Is It Finally Time to ‘X-it’ Twitter For Threads?

Meta’s new Twitter lookalike, Threads, launched on July 6 to much hype and quickly reached 100 million users in under a week. But whether the app can keep up that momentum is unclear.

Threads seemed on track to challenge Twitter, the long-time microblogging incumbent that just rebranded to X. But how quickly things change on the internet: Despite its initial splash, various data sites now show Threads user activity has fallen as much as 70% from its first week. Average usage time has also dropped considerably in this time, from 21 minutes to six.

Meanwhile, the concept of decentralized social media has received an infusion of new interest, particularly in the wake of Twitter’s surprise rebrand.

So is Threads poised to take over Twitter — ahem, X — as the number-one microblogging site for crypto enthusiasts? We tapped some respected Web3 community builders and social media experts to find out their thoughts.

Beware: Threads isn’t actually decentralized yet

Threads parent company Meta promises that the new platforms will soon be decentralized, but some Web3 enthusiasts are skeptical. The platform announced plans to be compatible with the decentralized social media protocol ActivityPub, which would allow users to interact with other social media platforms like the open-source Mastodon network, Bluesky and others.

A future with interoperable, user-owned social media platforms would be a big deal. But critics aren’t convinced that Threads is the way. As of now, Threads users can only create accounts through existing Instagram credentials, which seems like a suspiciously convenient way to lock in user data.

Users also can’t interact entirely anonymously in the Threads multiverse, since their accounts are presumably always going to be linked with a Meta account requiring a legal name and date of birth (members of Crypto Twitter’s anonymous, aka “anon,” culture will most certainly curdle at the thought of “doxxing” themselves, or revealing their true identity, on a new platform.)

But despite the concerns, CoinDesk’s Emily Parker points out that most people outside of Crypto Twitter’s echo chambers care more about accessibility than privacy and decentralization. Anyone can easily pop their heads over into Threads to check out the vibes, no matter their technical ability. This ease of use has always proven most important when it comes to widespread adoption.

As for features, Threads’ are simple to use. Verified Instagram users will notice their existing verification carries over to Threads, and a thread (a post) can be cross-pollinated as an Instagram story. This intersite functionality makes it easy to reach more potential viewers with the same content.

Decentralization purists won’t like it, but perhaps this Meta-owned cross-posting functionality is the first necessary step toward building a truly open Web3. In a decentralized future, users will be able to move content and interact with peers across different apps built on the same underlying standards. What if Threads is training us for that kind of seamlessness?

“Personally, I’m rooting for a decentralized social [network] to succeed,” said Riley Blackwell, Web3-focused community-building strategist. Though Blackwell noted that she’s more in favor of Lens Protocol or Bluesky as Twitter alternatives than Threads, she nonetheless admitted that Threads will “undoubtedly capture the average [social media] user” who’s not as interested in learning about underlying protocols.

Threads responded to the zeitgeist — but so far, nothing else

Twitter has long been a target for disruption due to its often glitchy features and fire-stoking “free speech” guidelines that, according to those who left the platform, incite hate speech and bigotry.

In comparison, Threads seemed like a friendlier, less incendiary alternative: “I like that people are using Threads for different types of conversation,” said Blackwell.

However, it’s still unclear what the true value proposition of Threads is.

“Though Mark [Zuckerberg] and the Instagram team seem to have captured the hype with a new product, it feels like a missed opportunity,” Blackwell said. “I don’t need a Twitter clone – I need Meta to think deeper about creating new ways to connect.”

More vocal critics argue that Threads not only devalues social connection but also commodifies it. Carrie Melissa Jones, author and online community strategist, said she first felt “hopeful” that Threads could replace the void she felt after leaving Twitter, but now thinks the app lacks the sense of camaraderie she felt in Twitter’s early days.

“I missed having a place for news, quick questions and silly conversations,” Jones said. “Meta can’t duplicate that experience; their viral growth ambitions are stronger than their desire to build something with a distinct culture and purpose.

In a recent LinkedIn post, Jones summarized her critique succinctly, writing: “Mark Zuckerberg talks about community like it’s a virus, most successful when it multiplies for no real purpose beyond its own existence.” Ouch.

And now Twitter, after announcing its rebrand to X, is receiving similar criticism from users who consider this move to be ego-driven.

The platform wars remind us to cultivate independent relationships

If anything, members of the Web3 community are using Threads with a scientist’s mind, an exploratory spirit that doesn’t rule any option out, but also doesn’t rely on a single platform either.

Rae Isla, an Americana singer-songwriter who used sales of her non-fungible token (NFT) collection, Rae Isla’s Rocks, to build an online fan community, remains appropriately skeptical of all centralized platforms. “Use the tools,” she posted. “Don’t let them use you.”

At the end of the day, Threads may replace X for members of the general public, but it probably won’t replace Crypto Twitter, which is composed of people who stay curious, value decentralization and collaborate on open-source protocols in the hopes of inching us towards a vision of a user-owned internet. Perhaps the next platform that lures us away from our glitchy Twitter Spaces and novel-length tweet threads won’t come from Meta, but rather from a handful of developers working in stealth mode right now.

To that end, maybe authentic relationships and meaningful connection will always be the most interoperable form of communication we have.

A $1,200 Baseball Hat? Why Disco’s Swag Is “Prohibitively Expensive”

Do you remember The Jetsons, the futuristic family from the eponymous 1960s American animated sitcom? In the show, household appliances programmed to know family members’ intimate preferences helped the characters navigate each segment of their days, from breakfast to bedtime routines.

