Raising funds while in an apartment and then from the beach during the early part of the pandemic
Actually going back to the same island where he originally lived in Thailand 14 years ago
Finally moving back to Koh Pha Ngan
The island has become very international with a big blockchain emphasis
Why he believes there is a huge opportunity for Thailand to build remote ecosystems
ICOs, CryptoKitties and the birth of NFTs
The rise and fall of Panya’s original trivia show
Using gamification to pivot to live shopping
Diving deeper into Non-Fungible Tokens and how they change the game for Web 3.0
Cultural literacy and cultural inclusion
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs)
Fast and Painful Years
You Don’t Need to Have That On Your Bucket List
I Feel Like I Am Home Again
We Thought It Would Be Easy
Am I Really That Bad At Explaining Things?
Content Is Still King
Can We Just Change the Strategy?
Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):
Michael Waitze 0:02
Michael Waitze Media. Telling Asia’s Stories.
Michael Waitze 0:11
Let’s go. Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. Today we are joined by Geir Windsvoll, a co-founder and the CEO of Panya Studios. Hey, thanks for coming on the show. It’s great to have you back. Actually.
Geir Windsvoll 0:26
Thank thank you so much, Michael. It’s great to be back. Great to see you in person.
Michael Waitze 0:31
Which is weird, right? Because we haven’t seen each other in person for a while. And yet, there you were, when I was having, I was waiting for somebody for a meeting. Yeah. And the guy that you were waiting for the meeting for was already there.
Geir Windsvoll 0:42
Yeah. That’s how it is. Really weird these days.
Michael Waitze 0:47
That was weird. And this is good, right? Because we’re trying to get on this yearly schedule. We had you in August of 2019 on the Thailand GameChanger, and then May 2020, on the Ignite and now on to Asia Tech Podcast. And what are we December of 2021?
Geir Windsvoll 1:02
December is over almost. It’s like it’s a it’s a one of those very, for me at least very fast and painful years. Usually, there they come slow and painful now, it’s fast. It’s fast. But yeah, it’s insane that we’re already in the last three weeks, I guess. Yeah, I
Michael Waitze 1:23
can’t remember what date is. You know, what I think I know is my brother’s birthday is December 12. Okay, and it hasn’t happened yet.
Geir Windsvoll 1:29
I think it’s tomorrow.
Michael Waitze 1:32
I have a note to myself. I sent him something. I like him a lot. And I like to joke around and just go like, what’s new? So much has happened since the last time we talked? Because in May. Yeah. We still did remote in May, didn’t we? Yeah. 1020 Yeah,
Geir Windsvoll 1:46
I remember sitting in my apartment. This was during lockdown. So yeah. So it was kind of a new experience. I actually enjoyed it. I don’t. I was very, I was actually doing fundraising and while in a small Bangkok apartment, but yeah, it was I guess I had the same experience as many other people. You got to take a break from your loops and patterns. And it was it was nice.
Michael Waitze 2:16
I was in my apartment from March 18 until the end of June. And I literally only went outside to go to family. What at the end of the street? Yeah. Not even to the supermarket.
Geir Windsvoll 2:26
Exactly. I had something similar. But then I actually went to an island after June. Did you really? I did we were there the whole time? No. So what happened was I I was, as I said, I was doing fundraising, which is kind of challenging in sight of an apartment. Yeah, especially when it’s going slow. So I went to the island, and I remember actually closing the front race on the beach more or less by phone, which is kind of a nice experience that I realized, oh wait, I didn’t I done this before, right? Because 14 years before I came to Thailand, doing remote work, and it’s all on the same island. So actually, really Yeah. There was no one doing digital nomads. It was like no digital nomads at the time as I can remember I called myself a backpacker. But, but I went back. This is pioneering company, outside of Samoyed, which is mostly known as a party Island.
Michael Waitze 3:33
Isn’t that where like full moon started? Yes. Which I’ve never been. I’ve never been to
Geir Windsvoll 3:37
I’ve been there. I don’t You don’t need to have that on your bucket list. It’s not a seven. So unless you like to watch people not interested just crawl around in their own. Yeah, thanks. No, no. And it’s a sad thing. Because the island itself is a beautiful island. It’s not as developed as many of the other islands. And you have parts of this island that is not catering to drunk. Backpackers. It’s actually
Michael Waitze 4:05
become like, I know people that are there that are running funds, people that are there that are building companies what you were doing and people there that are raising money. I know CFOs that are there. It’s changed a lot in the 14 years when you first
Geir Windsvoll 4:16
Yeah, no, and it’s changing even more now is accelerating. I can I can talk a little bit about it. Like I came there last year, stayed for a month and went back to Bangkok. Realize that. Let’s let’s go back to the item. There is nothing happening in my code and didn’t know the month and kind of started to realize that we’re not over the COVID thing is not over yet. No, we we were lucky last year to some degree. All the data just kind of pointed to that 21 is not going to be easy year. So I took all my things and just move down to the Upper West Side of panang where, where you have a lot of remote workers already. And I guess at the time, it wasn’t that busy. But now it is. So over the year, it’s been tons of people coming in from abroad, setting up their small workspaces in the villas and corking some some new co working spaces popping up. And yeah, it’s a community there. It’s, it’s interesting. We even don’t a few conferences, and it’s a more international community than I would say Asian community. And it’s also very, very, very blockchain heavy.
