Is Web3 the Future of Social Media? - Ray Chan| ATC #504

In this enlightening episode, our host Stephen Sargent has an engaging conversation with Ray Chan, CEO and co-founder of 9GAG, a global cross-platform entertainment network with a 200 million global audience, and the Founder and CEO of Memeland, the fastest and largest growing socialfi ecosystem and web3 venture studio. An alumnus of Y Combinator and 500 Startups, Ray has a track record of fostering community-driven digital innovation. Prior to his success with 9GAG and Memeland, he contributed to Sing board and played a pivotal role at a Nobii, an online reading community acquired by a consortium including HMV Group and major publishers in 2010.

Host: Stephen Sargeant

Guest: Ray Chan

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Episode Transcript

Stephen: This is your host Stephen Sargent. Welcome to another episode of Around The Coin. Today we have Ray Chan. He's the CEO and co founder of 9GAG. If you remember the meme culture, they pretty much invented it in Web2. And now he's bringing us Memeland, which is basically a Disneyland for Web3 projects. We get into everything.

There's early days in Y Combinator with groups like Instacart and Coinbase. We talk about building community in Web3. Also, how Web3 has this dichotomy of always being contradicting. We dive into how to bring back the creator economy and tokenization. Back to Web 3, especially for creators. And we talk about why Asia is driving a lot of this growth.

This is by far one of the funniest conversations. My, my cheeks are probably red by how much I laughed in this conversation. Ray's an amazing entrepreneur, but he's very practical and reasonable in his approach to Web 3. And this is definitely a podcast you want to listen to. Let me know in the comments.

Reach out to Ray on Twitter slash X after this episode if you enjoyed it. Talk to you soon.

Stephen: This is your host Stephen Sargeant, the Around The Coin podcast.

Stephen: We have Ray Chan here. CEO and co-founder of 9gag, which is a global cross platform entertainment network. But you've also now created Memeland, which is one of the fastest and largest growing Sargeant, which we'll get into talking about exactly what that is, ecosystem for Web3 and Web3 Venture Studio.

Ray, great to have you to the episode. Maybe tell us a little bit about yourself, and then we'll start jumping into some of these questions and what you were doing there at 9gag for the last decade and a half.

Ray: Yeah, yeah, last 15 years, yeah. I'm Ray one of the co founders of 9gag. 9gag is basically a platform to sharing, to share memes, right?

And our company mission is very straightforward. It's to make people happier and make the world happier. Right? So I think that I think we've been doing a decent job, right? Because a lot of people actually laugh, right? When, when they see memes.

Ray: I remember when we started 9gag, meme was like very niche, right?

Right now, everyone talks about memes, right? I mean, it's almost like my mom can share memes with me. So, so I feel like we have done we have achieved something. Yeah, we're part of the, the culture forces that push meme to the, to the, to the mainstream. Yeah.

Stephen: I want to know, like, when you talk about memes, like it seems like every, whether it's, an awards show, any kind of event, social gathering that's on social media, it almost feels like people are doing things.

To become meme famous. Have you noticed like the certain adjectives they use or the faces that they have kind of pushing the internet to put them in the meme to get that virality? Have you noticed that over the last two years since you started back in 9gag 15 years ago?

Ray: It's almost like people feel like they live in the The Truman Show, right?

Like the movie, right? They want to become like the The focus, they want to become the star of the show. That's why they always try to say something, do something to get famous. You almost, I think in soundbite, right. You almost think in like a, like a dance move, right. It's kind of like that. Yeah. But I mean, it's, it's interesting, right.

To, to be part of the, the, the, the, the audience, right. But if you are the creator, right. It's actually quite hard to, to stay in the top, right. To stay getting attention. Yeah. So it's, it's interesting.

Stephen: Your concept was about making people happier. It was 2008, if everyone remembers the kind of global financial crisis that we went through then.

We're seeing a little bit of remnants of it now, I think, going into 2024. Was that the concept that the world was kind of in a down state and you felt there needs to be something to unite globally that can make people happier? Or what was like the press for this about, having a mission to make people happier?

Ray: Honestly, I didn't remember much, right? It's 15 years ago. It's almost like one, more than one third of my life ago. I but I studied law at college, right? I didn't, I didn't, I did all the things at college, right? Except studying, right? And that's why I didn't become a lawyer. I studied law at college, right?

I didn't become a lawyer. I worked at a TV station for a few months, and then I worked at a bank for a few months, and then I joined an internet company. At the time I thought, hey, my boss was so young. If he could start a company, why couldn't I? I mean, he's smart, but I'm not that stupid, right? At least that's what I thought, right?

And, and then during the leisure time, I found my younger brother and also some friends. And then we we worked together, right? On some projects. We work on projects. We're sharing reviews for cosmetics, reviews for home appliances. And then we try to build an online karaoke. All of these useful ideas didn't work.

Except a very stupid idea called 9gag to allow people sharing memes and sharing funny pictures on the internet. I think that is the one that actually have users. Because I don't know whether you Stephen, you remember that at the time when we want to share funny pictures, right? We were still using AOL Messenger, MSM Messenger.

You have to wait. For it, for the image to upload, and then you send it, right? It is not very, very user friendly. Yeah. So at the time we thought, oh, maybe we could create a website to get all these funny pictures, and then you can just send a link. That was the whole idea. Yeah. So we didn't really think too much about the global economy, right?

I mean, when you were young, you don't talk about economies, right? You talk about your own pocket, right? So, so I think that was not the, the, the background idea before we start, right? But honestly, when we look back, maybe that's one of the reasons why it catches on because, because I think people need a laugh, right?

And, and, and a lot of The, the, the energy, right, was on, oh, the, the the financial crisis and stuff like that. I mean, around that time, Bitcoin was born, right? So, so it's like very, very, very interesting when we look back. Yeah.

Stephen: Now tell me about those first couple of years. Cause you, you say your, your boss started the business.

You could start a business. I'm assuming the ad, maybe the ad. Revenue play doesn't happen for maybe a few years. When do you decide that, Oh, we're going to keep on going on versus Oh, like we're going to go get real jobs and we might do this on the weekends. Walk me through. Cause I think a lot of listeners have the same type of thing.

They're doing something on the side, catches a little bit of fire, but it's not paying their bills. They ended up going back to their full time job and they never revisited where versus you've leveraged this to build a community of over 200 million people across multiple platforms. What was kind of that, that breaking point for you to say, yeah, I think we're going to go all in and continue this.

Ray: We actually didn't go all in when we first started. Yeah. For the first three years, right, we still keep our day job, right? I mean, we are very conservative, right? At the time I work at that startup, right? During the leisure time, I, I worked with my co founders, right? To build something, right? Until we started to get some revenue, right?

Then we went all in, right? So it's almost like Very I would say it's not, it's not traditional, compared to all these startup stories in the Silicon Valley, right? So, so, so for us, it's almost, oh, we, we go in pre-safe, step by step, right? We launch a company, right? And then we started to get revenue.

And at the time we thought of course you can browse internet anywhere, right? But at the time we thought, oh, maybe we should apply to the, the, the accelerators in the Silicon Valley, right? It's like playing basketball. I mean, you can play basketball anywhere, but you, it would be anyone's dream, right?

To play, play at the NBA, right? And Silicon Valley was the NBA of of of the, of tech companies.

Ray: Yeah, that's why we applied to Y Combinator. That's why we applied to 500 startups, right? And then we got in 500 startups. And after that we raised a small seed funding. And then after that, we joined Y Combinator, right?

So the whole thing was kind of like a dream come true to us, right? And, and that's how we continue to, to build 9gag for 15 years.

Stephen: I've heard you talk about, the early days of grinding it out, working late nights. Tell me about the conversations you're having, because you're in Y Combinator, everyone's building what might be the next Facebook, or they're launching these big, VC backed companies, and when they say, hey, Ray, what do you do?

You're like, yeah, I have this meme site, yeah, meme site. Did you feel the kind of, did you feel a little bit of imposter syndrome? Or were you just having fun with the whole experience? And you're like, hey, I get to learn and pull from these people. To invest in a business that maybe no one else has thought about.

Ray: It's actually not that bad, right? One of our batch mates at Y Combinator was Coinbase, right? So that was like summer 2012 right? It's, I mean, sharing funny picture is still more meaningful to sending. Digital money, right? At the time that no one really cared, right? So I remember Brian, right?

