Episode 266
August 12, 2022

There’s Nothing New Under the Sun

“Digital is gaining the experiences we’ve had all along IRL” — today we sit down with Seyi Taylor to chat about the online experiences we take for granted, the actual capabilities of web3, and how commerce gives us emotional resonance. Tune in now!

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“Third-Party Cookies Be Damned”

  • The ability to have control is attractive to brands, and that's one thing web3-based loyalty platforms provide, which creates incentives for merchants and brands to be more experimental.
  • Regarding whether web3 is anything new or novel: “What it's actually enabling is more modalities to come into the digital space that we're accustomed to having in real life.” -Phillip
  • The way we use tokens right now isn’t going to stay this way. Right now tokens are all the hype, but soon they will become a way to get stuff done.
  • Pokemon Go is back on the craze, even though it's a blast from past of six years ago. The question is, will we get engrossed in AR examples that are layered over top of a reality we already cohabitate in?
  • “We've spent the last phase of the internet in this situation where people really didn't care as to where the data was, but we’ve started to see that shift of “where is my data?”’- Seyi
  • Regarding the growth of browser plugins and blockchain analysis: “Third-party cookies be damned. All the work is done for you because we can attribute anything, theoretically.” -Phillip
  • If the medium is the blockchain, what is the message? “The thing that's happened on the Internet is it's been a great access revolution without a lot of ownership.” -Seyi

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Brian: [00:01:11] Hello and welcome to Future Commerce, the podcast about the next generation of commerce. I'm Brian.

Phillip: [00:01:17] I'm Phillip. Today we have Seyi who's the founder of Shopthru, and I would say sort of my resident expert on Twitter for all things Web3 and for a lot of hot takes from commerce there and beyond. Welcome to the show, Seyi.

Seyi: [00:01:31] Thank you very much. Thanks, guys.

Phillip: [00:01:34] Yeah, we're really pleased to have you. A lot of people that I know speak very highly of you. I'm glad to finally put a face with the name. For people who aren't initiated, tell people about who you are and what Shopthru is.

Seyi: [00:01:49] Great. So my name is Seyi. I essentially have a pretty long story, and maybe we don't need to get into it right now, but it's pretty cool. I've worked as a doctor for a very long time period of my life and essentially got into Web3. You asked how I got into it. But Shopthru essentially is a simple token gate, and what it does it's a Shopify plugin that gives merchants the ability to say, if we have a customer with X token, we're going to give them Y benefits, which is maybe access to a product that other people that don't have that token can access or a discount on that product. And we're like turning out a bunch of other benefits for that. And the logic behind that is that you as a customer, don't get to be a VIP at every store, but on the stores where you spend the most money, on stores that you love the most, on stores where you're the most regular, you should be a VIP. And to do that on the Internet, it's not really easy right now. It's very hard to do it at scale. You can do it at like small stores, but when it starts to get some scale, it's not very, in fact, it's next to possible to do it effectively at scale. In the real world, we already see that behavior. So if you're like a luxury goods shopper, they take you to like this, you know, private viewings, you get champagne, you get like, "Oh, we only have red color, and we'll reserve it for you because you're one of our special people." But like on the internet, that's pretty rough and we think that NFTs and to acknowledge NFTs, but like tokens essentially just unlock the ability for customers to raise their hands in their favorite stores and for brands to recognize them and say, "Oh, I recognize you." And then give you the free discount, the special pricing, the special colorways, the early access to the product simply by owning the right token forever. That gives you that access. And we think that long term that ecosystem, the NFTs will revolutionize the entire marketing funnel. So at the top of the funnel, you can imagine right now, if you do an influencer campaign or you do a collab with another brand as an eCommerce brand, so you give them your content, they come back and screenshots of the impressions is actually like it's now you and them. You have to trust each other, you have to give them, what's the word, discount code. You have to hope that the discount code doesn't end up on Honey and all of that stuff. You're not really sure where all that came from. And then sometimes you have to think about sharing data. Do you want to share data with somebody that you don't really want to share data with? And all of that information. Tokens basically, like wipe away all of that. Essentially a brand can turn on and say, "We will accept that other community or that influencer's token. They are the brand's tokens and we will control." "We will give them 10%," or "We'll give them 40%," or "We'll give them access to this product." They don't have to get any data from those people. They don't have to do anything from them. It's as simple as that. And you can turn it off when they're done. You know, they can say "You can redeem once." Right now you can do all of that stuff immediately. And you have like near-perfect attribution to like whether or not that relationship or that promotion worked. In fact, we're building tools, but even the other, the influencer is able to see how well their influence actually works. So you have like almost near perfect attribution in the middle. It's like you have this really simple one time way. It's like you don't have to remember the discount code. You don't have to remember anything. You literally just connect your wallet and the app just like goes and finds everything for you and says, "Hey, cool, this is what you get." And then at the end of it, you know, NFT is a fantastic post-purchase. It's like they're almost like this touchpoint that you can come back to later. So everyone likes owning tiny little things. And so you have like this famous... And so we think that just tokens are going to transform how commerce is conducted, provide better attribution, provide like just other touchpoints for new marketing, but just also build like the entire data pipeline. I think that's pretty, pretty much what we're going to see. Yeah.