Michael Waitze 5:42
Yeah, so the my first introduction to this was a guy that I know who’s building who’s building his own venture capital fund. And one of the first people to whom he wanted to introduce me was a guy who’s running some kind of blockchain company there, I can’t remember his name. But as more and more of that is happening,
Geir Windsvoll 5:58
much more you have your corporate lawyers sitting in class, and it’s, it’s no, it’s very interesting, I would say, because of the density, you would constantly meet new people that would add, call it network value. Or you can have very interesting conversation about very fresh technology, which I find it harder to do other places in Asia, mostly because the blockchain community is very different from say, more traditional startups.
Michael Waitze 6:35
It’s a different kind of person that’s doing Yeah, actually. Yeah.
Geir Windsvoll 6:38
And for me, I feel like I’m home again, because I I’ve been I’ve been in this game for 20 years. So I remember like, the early days of the Internet, where everything was very geeky. And and now it’s geeky. And I love that.
Michael Waitze 6:53
This is playing right into your hands.
Geir Windsvoll 6:54
Oh, yeah. I’m home.
Michael Waitze 6:56
Are you moving back to Bangkok now? Are you staying there?
Geir Windsvoll 6:59
So at the moment, I’m staying at the island? I I do think there is huge potential here for Thailand to start to build, say remote ecosystems become a remote hub?
Michael Waitze 7:11
What’s connectivity like there?
Geir Windsvoll 7:13
Oh, it’s great. It’s better than my Bangkok. Really? Yeah. I’ve seen very, very good upload and download speeds, there is some electricity challenges from time to time. So that’s, I think it’s maybe something they need to look into. But but also the island itself has realized that there’s more sustainable to have people living there for six months, rather than returns to coming in and buying a bucket. So yeah. But we need more infrastructure to be able to host kind of what I believe is the future of remote, which means not. I like to categorize the remote working in two buckets. One is like the digital nomads, which is mostly backpackers with laptops, and they they live on budget, and they are more interested in the kind of life’s life experience of traveling around and seeing the world while you also now especially I think after COVID, you starting to see a shift. We all know that everybody, everybody went through modes, right? We we don’t only have developers working in teams remote, we have all organizations working in teams remote. And that’s fantastic. I think the challenge with that is that you still need some kind of social, social interaction interaction you have to, and yeah, and I think this is what these islands to some degree solves, because you can you can work somewhere where you sit and work all week maybe focused, but then you go to the beach and interact with people that do the same space. But also not only that, but also the fact that these companies actually needs place that remote companies, say remote native companies especially need places to meet and actually see each other right. This is this is a key thing. I don’t think I think these things can be hosted at islands like this.
Michael Waitze 9:19
We know this anyway. But it also opens up a whole new business line for some of these islands, right. Like you said their earnings had been up and down and cyclical. So on season, a lot of people would be their offseason. They’re just waiting for people to show up. Yeah, but if you can live there, 12 months out of the year. And to be fair, I have been looking at renting a place on the island and that in particular for months right now. But I’m so stuck in the busyness of what I’m doing. Yeah, because the prices they’re ridiculously reasonable still,
Geir Windsvoll 9:46
they’re putting up a podcast studio now.
Michael Waitze 9:48
So I’m sure they are.
Geir Windsvoll 9:51
But But I think yeah, no, the prices are actually yeah, increasing on villas, which kitchen because that’s where you you have people sitting there now Working for SF companies with 600,000 baht salaries. Right? So that’s a different animal. Right? And I think the first ones that build cool it’s city like co working space like we work level will make a lot of money. I agree. And I don’t need to see the beach when I’m working. I don’t I just need to open the door and see the beach right? Yeah, I just need to know what’s over there. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. And that will also not only host people from abroad, it will host people from the city, Singapore, Bangkok. And I think this these things are much more sustainable than the tourism we had in the past. Agreed. So
Michael Waitze 10:37
and there’s some questions like I don’t even know how comfortable I’m getting on a plane right now, regardless of vaccinations and stuff. Yeah, it just been so long. This is the longest time in my whole life that I haven’t been on a plane.
Geir Windsvoll 10:48
Yeah, anywhere. It’s true. I’ve been on the domestic plane. But
Michael Waitze 10:54
Talk to me about the evolution of Panya.
Unknown Speaker 10:57
Panya. Yeah, that’s a it’s been, it’s been a learning full journey. When you learn something, it also comes with a lot of pain. So it’s been a long journey already. We started punya studios out of the venture builder center, Nakama in 2018. I don’t need to go too much into detail about the venture builder, I guess. But But we, we had one project going over, over 12 months, that was actually a product I led in the I call it like that was like a little project in the corner. That was to a group of team of three people, two developers and designer, UX designer, doing a prototype of what we looked into being a video live video dating app, more or less. So we had like, I think three or four prototypes over the year. The agenda there was one thing is to get familiar with video, live video, of course, also creates a functioning app. But also, I see this as a great way to also build very tight teams. When you when you starting to build something from scratch, it’s very challenging to have to put together like a team of two three people and go with speed. So during this month’s we were actually looking also into in the studio over looking into smart contracts blockchain at the same time is yeah, it was 2017. I think this was like the end of 2017, where you had crypto kittens. Starting to get some attention. The smart contracts were new the ICOs was going on. So there was like something happening in the space. I have been following blockchain since 2000, I guess 11, but not really been. I’m not I’m not like an investor that in that way, I’m, I mean, this game for the innovation and the product development. That’s what drives me and gives me energy. So so we were looking into it. But at the same time, we saw a few things happening around HQ trivia in the States. And we doubled down on on this interactive live trivia game show model that became Pania. released it in, was it February 2018, after two and a half month, I guess, of development. Which again, the reason why that went very fast was because of all the pre prototyping 12 months earlier, so nothing come fast. But yeah, it always looks like it from the Yeah, it looks like it. But we did this test invited was it 60 friends and family to test the app. And from there, it went to 2 million users in the next month. So the first million in the first four weeks without any marketing any everything was organic. So it was a complete network effect. And it was, it looks most likely from the outside these things are like wow, that was great. Congratulations. But this is a nightmare to keep this flowing.