Brian Armstrong, right? CEO of Coinbase, right? I mean, at that time he's, he was still the single founder, right? So, so he asked people to create an account on Coinbase and then send people a Bitcoin when they sign up, right? So, I mean, we were kind of popular, right? Comparing to Brian at the time, right? So we were crazy, but he's even crazier.

Yeah, that's why I find it really funny, right? After all this year, and then we started to learn more about crypto. We started to launch our own Web3 project and then Coinbase is like one of the, the, the, the, the key companies, right? In building Web3. So, so I feel like sometimes it doesn't really matter what others think about what you're doing, right?

It matters what you think about what you're doing, right? So we believe that, okay, what we are doing, which is like sharing funny pictures, like sharing memes. It's valuable to a lot of people, right? That's why you keep pushing it. And then for, for, for Coinbase, right? For, for other companies in our batch, they have their own mission.

They have their own dream and then they keep building it, right? Another company that was in our batch is Instacart, right? The, the, the grocery shopping company, right? So we have a lot of like famous, like alumni, right? To, to me, when I say it out loud. It's not about, it's not about, okay to say 9gag is cool Memeland is cool.

It's more about, hey, we just fill out some names so that you know that you can think that you may think that we are, we are cool. Right. But we actually, no one really care too much. Yeah. But I mean, it is what it is. Right. We still survive. I think that's the number one thing. Yeah.

Stephen: And what's funny is like Coinbase probably has a Slack channel dedicated.

Directly to the 9gag so they can see all the funny memes and people are just probably putting in their favorite funny memes I'm sure everyone, you mentioned some huge companies. People probably wonder do you still keep in touch with these people? Do you kind of like grow on, once every two years?

Do you all meet as a cohort? Does Brian maybe flip the bill for a nice dinner? How did those relationships work? Almost a decade past when people have reached different levels of what we would consider success, especially from business points of view.

Ray: I mean, when you, it's almost it's almost like you get into a good school, right?

And then the school has a very strong alumni network. It doesn't mean that, all the alumni, right? It doesn't mean that you keep in touch with all your cool classmates, right? And to be honest, someone who were cool back then, right? May not be cool right now so that they may not join the reunion and stuff like that.

But, one thing for YC is a tech accelerator. Right. That's why it connects people using tech as well. We have an internal website where it lists out all the founders and all the companies within all the batches. Yeah. And then you can ask questions on it and then you will get deals from it. You can book office hours. It's almost it's almost like a mini Facebook in a way.

Right. So, so that's how we kind of like keep in touch. And as an alumni, you can join all the YC demo days. So somehow you have a first look at all the new companies, right? So, so this is how, at least how we get in touch. We, we keep in touch because after all, we are not based in the U. S. So somehow we are more detached, right?

From the, from the main group of people. Right. But to be honest, right now, Web3 is global, right? Tech is global. So somehow we see our batchmate from time to time. We also see more companies, right? Joining YC right now and also 500 Startups. At the time we were the first Asian company that joined 500 Startups. We were the first Asian based company that joined Y Combinator.

So somehow when we look back, it's almost it's almost like It's such a long time ago, things have changed so much, right? Right now, I still remember, right? Sam, Sam Altman, right? Was the guy who even, Hey, Ray, we want to invite you to join YC. And then right now, Sam is not even at YC, right? He's like working with like open AI and stuff, right?

So I believe that the key is not about, oh, whether you know that guy or he knows me. Right. The, the, the goal is, hey, surround yourself with people who are smarter than you, who have a, who have a mission to build something, right? Then you can kind of like absorb their energy. You can, you can kind of like learn from each other, right?

I think that is the key. And I feel like all these top accelerators, they actually can do that for us, yeah.

Stephen: I love it. Was Coinbase, you talked about Coinbase and Bitcoin. Was that your first taste of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency or where you are in Asia? Were they already holding meetups and discussions around cryptocurrency?

And this was fairly new to you. Maybe the concept of an exchange was like, Oh, that's a little wild that this early on. But did you know about cryptocurrency before joining Y Combinator?

Ray: I wish. I wish I talked to Brian at the time. I wish. Right. But the thing is, I think I mean, I literally had no idea about cryptocurrency, right?

Until 2018, right? At the time the Y, the ICO boom, right? People talk about ICO all the time. And And right? Meme coin and stuff is always part of the culture of Web3. And then at the time, a lot of people came to us, Hey Ray, Oh, for now, I guess maybe you should launch a GetCoin, right? Do an ICO.

And then I, I tried to use MetaMask. It's fucking unuser friendly. Right? Right. Until, is, until today is still quite unuser friendly. Right. . So at the time I thought, Hey, this shit won't work. Right. That's why we didn't touch it. Right? And then at the time, ICO that the bubble burst, right? And then I thought, okay, we make the right decision.

Right? The thing is, hey, I wish that I, I started, I, I learned more about, about crypto at the time, right? But turns out I didn't right until like about 2020, 2021, right? I started to, to, to, to understand more because at the time, China, US, they were having some trade war and stuff, right? That's why I thought, Oh, maybe it's not very safe, right?

To keep all your money in fiat. That's why we started to learn more about, okay, maybe you should have a crypto wallet, right? At the time, stablecoin was already a thing. That's why we, we convert I convert some of my personal asset into stablecoin. That's how I actually get into crypto, right? And then to about one year or two years later, I started to buy NFT.

And raised us so much money on overpriced JPEGs, right? So, so that's how I learned about crypto.

Stephen: I love it. I love it. And now you're a prominent figure in the Web3. So maybe some of those investments paid off because you got to know founders. You got to build a little bit of community. And, but what jumped out during, that last Web3 bull run 2021, mid 2021 was proofs, right?

Proofs of stake, proof of attendance. We saw now recently after the FTX crash, proof of reserves that the exchanges are putting out. But you have a concept called proof of fandom. What would be, what is Proof of Fandom in your eyes? And maybe what would be the Web 2. 0 equivalent of this concept?

Would it be like a Facebook group or maybe something like 9gag, where it's just a community that shares links together?

Ray: To put it simple, right? I think our focus at Memeland is more about creating our economy. It's more about social fun, right? And when we talk about social fun, it's about adding a Web3 layer.

To the social media, right? And that layer to us, in our opinion, is actually the proof of fandom, right? Because on traditional social media, there are two spectrum, right? On one end, it's like something like Instagram, like TikTok. You use it for free. Creators can use it for free. They don't get paid directly.

Right, on the other spectrum is something like OnlyFans, Patreon, right? The creators get paid, but because the content is behind paywall, that's why they don't reach as many audience, as much audience as their peers, right? So we believe that using Web3, using blockchain, you can actually combine both together.

That means your content can be seen by everyone. Right. But some, only a small portion of of your fans are actually your holders, right? Your, your true supporters, right? And because of, and that part would be something that we call proof of fandom because on blockchain, everything can be like very transparent, right?

You can, I mean, who's the number one fans of Stephen Sargeant, right? Who's the number one fans of Taylor Swift, right? I mean, you have a lot of subscribers.

Stephen: Probably not the same people. I'm going to assume it's not the same people that like Taylor Swift. Probably do not like me, but

Ray: No, the thing is on social media, right?

It's, it costs nothing to follow, right? That's why you have like millions of followers, right? But the thing is, when you actually talk to them, you kind of feel like, okay, maybe I'm talking to like different groups of people of different needs, right? Maybe some of them, they just follow me for my Cool pictures, right?

Some of them, they actually like my songs, right? How can we find the audience that actually like what we're doing? What we're doing? So that we don't have to rely on traditional advertising, right? We can just work on the content for the audience that really love our content, right? I mean, that's something that we call proof of fandom.

Because when it's on chain, you can, oh, if you own the most NFT of Taylor Swift, right? Then you know that, okay, I can tell the world that I'm the number one fan. I think this is the proof of fandom. Yeah, that we are talking about.

Stephen: In your community? We saw a lot when the NFT market was high.

People would jump in any telegram group that they bought an NFT and they would, they'd be the community. Look how strong our community is until the price went down and then all of a sudden, that community is selling like crazy. What have you found in your community?

'cause it seems like your community's done a great job of sticking around supporting the project. You know how battle tested was that proof of fandom during something like a a, a bear market in the NFT land?