Phillip: [00:06:19] That's super interesting. Brian, do you get the VIP experience at Costco very often?

Brian: [00:06:25] Not like that.

Phillip: [00:06:27] There's champagne and is there a special sample table for people for people at Costco?

Brian: [00:06:32] Too broad market for that, I think.

Seyi: [00:06:34] Yeah. I love that example so much because like just even being able to shop at Costco is...

Phillip: [00:06:43] That's exactly right.

Brian: [00:06:43] It is.

Seyi: [00:06:44] Exactly. So it's like even just access Costco essentially is like being some sort of VIP. There are people that can't, that don't have the Costco card and like piggybacking off some family members' Costco card. I think that when we think VIP, we sometimes think about it as like this top of the pyramid type situation. But we're much like VIPs in a bunch of places if you think about it. And some VIP are a little more widespread. Definitely. We think that technology is going to really transform that.

Brian: [00:07:18] Something that caught me by surprise that I think is really intriguing and betrays how little I've dived in on on using tokens in the way you're talking about is the idea of like one time redemption or one time use or like having limitations to the token. I've heard of like ideas of like end of life. But it's interesting the idea of like having a token, using it for whatever benefits you have for X period of time or a number of times. And then at the end still having the token, but its value is only as valuable as that, like little image or whatever it is, whatever that's worth. Very interesting.

Seyi: [00:08:05] Correct. Yeah, yeah. It's definitely one of the things I think that the ability to have that kind of control is probably very attractive to brands. And that's something that Shopthru offers right now. So you can see this campaign runs, you know, it's like for the next 30 days and then that's it. And you can use it once over the next 30 days and then once you've used it, that's it. There's nothing else for you here. You come back, and you own the token. You can turn on another benefit on the same token if you want to, you know, the next month if that's what you want to do. But, and if you don't want, you don't want to and that's fine. I think that definitely creates an incentive for merchants and brands to be more experimental about what works, but also get real visibility into like what it is that works and what doesn't work in a real and tangible way.

Phillip: [00:09:01]  [00:09:01]This thing that you're talking about sounds like what it's actually enabling is more modalities to come into the digital space that we're accustomed to having in real life. So this idea of VIP access and the various accoutrement that comes with it... We're used to having that in real life. Doing that in digital, replicating that in digital is actually not something that we're all accustomed to. We're used to getting the best fit average, like the same experience everybody else has. We're all aware that there is a velvet rope somewhere in almost every experience in the world. So in some ways, I would almost say it's like reverse skeuomorphic. It's like digital is being enhanced in getting all of these abilities through some identity platform that we didn't have before that makes it look a lot more like the real-life shopping experiences that we're used to getting. That's not a thing that I hear people say a lot when they're talking about Web3 adoption. [00:10:07] That's not... What we usually hear is, "Oh, here's all the stuff you've never done before that you're going to be able to do." What you're saying, Seyi is that there are more ways to purchase online that we haven't unlocked yet because we haven't had the means of identifying people more directly.

Brian: [00:10:27] Or... And, I should say, this is a better way to go about things we've been trying to do. So it's like replacing old technology with new technology to accomplish something we've been trying to do and get at with the old technology. It just hasn't worked that well.

Seyi: [00:10:44] That is correct. That is exactly what it is that I'm saying. So don't get me wrong. I do think that a lot of this new stuff that people talk about is going to happen, or at least some of it for sure. But if you think about just the advent of any technology, there are two things that happen. First of all is that when you strip away the behavior that technology enables, it almost is some version of something that has existed since the foundation of time.

Phillip: [00:11:23] There's nothing new under the sun.

