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Jefferson Nunn 0:03
Live from crypto.news global headquarters. This is “Around the block with Jefferson Nunn”. And I’m here today with special guest, Mike Merrill. How’re you doing, man?
Mike Merrill 0:15
I’m doing fantastic. How are you?
Jefferson Nunn 0:17
Good. So, wow, what an interesting, I don’t know, 360 What do you call it? When you go, hey, I’m just doing traditional chair finance. And now you’re like looking at crypto. Tell me more.
Mike Merrill 0:33
Yeah. So, for those, for those that might not be familiar, I, back in 2008, I started this project where I started selling shares myself, and it was all based on, you know, essentially just a database a website. Now, as we sort of like progressed into this web3, crypto world, there’s a lot of people that are doing really similar things. And so, I have in the last, I guess, it was end of December, I started on a roll, which is works on social token infrastructure. And I kind of based on my history of selling shares, and myself and developing this community, this kind of financialized community, I’m now helping kind of guide people through this process on the crypto side. So, it’s super exciting. I feel like I finally have peers as a publicly traded person, people I can kind of talk to about what it’s like, how do you how do you balance between, like, wanting your sort of token or share price to be up at the same time serving your community and, and sort of the relationship between those two things?
Jefferson Nunn 1:38
Really interesting. So, talk, tell me more about what got you into crypto in the first place. And I guess you publish portions of your portfolio for your, I guess, shareholders to look at. So, tell me more about both.
Mike Merrill 1:54
Yeah, so I started. I mean, I think I was always interested, I heard about it pretty early. And like a lot of people, I was like, oh, this is fascinating. But for me, I’m not a developer. So, it always felt really, like I needed more technical kind of chops to really like, get in there. I’ve dabbled, you know, like, bought and sold some things played around on different markets, I love the idea of essentially taking what was these, these financial and economic principles that were so far away from us individual people, and just dropping them right in our lap. And part of that is terrifying, because we’ve never had to interact with money this way. And these financial concepts and sway. And part of it’s really exciting. And so, in relationship to the project, I was doing selling shares of myself, it was, you know, perfectly paralleled and aligned. And so that was kind of my initial interest, as I was just fascinated as we enter this new world of kind of the financialization of everything. And honestly, there’s good and bad there. But I definitely as an optimist, I tend to focus more on the good side. And so yeah, I think as it’s kind of like, move further and further along.
The thing that really like pushed me over the edge into really like jumping in and working with roll is that it’s getting to the point now where you don’t have to be a developer to be not only just fully involved in the kind of like buying and selling, but actually integrating crypto into what you’re doing. As a creator, as an organization. We’ve seen, obviously, the massive rise in NFT’s and that trend kind of kind of play out and develop into this whole amazing ecosystem. I think now we’re seeing sort of the beginning of this real push towards social tokens and what that can do in terms of governance of a community and thinking of your value of the community as a digital asset that can be moved around in different ways. And then obviously, like going towards this other very, like, we were having this moment around dowse. And I think I think that’s kind of the arc that we’re seeing is kind of from NFT’s to Dowse, with social tokens really playing an important part in the middle of that.
Jefferson Nunn 4:07
Really interesting. So social tokens, which project was that again?
Mike Merrill 4:14
So, it’s, it’s really the, you know, if people are familiar with NFT’s, you know, the genius or the really fun part of an NFT is that you have a digital asset that is unique. And that enables all kinds of crazy stuff that we weren’t really thinking about doing online before. It was just like, information wants to be free copy, spread, share. And now we have these unique items in a digital space. With social tokens. It’s a lot of the same underlying technology, the differences, you have many copies of this thing, but they are they are so they are fungible tokens essentially. And so, in this case, like if you have your choosing NFT that’s almost like a collectible that you want to keep and hold for, for whatever reason is as you value that, that, you know that bit of data, whether it’s art or music or a membership card or something like that, with social tokens, it’s more of like your own money, it’s the ideas that it’s going to move back and forth. You don’t have to be quite as precious about always holding it, there’s obviously advantages to holding it. But you can also spend it, move it around, share it within your community. So, it ends up being a lot more of a tool, as opposed to sort of a badge.
Jefferson Nunn 5:30
Yeah, that’s the one thing I was looking at with NFT’s is like, you know, kind of seemed to be a little bit limited. I mean, yeah, I have a picture of something now, but yeah, you’re right, it’d be nice to be able to do more with that token, or have that token represent even more things. Yeah. And, yeah.