Michael Waitze 14:21
This is like the Twitter fail whale, right? I mean, in a way, Twitter didn’t grow nearly as fast. But if you remember back in the early days of Twitter, you’d log on, they would just be like, sorry, we’re not here.
Geir Windsvoll 14:30
Yeah, no, I done this before as well. I had a social network in Norway in 2002. That went viral as well. And we had to ask people to virus money for servers because there was no other ways to get it. It was like no investors. But But yeah, it was mental. We had every show we we had like these 15 minutes live shows two times a day 100,000 People would join. So yeah, like this Flash Mob coming at the same time. So the technology was quite fresh. It was very expensive to, to to host this CDN was like we were actually I think at some point, the second biggest CDN consumer in Thailand. I think. Netflix Yeah, insane. And and the challenge here is like we, we haven’t really, we just started.
Michael Waitze 15:26
If I remember correctly, there were three people on the team.
Geir Windsvoll 15:28
Yeah, I was saying, I mean, that’s from three to, I think 40 People in two and a half months or something. So which is also a challenge. It’s a challenge when you also need to raise money to pay them. And then everybody’s, all investors would ask you, do you have any revenue numbers for the last six months, it’s like we just started in six weeks ago. And I’m trying to keep the service alive. We cannot monetize at this moment. So. So that was pretty challenging. It was like, we were running my the tech team, which was also fully Thai tech team was doing a fantastic job. They were working. I think they are on nights, every weekday to keep things running and to develop features. It was the most engaged group of people I ever worked with. So it was interesting times, challenging times for them as well. It’s it’s it’s very, it’s draining to work like that. Yeah. And but yeah, it was, it was fun. And we have I think we, we had all the we had like 20 brands calling us to put their to put their brand on too much to be sponsoring shows the things we’re more complicated than that. We thought we kind of cracked everything. I think the coil was kind of interested. We had a little bit we became like the hot chick. In our we, we went to the bar and the hottest chick started to kind of talk to us. Right, right. And I think that was part of the challenge, because we thought things would be easy. But it never know that race.
Michael Waitze 17:18
Did that whole experience changed? Because you’re still around different things. And I want to get to that in a second. Right. But did it change the way you thought about early stage invest tours? Do they mean because let’s let’s just go through these really quick detail. Yeah. You prototype something you think about something for a while, you start building the thing. And in two months, you launch this thing, right? Yeah, basically? Well, we’ve done a lot of prep work before that for sure. In four weeks, you get a million people. You having 100,000 People show? Yeah, in a way. It’s just like trying to save the company’s life just to keep everything afloat. So the idea that you could be out selling in like a casual way, hey, you know, for every add on this thing of for every blah, blah, blah, you pay this that no thing? Yeah, it’s almost on. It’s almost unbelievable, because you hadn’t planned on that. For sure. No. And I have 40 people back there. Just cranking it out. Seven days a week. Yeah. 24 hours a day. Yeah. And then you’re like, Okay, I’m gonna go raise some money. That should be easy. Give me a few minutes. Yeah, basically, I mean, more. I’m simplifying. Yeah. And then you go to raise money from people you may know, actually, and they say, can we see like six months revenue? And you’re like, yeah, do you understand what we’ve just done? Exactly. So is this changed the way you think about this?
Geir Windsvoll 18:30
Well, it changed well, it creates two things like, it makes you think, Am I really, really that bad at explaining things? Or you also understand, yes, there is a challenge in, in a market where we have i For me, it was more confirming a few things. Unfortunately, having said this, there was a lot of was a lot of great people coming with good advice. We had amazing conversation with Sequoia. I think they’re their reason to not go in after a very good conversation was had more to do with more macro things. And what was also happening maybe in the States, I can go listen to that now, but but I think it did confirm that a lot of the VCs or maybe even there’s a lot of these is lack experience with operation and products. And I think it was very challenging for them to see what this weird thing was. For me being a being also to some degree. I’ve been a VC. That when is weird, and you don’t understand it. You got you got my attention.
Michael Waitze 19:49
Why you have to invest it at some level, right? Even take a little bit of risk on it. I would go a little bit further for me. Yeah, this is Michael’s opinion. Yeah, is that they’re also not super experienced at actually making the investments as well. If a company like this, again, my opinion had been built in Silicon Valley or somewhere where there’s a whole bunch of sort of dynamic investors out there. Yeah, there may have been a competition to put money in. Yeah, that’s what I think. Yeah. No, it but anyway, we we decided to live where we decide to live. And yeah, I did an ecosystem where we decide to operate. So fair enough. Yeah,
Geir Windsvoll 20:19
it has its pros and cons. And it’s also part of the ecosystem developing and also looking. In the aftermath, there’s definitely things I could have done differently. That would have given it a completely different outcome. But that’s another podcast. So what actually happened that we we more or less pivoted into b2b, we had quite a few inquiries from gaming studios, especially abroad to, to license or product. And for me, that was just a case survival. So we did so. And also we had to some degree a semi semi acquisition. But that’s went a little bizarre when COVID happen. So
Michael Waitze 21:09
somebody had somebody offer you to buy the technology. Yeah,
Geir Windsvoll 21:12
we were more or less was, we more or less was sold, but not paid. At least not everything. So that that actually brought us to, to 2020, where I think around January, February, things started to to not look good for that acquisition. And I was back into fundraising, I was actually super happy because I was like, at some point, I had a job there, I could get fired. And I was like, enjoying that.