Ray: Yeah, our community sucks. I hate our, our holders. Yeah. I mean, jokes aside, right? Community is actually like a relationship, right?

You cannot say that a relationship is solid until you went through hell together, right? That's, that's how a community is, right? I mean, for a lot of projects, right? When they were still riding on the hype, right? Or before, especially before the NFT or the token was launched. Right? That's not real relationship.

It's almost like a guy who wants to get laid, right? You will try to do everything, right? But it doesn't mean that, oh, you act, that's actually love, right? Maybe that's like lines, right? That's something that you want, right? But that's, that's not love, right? But when you are, oh, actually having sickness, right?

And then you have to take care of each other, right? And to death hold you apart, right? That's, that's what love is. Right. I feel like community is kind of like that. Right. So you, you actually see that in Bitcoin. You see that in Ethereum. You see that in Solana right now. Right. So, so for NFT, it's kind of like combining all this kind of stuff into a more visual form, right? Because, oh, you, you hold NFT, you can change your profile picture. You can kind of like tell people that you're part of the community because you can't flex your crypto wallet all the time, right? People would think that you are douchebag, right? Meanwhile, for NFT, you can, you can flex it on your, on your, on your profile, right?

So, so when, how we think about community is, hey, it's a group of people having the same mission, right? And in Web3, Part of that mission will always be making money together, right? But the bigger question is, can we do something in addition to make money together, right? We are not running an alpha group, right?

We are trying to build something where you are trying to disrupt an industry. That's how we think about it. We always talk about SocialFi. We always talk about creating an economy, right? And to be honest, when you look at the crypto space right now there are not that many founders actually build a web social media company before, right?

For us, we are still running 9gag, we are still reaching 200 million audience, right? So I would say that we are, we kind of understand social media and because we also started to learn more about Web3, then we believe that, okay, we can apply what we learn in Web3 combining with our experience in Web2 and try to build something for the creators.

And in the, in the same time we can also try to give I would say not return, but more give value, right? Back to our early supporters, right? That's how we think about Web3. Yeah.

Stephen: Do you see a lot of transition from 9gag supporters, people in that community, now venturing into Web3 because of you and what you're building at Memeland?

They're like, hey, this is interesting. We support you at 9gag. We want to see what's going on in blockchain. And maybe you're helping first time, users of blockchain and cryptocurrency and NFTs through this process. Do you see the kind of that transition?

Ray: We don't want to take credit on that, right?

But I believe that some of our holders, actually, their first NFT project, right? It's Memeland, right? It's our MVP, it's our captains, it's our potatoes. We have three collections, right? And some of them, I think their first fungible token, right? It's also Meme Coin, right? Yeah. So, so I believe that we, we help pushed it, right?

But it doesn't mean that, okay, whoa, we are like the game changer bridging Web3. I mean, I don't believe in that bullshit, right? Because it's not about the bridge, right? It's more about, oh, well, actually you're building something meaningful, right? For that audience, right? We talk a lot about onboarding people into Web3.

It's not onboarding, right? It's actually bringing the word free tech into the existing crowd, right? Existing people, right? So I believe that we kind of like push the agenda a little bit forward, right? But that's not our goal, right? That's our mean, right? Because Hey, we actually need people to buy our NFT.

We need people to support us, right? Otherwise, why don't we just keep building in Web2, right? We, when building Web3, you need to learn how to communicate in Web3. You need to learn why people believe in you in Web3, right? So somehow we leverage that a little bit, right? Especially in the beginning, because in the beginning, hey, when we get into Web3, Who am I?

No one really knows who I am, right? But maybe some of them know what 9gag is. Then we build on that. But at the end of the day it's not just about using the Web2 a connection. It's more about, oh, do you actually have something interesting for people in Web3? That is kind of different comparing to all the other tokens, all the other projects, right?

And at the same time, you can use that Web3 tech, you can use the blockchain tech, right? To bring disruption to the social media. That's what we believe in, right? And we hope our holders also understand that.

Stephen: And when you created Memeland, did you see something you said, you got wrecked on a couple NFT projects.

Did you see something that you're like, Hey, I know I can do it differently. And I know I can give it the value that maybe some of these other projects are not giving. Was that the impetus to start Memeland? Or did you just say Hey, we have to enter the space somewhere. I want to make sure that we have a vested interest in the space as we continue reaching out to all these projects and learning.

Kind of, which, which path were you leaning towards when starting Memeland?

Ray: We always, at Memeland, right, we don't have a roadmap, right? But we have a three step action plan, right? The three step action plan is NFT is for building community. Token is for decentralizing the value. Product is for reaching the masses, right?

And, and we didn't have this three step plan the moment that we launched Memeland. I actually, I actually thought that NFT was a scam, right? Why would people pay millions and thousands of dollars, right? For JPEG, right? Why can't I just right click and save, right? And because, because, but because I work at 9gag, right?

I, I understand one thing, which is When you get older, your curiosity is kind of like your, your, your joints, right? It becomes like weaker, right? So somehow you need to, you don't question why, hey, why this is popular, right? Until you actually spend some time into it, right? I actually had a tweet before, hey, you need to spend 69 hours, right?

Before you comment any project is shit, right? So, so I think a lot of people in Web3 or just in life, they, they have a lot of prejudice, right? Oh, regarding new things. Oh, TikTok was shit, right? That's why they don't play TikTok. Oh, Instagram was shit, right? And then Facebook was shit. Pinterest was shit, right?

I mean That's why you can see that all this social network, all this new technology, right? The first early adopters are always a younger generation because they are still curious, right? They don't really, oh, think that, oh, I, I ate a sock more than you ate rice, right? They don't, they don't think like that, right?

So, so for me, because I work with 9gag, we have a lot of young communities, right? That's why. I try to learn more right before I comment. Right? That's why in 2020 one, right? I started to buy NFTs, right? And got into a lot of the communities, right? Because I was like, Hey, how come it was so crazy, right?

People spend so much money on it, and then in total, right, I become crazy, right? I spent 3000 e, 4,000 Eve, right? At the, and then to buy NFT, right? At the time, Eve was like $4,000, right? So, so. So that's how I learn, right? I joke about that all the time, right? I mean, for GameFi, people talk about play to earn all the time, right?

For me, it's more like I pay, P A Y, right? To learn, L E A R N, right? So that's, that's how we kind of learn about Web3. That's why when we do things, right, we try to absorb what other good projects are doing, right? But at the same time, we try to avoid the webflare. We try to avoid I would say all the bad practice, right?

And and that's, that's how, how, how, how we've come so far. Yeah.

Stephen: It's funny that you mention that, because you openly say you have no utility, Memeline has no utility, no roadmap, no promises, and no expectation of financial return, which seems like the complete opposite of every other NFT project that I've seen out there.

We're still waiting for about, I think, about, what, 100, 000 video games and comic books that were supposed to hit the market in 2021. We've yet to see that. Was that a risky move to say, hey, we promise you nothing, we're just gonna go with value, we're gonna build together as a community? Was that risky when everyone else was kind of Maybe promising the world back at that time?

Ray: There are, there are a few reasons behind that, right? Number one is I'm, I'm a more, I would say I, I, I'm a more experienced founders, right? And I see through a lot of this like bullshit, right? As a, as a, as a, as a, as a founder, right? And also do some in, into investment, right? I also see a lot of this kind of bullshit, right?

That's why I always feel like, hey, if you want to build a company, right? Don't tell people your whole plan. Right, because we are not at university, right? We are not doing Pitching competition, right? Most of the companies that you see these days who are influential, they actually didn't set out to be what they are doing right now, right?

I mean, Instagram was not a photo sharing app, right? It was like a location app, right? I don't believe that WhatsApp imagined they could be this big, right? I think what, what, when you see most of these companies, right, they actually have a destination they want to go, right? But they don't have a map.

Because they don't know where the role is, right? It's also one of the reasons why Memeland is a building based on a private theme, right? Because I love the concept, right? Because it's not okay, you actually know the role. You actually only know the destination. But there will be storms, there will be like typhoon and shit like that, right?

But then you try to navigate based on the situation, right? But your goal doesn't change, right? Maybe your goal change and stuff like that, but still, right? And you kind of like know the direction. Yeah,

Stephen: Yeah. You have a North Star and your mission doesn't change very much. Exactly. Right. And that's very interesting because I think Slack started as a gaming.

