Let’s face it, we are living in a digital age that’s trending more digital by the day. The crazy thing? We’re about to take a very huge leap and it means some really interesting things for creators.
Enter the blockchain and NFTs. The buzzword of the times…. or is there something to it? Whether your head spins every time you hear those three little letters, N-F-T or you’ve gone deep down the rabbit hole, you don’t want to miss this conversation with Tom Bilyeu.
Tom Bilyeu is the co-founder of the multi-billion dollar company Quest Nutrition, and the media powerhouse, Impact Theory. If you’re familiar with his work, you’ll know that he’s on a mission to empower generations through media and culture, taking on the likes of media giants like Disney. This is no small task, but when Tom learned about NFTs he realized it was going to change the face of his business.
“Whether or not humans should be the way that they are, they are the way that they are, so deal with the world the way that it is, not the way it should be.” -Tom Bilyeu
In this episode, Tom helps to break down the basics: what are NFTs, why should we care, and how it’s changing our creative landscape. But NFTs isn’t just about digital art. Tom helps us explore how digital ownership, community and participation fuels not just our digital lives, but can manifest in the real-world as well.
Some key topics:
- Volatility and mindset towards purchasing NFTs
- How ownership and participation is changing the creative landscape
- Why NFTs matter for creators
- Decentralization, Web3 and NFTs
- Bankless Podcast
- Michael Saylor on Twitter: @saylor
- Raoul Pal on Twitter: @RaoulGMI
- Robert Breedlove @breedlove22
This episode is jam packed with new information and ideas that expand the boundaries of what’s possible. NFTs are the new frontier, and Tom paints a clear picture of the opportunity within that frontier.
Listen to the Podcast
Chase Jarvis: Hey everybody. What's up? It's Chase. Welcome to another episode of the show The Chase Jarvis Live Show here on CreativeLive, the show where I sit down with amazing humans, and I unpack their brains with the goal of helping you live your dreams. Today's guest is Tom Bilyeu. Now you may be familiar with Tom's work because he built a company called Quest Nutrition, those energy bars you see in the grocery store. He sold that company for a billion dollars. This episode isn't about that sale or that journey building the company, but it is about what he's taken that money, that knowledge and those resources and how he's applied it to Web 3, NFTs, cryptocurrency.
Chase Jarvis: If these are terms that you're interested in, this is an amazing primer, a foundational episode that helps you the creator, the entrepreneur, the thought leader, the freelancer, it helps you understand what your potential future spot could be in the next generation of the internet. It's an incredible episode. Tom is very articulate about the processes, a little bit about the technology, but mostly about where all this is going and what role you could play in it if you so choose. I'm going to get out of the way. Yours truly, Tom Bilyeu, enjoy the show. Tom, you're back on the show. Thank you so much for being here. Welcome.
Tom Bilyeu: Excited to be back.
Chase Jarvis: How are things? Talk to me?.
Tom Bilyeu: So, things are great. I do wish we were in person that I have learned as much as I'm grateful for the technology and the fact that it lets us at least connect this way. Man, it really matters, it matters.
Chase Jarvis: It does.
Tom Bilyeu: It took me 18 months to feel the burn, because I am a bit of an isolationist if I'm completely honest. I've got my wife, my house. I can run my company remotely, but now I miss people a lot. And so, I am sad that we're not sharing.
Chase Jarvis: Same, same. And when you're speaking with someone, you can see their pupils a little bit better when you're in the same space. And I think you probably were well enough aware of our show, we used to have 100 people in a live in studio audience for every single show. And while that ship has sailed when we went from producing one a month to two a week, but I missed that energy too. As ambivert, I'm also whatever two years in now realizing like, "God, we just went out to dinner last night and that was like what a rush to go out to dinner and order food from a human, these basic things." So anyway, here we are, we're doing the best we can.
Chase Jarvis: Speaking of doing the best we can, you're doing a lot of interesting shit, which is if I'm not mistaken, the second time you've been on this show. I know I've been on yours, Impact Theory. I will share that I just had coffee with a friend of mine, Cory, out the street, a neighbor, good buddy. And he's like, "Oh, you record a podcast today. Who are you recording?" And I was explaining your background and credentials. And I found the way I described you was long, detailed, seemingly mercurial, and yet you have a plan. And so, for the people who may be new to you or your work, why don't you orient us in space, about what you care about, what your areas of interest and focus are right now? And that will be I think a good place to set the table for I'd like to take the conversation today.
Tom Bilyeu: I love it. Alright, so by way of quick nutshell, I think it's important understand my background. So, I go to film school. I know that I want to be in film from the time I'm 12 years old and just could not figure out how to get into the industry. So, that ends up sending me into business where it was like I need to control my destiny financially, and actually did end up getting good at business, built a very successful company called Quest, exit that for a billion dollars, and decided to take that to build the studio. Now when I started in filmmaking, there was no why. It was just other than I loved it, right. I love the art of storytelling. The more I learned about the magic trick behind the scenes, I was more intrigued, not less. So, just really drew me in.
Tom Bilyeu: And as a creator, and I'm sure you get this, I don't know how non-artists will take this, but there's nothing quite as cool as creating something that gives you the chills. So, you're both the creator and the recipient of that moment. And so, that is really special. So, that's kept me intrigued for a long time, but in building businesses and I bid brothers for a kid in South Central LA for eight and a half years. So, between that and then having about 1,000 employees, I grew up hard, hard, hard, here in Southern California in the same way that the kid that at Big Brother for did.
Tom Bilyeu: I began to realize intelligence is evenly distributed, but frame of reference is enough and your frame of reference, meaning just the way you see the world, the things that you believe about yourself, about the world, they control more than people realize. If you've ever had a conversation with somebody, and you're like, "How do you not understand what I'm saying?" That is frame of reference, where they have different base assumptions in you. And therefore, they see different things. So, through this whole process, I've become obsessed with this idea of growth mindset, how useful it is, and how if we could get more people to have a growth mindset, you might actually be able to help people with the ravage that is poverty.