Michael Waitze 21:44
It’s not that somebody else.
Geir Windsvoll 21:45
Yeah, no, I don’t need to worry that much anymore. But then I had to worry again, so so. So that. So the what happened then was COVID happen. So I kind of understood very fast that to build a build to keep on selling a platform that is based on marketing, branding, advertisements, budgets to to be flexible, might not be a good idea for the next months. Not knowing what was happening with the world. So we pivoted into live shopping and and saw that you could use our gamification knowledge from the last couple of years and the live streaming knowledge and find ways to bring up sales and retention on live shopping. So we we started the project with Pamela fashion, where we integrated our SDK and build an SDK into their app are still doing that. Yeah, yes. It’s changed a little bit how things are done. But we, it was very, it was fascinating to see how you can convert not necessarily huge audience into amazing revenue in terms of 60 minutes is like it’s absurd how these things work when you really get it. It’s a combination of technology, contents, shop attainments, combined with Yeah, gamification,
Michael Waitze 23:13
and there was a company that just got funded, or at least just announced the funding today in Singapore, I believe. Yeah, I sold on LinkedIn this morning, they raised two and a half or $2.4 million. Like I remember,
Geir Windsvoll 23:22
I think we’re still very, very early stage on social commerce. I think it’s I think it’s this the markets definitely catching up to you. Oh, yeah. And I think China is like, what’s going on in China? It’s like, insane numbers. I think part of why it’s going slow is that you have you have the technology there. But you don’t necessarily have the content creators, because one thing we learned in Pontiac was that we have competition from big Chinese players from line from, they were all going head to head with us, right? And content is still king it is. And that’s why we’re here. But that’s why I’m still alive. Yeah, exactly. Otherwise, who knows. And also that’s part that’s the part where my background is in film. So what background is like 20 years ago, but but the tech the interesting part, for me in tech is always been around storytelling and content. So so so we we were actually about to, to raise another round earlier this year to scale up the social commerce part. When one of our first investors, IP owed their company one of their companies and called me and said, Hey, let’s let’s get back into b2c. And maybe I do do it a little bit differently. And I was all ears because doing b2b Is Great, but it’s not fun. Sorry. At least for me, I am I’m a b2c guy. And b2c means instant verification from from your audience. So I
Michael Waitze 25:14
think the people, and I say this all the time on my shows. People have like this visceral connection with other people. They don’t have that connection with other companies. Sometimes the companies feel like they do, like all my training shoes or Nike. But if Nike went away, I wouldn’t be sad. No, I wouldn’t be nostalgic. I just stopped buying. It’s all people. Would you understand what I mean? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. But if you went away, yeah, I really would be honestly like devastatingly sad. Yeah, kind of thing.
Geir Windsvoll 25:43
That’s a good sign. I mean, absolutely. No, it’s
Michael Waitze 25:47
a b2c so much more fulfilling? Because if you like what I do, yeah, absolutely. I’m happier.
Geir Windsvoll 25:54
No, absolutely. And I think this is also what you see reflected in in a lot of the developer innovation happening right now. Especially in the cost of blockchain and the network effects there. It’s, it’s about it’s also about it’s, it’s, it’s more, it’s easier to work with data, which you see from your users than actually listening to your early stage b2b clients trying to tell you what they need, because they don’t know usually what they need, right? And an old respect to people doing that. Well, it’s just not what makes me happy. The most happy Yes, yeah.
Michael Waitze 26:36
And this is the thing that a lot of people forget. That’s actually one of the things that’s the most important. Yeah, like you could probably build a killer b2b business, and make a lot of money doing it. But at the end of the day, you’re a ton happier. Yeah, doing this.
Geir Windsvoll 26:49
Yeah. And I think that’s extremely important in anything you do that if you’re not happy. You it’s it’s super hard to build business is super, super hard to build any type of startups. And if you’re not happy with what you’re building, that’s when you’re burning out. That’s when you’re getting into a very unhealthy loop, I think. Yeah, so that’s the key thing. You don’t necessarily have to have passion. But if it doesn’t make passion is great. Yeah, passion is something you can learn certainly something can come with exploring and digging deeper. But if you don’t, if you don’t like your sector, then
Michael Waitze 27:28
what are you doing so do something I can confirm this? I’ve never made such little money in my whole life. And been this happy. That’s great. That very seriously,
Geir Windsvoll 27:39
I believe you very strongly and I think more people should learn to listen Yeah, listen to the heart when it comes to this
Michael Waitze 27:47
kind of money be miserable.
Geir Windsvoll 27:49
i The people I know but the most most not not people I know with the most money but say that my nephew playing with a lot of money are not happy people. depends a little bit on how they money. Got it got the money if they’re self made or not self made.
Michael Waitze 28:06
Yeah, exactly. So tell me about this. b2c coming back to b2c? Yes. punya. Now,
Geir Windsvoll 28:11
so funny now is, so what happened was, we we had a talk with investor I, we more or less did a term sheet to go into b2c Continue both using our game show technology, but combined with social commerce. However, back to happiness. Fashion pushing is also not necessarily what I am. I think social currency is super fun. But I was also seeing that there is things happening right now that I just need to be part of I need to get back home. And that was the development of web three. So okay, we have to stop that. Yeah. No, I’ll just say like, my, my, my lead investor is a big gaming investor. Okay. So for me to conversation, usually, I would never pivot after signing a term sheet. But But I took the phone and said, Hey, can we just change the strategy? And, and he was very happy about that. And it’s, yeah, it’s fun to have investors that you can call on and really geek out and talk about the future of what you want to do. Yeah. So
Michael Waitze 29:29
this gets back to what we were talking about before, right. What do you learn about taking on investors, most startup founders, particularly first time, which you’re not, at any level, think that money is a commodity and that you can take it from anybody? And it’s the same? Yeah, but money comes with a personality as well. Yeah, absolutely. So you’re, you’re fortunate because this money came with somebody who’s flexible enough to think about it, but also they trust you and is as geeky as you are. So you can geek out with them.
