This week I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at Zebu Live in London’s Kensington district.
Zebu Live is a 2-day web3 conference. The team has previous experience in this sector having first launched DeFi Live back in November 2021. The event sold-out quickly and they had to release a bunch of further tickets. The demand was high, over 1000 members in their highly active Telegram group.
Talks covered everything from why web3, to how brands can enter the NFT space, DAOs, metaverse, fashion, decentralised social media, gaming, NFT marketplaces, women in web3, the climate crisis, crypto taxes and hands-on workshops on layer 1 blockchains, data and security.
Noticed something missing? Investing and trading. Despite what you hear in the press this is not the vibe of web3. Anyone who still thinks that crypto is purely about speculation is in for a rude-awakening.
Matt has spent the past couple of years knee-deep in the web3 space. I've worked with him closely on several projects and converse with him daily. I've learned so much from him about the traditional financial markets, recruitment, fund-raising, public speaking and the intricacies and faultlines with data and analytics in the web2 world, particularly capital markets. The workshop we delivered was very hands-on, as we feel the best way to learn is by doing.
The overall theme of the presentation is to emphasise the disruptive power of open source and permissionless data, datapoints that are not owned or monopolised by any corporation.
As Matt mentioned, financial markets data is big business at over $50bn per year whereas transparent blockchains provide us with universal access to a suite of rich data and analytics for free. NFTGo is just one example of what can be built leveraging this.
Matt also showed the following chart.
As we can see the current NFT market has a market cap of around $20bn, the same as Tesco the UK supermarket chain! It is also heavily skewed towards profile pictures. In early markets we often see these kind-of distortions. We can expect this category map to change considerably over the next decade as we see more traditional industries migrate to NFT rails and the inevitable tokenization of real-world assets. We will see the current approximately $20bn NFT market absorb trillions of dollars of capital.
I finished the presentation on the following quote:
My dad has worked as a developer in financial markets for nearly twenty-five years. He often says that if crypto ONLY delivered on two promises: made the markets operate 24/7 without any downtime and made them more transparent as we have seen in today’s demo then it would revolutionise the economy.
My own favourite talk, surprisingly, was not from a web3 speaker but from the boring old world of politics. Enter Matt Hancock, a current member of parliament and the previous Secretary of State for Health and Social Care of the United Kingdom. It’s the first-time I’ve heard a politician speak live.
Matt was articulate, funny, confident and completely on top of the subject matter. He’s not a crypto investor, reminding everyone in the crowd that he’s probably the only person in the room to have not lost money recently, but he was well-versed and aware of the crypto memes and in-jokes. His Wikipedia page tells me that his father ran a software company and Matt studied computing at a further education college.
Matt is clearly keen to ensure that the UK does not get left standing over the next decade whilst more progressive countries continue to attract our most talented and brightest. He was reminded by someone in the audience that founders have already left the UK.
The biggest web3 success story to-date Ethereum was founded in Switzerland but the brains behind the project, Vitalik, was educated and raised in Canada. In a parallel universe with a Canadian government more amenable to crypto, Ethereum could have perhaps become Canada’s most successful tech story.
Matt Hancock continued to emphasise that he wanted to work alongside the UK web3 community and help draft the most progressive legislation. This consists of migrating what works in the legacy financial markets, where the UK is a world leader, especially in the swaps and repo markets, and drafting completely novel legislation to prevent stifling creativity. He recognises that crypto will operate on a different set of dynamics to the traditional financial markets, the tax regime will need modification and any delays or reservations will cost the UK heavily.
Speaking to a packed auditorium with passion and zeal, Matt revealed that the late Queen Elizabeth II was a crypto fan and a supporter of the British Blockchain Association.
Matt certainly hit the right tones and won over many new fans from the unlikeliest quarter.
Could he be the man to stop the UK from getting rekt? Time will tell…
Follow me on Twitter as I continue to venture down the rabbit hole.
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