Quotes"We became fascinated by the economics of the web bending towards creators and wanted to take that to its logical extreme. What if creators & their communities had all the power?" ~@Bradley_Miles_, co-founder & CEO @tryrollhq Click To Tweet "@tryrollhq is a protocol and web app that allows anyone anywhere to create, use, and distribute their own social money." ~@Bradley_Miles_, Roll co-founder & CEO Click To Tweet “We get caught up in the technical & financial aspects of things and lose that human touch. I wish everyone in this space really understood those end-users who are using their products.” ~@sidkal, co-founder @tryrollhq Click To Tweet
Welcome to this conversation with Bradley Miles and Sid Kalla, co-founders of Roll, an Ethereum-based platform that lets influencers and creators mint social money to incentivize and reward their communities. Thanks to Roll, social money economies are springing up across a range of categories. Individuals have even used Roll to tokenize themselves, enabling believers to invest in their social capital.
The conversation is split into 5 chapters:
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: A deep dive into social money
- Chapter 3: Getting started with Roll – using Nomics’ NOM token as an example
- Chapter 4: Prehistory of social money
- Chapter 5: Operations at Roll & the future of social money
Topics Discussed In This Episode
- How Bradley got his start in crypto as a researcher at CoinDesk
- Why Sid left traditional finance for crypto
- Tingles, the first social money on Roll
- The mechanics of distributing social money
- How creators use social money to encourage & reward their audiences
- How Alex Masmej used Roll to tokenize his own social capital
- Using social money to crowdfund and kickstart communities
- How digital artists like Connie Digital use social money
- The Roll tech stack
- Why Roll standardizes economics across creators
- Using Roll to set up Nomics’ new token, NOM
- The history of social money
- Operations at Roll
Links Relevant To This Episode
- Nomics’ Fully Customizable Daily Crypto Newsletter
- Clay Collins
- Bradley Miles
- Sid Kalla
- Ethereum (ETH)
- Ethereum Classic (ETC)
- Bitcoin (BTC)
- Pete Rizzo
- Laurel Driskill
- Tingles (TING)
- Alex Masmej
- Connie Digital
- Hue (HUE)
- Dai (DAI)
- Why Decentralization Matters
Clay: Welcome to Flippening, the first and original podcast for full time, professional, and institutional crypto investors. I’m your host, Clay Collins. Each week, we discuss the cryptocurrency economy, new investment strategies for maximizing returns, and stories from the frontlines of financial disruption. Go to flippening.com to join our newsletter for cryptocurrency investors, and find out just why this podcast is called Flippening.
Clay Collins is the CEO of Nomics. All opinions expressed by Clay and podcast guests are solely their own opinion, [00:00:30] and do not reflect the opinion of Nomics or any other company. This podcast is for informational and entertainment purposes only and should not be relied upon as the basis for investment decisions.
Mike: Hi, this is Mike, producer of the Flippening podcast. We’ll get to Clay’s conversation with Bradley Miles and Sid Kalla, co-founders of Roll in just a moment, but before we do, I’d like to lay the groundwork for this interview.
Roll is an Ethereum-based platform that lets influencers, content creators, and others mint social money to [00:01:00] incentivize and reward their communities. Thanks to Roll, social money economies are springing up across categories as diverse as digital art, ASMR, and online entertainment. Individuals have even used Roll to tokenize themselves, enabling believers to invest in their social capital.
The conversation is split into 5 chapters. Chapter 1 is a brief intro to Bradley, Sid, and Roll. Chapter 2 is a deep dive into social money. Chapter 3 is a walk through the Roll setup process using our own NOM token as an [00:01:30] example. Chapter 4 covers the prehistory of social money. Chapter 5 looks at operations at Roll and the future of social money.
The transcript and show notes for this episode are available at flippening.com/roll. That’s flippening.com/roll.
We’ll get to the episode in just a second, but before we get started, here’s Clay to tell you about our awesome friends and sponsors.
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Mike: Okay. Back to our regularly scheduled program. Here’s Clay’s conversation with Bradley Miles and Sid Kalla, co-founders of Roll. Enjoy. [00:05:30]
Clay: Let’s start with Chapter 1 and dive into how you guys got into crypto and your inspiration for Roll. We’ll begin with you, Bradley.
Bradley: Awesome, Clay. I’m so happy to be here. Bradley Miles, co-founder at Roll. I’ve been in this space for over half a decade. I started professionally [00:06:00] as a founding researcher at CoinDesk. A lot of my job there was architecting the research products. They had largely the state of blockchain reports or the massive report for everything that’s happening in the space in a given quarter. I started doing that in 2015, 2016 Ethereum forked and did a huge piece on Ethereum classic and what was going on there, the difference, a brief sentiment analysis, and how the markets thought about everything and [00:06:30] really never looked back.
Prior to getting into this space, I was actually on the other side of the table as an investor. I was working for a late-stage firm. They weren’t too up to date on digital currency. This was around early 2013. Basically, I was tasked with finding out everything about what was going on in this space. Naturally, that just led to learning more and all roads there led to CoinDesk, [00:07:00] which I worked at after the firm.
We all became really fascinated, and Sid can talk about this more in-depth, of this idea of the economics of the web really bending more towards creators and their communities. We really wanted to take this to a logical, extreme. What if creators and their communities owned all of the economics and had all of the power. We saw this as a last mover platform and that all of the applications, [00:07:30] after this instance, would need to replicate communities in that context. This became Roll.
Roll in effect is a protocol and a web app that allows anyone, anywhere on the web, to create, use, and distribute their own social money. A new concept to them, but really under the hood branded ERC-20 tokens. I’ll let Sid take it from there.
Clay: Sid, let’s transition to you. I would love to hear a little bit about your background, [00:08:00] and then also, how you and Bradley met up and decided that this is the thing that you were going to dedicate your life to, at least for the next several years.
Sid: I’ve been a researcher and writer in this space since around 2013. I’ve written for several publications including Smith and Crown, CoinDesk, American Banker, and a bunch of other places as well. A large part of what I would do was [00:08:30] digging into the crypto-economics of specific tokens and protocols that were coming out. This was even before Ethereum where in order to launch something like this, you needed a new blockchain. So studying everything from the characteristics of the token, to voting rights, to governance, and to just helping people understand the space.
