Many people won’t associate the Middle East with the burgeoning Web3 industry, but it’s actually one of its busiest hotspots right now. From Saudi Arabia to the UAE, we’ll find developers, users, and even governments pitching in to create a favorable environment for innovation in the space. In this episode, we hear from some of the biggest names in the industry as they grace the halls of Edge of Dubai. Host Josh Krieger quizzes them on the latest developments on the horizon and the potential of this geographic region to make massive contributions to the industry. On the list are Yat Siu of Animoca Brands, the legendary CryptoCastle founder Yanislav Malahov, visual artist VESA and Juliet Su of NewTribe Capital. Sit back and enjoy these fascinating conversations!
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Edge Of Dubai With Yat Siu, Yanislav Malahov, VESA, And Juliet Su
In this episode, I'm here with none other than the Chairman of Animoca Brands, Yat Siu. It's great to see you in person. It's been a minute, but it's more so passing by each other. We've been flying through Singapore and Korea. We're not in Dubai. We're in Ras. We've been in the Middle East region for a few weeks running into each other. You've traveled the world. Why is this region important to Animoca Brands and to the overall blockchain landscape?
First of all, the Middle East is generally super exciting. Demographically, it's a very young population. A large part of the gaming community is coming from here in terms of emerging. When you look at a place like Saudi, something like 85% or 86% of the population is under the age of 36 and they love gaming. It's one of the highest ARPU markets in the world.
When you even look at other markets, let’s say Turkey or Egypt, a young market as well in terms of population, very much interested in all things.
The same type of games as Asia. Have you delved into what types of games they like to play here?
Most of the games people play here are first-person shooters and RPGs. It is very similar to what you see in the West and some games from Asia, but mostly, it is Western studio games that they're playing here. They have a deep interest in hunger to create new specific domestic titles that speak to the local market. That's the opportunity that we and others see as well here in terms of a strong, thriving local market that has a hunger to develop it.
Take Saudi as an example. It has an eSports ministry and a sovereign gaming fund. I can't think of many countries, if any, that have that kind of commitment. When you think about the level of investment that happens, for instance, here in the UAE, whether this is in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, in things of digital assets and Web3, broadly speaking, this is one of the most diverse investment places that you can find an interest in this space. There are many reasons to be here for all sorts of reasons.
Coinbase is considering this region. Can you touch upon why it's important for non-gaming companies? Are you advocating they also have a presence here?
I think so. First of all, particularly when you see what's happening in places like the US, people want to go somewhere where you have a little bit of clarity where you don’t know what's going on.
It’s some kind of playbook.
They have to say, “This is okay.”
They’re like, “Even if it is 1,300 pages, give us a playbook. Tell us what to do.”
It is because of the way that things are being enforced without clarity that even the likes of giants like Coinbase are finding their way having to consider offshore places where they have at least some clarity so they can conduct these valuable services that they do. To me, this region and other places like Hong Kong that are similar in this regard are positive. It's also good to have a little bit of global competition.
At the end of the day, people need to know where the talent is going to go. If the talent can't stay in one place because it's hostile, then they'll go somewhere else because talent is super mobile. Regions like this demonstrate that it's fluid. Look at how many people from around the world are in Dubai for instance. It's super international.
We've seen that people move quickly. They're willing to migrate. When that nomadic tendency takes over, you want to find a place where you can innovate, be creative, and not have boundaries. That makes a lot of sense. Speaking of innovation, I remember fondly our first show where I got to meet you where you shared your story of your fight with Apple in the early days. The fight doesn't stop.
To paraphrase, you had multiple award-winning games at the top of the charts and then you got kicked off. Pushing the envelope is in your DNA and the DNA of the culture of Animoca Brands. You're doing that again with Life Beyond. For those who don't know, this is a Bitcoin-powered game coming up. Why Bitcoin? Why does the world need a game powered on Bitcoin?
One of the things that we've all said before is we look at L1, L2, and, generally, blockchains. It is like national economies or nation-states in and of itself. Bitcoin is a country, effectively. It has a very certain culture and a certain dynamic that takes place. That's true for a lot of blockchains around the world.
Are these apples, oranges, and bananas here?
