We continue to delve into the amazing NFT market from the lens of industry leaders in Davos, Switzerland during the World Economic Forum annual gathering. Kicking off the episode and sharing their goal of opening the space to a wider audience are Daniel Santos Córcoles, Fahad Al Ahbabi, and Adam Ladjadj of Woonkly. They talk about their efforts to create an interactive NFT directory that could finally bring this space to the mainstream stage. Meanwhile, Dre (Cool & Dre), Nick Bilogorskiy (Nova Ukraine), Alex Altman (Seal Storage), and Marik Hazan (Medical Psychedelics House) explain how NFTs have impacted the world of music, storage spaces, humanitarian efforts, and psychedelics, pushing for more positive changes in their various lines of work.
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Edge Of Davos Part 4: Daniel Santos Córcoles, Josh & Fahad (Woonkly), Dre (Cool & Dre), Nick Bilogorskiy (Nova Ukraine), Jevan Fox (AE Studio), Alex Altman (Seal Storage), Marik Hazan (Medical Psychedelics House)
We’re here with you in Davos, Switzerland, coming to you from The World Economic Forum convention that happens here every year. We’re going to bring you some of the sharpest minds and global leaders, telling you what they think about what’s next and how they’re making it happen. In this episode, we’re going to transition from one interview to the next. Stay tuned, sit back, relax, and enjoy.
Crypto House of Java, thank you for joining us in the beautiful Swiss sunshine for another edition of the Crypto House sessions. We are so excited to welcome the Woonkly team. We are also graced with the presence of the Edge of NFT Cofounders and hosts of NFTLA, one of the biggest people in the NFT business and the world. We’re excited to be having this next panel where we’re going to be talking about some of the work that Woonkly is doing, the importance of NFTs globally and where some of this technology is going. We have a few exciting announcements for the panel as well. Please welcome, Josh Krieger.
How great is this? This is thought leadership and a bear garden. This is amazing. I’m honored to be here. I had the opportunity to start the Edge of NFT podcast with Eathan Janney and Jeff Kelley, who couldn’t make it. We have had a chance to interview over 140 leaders in the space. It has been a learning adventure for us. We have seen the space evolve so much in 2021.
For this panel, we’re going to learn about where the evolution is going and some of the innovation these guys are doing is quite special. Let’s welcome the two Cofounders, Fahad and Daniel. We have a third guest as well, Adam. I had a chance to dig into your project a little bit. You have thought about a lot of things and tried to solve a lot of the problems we have seen in the space as it evolved. Let’s start from the very beginning with your origin story that got us here.
Thank you, Jeff and everyone. We started several years ago in the blockchain. First of all, we opened a challenger bank that is now going to be a crypto bank regulated in Europe and also starting with the regulation in the UAE. After that, we did everything that was foreseeable in DeFi. We opened several DeFi CMMs, etc. We were playing with that and how that was working.
Finally, we ended with NFTs. In the NFTs space, in the beginning, I became a heavy user buying every collection and going into every whitelist possible. I learned a lot about that and what were all the failures, the bots, and the mistakes that other platforms have. For that, we developed Woonkly. It’s a decentralized meta social network in which we don’t know any data. It’s a marketplace with steroids mixed with a decentralized social network. It’s good.
When people come to me with ideas, having gone down the rabbit hole, I immediately say, “You got to get in there, play with the stuff, and be a power user.” We interviewed Erick Calderon, the cofounder of Art Blocks. He admitted on our show that he delayed launching his project for three months because he was too busy having fun with Top Shot. That’s good in this industry because you have to get into the deep and dark rabbit hole and learn. How did you get involved? Is there anything in particular that brought you to be inspired by this project?
It is a platform that gives a very huge competitive edge to NFT users and brings it more into the mainstream of usability for the users. That was the most important part for us when we decided to collaborate and invest with Daniel. The aspiration of this project is to bring NFTs more to the mainstream rather than niche users.
We’re going to talk about that quite a lot. If you have some burning questions in the audience, we will open it up to questions at the end. Please feel free to conjure up the difficult or important questions you want to ask this illustrious panel. First, we’re at an economics event. These guys have gotten creative with the economics of their platform. I’m curious to know a little bit more about the model and how it was created the way it was and why. I was hoping you could talk to us a little bit about that.
First of all, I want to present Adam Ladjadj with us. He is a cofounder. He is the Chief Investment Officer of one of the sheiks of Abu Dhabi and, before that, one of the Sheik of Qatar. He has a great history and reputation in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Let’s hear from him. What drew you to this venture?
I was on the delegation in Madrid, Spain, where the Dubai government was out there looking at companies and opportunities. His Excellency, Mohammed bin Salman, and a gentleman called James Bernard introduced me to Daniel. We have been looking at blockchain, digital asset projects, and AD Investment in Abu Dhabi with Farhad for a long time, but we never found a project that we trusted or one that went out of its way to make sure that it wasn’t about hype or making a quick buck and that there was some longevity to it and some sustainable model.
When I met Daniel, I immediately clicked with him and all the projects that he goes into. He goes way out of his way to make sure it’s close to the regulation and policy comfort zones which, for me and Fahad, are important because we look at institutional-level investments and projects that are not going just to be localized. They’re global. Scalability is important. For us, working with the government is a niche at AD Investment. That was the pinpoint for me.
It started as a simple decentralized network for social NFT users. Daniel, when you talked about a rabbit hole, it was difficult for me, Fahad, and the partners because he went AWOL for 2 to 3 months. He went into this zone and came out with an art piece of a platform that looked at every single thing that no one was doing or they were doing badly. That was the point for me. We invested. We were full partners with Daniel and any other project he ever goes into for the rest of his life.
It is inspiring when you make those big NFT flips. It’s a lot of fun. We shouldn’t disregard that part of the industry, but then when they go down, it hurts, but you also learn from that process. That’s part of the accelerated growth in the industry that we have all experienced with the highs and lows in 2021. You develop some thick skin in the process.
Let’s talk a little bit about the economic model that you’ve built based on what you’ve learned from that experience of going down the rabbit hole. It’s very different than some of the other major platforms when you look at OpenSea, LooksRare, and some of the newer ones that have come up. I’m curious why that is and what are some of the inspirations behind how you built it.
