Episode 454: Vlad Panchenko, CEO and Founder at DMarket.com

In this episode, Mike Townsend interviews Vlad Panchenko, CEO and Founder at DMarket.com - a marketplace and infrastructure for Web3 companies to join a global metaverse. He is a video game and technology entrepreneur with over 15 years of experience. His cosmopolitan life views have formed his business approach of a world without borders through gaming and interactive entertainment companies.

Host: Mike Townsend

Guests: Vlad Panchenko

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Episode Transcript

Mike Townsend: Here we are withanother episode of Around The Coin. Today's guest, Vlad Panchenko, the CEO andfounder of DMarket. DMarket is helping to Create a platform, a marketplaceinfrastructure for web three companies to join. The Metaverse they're reallyfocusing on gaming, allowing people to trade NFTs assets, skins between games.

Mike Townsend: This conversation, wereally broke into three distinct areas of focus. The first being gaming, NFTs,the trajectory of the technology, the challenges, kind of steel manning. Thearguments on both sides of why NFTs will be useful or counterproductive ingaming. We talked about Ukraine. Vlad's team was based in Kiev and he rented aplane to fly people out two weeks before the war.

Mike Townsend: We talked about whatthey're doing now and how he was able to utilize democracy in the UnitedStates, living in Santa Monica. To catalyze a real effort to make change inthat, in that war literally. And then we talked about just the generaltrajectory of the human species, both with the ability to connect right in theback of the neck and matrix style traveling to Mars, the influence of gamingand NFTs.

Mike Townsend: Just the generaltrajectory of the world, which we, I think made some progress or at leastcrystallizing our opinions on how we see things moving. So wide rangingconversations and some very interesting topics. So I hope you enjoy here isVlad Panchenko.


Mike Townsend: Vlad, thanks so muchfor joining today. I'm excited to dig in with you. We've already had a funpre-show conversation. Let's just start and cover what you're working on first,and then we can get to wherever we go. So, DMarket is what exactly, how do youdescribe what you're working on and give us just the gimme like a state of howfar along you are and the traction that matters, whether it's like usersrevenue, fundraising, etc.

Vlad Panchenko: First of all, hi Mike,and a pleasure to talk to you and thank you for the invitation. Would be apleasure to attach whatever we will touch today. Yeah, I'm running and Ifounded DMarket in 2017. And DMarket is first of all in marketplace to tradedigital items from different games.

Vlad Panchenko: It's based on theblockchain and the main, main goal of it is to become a standard in differentgames. So we as a players could not just play games, but also trade itemsthrough different games and instances. Right now we're in the middle ofintegration of couple of huge titles, which should be announced by the end ofthe year.

Vlad Panchenko: We've been through acouple of round of fun fund. And we have the last time we raised was developed,sufficiently announced. We raised was in two years ago with the final valuationof 28, I think million. Yeah. Then from the standpoint of numbers we have over3 million in revenue from the last year.

Vlad Panchenko: We have over 2 millionregistered. And we've been trading items for like more than 10 years. Soeverything is an evolution because I've started from trading games in digitalform, then the skins from a couple of games that allow it. And now it's just aplatform for the game developers who want to touch the web three and NFTtrading, but don't know anything about it.

Vlad Panchenko: And I want to have allfrom one company, like legal staff, k y, CMO staff, onboarding, onboarding,everyth. We've provided as a package with the marketplace itself. And we havethe best gateway CMO practices in the world, in the gaming industry, and theeasiest and the most convenient UE and UX for the player in the world.

Mike Townsend: Hmm. Where do youthink this is going? Do you see there being kind of a centralized marketplacebuilt on blockchain that allows people to trade in-game? NFT type products ingame or, or do you see it being more of like the actual marketplace happens inthe actual game itself as opposed to separate from, separate from the actualgames?

Mike Townsend: Like how, how do yousort of see the trajectory of gaming and NFTs and trading and everything?  

Vlad Panchenko: We are actually gonnasee both things. So while we will be playing the. In the best case scenario youwill have the marketplace in the game where you will be trading with otherplayers. And maybe it was the game developer with those items, but outside ofthe game there will be another marketplace or marketplaces where you could betrading those items between games or between ips and attention.

Vlad Panchenko: But the verticalintegrated experience is better for us. The game. Because the more people arebuying something or selling something, the more interesting is the wholeplay.  

Mike Townsend: Mm. And how, how isthe process now training outside the game? Is it quite, you know, clunky justby limitations of the technology or time consuming? Or do you feel like it'spretty much as good as it's gonna get? Like, technically.  

Vlad Panchenko: No, we're still faraway, but we're much, much closer than we were in 2017. Because even in 2017when we had the technologies. In general the public from the game developers tothe players were not a big fans about trading entities and blockchain items.

Vlad Panchenko: And still, I'm tellingyou, in 2022 lots of gamers are infuriated about lots of scams and ponies inthe NFTs and blockchain and to turn the tide, that's part of the job we'redoing and. As far as I can see, we're doing it good and right. That's one partof the equation. Another part of the equation is regulations because to, forthe legal and taxation purposes, to have it directly stated from the governmenthow it could be done, how it should not be done, it took some time.

Vlad Panchenko: Now, for example, inthe US the legal field is more or less. UK more or less as well. So we'removing there, getting there, but still what we are missing as the players, asthe game developers is couple of great cases where it works and brings morefun, more engagement more I know expanding the narrative, so bringing us betterexperience than it was.

Mike Townsend: And how do you sort ofsee like if you were to give a Steelman argument or, or give the, thelegitimate argument on people who are skeptical of, I guess the argument isthat they're skeptical of there being any sort of nft. Necessary ization, ingaming? Yeah, because you have the game developers own the platform.

Mike Townsend: They can easily managethe database and control which players own which skins and weapons andeverything else. And then the, the argument on the other side is, well, youwanna have this decentralized and the two, the two kind of. General argumentsI've heard for why it's better to have it on NFT and decentralization is thatthe game can't control it.