No. It is about how we enter the markets in cultural context that we can then maybe export afterward. Imagine if you're making shoes for Switzerland. You don't want to just make shoes for Switzerland. You want to sell it to America, Germany, and China, for instance, if you could. If you were only ever restricted to one ecosystem, then you wouldn't be able to expand your market. One aspect of it is comparison.
One of the areas that wasn't possible before Ordinals was a way to store digital culture. In the past, Bitcoin was very much the store value, perhaps the preeminent store of digital value. With Ordinals, you can store culture. You can store heritage. You can inscribe all sorts of interesting things about who you are and the prestige or whatever it is that you're building.
That's the zeitgeist of gaming. It is culture.
Everything we do in gaming, which billions of people do, is trying to store those forms of digital culture. You could argue that every moment in a game is an inscription of some sort, for instance. Some of them are valuable and some of them not. Most importantly, they mean something to you. Also, if you look at Bitcoin as a nation, there's a whole bunch of people on Bitcoin who will never leave Bitcoin for any other platforms as well, so it makes sense to offer services there. When you think of market value, Bitcoin is also the one that has the biggest one of all.
No one argues about it being decentralized across the world. That gives you the freedom to be creative and to onboard from every country.
The way that I see it is that the kind of games that launch in Bitcoin will have a very different flavor because of the nation that is Bitcoin. In the same way that when you launch a game in America, it's going to look different in terms of its feel, organization, and commercialization as a game that would launch in Japan or China, for instance, because of the community that's there. That's the same thing. Having a game like Life Beyond that focuses on the Bitcoin community and wants to be inside the Bitcoin culture will give it a specific narrative and a specific domestic edge. When you take a generic game and say it's one-size-fits-all, it's simply not going to make sense.
You guys are not stopping there when it comes to innovation. You put a considerable amount of focus and energy into creating Mocaverse. We have a monthly segment with them called the Moca Moment. It's a ton of fun getting updates from everyone on the team and sharing this very fast-moving locomotive train. At the same time, there are some really exciting developments that haven't come to fruition yet with these Moca IDs. I've reserved mine. I've shared with everyone I know an opportunity to reserve. We did a contest. For people who are curious, what are Moca IDs all about and why with this particular movement?
First, what Moca ID is trying to do is create decentralized IDs as Soulbound tokens as a way to not just onboard Web2 users but also provide an identity layer that can be decentralized and can be truly yours for things that we've learned in our own experiences. For instance, take things like KYC. It’s a very simple example. We had to KYC with several games because of the value. What if you had an ID that was already pre-KYC? You don't have to go and KYC a new wallet each and every time. You simply know that the customer is already KYC and then it's okay.
One of the problems we had in the past was that people KYC, get the wallet, and then they sell the wallet. You don't know if it's a real user, for instance. Whereas with a Soulbound token, it does away with some of the issues of people doubling their identity as it were. Wallets themselves aren't an effective source of identity. A Soulbound NFT that represents your ID is much more effective this way.
There are going to be a lot of perks. The way that Kyle described it to me is it’s like an airlines program on Web3 steroids. I described to him that way after I heard what he said.
It's a way to create your digital reputation that can be created over your ID so that you can know stuff about it. The vision of a decentralized ID is not that we control it. It is that other people can compose freely on top of it. Imagine a decentralized team. What would that look like? It wouldn't be that you have to use Steam to go in. You have to know who the users are and you can target them directly. It's more of a pull marketing rather than a push. For instance, every person who played a first-person shooter, I'll give you a 10% discount if you're trying a first-person shooter. How do I know you played a first-person shooter? Your Animoca ID has that record. It has that history. It has all these details about it.
You can be and do, as a human, what you enjoy. You don't have to register 100 times. You don't have to keep saying, “I did this.”
We have over 450 investments in the portfolio. We have also our own games and studios. All of them would be able to utilize and benefit from the shared network effect that Moca ID will offer.
I'm excited. It's a little bit of a foreshadowing. The Edge of Company certainly has some ideas for perks we can offer this ecosystem.
We look forward to that.
It's not just limited to 8,888 Moca owners or a subset because a lot of us hold more than one, which I encourage you to check out. This is for the entire world to get some benefit.