Tom Bilyeu: And so, I first just tried to teach, hey, here's everything I've learned, as somebody I didn't grow up with money. I didn't grow up poor, I have since realized that, but I didn't grow up with money. And in becoming an entrepreneur and learning all of that, what you're really learning is problem solving. And problem solving is incredibly useful, no matter what you're trying to do with your life. And so, I was just trying to teach, here's how you problem solve. And 2% of the people that encountered the ideas have changed their life forever and it's still amazing to get calls and texts about how this impacted them. But 98% did nothing with the information.
Tom Bilyeu: And so, my wife and I just started asking no bullshit, "What would it take to get these ideas across to people in the 98%?" And the more I studied human psychology, brain development, the more I centered around this idea of 11 to 15 year olds. It's known as the age of imprinting. I think it's the moment where we can really have profound impact. And when you think about the stories and things that really become a part of you, the bands, even the friends, they're usually something you encountered in that age. You're just open to it. And so, we pivoted and just started putting all of our energy into that. That gave birth to Impact Theory.
Tom Bilyeu: And now, when you're thinking about 11 to 15 year olds, you start having to ask the question, "How do I entertain them first?" Because if I don't entertain them, they are not going to listen to any ideas that are inside of these stories. And if you start going down that road, you really start looking at gaming technology, where's all this going. And somebody six years ago had introduced this idea to me that they called the atoms and he's showing me this. And he was like, there's this thing called the blockchain and this digital thing, it really exists. And because I can prove that you own it, you could give it to somebody else. And now they own it, can be exchanged for goods. I said to him, I remember this, "That's going to change my business forever."
Tom Bilyeu: And then I promptly turned and walked away and didn't think about it again until 2021, because it wasn't there, right? It was so early, and there were nobody using it. And somebody goes to me, "Hey, Tom, you really need to look into this NFT thing." And I had never heard those letters strung together ever before in my life. And I went and looked at it. And I was like, "Oh, my God, this is that the atoms digital scarcity thing." I was like, "I already knew how important it was going to be that once you can make a digital item truly valuable, because I know how many there are and I know who owns them and you know that because there's matrix code inside of the image, right?" Because people always joke like, Oh, I can just right click, save it."
Tom Bilyeu: Yes, that's actually true, but it doesn't have the code inside of it. So, all you right click saved is the image and what really makes it an NFT is that code inside of it. Now, because it's a technology, people don't yet understand all the things that it lets you do.
Tom Bilyeu: But because I had had time to sit with the idea and now saw it coming to fruition, within 72 hours of hearing the letters NFT's strung together for the first time, we allocated millions of dollars in development and just went all in, because it was very clear to me that a generation that grows up playing Roblox, Minecraft, that they're going to have an expectation that they're going to be able to participate in the brands and products that they get behind. And I think people should I stop thinking about NFTs and start thinking about Web 3. Will Web 3 get a different name somewhere down the line? Probably.
Chase Jarvis: Hopefully.
Tom Bilyeu: Yeah, right, not the catchiest thing ever. And certainly, Web 1 and Web 2 did not become the way that we talked about it. So, who knows what will end up being called? But the movement of it all, I think, is profound. I think it will radically shift the companies that grow to prominence. And it will further reinforce the participatory expectations that a generation that grew up where their video game, they could be in it and creating and playing and building, they're just going to have that expectation. And so, it's one of those things where I feel like this evangelical need to convey to people what's happening, because whatever kids... I mean, what's the quote? Demographics are your destiny.
Tom Bilyeu: And if you don't understand how that demographic, how Gen Z has come up, and how they perceive the world going back to that idea of frame of reference, if you don't understand that, then N T's and Web 3 won't make any sense. If you understand that, you understand the human propensity to want to own. I heard this phrase that was like, basically, if you want to raise people out of poverty, you must have highly protected property rights. And so, this is essentially bringing property rights to the virtual world, which now lets people that are going to go and spend their time building and creating in a virtual world anyway. You only need look at the stats on Roblox and Minecraft to know they do it in spades, then it's like, "Okay, you need robust property rights, where I spent all this time building it, and I should be able to capture some of that value."
Chase Jarvis: All right, that was packed.
Tom Bilyeu: Yes, very, very dense with information.
Chase Jarvis: But that's great. That's the goal and the goal of the show. So, I'm going to layer on an editorial layer really quickly for the listeners, what I saw from the outside. You built the company, sold it, leveraged the experience and the resources in doing so towards what you saw as a new frontier. You paved the way in creating. You have historically talked about it being the next Disney, involved in comic books, in educational shows, such as Impact Theory, Impact Theory University, some other work that you've done with your wife, some books.
Chase Jarvis: Congratulations to Lisa on her new book. Essentially, you started framing, you had a media framework. And when the idea that digital ownership was going to be a huge frontier and underpinning of the future of creativity and entrepreneurship on the internet, you went all in. Is that a reasonable editorial layer to place on what you just said?
Tom Bilyeu: Most definitely.
Chase Jarvis: Okay. So, the concept of NFT's, of digital art, and of a way for creators through that matrix code that's embedded in an NFT to have ownership over their digital goods for all future eternity. The cool thing is instead of handing those keys to Instagram, Facebook, all of the other legacy Web 2, Web 1 media orientation, now, we have an opportunity to be in the driver's seat. So, if you're evangelizing, you're saying, "Get on the goddamn bus, because there is a huge opportunity here. You don't want to miss the bus. This is happening. It's not if it's going to happen. It's happening." It's happening before our very eyes, and you gave some data points.
Chase Jarvis: So, that's my packaging of your interesting intro salvo. Where I would like us to go now, so people have oriented you in space, tell us or pretend that we're a reasonable lay person audience here and tell us why this matters for creators in a very specific and explicit way. I'm obfuscating around it so that you can hit the ball out of the park here. But why should anyone who is a writer, a creator, an entrepreneur, a disc jockey, a musician, a photographer, a designer, why would you care?
Tom Bilyeu: Okay, so the fundamental question is, "Do we think as we look into the future, that more things will be digital or less things will be digital?" And if the past is any indication of the future, this is a one-way street. And we keep digitizing everything that we can. And I mean, to the point where you can think of AI as digitizing intelligence. And so, whether general AI becomes a thing or not as irrelevant, the world is already way more narrow AI than people realize, really. AI is being used in places you can't imagine. And so, you've got this world that is being increasingly digitized. Now, the question becomes, the missing part of what happened with the internet was there was no digital version of money. So, we had attempts like PayPal.
