Browsers, applications and platforms are how consumers live online. Today, new digital lives are being led in different corners of the internet on top of the blockchain. But for all the media coverage of crypto, users will only start to care about this revelatory infrastructure shift when it is showcased through the services they use most. It’s hard to see things in the dark, and consumers show up when these products and applications turn on the lights.
Historically on the web, consumer opportunity followed emerging infrastructure. Web1 server structures put individuals online, gave the masses access to the internet to consume and communicate and made it all accessible by way of the browser, search and chat. But it took Netscape, Google, AOL & others to really show consumers what that infrastructure could do. Web2 presented the cloud and introduced a new wave of scalability and the emergence of the social web. All of a sudden people could connect online, purchase online, trade online, catalog their life online… everything together online. The web was cheaper to consume and accessible to anyone who was able to find a connection. Now we have the acceleration of Web3 infrastructure. Billions of dollars of investment and treasury sitting in the foundational layer of the next internet (Ethereum, Solana, Polkadot, etc.). Web3 promises a new gateway for billions of users to live even more online through self sovereignty, portability and ownership. But today, there is really only one breakout consumer experience that has reached far beyond the crypto community; Coinbase.
Living online relies on infrastructure. But that doesn’t mean consumers care about the infrastructure itself. They care about what it can unlock for their online lives: status, entertainment, financial gain, etc. When was the last time you used Spotify and thought “this is great because it’s hosted on AWS!”? You use Spotify because of the entertainment it provides you as an individual, brought to you by the infrastructure it showcases. Consumers care if things work and benefit them as individuals over all else. Web3 is presenting entirely new behaviors and business models to the web, now it’s up to us to show consumers what that can do and how it can benefit their digital lives.
Crypto markets have fostered a new type of experience, one that’s not limited to time or space. The first unlock happened in finance, with both centralized and decentralized exchanges opening up the trading of bitcoin and other tokens to 24/7 markets. This unbundled the traditional behaviors of finance, unlocking the trading experience and inciting new user participation and behaviors. Just as this shift in consumer behavior changed how we think about finance forever, we believe there are other markets that will follow the same unbundling and reintegration process across the consumer landscape. One we’re particularly keen on is the evolution of fandom and the expanding role of the sports consumer.
Fans have long been stuck on the sidelines of their favorite sporting events. The team/player to fan relationship is limited to league scheduling, event organizing and physical structures. Fans have long driven the value of their favorite leagues and teams but always at arm's length, leasing these experiences versus owning them. But with blockchain technologies opening up our existing notions of ownership, this classic model of fandom is evolving, presenting the opportunity of ownership for fans to now become active contributors.
We believe this will happen across all fan experiences, from events, to gaming, to betting and beyond. That is why we’re proud to announce our investment leading the Series A of digital horseracing platform, ZED RUN. ZED RUN is an early leader in the likely transformation of the ownership economy as it relates to consumer experiences. The team at ZED has built an ecosystem for players to buy, sell, breed and race their own NFT race horses. With prize purses for winning horses and breeding fees for horses in the stud, succeeding at ZED brings with it real-world monetary rewards.