Swoops Episode With Hot Topics: Howl

September 8, 2023
NFT | Swoops

The revolutionary basketball simulation game, Swoops is starting to redefines ownership and engagement in virtual sports. Tune in to today's episode as the Edge of NFT team engages in a conversation with David Goldberg to learn how Swoops has taken simulated basketball to a whole new level using Web3 tech and some deep gaming expertise. Find out how our guest today started his entrepreneurial journey and how it took him to the Web3 space. Plus, in our Hot Topics segment, we catch up with the latest scoop on what the folks at Howl.xyz are up to nowadays. Stay tuned for all of these and more!


Listen to the podcast here

Swoops Episode With Hot Topics: Howl

NFT curious audience, stay tuned for this episode to learn how Swoops has taken simulated basketball to a whole new level using Web3 tech and some deep gaming expertise.

Find out how our guest started his entrepreneurial journey flipping Nike Air Max shoes.

Find out how some companies, like Howl.xyz and Gala, continue to innovate while others like RECUR have officially run out of steam. Yes, it's official. You can now dive into the captivating world of artificial intelligence with the Edge of AI podcast. The next great adventure launched by us at Edge Of Company. Join us as we explore the frontiers of AI and its impact on our lives. You can subscribe now on your favorite platform. You can follow us on Twitter, @EdgeOf_AI, and LinkedIn for exciting updates and insights. You can also visit our new website, EdgeOfAI.xyz.


This episode features David Goldberg, one of the Cofounders behind Swoops, the revolutionary basketball simulation game plus league that brings real ownership into play. Our guest, David, wears many hats. He's a Founding Partner of Alpaca VC, a venture capital firm that invests in the crossover of digital and physical realms. On top of that, he's the driving force at Swoops, the next-gen digital sports platform, redefining ownership involvement in the world of virtual basketball and beyond.

Welcome to the show, David.

Thanks for having me.

It's been a minute since we had a chance to get together. It's been a season of basketball.


It was quite a fun time for our audience. We had our team, the Outer Edge Travelers, politely inspired by the Globetrotters. We had a chance to play along for the first season. It was a lot of fun and there was some stiff competition. It was also fun to pull our audience to get some names. I'm sure that was something that a lot of folks did, but we had Avalanche Anthony, Chris Politron, and Tron Stockton on our team. Some of them were better than others, I will say.

It's a lot of fun, from my perspective, to see all the different owners, teams, and groups come together. Some of them take it very seriously. Some of them have fun. There's a role for everybody.

We had a blast. It's funny as someone who studied a little bit of statistics. To be honest, I'm not a huge basketball deep fan, but I love the technical side of thinking about all of this and how you model systems using math and programming. That's all behind the scenes, but it was fun to think about all the love and care you guys put into making it cool in that respect. We were, of course, getting this experience of owning, managing, and coaching. Technically, we could have profited. I guess we did our best. Tell us how the project came to life and what the journey's been so far. It'd be very interesting to hear where you came up with this idea and how it started.

My background is that of an investor. For several years now, I've been a partner at a firm called Alpaca, where I invest in early-stage technology and one of the sectors I focus on is Web3. I think that's how I met you all before Swoops was even around. I looked to you guys for what's going on in the industry. As part of my job, I was always looking for what's the next thing. I think we all started with PFPs and like, "What's next? Where's the utility? What scales here?"

Completely separate in my life, I've always been a big fan of sports, gaming, fantasy sports, and that whole intersection. As with many others, I realized at a young age that professional sports, either as a player or in some kind of management, was likely not in the cards for me. I was relegated towards video games, fantasy sports, and what we call playing on the edge of sports, decision-making, and ownership. I was always looking for what the next thing was.

I got into DFS with DraftKings and FanDuel. I felt that got old pretty quickly because it was a very one-week experience, then you start over. Nothing carries over. There's no "ownership." Fast forward to now, my Web3 days, where I've been spending about two years, and it all just came together. I felt that there was an opportunity here to recreate and bring together my two passions around sports and gaming. How do NFTs, blockchain technology, and the concept of ownership change in the future?

The passion for sports, being able to weave that into this, I think, is a good intersection. One of the things about that ownership that you were talking about that is cool that you're tapping into is the open IP side of things. You were able to craft unique brands and captivating narratives for both the game and the team. How are you continuing to evolve this open IP that you've created?

