Today's guest is Jeffrey Zirlin, better known as JiHo. JiHo is one of the co-founders of Axie Infinity, the #1 game on Ethereum by daily and monthly active users, and last October Axie raised $150m at a $3bn valuation.
We talk about everything from Axie's meteoric rise to 2.5million daily active users, to the $600m hack that nearly brought Axie to its knees, and what is next in web3 gaming.
Hi, thanks for joining us on this episode of peeling back web three, a podcast by and four founders and builders who are on the fence are dipping their toes into web three. We're your hosts. I'm Ryan and I'm Serena and we're in the exact same boat. We're curious and optimistic about web three, but also we wanna ask the real questions of what's really behind the door. Can web three really help solve real problems in the real world? Or is it all just. We're a podcast produced by orange Dow, a Dow of over 1200 Y combin alumni. So it makes sense that our approach in this podcast is interviewed builders, the ones out there creating and shaping the vision for the future. Let's get into. Hey listeners. Today's guest is Jeffrey. Erland better known as gho. One of the co-founders of AXI infinity. He and I actually met at a crypto conference in DC, and I found him not only super knowledgeable, but also really humble. And his backstory of jumping into crypto by joining the crypto Kittys community back in 2017 is so unique. I knew we had to have him on the show and he graciously agreed for those who don't know. No matter what way you cut it. AXI Infiniti is a big deal. AXI Infiniti is a crypto focused gaming universe and platform with creatures or axes that players can buy or collect as pets and then use to battle breed and raise for crypto rewards. They had 2.5 million daily active users as of March of this. 40 to 50% of whom were in the Philippines and earning a daily living wage of 10 to $15 per day. On the game. Last October, they raised 150 million at a 3 billion valuation. Since then AXI has had a wild ride, including a 600 million hack. A dramatic fall in usership and token price and a rebirth this spring through a next gen version of the game called AXI infinity origin. We dive into all of this crazy awesome journey, the future of web three games and so much more with gho in this episode, let's dive in gho. Thanks so much for, for taking the time to chat. Let's go back to 2017, your journey into crypto. As far as I understand started, after you graduated from Yale, you were working at your first job in finance and you found some really cute looking kiddies on the internet. Can you tell us about crypto kitties? What hooked you and how that led to you eventually moving to Vietnam to co-found? Ay. Sure. So I've always been a gamer and a I'm an only child and I spent my childhood. Going on different adventures with my dad collects insects and fossils. So I spent a lot of time in the mountains of like Arizona looking for super rare butterflies and beetles. On the other hand, as an only child, I spent a lot of time in my room when I went during the week. And. I was born in 1991. Um, and when I was around six or seven, my cousins from Korea introduced me to StarCraft. So the first thing I ever did on the internet was play StarCraft against my cousins, you know, halfway across the world, basically. So I think from an early age, I understood that Hey games are a great way of introducing new technology to a new generation or just people who haven't used it before. So I always found crypto to be pretty boring. It's been on my radar ever since the Cypress bank bail in right where they basically confiscated customer deposits from the citizens to help bail out the, the government and of Cyprus. So I was like, okay, like money that doesn't exist in your bank account might become more useful as sovereign debt crises emerge due to compound interest in math. So I always knew that crypto would do well, but I actually found it quite boring. Cause I saw it as a speculative vehicle. And as someone who knew how to trade equity options and stuff like that was like, okay, there are tons of ways to make money in the world. So crypto was like just one of many, you know, many potential options. It didn't click for me until I found, as you mentioned, crypto cities, where for the first time it was engaging the collector. And the gamer in me at the same time. So even though crypto Kittys was quite basic and it's kind of hard to make the, the leap. If you look a little bit closer, it seemed like, okay, something is really happening here. That's foundational to the attention economy and this idea of true digital asset ownership, or as I call it digital property grid. So yeah, I got into crypto kiddies. It was an adventure. I started making content, meeting a lot of people. I found people that were very values aligned with me and it seemed like, okay, the people around me in my life, they might not care about property rights and the future of ownership, but all the people in this community, or a lot of them actually do. Right. So it was like, okay, like there is in this disc server, there are people who have kind of self-selected themselves or were naturally drawn to. A new type of social experience with ownership of collectible digital assets at its port. So that was kinda like my entry into the space. Of course, crypto Ks was quite basic. So even back then people were like, okay, what's the next evolution? How do we make this more mainstream? And there was a group of people at the outset of the space that thought, okay, something that's more similar to, right. If crypto kidneys is beanie babies, basically a flash in the pan, a BLI, what is gonna be the Pokemon of this revolution? I think the, like the most simple prediction would be something that looks a lot like monitor Tomagotchi. So when I found ay, as a community member, I was like, Hey, this just makes sense. And I, I actually worked as a plot recruiter and a, you know, kind of endeavor recruiter for a little bit after graduating. Cause I was like, okay, like this development team is really awesome. This art is really awesome. Maybe if I come in and help, we could take this thing to a really special place. I love that you started out as an early community member at ay and then ended up becoming a co-founder. I think that's just super cool to me. I feel like this represents the amazing opportunity of web three. You might not just be joining an online community, but instead something that could be potentially life changing simply by joining and participating. In a discord channel, you obviously