Disco, a metaverse company focused on consent-based digital identity, is working to create a similar vision for the metaverse. And it starts, according to co-founder and CEO Evin McMullen, with the perhaps-less-sexy but nonetheless foundational concept of user-owned data.

As McMullen points out in a recent podcast interview, The Jetsons, who regularly utilized robot sidekicks, didn’t ever wait in line or fill out forms to make their preferences known. Jane simply awoke to a closet of freshly ironed clothes, and George’s toothbrush robot simply “knew” how much toothpaste (and presumably what flavor) to place on the bristles.

“They had personalized experiences everywhere they went,” said McMullen in the episode. But how?

The answer is data. On the internet, data and identity are basically synonymous — and valuable. An individual’s online behavior — their purchases, browsing history, social groups, user names, pronouns, passwords, primary languages, biometrics, etc. — create a digital body of information telling a story about who that person is.

Disco wants to encourage individual consumers to take back control of their data by incentivizing them to move it from siloed, company-owned platforms to user-owned digital wallets that serve as the key to unlocking online experiences.

There’s just one problem: Consumers are kind of lazy and used to the frictionless experience of single sign-on services like Amazon or Facebook. Even if people are convinced of the value of user-owned identity or spooked by controversies like Facebook’s infamous Cambridge Analytica lawsuit, which exposed the release of some 87 million users’ data, there’s currently little incentive to transition away from today’s company-owned, or “federated,” identity model to one where users are our own data custodians.

But they are motivated by gamification, status and money. Here’s where $1,208 hats and $2,416 T-shirts advertising “Big DID energy” (“DID” is an abbreviation for “decentralized identifier”) fit in. Disco is making its swag free for users who earn it — and prohibitively expensive for everyone else. McMullen calls this strategy a “meme” to help people grasp the potential of Web3 and feel inspired to take back control of their data. Even those who work in the blockchain industry, she argues, aren’t yet fully realizing the potential of user-owned identity.

“When we originally came up with the idea, the price of ETH was around $1,200,” she said. “So we thought that 1 ETH would be a good price because that’s often the price of blue-chip NFTs.” However, she noted, the Disco team couldn’t find an easy way to sync Shopfiy with the real-time price of ETH and apply the discount codes accordingly, so the team slapped a $1,208 price tag on its hats and doubled the price for shirts.

CoinDesk - Unknown hat (

Verifiable credentials and decentralized identity management

“One of the challenges that I’ve learned over the years is that helping folks in Web3 realize our ecosystem is more than just what you can see on chain … is a little esoteric for a lot of people to grasp,” McMullen recently told CoinDesk.

“Our identity is a co-created verb,” McMullen said. “It is a living, ongoing experience that we co-create with the people and parties around us as a function of how we interact.”

McMullen argues that not all consumer data should live on the blockchain. Instead, we ought to use the full breadth of cryptographic tools to enjoy the functionality of token-gated experiences without requiring that all information about oneself is published as an immutable token, such as a non-fungible token (NFT) or soulbound token (SBT).

One such tool, known as a verifiable credential, offers an off-chain alternative that can authenticate aspects of consumer data without publishing it publicly. “In the same way that a token on chain can unlock access, an off-chain credential with the very same keys that I use on chain can unlock experiences,” McMullen said.

A concept well-known by long-time technologists and cryptographers, verifiable credentials are relatively new to the general population. Disco describes them as a way for any third-party entity, such as a university, employer or government agency, to issue secure credentials to a recipient without revealing sensitive data in the process. In a scenario that pro-privacy technologists hope might happen in the near future, a university could issue a diploma through a platform like Disco, which an employer could verify without the need to access more information than is required to verify the requirements of the job.

McMullen says using verifiable credentials may help consumers prevent the mistake of putting sensitive information — particularly about minors — on chain. This may also lessen the risk of discriminatory practices, such as revealing a person’s age, religious background or ethnicity when it is not required.

“There are not a lot of women I know who would feel comfortable putting their home address on a billboard in Times Square,” McMullen said. “Yet, putting it on the blockchain is more public and more permanent.”

To help consumers grasp this concept, Disco has opened up its API to beta testers, inviting them to create user-owned “data backpacks” containing credentials that they may choose to share or keep private. These credentials may contain personal information about each user’s identity, along with lighthearted social credentials that exist more for the purpose of fun and status, such as the “GM” (slang for “good morning”) credential. Individuals who have completed Disco onboarding and set up their data backpack can redeem their credentials at checkout for free merch, minus shipping and handling. Those who want to pay in USD, well, will have to pay a lot.

The process of issuing a credential looks like this:

Step one: Create a backpack and complete onboarding

Signing up for Disco requires showing proof of owning keys to a third-party profile, such as Discord or Twitter.

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Discord sign up (

Step two: Receive your first credential

Once you complete onboarding, you will receive the Official Disconaut Credential and be able to receive GMs from your friends. By default, credentials appear in your Disco account as private, but as a consent-first platform, users can toggle public visibility on or off depending on their preferences.

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Congrats! (

Step three: Add more credentials

Personalize your account by adding details about yourself, which you can share however you like.

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Credentials (

Step four: Issue credentials

Send “GM” credentials to fellow Disco users.

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Credential issued (

Sending 15 unique GMs will qualify you for some free merch, like this $2,416 t-shirt.

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Big DID energy shirt (

Step five: Shop for merch

Depending on the number of credentials you’ve earned, you’ll be eligible to choose from Disco caps, t-shirts and more. Make sure your credentials are set to “publicly viewable” for Shopify to redeem your free merch. You can do this in your data backpack under the specific credential and clicking the eye icon in the top right hand corner.

