On this Episode of Probably Nothing TZ and Alexis Ohanian chat with Keith Grossman, President of Time magazine. You'll hear Keith discuss his journey into the NFT space and how he views web3 as part of a plan to ensure Time is relevant for the next 100 years.
Links Mentioned in this Episode
What is Probably Nothing?
Probably Nothing is always something when it comes to NFTs. Alexis Ohanian, Founder and Former Executive Chairman of Reddit and Founder of VC firm Seven Seven Six, and Tiffany Zhong, Founder and CEO of Islands, join forces to create the one-stop podcast for NFT news, deep dives, and interviews. Expect many interviews with up and coming industry experts from NFT creators to community leaders to guild founders and much more. If you want to get into the NFT world and not get left behind, this podcast is for you.
Keith: I think this is a really important podcast.
I actually think this is the single most important podcast in the space for education.
I'm Keith Grossman.
I am the president of TIME.
Tiffany: We're excited to have Keith on our podcast and episode number three.
Keith: How are you?
Are you back home?
Alexis: I am.
I was on dad duty.
Busy house these days had to leave early.
Keith: How is Olympia?
Alexis: She's doing well.
She should be napping right now.
Tiffany: Is she going to make a cameo one of these days or what?
Alexis: She will.
This is- you all haven't even seen the like hardcore set up I have back in Florida, but, she'll stumble through.
She helps me with all of my NFT investments.
Keith: Hold on.
You and I had this conversation I think on Twitter.
Ellie, my daughter who's turning eight-
She helps you.
Keith: She literally walked in one day and I had OpenSea up and I had the Cool Cats up and she's like, "I love those!"
And then I'm like, "What do you love about them?"
And she's like, "They're just so cute."
And then all of a sudden in my mind like it went, "Wow, there's going to be so much great IP that comes out of this NFT space, like no other."
And it's like you see it and then all of a sudden I'm like, "What do you think of these?"
And I open up the Robotos and she's like, "I love those."
And then all of a sudden I'm like, "What do you love about them?"
And she's like, "It reminds me of math."
And it's like- and science and so I'm like, "Oh my God."
I started thinking about this and it's really incredible when you start to see it.
And that was actually like one of the big impetuses of it, because I was like, "Huh."
Like, there's an NFT play that Time could do with the Cool Cats, which we ultimately did.
But, then there's a bigger IP play that we could do with them as it relates to TIME Studios and TIME for Kids.
And, I just look at this space- And then you look at Aku, right?
And like Micah Johnson.
And you're just like, wow, like this is transformative in terms of the ability to get great content out.
You know, community endorsed content from the get-go.
Alexis: And it's wild because it is de-risked in that you already have this community of people who are interested.
To your point, right?
But then the community also has a stake in it.
The community actually is doubly incentivized to see it be successful not just because it feels good or because they like it, but because they actually own a portion of it, right.
That is meaningful.
And we've seen that psychology work.
My entire NFT NYC talk was, these are all the same feelings of Reddit.
And I see we cross paths there, Keith, and It's all the same feelings except the best tools I had back then in 2005 were lessons.
I learned running a phpBB forum through high school and college.
Tiffany: Thats like before my time, I don't even know what the words you just said were Alexis...
Alexis: Message board software.
That is humbling.
But it was just a janky message board that I ran and I saw the power of community between the strangers to talk about news and what was going on.
But then in designing everything from like the upvotes and the down votes to karma score.
And then I was inspired by Goldeneye the N64 game for the awards at the end of every match, and that's how I came up with the daily awards on Reddit.
And all those internet points were enough to convince people, to create something that now has, you know, billions of dollars of value in hundreds of millions of users in addition to community.
But now with web three, we know the community thing is a given everyone now knows you can build these things online at scale.
But now there's ownership.
And so those internet points are really real!
And that will change everything.
Keith: First off, Tiffany, since you're like, I'm not going there.
I don't know what you're talking about, Alexis.
Like, have you ever watched Alexis's Ted talk?
Keith: Yeah, Mr.
Have you ever seen Mr.
Alexis: Tiffany is too cool to watch Ted talks.
I watch TikToks, not Ted talks.
Keith: Tiffany, if you promise me one thing, this is this right?
I've made people watch this one a hundred times over in every place I've been at Wired, at Bloomberg at TIME.
And like, it's a very simple story.
Alexis keep me sort of kosher on this one.
Like, Greepeace came out and they did a vote on how they were going to sort of preserve whaling in Japan and like help the whales in Japan.
And they put out these like four names.
One was like this beautiful name that translated to like harmony.
And one was this like, incredible name that translated to like peace.
One was beautifully thought out named that translated to like tranquility.
And then like one was Mr.
And the internet voted for Mr.
Tiffany: Of course.
Keith: But Greenpeace wasn't ready for it.
And so they said, you know what we are going to do, we're going to extend the voting.
And all that did was it got the internet really riled up and like community started to form around the idea of getting Mr.
So they extended it and Mr.
Splashy Pants was even further.
And then all of a sudden Greenpeace was like, we can't do Mr.
Splashy Pants, so Mr.
Splashy Pants became like an angry Mr.
I bring this example up because like Web2- Farrokh Surmont had this great speech and it goes Web2 was platform creator, community.
Web3 is, community creator platform.
And so all of a sudden you see this thing shift, but what you just said to me is like the best, because we are moving from being online renters to online owners.
And that transition is the biggest tectonic shift you can even wrap your head around because when you own something, you have a vested interest in it.
It's a badge, right?