Thank you. We look at OpenSea. OpenSea doesn’t have a token. It’s all shares. Their company has a $13.3 billion valuation in 3 to 5 years. It’s fucking amazing. We have LooksRare, in which you can trade. With the trading of the NFTs, you win the LOOKS token. You have Rarible, in which the token is for governance. In our protocol, what we did is, first of all, if you hold our token, you can stake it.
Forty percent of all the fees in the platform are 2% if it’s a cryptocurrency and 1% if it’s our token, Woonkly Power or WOOP. We give back 40% of that to the users that staked our token. This is the first thing. There’s a percentage of the remaining profit that we win. We use it to buy NFTs from people on our platform and build our gallery so that people can buy them. We can do auctions with it. That increased a lot of users to create new collections and things.
There’s another percentage of that. We use it to pay influencers to come with us to do NFTs and collections with us. We also opened Woonkly Collections, which is a 360-degree agency to do collections. We go with these big hotels, brands, and influencers and do everything from the concept to the launch and marketing. It’s going well. We are doing a lot of high-end collections that will be launched in June 2022. This is how the model is working.
One of the things that are very important is that we also give a chance for our community to give back. We also have options in the platform that when you trade these NFTs, you allocate that for a social cause and a social impact perspective. It’s important in this world that we always give ourselves and our community the opportunity to always give back from a charitable perspective, whatever winnings or revenues they’re generating through the platform.
Correct me if I’m mistaken. One of the other interesting things about the token model that I read is that some of the fees for trading go back into a fund where you buy some of the top collections on your platform. That’s original as a way to reward the creators that have chosen to bet on your platform to support them back. That’s cool.
NFT Market: NFTs allow creators to keep a percentage of their work as an item changes hands. It powers the creative.
Fifteen percent of all the profit generated goes to buy back the best collections and NFTs. It’s good because imagine you have a ranking in which every week, we buy the top five NFTs of the top five collections. That will create that the people will try to buy them before us. It generates a cycle.
We’re talking about a creator economy and Web3. I would like to know more about some of the advanced features you’ve created for creators to inspire them to work with you and your platform and make the most value for themselves as artists in this space.
This is going to be long. First of all, I am a heavy user of NFT. I have been scammed. I have been on the wrong Discord and the wrong whitelist. One time, I connected my wallet to a minting page and I withdrew again. A lot of things happened to me. What I did is to write every fucking problem that was happening to me for three months in a row and then we will toll.
For example, one of the things is there is a lot, but it’s too difficult to create high-end collections in OpenSea. You need to hire developers, etc. First of all, what we did was do all the processing inside the platform. First of all, you go into the platform. Second, we built the Woonkly generator. You can upload the ledgers of the NFT collection and generate all the rarities there inside Woonkly.
You click on publish and now it goes to IPFS or The InterPlanetary File System. You don’t need to do anything. You can set your limits and whitelist date. The whitelist is inside Woonkly. The minting page is done inside Woonkly. You don’t need to go to another minting page to mint the NFT. You will see all the minting pages inside Woonkly with our technology.
Finally, you can create a high-end collection in one hour. With the other platforms, you need to spend a lot of time. This is for collection creators. We also have been working a lot in the process of creating a collection. It’s not the same as, “Create a monkey collection or art collection for a music record, podcast, movie, NFTs, games, characters, spaceships, or whatever you need to create.”
We have differentiated the kinds of users. When you register, you can register as an influencer, user, company, brand, game, or metaverse. When you create a music record, the process for creating is everything created for you. You get to blow the cover and everything for podcasts, etc. For the users, we created the same experience. All the whitelisting is inside. You only can go into verified collections. You mint inside. There are no more scams in the NFT space.
I believe the journey is the most differentiating factor that we bring to our platform. We capture the journey from the moment you have an idea of creating a collection and run with you on that journey to make sure that it’s as user-friendly as possible from jumping into 3 or 4 platforms between Discord, minting pages, and social media and have it all in one platform that enables you to do that. That’s the future. That’s how we should be interacting with platforms rather than working with 4 to 5 platforms at the same time.
When I hear about how you built this, I think about some of my backgrounds in traditional startup building, lean startups, and customer discovery. I’m thinking of all those pain points and how to solve them. It’s a very thoughtful solution. You had some other thoughts there.
I talked about scalability. When I look at the NFT space and the space in general, the guys that can make the most out of it are the ones that understand the technologies and what’s happening and know what to do. With Woonkly, the most beautiful part for me was it’s now available to the ordinary person. For example, one of the things that Daniel is going to mention is you can log into Woonkly with your social media platform that you own, like your Instagram account, LinkedIn, Twitter, or whatever it may be.
When I go on to make an NFT, I could be a small entrepreneur or an SME that wants to have a collection and thinks it’s going to be impactful and has some utility. I can make it without even needing to code. I don’t need to understand the development language. I can be the ordinary Joe and make an NFT feel safe. There are security elements added to the platform as well. I know that my NFT won’t be stolen and that my transactions are looked after correctly. It’s the ordinary Joe factor that makes a lot for me.
That’s a great bridge to another area I wanted to dive into, which is this. Every venture I’ve talked to in this space and we have had on the show is thinking bigger than their project in terms of how we create mainstream adoption for Web3, especially when we have challenges like what has happened with the Terra LUNA system, the hacks, and all that stuff. It begs the question. What’s the pathway here? What’s the journey to mainstream adoption? What’s missing?
One area is the use of the metaverse. A lot of these metaverses are dormant. There might be 1 or 2 projects in Decentraland that make up 90% of the traffic. This is a two-part question. The first part is this. When it comes to the integration of what you’re doing with the metaverse, what are your thoughts on getting to that real mainstream adoption? I’ll ask the second part.
NFTs are being used by a bunch of freaks like us. The reality is it’s difficult to use. It’s not as difficult, but normal people that haven’t been involved in crypto don’t know how to create a wallet like MetaMask, Trust Wallet, and SafePal. We have the first challenge. When an influencer buys my collection on this platform, the users will go there to buy without going into a centralized platform because, in a centralized, it’s easy, but how do you do it in Web3 and the decentralized way?
Finally, there are incredible solutions. This one comes from LA. It’s Magic Eden. You can go into Web3 and generate a noncustodial wallet by connecting your Instagram, Twitter, Discord, Facebook account, or mobile number. This is the beginning of the huge growth of mass adoption. We have another thing. The regulatory part is your second thing. Fahad can say the regulatory part better than I can. It’s going to be a huge part of the mass adoption. We need to make the users and institutions comfortable to start investing.
