Many great tech ideas come out of necessity as opposed to great vision. This is what CEO and co-founder of SKALE Network, Jack O’Holleran, realized. Recognizing the blockchain scalability problem, Jack used his passion for decentralized systems to fuel his solution. Jack sits with Jeff Kelley, Eathan Janney, and Josh Kriger to share how their platform intends to advance the development of Web3 technologies and make them more accessible for developers and end-users alike. Listen in as Jack expounds on how the SKALE Network is a game-changer at bringing speed and configurability to the blockchain database. For today’s hot topics, find out about a new venture the Edge Of NFT crew has embarked on in partnership with a world-class development studio. Introducing: Edge Of AE Studios, your one stop shop for bringing the Edgiest Web3 projects to life. Let’s co-create!
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Jack O’Holleran Of SKALE Labs – Bringing The Power Of Ethereum To Billions Of Users + Announcing: Edge Of AE – Building, Partnering And Investing In The Edge Of Web3
This episode features Jack O’Holleran, Cofounder and CEO of SKALE Labs. SKALE Network is an open-source Web3 platform intended to bring speed and configurability to the blockchain. It’s the only containerized network capable of running an unlimited number of security, centralized, high-performance Ethereum blockchains.
Jack is a veteran Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur with a deep background in machine learning, AI technologies and blockchain. His resume includes being Cofounder of Aktana, Cofounder of IncentAlign and executive positions at Good Technology and Motorola. His first work with digital currencies was in 2008, building a digital currency platform for enterprise resource allocation.
Jack has been an active cryptocurrency investor and evangelist for decentralized systems since early 2013. In 2018, Jack’s passion for decentralized systems and blockchain led him to join efforts with Stan Kladko to solve the blockchain scalability problem and develop the Ethereum Layer 2 multichain network, SKALE. Jack, welcome to the show.
It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
Jack, it’s great to have you here. I know this show has been a long time in the making. I appreciate that you’re also a fan of the show. It’s always an honor to have a fan of the show as a guest. Thankfully, we both recovered from the buffet corn cough at EatDenver, named affectionately after the buffet corn that we all minted. We’ll see you at NFTLA soon but in the meantime, let’s dive into what SKALE is all about and how it got started. We’d love to start with your genesis story. How did you get the idea to put the wheels in motion to build SKALE?
A lot of great tech ideas come out of necessity as opposed to great vision. Stan and I are both building Web3 applications. We had different ideas for building products that could bring the power of Web3 and decentralized systems to hundreds of millions of people through the applications we wanted to build. We both are running into the same roadblocks of, “This is too costly and too slow. How can we ever even get to 100,000 concurrent users, let alone millions or hundreds of millions?”
Stan is a world-renowned cryptographer and physicist. When I was introduced to Stan by a couple of VCs that were close with Signia and Floodgate ventures, Stan had these ideas. He wanted to build a decentralized Twitter, marketplace and DEX. He had these four ideas. I was like, “Stan, why do you think you can build these things?” He’s a technical visionary. He architected what SKALE is now. The two of us came together and said, “This is something we can bring to thousands of other builders as opposed to using it to build an application for ourselves.”
It’s beautiful to be on a team with someone like that. I love all the people that we meet here. Many forward-thinking folks have a clear vision of what’s going to happen next. I remember talking to the founder of RNDR Network and being like, “Woah.” He saw it all. It’s beautiful to be able to be in touch with people like that and be on a team with them.
I do have a burning follow-up question for Jack. As you’re going through this conception process, the gas prices of ETH and the impact of CyptoKitties on the market, did that cross your mind in the process of conceiving SKALE?
Yeah, definitely. One of SKALE’s biggest advantages is that it’s gasless. Stan and I both came from enterprise software, B2B software, machine learning, big data. This model of instead of paying per bite, you pay for a resource is a core part of B2B software. You also don’t want to penalize your growth by charging users each time they use your product.
With SKALE, a big piece of this was, “If we could subsidize the fees through SKALE token and let people essentially rent out the space in advance, it takes the burden of the transaction fee from the user to either a developer or DAO or a project or a company.” That’s one of the pieces of innovation. It wasn’t just slowed block times and limited functionality in these blockchain products but it was also high fees. You can’t do anything with $100 fees.
SKALE Labs: You don’t want to penalize your growth by charging users each time they use your product.
Can you tell us about Ruby.Exchange? How that is supported by your platform?
A lot of people have a vision in their minds of what a blockchain is. SKALE is a network of many blockchains. Instead of one, there could be hundreds or thousands of these blockchains. They all work together to share security but they don’t share performance. When you have all these chains that can talk to each other, you have this limitless blockchain pool of resources but you can have issues in terms of functionality and interoperability.