had some remarkable insight that allowed you to see something in AXI very early on before others did. Are there any indicators you would point to or suggest others might look for in joining early web three communities that could end up becoming really big? Well, if you have good product sense then great. So I have to caveat this as saying like, if you, if you think you have good product sense, um, you should join communities. Around products that you find to be good and that you find useful. So to me, it was like, okay, you know, I had all these issues with crypto kiddies. This project looks like a relatively blank canvas with a solid foundation that could address a lot of the issues, like overpopulation, lack of utility. So maybe a little bit cliche, uh, but it's. It's a combination of like, I don't know, Peter Lynch style investing where it's like, know the things that you wanna be part of. And then also leadership marketing, right. Where it's like, okay, I own things within this project. And I'm now incentivized to help the project grow. That's something that some people understood at the beginning of the space, but others didn't really a hundred percent get. Right. So it's like, do you find the product to be useful? Do you find the mission to be aligned with your values? Do you make friends in the community? Right? Like that, that, to me, it was just like, okay. I was, you know, living in Chinatown, it was kind, all my friends were working. It was kind of boring during the middle of the day. Cause I had quit my job when I discovered a group of kiddies. Cause I was like, you know, look, it was kind of like the social aspect to me. It was actually very interesting and it helped. So. I would say, like, do you align with the mission, the people and, you know, do you, do you think the product has potential to help other people? Do you feel like you're just part of the first generation of people that will find this product to be useful, or, yeah, so I, I think those are some of the questions and frameworks that might be helpful in looking at a project projects become part of that makes sense. I, I think those are really helpful. At the start of, ay, what were you as a team trying to achieve or, or do differently than, you know, other known free to play games, you know, by building a game on the blockchain? Like what, what was the big idea originally? I think the idea was that if you have an emotional connection to these digital assets that you actually own, then it creates more engagement, better retention, more. Volunteerism in the community where the community members are helping to push forward, push the project forward. Right. And zero to one, they say you only a good startup, only needs like one or two distribution channels. Right. And what is, what is the distribution channel for web three? It's something that I like to call ownership, marketing. It's like, if you have ownership on a project, then you're incentivized help make it grow. That's what happened with me. Uh, I bought three ax seeds and then I just started doing work. And then that work, you know, got more formal over time, but everyone should, I think that's, that's a really good framework for okay. Like, especially at the beginning of a project, getting in, helping. And adding value and you don't have to be hired to be incentive aligned. Right? That's actually, I think the one part of the magic sauce or the secret sauce is that it's a hyper scalable organization that doesn't require all this complicated HR infrastructure. I like that. And, and players are incentives are aligned between the company and players by them owning a piece of the game through an N. For sure. And I think, okay, of course that is, I don't know. That's the thing that's maybe new, but of course the idea was, Hey, like this has potential to be an incredibly immersive and fun game slash social experience. So even before we had a game asks you as fun, why? Because the community was fun. The discord was fun. That's how you played the game in the early days was making content joining these D. Contests, uh, art contests, right? Someone be even before we had game play, there was an ax of musical people had ay tattoos even before you could actually play the game. Right? So there's something clearly special. Of course there has to be delivery on the product on the core experience, which is a game. And we've made that an upgrade upgraded it and iterated over time. People getting tattoos of your brand is, is a pretty sure sign that, that you're onto something I'd. So just to back up out of the ay story into your personal story, you mentioned you were working as a quant recruiter here in the us. You now get into crypto kiddies and you move across the world. Like, what is your like close friends and family, like thinking and saying to you, like, do you feel like you're like super out of the box at this point to put us in like your mindset at this time? Yeah. So my friends and family were really alarmed. They didn't really understand what was happening. To be honest, but I don't know, like, you know, nobody really, they were like, okay, like this is an adventure that you have to go on. Like we've always been a little bit different. Like, so see, yeah. It, it was, it was a big transition, I guess, but I was 26 or something at the time. So I was like, okay, you know, it's a time to take risks and try out new things. And I think people, my life reasonably supportive of. Kind of doing that. People were very confused. Uh, Mo you know, they didn't really understand like NFTs and they kind of thought that it was strange. You know, I had to explain what they were and people were a little bit like tentative or, uh, you know, just. And kind of giving me blank stares. I, I even went to like, I wouldn't S up too, right. Like I went to, uh, the information party or something, uh, during the, you know, the crypto era. And I was, and I was telling them, Hey, like, yeah, they people, like, what do you do? I was like, well, you know, I bring crypto and people were like, thinking like, they were like, you don't belong. Like, I like, looks like you don't belong at this Spartan and stuff like that. So there were a couple people who kind of understood. I. People who were telling me, Hey, like, you know, NFTs, like I just heard about that because I heard that me square Andreson are investing in something related to something like that. So it was also like the fact that I did have some like Silicon valley connections actually was helpful. And it may in like January of 2018, I was like, oh, like, this