Celebrating Gate Labs — Web 3.0 And How To Build Something New On Blockchain

We recently celebrated Gate Labs’ first anniversary. To commemorate the special occasion, several guests joined us in a series of Twitter Spaces, the first of which saw us discussing the crypto market in 2021, and what’s to come in the decade ahead.second of which saw us discussing Web 3.0 as well as how to build things on the blockchain.

Gate.io’s Mariela Tanchez and Tom Rodriquez hosted guests such as Sofia Yan from Numbers Protocol, Christian Zhang from Solice, DFL Erwin from DeFi Land, Cora Chan from Polygon and many other guests. Below is a transcript of the second round of our discussion:

Cora Chen: I’m Cora. I’ve been in this industry since 2017 and in Polygon since last September. Polygon’s goal is to become the AWS of Web3. We want to provide solutions to developers and crypto users. As we all know, Polygon is one of the major Layer 2 chains attempting to take the pressure off Ethereum’s heavy network. Polygon now hosts more than 7,000 applications and has processed over 1.3 billion transactions between 100 million unique wallets. Polygon has become a very important platform for those who are trying to build and scale low-cost applications and help them get adopted. Probably 70% to 80% of new startups in crypto are using Polygon today.

Sofia Yan: Hi, everyone. I’m Sofia. I’m on behalf of Numbers Protocol. Numbers is a Web3 photo network that is challenging the NFT world by creating an open and verifiable source for NFTs and photography. I think the biggest problem in NFT and the Web3 world today is that there are no reliable ways to authenticate NFTs and digital media, which leads to a lot of frauds and scams. Numbers provides tools to help users create native Web3 photos and provides a search engine of NFT assets. By doing so, we make digital assets traceable and verifiable. We will be able to provide a solution for this big problem and make Web3 a better place.

DFL Erwin: My name is Erwin. I’m coming from the tech startup industry. I have been involved in crypto for 5 years already and done different stuff since the beginning. I love to explore all the experiences that crypto can offer. I have spent countless hours explaining DeFi and NFTs to my friends and family members. It’s so hard for them to understand how they work. They think they are scams. So we decided to build a platform, which would be the best onboarding tool for retail users and the place we would love. We wanted to gather all the DeFi and crypto experiences at the same place, so we built DeFi Land, a gamified version of all the different crypto experiences where you can trade, swap, do yield farming, withdraw NFTs, chat with your friends, and do all different social activities at the same place in a really gamified manner. It is somewhat an agricultural simulation game, which is currently running in beta. We are also exploring moving on to other chains. We have just launched our first NFTs and are doing the play-to-earn and many different stuff.

Christian Zhang: I’m Christian, founder and CEO of Solice. What we’re trying to build is a cross-platform VR metaverse where we will strive to offer users an immersive experience by providing users a virtual environment where they can play, build, own, socialize, and monetize everything in their virtual experiences, and then across multiple platforms. It’s not limited to just adopting VR hardware devices like Oculus and HTC, it would also be available on Windows, Mac, iOS, and Android devices. Everyone could be able to connect with each other limitlessly. We’re built on Solana. This is basically because of the scalability of Solana and the number of transactions it is able to handle. We’re also trying to create a metaverse where we would expect millions of users in the long run. It is pretty hard to use other popular chains at the moment, so we favor Solana right now but we will make it more interoperable with other chains in the future.

Mr. Block: This is Chris from Mr.Block, Curve, and SweeperDAO. I’ve been making crypto videos on YouTube for the past 4 years, mainly creating tutorial content in Chinese with around 40,000 subscribers. I’ve been creating three videos a week, in which I basically teach people DeFi, NFT, and GameFi. I am also involved in angel investing. I recently joined IVC as a venture partner. Being in this market for quite a long time, I see there being multiple pivots in the market. In 2020, it was DeFi, which was a sound economy that gives an actual utility to the token. For example, at Curve, by locking your Curve token, you get CRV which can be used for gauge weight vote. And there are multiple ecosystems built on top of it. A little bit of background about SweeperDAO. Like its name, it focuses on sweeping the floor. It has a lot of well-known NFT collectors, such as Machi Big Brother from C.R.E.A.M., Leo from Iron Bank, and multiple VC guys like IVC, Dragonfly Capital, and so on.

Andy Jiang: I’m Andy from DreamVerse. DreamVerse is a metaverse plan, which includes various VR content. It’s a landing application of Web3, aiming to become one of the Web3 main entrances. DreamVerse supports various NFTs transferring into three-dimensional avatars. DreamVerse Land can build various three-dimensional and VR scenes. You can use your three-dimensional avatars to explore a variety of things and participate in various games. All IP creators, builders, and users will share the benefits of the project. DreamVerse has also signed many famous IPs such as McGrady, Plushenko, Astro Boy, The Wandering Earth, and so on. We will continue to bring in more avatars and IP scenes to create a rich metaverse world.

