"Web3" is blowing up in recent months. I'm curious to see if indie hackers care.
For those not in the know, here's my best attempt to explain web3:
Initially, the web was about finding information. Sites like Google, Wikipedia, and Yahoo reigned supreme. But they weren't particularly interactive.
"Web 2.0" was about connection and interactivity. E-commerce sites like Amazon blew up as people began to buy more things online. Social networks, amplified by the spread of mobile and the wider adoption of the internet, allowed us to stay connected with others. These networks had a winner-take-all effect, so big players like Google, Apple, Amazon, and Facebook captured most of the value.
"Web3" seems to be about building with blockchains and tokens, which decentralizes applications and puts more control in the hands of the users. It also has the side effect of making everything about money (whereas web 2.0 was about connection and status), since early adopters of web3 projects tend to also become investors as a result of earning tokens.
It's still early days, and ofc it's still possible that none of this goes anywhere.
I'll tell my experience.
On my full-time job, they decided a few months ago to make a project using Web3, so I've been learning about solidity, blockchains, projects, technical details, etc. From a technical perspective, it's awesome.
One thing that surprised us is how easy it was to marketing. We basically created a Twitter for the project a suddenly we had 10k people on discord, insane. Right now we're having so many discussions on discord, people in different languages creating channels, etc. Pretty insane.
Despite all that, I can't help but feel something is wrong with it. First, the main motivator for these people is earning money, whatever the project does is second to it. Second, blockchains are really slow and the fees are insane right now on the Ethereum network (yeah, I know Polygon, we'll be deploying most of the contracts there). The slowness feels really wrong for me as a frontend enthusiast. Third, there are barriers added when using blockchain, the user will need a wallet, coins, and the final result of the product will be worse, as I said before, to an app on Web2, but the user will have ownership and privacy to some extend.
Don't get me wrong, I still believe that blockchains will be widely adopted in the future, but I believe it has many tradeoffs which will make Web3 apps be niche. Anyway, for IndieHackers now may be an opportunity to cash with all this hype, our experience with it has been insane in this regard.
Super insightful writeup.
I think a lot of these things are connected, in particular the ease of marketing is connected to the fact that people are motivated to earn money. When your project is backed by tokens, your early users become your early investors as well, and investors are motivated to become evangelists. Hence, they market for you.
The downside is that when you get in to a project super early as an investor, it's not hard to see how your money can 5x, 10x, or even 100x, in which case the value that comes from that appreciation might dwarf the value you get from the product itself as a user. At that point, you attract lots of people who don't care about being users.
Can I ask what kind of marketing you did, if any, to get these 10k people into your Discord? There are so many crypto projects out there.
I'm focusing only on the building part, but we're a small team so what I know is:
Another cool story. We needed an experienced blockchain developer because the team felt insecure deploying such an important and sensitive project. In the end, we managed to hire one and we'll be paying him using tokens on the project launch. That was awesome considering how expensive developers are these days.
I've been working in crypto since 2015.
Marketing in crypto is closer to pyramid scheme marketing than anything else. Those users you got don't care about your product.
This is pretty pointless from a marketing sense, the only purpose is: "when moon sir".
I think that one of the funniest answers I get when I ask what is the business model is: "A business model? Well, we plan to do an ICO".
I think you nailed the tie between early marketing / early investor incentives @csallen
To me, the traditional recurring SaaS model feels like it’s become too much of a “catch all” monetization strategy, driven mostly by the influence of VCs and tech of the early 2010s. Truth is, SaaS consumer fatigue is real and on the rise.
Web3 and tokenized models feels like a more fair solution to solve this.
Our current company @sturppy helps founders build investor-ready financial models. Think 10x better than an excel template but with a bunch of fin education, configurability, and colab features built in.
It’s currently a recurring SaaS model with ~500cust but given the nature of creating financial models (doesn’t really feel like a monthly recurring issue).
Exploring changing our core product to a one time payment model to keep cash flowing and then pivoting our live mode product (where you connect your stripe, quickbooks, banks acquisition channels, etc. and compare actuals against plan) to a tokenized economy model.