I'll tell you what's pretty amazing. We don't have to do that much. My job is to give the tools, licenses and freedom and then our community does the rest. It's been pretty incredible to see how creative some of these folks are. They come up with team names, player names, background stories, and lore. There are a couple of designers in the community who have made a bunch of logos and decks that look like they're made by top-tier creative agencies with jerseys, names, and color palettes. I believe one of the teams announced they were the fourth team to get a sponsorship for their team, which is pretty incredible. They're pretty small dollars now, but it shows the power of what we can do as a platform and what they can do with their assets.

We've learned that listening to the community is what it's all about and that's where goodness happens. You guys have evolved quite a bit. We'll get into some of that evolution from community feedback soon. To start, you have over 500 owners. What are some of the early successes and memorable engagement moments for you? I'm sure there's been some fun stuff that's happened that we'd love for you to share.

From a metrics perspective, seeing from our first season to our second season, our retention, which was already pretty solid, went up about 250%. We figured out all those little mechanics to get people to come back every day, every month, and then for the entire thirteen-week season. When I think about individual moments, ironically, our off-season, which is 1 week every 13 weeks is our most popular week. It’s like the NBA and the NFL when you get the playoffs, the draft, and the hot stove talk. For us, it's Player Evolution Day, the rookie mint. That's the most popular time for us.

We live-streamed our 3-day Swooper Bowl, which is our 64-team tournament. There were $20,000 up for prizes. It was won by a team named Unchained Web. We live-streamed 3 straight days, about 30 hours of streaming by 2 of our co-hosts, and watching people tune in for 5, 6, and 7 hours a day. Watching teams that were not their own was a pretty incredible moment for us and we realized we've moved beyond a single-player game to a real community, a league, and a sport.

Were you allowed to play or were you rooting from the sidelines?

I am not allowed to play in cash games. I play along mostly to participate in the community, see what they're seeing, and be able to make changes. We are not allowed to buy or sell assets or participate in real money games.

Makes sense. You don't want to be like Pete Rose.

Exactly. It doesn't mean I don't have my favorites that I root for.

It's good because you know the answer. "I don't have to try to win." We've been doing this show for quite a while now. We started back in March of 2021. Along the way, very early on, Josh and Jeff introduced me to their friends at Fan Controlled Football, which I think they call Fan Controlled Sports now. It was so exciting to see what was going on there. I see a lot of overlaps. Fun stuff. What also was fun and impressed me is that you guys were evolving with all this as we played the game. From season 1 to season 2, we had a chance on the show to check in every week with the new developments.

I want to hear more about that process of rapid implementation, of thinking about ways to surprise and engage the fans and the users. Maybe a little bit of the research process about what are people going to like and how do you know what comes next? Tell us a little bit about that. It must have been fun and maybe a little bit nerve-wracking figuring out how to put new features in.

A little bit of both, for sure. I'd say one like this is kind of what I do as a former entrepreneur and now as a VC. It's all about working very quickly, iterating, launching things, tracking with data, and then optimizing. That being said, I could take very little of the credit for the rapid implementation of features in Swoops. We have a technical CEO and an incredible product team that works quickly. I think most in our community forget we launched on January 6th, 2023. We're in our third season now. What the game looked like months ago and what it looks like now is night and day.

The two things that we do well. 1) We track everything with data. Very granular, AB testing every feature, making sure that our decisions are not gut-based but analytical and database-driven. 2) This is also where the community comes in. They are so passionate and so smart. They're involved in other projects, bring best practices, and have so much skin in the game, so they come to us nonstop with ideas. We see it on Twitter and Discord. We have a couple of private channels of our VIP owner group who have been with us from day one that we look at for testing features, ideas, and stuff like that.

It's cool to see that evolution.

I don't want to hog the conversation, but I'm curious about what kind of personalities and what kind of people. Are those early folks? Are they your friends and family? Are they some crazy data nerds or sports nerds? Where did those folks come from? What are their personalities like?

They're all internet strangers, though I do feel like I know many of them in a weird way, even though I know their Twitter name and their logo. I couldn't tell you if they're 20 years old, 60 years old or anything in between. We curated the group very specifically to be a variety of all those different demographics that you spoke about. We need to be able to hit the diehard basketball fan who's going to call us out for, "There's something up with the simulation. Someone took a shot with only one second left when they were up."