There’s a launch happening called SKALE V2. All of these changes in the SKALE Network will be able to speak to one another. When that happens, we also need to make sure that there’s not just liquidity everywhere. You don’t want to have every chain have a DEX. There’s a SKALE community hub launching. Ruby and some other folks are spearheading this SKALE community hub.
There’ll be a world-class marketplace for trading tokens, an AMM or Automated Market Maker on the Ruby.Exchange that also is powered by NFTs. There’ll be NFTs that people can purchase that give their user account increased rewards and other different features and functionalities. It is cool to see an NFT not only be a limited piece of art but something that’s functionally adding value through a smart contract system like a decentralized exchange.
When there are people who are wondering about the long-term feasibility of NFTs, they’re often folks that have this vision of collectible art, trading cards on the internet and things like that. We’re all seeing this over and over again. There are a lot of functional usages that are going to be wrapped into the infinite structure of the future here. There’s no denying that there’s no better way to do this stuff. You’re either going to be seeing NFTs or you’re not but they’ll be there.
That fits the culture of blockchain and crypto too. Imagine if NASDAQ had an NFT you could use to enhance trading fees. It’s like, “Sorry, it’s just not going to happen.” This whole decentralized, fun and disruptive nature of the industry also brings in cool pieces of functionality.
We think of community, it’s at the center of everything. Bringing users onboard and engaging with them, making things easy for them. This is the way that we’ve seen so many companies onboard folks into the space. I’m curious how you view ID cash’s position in that hierarchy of things that you do for customers.
ID cash is still one of the best-kept secrets in crypto especially NFTs. One of the issues has always been how do you help a novice user who doesn’t have a Web3 wallet get an NFT easily? A lot of people are trying to build solutions. ID lets a user scan a QR code. Instead of it sending them an email or taking them to a landing page, it mints an NFT on the SKALE blockchain and creates a wallet on their device that can leverage the Android wallet, Native iOS wallet and biometrics of the user. It safely stores and secures the NFT. It completely transforms distribution.
If you think about all the brands whether it be consumer brands, celebrities, musicians, premieres of movies and your ability to get NFTs to non-crypto native users. Part of it is its amazing engineering on behalf of the ID team but also, they were able to use the gasless nature of SKALE to mint the NFT. Everywhere else, you need to subsidize that user’s transaction. Frankly, it isn’t feasible to do it in a seamless manner.
That easy button across the board, I feel like you can provide that to solve a complicated problem. In this case, we’ve all spent hours explaining how to open a wallet and how to transfer the money endlessly. That’s an amazing addition.
By the way, I feel like that should be an industry motto. We should be like, “How can we easy-button this thing?” That’s the gating factor, like, “Finally, the tech’s here, the social side. The users are here. We’ve got to easy-button these products.”
We could probably do a show on each of these products but we want to go through some of the other ones so people can understand the vastness of what SKALE is doing. One of those is Curate, which is an NFT marketplace that uses SKALE to empower creators by giving them gas minting and fast finality. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
We’ve got a couple of cool launch partners in what we’re calling SKALE NFT Hubs. If you think about it, there’ll be hundreds and eventually thousands of games, applications, decentralized social media products, B2B marketplaces and all these different products on the SKALE Network. A lot of these products have NFTs but you can’t have an NFT marketplace on every single chain so we have these hubs.
Curate is taking a mobile-friendly, mobile-first approach to NFT sales and NFT marketplace and attacking a high-quality creator market. They’re seeing, “OpenSea is our vast store of unlimited quantities.” They’re trying to be more specific to a certain clientele of buyers. That will be an NFT hub. NFTrade is another big SKALE partner that will be launching a hub we’re excited about.
I know you guys have NFTrade and Solidaria. Solidaria is interesting, empowering the Shopify storefront with a reward mechanism to send customers tokens and NFTs. That’s where a lot of people go when they think about, “How can we make this stuff mainstream?” They think Web3, Shopify. If we put those two things together then we’ve got something special. Can you tell us about both of those, NFTrade and Solidaria?
They’re servicing different audiences, which I love because the industry is growing fast and it’s growing in every direction. For people reading, one interesting data point on the market is our team can’t hire enough people and business development and we don’t have enough time in the day. There are so many projects being built. There are so many cool things happening. Every type of business that needs to have better customer engagement, brand engagement and community growth is thinking about how to launch an NFT.
If you look at that, NFTrade is OpenSea meets a full multichain world. They have changed support from a number of top marketplaces. Depending on the day, they’re always in the top 3 to 5 in volume on each specific pure marketplace. They’re a brilliant team out of Israel that has built this product. We’re pumped about the launch. They’ll have a dedicated SKALE hub.