Mike Townsend: Like in theory, thegame has all the power, so they could just take away a skin if you misbehave orsomething. And then also the inability to trade between different games. How doyou sort of think through the nuances of, of those arguments? Is, is, arethose, Did I enumerate that correctly? Is that, is there something else big?

Vlad Panchenko: Everything you, you'vesaid is a hundred percent right. There are a couple of more arguments. Forexample the biggest thing from the players is that if you remember the momentwhen the mobile games became free to play before we were paying like from like5, 5, 10 to $20 for a mobile game to play it, and then somebody invented thatmodel, was everything became free to play, and players were not happy becausethey quickly understood that it means that we're spending even more money. Andthe, the reaction of the public wasn't very much positive, but it worked. It works,and it's getting more and more attraction, so everything is fine.

Vlad Panchenko: So with fts, thefeeling is close to that, that when I'm playing a game, and the next one isbringing me NFTs, the feeling is that the game developer is just trying toextract more money. Not bring me a better experience, not more fun, not engageme in a better way just to take more money. That's, from my perspective, wasinfuriating players the most.

Vlad Panchenko: On the other side, Iwas making my first money to pay the internet bills and Ultima Online, where Iorganized couple of businesses like getting copper, getting iron, gettingcrystals and the organizing the whole group of us and then reselling that onDMarket for some real money, real world money, and then paying internet bills.

Vlad Panchenko: So it was fair virtuallabor where everybody was having fun in NFTs can bring another grade for thatand also make that legal and. Because from my perspective, the game industryvaluations can like add one more digit at the moment. We open up that Pandorabox. That's what I think.  

Mike Townsend: And, and to open upthe Pandora box.

Mike Townsend: Meaning when you saylike, you mean add? Yeah, go ahead.  

Vlad Panchenko: Yeah. What I mean isthat at the moment, at the moment, we'll see a triple A game, open world gamewhere we can interact as a business. So for example, the person like in Roblox,can create different skills or outfits, sell it right away to another personfor real money, and that person do another job, another person, and build an asystem within the virtual world for people and entrepreneurs to build businessand serve each other.

Vlad Panchenko: To entertain eachother, to build items, to do some job, to do some entertainment. So that iswhere we need the blockchain, the NFTs, and this is what will expand thevaluation of the industry. Much, much more than over, like 200, 300, 400billion for now, it's like 170 billion per last year.

Mike Townsend: And if it's currentlymanaged, if all that economic activity is currently managed within theecosystem of the game, how is that limiting the, the gdp or presumably justthe, the opportunity for people?

Mike Townsend: Like, let me ask itthis, this way. Why in the current structure of having the ecosystem of thegames themselves, like triple A game, you know, has closed, you know, they'renot allowing you to move skins and out Yeah. Closed ecosystem. How is thatlimiting? Growth or how, how is that not the best way to do it?

Mike Townsend: Like by allowing youto move skins outside?  

Vlad Panchenko: Yeah. I have couple ofmedia hardware examples, but very clear for me. We've seen, for examplecountries, the whole countries, like former USSR country, which they had aclosed economy not allowing goods to come in until come out, and the GDP was ahundred times lower than at the moment they open up the border.

Vlad Panchenko: Put up the taxation,import tax, expert tax, and then you can do whatever you want. This is what Ibelieve in. So, yeah, I do believe in the capitalism world where Ientrepreneurs can do something and invent some businesses within the system. Sofor example, with the steam schemes, when Steam opened up an api, somebody didsome bad things like opened up casino and using skins as a, as a money.

Vlad Panchenko: But somebody build up,for example, the skin cash, where you can just exchange one skin on anotherright of away and to trade them right off for the real time, for the realmoney. Somebody is now can lend you, and I know the guys who are making lots ofmoney just lending you the skins for some money and then working effectively asa, like a creative loan agency.

Vlad Panchenko: But for items, So thisis what I'm saying. Complicated for the game developer. That is true. It's mucheasier to close the borders, hold the for, and then make as much money as theydo and entertain the way they can do. But I believe in humans creativity, increating different ways of doing business together, entertaining each other.

Vlad Panchenko: Just give us thetools, text, I mean to do the taxation, like put the point there like what,whatever the game developer wants, and then let us create something. I don'teven know what, but it would beautiful.  

Mike Townsend: Now, I, I sort ofinterpret this as if you make an analogous sort of parallel to the socialnetworks out there, like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, those are allclosed ecosystems and they have their own incentive structures within them.

Mike Townsend: You know, like a tweetcan get liked, it can get re-shared, you can get followers. And the same sortof social mechanics are true on each of the different platforms. And if youwere to say, Hey, we should, you know, if you were sitting here arguing, weshould allow people to trade. Tweets between Facebook and Instagram or tradeassets or trade followers.

Mike Townsend: It would be kind ofconfusing as to how that practically happens because these things are notcomposable. They're not like, I can't put a tweet in Facebook. It almostdoesn't make sense. D is there, is, does that problem exist in these gameswhere like, if I'm in Fortnite and trying to go to World to Warcraft, like howcould I move, like the, the things.

Mike Townsend: You know, they're,they're, they're like totally different structures. You know, maybe you couldhave the same shirt or the same skin on, I don't know. Does that kind oftechnical challenge exist and or is that not the right way to think about it?  

Vlad Panchenko: I clearly understandthe question. So the technical challenge, it does exist.

Vlad Panchenko: So we thought with alot of CEOs and game publishers, developers heads of studios, there is atechnical. But it's doable if there is a clear incentive from the gamedeveloper, np, right holder. Right. And you are a hundred percent right that weare missing the business case for. Because to show them that if you open up thesecondary market, you will make more money on the initial sales and initialmarket.

Vlad Panchenko: And also if youprovide the proper tools for the players, they will create inside businesses inthe ways you wouldn't even imagine. And that would enhance the experience foreveryone who is inside the ecosystem. Just keep them the tools, give them somefreedom, and let's see what happens. So are we missing that kind of case?