Additionally, owning NFTs from certain partner communities may also qualify you for special merch deals. For instance, these disco ball earrings are $50 USD, or 15 unique GMs, for Boys Club members.

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Disco swag (

Embracing the learning curve

It may seem like Disco is making consumers jump through a lot of hoops for some earrings, but that’s kind of the point. “The swag store is using the Disco API and checking users’ data backpack to see if they have the right credentials to enjoy a discount,” McMullen explained.

While the process may seem clunky compared to our more familiar social media platforms, McMullen argues that embracing the learning curve is essential, calling the tendency to store personal information on blockchain an “expensive overshare” that often comes with high gas (service) fees.

Fortunately, we don’t have to reinvent every new aspect of decentralized identity, as some legal frameworks already exist to help guide decisions about what information should exist online (and therefore on the blockchain). McMullen pointed to the Child Online Privacy Protection Act, enacted in the U.S. in 1998, and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), effective as of 2018, among others.

While she noted that such laws may not be wholly comprehensive, nor universally liked among technologists and consumers, McMullen emphasized the responsibility of early Web3 builders to handle data sensitively.

“Building tools that can endanger others is not what we’re about at Disco,” she said. “It’s very important to introduce consent-first data.”

According to McMullen, Web3 enthusiasts tend to think of blockchain as a panacea solving for all aspects of consumer privacy, when in actuality, blockchain is simply a distributed database of information. Disco’s mission is to help individuals to understand and decide what should and should not be on chain before those decisions about our digital identities are made for us.

Edited by Toby Leah Bochan.

How AI is Transforming Music Creation in Web3

In April 2023, Warner Music Group chief digital officer and executive vice president of business development Oana Ruxandra told CoinDesk’s The Hash that she expects music tools driven by artificial intelligence (AI) to “open up the world like we haven’t before,” inspiring “new forms of creativity and sub-genres” across the music and entertainment industries.

While Ruxandra’s outlook is optimistic, she also acknowledged the concerns of many musicians: “We have to be very vigilant,” she said, noting the importance of protecting the creativity and rights of artists. Just days before Ruxandra’s appearance on The Hash, an AI-generated deep-fake music track titled Heart On My Sleeve gained traction by mimicking the voices of songwriters Drake and the Weeknd – even though neither artist had participated in its creation. Instead, the song’s creators trained the artificial intelligence bot using music by the artists, which angered label owner Universal Music Group over.

Other musicians have been more welcoming to the new technology. Less than a week later, electropop musician Grimes invited her fans to create their own AI-dubbed songs using her voice and extended the offer to split royalties 50/50, demonstrating one creative solution to the AI deep-fake conundrum.

Keeping intellectual property challenges in mind, there’s still no doubt that AI music tools can place new forms of expression at an artist’s fingertips. Sometimes, AI can even be used to enhance music production by filling in technical or intellectual gaps in an artist’s abilities, helping them bring ambitious concepts to life in a matter of clicks. These tools can also perform sound engineering tasks more efficiently, lowering barriers and the time it takes to release music.

As we look toward Web3, companies and artists are taking AI even further by pairing music with immersive, interactive and user-generated experiences in the metaverse and beyond.

A number of crypto-native musicians and platforms have already found creative ways to integrate AI tools into their practice.

Take VNCCII, for instance, the metaverse-first alter-ego of Sydney-based female producer Samantha Tauber. Utilizing the industry-leading real-time 3D creation tool, Unreal Engine, Tauber dons her avatar to stream live broadcast interviews from the metaverse, in addition to performing in virtual concerts and shows. Like any set or costume change, the digital component of VNCCII’s artistic identity is expanding the borders of her artistry.

Web3 music company Pixelnyx combines augmented reality (AR) experiences with metaverse gaming and is focused on helping artists build memorable experiences for fans. Co-founded by the electronic music producer Deadmau5, who has been known for sending fans on quests through The Sandbox and hosting shows in Decentraland, PIXELYNX aims to evolve our traditional notions of fandom through the use of AI, Web3 and user-generated content (UGC).

In April, Pixelnyx released Korus, a tool that allows users to create AI-powered music companions using officially-licensed artist content.

When used in this spirit, AI music tools can aid, augment or enhance an artist’s creative style. While the tools are not good enough yet to replace artists, they are impressive and constantly “learning” through continued human interaction. Replacing musicians with AI has never been a popular take, as proven by the pushback Spotify received after testing its own version of artificial music curation. Yet despite the controversy surrounding AI, today’s musical artists may be able to benefit from using AI-assisted music production in ways that respect the craft.

Ideation and collaboration

WarpSound, an adaptive AI music platform, has found several ways to integrate blockchain-based collectibles and digital avatars into its business offerings. The company, which produces music content, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and social experiences, is soon releasing a software API that composes original music note-by-note in a range of styles.

Founder and CEO Chris McGarry, an entrepreneur and media executive who previously severed as the music lead at Facebook’s virtual reality unit Oculus, says WarpSound’s tools help artists find new inspiration and source material that invigorates their creative processes. The company is the recipient of The Sandbox’s Game Maker Fund, which supports game designers in The Sandbox metaverse, and plans to build a home venue inside the platform where artists can experiment with generative music.

It also launched an AI Music Studio Artist Accelerator in partnership with global payments provider Mastercard, where McGarry says he’s observed new benefits to the creative process.

“Last week, I was in a set of virtual studio sessions with artists participating in the program,” said McGarry. “We were working with our generative AI music interface to present a set of musical ideas, then having the artist shape those and iterate until they landed on something, the essence of which resonated with them, that they were motivated to work with.”

WarpSound has also partnered with the Tribeca Film Festival and YouTube to create interactive and playful music experiences between artists and audiences.

