An open letter to bear builders
The most important breakthroughs in the space came from founders who are building to explore and advance the ecosystem.
Jericho is the web3 founder community. Meet, learn & build with 400+ hand-picked founders from 40+ countries.
I first learned about crypto when I was a designer back in mid-’17 working for startups in Sydney. I hopped full-time in late ‘17, figuring out how to contribute to the space.
I was quite lost initially. I bought EOS, XRP all the usual retail coins, but in October of that year discovered Bokky Poohbah's Ethereum developer workshops. From that first session, I was converted to realizing the real vision behind web3.
I didn’t have a computing background which made it hard to navigate crypto. As a result, I started studying the history of computing to get a better sense of why blockchains matter, from discrete math to networking, from early computers to modern-era machines. I ended up writing an article on computing history before Bitcoin as one of my first published contributions in early '18.
Understanding the history of cryptography, how its early participants were in it for digital freedoms & how involved they were in the lead-up to the creation of Bitcoin really inspired me to also contribute in the ways they did.
The bear is for PMF
In 2017/18, it was all white papers and promises (and maybe CryptoKitties). Out of that period came DeFi and various NFT-based applications. In 2021, that led to the penetration of web3 into many more verticals of the internet. There was a lot of hype and speculation during this 2020-2022 bull cycle, but mostly around incomplete models that still lacked real demand.
The next cycle will be driven by the same topics we are excited about today, but will drastically look different from its current form as projects iterate through the bear with an attempt to find real meaningful product-market fit.
At 1kx, we’re really excited about:
NFT Communities eg. PFPs as new forms of cryptonatively owned IP
Music NFTs and their evolutionary process
Multiplayer creation (prior creator economy has been pretty singleplayer)
Web3 infrastructure protocols
SaaS capitulation is stonks
Founders should be cautious about an obtuse attitude toward web3 technology and what makes it unique. In the last cycle, the whole space was labeling tokens as scams and everyone was heavily against ERC-20 token ownership of networks. In hindsight, that was a fundamental misalignment against a community/user-owned internet.
A similar fate/attitude will probably fall on NFTs, tokens, and decentralized governance where builders will revert back towards a web2 mindset for approaching the space and look to leverage web3 to create web2.5 experiences on the application layer side as opposed to really leaning into what web3 enables to the fullest.
Generally speaking, there are:
Cryptonative founders with not as many relevant domain relevant backgrounds
Less cryptonative founders with more relevant domain relevant backgrounds but with less knowledge on how to get the most out of web3
This is where you get narratives like "to make a successful crypto game, you must make it fun". The equivalent of this was with DeFi and a loud majority of people in the last bear who thought most of DeFi was going to emerge via plugging in protocols into banks. No one really foresaw the mass adoption of the cryptonative side.
The world adapted around web3, vs. the former and we can expect a similar cycle around sentiment here.
Crypto - like most tech ecosystems - follows the app and infra cycle. Right now, we are likely at the start of another infrastructure cycle. To build at the edges you don't necessarily need to be an infra company, but you need to be adopting all the newest infra and leveraging it as much as possible. App builders must monitor significant innovations with infrastructure and what new use cases they enable.
In the bear, everyone is just trying to survive as opposed to really exploring unique design patterns where there's real whitespace.
The most important breakthroughs in the space didn’t come from established founders with pre-defined biases, but from founders who are building to explore and advance the ecosystem.
Focus on your community
Community building is a craft that is still highly undervalued by builders. Not many founders I know are actively trying to master this craft. They lack attention, patience, and energy towards creating a community of participants who genuinely care about the ethos of the project (those that will eventually champion, evangelize and participate in a future token network). It’s still often a role 1kx and I play with portfolio projects.
Teams do hire community leads or head of community roles, but it's mostly just a bandaid. Without a culture of care around community coming from the top, it's lost in translation oftentimes and de-prioritized.
The bear market presents an opportunity to build healthy communities & the last bull cycle gave us great examples of how to do so. Despite how hard it is to actually run a decentralized community efficiently, it's much easier to start them now. PFP projects started as a meme and speculative asset (still are), but it has emergently become a representation of IP ownership around that brand. These communities now command distribution power on the scale of hundreds and millions of followers across Instagram/Twitter with <10k on-chain owners. Most of them started as bootstrapped teams of 3-4. To build IP traditionally, you would need millions of dollars, the right talent, and years to ship products.
When the product is the community it makes it hard to ever die as a project even if you run out of money (assuming the community is strong and larger than just the treasury). Many people talk about web3 social protocols (eg. FB for web3 etc), but it’s kind of already here with tokenized social communities.
To build a web3 community during the bear market:
Build as publicly as you can in the open. If you work on interesting problems or projects, you will naturally attract interesting people to you.
Let your intellectual instincts guide you and be wary of over-rationalizing what you should be focused on and why.
You will continue to work on projects that care meaningfully to you personally when things get tough, not because there is necessarily a strong business case for it. Obviously, there's a caveat around building what others need.
Never stop experimenting and iterating. Show up every day.
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Web3 verticals going from 0 to 1 will mostly require hardcore true believers and cryptonative participants to bring them to life. But from 1 to 10, the space needs better UX, storytelling, and lower asset price points/lower barriers for participation.
Web3 has already reached mainstream awareness. The next stage is mainstream adoption and it is starting to emerge at certain intersections of web 2 x 3.