Andrew: Hey there, Freedom Fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy, where I interview ambitious entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses, and I’ve got a different type of interview for you today, yet again. This is with a guy called Lucas Campbell. He was working at a publishing company called Bankless, which basically evangelized web three.
This idea that crypto and decentralization is the future. Anyway, the thing was doing well based on my calculations in this interview, which you’ll see me do, They were doing a little over a million a year, about four or five people in the company. Um, and then Lucas had the idea that he wanted to launch a Dow, a decentralized, autonomous organization.
And I wondered why he wanted to do it. By the end of this interview, I understood because what he did was he created a token. He gave it to his best members, the people who were paid, customers of the publishing companies, premium products, and then he gave them the mission, said, Get to get to working. Do what you want.
And because they had this token and they had this mission and they had this community of people who were all talking on, of course, Discord, the number one chat platform of anything crypto. Anyway, because they had all of this, they started launching publications together. More than he could keep track of in this interview and podcasts.
Again, more than he could keep track of. And none of that is unusual for a publishing company, right? If he would’ve done it as a standard llc, still could have been able to add more. More publications, would’ve been a stretch to do it as quickly as the do did, but might have been able to do it. But then they added more.
They added this beautiful educational program that teaches people and onboards them into web three. And then this community said you. , we know a lot about Web three. There are a lot of people who wanna get in on it, and we know a lot of other things beyond just crypto. Why don’t we form a consulting company?
And so they did, and now they do work for Hire too. And all of that is created by the community, by this Dow decentralized, autonomous organization. Now, it’s a little confusing in this interview because the, the original company is now called Bankless hq. And the Dow is called Bankless Dow. But once you get that in your head and you see that there are two different organizations, you start to say, Wait, why is the Dow growing so much faster and bigger than the hq, than the old company?
And that’s what this interview is about. In fact, I’ve been so excited about all this, and I’m doing a series of interviews with a company called Origami, Origami. Helps ambitious communities launch and grow their dows. If you’re at all interested in this, you should go and check out my full podcast with them, and it’s firstname.lastname@example.org slash podcast where I do interviews just like this with other people who created dows.
But I, I thought this one was so good. I, I just had to bring this over to the mixer G audience. And by good, I mean this explains why Dows. And why I’m excited about them. All right. This whole interview, I should talk a little slower when I get excited. This whole interview is presented by Origami and here it is.
What is Bankless
Lucas: Dow? Bankless style is a tokenized community built from Bankless hq, and they effectively have a mission to help contribute to the Bankless mission, which is bring a billion people onboarded into crypto ecosystem, get a wallet, all that stuff. They do this through a handful of different ways.
There’s culture, media, education. Bankless style has a handful of media publications that they start writing from. They also have cultural stuff, so like NFTs and. There’s also educational stuff like Bankless Academy where they’re literally helping people educate on Web three. Those are kind of like the three different prongs, but I think overall, Bankless Dow is a tokenized community that is actively contributing to the Bankless mission of onboarding people into crypto.
Andrew: And Bankless is a publication that existed before the Dow. Their mission was to onboard a billion people into web three, into crypto. They were going to do this by writing content. They had a great newsletter. They’re known for their podcast, et cetera. If that was already working, why not say, You know what?
Bankless is a good media company. We’re fulfilling our mission. Let’s just keep going with this mission and double down. It was you who came up with the Dow, as I understand it. What made you Lucas? We should create a, a Dow?
Lucas: Yeah, I think that’s a really good question. I think the biggest, probably the main point there is we can’t do it alone as a single media publication.
At the time we were, you know, five people. It was me, Ryan, David, the guy that edits the podcast, Luke and a few other like contractors that were helping around, uh, helping, like with the media side. And we couldn’t do it alone. We had this massive community of people that were like interested in, engaged in web three, but they were just passive, uh, consumers of bankless content.
And what the Dow did is that it allowed them and gave them the opportunity to become active contributors to it. Um, and we realized that we could tap into that, that human capital that was sitting there, that latent hu latent human capital that was sitting in our community and activated to become active contributors and provide value.
Create new products, new publications, new everything that helps people get interested in crypto.
Andrew: Help me understand what you saw as the tools that a Doo would give you to enable
Lucas: that. It gives us scale. It doesn’t rely on a single entity to be responsible for. Creating all this content, creating, you know, onboarding all these people, uh, it distributes that power to the community and allows them to be active voices.
So I think really at the end of the day, gives a scale and much more power to achieve that mission at a quicker
Andrew: pace. But if I understand it right, it’s also the token, right? Mm-hmm. that by having a token you can. The community can come up with ideas, right? And then incentivize and fund those ideas using a token, right?
Lucas: So the token is the key mechanism that turns the community from passive content consumers to active contributors, right? It is the incentive mechanism for the community, um, and. Through that. Yeah. Bankless hq uh, kind of went with a novel way. We never sold any of the tokens. We never really raised any money.
We actually have not made a single dollar from Bankless style yet. Um, we are just net passive holders of the token and are there as like collateral glass resort and there to help achieve the mission. But yeah, I think the token is a key mechanism that allows the contributors, um, to be active and.
Dedicated and get involved, um, without the token that is like none of the magic happens. So there is like an incentive for Bank of HQ to be a part of it. Um, we went around it, like I said, never sold a token. We actually didn’t bestow us any tokens to start. Um, one of the first proposals there was the, was the Genesis proposal and we effectively airdrop all these tokens to the community and was like, Hey guys, like we just did this for you.