Did Slack start as a game? I thought Slack started as a game if I remember correctly.

Ray: Yeah. And at the same time, I think most of the time, right? All disappointment, right? It's all the heartaches, right? It's because you have expectation, right? And we try to under promise, over deliver. And that's why, what, what, what could be more under promised than saying that this is actually useless, right?

Yeah. So, so, so, so that is the second reason we want to manage the expectation. And of, and then of course the first reason is, hey, we want to make sure that that kind of have a, have a kind of echo back to our meme culture to not get, and I get was all about meme. We launched a project in what we called memeland, right?

And then our token, it's called meme coin, right? Of course, we have to be embrace the meme culture. And to be honest, most of the meme culture, they actually, they literally do nothing, right? And that's why we want to do it. And of course, the fourth reason would be the legal reason, right? I mean, most of the regulators, right?

They actually don't like they sue you, right? Because you promise a lot, right? You're selling securities, right? For us, hey, we have a direction, right? But we actually don't promise anything, especially on the token side. And I think that will kind of like, give us more protection on that as well. So, so that's why I say that, oh, there are a few reasons behind that. Yeah.

Stephen: I love that. The compliance one, as a former investigator from like a blockchain investigator and now you're seeing, the regulators are going, you're using a, a graph emoji, a rocking emoji, a money sign emoji, they're coming after you. So right there, you have no chance of making money right there on the website.

I think does a lot of good. What was your decision making process to build on Ethereum? Because we've seen Solana has a couple of projects. They have the, the Pepe Coin are on, on Ethereum. They have Bonk, which seems to be doing a rather successful recently with so many blockchains, some offering a lot, lower fees and more focused on certain types of cultures.

Whereas Ethereum covers like the whole wide spectrum of Web3. What was your decision making process about launching on Ethereum?

Ray: It's very straightforward, right? My first wallet I used was an app called Argent. A R G E N T, right? It's like a it's a crypto wallet, right? That built on Ethereum, right?

So that was my first contact, right? With Ethereum. And to be honest the first token that I bought was actually not Bitcoin, right? It was Ethereum. At the time, I remember it was like 200, right? And and therefore, oh, then it popped into 400. And then, oh shit, I have to sell it, right? I mean, yeah, I, how, how silly was I, right?

But, but anyway, yeah, the whole concept was, We go to where the biggest audience is, right? That's, that's, that's, that's the lesson that we learned from 9gat is, hey, I mean, you can do all the analysis, right? Do you think, oh, which platform is good, blah, blah, blah, right? But the, the, the key is, hey, it's your audience is always only a subset of the bigger, of the bigger market, right?

So how can you pick the biggest market? Where you can convert some of them into your audience, into your communities, right? And then that's why we pick Ethereum at the time. But to be honest, the more that we experience, right, the more we feel like, okay, maybe Bitcoin, right, has their own selling point, their own community, right?

And then Solana, right, they also have that, right? But to be honest, there are only a few, I would say choices that make sense, right? And right now we are also exploring that. And to be honest, when you see, like, all these meme coins on different chains, right? They also do quite well, right? Then you understand that, okay, meme is like the common denominator, right?

Of all the things, right? All the blockchains, they need a meme coin, and, and we want our we want our meme coin, right? One meme to rule them all. So, so, so that's why we're looking into all of this, right? I'm not like a chain maxi. Right. To me, I want to create value, right? I'm like a value maxi, right? If there's value to build, right, then we should do it, right?

There's one concept that we, at 9gag, we talk about it a lot. It's a, and also MemeNet, right? Talk about it a lot. It's a, it's a, it's a concept called W I N. It's what's important now. Right. So, so for us, hey, we try to reprioritize all the time. We try to think about, okay maybe our assumption was not right.

Right. Maybe, oh, the situation has changed, right? That's how we think about building products. That's how we, how we think about community strategy. Yeah.

Stephen: That's interesting and you're building like a Disneyland, like memeland isn't just, a few projects or a few collections. You also have something interesting, which is basically a TripAdvisor for Web3 and also on OnlyFans, but you know, with clothes and definitely those things stuck out to me.

You talked about OnlyFans earlier. What is the benefit of OnlyFans on the blockchain? But has clothes. I think OnlyFans actually tried to pivot that way a couple of years ago, and they quickly aborted that mission. So maybe tell me about those two projects and what's intriguing about them.

Ray: What are you talking about?

I don't know what OnlyFans is. Just kidding. No, no, no. I mean, I mean, the, the, the, the thing is, because again, right, we've been working on social media for 15 years, right? We see the The shift, right, of, of, of the relationship, right, between the platform, the creators, the fans, and also the advertisers, right, on social media.

In the past, right, when there was still enough competition, right, creators actually have a better say, have a bigger voice, right. But once the platform, right, they continue to build, become bigger, right? Then they control what the audience see, right? I mean, the Facebook, right? Facebook has feed, right? And then right now all the, all the, all the social apps have feed, right?

So, so somehow the creators, they actually don't really connect to their fans, right? I mean, you maybe have 15 million followers, right? But it doesn't mean that you can reach 15 million people all the time, right? I, I feel like OnlyFans is actually the healthiest. Social media, social platform out there, right?

When I talk about healthiest, it's not about the content and stuff, right? It's more about the relationship between the platform, the creator, and also the fans, right? And most of the, the creators, they actually don't need to rely on advertising on OnlyFans, right? So, I mean, if, if we want to be safer, right?

And then we can talk about Patreon, right? So, so it's a very similar model in a way, right? So we believe that We can probably do something like this, right, in Web3, right? In OnlyFans, right, people pay, right? Because they want to see exclusive content, right? They want to get connected to the creator. I mean, this is not exclusive, right?

To add on content, right? And to be honest, I mean, tech long enough to understand that most of the new breakthrough of technology is actually Led by three industries, right? Number one is military, right? You like for example, like GPS that we use today, right? It was actually built for military use, right?

So, military, right? Number two is actually games, right? All these like gaming mechanism, right? It will become like part of the, the, the, the, the product, right? Strategy, right? When you continue to build it, because I mean, All people love games, right? Especially the newer generation, right? And then the third industry is actually act out industry.

It's like the porn industry, right? I mean, look at, look at this video call, right? The first Consumer facing industry that adopt video call and, and video conferencing, right? It's actually porn, right? I mean, I don't remember the name, right? But I remember all these like video website, right? For, for, for actual content, right?

So I believe that OnlyFans kind of like prove that, oh, there's a need for deeper connection between the creators and the fans, right? And how do you segment that? I feel like the easiest way is actually by payment, right? If you're willing to pay, that means that you care about that person more, right? You care about that creator more, right?

I feel like for blockchain, we can actually kind of like, scale up this kind of concept. Because even for, for, for OnlyFans or any other payment platform, you need to at least get a PayPal account or, and then you need to Pay in fiat, right? And then all of this kind of stuff, right? It's actually quite challenging for a lot of different people in different countries.

I mean, you, you lived in, in the, in the US or live in Hong Kong, right? I mean, it feels okay, PayPal, all this like payment is very, very easy, right? But Maybe for, for most of the people, especially in Southeast Asia, in Asians, right? I mean, they don't have PayPal, right? I mean, they don't even have a bank account.

But right now, because of blockchain, actually a lot of people starting to get on chain, right? They have a crypto wallet, right? And at the same time crypto, right? Somehow it doesn't it is not bound by the, the geographical location. I think stuff like that, that creates the, the new foundation of greater economy.

And at the same time, as I mentioned in the beginning of this call, right? We. have proof of fandom, right? Because we have blockchain, right? It can be verified, right? And I think all this kind of stuff is something that Web 2. 0 company cannot provide, right? And we believe that, oh, maybe this is an angle, right?

Where we can create a new kind of creator economy. We can create a new kind of social app for, for the new generation of creators and fans.

Stephen: But it makes sense, right? Like you, you're running a company that has over 200 million users across multiple platforms. If I want to talk to you and get insights about you on how to build a community, payment is probably the easiest way.

You can't talk to a hundred, 200 million people, much less 200 people on a regular basis. And, from some of what these OnlyFans girls are showing, only a portion of their income is being made by pictures. 90% of their income is made by messages. I'm assuming, it's probably some 6 year old person in the Philippines messaging them on their behalf.