The next level benefit is that we want to teach people about governance. We want to teach people about the power that they have with a Moca ID and Mocaverse NFTs, like how we do it with ApeCoin governance and many of our other future token projects.
A little bit less invasive than having to get your eyeball scanned, too.
How is that stored? Who controls it? What do we do with the data? Do we know?
What if that gets hacked? Eyeballs are becoming very important identity mechanisms for securing things that you don't want to tap into.
The way that we think of the future of decentralized identity is that we may be a way to connect other identity layers but we don't know what's in it. In other words, you as an end user would then give permission to say, “I'm okay with you to take data from these 10 different sources, 3 different sources, or 5 different sources,” which we never have. Personally, decentralized identities on the blockchain are going to solve many of the privacy issues that places like Europe have, for instance. You can truly guarantee that the company that might be managing your ID doesn't know that much about you.
It’s a very powerful concept. You get to go home soon to Hong Kong because ApeFest is coming up. There's going to be a really exciting site event that the Mocaverse and Animoca Brands community is cooking up. Can you tell our audience about that in case they want to book a flight?
We're going to have a little event in Mocaverse. It's a boat trip. It's been changing a little bit back and forth, but that's what happened. Sandbox is also having a very cool event on the third as well.
Generally speaking, I would tell everyone to come to FinTech week because there are going to be tens of thousands of people coming in who are Web3 enthusiasts and interests. It's not just ApeFest. It's Mocaverse. It’s Sandbox. There are all these little side events. Don't come for us. Come from the fact that everyone else is building something there around that really exciting week. Come to Hong Kong.
Thanks for hanging out for a few. It’s good to see you as always.
Thank you so much.
Welcome to the show live in not Dubai but Ras at the Digital Oasis Summit. It's been a pretty amazing few weeks. We had a lovely lunch. We happened to be sitting next to someone I thought we should all get to know better. This is Yani Malahov also known as The Godfather of Ethereum. It's great to have you on the show.
We're few years into the craze around non-fungible tokens, but there's a long complex, and sophisticated history. One thing that jumps out to me is it's all about the immutability of Bitcoin as a potential avenue for creating NFTs in a different way called Ordinals. You have been around the earlier genesis of this concept. Why don't we start there? It's a fascinating story. Tell us a little bit more about the previous years, what some of the early conversations were about Bitcoin, and what might be possible in terms of what we know as NFTs.
I discovered Bitcoin in 2011. In 2013, I was working on a colored coin wallet. You would say it is NFT art issuance wallets. Effectively, it was maybe the first wallet and platform that supported artists to timestamp their artwork and issue editions, which we called back then these NFTs according to, let's say, the art world standard.
What made you decide to do that and go down that journey? At that time, I feel like even more so than now, people thought of Bitcoin as a store of value in a more traditional FinTech concept of a new version of democratizing capital. Why did this even come to mind?
I decided to become a blockchain, crypto, or, back then, Bitcoin professional. There was not much talk about blockchain either. Back then, it was Bitcoin and altcoins. I found somebody who wanted to do a project in the digital art world. He was an experienced entrepreneur from Canada. We met each other in the famous Room 77 Bitcoin bar in Berlin. It was the first brick and mortar store that ever started accepting Bitcoin already in 2010.
I pitched to him the idea of this project. He wanted to do something with Bitcoin and digital art also because of his wife who was an art world professional and a curator for physical and digital art as far as I remember. This is how these things got together. I was also working with Vitalik on some other things. We were hanging out in Calafou in the summer of 2013 and also in Milano. We were living the crypto-anarchist lifestyle.
How old was Vitalik at that time?
He must have been nineteen or something like that. He was barely a legal adult.
Did you have these conversations over coffee, drinks, or in one of your housing at that moment?
It was over laptops.
We didn't have co-working spaces then, or were there?
Calafou was a community of people who left society to live in an abandoned factory which was half burned down as well. We were building technology for people who are completely out of society. This was one of the main ideas behind this community. For us, it was rather a temporary wiz-it. We were there for around 10 days or 2 weeks. I remember Vitalik sleeping on a super thin mattress on the floor. It was super basic living standards. We were living a very different lifestyle than we are now.