We wanna be contributors. Would you guys be okay if we received an allocation? And that was about 20 to 25% of the total supply. Um, and really we’ve just been investing that on the same schedule as the Dow as a community treasury, and really are just being net holders of it right now and stewards, um, for the Bankless mission.
Andrew: So the token comes with a way to fund the work that’s being done in the community, but it also comes with governance power, which is a vote on what the Dow should do. Can you gimme an idea of what Dow members have come up with that you couldn’t have come up with if you took the more traditional web two route, which is to say, Look, we’re a media company.
We have a mission, We’ve shown that we can get traction. We would like funding, and if we get that funding, we’ll come up with great ideas and we’ll fund those ideas with this money that you investors give us, and then we’ll make a profit and we’ll. Lucas, what’s an idea that you and the founders couldn’t have come
Yeah, so I think it’s first really good that you highlighted that the main utility of the bank token is governance over how the treasury gets, um, distributed and what products get funded. I think that is pretty much the core for any Dow, right? At the, at the base it’s a, Dow is a mission with a shared treasury and people coordinate around the treasury to achieve the.
Answer your question on like, stuff that’s come about since, um, we’ve launched the Dow I think one Bankless Dow has launched about four to five other media publications. So written media publications, about four, I think like maybe two to four other podcasts. It’s pretty tough to keep track of everything.
Um, but right off the bat there’s a lot more content, a lot more educational content that’s being produced from the. And then there’s also been like really awesome novel products that have spun about. Um, one that I wanna highlight is Bankless Academy. So this is a, an educational product, um, that effectively gives you lessons and modules to kind of learn about crypto from d i 1 0 1 to blockchain basics, to managing a non-custodial wallet.
Um, and they’ve done a phenomenal job and like we have been completely hands off on this. Um, so if you go to like, I think it’s spans academy.com, uh, you’ll kind of see the UI and it’s absolutely gorgeous. They’re using. PO apps and leveraging sold out tokens to reward people. Um, I think just overall, like that team that is spun out of uh, Bankless Style Bank’s Academy has done a stellar job.
I think another one worth highlighting is Bankless Consulting. So there’s been a consulting group that has spun out of Bankless style, um, and they’re very aligned. Um, you have tons of clients right now that they’re working with and that’s actually funny enough, we Bankless hq, which is, uh, the media company.
Hired Bankless Consulting to help with us on some web three stuff that we were working on. Um, so it was actually really funny and honestly poetic to see Bankless HQ tapping into the community and tapping into the projects that the community has filled to help us and to build value and to achieve that mission that we all share more media, more educational products, service styles.
Um, I think overall it’s just. Absolutely insane to see what the community’s come up with over the past like year and a half that we’ve been around. You know what, and if I were
Andrew: to compare you to say Morning Brew, which is a web two content company similar to Bankless, if they had done all of these things, it would’ve been completely distracting and confusing for outsiders, and here you’re able to do it faster.
I’ve heard Dows described as like an octopus with lots of different tentacles and each one can operate on its own, but they’re all connected back to the main organization. So you had this idea, you brought it to the two co-founders of Bankless, Ryan and David, and their immediate response to you was what?
Lucas: Uh, probably no, like the first few times. Uh, I think, uh, it took a while for me to really convince him that this is the right move. But yeah, I think Ryan and David were. You know, happy in podcast land and just recording podcasts and didn’t need to necessarily do anything like, you know, the business was doing really well, like business was growing.
Um, there was no need to kind of overcomplicate things, but the ability to tap into this community and like empower them really to set a new precedent and a new standard that your community is not just. Passive, the people that are gonna read your content, they can be active contributors, they can get involved, they can provide value to what you guys are building.
And I think, um, that was really important and I think that’s kind of what sold them over the line. Okay.
Andrew: And so once you decided that you were going to do a Dow and you all committed to doing it, you said you created tokens and then you gave them to some of your members. What was the process
Lucas: for giving them out?
Yeah, so I think the first step was to identify who the on trained BANKLESS community was. Um, cuz we can only airdrop to things that are on trained and we wanted to distribute that ownership to the community, um, that existed. So really there were two main mechanisms that we had that we could identify.
The first one was Bankless Pap, so Bankless premium memberships. Um, whenever you signed up to a Bankless HQ premium membership, you were eligible to collect a. Which is a proof of attendance protocol. It’s like a little nft. And effectively that was one indicator. So we had a 2020 badge and we had a 2021 badge.
So every year we distributed a new Bankless premium membership badge, and that was the first indicator of an on chain community. So if you not only were reading Bankless, but then you subscribe to it and then you actually. The distance to collect the PO app on train and collect your address. That’s really what we’re rewarded you.
And the other key mechanism that we had was donated to Bitcoin grants. So, um, I don’t know if a lot of people know this, but Bankless in its early days was completely funded off of Coin grants or primarily funded off of coin grants for the first about six months or so. Um, so anyone that contributed and donated to us during our early days also received an allocation of the airdrop.
What’s a Bitcoin grant? Bitcoin grant is, Public goods protocol where people can donate to up and coming projects, um, that are not necessarily vc a, have not raised money or have a token or anything like that. So it’s effectively like grassroots projects from the community that people can donate to. And there’s a cool mechanism called the matching pool or a quadratic fun.
Quadratic funding where it’s not the amount that you donate or effectively quick to step back, there’s a pool of money, right? And that pool of money gets allocated to different projects based on the number of contributors or number of people that donated to your project. So not the amount. And effectively this creates like a weighted distribution where projects get funded much more than the.