Mike Merrill 5:58
Oh, just gonna say I think one way to think of it is like NFT is sort of a whole unit unto itself. And obviously, there can be additions and things like that. And you can do a lot of the same things with NFT’s and social tokens, but the social tokens are sort of a fractionalized piece of a larger thing. And so, you have if you have an NFT, it’s like owning the whole thing of one thing. And if you have social tokens, it’s like you can own a piece, and you can share the other pieces with your friends and your community. And so, the underlying technology, again, super similar use cases start to kind of just open up and I think communities you’re gonna find, there’s really like you want both. It’s not a vs at all, you really probably like within your digital community space, you probably want to have both NFT’s and social tokens.
Jefferson Nunn 6:43
So, do you think that, and I’m just speculating here, but do you think that social, well, everything social, gaming, social community building, that’s going to be the next generation of finance, if you will, because if you think about it, money, you know, fiat money, the dollar, once you hand somebody the dollar, that’s the end of that. But with social tokens that you’re that you’re saying, it could be so much more, in that you can have community involvement in a variety of different projects? So is that what we’re talking about here?
Mike Merrill 7:20
Yeah, if you think about it, like, you know, we both hold us dollars, but there’s not much of a relationship that we share, just because we hold that dollar. Whereas if I was holding, you know, Jefferson tokens, and another friend of mine was holding Jefferson tokens, we would have a relationship in that, that is that is a, almost like a membership badge unto itself that we are holding, and using this one specific kind of currency within this community. So, if these Jefferson tokens of yours are spread out among all your listeners, and all your community, we would all use those in a way that would enact, you know, it between us. Now, we can always go on something like, you know, uniswap, or some of these sci-fi sites, and maybe sell them or buy more, you know, we could get in and out. And I think that’s an important aspect underlying all of this is the financialization, it does make us pay a little bit too much attention to where that prices, but the ability to exit at any point is, is super powerful. And I think hold everybody accountable, both the people that are creating the token, and but as well as all of the community members themselves, they end up being really stewards by holding that token.
Jefferson Nunn 8:32
Yeah, that’s really interesting. I think it would potentially give rise to a more meaningful vote membership, but then the community, right, could you could then see how your actions benefit others. And I think that’s something that we don’t necessarily see right now. Except when something catastrophic happens. As over the last couple of years, we’ve had a lot of Kobe death. And so, we can now see that, you know, disappearance of a large number of people, after a dramatic effect on the community. So, do you think with the social tokens, we will now be able to better quantify our own and others participation in the community?
Mike Merrill 9:22
Yeah, I think and again, I think we have to be a little bit careful there because you never want. You don’t want people coming in just trying to, you know, like, maximize there to kind of like dollar value in those terms. At the same time. If I can speak to this as having shares, I can give people shares for their participation in my community. And again, my project is not blockchain. But it’s sort of a precursor to that and highlights a lot of the community benefits so you know, I have somebody who helps me work on the development of my site and I get to pay them in shares and that what’s nice about that is that’s technically free.
For me that’s not taking money that I’m going to buy food with or, or pay rent with that person can, again convert that if they choose, they can sell those shares and to other members for money. And in the same way, I think the social tokens when somebody does something within the community that is helpful, or maybe requests a certain number of tokens to, to do something, the other members approve it, and they can be rewarded with that, they get to choose whether to kind of cash that in or hold it and kind of grow their reputation within that community, there’s still going to be plenty of ways in which community members are connecting and providing value that is not measurable, and it’s intangible. And I think that’s a really important thing to care for and take care of as well. We don’t want to get to the point where we’re doing everything, programmatically between us as people, you know, like me coming on this podcast, I’m, I’m happy to do it, because well, in this case, I guess your shareholders, and maybe I’m obligated, but I’d be happy to do this, because you and I are friends and we have a relationship, you know, and it’s interesting and fun to talk about, I wouldn’t want to say I’m only going to go on someone’s podcasts if they pay me a certain amount of tokens. So, I just I want to be careful that we’ll get to transactional, even as we start using this stuff as a way to reward and encourage participation by community.
Jefferson Nunn 11:24
Yeah, that really does make sense. And I’d like I said, I think it opens up a whole world of opportunity temperatures not able to take advantage of right now. So, it’s really, really interesting. Outside of that, what else do you see for what’s next in crypto?