Tom Bilyeu: We have online banking, which people confuse with a truly digital native layer of commerce. And so, the real problem hadn't been solved. And so, without going into the what is money thing, which is a very fascinating and interesting rabbit hole and for anybody that goes down it, you will be richly rewarded with a deeper understanding of the world, but you don't even need to do that. You just need to understand that money was never turned into a true digital native currency until now. And what that requires was the blockchain, because you had to be able to create what they call hard money. You had to know that there was only going to be so many of them so that if you bought one, one was always going to be one, right? Unlike $1, which actually declines in value over time.
Chase Jarvis: Because they can print more of them.
Tom Bilyeu: Correct.
Chase Jarvis: I'm going to fill in some of the blanks there. Yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: Absolutely. And so, again, I don't want to go too far down the rabbit hole. But the money that we all think of as, "Oh, but I have that much money in the bank," it doesn't work like that. And so, the government can print, print, they're actually just adding zeros to a database, but they can "print" more money whenever they want. And the only way to do that or I should say, the effect of that is the value of all that's out there comes down by roughly the amount that you're injecting into it. It's not exactly one for one, but there's a knock on effect. And so, everybody's heard of it. It's called inflation. Okay. So, what the blockchain does is it allows you to create a hard money, money that doesn't inflate.
Tom Bilyeu: And that technology behind it that tracks that so you can know that there are only this many made and they are belong or they are owned by these people, technically, wallet addresses, but you know who owns it and you know how many there are. It's very simple. Okay, that technology lets you add value to basically anything. So, that's digital. So, if you're trying to make it digital, the key to making it valuable is making it limited in quantity, so that we understand who owns what. Now, the initial pushback that people have is, "Okay, that sounds terrible. Because it's digital, why would we impose scarcity upon it?" And the answer is whether or not humans should be the way that they are, they are the way that they are.
Tom Bilyeu: And so, deal with the world the way that it is, not the way you wish it would be. And so, you need only look at digital artists and digital artists. I've been collecting pins on Pinterest for 10 years, however long it's been out. I discovered that very early. I've thousands of pins that I've collected. And those artists did not get anything for that. In fact, those artists probably created almost every one of those images for free or they did it as part of employment at a larger studio. And so, the only way that 3D artists could make money was going to a game studio or a film studio or to work at a company and create marketing assets. That was it. There was no way.
Tom Bilyeu: Unless they were going to go the route of making their work 2D and printing it and selling it that way, that was the only way to make money or you could do Patreon where people donated money, you didn't really have anything you could sell because of the right click save phenomenon, right? And so, once you put it out, it was the same for everybody, the same blockchain technology that allows you to know that money is limited and that it's owned by these people, which is the very thing that gives it value. Okay, we as humans only assign value to whether it's paper currency or whether it's Bitcoin or Aetherium, whatever cryptocurrency, the only way that we will assign a value is if we know going back to this idea of property rights, that I can actually own it, that it's mine.
Tom Bilyeu: It can't be taken away from me, and it can't be taken away from me through inflation or by just somebody being able to right click save it and now it's theirs too, right? So, when that technology came along, now a 3D artist could go, "Wait a second, I can put that matrix code inside of my art. I can leave it 3D. It can even be animated, it could even have music." And now I can say, "Hey, there's only 1,000 of these that will ever exist or there's only one of these that will ever exist." And so now you have a way to sell that in the same way that a traditional artist would be able to sell theirs, but, and here's the important part, it's now to a global audience, because we have digitized the value.
Tom Bilyeu: And when people think about why digitizing the value matters, it matters because you're reaching a global audience, you can have near instantaneous transactions. And so, historically, you would have to walk into a specific gallery in New York, they know that they're building that demand and that awareness, so they're going to take 50%. And they're taking 50% of a very narrow band of humanity that had to walk in. So, what we're seeing now with the explosion of cryptocurrencies, the blockchain, NFTs is that this all goes to a global audience, near instantaneous transactions. Chase, it's like OpenSea alone. On a single day, we'll do $200 million in volume. That's a day and that's day after day after day after day.
Tom Bilyeu: And so, they'll do billions of dollars a month every month. It is so radical and that's just the artwork. And I don't think people understand how transformational that is just to the art world. So, now for instance, me as a company, it's way harder to find artists now, because they're all like, "Well, I can go do my own thing." And so now the trade-off becomes, "Hey, I know how to build audiences." I should say, because in Web 3, let me tell you, there's a massive difference between a community and an audience, which we can do a whole show about that. But I know how to get attention and you create amazing art. I can get this amazing attention for your amazing art. We can do something together.
Tom Bilyeu: But now they're coming to the table as a partner. They're not coming to the table just as collecting a paycheck, some still do. But most, they really are able to step knowing that "Hey, I can build an audience, this is global now. The value has been digitized," and carry that across anything, because not only can you create a piece of art, you can create something that carries utility. And so, this is what we've done at Impact Theory. So, our first drop was something called Impact Theory Founder's Key. And the idea is that the founder's key unlocks all of these things that we're doing in the future, because we'd like to call ourselves the new house of ideas. So, we are constantly developing intellectual property. And through that development process, we create things.
Tom Bilyeu: Sometimes it's NFT's, sometimes it's an NFT integration. But there are ways for the people to hold the keys to get access to that, something special about that, early access, free access, exclusive access, discounts, that stuff. And so, for a select number of people in the world, that is very valuable. And so, they have paid to get those keys so that they can get the different kinds of access that they get. And that is but one way that people are doing this. And when you begin to look at all of the different ways like take ticketing or even music royalties, so there's a company called Royal and their whole concept is to allow you as a tastemaker to go find somebody who is an up and coming musician. I think about this a lot.
Tom Bilyeu: So, I grew up right up the road from a little place called Aberdeen, Washington. And there happens to be a band from this tiny town. If you've ever driven through Aberdeen, you know how small it is.
Chase Jarvis: Always rains.