Composing and arrangement

If your music project is less about live performance and more about the finished product — maybe you’re composing original music for a podcast, metaverse event, YouTube channel, Web3 video game or educational content — you can use AI to speed up the process of composition and arrangement. Of course, the world’s most talented virtuosos can likely do musical scales in their sleep, but with so many elements to sound and video production, it’s becoming standard practice to use AI to insert quick scales, arpeggios, runs and harmonies to original music.

Tools like Riffusion allow users to provide text prompts that are transformed into music. Soundful is another AI platform that allows people to generate and download royalty-free tracks.

If you want to go one step further and add lyrics, the popular do-it-all tool ChatGPT can write a two-verse song with a pre-chorus, chorus, bridge and outro in just under 30 seconds with minimal prompting. Of course, the lyrics may be a touch simplistic or cheesy — but aren’t some of the best songs?

In most cases, songs generated by AI are reproducible without the need to pay licensing fees, given they were made by machines and therefore not protected under U.S. intellectual property law. Most platforms, however, charge a subscription fee.

These sounds can then be minted as NFTs and sold on marketplaces like OpenSea. Platforms like also allow artists to join the site and offer their songs as fractionalized NFTs that offer royalty payouts to fans.

The limits of AI music production

You may have already heard that musical AI tools aren’t yet that sophisticated, especially when compared to the latest AI text-to-image generators (which have already been used to spin out whole comic book collections) and Open AI’s chatbot, Chat GPT (which reportedly passed the Bar exam).

Audio production indeed requires more computing power than static text and image outputs and therefore is lagging behind, according to experts in the field. Alexander Flores, head of tech and strategy at the music research network, Water & Music, says that tech innovation generally travels from the least data-intensive formats to the richest. In the case of AI, it makes sense why chatbots are perhaps faster to develop than AI audio and video rendering.

In one online discussion thread, a Reddit user pointed out these limitations, emphasizing that while a writer can proofread and edit an AI chatbot’s outputs in seconds, it takes several minutes to listen to a song, and sometimes even hours to edit it. Machines are also slower to learn from AI datasets since audio files that feed them rarely have comprehensive text descriptions to teach the AI about the file’s attributes (genre, tempo, key, instrumentation, etc.). Meanwhile, text and image-based AIs can swiftly trawl through thousands of words and visuals.

“How long it takes to consume the content matters a lot,” said Flores. “With a song, you’re locked in for three minutes. You can’t speed it up because then you’re not experiencing the actual song as it was written.”

In addition, images are static, while songs are more dynamic: “Audio is just much higher dimensional,” said Stefan Lattner, managing researcher at Sony CSL, a creative technology lab, in a panel at Water & Music’s inaugural Wavelengths Summit. “While images have a fixed number of pixels, in audio you have a variable number of seconds that you want to generate.”

Nonetheless, Water & Music calls creative AI the most disruptive technology for the music business since Napster, the peer-to-peer file-sharing application that made music distribution virtually free, as well as borderless and permissionless – a concept familiar to crypto-natives.

3 Reasons Why Beauty on the Blockchain Makes Sense

In the beauty and fashion worlds, creative collaborations are everything. Look no further than New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which through the years has partnered with several iconic beauty brands — including the time it released a custom-designed Estée Lauder eyeshadow palette for the art institution’s 150th birthday.

A good collaboration in any industry pushes boundaries, inspiring customers to experiment with new ideas and forms of self-expression. So it’s no wonder that skincare and makeup brands are entering Web3 with the same aspirational energy that the beauty industry has always served.

Through new forms of digital artistry and cutting-edge technological innovation, today’s leading beauty companies hope to reach Web3-native consumers, create meaningful experiences and perhaps even clean up their supply chain.

It helps brands expand to new audiences

Yann Joffredo, Global Brand President at NYX Professional Makeup, said that the L’Oréal-owned cosmetics brand has always championed inclusivity through its collaborations with independent content creators, bloggers and makeup artists. Joffredo sees Web3 as the next evolution of this mission, with the added benefit of connecting with new audiences.

“As the brand continues to evolve, it is important to advocate for this same representation in Web3,” said Joffredo. “Additionally, we understood the untapped territory within beauty in the metaverse.”

In early 2023, NYX launched GORJS, the world’s first beauty-focused decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) to spotlight creators building beauty experiences within the Web3 ecosystem.

“GORJS integrates Web3 artists and beauty enthusiasts to lead the cultural conversation around what digital makeup artistry will be in the metaverse and beyond,” Joffredo said.

It fosters meaningful opportunities for self-expression

Joffredo also said that transparency and self-expression in the metaverse is a natural extension of NYX Professional Makeup’s brand values, adding that digital spaces give beauty enthusiasts unique avenues to express themselves and interact with products.

More poignantly, digital spaces can also provide physical safety amid a politically polarized physical world. Last year, NYX partnered with inclusive avatar company People Of Crypto (POC) and The Sandbox, a user-generated virtual environment, to launch a week-long Pride Month celebration. The event featured gender non-conforming NFT avatars donning makeup styled in a pixelated, or rather “voxelized,” fashion using colors representing the Progress Pride flag.

In a recent panel at the extended reality (XR) industry conference, AWE Live, NYX vice president of digital innovation and e-commerce Maya Kosovalic spoke to how the Pride event foreshadowed a more immersive digital future: “Self-expression is really the core tenant of future gaming platform experiences, which are no longer singular, solitary game loops but very immersive, engaging social experiences where younger generations can engage with their in-real-life friends.”

Celebrating one’s personality and identity through skins and digital goods, she added, is what makes Web3 so interesting for both beauty and fashion brands.