Vlad Panchenko: Yes, we. But it'sgoing to happen within the next 12 months. I can almost guarantee youthat.  

Mike Townsend: Now, do you think onsome level, when you made the argument about the country analogy, you said whencountries open their borders, they have more trade, there's more prosperity.Totally agree with that. It seems to be one of the, you know, dominant reasonswhy I think America's GDP spiked up because I had such strong internationaltrade and other countries the same way.

Mike Townsend: Singapore comes tomind as well. Do you think that there's also a trade off in that the countriesstart to look more similar to each other? Like on some level, if you, if youlimit trade, you, you know, you can have more of a distinguished culture. Or inthe case of gaming, like a distinguished experience where it's, you know, if Ibrought in my guns from world to Warcraft into that, then everything starts tokind of look the same, cuz everything.

Mike Townsend: It's all, it's like abunch of individual lakes that are all now connected. So all the pieces alllook the same. Is that a, does that present like maybe a negative experience orjust not negative, but it presents more of a homogenous experience?Everything's kind of looking the same across the different games.

Vlad Panchenko: I'm smiling right nowbecause for the moment I imagine like if you will allow everything to be usedand traded everywhere at. Then it's gonna be like a crazy circus. That is true.Yeah. And I don't think it's gonna happen this way. So the steps we're probablygonna see in the near future is that.

Vlad Panchenko: One big gaming companywill have like, for example, two different games. One will be a sports game,the other one will be a racing game. But you would be able to buy, acquire, orcreate a specific, for example, sticker, which you could put on your sportshelmet or on your racing card. And thus handmade created like examples of whatwould enhance the experience.

Vlad Panchenko: That would be thejumpstart of all these things to. Where the amount of users using it having funwith it will not just double but go up or like in geometrical speed. That wouldbe, but handcrafted experience, that is true. You wouldn't be happy if you'replaying a pirates game and conquering different lens to see something, watchwhat is far away from the lore, that that's, that would be the job of the gamedeveloper.

Vlad Panchenko: What's allowed to getin and what's allowed to get. That's why, for example, on the marketplaces,like we built you can swap the items from one game to another just because youdon't need, you don't need more of those items, but you're playing that game.You're just swapping one, one items on another one, and you're guessing you theother game.

Mike Townsend: Hmm. Yeah, that makesa lot of sense. So a, allowing the game developer to effectively maintain theconsistency of the game experience, but also have kind of. Some things that areallowed in and, and allowed out now. What has been the, the type of games thathave adopted this philosophy early on? Has it been smaller games or games basedin a certain country or language or style of games?

Mike Townsend: Like what are thepatterns you've seen for early adopters?

Vlad Panchenko: Well worldwide I wouldsay that it started with wealth and Cs go do to Fores where they allowed us asgamers, just at least to trade the item from me to you and you, to me, that allowedmany other services, like hundreds of other websites to utilize that abilityas, as I told you, either to help, to cash out or to lend some schemes or do alot of FinTech things around it.

Vlad Panchenko: That was the jumpstart event was, I don't know, close to 10 years. From the NFT and blockchainstandpoint the examples where sometimes like created numbers, likey, they diddrive the adoption to unforeseeable numbers before that issue. But the, let's saythe monetization model was, let's say, far from perfect.

Vlad Panchenko: So I, I. For, I'vebeen, for example maybe I just realized that maybe it's coming from the burningand thing because I've been coming there for like five, six years in a row. Andafter I got there the first time, I was so amused by humans creativity, which Iwouldn't be even able to imagine before.

Vlad Panchenko: And since then, Ibelieve that every other human personally could create something which otherone would never even think about. So from my perspective, the best approachwould be to build an ecosystem and then give us the. to create something. I'veseen some of the games in the development where there are systems of, forexample, contracts and within the game and we can put in the contract whateverwe think with some milestones and paying some money or items for themilestones, which one of the parties will do.

Vlad Panchenko: And that's frameworkand then we can put there whatever we want and that could in spike some otherbusiness. And this is what I deliver in one. It's not set in stone virtualworld, but there is something which you can change a little bit in your ownway. And then a trade that experienced with some other players.

Vlad Panchenko: And I said there wasan action finishy thing. There were other games close to tamagotchi things orcard games, collectable card games. It's fun. But mostly, most of the times itwas a lot driven by just making more money and getting there earlier thanlater. What I am still waiting for, and I've seen some of the great examples inproduction right now where that would be just an ecosystem for creative peopleand I believe we will see some of those in the next 12 months.  

Mike Townsend: And, and what's thegeneral size like if you had to give a best as to the, the actual economicactivity or in some way to measure. The number of transactions or value that'shappening on NFTs, on the blockchain in gaming today?  

Vlad Panchenko: Well, I've seennumbers like getting a four to 5 billion this year and over 6 billion the nextyear, but those numbers were calculated like in midsummer like June, July.

Vlad Panchenko: Since then, we've seena huge drop in crypto in crypto prices and NFC trading and such. So I wouldn'tthink that it's gonna grow the next. We are probably mostly heading intoworldwide financial recession. So we have couple of very unique things. Rightnow. We see, for example, that the venture funds have the record amounts of drypowder in their war chest.

Vlad Panchenko: So the amount of moneyventure funds have right now, they have never had before. And they have toinvest it by, by, by the job. So you have the, the, you can just sit on the. Sowe will still see a lot of investments. We will see a lot of crypto companies,web three and gaming, getting the investments.

Vlad Panchenko: But what I think isgonna happen is that we will see less investments into early stage and biggerchecks into those who has already proven the business model of the vision andsuch a, because if before, I've seen checks like spray and pray for like 12, 18months and not see what. When the recession has come with the runway the, thestartups will have to get, it's at least two years.

Vlad Panchenko: So, and that's veryclosely connected to the amount of transactions and amount of money transactedin NFT and crypto. I think in the next year would be maybe, I hope the same asit was this year. And then 2024 would be another year when it's gonna gobecause the best projects will survive this, this downfall and then Rocket.