But nonetheless, that's where they're making the majority of their money, which is exactly to your point. It's not just the nudity. It's these connections. It's this, these kind of like superficial relationships. They're actually driving a lot of the, a lot of the compensation here.

Ray: Yeah, this is basic it's economics 101, right?

You can't really monetize, right, resources. That is kind of like unlimited in a way, right? You can only monetize the scarce resources more easily, right? I feel these days, content. It's not really that scarce, right? When you think about the broader sense, right? But connection, it still is, right?

But to show the creators that you like that, you are the biggest fan, right? That is like still rare, right? That is still the scarce resources, right? So we believe that there's an angle in that, right? And then, and to be honest, when we zoom out and we look at the Web3, the crypto space right now, I mean, Web3 and crypto is very, very good at one thing, which is Decentralized, the very first centralized like industry, right?

I think banking is one thing, right? I mean, when you look at the different industry, social media is definitely very centralized, right? And it's almost mind blowing to me that everyone has a social app on their home screen of their phone, right? But when you look at the top hundred tokens in Web3. There's no really top tokens about social media, about like, about SocialFi, right?

So I think it makes a lot of sense to explore into that angle, right? The real question is not about whether SocialFi is a thing, right? The real question is which company, which project, which token, right? Can actually win the SocialFi game, right? I feel like we have an edge because we have been building social media for 15 years and we have a pretty good start in Web3, right?

So we'll see how it goes, right? But somehow we are confident in what we are building.

Stephen: And we've seen early stages of this big cloud, the decentralized social media that they kind of created. But I think the angle they took was more on, celebrity status versus building community. And that's probably why they fizzled out as much. One of your favorite tweets, and probably one of the Twitter's or X's favorite tweets, was around, It's damn hard to build in Web3. Which basically highlights the dichotomy of, users ask for utility, you give them utility, then they want art, right? You give them art, then they ask for utility, they say, hey, we want to build a community but then two seconds later they're like, when moon?

So tell me about building in Web3 and why you felt it necessary to, to, to To post a tweet that received millions of views and probably millions of agreeances across the Web3 ecosystem, especially amongst builders that are really just trying to please the community that's driving these projects.

Ray: Yep. Yeah, I mean, the best thing about Web3 is money, right? The worst thing is also about money, right? As I mentioned, right? We are building communities, right? And community is a relationship. Imagine a relationship, right? That actually gets money involved, right? It will become complicated, right? I mean, between like husband and wife, between like employees and employees, right?

Most of the time, right? One of the sources of argument is actually money. And right now, you ask people to put thousands of dollars, right, into you, into trusting you, right, and to, to, to, to build something in the future, right? That is already kind of like shaky in a way, right? Not to mention, there were so many like rug pulls, right?

I mean, a lot of people who are still in Web3 today, they all faced is like, at least like a few Wadpools before, right? They all have PTSD. Because we, we launched like Memeland about two years ago, right? It's like a, a few weeks after Lunar crashed, right? And then at that year, FTX also crashed, right?

So, so it's almost oh, people lose faith, right? People think that, oh, good, crypto didn't work, right? I mean, I mean, that's, that's, that's the hard part, right?

Ray: And that's why when we started to build, we already see so much shit, right? Get into the space, right? Because at the time, I thought, oh, we were 9gag, right?

We have 200 million audience, right? When we got into Web3, people should be celebrating us, right? Because we're actually bringing mass attention to Web3. But turns out, no, Web3 people hated us, Web2 people hated us, because they feel like, oh, for Web3, oh, you are just another cash grab, right? And then for Web2, oh, fuck, don't touch this kind of scam, right?

So it's almost like we are in the middle, that no one really like us, right? So that's why I had that tweet, right? It's not because I want to complain. I want to lay out The, the, the, the, the facts, right? Because all these like people getting into Web3, they believe that they can make shit ton of money.

But the thing is, I mean, one thing that they can make a lot is maybe, maybe, maybe a lot of anger. Maybe a lot of people are angry, right? And you get a lot of like curses to your family, right? But not actually money, right? So, so, so I want to lay that out, right? Yeah, and, and I feel like why it got a lot of attention is because I think a lot of Builders who actually want to build, I think they share that kind of sentiment as well, right?

But maybe they don't have a, they don't have a platform like me to talk about it, right? That's why I read out and then people, people feel that, okay, they, they resonate with it. Yeah. The, the thing is. I don't feel like this is a bad or good thing, right? It's almost like you have to understand that, hey, the, the, the crypto world is so conflicting, right?

And, and I didn't talk about any solution in my tweet, right? Because I believe that the solution is not something that you talk about, right? It's almost hey, we believe in decentralized, decentralization in Web3, right? The good thing about decentralization is you actually don't need the world to love you.

You only need 100 people, 10, 000 people, 100, 000 people to love you. I mean, when you look back, right, Bitcoin was like a crazy experiment in the past, right? Right now, it's like getting these getting ETF and stuff, right? And, and what it show is not just about, oh, how revolutionary blockchain is. It shows that if you actually have a Have a diehard support of a group of people that were crazy enough to change the world.

Maybe they can, right? So, so I believe that that's the, that's the direction. That's the goal. And, and, and to me, for, for us, we lay out the direction of Memeland, right? We, we dox ourselves from day one, right? We tell the world that what we've been doing and we almost always keep our promise, right? Maybe sometimes we delay, right?

But most of the time we kept our promise. And most of our whole early supporters, they actually kind of like get the return and stuff like that, right? By the way, this is not like financial advice and stuff, but it's more about, hey, it's not about we want to make that money. It's because we want to grow our company as well, right?

It's just that because of, of of the whole I would say value design, right? That's how, how things works in Y3, right? I, I talk about this to our team all the time. There are like two important AIs in this world. Number one is artificial intelligence, right? Number two is, not number two, right?

But the other important thing is, is align the interests, right? I feel like Web3 do align the interests really, really well, right? We just have to understand how to do, right? A lot of like my Web2 founders friends, right? Right now, because the market is heating up and then they talk to me, Hey, hey, we want to launch a Web3 project, right?

Stephen: That NFT stuff you were talking about a couple of years ago. How do we get in on that?

Ray: Exactly. Right. And, and I tell them, Hey, don't think about getting making money worth free, right? Think about giving value. Once you can give enough value, then you may figure out something new, right? Where you can actually create some, some, some, some, something bigger, right?

That can get a lot of value together, right? Together is the key, right? In the past, you make all the money, right? Right now, you actually. Have to make money with people together, right? It's almost like you don't cook for yourself, right? You cook for a bigger audience, right? You want to, you need to eat together, right?

That's, that's how Web3 is. I think, I mean, to be honest, I don't have a solution, right? To be honest, we get further all the time, right? Until, I mean, if you go to our Discord today, right? They still ask us, hey, when, when, when, when, when, right? I mean, although we launched the most successful token, one of the most successful token, right?

In 2023, right? They still ask us, hey, when do you launch the next thing, right? I always talk about that in 2022, right, my son was born in late May, right, and then we launched our first NFT in early July early June, right? So it's almost like having twins at the time, like having two kids at the time.

One kid grow up. Another kid doesn't, another kid doesn't, right? And that kid doesn't grow up with our community, right? When you think about that, you actually accept, accept the fact, accept the truth, right? Then you know how to navigate. To be honest, the number one job of a founder is solving problems, right?

This is a problem that we know, right? Then just solve it, right? So, so, so I mean, I, I don't mean the tweet, right? To be like discouraging for the founders. I just want it to be. Like a very factual, right, tweet, right, so that everyone knows, oh, it's not like all glamorous, right, building Web3.

Stephen: I think that resonated with everyone because everyone's been on both sides of it, right?

They've all been on the sides of, yes, I love this project, more utility, but then, when they need to cash out because they got wrecked in another project, they're like, come on, I need a little bit of, I need a little bit of value, some extra value on the table here so I can dump it on OpenSea. Talk to me a little bit about, you talk about the creator economy a lot and, tokenomics for creators.

It seemed like the NFT phase The tokens was create more NFTs, NFT prices were going down. Well, we'll give you more NFTs, NFTs. It seemed a lot like the traditional, printing money. How can we look at it differently now? 'cause we, we saw how that didn't work. 'cause now everyone's holding a bunch of NFTs that are worthless and it doesn't matter how much more you create, the values just not there in a lot of these projects.

