Chris Wang, who recently sold his game business to Disney for over $500 million, explains to Cointelegraph why he thinks Web3 has such immense potential in the following interview.
Chris Wang has achieved everything. He was one of Web3’s first supporters and sold a company to Disney for hundreds of millions of dollars.
In this interview, he discusses the challenges Web3 must face to reach billions of people as well as his predictions for the direction the sector will go in the next years.
Chris also expands on what ThunderCore, his most recent endeavour, is doing to bring about a “mobile entertainment revolution.”
Hello, Chris! You were the one who earned a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University the quickest. How was it, and what sparked your interest in computer science?
I took two years and ten months to complete my PhD in computer science after earning my bachelor’s degree. I have always been interested in math since I was small. I enjoyed fixing problems a lot. I wished to take action that was useful.
At the time, I also played a lot of video games like Warcraft and Civilization. I wasn’t a great Counter-Strike player because I wasn’t a fast mouse user. The strategic side, especially turn-based games, was much more my style. I therefore felt it would be awesome if I could concentrate on video games alongside my work.
At a young age, I also took part in numerous programming competitions and learnt a lot about programming. In three years, I completed high school in California. I competed in a national programming competition at the time and came in at number 14 in the country. After completing my undergrad at Berkeley, which took three years, I continued on to Carnegie Mellon for my PhD. It was essentially simply a challenge to see whether I could complete all of this coursework quickly. I felt a certain amount of satisfaction in being able to do it.
2. As a builder and VC, you are among the Web2 early adopters. Tell us about Playdom’s history and development.
Following graduation, I spent two years (2006–2008) working on local search at Google. Then I made the decision to found Playdom, my own social gaming business.
After Facebook opened up its API, we wanted to create for it. The first e-commerce concepts I tested were recommending a product to a friend in exchange for a commission, but it found out that individuals don’t particularly enjoy making sales to friends. After that, I experimented with a dating app that, in a month, had amassed over a million daily active users, but we had essentially no retention. And that’s when I started returning to my gaming origins.
I constructed Playdom between 2008 and 2010. The turning point came when I sold it to Disney for more than $500 million. Additionally, Bloomberg Businessweek named me as one of the top young tech entrepreneurs. We were the second-biggest game provider on Facebook at the time. In the end, we increased Playdom’s monthly active user base to 42 million.
Playdom’s user base grew significantly as a result of consumers recommending games to their friends through viral growth. Players who refer friends would receive in-game cash and unique milestones. We put a lot of effort into partnering with and rewarding our users for serving as our brand ambassadors in Playdom.
I remained at Disney for two more years as a VP of technology after the acquisition, essentially managing all of their social and mobile games. I learned a lot about how Web3 adoption works as a result of this. I still firmly believe that attracting the majority of new users to Web3 will be accomplished through mobile.
3. How did you assess potential investment projects? What determined your decision the most? What distinguishes investing in Web3 from Web2?
I always start out by asking, “Why now?”
There are many intelligent individuals in the world, and if an idea could have been implemented five or 10 years ago, someone most likely would have done it by now. I therefore search for any recent change that would be supporting this perhaps fruitful new concept.
Compatibility with my own perception of what’s likely to happen in the future is the other primary factor I consider. I believed that much more daily activities would go online when I sold Playdom to Disney, which is why I also invested in Alibaba early on.
With Web3, I’m firmly convinced that mobile is the way of the future, and we need to reach customers who may not be as tech-savvy as the typical crypto enthusiast. I believe that adoption will significantly expand over the next few years, with a significant portion coming from Web2 companies incorporating Web3 capabilities like NFTs into current products. This is what is now often referred to as Web2.5.
In any case, I don’t believe Web3 will completely displace Web2. Although blockchain technology has many fantastic applications, particularly with regard to digital assets, it is not the ideal fix for every issue.
4. Given your experience with Web2, how would you (realistically) assess Web3 at this point? Is the necessary infrastructure in place so that the new web can be built?
I believe Web3 is still in its infancy and is only beginning its adventure. Really, only a small portion of internet users have access to it. Whoever can attract mainstream consumers, the majority of whom are not involved in the blockchain field, will win.
Many individuals have heard about things like Bitcoin and NFTs right now, but they haven’t used them yet. And what’s interesting is that many businesses, in my opinion, aren’t putting much emphasis on this. Many of them concentrate on the tiny subset of Web3 users when they ought to be concentrating on how to engage the general public.