Cora Chen: Lots of people would say Web3 is blockchain, for which we will basically talk about decentralization and token-based economics. I imagine Web3 can provide a more decentralized, convenient, and safer environment for users. For Web3, we generally talk about privacy and data. We have the ultimate target of protecting every single user’s benefits, which is based on decentralization, editable data, and encryption features of the blockchain technology. We can see that, in Web2, the public’s trust in institutional entities is at an all-time low. Our information may be stolen and used to make money. However, we believe everything will be better in the Web3 world, where apps will compute transactions exactly through smart contracts. We feel that it is too early to envision how the industry will be evolved. I believe that building real-world apps for users is essential and all these discussions about which technology is better, which chain to use, TPS, etc. should not be concerned by any users. I believe Web3 will evolve into a real-world thing that everyone can easily use without crypto tools, wallets, governance, etc. If we are still talking about the public chain’s advantages or which language to use five years later, we will fail in this revolution.

Sofia Yan: I think the most amazing element of Web3 is that users are able to co-create, co-work, and co-earn. That’s why it is so important to make sure that trust is built. To echo what Cora said, I think the current interaction in the Web is often characterized as a social lab. And digital media files are locked in the centralized server once they are uploaded. I think blockchain technology is reforming the internet. It’s creating a new value, an entirely new economy, and a civil system. Based on a peer-to-peer, decentralized system with trust and integrity, I think the most important thing is transparency so that organizations in the future will be created and owned by users in a meaningful way. So it is important to empower the individuals and communities, rather than just single entities.

Christian Zhang: I think Web3 represents the future of the Internet where users will operate in a decentralized way rather than relying on large private businesses or centralized government bodies. For what Cora said about apps collecting massive data from everyone, I think it had started way before in, for example, Twitter and Facebook. There were some controversies on Facebook’s collecting and selling data, which caused them to pay a big fine. So I think the direction that we’re heading to Web3 is definitely putting more emphasis on owning the actual data or actually becoming the piece of data, and participating and becoming a part of the Internet — Web3. And I think that alone is pretty much a huge leap into the industry.

DFL Erwin: Actually, I have a really different take from all the people around me. I really love Web3 and I’m betting it really huge on Web3. I believe that the way we interact with products and the way we use services will be changed with NFTs, DeFi, and all different activities that can be done in Web3 but cannot be done in Web2. I actually think that Web3 applications will not be all decentralized. I believe it will go in the form of CeDeFi — centralized decentralized finance, because of the nature of human beings. As not everyone wants to manage their own funds with their own custody, I believe, in the future, we’re going to see some new centralized entities in DeFi or in a decentralized world in Web3, which will help to get new users to come and onboard, in a not fully decentralized way. This is going to lead to a great world of decentralization with really distributed powers and really great fairness. It’s kind of a weird take, but we have that opinion in DeFi Land.

Christian Zhang: Since this is something new, there are always voices against it. It’s like any other new tech that we’ve seen before. I think maybe 10 to 20 years ago, people wouldn’t even think about being portable and being able to watch videos online. Web3 is pretty much a new concept for the majority of people. It affects the interests of the tech giants, which is why I think they might be against it and are critical about it. As we’re still new to the industry, there are a lot of gray areas. That is also one of the reasons for a lot of rug pulls and malicious projects, which will cause negative reputations for the industry. It does need some time to consolidate and refresh our reputation and image of what true Web3 is, what we can provide, and how we human beings would take advantage of the new technology and make our daily life easier. Now there are a lot of new use cases and new projects that have tokens with real utility. We can do groceries and travel around by paying with cryptocurrencies, which is something unimaginable a couple of years ago. I think we just need some more time to consolidate before we can actually bring it over to have mass adoption.

Sofia Yan: I think each revolution of the Internet has never replaced the former ones. There are some important elements that will be preserved in the process of progress, like all human civilizations. I think each revolution represents some problem that humanity is trying to solve. Web1 solves the problem that information could not be spread, but it also has the problem that information could not be communicated. Web2 was born to solve the problem of data communication, but it creates the giant monopoly problem caused by centralization. So I think Web3 is the next evolution of the Internet. It brings a fundamental change to how digital media are viewed and how photo service operates. In Web3, digital media will be registered and have clear ownership records. This, coupled with what we at Numbers Protocol are doing, enables digital media to be traced and verified, allowing digital media to be viewed as an asset and have values. So if there’s a controversy, then there must be a problem behind it. And as there’s a problem behind it, I think there will be an entrepreneurial opportunity.