Vlad Panchenko: Rocket launch whatthey have and what they have built. Yeah.

Mike Townsend: I assume the question.Yeah, totally. Yeah. And I assume your general scope of this is all cryptocompanies, or are you talking specifically about gaming?  

Vlad Panchenko: Honestly, that's gonnabe all our all our like startup. It's not gonna be different in crypto or forexample, in FinTech or I don't know any other, any other investing sector inthe United States just because the recession is coming for everyone.

Vlad Panchenko: For cryptos or noncryptos. It's all the same. And the buying power and the amount of money we'reready to transact in the games and this such, however, I've been doing businessin the gaming industry for the last 15 years, and every time there was arecession, actually more people were coming to games, playing and spendingmoney just because that was their best way to get out of maybe sometimes notthe very best reality.

Vlad Panchenko: To spend the socialtime with friends, to achieve something, to get somewhere in the Dun Jam, killa dragon, and have. And I've seen revenues in the gaming industries getting upwhen the everything else was going down. I've seen that couple times already.So fingers crossed, because sw, we, and NFT is right now very much connected tothe gaming as well.

Mike Townsend: That's interesting. Alittle bit pre-show. We were talking about the influence that science fiction,gaming anime, a lot of these stories that, particularly when you're young, yousee end up getting played out in the real world later on. I think there's alsoan influence that some of. The reason why some of these early stories hit, thereason why they become, they really resonate within society is not random.

Mike Townsend: It's that in some wayit is it's deeply intuitive that, you know, we might go to Mars because. Whywouldn't we? Right? We're like, on this planet, we're bursting with energy andintelligence and innovation. So like, it would make sense that we kind of keepthe system, keep the, keep the train going, like go on to the next one and thenext one.

Mike Townsend: And so I think the,the type of stories that get carried out through society and really ripple endup, like you said, Playing out or manifesting in reality when you, you know,hit your twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and you actually have thecapital resources and time to do it, how do you see the influence today?

Mike Townsend: Like, do you stay intouch with the stories that are being told to the youth and what are, how doyou digest those stories or think about what's coming down the pike in terms oflike, you know, the, the, the story aspect.

Vlad Panchenko: There are two sides ofthe coin. So one side of the coin is that I've been reading lots of sci-fisince was, as I, since I was a kid, I am still reading everything I could,especially those like from hug, hug to words, and I don't know from the lastyears the things like three body problem or children of time, Ugh.

Vlad Panchenko: This is inspiring.This is what sets up the ground for the future at. Wishful thinkingexploration, but I do like sci-fi. I read it a lot and I enjoy it. But what Ireally, what connects every other generation altogether, that would be funny.But this is honestly what I think is TikTok because that's one of our blackhole thing.

Vlad Panchenko: When watching it fromthere is a lot of educational stuff. For example, I've been, I've beensubscribed to a couple of astrophysicists who explain you in short and verystraightforward videos what's happening, how it works in such, however, what Icould see, and I have like three nephews. Being like 18, 21 and 23 what I'veseen that I'm TikTok unites us all because we are watching and creating thesame jokes, the same cultural code, and the same, I don't know narrative and tois what what is uniting us all.

Vlad Panchenko: So when we all comeinto one room, we've we've consumed the same content, the St. I haven't seen itever before because for example in Twitter, I don't think they will everconsume the same content I am consuming. But in t Talk it's joining every othergeneration together, and this is what I like about it. Maybe controversial, butthat's what actually happening.  

Mike Townsend: Yeah. I tend to thinkthat TikTok has a higher bandwidth of information throughput, so you're justable to passively consume a lot more, a lot faster, and just the general userinterface compared with like, you know, Facebook, which is mostly text, somepicture Instagram is like mostly picture, but a decent amount of.

Mike Townsend: Twitter, 90% text, andthen TikTok is like 99% video in instantly loading. And so there's just not, Ican't imagine how you would consume information faster than TikTok. And then I,I sort of think of TikTok as like, it's the gym you go into in high schoolwhere everyone's in the same room, but they're clustered in different areas.

Mike Townsend: So you can seeeverybody else, but you're, you're kind of like far away, like you might get.You know, one video every day or every week about something that you're notreally interested in, but you like, you know, you see like anime or likephysics or whatever the thing is, but there's a whole cluster of people thatare, that are, that are in that, in that sub cluster.

Mike Townsend: It's like we're all inthis shared space, but, but kind of different clusters.  

Vlad Panchenko: Totally agree, but theonly, the most interesting for me, difference between the other social networksis that those clusters we're in The TikTok constantly tries to get you intosome other new content. They're constantly trying to merge you like a littlebit with another cluster.

Vlad Panchenko: You're washing like, Idon't know, just the politics at some point. Couple of videos, which he wouldprobably like was the. Or you're watching just some funny dances. And so, andthen the next time they, they'll just show you some fun video about theastrophysics astrophysics. So and the algorithms are so good that at some pointyou realize you're consuming more or less a lot of different content, andthat's what enhancing your brain cells and neural.

Vlad Panchenko: That's why I like alot because the bubbles they created on Twitter or Facebook, I haven't, Ihaven't felt that never. But in TikTok, they're constantly pushing your bubbleand that's fun. That's good.  

Mike Townsend: Now, what do you thinkabout the influence that if you boil, tac up to the developers? TAC is aChinese owned country. China has, you know, their infamous firewall, which theyallow, they really try to ban the internet and ban really all intellectualtrading. They're very concerned with preserving ideas and controllingnarratives, and that's, this seems to be very relevant because China is, youknow, about to be the world's largest.

Mike Townsend: Economic power,possibly military power. And they, if they have rude access over the TikTok,which is the largest social media network, it creates a lot of politicalagitation because not only could they see everything you create, see everythingyou consume, they might see your location, they might have all your privateinformation.