But for someone that's created that value, what do you think the token onus looks like for creators going forward in 2024?

Ray: Yeah, sure. I think NFT, the dynamics of NFTs and also a fungible token is it's actually very, very different, right? For NFT, right? You just have to think about who gives the effort, right?

And then who makes the money, right? And whether there's like enough money back to the, to the, to your creators, right? I mean, one of the promises of NFT was, right? I mean, the focus is was, right? Loyalty. Right. You almost, I mean, a lot of the creators went into the space, right? Because they feel okay, this is something new, right?

And then if I create something awesome, right? And then people buy it. And then when they resell, I can get the royalty, right? I mean, this was a promise and, and, and that kinda works, right? But right now, royalty is basically zero, right? Not, I don't want to point name any other platform, right? Because I don't think this is the default of a platform, right?

This is more like. Just human beings, right? You just want to reduce the cost, right? You just want to make more money, right? So it's almost it's almost like that meme from, from the, the TV show. Everybody Loves Raymond, right? Yeah. Oh, that's why we can't have nice things, right? Yeah, that's, that's exactly that meme, right?

And the thing is, okay. Right now, the landscape has changed, right? Then, as a creator, how do you, what do you do, right? I think for NFT, it's almost always kind of like consumer facing in a way that, okay, I just create a digital product and I sell to the audience, right? And it's almost like Nike selling sneakers, right?

I mean, you buy the limited edition of Jordan, like 11. Then you sell it. Nike actually didn't get, make more money, right? That's why Nike has to make more shoes to make more money, right? That's kind of like how NFT is, right? Or, or, or in general, right? Meanwhile, for token, right? It's actually the dynamics very, very different, right?

Because when you have tokens, a lot of the tokens, they actually have airdrop, right? They actually have a lockup for the team, right? So somehow the team can't rub pool that easily, right? Because it's almost like everything is kind of like locked, right? If you invest in a good project and the whole, I would say incentive designs makes more sense in fungible tokens, right?

So it's almost okay, our token price goes up when there are like more supporters, when there are more, when there's more demand, right? Then we have to work harder to achieve that, right? So by doing that, the incentive alignments are actually better. Right. So, so that's how I think that the difference between NFT and also a fungible token.

But at the same time, I believe that NFT is the best gateway for people to enter into Web3. Right. Because, I mean, it's almost I mean, when you talk to your friends, right. How many of them actually buy a Forex, right. Buy USD, buy JPY. How many of them buy that? No, right. But a lot of them buy random bullshit, right.

They buy sneakers, Rolex, right. They buy EMS handbag, right. Because people are very visual, right? Especially for men, right? So they want to buy things that they can see. I think NFT is kind of like that.

Stephen: And then they can show other people, that other people can see that they have, right?

Ray: Exactly. That's 69% of the function of social media, right?

It's the vanities for the show off, right? It's for flex, right? And I think NFT actually can do a lot of that, right? I believe that NFT is probably the most important usage of Crypto these days, right? Not every token can, can disrupt the finance industry, but every token can have their own NFT ecosystem, right?

So, so that's why you see a lot of these L2, L1, right? They all have the NFT, right? Because that's the only thing that actually people buy, right? Yeah, it's not oh, we found your token, right? But they actually buy stuff, right? So I mean, this is how, how we see NFT and also the FT. It's like fungible token, right?

But back to your question, how can we create value for, for, for creators? Right. I mean, in Web3, this is one big difference between us and also a lot of other so called SocialFi projects, right? I mean, a lot of those projects, they, they come from Web3. That's why they build for the Web3 audience, right? They use the same marketing tactics, right?

For across most of the projects, which is, okay, we promise you the airdrop, please do the work. And then you do the airdrop for us. It's almost part of that, but also we believe that, hey, if we actually want to get serious in a creator to join Web3, you can't sell them a promise because they are making money already, right?

You need to give them money so that they can come to your platform. Because for creators, their need is very, very simple. Either you give me more fans or you get you give me more, more, more, more money. Right? So, so in Web3 or the social platform, you can't give more fans to, to all these creators, right?

That's why you need to promise them money, right? But instead of promise them an airdrop, it will be better if we have a circulating token where they can convert it into USDC or USDT or ETH, right? Or they can just keep holding onto it. That's why we launched NFT. The community, right? And then we launch a token, a circulating token, so that we actually have value, a trading value for the creators.

Then we can use this like magic internet money, right? To attract all the creators to join us, right? But not just a promise, but more okay, you actually can get paid, right? And I think that's the real usage of Web3 in creator economy, right? I mean, we are launching new products, right? That you mentioned like GMGM and stuff, right?

We'll see how it goes, right? But we believe that the direction is correct, right? Of course, for the implementation, no product can, can, can be perfect in the first version, right? I mean, I remember Reed Hoffman, right? The founder of LinkedIn. He mentioned that, Hey, if you are not embarrassed with the first edition of your product, you're launching too late.

Yeah. I believe that a lot, right? So we hope that the first version of our product suck so that we know that we are, we actually keep pushing ourselves forward, right? But I think the general direction is actually very, very clear is how can we help creators to get paid and also get more fans, right? I think that is the key.

And at the same time, when we get more creators into our ecosystem, there will be a higher demand for our token, right? Then maybe the price will go up. Then maybe our early supporters will get paid, right? But at the day, It's not about money, right? We are in NFT for art, right? We want to support creators, right?

I mean, whether it's a joke or not, right? But, but that's how, how, how we think about the whole, I would say value design, right, in our ecosystem.

Stephen: And it makes a lot of sense as a, I run a content creating agency as well as hosting this podcast. Really, we just want more money to create more things, like we use this money to create, obviously to pay the bills, but if you look at the majority of the creators, once they have their bills paid, they're usually using, like the Mr. Beast of the world, they're using that money to put back into their creations because they love to create, right, you can give them a million dollars and they're probably going to spend that money Creating more, not just Hey, let me go buy a Lambo and flash it on Instagram. Yeah. For the most part, part, right?

Ray: I mean, you still, you still, you still buy a Lambo, right? . But you don't, you don't, you don't work just because you want to buy Lambo. Right? Right. I mean, the Lambo is something that you also like, oh, maybe you appreciate the showman the, the craftsmanship and stuff like that. Right. But at the end of the day.

For the real creators, right? I'm talking about real creators, right? Right? They really love creating content. They really love educating, influencing people, right? It's actually their passion to create content, right? The traditional social media model, kind of like restricting them from doing show, right?

Because they need to, Oh, whether the advertiser like that, right? Whether the platform likes that, right? I mean, Referee is actually getting back to the basics. Okay, you just create content for your fans, right, for your audience. You don't have to think about, oh, whether I talk about cars, and then whether Toyota, whether like a Lambo, right, what I talk about, right.

I think that's, that's almost like back to the, the, the origin of what internet is, right? You just find an audience and then you, you create it for the audience. And then if the audience think that you are worthy, right, then you should get paid, right? I think Web3 kind of do that, but on steroid, right?

Because you are not getting paid in USD, right? You in, in, in HKD, right? You actually get paid with a token. So somehow you can double dip in a way, right? If, if the, the, the ecosystem that you're building is actually getting better and bigger and growing healthily, right? Then the token that you own, maybe the value also increase, right?

That's how Bitcoin is, right? That's how Ethereum is, right? I don't see why we can't apply this like to social media, right? Because actually, as I mentioned, right, Web3 is really, really great at disrupting big platforms, right? Banking, we see DeFi to banking, right? I also see SocialFi to a lot of like social media company.

So, and maybe also GameFi, right? For a lot of gaming companies. Yeah.

Stephen: And it makes a lot of sense. As a creator, I want to focus on creating, but if I'm spending 90% of my time working on administrative tasks, trying to find brand deals. Creating proposals for the brand deals, and then basically creating something so far away from my brand, possibly, to please them.

That's why you see a lot of burnout, because we're like, we're doing more things that we don't even want to do, just to, just to pay to be a creator, just to get paid to be a creator. So I think what you're saying is absolutely correct. Can you just create, and if it's good, you're getting paid to create, which entail, makes you create even more, right?

Because you're seeing that positive reinforcement, more importantly, you're seeing the compensation.

