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Tokens, But How?
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Tokens, But How?

Author: Sari Azout and Joey DeBruin

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Tokens, But How? is a podcast diving into the messy details of token-based products, co–produced by Every and SeedClub.

In each episode, hosts Sari Azout and Joey DeBruin interview an expert in web3 who will help you understand how to design and build token-based products from the ground up. This podcast is about web3, but its aim is to put people and their problems before technology and solutions. It prioritizes understanding over terminology. It’s a no-nonsense, no-fluff conversation from people too deep in the weeds to get lost in the clouds. If you’re interested in tokenized products but have lots of questions, join Sari and Joey as they think out loud, ask embarrassing questions, and walk the talk of the ownership economy.
11 Episodes
In this special last episode, we look back on Season 1 of TBH. We went into this season with many questions about how to build token-based products. These ranged from the philosophical  (Why?) to the operational (How?). In many ways, the questions we asked reflected our intellectual journeys as founders.We spoke to some of the most insightful operators in this space—diving into the messy details of building token-based products. For this retrospective episode, we recap what we learned and what we still don’t know. We hope you enjoyed Season 1 as much as we did while making it! If you have thoughts on Season 1 and/or suggestions for Season 2, we’re @sariazout and @joey_debruin on Twitter. Until next time,Sari & Joey 
The internet enabled the Passion Economy. It gave creators the ability to monetize their 100 true fans. But in doing so, it had some inevitable side effects. First, it gave platforms significant power and influence over the lives of countless individuals. Second, a lot of the financial upside derived from the massive success of these platforms accrued to a small group of individuals.Our guest today had a front row seat to this. Working for a16z back then, she saw exactly how it happened and who benefited from the wild success of these platforms. Of course we’re talking about Every’s very own Li Jin. If you’ve been a longtime reader of Means of Creation, you’ve probably noticed this philosophical shift. From initially being excited about the potential of the Passion Economy, Li has been spending a lot of her time reading, thinking, and writing about what a fair internet could look like. An internet where network participants (creators, users, moderators, and so on) own a part of the network they add value to; and derive the financial upside from their success. Our conversation with Li gave us a lot to think about. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did! 
DAOs are often framed as exciting new ways to organize our resources. And they undoubtedly are. But how we organize our resources ultimately determines how we organize ourselves—something that has profoundly changed because of the internet. In a world where online strangers can establish trust and coordinate resources in meaningful ways, communities are no longer geographically bound. Groups of individuals around the world share economies and governance, while physically residing thousands of miles apart.  Given all this, what could the future of human coordination look like? Our guest today has spent a lot of time thinking deeply about this very question. Jon Hillis is the founder of Cabin DAO: a decentralized city for creators. It is one of the most interesting experiments in building tokenized communities that have a shared culture, economy, and governance structure. Jon is using tokens and the functionality they enable to reimagine social contracts from the ground up.This was a fascinating conversation - we hope you enjoy it as much as we did!  
Web3 is fundamentally transforming how creators publish written content on the internet. Instead of a simple exchange of written work for subscription dollars, value is now being collectively created by writers and their tokenized communities. Mirror happens to be the de facto home for web3 publishing. If you've ever launched or thought about launching a web3 project—whether that’s a DAO, a token-based product, or an NFT project—you know that the launch post has to bepublished on Mirror. On this episode, we’re joined by Patrick Rivera, who has been a part of Mirror right from the get go.  Patrick is a Product Engineer at Mirror and has been studying the convergence of crypto and creators for a long time. But what makes Patrick really stand out is that he is a builder. His insights on how web3 can transform publishing are based on his own practical experience: building valuable products for creators and communities on the ground. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did! 
Building tokenized products means bridging the gap between theory and practice. Before tackling the practical complexities of tokenomics, you need to have a solid theoretical understanding of economics. Our guest for this episode ticks both these boxes. He has a unique way of combining economic theory with practical solutions to real-world problems. Scott Kominers is a professor at Harvard Business School. He is also a part of a16z’s crypto research team, and an advisor to many web3 companies. Over the years, Scott has published insightful research on how tokens can help design markets and build reputation-based systems. His work is invaluable for anyone looking to deeply understand web3. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did! 