We need the data nerd. We need the Web3 native. We need someone who doesn't know what crypto is so we can make sure that we're turning over every stone. Ultimately, for us to be successful, we can't be a small niche basketball Web3 product. We have to go a little bit bigger than that, so we need to think ahead of how to cater to those individuals.

NFT | Swoops
Swoops: For it to be successful, Swoops can't just be a small niche basketball Web3 product. It has to go a little bit bigger than that.

As you mentioned, you launched it at the beginning of 2023. Your audience continues to grow each week. Through that, you've been getting a lot of feedback and a lot of different parts of the game mechanics that could be improved, pieces that could make the gameplay faster, or different elements that get people wanting to come and play more. One of the product features that was brought up was the free-to-play. I know that's been something heavy on a lot of the team's mind of implementing and bringing that, and you've now done that. That's coming out soon. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and some of the mechanics behind it?

That's a pretty big and exciting inflection point for us. The first seven months of our company were focused on the core user, our 500 owners, making sure we nail product and retention before we think about growth and acquisition. To get to scale, we need to think about growth. To date, we have gated play by needing to own one of our player NFTs. The only two ways to get a player NFT are 1) Our seasonal mints, which are every thirteen weeks, which isn't the best way to learn and enter the game. 2) Buy off of open seats, which also isn't the best way.

I think about when I was a kid. If I never got to see or test out a gaming system or a game to then go and drop $50, $60 on it, it's a tough value proposition. Now, we're going to open up that gate and open up free-to-play so somebody can come in, test the game, see the community, get addicted, and then slowly and gradually get deeper into the game.

NFT | Swoops
Swoops: We're going to open up that gate and open up free to play, so somebody can come in, test the game, see the community, get addicted, and then slowly and gradually get deeper and deeper into the game.

The way that that works is that when someone comes on, they go through a very quick tutorial, and they are given an off-chain player. They get to experience the game as if they own this player. They can name them, they get to understand the stats and the data, and they put them in games and tournaments like everybody else. After a certain amount of time, it's a week's worth of playtime. They can upgrade that player from an off-chain player to an on-chain player, which means now they have true ownership and agency over that player.

That's the nuance of the innovation that I'm so impressed with because I, as a player, go through the process of managing our team, naming our team, playing a different game, and seeing our team upgrade. You guys have thought about so many little details around that onboarding experience. You could have done that 20 other ways, but you chose to do it that way. Is there a secret gaming engineer that has worked on 100 games in your crew that came up with this idea or is this a bunch of brainstorming?

It's a little bit of both. Our VP of marketing spent about half of his fifteen-year career at Adidas, so he understands sports. The other half is at Ubisoft. He spent a lot of time in the gaming world. I think he worked on Assassin's Creed and a couple of others. He also worked at Sleeper, the fantasy sports app. He's pushed us pretty hard into this world. Surprisingly, he is the one that comes with the least Web3 experience. That's been super helpful as a counterpoint of view to some of the Web3 enthusiasts like myself. You need to think about and put yourself in the shoes of your future customers, not just the first couple of core users that got you there.

Put yourself in the shoes of your future customers, not just the first couple of core users that got you there. Click To Tweet

That's a great segue to something I wanted to get into, which is your macro perspective on where we're at with Web3. As an investor, a builder in the space, and a founder in the space now with your community, where do you see this current moment in time? How do you see Web3 evolving over the next few quarters?

It's no secret that we are in a bear market. Hopefully, we're somewhere near the low. The way that I think about it is we had this exciting false start. Everyone's excited about the prospects of blockchain technology and Web3 and what that could mean. However, because of the excitement and because of a lot of those early abilities to make money, we got ahead of our skis a little bit. We were a small community predominantly focused on financial returns, which is not the long-term scalable real solutions we're here for.

We need to see our way through that or churn out some of the folks who were here for the wrong reasons and get back to building things that are inspirational long-term. Also, to unlock things that we couldn't do without that technology. I don't know exactly where we are in that cycle. I think there's probably another one, maybe two quarters of a little bit of cleanup or two steps forward, one step back, but then give it a couple of quarters and I think we'll be set up for a real bull run. I don't mean financially, but I mean in terms of seeing real builders and real innovation.

