Join us for today’s episode as we speak with some of the greatest movers in the industry. First off, we have David Wachsman, the CEO, Wachsman, a leading professional services firm for organizations leveraging emerging technologies to achieve their missions. Next, we have Kitty Grier from NFT Girl Gang. Finally, we speak with startup investor and two-time NBA All-Star Baron Davis. Don’t miss this episode to find out what they’re doing in the NFT space!
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Edge Of Austin 2022, DCentral & Consensus: Baron Davis (SLiC, Black Santa), Kitty Grier (NFT Girl Gang), David Wachsman (Wachsman PR)
We’re at Consensus here with David Wachsman, CEO of Wachsman, our partner for NFTLA. David, it’s good to see you as always.
Josh, it’s great to be with you.
It’s hot out here, but we got like 17,000 people. Things are cooking. What’s your perspective of this Consensus as opposed to past events like this?
Before we talk about that, let’s talk about the crypto winter. It’s not here. This is the most interesting bear market I’ve ever seen. I’ve been in crypto since early 2014. There are 17,000 plus people in Austin packed here. Every booth is totally full. People are excited. The tech is simply advanced that much. The capital’s behind it. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry.
What are the types of conversations you all are having with your potential clients? What are people up to at this point in time? What do you see as the trends for 2022?
You’re seeing a lot right now in profit liquidity. It’s quite interesting. What we’ve noticed is people are concerned. Is only one chain going to win them all? That was a real issue and a topic of conversation in 2019, 2020. Was it going to be an ETH killer? Now it’s clear that there are going to be many blockchains that are winners. The way they go and interoperate between the different blockchains, a lot of value accrues there.
It’s going to be one of the big stories of this year. It’s when the clients are talking about NFTs with real utility. We’ve seen the PFE projects. There’s interest in those. Great collections can certainly have some for value, but those with real utility are taking off. I’m seeing some interesting IP come to market through NFTs with brands that understand that you need to be Web3 native. That’s going to be exciting in the second half of the year.
Obviously, a lot of clients are doing amazing things, but any stuff right now that you can talk about, announcements, projects that epitomized what we were covering in a more specific use case?
As it turns out, I spoke on stage with the head of TBDF Block. Block was formally known as Square. He announced Web5, which he says two better than Web3. The decentralized doesn’t necessarily depend on a cryptocurrency, but more importantly, it does make use of decentralized technologies. IPFS, for example, is the type of thing that might be in their tech stack. I’m going to announce that here. It’s the type of thing where you can see the Fortune 500s, large enterprises, even nation-states arguing you are making use of the Neuberger on the internet, fields of blockchain-like tech.
A lot of people like to make predictions around the metaverse as well. In the adoption of the metaverse, we were talking about interoperability and Web5. What do you think are the realistic biases they can achieve in terms of metaverse adoption over the next year?
I’m seeing a lot happening with unreal engine-based VR metaverses. I’m seeing an enormous amount of progress there. We’re seeing AAA games that are making use of Web3-type tech, which I would say are consistent with metaverse’s philosophy. One more major announcement for you, Josh. I need you to talk to this guy. Have you ever heard of Neal Stephenson? He’s the guy who invented the word, metaverse.
I have not.
He wrote a book called Snow Crash, which literally was the first time the word metaverse is ever unveiled.
Is he the Founder of Snow Crash?
He’s the writer of Snow Crash.
I totally met him at Superchief in LA. I’m so sorry, Neal. I do remember you.
It turns out he is co-founding a Layer-1 blockchain called Lamina1, which is purpose-built for the metaverse. That’s going to be incredibly exciting. Hopefully, it’s something that Edge of NFT can explore down the road, but it’s emblematic of where we are now, which is the dawn of the metaverse age at the beginning.
You’ve given us a lot of alphas in a short amount of time. We appreciate that being that we are the Edge of NFT. Thanks, David. I hope you have a great show. I’m sure we’ll be working together sometime soon.
Thank you, Josh. It’s great to be your partner.
We’re in Austin. Shout out to Justin Michael for another fun, engaging event with amazing entrepreneurs in the Web3 space. I’m here with Kitty Grier from NFT Girl Gang. What’s up, Kitty?
I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me.
It’s great to hang out in our media room here. Thee’s a piano over there if you want to play it later or try to find who has some music skills. That’s not us. Tatiana DeMaria was in here earlier. She was jamming. I’m excited to learn more about NFT Girl Gang. I’ve heard about the periphery, but I don’t know the details. I don’t know more about your background. Why don’t we start there? What inspired you to do NFT Girl Gang? How did you get into this space?