Tom Bilyeu: Yes, yeah, and it happened to put out a band called Nirvana. And if you had found Nirvana pre-Bleach or even at Bleach and said, "Look, I want to buy one of your NFT's." And if that NFT had had, let's say, royalty rights, where 30% of the royalties of this album or from this band, whatever, are going to go to the holders of this NFT forever in perpetuity, you see how now somebody who either they were going to become an A&R man for a bigger studio, maybe launch their own small record imprint, but now they can go back for a relatively small amount of money, especially in the early days, 20 bands, 50 bands, help put them on because they're known as a tastemaker, right?
Tom Bilyeu: They're leveraging their TikTok account to show people they know what's hot. And they're buying the NFT's of these bands. I think that the Web 3 revolution is going to bring back a thriving middle class, because you're going to give away for these tastemakers, people that know how to get attention, but don't necessarily want to scale a big business. They just know good when they see it and can help bring it to other people. They're going to be able to capture some of that value.
Chase Jarvis: So, I'm going to put some glue. I'm going to try and do the same thing I did with your intro. What Tom is saying to the listeners and watchers is if you are an artist, you will now have the ability to transact free of all of the other influences that historically governed you. You used the example of the art gallery. If you're a band, you can directly create your own NFT, standing for non-fungible token that has a certain value. You buy that value. And if you can help make the new Nirvana more popular over time, essentially, you have a little piece of stock in that band and that would be worth if you bought-
Tom Bilyeu: The SEC would never let you call that a stock. Let's be very clear.
Chase Jarvis: To be crystal clear.
Tom Bilyeu: You would have a collectible that would give you certain utility.
Chase Jarvis: The utility can be bought and sold on the blockchain using cryptocurrencies. And ultimately, what we're seeing is the issuing of the gate holders the opportunity to use your influence in a way that is monetizable and a future that is radically decentralized. So, if you're an artist right now of any site, any type or you're a creator, entrepreneur, whatever your identifier terms are, what Tom is evangelizing is that you figure this out and these terms are not new. You see them in pop culture, words like cryptocurrency, NFT. And I'm reason I'm being so simple here is because this is something I've been interested in for a number of years.
Chase Jarvis: Tom, I wanted you on the show, because I think you are, among my circle of friends, being perhaps the most aggressive, doing it in a way that is very comprehensive. You have, again, your founder keys, the access, that owning one of those tokens provides to current and future endeavors. It's a very holistic. You've got a roadmap that you've published. The ask here of the community is that you start to pay very close attention, because this is where the future of opportunity lies for creators and entrepreneurs on the internet. So, with the table now officially set, let's go one level deeper on what you personally are doing, because I think it helps demonstrate. We want concrete examples. So, I, Chase, purchased a token, founders key.
Chase Jarvis: For one E, which is I don't know what it's trading at today, but whatever some amount of money that you, Tom, the seller sets when you meant them, I buy that. I can also buy that on a secondary market somewhere, because someone bought it from Tom six months ago. Now, I can go try and buy it from them on the open market, which is an OpenSea, S-E-A. It's a good place to go there. But again, I'm trying to be relatively simplistic here. I buy this from you, and you have given me basically a set of opportunities. So, take it from here and explain with pedantic simplicity, what that gets the person, what that gets the buyer in your world, in the Impact Theory world.
Tom Bilyeu: Absolutely. So, in our world, it's going to get you a lot of different things. So, we have three tiers. To keep it simple, I'm just going to talk about the top tier, which is our legendary key because it has everything. So, the other two tiers just get some portion of what I'm going to describe. So, the big thing is as the new house of ideas, we're constantly creating this IP. The big thing in the NFT space is access to like a whitelist for instance. So, on a popular project, it can be very difficult to get in. And if you can get in at the Mint, which is what you're talking about where you buy directly from the creator, the prices are set, predetermined, you know what they are. And oftentimes, they're lower than they're going to be later. Now, not always.
Tom Bilyeu: Sometimes the price goes down. Sometimes it goes up. Sometimes it vacillates. So, that's why I'm always encouraging people to... I don't think of an NFT as a financial instrument. Some people do, there's a ton of trader energy there. They do this like they would with baseball cards or whatever. It isn't about keeping and holding and showing your friends. For them, it's about seeing an opportunity, buying low, selling high. Now, when I looked at that, it just became self-evident to me that on a long enough timeline, somebody has to want to hold it. Otherwise, you're hoping to get out at the right time and then somebody ends up sad with their purchase.
Tom Bilyeu: So, what we're trying to create is something that's growing organically over time based on the things you get to do, because you own this thing. So, the first thing that our community was able to do was get a free mint of our Christmas project called Merry Mods. So, not only were you whitelisted, but you could get it for free. And so, they got in, they decided whether they wanted to get one of these for free or not. They got it. And now that also has utility and opens up all kinds of things that are Christmas related. So, next year, for instance, we'll have an in-real life event. We're going to be doing a table read of the screenplay that we're writing for it right now with the actors. And that's about one of a very detailed map of things that they can do with that. So, that's the Christmas project.
Tom Bilyeu: Now the same people just a couple months later, one, there's a lot of exclusive things that they get access to in the Discord. Yesterday, I had Steve Aoki on. If you were a keyholder, then you had a chance to ask him questions. And then also for keyholders, Steve Aoki's project gave us special privileges. I'm going to take one little detour and we'll get back to the concrete things that it gives you. But for anybody out there that is starting to see what this could be and starting to get excited, there's a sliver of this that is so in plain sight that nobody's talking about it. And I think it's the very thing that we need to center and really talk about. So, there's a lot of interest and hype around decentralization. I think that's important.
Tom Bilyeu: I think that will give rise to a lot of cool things, but that isn't what I think, ultimately is going to be the big thing about what I call Web 3. So, the thing that I think is big is that it creates an incentive for companies to find ever new ways to give you amazing things. And that alignment of selfish desires where the person who owns it wants it to get cooler over time. And then because I want to make sure that I'm adding value to them both in the holding and if they needed to liquidate and get out for whatever change in their own circumstances, that I'm doing the best that I can to make more people want to hold this thing. And so, now, you've got me as a creative, as a storyteller, looking for, "What are all the ways that I can do amazing things?"