IH has been a catalyst for the build in public movement-you’ve proven that. But there aren’t strong incentives for SMBs and IHers to share live financial data with one another, other than for Twitter/IH marketing MRR posts. If there’s financial incentive to share data with a community and then it’s anonymized and re-utilized by the community to improve individual company performance it could become a true community driven token economy. That’s the path we are heading down and betting on in the new web3 world.
"Web3" feels a bit forced by the crypto enthusiasts to me. As someone who pays for software and services, none of them are on the "web3" hype train, and none of them would be improved by integrating some sort of decentralized crypto tokens.
I think people are blinded by greed and technology hype.
I worked for Microsoft on the Internet Explorer team during the invention of the WWW. I could have purchased any domain name that I wanted, built any website I could think of and be first, but didn't fully believe in it's utility (Web 1.0). I was there and didn't "get it".
I managed the team at AT&T that pioneered mobile apps. Hard to see where the web would work very well on such small screens. Again, I didn't fully realize what was happening right in front of me.
So, yes, I'm probably stupid. History would say that I missed a lot.
But I get Blockchain and it's amazing future. I see it clearly. While some people look at the increasing valuations for Cryptocurrencies as a way to make money, instead, I see the amazing utility of a system so secure that bits (1's & 0's) could be worth over $50,000 ( a digital "token" called a bitcoin). Remember, it's just data. And building up from that amazing security is the ability to build other types of tokens (NFTs) that enable digital items to have provenance, ownership, and value for the first time (via the permanent and immutable ledger provided by blockchain technology). That means that music, videos, digital art, tweets, blog posts, or anything on the Internet can be owned (a HUGE innovation in and of itself). You can say that a certain digital art piece is not worth what someone paid (your opinion) but you can't say that the ability to define ownership of digital goods isn't a revolutionary capability. And via smart contracts we can transfer ownership, define digital rights and perpetual royalties, and even create an entire DeFi system that blows away what a lots of banks try to do (and banks charge fees). Smart contracts are just getting started too so you should think of them like little iPhones just waiting for people to invent amazing uses, features. and businesses. Also, look at the enormous amounts of Institutional inflows via Crypto purchases, Venture investments, and backing of the innovation taking place. Look at all of the startups capturing the efforts of very smart people who are committing their lives to this space and convincing others that their vision is promising. Thousands of companies are starting up. Look at "Play to Earn" replacing "Pay to Play" on the gaming front and you will see a complete redefinition of the gaming space. Look at DAOs to see how groups are coming together to redefine Ownership, Participation, and Voting for every kind of social, business, and political organization. See how NFTs are enabling new ways of bringing artists and followers together via NFT Gateway features, rights, and benefits.
And it's just getting started.
Slow? Yes. Expensive? Yes. But condemning Ethereum for these frailties is like saying the Internet will never take off because baud rates are too slow. Speed increases rapidly. Improvements in efficiency make these speed bumps disappear. Proof of Work is already being replaced by Proof of Stake and other paradigms. Ethereum is about to release Ethereum 2.0 which will change this dramatically. Cardano has Hydra coming which will solve these problems. FLOW, Polygon, and other solutions already offer near zero fees and enormous TPS (transactions per second). And all of these blockchains will soon have interoperability which will allow the simple movement from one blockchain to another.
Believe me. Pay attention. It's enormous, revolutionary, and I'm in %100.
do you have a blog when you talk about your experience? I think you made an amazing journey and we can benefit from some experience and tips.. because history always repeat itself
That's very kind of you to say. I've been very fortunate to witness a lot of history around tech. I've also worked with some very amazing people.
I've often thought of writing up a history of what I've seen and have captured a lot of "pieces" over the years. Perhaps the best realization of that dream is participation on IndieHackers, for now. Kudos to the people who make this site so amazing!
I also believe that today is the brightest time ever for innovation.
Blockchain, Crypto, Smart Contracts, DeFi, and other new markets made possible by this incredible technology.
AI, Machine Learning, an incredible world of rapid growth.
Big Data, new ways for visualization, Economics, end point real-time processing, awareness. and feedback/action seem to be ever growing.
Robotics, Drones, Transportation Innovation, IoT, Quantum Computing, AR/VR, The Cloud and Virtual Machines, Visual Processing, Mobile Device Growth, Sensor based Medical advancements, 3D Printing, it just goes on and on.