I'm curious. Were there ramen noodles being served in this communal kitchen or were you eating fresh food to spark all these creative ideas?
It was freshly cooked food by the community chefs. I remember one thing. We need to wash our dishes with these two buckets methodology. There was no running water. It was 2 buckets, which were 1 dirty bucket and 1 clean bucket, and then you dry the dishes. It’s the same way with how it usually gets done in Thailand on the street.
I also remember that Vitalik back then was waking up really early as well and spending all of his day on his laptop. Sometimes, we went for walks. This was the distraction we had. We climbed together. We climbed Montserrat, which is between Celafou and Barcelona. There's also a picture of us standing on the peak. This was all before Ethereum.
How old were you back then, if you don't mind me asking?
This was 2013, so I was 26.
You were the older mentor. You have seen a few things but are still inspired by some of the same principles as Vitalik around the democratization of the global economy, right?
Sure. Vitalik was famous for writing the Bitcoin Magazine. At this point, he wrote more than half of it. He originally got in contact with his Cofounder, Mihai Alisie, who brought Vitalik into the Bitcoin Magazine as a writer. I also became a Cofounder of the Ethereum project. Back to the NFT story, I still need to try to find the old private keys from several years ago. It would be fascinating to activate these NFTs. They are on the blockchain. We have the proofs, the timestamps, and the hashes of the artwork.
It's missing the keys.
We never expected that there would be such a craze around NFTs and they would be sold for many millions or some of the NFTs would be selling for many millions. Nobody would've expected this in 2013. Otherwise, we would've framed everything and saved it. Maybe one of the lessons here for your audience is to never give up and hold onto really great original ideas because at some point, if the timing is right, it might be a good opportunity to get some value out of the work.
We have the movement around the Ordinals. There are a lot of folks in the community who think that there are some benefits of minting off of Bitcoin and also side chains of Bitcoin being created with BRC-21 and updates since then. Would you say that was also unexpected? What are your thoughts on where this renaissance of Bitcoin art goes from here?
The Bitcoin blockchain has been used for many things, not just transactions. In Prior years, several years ago, it was not very well accepted in the Bitcoin community.
The maxis didn't like it very much.
I was also afraid that they were going to crucify us because we were timestamping artwork on the Bitcoin blockchain. Since there are so many blockchains and through the increase of the block size or the indirect increase of block size, there is more space and so much competition. It's great for the Bitcoin blockchain to have more use cases. What do you think? Is it more accepted by the Bitcoin community to use it for digital art?
The answer is yes and no. The maxis are holding to their belief around the purity of Bitcoin as a store of value. That community is getting smaller. There are more folks who see Bitcoin as far more than a store of value. There are a lot of folks excited about the potential to do things with Bitcoin. We already know that it's fully decentralized and accepted in that manner as opposed to all the new cryptocurrencies out there.
This idea of immutability is very powerful as a concept because you're not tied to IPFS. You're not tied to a marketplace like OpenSea. It's engraved. There is still some exploration of how you determine different values. I know Casey has come up with some concepts that the community is rallied around. It's too early to tell.
Similar to back then, several years ago, if there's anything we've all learned in this space, it's that it's very difficult to predict the future. When we try, we're usually wrong at least when it comes to this type of innovation. With that said, I'm sure there's this warmth in your heart from those early days with Vitalik and what has been created since then. Could you have imagined Ethereum being where it is at this moment in time back then?
When I was working with Vitalik, there was no Ethereum. We were chatting about what we could improve in our token system. This is maybe also how Ethereum was born as a project. We were working on this colored coin wallet project for Trent McConaghy in the field of digital art. Vitalik was also working on some Israeli-colored coin projects.
There was also a product called Counterparty, which was used by a few big projects back then. Mastercoin got rebranded into Omni. Also, tether was first issued as a Mastercoin protocol token. Issuing tokens on top of the Bitcoin blockchain is not exactly a new thing. This has been done for more than ten years. What we did with Vitalik was to target the digital world markets as developers, but it was also not our company.
You were around though as well when Ethereum was created. After knowing Vitalik and knowing what you knew about him as a human, his characteristics, and his technical acumen, would you have predicted that Ethereum would be where it is and would've grown into this massive ecosystem?
