Web3 Galaxy Brain 🌌🧠

Web3 Galaxy Brain

Jacob Frantz and Zak Salmon, Founders of FirstMate

24 November 2023


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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, so don't miss it. 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 guests today are Jacob Franz and Zach Salmon, founders of Firstmate. Firstmate lets creators build and host their own secondary NFT marketplaces. Creator-owned marketplaces can display all of an artist or team's collections across minting platforms, enforce royalties, and source liquidity from the most popular marketplaces. In its initial version, Firstmate is served as an app within the Manifold app store, and it will become its own website soon. On this episode, Jacob, Zach, and I discuss the evolving NFT landscape, what it's like running the most popular Reddit collectible avatars secondary marketplace, and how Firstmate works under the hood. If you're interested in the art and business of NFTs, this episode is for you. It was a pleasure chatting with Jacob and Zach, who are insightful, kind, and persistent. 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, how's it going?

Jacob Frantz: Hello.

Nicholas: Jacob, good. I'm glad to hear you.

Jacob Frantz: Wonderful.

Nicholas: Thanks, Elon. Where's Zach? Oh, there he is. Hey, Zach.

Zak Salmon: I made it. Can you all hear me?

Nicholas: Yes, sounds great. Great. I'm excited to talk to you guys. You know, this show is really about Friday afternoon conversations. And Jacob, you've been on the show before, and it's always a good time. So I'm happy to have you here.

Jacob Frantz: Happy Friday. Happy to be here.

Nicholas: That's it.

Jacob Frantz: Longtime listener. First time.

Nicholas: Not even true.

Jacob Frantz: I guess not even really first-time speaker. Yeah.

Nicholas: I think you've been on a couple times, maybe three even.

Jacob Frantz: Interesting. I'll have to check my IMDB.

Nicholas: Well, that's it. You need a Web3GDB or whatever. I'm working on transcripts for the show, so I'll let you know. I'm getting that ready for the people.

Jacob Frantz: So cool.

Nicholas: Yeah, I'm going to try some cool things. We'll see if people like it. But yeah, it's great to have you back. And Zach, welcome. First time caller.

Zak Salmon: I can actually say it. Longtime first time.

Jacob Frantz: Good to be here.

Nicholas: Awesome. Do you actually listen to the show? Have you heard the show?

Zak Salmon: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Nicholas: Oh, amazing. Are there any episodes that you liked in particular?

Zak Salmon: I don't know. Let me give it some thought. Yeah. All right.

Nicholas: I won't put you on the spot. Okay. So First Mate. I read this tweet today. "Manifold. Every artist deserves to own their smart contract. First Mate. Every artist deserves to own their marketplace.". I think that's such a good tweet. Is that a good summary of what First Mate's about?

Jacob Frantz: I do think that's a good summary. Our objective really is to make it so that every person who makes NFTs, every artist, platform, issuer, brand, etc. is able to have a basically more ownership over their destiny and more direct ways to interact with their collectors and the people who generally care about their work. And to us, that applies all the way through to the place where your things are being shown and bought and sold. And so sovereignty is something that we think is super important. And we've heard from creators time and time again, it's hard to get out there. And so it's something that we spend a lot of time trying to make easier and more seamless.

Nicholas: Sovereignty is cool. But it does feel like when you say it just straight up, it's like, every artist deserves to own their own marketplace. It's like, just your relationship with your customer. You just want to be there.

Jacob Frantz: Totally. And I mean, yeah, imagine being at any modern brand that's trying to be differentiated today or selling anything today and suggesting to your boss or something that, "Yeah, I think we should probably just like shove it on Amazon and call it a day." You'd get fired. Like it's not a, you know, there are better options out there today. And that's not really how people come to understand the things that they buy.

Nicholas: You're like sacrificing a lot of the margin potential, or at least you're, I mean, there's the fees, but even more than that, it's like the difference between having a popular Facebook page and having a popular newsletter. Like just the connection is so much more direct, I would think, if you own the marketplace.

Jacob Frantz: Totally. And I think that that comes through in a number of different ways. You brought up fees just now, which is like an obvious one that is very top of mind with many of the creators that we talk to, who are concerned about being ultimately beholden to one-size-fits-all marketplace platforms that can kind of change their feed opinion from day to day. But even beyond just the fees part, I think there's a big aspect of the experience of browsing, buying, selling, and listing that is really cookie-cutter everywhere and doesn't really work for many people's collections, artworks, whatever, music, whatever it's going to be, podcasts in some cases. And when people go to browse them on some website that ultimately doesn't really care about the creator or doesn't know anything about the artworks, where to them it's just a NFT, then people have to browse it like any other NFT. They all kind of look the same, regardless of whether your NFT is purely a visual collectible or something that's like the stand with crypto, more like a statement about your beliefs, or even something like an audio track that you released or a claim to a physical t-shirt or something like that. These are all very different things. And sure, they're all NFTs under the hood and not so under the hood like you don't know. it's an NFT, but they're just very different. And the way that you would browse for a shirt is different from the way you might like to browse for music, which is different from the way you might like to browse for tapes. And though these are all so obviously different, it's only when you have direct control over the way these are bought and sold that you can even start to tailor the experience to the actual thing that people care about.

Nicholas: Now, over the course of First Mate's history, when did the first product launch or the first thing you would call a First Mate production launch?

Jacob Frantz: I would probably call the first First Mate production, our launch of Feltzine's website around July 4th of last year. Yeah.

Zak Salmon: NFT NYC 2020. Yeah.

Nicholas: Dope. Okay. So, so, uh, what's that? a year and a half almost?

Jacob Frantz: A year and change. I guess we could, if we wanted to backdate it even further, there was like the early experiment of, um, making the m'lady marketplace kind of as a, just for fun.

Nicholas: That's where I would put it. That's where I would put it for sure. I mean, it's a, that's a high credibility event. I would say frankly, although controversial to some.

Jacob Frantz: That's right. Yeah.

Nicholas: And that was, that was even before NFT NYC.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah, that's right. It was, it was before the m'lady allegations.

Nicholas: Nice. You got that, you got that plausible deniability chronology. That's good.

Jacob Frantz: That's right. That's right.

Nicholas: Uh, credible deniability. Cause really what the question I wanted to ask was, are we talking about something that looks more like Squarespace or are we talking about something that looks more like microsites? Like, I don't know the Macy's NFT site or whatever they want it. big custom, the BTS drop is going to be a fully custom thing versus, you know, more in that kind of original manifold style or also original First Mate style where you were even before it was First Mate, just like making these custom sites. But now it feels like maybe it's more leaning towards the kind of platform for creating these things. Where, where do you think it ends up?

Jacob Frantz: Totally. I think that there's like a number of different types of people who make different types of NFTs and there's a couple of different ways to look at it. We played and, and ultimately made sites and marketplaces and storefronts across a couple of them. So that, and I'm happy to like, you know, talk more or less about whichever one, one obvious way to kind of look at the different types of NFT sites are like by, you know, Oh, is this, is this NFT music or an image or video or an interactive website or, you know, a membership to a party Dow or something like that.

Nicholas: Good old UX, UX difference.

Jacob Frantz: That's right. And, and in practice, actually, for us, that tends to, those differences don't tend to be the hugest deal for us because to us, we kind of just make modules for each of them. So like, you know, we've supported podcasts with Bankless when we were doing their, you know, their secondary market for their podcasts that they were dropping a while ago. We've done songs like audio and sound market and Violetta Zeroni's marketplace. We've done like generative art with like Jen Stark's marketplace and Matt Cain's and Deltzine has some things that are images and some that are interactive websites. And so that's kind of one axis. And then the other one that I think you were talking about is like, who is it for? Is it for a big brand like Macy's or Starbucks, or is it for a platform that's dropping things routinely like Manifold or Sound, or is it for like an individual artist or individual creator who just wants to get all their stuff into one place? And, you know, we've, we've, we've, I don't know. I think broadly, we feel like all of these types of people, creators, platforms should have the ability to facilitate these things in a way that's like really native to what they're trying to do and focuses more on their vision than it does on like the marketplace itself, you know, where the marketplace kind of fades into the background because you're there for something else. Recently, about a month ago, we launched in partnership with Manifold a, an app in Manifold studio so that anybody who's has a Manifold account, actually, whether you've made something through Manifold or not, can come and set up their own storefront and take, you know, Oh, I have this thing that I minted on Zora and this thing that I minted on Manifold. And also I had, you know, this dev self-deployed a contract one time and this thing on super rare. And now you can just kind of be like, well, I want to make a storefront. that's about me, not about Zora, not about Manifold. That's, you know, about me and the stuff that I've made for the people who care about me.

Nicholas: Does Manifold already know about those like Zora and other custom deploys? or that's happening inside the First Mate app?

Jacob Frantz: That's happening inside the First Mate app. And so what Manifold provides us with by being inside of the Manifold app is like one, a convenient place for some creators who might already be kind of hanging out there as well as, you know, a bit of like, it's, it's, it's helpful to get off the ground with some like authentication and just be like, cool, this person has a Manifold site. And also kind of sets the norm around like these storefronts are mostly for things that you made yourself, not just a place for you to group together things that other people have done, although we support that as well. So norm setting is one. And then there are some prefills that are helpful too, but then we'll go behind the scenes. Go ahead.

Nicholas: It's more like, uh, for creators, not like for curators with that distinction.

Jacob Frantz: That's our focus right now. That's right.

Nicholas: But am I wrong to think that Manifold has some, like, I think of it as like a one of one creator, uh, market, like a user base initially, and then maybe laterally open additions, but kind of maybe the same type of person that was doing one of ones before.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah.

Nicholas: Or is it much wider than that?

Jacob Frantz: I think they have like a number of ways to drop things. And, um, and for us, you know, we like provide search and wait and we can like basically go look you up by your deployer wallet and see, okay, what other contracts has this person deployed? or what else have they maybe deployed on? super rare on foundation, et cetera. And so we kind of just use that like very first point of connection to kind of, I don't know, kind of like nucleate out and find other things we think you've deployed. And then we also have search. So to your point of curation, you know, you can type in anything and, you know, add that to your storefront on a couple of chains now too.

Nicholas: And this will eventually live outside of manifold as well, I presume.

Jacob Frantz: That's right. You know, it's already available to anybody since anybody can sign up with manifold, but we will make like a dedicated place to come edit your stuff and make one yourself if you haven't yet, but we already kind of guide people through it. Like you can kind of start on first mate site. If you go to like first mate that I've got these left tree and we'll sort of like guide you into the manifold studio app and then back out after you're done with it.

Nicholas: Is that something a lot of creators you're talking to are like they are spending time in manifolds or are they using other tools as well?

Jacob Frantz: The thing that has really stood out to us since we've started building this creator storefront thing is that almost universally everyone's got different stuff in different places. You know, if you are somebody who is making NFTs right now, you probably have, as is the case with many other types of creators, even outside of crypto, you kind of have to be willing to try new things out and see what you like or don't like. And especially with crypto, it's not like you can go migrate those old things to the new thing and like go download your CSP and import it to the new thing. It's like, you know, the NFT that you released two years ago as like a self deploy is still, that's still your work and you can't just go flick it into, into some other contract or something. And so we hear over and over again, as like a pain point from people that their stuff gets kind of disorganized and hard to just like look at everything in one place. And so that's kind of why it's been a major focus of us to just like, for us to be very accommodating about what you can kind of add in and glom on to your storefront. Can absolutely like vouch for.