Cora Chen: I think we had similar controversies 15 years ago over Web2, like what is Web2, what can Web2 bring to users, and what is the technology we can use in Web2. At that period, lots of people were suspicious about its future and traditional institutions didn’t want to change their working habits. Revolution always comes with both disputes and opportunities. The small group of Web2 players now are the young and most adventurous people. They want a more equal internet for everyone. As we can see, the data of blockchain users, developers, and the industrial capacity shows an increasing trend that attracts some Web2 people’s attention. Some Web2 people are interested in blockchain technology, but others think the technology is not stable enough currently. However, we cannot stop the trend to this fairer society. For example, data privacy has not been regulated until the mass population realized that Web2 is using their data and making profits from within. So it’s inevitable that we need Web3’s promise to return ownership back to people. Obviously, blockchain is gaining popularity now, making us in a good situation.

DFL Erwin: In the 80s, there are a lot of thoughts around. There are people who have never tried the project or the product itself. There are also some people who just do not believe in what they see. People will be criticizing all the new inventions and all the new stuff all the time because it will be easier to criticize some stuff than to build. There are a lot of crypto entrepreneurs who are first-time entrepreneurs actually, and most of them are young. So it’s kind of hard for them. When they have a really big amount of money, they see the opportunity and want to do a cash grab or just do different stuff. That’s really bad, but I believe we have seen that happening recently a lot. And we’re going to see a lot of different things in building more than just saying. For now, there is just too much focus on the tokens, fundraise, and so on, while there is not that much focus on the building. I believe in several years, it will be way more like Web2 backing the 2000s. We’re going to see the mass adoption once we have the infrastructure ready. I’m really bullish on that, but I think we have a long way to go indeed.

Mr. Block: I think what we know about Web3 is just the tip of the iceberg, just like a lot of people are saying that metaverse is what we’re seeing right now, like Decentraland, Cryptobox, Sandbox, etc. I don’t really envision that. I don’t know if that’s the actual metaverse. I think Web3 is such a big topic and such a huge leap of humans, technology, and everything. So I think it makes sense to delve deeper to understand what actual Web3 is like. It could be decentralized. It could be blockchain. Our blockchain is part of Web3, but not the entirety of Web3. I do agree that we are currently not seeing the actual Web3. We don’t know what it’s like now.

Andy Jiang: In my opinion, every interaction of users in Web3 should be recorded and qualified. Users can possess ownership and use rights. DreamVerse encourages all kinds of IP creators and developers to enter DreamVerse, which is to realize the idea of Web3. On one hand, there will be a lot of work to be done on blockchain technology, such as distributed storage and transmission. On the other hand, some lending applications are also required to be provided to users. Disruptive applications, such as Facebook, Twitter, WeChat and TikTok, are likely to appear in lending applications.

DFL Erwin: Actually one of the most important goals of DeFi Land is to onboard retail users. Probably as we want to onboard more and more Web2 and retail people, we need to create more Web2 experiences first, so they have the known experiences how they can do and interact with different stuff. We’re doing the farming simulation game as everyone has played in childhood or whenever they have some understanding of how they can interact with that. However, the thing is that no one is thinking about education. Everyone is trying to make their product more complex to seem more sophisticated, but no one is actually thinking about the simplicity or explanation to retail users that we really need to have mass adoption. I believe we should try to gamify those experiences, so it’s going to be easy to understand and more engaging to learn. I think everyone should create an educational tool for this content so that people can easily learn it.

Another problem is that everything in crypto right now is mainly in English. Other languages are basically never supported, even though it is a really massive project. I believe that translating your game or product into different languages and creating the content not only in English is important. I believe that’s one of the major things because there are so many different languages that have millions of speakers, but there is no local content for them. I believe actually building something and then having the referral system — to invite your friends or just make it spread through the word of mouth — is at least 100 times more effective. We are trying to go that way. So I believe building and then trying to make it adapted to the retail, not just the sophisticated users, is the way to onboard the next billion users to DeFi and crypto itself.

Christian Zhang: I think a good guide for new users would help out massive onboarding and attract new users. That’s also what we’re trying to do. Our project puts in more game elements, so we could guide users throughout the process to know more about a product or crypto in general while minimizing the tech part. I think emphasizing the visuals and immersiveness will help users follow the steps and eventually get to know it. And when they want to dive deeper into it, we will open up a different option for them. Let’s say you create several channels to separate new users from the more experienced users, you might offer more complex products for experienced users. I think this is also the way how some exchanges were operated in the beginning. Also, with the whole NFT boom, there are a lot of new users with zero knowledge joining the space. So I think, for new projects coming out, we should definitely put more resources and thoughts on providing guidance and tutorials where users can easily get into the space and these projects.