is an entire space. Like Andreson is already in. Like, there's actually a lot of opportunity for this to be like an entirely new ecosystem. And we're like, I'm not the only one seeing. This as a potential future. So like within your friends and family, you were an outlier. Were you also out this time when you moved to Vietnam, an outlier in the AXI community, or were there others in that community who were like, you mentioned getting tattoos and doing like, were others going all in or did you feel like you were the, one of the few that was, there are a handful of people? I would say that there are maybe like 30 people who are super active in the community in the early days. Um, something like that and yeah, a lot of. Trying different experiments to figure out how they could help. And there were a lot of people who were like crypto kitty YouTubers, not a lot, but there were some people who were like making crypto kitty tools. I was one of them, right. I, I worked on a project called kitty hats, which was accessories for crypto Kittys. And so there were people who were kind of building stuff on top of crypto Kittys, but felt like they weren't really being brought into the process enough. So we base, you know, we were able to capitalize and, you know, take a lot of those community members and harness their creative. Technical output in an awesome direction. Amazing, amazing. I wanna fast forward now to summer 2021, which I know is. A few years later, but now we have like, AIE grew at this merely unprecedented clip doing 79 million in revenue in 18 days. Like that's unheard of it's explosive growth by any standard, even within gaming. And that's when, like all of that growth is happening when ay actually has a pretty complex onboarding process. Like you have to download meta mass and you have to buy E then you have to make significant investment upfront in three axes. Do things with the Ronan bridge, like even despite this kind of complex onboarding process, you have this crazy growth, which is yeah. Just is incredible. What did you think? What did the ay team internally attribute that growth to? Like, what was the hook at that point that you think users were joining for? Well, sure. So growth is like a category reaction where or boiling water, right. When you're boiling water, you don't really see much happen until it hits the boiling point. It takes some time to build up that potential energy to be released as kind of an explosive reaction. So that was the idea. And I don't know, we went, we, we did like a growth startup with 500 startups and they kind of lost upon us that, so I think these are actually like accepted, accepted things. Like in the early days you do unscalable things, you almost have to recruit. Like, I felt like I was using my recruiting skills, like recruiting hand recruiting and hand picking community members in getting them into the project and building foundational engagement mechanisms and just improving the product. And so it was right, like an over. Success, but, you know, it took four years to actually get to that point. And of course, like the most immediate and the most obvious catalyst was okay. We migrated from to our own side chains and now people could, right. The gas views were really cheap. Things were fast. People were able to produce more axes because on Ethereum, the cost to produce axes was primarily in gas fees, which were being given to minors rather than, you know, retained within our ecosystem. So actually by, by moving to Ronan, we were kind of like vertically integrating and thereby keeping more of a value in our ecosystem rather than like leaking it out to, uh, Ethereum minors. And yeah, there, there were a lot of like foundational blocks in place, right? Like we had this amazing community that was. Amplifying everything that was happening. We had an interesting and account structure where right. People were able to onboard other people. So you could have one person with a thousand email and they could onboard a thousand people, those thousand people, you know, they could play the game with just the email and password. And then the wallet creation is basically, you know, they could do that when they first received their first, you know, token reward. Interesting. Well, so for just gonna say this for like the people who maybe aren't familiar in a. In the game, players can earn money by breeding axes together. And this is the only way that new axes are created and then selling those to new players. And by exchanging then the SLP token or the a X S tokens that they earn in the game for Fiat currency. To what extent do you think that narrative of like being able to earn money in the real world? Was a driver of the growth, the, the 79 million or was it really the game, the community, the fact, as you said, the boiling of water over three years, Kind of how do you weigh those two in looking at like the growth story for AXI? Definitely a combination, right? Like the media really loved this idea of financial empowerment and emerging markets. So they were writing about it. Right. And, and kind of growing gas on the flame and yeah, of course, a new type of game where you could actually earn real value and people are surviving during the pandemic. I think the pandemic was also a part key part of the narratives. Like people are surviving the pandemic cause of this. It was very like flick bait worthy, to be honest. So that definitely helped it also created that certain problems around expectations. If everyone is coming in to earn if afraid, a lot of people are coming in and you know, they've heard that say like, this is a game where you can earn, they have expectations that they wanna earn. Right. But this still has to be a game. There has to be value in the social element. There has to be, you know, there has, it has to be really fun and immersive. Um, and there has to be people who appreciate that. So it's, it's a balance, right? So I would say that it, you know, had some good effects and of course it made it so that everyone knew about, and it allowed us to hit this stage of hyper growth, which allowed us to attract a lot of really foundational talent to really make the long term dream actually possible. So, yeah. Oh, absolutely. How did you guys as founders and the like original community. Of ay enthusiast feel about the entry of these kind of maybe play to earn a narrative and also players who are maybe coming in to earn like also for us, right? Like the mission is adoption and getting web free technology into the hands of as many people as possible. Yeah. So it's