Zak Salmon: It seems like probably people who are creating NFTs are like probably very excited about the technology and just interested in trying new things. Right. So new drop platforms come out, they check them out, they've got them, they decide if they want to continue using them and move forward.

Nicholas: Right. So people are accumulating this like long tail of random tools they've used. And there's maybe a opportunity for, I like the emphasis you're kind of putting on, like you can curate with it, but it's not just like a way to show off your NFTs. It's really for someone who's the creator to, to create a aggregated marketplace across all of their various contracts they've used over time.

Jacob Frantz: That's right. And that's like really informed by our point of view about what we think is a blocker to many parts of the NFT ecosystem and even other forms of creativity more generally. I think that over the last long while, there's just been a broad trend of individual people being able to like, who do interesting things and are creative, getting, whether it's a following on some like explicitly social platform or, you know, around their work more generally in whatever their interest is having, you know, having more and more ability to command that. And I think you just see time and time again, that like that interesting or creative individual is more interesting and useful and inspiring to a lot of people than, you know, the sort of like much more an institutional thing that it might be kind of supplanting. And so that's why we focus on making tools for these creative people to be able to, you know, rally their fans together and facilitate the interaction with their, with their work.

Nicholas: So maybe the dichotomy that I drew with Macy's is not the, or, you know, Starbucks you mentioned is maybe not the right one compared to creator because, you know, Milady's store or the bankless or the sound marketplaces are all, they are creators. They are crypto native sort of indie creators. You know, some of them might have grown to become larger businesses over time, but they aren't the Starbucks kind of use user profile. So it does seem like there's something in the DNA of first made about serving that individual creator type.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. I think that I would even like, rather than contrasting the individual career with Starbucks, although there's an obvious, you know, difference there, I might even like draw the comparison between like America's funniest home videos and SNL where SNL is like a sort of brokered top down planned way of creating funny. It's like our, we're an institution that is sort of like, you know, deciding and outputting that which we think is funny to a large audience. And that's sort of our ability to kind of gate keep is that we get to choose what's there. America's funniest home videos is like funny and maybe memes even as like a more modern example of like, you're not sort of setting out in advance as one person to plan something out, but rather there's just an emergent behavior where sometimes like individuals are funny. The funniest thing that happened in America yesterday might've been not something written by this room of 10 people, but like, you know, some random person had something very, very funny happened to them and they caught it on video. And I think, you know, the same is true of maybe YouTubers versus TV networks. Um, and so this dynamic of the person making the thing being a lot, having their own point of view and stamp on what they make, I think is really important to us.

Nicholas: We talked a lot about aggregation, but I think it may be biases, the use of first mate towards, um, this kind of creator who's used multiple, you know, like an artist and an FT artist, for example, uh, someone who wants aggregation, but you know, there may be cases where the purpose, like it's not that many shopping experiences don't always, I guess I'm sort of confusing it with primary a little bit, but at a point it's like, why is it a separate experience or something? Like why am I, it should just, and even with Zora, you see some, some of this tendency towards like using reservoir for, uh, providing the off chain order book, uh, liquidity post, uh, post mint, but you're still kind of presenting it as secondary focused. Um, but to me it's like the reason I bring it up is just because it's like, maybe I don't care so much about aggregation. I care about like this drop, this entity, this magazine I'm putting out, whatever this moment in time. And I don't necessarily want that aggregated with everything else I've ever worked on as even as a studio or a production company.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. Well, I think what I would say to your point of like, where's people's allegiance sort of is like, you know, if you look at a, I don't get back to your point about primaries in a second, but if you look at, you know, the parties to a typical secondary trade, you've got like the creator of the work that's being traded. You've got the, the like marketplace platform that it's sitting on or that the sale is happening on. And you've got the collector or buyer and seller of the traders who are actually trading it. And like across those three parties, it's very clear to me that the one that matters the least is like that there's the least loyalty and affinity to is the marketplace platform. It's like the person is buying something that they care about because they care about what person made. And that's sort of the end of the story. And so like, when we think about aggregation, like there's a sense in which several of these marketplaces kind of commodify the work that's being bought and sold. to the earlier point about Amazon, they're sort of saying every NFT kind of competes against each other and is fighting for your attention or whatever. And what we hope to do is invert that and to rather commodify the marketplaces. You know, I just want to buy something from Matt Cain. I don't care where it came from. I'm like, I like this person's work. I want to buy one. And so that kind of informs our thinking about like where, you know, where certain things need to get primacy or not. And, and there's maybe a good segue into your question about primaries, which is maybe some alpha for web three galaxy brand is that, yeah, which is it's been a, a top ask that we've gotten since launching our secondary focus storefront builder a couple weeks ago. is there's a number of creators who are either making one of ones that, you know, want to be able to just do it on their own site. And then there's people who have drops upcoming that similarly, you know, want to be able to house it in something that has their look and feel and where the traffic that they're going to be driving to that site on midday is ultimately accretive to their sort of loyalty fans, et cetera, and can like kind of also build a habit of visitation. And so it's something that we're taking very seriously. And I think you might see some interesting stuff from us there soon.

Zak Salmon: Yeah. I think on that note, there's a lot of creators who really think about their first main sites almost as like a combination of portfolio of all of their like on-chain works and, and marketplace, right. Whether across like, um, visual art or music or whatever, they just want to have one place that they can do direct all their collectors to, to say, Hey, here's all of my stuff. And it's really easy to see which of that stuff is right now collectible.

Nicholas: So cool. And I feel like for the creator, I'm curious if you've noticed amongst the people you're talking to, but it seems to me like it would just be fun to have a place you can check to find out all the stats from all your collections and stuff. Is there a behavior around that already?

Jacob Frantz: That's a great question. You know, I guess motivate your point a bit more. Many of the creators that an artist that we speak to kind of don't really know, or don't have the, don't have the most precise handle on like what's going on with my stuff this week. And part of that is that, you know, they might go check like, I don't know, sales history on their open C page or something like that. But I think part of it structurally, like, is that the marketplace teams all have a very good sense of what's going on with their marketplaces, but the artists and creators don't always have a very great sense of what's going on with their creations. And I think, you know, several months ago, like right when open C and blur were sort of like duking it out and sort of throwing royalties away in the process, that was something that we just offered as like quick PDF, like, we'll try and scrap this together for you service to creators who found it super useful just to be like, are you getting royalties? Where from is this change impacting you? How much is this change impacting you?

Nicholas: I think the only other person who I heard of doing anything like that was, I think Reservoir had something right where you could look up if people were paying royalties.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah, totally. And we, we make like pretty extensive use of Reservoir as sort of like a infrastructure level, like plumbing technology. that lets us focus on making really solid user experiences for creators and their collectors.

Nicholas: I thought you guys would be more competitive when, when both companies started, but in the end, no, it's really two very different use cases. Very, very different customer.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. You know, I kind of think of this like Stripe versus Shopify.

Nicholas: Right.

Jacob Frantz: Shopify makes use of Stripe because what Shopify does is like makes it so that anyone with a business idea can do so on their own terms. And, you know, Stripe, yeah, is powering the payments, but the two ultimately kind of make each other stronger because if you're a payments company, you kind of need commerce to happen. And if you're a storefront company, you probably don't want to go redo all the plumbing associated. And, you know, on the margins, yeah, there's some, there's like some areas where you might look at the two and be like, well, gee, Stripe has their checkout pages. How does that relate to Shopify's things? But I think that the competition on the margins is not really as meaningful as the way in which those two are ultimately complementary to each other.

Nicholas: Zach, what, what do people, I'm going to make sure he gets to talk. What do people get the most value out of First Mate right now?

Zak Salmon: I mean, I really do think that not to keep hammering the same nail, but I do think that one of the most valuable things people are getting right now is just actually being able to have everything in one place displayed in a way that makes sense. Right? Like if you have 10 different collections across 10 different drops platform, like chances are you're not going to be able to browse across those 10 questions on OpenSea very easily. See them side by side, right? You can search them all by name. You can open them all up in 10 different tabs, but it's just not the same as like landing on a landing page and being, and being able to see all that stuff right in one place.

Nicholas: Can you describe the landing page? Cause you can't really see it if you don't have an account. So what does it look like for someone who's logged in?

Zak Salmon: You can check out a landing page right now. If you go to like a gen dash stark dot First Mate data X, Y, Z. Right.

Nicholas: But it'll just be like, that'll be like the storefront experience. But I mean, That would be the storefront.

Zak Salmon: Yeah. That, oh, that's, that's sort of what I mean though. Ultimately the value of the creators is like in being able to surface all of that to creators, right. In a single place for browsing across collections. Hey, what of, what is, I want to pick up something from Jen Stark. What is actually the cheapest thing I can pick up across all of Jen Stark collections right now? Right. I think there's a way to think about these things where it's like every collector is very specifically drop focused, but I think in a lot of cases, collectors are more creator focused. So, historically the sweep has been right. I'm going to place a bid on a single collection or I'm going to pick up the three cheapest items on a single collection. I feel like we're a little bit conditioned to think about NFT purchases in terms of the collection versus the creator. I do think that many collectors are more interested in actually the creator themselves rather than the particular collection. So just being able to go and see, okay, what are all the listings for Jen Stark? What are the three cheapest, you know, what can I pick up right now? I think provides a lot of value to the collector and to the creator.

Nicholas: Right. It's not just about being able to see the like analytical overview from the creator perspective, but actually the primary value is that people actually like to go to that website and see everything you ever did in one place as customers, as collectors.

Zak Salmon: Exactly. Exactly.

Nicholas: Have you seen, someone just sent me the xcopy.art, xcopy's new site. Have you taken a look at this yet? I assume it's not the first mate under the hood.

Jacob Frantz: No, I don't think it is. This has been around for a while, right?

Nicholas: Has it? I'm not sure. I'm not sure.

Jacob Frantz: Sort of like a timeline of this thing.

Nicholas: It is like a timeline. I don't know. Someone sent me this. It's like, it's interesting the different ways, just for people who haven't seen the site, xcopy.art, it's like a vertical timeline with some horizontal differences, but basically you're like traveling through as you scroll all the different contracts through xcopy's career. So yeah, I'm curious like how, we've talked about aggregation stuff, but like, yeah, how flexible can it be? or should it be in a way like, I mean, this seems like the most flexible, right? You want, or what? this, what this artist wanted is something pretty unique. You could do timelines in a standardized way, but how do you see it shaking out in terms of like how customizable it is for them?

Jacob Frantz: That is a great question. And something that we spend a lot of time debating. I think what you ultimately have at the core of that question is a trade-off between how hard is it to get going with your storefront and how much like expressive power is there to customize it. And maybe a better word would be like an, an apparent trade-off. I think there, I think that on our side where we wanted to start was with something that's very easy to get up and running with. because when we spoke into a number of creators, you know, we kind of hear a mix. Sometimes people will have, they'll walk into a conversation with a specific particular vision of exactly what they want to show up when you land on their site down from like, you know, to the pixel. But a lot of times and actually more, we kind of hear a general sense and like a sort of implicit ask for like, Hey, help me out, make something that's like pretty reasonable here. And so that's why we really focused on just like, Hey, this thing should be easy to get up and running with. And then once you've got a certain baseline in place, there should be a lot of expressive power to customize after that. And so I think that's kind of how we view our thing. We don't want to kind of land a creator on a totally blank screen and force them to be like, you know, Figma basically like to design their site again in Figma, but rather make it so that we kind of get for you what you want for yourself. So like, you know, I'm a creator and I want to show all my things in a way that matches my aesthetic and facilitate sales in a way that's like better than the one size fits all marketplace platforms. And so we kind of like want to run at that level of at the objective at that level, rather than simply just being like, all right, cool. You drew the box here. So we'll put the box there over time. You know, over the last couple of weeks, we've been adding more and more functionality that lets people customize things further, starting with some of the like more common requests. And then I think kind of expanding out. so things like customizing colors, fonts, logos, different ways of showing your collections, different ways of highlighting your collectors or recent activity. And this is like an area that you'll definitely see more of from us over time to.