Geir Windsvoll 29:56
Fantastic. Yeah, it’s it’s like well, it’s a It is like dating it is relationship it is it’s like if you’re going in, you don’t necessarily need to, you can have people in the cap table that you don’t need to talk to every week or month for that sake, or quarter, there might be people in the cap table that want your attention all the time. While they’re not necessarily adding any value, that much value. And I don’t mind talking to any of any of the people supporting me, of course, but there is like, there is limited time to to, to please everyone, there is error all the time. But but having people that also understands your values and understand your industry. Yeah. And don’t on not only want to opinionate, but actually might not be too obsessed about telling you where to go, but more what’s happening in this space right now. And that’s super fun. So I yeah, when it comes to putting people on the cap table, be cautious. And I’ve turned down term sheets, that could have been critical, but I saw that I could not marry that person.
Michael Waitze 31:15
Exactly. And I equated with being married. Yeah. And I would know, because I’ve done it. Yeah.
Geir Windsvoll 31:22
But of course, it’s it’s it’s hard. But I think also the ecosystem in Southeast Asia is getting better and better. And there will be more competition between US investors. And I think I see a lot of new investors popping up that have the experience that would add value over only the financial capital.
Michael Waitze 31:42
Absolutely. Yeah. So what is web? 3.00? Yeah,
Geir Windsvoll 31:45
so where do we start? I, I’m kind of anxious about explaining web 3.0. Because I have a feeling I will either go on. Like, I would go Jabra for three hours, or I would someone was like That’s bullshit. And now let’s start with 1.0. I’m so I’ve been I’m old. So I’ve been on the internet since I think 95 started to try to make money in 96, I guess 97 or something? Because I kind of explored the first part of Web. The only part that was more or less when I would say you can quote like Silicon Valley, the show like when you put radio on the internet, when when everything was just like information flow open protocols was kind of the big thing. The new new thing, then you and you’re saying yeah, things looks more like ugly magazines. The only reason why people had internet was most likely porn, because nothing, nothing really going on there. First of all DVDs. Yeah, that’s that’s the thing that drives the technologies, war, porn and gaming. And it’s interesting because the internet came to the world with with military development. And now we’re seeing something in the web three, that also relates to one of these three categories. But anyway, web 1.0, we started to see, let’s just jump directly to 2.0, which was when we started to see applications being built, there was a read and writes these people understand understood that you can actually create getting transactional, yes, transactional, you could do something with it, you could get you started to create network effects, right? information. So we started to see the first social apps early 2000, we started to see a more of a different value proposition than just putting information online. You actually would get feedback loops based on information you without we started
Michael Waitze 33:58
seeing things like Skype and AOL messenger and I seek you and stuff like that. Yeah.
Geir Windsvoll 34:03
And, and it started to build very big companies. As we know today, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok, Google. And these companies have also started to create some problems in the world, depending on who you ask, I guess but, but we see kind of challenges these days in terms of monopoly. Yeah, where we have is a little bit back to the 80s with TV where you have like a few channels works. Yeah, exactly. And, and and that has to do with how the whole system is designed because it’s a centralized system, where people are owning your data, and it’s owning eight servers. It’s if you want to take your Facebook followers to I don’t know waits, waits book or something, you cannot and, and this is a problem with the top down type of organization, which the internet was never necessarily meant to be. No, it was meant to be an open protocol. Right? Yeah, TCP IP is out there. Yeah, exactly. So entering 3.0, I think there’s a few definitions of what 3.0 is, I believe it is. The central decentralized network is a layer on top of the current web layer, where we have maybe up to being a great place for distribution, your networks where you can get your podcasts distributed through your social networks and, and paid networks. But now, with 3.0, what is the biggest game changer is suddenly you also own your own data? So that means you can generate money. Or you can have ownership to anything you put online? Or is a how your time is used online? Right?
Michael Waitze 36:17
Yeah, in tid, in web 2.0, whatever data you create gets owned by the companies that give you the platform where it’s created. Right? So Facebook makes money because you and I are there. Yeah, they get to use our eyeballs and our clicks to make money. Exactly. And I think web 3.0 is meant to say, that was neat. But it’s actually me that has the value. Yeah, either to have the value. And if I have the value, there needs to be a way that that gets set up. So that value generates to me, and not to the people that own the platform. And this is the decentralized aspect of this. Is that right?
