VC Special Edition: Time to go ALL IN...
On Web3, the incomparable SpaceWalk, the Writer's Room community and my new colleagues, and an update on my new role at IMO, the top company building the most exciting projects in the space
I realize I haven’t talked about my real life much here, but that’s about to change. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of building some very successful businesses for almost 20 years through various roles in the sports, medical device, and diagnostics industries, with a focus on commercial and operational pursuits. It’s been amazing and educational and fulfilling and just plain fun. My latest role was heading the Americas division of our company with an international team across a wide range of departments in multiple business units . I’ve been able to grow as co-worker, collaborator, manager, leader, and person, and I’m forever proud of what my colleagues and I have accomplished.
If I’m being honest though, it wasn’t scratching the itch as much as it once was. I knew there was more out there. I knew there was something I could do professionally that I was also truly passioniate about again. I knew there were people out there shaping the course of the future, and I wanted in. My mind was more open to change than it ever had been before. And then, an email hit my inbox and changed my life.
It’s January 2021. I was probably like a lot of people right then: buried in the throes of malaise and boredom in some sort of lock down. Uninspired. Needing connection. Wanting more. Then I read an article from Jonathan Bales entitled I Spent $35,000 on a Video You Can Find All Over the Internet: Here's Why. It’s the most exhilarating and prophetic article I’ve read in a long, long time, and kicked off an obsession that burns hotter than ever, even now as I type this. The red pill was fully engaged and I was off to the races.
Decentralization. Smart Contracts. DeFi. DAOs. Immutable ledgers. IP creation AND ownership. Collaboration. Succeeding and growing, together. As a community. Putting the power into the people’s hands and breaking down centralized barriers. This resonated with me on every professional level but more importantly, connected with me personally. I immediately bought in to all of it and spent every waking second of free time learning and buying and participating.
I was and am still now fully convinced that Web3 technology and it’s ethos are the future, maybe of everything. I feel it with every fiber of my being. I truly believe that we are better, and more capable, together. You may feel similarly if you’re reading this. Ok but what now? How do I transition my leisure time interest to my full time job? And which project and team will convince me to actually make the leap? Let the hunt begin.
SpaceWalk strolls over
Those of us that have been in the space for the last year or two have heard some familiar phrasing bandied about, and it’s some version of “if you want to participate in Web3, just start building.” Seems simple enough. Just start building. But how? How does someone without a dev background, or industry connections, or who didn’t work for a Web2 company just start building something? I had no idea.
The first project I decided to dive into with both feet, and truly force myself to understand completely was the Pixel Vault (PV) ecosystem. As I read and listened to everything I could, I found the incredible MetaVault newsletter. I was blown away. Someone was streamlining the ever-expanding complexity of the PV ecosystem into incredibly digestible, extremely well-written, and just plain fun newsletter posts. I eagerly anticipated every new piece. I couldn’t wait to hear his takes on PV updates. I needed to meet this person known as SpaceWalk (SW). As luck would have it, that moment wasn’t too far away.
In an occurrence I would soon find out is the norm for my friend SW, he saw my maniacal and mostly viciously incorrect takes concerning utility and burning and staking and more in the Pixel Vault Discord, and reached out with an extremely kind and supportive DM:
I’ve never shared this with SW, but this was the moment where the door to a possible future in Web3 was cracked just a dust particle’s width wide, and I thought “Holy shit. This person that I think is at the absolute forefront of Web3 content creation, and is clearly obscenely smart, appreciates what I am putting out there and is encouraging me to keep doing it!” He gave me the push I needed. And what’s more, after getting to know each other better over the coming months, and finding out we both were in love with the Jenkins the Valet (JTV) project, he suggested to me that we start a newsletter on the JTV project and rapidly expanding Tally Labs ecosystem. Together. As partners. Mind blown.
I hadn’t written anything since college that wasn’t a business email or contract or presentation, and wasn’t sure how much I really had to say, or whether anyone would actually care. Needless to say, I was a bit terrified. But I kept coming back to 2 things. 1) I needed to work with, and learn from this guy SW by any means necessary and 2) Everyone says to just “start building”, so here you go FB. Put up or shut up time. If you’re serious about this, it’s time to start thinking critically and strategically, contribute positively to the community, put yourself and your takes out there, and get to work. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve made and I’ll be forever thankful to SW for being so kind, supportive, and open to sharing his platform.
Over the next months we launched Valet Confidential and through that, got to interview the founders of Tally Labs themselves, some of their partners and collaborators, experiment with some fun writing styles (Malcolm Gladwell and Bill Simmons inspired VC Post), speculate wildly and endlessly (much to our wives’ annoyance), and become great friends. Yes, he’s a world class content creator — but that doesn’t scratch the surface of what he does and is capable of, and is quite frankly, severely underutilizing his talents. There’s honestly no one’s opinion I value more in this space. No one I enjoy talking to more about the latest comings and goings, no one who challenges me to think more critically, no one who outlines and analyzes strategy better, and no one here I respect more than my friend Mike, aka SpaceWalk. Thank you ser, can’t wait to see what we build next.