Nicholas: how has this vision changed since starting the project?

Jacob Frantz: That is a great question. It almost in many ways feels like the objective has stayed the same the whole time, which is like, making it so that creative people can have more control and success doing their own thing. And over time, we've kind of tailored what has felt like what has been sort of what we've prioritized within that. And part of that, I think it's just been like with an idea of like, well, geez, if that's going to work, then you need like, you know, part A to work and part B to work and part C to work all together. And so we kind of have been taking those one at a time. So to be more concrete about it, we spent basically a year building out several of these sites by hand to understand like, not how to get a gazillion creators on board from the beginning, but rather like, well, if we've got one creator who's really invested in their work and their sort of ownership of their domain and how it's presented, like, what do we need to do? What does First Mate need to do on those sites in order to make sure that it's engaging and useful to collectors? Because what we don't want to do is, you know, make a site builder where a bunch of people can go stand up a site, but then nobody ever uses it after that. And so for a long while, it was really collectors for a given creator that had been our priority. And so, you know, we spent a long time building out something actually that we didn't even have a creator for. We worked on a marketplace for Reddit's collectible avatars that has basically become one of the most popular places to, you know, buy, sell, and trade Reddit's collectible avatars, which are, for those who don't know, this like really interesting project. that's like integrated into your Reddit account and Reddit mobile app.

Nicholas: But they don't have a secondary, right?

Jacob Frantz: They don't have a built-in secondary. That's right. And, you know, their primary experience, which is done natively in the Reddit app, is like, is fiat. Most people don't know that there's, they're not really, they're not like issuing a blockchain interaction when they go buy the item. They're issuing like a credit card transaction. And then later, Reddit goes through the list of people who bought credit card transactions and then mints them all to those people.

Nicholas: But if effectively all the Reddit wall, I'm so, I'm so tempted to derail this entire conversation.

Jacob Frantz: Go for it. We got time.

Nicholas: The, uh, the whole, like there's, it's in a sense, it's a wallet. It may be it's custodial. Maybe there's a private key, but it's like, you're trusting Reddit app.

Zak Salmon: Yeah, I know. Yeah. It's a wallet. You can like it, you can eject it from the Reddit app too. Right. And ultimately is what you need to do if you want to start trading on the secondary. It's, it's pretty interesting because it's an extremely, extremely smooth on-chain onboarding experience, uh, to a degree, right. The distance from like, I don't know anything about crypto to I own an NFT is really short, but what is a bit longer is this distance from like, I own an NFT and now I am engaged in the broader web three ecosystem. Cause that ejection process isn't like super well explained in the, in the Reddit app. It's actually a little hard. I found it a little difficult too. When I was, when I went through this process initially, when I like bought my first Reddit avatars and stuff to figure out how to, you know, get it out of the ecosystem.

Nicholas: Basically, they let you copy your private key out.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah.

Nicholas: Interesting. Yeah. I find that project so fascinating. It's like so slickly pulled off in a, for an audience who is inclined to hate the technology and they totally got away with it. And they also made the NFTs. instead of obviously, instead of just papering over the word NFT, they actually make it a primitive. that was already a somewhat important, but not fully fleshed out aspect of their existing product, which is like the it's avatars. They're just our, whatever the collect, what did they call it?

Jacob Frantz: Collectible avatars, selectable avatars. They do not use the terms. They're very proud of the fact that they do not use the term NFT and B app.

Nicholas: But what I think they should be proud of is that they didn't just call it something else either. They actually used a native affordance of their existing network and they're now deprecating all the coins and whatever. Cause I guess this thing makes so much money. They're going to keep doing it, but it's pretty impressive. Although has it stagnated since it launched? or is it still like an active thing?

Jacob Frantz: Um, the collectible avatars thing is still pretty active. I think they're like dropping a new collection fairly soon. We kind of will snoop on the Reddit deployer and I think they deployed a new collection yesterday as a matter of fact. Um, but yeah, but, um, yeah, no, I mean, they're in the mix. Like, you know, and if you just go use or browse Reddit as a consumer, like not even really looking for it and look on whatever various main, whatever other places, you know, subreddits people are talking on, you will occasionally see people with like the hexagonal PFP thing. And certainly many of those people don't have metamask installed on their, on their laptop.

Nicholas: Basically when you say hexagonal PFP, but, but I thought all the collectible avatars are NFTs.

Jacob Frantz: They are, but you can have profile photos on Reddit that are not NFTs.

Nicholas: Right. But the, and the hexagonal is, is, is like the equivalent to the Twitter thing for it is an NFTs. But there are collectible avatars that are not NFTs or they're just other collectible avatars on Reddit is synonymous with, uh, NFTs. But they're, they're huge, aren't they? Aren't they like really, really popular?

Nicholas: I'm going to have to look it up. I'm curious, like what percentage of active users are, are wearing those things?

Jacob Frantz: Well, you can kind of, uh, you know, sort of back into it. There's like, I want to say 20 million. ish, um, people addresses that own, uh, like a Reddit avatar.

Nicholas: Yeah. 21 million.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. So, you know, you can kind of back out from that. I don't know how many million Reddit users there are, but I would expect that that makes it like moderately popular, but, but not by no means like the most common situation.

Nicholas: It looks like it's about 4%, 4, 5% of Reddit users.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah.

Nicholas: If we go straight from just like what doing analytics says, how many individual avatar holders there are. But I don't know that that's like a, I don't see an obvious reason why you would want to Sybil that I mean, beyond like, if we take a Reddit user as being a real human, which obviously it isn't either, but less problematic than, than zero X. Yeah. Interesting. So maybe, maybe something like 5% or less. It's very impressive. So you've created the most popular secondary for this. So for people who have backed out the private key, they can trade these collectible avatars.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. And you know, also for people who just are interested in buying them, but don't like you know, it's, it's kind of hard to get a lot of these to Reddit because sometimes the primary sales will go right away. And instead of gas wars, you know, is like Reddit server wars, which is fine too.

Nicholas: Sounds like an app chain. If you squint.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah, basically the, you know, they have, and it's what is for us a pretty familiar tune, you know, like we've launched a bunch of different things. They're not really arranged in exactly the way that the blurs and open seas of the world show stuff by default. It's actually a little different. You know, we kind of have these like three additions per contract address. And actually also, you know, these five contracts are considered gen one, but these others are gen two, you know, that's all Reddit specific stuff. But when you talk to a lot of people who have made NFTs, it actually sounds very familiar. There's many people who say, you know, yeah, I dropped these three different things. Yes, they're different contracts, but like, those are my generative works. And these other things are my one of ones. And actually within this collection, there's really two different things here. And this, this idea that, you know, there's ways that collectors and creators think about how their work should be represented. That isn't just, that's more than just a contract address and a token ID. And that ultimately is sort of the meaning that it's like, it's kind of part of the way that they create meaning in their work. And we're just like really focused on making it so that people can express that. And I guess to like return back to why we started talking about Reddit in the first place, you know, we wanted to prove out that making things easier to browse means that collectors will actually use it more than, than other things. And so that's what we spent a really long time doing before making this sort of self-service. any, any creator can come and make their own. Because for us, the objective isn't just that people make a website, it's that then their collectors actually use it.

Nicholas: It sounds like the, it's almost like a end user subgraph or something that you're writing. Like you're, you want to do a mapping between what's out there and the way you want or collectors want to look at your oeuvre of work, your body of work.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. You know, for us, like we kind of, our point of view is that that's sort of the creator's choice. And so we kind of will increasingly add more and more flexible ways for them to configure their storefront to reflect it.

Nicholas: What are you excited about for the product going forward? What, where's your attention?

Jacob Frantz: Right now, you know, we, we launched this self-service, you know, the ability for anybody to make these storefronts for themselves about six to eight weeks ago. And so we are really focused on just responding to feedback that we've gotten from the artists and creators that have actually used it and set up a storefront. We got to the sort of first version that we did by just talking to a lot of artists and creators who helped shape what we ultimately went live with. And we're sort of continuing to do that. You know, we've been on tons of calls with people who have set up storefronts and either do really like them or don't really like them and are really focused on making them better for everyone. And concretely what that's come out to so far has probably circled around roughly three areas. One of them is like, help, help my personality come through more without making me do a bunch of work. And so that's things like low customization, basically, you know, logos, colors, um, arrangement, et cetera. Yeah, exactly. Another one is like, well, Hey, you know, I actually do still have this other work over here. That's blah, blah, blah. So we spent a lot of time making sure that we can accommodate breaking out things on shared contracts and making easy ways for people to import those into their site.

Nicholas: That's God's work.

Jacob Frantz: That's Zach's work, actually.

Nicholas: Zach, can you say anything about that? About what that's like?

Zak Salmon: Yeah. I mean, I think what a lot of that looks like is just figuring out these big shared contracts, right?

Jacob Frantz: How,

Zak Salmon: what can you see on chain or off that like can help break these down into like reasonable categories or basically it's investigating like, Hey, if I take a token on this big shared contract, is there a way for me to figure out who the creator is by some sort of ID by some sort of deployer wallet. So you ended up digging around a bunch of places. You're looking at the contract on chain. You might look at like APIs for the services that deployed these big shared contracts. And then once you figure that out, you just update sort of the indexing for that contract to take it into account and say, Hey, like no longer is this big shared contract with like a million NFTs deployed by thousands of creators, just one big lump. But now it's actually something that's differentiated. And we like to do it by creator, obviously, because we have this big focus on serving the creator.

Nicholas: Makes sense. And there's no way to trick Peter from Reservoir into doing that.

Zak Salmon: Well, I think Peter from Reservoir tricked us into doing that for him.

Nicholas: Really?

Jacob Frantz: Yeah, yeah.

Nicholas: Awesome. So they take inspiration from stuff you're doing, too, or they're relying on APIs you're generating, too?

Zak Salmon: Yeah, I mean, we're we work with them really collaboratively, which has been great.

Nicholas: That's super cool. Oh, yeah.

Jacob Frantz: I'm sorry. Then the third area was we like, as I mentioned, you know, we've heard about people who want to like issue their work in primary through their own storefront as well, and make that a little bit more seamless, which, you know, might start with like one of ones and move into accommodating other types of primary sales as well. And so that's that's been the. that's sort of the bulk of where we're focused now. But we're sort of always looking to talk to people who make NFTs so we can understand what be useful for them, because that's ultimately just how we prioritize everything we do.

Zak Salmon: I was going to say, I think there's kind of another area of things, too, that is shaping up, which is you can kind of think of these marketplaces as a touch point for communication as well between creators and collectors. So I think some of the stuff that we're starting to explore and we're starting to shake out and define is ways to leverage that point of communication of like, what might creators want to message to their creator, to their collectors on these sites, and how can we allow them to do that?

Nicholas: So, OK, background, what were both of you doing before crypto? I think it's important people know for context for the next next question.