Before that, I had my background in finance and technology. I actually started my career as a software developer at [00:09:00] Bloomberg, I was in their trading solutions team. They’re building up compliance solutions mostly for the buyer side asset firms.
It was a very natural progression for me where the first time you hear about Bitcoin, it’s just one of those moments where you can’t sleep for three days kind of thing. I just dove right in. After Ethereum came out, and some of the interesting projects that we were seeing in this space, it didn’t make sense to stick with the traditional [00:09:30] financial world anymore. I met up with Bradley, my co-founder, and started Roll.
It was a much smaller space back in the day, and there were only so many people doing some interesting things, especially on the research side. We were both writing for CoinDesk and Pete Rizzo, who was managing editor of CoinDesk, was just building CoinDesk into this whole big thing that you see today.
Mike: Hi, this is Mike cutting in from the editor’s booth to note that there’s plenty more on those early days in Flippening Episode 76 with Pete Rizzo [00:10:00] covering the origins of CoinDesk, where Pete was Editor In Chief, his current role as Editor At Large at Kraken, and why the coming generational wealth transfer is good for Bitcoin. Find it at Flippening.com/rizzo. Okay, back to Sid.
Sid: He was the one who actually introduced us to each other, and there’s no looking back from there.
Clay: Pete connected you, was that at a conference or via email? Was it in person? How did that work?
Sid: I think at that time, [00:10:30] actually, I was in London, and I was traveling to New York for work. CoinDesk used to have this office in the WeWork near Times Square. I think that was our first formal introduction.
Clay: Let’s transition a bit to social money and the founding of Roll. Social money is a term that I think I understand a bit, but when I heard it for the first time, it was hard for me to really rock what social money [00:11:00] was—what was social about the money. I definitely understand putting content creators and allowing them to control their own destiny, but let’s maybe start at the top around social money. What is social money, how does it work, and how is it different from other types of money that might exist? Maybe, Bradley, I’ll hand this one to you.
Bradley: You can start by thinking of [00:11:30] this cultural primitive or societal primitive that’s around over 100 years old. We all understand this social currency, really, the value of a community on and offline, let’s say. As Sid and I really thought about this, we really saw with the current set of technology tools that we have that there’s no reason this shouldn’t be translated into both a digital and financial primitive. We [00:12:00] took this cultural primitive and turned it into a digital financial primitive, which to us, warranted a new name, and that was social money.
We chose those words in particular partly because the mission of Roll is to onboard massive audiences to Web 3.0. You can say that the purpose of DeFi is really to bring financial infrastructure to Web 3.0. The purpose of social money and Roll is really to bring community ownership to Web 2.0. We want hundreds of [00:12:30] millions of people interacting daily through their social money and the social money of others. To do that, a lot of the terminology needs to make sense.
The very first person that issued social money on Roll actually has no other reference point with Ethereum or blockchain in general. Her name is Laurel, and Laurel is an Instagrammer and TikToker that I met at VidCon. Laurel was on a panel, and she actively [00:13:00] works in the ASMR space. You guys may know that from some folks whispering into the microphone and giving this tingling sensation in your spine. After our talk with Laurel, it was very clear that she hadn’t held Bitcoin, she hadn’t held Ether, but she was very fascinated by this concept of earning her of owning their own community online.
This is what got her sold on the idea of minting her own social money, which she calls Tingles. To this day, [00:13:30] there are over 500 different people across the web, or more, that hold Tingles. Similar to how people online have their own presence, we see these individuals also having their own digital nation. Maybe that nation has its own culture of fan behavior. Maybe it has its own language with memes, gifs, and inside jokes. Why shouldn’t it have its own economics? This is the purpose of social money.
Laurel distributes [00:14:00] Tingles on Instagram, so you can swipe up to get Tingles if you’re one of the first people in the morning that view her stories. Laurel drops Tingles in YouTube videos using QR codes that we enable on Roll. Laurel gives Tingles to her top Patreon followers, so people that are patrons of hers and subscribing to her monthly—$5, $10, $100 a month. What she’s actually doing is creating this interoperable system, this interoperable community, that’s platform-independent. [00:14:30]
The fascinating thing there is because of how we’ve built Roll, Laurel doesn’t need to be familiar with MetaMask, Uniswap, or really any of these tools. She is someone that has a following of over a million individuals across TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube, and we’re ready for those individuals to come on to Web 3.0 using the tools that we’ve constructed in Roll. I’ll let Sid go a little deeper into how folks are using Tingles and some of the other social money on Roll’s app.
Sid: As Bradley was mentioning, [00:15:00] the purpose of social money really was to capture this idea of social capital, which people have a fuzzy understanding of but never was tangible. But with the launch of Bitcoin and Blockchains like Ethereum, it just became a real possibility where the ultimate ownership then is towards the creator and their community as opposed to most of the value of being locked up in the platforms themselves.
A big part of the mission that we [00:15:30] believe at Roll is to have social money operate across all the platforms. We don’t want to be in this game about trying to predict what the next TikTok is. What we’re interested to do is whatever the next TikTok is, it should be able to work with social monies, and that’s the most interesting thing for us.
Clay: One thing that I appreciate about your approach is that it doesn’t it doesn’t lock people into a TikTok or an Instagram. It allows them to transport their [00:16:00] social capital across platforms. That’s a nice feature. There’s a lot of aspects of these content platforms that are not transferable and really force content creators to stay with things that maybe don’t ultimately serve them in the long term. Let’s talk a little bit, I think with something that’s this new and this cutting edge, it can help to get really concrete and maybe go through some step-by-step examples of [00:16:30] how someone might interact with social money.
Maybe let’s start with content consumers before we get into content creators and how they might handle distribution and thinking through token economics. Let’s say you are a fan of Laurel and you would like to get some tokens. You’re one of the first people to watch an Instagram [00:17:00] video, you swipe up, how are the tokens—the Tingles—distributed to you? Does that need to be done on a one-off basis, or has Laurel automated the distribution of these tokens in the morning?