something that, you know, owes a little bit delicate and had to be handled with care. Yeah. At that time, like everything was great. We hired our first support team member in, you know, that summer and, you know, and scaled up the, the support team and our servers were getting, going down toward DDoSing. There's also the financial element. So people were like buying a bunch of our token, for example, and then like, DDoSing our servers so that people couldn't claim it. So then it was like, it created these artificial supply shock. And which caused like, uh, the token to go up a lot. And also like, you know, that also fueled like some of the weird expectations as well, but yeah, one of the interesting things about web three is that your, uh, product and project, if it's successful will always have, uh, interesting second order effects. For example, it's Vitalic, right? Like in terms of like Ethereum and the ICO era, right? The ICO era was really important for getting, uh, wallet adoption among retail and new types of crypto users. It onboarded a lot of people who, you know, came in for the speculation, ended up starting projects, building things, making content, doing all these things that are actually really useful for the ecosystem. Even though they might have come in with this ICO. Speculative mania. So that's actually one framework to look at, like what happened with the scholarship mania as well is okay. There are a lot of people who came in, you know, and maybe initially to earn, but then they realized, Hey, this is an amazing community. This is an amazing technology. I finally know how to use a web free wallet. And I have a lot of friends all over the world, right? So the hook being, you know, around that, it's, it's important to make sure that there are other benefits in the ecosystem, uh, to be able to support the. Totally. We like often say on the pod, web three is the financialization of everything from gaming to everything else. So that you're saying like, that can be an interesting first hook, but there has to be more to keep people excited about the community and the game. Ultimately, was it scary for you guys a little bit as founders to be reading that people are using maybe AXI as a form of UBI and like making more than minimum wage in certain countries by playing the game. Did that make, how did that make you feel at that time? Was it like, oh man, this is a big responsibility on us or was it like part of just one of the many exciting narratives? I think we, you know, it was, it was definitely interesting to see that start to emerge and you know, when, when you're helping people and people are saying that you're helping them, you know, that definitely feels good. Of course it's like actually was a very, at a very basic stage of development back then as well. And it arguably still is, uh, we see this as kind of like a decade long project. You know, there was definitely okay. Wow. This is interesting. This is finally happening. This isn't totally unprecedented in gaming, right? Like E online scape, these virtual economies have existed for a while. So was like, okay, like, yeah, it's possible. But you know, you have to have many different types of benefits in the ecosystem. Just like those giving, uh, products out as well. So yeah, it was, it was like, okay, it's happening? Like now we have the ability to actually. Complete the full transforming, right. Which is like the unity of immersive game, but a really social and global community. And of course, right, this kind of real digital economy that is backed by a. Property rights. Right? So I'm like, I'm really into property rights actually. Like, uh, I read this book, they always made us read this book in school's called the Myre of capital by He's like a Corian economist that won the Nobel prize basically says that the reason that people have problems with capitalism is that we don't have capitalism in most of the world because there is no system of property rights. If you're in Brazil and you own land and you're like, okay, I'm a successful farmer. I saved up some money. I can start a factory. I can like move into a more complex mode of production. Right. But you go to the government or you go to the bank. They're like, yeah, like we. You don't actually own your land. You don't have a, a title, a deed. So we can't get you loan using your house as collateral. Right. And then you're like, what? Like, I don't own my land. That sounds weird. And then you go to like the government office to get the deed and it takes four years and you have to bribe them to actually get your deed. So that is actually not capitalism, even though people might think that there's a free market in that country. So there are basically a lot of, uh, structural problems around bureaucracy and red tape that are preventing true free markets and capitalism to actually exist in the world outside of few select countries. And web three is a way of making sure that everyone anywhere at least has base financial rights and ownership on the internet, which is right, like the digital environment of the. It sounds like for you. And this is a really beautiful connection that I haven't really, I mean, we hadn't really heard articulated before it comes down to ownership on your work and your assets, and that equals true capitalism. If you have the ability to own, even whatever small. Assets you have up front, like your land, your labor, your time. Then you can go monetize and build on those. But as long as there's like inefficiencies in the way of that true ownership, we're not in capitalism. Is that kind of what you're saying? Property rates and deeds of ownership are foundation all to a functioning on. Thanks. That's our play to earn section. Really appreciate. You, you talked a little bit about the role of the media and kind of building up the fueling some of the initial growth for ay or, or kind of pouring gas on the fire. What do you make of the role of media and the, and the ay narrative overall? It felt like ay was a media darling for so long. And then suddenly lots of media outlets are, are blaming ay or writing about it is doomed or in a negative. How did that feel? How did it impact the business and the community? Was it influential or is, is that just noise? I'm hesitant to paint the entire media with one brush, right. There are awesome people and both crypto media, and there are awesome people and traditional media, and then there are bad people and traditional media, and there are bad people in crypto media. Um, I think one of the interesting things about web three