Stephen: One thing I want to discuss is Asia. You're based out of Hong Kong. You said you were a doc, so I feel like it's okay for me to say that you're based out of Hong Kong. We've seen a huge boost in, Web3 in Asia, where there's, as you said, play to earn games, the NFT and NFT culture.

Tell me about what you're seeing on the ground there. What's really driving this force of nature coming out of Asia when it comes to Web3?

Ray: I think the biggest driving force is It's poverty, right? I mean, it's part true, right? Also part jokes, right? But You, you are more leaning towards to adopt new technology, right?

When you are not the richest country on earth, right? I mean, US, of course, US has a lot of debt, right? But at least on the surface, US is the most powerful country, right? And you kind of like lead the, the, the, the existing financial system, right? You don't have, you don't feel the need to change. Right. But meanwhile, for a lot of these other countries, right, they don't have a be, they don't have a very good life financial infrastructure.

Right? That's why blockchain, right. Makes a lot of sense for them, right? I mean, if you are in the US right, using PayPal, using Webo, right? Then you feel like, oh, it sucks. It sucks to use MetaMask, right? Right. But if you are living in like Vietnam or, or Thailand or the Philippines, right? You don't even fucking have like internet, right?

or maybe you don't even have, have clean water and stuff in some countries in Africa. Right? And blockchain doesn't really, it's not, it's not really that bad, right? I mean, and because they don't have, have prejudice, they don't have the bias of, oh, what a banking transfer should be like, what a Y transfer should be like, right?

They don't even know what Y transfer is, right? But right now with, with, with crypto, right? It's somehow, it breaks the boundary. of the countries, right? I mean, I can send money very, very easily, right? From, from like Hong Kong to like Vietnam, right? To whatever country, right? Maybe you are in the, the, the, the Africa, right?

You are in the, the, the North Antarctica, right? I can still send money to you with, with blockchain, right? So I feel like that's one of the reasons because the infrastructure the so called financial infrastructure was not there, right? That's why people don't have a lot of like prejudice and also burden on it, right?

I think that's number one. Number two is I don't know whether it's right or wrong to say. Gen I feel like generally. Asians are more the gents, right? They are, they are more their risk appetite is, is, is higher, right? That's why you, you go into a casino, right? You see a lot of like Asian faces, right?

Yeah. And I feel like that is kind of like echoes to, to what crypto is, right? You see a lot of big crypto companies and, and top exchanges, right? I mean, the, the, the, the management teams, right? They're like Asian faces, right? So, so I believe that, that also helps. And the thing is. Right now they know that, okay, I make money, right?

But instead, in addition to buying all these like fancy houses and cars, right? You actually can build something bigger, right? That's why they reinvest, right? That's why they build out more products. That's why they invest in other tokens, right? They invest in other NFTs, they invest in other products, right?

So that creates the I would say a global, like Silicon Valley economy, right? In Asia. Right. For example, when we, when we were talking to the top exchanges about launching MemeCoin, right, our token. Right. I would say other than Coinbase, all the exchanges that we talk to, all the listing team, they're Asians, right?

No matter where their biggest audience is, but all the listing people, they're Asians, right? So, so I feel like, okay, shit. Asia is huge, right? And to be honest, I mean, of course, US, Europe, right? They still have their edge, right? But somehow when you talk about crypto, I think you can see that the government, right?

The regulators, they are also more friendly to a lot of like the crypto projects, right? In Hong Kong, our chief executive Literally come out to say, we support Web3, right? They are granting official exchange licenses, right? They're talking about stable coins, right? Used by the government, right? I mean, right now in the US, right?

You can see that the regulation is still very strict. Right? I mean, it's still it's almost like something that you should not talk about. Right? So, and of course this, this helps, right? Because as an entrepreneur, you go to where the environment is the most friendly, right? To your business, right?

That's why I'm very bullish about Hong Kong. Not just because I'm a guy from Hong Kong, but because when you look at the structure, right? There are only a few number of like financial hubs in the world, right? New York, London, right? And then and then maybe Berlin, right? And then Dubai, Singapore, Hong Kong, right?

What are the places that are actually pushing crypto, pushing Web3, right? I mean, for Dubai, right? There are a lot of like money from there, right? And then, but in Hong Kong. One advantage that Hong Kong has is actually the backing of China, right? I mean, I, I can't say it for the government, right? Because I don't know anything about the government and the politics, right?

But I believe that if Hong Kong can push Web3, 100 percent is getting blessing, right? From the mainland from the mainland government, right? And I mean, there's so much money, right? From, from, from, to support this kind of new industry, right? And Hong Kong has already got the infrastructure for it because Hong Kong is one of the top financial hubs.

And then right now, if we are pushing that. You can just imagine, this can be huge, right? People talk about ETH, ETF these days, right, in Hong Kong. It's not about like big BTC ETF, right? So you can see that maybe Hong Kong has a chance to shine. Maybe Asia has a chance to shine, right? When we talk about Web3, yeah.

And one more thing that I want to add was when in your previous questions, right? You, you talk about creators and stuff, right? It's almost like In Bible, right, there's a verse that you can't serve two masters, right? As a creator, you are serving a few masters, right? When you're creating traditional social media, you're serving the platform.

Oh, you want to create something that fits the algorithm, right? You're creating content, right, for your advertiser. You want something that your advertiser will like. And then you're also trying to create content for your fans, right? You're actually Serving like three, no, including yourself, right? You are serving like four masters, right?

Of course, it doesn't really work well, right? But right now in Web3, it's almost like we're back to the basics, right? We create content that we like, we find then, we find fans that actually like our content, right? So this is like pretty, pretty back to the basics, right? So, so I think this is something that why I'm very excited about creating an economy in Web3, yeah.

Stephen: And I'd like to explain to China, because China has such a weird dynamic, right? They've, they ban crypto, they have probably the most miners around the world, one day they're raiding crypto businesses, the next day, as you say, they're kind of allowing Hong Kong to kind of flourish in this crypto ecosystem.

So I think you agree, you, you at least give us something to think about.

Ray: It's actually not weird when you think about the, the, the political situation, right? It's almost like it kind of makes sense because Hong Kong is under something we the China core is like one country, two system. Hong Kong is a very capitalistic country.

China right now is still In their own way, it's a, it's a, it's a, it's a communist country, right? And the, the, the thing is, right, you can see a lot of things that cannot be done in China. They are actually allowed in Hong Kong, right? I mean, people talk about, oh, whether this is safe and stuff like that, right?

I mean, all for the last hundred years, this is safe, right? I feel it makes a lot of sense on the financial it makes a lot of financial sense, right, for, for China as a country to support crypto, right? Because that's where the next wave of money is, right? That's where the, the, the, the future of finance is, right?

I would say that it's close to impossible, right, for China to disrupt US, right, in fiat world. If we have to think about this kind of like power dynamics, right? It makes a lot of sense that, oh, if Hong Kong, if China, right, support the developments of Web3, there's a good chance that maybe a stable coin on the stable coin wise, right?

China actually can be like the leader, right, in Web3, right, on, on this kind of like settlement and currency and stuff like that, right? You don't need to print U. S. dollars, right, to launch a U. S. stablecoin, right? Because China is actually biggest like a creditor, right, to the U. S., right, on, on this money.

I just put my U. S. debenture and then I can launch a stablecoin, right? I mean, people talk about this things like that in Hong Kong, right? I don't know anything about this, right? But it just makes a lot of sense. It's almost hey, you can't compete with the existing leader in their old game, right?

But when there's a new game, maybe you should, you should put into it. It's the same for us. We probably can't win over TikTok or, or, or Facebook in Web2, right? But in Web3, I mean, they have their own constraints, right? They can't do something like that, right? Because Web3 is about decentralization. They can't decentralize their, their profit, their revenue, right?

To their new holders, right? But we can, right? So I feel like It can be a very interesting 10 years, right, for, for, for, for, for crypto, right, for, for finance, for, for the countries, yeah.

Stephen: That's interesting. So, as you said, your friends are coming to you, CryptoWinter is kind of thawing out as we end this podcast.

Well, at least we see price wise it's thawing out. What are some new features, partnerships, anything exciting for you in 2024 for Memeland? And even 9gag or beyond, there is some kind of merger of communities. What do you got going on, on your side?

Ray: I mean, for, for, for NFT, right? I mean, we have three collections, right?