Bradley: In that particular story, Laurel uses Roll to quite simply create what we call an earn code. She’ll log on to Roll and she’ll actively create a link—a bit.ly style short link—that determines uniquely how many people can click this and [00:17:30] claim Tingles and also the amount of Tingles that they can claim. This is a simple feature but it’s extremely powerful because this allows Laurel to send Tingles uniquely anywhere she sends a message. As we’re on Instagram right now, Laurel can wake up and say, hey guys, really just wanted to say hello. It’s a beautiful day. Here are 100 Tingles for the first 10 people that swipe up.
She’s created this link on the backend [00:18:00] on Roll. The first 10 people that swipe up in another platform, they may click, and once they click, if they’re not already a user of Roll, they’ll simply sign up and Roll generates a wallet on their end that immediately holds the Tingles that Laurel just sent over. Throughout this process, as we talked about earlier, you don’t need to be too familiar with Web 3.0 to get in and start using the tools. We see Roll really as this way to onboard massive audiences like Laurel’s community.
Clay: [00:18:30] Who’s covering all the transaction fees involved in this? Is this something that you guys are doing for free during some kind of bootstrapping of social money, or is someone else paying for this?
Sid: A lot of transactions on Roll, actually, are internal transactions. It’s almost allowing a new form of behavior to emerge on the web. Right now I can give someone an upvote. Again, like in a very nascent transfer of the [00:19:00] behaviors that you’re seeing like if someone posts something funny, someone posts something good on your screen or on your Discord channel, what you will do is you’ll fire up Roll and give them five of your social money.
That usually happens internally because one of the good features of Roll is it usually has all of the power users of that community already on Roll so you know them by their username. In those cases, we don’t have to cover the transaction fees, but yes, when you’re trying to withdraw any of the social money to [00:19:30] your own MetaMask address, for example, Roll will cover that transaction fees for you. Because at the end of the day, we want to try to abstract that layer of complexity that can sometimes come with Web 3.0 for the more mainstream Web 2.0 audiences.
Clay: Laurel creates a bit.ly link, Instagram handles ensuring that access to that link is only given out maybe one time per swipe or something like that, but she’s not personally [00:20:00] generating a new bit.ly link for everyone who swipes up, is that correct? It’s somewhat automated. If you have access to the link you click on it, it goes to your wallet. Is there any way to gain that system, or does it seem to be pretty fair in terms of how it shakes out?
Sid: Broadly speaking, one of the tools for the creators is that you don’t have to do this for every single person. Laurel can create a code for hey, here are 10 Tingles for the first 50 [00:20:30] people who watched this video on YouTube or something. She still has to create that one code, but that 1 code goes to 50 people.
Clay: Consumers of the content click the link. If they already have a wallet with Roll or an account, then there are no transaction fees. If they are creating an account for a good time or if they’re creating an account for the first time, also for a good time, there might be some transactions involved on the Ethereum network. Ultimately, [00:21:00] maybe someone just got onboarded for the very first time to Web 3.0, so that’s a win.
Once they’re holding those tokens, what can they do with them? What options are available to them within the Roll interface? I guess in a broader sense, what’s available to someone now that they’re holding let’s say, for example, a Tingle, where does this go?
Bradley: The beauty of Roll is that we’ll talk through things that you can do with social money on Roll particular to, let’s [00:21:30] say, Laurel, but there’s also a whole host of Web 3.0 applications where you can leave the Roll ecosystem, leave the Roll platform, and use social money elsewhere outside of Roll. I’ll talk about that later, but in Laurel’s use case, Laurel’s found a really interesting way to give her fans unique access to content if they hold a certain amount of Tingles.
Laurel does things like allow her fans to [00:22:00] view particular content. Laurel’s also a beauty influencer. She does makeup videos and all sorts of videos. You can see on sugar_bookerz is her Instagram. If I have a certain amount of Tingles, I may really want to see this new—Laurel does hot knife videos. She gets a knife to a really high temperature and cuts really fun stuff like marshmallows and crayons.
If you really want Laurel to create content like that, [00:22:30] you can have a say in the type of content she creates, and if you want to view it, you could actively view it by spending Tingles on Roll. We looked at some of the numbers and just last month alone, about 80 people that actively paid Tingles to view content by Laurel. These are people that otherwise wouldn’t be engaging in Ethereum at all. That’s one specific use case.
Laurel actively uses it also as a way to engage with, you could imagine, her true fans. This is something [00:23:00] so interesting. The people that hold your social money are largely your biggest supporters, and they want to find ways to help you and support you. Someone holding your social money is largely a signal of that. That’s become pretty interesting.
One thing Laurel does is actively answer questions from people that hold tingles. They’ll spend Tingles, you ask a question, or amplify their voice. Quite simply, Laurel has a quarter-million followers on Instagram alone, and a half [00:23:30] a million followers on TikTok. If she wants to amplify anyone’s voice or give them a shout out, they could actively spend tingles to do that. You’re actually given unique access and privileges because you’re a Tingle holder. Something that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to get on any platform.
Clay: Can a creator burn tokens as well, or is that not available to them at this time?
Sid: From our perspective, we have standard economics across the platform, so we have a 10 million cap of all the social money that’s minted on Roll. [00:24:00] Ultimately, at the protocol level, we did not want to make a decision on burn because we think that can be left to individual creators or the applications they’re interacting with. For example, if Laurel does want to burn part of the Tingles to make the supply more scarce, she can send it to like a 0x address, but that’s something that she’ll have to do manually. It doesn’t happen at the protocol level.
Clay: Let’s say someone has a large following. They’re looking at social money as a [00:24:30] way of monetizing their audience and monetizing the loyalty that that audience has to them, but they also need to pay bills at the end of the day. How do they ultimately end up converting these Tingles? Let’s say you’re Laurel. You’ve got all these Tingles that you’ve been paid to answer questions or to create videos. She needs to convert that into hard dollars and cents, how might she go about doing that?
Sid: Actually the first thing, even [00:25:00] philosophically—because social money is making your social capital a bit more tangible, that is something very real. People know that it’s real to someone like Laurel with a quarter-million followers, has a lot of social capital on that platform.
One quick way, for anyone really, to gain value out of their social money is simply to reward behavior that’s valuable to them. Let’s say this month, you are in your I need to pay the bills mode, then what you can do is you can [00:25:30] simply reward your Patreon supporters with more Tingles.