Daniel, thank you for elaborating on the tools that we have in our platform. Regulatory is hard and what we developed from products and platforms. That’s the future. That’s what gives us a very distinctive edge. We meet with the regulators on a very frequent basis in the United Arab Emirates, where we are looking at different regulations. We’re going to adopt metaverses, NFTs, and play-to-earn into the mainstream. We’re keeping close so that whenever these regulations are out, we as an organization or an institution are compliant with these regulatory frameworks.
This is very important because our users would need to bank their winnings. They will not be able to do that without the proper regulatory framework that we comply with. For us to do so, we are keeping that relationship with the regulators in our jurisdiction. We’re doing that not only with the United Arab Emirates. We’re doing that with specific regulators within the Emirates itself and with global regulators as well. We’re working in Spain, the UK, and other parts of Europe, where we will provide all the ring-fencing required for us to operate in a very legitimate matter.
Thank you. Do you have any additional thoughts?
When we talk about our comfort when it comes to regulation, which is a topic that not many people like, especially in a decentralized world, you’re trying to stay away as much as you can from some control system or mechanism. The UAE and the region, in general, have been agile in doing so in the comfort of global operations. They believe in this vertical of blockchain and digital assets very strongly.
You saw Emirates Airline announce that they were going to accept Bitcoin as payment. For a world-leading airline to do so is insane. You would have assumed other countries or governments allowing such transactions to happen quicker than a country that’s 50 years old in 2022. Saying so, the regulators are putting comfort in the families. I’ll be talking later about families. It’s only now reaching the 2nd and 3rd-generation of family wealth management in the UAE since it’s only 50 years old in 2022.
The younger generation thinks relatively differently. It’s leaning on the government to make sure that they’re protecting them and the capital and investments going into this factor with companies that are registered in the Middle East, especially in UAE. The thing Fahad mentioned about keeping relationships with them is all about being on that roundtable or discussion table. Daniel Santos and Fahad Al Ahbabi are on those tables with me in the background.
The relationship is daily and weekly. Things change so fast, so quickly. You saw it with some of the most trusted tokens or companies that all of a sudden went 180 degrees. You’re like, “What the hell is going on?” How can regulators feel comfortable that their current model works? This market fluctuates and changes a lot. We’re comfortable with the regulators in the region doing the right thing.
Before we get to some exciting news, because we are in Davos and this is where all the alpha does drop, I want to talk about another part of mainstream adoption, which is partnerships and building bridges. We have seen that type of bridge-building be paramount to the success of a number of projects in the space, creators creating with other creators, and platforms that you wouldn’t even think would play in the same sandbox playing together. I would love to know a little bit about your partnership strategy. What are some of the existing and forthcoming partnerships that you’re thinking about?
Partnerships in this world are important. If not, you are going nowhere. What we are doing is partnering with the metaverse leaders that can make this a reality. We visualize Woonkly as an interactive directory in which you can enter and see all the brands, biggest players, influencers, metaverses, celebrities, games, and everything in an organized way.
Also, you can interact with it but imagine that you go into your profile and with your mobile, you can scan your home, room, bathroom, or whatever you want to scan. When a user goes to your profile in our meta social network, they can click, go inside your room, and start talking with you. Imagine that you connect all these 3D scan rooms, 3D buildings, and everything with a mobile.
That is how you create an interactive metaverse between the centralized social network, which is also a marketplace. You can interact on the front or the back. The back is the metaverse. A lot of things are happening. Partnerships are hugely important. We are also partnering with regulators. It’s one of the biggest parts. We are doing advisory for regulators in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Estonia, and several parts of the world. It’s a huge thing, finally.
A partnership is key in this business. We came from Cannes. We were sponsoring The Global Gift Gala. We have access to 150 celebrities around the world. This is very important. They believe in our network and the platform that we’re bringing to them. We’re giving them an option or a way of giving back. That’s part of the relationship that we have with them. A partnership is key and important. We keep expanding on that network and partnership. We are not shy from having discussions and exploring new opportunities to expand that platform.
To add one thing to the partnership level, for us as Woonkly, AD Investment, AORUS, and a whole collaborative entity, because Daniel is part of all of those entities, we have different levels of partnerships. There are strategic partnerships and investment partnerships. One we will be announcing. Blockchain protocols are one of them.
We’re dealing with a number of blockchain protocols that have given us incentives to push their product. They understand our usability exposure. We’re dealing with industries. I can name two of them, Bollywood and Hollywood. Those are two big markets. Correct me if I’m wrong. I’m not an expert. Thirty percent of blockchain users are in India. There are partnerships like that.
There are partnerships from an investment perspective and smaller partnerships that we’re doing with NFT players like Hero Base, which is the largest gaming guild in Brazil, and Você Sabia, which is the largest social media influencer in Brazil and the number ten YouTuber in the world on an exclusive basis but Woonkly is a very inclusive platform. We’re using them to promote and do work with us and we’re helping them get involved in NFTs.
Therefore, the process is if we have a partnership with Woonkly, not only can we help them, but they can also help us get into the space and monetize what we’re doing. From a celebrity perspective, Daniel will dig deeper later or another time. We’re helping them retain a way of making money and monetizing their brand and identity within a space they have never been exposed to. I hope that comes out in the future. We’re a platform for the people.
I love how you have broken down partnerships into all the different segments and thought about it long term. Partnerships mean co-creation. You’re going to want to pay attention to this announcement. Before we get to that announcement, I got to ask. What’s the name all about? A friend of mine had a venture, Wonky. We got Woonkly here. What’s the genesis of this name Woonkly?
I was super high. I don’t know why. It was like, “With one click, you win money. It’s going to be Woonkly.” We did it. It’s Woonkly that came. It’s crazy.
I love the authenticity of that response. We’re in Davos. There are a lot of exciting announcements. We have one here on the investment front. Let’s hear it.
The thing is, they’re following. I want this project to be the leader worldwide. I’m not working to create a 2nd or 3rd platform. It’s the first platform, inshallah. It’s what we want to do. The objective is not to do normal collections. We are connected with the Bollywood industry, real movies NFTs, real music NFTs, real podcast NFTs, real master ticket NFTs, and NFTs that give you access to 100 events and a lot of things that are not on the market. There are hotel groups and fractionalized hotels like timeshares but with NFTs. There are a lot of things going on.