The Best Team In Web3
“Teams” in Web3 can mean a lot of things, but for me, it’s both the company AND the community. If we all really believe in the core ethos, we all need to be rowing in the same direction, with a shared, mutually beneficial goal.
When I came across the JTV project I knew I found a home. It’s this phenomenal blend of a thoughtful, innovative company with an incredibly positive, patient, and dedicated community. That’s what I was looking for.
The Writer’s Room Community. As we discussed in a recent Valet Confidential post, the Writer’s Room and Bored & Dangerous community is just built different. The whole point of the entire project since the very beginning has been to build TOGETHER. The community has taken this to heart and has stayed true, engaged, productive, positive, and helpful, with a critical eye as to how we can all execute on Tally Labs’ vision together. SpaceWalk and I are just a few of the many of who are contributing to advancing the Writer’s Room project forward. With goals as ambitious as the goals of Tally Labs and the community, it’s a must that this remain going forward.
Tally Labs. Now what about the group at Tally Labs? One of the many amazing benefits of writing this newsletter over the past four months has been getting to know co-founders of Tally Labs, Valet Jones (VJ) and SAFA. Hearing them on Spaces and various podcasts was what sealed the deal for me. They had “it.” It oozes from their pores. Kindness. Passion. Honor. Belief. Brilliance. An intense focus on the community. Leading with innovation and fun and authenticity. They were true mavericks and what’s more, best friends. The significant majority of projects out there were formed without any plan or real products or anything particularly noteworthy. Their “communities” followed the standard trader path of “mint NFT-hope for rarity of NFT-sell rare NFTs for profit-move to next NFT to mint (repeat process).” They seemed to be run by people interested in a quick buck, and not in changing the course of history. Not the Jenkins the Valet project, and not VJ and SAFA. They decided to try and shatter monolithic industries and break down barriers with a real business. And even just as normal community members with an upstart newsletter, they treated SW and I like professionals and collaborators and like they TRULY appreciated what we were doing. I’d found my people.
The team at Tally Labs though is so much more than just VJ and SAFA. I see you all on Twitter tweeting about how smooth the B&D mint was and how community focused the project is and how you agree with so many decisions and that’s because this Tally Labs group is the best in Web3. Full stop. I’ve been lucky enough to be working with them a bit here and there over the past few weeks, and Othan Peroni, 0xRoebs, ThreadGuy, Apewood, Little Fortunes, Ethan Hunsaker, Emma Needel, 0xfoobar, gk, Buckeye, Pr1mo, and CheddaaBob are all the absolute best at what they do. More importantly though, they are fantastic people. They live and breathe the project and delivering for the community. They believe in Web3 and where we all want to go together. I’ve never felt so welcomed, and appreciated, and challenged, and inspired, and just plain joyful in my entire professional life.
When you add up the project and the community and the founders and the Tally Labs team and the investors and ambition and just the aura of fun and creativity that surrounds it all, it was an easy choice for me on where I wanted to be. I applied for one role, and one role only, in all of Web3, and it was with the hope that I could join Tally Labs.
Going All In
In the coming days, I am leaving my current job and I will be starting full time at Tally Labs as their Director of Business Operations. I’m all in. Trust me when I say that at this time, with this team, and these projects, and this community — this is my dream job. I’m so thankful. And I’m honored, truly honored, that this team has chosen to bring me in, and will spend every second trying to deliver for my colleagues and the community (of which I remain an extremely proud member and holder of course).
What about Valet Confidential though? The answer is a bit of an unknown at the moment, but we (Tally Labs, myself, and SpaceWalk) have some very fun, interesting, and exciting ideas on how continue to maintain and grow the platform. Valet Confidential has always been about community first. We think it’s been a valuable resource and is a ton of fun to do, so we intend to give it’s future all the critical thought it deserves. Stay tuned here for all the updates in the coming weeks, and please reach out directly with any ideas or requests. We want to hear from you.
I don’t know how far this can all go and where the world changing projects in Web3 will come from. It could literally be anywhere, and that’s part of the fun isn’t it? I’m willing to bet that Tally Labs, my new colleagues, the Writer’s Room/Bored & Dangerous/Azurbala community, and everyone joining us in the future will be the ones to make a serious, world-shaking impact, and I’m going all in. We are building the future of how you interact with media, media companies, and communities.
If you’ve been thinking about entering the space professionally and don’t know how to do it, take the leap. Start writing. Tweet. Reach out to people you respect and want to get to know. Throw your opinions out there AND be prepared to discuss them. Find your niche. Contribute to the overall community. Reach out to ME. The possibilities are truly endless and I’m ready to build with all of you. Are you ready to join us?
I’m so excited to move to this next chapter, and can’t wait to get to work with all of you. For now, I’ll leave you with the 3 simple words I told SAFA and VJ letting them know I was accepting their offer and joining the team…
Let’s. Fucking. Go.
Some Disclaimers: None of this is financial advice. DYOR. And yes, FilmBook and SpaceWalk are WR collectors and long-term hodlrs.