There are 150 different projects getting ready to go live on SKALE at different stages of the process to go on the V2. A lot of those will go live on NFTrade. The Web3 pure side of me loves being Web3 but also the practical side of me knows that connecting to Web2 and having hybrid models is the way we’re going to get the first hundreds of millions of users. If you go to dApp radar and you sort by daily active users, you don’t see hundreds of millions of users at all. That will change when we get good Web3 hooks into Web2 products like Shopify. The Solidaria team is doing just that.
We’ve got a lot of ground to cover still and I feel like we’ve gone a long way. It’s amazing what you’re doing here. One of the things that you also announced was the $100 million ecosystem fund. What’s the story there? What are you planning to do with it? How are you going to be deploying this in the ecosystem?
We’re incredibly excited about it. We’ve been waiting for a long time to announce this. It was strategic and it would be announced right before SKALE V2. We have almost all these islands. All these SKALE chains can talk only to the Mainnet. There are islands with a single bridge and there are soon about to be islands that are all connected to one another. You almost have more of a Venice series of canals and connected buildings instead of islands.
SKALE Labs: It’s cool to see an NFT not only be a limited piece of art but something that’s functionally adding value through a smart contract system or a decentralized exchange.
With that launch, we’ve announced this $100 million grant program. That will be given out in different waves. We want to be decentralized and get a lot of different entities supporting that distribution. The first one will be supported by the foundation behind SKALE and it will be specific to blockchain gaming. There’s a $5 million grant pool that’s dedicated to that. In the future, there’ll be different DAOs that will take different initiatives to launch a DeFi-specific grant program or a Web2 conversion program. We look forward to seeing a lot of different groups, parties, people and individuals help deploy that capital.
Big opportunity to have an influence in this space. We’ve seen so many programs like that evolve and make such a huge impact, getting especially small companies to help set them on a trajectory for success so kudos. That’s amazing.
One interesting thing there is we had the opportunity to take that quantity of tokens and say, “Let’s go sell it to VCs and let’s go raise $100 million.” We would have $100 million and then we could hire all these people then we’d have a big centralized company. Instead, we took an approach saying, “SKALE is community-owned. It’s a public good. Instead of selling that to VCs who then are going to sell it later, how could we strategically distribute that to grow a community and create more shared ownership of the protocol?” We did have a funding opportunity to go do that and turn it down.
This is one of the things I love so much about this phase of the evolution of crypto. There’s the ethos, which we can talk about all day but actions speak so much louder than words. That’s what we’re seeing here so kudos. Awesome.
There are so many creative ways to do this. You think about what was done in the 2017 and 2018 time and some of the criticisms of that time in terms of making VCs do well. Thankfully for them, they’ve helped build this ecosystem but we now know what real long-term mass adoption takes. It takes an army. On that note, tell us a little bit more about 360NFT and what we can expect from their collaboration with SKALE.
360NFT is one of the sleepers that did a soft launch in getting products dialed in but they service what I would call an entirely underrepresented component of humanity. They’re going initially into the reggaeton and Latin-American music scene and going after a market that is representative of the founders. It’s a diverse team. They are going and saying, “We know tech, music and distribution. Let’s go take this to people that look like us that we understand.” That market is being frankly underserved and we’re pumped to support them. They’re a brilliant team that a lot of people are going to be talking about soon.
In any endeavor with such a wide net, it’s so important to have individuals and collective spearheading a focus that is around their culture or their specific area of knowledge. We’re seeing all sorts of interesting things bubble up and it’s beautiful. People need to remember that there’s no one culture behind the evolution of Web3. It’s going to take these individuals building within their individual cultures and bringing it all together to make something fresh and new. We’ve been talking here for a bit. My brain is mush, which I love about this show. You have so much going on with SKALE and it’s so impressive to hear all about it. It’s fun. I love this stuff. Tell me about the Mempo NFT collection. What’s that?
Mempo is a SKALE partner. They’re building something called the Mempoverse. It’s GameFi. There is an NFT they’ve launched and they’ll be launching more later directly on the SKALE Network. They’re pumped about being able to have zero-cost GameFi play-to-earn games built by world-class developers. Also, being able to integrate avatars, NFTs and NFT-oriented superpowers that can be coded into smart contracts. They’re doing some cool stuff. It’s starting with an NFT but working on building what is called next-generation play-to-earn platform.
Can you tell me more about a dual reality community and what that means inside of Mempo?