Becomes an asset of yours that you want to start to promote it.
Lift it at a level that is so genuine to who you are, right, as a person.
And then add that in to how human behavior acts and you all of a sudden are going to see, I think more Web3 companies over the next few years buy Web2 companies, right?
Tiffany: Of course.
Web3 companies are going to buy Web2 companies and Web3 companies are going to buy other Web3 companies.
That's what we're going to see.
Keith: I didn't realize this but look at my mug.
Tiffany: Its so cute.
Is that your Cool Cat?
Keith: No, so a really dear friend of mine Amir Soleymani, who goes by mondoir has what's called the NFT Guild.
This is his Cool Cat.
It's his colors, and it's a disguise NFT Guild member.
I normally have my TIME mug.
I normally have everything else, but this is how it's actually penetrated into my life.
And, I'm just purely now marketing the Cool Cats on your podcast.
Tiffany: Keith is GMI.
Everyone, Keith is GMI.
Alexis: This is so heartening, okay, so traditional media, I mean, the story of Reddit's initial acquisition was common asked, acquiring this thing that they didn't really fully understand in 2006.
I had my reasons for selling.
I won't go under those here clearly sold very early, but I got a second chance in 2014.
So don't feel bad for me.
But, the first fight-
Keith: [laughs] "Don't feel bad for me."
Alexis: The first fight that I had with my co-founder Steve, building Reddit, was like two months in.
I wanted to create merch to sell to our users because I saw these people in the comments.
And I really believed like if someone would be willing to put on a shirt or something, to represent us, it would care.
It would build this community even faster because like, this is valuable real estate, right?
Your torso, like that's your walking billboard.
It was a huge fight.
Thankfully I won.
At the end of the day the CEO gets to make those tough calls about whether or not to buy merch.
And I printed like 500 t-shirts, Reddit t-shirts, and at the time it was really hard to sell stuff on the internet, cause there was no Stripe.
There was no Shopify.
I had to find- I used PayPal code to do a janky like credit card acceptance page.
Anyway, put it up.
Sold out within a day.
And I went to the post office the next day with a giant garbage bag.
I packed every one of them myself.
That giant garbage bags, full of shirts that were mailing out.
What it showed me in that moment was even for this tiny site, it was two dudes in an apartment like people in 2005 cared enough to have the sense of indentity.
So while I'm watching this stuff unfold around these PFPs, I feel like I'm flashing back to 16 years ago, except now every one of those community members has something of real, tangible value.
Now, no offense, if someone owns that shirt, maybe you could flip it on eBay for something like maybe-
Tiffany: I mean, you have to tie the shirt, the limited edition, or OG shirt to an NFT now, Alexis.
And that's like a badge of honor for people who are so early, they bought the first batch of merch.
Alexis: And they were so valuable, but you all can actually-
Tiffany: The POAPs.
Keith: This is a real POAP and other people were wearing them.
And he gave me a bag of them for like- he give me 300 of them.
I didn't know what was going to happen.
I went around with them in my pocket.
And then at NFT NYC.
This is the last one I have.
You go to the back, then all of a sudden it can be scanned into your digital wallet.
And I'm like, it's amazing because this POAP gives somebody the ability to physically badge.
Then they promote- they self-promote and they feel like they have ownership stake in it.
It's a beautiful piece of organic endorsements and marketing at the same time.
And just for, for folks who are listening, right, this is like, this is a piece of paper.
That has, I mean, some art on it, but essentially it's a proof of attendance protocol.
Alexis: And here's the digital incarnation of the ticket stuff.
It's the digital- and you can see right in the analog world, you can find graded ticket stubs from like the first rolling stones concert or, you know, LeBron's first game in the NBA.
We as a species already go out of our way to try to find the physical version of this thing to have values, so if you think this is weird, it's not, we've been doing this for awhile.
The user experience was terrible before and now it just got a whole hell of a lot better and, Keith, you're doing it.
Bridging a brand like TIME, which is as old as time.
Alexis: I had to.
An old school media brand- dude, Keith, like how did you get this?
Like, did- Benioff is also the owner of TIME now, right?
Alexis: Did you tell Mark?
Like, "Hey Mark.
I got a crazy idea trust me."
Keith: Trust me did come across the words, but Mark and Lynn bought TIME three years ago.
I've been at time for a little over two years.
And when I joined, I asked him, why did you buy this brand?
And they said, they felt that the world was becoming increasingly divisive, and they didn't like the state of media, and they wanted to make sure that a brands that had sort of objective purpose could navigate, you know, the next few years, and they want it to be able to put it in a position to be able to survive another a hundred years.
That way people would be around for another hundred years, and they realized that it wouldn't just be, you know, the same way that it existed for 98 years.
Because, if you think about, like, just take in any company that's been a hundred years old.
Like a GE or an IBM, like, they've reinvented themselves numerous times.
TIME has not reinvented itself in 98 years.
Like, it's always been TIME magazine.
How do we start to think about what the next sort of 98 years will look like?
And so, you know a lot sort of let up and I wish I could be like, I had this brilliant foresight to bring crypto into TIME, but there was no plan for that.
It really comes from a few things one- and this is why I actually love being invited onto this podcast, and Alexis, you knowing me from like essentially 2004.
Tiffany, I'm just this dorky Jewish guy who likes technology and business and art and crypto and I, I've loved the crypto space since 2013, when Wired started to write about it Ars Technica started to write about it, and I started to see the merge in Reddit.
Keith: And I always liked it.
But what brought TIME into it was a note from Mark one night and the note was- it started off it said, "I have a crazy idea.
