For National Basketball Association fans of a certain age (raises hand), we remember Baron Davis as the electric point guard who led the Golden State Warriors to an upset over the highly favored Dallas Mavericks in 2007. Was. Davis was fearless and feisty and knew how to rouse a crowd.
He still does. Or, more accurately, since he pivoted to entrepreneurship, Davis has worked on a number of projects – offline and online and now Web3 – to excite and engage communities. Together The Black Santa CompanyDavis launched a mix of block parties, games, mixed-media stories, apparel, books, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to celebrate diverse and inclusive storytelling.
this is part of the interview CoinDesk’s Culture Week,
The Black Santa Company is a multiple-hyphenate—a lot of different things at once—much like Davis. He can rap, he can act, he can make smart business plans. It was hard for athletes to do that 20 years ago. “When I was making beats and rapping, you couldn’t make an album as a basketball player,” Davis says in a Zoom interview. “Now, 20 different athletes have albums and their fans support them.”
So as more athletes turn creators, Davis is building Web3 tools to empower creators and help them engage with their communities. Enter his latest venture, slic, which stands for Sport Lifestyle in Culture. Ultimately, Davis sees SLiC as a multi-hyphenated mix of platform, production studio, community hub, publisher and streamer that connects fans and creators.
One of the first verticals Davis is launching is SLIC Images, which aims to be a decentralized platform, file storage product, and licensing system for photographers – pros and novices alike. “If a picture says 1,000 words, we want to capture history now because in blockchain and Web 3 those words can live for 1,000 years,” Davis says. Despite all the negative press going into the future, and even in a bear market, NBA players who know Webb 3 are “still excited about it.”
The interview has been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
Let’s start with The Black Santa Company. Was that part of your NFTs and Web3 journey?
Baron Davis: We were pitching Hollywood every day. Some producer, director or studio exec. Finally, we got an offer from a studio and they told me they would pay for me to basically not be involved with the project for two years while they developed it.
And I was like, “Okay, I have this whole vision to be able to bring together a bunch of creators.” And because of who Black Santa is, it should be communal and we should be able to license IPs to small businesses.
Correct. You wanted a seat at the table.
I didn’t want to go to Hollywood with the Hollywood elite and sell my brand, sell my community, sell my culture.
And then NFTs came along. Thus came Web3. It was like, “Let’s make Web3 and NFTs simple for our community.”
What are the goals of SLiC Images, and what problem is it solving?
The problem we’re solving is, one, there’s never been a market for photographers. Another is, think about the way photos are shared and the way people take pictures and random photos and selfies at conferences or basketball games. when you see lebron [James] shot [breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record], Everyone in the arena had their cameras out. There are 1,000 photos of LeBron’s last shot. With SLiC, you can view, nominate, and identify certain photographs for use and license.
Ah, so in theory, SLIC would be a platform for everyone in the region to store their photos on-chain, and they would actually own and license them, as opposed to just giving them away on Instagram. was opposed?
Absolutely. If a picture says 1,000 words, we want to capture history now because in blockchain and Web 3, those words can live for 1,000 years. So we look at that and say, “Okay, there’s got to be a SLiC Images database where you can go back to 2023, 20 years from now, and type in a date and then all your pictures come up and they’re yours.” “
interesting. So is it almost a competitor to Instagram in a weird way?
yeah it’s just a long process [with Instagram], If you were shooting a documentary, or if you wanted to use photos for a flyer, right? We aim to build a database of those photographers, those galleries, those publishers. And now the next great documentary or Hollywood film or festival will have the ability to access photos.
Intelligent. What has it been like launching in the bear market?
I think it has affected us a lot. We’re just a small design shop, aren’t we? We didn’t have the greatest visibility. So when we were coming out the market was crashing. But we are builders.
I’m sure you’re still in touch with the NBA players. What would you say is their attitude towards crypto and web3 now? Have they soured on this in a bear market?
I would say for the people who know and understand it, they’re still excited about it. I think he is waiting for the right opportunity and the right platform.
For us, we want to invest in culture and we want culture to have a place at the ownership table, so it’s a true partnership. Because I want to buy an NFT, an image, a highlight, a photo, a trading card, knowing that it’s coming from the players in some way, or from someone who was actually a part of it, right?
As opposed to just uploading my picture to Instagram and waiting 10 years to find out if I will ever get paid for content that I no longer own.
You’ve commented on utility tokens in the past and how you see them different from social tokens. can you elaborate?
Oh man, I’ll give you all the sauce. So there are two use cases for tokens, I believe. For us, from the SLIC side of things, social tokens allow you to socially interact with talent and content and experiences, things like that. You can earn perks, you know what I mean? You can earn and win auditions, tryouts and things like that. Because you’re a partner, you can’t have the resources, right? You may not have the financial resources but you have the talent, and through social media there is a way to get to know people socially and enjoy their work. That’s why I believe social tokens allow you to get into the community.
Utility tokens are your membership, right? It means you are a part of something. You can bid on things. You can use your token to participate in things. You can use your tokens to support projects. So really, when you think about utility, you think about participation.
Some people buy tokens to hold them, don’t they? Some people buy tokens to use them. And some people buy tokens because they want to see what’s happening. And so for us, as we start to work through our token structure, it’s more about utility.
What are your predictions for how athletes will use the token? Do you think it will be widely used?
well if i’m predicting SLiC and if i’m predicting the future i believe if the token is utility, and if we look at the growth of the internet, if we look at the growth of a blog site or a Be it fan pages or Instagram or followings, we are communal in nature.
Our greatest responsibility as athletes is, in no particular order, to our families, the sport, our team, the city, and then the fans. And you know fans are the ones who make you feel good about your work. So I think athletes have the ability through SLiC to create an infrastructure and a system, right?, where they can interact with their fans through their token.
So is this type of token the vertical of the future for SLiC?
This is the SLiC of the future. That too now belongs to SLiC, you know what I mean?
Think new age athlete. In the old days, when I was making beats and rapping, you couldn’t make an album as a basketball player. Now, 20 different athletes have come out with albums and their fans support them.
and as people [athletes who are also entertainers] Start realizing, “I have to align myself with a community,” the destination we want to be.
Let me try to synthesize it. You point to an important cultural trend, that over the last 10 or 20 years athletes now have the ability, the agency and the tools to be creators in many different aspects of their lives.
Even though crypto didn’t exist, this was already happening in a broader trend. And can Web3 help accelerate this trend by removing friction from systems and empowering them to rightfully own and engage with their community? And SLIC can help with this. am i hot
Absolutely. I love how you said it. I am glad this is being recorded. [Both laugh.]
Before we end, what other projects in the space get you excited?
I would say on the gaming side, the metaverse. We have a project, “History of the Game,” where we aim to create a digital hall of fame of storytelling for basketball. We have a mini-documentary, and you’ll be able to walk around and watch this documentary in the digital tunnel.
do you want me to show you I can show you?
[Over our Zoom, using his phone, Baron Davis then gives me a sneak peak of a mini-documentary of LeBron James passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the all-time scoring record. Davis directed it. He explains that it’s just a rough cut. It’s an immersive doc that you watch as you walk through a Hall of Fame-esque tunnel, with videos playing on both sides of you.]
It’s really cool.
It will ultimately live in the metaverse we’re building. This is where we will store the work that we have done. And now we can create NFTs in our Metaverse. So SLiC, as a production entity, creates these assets, and then these storytelling assets can now be ported to our museum. We can have award shows, concerts or special story telling in a virtual environment.
Congratulations on this, and best wishes to you and SLiC.
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