It’s interesting that you can interface with the Mempo community through different houses, homes and real-world experiences. Take the Super Bowl, for example. You could go to a Mempo house and a Mempo party as a token NFT holder. You also can interface in a metaverse with your avatar, play and earn, trade.
We’re seeing this remote reality with a lot of partners. There’s some cool stuff that hasn’t been announced yet where people can live and play games or participate in a sporting event and the fans are calling plays. They’re getting certain rights and power to call those plays by having NFTs. There’s a lot of cool stuff that’s coming. We’re blending the real world and the digital world well.
We haven’t heard about remote fans calling plays at all or had them on our show with Steve Aoki but that sounds cool.
There it is, part of the Fan Controlled Football. Let’s take a step back a little bit and ask, for 2022, how do you think about the interactions of the metaverse and the NFT economy? Where do you see that going?
I feel like we’re crawling. We’re not even walking and we’re not running yet. That’s exciting because there’s so much happening. To say that this is the first inning of nine innings, it’s fair. What I’m seeing when I’m talking about brands and different global platforms is everyone’s thinking it’s like NFT PLUS. You have an art image that’s rare, immutable, provable on-chain and scarce to a certain degree but that also gives you something.
It could give you access to a special component of a wine club, could make you a co-producer of a movie series that gets sold to HBO or make you have certain access to backstage passes of a concert if you hold one of those images. It’s a piece of art that gives you that pass to different experiences or with Ruby, enhance trading features.
It’s the most rapid development I’ve seen in any industry. It’s crazy how fast things are evolving here and also how fast real value is being created. We’re not just talking about notional values anymore. There’s real revenue coming in, dollars being distributed, value being created for users. It’s an insane pace.
The NFTLA conference will probably be the best opportunity for anybody to witness this. It’s a culmination of the skills that are the perfect recipe for growth. We’ve got marketers, creatives, technologists, finance people, media and entertainment. In the same room, you can have a world-famous producer, a smart contract developer, a brand agency and an economist. They all need each other.
Your cousin that doesn’t know anything about it. “What’s this? It looks cool.” Big plug. I appreciate it. NFTLA, March 28th to the 31st, 2022. Check it out at NFTLA.live.
People have been asking, “How can I help with this conference?” The answer I give people is, “Bring a Web2 friend. Bring someone that hasn’t gone into the pool yet.” On that note, I’m curious, what will the next generation of NFTs look like? How do we make it easy for your mother or neighbor to come to interact with these creatures of the future?
A segue into that, bring your friend who thinks NFTs are like, “I could copy and paste it and then I’ll have the image.” Bring that friend because there’s so much understanding. One thing I tell people is, “I could go to the Louvre and I could take a picture of the Mona Lisa. I then have a copy of it.” If I try to sell that or the Louvre does, who’s going to sell it for more? It’s certifiably a 1 of 1.
NFTs bring the same certifiable scarcity on a blockchain. We’re going to keep seeing this 1 of 10,000 launch and cool communities grow and evolve. I get the most excited about brand engagement and seeing world-class brands that want to have a deeper connection to their fans and audiences. We have some cool stuff launching.
Especially in the car space, there are some real high-end vehicle manufacturers that are creating NFTs that you get when you purchase the vehicle and then you can use that in the metaverse. Maybe you don’t care but you could sell that. It does strange things to the value of the vehicle as you’re purchasing it. The list price is going to be the list price if you’re buying something that comes with something worth $50,000 in the metaverse.
When you have that scarce item, to be able to use that to interact with the brand in an ongoing manner is a cool thing. I’m excited about that next piece because we don’t see a lot of it day-to-day. We’re hearing about it. Especially those of us working in the space all day, we’re going to start seeing those rollouts happen soon. It will silence a lot of the critics that think these are just expensive JPEGs.
SKALE Labs: In any endeavor with such a wide network, it’s important to have individuals spearheading a focus around their culture or their specific area of knowledge.
That’s an interesting area you call out here, the world-class brands. I’m sure you’re talking about existing world-class brands, as well as the ones of the future that are leveraging this technology. One thing especially pertinent to our readers, which if you’ve been following since day one, your peers as much as can be an expert in NFTs as compared to the world-class brand that hasn’t investigated it at all. There are a lot of opportunities to communicate what is the culture here because that’s some of what’s missing in the existing large brands coming into the space.
I have this example of Coca-Cola trying to sponsor a gaming conference. It was an online thing. They want to have a moment where everybody stops and drinks a Coke. It was like, “This is not even in the spirit of anything that’s going on here.” It’s not logos. It’s different. It’s about experiences, understanding the culture, getting into it, the community aspect and all that stuff. The traditional put-your-logo-on-something is a yesterday thing. Given all that, we’re looking into the future and the current about what’s inspiring. Who is getting it? What is gaining momentum? What projects and people do you look to for inspiration in this space as we wrap up this segment?