Donated to based on the amount of people that were interested in donating. When you say
Andrew: that there were people who had a membership to bankless, what were they getting for the membership? I’ve heard podcast listeners who had subscribed to premium, what were they getting, whether it was that or some other aspect of premium?
Lucas: the PO app that, um, they received was just kind of like a cherry on top thing. I think the main benefits, um, we do a handful of, first of all, like most of the content on Bankless HQ is entirely free and, uh, available for anyone. But a few things that we. We do do like early access to some of our podcasts every week.
Um, we do get an exclusive debrief, so following like our Monday episodes premium members get a little debrief with Ryan and David about like just talking like candidly about the episode and how it went. We also do a pretty detailed MAR market Monday report. So every Monday we do a full report, kind of highlighting the best opportunities, the best yield.
A trending project, what we’re even buying sort stuff like that, as well as like key news links that you need to just stay up to date in this crazy fast moving world. So that’s just a few of the benefits that people get. And then, yeah, as I said, that POW app was really just a cherry on top that was like kind of just like an on train little fun thing that you get to collect, um, for being an HQ subscriber.
Andrew: Basically proof that you had subscribed. And then when you decided to create a Dow, you said, Okay, we’ll take this PO app, which stands for Proof of Attendance protocol. Anyone who has one clearly has supported us in some way, we are going to give them tokens. In this new bank, Bankless Dow, uh, that we’re creating.
The token will be called bank. You gave it to those. And then you said we took none for ourselves, even though we clearly contributed, we didn’t give any to ourselves. Now that you have voting power, we would like you to vote to give us some of these governance token. And the community overwhelmingly said yes.
And I think it was what, 25% of the tokens that you were then allocated as an organization, not as individuals. Am
Lucas: I right? As an organization? Um, okay. And then, yeah, the community received the remaining 75%, uh, through the airdrop or vested in the community treasury that they control.
Andrew: Lucas. Before all this, how big was Bankless, like revenue wise and audience wise?
Where was it before the.
Lucas: I gotta look at the stats. Um, revenue, I’m not sure if I can speak to, I don’t really have too much context on that. Um, I mean, I have high level numbers, but I think generally we were a team of maybe. Five full-time people. Um, so me, Ryan, David, Luke, and yeah, a handful of contractors that were on the team.
And then outside of that, we maybe had like 50,000 subscribers at that point. Free subscribers, and then a handful, maybe like 5,000 paid subscribers. Um, so that was kind of like the, Okay. The total community at the time and paid subscriptions were how much? I think at the time it was $22. Meaning
Andrew: about a hundred thousand, 110,000 a month in revenue from the paid subscribers.
I think you also had advertising, if I, if I remember right? Yeah, you did. And then today were, Are you able. To see clear growth following the Dow or has the Dow distracted?
Lucas: Where are the numbers now? Yeah, I think that there was a ton of inbound interests just overall in Bankless. Um, after we launched Dow, we definitely saw a massive spike in just like free signups, paid signups, everything.
Um, because people were really interested in the tokenized aspect of what we were doing. Um, If we were at 50,000, I think right now, uh, free signups, were probably at 225, 200 40,000, somewhere around that. Wow. So we probably five. So five x, probably five x. And then I think on the paid subscriber growth, it’s probably similar, like maybe have three, another three to five x on paid subscribers as well.
Andrew: Lucas, my understanding is partly yes, you got a lot of attention for creating a Dow, but I’ve noticed other publications that I won’t call them out by name, had also tried to create Dows. It didn’t get them the attention that you got. It didn’t suddenly draw people in. What you did was different. It worked because of something that you did that I wanna learn from.
I just pounded the desk, which you’re not supposed to do when you have a mic attached to the desk. So I wanna understand that, but I also wanna acknowledge that it’s more than just the initial pop from, Hey, look, these people who are writing about crypto are actually creating a crypto project. It’s also.
All the media that came out of, uh, Bankless Dow was good for the overall brand. It’s, in some ways I’m frustrated that you use the same name for the Dow as you did for the llc Bankless. It’s so confusing when I talk to people, but in other ways it must have helped because you have all this content out there pointing to the name Bankless.
And it’s going back and forth where the LLC gives, uh, positive vibes over to the Dow. And the Dow does the same for the llc. Am I right? Yeah, I
Lucas: think absolutely. And I think that’s definitely one of the, the key factors that, um, maybe why Banquet Dow is succeeding other compared to other. Media, Dows, um, is the vibes.
I think the community is just like super dedicated and that is always the X factor, no matter the project, um, is the community and how dedicated they are, um, and how avid and like how alive they are. And I think that’s what we got. Right. And I think that was honestly hats off to Ryan and David. I think that the pioneered that and built that community, um, from the ground up and then the tokenization of it really just was the, the fuel and the steroid for the growth.
Andrew: Let’s understand. I have one theory from the beginning. I think you wrote once that a Dow needs a strong mission. The other content creators were more like, Let’s all dabble together. Where you at Bankless had a clear mission, 1 billion people on web three, you clearly believe in it, your audience believes in it.
The down now helps empower them to carry that mission forward with you, right? Yep. Right. The others are just like, Let’s love web three and we’re gonna give you the news about web three. It’s not the same. What else from the beginning? Let’s take go to the early days. What did you do that got people. So fired up and made this Dow successful.
In the beginning,
Lucas: the big thing was we gave a lot of ownership to the community right off the bat. So when Bank State HQ asked for that 25%, the community already had 30% liquid from the air drop. So he already had a massive ownership in it. And I think when you give a community a lot of ownership, um, there is gonna be a handful or subset of people that are completely committed to that mission now, because you have that level of ownership in the Dow and maybe that.