Seyi: [00:11:23]  [00:11:24]There really is nothing new under the sun. And then it just turns out also that when you strip it away a little more, when you think about it a little more, the first version of it kind of feels familiar before it starts to feel really new. [00:11:38] So if you think about how we write emails now. So emails started essentially, and by the name, you know, it was like Email. It's like, this is mail, but it's electronic, but it's mail. And people would write like "Dear X" etc. Signatures, sign-offs, the etiquette around it, and like paragraphs and in many ways, email works that way still today, but you have a lot of like conventions now that people accept as the one line email also works between friends, email as a notification system with apps that lets you know, essentially email is like a folder for receipts, email addresses as IDs, email as a way to essentially log into applications with like one time passwords. If you'd gone back to like initially and being like, "Oh, well, email's going to do all of that stuff," like crazy. It's like, okay, well, first of all, let's go back like sending stuff. The fundamental thing about blockchain is that, and the reason I use the email is that I think the blockchain feels most like email, that of all the innovations that you and I are talking about, it truly feels the most like email, which is you have something that is practically permissionless, which is if I know your email address, I can send you one and it will be in your inbox. You can't really reject email, you can put it in spam, but you can't like exactly block email. It turns out that even though it's an open system, we almost all use Google email. Like we use like a few emails, which because I think that essentially the client became super important, like the way you approach that. And I think that's why I think now wallets are actually very interesting because the way we enter email works, it's like very different. We think it's super powerful and it's going to form the center of this. But if you think about the blockchain, essentially it's like this huge, massive database where every item is... And then when you think of NFTs, every single NFT is unique. The images might not be unique, but the contract address ID combination, whatever, that's unique. There are no two of the same. And so it means that if I say I want to do something with a token from Brian's contract and I want to do something else with like Phillip's contract is that I will always be able to identify those two, and it's almost impossible to spoof it. And so [00:14:22] that token essentially becomes an almost universally verifiable identity. And then that's why we say the tokens enable customers to raise their hands and the brands to say, "I know who you are," without having stored your name on a database, without you having to give data. So it's just like "I have this token," and the brand says, "Yeah, sure, for sure. I know who you are." And so therefore you have the mark, the card, or whatever. You're in. [00:14:52]

Brian: [00:15:55] The idea of comparing it to email is one that I haven't heard before. I think it's super smart, especially given where we're at in the cycle with Web3 at the moment. So we just came through this insane hype cycle where we're now down in the trough of disillusionment.

Phillip: [00:16:14] It depends on who you ask, but yeah. {laughter}

Brian: [00:16:19] And you've got people who are illusioned as well. I guess.

Seyi: [00:16:26] {laughter}

Phillip: [00:16:26] That's true.

Brian: [00:16:27] And we were talking in the pre-show about where this is headed. You just said it. There are all kinds of use cases for tokens. I think what's interesting though is I do see the word "token" sticking around in our vernacular for a long time, but we're not going to think about it like this Web3 hype thing that we think about it like right now. It's just going to become part of like, "Oh yeah, we use tokens to do that." It's not going to be a hype thing. It's going to be how we get stuff done.

Phillip: [00:17:02] Let me actually layer on Brian, because I think you're hitting on something that I was like side chatting you on just now. It's that I don't know that people buy protocols. POP3 or SMTP are the underpinnings that made email work but people buy Exchange and Gmail. And I think when we talk about tokens, we're talking about a protocol and wallets like in the chain, like we're talking about protocols. But at the end of the day, people don't buy protocols, they buy products. And so the productization is the thing that endures, that enables the protocol, the success of which wouldn't exist without the protocol. But we have to have things for people to buy and at the end of the day, Shopthru could be one of those things. When you're trying to solve loyalty and solve problems. Yeah, fingers crossed. And Shopthru is not the only one trying to solve it. We've certainly, I have competing investments. You know, I'm invested in Taco. I'm an advisor to Toki. Theoretically, they all can succeed if productization of loyalty or identity becomes something that is what a consumer really wants. Seyi, what do you think?

Seyi: [00:18:16] I think that you're correct on that. No, because people don't buy protocols. I don't think anyone knows what HTTP is. And that's I think that's fine. I don't want people to know what HTTP is. It's like one of the things that happens in this space is... And this happens every time it's like something really early, it's people talk about, you know, they get very technical and technical things are, what's the word, differentiators and people talk about L1s and L2s and the sense obviously in the long term is no one will know what L layer they're on. And no one will even know. In fact, there might be, not there might be, there probably will be this "Am I on-chain or am I not on-chain." And people might not really care, to be honest. So I agree with that. It's going to be definitely like, how does it work and in what ways does it work?

Phillip: [00:19:20] Maybe let's shift gears a little bit because we were also talking in the pre-show. You know, I think this comes back to protocol versus product. This past month, my kids have gotten really into Pokemon Go and this is over the summer. It wasn't instigated by kids playing Pokemon at middle school. This just happens to be a thing that has been around for a long time now. Six years later, we talked about it on the podcast six years ago, Brian. Now they get to listen to My Hot Takes about Pokemon Go from six years ago. When we talk about whether AR is a thing or will be a consumer desire, I think that's a good example of what we're talking about here. Right, Seyi? Which is, will we buy AR, or do we get really engrossed in examples of AR that are layered over top of a reality that we all cohabitate? And so Pokemon Go is some sort of AR or some experience where they're layering a game on top of reality. People buy Pokemon, they don't buy AR. And that's I think what it comes back down to is what are some other ways that we're starting to see this take place in the world? Is this like new manifestations of browsers or us understanding that like Chrome profiles are our new identities? How are these things going to slowly kind of evolve over time?