I always love to give credit back to Ethereum and the Ethereum community. SKALE is a part of the Ethereum community. We’re all standing on the shoulders of giants. Even though it’s expensive to mint NFTs on the mainnet, the mainnet will continue to serve this huge value and purpose over time. Especially when Ethereum-native products like SKALE can connect to the mainnet and make NFT-minting free and fast, the mainnet still provides a huge amount of value back throughout the whole ecosystem. I wanted to give that call out. I’m excited to see products rollout where all of our friends who are not technical and don’t own any crypto start getting NFTs and get red-pilled by the easy button. We’re close. We got to easy-button this thing.
I appreciate you walking us through so many different aspects. There’s so much more so get out there, readers and check out SKALE. There’s amazing stuff happening over there. We wanted to take a step back and shift gears a little bit and get your personal perspective on some fun questions we call Edge Quick Hitters. It’s a way to get to know you a little bit better. Ten questions, looking for a short, single word or few-word responses but we may dive in a little deeper here or there. Jack, are you ready to get after this?
Let’s do it.
Jack has a head start because he’s been a follower of the show. This isn’t going to be as difficult for him. I expect some good answers, Jack.
I’m glad to because if you’re on a show and you’re not a follower and then you get hit with one of these. We’ll see. The pressure is on though.
Maybe we should ask him to ask the questions from the memory of him.
I was thinking about it as I was coming over here. I was like, “I wonder if I could even do that.” Let’s go. Let’s dive in. Question number one, what is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
This is a tough one. For some reason, I have this vivid memory of getting a dog. I finally had a dog and was like, “I’d saved up enough money. I wouldn’t buy a leash for my dog.” I could barely hold the dog. It was a big 100-pound lab. That was my first purchase.
Is that the first dog-related purchase?
Yeah. Getting the dog before the leash is like putting the cart before the horse.
We had a leash but I bought my own. The dog at that point was 100 pounds.
Question number two, what is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
It is interesting because I don’t think I’d ever sold anything. I was working at a company in Silicon Valley called Good Technology and I was selling mobile security software. It was a strange thing for me to have to call up CIOs and IT directors. I was right out of college. Initially, I didn’t know anything. It drove me to learn and become more of a learner. I got good at selling because I realized I couldn’t sell. I was like, “I need to quit selling. I’m just going to try to help people with their problems,” which I did a lot better.
Question number three, what is the most recent thing you purchased?
The most recent thing I purchased was a flight to Portugal.
Question number four, what is the most recent thing you sold?
I’m a huddler. I haven’t been selling. I’ll add Ethereum. I bought a lot of ETH not too long ago. I feel like Ethereum is this foundational layer of everything that has to do with smart contracts.
Question number five, what is your most prized possession?
I’m not much of a material person so I’m going to give a non-material answer. To be clear, these are not my possessions. I have three kids and they’re the most prized thing that I support rather than being a possession. My life is full of work both day job and night job.
Question number six, if you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical, service and experience that’s currently for sale, what would it be?
World peace. Is that on the market? Can we buy that?
We can take that. I like that. You could use that. That’s for sure.
Everyone wants a little dose of that.
Question seven, if you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would it be?
This is a great question and a tough one. Acting with purpose and intent is something that I value as a personal trait. Anytime I do something, it’s like, “Why am I doing it?” Even if you’re starting a company or going to school. A lot of people go through life without digging and having self-awareness of what they do and why. Even little things, if I have to do something, I’m like, “Why do I have to do this?” I end up doing things that are meaningful and important to me. It helps you prioritize things as well.
One of my biggest disappointments coming of age is asking adults, “Why don’t you do that? Why don’t you make that life decision?” I wasn’t thinking about it. That’s what everybody else is doing. I totally agree.
The flip side of that, Jack, question eight, if you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would it be?
I don’t know if this is a personality trait but I wish I could operate effectively on less sleep. I don’t know if that’s a personality trait. I have bad personality traits if I don’t sleep well enough. I’m nicer, smart, fun, better memory. I have a baby too. I’m realizing the value of sleep.
I don’t know what’s worse, me without sleep or me without food?
Hopefully to the same place.
Question nine, what did you do just before joining us on the show?
These are all connected. I packed my suitcase because I’m a suitcase-packing procrastinator.
I have to ask about the pack. Are you a packer that packs exactly what you need or do you go a little more freewheeling?