Do you see that bull run happening under the auspices of NFTs and Web3 from a localized level with emerging projects like yours? Do you see a lot more big brand collaborations and big brand dominance?

Where I hope it comes from and where I think it will come from is more from infrastructure and underlying technology. I am starting to see real innovations beyond basic NFTs, PFPs, and some of the base use cases, defi-finance that we're seeing now. Things that I don't know about that I'm not thinking of that will unlock dozens, hundreds, thousands of companies and projects that emanate from it. With that being said, there will certainly be plenty of localized winners, though I don't think we're going to see another bull run in the PFP space.

On that one point, we've seen this rise of friend tech. If you've missed it, you haven't been on Twitter, but it could be another version of BitCloud. We don't know where it's going, but these things happen quickly and some of them don't stop ever. Axie Infinity had a long run and it catapulted so many different permutations in the industry. To your point, these things happen when you least expect it and the confluence of those types of projects creates a new paradigm for the industry.

I'm totally with you. My only concern with projects like Friend. Tech and Axie back in the day, the majority of people you spoke to who were trying to explain what it is early on were about the money they were making. Their growth was fueled by speculators, which is fine if there's a long-term plan to transition to something real, but if that goes on for too long, we know what happens when that party stops and the party has to stop. That's where we've been left with a lot of these projects that didn't think about their second act.

With Mocaverse, for example, they were just on the show. They're launching their first season of a new ecosystem game. It's totally about having fun. It's not about sort of the financial side.

You made a comment about the waves of popular trends within this domain and PFPs being a part of it and maybe the end of an era there. Of course, certain things will stick around culturally. Tell us a little bit more about why you see utility, which you've baked in clearly as part of this, as the essential element you can play without anything being on the chain. Why is that so important in the realm of gaming and elsewhere?

I'm going to take it from a different direction. I think gaming has inherent utility. Whether there are assets attached to the game are Web2 or Web3 is a little bit of a different question. When it comes from a basis of NFTs and assets, without utility, you're only left with a couple of different values. One, it's pride, status symbols, and collection. I believe that's a pretty small market when you start narrowing it down to these niche communities and digital collectibles only. Also, you have entertainment, which is pretty powerful but also can only take you so far.

I think we're only scratching the surface of what actual utility means. It's pretty basic of, "I can do something with this other than sell it to somebody else for more capital." I'm super excited to understand what that means and ideally how it connects to the non-Web3 and the digital world. What utility does it have potentially in the real world? That's what I'm excited to see.

We're really only scratching the surface of what actual utility means today. Click To Tweet

I agree. In that same vein of how we bring all of these cool elements of where gaming is going into the future, you've been unpacking the journey up to this point, things coming out, and other stuff like that. What does that next roadmap look like? You're about to turn a year in almost three more months, which is crazy to think about how quickly time is passing and how much you've grown. I'm sure you have some cool and exciting things on the horizon. What are some that you can share with us? How are you continuing to build and elevate within Swoops' ecosystem into what will be in 2024?

That's a big question. I could spend a couple of hours on this as we do internally. The short version is we're looking for scale and structure. What I mean by that is we want to grow. When I say structure, right now, there's only one way to play the game. That's as a single owner. You own your team, you need the money for your assets, the time to play the games, and the skill or the interest to understand it and to look at the data.

The cross-section of people with the ability and interest to do all those things gets smaller. Just like real sports, those roles should ultimately get bifurcated. Maybe someone wants to be an owner and invest in the assets of a team. Maybe someone wants to be a GM and look at the skills and do the trading. Maybe someone wants to be a trainer to look at the analytics and help upgrade the player. Ultimately, I see each of those teams leveling up in size, impact, and value, almost starting to look like a real sports franchise, with an owner, a GM, multiple decision-makers, and a sponsor behind it. That will allow us to build out what looks like more of a traditional league.

I would much rather be the coach than the offensive and defensive coordinator. There are some things you're good at and things you're not, but there are all these different elements of sports franchising, which has been one of the biggest streaming content booms out there. It's the behind-the-scenes of all these coaching experiences in teams. It's on Netflix and ESPN+. I watch a lot of this content, making me reflect on the broader market you're playing into.