The mistake that other media publications didn’t do, um, is that they didn’t give enough ownership to their community off the bat to make them be like, Oh wow, this is really cool. Like, I should dig into this more. And even only like 1%, right? If we airdrop to, I think it was like four or 5,000 addresses, if 1%, if 40 people are keen, like that’s already 10 x what the Bankless HQ team was, right?
Like you only need 1% of those people to. The power users and the power contributors that are like going above and beyond. Um, and we actually saw that, I mean, we’ve hired like a handful of people from the Dow that were just like all stars, right? And we brought them on board, you know, we helped work at HQ through, you know, writing or like design and all this stuff.
So, um, I think the X factor was the ownership and the level of ownership and the brand equity that we had, and I think the combination of those two was really the, the fuel that, uh, allowed bankless data to succeed to the level that is at.
Andrew: I don’t think this was true with other media properties, but it seems that a lot of people want to come into Dows so that they could not pay money, and so they want to create tokens just to give people tokens.
The way that some of the little arcade stores around here might give kids tokens if they play and get points. And you’re saying from the beginning, we fully committed to this. We gave our name to this, we gave the full ownership of the. We really gave these people power. What else? What else did you do to keep things going?
In the beginning
Lucas: it was definitely when you have thousands of people flooding into a discord with like a very broad mission. It was very hectic to start and, you know, shadow to the handful of contributors that really stepped up and like, were like, Okay, took the reins on this and really got our operational like, uh, trs.
Styled in, right. Um, I think the operational aspect of it was really top at the beginning and it was very hectic and I think that we saw a lot of people just burn out of it off the bat. But I think overall, like, yeah, we set the operational standard, everyone’s kind of aware of what we’re doing, the mission’s fraud, that in the sense that if you have an idea, you can probably get it funded by bank do as long as it’s mission aligned.
Um, and I think that really just that open design space allowed the communities that those thousands of people to. A lot of stuff. It gave them a lot of optionality to do what they wanted to do. And I think that openness, that level of ownership, I think just overall just allowed people to take this in the direction that they wanted.
And, uh, that’s why the vibes are so where they’re at and so high. And so, um, well known.
Andrew: The onboarding process, where did that come from? Because it is chaotic to get into discord, even if you know how to, how to find the right. It’s kind of awkward to start jumping in and, and talking. Um, frankly, even getting an NFT into a wallet and using the wallet to get tokens and using the tokens to get access to the private discord and like all that stuff is very confusing for people.
Who recognized that that was going to be a problem and then worked out an onboarding solution? Yeah, I don’t
Lucas: it was definitely me or anything, so I will not take credit for that. I think we were pretty, uh, bare bones with the initial onboarding process, but um, there was a group of contributors that started first Quest.
And that really kind of ironed out the whole onboarding process to make it very seamless and very, um, knock fire Hosey, right? So coming to the Discord, there’s about a hundred plus channels. Like where do I start? I think the first Quest onboarding experience, um, really smoothed that out and really made it digestible for the community.
So shadow to the team that was responsible for that. What
Andrew: is that? I see that even to this day when I go into Discord for the first time, what’s the first quest, the first thing you’re supposed to do when you come
Lucas: in? Yeah, so I think, uh, first Quest overall is just like the onboarded flow. When you join the Discord, it helps you organize, okay, here’s the mission, here’s like how this operates.
There’s guild, there’s projects, um, seasonal stuff. Helps you connect your wallet, get verified on CoLab land to get access to the full thing, um, and really just kind of breaks down the whole process and like the mission and gets everyone aligned on the same page pretty quickly.
Andrew: Got it. It was just you, someone said, We’re going to tell people what to do as soon as they get here.
We’re not going to assume that this is just Discord. They can figure it out because all the channels are named properly. What about beyond? Um, did you do anything to teach people how to write proposals? Did you do anything to encourage certain proposals? You’re nodding. Tell me a little bit about those early days.
Lucas: The first thing that we set up was seasons, the concept of seasons. Um, so effectively these are three to six months periods where there’s a batch of funding that comes outta the treasury, and that gets distributed to a handful of the guilds that are verified, along with a handful of projects that the community is interested in funding.
So that was like the first step. So every three months, right now, the main treasury distributes X amount of. Two projects and guilds within Bankless do. And that was the first kind of like major operational thing that we set up. On top of that, we set up a grants committee for a brand new project. So if you just have something that you wanted to get funded off the bat, you can go through that’s grants committee process during the season at any point.
And once you get funded by the grants committee, that’s allows you or verifies you to become a full project and get seasonal, direct seasonal funding. Um, so those are kinda like the two main operational things that we just got done and locked in pretty. That helped, like just give direction because as I said earlier, a do was just a mission and a shared treasury and people coordinating, coordinating around the treasury to achieve that mission.
So setting up the operational flow for how to coordinate around the treasury was definitely the first step.
Andrew: And what were the initial committees that you set up? You set up treasury and what else?
Lucas: Um, so there’s the main bank list without treasury, and that’s just a seven of eight or seven of nine, I think, multisig, or five of nine.
And that is the main treasury. And then there’s a grants committee that gets funded from the, the main treasury every season alongside different projects and different guilds. So projects are, uh, effect. Like a, like the sound projects that come out of Bankless style, whereas guilds are more of like talent fools and like talent coordination hubs, where if you are a developer, you go to the developer Guild and you can kind of get familiar with the other developers.
