By Li Jin and Jesse Walden We founded Variant on the thesis that the next generation of the internet would transform users into owners through tokenization. Utilizing tokens as a user incentive has worked exceptionally well for bootstrapping infrastructure networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum. However, the application layer has yet to see a proven model for using tokens to grow networks. Rather, there are many examples where distributing tokens has actually impeded sustained growth and retention by attracting more speculators and mercenaries than genuine users, obfuscating product-market fit.
Good read. Interested in seeing how progressive ownership works.
Memo to myself: https://share.glasp.co/kei/?p=4pqoP2cU4BUz4LeFV5YI
Growth aligned with community incentive, vs pure viral growth. Important in base building, but likely the incentive to go viral still has its time at a later stage. But very cool way to phrase it.
This is a great piece, Li and Jesse. Each of your work (Li's various articles on the creator economy and Jesse's work on a16z Crypto Startup School) were instrumental in motivating me to leave my prior job running global distribution and business development for AMC Networks to build in this space.
There is so much to discuss in this article, but I'd like to focus on a portion of the end, where you leave the concept of decentralization for another discussion. For that discussion:
Is decentralization actually, at this point in the evolution of Web3 ownership models, a red herring? As you point out, the most important question right now is product-market fit. With that in mind, isn't the hype around decentralization a red herring - in fact, a dangerous distraction?
I think the primary purpose right now of pushing for decentralization is to circumvent securities regulations and avoid the Howey Test. However, there are practical methods (I'm building one) of issuing tokens in the manner that you've laid out in a way that is a compliant with securities laws, at least for transactions under a certain size, which I believe is the most meaningful "market" for the "product" of Web3 ownership and tokenization models.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this.
Nice write up Li. I would ask, how do those tokens (hypothetical ZORA here) get used once the token is distributed? My research indicates this drives substantial value to the token itself.
What I mean here: is the token merely for governance? Can it be used for collateral? Is there a minimum to hold to unlock higher tiers of shared ownership?
I break usage down into various categories such as M0 (token merely in a wallet), M1 (token in a smart contract and liquid), M2 (smart contract but illiquid), and M3 (illiquid with time delay).
The change in M2 relative to M0 and M2 categories significantly impacts price, which suggests here that if a protocol does emit a token, value is driven through the token's usage - meaning additional thoughts on various uses for the token can go a long way.
If this thinking has peaked your interest, I've been rolling out Quality Theory of Tokens in various Essays starting here: https://jarvislabs.substack.com/p/a-monetary-history-of-the-united
Brilliant thinking: this is it. We have been exploring this same territory at toksol.io, and we have reached similar conclusions. Aligned incentives and shared economies are the key. Tnank you
This is incredibly helpful & has come at the right time for us at deed.so. Thanks for sharing!