Mike Townsend: And if you were to say10 years ago, Hey, we're gonna. Hundreds of millions of people's information inthe US or in the Western world, and we're just gonna give it to the Chinesegovernment. There would be, it would, that would start a war immediately. Butyet that's kind of what's happened through voluntary divulging of informationin return for this entertainment value and connection value.

Mike Townsend: Do you see that asbeing something that is like the, the trigger point that creates. Either abanding of TikTok or in some way, you know, like for instance, you can't use,you can't use social media networks in China, but yet China can make socialmedia networks and the rest of the world can use them.

Mike Townsend: So there's a strange,there's a strange one way barrier that's that's happening that to me does notseem sustainable. And by the way, where, where are, Well, tell me a little bitabout you. So where, where are you in the world? Where, what part of the worldare you most familiar with or have lived the most? Just for context?  

Vlad Panchenko: That would be a littlebit more context that probably you, you expected. Because I was born and raisedin Ukraine, Kiev, and for many years I split my life in between LA and SantaMonica in Kiev. And we had a huge office in Kiev right before the war. But twoweeks before it started I rented out a plane and I got everyone out.

Vlad Panchenko: Just from theperspective that if something is gonna happen, we're staying in control. And ifnot, then we will just spend a couple of weeks altogether somewhere in Monteraand then in everything, when everything happened that was something what savedthe company and Wow. Yeah, made a lot of things grow. That was one of the bestdecisions.  

Mike Townsend: Yeah. Would the, wouldthe men in particular not have been able to leave? Had you waited the twoweeks?  

Vlad Panchenko: No, no. It was beforethe war. So I ran out the plane before the war, like two weeks before. Right.Because I have a gut feeling that something is gonna happen and the worst thingis that loss of no.

Vlad Panchenko: Well, I know peoplefrom the company who, who, and their relatives were living in the. Where, whereall the atrocities from the Russian Army habit, like in in European, they werethere. And if I wasn't renting that plane and getting them out, I wouldn'tprobably see either of them or their kids. And that was insane because weactually moved everyone with families because I said, You can get your, likewife a kid, and it's just not the parents, but if you want the parents, theycould pay for that.

Vlad Panchenko: But we were paying forthe, the, the. And I remember that after the, everything happened with all theprocesses and bombings, and I, I've seen, I've seen the wife, one of mydevelopers on the streets of Monte, she's seen me and she started cryingbecause that was one of those very emotional moments because she knew that if,if, if we didn't do that, probably she wouldn't, wouldn't be alive.

Vlad Panchenko: Neither she not herkid. So that was that. Now we established the office in Li. Where everybody'sdown. Well, everybody from is now in Libon and from Ukraine. We have just acouple of people left in Ukraine, and I hope at the moment sooner than laterwhen the war ends everyone's gonna get back because that's, that's home.

Vlad Panchenko: But for now,everybody's in Lisbon, so, yeah. And I'm, I'm getting back and forth the U.S.

Mike Townsend: Yeah. And. I justoutta curiosity, were there any, I know the men were under mandatory andconscription, you know, the, the men in Ukraine couldn't leave was the generalmessage I picked up on. Did any men on the team elect to go back or what wasthe general attitude behind the mandatory conscription process policy?

Vlad Panchenko: Like 10, 10% of otherpeople who actually served in the Army, like, like had payments, was in thearmy and was actually defend. The north of ki like butcher opinion and the resthe's now back in working, but he's like, on the short note, he's coming back tothe territorial defense when they call him.

Vlad Panchenko: And we have a couplemore people like from design who are still like at, at arms and defending thecountry. So that's that's, that's what we. Mm, interesting. And there were oneof the things I, I did in the first weeks of the board in LA we created thegroup called Ukranian Leaders Against War, where we gathered lots ofinterpreters and we were connecting with senators and and congressmen andCongress, women of course in the United States and asking for help and No.

Vlad Panchenko: First of all, that wasfirst time in my life when I've seen how democracy works because we've beentalking to the senator from California. I forgot. Just it's a little bit.  

Mike Townsend: Oh, that's, Well,good. The name of the person. Yeah, it's fine. Yeah.  

Vlad Panchenko: Yeah. We've beentalking with her and her office and well, she's, she's great. She's great.She's doing for so many years. She's amazing woman. So we've been talking withher about what Ukraine needs and how, and why I remembered about that, thatI've been getting on the calls, like together to on Zoom, couple of our guysfrom the company who were like in the tre.

Vlad Panchenko: And they were sayinglike, we are missing this and this and that, and I'm right now, right heredefending the country, please help. So Center Feinstein, that's was her office.So, and that was like Tuesday and we said like, like Ukraine needs this andthis and that. She said, Alright, can you do that in writing?

Vlad Panchenko: Like we, did, we sendthe email on Wednesday? She came back and said like, Is that right? Correct.Did I understand everything? We just did couple of corrections and that wasprobably Thursday when she gathered a bunch of other senators, the friends ofours and et cetera, and then signed the petition to Joe Biden that looked likeUkrainians needs this and this and that.

Vlad Panchenko: And on Friday, Bidensaid, Oh, well the centers came to me, so now I'm giving this $1 billion toUkraine to help with those. And I've seen like written words by myself in thatpetition. So I understand it was not just done by us, but the thing that youcan actually call the senator, tell him like, We need your help all, What doyou need?

Vlad Panchenko: Like this, this, andthat. Alright. And then by like, okay, if Senators won, then we need, and thisis $1 billion in honors board. So we did a lot of great things with, with Olagroup afterwards. But as I said, those, those people from my company, likewho'd been fighting in front lines, who'd been connecting them to the calls,and one of them, for example, was under the under the bar.

Vlad Panchenko: So she was driving andtelling the story about what's happening, how's the war? And then the minestarted to drop and he's like, Ah, I'm sorry, I'll call you back. And.Everything is fine, but when it happens live for the, for the senator orcongressman, it, it, it helps to bring the energy. And then the guys were doingthe live streams from bha, European, and the parents of my wife were in my,anyways, it's probably not the not the, not, not, not the worst story of, ofaround the Coin podcast, but Oh, that's great.