Jacob Frantz: Sure. Before crypto, I had one spent some time kind of like, well, I guess that's not before crypto. I did some gigging basically for traditional artists who were making their first NFTs in the last bull run. And before that, I was working at Instagram as a product manager. They're working on Instagram's feed.

Nicholas: And Zach, where did you work?

Zak Salmon: Immediately before doing this, well, I guess I had taken some time off. But before starting First Mate with Jacob and spending some time jamming in the crypto space. Before that, I had worked at Walmart. I had previously been at a frozen yogurt startup, kind of a Keurig for Froyo type deal that got acquired by Walmart, not actually to continue building yogurt machines for some reason, but to build out like a last mile delivery

Jacob Frantz: service for groceries

Zak Salmon: that would differentiate itself by not delivering these groceries to your

Jacob Frantz: porch,

Zak Salmon: but actually all the way into your house and into your fridge. Wow. So with a lot of like Internet of Things integrations, we live stream video of the delivery to kind of give customers that added level of security. Obviously, it's a little freaky, the idea of having a delivery driver in your home. So to give customers that extra level of comfort, we live stream those.

Nicholas: Wow. Interesting. Is that live? Do people do that today?

Zak Salmon: Yeah. That live. Walmart in-home. Look it up. Yeah.

Zak Salmon: So we launched initially in Kansas. Oh, the US in terms of the part of the world. It's a US initiative. But yeah. Ultimately, I think some of the places that it's most popular are like Midwest, roughly. It's a little harder to do in highly densely populated areas, partly because that's not really where Walmarts tend to be. And partly because apartment buildings are sort of an added layer of complexity, unless they're already smart apartment buildings. Like, or to put it another way, if there is not API access to the front door of an apartment building, it's going to be really hard to get in to an apartment.

Nicholas: Right. The old key API. Oh, so they need to have like a smart lock or something. Yeah.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Zak Salmon: When people sign up for the service, they get like someone comes by to install a smart lock on their door.

Nicholas: Interesting. So my question was, how important are are metrics and analytics in the interface that creators are presented? Are you like, is the design of the product? How much are you considering optimizing this game for the creators of juicing their secondary numbers?

Jacob Frantz: So metrics are important to like, our product development process, because, you know, people will say, because it's kind of just like ground truth, you know, lots of things people will tell you are useful, but you can kind of get an extra read on like, okay, well, that's nice that you're telling me it's useful, but how useful

Nicholas: revealed preference.

Jacob Frantz: That's right.

Nicholas: I watched a great video from a YouTube creator recently. And part of the conversation was about how they've kind of fallen in love with being successful on YouTube. And it's, I think I knew this abstractly, but just listening to an actual professional creator talk about it, it becomes an in conversation with another creator, it becomes really obvious that they also perceive of TikTok and YouTube creator tooling as an intentionally addictive experience. Oh, that's funny. Some of them like it. And some of them are critical of it. I think the ones that are more successful, like it more.

Jacob Frantz: On our side, we don't, we're not really optimizing really the creator portals and like, as if to be looking for engagement from creators.

Nicholas: Maybe I even put it a little, a little bit like too intensely, but like, it is kind of part of the, you could imagine interfaces that privilege the, you know, I'm going to check in on my dashboard. It's like checking your, how many views on your website this week or whatever. It's like, it's a fun thing to look at.

Jacob Frantz: I think that like providing signal and like highlighting information that's hard to get hard for people to make sense of elsewhere is like very valuable. And if creators end up like using that a lot or integrating into, I'm sure some creator for some creators, it will become sort of part of their process. And for others, it won't, you know, we hear like a mix of people who, some of whom are like exciting about, you know, and not only making their artwork, but then also marketing it and getting it in front of people afterwards. And other people who just like, would rather not who prefer the model of like the artists as being like totally disconnected from the sale of their work. And I think that we'll probably have a bit of both. And what we will focus on is just like identifying which of that information is most useful and surfacing it. What we've seen and the types of things that we've used metrics for are like, after we launched this self-service website builder, you know, you can kind of wonder like, is this thing confusing for creators to use? Do they generally get it? Have we built something that makes sense to us, the team, but not to the users that we care to make it useful for. And so for that, we'll look at like, you know, I don't know how many people started and how many people finished, like, and if we lost a lot of people in the middle, then that's a sign that something wasn't, you know, that something was busted.

Nicholas: So you're looking more like conversions within features of the product that you're creating.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. I mean, what we've seen frankly, is that for the creators who have gotten started using the product, like many of it, find it, find the process simple and easy use. And we see that reflected in the measures that we look at as well, which is great news to us, but it doesn't mean that, but it's not sort of where the story ends because, you know, you could sign up for a profile somewhere and then never really think about it again, or you could sign up for a profile somewhere and have it become something that's really useful to you. And so, you know, much of the roadmap that I spoke about that we're focused on is from focusing on understanding what would be useful for these creators and the sites that they've made and facilitating, like Zach mentioned, communication, relationship, engagement, and transactions with their collectors.

Nicholas: Yeah. To me, that's the most exciting area that I don't know that does right now, but I mean, one thing that comes to mind is like the way blur measures loyalty or, or other ways of just giving free stuff to your loyal fans or your greatest fans through an interface that you control. Are these things that you can do today in the product or that you think you might be able to in the future?

Jacob Frantz: So one thing that like, we have gotten sort of mixed asks on is like kind of, um, is like, you know, publicly shaming people who are skirting royalties and various parts of our websites. And I think that like that information should be readily available to any creator that wants it. And they should be able to do with that information, like whatever they choose. And so like loyalty things are interesting to us. We've done it sort of as, as like providing data to people who are curious, obviously much of that is like just public blockchain data. But again, most creators don't have like a data science background. And so they just don't have the know-how to see, to make more transparent, the information that is already there. Um, and so we've done some work to make that like accessible and actionable for creators. And I definitely hope that that's something that we can continue to do. And frankly, it's something that like we kind of prioritize whenever people ask for it. So, um, if there's things that, you know, if you're a listener and there's something that you're curious about, definitely hit us up and ask us.

Nicholas: Hmm. Uh, okay. I want to talk about royalties in just a second, but I'm going to harp on this a little bit more. I feel like there is, I feel like on something like, of course there's the Shopify or Squarespace. I think Shopify is a more maybe accurate, although it's secondary. So it's not exactly like Shopify, but once you're to me, the best comparison is like a Facebook page versus newsletter. Like you have the direct access to your customer. It's more proximate to the customer to be there at the secondary for them to be on a page that you control when they're participating in the secondary. And the natural extension of that to me is like reasons to come back to the site reasons to pay the royalties. And so right away, I'm thinking like that there's some collision course between not necessarily, I mean, minting, yes, but not necessarily that first mate should make minting tools, but rather that it should make things like allow list exporters, uh, that let you segment your audience based on loyalty or, you know, people who've bought on the primary or secondary within the last year or six months, whatever, um, or total collectors to be able to give them a Halloween, you know, free NFT or something. Do you, have you thought about that at all? Or is that sort of down the road?

Jacob Frantz: I completely agree. We have thought about it. And as a matter of fact, we've done it for people who have asked. So we don't, what we don't, we don't have that as like a, um, it just as like a, whatever, a website where you just go to like firstmate.xyz slash whatever. But, but we definitely have put together, you know, we have sort of little templated report. It's a slightly more manual process for the time being, but, um, we've had a number of people.

Nicholas: There's some asking, but it's not like a high enough demand thing that you've put it into the site yet.

Jacob Frantz: I think you see different things from different teams. It's, it's sort of, I think like, uh, um, not maturity or sophistication exactly, but can differ based on just maybe how far along you are in some way or another. So like the people at noble gallery who are great, we're like very interested in knowing some of these things and understanding and taking an active role in promoting the usage of their marketplace that we're powering. And so that was something where we were like, yep, here's a dashboard, like take a look, here's the day that you announced the giveaway. And here's what happened the next five days. It looks pretty compelling. And so it's like, uh, is that there's many of people who would find it useful that don't know how to ask for it because they're not exactly sure what they want. And it's really for that group of people that I think you'll see us making, you know, light initially light dashboards and sort of just like heads up information of general interest to people who are administrating or issuing NFTs.

Nicholas: I bet I, you know, I, I have no experience in it, but like the MailChimp world where it's like, actually, it's not about writing a single email. It's about writing like a sequence of 50 emails with different like loops within them to get you to reconvert and buy a second product from the Shopify store or whatever. I bet it ends up kind of in that direction because you really want to manage the whole, you certainly want a newsletter, you want to stay in touch and you want to be able to, you know, sort of be top of mind and then also create opportunities for call to actions to convert to some new base open edition or whatever it is. That's interesting.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. I mean, I'm, I'm very, one thing that I think Zach and I in the team at First Mate spend some time thinking about is like, yeah, what role does the NFT creator play in some of these? Like where do they need suggestions? What type of people, you know, who's down to take that sort of like active role, you know, stewarding their project and their collectors and their interfaces. And how do we balance making it easy to use in a hands off way with making it really powerful for the use cases like the ones you described.

Nicholas: Okay. So let's dive into royalties. Yuga and Pudgy Penguins are in Bloomberg this week, threatening to boycott OpenSea and Blur over unenforced royalties, as I understood it, at least. I haven't Apple paid the $1 a month to read the full article. So I tried getting ChatGPT to hallucinate the ends of the information articles when it first came out, but that didn't work.

Jacob Frantz: You could have asked me for the PDF.

Nicholas: Oh God, that's what I need. That's the last thing you need to be doing. So what's the score on royalties these days? Has Yuga called you up? Are you going to be building a secondary for ApeChain?

Jacob Frantz: Nothing to discuss at this time. No, I think that like for, I think lots of creators are nervous, concerned, annoyed, like broadly speaking, not happy, I guess, with the situation. And I think are seeing it and like really reflecting on the fact that they haven't really had a seat at the table for the discussion, which hurts. But you know, that's kind of, I think that's sort of the nature of these one size fits all marketplace platforms is that they don't really have a relationship.

Nicholas: You know, back in the day they did because they, all the artists, like Josie and all the artists who were like popping in, I don't know, 2020, 20, I think it was just before I started really paying attention. in 2020 around, is it the first supper async, first async project or something? There was like a big demonstration where they wrote a letter to SuperRare and SuperRare had like, I forget the exact numbers, but they had lowered the royalty rate that they were giving on SuperRare secondary to 5%, something, 10%, I don't remember. And the artists banded together to get it put back up to, I can't remember, 10 or 15%, something like, I think 15 even. And so they did pull it off. They had to do like a collective action, but it was a different market. There was no blur. OpenSea was just one of many, there was known origin and others. So it was a different world, but they have done it before. They actually did have a seat at the table and they made it for themselves. No one was going to pay attention. And they said, it was like a small enough community maybe that they could pull it off.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. I mean, I think that kind of collective action is really powerful. I think like now, I mean, a couple of things like, you know, for throughout the, you know, this wave of royalty situations, like, you know, people are seeing that like, okay, these like marketplaces boring with each other. They're willing to kind of just like use my wallet as collateral and all of this. And like, they'll keep their fees in the process. You know, it's like a, the structure of the ecosystem is one that kind of privileges the marketplace at the expense of the individual creator.

Nicholas: Do you think it was inevitable or should OpenSea have acted differently? Did it have to play out this way?