and these products is that the narratives eggs can be really. Volatile right where, you know, we see this across the entire space where during a bull market, crypto is being all the media will write about in a kind of a positive way, and that helps 'em get clicks. And then during a bigger market or during a downturn, you know, the thing that gets in clicks is negative stories. So. I don't know, I don't blame the people. I blame the incentives. Uh, the media, uh, industry I think, is dying and they're kind of going out of business. And the whole cool thing that I always say is like, yeah, like nobody read that article cuz you have to pay $1 a month and nobody actually does that. So we're seeing like volatile reaction to, uh, macroeconomic trend where basically, uh, those types of media are going out of business. Crypto media, I guess at least is like, they're more incentivized. They're at least like, you know, kind of aligned with the industry. They don't actually, uh, rely on clicks for their, for their views and stuff. Right. So there's kinda like, it's like a little bit more research. And oftentimes, and this also comes with the grain of salt because a lot, oftentimes the people that are funding the crypto media are just large folder of cryptocurrency and want favorable. About the industry. So the incentives around media are, uh, a little bit flawed, uh, across the board. And so, yeah, it's, I think like the only thing you can do is try to tell your story directly to the, your community and directly to the world without, uh, too many middle men in the way. Yeah. Maybe that's a good, like, transition into just talking about the 20, 22 story for ay, this must be first of all, like a crazy time for you guys. There's a changing market. We're going from a crypto bull market to a crypto bear market. There's price slippage in the token price on a axis starting coming into this year, obviously crazy inflation. There's just so many factors going on at once amongst which a axis experiences, this huge hack as well to what do you attribute the fall in the price of the ay token? How do you like kind of rationalize that and put that in context? Yeah, sure. I mean, firstly, I wanna make sure that people understand that for home lunch or inception, the access token is up, uh, 17000%. At one point was up 160000%. Right? So things, Pete, there was a bubble in the entire metaverse. Even if you look at Roblox, stock Roblox stock, I think went down 90% from the top. So people got a little bit too momentarily excited about the metaverse that was, you know, became like this bubble buzzword people were asking me what it means and asking me, everyone had to have their own definition of the meta. So, yeah, people got a little bit too excited, a little bit too quickly about both the metaverse and as well, ASPs and, and cryptocurrency. Whereas the reality is that there's still a lot of buildings to be done. And so, yeah. You know, things got a little bit ahead of themselves, of course, in this space and as founders, right? Like, I don't know. We have. We have to have empathy for everyone that, you know, made bad financial decisions, uh, because of, you know, excitement. And especially if like they were really excited about the technology. But I also say that that is a learning experience that most people in crypto go through. Right? Like the first cycle you're learning. And, you know, it might not be good. You might get into certain positions that end up going down 90, 95%. That's pretty like standard in crypto for a bear market. It happened to us. This happened to sky Mavis where, you know, we raised our initial. Origin sale. And E we had got like 600 E and then E went from $700 to $70 and we had $30,000 and, and we couldn't pay ourselves. Like I moved to Vietnam and, you know, I was like, wow, like I'm really, uh, in a bad financial situation, but yeah, that's standard. Like that's what creates some mental toughness and participants in. Industry that's part of what, uh, creates mental toughness, I should say. So, as you said earlier, kind of crypto is the financialization of everything, which means from day one, people are making money on products. They didn't before, as startups, you also are getting early customers that then like, are really loyal to you and are part of that growth story. Like what do you think now, as you look forward, what would you advise crypto companies? Like what is our responsibility as web three crypto founder? To help our early customers maybe not get into that position or is it like, this is just how it goes, like it goes up and down play or at your own risk, you know? And that's what we need to tell our customers. Like where, where do you think that balance is between responsibility and like putting onus on the customers as speculators? Yeah. I mean, it's very difficult to comment on, you know, market conditions as a founder. Like, I don't think that that's the role of the founder, to be honest, like basically you. Give recommendations either way, uh, on, on that kind of stuff. And it can get very, uh, it can be a slippery slope once you get into that. I think like what we can do is make sure that we educate people, that there are concrete benefits that are non-financial to our pro products and have empathy for people. If you know, they have gone through a hard time, but typically the people who have gone through a hard time, it's like they've been into space for less than a year. And so nothing in life is easy or equipped. In April of this year, you launched AXI infinity origin, a a new game that is, is now free to play. So players don't have to make an upfront investment. Can you tell us about the decision making behind the launch and you know, what you wanna do differently with, with this new version? Yeah, sure. So ay origin is currently and early access, which belongs on Gabriel sixth. And. What is origin? So origin is our latest version of the cars, LER format that is kind taking an to this point. It's more fun, faster paced, more immersive crucially, everyone gets restart our a axis so they can fall in love with the game, the, the universe, the community, the art before making any. Financial decisions or onboarding to crypto and yeah, we, we had a really great response to it. Uh, so it's currently in early access, we just hit 800,000 downloads. Which we're really stoked about. And that's of course, being on app stores, that's a side load. Right. So if you talk to people, you've talked to people in kind of the traditional pre to play mobile space. They're like, what? Like you got 800,000 