Geir Windsvoll 36:51
More or less? Yeah, so there is, there is, I think there is tons of content out there for anyone that wants to really deep dive into 3.0. Because it takes like a couple of hours to actually go into detail, sir. But I would say what’s magic about 3.0 is that you can create network economies out of like if I if I build a network of so actually better if you do it, because you are a creator, you are creating these podcasts. I don’t know how many listeners you have. But you could choose if you want to have, say a million listeners that are maybe distributed through centralized services, or you could and then you get maybe advertisements, or you have some subscription fees through paid through these services. Or maybe you can just say, hey, I want 1000. If I can get 1000 subscribers to pay me $1,000, I can create completely different content for you guys. And you will pay me a million dollar. If you that would not be very easy. Until now. Right? So that’s like one, one use case I can see. But I think the point here is that anything you put online at anything you you get online, instead of saying going into a game where you’re paying actually for access to a database, you are starting to generate your whatever you generate inside of these ecosystems can now be yours. And you can take it anywhere to your wallet. So the point here is like everything, of course is done being the infrastructure line on the bottom areas, the blockchain and the new technologies that are popping up right now. And if T’s I know there’s a lot of hype about flipping JPEGs, but the functionality and the utility of these kinds of tokens is the beginning of a very, I think very, we’re in very, very early days of very revolutionising technology. So
Michael Waitze 39:09
you you know that I like to make analogies. Yeah, because I’m too stupid to understand the technology. That’s not really true. But you understand what I mean? Yeah, that’s a good way in there. In the old days, that right? People would take paper and exchange it for goods. And everybody would say this is I’m talking about centuries ago, right? Like, no one’s gonna take paper for stuff. I take stuff for stuff. And there was all this hype around paper, money paper, right? Yeah, it’s felt like a fad. But you can make fun of it, or you can then utilize it in a way that makes sense. And I think NF T’s are really just like going straight down to the bottom of ownership and digitalization of assets, which is going to happen to every asset, every single asset. So the idea that the first NFT sells for a million dollars, and it’s just a bunch of dots or a bunch of pixels on a thing. Yeah, sure. You can focus on that, but it’s really a head fake. Yeah, the real stuff is happening off to the left or off to the right, depending on how you’re looking at it. And that is going to happen And it’s gonna steamroll every other type of asset ownership, whether it’s a stock in a bond, a stamp or a pen, because yeah, that interoperability is almost like an FX raid. Right. I have pounds you have dollars in the pounds are useless in the United States. Yeah, I can switch them into dollars. They’re fungible. Yeah. But my car’s not fungible. Exactly. Yeah. So that’s normal. Absolutely. I was just been technologized.
Geir Windsvoll 40:27
Yeah. It’s just just actually, well, it happened. Maybe Is it three, four years ago, but it’s just hit hit the motherlode. And I think we’re still in the stage. I compare it in my head, at least to you know, when the smartphones came. First apps on the iPhone, they’re all kind of novelty apps like mirrors. Yeah, the phone app, you had a screen showing that you could drink a beer out of your app, very functional. I think we are ahead of that we have more functional things going on. But we’re at the same stage or maybe even earlier if you compare it because in value creation, yes, yes. So because what we have created now is a decentralized computer lying on top of the internet, where you can create, as you say, you can have these digital assets that are also smart contracts are smart. They’re the software that can not only just prove that it’s yours, but can also be programmed to do fantastic things in the future. That I don’t think we even have any idea of how far can go now I can see. Yeah, and that’s what excites me. That’s that’s what makes me super super. Yeah, excited about the next steps, obviously, because we’re in the very first 1% of this.
Michael Waitze 41:50
Right. And that was my point is that you can joke around about a bunch of pixels getting sold for a million dollars. Yeah, but that’s irrelevant. This is just a proof of concept for the technology and really just the first implementation, right? Because if every app today was a beer drinking app, yeah. up on us.
Geir Windsvoll 42:04
Exactly, exactly. No. And it’s, it’s funny to read some of the headlines, because I think you need these hives to get these things to market. But, but there’s also it comes with all this misinformation and miscommunication. I saw I saw that, that all the newspapers with all the blogs, were talking about this pirate bay of NF T’s where someone had like, downloaded all the NFCs of big marketplaces, which is completely pointless, right? It’s like doesn’t have any functionality, right? It’s like, it’s like taking pictures of all the galleries out there.
Michael Waitze 42:43
This is the thing that people forget, and I was having this conversation yesterday. It’s like, Sure, I can make a photocopy of every Monet. But it doesn’t have any value now, because you can’t prove that it’s real.
Geir Windsvoll 42:55
You can print it out and put it on the wall. And yeah, that’s great picture. That’s not the whole point. Exactly.
Michael Waitze 43:01
Right. Like copyright doesn’t go away. No, just gets software ized.
Geir Windsvoll 43:05
Yeah. And I think and I think there’s things here that we we have accepted in terms of luxury products in terms of art, that can also not necessarily be explained in a very rational way. Sometimes Why do people spend this much money on these bags or not? These bags? Or why do you have shoes costing, like $5,000? Not talking about you. But those weren’t even there, but now we we just made a digital assets that can communicate that same identity to people’s personality? Exactly. I think it’s just like, yeah, it’s it’s made me more shameless, when you owning a crypto bank for like, $500,000. But it’s also a way to communicate culture and being part of a type of society and club.
Michael Waitze 43:59
Yeah. So somebody bought the suit. The only remaining suit that John Travolta wore in Saturday Night Fever. Yeah. XX for $125,000. Yeah. So I don’t understand why it’s more shameless. Don’t a crypto on that site.
Geir Windsvoll 44:17
It’s just it’s just, it’s new. Right? Right. And it looks like a toy. And it looks like a tie. But it goes like this, then pay attention.
Michael Waitze 44:28
Yeah. But on the other hand, you can go and buy a suit for $1,000. And everybody does that. Exactly. And that’s what this is going to turn out to be.