In this process, we partnered up and we are announcing that I am not the owner anymore of Woonkly. I was their majority holder. I am not the majority holder of Woonkly anymore because to conquer that dream, I knew I needed to do that. One billionaire from China, one of the most powerful people in Hollywood connected with all the industry, is the new owner. He signed.
I didn’t know if you live in LA and you have been in LA a few times, but the new owner is called Mr. Pink. Mr. Pink in LA, whoever knows him, is a fucking legend. It’s time to go to the next level. We partnered up also with Fame in LA. It’s our exclusive partner. They are the ones that created the beginning of Kim Kardashian and all these kinds of people. This is about to fucking explode to another level. Thank you very much.
We have covered a lot of territories. I am curious if anyone in the audience has any burning questions they would like to ask this illustrious panel before we adjourn and get back to our thought leadership networking going on.
Thank you for your presentation. This is a short question. If you give back to token holders some amount of your revenue, are you created by this security token?
This can be one of the most important things because, in the beginning, I wanted to create a DAO. Everyone told me, “It’s going to be a security. You are sharing the profits.” What we did is the following. We are not sharing the fees or the profits. We collect the profits, buy back our token with that profit, and then give back our token, which is not money. It’s our token. The ecosystem goes up because we buy back and give the token to the users.
Thank you so much for being with us and coming. We wish you the very best with your journey from here.
We’ve got an impromptu interview as you can have here at Davos with some of the coolest people in the world. We’re bringing you a Grammy award-winning producer Dre. He’s going to give a little bit more intro of himself and what he has been up to for the past couple of decades, establishing a wonderful reputation and letting us have some context about him.
My name is Dre, half of Cool & Dre. We’re three-time Grammy award-winning producers from Miami, Florida. You may have heard of us from records like All the Way Up from Fat Joe, Hate It or Love It from 50 Cent and The Game, Rodeo from Juvenile, and too many hits to get into. I landed in Davos. It was a last-minute thing, but I’m excited about it.
NFT Market: With artists having so many problems with their producers, more and more are looking at the NFT space and metaverse. These platforms are becoming the new frontiers for publishing their work.
Being in the music industry for over twenty years and seeing the way that the business of NFTs is moving in contrast to what I’m used to is an exciting time. I’m excited to be here at Davos, meet people, and speak more about NFTs. Cool and I have a record dropping with Fat Joe and Busta Rhymes, two good friends of ours. It’s an amazing song. You look out for it. It’s on Greed Music. We’re excited to get things going.
It is a pleasure to be speaking with you. We got to know each other a little bit in the past. Music is so close to my heart. I had been a pianist and played jazz and all sorts of styles throughout the years. You mentioned this briefly but let’s dive in a little bit deeper. You got a call from someone. You could say who it is, “You got to hightail it over to Davos.” I want to hear about that story and what made you go like, “I got stuff to do here.” Tell me about this impromptu trip to Davos and what you expect to get out of this.
My buddy Dustin hit me up and told me about all the things going on here at The World Economic Forum. It’s crazy because I’m familiar with this event, but he was explaining to me that in 2022, it was going to be a little bit different. They’re going to do a lot of cryptocurrency, metaverse, NFTs, and things. Cool and I always try to be at the forefront of anything new, especially in technology. We try to find a way how we can bring that and merge that with what we’re doing on the music side.
I’ve been meeting a lot of people, especially through my friend, Dustin, in this space. The business moves so much quicker. Deals happen at a meeting. In my industry, it doesn’t work that way. Unfortunately, it’s still run on 50-year-old rules. For a producer like myself, to be as acclaimed as me and Cool, we still have issues with producer fees, which should be the smallest thing.
We all know about royalties of publishing and things like that, but when there’s an issue with producer fees, it makes you look at the NFT space and the metaverse space as the new frontier to do everything, whether it’s live shows, releasing music, signing artists and putting out their music through that, creating a record company in the metaverse, and using smart contracts. I was excited to come out here. I’m looking forward to everything that Davos has to offer. I’m pretty sure when I leave out of here, I’m going to be walking away with $100 billion.
Briefly, when you think of the grand scheme of things, March of 2021 was when we started our show. I had been aware of and watching the crypto space ever since its inception, but to hear somebody say, “NFTs are important to me. I’m going to Davos,” is a fascinating thing that has ramped up over the past. I would love to hear from you what has been your experience in hearing about NFTs and crypto probably percolating into how that applies to the music industry? Where did this first come up? What has been your journey to approaching it and getting to the point where you’re getting pretty deeply involved?
I’ve got a lot of friends at my studio. We sign a lot of creatives. They’re all young. They’re 18, 19, 20, and 21-year-old kids. They’re in things like Top Shot cards. Those are the NFT things that they go crazy for. When I started looking out, I was like, “This is amazing. These are highlights. You are trading and whatnot.” Another thing that I thought was amazing about NFTs was that the creators kept a percentage of whatever they created as the NFT changed hands. I thought that was cool. It powers the creative.
As far as the music side is concerned, this generation of artists is coming up with an independent mind because of streaming, TuneCore, and SoundCloud. They’re not going through the traditional ways to release their music. They’re putting it up and uploading it themselves. That’s fantastic. NFTs and the metaverse are the next steps after that because the music industry has already jumped on that wave. They’re already snatching up these kids once they reach a certain amount of followers on social media and things like that.
Another thing about the metaverse that I’ve been thinking about is that during the pandemic and we were all locked down, a lot of artists suffered because they weren’t able to go out and perform. I’m a music producer and a songwriter. I don’t need to go outside to create. I’m fortunate enough to have a studio at my house. I could create, send emails out, and get things done.
It’s like a privilege to have to stay at home and just be there.
We’re homebodies anyway. If you’re a songwriter or producer, you’re used to being inside either the studio or your home studio for eighteen hours a day. The artists suffer because they couldn’t go perform. A friend put me onto the metaverse. A lot of my friends at the studio are young. They’ve got the goggles on. They’re doing all kinds of things.
I’m like, “It would be crazy if I could see my favorite artists perform when I throw the goggles on.” I started thinking about the impact that would have on legacy artists. We were joking about Kool & The Gang. A lot of Kool & The Gang’s fan base might not be able to leave their house and move around like that. Maybe a lot of the venues are not accommodating a band like Kool & The Gang.
