We're always trying to learn about all the interesting things happening in web3. To satiate our curiosity, we host a weekly-ish Twitter Spaces series called Coffee Conversations. What follows is a summary of the twelfth episode.
For the twelfth episode of Coffee Conversations, we hosted Joseph from Keyp. An OG DAOist, Joseph has previously been an active member in the MetaCartel ecosystem, a core contributor at Hero DAO, and the founder of Treasure Chess. Building upon his learnings of working in web3, he realized the need for a better onboarding experience for the many who are yet to catch the web3 bug, and is working on improving the onboarding UX for the crypto/web3 apps of tomorrow.
- Joseph's time at Hero DAO made him painfully aware of the bottleneck stopping the mass adoption of crypto applications.
- Analyzing the users of Treasure Chess, his previous venture, he learned that 85% of all respondents never had a wallet yet were interested in minting NFTs of their games.
- Putting together his learnings from all these projects, Joseph is now working on Keyp and enabling game and dapp developers to have a smoother onboarding UX.
- Using Keyp, users can login to applications using traditional methods (for example, their Google account) yet still have a crypto wallet they have complete control of.
- Joseph believes that DAOs provide the perfect medium to experiment and try solving governance problems that have been plaguing us for ages.
- If you have a hobby club, you probably should be a DAO.
This transcript is edited for brevity and clarity.
Infi: Welcome to the 12th episode of Coffee Conversations. This is our weekly Twitter Space series with interesting builders in the crypto ecosystem. This week, we're hosting Joseph from Keyp.
A long-time DAOist, you probably know Joseph if you have been around the MetaCartel or DAOhaus ecosystem. He has also worked at Hero DAO, a now-defunct DAO looking to decentralize comic book production.
Previously, they also founded Treasure Chess -- an application that lets you mint unique chess games as NFTs. When not tinkering with crypto and web3, Joseph does activism and investments under Solarpunk VC. Their latest project is Keyp, which aims to make onboarding smooth for the next wave of crypto users. Welcome Joseph!
Joseph: Thanks for having me, Infi! I've spent multiple years working full-time for DAOs like RaidGuild, HeroDAO, and Metacartel, to name a few. I'm also on the sustainability board for my local city council.
On the whole, I am a DAOist. I'm very interested in experimenting with governance. And now, I'm working on useKeyp and taking all the lessons I've learned from building products in web3 over the last six or seven years to make dev tools better, user experience cleaner, and help others build their products faster.
Infi: So how did you get into web3? And are you an engineer by education? Or is this something you taught yourself?
Joseph: So, I've been a Solidity developer from the beginning. I love the language. It's so cool that you can write a smart contract, deploy it, and then suddenly, it's out there -- it exists, and people can interact with it.
This is so different from the traditional way of doing things, where you need to know about servers, DevOps, etc. That attracted me initially, and that's what sucked me in.
Infi: That's actually a great comparison. People often talk about the slowness or the costliness of putting things on the blockchain, but the flip side is that it lets you put stuff out there so much more effortlessly.
Alright, tell us about Keyp.
Joseph: So the idea behind Keyp is to bring the consumer protections and the consumer experience that people are so used to when interacting with their favorite fintech app to crypto.
To elaborate, think about things like daily spending limits or the ability to block your card if it's locked, etc. We take this stuff for granted, but their absence is felt very strongly in crypto, where making a transaction -- for most people -- is a non-trivial thing. Like you can't drain your whole account in one day.
So stuff like that. And we're enabling the builders and devs working on the next wave of crypto applications to offer this kind of functionality to their users.
Infi: Interesting. Just like how the target audience of your web2 application is limited by the number of people who know how to operate a phone or a computer, in the same way, the target audience of your crypto app is limited by the number of people who know, or rather, feel comfortable using a wallet.
Joseph: Exactly. So when we were building Treasure Chess, we created this system on top of web3 Auth, where people could log in with their existing chess.com accounts. They didn't have to learn how wallets work -- they were just given an Ethereum address that was non-custodial, which lived in their browser, and one they could actually control.
This made tens and tens of thousands of people sign up for Treasure Chess. And when we did user feedback, we found that more than 85% of our users had never had a wallet. Yet they were all crypto-curious.
There are a ton of people that want to play online trading card games that are actually fun and have autonomy over their digital assets. But the wallet part is just too confusing. It's too much of a big step. There must be a step in between. So we've got OAuth logins with Twitter, Discord, Google, and Chess.com, so you can use these applications to log into Keyp and get an Ethereum wallet you control.
When building new technology, you must consider the general public and not limit yourself to building for the elites. And I'm here -- in crypto -- for a revolution, and this is how I choose to go about it.
Infi: So you're essentially targeting developers and showing them a better way to increase the potential users of whatever they're building. Ideologically this seems similar to Stripe and what they did to enable merchants to sell items. What sort of feedback have you got till now?
Joseph: It's interesting you say that because Stripe provides all of these checkout and financial tools to developers to put into their app, saving everyone a lot of time. In that sense, we're similar to that. But the interesting thing is that we don't have to build any settlement layers; we're just using Ethereum and all the layer 2s and chains connected to it.
So we don't have to do anything for transfers. We don't have to do anything to settle the payment. The blockchain has figured out how to do that for us already, and we're just giving people access to it.
Infi: Let's talk about Hero DAO for a minute. When one opens the website, they are greeted with this retrospective on Hero DAO -- what went right, what went wrong, what could have been done better, etc.