Geir Windsvoll 44:34
Absolutely yeah. And you seeing very interesting social, what to call it like, how these how some of these NF T clubs is now starting to create like events and building like a physical presence or doing brand deals is fascinating to see we’re, I believe that investing into NF T’s are very, very good. dangerous thing, I think maybe even 90% will lose money here. But I think what’s happening in terms of how you can identify how you can by buying certain visual elements, tell the world around you that I’m part of this group of people. And this is my tribe. That that’s, that’s what we’ve been doing for the history of time. So red, like
Michael Waitze 45:26
what value does a Red Sox baseball? play on the team? Exactly? Where the cap? Yeah,
Geir Windsvoll 45:31
but but this is just the beginning. So that the next kind of utility use of these technologies workings, things are going to be very interesting, especially in terms of media as well, how it will distribute, like how it will. Definitely, and any any industry that have high margins, will especially media right now will will struggle in the future, for sure. Actually thinks will be decentralized.
Michael Waitze 45:58
It’s, it’s already happening. Yeah, I mean, look at this studio. Video. It’s a very nice studio. But the major media companies can’t compete with this. Now, because their margins are way too high. And their costs are way too high. Yeah. And we can create value at the same quality at the same level. Yeah. at much lower cost.
Geir Windsvoll 46:24
Yeah. And if you really want to scale up your business right now, yeah, you don’t go to one investor, you go and realize you create your token exactly that you have. You have already a community out there to listeners, the people listening to this podcast exactly is your potential investors and users and CO creators in the future.
Michael Waitze 46:48
Exactly. Exactly. So what is pun you’re doing now?
Geir Windsvoll 46:52
Pontiac kind of went a little bit back into where it all started. So that means we sit on some technology that is very, we’ve been working on Play to earn like as I don’t know, if you need to explain to our also been one of the hypes over the last months x infinity kind of been.
Michael Waitze 47:13
I was blown away that Andreessen Horowitz invested in yield gilt games. Yeah, I spoken to Berlin, that team actually, yeah, nice, amazing stuff shows really interesting story.
Geir Windsvoll 47:21
So in short, I think crypto gaming, and in game play to earn is what’s going to onboard the masses into the blockchain, not necessarily with the same kind of user interface. As we know, today, things are still quite hard for the normal user, UX is still a big issue. But the incentives in terms of play turn where instead of you paying a provider to play their games, you are now being paid for your effort inside of the game. As long as you kind of creating value into the entertainment value of the game. That’s that’s changing dramatically. Right now, this is the big last year was define blockchain. Decentralized its products were booming. And you starting now to see, it’s almost like when you build a nation state, you kind of need the infrastructure, then you need the financial structure. And then now with NF T’s, you have the property rights. And now the meta verses are starting to get built right on top of it is built on top of it do you need it these elements to kind of create backbone, and games are driving that. So play turn mechanism where you are making money out of playing on the platform. So say in x infinity is example. X is not selling anyone there, the game elements like the axes that people are using to breathe and fight. They are not the ones selling that. That’s the users, the players are selling that to them inside of the economy, and axes, axes making money through the taxes and fees on top of that. So they’re like just hosting platform and nobody owns the owner. The user owns the
Michael Waitze 49:17
game is there. Is there any other place where people build little pieces of businesses interact with each other where there are rules? And then the person that creates those rules or monitors them takes some kind of taxation? I feel like I’ve heard like,
Geir Windsvoll 49:30
their summons, figured out a few 100 There’s, I feel like I’ve heard this been done before. Like the Greeks did this. I think there was yeah, no, it’s really interesting how how all these is almost like every product now is turning into its own economy, right. It’s almost like, I’ll be building. I’ll be building companies. Are we building cities or building economies? That is definitely not working? economies. And then how will these economies also start to interact is super fascinating? Because if you look at it from a more philosophical perspective, this is the first time in history of man we have seen like free flow market so people
Michael Waitze 50:15
can now associate based on their interest as opposed to their geographical location. Exactly like you talk about being Norwegian. Yeah, the place where you were born is just a historical accident. Yeah. And then the wave. Same for me.
Geir Windsvoll 50:27
Exactly. This is actually an interesting part of the discussion around metaphors, because I like it a lot. People often say why. So I also believe that people should be out in nature. And I believe that they should be taking care of their health by being physically active. But I see very often that people judge this as a dystopian kind of future where everybody’s sitting with their virtual reality sets on and are more or less rotting away. I think people very often forget that most people in this world do not necessarily have access to say, culture to experiences that some of us are very lucky to have explored. And I think these kinds of this kind of technology will democratize the possibility for more people, at least, to not only be on a concert or explore things that they couldn’t explore at home or experiencing septic, maybe they’ve been living in. Yeah, not super healthy environments. And I think we haven’t seen the beginning of these things. And I think, I think for, for the bigger population, I think the upside here is most likely bigger than the downside.
Michael Waitze 51:50
Absolutely. So we talk a lot about particularly with defy Right, yeah. Decentralized finance, we talked about financial literacy. And we also talked about financial inclusion. Yeah, what you’re suggesting, and this is actually kind of an interesting way to think about it. Maybe we’ll coined the term today or two. cultural literacy. Yeah, exactly. Cultural inclusion, because yeah, there’s a whole wheat we take for granted. Yeah. And at least we’re self aware enough to know that out of the 7 billion people in the world, most of them don’t live exactly the same privileged way that we get to live.
Geir Windsvoll 52:22
Yeah, it was, it was most interesting. I had a discussion with someone that’s, we were talking about xe, and they were mentioning, that sounds very sad that they have to sit and play game eight hours a day to make money, but I was like, but you have to think about what else they would do for that money. And we’re not talking about necessarily people on the same.