Tom Bilyeu: So, I'm reaching out to Steve Aoki and saying, "Hey, I know you're developing something. Would you give special access to our group?" I've got people coming on from World Women. We have not negotiated anything with them to be very clear. But that's the thing where, hey, if we could do something cool with them, the community would love it, they will go crazy. Angry Ape Army, another one. Some of the best creatives in the film and gaming industry have created this project and they gave whitelist access to our community. So, now, a community holder's like, "Wait, you didn't even talk about that on the roadmap. And yet, because I'm looking for constant ways to add more value, it's like, oh, there's another thing, there's another thing."
Tom Bilyeu: And so, your life becomes that eternal Steve Jobs, but wait, there's more. It's like one more thing. And so, that is creating this really cool energy with creatives that have all these big ideas and they just want to keep finding cool ways. Okay, so that sets the stage for this next thing that holders of our keys get, which is ours actually look like high tech keys, but they look like a key that you would use to open your hotel door, right? It's like a card. And nobody wants to use that as their profile picture on Twitter or wherever, but that's like a big use case for a lot of these is to say, "I'm a part of this club." So, when we announced, we said, "Okay, guys, part of the roadmap is the creation of the avatar project."
Tom Bilyeu: And as I started thinking about, "How do we really make this cool?", it has ballooned and ballooned and ballooned into this technological extravaganza. And so, what I realized, probably 10 months ago, when I decided that we were really going to go hard on the blockchain and Web 3 technology is that we're really becoming an entertainment and technology company. And so, as I think about entertainment, as I think about Gen Z, I'm thinking about how they are entertained with things that are necessarily technological in nature. So, whether that's a video game, right, which is necessarily technological, whether it's AR/VR, and the just crazy new storytelling experiences that that opens up.
Tom Bilyeu: So, people will be able to be a part of this avatar project. They'll be able to get special privileges. We're launching some platforms down the road. There'll be special things that they'll get because they're keyholders as it relates to those. And so, it really is you create this really finite number of items, right? So, for us, there's only 15,000 and that's it. We're never going to make more. And so, Chase, when I say I am pouring my heart and soul into this, it occupies like everything that we do now, whether it's Impact Theory University, which is another thing, you get free access to Impact Theory University. Again, this is all for that top tier key. Everything that we do at Impact Theory is tied into that. Lisa's book is tied into our NFT strategy.
Tom Bilyeu: And I was talking to Steve Aoki about this yesterday, and we had not talked about this particular part of it but that was the exact thing that he said. He said, "My entire life, all of the things that I'm doing are now rolled up through what we're doing in the NFT's." And that's why I say this, this one key part where you've got really creative people who now have a technology that allows them to see this person is for real. They're really engaged. They hold one of my keys. I know they do, I can prove it. It's not a counterfeit. It's not a photocopy of a ticket stub. This is really something where I know the exact ways you've interacted with me, I know what you hold, and the technology allows me to go, "Based on what's in your wallet, I can give you different things."
Tom Bilyeu: Because I remember back at Quest, we used to ask all the time, we've got these diehard loyal fans and I want to do something rad for them. But every time you tried to think through it, you could see the 72 ways it can be gained and the one way where the person had to be completely honest, and all that, and it would work. And so, they just never work. You can't make them work financially because people game it. The blockchain removes that. And it's really cool, because for instance, we put out founder's keys. We've put out the Merry Mods drop.
Tom Bilyeu: And we also have these things called POAPs, which stands for Proof of Attendance Protocol, so it means you were there. So, let's say that back in the day when you were doing your Chase Jarvis Live, that people could come in and actually get something saying they were there. And then you could say, "Anybody that's been to three of them over the last quarter or last year, whatever." And you give them a one of... Let's say, I don't know how many people that would be. ... 350, you give them a 1 of 350 original photograph and that's it. There's only 350 of them ever. Dude, people wonder if photos on the blockchain have value, there are photos on the blockchain selling for hundreds of thousands and in some cases, millions of dollars. It's insane.
Tom Bilyeu: There was pent up desire and appetite, but there was no way to get that global marketplace, so that people could really see what's out there and pick the ones that speak to them. So, that's been a taste. And obviously, we'll keep developing for it as we go.
Chase Jarvis: So, it's important. I think there's a distinction. We are talking about NFT's on a continuum here, and I would put Tom at the far right, off the charts.
Tom Bilyeu: Far right is bad words these days. I'm far too a side.
Chase Jarvis: How about you are in deep? But the opportunity to get involved does not require that you have a 20-year roadmap, a media company that seeks to be the next Disney, and a technology underpinning to that company that is planning to do this till the end of days. At the other end of the spectrum is as Tom mentioned, you are a artist and you are interested in selling 150 or 100, just for round numbers, one of your favorite pictures you've ever taken. You can put that on the internet and people like Tom and myself, and the 286 followers on Twitter and your mom and five and other people can attempt to buy this from you. And you've decided you're going to mint 100 of them. There will only be 100.
Chase Jarvis: And now you can both reap the benefit of selling that digital item. And interestingly, you can write into the contract for the sale of that item that you will receive 10% of every time someone sells that in the future. So, your Uncle Larry buys one of your favorite photographs digitally. He has number 1 of 100. In six months, Larry hits a hard patch. And he said, "I need to sell some things. I'm going through a tough time." And he goes and sells that on OpenSea. And he bought it from you for $1,000. And it's been a couple of years, so now it's worth $3,000, because there's a limited amount of those out in the world.
Chase Jarvis: In addition to the $1,000 you got on day one, you got yourself 10% of Larry selling it to someone else for $3,000. And here's the kicker, that is forever. So, in 50 years, in 500 years, if that continues to sell, you will through the blockchain be paid in cryptocurrency into your wallet for that transaction forever. Now, if you are familiar with something called stock photography or if you are trading your time for money, this ought to be really, really interesting, because now again, this buy and flip, that is an aspect of this that I don't think we want to get into but the concept that you are tied as the creator of this authentically and unambiguously that you have an opportunity to earn money off of the digital goods that you produce. That should be very, very interesting to you.