They don’t appreciate certain legends, but in the metaverse, Kool & The Gang can set up their show or concert and reach all their fans all over the world at one time. God forbid we have another pandemic and we all get locked down again. Cool and Dre are already in the space. We’re at the forefront. That way, we could be some of the creators that provide a new way for you to enjoy your favorite artists, listen to your favorite music, and do things of that nature.
It’s great to be able to sit down here with you, have this chat, and see how things are percolating within the music industry. We have seen a lot of cool stuff when we talk about legacy artists and how they can get involved. One of our first interviews on the show was a one-off project, which had Quincy Jones backing it. That was like, “Quincy, you are nailing it like forever.” There are so much more opportunities to be built here. I love that you highlighted that.
We will wrap up here pretty soon, but I want to get a little bit about this musical release coming out from you. There will be an NFT attached to it. That’s exciting. This is going to be your first foray and you said, “Maybe let’s do this, Busta Rhymes.” That’s cool but tell us about making that decision and pulling that together. The timelines could be loose on it, but if you can give people a general sense of how to get involved, that would be great to hear.
We have a record coming. It’s Cool & Dre featuring Busta Rhymes and Fat Joe. It’s an NFT. What’s cool about the NFT is that there are 100 different versions of the actual song. It’s the actual record. There’s a version of a Fat Joe’s acapella. There’s a version of Busta’s acapella, a version of the instrumental, and an instrumental with Fat Joe. There are outtakes of where Joe is messing up his verse like, “Pull that shit back. I fucked that line up.” There are so many different versions of the song that are being NFT’ed. That alone is different than what we’re used to having.
I love that. I think about how you could NFT every different track. People can take those and remix them. Each one of them could have their royalty stream. That’s incredible stuff. Tell people where they can find out more about this, participate in the drop and any follows that they should go to, socials, and stuff like that.
Make sure you follow us at @CoolandDre on Instagram and me @DreDay3000. I had my friend make it up. I didn’t want to do it. He made up the name. Go to CoolAndDre.com and look out for all the things that we have going on. These are super exciting times. Get involved. Now is the time.
I’ll be playing keys on your next record.
This is Josh. I’m at the Ukraine House in Davos. I’m excited to be next to a gentleman who has done a lot to help Ukraine. Nick, I would love for you to tell everyone who you are, what you do, your day job, and what compelled you to get involved in this incredibly difficult time for Ukraine from a humanitarian perspective.
I am from Kharkiv. I’m Ukrainian. What compelled me to get involved is that we have a war and we have to win the war. In my way, I’m helping by collecting funds to save lives in Ukraine. I started a charity called Nova Ukraine. We have raised more than $30 million for food, medicine, refugees, and rebuilding infrastructure in Ukraine. I also work at Google as a Director of Cybersecurity. Google knows about Nova Ukraine. They featured Nova Ukraine on their internal collection page and supported us publicly on Google blogs. Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, mentioned Nova Ukraine. We’re very happy to have that support.
Thank you so much for what you’re doing. Can you talk a little bit about the Web3 aspect of cryptocurrency? Google is pushing the limits of what’s possible with technology. You’re involved in that in Trust and Safety. What has cryptocurrency meant to the humanitarian efforts that have taken place?
Briefly, we started a cryptocurrency wallet for our charity, NovaUkraine.org/crypto. We have been able to collect millions of dollars there, a significant portion of the overall funds. Web3 and cryptocurrency have helped us help Ukraine. We also used it to send money to Ukraine to receive funds, fundraising, and distribute funds to volunteers on the ground to buy food and medicine. It has played a big part. We’re very grateful for the technologies and blockchain.
If people want to contribute and get involved, what can they do?
They can go to our website www.NovaUkraine.org or look us up on social media and get involved. Tell people about what’s going on in Ukraine, support Ukraine, put sanctions on Russia, and stop this from going.
It’s my pleasure.
I took a beautiful train ride from Zurich to Davos. I didn’t want it to end, although I did want to get here. I’m happy to be here and join you.
I’m excited to have you. Alex, it’s great to meet you. Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your company?
Thank you for having me on the show. It’s exciting to be here. My name is Alex Altman. I’m the Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer of Seal Storage Technology. We’re a decentralized storage company built on top of Filecoin. We have focused as a firm on commercializing decentralized storage. There are a lot of different applications out there. We’re focusing on two at the moment.
The first one is bringing over different Web2 sources of data and large datasets into the centralized ecosystems and turning them into Web3. These things are academic, research, and scientific institutions. We’re bringing that data over and creating that immutability and source of truth that they can use to do their type of work.
A byproduct of that is we have created this amazing ingestion engine that’s got an encryption layer on top of it. What that means in a centralized historic sense is we can take in tons of different data and encrypt it in a good way, which lends itself well to NFTs. Looking at the NFT market, we’re trying to essentially back up and create a safe layer on the existing NFTs out there in hopes of helping to mature the market.
I’m wearing my Edge of NFT hat and Alex was keyed in on that and wanted to make the conversation relevant. Thank you, Alex, for being on point with the name of our show. We can have a broader conversation as well. My first question to you is this. This is my first year at Davos. This is your first year at Davos. We knew we would have good cheese and good bread, but what compelled you to come to Davos in 2022? Why now in 2022?
It has been a long few years for everybody, but when you look at the maturity that has happened in the crypto industry and the overall blockchain industry since 2019, it’s phenomenal in terms of the use cases, what type of projects are developed, and the overall global interest. We’re speaking to different partners that we have and people like Casper, Filecoin, and a number of others who have got large presences here as well as a lot of other different Web3 companies. We thought it was a good year to come, see what’s going on, be part of the conversation, and see where the industry is headed.
I would like to learn more about some of the projects that you’ve been working on, some of the challenges that you think can be solved with decentralized storage in Web3, and where to focus. We have also talked a lot about how you may not need Web3 technology. Focus is key. There are some great use cases. I’m sure you have specialized in some as well.
In terms of where decentralized storage fits, there are a lot of different use cases that are applicable. One of the ones that are topical and is a conversation point outside of the crypto industry but is big in Davos is misinformation. What blockchain can do in that is help establish this chain of custody of data that people could say, “Where did this fact come from? How is it being used? Is it being used in the correct way?” That has become such an important topic in the last several years.