Did you see this?"
And he sent a link to the Nyan Cat sale that took place.
So this is actually what brought TIME into the space.
I'm looking at the article and I had seen it and I just looked at it.
And you know, when all of a sudden everything in your mind clicks.
I go, "We could do that."
And Mark and Ed were like, what do you mean?
And I said, "Let me ask you guys, do you understand why a cat, the body of a Poptart, farting a rainbow just sold for 600,000, and everyone was like, "No."
And I said, we could do this.
And coincidentally, a week earlier I was on Twitter and somebody had sent me a tweet from somebody in New Jersey that said, I just got all these TIME magazines.
I inherited all these magazines, I don't know what to do with them.
And I don't want to throw them away.
And they're from like the 1940s up through, you know, 1980.
And so I wrote back to the person, I go, I'll take them off your hands.
And the person could have believed that the president of TIME would write that on Twitter to them.
And so I drove out.
I just was, so I was so sick of being in the city.
I drove out to New Jersey, and I picked up these and I gave the guy just a free subscription to TIME in return from him.
And I take all of these issues back and they're like in our apartment and they're on my floor in my home office, in this room.
Which Alexis, hopefully it makes you smile when you see what's behind me, like-
Keith: I'm looking at it and I go, I know exactly what we have to launch with.
We have to launch with the collection, and the collection has to be something that was iconic.
And so I was looking at the Is God Dead cover from 1965.
It has to have multiples.
So there was, Is Truth Dead from 2012.
And then I went to D.W.
Pine and I said, would you create a special cover, is Fiat Dead?
and so we launched with this collection on SuperRare.
And, you know, in honestly like the person who was the most help- there were three people that were really helpful in helping me shape my thinking on this was Gaia Sierra, Mark Cuban, and Anthony Pompliano.
And they all kept on telling me to think more than just the one-off art collections.
So on March 23rd, I said, we're going to do a SuperRare auction of these one-on-one pieces.
And then I said within 30 days, we're going to accept cryptocurrency on time.com.
And and we did it within 28 days.
People were like, why did you do that?
Keith: And my argument was, think about the funnel, right, that we have.
Like right now, if you're a traditional media company, the only way that you can accept payments is cash, if it's at a retail, credit card, or check and believe it or not.
As crazy as it sounds, a lot of people still pay for subscriptions and check.
So our funnels like this big and for people who are listening on the podcast my hands are about two inches apart.
When you accept the-
Alexis: Its a small funnel.
A very small funnel.
Keith: But when you all of a sudden say, I'm willing to accept 32 different cryptocurrencies for digital subscriptions, then all of a sudden that funnel expands from two inches apart to about 12 inches apart.
And you just open it up and what you do when you're a brand like TIME is you're validating a space just as much as you are opening up your funnel.
And so the third thing I said in this article in March 23rd with Julio Laroche wrote, was we're going to use the technology of NFTs and a blockchain and figure out how to change the consumer relationship.
And I have no clue how, but that was the beginning of TIME Pieces.
Was the idea was how can we use a token to all of a sudden create a better user experience and give people more of an ownership feeling as it relates to TIME?
And so when that came out I got more texts, and Alexis, I think you've been in this space before where I got more texts from people in the industry asking if it was an April fool's joke.
Keith: I'm curious because it came out on March 23rd.
People were like, you see, did you lose your mind?
Then on Wednesday that night somebody said to me, if you make more than $5,000 on the sale I'll buy you lunch.
That evening we did $440,000 in sales.
And then that following week we did another million and that sort of started us down this one-on-one path.
And then I just sat in Clubhouse rooms and in Spaces rooms, and I started to listen to the community and absorb.
One day, it just dawned on me how TIME Pieces could come about and start to evolve and that's- and it was really the community and listening to people like, you know, artists pulling people up and was what inspired the idea of inviting artists in.
And then all of a sudden you let that artist invite person in.
It was watching certain people come into the space and do money grabs that that inspired the in split with the creatives that we have with TIME Pieces.
I don't know if you know that, but like we split all revenues primary and secondary sales, 50 50 with all of the creatives.
And then it was just the idea of putting a connect to your wallet feature on time.com, and allowing it to access whether or not you have a TIME Piece that I was like, wow, this could actually provide frictionless sort of interaction to a Web2 ecosystem using Web3, and that bridge is going to be important for quite some time.
Alexis: I mean it is special.
I mean, now we might take it for granted now that McDonald's has a Mc Rib NFT, but it's great for the ecosystem.
Look, at the end of the day, you all work.
Keith: Nike's announcement was huge for that.
But, y'all were thoughtful about it.
And I appreciate it.
Especially whether it's the revenue split with the artists that you invited for the collabs, or even just taking the time to listen.
Cause like the reality is a lot of people hit me up.
I know Tiffany to.
Try to say, hey, I want to get into this.
What do I do?
What do I do?
And they're they're thinking which short-term greed a lot of them.
And I tell them straight up, I'm like, be long-term greed.
That is how you win, because if you're creating long-term value for everyone of the community, for everyone, who's part of your product.
Holistically, long-term, you will actually make more money.
You will actually build an empire, but people get so tempted to go for the quick and the short term.
And they don't want to sit and listen and they don't want to actually understand the community, but it's like-
Tiffany: And join the community is you got to like immerse yourself.
And I think Keith did a good job.
And so have you and Gary Vee too right?
Joining these Twitter Spaces, joining the Clubhouse rooms, it's long-term games with long-term people.
Everyone needs to think that way.