Chase Jarvis: At the most fundamental simple way, you can sell one photograph 100 versions of it and monetize that part of your artistic energy, all the way up to what Tom's doing, building companies that is meant to last hundreds of years, that and everything in between. And you're not just selling a photograph. You can sell access to the minting of your next photograph. You can sell access to an in-person event that you're going to have in Downtown Denver. You're going to have a meetup. And if you own one of my photographs, you can show up. So, what Tom just spent 10 minutes talking about, and at the other end of the spectrum, you have independent artists selling your photography. Describe the size of the volume of opportunity between those two, Tom.
Tom Bilyeu: It is almost too big to imagine.
Chase Jarvis: So, yeah, this is the point that I'm trying to make. It's crazy. Whatever you can make up, you're providing access to the next art project that you did. And then you can attend the thing in person and it's literally infinity. So, this is another layer of creativity. Is it not?
Tom Bilyeu: In ways big and small. So, remember, this is a technology. Now, people get ridiculed for saying that, but it's like one of those cliches that becomes a cliche, because it's true and it's like once people understand. So, I have a core belief that people should not think about things. They should think about the nature of things. So, don't think about the blockchain or NFT's. Think about the nature of that. What is that? What is like the base level that you can boil that down to in terms of how the technology works, so that you know how you can leverage it, right? So, I didn't get to the idea of the founder's key because somebody gave me that idea or did it before me. It was really quite out of the box when we did it.
Tom Bilyeu: It was because I understood what the technology did, which was allow me to know exactly who owns this thing. And that when I know who you are, now I can give only you special things. We have an ad free content feed for holders of our keys. Okay, I wouldn't be able to offer that just to be nice to other people or to even people that really delivered a lot of value to the Impact Theory community. Because the second they get that link, they can just send it out. So, I need the technology that checks our wallet and says, "Yes, they have a valid version of this, therefore show them the content." And that layer is where creatives need to be focused, is understanding, "Okay, wait, I can do really creative things." For instance, there have been artists.
Tom Bilyeu: There's a guy named Matt Doug Jones, and he created this replicator. And I don't know the mechanics of it perfectly well, so I'll give you the gist and then people can go look it up. But it was like every day for a certain period of time, it was like printing out a new copy of that painting. So, there was one, but then the copy machine would spit out another and now there are two. And then it would spit out another and now there are three. And I think that the art actually either changed or degraded over time as if it were really being photocopied by a copy machine. And so, they're just really clever ways. There are other people doing things where over time, things will merge together. So, let's say that if you buy five over time, they morph into something else.
Tom Bilyeu: Or we're doing something, this is actually really fun. So, Merry Mods has characters, characters that you get to know and love. One of those characters is a Christmas tree that's like a dog and really fun, playful personality. Again, this is for keyholders and we created this decorating experience. And we got all these photos of families sitting down together and decorating a virtual tree was so fun. And you can make the ornaments as big as you want, as small as you want, put as many as you want. Put them in the air around the tree. They didn't have to hang on the tree. And so, people created all these incredible things. And we said, "Okay, just so you guys know, next year, 2022, so as we're recording this, is the year of the villain."
Tom Bilyeu: And there's going to be an experience. So, when we did the initial launch of the characters, we only gave you the five good guys basically. And so, now in year two, we're going to mint the bad guys. And the only way to get the main bad guy named Krampus is to burn Bark, the Christmas tree. And so, you have to burn three Barks in order to get and the only way to get a Bark was to have a Merry Mod. So, for every three Merry Mods that you had, if you went and decorated all three, you can now burn three of those to get a Krampus. And so, how many people will be willing to do it though? Your kid decorated it, you did it together. Of course, we'll have this whole visual storytelling bit of like, "Hey, are you really going to do this?"
Tom Bilyeu: And so, we know that some people will because it's the only way to get a hold of Krampus. I mean, you can see how excited I am to create these moments for people. And that's the creativity that this unlocks. So, it isn't even just the initial moment of art. It's like all the things that technology allows you to do. And because of the blockchain, you can create these limitations. I mean, there's so many cool and fun things coming out that are actually facilitated by the underlying technology.
Chase Jarvis: That's the point, I think, of the tool, right? The tool is a tool. And now it's what you do with that tool that is not only providing value, but it's potentially a differentiator, because that structure that you just articulated, where you have to burn three of these to get one of these, how many people are going to take you up on that? You don't know. There's a certain mystery about it. And what you just described, if you said, "Hey, NFT virgin, go think of what you can do with these things." That's not even going to be like in the 101st ideas, but it's in your brain in a very unique way, because you have a structure. And to me, that is a layer of creativity that transcends the photography itself. I think that's interesting, the design itself.
Chase Jarvis: There is the thing that you're putting out in the world, and then how it manifests what utilities that comes along with, and that is all up to you. Now, if you're sitting here and this is your first real exposure to this material, you're overwhelmed as fuck right now. Can you imagine, right? You're just like, "I don't even know where to start." So, the goal here isn't to swamp our listeners. And for many of you, you can be doing surgery right now and this is just going on in the background, because you know all these terms and it's new and interesting. One term that I don't want to leave behind that you and I throw around freely is Web 3. And so, why don't you for the sake of our audience, articulate very briefly what Web 3 means and feel free, if you will, to juxtapose it to Web 1 and 2?
Tom Bilyeu: I think that's really the only way to explain it is to give one, two, and three. So, Web 1 was read only. So, you went to a webpage and there was content. You could read it. Web 2, social media was read and write. So, you would go to Facebook and you could read stuff, but you can also publish your own stuff right there on the site. Web 3 is the ability to have ownership and participation. And so, the ownership is being able to buy that collectible that unlocks things or gets you access. And the participation could be, I mean, almost anything. So, it could be in the Discord, there are things for you to do. So, on our keys, there are 50 symbols. And we did this whole big thing contest around identifying what each of the symbols meant. And so, it could be that.
Tom Bilyeu: It could be the burn event that I'm talking about, where you take three of your barks and you burn them, which means to destroy them. And they really are destroyed forever, they are gone. And from that, you get this Krampus. It could be something like that. It could be actual creation of story. Some people let their community actually tell the story.
