At Consensus last week, Yat Siu nearly missed his talk on the main stage as he was surrounded by hordes of adoring fans, desperate to steal a minute with the metaverse mogul. Siu’s fellow panelist, Maya Zehavi, and I, her moderator, were miking backstage, watching as the production crew grew more nervous with each passing minute. When someone finally found it and sent back what had happened, I thought it was brilliant. Fantastic, because even three years ago, Web3 and NFTs weren’t a thing. Blockchain gaming was not a thing, and was not being mobilized by Yat Siu factions. Early Web3 believers like Yatt were more likely to be found on the sidelines of major conferences, hosting meetups among themselves.
Leah Callan-Butler is a director of Empharsis, an advisory and investment firm focused on the Web3 and open metaverse. With a special interest in the way crypto is moving emerging economies, Leah is a CoinDesk opinion columnist and author/narrator of the award-winning short documentary, “Play-to-Earn: NFT Gaming in the Philippines.”
I know this because I got into Web3 before it went gangbusters. I wrote The first article on AXI Infinity on CoinDesk In August 2020, which many thought was early – and it was early – given that Axi had less than 500 daily users at the time, reaching nearly three million a year later. But from my point of view, I was late. Because looking back, I can see that Web3 was taking shape in early 2018. That was the year Axie launched; The Animoca brands were seeding future Web3 juggernauts like DapperLabs and OpenSea; And this blockchain game alliance (BGA) was formed. All of this is remarkable, considering the rest of the blockchain industry still views blockchain gaming as more of an oxymoron than a valid use case. It was not until later, when we got proof points like Beeple Everydays NFT sold for $69.3 million In March 2021, that “NFT” suddenly became everyone’s favorite acronym.
And now in 2023, I’ve never been more confident that Web3 is here to stay. CoinDesk’s decision to dedicate an entire forum to the topics of the metaverse and gaming at Consensus this year was a huge contributor to my bullishness, given that the event is a prestigious annual check on the state of our industry, characters provides a snapshot, and at times, of the chaos that has become the lore of our industry. For the metaverse and gaming, it lends legitimacy to something that has been a long time in the making. However, this in itself should remind us that conventions are a lagging indicator. And, as someone who wants to identify the next trend before it goes mainstream, I think it’s already late stage for the projects we see on the platform.
It’s easy to be critical, that is, unless you’re actually programming one of these stages – as I did, for the Metaverse and Gaming stage in Consensus 2023. These big events need to draw a crowd, and without much traction or a substantial following, I can understand how risky it is to give up precious air time for some budding use case that may still be NGMI. So, in curating this three-day conversation, I aimed to strike a balance between big-name draw cards like Sky Mavis’s Jeffrey ‘Jihoj’ Zirlin, The Sandbox’s Sebastian Borget, Yuga Labs’ Spencer Tucker, and of course Yacht. , also featuring lesser-known but equally influential and inspiring people and projects that I’ve met over the years.
Like Cloudwhite, the second largest holder of virtual land in Axie’s metaverse, Lunacia. This guy recognized digital ownership and verifiable scarcity way before big brands like Atari, Warner Music, and Gucci took over — not because he had a fancy college degree or millions of dollars to deploy, but because he Was an obsessive collector as a child, hoarding Pokémon cards and selling Beanie Babies out of the trunk of his mother’s car.
or Anand Venkateswaran, formerly known as Twobadour, a pseudonym with his previous employer, Metapers Fund, While most people know Twobdore as one half of the Metapurse duo behind that fabled $69.3 million beeple purchase, they may not know that he also bought Most expensive NFT of 2019, Its price of $100,000 is very small compared to what people pay for NFTs today, but given the immaturity of the market at the time, it was, in my view, an even more insane move that required an even more determined Faith was needed when almost no one was looking.
Their spooky beginnings make romantic fodder for fire-filled chats, but nostalgia’s no use if you want to catch a trend before it hits the headlines. For each of the men I’ve mentioned here, this was their first year speaking at Consensus – meaning it was the year before they made it to the big leagues. Which is why I hope you heard speakers at the 2023 Consensus who didn’t appear in any official forums. That random who made you stand in line for coffee or brag at the after-party could be the next yacht, the next Cloudwhite, or literally, the next Twobadour. It’s certainly hard to ignore the vuvuzela blaring horns in the stadium, but you should also try to hear the rats squealing under the grandstands. Because the whisper heard in the middle of winter could be the roar of the next bull run.
The views and opinions expressed here are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.