Keith: I have to give Gary Vee credit.
I sent him a text message three weeks before TIME Pieces came out and I said, I've spent the last two weeks studying all of these communities on Excel spreadsheets.
This is how dorky I am.
I broke them all down on Excel spreadsheets to understand how all the communities worked with no emotion.
And I said, I've spent the past two weeks studying all these communities numerically and I really studied to VeeFriends, and what you did.
I find it so impressive.
And I'm going to steal a lot of what you did and I'm going to implement it myself, but I'm going to always give you credit, which is what I want to do now.
I want to just give Gary Vee credit.
Like, I'm going to always give you credit for it, because I think that he set a really good path forward.
And I actually on my screen right now, and Alexis, I'm just bringing this up because I think it's super important with TIME Pieces in our Discord channel on every week we hold a town hall where we give an update on where we're going.
And I said, this is exactly what I said today.
So I first started off in the TIME Piece Discord where I said, I'm not going to talk about price.
I'm not going to talk about for price.
I'm not gonna go to celebrities and ask for tweets.
I'm not going to market it.
I'm going to organically grow it.
And we're going to think very long-term and the team is very small.
It's myself, an individual that Alexis knows who's one of the smartest people on the planet, Maya Draisin.
Maya is amazing!
Keith: Maya runs the community.
Alexis: Of course she does.
Keith: You see like that reaction, of course she does, yes.
It's me, Maya Draisin, our CTO Bharat Krish, who has more degrees than I have family members I'd like to say.
And an individual on our team who, you know, because she's always super capable of doing everything, she just got pulled into it and has done an amazing job named Lane Little.
But what I said today was this is my exact thing.
I said, after chatting throughout the past week with everyone more convinced than ever before, that value based communities are the ones that are going to win in the long-term.
And that if you're going to look at what's important to survive in the long-term my advice to you as a TIME Piece member is to consider three things which is the founders, the community, and the values of the community.
And that's why the organic build is important to us.
And I think that I could wax poetic about all the good of this ecosystem.
I think is I think this is the biggest shift from Web2 to Web3 that, that I've ever seen in my entire life.
It makes me so excited every day.
But at the same time, there's a lot of bad in the ecosystem.
There's a lot of short term greed.
And you see a lot of things emerging, and you see tribalism beginning to emerge and people sort of doing what happens when you have vested interest.
But I think at the end of the day, the good in this is just so good.
You know, it makes me so happy.
Alexis: It's special.
It is special.
And I'm curious, Keith, cause we, hinted at it.
I started around 2005.
We get acquired in 2006, become a part of Conde Nast.
You know, I stuck around for three years.
I gave it a college try.
Did my very best.
But I knew I wasn't going to be able to be in it long term.
But I met some really cool people there.
And what's wild is there's a whole Federation of- around that time period people who have gone off to do really dope stuff.
So, help us understand sort of how you got here and maybe why- how did this all come about Keith?
Keith: Well, in fairness, so what people don't realize is Reddit, ArsTechnica, and Wired all sat on the same floor.
And so, like we were all incestuous in the fact that like, we would walk back and forth and talk to each other and we all liked each other.
I hope you liked me.
I liked you, Alexis.
Alexis: I hope they liked us.
We weren't the easiest to work with in our little terrarium.
Keith: Look, like Ken Fisher in my mind is like one of the smartest people on the planet.
Right now what we're doing actually with our community and TIME Pieces, I've taken from the Ars Technica playbook.
Which is Mark gave us a few hires from an engineering perspective to build out the team and then from a community perspective to build out the community management.
And I said, we were only going to hire from the community.
And I love that idea of just only hiring from the community that supports or builds you, because they know what you want to do.
That's what Ars Technica used to do with their writers.
People didn't realize that, right?
The writers out of the community.
The easiest way I can describe it is if you've ever seen, Tiffany, have you ever seen the movie Zoolander?
Tiffany: Yes I have.
Alexis you've seen the movie right?
Alexis: I think so.
I feel like it's a movie I've seen on the plane at least once.
Tiffany: Come on.
Alexis: If Ben Stiller is listening to this he is really mad right now.
Tiffany: Come on the blue steel Alexis, even I know that.
Keith: But I used to describe the Wired, Ars Technica, and Reddit group, right on the 19th floor of 4 Times Square as like us hand models are different than the back and body boys.
Like were a little like weird east.
And like, what's really interesting is like on that floor, you had Maya Draisin who's with me right now doing this.
You had Josh Stinchcomb who is running The Wallstreet journal right now.
You have Jay Walsh who ran Ports and is now running Charter.
You had Alexis Ohanian.
You had- It was just like, I mean, completely amazing to see.
How sort of the world went off into all these different directions.
I could name so many more people, and they percolated through the media ecosystem.
And then I watch like the ethos of this group of people who very early on felt like the crazy people on the hilltop screaming technology's changing the world, like really beginning to take on serious roles and, you know, I think we've all been- a lot of the media industry is east coast space.
It has an east coast based mentality and Reddit, you know, ours and a Wired really have a west coast based mentality and they're very different mentalities.
And when you have a bunch of those things collide on a floor-
like I think you had just like a really good recipe for more inspiration.
And like, I mean, so much of the decisions that I make come from what I grew up, sort of learning and reading.
The power of the community from Reddit, the power of the community from ours, the long tale from Wired, the power of crowdsourcing from Wired.
I mean like the idea of radical transparency from Wired, like these were things that, you know, people we're not talking about before, but like, we were watching them develop.
And I think that that development led to a lot of how I look at things today.