downloads on a side load that that's actually unheard of in the, in the space. And so, yeah, we're feeling really excited about it. We're currently there very little economic layer has been added, uh, into the game right now. So the. People are playing because they find it fun. They love the competition, they enjoy going on the leaderboard. So yeah, we're actually gearing up for the launch of base three of the early access, uh, which basically that's, when we finally add the SLP rewards to the ranked portion on the, on the leaderboard, we're also going to be adding, crafting for. These things called ruins and charms. So ruins and charms are things that you can socket or equip into your axis to make them more powerful. And in order to create these ruins and charms, you'll need to use a combination of in game resources, one moon charts. And two SLP. Right? So one of the, one of the things about AXI is that the complete economic loop has never really existed where there has to be vertical progression, where people are spending resources to improve their axes, rather than just creating more axes, which then create more resources in the long term. Right? So this is actually adding like a net deflationary sync to the ecosystem, whereas. Reading is actually a net inflationary sink because it's kinda like kicking the cam down in the road because you, you burn SLP in the short term, but you're creating SLT, SLP producing creatures, gala axis in the long run. So we're yeah, we are big fans of games like Diablo scape, and a lot of these games that are characterized by strong digital economies or have strong, strong digital economies attached to them. They have these systems of crafting. Where right. You're using resources to create, create some type of output. And this is creating more demand resources. And that's where the black gray markets, uh, develop around the sale of in game resources. Right. Which is one of the things that is an aspect of our product. Right. Which is like liquidity around the, in resources. Jeff, is it fair to say. The goal of being net deflationary for the actual token price, is that you want players to make money off of the like market that they're creating more. So if, if anything, to like sell and buy an assets, rather than from the inflation of the token price, is that like, am I connecting those things correctly? Like, what's the goal of it being deflationary this time around. Well, so you, one of the goals as a game designer, even in one traditional game is to have a balanced economy in terms of like, uh, token or in resource mission and resource usage. So you want those to be relatively harmonized, um, even a. You're not dealing with a real, uh, unquote real versatile economy, so. Okay. Yeah. Yeah. That makes sense. I want to jump to the, you kind of started touching on this earlier, but like with the launch of version three, you guys are getting closer to this like decades, long mission as you've called it. Like that sky may. This is on with acts, the infinity. You guys are an incredibly ambitious company, uh, that it sounds like plans to. Even much more than a game and an economy that we can see that in kind of you guys building your own blockchain with Ronan, there's been some talk of verticalizing and maybe you've been building your own decks within the game. How do you see the roadmap evolving for AXI and what is that big like overarching vision? So one way to look at it is we have two parallel development trucks. One is sky enables. We're building the poor experiences. We built origin. We're working on land, which is basically kind of similar to like rise kingdoms or classroom lands, where you're harvesting resources, building up a city or a town fighting for control of territory. Right. So we, and we have some others as well, secret projects, maybe. So we have that core development track, which is being developed by sky natives. We're also course building out the infrastructure. Like the run in chain, the wallet wallet has formulated downloads, run in chain is the number two blockchain of all time by NFC volume. Right. So just behind the theory and, and then there's the more third party and community development track, right? So there's, uh, community members that are building James on top of actually, uh, we have something called the builders program where we gave out 12 grants, 12 teams from the community who are building games on top of. So imagine an entire universe of experiences. Some of them go by us. Some of them go by community members, but the key thread connecting it all are the resources. And that access is gated through the NFT, the pet, right? Once you move vaccines, thousands of experiences that creates a lot of utility, just from the pleasure and enjoyment and the experience that you get access to by owning one or owning a team. And then of course, We also want third talented third party developers game studios to be building on top of the X, C I P. We also want them to be building. Things on top of the running infrastructure, right? So if AXI is our Mario, then what will be our Zelda, our donkey, um, more than anything else I've heard, like what you just described feels like my definition of the metaverse, which is there's an entire world digital world that's built on one blockchain. Anyone can build on top of it. You can own assets within. You can trade within it. You can make money within it. You mentioned earlier, everyone wants their own definition of the metaverse. What is yours? And is that what you see yourself building at AXI? Sure. So, okay. Uh, I think the metaverse is a I've rehearsed this, I don't know. Uh, I think the metaverse is a trend where our digital lives are becoming more important than our physical. And I think, I think that's it. Um, I don't think it involves VR headsets and all that stuff. Like meta might try to convince you that that is a perquisite, but that is us. Um, I also, I, I think that we should be relatively flexible in our definition of the metaverse, uh, because we don't exactly know what it's going to look like. And I will say that. One of the things that the creators in the in internet were not able to rig really solve for was like the trustless transfer of value and the creation of behind like long term economic relationships, long term economic relationships are like more similar to like relationships that we as human beings have among each other in society. You said the metaverses that our digital lives are becoming more important than our physical lives. Um, at least extremely important relative to our physical