I had given up temporarily on Ethereum. I was part of the first Ethereum Miami house where all the initial cofounders got together.
These hacker houses are also not a new thing.
This was in late January 2014 for the North American Bitcoin conference in Miami. It was led by Mo. Mo was also organizing conferences in Amsterdam where we also went to prior.
These side chains building at other conferences has also been a trend that's been around for quite a while. ETH Denver is all about the side chains building. There's a lot of interesting history in terms of the culture of crypto and blockchain that is not new. It's ingrained in the DNA of the industry.
You said hacker house is not a new thing. It is not a new thing. These anarchist communities were more like hacker houses than this Miami thing. This Miami thing was more like a business house. This was my impression.
They were in abandoned factories back then.
For example, abandoned factories. In Milano, it was an abandoned slaughterhouse management facility. It was a house of the management of the slaughterhouse but still a slaughterhouse. It was quite beautiful there, but lots of tiger mosquitoes. You can't imagine. Tiger mosquitoes are really the worst.
They sound vicious.
There is one key thing. What made me not believe in Ethereum early on was that it was too business-driven and less technologically driven. This is also why I started another blockchain. It's called Æternity, which is a next-generation smart contract platform. It's not anymore that new. I also started it already a few years ago. It's been live for five years since I studied Computer Science. I was also a big fan of functional programming as a better way of doing algorithms.
Timestamping, too. It has a timestamping functionality.
Every blockchain is timestamping.
What else differentiates it from other blockchains?
Æternity is written from scratch. My contact language follows the functional paradigm. Generally, it obstructs on a higher level. Also, the virtual machine obstructs on a higher level. Instead of having assembly code, in the version machine, it is symbols. You can do more optimizations for running these programs on specific hardware, but you still need to do this.
The optimizations have been done, but the virtual machine is already ten times more space-efficient. The bytecode of the smart contract is ten times more space-efficient than the bytecode on the EVM. We really tried to innovate on every level. We also have a different mining algorithm. Æternity is still proof of work. It didn't really work out as we expected it, but we wanted people with smartphones could also efficiently participate in the consensus with the mining because the algorithm was not efficiently computable by CPUs.
You were thinking mobile-friendly at that time. What's next on your roadmap that folks have to look forward to?
The next big thing and what we are all waiting for almost for years is the launch of Hyperchains. It is the next generation of Æternity-style blockchains. Everybody should be able to launch Hyperchains. It is like a child chain for Bitcoin, but it could be any other parent chain as well. It could be also Dogecoin. It could be also Litecoin, for example. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to launch a proof of stake child chain called Hyperchain for proof of work, whether it be a mother or parent chain.
That could be really powerful as a concept. When's that coming out?
I hope soon, but this development is done by the æternity foundation. Since we try to be as decentralized as possible, I'm not involved with the core developers so much. I'm giving the initial ideas and writing about things I'm talking about.
You're like a mentor or coach.
I am not giving any promises about delivery dates. I even open-sourced the whole concept so that other people could also implement the Hyperchain consensus mechanism for their needs. We believe it's the safest consensus mechanism because it's taking the best of both world proof of work and proof of stake without paying for the proof of work.
That’s very cool. Where can people go to learn more about æternity?
That’s very cool. Are you on Twitter or X as they call it?
I am on X. I was ironically asking in a mass tweet on Twitter, “Shall I tweet more on Twitter?” and then the rebranding took place so I didn't tweet more on Twitter. You can find historic tweets from me. My handle is @Noyyy.
This is really fun. Thanks for bearing this heat outside to find a quiet place to chat and get to know each other better. Your story is powerful and important for the world to know. I've learned a lot in terms of how our history is so important. We always think in the moment everything feels different, but understanding the history of Bitcoin and the history of NFTs is so important for the community. Thank you.
Thank you. It has been a pleasure.
I am Josh Krieger, cohost of the show. I am live in Dubai with a dear friend and previous guest on the show, the one and only VESA. It's great to see you IRL finally and no less in front of your beautiful art. How are you?
I feel amazing. Finally, in real life. It's been at least two years or something?
At least two years. It's because of you that I was exposed to everything going on in the Dubai Web3 scene. Thank you for ushering us into Dubai. We really appreciate your hospitality and your stewardship of what's going on here.