I just feel like it very special not to get emotional Alexis.
Alexis: No, please.
The more emotionally you get the better the ratings.
This is the-
Tiffany: Alexis is right.
Let's go deep guys.
So what else- I mean, like what's exciting the two of you right now?
If I could take TIME Pieces somewhere, where should I take it?
You see the world, both of you.
Tiffany: I mean, when I think about TIME and where you're taking TIME to the next level to this next Web3 world.
It's really about how you can have the community involved in as many aspects of the business as possible.
And it's very scary.
It's a big leap coming from a legacy kind of business, but it's like how can you help the community have as much say or have as much stake as possible.
And like, I'm curious on how you are thinking about that.
I have a friend of mine had this one idea.
for TIME, which is in 2006, you guys did person the year as you.
Now, 2022 it should be the same, but you can only solidify your status as TIME's person of the year.
If you figure out how to mint an NFT, do an open edition mint through 2022.
And so everyone is the person of the year, but you have to own an NFT to actually be to flex that, which would be pretty cool of the ownership like you feel like you're part of that year, Right?
Like you actually are part of the year instead of 2006.
Sure, you can claim people joke in their Twitter bio that there were 2006 TIME person of the year, but are you actually, so now you can actually show that you were.
Alexis: That is a great idea.
Keith: By the way can you see I'm writing notes...
Tiffany: Just free juice here.
Alexis: That's good.
Keith: You know, one of the things, Tiffany, that I learned more than anything else I say to people.
I studied this industry for six months before I launced TIME Pieces, and TIME Pieces has been live for five weeks.
And I've learned this industry in the past five weeks.
So I have studied it, but I learned it in the past five weeks and the two are two totally different things.
And what I learned was the power of the community.
And what's really interesting.
And we were joking Alexis before you got on.
A Great business would just be Discord without the sound.
Without that boop.
Alexis: For all of our sanity.
And like I learned from our community so much and they literally told me when I've been wrong, and we've changed.
Like we change on the spot.
I would actually say that the community has guided TIME Pieces more than we've guided the community.
We've just set the values for the community to adhere to.
And that's what we're trying to build.
It's unbelievable to watch and can I tell like the craziest story?
Alexis: Of course.
Keith: The craziest- this is the craziest web-
Tiffany: The crazier, the better Keith.
By the way, the crazier the better.
Keith: The craziest Web3- like this is why I love Web3.
So we launched and it's a small team, right?
We have a lot of people helping like here and there do around like the core team it's just four of us doing this.
And we launch, and we have these meetings every morning.
And we just talk about like what we have to change, what we saw in the suggestions, like what has to evolve, what we did right, what we did wrong.
And like one of the things that like people were frustrated with was that we didn't have a Discord channel and right after the minting that we should've had the Discord channel before the meeting, but we were doing- we were balancing so much and we're so resource constrained, we didn't do it.
And so I actually, if you look back at tweets said, we're going to have a Discord channel within a week of launch, and we actually had a Discord channel within the next 24 hours of that tweet.
What happened was the next morning we were planning to talk about who we were going to contract to help us build the Discord channel very quickly.
And Bharat Krish comes to our meeting 15 minutes late, and he's like, hey, I'm really sorry I'm late.
I have to tell you the craziest thing.
And I said, what?
And he goes, a TIME Piece owner in Malaysia, built our discord channel for us, reached out to me and hand me over the code, everything.
And I've just spent the morning checking it for security flaws in it.
And there's no security flaws in it.
He just built it.
So we're actually live for this afternoon.
And I said what?
And he said, yeah, it's this individual.
He, refuses to tell me his name, he identifies as Zikes.
And so I started looking into- so I reached out to him and I said, can I pay you?
He says, no, I don't want anything.
And I said, why'd you do it?
Because I I'm a TIME Piece owner, I like what you're doing.
I just want you to succeed.
And I said, I need you to do something- I need you to let me do something for you.
I don't like this, right?
Like, and he's like, no, no, no.
I just want you to succeed.
And then I found out that Zikes actually works on Nouns DAO.
Keith: And so I reached out to 4156 and I said to him, I hear Zikes works for you.
I have two questions.
One, is that true?
And two are you Zikes?
Because 4156 who has always remained anonymous to me has also given me very good advice over the months, and never asked for anything in return.
And he said, I'm not Zikes.
And that sounds just like something Zikes would do.
And it was going to bed one night and I was so frustrated that this guy was so nice.
This individual was so nice and he wouldn't let me do anything.
And I said something to either 4156 or someone else that they said something about Zikes is an artist in his free time.
And so I started searching for Zikes' work as far as I could find.
And I found that he had a piece on Foundation for sale, but he wouldn't tell me about it.
And I looked deep into the metadata and the data said all proceeds from this sale is going to support education for kids in needy countries to program.
And so I'm like, this is a really interesting guy and it was 3 ETH, 3.5 ETH, and a happy for this piece.
And it was the world's smallest NFT.
It's just a dot and I bought it and I didn't tell him I was going to buy it.
So then all of a sudden Zikes reaches out to me and I bought it with my own money personally, not with TIME's money with my own.
Zikes, reaches out to me.
He goes, why did you buy?
And I said, cause you wouldn't let me give you anything in return, so I wanted to actually show you how much I appreciated you.
I go, the only thing is, is you're never going to get a secondary sale off of this because I'm never going to sell it for my entire life, because I love this beast so much because it shows me the goodwill of the Web3 community in a way that I never want to forget.
That story like to this day just blows my mind and I have 50 others like that.