I love our tech world. When matched with people who try their best to be "good" it's an amazing space.
I agree, there are too much things moving in all directions that keep focus is a big problem!
For the "history" part I think programming need more people talking about it, because it's a new "art" without too much history
Not to mention that Facebook renamed their company to go after the Metaverse space. Pretty strong corroboration that there's at least something there to pay attention to.
Facebook also tried libra, and we all know where it all ended...
So far, the only real utility of crypto is buying drugs online and optimizing taxes. And speculation of course, very similar to penny stock activity in the years 2010s.
All those problems you quoted such as proof of provenance, ownership...etc consumers don't care about it. Just apply "the mom test" from Rob Fitzpatrick.
Crypto is a religion, a belief system, like many other things nowadays. From god, to currency, to the housing system to social security.
I think that in the end, crypto pinpoints the fact that everything in the world is fake. I like how crypto challenged the concept of value. And it is true that things have value because we think it has some.
In the end it will be used against and to control people. Like internet or currency is today, like religion was in the past. Imagine a currency that would penalize you if your spending habits diverge from the dogma of the state. Heck, I should do an ICO on it. I'll probably become rich.
You get the idea...
That’s exactly what CBDCs will be, not crypto. CBDCs and Crypto have very little in common other then they both use a blockchain.
My impression of web3 is that I see a lot of smart people chasing fast profits, with very little utility or value being added back into the world.
It makes me a little sad to be honest.
I'm happy where I am, stubbornly staying in web2.
There's more utility than one might guess from the outside looking in. It's just very early days, so practical applications are taking a while to materialize.
Plus there's a very large swamp of bullshit to wade through, because you've got a ton of know-nothings participating just to make money. This wasn't really the case with past technologies, but it will be the case with web3, because all of these new projects are backed by tokens that can be easily speculated on. Whereas when CSS was released in the 90s, there was no real way to speculate on it, so your only choices were to use it or not.
Very true, it reminds me of the .com bubble. You could literally raise millions just for having a website.
This is something I have a huge problem with. Let me explain;
Valuations - Projects start with an idea, they find investors, they get valuated at millions or billions of dollars, and at the same time, very often they have no users, all they have is an idea, roadmap and a lot of promises. Try to do this with your SaaS or any other normal company, first thing we all have to do is get users, find product-market fit, build a project and if we get everything right, maybe we'll have some success.
Middleman - We hear so much about the freedom, removing the middleman etc. But something is broken here. I just read about the Blockademia, it's a crypto project built on Cardano and it's here to solve the problem of fake certificates, diplomas by putting them to the blockchain where they could be easily verifiable. Love the idea but to use it, you have to use their app to upload certificates/diplomas etc, and it's probably the same if you want to verify it. So, how have we removed the middleman here? We haven't. And this is the same for majority of crypto projects. All they promise is that instead of putting the data into their own database, they'll put it into blockchain and whole project is based upon that. The only place where the middleman doesn't exist is BTC and other currencies which are meant to use as currencies so we can avoid banks.
Blockhain data - The idea is to put data into the blockchain so it gets decentralized and safe, but you can't put really big data into it. Whole ETH blockchain with all the data is around 900GB in size, that's it. If you want to upload a simple 1MB NFT to the blockchain, the gas price would be huge and imagine everyone starts doing this. It doesn't work. To avoid this, NFT is uploaded to some regular server and only the link to that NFT is saved to the blockchain. So, this works for simple transactions and similar data but how are we supposed to put some real, big data to the blockchain?
I'm not an expert so maybe I'm wrong about some things here, but this is what I've concluded with my research so far.
in a nutshell :D https://youtu.be/eaSZg5nR-N4
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For now, the web3 applications are very limited.
I mean, the technology is great (I mean not the bitcoin/eth because they can't scale in term of budget), but there are many other tokens (radix for example)
But in term of usage, I don't see a lot that people are using. Ok, there is the NFT trend (for the art, gaming,.... mainly for FOMO), but as I can see, people are mainly using it to earn money.
For "regular" companies (not in the crypto field), I don't see the interest for them to have tokens. For example, if a company A will buy for thousands of ETH, what the point ? (except as investment) How they will use that ?
