of jobs from people. So we have to create new jobs. I think the next wave of jobs will be natively on the internet. And like we're going to build more digital native jobs all over the place. And I think that's where the transition is going to need to happen. You know, podcaster, content creator is one, but there's a variety of others that are forming. And so it's kind of like new digital native, I would call them jobs or kind of jobs to be done. Like it's very fascinating and the network effects of the internet can make something big really, really fast. And so I think this industry is transforming like the creator industry, just at a breakneck speed. And it's really fun to see. And I do want to participate in it in the ways that I'm the best suited to.

Nicholas: - Yeah, I completely understand. And I think if I was in a similar position to you, it's like, what could be more fun than this? It's not about the money. It's about having fun, doing the most exciting thing you can do.

Furqan Rydhan: - Honestly, that was my starting point in career. I was just like, oh, if I could just do the stuff I enjoy, until I get a real job, I'll just extend that. And, you know, there was like 10 years of being a founder that was like really hard and painful and not working and really negative and, you know, debt and all these things that were not there, but it was fun. And then eventually the payoff happened. So like, it was all worth it. But like, I don't think the money was the reason 'cause I could have made more money at the start somewhere else.

Nicholas: - Totally. Yeah, totally agree. So Founders Inc, if people want to check it out, f.inc/thirdweb, obviously thirdweb.com. Is there anywhere else you want to point people?

Furqan Rydhan: - That's good. And that's the best spot. Appreciate it today.

Nicholas: - Yeah, this was a great conversation, Furkan. Thank you so much for coming through and sharing all this information. It was super inspirational.

Furqan Rydhan: - For sure, appreciate it. Take care, man.

Nicholas: - All right, see you around. Thanks everybody for coming to listen. See you at 5 p.m. Eastern. Another conversation with First Mate about secondary markets, creator-owned secondary markets, royalty enforcement, stuff like that. So if you're interested, see you here in a couple hours. All right, thanks. Bye-bye.

Show less

Related episodes

Podcast Thumbnail

Decentralized Work with Ellie Day (Always Online)

23 December 2021
Podcast Thumbnail

Interface with Wijuwiju and Anna

12 July 2022
Podcast Thumbnail

ConejoCapital, CEO of Dora

12 December 2023
Furqan Rydhan, Co-founder of Thirdweb