Also on the panel was Agustina Sartori, senior innovation director at the American beauty store chain Ulta Beauty. “Beauty is a way to be yourself and be who you want to be,” she said. “Why wouldn’t we care about the same thing in the digital world?”

According to Sartori, Ulta Beauty has been experimenting with digital activations on Roblox since 2022. Roblox is a popular user-generated gaming platform that does not utilize blockchain or cryptocurrency but nonetheless appeals to major brands interested in building virtual worlds for customers. Ulta’s virtual Roblox world is called the “Ultaverse.” In May, Ulta Beauty partnered with the cruelty-free eyeshadow brand Urban Decay to throw a virtual party inside the Ultaverse. Makeup influencers Emmy Combs, Leilani Green and Manny MUA hosted the event, which attracted some 500,000 visitors to the platform, said Sartori.

Ulta Beauty was also one of the first beauty brands to announce its participation in the upcoming Metaverse Beauty Week, which will take place from June 12 to 16 in three different metaverse environments (Decentraland, Roblox and Spatial). Interested participants can learn how to set up the necessary crypto wallets and create their first avatar by reading instructions on the event website.

It could solve trust issues

Last, blockchain offers potential solutions for one of the most consistent challenges faced by the beauty industry: greenwashing. Amid growing market pressure to be cruelty-free, eco-friendly and natural, clean beauty brands have been on the receiving end of increased scrutiny in recent years.

It’s almost impossible for consumers to track their favorite brands’ ingredients sourcing. But now, there are many supply chain-related use cases for blockchain — most of them still new. The blockchain-based platform created by French luxury skincare company Clarins allows customers to trace their products’ manufacturing journeys on chain. By scanning a QR code on each package, people can trace ingredients’ origins and learn about how the product was made and even packaged.

Another way blockchain can help boost trust issues is by weeding out counterfeit products, which is a growing issue in the world of “superfakes.” Luxury fashion giant LMVH launched a blockchain to help prove the authenticity of Louis Vuitton bags and Parfums Christian Dior.

Unrelated to supply chains, other beauty brand blockchain experiments include experimental bitcoin “cash-back” programs that incentivize consumers by rewarding them with satoshis for each purchase.

Blockchain-based beauty is exciting, but still experimental

As we see in all facets of Web3, the beauty industry is still experimenting with how to most seamlessly use new technology to create lasting impact among its existing and emerging customer base.

“This is a process and it will take time,” said Leya Kaufman, head of brand, publisher and senior vice president of sales at media company Coveteur. “We will need to cultivate and engage audiences in this new arena while simultaneously maintaining our core consumer base,” she said.

Alongside leading Web3 infrastructure provider, MoonPay, Coveteur partnered with hair care company Wella Professionals to launch The Wella Generator, a gamified digital sweepstakes hosted on the Ethereum blockchain.

“It was important for us to create a program that was seamless for existing and new Web3 users,” Kaufman said, adding that the partnership with MoonPay made this vision possible.

Despite growing pains, as digital identity becomes an increasingly important factor in our lives and personalities, it makes sense that people want to feel good about how they look and shop, both on-chain and off, and it looks like blockchain is very on-trend for beauty brands in the future.

Edited by Toby Leah Bochan.

How Will NFTs Be Taxed? Understanding the IRS’ New Proposed Guidelines

There are a few specific cases where this look-through analysis will come in handy already. For instance, the fractionalized NFT platform Otis sells NFTs linked to physical assets like rare books and trading cards, or companies like the BlockBar, a Web3 company focused on NFTs linked to real-life rare wines and liquor. In these scenarios, an NFT may serve a similar purpose as a title or property deed, explains Fuller. The IRS is not necessarily interested in taxing the NFT as an asset in and of itself, when really it’s the token’s tie to a physical asset that makes it valuable.

Women Are Being Shut Out Of Web3; These Women Are Building Anyway

While women continue to make up a significant portion of active Web3 users, there aren’t enough women building in Web3 due to structural and social barriers.

According to a recent study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and diversity-focused innovation studio People of Crypto Lab, only 13% of Web3 startups include a female founder, and women represent just 27% of the top Web3 startups’ workforce. In comparison, women in large tech companies hold roughly 32% of jobs. In the financial services sector, women start on equal ground but get squeezed out over time, holding half of entry-level positions but only 19% of C-suite roles, according to research by Deloitte and McKinsey.

“I’ve been fighting sexism, racism and homophobia since I was six years old,” said Alicia Cepeda Maule, co-founder and CEO of Givepact, a fundraising platform that enables nonprofits to accept crypto payments. “As a ‘non-technical’ Afro-Colombian female founder of a Web3 company, all the odds are against me. Black women receive less than 1% of [venture capital] money,” Maule said.

Maule says that she tends to enter professional arenas with the understanding that she must work harder than men, and often with fewer resources. “The stakes are even higher,” she said. “I have to perform at 100% and overdeliver in every single pitch and interaction that I make for the company.”

The BCG study backs up Maule’s observations, finding that Web3 startups founded by men raise almost four times more capital than those founded by women.

Despite the challenges, women around the world are still choosing to participate in Web3, the newest frontier of tech and finance combined. Some – roughly 7%, according to the BCG study – have founded companies. Yet, women are largely isolated from leadership positions and venture capital opportunities, making it difficult to participate equally in foundational conversations that will determine Web3’s standards.

Many women in the industry recognize this peril: “There’s not enough of us, said Bozena Rezab, co-founder and CEO of blockchain-based mobile gaming platform GAMEE. Rezab argues this moment is a “great opportunity” for women to consider Web3 as a career.