The viewership of games themselves has gone down exponentially, but the overall content and time spent watching has gone up exponentially because it's all those things that you're talking about. I think about my dad, who would sit on the couch and watch football for a couple of hours, those are gone. Now, you're on a second screen, you're on overtime, you're on House of Highlights, watching your teams on fantasy. You're betting on every single play. You're making your player on 2K. That's what we're tapping into.

We're excited about your journey, David. We look forward to getting those updates and continuing to upgrade our team as well.

At this point, what we'd like to do is get to know you a little bit better and put you through our version of Edge Quick Hitters. Sound good?


Edge Quick Hitters is a fun, quick way to get to know you a little better. There are going to be ten questions and we're looking for a short single-word or few-word response, but feel free to expand if you get the urge. To kick things off, what is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?

Purchasing myself a video camera. I took my birthday money and bought this video camera that was so giant that now, your phone is 20 times more powerful.

You're a strong kid. You could at least pick it up. Do you remember what you were videotaping?

Everything at the time, literally. I would go around taping my family, conversations, and stuff that I probably never even watched.

It tells us a little bit more about yourself. That's interesting. What is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?

In high school and early college, I bought and sold dozens, if not more, pairs of Air Max 95s. I would buy them from Asia and then sell them on eBay here. That was my first entrepreneurial journey.

Nice little arbitrage. What is the most recent thing you purchased?

I just bought a piece of luggage. It's not very exciting, but I have a trip to the Middle East coming up and I needed some new luggage.

Luggage is exciting as the places you're going to go. The Middle East sounds fascinating. Hope you have a blast. Did you get an exciting piece of luggage or just that plain black one that you're going to confuse with everyone else's?

I've got a garment bag because I'm going on a fundraising trip and I'm going to put on a suit for the first time in a very long time.

Maybe you'll have a little Swoops type in or something. What's the most recent thing that you've sold?

I just signed a deal to sell my car.

That makes it sound like it's not nearly that exciting.

It's a lease buyout. AutoNation is offering me more money than my lease buyout. I worked out the deals now inside. I'm going to buy my car while I've already sold it.

That question's been brought to you by AutoNation.

Here's another fun one for you. What is your most prized possession?

Is it cheesy to say, my kids? That's what I do everything for. They're the most important.

Never cheesy. Great answer. I can understand it. What would it be if you could buy anything in the world right now, digital, physical service, experience, etc., that's currently for sale?

It would probably be a giant boat that my whole family could live on for a year and travel. I'm a big fan of experiences. Ironically, I spend a lot of time in the digital realm, but I do a lot of it to enjoy real-world experiences.

Are we talking like Jeff Bezos' super yacht? Are we talking like a little somewhere in the middle?

If I'm able to buy it, I'll go as big as I can. I can't afford to fill it up with gas, but I'll live on the boat.

You have to include an infinite supply of fuel or something.

Fill and help.

The expectations are elevated when you live in Miami and all of our adventures over there. You see these super yachts that they don't have in LA and other parts of the US. Maybe you'll find some of those in the Middle East, but there are a lot of mega yachts in Miami for sure.

That's for sure.

Plenty of amenities for a long year abroad. What would it be if you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation?

Optimism. I'm a pretty happy, optimistic person. I think it's a great way to go through life and see the glass half full.

If you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would it be?

I'm going to sound like such a boomer here. Though I'm technically not a boomer, I'm still a millennial. Entitlement. There is something about this generation that has a sense of entitlement.

I've got to say there's a group of founders now that I've talked to that won't hire folks in that generation because of the concern about entitlement. I will say that in the ambiguous evolving landscape that we're in, grit, flexibility, and humility are so important, especially when it comes to the working world. I appreciate that.

Optimism and entitlement. I guess if you're optimistic, you don't feel entitled, you're just like, you know you can handle it. Next question. What did you do before joining us on this show?

I went for a walk. I've been stuck in my freezing air-conditioned office here for like 7 to 8 hours. I'm like, "I got 15 minutes. I'm going to go walk around in the sun for 10 minutes."

There's nothing like a good walk. The final question is on the flip side of that. What are you going to do next after the show?

I am going home right from here and I'm going to make a barbecue for my kids.

That is awesome. As a barbecue lover, I got to ask what kind of barbecue. You're only going to put one thing on the grill. What are you putting on there?