For now, I'm using crypto (Litecoin, Stellar,...) to pay some freelancers that are living in countries where Paypal is not implemented, so yes crypto is great. But usage is really limited.
Facebook wanted to create his own token, but gave up because of government limitations...
I don't think our Indian govt will decentralized crypto. They want to control. Yesterday they just announced, "they will ban private coins".
RBI thinking about launching digital currency which will have more control.
P.s. I am not into crypto stuff. Correct me, if something is missing/wrong. :)
The most interesting effect from a state's perspective is to impose a penalty if money does not circulate fast enough. So if you "save" money you could lose a % of it. Or forbid transactions that do not suit a specific religious dogma.
Honestly, this web3 stuff strikes me as this year's technology trend. Last year it was No-code, the year before it was FinTech, and in 2018 it was ML/AI.
I'm hesitant to discount technology trends since numerous trends have become the norm. However, the opposite is true; numerous technology trends don't become the norm, and either become costly to transition a business away from, or create great opportunities for horizontal consulting niches.
The users of technologies matter a lot. From my observation, web3 seems to attract a lot of people I wouldn't want to be associated with. For example, Imagine the support tickets from people that got scammed by other people using your app's social token or whatever.
I don't want to discount web3 entirely though. I did use to believe in Satoshi's vision.
One thing I've noticed is that what makes trends "trendy" is their novelty and presence in the media, not their actual adoption.
Sometimes this means things that aren't useful end up getting far more hype than they deserve, but the opposite can also be true. Or both can be true. For example, IMO no-code was overhyped in the media in recent years, but under-hyped this year, as no-code products continue to grow in adoption and usefulness without making headlines. Similarly, fintech and AI are both continuing to play very important roles.
I will reconsider when the ecosystem stabilizes along with comprehensive documentation and learning resources. Until then, no.
I kind-of agree with your comment, but I am open to see what comes along and maybe play around with it.
We are not planing, it's happening!
I'm not able to find an answer to a simple question "what is the killer app for the users?"
I mean web3 is all about infrastructure, revolution, but what are benefits for users ?
A part from ownership and money earning, I mean. Interesting for some, but not for all I think
I think we need to give web3 sometime to grow and catch on, listen some mistakes, hear-out some screamers when they have lost some money, then find an actual path to thread carefully.
I strongly feel that Gartner's Hype Cycle model applies here.
Right now we're at the peak of disillusionment, there will be a trough of sorrow some time next year probably.
And then gradually get to the plateau of productivity when we figure out actual useful use cases.
In terms of using it in my business, so far I've denied it, but I'm planning to start accepting partial payments in ETH/BTC from clients who wish to pay in Crypto.
Just as a hedge against my own skepticism of crypto😅
With Kingdom.so I decided to use the Ethereum blockchain as a payment gateway for building a play-to-earn mechanism.
My social platform/game is still centralized but players need to use a crypto wallet to buy virtual coins with ETH or exchange virtual coins for ETH.
I really believe on a hybrid model, we don't need to fully switch everything on the blockchain. Especially when we consider the actual issues with blockchain (gas fees, user experience...).
I just launched this new version, so I still don't really know about the result ;-)
I have briefly looked into it. With the current state of adoption and the barriers to entry for most crypto, something others mention below. It's still too early to push it. I think the biggest issue with crypto at large is that it is a solution looking for a problem a lot of the time. There are only a handful of projects that have real world applications and are actually being used.
Fully agree with @janetacarr. I just tweet about using fancy tech in your own product.
I mean, in the startup phase, in terms of cost and speed, indie hackers should stay away from the fancy technologies and should use the proven, stable stuff. But if your product is based on crypto or web3, that's a different story.
But as an indie hacker, I do keep an eye on crypto and web3, but not using at the moment.
My answer will anger most crypto supporters.
Basically, there's nothing really gained from having blockchain that we cannot do without it. Think of it, technically, it's just a create/read only database, distributed, with some crc. Then, think about the specific applications that would need that kind of requirements. There's just not that many applications.
From marketing standpoint, it's just going with the latest FAD.
I'm going to echo a lot of the sentiment here around web3 being very profits-driven at the moment. I wasn't in the valley during the Internet boom but I'd love to know if it was the same at the time (gut feel says probably yeah).