Michael Waitze 52:46
Are you kidding me? Do you know what I did for eight hours a day? I clicked a bunch of buttons. I watched a bunch of things on a screen. Yeah, I bought some stuff and sold some stuff. It doesn’t sound that different from being a sales trader
Geir Windsvoll 52:56
to me. Absolutely not. And you see, well, Philippines is very interesting. I’m pretty sure some of this is PR material, but for sure. But during COVID Apparently axing has been a big break in the society where people that were losing their jobs could now start to play a game where they make much more money than they would if they were working at any other fast food joints, right. From minority of the people, I think, especially being in Southeast Asia, with these amounts of people working on minimum wages, I think gaming play turn will have a massive impact on their well being for the next 10 years. 20 years. I agree. So what was the question? Us? Where are we going with this? Yeah. So
Michael Waitze 53:43
So are you building games now?
Geir Windsvoll 53:44
I’m building games. As I as we see it, we were doing later in 2018. When we did punya. We learned a lot about economies and and how to do this. We did not do that on the blockchain. We actually looked into it at the time, I don’t think it was the right time to do it. I think now, things have changed dramatically. So So punya studios, at the moment is turning more or less into a web three studio. We are taking our old technology, we’re building new technology. I’m been lucky enough to have a new tech partner, Cosima from omisego. has joined the team is super fun to play with someone that’s been also deep down into the in the weeds in the weeds. When it comes to the smart contracts. This is a more on the vision product side. So first of all, it’s very fun to to play around in this space. And I think what I see right now is that when I was doing venture building, we cracked a few things we cracked the idea stage To to product market fit. But it was very challenging to do homeschooling startups and then get it to the next full of them funding because of cap table issues. But also in terms of scaling more than one company at the time is insane. Don’t do it. But don’t try this at home that there is another element to blockchain that we haven’t really on web three that we haven’t really talked about, which is maybe what makes me me, me even more excited than if t is and that’s the Dow, the decentralized autonomous organizations. So the way I see the future of companies, the future of definitely venture building, but also, what’s happening right now is like from, like, from doing venture building, and starting to look more like a typical game studio, we’re not necessarily building a structure of seven companies. And you don’t have to deal with all this incorporation and the mess, you can do this in a completely different way, as a way that I think we’re still exploring, but we’re looking into more pros, what I call progressive decentralization, where you take the best out of the V, web to product development, combining it with a web three upsides meaning, you can go and scale your business in a completely different way, you can go to an exit in a completely different way than you did before. I think one of the problems we’ve seen in web three right now is you have all these token offerings, where people promise you to create the product, but they will never deliver because they never created that product before they created the smart contract. And doesn’t actually take that much to do not really, to innovate, the contract takes a lot. But since everything is open, source driven, anyone can copy paste anything out there. But in web two, and in gaming, specially we have so many good people, product developers, people that have been flickering on user experience, and really understand how these things work. And they are about to enter into the web three game. And I think, based on the background that I have with venture building, I see how there is elements of the these two places right now that can be put together. And that’s what we’re doing with Pioneer studios, we’re taking we’re building tracks, say that we we are operating more as a lab, but with focus on building products and games in, in a decentralized world, which has to go to exit into a decentralized model, meaning that you starting with a centralized team, a tight team, you, you stay a gel doing that. And you take that to market by building community and having the support function of say the studio model by having the developers focus on the product. Product Managers focus on the product while you have the studio model also does reporting on marketing and community building around that, which is very important parts of crypto. Yeah. And
Michael Waitze 58:15
also if you’re doing it in the data structure, right? If it’s a decentralized, autonomous organization, nobody at the end of the day is really running the whole thing. But the organization itself is running in a decentralized way. Yes. But that also means that everybody who’s running it is incentivized to make sure that it’s running in a proper way. Yeah,
Geir Windsvoll 58:31
you’re different. Yes, you’re fixing all the problems. I think you’re fixing a founder problem, because as soon as the founder is hit by the bus, or, or loses interests, stuff founders commit to seven years of their life is you have a lot of stories about these people in the media, but most foundered doesn’t go that far. And I think there is a big I think these things are very, very early stage still. So I think you will see a lot of innovation going on here as well. There is no simplicity, like not all businesses are made to be decentralized. I believe, like, I think I can come up with tons of products that I didn’t don’t think would be developed or scaled very well from a big organization. But I think especially anything around gaming and media. Entertainment is made for this. Yes. And I think this is also where our focus will be at the tainment I see us see ourself more as an entertainment studio than a gaming studio. I understand. And, and I think, yeah, it’s so much to do there right now. So we’re just getting the pieces kind of put together. We’re launching most likely one product very, very soon and have a few tracks that we want to start on as soon as the brain allows it.
Michael Waitze 1:00:01
Well, I will say this. And this gets back to something you said at the beginning of this conversation. You do seem really happy.
Geir Windsvoll 1:00:07
I’m, I’m, I’m happy. It’s a good, it’s a good time to be alive. I am happy because it’s I would say, what excites me right now is innovation has never been. It’s been the last 10 years and web two has been you could call it boring, because innovation wise stale for Yeah, it’s still because since the mobile since the smartphone, it’s nothing. It’s the same same, and the big players have been running the game. And it’s hard to compete, create innovation when you have to fight Facebook, and these companies all the time. So the future is going to be exciting. Very, very exciting.
Michael Waitze 1:00:45
Why don’t we end there? Sorry, why don’t we end there?
Geir Windsvoll 1:00:49
Yeah, that sounds like good and because it will be a lot of lots of things updates next year.
Michael Waitze 1:00:56
Exactly. Let’s do this more than just a year away. Let’s do it less than a year. My nap time.
Geir Windsvoll 1:01:01
I will make time for that. Sure. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. Thank you
Follow Michael Waitze and the Asia Tech Podcast here:
Facebook – Michael Waitze
Facebook – Asia Tech Podcast
LinkedIn – Michael Waitze
Twitter – Michael Waitze