Warning: Live-blogging. Prone to error, inaccuracy and howling crimes against grammar and syntax. This post will be updated over the next few days.
A decade ago, Trevor was here in Hamburg as a DJ. He had a top 10 album, he was a music producer for big name acts. But his happy place is sitting in front of computers making stuff. That means he’s been drawn to emerging spaces because that’s where he feels there’s the maximum space to have an impact.
And that led his career into virtual spaces.
Birthing a virtual influencer
He spotted a macro value shift from meatspace to the virtual realm – that’s why he explored it through his virtual influencer Lil Miquela. If you can move audiences there, via things they understand in the Web 2 world, you can continue to have a relationship there. His company Brud, since acquired by Dapper Labs, was designed to be the Marvel or Disney of the virtual age. In an infinite scroll world, getting people to pause, to think is essential. The character was there to teach people about identity, about the environment. Miquela now has 10m+ fans, who know she’s virtual. She’s a celebrity in every meaningful sense – but she’s just software.
He thought the software to make her easy to run wild take six months, but it took four years. But they can implement ideas and narrative now in a matter of hours. Her narrative background is now so complex that it support fan wikis. He intended to work from an image up to TV or films, rather than the top-down approach of, say, Star Wars which started with a film and spread everywhere else.
Rethinking organisations with DAOs
A DAO is an organisation where everyone can come up with an idea, and everyone who owns a governance token, held on a blockchain, in the organisation can vote on whether the organisation will proceed. People are more than their narrow skill set, and the idea that they can plug into organisations at a strategy or design level iOS very information. The idea that you could build an organisation that you can have a meaningful financial stake in is very appealing to creatives.
Web3 is about building communities, and let them birth products. Friends With Benefits was an early experiment in this. It was launched with a fixed number of tokens, and you need 50 to contribute. There’s an incentive to participate in a way that people appreciate and enjoy because that makes other people want to join. If demand goes up, and there is a limited supply of tokens, the value of those tokens is bound to increase.
It’s reversed the power dynamic of the normal startup/VC relationship because VCs who want to invest have to persuade the existing token holders that they should take their money. The community lives on Discord, but ether’s an ecosystem of information and products around it. Websites are tracking what tokens people are accumulating.
Web 2 was pretty tough on media orgs. Media orgs that sell what then create is exciting – and NFTs solve that problem for them. Say, you’re a media DAO, which makes video. Do you want to do a documentary? You pitch it, and if the token holders vote for it, the mechanisms are in place to collect and provide the funding through the DAO treasury.
Exit to community
What’s the future of Lil Miquela? The IP behind her and the software that runs her will be community-owned as a DAO. It’s not Disney, which is an IP-owning company. It’s the exact reverse, where the community owns the IP.
Trevor McFedries is the founder of Friends With Benefits, Web3’s premier Social DAO, as well as the CEO of Dapper Collectives, an organization dedicated to decentralizing media and social via DAOs. McFedries is the creator of virtual pop star Lil Miquela and founded technology startup Brud, which was recently acquired by Dapper Labs.