Joseph: For people listening, HeroDAO started in 2021 in the spring, and then everyone who was still active in the DAO collectively decided to spin it down, and instead of nuking it and running away, we posted a postmortem that we wrote together. And I hope that other people will be able to learn from it so we don't have to make the same mistakes again as a space.
Infi: It was so refreshing to see that because struggling communities are often in denial about the actual state of things. And their members slowly abandon the Discord server, stop updating the website, and stop Tweeting. So such a retrospective is really refreshing. And you still had some wins as a DAO. In fact, some significant ones.
Joseph: Yeah, we raised $15,000 and distributed it to artists and even had one of our ideas turned into a physical comic book.
Infi: In the retrospective, I noticed that one of the biggest challenges was needing people to jump through many hoops.
Joseph: Yeah, so there's all these different production parts in a comic book that I think most people take for granted if you're not involved in the production process. So, for example, just to have a new contributor join -- and many amazing artists, colorers and inkers wanted to join.
And the truth is, when someone wanted to join the DAO, they had to learn MetaMask. They had to figure out how to add the Gnosis chain to MetaMask to get $DAI. They had to turn that into xDAI. They then had to wrap that. And then, they have to figure out the DAOhaus interface and submit their membership proposal. And it's wild that we could find 50 people that could do that in the first place.
So it was still far too technical. And that kind of failure inspired me to start Keyp so that we can have a system where you shouldn't have to be an engineer if you want to be a DAO contributor. You shouldn't have to have figured all this stuff out.
So instead of this, what if you could simply log in with your Discord account and have an Ethereum address that earns fees as you contribute? And it all happens autonomously, and you, as the user, always have full control of this wallet.
Infi: Right. So we talked about HeroDAO and how sometimes it's not even DAOs; sometimes it's getting into them that is tough. This brings me to my next question, which is also the title of today's conversation -- should your hobby club be a DAO?
Joseph: Yeah, it's a fun question, and I think tons of organizations would hugely benefit from the autonomy that DAOs give. And personally, I think the autonomy part is the most fun, interesting, and radical because every other organization on earth relies on a board of directors or a president to do what everyone votes for. A DAO can operate such that if everyone votes for something to happen, it just happens.
You don't have to have some executive that is supposed to do it one way, and they have their own interpretation and go do something different. The DAO executes the code and sends the money to whoever everyone voted for and can run transactions and do stuff like that.
So that's where the autonomy comes in. Who would benefit from autonomy? What types of clubs would benefit from autonomy? Well, If I want to make a comic book with my friends, we must raise money to do that. If we put in different amounts, say, if I put in $1,000 and my friend Dan puts in $2,000, how do we decide if we disagree about what the character's name is supposed to be?
How do we decide that? How can we have one vote per person if they've put in twice as much work or money? How do we value that? And those are very challenging governance problems that I don't think humanity has figured out yet.
And a DAO is a very good way to experiment and a very good way to address that.
So if you're raising money, deciding where money should go, creating something that you would like to continue after all the existing members are dead and after you've lost interest -- you know, a DAO could be right for you. And I think Moloch is a really good structure for it.
Having said that, there are also a lot of stupid DAOs. Many times I look at a project and wonder, why is this a DAO? What's the point of this besides the ponzinomics of it?
Infi: I tend to think like that sometimes as well. A couple months ago, I met a founder of this DAO, and I asked him about their onchain strategy -- how they define memberships, how they do onchain governance, etc. And this person said, "Oh no, we're not planning on going onchain anytime soon."
And I was confused with that answer because not only is that super easy to do -- you can literally make up your own token/membership NFTs -- but it's like the lower threshold for calling yourself a DAO, right?
Joseph: Yeah, so that's essentially people LARPing as DAOs because it's cool, and all the cool kids contribute to DAOs. And if you hang out in the DAOhaus Discord, you're probably a cool kid. I think that that is actually true.
Also, the fun part about DAOs and the whole onchain side is that they're efficient vehicles to try and all governance problems that have been around forever.
I don't think anybody is particularly happy with the state of governments worldwide. Like how many people love their government? And even if they do, do they love all the governments in the world? Probably not even people that live in the most democratic democracies. Even they always have something to complain about. I'm very pro-democracy. But there's still something missing here, and I think it's mostly the autonomous part.
You know, where we are with climate change is mostly due to broken incentives. And if most people want to solve big challenges like that, food, and hunger, and all these major human problems, the current system is not set up for that.
So doing these experiments, even if it's a small thing with just your friends to learn more about how a DAO works and see if it could apply to other areas of your life, is worth it.
Alright, we're right on time, Joseph, and this is a good note to end our conversation on. Thank you so much for taking out the time to come chat with us today! I know you're super busy with fundraising and hiring for Keyp, so we really appreciate your presence today.
Joseph: Thank you so much for having me, Infi! I really appreciate it.
Infi: It was a pleasure. Any last words before we conclude, Joseph?
Joseph: Nope, none as such. If you have any questions about being in or starting a DAO, I strongly recommend you check out the DAOhaus Discord server. I feel that's a solid place to start if you're getting into DAOs. And if you want to know more about what we're doing at Keyp, we're cultivating our dev community and are super active in our Discord server. Come through!
Infi: To all the people listening, thank you so much for being a patient audience. Do follow @cupOjoseph on Twitter, and follow us @rep3gg to stay updated with future episodes of Coffee Conversations.
Joseph: Thank you all, bye-bye.
Infi: Goodbye, everyone!