Jacob Frantz: My honest take on this is that it did not have to play. Like, I don't think that blur got the dominance it did because of royalties and royalties alone. Like, while I have no doubt that the trading, like we'll seek certain types of efficiency. I think that my guests and I'm not on the inside there. So whatever is that they probably had an, had a window where there was a path that didn't isolate creators to the degree that it did. I'm sure that there, you know, there's like trade offs there too. Like, you know, maybe you don't want to swing, maybe you don't want to be too soft about it when you're losing market share that fast. And you just, you know, probably feels like honestly crazy while it's happening and kind of frenzied. But, you know, I think that kind of feels like it comes through a little bit and in watching the way that it played out.

Nicholas: And I think just not, not drop the royalties and not also ultimately drop their fee temporarily. Do you think they could have just wrote it out? And like, it turns out that all that secondary, like late bull market, secondary PO or even post bull market, secondary activity on blur was like, would have just kind of burned itself out and they would, could still be collecting their full fee and, and enforcing royalties.

Jacob Frantz: And it wouldn't be burned itself out. But I don't think that they, even in doing that achieved exactly that. It's definitely the case that like, if you look at, you know, market share of open C versus blur that open C has kind of been punching back in the past, you know, weeks to months, it's not caused by them restoring royalties, obviously. So, or nor removing them either. So, you know, it clearly something exogenous, but like, I think that there's like potentially a number of different ways to set up royalties that aren't just all on or all off. And I think it is like exactly that difference that where something interesting probably could have been done.

Nicholas: Like opt out and then give you a reason to, to leave it default opted in.

Jacob Frantz: Well, I think what you'll hear detractors of royalties speak about very often is like, Hey, you know, board apes are like, you know, gazillion dollars. Like, I don't know about paying this much to this person who's already done a ton of volume over and over again. And, you know, to some degree to like, when the royalties for something are whatever percent and part of the entertainment of the thing specifically is like trading it pretty frequently, then, you know, there's only certain types of trades that are you like, you know, it's, it's a blocker to certain types of liquidity. But I think it's a very, very, very different story. When you look at many of the creators that are using first mate and the artists who are selling and distributing their work, where we've actually found is people don't mind, like people don't mind paying the royalty for it, you know, for the convenience and the connection. And if it's like an artisanal NFT, I don't even think artisanal is what matters. I just think it's like that. you care, you know, it's a, it's a artisanal small batch. I don't know. It's, it's, it's, I think something, yeah, that's right. I think something is just qualitatively different about the way that, um, our, and Azuki's and, you know, several other NFTs are traded in the way that there's, there's just a qualitative difference between that and people who are fans of Sarah Zucker or Jake free or Matt Cain or Violetta Zeroni or noble gallery or whatever it is. It's, it's simply, it's qualitatively different. And we've seen like, we've got the, I mean, it's sort of like case closed. Like we have seen that people don't mind paying the royalty. And I kind of liken this to like Spotify, you know, I could go download songs illegally, but like, I'll pay for it. It's fine. You know, it's, it's like convenient. I'll just use Spotify enough. I don't need to go get on whatever to go circumvent the situation. It's fine.

Nicholas: Um, what kind of royalties are people charging that are applying on first mate?

Jacob Frantz: Well, we will obey whatever their, you know, contract is configured to do. And so we see commonly, you know, many of the most common values here that, you know, are the 2.5, 5, 7.5, 10 in some cases. Um, but truly whatever somebody configures a thing for it, we'll simply obey it because our point of view is like, it's not first mate's choice. It's the artist's choice. It's the creator's choice.

Nicholas: Maybe it's hard to say, but is there a point at which the, um, collectors do start to care? Is there a number that's too much?

Jacob Frantz: My suspicion is that that's not based on the percentage, but rather based on the price of sale and the frequency, the expected frequency of sale, as well as maybe like even make that higher level, the use case for collecting, buying, selling, or trading. Um, I think flipping versus huddling. That's right. Yeah. And you know, huddling implies like forever in a way that I don't even think necessarily needs to be the case. It's just like, you know, you collect something for some time and then you, at some point later, just like want some liquidity for it and are, you know, thankful for it while you had it, you know, you wish it well to the next person.

Nicholas: Right. Because it's on the listing that you decide, right.

Jacob Frantz: It's on a listing where you can steal it in, but on our side, we'll actually top it up. If, if we're aggregating a listing that doesn't have royalties, um, already in it.

Nicholas: Oh, interesting. Okay. Yeah. So it's, it's, it's not.

Jacob Frantz: Anything that's there at listing can't be removed later, but other things can be added later.

Nicholas: But it's interesting because it's, uh, it's a bit of a puzzle, uh, MC Escher kind of thing, but you end up, if you do that, if you top it up, then it's not coming out of the fee relative to the floor or whatever for that trade on OpenSea or wherever it was listed. It's not coming out of the pocket of the seller. It's now being added on versus, you know, if you're successfully selling it because it's the lowest price one for a certain trade or something, then, uh, and they choose to do no royalty and they choose to add royalties. that gets cut out of their like floor price or whatever. So in a way it's better for the sellers if you add it on, but I suppose it's a niche case anyway.

Jacob Frantz: Ends up being about the same thing because when you're browsing through things on a storefront with first mate, like we show you the price inclusive of royalties. So if your thing was only the cheapest cause you didn't have royalties on, then it's not going to look like the cheapest. It's going to look like whatever it would cost with the royalties.

Nicholas: I wonder if you could detect how many people are like comparison shopping, like, you know, going to the camera store and like scanning the barcode for Amazon.

Zak Salmon: Yeah.

Jacob Frantz: I mean, tell the, based on the balance rate or something or the sales subsequent to looking at where people, when people are versus are not buying them on royalty, enforcing marketplaces like ours. And we can see pretty definitively that for NFTs that are not really, really, really expensive and aren't traded really, really, really frequently that people don't mind. Like we've got the, that one is sort of like, uh, you know, we've seen the proof. Like there's not,

Nicholas: I wonder if there's also something like the, if the artist, like, I wonder if people, like if I was buying or selling a people, I might be less inclined to pay the royalty than if it's some artist who I feel has not like made a crazy bag, uh, regardless of the frequency of trading.

Jacob Frantz: I absolutely think that that's relevant. And, you know, I think too, like, as far as even the Yugos of the world who do have done a ton of volume and have made a lot of money in royalties, like, you know, I think you'll probably see, it sounds like that, that they, and Puggy Penguins are kind of voting with their feet a little bit and then collect their collectors will do the same thing. Um, and I think it's just sort of like a very fair part of the evolution of the thing. Like royalties have a history that extends back longer than just NFTs too. And so, you know, I think it's sort of still a story in progress in many ways. And to your point about the trader or flipper type, you know, I really think that you know, if you kind of divide the world into as, as the NFT market kind of matures or ecosystem matures, instead of just seeing everything as like an NFT and, and that's sort of the beginning and the end of the story, like over time, you're seeing people pick off smaller segments of it because it's maturing enough to have coherent segments. And so, you know, when there's creators, collectors, and traders for a long time, and in an immature market, you can get away with like serving all three of them about equally well without really having a specialized, but then if somebody crops up and as a pure play, uh, product for traders at the expense of the other two, you know, you kind of have to take that moment and say, well, do I want to fight them head on for traders? Or do I want to take a stand for the other two parties that are important for the ecosystem? And for us, it's very easy and clear. Like we prioritize creators and their collectors and are happy to, you know, happy to sort of sit on the sidelines rather than creating a whole set of things that are ultimately just really tailored to like these 10 collections that have an outsized share of today's trading frequency. Although despite, despite the frequency thing, you know, we, we see with like cheaper, less expensive NFTs and, and NFTs on L2s, like a very high frequency of trading of inexpensive items. And that's really exciting to us from a consumer behavior point of view.

Nicholas: Yeah. What was the base one that you mentioned? Or sorry, was it maybe Coinbase, not base?

Jacob Frantz: the, uh, Oh, like Coinbase had to like stand with crypto NFT. That to me, I think is just a very good example of something that's a little different, you know, in the sort of like free mint meta.

Nicholas: There's no first mate for them or anything like that.

Jacob Frantz: Um, there's no one for them, but again, like these, the Reddit avatars that people are trading can be quite cheap. I mean, you know, some of them are expensive, but if you look at some of the collections where things cost like, you know, dollars, not tens or hundreds or thousands of dollars, there's a lot of activity like, um, and the same has been true for a number of fixed supply mints that we've followed and in some cases served on optimism and other, you know, cheaper chains that are more conducive to high frequency, low expense

Nicholas: behavior. Yeah. So what, what chains are you active on?

Jacob Frantz: We are, uh, are active on many of the EVM chains that, you know, many of the popular EVM chains, we have things live on Ethereum, obviously on optimism, on base, on Zora, on polygon. And, you know, we're compatible with a number of other EVM chains. And generally just whenever the first person hits us up saying, Hey, I have something on this chain. Can you support it? That's just when we go and actually flip it on. So, um, most EVM chains is the simple answer.

Nicholas: Can you tell me about the sound XYZ secondary? What's, uh, what's cool to know about that project?

Jacob Frantz: Sure. Sound is a, is a platform that lets musicians mint songs as NFTs and facilitate, you know, and, and like help support them and is really focused on music. And, um, they're focused on the, on the primaries first and foremost. And so, um, last year we helped them get set up with a secondary marketplace on sound market that was really focused, like with our stuff in general on tailoring the interface to what's actually being bought, sold and traded. And so, you know, things that might sound kind of dumb, but are actually really impactful are things like, you know, if you're browsing music NFTs, maybe you want to be able to listen to the music. And if you're browsing music NFTs, maybe you want to be able to browse by the artist. And so we were able to take lots of the principles around organization and user experience and apply those there in a way that people seem to really like to use. And that was really awesome to see. And it meant that through, you know, certain moments around like royalties and, um, you know, when other platforms started removing their royalties, um, lots of the artists who had used sound could kind of like sleep through it because the activity was happening on a royalty enforcing marketplace site anyways. And so that's something that I think was really inspiring for us to see. And it's been cool to see over time as well, as they've started to integrate parts of that secondary experience into, you know, other parts of their site. So, um, yeah, really cool.

Nicholas: That's interesting. You also did the, uh, nine DCC project. I know it's a G money project, but I actually don't know any more than that.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. 90 CC is a luxury brand that, um, yeah, G money started, I guess. I don't know exactly the founding story, but, um, they sell NFTs that are like redeemable for, uh, you know, like luxury clothing that is in sometimes like generative luxury clothing, which is kind of cool. Um, and it's sort of another example where things that sound kind of dumb are actually really impactful. So if you're buying an NFT, that is a claim on a t-shirt, maybe you want to be able to like browse by shirt size and maybe instead of only having the sort of thumbnail and traits browsing experience, you want like a size selector pay with Apple pay, put in my shipping address so I can just like get the dang shirt. And so we partnered with them to stand up their secondary at 90 CC dot market. Um, that yeah, it was just tailored to the actual thing that people are buying and selling. And similarly, we saw a lot of activity of collector activity shift over because of that convenience, which meant that, you know, when you're doing a good percentage of their total sales and you're also honoring royalties, you end up being a decent chunk of the royalties that are getting paid out to them, which is really inspiring for us to see. And it's also just been cool evolving and, and customizing, you know, I I'm hopeful that over time, these like more heterogeneous interfaces for browsing NFTs enable people to make more heterogeneous NFTs because that, that are not as beholden to the like thumbnail and traits model that is still popular and beloved today, but I think there's just a lot of room for other things. And so I think if you go look at say most of the interfaces where NFTs are bought and sold, it's like a grid of thumbnails with a trait sidebar. And I think when that's the interface, you end up with NFTs that are mostly things that fit into thumbnails that are primarily distinguished by distinguishable by their traits. And over time, I'm hopeful that we can open up a lot of room for new creative types of NFTs to thrive because it's easier for them to be legible or useful and, and, and easy.