That’s an area that is helpful that we can solve. Centralized storage lends itself to the maturation of the NFTs portion and helps NFTs evolve from what we think of now as profile pictures and digital art onto things of a more functional sense like legal documents, digital deeds, medical records, and things like that. There are these nascent use cases like that where it’s pushing along industries that need some disruption, but there are also immediate applications like misinformation.
In some sense, it’s a preservation of history. I’m interested to learn a little bit more about some of the academic institutions, use cases, and how large these file sets are. That would be great to know.
A lot of it is public. We’re in the process of uploading a whole bunch of environmental data. The value is that you could create this initial set of data where you’ve got a source or a large academic institution. You’ve got a trustworthy source at the end. People could look back at the state and say, “This is the person who put it up.”
You can’t deny, “Here’s what the source was,” in case, for whatever reason, people want to start to hide information at a later date. You can go back and be like, “Here’s a trusted source. Here’s the information.” From an environmentalist perspective, that’s exciting, but we’re also doing other sorts of data in the space industry where people are finding out all sorts of different things about various astrological discoveries in the most recent history.
There are those types of things where there’s a lot of different cutting-edge research. It’s people being able to point to that and say, “This is where I based my research on a go-forward basis.” People understand where the changes were and when they were uploaded. When it comes to sizing, it could be a dataset as small as 500 terabytes. One dataset we’re working on is about 10 petabytes. To give you a reference, 10 petabytes is about 200 times the size of the Netflix library.
NFT Market: Blockchain can help establish a chain of custody of data to fight misinformation and help people verify facts the correct way.
Space is fascinating to me. There have been a lot of breakthroughs or at least I feel like it has been in the news more both with discovering black holes. The aliens have come up in conversations quite a lot. It seems like maybe the government is finally fessing up about what they knew. Who are you working with on those types of projects of these independent research institutes? Are you working with NASA? I’m curious how that type of research comes together on the blockchain in storage.
I would love to work with NASA. That would be super cool. I don’t know if they’re quite there yet in terms of wrapping their heads around blockchain. I’m sure many of the people who work there understand it in terms of being able to push that through.
If they confess to the aliens, they’re probably likely to be down for some blockchain technology soon.
If there are any NASA researchers out there who would like to store some data in Web3, let me know. I’m happy to help out there.
Who are you working with within the space world?
In terms of who we’re working with, we have an announcement coming out at the Austin in Consensus with a very large university that we’re doing some space work with. Unfortunately, a lot of the different institutions, it’s the same thing with NASA, wants to see the actual product work, see this be uploaded to Web3, and feel the benefits, and then they’re comfortable releasing their names. There are a number of different sources. We will put some announcements out as we wrap up some of these projects.
It seems like there’s probably an educational component of it when you’re going and talking to some of these B2B customers. What are those conversations like? What are some of the hurdles that you have to overcome? What does implementation look like?
A lot of the people we speak with at these types of institutions are innovators. They understand the potential benefits of Web3 and decentralized storage. That’s why they’re so eager to try it out, but when it comes to being able to publicize a lot of these things, you are dealing with a lot of institutions that are, at times, hundreds of years old with thousands of people. We’re dealing with a single pot of people within that ecosystem. It’s being able to prove, “Here are the benefits that we said there are.” It’s proving the innovators within these institutions right and moving through the motions there.
When it comes to actual deployment, it’s getting and bringing the data across whatever different lines they have. Moving large sums of data is not very easy. It’s crazy. You think that taking data into Web3 is going to be this innovative process, but at times, you hire a truck. They show up, plug into the dataset, and drive over to you. You have to plug the truck back in again. We have used FedEx or DHL to get drives sent to us. It’s this old way of doing things. It’s an interesting hybrid.
It’s interesting to visualize the reality of such a high-technology concept and the practical implementation. You mentioned healthcare medical records. That’s an interesting one with HIPAA and all the other privacy regulations that are in place. What are your thoughts on the more intense regulatory environments like the healthcare industry and how decentralized storage fits into the mix? How are you all looking at those segments of the industry?
When it comes to highly-regulated items like that, particularly healthcare and anything else, even GDPR in Europe, or I mentioned legal documents before, there are a lot of different regulations that you have to adhere to and different types of registrations that you need to do. To do that, there are a number of different things that have to happen within the industry, particularly from a technological perspective. The technology still needs to mature a little bit for people to understand how we can use it and where the applications are.
It has to be easier to use. A lot of these medical institutions don’t tend to change particularly fast. The technology they use is outdated. However, decentralized storage and the broader Web3 ecosystem have great opportunities in the medical industry. The reason for that is there are a lot of different times when it’s difficult to access accurate medical records. A lot of the time, it’s on paper or old software. It’s highly protected. That can have real-world consequences.
If you don’t get somebody’s accurate medical records, you prescribe the wrong drug or you do the wrong thing. You don’t know if they have had the right type of procedure. You could cause significant harm or even death to somebody. Having a point of accurate trustless information that could be easily accessible from a global perspective is something that Web3 and decentralized storage can add to the ecosystem. What decentralized storage does is turn large-scale datasets or any type of dataset and make that what essentially is a blockchain asset.
The trustless component of it, trying to think about how that information is being accessed and who’s accessing it, and having that transparency around it seems like a great use case for decentralized storage. I’m curious. What are some of the biggest and most exciting datasets to you out there? Which ones do you want to tackle and bring onto Seal?
I want to ask you that question too, Jevan. You are doing some cool stuff at AE.
For us, it’s the way that the ecosystem works. We have the opportunity to go after all sorts of different datasets. The ones that we’re going after are cool. It’s all this high-science stuff.
Let’s get geeky.
We’re looking at dark matter, neutrinos, particle physics, environmental data, and sorts of things like that. It’s this cool experimental stuff. We’re trying to figure out exactly what’s the next phase of science even if some of this research ends up not being true. The fact that people are doing it and we’re able to store that, facilitate it, and let people analyze it from our systems is so important.
In my former life, I did geospatial data analytics working with 28 different federal agencies. I got into the heat mapping data that’s out there and all these interesting visualizations that can be done with data that people don’t even realize. It gives you an entirely different perspective. I’ve been impressed working with the AEC, a team. In their breadth of analytical horsepower, they have over 30 data scientists. I’m sure this is a topic where if you’re a data scientist who is eavesdropping, maybe you’re pretty excited about the conversation we’re having.