You stewarded me into Los Angeles. It is the circle of goodness.
What is this amazing piece of art? What's going on here?
From the Dubai and UAE standpoint, this is an early crypto artwork that was made in 2020 around the time when I came here first. I was introduced to the amazing Dr. Marwan and his wife, Miriam, who are depicted over there as she was working with the Emirati Space program. Dr. Marwan is the CEO of the Dubai Blockchain Center.
I was honoring their patronage to be a part of it. It's the Dubai skyline that you have at the bottom. We were discussing how to tokenize potentially the royal horses. That was one thing. It has this liquid powerful gentle of what this place really is on the sidelines. Since it has a Mars program, the Mars rocket is the only one that is going higher than the Burj Khalifa. There are a few symbolic things.
I heard about the program to get a colony on Mars next century.
With ambition comes possibility. It's been a minute since we've caught up. You're always on the cutting-edge of art and generative AI as well as Web3. What are some of your reflections at this moment in time?
It's been a tough couple of years in the bear market. The WOW Summit was the last one.
We were a media partner for them as well.
It was an incredible event. They did an amazing job. It was slightly more quiet than usual. What I enjoy about the bear markets is that you have less of the hype-y type of people. It's the real builders who go through the bear markets, especially throughout this time. I'm sure next year we're going to start picking back up again. NFTs are not dead. They're coming back in the next cycle and hopefully a little bit more mature and a little bit wiser.
This is a peculiar question to ask someone who's more of an artist. You've been into digital art for a long time. You shared your perspective on the history of art and how it's evolved to this point. When you look at the practical use cases for verifiable digital assets, at the end of the day, are you still super excited about the real-world utility of tokenizing something like cars? I know you have that project with Dr. Marwan. Are there other use cases that you think are more promising? Is it a combination of all of the above or none of the above?
It’s a combination. How we utilized NFTs for the first run of it, I'm not too big of a fan of. I understand that's what happened to ICOs, but ICOs didn't go anywhere. It’s that we got wiser in how we implement them. We have plans for that digital artwork to become a part of your identity. It's no longer a painting on your wall. It's something that you transform into a variety of different forms.
We're innovating how we sell the IP and how we help our partners, our clients, and collectors to become part of this new wave and experiment with us. It's difficult to see what is going to take off. What is going to be the popular thing, we don't know, but we have a very solid vision of where we're going in order to showcase, “Here's your car. This is what a villa could look like. This is what the metaverse version of that villa is like. Doesn't this jet look cool?”
There's another side to it. For example, this one project that I'm working on with Dr. Naris from KogoPAY is that her actual real passion is these orphanages in Thailand. What really got me into this space to begin with were Andrea Antonopoulos' videos and the Bad Crypto Podcast guys. In particular, it was Andrea Antonopoulos when he said that there are about 3.5 billion people in the world without a bank account. We were thinking about different implementations.
What we did with Dr. Narisa and this Heavenly Home in Thailand, which is a kids' orphanage place, is that we got the kids to draw some crayons and things like that, and then we digitized them. We're going to have the professional animator turn them into NFTs and then put them on an international marketplace. If we have some support, if and when some child's NFT sells, that kid directly gets some money onto their crypto wallet as well and the orphanage itself gets some operational funds.
It’s not like the NCWA. It took them about 80 years to decide to allow the athletes to get compensation for their value. That's an incredible lesson to teach orphans at such a young age that there's value in everything that they create in the world. I know you're going to explain more, but I had to stop you because it's such a beautiful use case.
We try to go both ways. You have to have the top-end support what it is that is the real renaissance of 3.0 on the side of, let's say, what would be the da Vincis and Michelangelos. You then have to have the actual Web3 revolution happen from the bottom up, which is this one. What's so exciting about it is that the first critique is maybe you have 1 or 2 who have talent in drawing. That's not the case because you need the organizational people. You need the sellers. You need all these kinds of skills that these kids are going to have so that they can organize around whatever Web3 creativity is. It's not only art. You have so many different implementations that you can get those skills already at that stage.