I can talk all day. It’s been a long journey for all of us. My name is Kitty. I’ve been a digital designer for several years professionally. I started as a designer for Disney and then moved to Sephora and was a senior designer for them. I was the art director at Metta, and now I’m an art director at Avalanche. Full-time crypto now. The crypto journey started a few years ago.
My friends started sending me CryptoKitties. They were like, “Are you doing this?” I’m like, “No.” I started researching NFTs. I was like, “It’s pretty cool.” I hopped on Clubhouse and met a bunch of other cool artists trying to figure this out. I started seeing my friends that were artists get paid, which is a crazy concept as a starving artist. Digital work takes a lot of time and skills. Even things like the MacBook. I bought one.
It was $4,000. You think about all the costs of education and these designed programs and out of the tools, it’s expensive and it takes a lot of time to learn these skills. I saw NFTs were a way for artists to forge a new path. I wanted to learn about it, bring as many artists as possible, and learn together and hop on Clubhouse. I joined in with one of my friends that lives in SF. We decided to build a blockchain solutions company because he had the same vision. We partnered with one other guy and built the world’s first physical empty gallery.
Baron Davis: One of this year’s big stories is when the clients are talking about NFTs with real utility.
What’s that called?
Superchief, out on New York.
We partnered with a guy that’s Superchief for NFTLA and doing more stuff together. In fact, we had a full show with Ed. We’ve done a lot. I’m curious about some of the distinctions of working as a digital designer or a Web3 company, Avalanche, versus a more traditional company? How have you seen the value equation for digital designership because clearly, Web3 digital design is the be-all, end-all? It’s all about that side of the house. A lot of graphic designers haven’t experienced that distinction. Maybe you could talk a little bit about what you’ve learned in the space and how the value equation is different now than it was for a traditional graphic designer years ago.
For example, like working at Facebook or Meta, I kept being told it’s an engineering company. It’s engineering, tech and design secondary. With NFTs, the emergence of Web3, art is important for this. You have to have a good-looking PFP, but beyond that, the concepts are so complicated. My job at Meta was creating presentations for robots. I’m not an engineer. I had to google what’s a helical rap and understand robotics and create presentations. With Web3, it’s even more complicated. It’s a new industry. Everybody’s trying to learn it.
My job as a designer is how do I make this stuff as simple and easy as possible for someone to understand? How do I dilute a white paper into a simple infographic? How do I create banner ads and YouTube videos that are interesting and fun to watch and make sure that it’s a language that people can follow, a pace, and graphics that explain what a note is or how we can create more blocks or a sub-net? Art is important. Making sure that this stuff can be easily understood so we can have mass adoption
NFT Girl Gang, post more about it. When did it launch? What’s the community like? What stuff are you guys cooking up?
NFT Girl Gang happened, that’s creating that blockchain solutions company. I had been going to a bunch of conferences and traveling and living with these guys. It’s a bunch of dudes everywhere. I grew up with an amazing dad and two big brothers. I’m used to being a guy’s girl. I can hang and deal with it. I’m comfortable walking up to a bunch of dudes and being like, “Guys, I work in crypto, too.”
It can be intimidating.
It’s intimidating, especially when I went to NFTLA. I was being asked, am I a model? Was I hired to be at this party?
We had a pretty strong female demographic in our even. Those questions are still popping up.
It happens. With Girl Gang, there are not a lot of women in 2021. I selfishly wanted more girlfriends to hang out with. I wanted to bring my girlfriends in because I’m like, “This is a pretty cool community. This is pretty cool tech. This is the future. How can I bring more women in to make a balanced space?” My friends started putting me on stage and spoke to central clients in December 2021 with the idea of Girl Gang.
People keep putting me up on stage and people keep finding Girl Gang. It’s a place where I was solving that problem of how do I find other women? How do I know who these thought leaders are? How do I understand? How do I find one person to talk to about this? I have a Discord, Instagram, Twitter where people are naturally talking. I’m seeing this community. I now have all these women that are part of Girl Gang.
How many members of Girl Gang?
I have about 2,000 in there, which is like, “People are down.” My idea now is I want to create an accelerator and a head-hunting program. I want to find five female founders and make them feel supported and help them find those right advisors that I’ve been meeting these amazing people. The head-hunting part is I got a full-time job in crypto. I want to help let them do the same thing by helping them with their resume and feeling confident and knowing you don’t need experience in Web3 to get a job in Web3. You just need to have a passion and ability to learn and the right person to be like, “Come on.”