Seyi: [00:20:40] Yeah, I love that. I love that question. I think one of the themes so just to touch on AR before we move to profiles and I'd also like to touch on as we've been using AR for a while, Snapchat filters are AR, but the other thing is if you use Google Maps, which I do all the time because I have a terrible sense of direction. You know, you have like the same way you like, it's basically put up your phone and it reads the street and it says point over there. And it's like the big arrow that says, "This is where you need to go." That's AR, and I use that like literally every week. And so we see the technology, just like you said, either improving something that we've done in the past in the case of, like Google Maps creating a new type of like a scavenger hunt with like Pokémon Go, creating a new filter from like the old classic Instagram filters. Like these new filters put things on your face or whatever it is, that's all AR. And we see that now with I think we're definitely gonna start seeing that with tokens where people are going to present tokens as a symbol of identity or they're going to use what's called DIDs, centralized identifiers, and essentially like also present those. I think that Chrome also does that. I think we're seeing that at least for a lot of the stuff that's done on desktop. And it's like that Chrome plugin that's in your browser that essentially is like you have given permission to do the work of like following you around. I think that that also will show up in a bunch of other places. I have like my MetaMask and a bunch of other plugins I use when I used to do walkthroughs that basically just records my screen and you have Loom and all that stuff. So you know, that's definitely going to be a thing. I know. And yeah, the real thing that you actually if we take that idea and like go underneath what's actually driving all of this? It's that [00:22:56] we've spent the last phase of the Internet in this situation where people really didn't care as to where the data was. In some ways, people don't really care. But there's been enough of a narrative shift around "my data, my data" that people are now interested in some version of, "Give me the opportunity to offer permission." What is the feeling of control, which is like very different, like actual control, but it's like, give me something that makes me feel like I have some control over like what's actually going on here. And I think that this is these are like some of the what's the word manifestations of that. [00:23:44]

Phillip: [00:23:46] If you give people too much control, they complain about it. There was the joke around Windows 7 at the time was that it just pops up all the time asking you if you want to give permission to something. Yes, I made a 15 year old Windows 7 reference everybody.

Seyi: [00:24:07] {laughter} You could have used cookies. You could have used cookies on the web.

Phillip: [00:24:09] I mean, GDPR is a good example, but those tend to be pretty well , like you get the like click wrap, opt in. You click at one time, you forget about it forever. The nagging of if you were bothered every single time that some element of data was being accessed in some way that could personally identify you, you would not only be shocked, you'd be appalled, {laughter} and you'd never get anything done because you'd be granting permission all the time. And this is one of those problems, and Brian, I want to give you space to kind of like get in here. My concern is when we give too much control to people, it actually becomes a turnoff. What we actually really desire is well designed and guided experiences that sort of make a bunch of assumptions on our behalf. We don't want total control, right?

Brian: [00:24:58] Well, then maybe that's where tokens come in. Maybe it's the opportunity for us to to be able to manage and have more control without all of the work it takes to manage that across the board. If we use tokens to interact with brands, we could be a little bit more... Across the web it might be an easier way for us to sort of say, "This is who I am, and this is what I like and prefer."

Phillip: [00:25:27] Is there a security risk in that, though? Let's kind of touch on some of the thorny topics here, Seyi. You know, a lot of the the criticism has been, "Oh Web3 has been a vector for fraud." What turns out actually because it's all on chain, theoretically, a lot of that can be sort of traced back eventually. There's a some kind of a history or sort of a trail of your activity that you're leaving behind. So does that not put the consumer at a disadvantage to a savvy retailer who might be using something to sort of analyze the activity in their wallet or analyze the type of consumer purchase behavior they may have? How does that wind up playing out?

Seyi: [00:26:23] One of the things I think we're going to see is in commerce applications, so in a real world applications, the tokens themselves are not going to be these speculative assets that when you sell, you can pay off a mortgage. They're going to be... And because this it's like sell and pay off your mortgage. The real thing that's happened. That definitely happens. It's taking that away is essentially it's like you have a Costco card. So it's like it can there be some fraud done on that? I mean, I'm sure. What is the value of the fraud to all the parties involved in it? It's just kind of like, okay, well, maybe not as much. I think that's the first thing I would say. I think that in a lot of the stories around like the big hacks around financial assets, what I would call almost like the crypto side of what we call Web3. And I think that those are really challenging problems and they're like lots of really smart people working on those. But I think that in this particular conversation, that's not necessarily what we're discussing. So I think that's one thing. And you will begin to see that bifurcation as the tooling improves. You will see that bifurcation. I think that's one thing. One of the things I realized when I got into space was that so before I did this, so I did adtech and I did media, so this is kind of like why I have like such media thoughts. I actually built an adtech company and built a media company in Nigeria. Still running, essentially built a company that owned what it was, essentially the TechCrunch and BuzzFeed of Nigeria, kind of like stuff like that. And then moved here. And one of the things I've always try to figure out is how businesses use media to reach people and thinking about like advertising and tracking and all of that stuff. And obviously, we've been having this debate for over a decade now as to how to deal with this. And one of the most interesting pieces about this has always been like even I complain about what Apple has done a million times. If you are on Twitter, you will probably see those tweets. I think that the fundamental idea is still correct, which is that people need to feel on some level that they have some amount of control maybe is the wrong word, but some amount of seeing what's going on. And the previous ecosystem was essentially an entire marketplace of data behind your back, and you couldn't even essentially opt out of it if you wanted to. And I think that this is kind of what may be a thing about like having what I call like a shopping wallet, which is essentially a wallet that's just owns like your shopping cards and nothing financial, is your choice at point of purchase, you decide whether or not to present it. It's your choice, right? It's your ability to decide whether to do it.