Ahead, we spoke to women across Web3 sectors about why they are pursuing a blockchain-based career and how they continue to build around the obstacles presented.

Focus on making positive changes

Gender bias presents itself across digital and real-world industries, leading many women to expect inequality in professional settings. “There is probably always going to be some level of bias or stereotype to overcome, not necessarily only related to gender,” said Rezab, who explained she tries to ignore such encounters by focusing on her goals and performance. “I am focused on results,” she said.

Some women find it helpful to focus on the fact that Web3 attracts entrepreneurial professionals who appreciate innovation. This combination of traits can foster an open-mindedness not always welcome in traditional finance or tech startups. Web3, therefore, may appear like an environment that is comparatively more equitable, despite what the data suggests.

“Compared to the traditional side of finance, people are more helpful here,” said Beryl Li, co-founder of play-to-earn gaming network Yield Guild Games (YGG), adding that “as an entrepreneur, you create your own culture.”

Li, who works with multiple women on her team at YGG, describes feeling comfortable and supported in her role thanks to intentional hiring, recruiting and partnership practices. “I work with incredible women who’ve been very helpful,” said Li. “You need to look for people who actually respect you and compliment your skills.”

Web3 investor and Ola Guild Games co-founder Clara Bullrich describes this strategy as creating a “bubble of trust.”

“What I found effective is to focus on my work and to be reliant on what I can change, as opposed to whatever is outside of my control,” Bullrich said. “I am trying to create and promote that mindset among others around me.”

Find a supportive community

Community is at the heart of Web3, and finding a supportive and like-minded network of professionals and peers is important for all builders in the space.

“Web3 centers and thrives on community,” said Maule. “You can have a great product and tons of investment, but if you don’t center your community, you won’t go as far.”

Devon Martens, principal blockchain engineer at the non-fungible token (NFT) platform Sweet, appreciates the in-real-life conferences, meetups and events that bring women builders across the world together. “There are active movements in order to support women in crypto,” she said. “That feels good to me.”

According to the BCG study, the proportion of women who speak at Web3 conferences is three times higher than men, a statistic that suggests women are growing in visibility at Web3 conferences, which may be an important first step in achieving true equity across leadership and founder roles.

Maule also appreciates the numerous organizations and women-led communities that promote education and diversity in Web3. She recommends that newcomers familiarize themselves with groups including SheFi, Web3 Familia, Black@, Boys Club, Blu3 DAO, H.E.R. DAO and Friends With Benefits.

Fill technical roles in a male-dominated field

The BCG study showed that women founders are more likely to launch Web3 startups in creative and social segments, although technical roles are still dominated by men. Just 12% of technical roles in Web3 are filled by women, representing less than the number of women in technical roles across other STEM fields.

Still, blockchain is what Maggie Love, founder of the global education community SheFi, once described as “inherently feminist.” The idea of a borderless, permissionless financial network where anyone – regardless of their credit score, occupation, experience level or net worth – can participate, is more inclusive than the traditional finance (TradFi) industry, making blockchain development a worthwhile skill for women to learn.

Martins says she began learning Solidity, a programming language for writing smart contracts, by watching free videos on YouTube. She explained that traditional coding boot camps may cost up to five figures in tuition, but thanks to the growth of Web3, blockchain education is often crowdsourced and free.

“Occasionally, a chain will sponsor a course for people to learn,” she said. “You can also start with just YouTube videos. [The channel] Eat The Blocks has some free ones, and they’re also a relatively low-cost boot camp.”

Lisa Seacat DeLuca, senior director of engineering at the decentralized domain service Unstoppable Domains and former IBM executive, shares Martins’ perspective: “These days with everything being open source, you can see examples of other people’s contracts,” she said. “I think it’s easier to onboard in Web3 than it is in Web2. As far as software engineering and the talent you’re looking for, it’s very similar.”

DeLuca, whose portfolio includes over 800 patent applications and who was recognized by IBM as one of the most prolific inventors in the company’s history, wrote her first smart contract over Christmas in 2022.

Fostering collaboration in Web3

Each of the women interviewed for this article stressed the importance of collaboration in Web3. Like any healthy ecosystem, collaborative work environments are strengthened when more points of view are represented.

“It’s not just gender,” said Leah Callon Butler, director of blockchain consulting firm Emfaris. “We need diversity in terms of race and ethnicity, culture, religion, age, sexuality and so on.”

DeLuca agrees: “You could have a bunch of women in the room, and you’re still missing out if everybody’s got the same mindset and are approaching the problems in the same way,” she said.

Although representation may be the first step, the workplace must also be conducive to healthy and productive exchanges between those with differing perspectives. The BCG study outlines five measures that can help address the gender imbalance and foster a more inclusive workforce among Web3 companies. These measures include prioritizing data that represents diversity across company departments and leadership levels, including women and non-binary people on investment teams, designing accessible brand experiences, building supportive environments and shaping regulation that champions diversity, equity and inclusion of all types.

“When we lack diversity, we have fewer perspectives to draw upon, which means that challenges are not fully understood, opportunities are overlooked, and the solutions we develop are less robust,” said Butler. “The more diverse we are, the more angles we can see the world. Ultimately, this is better for everyone.”

As Web3 continues to shift and grow, women have the power to usher in a more diverse and inclusive space that can represent the ideas and values of a broad range of communities.

“Women are natural leaders and organizers, and soon we will represent at least half of crypto holders worldwide,” said Maule. “There is no Web3 without us.”

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Megan DeMatteo is a service journalist currently based in New York City. In 2020, she helped launch CNBC Select, and she now writes for publications like CoinDesk, NextAdvisor, MoneyMade, and others. She is a contributing writer for CoinDesk’s Crypto for Advisors newsletter.