I would add the right mindset, too. I agree with everything you’ve said, by the way, as well. Shout out to Audrey Pichy, one of our teammates at Edge of company, who does so many things for this company. She didn’t have a Web3 background and jumped right into the space, but she had helped us build a food tech company with a similar Web3 ethos where it was co-created. If you have the co-creation mindset, it’s not that difficult to get into the space and figure it out.
I like to say Web3 is almost like a digital Burning Man. Everybody’s there. You find what you need. A lot of people are like, “How can I help?”
For people that haven’t experienced it, it’s probably hard to wrap your mind around, but this is how it goes on the regular. There are always some outliers, some folks with different perspectives and motivations, but we’re talking about how the majority of the community is all about that. That sounds like an exciting roadmap. You’ve got some event cooking at NFT New York, which is coming up.
We have the Baddie Summit on June 20th, 2022. I have an amazing loft in Midtown. We’re doing a panel, so there are some amazing speakers. We have some activation spots on networker and snacks. This is the first owned NFT Girl Gang. I’m excited to be able to bring that to the community.
How can folks learn more about it and get involved in the event?
I bought NFTNYCBaddies.com. We also have all the information on NFTGirlGang.com. June 20th, we have speaker applications. We’re still looking for sponsors that align with our ethos to make this an amazing product and event for women.
To take a step back, jump in closing thoughts in terms of where you see this industry going, maybe some of the folks and projects that you look at in the industry that inspire you.
We talked about Swan. She’s amazing. She takes the time to talk with people. She’s like a superhuman.
Shout out to Swan.
I love seeing what she does. Seeing groups like Boys’ Club and Her House. I’m speaking with one of my girlfriends who decided to create crypto penis because in COVID, she decided to say, “Fuck it, I’m going to be a painter.” I love finding these other women in Girl Gang. A great way to find inspiring women, too, is to go through the conferences, look at the speakers, do a little light Insta stalking or LinkedIn, and look at them to see who you align with. Most of the people in the space are accessible. You can shoot them a DM and say, “I like what you’re doing. Can I buy you a coffee?”
They’re around here, Decentral. They’re Consensus, NFTLA inside hanging out. I respect your ethos and your message around not being intimidated by the space diving in. Where do you see all this going fast forward five years?
We’ve seen a boom. We’ve seen the crazy. We’ve seen a lot of tests. We know that the technology is working. In the next five years, I’m excited to see how people think about how to use this technology. My friends and I geek out about what if there was a crypto will where the second you get marked as deceased, wallets auto distributes all of your funds to everybody so you don’t have to argue over who gets what. Random things.
Snow Crash: A Novel
We did a show at one point about what happens to your NFTs when you pass on. There was some time capsule project where you could put all your NFTs in a time capsule and fire them off to someone at a future date and time. Something important to think about is how you pass on this digital value and enhance digital value. Maybe you get sidetracked with Publix, but you want to share your NFTs with the community and create more value with them. How do you do that?
Guilds are fascinating to me for that reason. It’s new permutations. We’re excited to see what happens next. I appreciate you spending some time with us and hanging out. It sounds like a fun event coming up in New York. We’ll have to stay in touch and everything you’re up to. How can people get in touch with you on Twitter?
It’s easy to remember. Thanks so much, Kitty.
I’m sitting down with the man, the myth, the legend, Baron Davis, entrepreneur, businessman and two-time NBA all-star. I can’t forget that I spent a minute since we last connected several years. I met you at the Upfront Summit in LA, where of course, we’re talking about all the things you were working on, including Black Santa. At the time, we had Chris Bosh out there and a bunch of other folks who were amazing things. What do you think of Decentral here in Austin?
It’s cool. This is a fun place. A lot of people are curious, a lot of extraordinary talent and people trying to connect and collaborate. I’m here to represent the culture of sports and lifestyle. A hyphenate athlete and make the right connections for us. Our team has more than us to make sure we’re building with the right people and partner with the right people. It’s still like Wild, Wild West.
You always say we are later than some but earlier than most when you look at the number of wallets that are out there. Whether it’s crypto wallets in general, a few million and there are 7 billion people in the world. You look at the number of NFT wallets out there, a few hundred thousand if you think about that. It’s early.
I always try to impart that to folks who are like, “I don’t know. It’s already done. It’s past.” Get in the mix. Speaking of getting into the mix, I know you were pretty deliberate about trying to get involved in the world of NFTs. You got a number of different pieces of intellectual property. Tell us about how you dipped your toes in the space and what you got going on now?