Imagine what kind of prospects you have if you're a six-year-old orphan in Thailand at this moment. It's not going to be the brightest future that is painted in front of you. If this kind of thing is injected into your idea stream and they start to feel what it is that they could do in order to get this ball rolling, then all of a sudden, you have an organization. That's quite something. That's exciting.
Where do people learn more about that project? Is it out yet?
Not yet. We have digitized the material. I can send you the video of the kids drawing and doing all of that stuff over there, but it's not materialized yet.
Keep checking out Art by VESA to learn more about that project. What's your perspective on AI? It is another technology that's been around for a long time but has evolved faster. Especially with the advent of generative AI, it's the talk of the town. What are you doing with AI? What is your overall perspective on whether or not it's beneficial to creators and to the creator economy?
As always things are, it's polarizing. It's very useful and simultaneously destructive. That dystopian vision for art at least is that the machines are generating the art and the human beings are still cleaning the toilets. That was not the intention of why we started making machines to begin with. Why do we make art? What is it about our soul, communication, and connection that we want to achieve with it to begin with? What is it that we try to put on canvas or any other form in order to make ourselves proud about what it is that we do and make humanity around us happy about what it is that we do? Life is so damn difficult that we need to have some aspirations of what we go towards.
I'm not saying that you can't do it with AI because especially with AI, many people can aspire to do many creative things. With the future of art, somewhere where we’re going is these 360 worlds where you can interact with the artwork and it knows that you're there. It’s not necessarily even that someone is there, but know that you personally are there.
Maybe that art experience is tailored to your preferences and views. You get to say whether that experience is challenging for you or beautiful, or all those kinds of things. You as an artist don't want to paint these 360 worlds pixel by pixel. You want to have a good assistant with you in order to create it. It's going to transform the film industry as we know it in five years. I don't even know if the film industry will exist in ten years any more than how we've known it to exist for over 100 years.
It was a little longer. They resolved the strike, at least the writer's strike, in a way that gives the writers some longevity and some protections in terms of the extent to which AI can take over writing scripts and whatnot. There is a lot more that we don't know than we know at this moment in time. I also think there's an opportunity for creators to reach new heights with their own creativity through using AI as a tool set, right?
Very much so. There's one common saying that is starting to annoy me a little bit. It is this whole thing that you won't be replaced by AI. You will be replaced by someone who knows how to make AI. If you have a special effects program that does something and one person can do a whole movie, you are replaced in one movie by 800 people. You will be replaced by AI.
Don't sugarcoat some of the realities of this technology and what it is going to do.
Learning how to code was around the corner. ChatGPT does the coding for you so that's becoming useless. The pace of evolution is staggering.
It may or may not benefit you to dive into the tools that are available because those tools could change in six months. They're releasing new products, Microsoft and Google, every week. We talk about them. Every week, there is a major update. I get it. Hang on for the ride at least. Where can folks find you on Twitter to keep up with what you're up to in this space?
It is good to see you. This will not be the last meeting. We'll get a chance to hang out. Thank you for hanging out with us on the show.
It’s always a pleasure.
Welcome back to the show live in Ras. We are in the MENA region getting an interesting perspective on what's going on here by having amazing conversations and meeting amazing people. At this moment, I have the pleasure to talk with Juliette Sue who's the Cofounder and Partner at NewTribe Capital. It's great to have you on the show.
Thanks for inviting me.
I've heard so many exciting things about what you're doing to bring the community together and support not only economic investment in this region but also cultivate partnerships and whatnot. Tell me a little bit about the genesis of NewTribe Capital and what you're up to.
We started here in the UAE a few years ago as NewTribe Capital. There was a whole reason behind the name. We wanted to achieve and be referred to as the new decentralized tribe of innovation, the people who are located all over the world who are united by the same idea and the same trust in the future of technology. These types of people are not led much by chasing their financial goals but to have influence and to impact the future of technology. That's why we heard that the UAE might be a good base.
That was when?
It was 2020, a few years ago.
That's a long time in Web3. I feel like I'm learning so much every day here. This is a vibrant place. To take a little bit about the answer to my question, what have you seen happen over those three years and what's your perspective on where the region is?