Cora Chen: We are a public chain. I guess most of the users started to use Polygon because of the low gas fee compared with Ethereum. They will probably find that it is a huge universe, a secure, easy-to-use, low-cost ecosystem where all big platforms, such as Uniswap, SushiSwap, Opensea, GitHub, etc., are built on or connected with. We’ve spent huge efforts building this strong infrastructure, attracting the best dApps partnering with various chains and connecting with wallets. That’s how we have, on average, 270k daily active users now. Our goal is to convince the Web2 users that Polygon is never difficult to use. In May last year, we established the Polygon Studios, which is mainly focused on projects in gaming, NFT, metaverse, and SocialFi tracks. We are planning to get more Web2 users, especially young people, mainly through gaming and NFT, because we think they are passionate about such things as games, NFTs, and those creative things. Polygon Studios also collaborates with Adidas and Prada in terms of NFTs. You can definitely see gaming projects in the Polygon ecosystem increasing a lot currently and a lot of active users joining in last year because of the launch of Polygon Studios.

Sofia Yan: For Numbers Protocol, we are trying to build a decentralized photo network. If Web3 is going to be the mainstream, we believe that the most important key is to make it trustworthy — creators need to believe they are protected and users believe this is a safe place. So if the messages cannot be delivered properly, I think no one will trust or use Web3. Therefore, we work with news media on, for example, the 78 Days of the 2020 US Presidential Election archive. We also work with NFT marketplaces to help verify their NFT products and help galleries and many different organizations create native Web3 data archives with proper asset registration. So the message we try to deliver is simple — Web3 is the future, and you can be safer in this journey with Numbers Protocol. We will help you know the full picture of assets in the Web3 world. So I believe bringing the trust of Web3 to be the mainstream is the best strategy. That’s what we are trying to do.

Andy Jiang: We are concerned about whether good content in Web1 or Web2 is the most important. Therefore, DreamVerse has spent a lot of money on good content. We have signed many famous IPs that will help us attract more users. Besides, we have also cooperated with other projects and various metaverse builders to serve all kinds of excellent projects and attract them to settle in. At present, the ones that have settled in include AP NFT, OKX, Gate.io, MAKC, and so on. In the future, we hope that the whole industry will be more open to providing better services for all users, so as to expedite the arrival of Web3.

Sofia Yan: First of all, I would like to share the meaning behind our project name — Numbers. I think that the basic form of data is the number. And as we believe in the power of community, we call the project Numbers, where everyone is just like a single number. A single number may mean nothing yet, but together we are powerful and can make changes. We have repositories where developers can track the source code and provide feedback and the community can share critical opinions. I think developer bounty is also a very effective way to incentivize developers to contribute. So making everyone — developers and the community — a part of our development process is the nature of Web3. It’s also the way how we work with developers. So being transparent and open delivers a very good message to Web3 developers. Actually, we receive many resumes from email and LinkedIn every day.

DFL Erwin: Actually, that’s the question everyone is wondering. It’s even the hardest challenge to find really great blockchain developers as there are not many. The thing that we have found really useful is recruiting and just hiring, having bounties, and having a job board. Everything is great, but the people you recruit might leave your job for a bigger salary the next time. The best way, I think, is to hire people from the community who really love your product and want to contribute to it, but sometimes that is not possible because it’s hard to find. So what we have found really useful and I believe not really many projects are doing is to find really good Web2 developers who are really good in their realm, or people like students, or people who are really good at math, commercial science, algorithm, etc. Just hire them to learn. We have done that really successfully. Basically, we are delivering everything, even though we had just one guy, who had the blockchain developing experience previously. That’s the trick not everyone is using, but I really recommend just going and trying to find the great people in Web2 and incentivizing them to turn to Web3. They will be loyal to you as you have changed their lives.

Christian Zhang: I definitely agree with Erwin on the potential of bringing new people from Web2 to Web3, and encouraging new youngsters is obviously a good way to have more people joining us as well. Actually, the majority of our developers come from bigger corporations with rich experiences. We are sure of their skills and they’re experts as well. We educate and convince them to learn more about our contract. As the smart contracts of Solana are written in Rust, we basically find Rust developers by just telling them to learn more about smart contracts. For the other part of our team members who are great smart contract developers but didn’t know Rust before, we ask them to learn Rust. We combine them, so they can sit down and communicate with each other and share different takes on the codes. And also, we have to provide enough incentives for them to join in full-time and be long-term committed. What we did was offer team tokens vested over 3–5 years to attract developers to stay and commit to building a good product, not just to have a quick cash grab.