I almost feel like everything that I was building is for the supportive space. I was an entrepreneur. I was a creative. It’s like you want to sell a movie, have an idea, start developing it, and develop it in the tunnel. You start showing, for instance, like Black Santa. I’ve been developing Black Santa for years. People want to do this and take them in this direction. Why don’t you go sell it out and blow it up at Walmart? It was easier said than done. What I was doing was I’m trying to scope out and figure out the whole concept of the world, the story of the character development.
What I realized was like, “I have all these assets,” and then here comes NFTs. It’s like, “What a blessing? What a timely situation?” I had assets that I was playing around with, writings, magazines, books and things of that nature. I was like, “This makes sense.” This is the best way to start to support the people who have supported me in the development of Black Santa over the past several years. We were lucky to have a sellout. We sold out in twelve minutes. You’re nervous about like, “How is this going to work? How is this going to happen?” You’re super motivated. We’re all one cohesive family now. We get to build up on that. We get to keep creating ideas.
You hear it a lot. Maybe it loses some power and how much people talk about it to a degree. The reality is it’s the centerpiece of everything. We saw that you were out of D con. That community was probably one of the biggest gatherings of people that are NFT holders, part of a community built around that one commonality and everything that it stands for. What thoughts do that inspire in you when you see those people come together in that kind of environment?
It was great for me. We took some motivation from that and Decentral con, NFTLA, and all these places that we’ve been going. It was like, “How can we do our part?” For us, we’ve been building and working on Slick Con that we’re going to announce coming mid-July 2022. That’s going to be in October 2022. The thought was sports, lifestyle, insiders and culture meant a seat at the table in Web3. What better place to do it than in LA where we can create all of these fun experiences that are utilities to the conference?
Basketball game. Go to a football game. Go to a concert and have a comedy show. All of these conferences have done it. We want to do ours a little bit differently. We want to include all the athletes and all the people in sports that have been a small piece or a small sliver or a couple of panels at one of these bigger conferences.
You may not know we’re the coordinators of NFTLA. A big part of our inspiration was that upfront summit, where they came with a lot of those elements from there. Our vision was to try to do something a little bit different. I love that next step you guys are about to take. It sounds exactly like what this space needs. It hasn’t seen that yet.
We haven’t seen each other and what we’re all capable of doing. I travel to these conferences and summits and speak on these panels. A big part of it is finding the people who are connectable, like-minded. Up until a few months ago, all of the NBA guys were still playing. The NFL guys a few months ago were still playing. Now they’re back in camp.
For me, it was like, “Let’s go and collect all the great people. Let’s create the people who want to help, invest, collaborate, and operate. Let’s bring all of them to our space.” It’s like building an ecosystem where there’s no fat and a culture of people that understand that every time we gather, something great is going to come out of this opportunity.
People probably don’t realize how focused you got to be during the season. You’re dialed in slumber, dialed in into the sport, you’re training and preparing endlessly. It’s hard to draw that focus away toward new business ventures, learning new technologies and so on. It’s a good point. It sounds like the timing is right for this conference.
It’s the perfect time. Every time we go somewhere we meet great people. It was like, “Will you speak on our panel.” I’m like, “Sure.” Having LA as the backdrop is we don’t lack talent in our backyard. It makes it fun. It gives the people who live there an opportunity to come out and celebrate with people from all over the world.
A lot of people call that their home.
It’s a lot of celebrities and athletes and people like that that we know that they want to come to the event. They want to be a part of it. It’s like, “Find a time where I can come.” Once we can build up that ecosystem, I call it the extraordinary people that are extraordinary IP to themselves.
For the Black Santa community, is there some access to that event or utility associated with it?
Yes. Black Santa, they’re going to get the opportunity to play in the game. There’s going to be like Hot Shots. What else we’re doing? I believe a snowball fight, something like a dodgeball snowball fight. All the Black Santa holders get access to all of our events and then they’re going to be in Halloween drops. They’re getting secret Halloween drops from some new characters from the whole like Santa you wish world.
The good thing about the Black Santa holders is every time we do something else or something different, they’ll always be first movers and have first access to all the other projects. We’re literally building off the world. We got the snow people coming in that time period. We have these North characters that I’ve been working on that are like Garbage Pail Kids meets Captain Planet. I love to create, think, story tell, and collaborate. We work with such a great roster of artists. Every day waking up, all I got to do was come up with ideas and work through them.
That’s one of the best things in life. Francis Ford Coppola said a quote. I’ll paraphrase it that. One of his greatest joys in life was seeing idea that he had become reality. Now more than ever, we’re in a world where that’s possible for almost anybody. The barriers to entry are so freaking low right now. It’s amazing. Lower than ever.