Phillip: [00:29:29] Right. It's not a requirement. Right.

Seyi: [00:29:32] And you need to decide whether or not the things on the other side of the token gate is something that you want enough to connect your wallet. That's your choice. The other thing is that there's a lot of work being done, like privacy chains and zero knowledge pros and those kind of things. And I think that will definitely improve just the privacy that users have. And we're going to see those capabilities also rolled out in these systems where users are going to be almost essentially say, you can see this token and that's it. That's literally what I'm presenting to you. You can do what you want with that information.

Phillip: [00:30:16] So just to clarify, my rudimentary understanding is so there are new and emergent ways of different protocols, again, to use a different but like a different spec for a different type of a a coin or a token that may give zero knowledge around the wallet that actually holds it. And so we're not exposing who this person is and all of their activity, and we're not able to unscramble it all over time so we can identify the person because that sounds from an adtech to Web3 founder sounds like a lot of the in mass adoption we don't need a third party cookies be damned. Like all that works done for you because we can attribute anything, theoretically.

Seyi: [00:32:36] Theoretically. And there are a bunch of people working on like attribution in Web3. Right now there are very few places where the real world, and I consider the Internet that we use on a day to day basis as part of the real world now. It's like the real world and Web3 it's kind of like the meat. They're not that many places where they meet. I think over the next decade, they're going to be a lot of those. And I think attribution of Web3 actions will also perform part of like what people kind of consider, but I think the most important thing will be that customers, individuals, human beings will have the opportunity to say, "I want to do this now. I want to identify myself now." Or "I don't want to." And that's your choice. And you can do that. Right now I don't really have a choice and work out like this browser. And every time I go somewhere, everybody sees exactly what I see. I don't really have a choice with that.

Brian: [00:33:42] It's interesting. We're talking about the future, what's going to happen in five, ten years from now. We're talking about it from a technology perspective. One of the things that I think at Future Commerce we try to emphasize as much as possible is that the future is inherently a human story. And the way that humans function and what they care about will will be a part of the future, and technology will play a role in enabling that. And so I'm thinking about how things get done by humans. And I think the answer to this is that humans often organize themselves around things they can make money on.

Phillip: [00:34:33] Capitalism, baby.

Seyi: [00:34:37] Correct. That is 1,000% correct. {laughter}

Brian: [00:34:41] And so I think I'm thinking about this in like, Phillip, maybe you're right. Maybe there's a version of the chain where it's like, oh, yeah, all the advertisers are going to get everything they need. It's all going to be very transparent and clear cut. It's all going to be very like pass through. And that's going to be for a certain tier of customers. And then there will be another tier of customers that are like, maybe they pay money, maybe they spend enough money, maybe whatever it is, it's going to come back to money where they...

Phillip: [00:35:20] Such a cynical take, but okay. {laughter}

Brian: [00:35:26] I know. {laughter} I think there's an opportunity for there to be... Like right now we're in such a fragmented spot where the standards are not set. We have not consolidated around gmail.com, the Web3 version of that yet. I can't help but think...

Phillip: [00:35:45] It has a 40 year head start. The adoption takes a lot longer than I think we all... Even though I think the half life of adoption is like significantly decreased.

Seyi: [00:35:57] It's shorter now.

Phillip: [00:35:57] Yeah so it's so short now. We will very quickly jump on to NGL and BeReal and like very quick to adopt those things. Even quicker to quit them, which I think is a really interesting manifestation. Clubhouse, hit it and quit it. But to your point, Brian, the thing that persists is when it becomes commercially viable. I bring this up all the time and I don't know why, but the Victorian Internet. Decent little read but it sort of draws a line between, well, the telegraph was novel, but it became crucial when commerce started to transact upon it. When something becomes commercially viable, when people again make money on it is when it becomes part of our human existence. It becomes part of our existence. We can perpetuate our livelihood upon it. The question is, I guess this comes down to utility, Seyi. What are the actual purchasing utility? These all sound novel, but how can that become critical? How does it become fundamental? And is that really a thing that we can affect or is that something that's an eventuality that will just take place without anyone's intervention?

Brian: [00:37:16] To add on to that, I feel like this is why AR had so much trouble as well. It is not fundamental. We have not found the fundamentals that AR is an application for.

