Today our topic is beginner’s mind of “one billion consumers”, the dialogue initiator is Mars Finance Max and today’s guest is Benny Giang. Benny is one of the founding members of CryptoKitties. He is responsible for investigating and deploying new regional, demographic, and product growth. Benny launched the alpha for CryptoKitties at ETHWaterloo, helped CryptoKitties receive coverage from original press channels like Quartz and TechCrunch, formed and established the early CryptoKitties community, and organized the showcase for CryptoKitties at the Ethereal Summit in NYC (which sold a $140K kitty in an auction for charity).
Max: CryptoKitties as a game Dapp with historic significance, since CryptoKitties became popular, there have been many imitations on the market. Some technicians have indicated that the development cycle is only one month. Among so many competing products, what do you think is the key to the success of CryptoKitties?
Benny: Axiom Zen our parent company is a venture studio and we've been working with Fortune 500 companies building world class products and forming joint ventures together. Along the way as a company Axiom Zen built our own startups internally. This included ZenHub and Routific. Both are profitable startup companies that have customers with IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Nike, and other major enterprise clients. We've also acquired a AR/VR studio and have a small AI/ML team. This allowed us as a company in the last 5 years to learn from our mistakes and to find the smartest people around the world to work and build the best products. Our team of 100 comes from 22 countries and speaks over 20 languages. It allowed us to experiment and launch amazing products (that weren't blockchain related). It also give us the ability to understand users and how to make products that are simple to use.
Max: Lot's of experience and you also have other successful products.
Benny: CryptoKitties was an experiment with the 5 of us in the beginning. The success of CryptoKitties is based on the foundation of learning and rapid development. We also were lucky, in the sense that the market for crypto was bullish around Fall of last year. I think a lot of people around the world who were investing in cryptocurrencies wanted to see some real use cases. For us, we wanted to make blockchain fun. People want to have fun in life.
Max: In China , we call this " the right time, the right place and the right person”.
Benny: It was never about the money. We just want to build a great product. That is why we never ICO'd, we focused on building a healthy community.
Max: International marketing strategy and user growth approach for CryptoKitties(including the community strategy) is outstanding while CryptoKitties released, from your working experience, you are an expert at social media marketing and product design , what is the role of you in the team?
Benny: I float between: product, growth, and partnerships, in terms of focus I'm the only team member looking to Asia for expansion of our brand. My job is to ensure the company continues to grow. Take big swings at large challenges. Work together with the product team to launch new products successfully.
Max: Aisa market is big?
Benny: Asia is certainly big.
Max: There have been rumors that the number of Crypto Kitties transactions dropped about 98% compared to last year December, how to deal with the players gradually quit and reduced heat these problems?
Benny: Companies building technology will have to improve user experience for their own products. We're always doing this as a team. We are always trying to make things more simple and easy to use. A lot of other games use us as an example of good UX for blockchain games. Unfortunately, the current space of blockchain game is dependent on crypto exchanges, third-party wallets, and other tools. We can't control the user experience of other businesses or apps. This has made it hard for us as a business because it is out of our hands. We know this by fact because we have the data to prove it. We've spent a lot of time understanding the data to learn that players who go to the website quit because they don't understand ETH or blockchain.
Max: I see. Data is reliable.
Benny: We're working on tools that will help solve some of these problems. We've been testing these tools for a few months now. More information will be revealed in 2019.
Max: According to PR newswire Nov 1, the CryptoKitties development team announced $15 million in funding. The round was led by Venrock, a venture capital firm owned by the Rockefeller family, Google ventures, Samsung NEXT, silicon valley venture A16z and E-sports giant aXiomatic also invested this round. Could you tell us the specific process of this financing?
Benny: In total, about $27.8m for A round. Yes, we met Venrock during GDC in SF this year. We had a great conversation about the future of collectibles. We aligned on the future of how people will own digital items and use these items to express themselves. Just like how people create nicknames or use funny photos on WeChat. It's a way for people to make a story about themselves and to build a persona. NFTs or collectibles will be a way in the future for people to show their friends or other people how unique they are. Just like the Yeezy's or Air Jordans. We started the fundraising process very early on. Not entirely sure about IPO or STO etc. mostly focused on building great products and introducing blockchain to the milllions/billions.