I am a full-on minimalist packer. That’s because I started as an over-packer and I have flown almost 2 million miles. I’ve been to Japan 60 times. I’ve been to China 15 times. I’ve been to Europe a bunch of times. I travel for work a lot and I have for a long time. I realized eventually I would way rather run out of something than have something extra.
Last one, question ten, what are you going to do next after the show?
SKALE Labs: ID Caches are one of the best-kept secrets in crypto and especially NFTs.
We have 25 colleagues or so in Ukraine and they’re all in Lisbon. I’m going to hang out with the team. They’re there with their families. That’s what I’m doing. It was a last-minute thing. The majority of them are fortunate enough to get out of the country and be in a safe place. I’m going to go hang with them. No business agenda. Sit there, work in the coworking center every day and also try to help them get set up with social services. They’re trying to get their kids into schools. It’s a crazy thing. Our office in Ukraine got hit by the bomb that landed in the middle of Kharkiv. Not directly but across the streets, all the windows broke. It’s been close to home. I’m going to go try to share some love and support and be with our teammates.
We don’t want to hold you up from that any longer. We’ve got to get you out of here to get to the airport. Before we break, where should we send our readers to find out more about you and everything that SKALE has going on?
If you go to Skale.Network, it’s a good central hub to find Twitter, which is @SkaleNetwork and me on Twitter is @JackOHolleran. It’s a strong community. If people are interested, please come check it out. We’ve got a huge global ambassador group. We’ve got sixteen different languages represented and all the content coming through and strong communities across the world.
We’re going to bring on Jevan Fox to get into our Hot Topics. Let’s hit the first one here, which is one that is close to our hearts. Full disclosure, it’s something we’re heavily invested in. That is something that’s called Edge of AE, which is a project that we’re launching with our guest here, Jevan Fox. What I’d love to do is turn this over to Josh to tell a little bit of the story and the background and also welcome Jevan officially to us.
It’s great to have Jevan on the show. He is a neighbor. Our partnership with AE Studio is down the street in Venice, California. The theme of our conference is curiosity, community and connection. The story of how this partnership came to be is a perfect example of that. Jevan, being the curious guy that he is, poked his head in at one of the live shows that we did in Venice, California and introduced himself. We had a great conversation and have so much common ground with what we’re trying to do in this space.
The legacy of this incredible company in which Jevan is the executive vice president is what they’re trying to do in this space. It was clear that we share the same goals. It was natural, as we were thinking about how to do more for this space, that we figured out some cool way to partner. That’s the genesis of Edge of AE. We’re so fortunate to have them as one of our lead sponsors for NFTLA and have Jevan on the show with us. Thanks for joining us, Jevan.
Thanks for having me. What a great origination story to think that I was at a live show and here I am. That ties into the ethos of Web3 and some great discussions with Jack. It was cool to meet him in the virtual green room and then hear how that played out. It’s so fascinating in terms of access that you get to certain people and then all of the different stakeholders who are involved. All of them have to be there to see the future that we want to see. I’m cool and thrilled to be here.
It’s an honor to have you. I’m so pumped about what we’re building together. I shared the high-level vision of Edge of AE. Can you tell our readers a little bit more about what the go-to-market strategy is of Edge of AE? How we can help folks with their Web3 and NFT needs?
At the foundation of it, we want to provide the easy button to partners. It’s so interesting, you see all these corporate and institutional capital inflows into the space. People as creators are saying, “I want to launch in a marketplace. What does that take for us?” We take the approach of an easy button, thinking through from a strategic advisory perspective and saying, “What’s phase one? What does the roadmap look like afterward? What’s the utility of what you’re doing?”
It’s been interesting to see the evolution of the space because it did start with fun images. This project is cool because it’s great artwork and that’s awesome and then came the utility piece. “What is this doing for me? What’s the secondary value going to look like? Do I believe in the people who are building this and where they’re going?”
Now this roadmap phase that we’re in, it’s interesting how fast that’s maturing because anybody can put a roadmap together. There are probably roadmap factories out there in terms of what people say they’re going to build but being able to track that back and say, “Here’s where you achieve that milestone. This is why this project is great and why we’re taking a long-term view for that.”
We have Edge of AE Studio that we’re launching at NFTLA, which if you’re not going, get tickets, go bring that Web2 friend, your grandma and people who aren’t fully involved in the space so we can show them what the true value of Web3 is and what the promise of blockchain technology is. We’re looking for all sorts of different projects. We work with two main groups of partners, one being that larger enterprise-type partner.
As you can imagine, every Fortune 100 or 500 for that better company is looking for a Web3 strategy and they don’t want to go full degen yet. We’re helping them think through, what’s the approach? If we start with NFTs, where does it go for phase two? How is this going to land with your user base at this point? How are you also going to pick up new customers or new users, while also simultaneously talking to the crypto natives of the world, talking to the degens?