Seyi: [00:37:28] I love this point of view. I think there is the founder of MTV also had, he did a really interesting interview once he said you gotta make things simple for people to use. And it's kind of like this is how people tend to think. This will happen for two reasons in my mind. One is that if your business right now, especially if you're a retail business, an eCommerce retail business right now, your customer acquisition is so high that retaining your best customers has gone from like a thing that your best advisors told you should try and do to something that you need to do. Otherwise, you're not going to have a business in like a year or two. So, like so let's start from that. You now need to do this. You kind of had to do this. I've talked to a bunch of eCommerce and all you tell me all time is like, "Look, you're not going to help me. I don't know if you can solve getting customers at the prices I used to get them 18 months ago. But for sure I don't want to lose the once I've got." And that's a real thing. Okay. And so I don't think that that becomes any easier over the course of... And so anything that like provides easier utility, that executes for clients focus for their customers. I think that that's going to take on. And that's not AR. I think this definitely does that. If you've ever seen the experience of like someone walking past a token gate, walking past it, looking it and seeing like all the discounts available to them in this like almost braindead way and like just clicking on button to like apply them to cart and then moving on. It kind of like feels like I thought it was, I used to say it was cumbersome. Once I started seeing like, what else is available? I was like, oh, it's really cool. That's one. The second piece I think is that down the road at scale this provides another vector for customer acquisition. Because you essentially have like you now having a bunch of data that's like very useful, and so it's commercially viable at scale now and in the long run. So this is why I'm not bothered too much about it. Now, what then needs is to happen at the beginning is this MTV dude's name, who now need to remember, is how do you make it easy for this to happen? Easy for the merchants to do? Is it for the customers to do? This is kind of like what it is. This is the job. This is literally the job now. Easy for everyone, right? And right now it's easier. I think Shopify has definitely contributed to make it easier. It's relatively easy. You can get set up in like 2 minutes or so, but I would like to make it dumb dead simple for everyone involved. And to do in such a way that doesn't make you feel stupid while you do it. And I think that that's what we're going to get to with Web3 and commerce in the long run. Because I'm not saying this about myself, but I've talked to a bunch of people that are working in this space, and I think there are a lot of people that are working that understand these three elements that I mentioned, which is to start at the beginning technology almost feels like magic when you get it right, you know, and then that creates this data layer, which is like fantastic. And if you go back, we need to figure out how to make it easy. There's like a lot of like really smart people working on the space. And I think that in the long run, we're going to basically knock that one out of the park. I'm pretty confident. I understand that there's a fair amount ofskepticism, NFT prices, hacks, blah, blah, blah... I think that NFT prices are completely irrelevant in this conversation. They do not matter at all.

Phillip: [00:41:25] You've blown my mind. And so in the process of blowing my mind, I kind of want to relate it back to the beginning of this conversation, which was we talked about what if Web3 is really just enabling more of the things that we're used to and accustomed to in the real world to happen digitally. And so I want to read you a portion of an article from 1994 in The Washington Post.

Seyi: [00:41:50] Sure.

Phillip: [00:41:50] And this article says, "There is a word that they like to use in the credit card business to characterize mass mailings of credit cards. They call it a drop, and it is an unwittingly apt description. There has never been an outward yearning among the residents of Fresno, California, for such a device as a credit card. Nor did they even find themselves aware of such things in its existence. It simply arrived one day with no advance warning, as if it dropped from the sky." And this piece was referencing how, in 1958, Bank of America sent 60,000 residents of Fresno, California, a line of credit. And this is it is once again, like we talk about airdrops, we talk about identifying people in neighborhoods. [00:42:40] What if our definitions of these things are really just finding taxonomy to describe these things in digital form? We're creating digital neighborhoods. These wallets and their behavior become a new type of a neighborhood. They're the new Fresno. And what if the airdrop of a credit card is not just spam mailing to people who happen to live in a city who's near a bank? But it's us being able to identify more clearly neighborhoods of behavior and people who tend to act similarly. [00:43:08] So rather than Facebook owning that data, that data is now part of a public network that we all happen to take part in. They become digital communities more so than Slack or Stack Exchange. There they are truly a part of a larger thing that we're networked into. It actually seems like a much clearer manifestation of what we've called the Internet, which was very crude and very tribal. And in reality, if you put all of that behavior and identity and transaction in one place, it becomes much more akin to what the real world is actually like. I don't know. You broke my brain, I think. Did you just, like, red pill me or something? I think that's what happened.

Seyi: [00:43:51] It's possible. It's also very funny that you quote that because I'm currently reading the book that I quote came from. It's a very fascinating book. It's very long. It's remarkably expensive for some reason, but it's also very thick. It's like, yeah, it's it's really good. Understanding the foundations of that network, I think, was just super powerful and eventually how that eventually became Visa, just very powerful to read. I think you're right if you think about it that way, then a lot of things that people say matter don't matter anymore. And then things that matter become things that people might not necessarily be paying a lot of attention to. And then you start to worry as someone who's a contributor to the space or whatever, you start to think about, like other things that really, really I'm familiar with, and like how do I execute this? How do I execute that? That's like more interesting. It's like what companies are working in this space? And if you're an investor, then you're like, okay, this is like one side of what the world's going to look like. How do we find the companies that are building building blocks of what that world would look like to enable that? And then that's what you start looking for. And that's maybe you and I on Twitter and we're in a bit of a bubble. It's maybe a bit different for like what that bubble looks like. It looks a bit different from that.