Nicholas: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I'm just looking at the nine DCC site now. I mean, cause you could sort, I assume you could sort these NFTs in OpenSea by the size, but it's not a, a t-shirt buying experience. This feels much more like a t-shirt buying experience, which makes more sense.

Jacob Frantz: That's right. Yeah. I mean, you know, sometimes the things that we'll let people browse by are already traits on the items. And sometimes they're things that like collectors know or collectors care about, but aren't on chain traits that the creator will just tell us. So these things are like this and those are like that. So like, you know, when I was talking about, you know, Reddit's avatars having been dropped in a couple of different generations, like those are things that just collectors informally know about based on the timing of when they were dropped that aren't really on chain traits in any way. And we actually partnered with Mitchell Chan who on his boys of summer collection to make a custom marketplace for that. Because part of the concept of Mitchell's project is, you know, about the way people are quantified, um, you know, in various ways. And he has this kind of funny game where you can like, go change your stats by playing more of this thing and become like an iBanker or an Amazon worker or a professional sports player. And lots of those are public traits, but he sort of also has these like secret inherent traits that are things like, how lucky is this person? And like, what's their, what's their athletic potential? What's their academic potential? And these were things that were sort of like intentionally hidden or withheld from. they're still on chain, but, um, aren't in the way that's like made legible to the open, the open seas of the world. And so are something that we kind of like helped expose and sort of on his own site as a fun companion to the project.

Nicholas: Zach, I don't know if you want to jump in here on anything, but feel, feel free.

Zak Salmon: Nothing to add to that.

Nicholas: We'll get some more technical, technical stuff in a second. You're also doing the bankless marketplace. Uh, anything you need? Oh, actually, you know, before that I wanted to say, I was looking at the 90 CC thing and, um, it's 90 CC dot market for anyone who's curious. And just, you go right to the page and you're looking at this t-shirt and I didn't even think about it, but of course there's different sizes and each size has its own, I guess they're 11 55. So there's a price like a floor price for each size. And interestingly, the XXLs are 0.35 ETH and which is the cheapest and the most expensive is the medium, which is 0.7. It's kind of interesting.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah.

Nicholas: You can even make an offer inside the site. That's cool.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. Yeah. You can, you can make an offer on and by shirt size. Yeah.

Nicholas: Very cool. Um, yeah. So bankless. So you also did the bankless, uh, site, any, uh, any takeaways from that experience? What was that? What was the collection?

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. Um, you can see it at, uh, market.bankless.com. They were dropping a series of podcasts that were like interesting conversations with people in the industry. I think like the SBF versus Eric Voorhees debate was hilariously one of them.

Zak Salmon: Um, yeah, I saw some, uh, recent activity spikes on that one for reasons I couldn't begin to guess.

Jacob Frantz: Um, I think for that, we kind of learned the importance of like being ready at the drop. Um, so we, we built out for them the ability for people to like, you know, get notified whenever something was going to drop. And then another interesting tidbit from that was that, um, we started like highlighting different collectors and found that most people in who've like collected a couple of these things will sort of recognize many of the top collectors by their ENS name. And that aspect of like identity and familiarity and connection, I think is really interesting.

Nicholas: Yeah. I see. You've got like recent sales at the top of the site. There's like recent sales, top collections and top collectors. And to me, at least the top collectors is the most legible one. It's like, Oh, it's just a bunch of ENS names. Yeah.

Jacob Frantz: And, and like care about them and recognize them.

Zak Salmon: I, and I think something that really facilitates that as well is like having that steady drum beat of drops, right. While this was, while Banquist was dropping these, they were doing like one a week. So you could always come back and see like, Oh, cool. There's like a new job coming. Let me sign up for that and find out about it. Had a reason to bring the, and then that gives a reason for collectors to keep coming back to the site and actually see, Oh, the top collectors have changed or, you know, these are the things that are selling recently, or this is, uh, this most recent drop has, or hasn't like, uh, dropped and, uh, come into the like top collections by volume.

Nicholas: It's so interesting to see because they're, they're like, I guess, timed editions, uh, every Monday, there's like 40 tokens, 27 tokens, 30 tokens for each episode. So I like the drum beat plus the timed edition. Uh, and it's cool to see that there's actually people trading them. It's not like a dead market. There's people who are really recent trades. one minute ago, three minutes ago, three minutes ago, five minutes ago, five minutes ago, seven minutes ago, a lot of trades.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. Um, some of those might be, uh, might be low ball bids, but you never know.

Nicholas: Oh, sorry. Those are bids. Okay. Okay. They're not sales. Let me see what the sales are. Sales. Yeah. Okay. 15 days ago, 18 days ago, 21 days ago. Yeah. It's not, not as, uh, not as active, but it's cool that they're still dropping them. Uh, at least the primary, I imagine is still active.

Jacob Frantz: It seems like they're sort of like paused on, or, or, you know, I think there might be waiting for like a season two or something like that. And so they kind of like, um, you know, had this like interesting run with them for a while. And now I think are like inspired by that and figuring out, you know, I don't know, planning their, their next things, I guess.

Nicholas: Oh yeah. Okay. Okay. I see the last, last mint dropped five months ago. So it's been been on pause for a minute. That makes sense too. I understand. But that's cool. Uh, I'd love to do something like this one day for, uh, for this show. Oh yeah. Yeah. I'm not sure. Uh, I'm kind of compelled by the way the Zora drops for podcasts. I wouldn't, no pattern does like, uh, open editions for all the episodes. I think, I think, I'm not sure there is a reason. I like the idea of a timed edition, but I also like the idea of an open edition. It feels to me, open edition kind of feels like it makes more sense, but it does sort of make the secondary not make any sense.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. Um, rehash is like another podcast that, that we have worked with to support their secondary. Um, and I actually think that, I don't know if you've heard of the pods team, but they, some of the people who had been working on the podcast drops for bankless have started, and I don't know exactly where they're at these days, started making a product around this. That's like specifically around, you know, on-chain podcast media. that, um, seems pretty cool.

Nicholas: What's called pods. I'm having trouble finding it.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. I want to say, let me not take a wild guess at the name. I think it is pods.media.

Nicholas: Okay. I'll check it out. Yeah. Check it out. Yeah. That sounds cool. Yeah. I don't know. It's an interesting question for things like this, where, you know, it seems like the people who, uh, first made appeals to today are kind of in the mold of an artist, I would say, um, maybe more than a like creator, or maybe that's not true. That's my impression at least.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. We, we, I don't know. I would say we kind of see a mix of things, some things that are more media based, some things that are like particularly visual art. Um, and yeah, our hope is to make something that's like fairly adaptable too.

Nicholas: Right. Makes sense. I mean, I think that the best way to monetize through NFTs is things more like whatever Logan Paul kind of thing, uh, you know, in terms of if the purpose is monetization for creators, probably more than like literally monetizing every single thing, it would be some splashy on chain happening. Yeah.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah, totally. We're focused on like the people rather than like helping somebody with a big YouTube following, just kind of like crank out a one-off, you know, collection, um, you know, on the people who have communities of collectors today.

Nicholas: So, uh, underneath, under the hood of First Mate, maybe Zach, you want to tell us how does First Mate work? Like what's, what's powering it? We talked about reservoir.

Zak Salmon: Yeah. I mean, we, we leverage a reservoir for a lot of our plumbing, right. To get the latest that they do a great job of aggregating, you know, listings and bids for, for us to be able to surface that as well as a lot of stuff with collection metadata, although, uh, you know, sometimes we end up having to get in and, um, update the plumbing a little bit there. So I think a lot of our baseline functionality, right, is, is powered by that. But then in some of these places where we, um, want to provide more custom browsing experiences for, for a collection beyond just kind of the baseline information available on chain, like if we need to leverage some non-standard metadata or even leverage stuff off chain, we end up building out ourselves, um, indexing and storing some of that data ourselves to allow for, uh, for that browsing. And then ultimately all of our sites are built off of a single customization engine,

Jacob Frantz: which

Zak Salmon: ultimately means that all of the custom features that we've built out in the more hands-on custom builds for things like sound market or the Reddit avatars marketplace, um, or 90 CC, uh, can be turned on for other users sites with right now the flip of a flag and a JSON file. But in the future, you know, ultimately what our onboarding flow does right now is actually kind of construct one of these JSON files behind the scenes. And as we continue iterating on and improving on that, um, onboarding flow, we are servicing more and more of the like flags that already exist behind the scenes in our customization engine.

Nicholas: Cool. So, so there's like a kind of library that is shared between a lot of the code, but every site is in its own repo.

Zak Salmon: No, no, no. It's all a single repo. Uh, and basically what the repo does, the repo is essentially a, something that processes these JSON files, right? It's like, uh, it's, we have, um, code running on a server somewhere. When you navigate to that server, you do it through like either a first mate subdomain or like a domain that one of these users has set up. And, you know, somewhere in our plumbing, there is a mapping of like domains and subdomains to these different JSON files. So anytime you navigate to one of our sites, it like pulls the JSON file and uses that to determine how to render the site that you're on.

Nicholas: But is there a distinction between things like bank lists or the Reddit marketplace and people who are using the manifold?

Zak Salmon: It's all, all on a single repo.

Nicholas: Really?

Zak Salmon: Extremely. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Which is why, you know, we're able to move relatively fast with surfacing the customization functionality and iterating on that initial onboarding flow, um, that we, that we have launched.

Nicholas: Can be entirely just like the difference between the bankless site and the Reddit site is entirely captured within a JSON.

Zak Salmon: Yeah. Yeah, exactly. One JSON file, one, I think it's like one JSON file and one, uh, and I mean, it's two JSON files. One, one of which is much larger than the other, actually.

Nicholas: But you're like, there's, there's kind of a template for the site built, you know, Yeah. Yeah.

Zak Salmon: Well, yeah. So the, yeah. JSON file is almost more like feature flags and some, uh, design, uh, indications.

Nicholas: But I'm impressed because there's like quite a bit of design differentiation, you know, it's not like just theming it's, it's going beyond that.

Zak Salmon: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, different components get rendered depending on what's in the JSON file. Um, you know, the obviously landing page can be either a list of collections or a single collection based on the JSON file. I mean, it's pretty expressive, right?

Nicholas: Yeah, it is expressive. So when you, like the modules are, so they're not like components in react, there's something else.

Zak Salmon: No, no, they, they often are components in react that are conditionally rendered based on the contents of a JSON file and the con and the JSON file says can indicate a ton of things. It can indicate, Hey, this landing page should be composed of XYZ components, or it could indicate like these CSS variables need these values. Yeah.

Nicholas: Cool. And then packaging that up for a manifold app or the creator sort of dashboard side of it, I guess just, it's not that complicated making a, making a website into a manifold app or was there a specific unique experience building a manifold app?

Zak Salmon: No, the, the manifold app was actually pretty straightforward, which is nice. I, like high level, you know, you just put a website together and they tossed it in iframe. Um, and then the advantages you get, or they have like a cool developer SDK that they've built, um, that you can then take advantage of when your website is rendered in that iframe.

Nicholas: Hmm. And we talked a little bit about indexing before. Uh, I don't know if there's some, so there's like this, uh, what did you call it? Customization engine.

Zak Salmon: So yeah, like, yeah. Customization engine, which determines how the website is rendered.