The early adopters and business users were the main emphasis of BlackBerry back then. Following that, Apple arrived with the iPhone and devoured their lunch. Many Web3 applications now need payment before you can even try them out, whether it be to purchase tokens or something else. Seriously, what is this? In Web2, it is hardly ever seen. The interfaces should also not be brought up because they simply are not ready yet.
Developer talent is a different problem. Because there is such a high demand for Web3 developers right now, it can be challenging for companies to find and keep the expertise they require. We will do this by paying engineers more money. In Taiwan, Google charges less than we do.
We’re getting there in terms of technology when it comes to infrastructure. The chains are scalable and sufficiently quick. Many of the elements, in my opinion, are now in place, and what we really need is to attract large numbers of individuals for whom Web3 is currently not on their minds. And I believe that smartphones and gaming will play a significant role in how this happens.
5. Were you right when you said you believed Web3 will become “a phenomenon” in 2017? Why did you believe that, and why do you believe the trend at the time didn’t garner as much attention?
That much is true. The most potent aspect of it is the notion of collaborating without prior confidence. Imagine what it would have been like a decade ago if you wanted to pool liquidity with a group of strangers in order to launch a credit market. What would be the first step in doing something like this? But with DeFi systems like Aave, this is possible on a huge scale with the convergence of over $16 billion in assets. Only smart contracts, which are of course executed on the blockchain, are capable of making this possible. Simply put, blockchain technology simply wasn’t scaleable in 2017. And I suppose not everyone realised that this was going to happen so quickly.
6. Tell us about ThunderCore, your current project.
Therefore, the goal of ThunderCore is to create a public blockchain that is quick, safe, scalable, and has low gas costs. There are roughly 4,000 transactions per second, with sub-second confirmation and finalisation delays. Though the technology is already there, you could compare it to a lot of what Ethereum 2.0 is attempting. Because Proof-of-Stake and our consensus method, PaLa, are so comparable, we are able to accomplish all of this.
We began in 2017, deployed our mainnet, cross-chain bridge, and wallet in 2019, and by 2020, we had surpassed all other blockchains in terms of daily active users. Like Solana, we have a similar number of users. Additionally, we work well with the majority of programmes, including Truffle, Remix, and MetaMask. By altering the RPC endpoint, developers can also redeploy directly to ThunderCore.
We were also among the first EVM-compatible blockchains, which is crucial given that everything is now written in Solidity. Because most existing code in the blockchain realm is written in Solidity, I strongly advise anyone who wants to create smart contracts to reuse as much of that code as they can. We are therefore possibly one of the fastest and most affordable chains among EVM-compatible chains. Even BSC is 1,000 times more expensive than us. Gas prices are equivalent to Polygon, but we move about ten times more quickly. We’re one of the greatest blockchains for NFTs because of this, among other things.
Since we’ve been concentrating on mobile and seamless integration for Web2 users for a while, it appears that we may have been a little ahead of the curve. Nevertheless, this has given us time to fine-tune our technology as developers gradually discover us and we get ready for the time when mass adoption will occur.
Additionally, we have a thriving ecosystem with a variety of DEXs, bridges, NFT marketplaces, GameFi, and other entities.
7. What does Web3’s actual future look like?
As I’ve been saying, I believe that a large portion of what we’re likely to see happen is the integration of Web3 technologies into existing Web2 legacy platforms. Because Web3 is still so new, any well-known company that enters the market is likely to quickly become a major player.
Currently, the most popular Web3 apps have only a fraction of a million daily active users, as compared to Web2. Therefore, one of the first developments that appears unavoidable is the use of Web3 by businesses with this kind of enormous effect. We are the perfect people to assist them with the shift.
These days, even my mother asks me questions about NFTs. What is required is for Web3 mobile development to advance to the point where we can include these users and advance to the next stage.
One of our solutions to these usability problems concentrates on the developer end. We genuinely want to make the move to Web3 simple for Web2 developers as well as users. We created the ThunderGene API tool in order to address this issue.
With ThunderGene, it’s simple for developers to build wallets where the KYC has already been taken care of, it’s able to connect with DEXs, swap tokens very easily in and out of, for instance, a GameFi app, and even give tokens to users. In order to really move things along in this field, we want to relieve developers of the responsibility of thinking about compliance and cybersecurity in addition to assisting them in keeping their consumers within a single app.
We’re committed to assisting users and developers in reaching an environment where everything is fluid, integrated, and available for free usage. These kind of solutions will attract the next billion users to the Web3.
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