Phillip: [00:45:13] Hopefully a lot a bit different.

Brian: [00:45:14] Right in line with that. So I've been reading a bunch of Marshall McLuhan, which I am losing my mind.

Phillip: [00:45:19] Oh, yeah. You've been dropping this on me lately.

Brian: [00:45:21] Yeah, losing my mind. And he was the guy that came up with the medium is the message.

Seyi: [00:45:27] Right.

Brian: [00:45:29] Seyi, this is my question for you. If the medium is the blockchain, what is the message?

Seyi: [00:45:38] Ooooh.

Brian: [00:45:38] Because we're talking about applications quite a bit here. But what is the message that the media itself is sending us? Like, what is the ultimate outcome? What is it saying back to us about ourselves?

Seyi: [00:45:58] Interesting. So we live in the West. And I'm in Canada. You guys are in the States. Ownership is a very, it's definitely a very American value. That's kind of like being exported to a lot of the world. Well, it's a human value. But I think Americans kind of like made a religion out of owning stuff, and the rest of the world kind of like followed suit, I think, on that one. We just kind of got on something. I think the thing that's happened on the Internet is it's been a great access revolution without a lot of ownership. You have this sense of like you have your accounts. So it's like you're on social media and you have your accounts. And more recently we've started understanding that there's like this terms, these terms of service between you and the provider and provider can decide to turn off your account, limit your account, limit your access if you get your password wrong. And it's like people talk about censorship. I'm not even talking about censorship. I'm just like, oh, you enter your password wrong three times so you don't get into your account anymore. And no, we don't have any help. So there's no one to reach out to. Bye. It's like, that's it. All the emails are gone. Good luck. I'm not talking about like, Joe Rogan or like whatever. I'm talking like, just regular people like you and I. And everybody knows someone has had some version of that story in their life. It's like I posted a picture on Instagram, but it was too whatever, whatever "whatever" was, it's like they've blocked my account. Does anyone know anyone at Instagram?

Phillip: [00:47:44] Yeah. {laughter}

Seyi: [00:47:49] {laughter} All right. And that's kind of like what that is. The first time I used WalletConnect, WalletConnect for people that don't know is one way of connecting your wallets to websites. The first time I used WalletConnect what blew my mind was that the website, it's such a weird thing to say, the website wasn't asking the website for access to the data that they had on me, which is what happens when you log into your account like your regular stuff. The website was asking me to confirm it was me so that they would have access to the data that I had on myself. It was my data. They were asking me for access. When I tried to log into my Google, I asked Google... So when I went to this NFT whatever thing they were asking me for access to my piece. And then when I'd say enough, I could disconnect and say, "Well, you don't get access anymore. You can't do anything to this anymore." And I think that [00:48:56] Web3 in the end fundamentally goes right back to the idea that you can own your property, you can own your car, you can own whatever. You can also own digital items. Digital items are not things that you only have access to. You can actually choose to own them if you want to, [00:49:20] and they don't have to be... And then this is the other thing. It's like they don't have to be for the past ten plus years digital items have been measured by how valuable they are, the crypto assets like how valuable they are and how financially valuable they are. It's just maybe that's not all we need to worry about. It's just like you own them. Like, that's it. It's like you own your Costco card or your toy, your Star Wars figurine. It's like you own it. Is it super valuable? Some of them are. Some of them aren't, but they're yours. Pride of ownership is a real thing. It's a real emotional feeling that people have, human beings have. And I think what the blockchain does is that brings that to digital items in a way that we haven't necessarily had in the past.

Brian: [00:50:14] This is super interesting to me because it sounds almost like in direct competition with the medium of open source, the idea that everyone owns software. It's a community based world, which is funny because Web3 organizes itself as a community. It's the democratization of ownership. Whereas the open web was sort of the opposite of that, where it was like, "You shouldn't be allowed to own software at all." It's a community. The world should own it. So that is really interesting.

Phillip: [00:51:02] It's a community good, right?

Brian: [00:51:04] Right, right. Right. As opposed to like Web3, which is like everyone owns their own stuff.

Phillip: [00:51:10] Seyi, I don't want to interrupt for you. You take a shot here because...

Seyi: [00:51:16] No, no, no, please go first.

Phillip: [00:51:17] I think I feel like there is like we're conflating a bunch of different ideas and maybe probably too, this is one of the challenges we have in being called Future Commerce, because I think that there's like future could be tomorrow. It could be like, you know, brains and jars...

Brian: [00:51:33] The future is yesterday.

