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VC #2: Interview with Jenkins and SAFA Pt. 2
Azurbala, storytelling from all angles, Media DAO, Character DAO
It’ll be hard to top the epic Part 1 that featured some juicy Book 1 alpha and incredible insight into the way the Jenkins and SAFA partnership works. But in Part 2, we get early glimpses into how they think about storytelling in a broader ecosystem like Azurbala, how the DAOs can elevate the storytelling through company-community collaboration, and why it’s important to build deliberately.
Off to Azurbala
VC: When you both think of Azurbala in your heads, what type of medium do you see? Is it a book? A series of books? A movie? A board game?
Jenkins: I've got a short answer, then I’ll pass to SAFA.
Azurbala is the jungle capital on the other side of the metaverse that adventurers have tried to reach for years, but no one's ever gotten there. Because of the love that Jenkins has for his family, he reaches it, and will bring the entire community with him.
The reason I say it that way, rather than jumping into like a board game, or movie or anything like that, is that we think narrative and character development are undefeated. If we start there, any opportunity can come out of it. So the first thing that we're going to do is just continue to hone in on storytelling, and then find the best ways to tell those stories.
SAFA: I agree with everything you said. And I think the sort of Web2 approach for content is thinking about a certain form, a movie or a TV show or a board game, and then thinking okay, how can we adapt it to Web3? I think the way that we're approaching it is the complete opposite. And I hesitate to use this word, but we sort of think of it as an open metaverse, where players are users and users are their avatars.
There's a ton of different ways the community could take it from staking for $MARROW, to joining factions, to other game theory that we're going to be introducing. So how the community interacts in this world will dictate how we make content around it.
And the beautiful thing about Web3 is you can bring things to market in a really low cost, community-centric way. And so that's how we're gonna introduce it. Our gut is that based on how you and the rest of the Writer’s Room holders interact with the world, it will become really clear which format this should live in, and it will just follow you guys.
VC: Yeah that’s really interesting and the possibilities are truly endless. I’m not quite sure what I see in my head right now either.
SAFA: If I was forced to answer, I would say that it could be a fucking epic, seven part fantasy…. a Lord of the Rings-type of series.
VC: (Jaws on the floor)
Jenkins: I had this realization yesterday that going Web3 to feature film is sort of hard, because people who make feature films are just not there yet. They're not ready to embrace Web3 in that way.
I think we're finding that feature film to book is not as hard, and book to feature film is really common. You could see something go from Web3 to a medium that is an easy jump. That is then acceptable by the gatekeepers that make world class movies.
It's really important that you deliver things to them that make sense to them. So by having that middle step, it actually can be really valuable.
I have a super ambitious idea. And I recognize how absurd it is to say it, but one of the types of media that I think about is the Bored Ape Yacht Club. And you can think about Azurbala as the BAYC, except ape holders have access. And so you watch what ape holders do, as an example, and then boom, the content just grows out naturally from there. And it's all within the ecosystem. So I think of projects like BAYC as a new form of media, and we believe that there is an opportunity with Azurbala to push that media a little bit further, while also giving the control to the community because, working together, they can do what they want with their avatars.
VC: The way that you guys have talked about the Azurian pfps changing on-chain, it made me think, what if all of the interactions between avatars on the platform could be recorded in a way that is transparent and open and possibly sourced for material. If the avatars for SpaceWalk and FilmBook meet with the avatars for Jenkins and SAFA, and they’re vibing or scheming or battling — maybe there’s a storyline that could be drawn by you or the community.
SAFA: Yes! The engineers would probably go nuts, though, if the community agreed with what you said, because it sounds really challenging to pull off.
Did you guys see Ready Player One? Do you remember how James Halliday’s memories were stored in this place in the Oasis? What you're saying, sort of reminds me that there's gonna be tons of rich interactions that happen in this world. And the beautiful thing about being a DAO too is if one of those interactions really resonates with folks, and that's surfaced to the community, and there's a vote, then that becomes spin-off content. That's amazing and that's homegrown IP right there. And Tally will be right there with you guys to produce it.