You can kind of point you in the right direction of like where to get started at, what projects you need, kind of like. Allocate or like that, your skills and all of that stuff. So the guilds act as like these talent hubs and talent coordination mechanisms. The projects are kind of like the end goal or the end products that we want to share with the the world.
And then the grants committee is kind of the cohort of people that are funding like these brand new projects that are just getting off the ground. I
Andrew: might be able to get a grant as someone who’s in Bankless by suggesting that I could put together a conference and it would have a certain number of people, certain speakers, I just write the whole proposal up and maybe someone else in the, in the Dow would help me do it.
I offer it to the grants committee. They vote on it, right? Or is it the whole Dow that has
Lucas: to vote? So you have to get, um, soft signal from the community on the forms. Um, so you have to pass a poll of like 70% and like 40 plus vote. We have a quorum effectively on the soft pools based on the funding allocation that you’re requesting.
So if you’re requesting a hundred grand, it’s obviously gonna require a higher quorum than if you’re requesting 500 bucks to do the side small side project. Okay? Um, so you do have to get soft consensus from the forms, and then once you have that, you can go to the grants committee and the, um, effectively finalize that and give the stamp of approval and ask any, like, limiting questions that might be just of concern for the c.
Andrew: This is all such student body government stuff. What I see when I look at Bankless is people who are saying we hate, we. The financial markets, the financial system. We hate the tech companies that control our names and photos and everything else. And we have a passion to create a better version of that.
I don’t really see a lot of student body government nerds in, in crypto, but all of this is such student body government nerds. Stop.
Lucas: Where’s it come from? Yeah, I think, uh, it’s definitely. A learning process for one, but there’s definitely like Shadow to Frog Monty, who’s been one of the all star contributors that helped really set up a lot of this stuff and was definitely the operational brain in the early days of Bankless do.
He was actually hired at Bankless HQ and he’s now working at UN Swap. So he is just an absolute all star, like very talented guy that we didn’t know about and he just came to the do through that airdrop and just started contributing and had this massive operational like vision. And he really set up a lot of the standards.
So, uh, shut off Frog Monkey for, for all the
Andrew: help and work that he’s done. Eventually, I guess every Dow is going to have to have someone who is that kind of a person who could help bring structure to this big group. And once you set up structure in the beginning and make it flexible enough, the, the group can organize themselves and adjust.
What about you? I was trying to understand your background. One of the things that stands out for me about your background is that. You’re more of like, I don’t know, maybe a finance nerd. You got your first Charles Schwab brokerage account at how old
Lucas: and what did you do with it? Where are you getting this?
Oh man, this is good. Um, yeah, so I think, uh, background for me, uh, was definitely always very finance minded. Um, at an early age. Was really interested in investing and went to school to study economics. Was on and off with crypto throughout that whole time. And then junior year I really fell down that crypto rabbit hole.
And this is right, I was going into my final year of school and at that point I was like, Look, I can either go work at, you know, the Fidelity or some normal company, or I can really risk it for the biscuit here and go all in on crypto. And I was pretty convicted on like what crypto was and the future that it helped.
So, Look, I’m young. I can take this risk. Let’s go all in on it. From there, started doing like ICO consulting with my good friend, Cooper Turley, Cooper Trooper on Twitter, who’s now one of like, The top music and FT people. But from there was definitely just doing ICO consulting. Cause I was very interested in like token economic design just naturally through my interest and finance and like economics.
But I think we really found our niche, uh, was writing for Defi in about 2019 before it was like really big. And that’s kind of, uh, again, was never considered myself a writer, but had that very financial minded, um, interest. And uh, that allowed us to start a blog called Defi Rates. Started us doing a bunch of writing on like token economic designs as.
And that ended up landing me my first job at at Bankless or the first employee at Bankless. And from there, I. Didn’t expect to ever be a media person, but here I am two and a half years later, still, uh, helping with the newsletter and doing all of that. But yeah, I think just overall I’ve had a really strong interest since I’ve started crypto in like token economic design and designing tokens and launching tokens and, um, I actually get that fixed, not through just Bankless style, but I also work for a small group, uh, called Fire Eyes that I co-founder with me at Cooper and two other individuals, James and Callum, and we effectively work.
Project teams to help launch their dows and governance tokens. So we’ve worked with a handful of pretty awesome projects, Bitcoin being one of them, super rare. We helped design the ENS air drop. We also did optimism most recently, and also have a handful of other clients that we’re working with, um, right now in the background.
So I think just overall, this, this. The launch of the Dow definitely came from just my obsession of like tokenization and like everything that can be tokenized should be tokenized at
Andrew: some point. Like what? Give me an example of what should be tokenized.
Lucas: The one that I’m really interested in right now is, One, the music NFTs.
But I think media as a whole, I think tokenized media is a very underappreciated area right now, or just like slept on. And we’re starting to see the early starts of this, um, from smaller podcasts. But definitely at Bank of hq we’re exploring what tokenized media looks like. Um, and I think this, the idea of this really creates a, an interesting dynamic where I think right now, Bankless hq, we’ve talked about this, but we’re a web to media company talking about web.
And we are definitely optimized for sponsorships and like click bait. Right. Let me see
Andrew: if I understand that. What you’re saying is, look, we’re using the software that is made for web two. Web two is made for getting more clicks with whatever you need to do. Right? And then trying to convert some of those to subscribers of your email newsletter.
Mm-hmm. and some of those email newsletter subscribers into paid customers. That’s the mechanism. And you’re kind of married to it because you started out using software that encouraged that. Right. You’re, you’re. At Bankless and you personally are saying there should be a better way and the better way
Lucas: is what?