That I've seen from the TIME Piece community and from Web3 in general.
But like that one always gives me sort of the, like, I can't believe an individual in Malaysia, right?
No relationship with- through- other than a common belief system and where we believe the world could go with ownership online and communities would do something like that.
Tiffany: That's incredible.
I mean, people aren't, people on the internet are amazing, especially people in the NFT world, but I would say Keith you're like the full-time president of TIME and you're like a part-time detective.
Internet detective from this conversation is like is what I gathered?
Keith: Yes, it's a lot but I will say Alexis has known me forever and it teases a great business crypto and NFTs and Web3 is great for insomniac workaholics.
Alexis: Yeah, don't forget to take care of yourself.
Cause it is a mighty rabbit hole.
It is an infinite rabbit hole and it just, it makes me so excited to hear this.
These are the stories that I think I might have taken for granted as we were building Reddit, because, I mean, I saw so many acts of kindness from people behind a username who, I didn't know who didn't want me to compensate.
Who were just trying to help us back when I was just some random kid starting a company.
And it's so hard, man, because now it is happening obviously at a much bigger scale.
And these people aren't getting a reward in a sense because they are owners.
And as long as they hold they see the value grow for the work they put in.
What you're experiencing too, is going to be the default for every business leader in Web3, because I used to tell people that running Reddit was as much being ahead of state as it was ahead of a company.
And you had to understand, you have a constituency, you have to make, you have to always be sort of balancing business decisions with your community.
It's not like 90% business, 10% community.
It's like 51% 49%.
It's a very delicate relationship.
And the new CEO is going to take this for granted.
I believe because these are muscles that you're going to have to exercise.
I think it's good.
Cause it'll mean companies will default be more beholden to their users, to their customers, to their community.
But it's radical, man.
There's no textbook for this.
Keith: It's going to change everything.
I think everything actually changes.
Somebody brought up a great example last night.
I would love your opinion.
Like, I don't know how to solve what will happen when it comes to the traditional business model of let's say marketing and brands and athletes.
Let's pretend an athlete is sponsored by Nike.
I wonder who?
Keith: No, no, no.
Let's use a different one.
I don't want to do that.
Let's pretend an athlete sponsored by Adidas.
I'm just choosing any athlete.
Then let's pretend that that athlete takes on a PFP as their avatar.
So they have now all of a sudden endorsed a PFP as their avatar.
They're part of the community and that's their identity on all of their social media.
So the brand of them is that avatar.
You look at these avatars and you look at these PFPs, and there's no way that they stay solely in the NFT space.
There's no way Cryptopunks or Bored Apes or Cool Cats stay just here.
Like, they're moving into mainstream and every level, and we're going to see them in different areas.
Then let's say the PFP strikes a partnership with a brand that's competitive with the brand that the athlete has signed an endorsement with, but the athlete is endorsed by Adidas.
And then let's say the Bored Apes are endorsed by Nike.
What happens in that?
Tiffany: This is a very, very tricky predicament.
Keith: I don't- somebody brought it up to me last night.
An individual that I met through the community, his name nizer.eth.
Like I love being a .eth by the way.
It's a great family to be part of right.
The .eth fam, but nizer.eth brought it up to me last night.
And I have been thinking about this for the past 24 hours.
It was like a riddle in my mind of, I don't know how that works.
And I thought the two of you could help me solve that.
I think, you know, I very publicly displayed one of the seven Cryptopunks that I bought that looked like my wife.
And part of my thinking behind that was she has for her entire career.
Imbued other brands like a swoosh with her value.
The swoosh collected all those wins, all those grants themselves.
Cryptopunks already had a core fan base.
I couldn't find one that looked like me, which was a weird experience as a white dude with a beard.
Cause everything's designed to look like me.
And then I found this one that looked like her and I thought, okay, perfect.
Gifted her one, grabbed another to hang on to.
And I realized, okay, by making this statement, she is now going to confer that value of like her reputation, her brand now married to this like core foundational piece of art.
That's powerful because now that asset stays in our family for generations and for generations, she has something that doesn't belong to Nike shareholders.
It belongs to her, it belongs to our family.
But so in the event of this sneaker scenario, like I actually think brands in the future end up making deals with the individual, as well as with the avatar version of that individual.
And we just get comfortable understanding that there are two cells.
And eventually, longer term- and this was a question I remember of a famous VC asked when I was fundraising.
Like, what is the thing about the world that you don't understand or that you know, that no one else understands yet?
And it was that even on Reddit, it was clear to me that people cared more about their username than their government name, and it would be inevitable that we would all eventually care as much or more about a totally constructed artificial name, identity, et cetera.
And now, as we're seeing more and more use cases, I think you're going to- sport is one area where it's still, outside of e-sports right you're you're going to have to be a physical person running on a court or doing a thing.
So you'll still have, I think, sort of personal value or sort of identity value in your physical self, but in the vast majority of arenas where people are going to build a reputation and built following a built cloud, it's going to be digital.
And then it'll come down to the rights because the Bored Apes program gives the copyright owners.
Like if you own the Bored Ape you own the copyright, do whatever the hell you want with you can strike your own brand deal.
Whereas like Larva Labs, they own the rights to the Cryptopunks.
If Larva Labs does a deal, when punk's going to metaverse with Adidas, then the Serena punk is wearing Adidas because Nike didn't sign a deal with the Serina punk, Nike signed to Serena the human.
And so that's going to go into contracts for sure.
And I'm sure there'll be some messiness in between, but long-term, you know, the Serena avatar doesn't ever need to take a day off.