Baron Davis: Art is very important, and so designers have to make sure that things can be easily understood so we can have mass adoption.
You have the access points. Now you got to go build and coach a community of people who want to show you next.
It’s exactly what you’re talking about.
This is our planet. If we were to take care of our planet, this is after we are not polluted. Little things like that, I get super excited about working with these artists. I got my own project coming out, the oatmeal. That’s going to be dropped in June 24th 2022. Oatmeals are legends. Legends are oatmeals. Anybody can be along the oatmeal can be a legend. It’s an opportunity for us to build out this environment where people can come and story tell and sign. We’re signing different artists and athletes to perform and do interviews and things like that as an oatmeal character.
Being an NFT holder, you get the oatmeal.
You get access to the game. You get access to the oatmeal land, which is like fantasy. We’ll have fantasy team basketball, football, fantasy leagues, real-life events and music. We have some virtual studios that we’ve done collaborations with a few producers. You can also take your oatmeal and make music. You can take your oatmeal and hike. For all of the products in our ecosystem, you get oatmeal. You get access to traveling.
That first iteration of PFP projects dismissed, retired utility layer. More than that, it’s what you’re talking about. It’s the ecosystem and the synergy between these things. You’re like, “We’re putting on this killer event.” The marginal cost to have Black Santa holders come and participate is so low. You want to continue to add value to that community above and beyond what somebody paid for an NFT. That’s exciting. Who else are you guys partnering with to make some of these things happen?
We’re doing a partnership with Hennessy and then Never Stop Never Settle Society. We’re doing a Hennessy lounge for the draft. That’s going to be cool. We’ll feature a couple of NFTs from the Never Stop Never Settle Society artists, as well as oatmeals and things that we make more than we. We have a partnership coming out with a new league called the PSA, the Premier Skate Association. Using NFTs, by creating top shots and top shot docks for skateboarders and then the ability for people to own a skateboard franchise. Reengineering skate culture so the skateboarders can have equity in their own ecosystem.
You got a million things popping here.
I do not feel like I worked with 1,000. I’ve probably worked with 50, 60 people. For us, it’s time schedule, invest, mapping out time. Some things take 30 minutes. Some people don’t need us. Some people need two hours. When you organize and you work and you meet people where they are and you’re listening and you’re at full service and there to empower that, that’s the culture we build. We’re more than us. It may take 30 minutes to get your project done and finished across the line. We’ll bring 20 people to the room and get your 30 minutes. Those 30 minutes turn into an hour and a half. You come out motivated. Now you got 30 people ready to push the button when you say, “Push the button.”
I appreciate you carving out a little bit of time to sit down with us and share. Where should folks go?
Check it out. Thank you so much.
I appreciate it.
We’ve reached the outer limit. Thanks for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on this starship. Invite your friends and recruits and cool strangers that will make this journey also much better. How? Go to iTunes right now, rate us, say something cool and go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole.
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- Black Santa
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About David Wachsman
David Wachsman is Chief Executive at Wachsman, a leading professional services firm for organizations leveraging emerging technologies to achieve their missions.
Founded in 2015, Wachsman has grown to become a global company with regional headquarters in New York, Dublin, and Singapore. Wachsman provides strategic advisory, communications, events management and production, and corporate development services.
About Baron Davis
Entrepreneur, investor, and two-time NBA All-Star and record-holder, over a thirteen-year career, Baron Davis played for the Charlotte Hornets, the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Clippers, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the New York Knicks. Known for his electrifying style on the court, Davis was a powerful point guard, who won national acclaim for executing in crucial, high-pressure moments, when his team needed him the most. As a businessman, Baron was one of the original investors for Vitaminwater and helped launch Thrive Market.
Baron is also the founder of several companies, including Sports and Lifestyle in Culture (SLIC), The Black Santa Company, BIG and No Label—each with the objective of combining creative talent with original publication and production to develop and provide educational and heartwarming stories that appeal to global audiences of all ages.
Baron also served as producer of several acclaimed documentaries including Crips and Bloods: Made In America, 30 for 30: Sole Man, and The Drew: No Excuse, Just Produce.
Davis serves as a mentor and coach for young, upcoming basketball players and a longtime supporter of the Boys and Girls Club of Venice. His nonprofit, Rising Stars of America, established in 1999, helps to raise funds for basketball camps and sponsors AAU teams across Los Angeles.
About Kitty Grier
Senior Graphic Designer with over 7 years experience. Focus on brand creativity, digital and retail design, and internal creative optimization.
Feel free to check out my work at: www.kittygrier.com