Some of the cool things that we have seen are people tend to upgrade their Patreon membership if they get more Tingles or more of that type of money. That’s a very direct way of incentivizing that, but ultimately, maybe the month after, perhaps you’ve made enough that now you’re ready to start investing in something else. Maybe you want to move platforms. Maybe the next TikTok comes over, and you want your biggest fans to move there. Guess what, one of the first things [00:26:00] you can do is like my first 100 followers on this new platform get even like one Tingle, let’s say. That rewards them to shift platforms. That’s one way to do this.
The other way is, again, because these are Ethereum-based tokens and they’re freely available to everyone, you can trade them on an exchange as well. If someone is willing to provide liquidity on something like a Uniswap, that can be a more direct way of accessing. You’re being able to sell your social [00:26:30] money for real dollars.
Clay: The way that money would ultimately or value that someone would be able to cash out is through hoping that they can create a market on Uniswap, or someone will be there to purchase Tingles in exchange for Ethereum. I imagine that’s a bit more of a complicated process. Have you seen that happen though? What are the most healthy, deepest markets for social tokens?
Bradley: [00:27:00] There are some pretty fascinating things that happen on Roll and in the social money ecosystem that I think uniquely belong to this category. You could imagine the top supporters on any platform doing the activity that matters most on that platform. If it’s Reddit, your community is upvoting. If it’s Twitter, they’re re-tweeting. If it’s YouTube, they’re trying to become the top comment all the time. With social money, that [00:27:30] activity has largely become a liquidity provider in your Uniswap pool.
One thing that Roll does, we win when the community wins. If someone actively wants to have their social money traded, Roll’s going to be the first liquidity provider. We’ll actually put in a few Eth, usually along with the creator, and really, the market makes their social money. What happens next is fascinating. The people that we talked about earlier, largely your biggest supporters, you’ll actively see them contribute [00:28:00] liquidity as well. The reason for this is largely two-fold. One, they’re a supporter and they want to see the liquidity grow and trade volume grow, but two, they’re actively collecting fees as well on all the trades that are happening monthly via Uniswap.
Clay: If a creator comes to you and says “Hey, I’d really like to make a market here” or “I’d like a market to exist” you’ll be a market maker in those cases. Is that automated, or is that a bit more of a manual process for you guys?
Sid: Yes. For us, making a [00:28:30] decision from Roll perspective is manual because we’re going to put some of our money where our mouth is in time. That being said, it doesn’t have to be a manual process in the sense that, technically, you never need Roll to do this in the first place. That’s the beauty of the whole Web 3.0 and the DeFi ecosystem. You can go ahead and create a market—be a market maker for your own social money. We have seen some people try to go that route as well.
What Roll really provides is [00:29:00] really try to hold your hand through this whole process. We are [long] of the social money that’s issued on Roll as well. We do have a direct stake in them, so obviously, we want to see them succeed too.
Clay: One thing I’ve often contemplated, there’s someone in particular who I know and I’ve often said that I’d really love to just own part of their lifetime earnings or have a piece of their market cap. Unfortunately, they aren’t public personas, so there’s no way to [00:29:30] think about this from a social capital perspective, but they do have a lot of earning potential and they’re really smart people. Can the use cases extend in that direction as well, or are we in uncharted territory at that point, and really, most everything has to do with audiences and audience monetization for content creators at this point?
Bradley: What you’re talking about in particular, what we’re seeing, is a really unique [00:30:00] way to form a digital community using social money. There are 140 communities on Roll. You could almost say we run 140 experiments. What’s happened with one of those, in particular, is there’s a gentleman named Alex [Masmege] from Paris, Alex had a cause that he wanted to pursue. He wanted to move from Paris to San Francisco. He didn’t have the funds to do so, but Alex had a large community. Alex [00:30:30] also has social money on Roll after his namesake–it’s called Alex.
What Alex actually did is we helped him curate a crowd sale or offering of his social money. Holders of his social money, for this particular sale, not only could they get access to some of the rewards that Alex has on Roll, but he also had an agreement to share future revenue as well. This brought in a lot of people. It brought in [00:31:00] not only folks from Roll that are active supporters of social money, but it also brought in speculators. People that think Alex is going to be a pretty big founder someday. If his social money, Alex, was tied to that based on his rewards and future income, this sounded like something they wanted to pursue.
This crowd-funding use case is actively something we’re exploring. I would say that we have a growing pipeline of other folks that want to do that. [00:31:30] Back to finding ways to monetize social money and really own the community in a unique way, crowdfunding is actively becoming a use case. You’ll actually see this become commonplace in the next few years. The same way you have platforms like Kickstarter and GoFundMe, you’ll actively likely see platforms where individuals will have their own social money and crowdfund either based on causes or maybe even to kickstart a community.
Clay: Where do you [00:32:00] think value comes from for these tokens? What do you think makes social money valuable? Maybe you reflect on some of the most expensive tokens on your platform and maybe why they’re worth a lot versus others that aren’t. What have you learned about value since starting Roll?
Sid: One of the big things for us is just thinking about, again, taking a longer bird’s eye view on this whole system. [00:32:30] Let’s say you were a super early supporter of someone who blew up subsequently. Usually, what you get is bragging rights, that’s pretty much the only value you get from that, right? You go to your friends and you say “Hey, this was this cool band out of Brooklyn, and now they’re this big thing. I discovered them way back in the day.”
With social money, ultimately, that value is coming from the success of that community. In a way, if you are an early member of that community and you belong [00:33:00] to that community, one of the things that we like to say is that community is a digital asset. In that sense, ultimately, the value comes from what can you do with that social money?
Value comes from two things. One you can probably do many other things in the future than you can right now. That makes social money valuable too. The other is exactly that scenario like if you are generally speaking along with a community and your hypothesis comes true, then let’s say the things that you have is [00:33:30] a super simple example. Let’s say you have a 30-minute call with someone. If there’s just a college kid right now that’s probably not worth much, but if he becomes some world-class founder tomorrow, then that 30-minute call and his advice is going to be very valuable. In a very intangible way, that’s a high level of where value comes from.