The Serena avatar, it lives forever.
The Serena avatar can be anywhere you could Telegraph, teleporter, like way more value in the avatar version in the next 10, 20, 50, 100 years.
Keith: So, it's so funny that you say that.
I think that one of the, I think there's moments in this evolution we'll look back at that are really pivotal moments.
The other day, I thought when Patricio, the CEO of Co-op offered Richerd, the head of manifold, $9.5 million for his Cryptopunk, and Richerd said no.
I felt that people fell into two camps.
Those who are of course, he said, no.
I felt like I'm like, of course he said, no, that's his entire brand is his identity.
That would be like, that's like valuing Manifold at $9.5 million.
And so of course he said, no.
And then there were people who were like, what, how could he say no?
I agreed with what you say there.
But I think that that's one of those moments where like, I think people will look back at that offer, you know, and just say that was like, that's a really turning, defining moment and people realizing how important brand identity is and identity online is.
Tiffany: Yeah, brand identity and provenance is going to be something really interesting right?
It's going to be valuable if someone were to own the Richerd punk someday, right?
Like that's a flex or an Alexis or Keith punk.
Right, like my Cool Cat is a hundred percent tied to my identity now.
All across the internet and everything I do.
I would never sell it.
Because it's just now my brand, my identity, if someone- like, if I sold it and someone takes my Cool Cat and uses it as their PFP people will think that's me talking.
And that's a brand identity thing to think about for people who are really thinking long-term about how they're branding themselves in the space.
The space is just getting started.
Keith: The one thing I always say to people is, is every day that goes by someone is converted into this space at a far higher ratio than someone is being converted out of this space.
If anyone is even being converted out of the space.
This space is one of those spaces that when you see it's so clear when it moves from sort of logical to emotional back to logical, then all of a sudden you're sort of there, and you got it.
I mean, it's, it's so utterly fascinating.
Tiffany: Keith, so our apprentice has this question- has this dying question for you, which is-
She has this question, which is how did you get into NFTs, especially as a boomer, which I know you're not, but she's categorizing you as such.
So she really wants to know.
Keith: So I appreciate it.
I, you know- first off Lulu I'm not a boomer.
I'm what's technically called an aging millennial.
Tiffany: Geriatrics millennial, the two of you?
For the record, I'm totally fine with that.
So I became very good friends with the individual who purchased the first TIME drop.
His name's Amir Soleimani.
And he sent me my first NFT ever.
He sent it to me framed and I loved it.
And then I started looking at it at the NFT space and I'll never forget this.
I got a text from Farrokh and he said, you should check out the Cool Cats.
And I bought a Cool Cat at like 0.78 ETH and the one I bought one that looks like me, my forever cat.
Like it had like was a big bushy hair, right?
Like, you know, and it has a smirky face on it, and I'm with my daughter after I bought it and we're walking around the city and I'm reading on Twitter.
Somebody being like, I just sold my Cool Cat to the president of TIME.
What an idiot it's like 0.78 ETH, right?
It was like, it's so funny.
People were like, wow he overpaid.
This is blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
And I'm sitting like, this is great, and then I started to really look at it.
And one day I just kept on listening to- it was Clubhouse at the time.
I was just listening to it.
And a dear friend of mine who unfortunately passed.
Jim, said you should speak to an artist named fvckrender.
And I spoke to Fred on the phone and, I just asked him like, how should I think about the space?
And he's like, you can't be an outsider.
You have to just buy a piece to understand what it feels like to own a piece of art and to connect with an artist that you really respect.
I was sitting there thinking like, which artists do I really respect?
There's this artist named ThankYouX.
His name is Ryan.
And Ryan is a really special individual because the number of people that Ryan pulled up- so in TIME Pieces, we invited 20 artists in, and we said to the 20 artists, you as an invitee of TIME can pull in artists that I don't know or D.W.
Doesn't know, and we will not stop you.
And they will get all of the same benefits that you get.
But we want to be able to build a better future by allowing you to pull up an artist.
And that influence came from Ryan.
It was Ryan and Jason Silva who really did it because I kept on hearing them say that about Ryan and I just liked Ryan's work so much.
And I liked him as a human being so much, so I bought this piece of his and I just kept on staring at it on my screen.
And what I realized was, wow, like I own a piece of art and it's gorgeous and I own it.
And I all, and I know the artists, it's really a different relationship in this space where there's no more sort of barriers between creator and collector.
And so I started to slowly- I mean, if you look at my wallet and I keep it public, I just buy pieces that talk to me that I respect the artists that I think, you know, like that have an emotional connection to me in one way or another.
But what I love about this space is especially as it relates to art.
Is there's this artist, his name's Billy Alter.
He doesn't sell his art for that expensive.
It's not expensive at all.
He's based out of Mexico.
And prior to the Web3 sort of evolution Billy's work was probably relegated solely to local economies and local valuations, and local communities.
But now he could revalue his work to global economies, global communities, and global collectors.
And without me ever meeting really either- by the way, yesterday I met Billy for the first time in New York.
And what I can tell you is in real life hugs are so much better than metaverse hugs.
No matter how nice people are.
Like yesterday I met Billy and it was such a great feeling because I love his work so much, but he's based out of Mexico.
I would have never met him if it wasn't for this space.
And I've gotten to know him as a person through spaces.
And then I got to respect his art and understand the emotion that goes into the art, and like, owning Billy's work to me is sort of like owning a piece- there are pieces that I own that I would just never sell.
No matter how much they go up.