Better way? Yeah. So I think to highlight a little bit more, like I came to Ryan and David, similar to how the Dow started. I was like, beginning of this year, I was like, Guys, this is all great, like markets are doing great. Bankless HQ’s growing at a crazy rate, but there’s an elephant in the room. We’re web media company talking about web three.
We’re talking to talk. We’re not walking the walk. Right. Live off subs subscriptions. You can barely even pay for it in crypto. Like we’ve like barely duct taped a solution to make that happen. It’s all closed source and we sell sponsorships. Um, this is very much a web two media company, but we are talking about this web three.
Um, You know, this new frontier to this area of opportunity and we need to at least be conscious of and make an effort to become more of a web three native media company. So how can we leverage web three to create new media business models or business models for media organizations? And that is kind of like set us on this new path of like, how do we do this?
So right now we see a handful of different ways. I think the first one right off the bat is, uh, if you hold the bank token, So if you’re a Bankless style member, you can just get a Bankless HQ membership, right? So like, Lines with the Dow a little bit more, um, creates more utility for the token and just opens up the door for a web three membership where if you hold a token, you receive the HQ benefits that we talked about earlier, whether it’s exclusive content, early access, all that
Got it. So in addition to selling. Membership using Subst Stack, the way that everyone else on Subst Stack does. You’re also saying if someone else holds a bank token mm-hmm. , they get access to the premium content even though no money goes into Bankless hq, which is the llc. Right. Even though none goes to the, to the old company.
You still are letting them have access to the
Lucas: content. Yep. Because like we talked about earlier, we have an allocation in a bank and we’re very aligned with the Dow and like building out mechanisms that help the Dow helps thankless HQ through the
Andrew: more people, like if someone listening to this decides I’m gonna go and get some tokens so that I have access to their content and I could always sell the tokens when I’m done with the content.
Right. Um, and hopefully have more money. That helps you, because if enough people do that, the price of bank, which is the Bankless token goes up and you’re holding a significant percentage of that. And so you, you’ll benefit later on from that. Okay. That’s one way to do it. But how would other people do that?
How would other people say, I see this model, I want this, this new tokenized content
Lucas: approach. Um, yeah. I. Every media company has the option to launch their own token. I’ve also seen the Block has implemented something interesting, or they’re exploring something new with access protocol so that there is a pretty much a shared token and that gets you, if you hold the token right, you get access to the block in any other like, uh, media organizations that are within the network.
So there’s like a hold that token and access like premium benefits for a range of them. But yeah, I think. ERC 20 tokens, like media companies can definitely launch ’em. Um, if they can build around that model.
Andrew: The idea is if I launch one for this podcast mm-hmm. , anyone who holds it, gets access to maybe say another 20 minutes of conversation with you and maybe an email newsletter with some things that are private and things like, and my own research, I sell it once I make my money.
And the way that I get ongoing revenue for the years of work that I put in is what,
Lucas: uh, through equity.
Andrew: Just because the, I hold onto some of the tokens and the more people value the tokens and the more, the higher the price they sell it for, the better it is for all of us. That’s it. No, no yearly revenue coming in.
No percentage of sales.
Lucas: Mm-hmm. . Yeah, so I think that is, um, one trade off that you can make with tokenization. And I think it’s important to highlight that that doesn’t have to be the one all be all solution, right? That they, that could just be one. And if you wanted to pay with a credit card or maybe even just buy an nft, that’s another option, right?
I think we had this existing thing, this existing token floating out in, you know, the real world or the on the steering blockchain. And we can like leverage that token in different ways. But if you wanted to do. NFT membership, right? You could do the same thing where it’s like, it’s the same thing. You sell it and then that receives all the utility and maybe you’re receiving royalties from secondary sales as well.
Um, that’s something that we’re also exploring, but more in the lens of a super fan pass. Um, so rather than just a standard membership, we’re exploring like NFTs as a super fan pass where if you want like a God to your membership, to Bankless hq, we can build out some perks and like content and stuff around that for you.
Um, and that might. Another avenue that you could subscribe and get, um, access to Bankless HQ.
Andrew: By getting money up front, it gives creators some money to invest in themselves, in their content, and then also it incentivizes creators to improve the quality of their work so that the token that’s used to pay for access to it becomes more valuable.
Um, I, I see that, and then I also see that if you have a token, then you can, or you’re selling a token, your members can use it to access other, uh, sites, other content, and so there’s an incentive to create partnerships. Okay, I see that. Where else do you see the, the tokenized world
Lucas: working? Yeah, I think, um, the other big avenue that we’re exploring right now is tokenized media.
And I hinted about this earlier, but effectively in the next few weeks here, we are looking to launch tokenized podcasts that users can collect of like prominent Banquest episodes over the past few years. And I think this creates an interesting dynamic. And we, I talked about this just very briefly, but right now we are optimized for content that is clickable and that content gets the most.
Because we have sponsors and we need to like optimize for those numbers. But what tokenized media and what Web three or tokenized content kind of enables is it shifts that, that thinking from, okay, what is the most cliques content to what is the most collectable content? Doesn’t it
Andrew: though, Encourage us to create content that reinforces people’s strongest firmest beliefs, because that’s what gets them to say, Hell yeah, I support it.
That’s what gets people to stand up, clap and take money outta their pockets to, to align themselves with.