It’s these two ends of the spectrum in terms of what’s the utility? What are we focusing on? How are you also providing fiat on-ramps and bringing people who don’t understand what the blockchain is into the Web3 space? Simultaneously, looking at cool, interesting bleeding-edge type startups and people with interesting ideas to help blockchain technology propagate ultimately and people who tie into the ethos of what we’re doing and what those partnerships look like. We, at AE Studio, are the builders. We’re building everything end-to-end and partnering with companies like SKALE, which full disclosure, I bought some more SKALE while Jack was talking. It’s exciting and interesting.
That happens to me all the time. I’m buying things while we’re airing.
I come as a follower to this show for that. It’s this cool meta moment where we’re in it and purchasing more SKALE, which is awesome.
From my view, when I’m in these projects, you are providing this completely missing link right now. It’s a phenomenal idea to help these major brands make things actionable. Getting it from A to B is a huge gap in the market. I’d love to hear more about the background of the studio and the team. It sounds like you’re bringing together an all-star cast to the problem.
Do you mean the independent stuff that they’ve been doing with AE before we collaborated?
That’d be great to hear about.
Thanks. I appreciate those kind words, Jack. We’re based in Venice. We are neighbors. We have an office on Abbot Kinney. We’re a team of about 120 senior-level folks, developers, designers as it relates to the IUX and PhD-level data scientists. We have an interesting model that Josh was drawn to initially and now getting to work with Jeff and Eathan. We take a long-term approach to everything and are focused not just on the quick wins. There’s a lot of money floating around the space, in particular, talking about Web3 right now. There are a lot of people trying to tap into that for us.
We consider ourselves blockchain boomers. We have been here for some time. We have gone through the winters and have learned a lot of lessons because of that. We work on a consulting basis with both enterprise partners and startups doing all sorts of different work including quite a bit of Web3 stuff through our partnerships with Dapper and Polygon. I know CryptoKitties was called out. The big proof of concept for the enterprise was NBA Top Shot. Their secondary last time I looked was $800 million to $900 million. There’s a lot of inbound there.
SKALE Labs: The industry is growing fast, and it’s growing in every direction.
Jack, you’re calling out that specific space where there’s a lot of demand but not a ton of supply. How do we not only do the build and tie it into our existing platform but build the community around it? How do we think about a go-to-market strategy? How do we simplify this not just for the user base but also for our internal staff? There is an interesting pushback at times from these large companies of saying, “Why are we getting into NFTs? How is that going to build brand loyalty?”
Usually, somebody reaches out to us from the inside and they’re like the lone degen on the marketing team. Maybe they’ve been talking about this for 2 or 3 years and finally, there’s board approval and there are executives who are trying to push this forward. We’re working across product teams, marketing teams and helping them bring this to fruition. Ultimately, we’re focused on bringing the value of Web3 to their brand and their users.
I’ve got three big projects where we need you.
That’s great. I’m interested to explore that. I love what you guys are doing.
I was already planning to introduce you guys at NFTLA. This is cool that we’re breaking bread a little bit early and diving into this.
Jack, if you check your email on the way to the plane, there’ll be a preliminary contract.
This is how it gets done, guys. This is the speed of innovation in the space. Everyone needs help. We can rise together by doing projects that move the industry forward and make things better. There’s so much potential for converging technology. It’s never been a better, more exciting time to innovate.
We’re having a similar conversation, Jack about what inning we’re in over lobster and beer on the Lobster & Beer show. I had a déjà vu moment. Maybe we’ll have to continue this conversation. We’ll find some good food in LA. Lobster is not our specialty so we’ll have to come up with something else there.
Long story short about the inning we’re in, it went from the third inning to preseason to Little League.
Is it tee-ball? I want to try to be the one to help usher Jack onto his plane to make sure he doesn’t miss it on our account. We know you have to go and you have stuck until the last minute. Thanks a lot for joining us. We’ll wrap up with that.
Thank you. This has been a fun time. It’s good meeting everybody. I’m excited to see everyone in LA.
Thanks for hopping on.
I do want to highlight one thing. We’ve had the pleasure to not only partner with AE Studio but work closely with him as a part of a tech product that we’re developing. We’re not ready to announce it fully publicly yet. What an amazing dev team we’re collaborating with over there in building out this product. I don’t know if we’ve fully underscored the expansiveness of those capabilities on the development front. It’s amazing.