Tom Bilyeu: So, that is going to be a key component of this. And as we build out the avatar project and this is what they call Alpha, for anybody listening. So, one of the things, this is deeper, this won't be phase one or phase two. But in the avatar project, people are going to be able to create more than I think they're expecting. So, it's ownership and participation. That level of engagement that you would expect from something like Roblox or Minecraft, that's Web 3.
Chase Jarvis: So, we've covered a lot of ground for people who this is new. And as I shared with you on... I don't remember if we had recorded yet, but one of the reasons that I want you on the show is because you're doing aggressive, bold things and you're articulate. And you have the art brain and the technology brain. And so, I want to thank you for providing this backdrop. I want to share also, this is something I'm personally very interested in and since I saw the technology I've been watching. I would call it hiding a little bit. And we're going to be talking a lot more about this in this community.
Chase Jarvis: So, given the ground that we have covered so far in our conversation today, what are some key elements that are missing? Again, we're looking at this as a 1.0? We're sophomores here. Let's try and pave the way for some people to understand the next level. What are we ignoring? What hasn't been a part of our conversation? We hit a couple of the, "What's an NFT? What's crypto?" We've got some of the major definitions on the table, but what would you impart other key aspects of the aperture of what we're talking about here?
Tom Bilyeu: One, I think it's really important to be cognizant that the price of an NFT could go to zero. And I think it is very dangerous for people to treat this like a store of wealth or anything like that, which some people do. I don't know of many asset classes that are as high risk as NFT's. So, I look at them very differently. So, if you look at my wallet and the ones that I hold, I've sold maybe 3 or 4% of what I've bought. Everything else I just hold, and it's like cool. The ones that end up being amazing, phenomenal, I assume that 99% of them are going to go to zero. And so, I better like the NFT itself, right? I better be interested to go on that ride. And that to me, if you think of it that way, you will be A okay.
Tom Bilyeu: But if you go into this thinking, "Oh, my God, I'm going to get rich," and it's tempting man, there are some crazy stories about people making some real money. But even guys that I know where they think about this around the clock, if you're treating it like trading, you need to think of it like day trading stocks, which is you're basically going to lose money, right? All of the biggest baddest traders will tell you, "You're going up against me, and I'm using hundreds or thousands of people and a lot of AI." So in like millisecond transactions, you are way better off going into an ETF or something that isn't actively traded and just let it accrue value over time. So, I would be very thoughtful about that. Another thing is right now, there's a real division in society.
Tom Bilyeu: And some people are just way into the blockchain and what it does and how it empowers creatives and the underlying technology and all the things that it's going to bring to people from money that can't be inflated away that you really own and control, to being able to have these incredible experiences from an artist like yourself, hopefully, you'll do this one day, where they can own your photography and be a part of your community. And that community, that is I think most important thing to point out about this is in Web 3, Web 2 was about audiences. I was putting out content, people were commenting, but I was just putting out the content.
Tom Bilyeu: Now I spent four and five hours a week every week in active dialogue with my community and finding out the things they like, they don't like. And look, I don't just steer by the whims of the crowd. First of all, people are buying and selling the keys every day. So, it's this constantly changing thing. But even the core that are staying, you have to have a vision, you have to be willing to see it through or let me say this, there will be two types at least of projects, ones where decentralization is the reason for existing. And then there will be others where it's about having collaborators that are in there, they're helping you, they're deeply engaged. You're giving them early information, you're giving them access that a traditional company never would have given.
Tom Bilyeu: But it's about look, this is the vision and I'm keeping everybody involved in where we're going, but this would not be benefited by having a bunch of cooks in the kitchen. And so, understanding though the power of getting your audience's selfish desires aligned with where you're trying to go to engage them much more deeply than you ever would have thought in Web 2 and creating ways for them to interact with the, in our case, IP, right? So that they're actually interacting with the stories and things like that. And so, if people come in with that and one more understanding because the division is caused... I mean, there's the cliche of first they ignore you, then they violently oppose you, and then they accept you as self-evident.
Tom Bilyeu: And so, NFT's are going through that phase right now, where some people are just all in and we're all looking at this. Guys, just look at the math. The amount of money, time, and energy that's pouring into this space is insane. I've never seen anything like it. For people that were really into the Internet back in the mid to late 90s, they're all like, "This is exactly what that was." And so, for people to be early to the revolution, I think is amazing. And not as a way to make a ton of money though. Certainly, that is possible, but to create and to build. And so, this is where the cultural energy is going. And if you are a creator of any kind, your job is to speak in a language that people can understand.
Tom Bilyeu: And the greatest indication of what they understand is where the cultural energy is flowing. And so, it makes me very sad to know that people are trying to fight something that is truly inevitable.
Chase Jarvis: There's a lens that we can see for creators. It's obvious like, "Okay, cool. I can do my own projects," in the way that we've articulated, you're doing it. Samantha, the photographer, could do it, there's any number of people could do it. Let's flip the orientation for a moment and think about it as a member of the community. Because I think that the pandemic has reminded us that we are social creatures. We talked about it earlier, it'd be great if we were in person right now. There's plenty of things that we're happy to not do them in person now, whether that's school for some people, work for other people, whatever. But at our core, we're social animals. And this idea of buying an NFT to support another artist.
Chase Jarvis: You used to go buy their album at Tower Records or whatever, rent their movie at Blockbuster Video. And now, in order to support an artist, an NFT-oriented artists that not only do you get the music, but you get so much more. And what's I think the most important and often unsaid piece because there's a transactional layer that the media is obsessed with right now is that you're actually in participating in that community providing lift, and the lift is saying, "I support this, it's in my wallet." Other people can see that you support it.
Chase Jarvis: And if you've ever wanted to make an impact on an author for their book or a musician for their music, and if you can participate in their NFT community, again, understanding that some of these things will not maintain or increase in value over time. But that is an incredible vote, it is an incredible way to support an artist. And you've just outlined all the things that you're doing. And not everyone has that plan. But knowing that you're voting with more than just buying the music, you're becoming a piece of the community, you're going to get access, whatever the conditions of utilities around the NFT's of these artists that you're supporting.