You know, these are the types of ideas and this is what we mean when we say that content is better as a community than it could be on our own because I don't know about you Jenkins, but I probably wouldn't have thought of that.
Jenkins: No, that's the point though right? It's so cool. We're so grateful to be in these conversations, and to be in them every day. And then it blew us away what you guys wrote. Because for people to be talking about things without us, and have those things be awesome ideas, it’s amazing. We’re members of the Writer’s Room as well, and we’re all in this together.
VC: Let’s say Media DAO incubates a movie/TV show idea. How does that idea then become a movie? Or a TV show? Is Media DAO then looking to sell that idea? Does Media DAO have to fundraise to try and get something made? Is Media DAO hiring professionals to produce, direct, cast, etc..?
SAFA: Phenomenal question. To skip to the middle, as far as raising funds, our expectation is that the Azurbala Azurian avatar sale will seed the DAO with some really nice initial capital and then ongoing capital, as far as secondary sales.
We also hope that Media DAO will continue to follow the same principles of Web3, which is bring IP to market in an NFT native way, sell against it, build a really strong community, and then pursue more traditional opportunities. We're going to be holders like everyone else, and we'll vote with our feet. We would hope that Media DAO wouldn't opt to produce a $100 million movie right away.
The way that it will work — and we've mentioned that we'll be doing a full post outlining the legal structure and the tokenomics and everything — but content is subjective, and expertise is really important. And DAOs up until this point, have been primarily to collect and to build software protocols. So a DAO that actually produces content requires a different type of structure. And it's not one that we've seen before. So we're really excited about how we've structured, because we think it pioneers and allows experts to come in, while also keeping the entity really decentralized.
But in short, our vision is for the DAO to work with development partners to bring various things to market. Tally Labs will be one of those development partners and we hope as we continue to do great work for the DAO, it will be the preferred development partner. But Jenkins and SAFA will also be participants in the DAO, and there will be opportunities to work with other folks as well like studios, production companies, so on and so forth.
Jenkins: One example that we've said before is if Steven Spielberg shows up to the Media DAO and wants to make something, Jenkins and SAFA, not to mention the whole community, would vote to work with him. We see the Media DAO partnering to bring stuff to market.
Active DAO Collaboration
VC: There’s a general conversation around DAOs as to whether they should be passive vs. active. Passive being you guys make all of the calls and the community goes along for the ride. Active being serious efforts are led by DAO members that drive value back to the DAO. How do you think about those two paths for the DAOs you’re establishing?
Jenkins: A bit of a cop out, but I think it depends, and I’m not entirely sure. The Media DAO and the Character DAO are going to truly be decentralized. What we don't want and are actively avoiding is having these things be a sham where we just make the calls and it's really just not centralized. So because of that, a big part of me is saying, we need to see how things play out.
We have a super engaged community and a bunch of really amazing holders who I think are eager to contribute. So we're excited to see their contributions from within the DAO. We're excited about the opportunity to see the DAO build an identity and make decisions about how and where they want to participate in things.
What do the DAOs have that no one else has? It's an authentic community of people who are native to Web3. So the DAO should be active in trying to suss out opportunities that they think will be on point in Web3. They should then be active in finding partners who they think can deliver on that. And the DAO should be active and strategic about things like, “what's our budget realistically?” What is going to be positive ROI for this DAO?
But when it comes time to roll up the sleeves and join a development partner, and have that partner bring something to market, my preference certainly would be for the DAO to let the experts do what they do. Let Neil write that book. And take a bit of a more passive role, from the point that content has been kicked off to the point that it's been delivered, and not be in the weeds trying to do everything.
SAFA: It's a bit self-selecting, which I think is interesting. We're doing our absolute best to make these Azurian avatars fucking sick, which means that for folks who who aren't willing to bet on the long term viability of a Media DAO, they have a great alternative.
So our hope is that the folks that do join the Media DAO do so because they want to be engaged. If you don't think you're going to be engaged, and that's because you're busy, or because you don't believe that this DAO can be a viable option, you should go mint an avatar because there will be more upside in the short term.