Bradley: Adding on to that, I think some of the interesting things we’re seeing are also in the sub-niche Web 3.0 that a lot of folks know as CryptoArt, sort of provably scarce [00:34:00] digital art and the ERC-721 NFT standard. We have a few individuals. One, in particular, is Connie Digital, minted HUE with us. You could see quite clearly there that the long-term utility of HUE is really going to come from folks other than Connie, and we’re seeing that right now. If you actively go to OpenSea and type in all of the things you can get with HUE, you’ll see that there are over 120 different ways to spend HUE. [00:34:30]
Around two dozen of those are from Connie himself, so his own marketplace where you could spend HUE on his art. The other 100 are actively from individuals in the community that have set up their own marketplace where you could spend HUE. This of course has nothing to do with Connie. They’re just really signaling, like Roll, that they’re long on social money, in particular, Connie’s work.
You can really see the future of social money. Imagine the most influential person you can and them [00:35:00] issuing their own social money. The utility is really going to come from the community overall that supports them. You’ll actively see tools, applications, and even other platforms that enable that.
Clay: Let’s talk a little bit about the underlying technology. You’ve mentioned Uniswap, you’ve mentioned Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens. Is that pretty much the stack? What else is involved?
Sid: I think going all the way from the bottom, we have a suite of smart contracts that will issue your own ERC-20 [00:35:30] token. We have one gate-keeping in the sense that your token does have to be approved by the Roll team. Once that’s approved on the blockchain, then we go ahead and create that ERC-20 smart contract for you.
What comes out of the box with Roll is that economics are standardized across all creators. This may seem like a small point but it’s extremely powerful when you’re thinking about network effects. As Bradley was mentioning, we have [00:36:00] Connie Digital who minted HUE as one of the first crypto artists to have their own social money. Right now, we have over 30-40 crypto artists who all have their own social money, but the mental bandwidth required to understand any other social money is extremely low if you hold HUE because the economics are pretty much the same.
You don’t need to do any mental math in your head about what percentage of what does 100 mean in this case right? A high-level to simple economics in Roll is the maximum supply is 10 million, 2 million are issued on Day 1, and the rest [00:36:30] passed out over a period of about three years. That’s standard across the platform. That’s standard across the platform. That provides a lot of standardization benefits
Clay: Hey, I wanted to pause for a second to let you know that this episode of the Flippening Podcast is brought to you by our longtime and trusted partner, nexo.io. As someone who personally uses Nexo, I want to point out a few things that I especially like about their crypto-backed loans.
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A second thing I really about Nexo is that you only pay interest on the amount that you borrow. I’ve seen Nexo competitors require you to take out loans and force you to borrow the entire amount. With Nexo, you get a credit line and can withdraw the funds that you need and not a cent more, paying them back whenever you want, with interest assessed [00:37:30] daily. Again, this just isn’t something I’ve seen other providers do.
The final aspect of Nexo I’d like to highlight is that they give you the ability to borrow against a basket of crypto assets. For example, if you post BTC, ETH, and BNB as collateral to your Nexo account, the Nexo Oracle calculates the real-time market value of those assets and adjusts your credit line accordingly. Again, to my knowledge, other providers in this space only allow you to borrow against one asset per loan.
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Okay, let’s return back to the show.
Sid: A big part of the market that we are going after is your traditional Web 2.0 audiences as well. This is pretty important because even if you’re a creator or an artist who is very well versed in Web 3.0, chances are that you have people in your community who are not [00:40:00] Web 3.0 native. There are people like, taking Connie’s example, again. Connie is very well-versed with using MetaMask and Web 3.0 in general, but many active community members are just in this for the art, not for the crypto side of things. You don’t want to try to exclude those people, and that becomes way more prominent when you go to someone like Laurel, for example, whose more Instagram native.
We do have a web app that’s available on the web. We have an app on the Apple app store and [00:40:30] on the Google Play store as well, which just makes this whole process very seamless. We do have back-end services there and then front-end apps as well that you can use to interact with social money.
Clay: Let’s talk a little bit about OpenSea. Can you walk me through that model there? You mentioned someone who was using OpenSea to provide a variety of rewards for owning the tokens. How might a creator think about the various options or creating [00:41:00] utility value around owning a token?
Sid: For the crypto art community, the first step is, someone like Connie Digital, for example, is an artist. One of the things that he does is there’s his own art that’s for sale. You can think of one-on-one additions and this is probably scarce on the blockchain. I know crypto art is a very niche but pretty fast-growing category. He’s signaling here that he’s forgoing Eth and Dai and actually only accepting payment in HUE. These are all pieces that [00:41:30] he would like to go to his biggest community members as opposed to just the general public.
What OpenSea really does is it’s a marketplace for NFTs. You can buy a lot of these NFTs using Eth or Dai, but they also have a way to integrate just any ERC-20 tokens. This also is the benefit of that tech stack like just building on Ethereum. Something like an OpenSea integration comes very naturally. This doesn’t have to be a whole product itself because someone [00:42:00] like OpenSea can support social money as a payment mechanism. Again, that’s the first level of it.
On the second level, as Bradley alluded to earlier, a lot of value comes from marketplaces that are no way related to Connie directly. MarbleCards is a good example. It’s like a trading card game. You can build collectible little generative art pieces for any URL on the web. Also, almost like a very artified bookmark and [00:42:30] along with some other games that come with that. This is a Swedish team that’s pretty small, but a really passionate and engaged community. You can buy MarbleCards today for HUE on OpenSea.
Again, this is not a project by Connie. This is a completely separate company that has built this out. They really see the value of social money. They see higher trading volumes on things that are listed for social money as well.
Clay: Maybe we’ll transition [00:43:00] to talking about Nomics and the NOM token. We recently signed up, we’ve got this NOM token. It would be fun to have a little workshop or a live coaching session where you guys can help me think through what we should do with these Nomics tokens. We’ve got, I think, 2 million now that are minted. I’ve thought about a bunch of different things. One is if you sign up [00:43:30] for our newsletter—our daily newsletter—maybe you’d get a token. If you leave a review for the podcast, maybe you get a token. There’s a bunch of things that I think we can do to give these tokens value.
One thing I was thinking about doing is giving shout outs on the podcast to people who pay a certain number of Nomics tokens. It would almost be like a mini ad. The average episode is getting over 30,000 downloads, so I think people would definitely hear that.