Now, I tinkered a bit with web3 and was really fascinated by the concepts! Yes, there was a voice in the back of my head saying "oh you could make bank here" but a bigger part of me felt like this was a new paradigm.
Now, I still don't know what to do with it.
Someone on our team (Tability) suggested to do an NFT collection of our mascot that we could give to employees / customers / partners. I really like that idea because it's about giving a piece of us to people rather than making a profit. But I'm not too sure if we'll use the company's financials for the project. I'd rather not put crypto on our balance sheet.
yes, this is awesome tech that has good prospects in the future
My current joke is that people go bored with 'community' and are now moving on to 'Web 3'.
Personally, I'm tempted, but not sold yet.
I want to start experimenting to properly understand, but honestly I feel uncomfortable about the emphasis on transactional stuff (and being about the money), especially with ETH and DAOs.
I've been helping organise some educational events around Web 3 + community via Orbit.
I feel like a lot of it is idealistic, that in theory stuff would work, but in practice not so much. Plus lots of the conversations I dip into make me realise people don't have stuff figured out. Lots of the talk around DAOs and creating community is very 101 community building.
I feel like to create a DAO, you should build a strong foundational community anyways, so you may as well start with that, then see if a DAO makes sense.
Of course, there are so many different angles to it, which are interesting, but a big part of me would just like to apply many of those ideas to 'web 2'.
Plus lots of it is very much driven by tech bros, which makes it even more less appealing.
I see web3 as nascent rn but def something to pay attention to. You could start something off as a side-project, parallel to your existing business, and see how it develops over time. An easy win I see is with Payments.
If you have a product that deals with Payment processing, experimenting with crypto payments is a no-brainer. Sending payments in NA is a pain. Sending payments outside NA is a disaster. Therein lies the immediate opportunity. I played around with [Coinbase API](https://saasbase.dev/api-reference-coinbase-using-oauth2-node-js/ and it was pretty easy to integrate.
Overall, web3 has gaps in the ecosystem - dev tools, expertise, money-driven but that's exactly where the opportunity to make tremendous revenue is.
It's still very early in the cycle for Web3 to truly take it seriously especially for someone like me who is just getting started. Things are moving so fast everyday that you will probably get left behind as soon as you start to build.
I also think that alot of people are taking Web2 ideas and slapping Web3 on top of it just like how people did in the early internet days. Most of those ideas ended up not working out in the end.
I think it's better for most people to sit it out and see the web3 integrations that last unless your project was built from the ground up with Web3 in mind.
I started to write but my reply became too long so I just wrote it as post, you can find it here: Web3, Auth and Subscriptions
Definitely. And we see web3 tech already being in use by many companies as well.
Web3 is getting adopted way faster than web2.
What about you Courtland? Do you already use web3 services to run Indie Hackers? :)
Can someone help me to understand the concept of web3? What would be a useful practical use case?
You'd probably get a pretty decent picture if you consumed the articles and resources published by a16z / Future here:
And once you've read it all, if you could summarize in 500 words I'd be eternally grateful!
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Hi @csallen, I am very excited about this web3 movement. But have no background in coding ... Do you think non-coders can be part of this??
You can contribute without knowing how to code. My recommendation would be to join a few DAOs. Join their Discord servers and you'll get detailed guidance on how to contribute. For example, you could help them write onboarding guides / something else.
The concept of the "decentralized web" is super exciting. One project worth calling out (among many) is IPFS. They have lots of real world examples and ideas in their docs. I'm assuming this falls under the umbrella of "Web 3.0."
For the consumer piece, I think the challenge is mostly adoption. When things like IPFS are standard on our devices and browsers, we'll see the decentralized web take off (I saw a headline mentioning Brave is adding default support for the protocol). I imagine in many instances there's no marketing need at all from services, and pushing those details to a user may actually turn some away. Unfortunately, "big tech" has some stake and say in our devices, and browsers. But that doesn't stop folks from leveraging these technologies internally.
On the service side, how does one build something that is "decentralized web friendly?" From some of the case studies on IPFS, it seems like part of the appeal is the performance, and cost savings that services can reap internally.
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What kinds of efforts count as crypto 2.0? Any examples?