For me, tonight will be steaks. My specialty is making baby back ribs.

Yes. We're friends now. I love ribs. I want to bring that up. We always like to finish with a final bonus question. Earlier, you brought up how you'd get your family a super yacht because you like the in-life experiences, events, and whatnot. What has been your favorite trip of all time?

With my kids last summer. My kids are young, they're 6 and 4. Last summer, they were 5 and 3. We took them for 6 weeks in Europe, including 4 weeks in Ibiza with a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old. They got an early lesson in culture and other things, which was great.

Did they have some of those late-night Ibiza parties?

Not with them, but we did. Early morning, not late night.

Thank you so much.

Thanks a lot, David.


We're excited to have you participate in the next segment of the show, which is a hot topic where we're going to cover some of the news of the day. Our first hot topic involves our friends at Howl.xyz. They're partnering with the NFT platform Fair.xyz to collaborate on brand initiatives for rising NFT artists. The company is also developing an AI communication tool to generate market insights, predictions, and research with over 50 billion data points. Howl.xyz provides hands-on marketing with a fair offering of strategic advice to Web3 artists. It's a cool partnership that I'm excited about and I know Ben and I have been working hard on this. Any initial thoughts, guys?

I just know that Howl has been such an incredible partner for us. It's fun to do so many Twitter spaces with them ramping up to Outer Edge LA and see their growth in that space. They're so multifaceted with what they're doing. I forgot the old brand. What was the original brand when we started working with them? Do you even remember? They did a good brand shift.

I'm not even sure, but that's a sign of a good rebrand.


They did a great rebrand and, I think, encompassing the fact that when you would ask them, "What's this all about?" They do a lot in terms of they can be almost like a PR firm. They can do promotion, they can do social things, they can do almost supporting events, and things like that. They can do so much more and this represents exactly what we're talking about.

I think they're evolving. We're evolving. We both have the xyz at the end of our names now, which is fun. What I'm excited about is how they're also bringing AI into the Web3 world to create a level of additional transparency. Basically, with the cofounder of Fair.xyz mentioned that they're going to see firsthand how patrons judge artists for their work floor prices and social metrics.

The problem with that of course, is less promotional artists suffer because their focus is more on creating and less on championing their accomplishments. With this data, it's going to empower more artists to figure out how to win at Web3. In some regards, it's been a level playing field on paper. There are handicaps in terms of artists that are more emerging and maybe don't focus on certain skill sets that Howl is trying to amplify their work. I think that's great.

The only other thing I'm going to add to it is I think they know how to put together a good plan for longevity for artists. A lot of artists come out the gate with a lot of energy, "I have this cool thing. I want to bring it to the world." After the initial, "Hey, world, here I am." How do you sustain it and how do you keep building and growing? I think they have done a good job of figuring out how to do sustained content and branding around how to keep that momentum going no matter what's going on. Shout out to Howl. You all have been awesome and it's great news for you all.

David, any thoughts here? You probably know a lot of NFT artists in this space. Do you feel similarly that giving these artists more data is going to be helpful?

That’s an understatement. I think I mentioned before. That’s how we make all of our decisions and data’s everything. We’ve all seen dozens of projects, guess what their users want, put something out, fail miserably, and realize with some data, some insights, and some sentiment, they could have done a much better job. To have those tools at the ready, it’s a win for everybody.

Swoops: Data is everything. To have those tools at the ready is a win for everybody.

We got another fun one. This was news that we couldn’t reveal on the show that’s going to come out before this show because it was under embargo, but now we can talk about it. Gala is releasing NFT mystery boxes where gaming fun meets blockchain innovation. Many first-generation blockchain games were more concerned with crypto-earning than providing a great gaming experience. Similar to what we’ve been talking about on the show. In contrast, Gala games, with a proven history in the Web3 space, prioritize fun and aim to address concerns about gamified adoption.

What they’ve done here is they’re going to give people greater control and offer tangible awards that are done more similarly to what a centralized platform would allow. To put things in perspective, Fortune Business Insights estimates that the global gaming market size was valued at $250 billion in 2022 and will grow to $281 billion in 2023, and then $665 billion by 2030 in contrast to blockchain gaming. The bottom line is they want to make blockchain gaming more fun with these mystery boxes and they're passionate about it.