[00:44:00] We also have a remnant ad inventory on Nomics.com. Maybe you could have your ad shown for an hour or something in exchange for handing back a certain number of tokens. We also have our paid API, we prefer to get money for that. If you had enough tokens and we thought through the economics correctly, there might be something here. With that context given, what do you think I should do? [00:44:30] What would you advise me to do with our newly minted fancy token?
Bradley: The first thing we generally do is send over a quick email with something we call a social money handbook. This covers all of the things people have done and just a blueprint of what you can do with social money. The very first thing you should do, since you guys have a pretty awesome presence on Twitter, is really just announce it. [00:45:00] Take advantage of the cool clickable Twitter hashtags and just use that with #NOM. Just announce that you guys are part of the social money ecosystem. Make sure to add us so we could retweet.
From there, you’re broadcasting to a lot of people that you now have your own social money. It’s going to draw out those natural true fans that we talked about earlier. Folks that maybe are like how do I get Nom? When is NOM going to be listed? [00:45:30] You could actually actively talk about ways to earn and spend NOM there.
Some of the things that you mentioned earlier are fantastic. If there are ways to do shout outs, we’ve seen that work on podcasts and also on various social platforms. You could almost think of NOM really as a way to supercharge any sort of, let’s call them, KPIs that you guys want to enhance. This is something we see across categories. Sid talked about art earlier. People [00:46:00] are actively giving social money for the highest bids. We have a streamer audience on Roll, so people are giving away social money for subscribing. Virtual, we have Twitch Bits.
Just flipping it back to you, what are some of the things you want to increase, KPI-wise, in the Nomics universe?
Clay: A lot of it has to do with going to the website. We’ve got some pretty sketchy competitors, and we’re doing some really innovative stuff around transparency. A big piece of this is just [00:46:30] the muscle memory around navigating to certain websites to get crypto data. We want to break that habit. Something that could be interesting is we could reward people for just visiting the site on a daily basis.
I’d be concerned about the scalability of that and how much time that would take. I’m in the portal right now, I’m in the Roll portal. Where would I go or what would I do to think about automating rewarding [00:47:00] people just for visiting the website or coming back frequently?
Sid: Just adding on to what you said. A super fun way we have seen some people would be really innovative in the crypto art space, Connie Digital did this a lot. When he wanted people to visit his VR galleries and cryptovoxels, he has an art gallery built-in Web 3.0. One way he would do that is he would hide his social money [00:47:30] somewhere cool. You actually have to go and look at the gallery before you could find that social money. [Inaudible 00:47:35] get in the website, what you can actually do is if you have a lot of these pages here under products, resources, and a bunch of other places, just hide social money somewhere. Let people go ahead and have fun and try to find them.
Clay: It’s almost like ecoNomic Easter eggs or ecoNomic scavenger hunts. How would I generate the link? I’m in the portal, I can send NOM to someone, it [00:48:00] looks like I can send-receive, but in terms of maybe generating one of those links that Laurel creates or automating this, what automation is available there? Just thinking about taking this forward, or is that something you have to unlock in the UI? Is it our ability to do this, or do we need to think about smart contract development, or bring in a technical team member to really make this happen?
Sid: No. Actually, Roll makes it super simple. If you’re in our [00:48:30] admin portal, you’ll have an admin section on top along with your wallet send, receive, and history sections, which everyone else sees as well. What the admin section really does is one, it tells you how much social money you have, and also gives you the ability to manage two sides of your NOM economy, basically. Earn the way in which your community can earn NOM. Let’s say doing things that are valuable to you.
Clay: Got it.
Sid: Rewards are things that they can get from their NOMs. Once you have NOM, is it a podcast shout out, or [00:49:00] is it a newsletter shout out, or something of that nature. You can literally click on a new way to earn. It will just ask you a basic title just to make things easy for you to remember what you use it for. Let’s say you’re doing something like an Easter egg for the website. You may put in there how many people do you want to be able to earn that NOM? Let’s say it’s 15 people or 25 people, and how much NOM?
Again, that depends on the total supply and how much you have. You have 2 [00:49:30] million in your wallet right now. It can just be a fun amount that you want to play around with. Let’s say 100 just for like the super early adopters. Now, it’ll actually tell you that should be a total of 2500 NOMs in this example. As soon as you go ahead and create that link, you will get a unique link that you can then embed anywhere on the website really.
Sid: The people who go and click on that—according to whatever the parameters you’ve set. In our example, 25 people getting 100 NOM. The first 25 people who go ahead and find that link and sign up to [00:50:00] Roll will have all the NOM in their wallet, and then they’re free to do what they want to. For example, if you already have the reward setup, if there is a reward for just 100 NOM, they can immediately go ahead and redeem this, or let’s say the lowest reward is 1000 NOM, in that case, they’ll look for more of these Easter eggs. They’ll follow you on Twitter, they’ll ask you for more ways to earn NOM, or perhaps even do something good for you.
We have seen people do fun little projects like hey, I’m not an artist but if someone creates a logo for me I’m going to give them X amount of my social money. So many fun collaborations [00:50:30] that you can do in the social money ecosystem. That’s basically your earn code, and then rewards are the same thing you can set up. We actually have templates for shout outs directly. You can literally create a template for a podcast shout out in like two clicks from there.
Mike: Hi, this is Mike cutting in to explain how you can grab some NOM. Here’s an Easter egg for you. We’re giving away 20 NOM to the first 10 listeners who go to flippening.com/nom. Again go to flippening.com/nom to snag [00:51:00] 20 NOM tokens. These 20 NOM can be redeemed on Roll for a Nomics t-shirt or other prizes we make available over time. We’re excited about launching our social currency and look forward to hooking you up with some fresh NOM and Nomics gear when you go to flippening.com/nom
Okay, back to the interview.
Clay: One thing that we’ve done recently on Nomics is we started listing these social tokens. I am very invested in having a priced Nomics token [00:51:30] on nomics.com. If I wanted to ensure that that happened, that we could have some value around this or some price discovery, what would I do? Would I just go to Uniswap and place some open buy orders with Ethereum? How would I go about generating price discoveries that our Nomics token actually has a price associated with it?