But when we are thinking about these DAOs, there's a couple of lenses that we're looking through. One is the legal lens, which is making sure that these DAOs start off on good footing and are compliant, can stand the test of time, and can be nimble based on the possibility of changing regulation. And then there's the incentive side, which I think if done properly, on the DAO design side, can actually allow folks to thrive within the level of involvement that they see for themselves.
You know, one thing that we talk about a lot is, if there's going to be budget dedicated to building something, that proposal needs to be really well thought out. When it’s surfaced from within the DAO, the member surfacing, should propose a P&L, and the amount of budget that needs to be dedicated to it, and the forecasted revenue. Also how do we stop people from making ridiculous, erroneous suggestions? Is there a reputation score? If you propose something that gets shot down multiple times, what is the implication on your status within the DAO?
We're working with an amazing DAO designer who has designed DAOs at the highest level with 10 figure market cap companies. We're on the forefront, right? There's no playbook, there's no one that we can really refer to, which is a blessing and a curse. All we can do is design these things in a way that's compliant, but then also incentivizes the best ideas to surface and isn't frankensteining a bunch of ideas together.
VC: DAO governance, processes, and tools are still in their infancy. Some DAOs lean heavily into everything being on-chain — which can slow the process down and be costly (on-chain actions cause gas fees). While others do proposals and voting off-chain, then formalize the decision on-chain. How do you think through the mechanics?
Jenkins: We definitely think that the fact that we have software in-house gives us a competitive advantage, because it lets us serve our community best. We can go so deep on building things that do exactly what people are looking to accomplish.
We already have some ideas for things that we can build for the DAOs and we can contribute to the DAOs. Or the DAOs can use them to do things off chain.
Also to SAFAs point about reputation score. We want to work with a DAO designer on “what does a sufficient proposal look like?” There's a lot of questions that need to be answered before it goes to the on-chain aspect of locking it in. And so there should be a bit of effort that goes into making a quality proposal, because otherwise we're just going to spam each other all the time with nonsense proposals.
So what should the bar look like that someone has to exceed to bring together a proposal? Acknowledging that we all come from different backgrounds. We're not expecting someone to show up with a full financial model the minute that they propose something, but ensuring quality proposals are put forth, all off chain in our own DAO portal where decisions can be made, momentum can be gained, to the point where we're ready to put something forward to a vote. Then having that vote be codified on the blockchain is how we think that it probably should work.
SAFA: Yeah, and this is complex. If we didn't want to take a big swing, we wouldn't be doing this. If we wanted to get across one thing, it's that we're gonna be really intentional and set the foundation up properly, and not rush things. We, along with the community, are going to really build it brick by brick, and make sure that it's set up for success because if it's not, then what are we all doing here?
VC: You guys do a great job of being patient and deliberate with rolling out information and project progress. Under promising and over delivering. That has to be tough, especially in this space.
SAFA: It's hard. Certain projects are better suited for hype trains and stuff like that and that's never been us and sometimes it can be challenging when we're grinding it out behind the scenes, and we see things pumping. What has served us well is just taking care of our core community. And seems like our core community understands the intentionality that we operate with, and the time that things take, and so we're going to keep doing that, and keep serving the people that got us here and hope that it works out.
They said it over and over again, and SAFA nails it at the end of the interview — it’s all about community. Their focus on community storytelling, engagement, feedback, and ownership. It’s intentional. It’s refreshing. It’s Web3.
And we’re excited to continue the conversation as they get closer to releasing major elements of Roadmap 2.0. We’d love to talk to Emma Needell about how she goes about the world-building process — hearing her describe some of this process on a recent JTV Twitter Space was eye opening. I mean, can we get a quick chat with Neil Strauss on what it was like to get pitched by an avatar? And then there’s the community. We’d love to talk to collectors big and small — why are they Book People like us?!
Some Disclaimers: None of this is financial advice. DYOR. And yes, FilmBook and SpaceWalk are WR collectors and long-term hodlrs.