Nicholas: What are the other parts of the architecture? I guess indexer is one part or maybe many parts.

Zak Salmon: Yeah. So the indexer is something we like, um, primarily custom indexing. It often happens through either additions to reservoirs, open source repos, or by forking some of reservoirs, open source repos. Um, so we, we have indexing done through there. We have our site rendering. Um, we have some other APIs that we use for things like email notifications, right. Things that we need to periodically, but really the bulk of, uh, our value I think is contained in this like pretty massive and flexible customization engine.

Nicholas: Hmm. That's cool. Um, I don't know if you have any thoughts on like what it's like to engineer that kind of thing overall, or what you're excited about changing about it or refining about it.

Zak Salmon: Yeah. I mean, there's so much, I I'm really excited to get back. And I mean, this is just sort of the perpetual startup thing, right? It's like, you don't want to over engineer, you're constantly walking a tight rope between spending too much time over engineering, uh, something up front and making something that's like a huge mess. Right. So I'm always eager to kind of go back and streamline some of these things, um, that have gotten more complex. as you know, we've responded to user feedback and, uh, you know, incorporated features that we never expected to incorporate. Yeah.

Nicholas: How many people are working on the project now?

Zak Salmon: Yeah, we, there's on a, there are like four people engineering, uh, Jacob and I are two of them.

Nicholas: Awesome. And, um, you've also been doing like all these L2 integrations. Uh, what's that experience been like?

Zak Salmon: I mean, that's been pretty straightforward. I have one of the really nice things about, um, leveraging reservoir is just being able to, it took a bunch of initial overhead to update our code base, to be able to take advantage of the infrastructure that reservoir has put in place to index, um, all these L2s. But now that we've done that initial work, it really is just, uh, you know, it's, it's very straightforward to turn these things on. And in some, in some cases, I think the priorities are more of like a strategy question than a, like engineering, uh, effort question.

Nicholas: Are there any other like technologies here that are at play? The one that comes to mind is like, I guess it doesn't matter as much for maybe royalties is the equivalent, but like the referral links in primary market, I guess it's kind of implicit. or maybe it doesn't matter that the sale came in via first mate, but I don't know. Are there any other like, um, EIPs or, uh, some kind of attribution or other aspects of the on-chain piece that are interesting or unique that we should know about?

Zak Salmon: Yeah. I mean, I think one of the things that has been really has allowed us to move really fast is that we are really sitting in the, at that intersection of like web two and web three, and we really just like fit super neatly on top of the, um, web three on-chain aspects. Right. And I think the, the times where we've had to get really close to that. more so ourselves are in these cases where we have to like break down big shared contracts or to like, or we have to like extricate some on-chain information. That's like a little bit outside of the standard.

Nicholas: That's interesting. So I guess we didn't talk about it, but I mean, like, do you consider your customer or the customer of your customer, the, the, the collectors on the pages, do you assume that they are crypto native to the point that it's like, obviously they have a wallet with Ethan in it, or do you ever think about things like credit card checkout or things in that direction?

Zak Salmon: I think generally we do assume that they're web three native long-term view, right? Like we do want to serve the people who are going to be coming into the ecosystem, but to some degree, the question is like, um, a client by client, uh, basis, right? Like not every creator is going to have, or many creators, I think are going to have more web three native consumers, but in some cases they might be, they might have either, they either have more access to, um, newer to crypto users or they're like seeking to court that. And so there are cases where we've like really tried to, uh, customize the experience to allow for really easy onboarding. For example, 90 CC, uh, we did like, you know, 90 CC stepping back a little bit, just from the first mate, like aspect of that is one of the sort of key things about that project. is they want people to be able to see someone wearing a 90 CC t-shirt in real life and be like, Hey, that's cool. I want to buy that and really easily get directed to the secondary 90 CC marketplace. So they can, they can buy one of these NFTs to then be redeemed for the shirt. And, you know, they don't want them to bounce off because of the, you know, having to like, spin up a wallet and, and, uh, fuel it and like funded and everything. So this is one of the areas where we like really thought about how to streamline that and let users pay with credit card and basically be, and even be able to like immediately burn that NFT before it hits their wallet. If they're like so excited about the shirt.

Nicholas: Do we miss anything on the technology stack? Is there anything, uh, we didn't cover or interesting, interesting things you're excited about?

Jacob Frantz: Yeah.

Zak Salmon: I, I think we really, I think we really, uh, covered, covered the meat of it.

Nicholas: Sweet. Um, I wanted to go back to talking about creators, Jacob, we talked on the phone a while ago and you said something that stuck with me about kind of the lowest common denominator being the only successful business model for content creators, uh, right now, but that maybe things like NFTs have some, have some potential to change that. Can you explain what your thought is on that?

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. Um, I think that social media on the whole has been very good to the individual creative person when it has let them find and connect with audiences that they wouldn't have been able to otherwise. And I think that when you look at, you know, maybe the relative power that, uh, that an individual is able to command in rallying their people as compared to an institution, it's been hugely powerful. So like I'm might follow LeBron James without being totally sure what team he plays for right now. Um, and that represents like power to the individual person over the sort of umbrella institution. And I think while it's been really good at that, that is like largely been a factor about breath bread rather than debt. Um, and so people can get a following, but might not have the easiest time monetizing it effectively. Um, and I think that anytime you can help creative people make more of a living off of their creativity, it's good for everyone. It's good, obviously for the person who's able to make a living, but it also means that like, for someone like me, who's not especially creative, but is a fan of many people who are, you know, I can find more interesting stuff because more people can go out and do that. And so, you know, I think where some of those things have, where things like social media have failed is in turning that sort of like first pass of following or very breadth oriented engagement into something much deeper. And so I think it's really interesting that while you might need, like, I don't know, however many million followers on social media to make a living because none of them are directly paying you anything. You just kind of have to like work out some kind of brand deal behind the scenes and get paid, you know, pennies for it on the per the thousand impressions or whatever. Um, with NFTs, you know, you can focus on a potentially smaller group of people who might be bigger fans of your work. And so I can think of many people who, um, I have a big fan of on Instagram that I would love to like have some, you know, deeper type of connection to that is just doesn't really like work with the existing formats. You know, I think of like Nicole Riviero, who's actually like, uh, now a well-established NFT creator, but I was a big fan of even when, before I think before she was making NFTs, certainly before I was aware of what they were. And I just remember one time, you know, I was like a big fan of her work. I followed her on Instagram and I just remember one time she was like, Oh, I'm selling these like enamel pins that I thought were like really sick. It was like the AIM logo guy, but with like angel wings and like some Nokia phone thing. And you know, I bought it. And when I got it in the mail, I was like, this is cool. And it's in her style, but like, it feels like it's a kind of transmogrified version of what I actually like about her work. Like I like, yeah, yeah, exactly. That's right. Um, and I feel like NFTs are a super native format for that patronage fandom, you know, connection, affiliation, whatever it is. And, um, I think that that's super, super, super powerful and something that other technologies aren't doing a great job serving today.

Nicholas: Yeah. I'm always thinking about this thing when Jimmy Iovine, I think it was just before Apple bought Beats. Um, but around that time when Beats was new, maybe it was at the all things D right after they got acquired. Jimmy Iovine tells a story about, I never remember his name, but Lady Gaga's original manager saying that music can sell everything except music. And they seem to be setting Apple mute. What would then become Apple music up for, or even, even maybe it was Beats at the time to be a place where artists could have, it just sounded like to me like, okay, they're just going to build Shopify, right? I mean, it was before Shopify was even that big, but they're just going to build Shopify right into iTunes. Like you're just going to be able to sell merch directly at the point where people are consuming the music and it's like an obvious play and there'll be some simple solution around fulfillment or whatever for artists. And maybe it'll even, maybe they'll buy Zazzle or something and you'll just be able to like generate merch by uploading JPEGs and make money off merch that way. But they never actually did it. And I think just this month, uh, if I recall correctly, Spotify is talking about doing this. Some vinyl crap, whatever. for a long time, you know, it just seems like it hasn't been a real focus for them. Even though it seems to me like such an obvious thing that if you love Claro, you know, you're going to go to the Taylor Swift concert or whatever, you know, you're going to, you're willing to put money, you're willing to Apple pay some money to these people for some physical embodiments of their, their thing, but it never really happened. And we'll see if it ever does happen. Maybe it has happened in China already. I don't know. But, uh, I know that they had, they had a popular thing years ago with like paid podcasts. There, there were categories of like G rated only fans or whatever, like content, premium content subscriptions were popular there. Uh, and I think still he's still here, I guess, Patreon, et cetera.

Jacob Frantz: They have some, I think Patreon is pretty interesting in this light too.

Nicholas: Yeah. Was it you who was telling me that their main thing, someone was saying that Patrion's main thing is just like premium podcast, uh, RSS feeds.

Jacob Frantz: Oh, interesting.

Nicholas: I don't know if I forget who told me that, but there's all that gumroad has been interesting this entire time. Um, also, I mean, there are other kinds of things that are maybe not exactly the same, but like event bright. And there are things where you can kind of monetize, I don't know how much Shopify is like benefited. It does seem like as a YouTuber. And it was the reason that I got involved was in crypto in part was because it's like so obvious that you can layer in a digital native product. that has all the advantages of being digital native. And actually all the fans are digital native too, because the whole experience is a digitally native experience for most of the social media stuff. So why not? You know, it's free for the, to add an NFT to the mix of things that you're selling. And it's like something you own. It's essentially free to generate. It doesn't really depreciate. Don't no sense of like physical inventory. It's like a wonderful, wonderful product, uh, to, to add into, uh, influencers revenue streams, but it hasn't really taken off. I don't think. And actually those kinds of Logan Paul scams at the height of the, the bull market were the most successful form of this stuff. Why do you think it hasn't taken off exactly? or has it? And it's just, it looks like NFT native. And so we dismiss it.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. I mean, I think if you, there's like kind of a lot of different angles to look at it from, I think if you look at, you know, total volumes or something like that, you might conclude that actually it definitely has already taken off and that, you know, that the market for the NFT market in, you know, obviously timing the timing of when you look matters, but like it's quite sizable compared to the traditional art market, especially when comparing how long our commercial art market, when you compare how long they've both been around, that's like kind of one angle to look at it. The other, I think is like, it's sort of consumer, you know, not how many dollars, but how many people and how much usage. And that's sort of the angle that we're a lot more focused on at First Mate. And for that, you know, I think there's like kind of a number of things. I think it takes like a while for an idea to permeate and it takes a lot of experimentation to find out how to make something resonate effectively. And I think that that type of experimentation ultimately needs to happen at a lot of different layers of the stack, not only in terms of which creators are, you know, find a way to work it in or find something useful out of the format, but also for collectors and consumers to be able to interact with it seamlessly. And I also think like the nature of the inventory and supply may shift over time. Like, I don't know that I really think everybody on the planet is going to be sort of fiending after an $80,000 thing. Yeah. But, um, you know, when it comes to having a lot of affinity for a creator that you really like on something that's not super that, you know, that may not be web three native, there might be ways that that ends up working into the picture effectively. And so I think like, some of it's just like time, it kind of takes a lot of people experimenting and trying lots of things that do and don't work until you can string together something that does. Like if I, when I think about iteration speed, I think sometimes the fact that crypto is very, has a big emphasis on composability sometimes comes at the cost of like speed of iteration. But, you know, cause nobody, because it's harder to really verticalize and own something all the way end to end. And that sometimes can enable better product experiences, but, you know, I don't know. I think there will be kind of a conversion evolution over time that will yeah. And like a bunch of different points and the creator to consumer experience that will, you know, ultimately kind of add up incrementally.