lives for us, extremely relative, uh, important relative to do you see that as good for humanity? And how do you see role games? Like, ay, like playing a role in human evolution for the better. So one of the things that I see is this is maybe like colored by my experience at the home child as well. For most of human history, we have been limited to who we can become friends with and interact with, uh, based on our physical environment. And that might be fine if some live and more born in a certain light or a place, but for others, that's incredibly unfair. And so I, I think that one of the benefits of this trend is that. Connect as a equalizer in terms of access to opportunity. I think you're seeing that right with, you know, that's why maybe right. The fact that a lot of our players are in emerging markets is not right. Like, that kind of makes sense with that trend. Right. Ygg funded by a 16 Z, like, I don't think like a 16 Z used to fund Latino startups. Right? So there, there is like both from an individual level entrepreneurial level. I think there is this leveling. Of the playing field and, uh, access to information and, and relationships. And so I, I think that is a be of course, like I like to go outside and, uh, as they say, touch grass and, and I think that will always be important. So it it's a balancing act, but I just think that there are a lot of benefits, uh, in terms of access to information people, ideas where, you know, you might be surrounded by people who aren't thinking on your level. And finally. You can find like minded individuals that are interested in right. New technology, the future of ownership, playing games. And so I think what you said there at the end is really important. Like finding your people, like, I think you can, you have a better chance of finding your people on the internet in many ways. Yeah. There's so many web three startups called like tribe or tribes or thing like that. Right. So like what, so what are we seeing is like, The, uh, it's like the industrial revolution, right. Is like, they said, like, God is dead. Right. And that led to the formation of the state and the state as like the background, the backbone of society. And now it's like great. The, the modern sovereign nation state is having a lot of issues and there's like a collapse in public confidence in public institutions. I think like firmly supported by all the data in the survey. So it's like, okay, now we, God is dead. The state is dead. What remains? Right? And it's like, I think like returns like a tribal state of existence. And, but, but the key caveat or the difference is that we can have a, our tribe can be anyone anywhere in the world. And maybe adding to that, that the tribe owns the tribe or at least a piece of it. So we're trying not to put replace God and the state with a company. That necessarily is like a centralized platform. One of the cool characteristics of a tribe, right. Is that okay? We, we share, we live in like a, there's like a shared environment, I guess, a shared environment that like, we all need it to kind of work for everybody. Right. And yeah, like I think like, uh, the exchange of value using smart contracts allows us to simulate that type of environment without having physical closeness. That's huge. Thank you so much for that for sharing this vision. I think it's like so important. All of us who are gonna be impacted by the way ax axis's created in this future to know like where you guys are going with it. And it does sound really exciting. Awesome. Yeah. I'm, I'm, you know, it's really to talk about this though, along those lines, I've heard you talk a bit in the past about the potential for Webre communities to acquire physical land and start new communities or, or even nation. You know, biology was one of the preeminent thought leaders in, in WEBC re recently came out with his book called the, the network state on this topic. A lot of people in orange do, are super geeked about this. Is this an idea that you're bullish on or, or could see actually happening at some point in time? Yeah, I, I definitely think all will happen. I think part of the catalyst will be the sovereign debt crisis. That will be, that is being basically worsened by like a central bank policies right now. Like they're basically, uh, they're raising interest rates. Which basically means that unless interest rates, like, I don't know, go back down or like just stop rising at a certain point. The, for example, right? It's uh, interest rates are on average are 2.5% on, on, on Japanese, uh, sovereign debt. Then their entire government budget will be, uh, consumed by payments and because their debt are so large, right? So they're kind of stuck between, uh, rock and apart place. So I think the thesis, or a lot of people around digital assets in web three is the collapse of the modern on nation state, due to the impending sovereign debt crisis. And I think we're seeing like, you know, this has been a slow motion, train wreck. I. You know, 12 years. So we notice about like timing, it seemed like, oh, in 2000 elevens, like, you know, that was actually happening. We had like the Cypress event, which kind of like put crypto on the radar. So I think like at the base rate that is kind of like the fundamental, uh, thing, driving this. Entire revolution, which is important, right? It's like sovereign debt is the largest, I think, asset plus in the world. So, so I, I definitely see that as, uh, something that will happen depends on the time. Uh, BOLO is like often like really, uh, early, uh, to, to certain things. I think like this is reputation, he's like super smart, but oftentimes like really, really too early, almost right. It's like, yeah. Yeah. If you wanna like define your life by it, like that might not be, uh, good. But if you, if you are thinking in like terms of 30 years, uh, then, you know, I think something that we can expect more of, you're already trying to see it actually, um, to be honest, where many countries are competing with tax incentives to, uh, attract, uh, crypto people. So taking to the logical extreme. Giving free land to people for, in who, who own crypto and stuff like that, or exchanging, uh, negotiating a bailout for, for land and having your own rule of law in, in that place. It's totally like on the table. Um, moving forward, I think like they had already did like Greece tried to sell like some of their islands in 2011 as. Is that right? Wow. That that's wild. That's super interesting to hear your perspective here. Things. Yeah. I don't know. Maybe I'm a little bit dark and