Lucas: Um, yes, I think that is the maximal version, whereas the opposite of that today is. You know, you’re doing like this crazy, like disingenuous click bait content just to drive that click. So I think that yes, if you take this in the wrong lens and if you want to go maximally to one side of the spectrum or another, like there’s definitely downsides to it.
But I think overall, like creating this. Probably leans you on more of the side of like, let me create really genuine content that my community really loves and wants to collect. And I think that’s probably more of it, rather than let me create this content that just like resonates so hard with my community and it’s just like a echo chamber that they wanna like that they love it and now they wanna collect it.
I think that that is, might be like so far down the spectrum, maybe you’re going too far in that sense. And that might happen, um, in the maximum, like the full vision of web through media if it ends up propagating to. The levels that it is today and what too, but definitely a different trade off for
What other dows do you think the world needs? Where, where have Dows not touched that in your experience? They should because the structure would do well there.
Lucas: Um, I think Bitcoin has the right idea in public goods dos that are focused on maintaining, running, and launching stuff. Our public goods and free to use for everyone no matter where they are in the world.
I think that is definitely an under the radar area or somewhere that we as a community and like an industry needs to optimize more for, um, in the coming years. Like what?
Andrew: What kind of public goods do you see it muse
Lucas: for? Yeah, I think Bitcoin one is like probably the best example right now. I think ENS is another one where it’s just a public domain service, right?
New register domain name. And that gives you, it’s a public good, right? And all the money doesn’t go to token holders, it doesn’t go to investors, it just goes to a Dow treasury. Um, and that, Is that money’s used to help maintain and grow the ENS ecosystem. So I think public goods like that is really interesting and uh, I would hope that we’ll see more of those, um, in different domains.
Andrew: What about this, I feel like if you were a Web two entrepreneur, You’d have been mega rich by now because think of what you’ve contributed to this space. Think of how many people are willing to put up money to participate in what you’ve created. Lucas, as a capitalist who started out with a Schwab account that I think your dad might have even needed to sign for, doesn’t it make you feel like, Well, I, I didn’t get enough of the upside, or I didn’t get incentivized.
Lucas: I don’t think so. Like I think that there’s plenty of opportunity in crypto and people like if you are here to maximize wealth, I think crypto’s a great opportunity to do that. I don’t think everyone is like that. I personally try not to be like that. I think. Above all else. My mission is to make Ethereum and make crypto grow and like have an impact on that and like have a better impact on the world, um, and creating these systems that create more equitable, fair opportunities for everyone.
And I think that is my mo Um, if you wanted to do that in web two, I think that there’s plenty of money. And if you wanted to do that in what three? I think there’s also plenty of money. I don’t think it. I think you can have your cake and eat it too if you want to. I mean, we can go down the list of people that have built really valuable products in crypto and um, billions and billions of dollars.
So, um, I don’t think it’s, um, a binary option.
Andrew: If Web Three lives up to your expectations of it, what will it do? What is it that’s driving you?
Lucas: Yeah, I think we talked about this a little bit earlier, but I, I really do not like advertisements in the current LED to model for media. Mm-hmm. . Um, and I think if we can shift away from that, that is more engaging and more fun for the community.
Right. So like collecting those NFTs is a gamified experience where it’s like, I can do this and let’s say I collect 10 of them and I can take those 10 and now Mint a super fan pass because I’m an on changes avid supporter, and now I get direct line to Ryan and David or something like that. I think.
Really, really cool, and I think that is much more engaging and better for the community and more fun for the community than sitting through a minute of ads right on the podcast.
Andrew: And it aligns your community’s incentives with yours, right? You’re both now aligned with the goal of making the podcast a better product.
Because you both own tokens. Mm-hmm. instead of one being the customer of the other, and uh, the person who’s getting the money has an incentive to make things just good enough for you to sign up. Mm-hmm. and maybe not even great afterwards.
Lucas: Right. I think another like awesome aspect of this is like none of these, like all these.
Web three options. None of them are sunk cost. And I think that is really nice where the sense that, like right now if you pay sub, sub stack subscription $22 a month, one way bridge, like you’re given it to Bankless HQ and like that’s that. Whereas like these web three options, like if you hold the tokens or you hold the NFTs, there’s always a secondary market for you to kind of, uh, opt out and be like, You know what?
I don’t want this. And maybe you don’t make some money, maybe you just break even. Maybe do make some money. Um, but I think the option of. It is not zero. I can always recoup some costs. As long as Bankless HQ is continuing to produce content and continuing to produce value that other people want, I think that option is really fucking nice for the community.
Um, and for people that wanna support the Yeah.
Andrew: In in startup land that already exists, there are people who I used to think angel investors were putting in maybe 20, 40, 50, a hundred thousand dollars into a company because of all the advantages they got for being. Then I started looking at their investments.
It might be 5,000. Sometimes these well known entrepreneurs who seem to have done well for themselves, they’re only putting in $1,000, but in return for that thousand dollars, they get early access to the software. It’s, it’s often free for life. They get commented on, complimented, supported, and then they also get support from the angel investor beyond the thousand dollars.
And so they have that kind of relationship, and that’s what you’re saying and that’s what excites me. The idea that that could then be brought to more people through a tokenized relationship with the creators that they’re supporting, whether those creators are software vendors or content creators.
Right. We mentioned, uh, the price going down. I talked to one of your members. I actually talked to a lot of your members. They’re fantastic people, uh, at Bank List. But one said that they had to sell their tokens because when they got. It was at a higher price than they are now. And then, um, they get tax at the higher price, which means they had to sell their tokens in order to pay their taxes.