Andy Jiang: The most important thing, in our view, is to empower developers. Firstly, we provide IP empowerment by introducing, for example, McGrady. We attracted a group of developers such as MAKC and startups. Secondly, we provide a metaverse building service for developers. As not all developers have the ability to build metaverse, we cooperate with other builders to provide developers with NFT molding, scenes molding, and other services to relieve their worries. That’s what we do.

Cora Chen: Polygon has been by far the most preferred scaling solution. And the number of applications being built on the network has doubled every month over the past few months. This is especially true for applications based on DeFi and NFT. There are three reasons for that. The first one is about Polygon’s funding support for development and hackathons since early last year. We are very active in all developer communities, events, university courses, GitHub, etc., and have devoted a lot of money to it. Many might think we get most of the developers from Ethereum, but data shows differently. Among all the dApps built on Polygon, 68% are built on Polygon solely while 38% are on both Ethereum and Polygon. This shows an increasingly large number of developers beginning to use Polygon as a standalone network to build their applications. Secondly, in the technology part, Polygon wants to deliver the best solution in zero knowledge (ZK) technology. We acquired some very big names in the field, including Mir and Hermez. We make sure that we are pioneering in zero knowledge. Our developers will be always updated with the best technology. And the network has presented a simple, easy-to-use suite of APIs for developers to create dApps on the network, making the process much easier for all developers. The final reason is about community. Polygon builds a strong developer community and is very supportive of all newcomers. Builders can find everything they need in just a click and get answers quickly. They can find lots of eager and young builders like themselves. And it’s very easy for them to feel closely connected with the community.

Wilson Wu: I think it’s a great moment to look into the developer community. For Avalanche, we’ve been developing the Asian market pretty much since early last year. Actually, we see the whole market progression from a few stages. At the very beginning of last year, we started building the Asia side of communities and marketing coverage. We started looking at the infrastructure side of the building. We see Pangolin was launched in February last year. We have our bridge built in the middle of last year. We launched the incentive program Avalanche Rush in August last year. We see all those progressions are building the fundamental layers, including the community groups. Come to this year, we see a lot of hackathons happening at this moment also in Asia. You’re welcome to join our investment-based hackathon, for which we provide around US$5 million in the investment prize pool. The top 10 winning projects will receive the investment-based prize.

DFL Erwin: I believe centralized exchanges are more Web2-friendly right now. A lot of my friends prefer to go with CEXs because CEXs are easier and safer. They are like “why should they use DEXs and likewise cannot be better”. They have been interacting with all those kinds of experiences their whole life. So I believe CEXs are to stay for at least several years. And we are more likely to see somewhat a mix of centralized and decentralized exchanges in the future. There will be KYC but not everything will be stored on the backend of the company. I believe both CEXs and DEXs will offer different services and have their own target users. I believe we can slowly transition to more of the decentralized exchanges than the centralized exchanges later, but it gonna take some time indeed.

Christian Zhang: I do agree with what Erwin says on a certain point, but I don’t think they will replace CEXs anytime soon or even in a couple of years since everything needs to convert back into the real world. I don’t think they will be acknowledged and adopted by central authorities. I don’t think banks will accept any money through them without any KYC whatsoever. However, when you apply KYC to DEXs, it might lose the original intention behind DEXs, because people usually use DEXs just to stay anonymous and have custody of their own assets. You can withdraw your funds at any given time in a centralized exchange, so I don’t think it’s the custody part that users dislike CEXs. It’s more like the KYC part, which blocks the gateway of a lot of users just because of their nationality. So I still think we have to break the barrier of regulations before we can fully convert into DEXs.

Sofia Yan: I agree with Christian and part of what Erwin said. Just as I said before, I don’t think Web3 will replace anything in Web2. That’s progress, I think. We may have more freedom or autonomy in Web3, though it may take a longer time to realize. I think all things have pros and cons. And it is human nature to keep the pros and do some changes for cons.

Mariela Tanchez: Thank you, guys. We at Gate Labs really want to thank everyone who was here, both the speakers and the people who participated. We’re very excited to be turning 1 year. We hope that we can start working together towards everything that is growing and start partnering to move forward with everything. We also would like to invite you to follow @gate_labs on Twitter here, if you haven’t done so. We always post announcements and future collaboration so that you can keep up with the news. Thank you all for being here. You have all given us great insights, and we’re happy to be working along with you to build this new environment that we’re building.

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