Learn more about Consensus 2023, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.

Megan DeMatteo is a service journalist currently based in New York City. In 2020, she helped launch CNBC Select, and she now writes for publications like CoinDesk, NextAdvisor, MoneyMade, and others. She is a contributing writer for CoinDesk’s Crypto for Advisors newsletter.

What Kind of Culture Are We Building in Web3?

There’s a common saying among those who study mindfulness: “Wherever you go, there you are.” No matter how many miles we travel or borders we cross, humans carry habits, values and biases to each new encounter – even if those encounters are digital. This truth takes on new meaning in the context of Web3, an emerging, user-centered internet characterized by increasingly immersive digital experiences with blockchain underpinnings.

One area of Web3 that is experiencing heavy investment is the metaverse, a conceptual virtual world that facilitates social interaction. And while this new technology is meant to break free from the limitations of the physical world, age-old problems from our existing terrain continue to affect emerging enterprises: there have been reports of sexual assault in virtual spaces, cultural appropriation in the digital fashion industry and racial, gender and algorithmic biases across new technologies. These pervasive blindspots motivated media scholar Sasha Costanza-Chock to publish a book on “design justice,” the practice of design and creation led by marginalized communities aimed at upending structural inequalities.

It’s time we dare to imagine a technological future with empathy, inclusion and diversity at its core. A growing number of Web3 builders believe in such a future. Here, they describe the culture of the Web3 they strive for.

Building a Web3 community for your community

Dr. Hans Boateng is a personal finance educator and co-founder of The Royals, the first luxury travel non-fungible token (NFT) community to showcase African culture. Originally from Ghana, West Africa, Boateng noticed a lack of representation among crypto communities while running online education brand The Investing Tutor.

“People of color are underrepresented communities in Web3 because people in our community will not be paying thousands of dollars for a monkey JPEG,” he told CoinDesk, referencing the concept of blue-chip NFT collections that are out of reach for many early investors. “It’s just not feasible.”

Boateng came up with a vision for an NFT concept that has more appeal to his followers – a curated travel membership club that serves dual purposes: to familiarize his crypto-curious fans with NFTs and to form a global community of like-minded people who would travel together on a curated annual trip.

In December 2022, the community embarked on its first journey together, culminating at the first Royal Gala in Ghana. Each future NFT collection released will invite holders to travel and experience a different culture.

“I view blockchain technology as a tool that we can use in a positive way,” said Boateng. “I didn’t want us to ignore this space and this technology just because we don’t see something that we can relate to.”

Taking up space in digital spaces

Online spaces provide accessible ways for people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities to gather and interact. But unless there are avatars that represent a variety of identities, appearances and experiences, the metaverse will not be able to offer true belonging for its inhabitants.

Enter People of Crypto (POC), an avatar collection celebrating people of color, differently-abled and LGBTQIA+ communities. Available on OpenSea’s secondary marketplace, the POC collection consists of 8,430 fully-playable avatars on metaverse platform The Sandbox that also gives holders the ability to display their sexual orientation and pronouns.

In May 2022, People of Crypto Lab, the company behind POC avatars, partnered with the L’Oréal-owned professional makeup brand NYX to bring a Pride event to The Sandbox. To its founders, the event was more than just a party. “What we created with the metaverse Pride event was an extremely personal project,” said POC Lab cofounder Akbar Hamid. “I’m gay, I’m brown and I’m a Muslim son of immigrants. Like many of my peers who are from underserved and underrepresented communities, we’ve had to fight all our lives.”

Hamid recognizes the long-term impact of inclusive initiatives like POC in building the future of digital representation. “We’re shaping culture,” Hamid said, noting that the global impact of a digital social sphere will reach everyone with a computer and internet connection. “We’re seeing people in different parts of the world like India and Pakistan, where it’s illegal to be gay, be able to come, join, be represented, feel seen and heard for the first time. To me that is just the most powerful thing.”

“You’re coming in and feeling a sense of interconnectedness,” Hamid added.

Beyond inclusion, the metaverse gives individual creatives more opportunity to benefit from their intellectual property, explained Hamid’s co-founder Simone Berry. Through the rising prevalence of user-generated content and a new ability to turn digital files into monetizable assets, individual creators who have long influenced industry-level decision-makers can now participate in the financial upside of their own contributions.

“There is an ability to cut through the gatekeepers, remove the intermediaries and lean into what I believe diverse cultures do best,” Berry says. “That is creativity, community and culture.”

Hip-hop, Berry explained, is a multibillion-dollar industry owned and shaped almost exclusively by a handful of corporate record labels. Yet, the culture of hip-hop originates in tight-knit communities and is reflected in streetwear, language and personal exchanges. Hip-hop culture is highly profitable, “but the creators of it have not been able to participate,” Berry said.

The concept of a user-generated metaverse that decentralizes ownership was, for her, a “lightbulb” moment. “That is the true power of this technology,” Berry said. “It’s built-in equity, equality and inclusion. It’s literally the foundation.”

The Twitter-famous co-owner of Fame Ladies Squad – known by her alias, Bored Becky – has an interesting relationship with the idea of representation in Web3. She became the owner of the 8,888-item NFT collection after realizing it was a scam founded by three Russian men claiming to be women.

“The founding team of the project claimed to be the first all-female team in the ecosystem,” said Bored Becky, whose real name is Ashley Smith. “A month or so later, it was determined to be a lie. They were, in fact, men posing as women and then eventually posing to be other minority groups.”