Max: What support will each investment institution provide for CryptoKitties?
Benny: We're building a studio. We're in discussions with AAA brands, Hollywood studios, gaming companies, celebrities, esports teams, sports leagues and more. We also want to grow CryptoKitties to be a strong brand IP. We want it to be the next Angry Birds or even better.
Max: I know from some of your interviews, that you value your relationship with your partners and your community building, is it the most important thing for you is visiting partners or KOL for cooperation and investment?
Benny: Community is NO.1 priority. Just like this wechat group, it's important to listen to the community and pay attention to their needs. Everyone who works at the company has only one boss, and that is the users.
Max: Community is good medium, agreed！
Benny: I meet a lot of different people when I travel to Asia. Some have just become friends. Some have become investors. At the end of the day, it's about your intentions and your mission in life and in work. We see this technology being a long term innovation. We're here to stay and to provide the best value over a long time. Press, communities inside Telegram, Slack, WeChat, LINE, Facebook, working with KOLs (like Lil Bub), organic traffic, google searches, community referrals, digital ads, conferences, game publishing partners, OEM manufacturer partnerships.
Max: My guess is that after financing, you have some cards to play. I am curious about someone loving toss like you, what's the next product plan?
Benny: Haha, I can't say much unfortunately. But what I can say is that it will help a lot of people onboard to the blockchain.
Max: Looking forward to Next step of you!
Max: As you write on the LinkdIn after financing: “to bring the next one billion consumers to the blockchain.” and I also noticed that the Head of Aisa, hyper growth of Dapper Labs added to your title, what’s the main business Dapper Labs do ?
Benny: CryptoKitties is still driving revenue. The business model is public, we take 3.75% commission and we sell gen 0 kitties. In 2019 there will be a more diversified portfolio, but we are focused on growth right now. This one is my new favourite.
Max: Yes, that's the business model of Cryptokitties. Can we regard Dapper Labs as kind of companies which provide software outsourcing service?
Benny: Yes, like a software product company.
Max: Cool, I believe that you have chance to exceed your past achievements.
Benny: Thank you.
Max: The CryptoKitties are built on the Ethereum, you noted that the Ethereum was chosen because of the strong support community behind it, and that Ether is the second largest cryptocurrency at that time in previous interviews. When CryptoKitties first launched, it became popular and even caused "traffic jam" in Ethereum. You were an early supporter of Ethereum and Vitalik is also in our group. From your experience, could you talk about the underlying technical conditions for killer applications in blockchain?
Benny: I’m not sure if techincal conditions is what determines a killer app. A killer app is based on the user base and the market demand. Technically, you can create systems that spam like what FCoin exchange did and that congested the ETH network. Is it the right thing to do? Probably not.
I dont think people should be looking for killer apps. I mean, what is the point? I think the apps that will bring the most adoption is games and entertainment. For instane, for every platform shift (PC, mobile, social) there has been gaming companies that brought on many new users. Zynga or Farmville drove more than 50% of the traffic to Facebook during the early days. It brought on a lot of international players and moms who were bored. Does killer app mean an app that can kill a protocol? because to me that makes no sense. that's like what is the app that will kill the internet.
Max: Sharp opinions and you mentioned Fcoin as an example.
Benny: Of course no app will kill the internet, haha. Is there a killer app for the internet? There is apps like WeChat, Weibo, Facebook, Google, and others. Those are the most used and are helpful in making people's lives better.
Max: Indeed Wechat is.
Benny: Exactly, they are bringing value to people. What are the apps that will influence a lot of people? I think social and games will be big.
Max: The current blockchain games are too simple in terms of gameplay. Is it possible that there will be Dapp similar to the complex gameplay of Internet games in the future?
Benny: Will social and games on the blockchain be bigger than normal games from Internet. That's a bigger question, not entirely sure yet. People don’t understand decentralization. Only hardcore blockchain enthusiasts, but even then people talk about it but don’t know what the end result of it will be.
Max: Thank you for your sharing and thank you for every participants, hoping that everyone enjoy and benefit from this session.