Vlad Panchenko: We're helping a lot asa company, as person to person thing, and I just hope that, It was sounimaginable for me when it's here 2022, we're building math versus we'relaunching Rocket to the Morris, and then the guys like, let's kill otherpeople. Who just declare, What the heck, man, Just, just build AI buildingmath.

Vlad Panchenko: Do what? Why, Why,why? We're not in in year 19 33, 39. Where in 2020. It's unimaginable. Why?Yeah. So that's why well we're having as much as we can. Everyone is more orless safe in sound, but still the war, the war is there and I just hope that itends quicker and sooner the later. But what I would like to say to everyone onthe call and on the stream that the amount of help from the US is amazing andthank you everyone for.

Mike Townsend: Wow. What a powerfulstory. Yeah. It certainly seems like they're, the people leading the war,particularly on the Russian side, are just living old fantasies. You know, Likeyou say, we're doing 2022 shooting rockets built in Metaverses. It's likethey're not, you know, they're not of that mindset.

Mike Townsend: They're reallythinking the storylines from, you know, Cold War, World War. Yeah. Right.They're old, old people. I mean, we have, you know, a cracy of people who arein their sixties, seventies, some eighties leading these countries, us included,like, you know, the, So I think that just puts a, a tremendous amount ofTension between generations on what the priorities are and the advantage of theyoung people is that the old people will die.

Mike Townsend: So eventually thesestories transition, right? That's one thing we know for sure is that everyhuman being comes into this world and leaves this world. So if anything, Ithink that's the. , like the saving grace behind keeping the stories moving andnot being too fixated and attached to old narratives because there is way moreinteresting and exciting future to build and zero sum mentality, which is likethese kind of conversations, everything we're talking about in the metaverseand like, it's not even just the metaverse, it's just the.

Mike Townsend: It really opens upthe, the whole world, an entire universe of creative potential, which bringsall the financial benefit to your physical reality. You know, you can be inrural Africa with an internet connection on starlink or something, and then beable to learn a skill or build a product, or offer a service that then enhancesyour prosperity in the physical world around you, which ultimately is like,it's actually happening. Yeah, it's actually, it's really happening. And, andpeople start to climb up this, this ladder of, you know, Maslow's hierarchy oflike food, shelter, relationships, and then it's like a job I don't hate andactual creative prosperity and sharing that with other people. So weintuitively, as people, I think, wanna climb this ladder, right? But thenthere's also, there's, there's counter tension, right? It's not all, obviouslyit's not all roses all the way up.

Vlad Panchenko: But you know, ingeneral what I believe in that there is no way where the past can win over thefuture. So if we are with, you are like building the vendor versus selling the,the Mars, the vats, the starlings, the AI.

Vlad Panchenko: So this narrative, youcan't beat it with some old stories like your parents date, like Cold War. Soit's just, it's not how it works. It just as you just said, like the timepasses, those people die and the future comes. There is no way out like thepast. Never build, build the future.

Mike Townsend: But, but it does, itdoes. The past can, the making wrong decisions and having the past forces winon battles create a price for the future. Like one, one thing that comes tomind is like in the seventies really, the late sixties, seventies, the UnitedStates, there was kind of a, an explosion of psyched. Use, and there was acounter narrative by the president at the time to ban this.

Mike Townsend: And really now it's,it's obvious that it was for political reasons, but the banning of it for 50years was basically like the old ways winning and then stifling innovation inthis area of mental health and plant medicine. And so now it's like we have aworld where how many people are suffering from mental illness?

Mike Townsend: Probably because ofthe stifled research and development in this other area. So the price you payis like, you can't ever win. You know, the, the old ways can't win, but theycan slow down prosperity and cause like the progress, like tumors in, in thecollective consciousness. Yeah. Slow down the progress. Yeah. That's how Ithink of it.  

Vlad Panchenko: Well, even, Who am Ito talk about the, the politics, but especially overseas, but still like I knowthe countries not even one who've been adopting anti-abortion laws like in thelast couple of years. Really, I really, I've seen like 50 years ago women wereprocessing freight.

Vlad Panchenko: Protesting freight,and then they won, won that, and then we're moving into the future andsomebody, No, no, let's get back there. Really?

Mike Townsend: Yeah. Yeah. Well, alot of this is just, is just re So my, my thoughts on this is that the tectonicshifts are happening. Like the tectonic plates are moving and they're still notsettled in yet.

Mike Townsend: So I think really Webthree, crypto blockchain. Ai vr, the Metaverse and you could like probablysprinkle in some like economic restructuring, like the general fatigue of theinstitutions, you know, US government, large institutional credibility is at anall time low and decreasing. So I think all these together are.

Mike Townsend: They're all in intransit, right? Like think of your own world like gaming and NFTs and a I, vr.All this stuff is, it's not settled in yet. Everyone's really excited becausethe future has not yet arrived yet, but we're working really hard to make ithappen. So because of this, this movement or this volatility, this unsettling,I think people feel a need to question what is the most.

Mike Townsend: Assumed truth that weshare. And abortion kind of, it has a convergence where it's, it's somethingthat you can, you can push on. It's not relevant today for anything. It's likewe, we didn't, near 2022, we didn't develop any technology. It's not relevantother than for the point of te it's like a litmus test on.

Mike Townsend: How stable re societyis. If you can push on that from a regulatory perspective and get like a rockwall pushback, maybe like you could 20 years ago. Okay. Society's prettystable. If you can push on it and you're like, Okay, we have enough criticalmass to like move the, move the, you can almost think of these things likeabortion is like a ticker symbol for a stock.

Mike Townsend: You know, the stock ofApple goes up and down and there's pressure on either side. There's buy andsell pressure and usually. In, in low volatility times the, the stock isrelatively consistently priced. High volatility times, there's a lot of changein the buy and sell pressure. And so things rock it up.