They like big datasets as well. You brought up something precious. Is the information or the research correct? It’s there. It’s something through an evolution that we will continue to figure out what the truth may be. It’s taking that approach of being the provider who can bring the data on, make it accessible, and enable people to be educated. That’s powerful stuff.
We have been doing a lot of fun things. We partnered with Protocol Labs, which is cool. This industry always continues to get smaller every day. We’re about a 160-person team based in Los Angeles doing large implementations on the Web3 side for Fortune 500 companies. Distributed storage is surely a need and a requirement in some cases. I’m happy to make some introductions for you as well.
That would be fantastic. We’re always around.
This is not the first time that we have done some co-creation on the show live. It shows people how open and innovative this space is. There have been incredible conversations in Davos that we have on the street while eating some sausage and some Fritz and enjoying this beautiful mountainous landscape that we’re in. What have been some of the highlights for you? What are you looking forward to accomplishing while you’re here?
Davos has gotten started. It was quite exciting. There are a lot of different panels, exciting speakers, and events to go to. I’m seeing all sorts of different people and getting to meet a lot of people that I’ve spent years talking to at this point. I feel like I know them well. Getting to speak to them in person has been the most exciting part so far. I do think there are a lot of amazing people that are still arriving. In terms of what we’re looking to accomplish, it’s to see what’s going on in the industry and where our best fit is and meet like-minded people who are interested in getting involved in what we’re doing.
Try taking a step back and talking a little bit about the NFT side of things. We will get back to that. I would love to hear your perspective on where we are in the maturity of the NFT market. People ask me this question all the time. There’s been a bit of a slip in activity and a decline in some prices. There are some projects that are holding value or even increasing in value. I would like to tell people that it’s much more than the projects that they’re seeing on OpenSea. The building has just gotten started. Hopefully, don’t let that bias your perspective. Where do you fall out on this?
NFTs, as it sits, had a very interesting run in terms of being able to exemplify the technology, show off a use case, and get people comfortable with the idea of using that. There’s this initial hurdle in blockchain, “What’s a wallet? How do I buy things? What are gas and all these kinds of different features that are unique and bespoke to blockchain?” NFTs did a fantastic job in their current form of showing that and getting people there.
There’s still a lot of work to go to unlock what the potential is for these things. At the end of the day, it’s digital providence or a digital piece of individuality that you can move around. It truly belongs to you. It’s also some of the areas that I discussed before. There’s changing over a deed to a house. There’s no reason it has to be a physical piece of paper that sits in your lawyer’s office.
It makes a lot more sense that it’s an asset on the blockchain that can be easily transferred and that you can see its history. What were the prices? Who were the previous owners? You can easily move it from one custodian to the next. Even a will or a basic contract is where all this stuff is going to go. That’s the potential. It’s not quite as sleek as some of these pieces of art and profile pictures that we have, but there’s a significant amount that you can do with this technology that makes everyday life a little bit easier.
A follow-up question there would be in terms of the market of users and getting to mainstream adoption. What are the important points that need to occur to broaden the number of folks with wallets and increase adoption and use cases that are readily available or appreciated by a larger audience?
Where we have been focusing is trying to allow people to feel the benefits of Web3 without needing to deal with it. That’s where I’ve seen a lot of the most success in NFT projects. They are people who allow for payments with credit cards and don’t necessarily need you to type in a wallet or have certain functionality that people are used to. Society doesn’t change that fast. People don’t necessarily love to learn how to change, but they’re willing to try new things if it relates to something they’re comfortable with and they already understand.
People and projects need to be able to find a way to get people the value of that Web3 element but make it accessible in such a way that they’re comfortable using it. The largest innovation, at least when it comes to the internet in the last twenty-some-odd years, has been the cloud. The vast majority of people don’t touch the cloud, but at the same time, their lives are significantly impacted by that. That’s because of companies like Amazon, who have done a fantastic job in creating tools and making them so simple for people to develop. We get all the benefits of that, but we never touch it.
If folks want to learn more about you, Alex, and your company, how should they look for you on the internet and stay in touch?
Our website is SealStorage.io. You can always email me at Alex@SealStorage.io. We’re always happy to field any questions about decentralized storage or actively work with NFT projects in terms of backing up and restoring. I’m always open to talking to anyone.
Thanks for joining me. I appreciate your time.
I am here with Marik Hazan in a very special location aesthetically, but this is also the first year for the Psychedelic House at Davos. I wanted to ask you about the genesis story. Tell us a little bit more about yourself and how this all came to be.
It is the first year of the Medical Psychedelics House of Davos. We’re super proud to be able to bring this to this community. I started working in the psychedelic space years ago and started an accelerator incubator-accelerator called Tabula Rasa Ventures. We have been connecting investors with entrepreneurs for many years of time.
We built the world’s largest psychedelics conference called Psyched. That opened up the door for us to come to Davos and bring policymakers, indigenous community members, investors, entrepreneurs, policymakers, regulators, researchers, and everyone that is contributing to the future of the psychedelics ecosystem psychedelic-assisted therapy rollout specifically.
For our readers at home who want to create a house in Davos for their important cause, how does something like this come to be? How much planning has gone into it? It’s a lot of work and logistics.
For the readers at home, don’t do it. We had to stop the full-time operations of multiple projects to be able to execute this. It has been about a year of trying to execute it. You’re doing a full conference in a country where you don’t speak the language and hot dogs cost $100 because everyone is a billionaire. It’s a ludicrous place to organize something logistically. Plus, you have to fly speakers out and cover lodging, logistics, and all of that as well.
It’s a very difficult and taxing endeavor. We’re happy to be able to deliver it to the Davos crowd and community. Going forward, we will see how it continues to evolve and how our presence in Davos will change over the coming years while still being able to provide some of these foundations. Also, maybe I’m taking a bit of a step back and not going as intensely in 2023. We will see.
You’re bringing back post-traumatic stress from planning NFTLA, which had about 3,600 people, 270 speakers, and hundreds of sponsors and media. It was a lot. I had to take a vacation the week prior to Davos to finally recover from NFTLA. I’m sure after you have a vacation, you will have a different perspective on all of this. Why 2022? What’s different that compelled you to do this?