Phillip: [00:51:33] Right. So I really feel like the conflation here for me is there's a lot of manifestations of the kinds of things we're talking about. There's public services, which public services can be things from nonprofits. They can be like non-governmental organizations that do all kinds of great things in the world. They're governed by a board of people who all have communal ownership and have been deemed to be good actors. But we also have utilities, which are another type of an organization which is effectively like a legal monopoly that provides a public service. And we're all like sort of we are all have to, you know, there's good and bad with that. So to say that those sorts of definitions wouldn't exist in a new digital future I think is like this has been covered for years. Just read The Sovereign Individual.

Seyi: [00:52:27] Ooooh.

Phillip: [00:52:27] The Sovereign Individual really, really covers a lot of this sort of idea of the manifestations of like we're going to recreate every facet of the existing world in a digital space. But theoretically, the power constructs become inverted. And Brian, to your point, you recently wrote about this. This inversion of power is a thing that philosophers have talked about for thousands of years. Like who holds the power? And for the better part of four decades now, corporations have been empowered to provide all kinds of means of access to information. But what happens when that power dynamic becomes inverted, where corporations come to us as individuals? Philosophically, what does that make us? Do we all become our own gods of our own right and our own destiny? As humans, I feel like we part of our nature is to look to higher orders and higher beings to give us some sort of guidelines and some framework to behave in. Like it is a natural state for us to behave in that way when every single person has become so highly individualized that they are the proctor of all of their own information, and they must be, you know, it becomes back to that Windows 7 problem. There's a fatigue that will come with being your own god. There are a lot of decisions to make.

Brian: [00:53:55] I mean, to Seyi's point earlier, isn't this just Americanism in the digital world.

Phillip: [00:54:02] The individualist. Yeah, yeah.

Brian: [00:54:04] It's like it's America imposed upon a digital space.

Phillip: [00:54:09] Let's leave this as the last thought. Seyi, I want to hear your reactions here.

Seyi: [00:54:15] I won't say it's above my pay grade, {laughter} but to say it's very good. I think that I don't conflate... The blockchain is readable by everyone. The code on the blockchain is readable by everyone. A lot of the code on the blockchain is open source. Ethereum itself is open source. If memory serves. If it's not, then please forgive me.

Phillip: [00:54:47] No, it is.

Seyi: [00:54:48] Yeah, exactly. Right. So a lot of the code is open source. The idea that you could own something on chain is almost essentially an extension of that idea. It's not like no one should own anything. It's almost like, well, everybody knows how to do what everybody else is doing. Essentially we can see your code. So we can see your code. Essentially, we can work it and deploy it ourselves if you choose to. And there are multiple projects in crypto that are essentially that. Most of the NFTs I have seen are essentially...

Phillip: [00:55:34] They're essentially that.

Seyi: [00:55:34] Essentially that, where it's like copy, paste the code, change the name here, here, here. Yeah, we're doing same thing. We sold it. It's kind of what it is, it's fine. But the idea that the image, your thing there is essentially you can have a verifiable representation of yourself in digital space that's verifiable, independently verifiable by anyone else, and you can have items in that representation that are by themselves also independently verifiable, and they are yours. They cannot be in two places at the same time. They are literally yours. Whether they have a lot of value or a little value is completely irrelevant. This is where I break from a lot of like orthodoxy. It's like the actual value of the items is it doesn't really matter. What matters is that they're yours. And this is why we get emotional. It's like my favorite shirt. Your favorite shirts are worth like, what, maybe five bucks on Depop or whatever. You've worn it for like forever. But it's your favorite shirt, and it has emotional resonance with you. It's your favorite shirt and that matters, like a drawing that my kid gave me. Those things matter to you. They have emotional resonance. They're yours. And so in digital space, we haven't had those items forever. And now we kind of do. You have items that are yours. Are they valuable? Maybe, maybe not. Should they be sold? Maybe. Maybe not. It doesn't really matter, to be honest, but they can't be verifiably yours. And that's, I think, what eventually matters.

Phillip: [00:57:15] And that actually is, I think, fundamentally what commerce is kind of all about. Seyi, we got to get you on for a lot longer next time. I don't know. It's going to have to be hours. Amazing. Amazing. Loved having you on here.

Seyi: [00:57:30] Thank you.

Phillip: [00:57:31] Thank you for taking all the time. I'll do my little wrap up spiel here. Thank you all for taking any time that you have, it's part of your valuable life you just spent listening to this podcast. I hope it was worth it, but you can catch more episodes of this podcast and other Future Commerce properties at FutureCommerce.fm. And also we have a new salon is coming up in September where we'll gather some of the brightest and most empathetic minds to talk about these types of subjects in depth while we break bread. I think that's an incredibly important part of our experience for our community. If you want to get in on that, we'll be sending out email invites and you've got to move quick. I think there's ten spots available for this next salon in September. You can get that by subscribing over at FutureCommerce.fm/Subscribe, and you'll be on the mailing list. And yeah, thank you so much for listening. Hey, commerce is the catalyst for change. In whose world? Your world. The world around you. And maybe if we all did that, it'd be changing it for the rest of the world. Thank you for listening.

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