There are rapid changes happening here. I remember when we started because a major business had invested. When we spoke with a project and said, “We are based in Dubai,” lots of people were super skeptical. For them, a good VC should be based out of the US, maybe Silicon Valley, or maybe Singapore. I was like, “We are in Dubai.” The situation is changing completely. We are one of the oldest and the most active VCs based out of Dubai. People would love to explore more.
What is interesting about this region, and I believe only in the UAE, is there is a collaboration happening between regulators, investors, projects, business community, and institutional players. There is a beautiful mixture where we can see the proper mass adoption of technology. At the end of the day, why we are here and what we are doing here is we try for this technology to be adopted within the traditional businesses. This is the place where we can have open dialogues with the regulators. We also collaborated with the regulators. We are the partners of Ras Al Khaimah Digital Assets Oasis.
Tell us a little bit about this event and why it's happening. I got on a bus after a busy night. Thanks to Queen W for a fun party. We're all here and there are about 500 to 600 people that are all change makers. What are we experiencing right this moment?
What we experience is that we experience the infrastructure being built. We are talking not about the technical infrastructure. We are talking about the physical infrastructure. We are talking about providing the developers and investors the place. They can set up their company where they can run their businesses. They then have beneficial regulations for the company.
This is through RAK DAO?
Yes. RAK DAO is the one place that provides the regulations. If you run any Web3 company, you can set up a RAK DAO. Probably open a bank account because I believe one of the biggest problems for the Web3 community is to open a bank account for their businesses.
You get a bank account right away. That's very powerful.
That's why it's called Crypto Oasis. The government here aims to create a collaborative space with a beautiful infrastructure for all the builders, founders, and investors and build the proper ecosystem of different types of players who are involved in Web3 from different ethos.
That’s very cool. You have a slightly different approach to supporting your ecosystem than some of the other venture capitalists globally with these gatherings.
That is an interesting idea. One day, I woke up in the morning. I was like, “I need to do NewTribe Gathering.” It's not related to the brand itself. It's the idea we've got behind the brand back in the days. This idea is becoming so popular. We see it as a network state. I created a very exclusive space in the event where we have the CEO from Ras Al Khaimah Digital Assets Oasis. We have some C-level managers of finance, lots of investors, and top project founders get together.
They are leaders of these different tribes.
The leaders from this space get together in a very nice atmosphere. They have a chance to talk to each other properly and not get lost. They were selected people who got together in one place. They had a chance to have the proper discussion over there.
That’s very cool. I went to William & Mary. We were called The Tribe. I had a food tech company. We called our community The Tribe so I really relate to that word. It aligns well with what's going on in the space of blockchain innovation because we're crossing all ethnicities and geographical boundaries. We happen to be in a desert-like climate. I dig the name.
With NewTribe Capital, NewTribe is one word because it's the new digital tribe. Digital is all about decentralization. We are trying to create this new type of decentralized digital tribe. It is those people who believe in the future of Web3 technology.
You have your eyes on the ground here. Can you give me a couple of examples of what you think are innovative projects in the Web3 space that have gotten real traction that maybe people don't know about yet globally?
Lots of people globally tend to consider that there are no developers in Dubai. What I've seen is, first of all, the community of developers is growing here. At the same time, there are lots of projects that are relocating to Dubai because they understand that they can find the proper founders and the proper asset option here and partnership, like the business development here and the go-to-market strategy. Here is the space. You can go to the business development stage and grow your company as it is. It's like a Web3 company.
What are a couple of examples of projects that you think are kicking butt?
One is a very famous project because it is from the local Emirates guys.
It’s called what?
It's called myco. It’s a decentralized streaming platform.
They were on a panel I moderated. It’s very cool what they're doing. They have over four million users.
There are different types of projects. People ask me, “What are the projects that you can mention based out of UAE?” Should I mention the project that started in the UAE and got a global expansion or vice versa? It should be the project who started somewhere and then they came to the UAE. There are different streams happening. At the same time, I can mention a few projects that are founded and based here and do business development here or something like Honey and myco.
That’s very cool. This has been fun. Where can people go to learn more about NewTribe Capital and what you're up to?
That's very easy. NewTribe.Capital is our website.
Check out Juliet's fund. Hopefully, you have a chance to meet her if you come to this region at one of her gatherings. Thanks for your time.
Thank you very much. Thank you for interviewing me.