2022 is different because of the necessity. Psychedelics have made the news in every measurable way. They have been headlining the New York Times multiple times in 2021. In Davos, it’s not like we are hitting them out of the left field. Davos expected that at some point, they would see a psychedelics house. 2022 was the best year to be able to do it. We have the research and the capital that’s going into the sector. We have a lot of the pieces in place to be able to bring psychedelics in a very high-quality way to the Davos crowd and highlight the tremendous strides that have been made in psychedelic research and psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Is the growing crisis around mental health also an impetus?
NFT Market: Everyone must have an opportunity to give back to the community from a charitable perspective using whatever winnings or revenues they generate from NFTs.
COVID threw so many individuals off the fence. We have come to this reckoning of how mental health is a humongous issue worldwide. There’s no one who’s left not affected, no matter where they are from geographically. It’s something that we have to approach now. There’s a quote that a friend mentioned. It’s like, “You can’t microdose yourself out of violence or poverty.” There’s only so much that psychedelics can do to heal certain systems, but we believe that they are the best tool that we have by the research and the numbers to be able to heal things like PTSD, depression, and anxiety or at least reduce those ailments substantially that people no longer meet the threshold for diagnosis.
There are a lot of different components to your programming. We’re excited that you’ve invited us, which is focused on NFTs. How do Web3 and NFTs fit into this landscape in your mind? What’s the potential that’s unlocked there?
It’s a pretty large gradient. There are a lot of interesting Web3 projects. Web3 and NFTs are going to, in many ways, affect every part of society and how we function and so will psychedelics in many ways. There’s a whole wide range of ways that Web3 and NFTs specifically are being used in this landscape. One of them is there’s an incredible project helping indigenous communities be able to create cultural assets from the artwork that they’re creating and making them into NFTs in the Peruvian Amazon.
These communities can financially support themselves by creating an entire IP portfolio of cultural property with the artwork they have been generating. That’s one side of things. We have also seen interesting applications of decentralizing drug development or health systems. VitaDAO, PsyDAO, and Molecule.to are all projects working at this intersection of psychedelics or therapeutics, health systems, and Web3.
There are a lot of different kinds of pieces there that are super interesting to see the intersection of to the point where the crypto psychedelic movement is something that’s very real and has many followers. That’s the focus. How do these fields intersect? How do folks from the crypto space, especially the Web3 space, support the future of psychedelic therapeutics?
Those sound like cool projects I would like to get the info on them so we can share them with our readers. Here’s the fundamental question. Maybe this is one of those chicken and egg questions. Does Web3 catalyze innovation for your mind in terms of medical psychedelics? Does it amplify the existing community and programs that already exist?
Depending on what projects you’re looking at, it can do both. Some amplify what’s already there. Some help incubate innovation in this space and make certain things that weren’t before possible. Molecule, VitaDAO, and PsyDAO are doing things with Web3 that haven’t been possible in our current health systems. It’s an innovation in technology. There’s a whole new world that’s there to explore. I also think that even in plugging in the base components, you can see some amplification of the things that are happening and the assistance to be able to roll them out faster or see them come to fruition.
What’s in store? What do we have to look forward to specifically?
We will be discussing some of these projects and have multiple folks talking about this intersection of crypto or Web3 and health or psychedelics. Another thing that we’re excited about is we will be launching an NFT collection or at least revealing what we’re working on and what we have been working on. I published The First NFT of Consciousness back in May of 2021, which is me collecting EEG data.
Since then, I’ve collected hundreds of scans and created a small mock-up site called CryptoQualia States of Consciousness. I’m trying to demonstrate with this concept that we can create NFTs and tradable assets out of our states of consciousness using neurofeedback technology, which is already widely available. We can replicate each other’s brain states. If you’ve ever wanted to meditate like the Dalai Lama, you can capture that brain state from the Dalai Lama with very simple EEG technology.
You can create an NFT out of that, sell that, trade that, and open source that. Someone can go put that on the screen, hook themselves up to an EEG, project their brainwaves over the Dalai Lama’s, and self-modulate to be able to achieve that exact brainwave state and the Dalai Lama’s state of consciousness. We’re trying to demonstrate this cool intersection of consciousness and the world of NFTs.
I’m trying to take that all in. I don’t know where to go from here but that sounds awesome. What is the project called?
CryptoQualia States of Consciousness. CryptoQualia.com is where people can go and sign up. We will be issuing releases. Nothing is live yet. We will probably still need a couple of months to get everything up and running. The other incredible thing about this collection is that one of the utilities is being able to sit in a psychedelic ceremony with one of the biggest psychedelic OGs, Dennis McKenna. If you’ve ever wanted to drink ayahuasca with Dennis McKenna, that is a part of the utility for this specific NFT.
We will only be releasing three and then have a collection of around 32 that we will be releasing over the next couple of years to be able to sit in a ceremony either with Dennis or other psychedelic pioneers that we’re hoping to bring to the table as well and have them participate in this discussion of NFT-ing consciousness and what can be done here as we open-source access to our brain states.
I’m excited to learn more. I appreciate you spending some time with us. If folks want to stay in touch with you, are you on Twitter?
I’m trying to grow my Twitter. I’m not the most active.
Let’s give this guy some Twitter love. What do we have going on there?
It’s @MarikHazan. Feel free to follow me. The more you like me, the more I’ll put out. I’ll ping out musings and all the projects I’m working on. Please follow. I’m looking forward to keeping up with everyone else as well.
Thanks so much for your time.
Thank you, Josh. I appreciate it.
We have been privileged to talk to these world leaders here in Davos, Switzerland. Thanks for joining us on this journey. We have reached the outer limit at the show. Thanks, everyone, for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on this starship, so invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey all so much better. How? Go to Spotify or iTunes, rate us, and say something awesome. Go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. You can also come and participate in EdgeOfNFT.com/Discord and get to know the community. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks for sharing this time with us.
- The World Economic Forum
- Erick Calderon – Previous episode
- The Global Gift Gala
- @CoolandDre – Instagram
- @DreDay3000 – Instagram
- Greed Music
- Quincy Jones – Previous episode
- AE Studio
- Edge of AE
- Protocol Labs
- Tabula Rasa Ventures
- The First NFT of Consciousness
- @MarikHazan – Twitter
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- iTunes – Edge of NFT