The same story plays out again and again in consumer tech. Starting out, platforms share interests with their creators and users, and they make product and business decisions accordingly. But as platforms scale, interests diverge. Incentives change. Creator empowerment and user experience make way for advertiser appeasement. What’s in the best interest of the platform is no longer good for its creators and users—alienating them in the process.  If you’re a regular listener of this podcast, you’ve probably already guessed the next question: Can tokens help solve this problem? For this episode, we’re joined by Gaby Goldberg to find out. Gaby spends her time investing for The Chernin Group, placing bets on the future of consumer tech. She thinks tokens could enable an innovative consumer tech landscape where user and network incentives are aligned. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did! 
In the web3 world, you hear a lot about aligning incentives. But what does that mean, actually? And what does it look like when it’s done well? For an example, look no further than Global Coin Research. GCR is a tokenized community of web3 researchers and investors that puts money behind their collective learning and analysis. $31M so far, to be specific. Their method is a masterclass in tokenized incentive design. First, they use their token, $GCR, to incentivize community members to conduct research analyzing the web3 landscape. That research turns into high-quality content, which turns into deal flow. The community invests collectively, with carry going back to the community’s treasury, where it’s used to incentivize further research, content, and investment. Virtuous cycle, activated.Joyce Yang and Arthur Zubkoff of GCR join us on this episode of TBH to discuss the nuances of this model, including how they use tokens to decentralize deal sourcing, diligence, and the actual investment itself. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did! 
Talk is cheap on web2 platforms. Trolls, baseless opinions, and unsolicited recommendations thrive because there is little social cost for being annoying, or just plain wrong. But what would social platforms look like if everyone’s actual reputations were on the line? Nir Kabessa is exploring this question through his company Yup—a tokenized social network where users can earn money and clout for their taste. Through tokens, Yup incentivizes content curation across the web.  It is a social platform where everyone has reputational skin in the game.   Nir’s insights are extremely valuable because he has already built a product that has integrated tokens in the user experience. He also happens to be one of our favorite thinkers when it comes to building sustainable tokenized businesses. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did! 
If you work in the music industry you’ve probably heard of Water & Music. Founded by writer and researcher Cherie Hu, it is considered one of the most influential independent voices in music business journalism. Today, Water and Music is structured as a research DAO. But just 9 months ago, it was a paid newsletter and community—a web2 subscription business. How did Cherie transform it into a thriving research DAO? In this episode of TBH, we chatted with her to find out! We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did.
Nowadays, it seems like everyone is launching a token. Creators and companies think of a token-launch as a quick way to generate some buzz and monetize their existing community. As founders ourselves, we’d be lying if we said we haven’t considered it too. However, this approach is shortsighted. Just launching a token may generate short-term hype and revenue, but almost never (by itself) leads to long-term commercial success.Building a sustainable token-based business means exploring monetization models that go beyond the token launch itself. But what does that look like? In this episode, we spoke to someone who has been exploring this question for quite some time: Tom Tirman, the co-founder of PARSIQ—which is often referred to as the “Zapier for blockchains." Tom is also the co-founder of IQ Protocol—a DeFi framework for renting wrapped expirable versions of digital assets. His experience building these web3 products along with his experience in the traditional finance world give him an insightful perspective on token-based business models. If you’re a founder or creator who wants to understand how you can build a sustainable business through tokens, this episode is for you. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did! 
Building and operating communities is hard. Building and operating tokenized communities is even harder. How do you know when to launch your token? How hard is it? What drives its value? Should it be a financial asset or should it have utility? Maybe both? For our first ever episode, we are joined by a guest who helps us answer all these questions. We spoke to Coinvise Founder Jennil Thakker, who has been thinking very deeply about how to build and operate valuable tokenized communities.Jenil has a front-row seat to the exciting potential of collective value creation for creators and communities. He also walks the talk. He has created a personal token designed to reward people that add value to his life. For example: if you give Coinvise a shoutout on Twitter, you can earn 500 $JENIL—which can then be redeemed for a book of your choice. Jennil was the perfect guest to help us understand what makes tokenized communities click, and what makes them flop. We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did! 
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