Sid: Normally, the way we suggest people do is let the economy play out for a little bit without an actual dollar exchange. [00:52:00] What that really tells you is one, it shows you that the token is valuable even without going exchange because people do like the rewards that you’ve put out for NOM. The second bigger thing is it gives you a sense of value and how valuable the community finds NOM to be. If you even run a few earn and rewards on your side even if it’s for like a week, let’s say, that’ll just give you a lot of insight into what the market should be.
From there on out, it’s a conversation [00:52:30] where we can provide some liquidity for the NOM token on Uniswap as well. But basically, on Uniswap, you need to come to an approximation of what you think the price should be because you are going to be the first market maker for NOM. You basically get to set the price, and you want to be intelligent about this because if you are, let’s say you’re way off, then a whole bunch of professional traders are trading against you. You don’t want to misprice it too much, right?
If you price it too high, then [00:53:00] people will just dump the NOM for the Eth, and again, if you price it too low, they might just want to buy up everything that you have for their own supply or close to that.
That’s a tricky step, but once you have that, that pretty much determines the market price of the first trades. From there on out, the community can decide. If they find the price to be fair, they can be liquidity providers, and they can start earning fees as well, or they can also start earning more NOM or just buying up NOM from that Uniswap pool.
Clay: Makes a lot of sense. [00:53:30] These tokens, because they’re ERC-20 tokens, they could be held, literally, by any Ethereum wallet that holds ERC-20 tokens, is that correct? MyCrypto, your Trezor, your Ledger Nano, all that works for holding these tokens?
Sid: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a big part of our vision. When we originally talked about social money being platform-agnostic from Facebook, Instagram, guess what, it should also be platform agnostic from Roll. These are ERC-20. [00:54:00] They’re interoperable within the entire Web 3.0 ecosystem.
Clay: If you guys, God forbid, got hit by a bus, this whole thing—maybe the UI wouldn’t be there—but the value of the tokens, your ability to hold them, things would move forward. Maybe someone would take over protocol development or smart contract development, but things wouldn’t be over, essentially, if you guys got hit by a bus, right? This is fairly decentralized administratively, or is that something that’s coming in the future but not a reality just now?
Bradley: [00:54:30] NOM is ERC-20. Whatever happens to Roll, if Roll gets acquired by some company or there’s some shift or change, NOM will always be there. You could actively eject your NOM to your MetaMask trust or Trezor wallet like you said.
Clay: Let’s transition to talking a little bit about the prehistory for social money. Were there things like this happening before you started Roll? Where did you draw inspiration from? [00:55:00] What type of things like this have existed prior to starting this really cool company and movement?
Bradley: We actively saw what we’re doing now as an end state. This is whereby creating communities that can become platform-independent and own their own economics is something that’s very different from what we saw [00:55:30] in the past 10 years. There are folks like Chris Dixon that write a lot about this. He wrote a post called Why Decentralization Matters about this idea of platforms are eventually just competing with their users.
You saw something like this with Instagram really with them getting rid of likes because that was a metric or currency of that platform that allowed users to basically dis-intermediate Instagram and just grab cash to do sponsorship or something like that. [00:56:00] Most people have to go through Instagram directly. This concept changes that.
There’s a brief history of folks that have issued their own blockchain-based, call it, personal currency in the past. There’s always been a lack of a network there, right? You may have someone in 2013, 2014 or 2015 that has done something like this, but there’s never been a network surrounding it. To actively hold someone else’s social money, you need many tools let alone sustaining that [00:56:30] social money over time. With Roll, there’s this floor here. There’s this network and understanding that it becomes very easy to create and move social money across the web.
One thing we’re seeing that’s pretty fascinating, and this is something I like to talk about, is this idea of where user-generated content is now. We all understand the platforms behind user-generated content and the idea that they’ve amassed this [00:57:00] annual market size in the hundreds of billions in platforms like Twitch, YouTube, TikTok, et cetera. This was unfathomable in 2010. A lot of folks missed out on opportunities like this. Now, with Roll, you can reimagine this category via the people that create the content instead of the platform.
That’s really the beauty of what we call social money. You can also think about it as a user-generated currency. Two massive categories coming together [00:57:30] FinTech and creating this entirely new market. In a nutshell, this is Roll, and this is what we think is a massive, massive opportunity likely on the scale of user-generated content.
Clay: Once you start minting tokens, a lot of interesting questions arise like once there’s price discovery do I have to declare this as earnings on my taxes? Things like that. Is this a commodity? Is this a security? Is this a currency? What are some of the most [00:58:00] frequent questions that you guys find yourself answering from creators around the nature of this new thing? How do you go about answering those questions?
Sid: Before we started the company, we didn’t get a legal opinion on everything. At a super high level, the conclusion was as long as the tokens have formal utility, they’re similar to their loyalty points. That’s how [00:58:30] we think about things at Roll as well. We’re pretty much in somewhat uncharted territory here. That’s how we think about that.
Clay: In terms of frameworks that we’re used to, would you say this is more analogous to like maybe a utility token than anything else, or do you think there’s a better analogy to be made here?
Bradley: It’s very similar to, as Sid mentioned, airline miles or loyalty points. I think the punch card analogy is very apt as well. For us, [00:59:00] we’ve been students of the space over the past five or six years. What’s most important in addition to the utility is also how it’s marketed. When you go on Roll, you’ll see that social money is earned and social money is spent or redeemed for rewards. We borrow a lot of the language from the loyalty category just to really concretize and frame this idea that social money exists in a digital loyalty category.
Clay: Let’s transition to talking about your company. [00:59:30] If you could just run through where you’re located, team size, and what you can share about maybe the number of active wallets that hold social money.
Sid: I can look through the company stuff and then Bradley can take over. We have about six people right now. Bradley and I as co-founders and then we have a distributed tech team as well. We made some pretty early investments. Actually, we got lucky because we found some really talented developers from all over the world. [01:00:00] Before the whole COVID situation as well we were mostly remote. We didn’t have a core working space in New York that we would sometimes go to. In terms of the tech team, we were pretty set there.
Clay: You’re a distributed team of about six people. What can you say about usage metrics, number of tokens minted, or number of unique ERC-20 types, how many people have created tokens on your platform, and how many wallet [01:00:30] addresses hold those tokens?