By the time they sold their tokens, token price went down and they, they basically had to give up all their tokens to taxes. And that brings up just one of many issues that it’s coming up now where I think a year ago bank was. 25 US cents and now it’s worth maybe one US cent. Some of the community has gone down because of that.
Some of the incentives have gone down. What happens to bank list out with that and to their
Lucas: members? Yeah, I mean, I try not to be too concerned with token price. Um, I think that is not like the metric you wanna be optimizing for. The comment on it. Just broadly, crypto markets are down 60, 70, 80, 90%. So the fact that like token price has gone down is just a, a function of the broader market.
For one, it’s not your fault, but you still
Andrew: have to deal with people who then leave because they’re not a part of it. Right. Making sure that others see that long term vision instead of how do you do that? Because I think that’s going to be an ongoing concern for maybe content creators who are now dealing with token holders whose token value goes down.
Mm-hmm. , and it’s an important thing to do. What do you
Lucas: do? Like you have to. Rely on the fact that the community has the right vibes to maintain it. And I think that this is where communities built character, right? Um, is during these periods of down. And I think Bankless out as a community is doing a phenomenal job at it.
Um, yes, of course people are naturally going to lead because there’s, you know, there’s some degree of a price, you know, metric that people. Follow. But I think overall, a lot of people that are in the Dow and are actively contributing to it are there because we want to contribute to the mission and not because they’re focused on the token price going up.
And I think that’s why every week, every Friday, there’s still hundreds of people in our community call. There’s still like 15, 20, 30 slides of people like updating up. Keep everyone on the products that they’re working on. And I think that is what is important, is the vibes of the community, um, and not the token price.
And I think the people that wanna optimize for token price are obviously gonna lead during these periods of down. And I don’t think that that is, um, specific to Bankless now. I think that is just broadly. Applicable to any community in crypto right now, but I think the people that are here for the right reasons, um, stick around, have a great time.
And uh, yeah, I think like on the contributor payments, like we definitely are trying to. Transition more towards SDC payments for contributors so that they’re not worried about, um, selling tokens or like token price to pay for their expenses. Um, that is something that we’re working on and that will kind of come about hopefully in the next year or so.
Um, but it is definitely just a byproduct of relying on an ERC 20 token for payment, which. Sucks, uh, during the, the down times, but it’s obviously great during the up times. So, all right, And
Andrew: so this is another reason why it just keeps coming back to, I think you must have used the word vibes five times, 20 times in this conversation.
I think that’s what you’re going for. Almost like I went to a Warren Buffet, Berkshire hath annual meeting, and there’s nobody sitting in that audience getting anxious when the stock goes down a hundred dollars or $200. There’s a sense. In it for the long term, not looking to sell in it because we believe in what we’re doing and if the market goes crazy, then maybe it’s an opportunity for us to to buy in.
And you wanna just keep creating that long term connection with the, with the members. Mm-hmm. .
Lucas: Yeah, I think that is the most important part. And like every single project has gone through these down periods, even Ethereum. But you know what? At the end of the day, Vitalic, the foundation, everyone was still there building and like focused on the mission of like making a smart contract or world computer, right?
At the end of the day, the people that are long term, long term oriented are going to succeed. And you know, I think Bankless South is pretty fortunate where a majority of the community is there for the
Andrew: long term. And you think even. Bankless Dow will be more valuable than Bankless llc if it’s not true today.
Lucas: That is the goal, I think when we launch it, is the Dow should effectively, HQ should be a subsidiary of the Dow and not the other way around. Um, so I think at some point our goal is for Bankless Dow to eat hq, have a bigger media publication, you know, all that sort of stuff, um, that we’re hoping for. And I think that they’re on the right track.
It just takes a little bit of time,
Andrew: meaning a buyout by the Dow of the ll.
Lucas: That created it, right? Uh, maybe. Yeah. That could happen. Um, doesn’t sound crazy. Yeah. I’m not signing the paperwork. That’s Ryan and David, but uh, yeah, that could be something that happens if it, if we get there.
Andrew: All right. Thanks for being on here.
I’d love to, in to interview Ryan or David, Do you think they’d be open for doing an interview with me?
Lucas: Yeah, I can. Uh, definitely plug it to them and see what they think. I know that they’re very busy. Um, right now it’s, uh, pretty hectic. Get bankless. We’re definitely very heads down. We’re launching that new website, doing all the web three.
We’re going through like the massive podcast and newsletter revamp, so we definitely have our hands full. So apologies if it’s been tough to get in touch with them. It is also tough for me to get in touch with them if it makes me feel new sometimes ,
Andrew: and it’s because it’s the LLC that’s going to be creating this new software that allows for tokenized content creation and
Yeah, so we’re definitely building on some of the shoulders of giants, so we’re definitely using some tools that we have available. But yeah, we are effectively heads down building like. Whole new revamp of Bankless, um, that you’ll probably see more, uh, in like end of q4, early Q1 2023. All right.
Andrew: Right on.
Thanks for being on here. Awesome. Thank you, Andrew. This is great. Thanks. Bye everyone.
Now that this interview’s over, I’ve gotta know what you think about it and what you think about the way we explained some difficult concepts in it and what you think about. Frankly, the fact that I’m bringing in interviews from origami into this feed, so, If you listen this far, please hit me up by email and let me know.
My email address is andrew mixergy.com. That’s a NDR eow M I XE y.com. And if you like this and you want more interviews on Dows for me, you can get email@example.com slash podcast. Join origami.com/podcast. See you in the next
Lucas: one by it.