It’s hard to communicate how impressive your team is and also the vision that you guys have not wanting to settle for like, “We just want to do some development.” I’ve seen over and over that you want to work on the cutting edge and be a part of building the future in all sorts of aspects. I remember specifically talking to one of the other people on your executive team about all the interest you have in the brain-computer interface. That’s about as edgy as you can get. Also, be willing to take that on, have the utilities and resources on your team to dive into that segment and do something cool.
For our readers who don’t know, Eathan is our token neuroscientist.
That is what I would be.
This is now our team. The Edge of AE is now two amazing entities coming together to do something super cool to help more folks get into Web3. I couldn’t be more excited.
By the way, check out the logo they created for our joint venture. They’ve got the design and everything on board. It’s awesome.
There are some Illuminati vibes. It’s amazing. We’ve united. Our team is excited about the partnership. What’s cool is you guys are getting to see how the products are built as well and you’re seeing it from the ground up, the agile approach that we take and how we do an iterative style of development. We’re fast. The team is amazing. When you look at the developers, designers, data scientists, the community and marketing folks, it’s people who want to be here.
We’ve focused again on that long-term view. That also ties to retention, which inherently means we have to be selective in terms of the projects that we take on and who we work with. We hope that those people and those groups share our values. The overarching theme here and something that I know we’ve talked with you about extensively is increasing human agency and what that means.
That was huge. That wasn’t something you stated explicitly to us. When I heard you guys call that out and even took a moment to call that out when we got together increasing human agency, it’s something that we can all get on. I was waiting for you to say it.
The whole idea here is we want to decrease friction in terms of how end users are using the technologies that we build and enable them to accomplish their goals on the technology side. The universal approach of increasing human agency and making sure that we have the ability to do what we want and there’s not some negative impact from the technologies that we’re using. That relates to the BCI work that we’re doing. The team there is amazing and phenomenal. We’re trying to solve the hard problems and have fun while we’re doing it. Edge of AE focuses on how do we help people get the power of Web3 within their companies in building and creating? Exciting stuff.
I guarantee you, the future is our brains exchanging NFTs with each other. It’s going to be part of the future.
We’re thinking about the intersection of BCI and blockchain. What’s happening with all of that streaming neural data, although we’re not propagators of everybody having chips implanted is we think that it well might be inevitable. You think about how technology has been progressing. It’s a ton of fun and it was exciting to hear your neuroscience background, Eathan and all of the different points of overlap we have with the entire team. These are how great partnerships are formed. I’m excited at NFTLA to be talking to a lot of different folks about this, helping expedite their journey into the Web3 magical place that we’ve all been having so much fun and we want more people to join.
It’s been quite an hour and some excellent folks to throw together. Deep combos, a lot is going on, ecosystems being built left and right. It’s probably about time to wrap up. We should tell people how to find out more about how to work with Edge of AE Studios, get some projects done and be a doer and a co-creator in the space with us.
It was a great hour and it moved fast as these usually do. We had a deep dive on the show, which is cool, at least at the beginning of one. Jack was amazing. You can go to EdgeOfAE.com and take a look there. There are some forms to fill out. Reach out. We’d love to chat with you.
Thanks so much for coming aboard. We got an exciting path here on this rocket ship. Let’s get after it.
Thanks so much. I’ll talk to you soon.
We have reached the outer limit at the show. Thanks for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on the starship so invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey all so much better. How? Go to iTunes or Spotify, rate us and say something awesome then go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole.
Remember, we always invite you to co-create and build with us at Edge of NFT. We’re unlocking a whole new way to connect and collaborate with us through our own NFT drops, Spirit Seeds, leading to Living Tree NFTs which light the way to our event, NFTLA. It’s a one-of-a-kind, immersive and unforgettable experience at LA live in Los Angeles, March 28th to the 31st 2022. Check it out at NFTLA.live. Move quickly because tickets are going fast. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks for sharing this time with us.
- SKALE Labs
- RNDR Network – past episode
- Steve Aoki – past episode
- @SkaleNetwork – Twitter
- @JackOHolleran – Twitter
- Edge of AE
- AE Studio
- NBA Top Shot
- iTunes – Edge of NFT Podcast
- Spotify – Edge of NFT Podcast
About Jack O’Holleran
Jack’s passion for decentralized systems and blockchain led him to join efforts with Stan to solve the blockchain scalability problem. He is a veteran Silicon Valley Technology entrepreneur with a deep background in machine learning/AI technologies, and blockchain.
His resume includes co-founder of Aktana, co-founder IncentAlign, and executive positions at Good Technology, and Motorola. His first work with Digital Currencies was in 2008 building a digital currency platform for Enterprise Resource Allocation. He has been an active Cryptocurrency investor and an evangelist for decentralized systems since early 2013.