Nicholas: Yeah. Do you think NFTs are the BL end all for creators in web? three, or should we be thinking about fungibles or even other mechanisms?

Jacob Frantz: I like once, I don't know that I like, I don't, I wouldn't, I certainly wouldn't be like prescriptive to any individual person. And I think that it kind of just depends on finding something that, you know, experimenting and finding something that feels right for whatever reason and different people are going to feel differently there. So, you know, I, I don't know. I think that like, there's also some sense in which like the boundary between those isn't quite as categorical as many people portray it as like, if you're dropping an edition, that's an 1155 very often that's a, you're not planning to issue other token IDs on that 1155 contract. It's just, and so in that sense is fungible. And then even for other among seven 21 collections where things are different or generative, so often they, they do the concept of a floor implies some amount of fungibility. And, um, and I don't think that's that weird either. Like, you know, I don't know if you were to talk to people who some people will say like, Oh, you collected a Basquiat or something like that. Or I don't know, you might imagine people who collect Funko pops or something like that. Think of them as like a Funko pop, but this one's different than that one. But you know, there's, they clearly share a category. And so I think that there, it's not, it's not so categorical. And sometimes I think it's like the ability to attach media to ownership. that is at least as important as whether something is strictly fungible or non fungible.

Nicholas: Do you think the, uh, like unlock in UX that new, like to me, uh, embedded wallets and a come to mind, but also gas over L2s. I don't know if there's really been any significant improvement in on ramping, frankly, but did changes to the UX that didn't exist a year or two ago, uh, make you feel like maybe we are kind of, kind of fixed the friction that has impinged on this happening, or it's, it's more about the experimentation of the like product model.

Jacob Frantz: I think it's all of it. I really don't think that the embedded wallet thing is by itself.

Nicholas: Like, um, The problem was not that it's too hard to get into open sea exclusively.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah, that's right. And this is like a conversation that we sometimes have when people ask us, if we support credit cards, like if you're a person who doesn't have a crypto wallet and doesn't know what that is, then like, how are you even explaining to somebody what it is that they're buying?

Nicholas: Like, right. They, they, you know, and then what's this, like collectible avatars. I mean, I'm just thinking about it. Like if someone, I don't know, someone who's like really niche, not, it's not obvious, but maybe could sell objects. I don't know, like a poet on YouTube or something. You can imagine them selling some physical of it. And you could imagine them selling, uh, some NFT of it, but to build out the whole, uh, facade, like the collectible avatars level of abstraction is not obvious. Uh, you know, like where, where do you even custody the thing? At least Reddit, you already have an account. You have a place where they can present it to you and they can obscure how it's actually held, uh, custody, but a creator doesn't have that because the creator can't modify the Instagram UI or the YouTube UI. Yeah.

Jacob Frantz: I mean, I think like you bring up a good, like what Reddit has is distribution. They have an app on a gazillion people's phones already.

Nicholas: And, um, and they killed all the other ones.

Jacob Frantz: True. Um, and, uh, and you know, I, and so like, I think distribution is a really important part of the equation and there's like a lot of barriers there. You know, like it's cool that there's progressive web apps that it's, or rather it's cool that progressive web apps can send notifications, but that, um, but I would never download an app over that. Well, really I would say actually, but like name it, name any popular app that is one as a progressive web app rather than outside of crypto, like as one in mainstream distribution that is one that way over being a native.

Nicholas: We're waiting, we're waiting March, March. We got to wait for March in March. Everything changes. Well, in March, we get to find out what the UX of sideloading is going to be like.

Jacob Frantz: Right, right, right. And, and in which countries it's available.

Nicholas: Well, I don't know. USBC seemed to be, I don't know. Do you think they're going to just allow? the EU is going to have, there's going to be a European union app store.

Jacob Frantz: There are already apps you can't get in certain app stores. I have no idea. I really couldn't begin to speculate.

Nicholas: I just feel like they'll go, I don't know. I kind of assume a global policy of them. I always thought when, when the New York times did that, um, I economy series about them, I think it was before Steve passed, even, uh, it just, I felt so strongly like they're getting criticized because they have a simpler, like they, because their product selection is simpler and people understand the company more because it's simpler, they get additional attention. And it does seem like they prefer to do these kinds of global, of course they have regional relationships, but I wonder, it'll be interesting. But I think if they allow sideloading, I don't know, it might have to be a global policy be interesting to see, but that would be the side loading would be one unlock for allowing like crypto native stuff. But to me, it seems like it's going to come down largely to what, if, and when that happens, how painful do they make it? How scary do they make it? Um, cause like in China, they have tons of forever because of the lack of Google play store, Google play services. They've always had a variety of alternative apps. I mean, they're, they're not alternative. They are the regional competition for marketplaces, for apps, uh, on Android phones in China. Um, and they have all kinds of different features and some of them are more desktop oriented. Originally, there's like a whole thriving ecosystem of people installing spyware on your phone. So maybe the last thing on this creator thing, like how does this relate to a creator revenue model overall? I felt like saying, well, you were saying really like, you know, whatever way you can, whatever revenue you can get away with is legitimate, like whatever you can manage to sell to people, it works. But it seems to me like there's, there's no good game plan aside from the grifts from the bull market for creators today who are not crypto native to start adding and layering in NFTs in a elegant way.

Jacob Frantz: Well, I think that they, that there's like, but you know, that there's kind of a system of best practices that need to emerge. And, um, and I also think that they need to feel like their fans can, would be able to participate versus, you know, issuing something as crypto versus not being, you know, being something where you're turning people away. We know, whereas actually in the like commercial art world, they see the crypto audience, though it's smaller than general population, obviously they see the crypto audience is like an opportunity to sell commercial art to younger people, basically outside of it, you know, to sell non NFTs to people who are interested, who maybe got into art via NFTs.

Nicholas: So Sam Hart, who was telling me, I forget, someone was telling me like, uh, Oh no, from the art market perspective, NFTs is huge. NFTs is way more populous, active market of people. So it's been an upgrade for the fine art kind of people, which is interesting. I don't know the way each, each sort of actor in the environment perceives their others, like whether they're seeking legitimacy or they're seeking more, uh, I don't know, people to bag hold or whatever the goal is. Interesting. Um, any other thoughts on, uh, on creators, uh, and the relationship with creators and, and NFTs?

Jacob Frantz: Um, I, man, nothing immediately comes to mind, but obviously it's something we think about very deeply and, um.

Nicholas: Really focused on crypto native for you.

Jacob Frantz: For the time being, you know, the way that I would put it is like, we're focused on solving problems that people have right now.

Nicholas: Makes sense. Those are good problems to focus on. It does make me think about the models. Like somehow the scarcity, like it does seem like collectibles are just generally on some kind of make a trend up in terms of global consciousness. It's not just an outlier thing. It's, and the value of collectibles from the eighties and nineties has exploded and they were deliberately manufactured to be collectible also, which has always felt to me a little bit cringe about NFTs that they're, they're built into their design. so much is the scarcity has always felt like inauthentic relative to, I don't know, you find some, I forgot to mention this somewhere else, but like, you know, the set list off a Jimi Hendrix set, it wasn't designed to be a collectible. It became collectible because the person and the event were significant, but so much of the NFT stuff is so like engineered to be collectible. It does kind of make it feel like it's easy to see why normies don't get it. Cause it looks, it looks kind of bad if you don't, if you aren't familiar with the creators in particular. So it does seem like there's some business model difference here between like scarcity minded stuff, which does seem to be on the rise, collectibility and stuff like outside of crypto as well. But at the same time, you know, if you have a product that's popular, you don't limit how much you produce it. They make as many iPhones as they can sell.

Jacob Frantz: Yeah. I think some of this is like that same bread for another manifestation, maybe the bread for step thing. And I think another part of it is that, or a lot of people who use crypto products, some of the ins and outs of what of incentives around things is kind of part of the entertainment. And so designing your thing to work that way is sometimes the complexity is a plus if it is like entertaining texture for people who might use it or collect it.

Nicholas: Right. Taylor Swift has both albums that you can buy and are unlimited supply timed edition for a year's long timed edition and some things that you can only get a hundred of them.

Jacob Frantz: That's exactly. Yeah. That's, that's, I think a great metaphor.

Nicholas: Well, I'm always happy to draw a Taylor Swift metaphor. This has been a great tour of first mate and, and lots of other topics in NFTs and creator economy. Was there anything else that you guys wanted to talk about before we call it?

Jacob Frantz: That's it for me, Zach.

Zak Salmon: No, no plugs.

Nicholas: No, we got a plug. We got a plug. Where should people find out more about? first mate?

Jacob Frantz: You can follow us on Twitter at use first mate XYZ, or if you are interested in getting started making a set of your own, you can do that right now@firstmate.xyz/create to get started.

Nicholas: And where, if people want to just want to chat with you about this stuff, they're artists or whatnot, and they want to get in touch, I guess, Twitter's the best place.

Jacob Frantz: DMs are super open. Yeah. You can DM me. You can DM the first mate account at use first mate XYZ or yeah, really wherever we're pretty available. Pop your email into the thing and we'll hit you up to into the form on site also works, but Twitter is great.

Nicholas: Awesome. And we've got to get you guys on a Farcaster. I don't think first mate has an account yet.

Jacob Frantz: Well, first mate does not, but I do. That's a good point.

Nicholas: What's your name over there?

Jacob Frantz: That's a good question. I should check right now.

Nicholas: Big power user, clearly.

Jacob Frantz: I browse occasionally. I just say it's, it's @jkob, J-K-O-B.

Nicholas: J-K-O-B. Wow. Okay. I can go make sure I follow you right now.

Jacob Frantz: Finally, finally a social site I could get in on when there were still four letter names available.

Nicholas: Oh, that's cool. I got Nicholas. I just took my first name. Zach, are you on there?

Zak Salmon: No, I got to get on there.

Nicholas: Yeah, you got to sign up. You got to pay though. Actually, but I saw something today, somebody in Farcaster, I think it's Greg something did, uh, made a site where you can scan a QR and someone else can pay your signup fee for Farcaster. Cause there's like a, it's a few dollars to sign up.

Zak Salmon: Is that an offer?

Nicholas: Well, maybe. All right. Yeah, sure. All right. All right. I guess I plugged it. I might as well do it. I'll find out what the URL is. Um, all right, Zach, Jacob, this was great. Thank you so much.

Jacob Frantz: Thank you so much.

Zak Salmon: Yeah, this has been great.

Nicholas: Awesome. Uh, all right. Everybody check out First Mate online, get in touch with them, check it out, make a site, let them know how you experience it. I just, I love this. I saw this tweet again. Now manifold, every artist deserves their own smart contract. First Mate, every artist deserves to own their marketplace. I think that's so nice.

Zak Salmon: Amen.

Nicholas: Amen. All right. Thanks guys. Thanks everybody for coming to listen. Uh, see you next week. Hey, thanks for listening to this episode of Web3 Galaxy Brain. To keep up with everything Web3, follow me on Twitter @Nicholas with four leading ends. You can find links to the topics discussed on today's episode in the show notes. Podcast feed links are available at web3galaxybrain.com. Web3 Galaxy Brain airs live most Friday afternoons at 5:00 PM Eastern time, 2200 UTC on Twitter spaces. I look forward to seeing you there.

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