Chase Jarvis: I just think that is a really interesting way. It's not just about making your own projects and putting them out in the world. It is creative to potentially participate in growing something. This is how a large piece of the future of fundraising and building companies will be by through an NFT vehicle to support and grow the next generation of Impact Theory, for example. So, I'm hoping that you can comment on not just the creator putting art out in the world, but the community member who's looking to essentially vote and support and help provide lift for the artists that they care about. Talk to me about that.
Tom Bilyeu: I will be a little cagey right now because we are developing something that is so perfectly the example to what you're talking about. Here's the abstract of it. There's a thing called signaling, right? So, we'd like to signal both to others and to ourselves, what we're into, what we're about. In fact, right now, I am using a shirt that signals one of the NFT projects that I'm a part of called the Board APR Club. And there's something really profoundly interesting... I think that when people take a cynical view of what consumerism is, they come away with, "Oh, we've been brainwashed to buy things and all that." It's not true. What ends up happening is inside of us, there is this affinity neuron.
Tom Bilyeu: When something resonates with us, we want to connect to it in a more deep way. And because money has value, one of the ways that we connect with it is to give this hard earned money, to get that thing of value or time, right? I went to the concert, and I got this thing. And that matters to us. Imagine I didn't have my own YouTube show. The only way for people to see the figurines behind me that really means something to me is if they happened to come to my house, right? So, it is going to be some tiny number of people measured in the hundreds I would imagine or less. And now as we go virtual, the ability to express yourself, to signal to the world, to say what you're into that millions of people have seen those figurines behind me because I live a largely digital life.
Tom Bilyeu: Now, when it becomes just standard, everybody has a wallet. Let's say that I'm researching you for an interview, I'm going to go check out your wallet. I want to see what have you collected what matters to you. And that information and it's getting more and more interesting in terms of the way people let it be displayed and all of that. It's really incredible. It's going to be this way that we communicate with each other. Chase, I really want to tell you about the thing that we're making, because then you're going to be like, "Oh, my God." You're going to understand that the technology lets you bring a deeper layer.
Tom Bilyeu: It isn't just going to be that you will see my figurines, there will be other elements. I will leave it at that. But dude, I'm telling you, I have the chills right now. For creators, this is unlike anything that I've ever seen in my life. And it allows you to deepen the experience. I'm going to give you a terrible idea that I think you should do right now immediately. So, go take one of the mountains. In fact, I think you've talked about this publicly. Oh, God, forgive me if you haven't. But there was a mountain on which you almost got caught in...
Chase Jarvis: I did get cut. Yeah. Yeah.
Tom Bilyeu: So, I wasn't sure how much you talked about it. So, I was trying to skirt. So, it almost ended your life.
Chase Jarvis: Yes.
Tom Bilyeu: So now, if I may Chase Jarvis fan, I would kill to see that image of that slope taken at different times of the year and that it changes based on the weather. So, you would go take 20 photos of that throughout the year, create an NFT, I would get a digital frame and put it on my wall. And now based on the time of year and the weather and maybe even the time of day, that image changes. And on the day that that avalanche happened, in the photo, we see an animation of an avalanche.
Tom Bilyeu: Now, I just feel like connected. And that is like the really dumb, basic, simple idea. If you really spend some time thinking about all the different ways that you can create an experience that made people want to connect more deeply to you or to nature or to whatever, there are all kinds of amazing things. Like for instance, let's say you did some sports photography of somebody snowboarding and that person is in a competition. And every time they land on the podium for the whole day, fireworks go off in the image or it's raining confetti or whatever. This is all doable.
Tom Bilyeu: And it's these things called Oracle's which are a thing that ties into the blockchain that looks at the real world and says, "I can prove that this happen," puts it to the blockchain. The blockchain then would update and say I know this to be true about the real world, and your image will change to reflect it. So, so much stuff, yeah, so much stuff.
Chase Jarvis: Alright, so I really could talk to you about this for the next six hours. And what I've hoped to have accomplished here is to both help the people who listen and watch the show, become more aware of what I think is the incredible work that you're doing and congratulations. It's obviously nonlinear, right? You get two steps forward, one step back. You're learning, evolving, growing, but congratulations on being so bullish and also being an evangelist for the technology, whatnot.
Chase Jarvis: We have trotted out a handful of the basic terms. We've, I think, given folks just your energy and the vitality that you have when you speak about it is obviously infectious. So, thank you for all of that. I would at this point like to say, just give us the basics, spend 45 seconds telling us where to go to get other information about this if this has been intriguing for people. What are some names that you like, some folks you're doing interesting things? Just give us literally five. Don't go into great detail. Just give us a primer of where to go.
Tom Bilyeu: Perfect. Okay, so to learn about cryptocurrency, you want Michael Sailor, Robert Breedlove, and Raoul Paul, all findable on Twitter and YouTube. To learn more about the world of NFT's, we've actually created tutorials for people. Go to founderskey.io, just scroll to the bottom of the page. We have like these onboarding videos that are like, "What's a wallet? How do you set up your wallet? How do you avoid scams?" That stuff, really 101 stuff that I think people will find incredibly valuable. That's where I would start. That will give you a really wonderful framework for what's going on. Bankless is another really great podcast. I think those guys are very thoughtful. Yeah, that's where it starts.
Chase Jarvis: Awesome, so grateful. This is a close to feel like we're sitting at the table at the lounge chairs. We just did our last show in your place. I wish we were together in real life. Congrats on all you've got going. It's super fun to watch. And clearly, I will be participating. Thanks so much for being on the show for letting us know. And then of course, you're steering people to founders key, Impact Theory you're still doing on a regular basis. Anywhere else you'd steer people on the internet?
Tom Bilyeu: On my site, @Tom Bilyeu everywhere.
Chase Jarvis: That's B-I-L-Y-E-U in case you're trying to spell that. Awesome. And thank you so much for being on the show. This is scratching the surface. Please pay attention to Tom and his work. You all will not be disappointed. Thanks again, bud. Appreciate you.
Tom Bilyeu: Thanks for having me, man.
Chase Jarvis: All right, until next time, everybody out there and the internet and you as well Tom, I bid you all adieu.
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