Mike Townsend: They rock it down andthink of the same thing can be true in the political sense. You have like a, aticker symbol for abortion, right? How many people aren't either side of thisargument and in high volatility times. That goes up and that goes down and itmoves around a lot. So I think each of these, I think we're not just in avolatile, volatile period economically, I think it's socially.

Mike Townsend: And so these tickersymbols, which have been pretty consistent, start to move around a lot.  

Vlad Panchenko: I would definitelyagree with you. And I think it's, it's connected in the hard way. So if the theeconomy was going just up, there was no covid, no war, no Chinese tension andsuch who or were no like so like political tensions.

Vlad Panchenko: So who would everthink like, Oh, let's push that button and this button and this, and likeagonize each other just for a little bit more. But at the moment when we feltfeel uncertainty in the in tomorrow and this uncertainty is only growing, thenit's so much easier to sell us politically, sell us something.

Vlad Panchenko: What was in the past,and we're like, we remember than when it was true. The times were better, thegrass was greener. And you're like, Oh, alright, maybe let's get back. Therewas. And we will feel more stable. So this is where I totally agree with you,and this is just playing on those, on those buttons by politicians, but I justhope that as a moment we overcome the crisis that, that, that ticking it's,it's gonna slow dwon.  

Mike Townsend: My thought is that asa lot of the things that we're really excited about, a lot of stuff that you'reworking on, a lot of stuff in crypto web three, all these technologies start toconverge and materialize as real tangible benefits.

Mike Townsend: And they start tonormalize as like, you know, every car is driverless. Like instead of lookingat phones, we look at. AR glasses and there's like real substantive benefitspractically in people's lives from these technologies. They're not justspeculative stuff. Then I think again, things start to crystallize and we startto move into like good times, but that's the, that's the urgency of it, right?That's what fuels us to move in this direction. To build in thisdirection.  

Vlad Panchenko: I would add up to thatthat's the quote from my advisor Tree Kins who was the founder of our training.So we've been discussing a lot, like if even many years ago about the NFTs andtrading, and he said something which I've been using and thinking a lot latelyis that at the moment just one game with certain amount of users will open up.

Vlad Panchenko: Its trading providingsin real ownership. Then you can't put the gene back to the bottle. Every othergame will be able to be developed with the close economy. Nobody will, willgonna. If in this game I own what I buy, I can trade it or I can flush it, butthis is my decision. I won't play the game, which is just, you know, close.

Vlad Panchenko: And yeah, I'm like,Whoa, whoa. What are you trying to do?. So that's what I also believe in.

Mike Townsend: Yeah, I, I thinkthat's true. I think as long as, as long as there's enough of a critical mass,like the genie has to be far enough away from the bottle that it's impossibleto put it back in like in Bitcoin, Right?

Mike Townsend: Like, could the USgovernment today ban Bitcoin? I don't know. Like I, I know that they could passa law and then, but would there be riots in the streets? Would they practicallybe able to pass it? It's, it seems like it's almost just too far outside of thebottle to, like, what would be the reaction if that happened?

Mike Townsend: Hypothetically? I, Idon't know. I mean, it, it's, I would protest. That's something I would getoutta my house and go to a march for, because I, I believe in that, that futureso strongly, and I think a lot of people, I almost think Bitcoin Maxism is the.It's the most underappreciated ideology in that sense that it's, it's like asleeper, which is good.

Mike Townsend: You know, you wannahave it be a sleeper and then just continue to grow and build and gainnotoriety without imploding, with stupid scam projects.  

Vlad Panchenko: Yeah, that's true.That is true. I couldn't agree more.  

Mike Townsend: I, I wanna ask you alittle bit more about the trajectory of, I mean, we, we touched on a few bigideas. Gaming obviously with what you're working on atDMarket.

Mike Townsend: We talked about the,the, the war you're experiencing in Ukraine, and we talked about the trajectoryof human beings. Is there anything of those that you wanted to add to this? Ianything that you think about or any concepts or ideas that you wanted to throwout?

Vlad Panchenko: Oh, well I have thisis funny story because for example yeah, I have an example. I don't knowwhether this is something you wanted to hear or not, but this is something I'vebeen debating with friends a lot recently that I'm pushing as hard as possiblefor the metaverses to come out to.

Vlad Panchenko: And to be successful.And thus the next step for us would be the actual magic experience where likeNarrowing or any other company just put the wire into our head and we have thefull experience. Like we're in the dream, but we're in the game, like full,full, full immersive experience. So what's been.

Vlad Panchenko: Disturb me a littlebit and thinking about it that we get to that technology before we get to Mars.Probably nobody's gonna, nobody's gonna go to Mars anymore, so if we will beable to just plug in the, plug in the plug and build the metaverse, we want flyon the drag and conquer the, the, the pirate shifts or whatever we found wasfull experience.

Vlad Panchenko: For us as humanity,probably it would be close to impossible together like and to push us to otherplanet. And this is maybe a strange thing to think about it, but crossingfingers that would first start building that Colonian Morris and just thenafterwards would get the, to the full immersive experiences. That's, that's oneof the controversial sorts. Maybe you wouldn't agree with.  

Mike Townsend: Yeah. I, I tend tothink there's a, similar to what we were talking about earlier where there's a,a distinct difference in lived reality from generation to generation. You know,like Putin's experience of World War ii, Cold War, like that's his head, that'shis base reality.

Mike Townsend: And then you and Ilargely are like internet children, So we're thinking like, what are webuilding? How are we constructing it? That's our base reality. And so thatdefines. Social networks, it defines all of our occupational expertise. Itdefines all of our value structures and what we really care about with, youknow, I, I way rather be, I'd be bothered more if someone was banned on Twitterthan if they were, you know, if they went to prison for, right.

Mike Townsend: Like the, the reality,the, if they went to prison and they could tweet to me, it makes no difference.I'm like, well, this person that I'm interacting with on Twitter is still thereand now they're just in a different place. So, but there is just a difference.Realities and I think what. Elucidating is that there's gonna be the next stepin base reality, which is like plugged into the back of the head, probablytrue, like given enough timeframe.