Sid: We’re at about 140 communities who have created their own social money on Roll at the moment. It seemed pretty, pretty good growth there. In terms of wallet metrics, some of them do live on Ethereum. You can find them on Etherscan, you can go to the holder’s tab, and see hundreds of addresses. Some of them, especially for people who are a bit more on the Web 2.0 side, you won’t see those on-chain metrics because Roll handles a lot of the transactions internally. We [01:01:00] have the whole philosophy of progressive de-centralization where you can start off putting everything on Roll and then slowly, over time, it gets distributed into the whole Web 3.0 ecosystem. Some of that is hidden if you just look at Etherscan data.
Clay: How do you plan on monetizing or generating revenue?
Bradley: How we think about that as Roll is it’s present and also a future phase staying. We only win when communities win. If NOM becomes the biggest thing in the world, [01:01:30] both Roll and Nomics win and that becomes very exciting. Roll is really out to make that happen from a utility perspective. Anything we can do to empower or spread the NOM community or any other social community that exists on Roll, we do so because we’re an active holder of all the social money that exists on Roll.
In the future, you could really imagine this as a category, as we talked about, similar to DeFi with its own specific uses. [01:02:00] In that category, you may see creators and communities have their social money move across platforms. Whether that’s moving from Twitch to Twitter to Telegram to Uniswap to Shopify. We really see Roll as the Rails or PayPal for social money if you will that allows us to easily happen.
If you’re imagining this at scale, maybe you could imagine popular authors, books, movies, late shows, or brands [01:02:30] having their own social money. You could imagine millions of touchpoints happening every day or week. At scale, we may consider charging a fee for transactions, certain touchpoints where companies may interact with folks on a massive scale. This is potentially a way for Roll to make money via fees.
Clay: Basically churning on revenue is probably something [01:03:00] a bit in the future, but once this ecosystem is active, there are probably lots of venues for generating revenue. You mentioned that Roll is a holder of these social tokens. When tokens are minted, do you guys take some cuts, or is that something that’s happening right now, or something that you envision happening in the future? That you come in, you create 10 million tokens, maybe 1 million goes to Roll. There’s something like that.
Sid: On Roll, all the social money that’s minted, we actually hold 12% of the social [01:03:30] money that’s minted. We use this for a variety of ways at the moment. We use it to bring more people into the community. Take NOM for example. One of the things that we would love to do is let’s say the next newsletter that we write or the next investor update we do, we’ll drop in a link for some of our NOM that’s not coming from your wallet, it comes from our wallet. Saying hey, check out Nomics. It’s this awesome website. Here’s 50 NOM to get you started. If you want more, find the [01:04:00] cool ways to earn more NOM.
What that allows is it allows us to introduce our networks to all of these other social money communities that exist on Roll. One of the other things that we do use social money, part of the fees, is to make markets. If you want to provide liquidity on Uniswap, then we need both the tokens and Ether. That’s another big use of what Roll uses those 12% of the tokens for.
Clay: When you guys peer into the future, [01:04:30] what are you most excited about? What do you see as coming next? Obviously, you’ve created some really interesting tech, and really, it’s not just the tech, it’s the ideas behind it, and the economics behind it. I’m sure, there’s plenty to do just catching the world up to this potential new way forward that you’ve unlocked for everyone. When it comes to the product roadmap, what are you most excited about coming in the next one to two years?
Bradley: I think this is going to trend towards very influential people [01:05:00] and communities, not only getting familiar with the Roll and social money but also getting familiar with Web 3.0. Back to that Laurel conversation, this was her first touchpoint with Web 3.0 to create Tingles because this is something that made sense, and it was another way to speak to her community.
[Inaudible 01:05:17] This as a new category, there are many parts of the puzzle that we’re unable to see because we’re really just focused on the infrastructure, but there are likely some incredible applications out there that developers can think around and build. [01:05:30] Actively, what we’re in the process of doing, is really opening up our APIs to third-party developers that can build nearly anything that utilizes the communities we’ve built around social money.
You could think about this in categories. Roll does a few things. We mint social money, we’re the Rails that move social money. Right now, we also have a way to spend social money. You could actively think of unbundling some of those things. Maybe it may make sense to create a minting product. We could hold the token for your party this Saturday [01:06:00] or a blog post. That may be something that people want to do. That’s very different from how we think about social money.
Maybe there’s a time-based auction market that you may want to use to spend your social money in an eBay style auction way. That’s something we’d love to see. Maybe there’s a new version of Twitter or Reddit that can just exist around your social money. Maybe to view a certain post, you need to hold a certain amount of NOM. Maybe the longer activity there, it’s memes, it’s videos, it’s messages, and it’s people from [01:06:30] all over the world engaging in content via NOM.
We want to create a world where this is very easy for developers to come into our ecosystem and effectively create the future of social money.
Clay: There’s one question I ask of every single guest. That is if you could wave a magic wand and do something instantaneously and altruistically for the crypto community what would it be? Let’s start with Bradley, if you could wave a magic wand, what would you do for the space? [01:07:00]
Bradley: Unfortunately, part of what we do at Roll is go out to people who otherwise wouldn’t be using digital currency and Web 3.0 and really onboard them. We’ve really seen this pushback against the words crypto, against the words blockchain, and against Bitcoin. All they really see is what happened in the headline a few years ago or some volatility that they’re instantly fearful. It really pushes them away from understanding the philosophy of blockchain. [01:07:30]
For me, personally, it’d be cool if everyone understood the philosophy of blockchain, Web 3.0, and what the space is all about instead of this number go up number go down philosophy thing.
Clay: Yeah, for sure. Sid, how about you?
Sid: I think it’s somewhat related. Sometimes, in this space, we get too caught up in the technical and financial aspects of things that you lose that human touch. I wish everyone in this space really understood who those end [01:08:00] users are who are ultimately using your product.
Mike: That concludes Clay’s conversation with Bradley Miles and Sid Kalla, co-founders of Roll. I hope you enjoyed it.
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All right, that‘s all for this week. Stay tuned for next week’s episode. Until then, take care.
Clay: That’s it for this week. To sign-up for our free crypto investing newsletter, listen to other episodes, or get the show notes from this episode, please visit [01:09:00] flippening.com. I also invite you to check out the startup that funds this podcast, Nomics at nomics.com. Finally, if you got value from the show, the biggest thing you can do to help us out is to leave a five-star review with some comments and feedback on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thanks for listening and see you next week.