Smith, along with a fellow Fame Ladies Squad holder who goes by NFTignition, decided to step into leadership after the original founders admitted the truth. Before deleting their social media accounts and disappearing, the founders conducted a Twitter poll asking whether they should transfer ownership of the Fame Lady Squad smart contract. More than 75% of respondents voted “yes,” and Fame Lady Squad transferred the contract to @digitalartchick, a respected personality in the space, who then transferred it to Smith through a third-party broker.

“I ended up with a smart contract for that entire collection,” Smith told CoinDesk.

Her motive for accepting the role was to help contribute positivity to the thousands of people who had joined the Fame Ladies Squad community around the false promise of representation. “For me, it was about rewriting the legacy of the first all-female project in the space,” said Smith, adding she wanted to encourage newcomers to “stick around.”

Beyond this, it was important for her to lead by example for her newfound community and show that authenticity and honesty are possible in Web3.

“Not everyone’s here to suck the life and money from you, or to exploit your values,” she said.

Adding reality back to virtual reality

In December 2021, Web3 design studio Daz3D created Non-Fungible People (NFP), a collection of 8,888 avatar NFTs portraying women and nonbinary people with all ranges of abilities, ethnic backgrounds and characteristics.

“We were really trying to create a collection that was more like the world you see,” said Daz3D president Matt Wilburn. “We have avatars with Down syndrome. We have avatars that use prosthetics and that use wheelchairs,” Wilburn said.

He added that the company partnered with artists worldwide, including artists from the Greater Victoria Down Syndrome Society, in the making of the collection.

Through fashion and beauty partnerships, Daz3D has been able to proliferate these values of inclusion and representation throughout the metaverse. In June 2022, the design studio partnered with beauty brand Clinique on the “Metaverse Like Us” campaign, which dropped 8,888 female and non-binary avatars with customized virtual makeup looks.

Previously, Daz3D partnered with the Institute of Digital Fashion on a project to create Catty 8.1, a gender-non-conforming avatar modeled after the institute’s co-founder, Catty Tay.

Preserving queer culture in Web3

The Queer Museum of Digital Art (QMoDA) is a community dedicated to preserving arts and culture from transgender and queer creators on the blockchain. While it’s often easy to recognize blockchain’s importance in facilitating digital art ownership, it’s just as important to recognize the role of blockchain in cultural preservation, particularly for marginalized communities.

“The AIDS crisis, frankly, is the impetus of a lot of my work,” said artist and QMoDA organizer Zak Krevitt, who uses they/them pronouns. “Artists were dying. Family members and friends were tasked with the safekeeping of their art.”

Some of those art pieces stayed in private collections over the years, explained Krevitt, while another portion ended up in museums. “But there are limits,” they explained. “If someone has an entire artist’s studio of work and it’s all physical, where does it all go?”

When Krevitt learned about blockchain, they saw an important pathway to cultural preservation – by encouraging artists and collectors to speak openly about the opportunities blockchain creates for LGBTQ+ artists, despite cultural or political systems that would otherwise prevent them.

“There’s this unspoken but largely felt pressure within the NFT space to stay apolitical because [Web3] is so decentralized,” they explained. “Being queer and trans is very political right now,” they said, adding that the rise in anti-trans legislation proposals in the U.S. has added to the polarization.

To combat this tension and support both emerging and established queer NFT artists, QMoDA launched in January 2023 an artist grant program, sponsored by NFT minting platform Zora. Ten artists were nominated to receive 1 ETH (about $1,600) each and invited to create an editioned work on the Ethereum blockchain. The QMoDA board nominated five artists, and those artists subsequently nominated one artist each for a total of ten grant recipients. Upcoming artist exhibitions will include work from Tyler Givens, Laurel Charleston, Glitch of Mind and Kate The Cursed.

QMoDa also hosts a virtual gallery in Protoworld, an open multiplayer metaverse world where communities can gather for live events and exhibitions.

The future of Web3 tech and culture

While Web3 technology remains nascent, it is up to us to make sure we are shaping a digital future that upholds the values of diversity and inclusion.

“Marginalized people often suffer the most harm from unintended consequences of new technologies,” wrote University of Illinois doctoral candidate Breigha Adeyemo in 2021.

Web3 offers us the opportunity for a cultural reset. In some respects, there’s never been a better moment in time for prosocial ingenuity and radical imagination, a term associated with the American civil rights movement, grassroots organizing and speculative literature. Technologists routinely evoke Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel “Snow Crash” when discussing the metaverse, and while the book has certainly influenced the development of virtual reality (VR) and digital currency, Web3 beckons us to go even deeper and consider the values driving our actions across digital landscapes.

Sign up for Crypto for Advisors, our weekly newsletter defining crypto, digital assets and the future of finance.

Megan DeMatteo is a service journalist currently based in New York City. In 2020, she helped launch CNBC Select, and she now writes for publications like CoinDesk, NextAdvisor, MoneyMade, and others. She is a contributing writer for CoinDesk’s Crypto for Advisors newsletter.

Learn more about Consensus 2023, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to to register and buy your pass now.

Megan DeMatteo is a service journalist currently based in New York City. In 2020, she helped launch CNBC Select, and she now writes for publications like CoinDesk, NextAdvisor, MoneyMade, and others. She is a contributing writer for CoinDesk’s Crypto for Advisors newsletter.

Peloton’s Robin Arzón Is Building a Web3 Community Around Working Out

Arzón believes that gamification can certainly motivate behavior, but beyond any new gimmicks and gadgets, it’s good old-fashioned consistency that unlocks the true benefits of fitness as a lifestyle. For this level of transformation, a person needs more than a game or a token, they need an accountability partner, says Arzón.