Mike Merrill 11:44
I mean, it feels like if anyone’s watching kind of what’s happening, everything feels like it’s moving towards this space of the doubt, the decentralized autonomous organization. And, and I think what we’re seeing is the first incarnations of that were wholly programmatic and, and very, almost like sealed off in a way, the idea was, these smart contracts are determining all of the aspects of how this is going to work. And I think what we’re seeing now is it’s more of a spectrum. And things can be kind of down like, you don’t have to go to the full extent of everything is on chain, and everything is decided by, you know, community members. It reminds me a lot of when I lived in Portland, Oregon, and I would go to the board meetings of my local grocery Co Op, and watching them have to navigate these decisions with like consensus and all the rules at the you know, at this sort of like governance level, we’re reinventing a lot of that in, in crypto, and the way that we organize around it. And I think we could learn a lot from kind of some of the previous ways that this has been done and how consensus has been built, and how to sort of, we still have to be, you know, we have to engage with one another and convince each other. And there’s still a lot of human level communication within these, you know, smart contract created organizations.
But I’m super excited about those, I think that the idea that are these little groups, whether large or small, can you can kind of like hold a little bit of space in them participate at the level that you want, again, leave when you want, and it’s not an if the value of the token within that community goes up, and you’re like, I’m not participating very much anymore, you can leave and you can cash out, I think that’s super interesting, the opportunity of these, these groups to work together becomes really powerful as they both can kind of create financial incentives between members to sort of either share tokens or share members and do things together. And all of this stuff is happening in such a global way. I feel like the earlier versions of sort of the excitement around the internet that I was a part of, it felt very, very us focused, you know, they’re like Silicon Valley. And, and some of that stuff. And this now is it feels like a much more global situation, which is, which is great.
Jefferson Nunn 14:10
It’s really interesting. And I feel like it’s sort of like the other half of it, it’s like, what Vitalik just said, you know, it’s now that we’re in another supposedly crypto winter, it’s great because it’ll shake out all these scam projects or things that aren’t doing anything and we can focus on the ones that matter. And there’s a lot there’s actually a what I’ve seen it a lot of social movement in towards cleaning up the environment, and doing things that are beneficial to the community as a whole. So, I really think that’s, you’re right, I think you hit the nail on the head, but we’re gonna see next is a lot of social finance. It’s going to be the next generation of all of this. So yeah, it’s been a really interest All right, well, for you at the person Mike Merrill, what’s, what’s next? What’s the next thing people are gonna vote on?
Mike Merrill 15:07
For me, um, I, it’s funny, my community is really split on whether or not I should kind of convert to crypto. And so that will be kind of a simmering discussion for some time. But I’ve been considering putting a lot of my sort of like health and wellness decisions up for my shareholders to decide almost as much of a way to start talking about that stuff. Like as I get older, and, and discussing things like, you know, how do we how do we deal with this stuff, you know, especially within a community, I, I’m a part of the I’m the center of this community. But what happens to me and how careful should I be in some of those things, which again, I think there’s probably some correlations to some of the what, what people are doing in the crypto space.
I think, importantly, as people are kind of considering how to get involved and where to look around this stuff, is try to find the edge cases where you find artists and, you know, some of the weird hosts and some of the stranger projects, and look at what they’re doing, because they’re really going to set the tone for how this stuff works. Because, uh, you know, as, as this stuff gets incorporated into kind of fan bases and audiences, and we see those groups become more of a networked community, I think that’s what we’re going to see replicated sort of by businesses, businesses are going to follow the business got boys are gonna follow the lead of kind of like artists and creatives. And so, if you really want to, like look around, especially music right now, like what people are doing around music with NFT’s and social tokens is super exciting, new platforms popping up. A lot of that stuff is I just see it as there’s a there’s a mental shift in terms of where the value is coming from. And as everything was locked up in platforms, one of the great things about social tokens is it unlocks a lot of that value from the specific platform and allows you to kind of move it around. So, I’ve been taking a lot of that kind of those ideas and reincorporate them back into my own community. So, I think a while you’ll also see some of that kind of back into what I’m doing as a publicly traded person.
Jefferson Nunn 17:19
Awesome. Well, you’ve been working on a lot of exciting things, and I can’t see I can’t wait to see what’s next. And I’m also excited to see what’s next in the world or cryptos. So, thank you so much for being on my show. And maybe we can check in another six, eight months just to see where things are at right
Mike Merrill 17:40
And to lay I’m sure, you know, wildly different place that’s so long in terms of crypto and web3. So yeah, thanks so much for having me. I look forward to checking in again.
Jefferson Nunn 17:50