gloomy on that kind of stuff. I, I was like, I did my thesis on sovereign debt restructuring, so yeah, no wonder, you know, so much about it. I, I did, it was like on the, the game theory of sovereign debt structuring through competi consolidation, basically. Like, so from a game theoreticals perspective, like, like NAS is bad, um, whichever way. Are there, are there any other products or projects in web three right now that that you're really excited about? And along those lines, are there any bold school industries that you're excited about moving towards web. Well, I'm excited about the merge, uh, forger and, uh, the termination of the narrative around, uh, getting environmental concerns. That's gonna be awesome, right? Cause the merge will have a 99.9%, I think, reduction in, uh, in CO2 emissions. Um, so I think, I think that's gonna be really key for adoption. A lot of gamers are like, oh, like environmental issues. Um, without understanding the, uh, Dynamic roadmap. I think that's gonna be important. I'm also excited about Ethereum layer two solutions, and it's still in my opinion, quite early. Uh, but we'll, we will be observing the front runners and the best applications of layer two, uh, to see if we can upgrade running on to also have. Layer one on data, basically your state availability. So yeah, I think that's gonna be really important, you know, I'm quite into the interior ecosystem and, you know, see ay and running is by EBM align then of course we're, you know, EB running is EBM and we were born on interior. And so, yeah, I that's, I think like, okay, once we have those upgrades, like what new applications, uh, are made possible then like, More games. I, I just think like more games, you know, more games on Ronan is gonna be really important. And I think that's something gonna keep an eye out for, I guess, what are social applications that aren't chat that, uh, have a, a way of getting traction in a driving more adoption of Webre that aren't games or chat? Uh, that might be a question to think about, uh, I haven't really thought about it yet, but that those might I'm, I'm not, I'm not bullish on Webre native chat applications, because I believe that. As the primary, uh, standard bearer for social applications is over. Right. It's like now it's like Roblox. It's like where the kids hang out. Right. So it's like, okay, if, if games are the future of social network, Maybe there are other types of inherently social applications that are also the future of social networks, social networks, you know, games and others will be the adoption layer of web three. And it will be like, okay, you onboard into this social application and then you get a wallet. Cetera. It's a super, it's like the super app pieces. Web three will create like the largest graphs of all time. One of them will be. You know, a lot of these think will be centered around using gaming as the adoption layer and then funneling users into like, uh, financial infrastructure and stuff like that. That's why like I'm super bearish on, uh, companies that only make wallets, you earn the right to vertically integrate and yeah. That's so interesting. Like you've gotta be fun and exciting as a hook, not just utility, like just chat or just, wallet's like, you're fun and exciting. Not people then you're depending on other people, if you're dependent on other people, then. Yeah. Mm you're. Like you were just chatter, just wallet you're depending on others to acquire the customer. Yeah. Or you versus if you are the entertaining game, you are bringing that next billion onto web three, and then you can build from there maybe cause like, you know, I'm on the growth side of things. So, you know, everyone always like thinks that. Seize through things, seize things, either lens, right? Yeah. No, it it's really interesting. I guess, as our final kind of round out question gho, we were chatting before this interview and you shared a little bit of your thoughts on why Combinators specifically, but maybe more like if someone's starting out as an entrepreneur, as a web three entrepreneur, like what. I'm looking most for like your thoughts on why Combinator and like orange now, maybe, and, and communities like YC that are meant to help advise startup founders. Like I know that you have, you have interesting thoughts on that. So kind of just wanted to round out with that. Yeah. So, well, when we were starting out, we were, uh, you know, we read Paul Graham's writings and they were super helpful. And I think like having a new version for web updated for web three would be really instructive. It would be like a really good branding opportunity for you guys to like, kind of stay current and updated, uh, for the, you know, new wave. So, yeah, I think that was really helpful for us. Uh, but it was also like, okay, what are the things that don't make sense? Well, and I think actually like counterintuitively, a lot of the stuff, you know, that they teach you about how to grow a web two startup is actually very optimal in, in web three. Uh, which is maybe part of the alpha, but also, yeah, like maybe, uh, tempering in, or like adjusting certain. I know, like one of the things that I really liked was one of my mentors at popper Oaks. He taught us like growth, experimentation, you know, how to make like ice score and stuff like that. And then, so I did that and that become like, that's become part of like our team culture, but then I also teach our community members how to do that. And a lot of them are like scientists. So they really love like, uh, scientific growth experimentation. And. And that is like something that's kind of, you know, taken from the old world, but has like really, really important applications in web free that, and I think a lot of people, you know, wouldn't even think of, it's so helpful to hear you say that there are parts of web two that are like applicable even in growth, which people sometimes think is so different. But yeah, we've gotta update like all the playbooks now. Geo, thank you so much. This has been like a rounded interview that went around from like the vision to like your personal story. It's just been so interesting. Thank you so much. Definitely. One of my favorite interviews we've done so far, we really appreciate it. Thanks for joining us on today's episode of peeling back web three. If you like the episode, please subscribe on Spotify or apple podcasts and share it with your friends and to learn more about orange do and the companies we fund follow at orange out X, Y, Z on Twitter. That's also the best way to reach us.