Mike Townsend: It's hard to seeotherwise why that wouldn't be the scenario, but I do think that will benon-linear distribution across society. It's not gonna be like a spark whereeveryone wants it all at once. So people who still live in. Base reality,physical reality, they're gonna be the ones to be like, I don't need thatneural stuff.

Mike Townsend: I'm going to Mars. Sothat's the great thing about the fact that we have billions of people anddifferent preferences and ideas is like, it doesn't, you don't need everyone togo, You just need like, you know, couple thousand people to go and planet,right?  

Vlad Panchenko: No, no, I'm honestly Iif you gimme the choice, like right now, Plug the plug the plug.

Vlad Panchenko: So let's go to themetrics. Really, honestly, I, I, I like the immersive experience. I, I'd ratherbuild the worlds and deeply inside myself. I think we live in the virtualworld, just we don't have the controls. So at the moment, I can build up closeto real world, but some different rules socialize with my friends and flightedReagans to the, to the castle.

Vlad Panchenko: I would do that ahundred percent. Yeah. So I just think that probably your, first of all, I, Ilike you calling this the base reality. So this is telling me a lot about howwe think in many ways. So yeah. I just think that, for example, in the nextcouple of years, what we should see and I'll just say that and I'm in a coupleof years, Let's, let's see whether it happens or not.

Vlad Panchenko: I really believe inlots of ar. Like, Like the next generation would be obsessed with wearing thoseglasses or even the lenses, just the contact lenses where the whole realitywould be argumented and we will meet each other and see each other in the basereality, but in a different form with skins. Yeah.

Vlad Panchenko: And this is what thenext generation hundred percent will be used to. And this amazes me even morebecause it merges the best reality of the virtual. And we can still touch eacheach other, but see whatever the heck we want. With the parrot one, we're thedragon, and I hope that comes sooner than later.

Vlad Panchenko: Especially was, I'veheard that the apple glasses are in the works. Lots of other companies aredoing it. And even that guy who been working American in HoloLens, he wasworking HoloLens and then for like a couple of years and then he went back toChina, opened up his own company, and he, yesterday he started selling his ARglasses on Amazon for like 300 bucks.

Vlad Panchenko: Holand suited him, butfailed to win. So good. Probably that AR feature. Yeah. I think for us asconsumers, it's good because it's the on the bus, it's not $10,000. Yeah. Sothat would be the next steps for us as consumers to see that game education inthe real world. Whereas again, NFT is demonstrating, creating some shows entertaining.

Vlad Panchenko: That's what I'mexcited to see in the next upcoming years.

Mike Townsend: Yeah, yeah. Right. It,it took, I mean, even when the iPhone first came out, conceptually AmazingLightning, Everyone got it immediately. I iPod phone, computer or the internetall together like Steve Jobs famous speech, but then it like iPod, iPhone one,two, three, four.

Mike Townsend: Five was kind of slowand barely usable, like real. I think iPhone five was really the one whereyou're like, Okay, I could actually use this. I could go on the internet, Icould check my email. Like prior that it's so, it was so painfully slow andlike it was, But I think that's the beauty of it, right? Like they're on Questthree right now, like Meta's about to release that.

Mike Townsend: So yeah. Yeah, that'sthe natural evolution. Things are really expensive, slow, bulky, but like, Aslong as you can get the hook right and, and you get enough traction to keep theball rolling, that's what matters.  

Vlad Panchenko: I clearly rememberwhen like 50% of my work shifted to iPhone three Gs because it was enough hourand enough connectivity and enough what it was giving me just to do alreadyhalf of my work just from the work, from the phone, on the go anywhere I want.

Vlad Panchenko: The next one, the fouricon four, which had a. Those it wasn't smooth on the, on, on the corners. Itwas like the yeah I, I remember that one. It it, the, the, I think it coveredlike a hundred percent of what I needed for my work. And I remember people whenthey been meeting with me somewhere in the middle of the day and like, Oh,you're watching your phone constantly and replying emails.

Vlad Panchenko: I said like, Yeah,yeah, yeah. That's my. And they didn't believe me that you can do your workfrom the phone. So I remember, and I agree with you, but for me it started fromthree  

Mike Townsend: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Infact, even until like 2010, people didn't even believe that the, that companieswere gonna build apps. They were like, Why would you ever leave the computer?

Mike Townsend: You have all thisfunctionality, great user interface, mouse keyboard, but the one feature thatthe iPhone had that you could take it anywhere. You made it so form factor, siall that shit kind of just was, there was a thousand x feature benefit, in factthat you could take it anywhere. But yeah. Awesome stuff man.

Mike Townsend: Let's let's wrap here.It was so fun. I appreciate you going extra Vlad. Congrats on all the progress,especially pleasure through such turbulent times. , and it's such an inspiringstory too, to see democracy actually function and be useful to help you, theteam, the country. SoDMarket, do you have any personal social handles you wannathrow out?

Mike Townsend: Places where you'repersonally writing or tweeting or anything?

Vlad Panchenko: Well you mean thesocial network accounts or?  

Mike Townsend: For you, For youpersonally? We'll include all the show notes for DMarket.  

Vlad Panchenko: All yeah. So I didn'tprepare anything just to, to share. It just was a pleasure to talk and to,Yeah.  

Mike Townsend: Oh, no, I was gonnaask you any, any, are there any places on the internet that you wanna put out,like your Twitter handle or places that people can reach you or follow you?

Vlad Panchenko: Yeah. Yeah, yeah,yeah. Well my Twitter is @DmarketVlad. My Instagram is portall with Double Lbecause since I was a kid and playing Jbo, the first one I've been dreamingabout the portal teleporting people. So writing it was double L since then. Andthat, that's my nickname since then. So, yeah, portal lot or portal onInstagram.

Vlad Panchenko: That's me. And thankyou very much for the invitation, Mike, and was a pleasure to converse and hopeeveryone has the same feeling after watching what we just did together.  

Mike Townsend: Talk soon, man.