Jason, the CEO, is on our show in the episode before this. We have a theme in the space around going back to having fun again. I think COVID, we had a little bit of extra time on our hands, maybe people lost their jobs or were looking for ways to make more money and be speculative. Maybe this is a time when we go back to sort of that balance of work life and fun. What do you guys think?

Totally. That's what games are made for. They're made for fun. If a small percentage can find a way to make money, that's a cherry on top, but that can't be the base purpose of the game.

Rich is a gamer. What do you think, Richard?

When I think about going to play a game, I'm going to relax and enjoy myself. It comes enamored in this new world, either be competitive or let it off steam, or enjoy a different type of environment. If I'm going there to make money or to go and do that, it's a different mindset. It feels like work. It feels like something active. Although gaming can be active in some capacities, I like the ability for it to be an enjoyable experience in a way that disconnects from our day-to-day. I think focusing more on the game itself and making it something awesome. If you do this thing, you also might make some money too. Cool. That should be the afterthought, not the forefront in my opinion.

Eathan, any additional thoughts, or should we move on to the next hot topic?

Just what's in the boxes. I can't wait to find out. Also, one more thing is what's the overlap with Swoops. It's statistical, of course. That's the whole game. Every game is a mystery box of how well my players are going to do. How are you factoring in this type of surprise? We've got the whole idea of you getting packs of cards and you can get a fun one in there. Kind of along those lines. Anything you're cooking up or ways that you think about integrating that passion that people have for the surprise inside?

Everyone loves a mystery and a surprise. I think we've gone with the basis of all these different player profiles. When you draft a player, you don't know what you're getting, and then you have to almost play them to slowly uncover and piece together the ultimate puzzle. That is your player, and then it changes. It's like Inception or whatever that other movie was where everything is changing in real-time. As you start to figure out that player, the season's over and they progress based on their DNA and their attributes. Now, you have to rejigger that puzzle and figure it out again.

We want to give a well-rounded perspective on what's going on in this space. There was some big news that NFT platform RECUR has shut down despite raising $50 million and having some big-name backers. The NFT startup RECUR said that its Web3 platform is winding down, unable to weather the chills of crypto winter, despite hosting the IP of several big brands like Hello Kitty and Nickelodeon. They're going to be steadily winding down all their core features and trying to be as transparent as possible with their audience. There are a lot of assets on their platform and people have to make decisions on what to do.

This article does mention that in July 2023, they embarked on a jet-setting NFT experience with Hello Kitty and Friends, striking at the ambition of RECUR. There's certainly plenty of money splashing around. For me, I'll say cashflow management is a key part of entrepreneurship. I've seen many examples of companies in all industries, technology or non-technology, not managing their burn rate. This can happen very quickly if you're not paying attention to your burn rate.

I don't know to what extent that's the case versus a broader theme here. Nifty also worked with some big brands shut down. I can't necessarily say that there's a strong correlation between big brands and Web3 don't work together. We've had Hennessy on the show and what they were doing is cool. Certainly, you can hit the pedals and the metal too fast and burn out the engine pretty quickly. Those are my initial thoughts. Does anyone have any more insights on this one?

It's interesting if you go down in the article a little bit deeper, which is on Decrypt, at least the one we're looking at. They had names like Gary Vee, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, and Ethereum cofounder, Joe Lubin in their $5 million seed funding round earlier in 2023. One of the points is that they're general operational things that happen with any startup, but there are also startups.

People have been talking about the web theory, blockchain, NFT being an echo of the dot-com boom or even the internet coming online. By the nature of how these things work, there are going to be things that people got excited about and that didn't work. When you look at folks who know about investing and investing in them, we always take a risk when investing in something.

David, are you that guy who's looking at the companies you're investing in saying, "Grow and spend?"

No, quite the opposite. This is a hard time to spend because the market that you're catering to has gotten smaller, which means it's gotten more expensive. What you have is companies who are saying, "I'm not growing fast enough, so now I'm spending more than I thought I would to try to maintain those growth rates." We've been encouraging my own company as well as all of our Web3 companies and even a lot of traditional Web2 companies right now. This is not the time to spend on heavy growth. This is the time to survive, extend your runway, and build awesome products. When the market turns around a little bit, you are set up for success.