The cheapest, the cheapest one is called the Potatoes, right? It's close to 2 ETH, right? That means it's close to 5, 000 USD, right? This is very expensive, whatever scale, right? Yeah, but, for, for crypto, for fungible token, right? Right now, memecoin is like 0. 024 or something like that, right? You can buy a token, right, when, when you only have 10 bucks or 100 bucks, right?

You can't buy our NFT when you only have 100 bucks, right? I don't think fractionalized NFT works that well, right? Because people want, it lacks that kind of like flex element, right? So, we believe that We actually have a lot of things to do this year because we finally, we, we, we kind of like graduated into like the, the, the token world, right?

We actually get more attention in the token world, right? So, so this year our focus will be, okay, we need to launch products, right? That actually, Do something that we set out to do, right? We want to launch some product that solves some problems that we see, right, in the last few years, right? And of course, with our Web2 experience, I think that we have an edge of that, right?

I'm a big fan of Charlie Munger's, like the circle of competence, right? And social media is our competence. Yeah. And I think that in Web3, we have a pretty good start. Right. So, I'm, I'm very excited about what we are launching this year. Right. And we just close our so called Memecoin farming, like a few days ago.

Right. And then we will do the airdrop and then we will try to launch our new products, right. To support the airdrop and stuff like that. Right. So, it, it can be very, very, it will be very exciting. Yeah. And also FairPC. Yeah. And that's why I just want to write on this podcast is Hey, if you're interested in greater economy, right.

Join us, right. As a holder, as a, as a teammate, right. Whatever, whatever capacity, right. Just pay attention to what we are doing. Yeah.

Stephen: What kind of positions are most of your positions, technical positions, so like the development or computer engineering?

Ray: I think basically Basically, I feel like there are a few positions that we, we are hiring, right?

I mean, number one is the business development side, right? Because we just launched the, the, the, the, the token, right? I mean, we have a lot of dev work that we need to do because, I mean, most of the existing business, we have connection. Right? But we still have to talk to them, right? That's why we need more people, right?

And of course for product and also engineering people, right? Because we want to build the products out, right? And then these are the few positions that we need the most. Yeah. You quoted

Stephen: the late Charlie Munger. Is there any piece of advice you'd give builders whether you've built in Web 2 and Web3? If someone like myself is like, Hey, I'm, I want to start a business today.

I want to be an entrepreneur. What would be like a two sentence, a piece of advice you would give them?

Ray: I, I don't have any advice, right? Because the only advice that I want to share is most advice is only a combination, right? Of lies, experience, right? Over exaggerated. This is a quote, not from me, but actually from the creators of Gmail, Paul Buchheit. He shared that when we were at YC. Because, oh, when you ask people, Oh, what would be the best advice to build a company?

They always say that, oh, hire tier A people, top tier people. The thing is, when you are new founders, right, you actually can't hire shit, right? I mean, you, I mean, it would be, you would be grateful if you can convince your, your, your friends, right, to join your company already, right? So, so I feel like most of the advice, it just, it may not apply.

To, to, to us at all, right? But, the thing is, you, you should still kind of like read all of them, listen to all of them, but you have to kind of like, analyze, right? And then to see which one is applicable, right? That's why what I want to tell all the All the builders, right, who listen to your podcast says, I mean, just keep building, right?

And, and the more you build, right, the more that you listen to the, to your fans, to your community, right? The better that you understand the direction, right? Then maybe you are exploring or building something new, right? That no one really talks about, right? I mean, people are generally by default negative in Web3, right?

So, so you can kind of like have to see through that kind of shit, that kind of negativity, right? In order to survive in Web3.

Stephen: I haven't seen too many wags in the last 18 months. Right. ? I saw a lot in 2021. I've yet to see what I think in the last 18 months. Yeah, you'll see that again. A lot of people don't think we're all gonna make it anymore.

Ray: You'll see that again. Right? Because I mean it's for example, the reason like narratives that I see about Solana right? Is literally like something that they talk about, right? All these type projects talk about two years ago, right? So you feel like. The same old playbook, they will talk about it again, right?

It doesn't mean that it's the same bullshit, right? Because the fundamental has changed, right? So I feel like, I think Webme, right? I think people will still talk about it, right? Because there are still new people coming in. They will still be the Xe liquidity, right? That's how they learn, right? But somehow I believe that I started to see more like solid company, actually understanding more about Web3.

And also two years ago, You didn't have me, you didn't have Memeland, right? So somehow I feel like there will be more and more real builders joining the space and also the existing builders, they also learn more, right? So I feel like we are getting into a better place, right? And I'm, that's why I'm bullish, right?

I'm bullish on the tech, right? I'm not very bullish about people, right? About the community. But in general, I believe that we are moving forward. As an industry, as a company, as a community.

Stephen: Ray, I haven't laughed this much during a podcast. I'm still giggling from some of the things that you said in here.

Ray: I'm told that your podcast is very serious, right? But, but, but, but to be honest, I enjoyed this chat a lot. Yeah.

Stephen: I think it was really great. Where can people find you? I know you only use X or Twitter when you're on The Washroom, but to be quite honest, that's like most of us anyway. Yeah. But where can people find you?

What's the best place to, what's the best social handle?

Ray: Twitter would be the best, right? It's like a 9gag CEO, right? It's not because I'm a douchebag to, to tell people that I'm the CEO, right? Because at the time I thought, hey, I want to become like POTUS in a way. So then when I quit the company, right?

Then I can just pass, pass on my, my ex account. But turns out people call, just call me a 9gag instead of Ray. Yeah. So maybe I fail on that part. Yeah.

Stephen: That's awesome. One last question, actually. 200 million users. What kind of, if you don't want to talk numbers and you don't have to, but I'm assuming people are like 200 million users.

Like the ad revenue must be crazy, but you also said something in this conversation, very interesting is that a lot of people that use means don't do anything. So they might not be buying products, even if you targeted them. So what does that mean? Is that more revenue? Is it maybe low hanging fruit where, you know, do advertisers like it?

They don't really care how active they are. They just want to get more awareness. Can you talk a little bit about that over the next couple of minutes?

Ray: Yeah, I mean, there are two things that I want to talk about, right? Number one is 200 million audience, right? I mean, we're fans on like Instagram. I think we have close to 16 million followers on our main account on Instagram, right?

But they're fans, right? They're, they're audience, right? They're not users, right? They actually may not use our website. They may not use our app, right? So that may be a little bit different, right? And as I mentioned before, right, most of the traditional social media platform, they They give you a lot of fans.

They give you a big followers numbers, right? That doesn't mean that they give you money, right? That's number one, right? Number two is our, our, our business model in Web2 is it's advertising, right? One thing that about advertising is the budget is actually controlling at the the regional level is at the country level, but for 9gag, we actually have fans across the world, right?

We are big in aggregate. We're not really that big in, in, in a specific country. Or maybe we're like top 100 website, top 200 website in a country, right? But, oh, in great aggregate, we are top 500 website in the world. But when you are like advertisers, right, when you spend your ad dollar, you actually only put ad money, the top 10 website in your own countries, in your own places, right?

So that's why we don't make that much money, right, in, in, in advertising Web2, right? But we actually have a huge influence, right? That's why we feel like, okay, This system sucks for us, right? That's why we want to build in Web3, right? If I was like, if I were like Mark Zuckerberg, right? I probably don't bother too much about Web3, right?

Of course, Mark Zuckerberg, they did matter, right? They, they, they have their vision, right? But to us, right? It's almost like we need to change because we feel like, okay, we underutilize our, our community. We underutilize the value that we have been created, right? And I mean, We're really lucky that we have gone this far, right, and we have a pretty good start in Web3, right, and somehow we want to adopt what we've learned in Web3 and try to Bring, I wouldn't say on board the masses, right, but more oh, bring this awesome web free blockchain tech, right, to the bigger audience, right.

And that's our goal. That's what we set out to do. Yeah.

Stephen: I love it. People, if you want these jokes, you have to follow Ray on Twitter. Such great insight. It's funny, but a lot of the things that you're saying are absolutely truthful. I think that's what makes it so, so actually entertaining is how truthful it is.

Ray, you've been an amazing guest. I love what you're building. Hopefully you can come back on when some of these projects launch and we can see how they did, how the audience responded, what the community's like when things get hot again, Ray, it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you today.

Ray: Thank you. It's my honor.