With the PFPs though, completely different.
I relate to PFPs based on the values of the communities.
And so like, if you really look at the PFPs, I own- like, I own Cool Cats, I own Robotos and I own Dead Fellows.
And when you look at the founders of those communities, I evaluate them as I would like a democratized series A.
So it's like, Evan, Tom, Link at Cool Cats, they're smart.
They're thinking about this every day, like Pablo Stanley at Robotos, he's smart.
And he's really, well-respected, he's thinking about this.
He's surrounding himself with good people, Betty and Sike.
If you've ever talked to Betty, I wouldn't bet against Betty.
Tiffany: She has an incredible story from what I've seen on Twitter and-
Keith: Incredible, and this is my point, right?
Like I wouldn't bet against Betty.
And so then all of a sudden I'm like, okay, look at the founders.
And this goes back to what I said in the beginning, longterm survival, based on founders, community and values.
What's the communities?
It's ironic, all three of those communities, the Cats, the Dead Fellows, and the Robotos, all optimistic, all positive, all have a give back or give first sort of perspective on how they work with each other, all provide constructive feedback to each other.
And then, you know, you look at the values of these individuals, and they're just really stand up individuals with stand-up values as a community.
And I might add the art is good.
Like it's just fun.
And so I'm like, that's how I got into the PFPs, which is a completely different mindset than how I get into the art.
If that makes sense.
Alexis: I love this story, Keith.
Cause I think there's a lot of people listening who probably feel a lot like you and that advice of just diving in and needing to experience it yourself is so crucial.
And you don't have to go in and you don't have to start with a Cryptopunk, right?
Spend some time on OpenSea, spend some time on these platforms and just find something that speaks to you.
And is in a price range that you can get into.
Tiffany: What is the first three things that you would suggest someone who doesn't own an NFT to do right now to immerse themselves into the community and to start understanding.
Besides listening to this podcast, you are already listening to.
Keith: Yeah, I would say, I mean, the first thing I would say is, is take an amount of money that you have just a small amount, convert it into Ethereum and don't do anything for two weeks and just watch what, like a two week flow of owning Ethereum is like, because that two weeks $20 could, all of a sudden become $24, $20 can become $12, $12 could become $28, but like just allow yourself to have the stomach to sort of go up and down and see and understand that that's a normal fluctuation within sort of this space.
And that it's just a part of it.
The second I would say is go on to spaces and just listen, like really listen and listen to why are they saying what they're saying?
Like what's their bias.
I do think that like, we do need to implement in the space, some sort of code of ethics that's states at the highest level, right?
Like if you are an owner of something you should disclose that you're an owner of something.
If you're going to wax poetic about your ownership of something.
I think that will eventually come, but I think that like, it should come sooner.
But I think you should just listen to the spaces and you should hear if it's art that you want, or if it's, if it's one of the PFPs that you want, you should hear, what, what are those like?
If it's a PFP you should be on in the Discord channel, just watching, what are those conversations like?
Are these people that you want to associate with?
Because a lot of what this movement is about is reconnecting social circles on a global level.
With like-minded people who have like-minded values.
It's not about the image.
It's about the community below the image and that the image ultimately represents participation or status within the community.
And then the third is whatever you buy expected it to go to zero.
The reason I say that is, I very much worry about people who think that this will go up forever.
This will not go up forever.
There will be a moment where a correction will take place, and people have to brace for that.
The reality is that the macro trend of Web3 is very real.
Moving towards a ownership, sort of stayed on the internet, but along that way, there's going to be ups and downs.
Out of it will come.
great companies and great brands.
So like, I think that this is long-term the greatest thing on the planet.
I worry that there's so much fear of missing out that takes place sometimes.
And the pace of Web3 is so fast that I would simply say, and whoever listens to this that knows me I know I'm going to get a text message afterwards being like you hypocrite.
I would say, when you want to speed up and this in this space before you make your first purchase, actually slow down and just be like, do I want to make this, am I comfortable with it?
And if it goes to zero, am I okay with it?
I'll give you a real example.
I bought a bunch of Yetis and they all went to zero, right?
But I had five Yetis, all went to zero, but you know what I use the Yetis for ultimately, Tiffany?
When I wanted to onboard people and show them what it was like to transfer between wallets I just kept on transferring the Yetis around.
Tiffany: That's like me and like four CryptoKitties.
And I think Alexis also has like a bunch of CryptoKitties because we got to look at he's back in 2017, 2018.
Keith: Oh, can I tell you the best statement that came out of a conversation in the TIME Pieces discord and the other day that I thought it was so funny and you reminded me of it earlier, Tiffany.
Somebody had started to refer to NFTs based on their mintage.
Not like wines have vintage.
They're like I have this Vintage from 2018.
And I was like, that's amazing.
I love that.
I just thought it was funny.
Keith: Did I?
Did I satisfy Lulu?
Lulu are you okay with that answer.
Alexis: I think so.
Tiffany: Yes, she is.
Keith: Okay wonderful.
Tiffany: So, if you- last question, if you're stuck on an Island and you have to bring one NFT, which NFT would you bring?
Keith: Super easy.
I own a FEWO piece called The Day I Decided To Fly.
And I love that piece so much.
The next big artist.
I mean already a big artist.
It's crazy to see his trajectory this year.
Keith: The Day I Decided To Fly.
I look at that piece sometimes, and I just, I'm just blown away at his brilliance.
Tiffany: That's a great one.
Alexis: Thank you so much Keith.
Keith: Have a wonderful one.
It was great to see you.