This is not the time to spend on heavy growth. This is the time to survive, extend your runway and build a really awesome product, so when the market turns around a little bit, you are set up for success. Click To Tweet

Very prudent advice there. I would 100% agree. Thanks for indulging us in that segment. You've got some perspective. You should be a regular on our news segment. We might have to have you back sooner than you know it, but we'd like to close out with our normal shoutout section. This is where we give you a chance to give someone in your life a little bit of airtime and attention. Does anyone come to mind?

This one's an easy one for me. I want to give a shoutout to Manish Sinha. He is my cofounder. He's the CEO of Swoops. While I am often the voice and face of Swoops, he is the wizard behind the curtain who manages the entire engineering team and builds all those amazing features that you see. He was also in a motorcycle accident, so he is recovering from surgery right now. Best wishes to him from the entire Swoops family.

From us as well, also from our audience. What's Manish's social handle on Twitter?

It’s @ManishSinhaha.

This has been so much fun, David. We're delighted by your success with Swoops and the passion that you and the team are putting into making this a great experience for your audience. Where can the audience go to learn more about you and the projects you're working on?

You can find me on Twitter best. It's @DavidRGoldberg. My firm, Alpaca, is at Alpaca.VC. Of course, you can learn about Swoops at PlaySwoops.com.

Thanks in advance for your generosity to our audience. If you've been tuning in to this show and you are excited about Swoops, you want to give it a shot, you don't have to play off-chain because David and the Swoops team have generously offered up two startup packs. What's that all about?

We have players that age and evolve over time. They start as rookies, and then they age and get better as veterans. A starter pack for us is one rookie and one veteran to build the beginning of your team.

Thanks so much. That's going to be a lot of fun. I'm sure folks will enjoy having a chance to get into the action. We are about to roll out, but we wanted to provide an update on our evolving show hosting situation. I'll turn it over to Eathan to provide a little bit of an update.

It's always great to keep the audience abreast of everything that's going on. Folks might have noticed I've been a little bit behind the scenes during recent episodes. You might not always see me in every one. Officially, I'll be stepping back even further and won't be on the show for a while. There's a lot of other stuff going on behind the scenes that I'll be participating in, including the launch of another show of ours, which hopefully you've heard of, The Edge of AI show. Make sure you go to EdgeOfAI.xyz to check that out. It's been fun building that and being a part of that. I wanted to give you guys awareness about what's going on.

You noticed that Richard is here and this also makes fun of him. I'll be getting out the popcorn and watching the show as he participates in developing this cool platform moving forward. It's also a great opportunity to say that now that I'm behind the scenes, I'm there with so many other people. We have Audrey, Eathan, Zach, Shen, and Jenny all doing amazing work to make all this happen. It wouldn't be here without them and it won't be anything without me behind the scenes as well. Thanks to everyone.

It's been so much fun, Eathan, hosting this show with you and benefiting from all your years of podcasting experience. This is my first podcast journey, but it's been a fast one. Three hundred episodes, I think, we're close to at this point. A lot of great memories of co-hosting different shows together. We are going to miss you in front of the camera and are excited about your evolving journey on the edge and excited to be working more closely with Richard as a co-host as well. Richard's got a ton of experience and it's been a lot of fun having you on the show. I'm sure, Richard, we're going to have many adventures to come leading with our trip to Asia.

For sure. Eathan, you've been awesome with the show. I know I've been behind the scenes and now I get to be more in the front, but I have enjoyed being on the show. Especially our workouts, too. Eathan is the absolute running champion. We are looking forward to you still being part of the community, but also happy to be hosting now. Thanks for everything.

Likewise. If you wear me out enough with your hit workout before we go for a run, you'll be able to catch up and we'll be good. Look out for the workout segment on Edge NFT coming soon with workout advice from Richard.

Sounds good. Sounds like a workout video in the making during our trip to Asia. Richard's already warned me. We are not just going to networking events and doing interviews. There will be some heavyweight training involved in this trip.


Early mornings, baby. Let's get it.

We've reached the outer limit at the Edge of NFTs. Thank you for exploring with us. We've got space for more ventures on the Starship, so invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers. They'll make this journey much better. How? Go to iTunes or Spotify right now, rate us, and say something awesome. Also, go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Look us up on all major social platforms by typing EdgeOfNFT. Start a fun conversation with us online. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks again for sharing this time with us.

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