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Head of Mocaverse: ‘We believe the project's NFT holders are also its co-founders’

This is a conversation between Coin98 Insights and Tyler Durden, Head of Mocaverse, about how the project has evolved from a PFP NFT collection to a comprehensive ecosystem with ambitions to connect the entire Web3 user base.
Published Jul 08 2024
Updated Jul 09 2024
10 min read
Tyler Durden mocaverse

Tyler Durden is also the Head of Projects of Animoca Brands, the fund behind Mocaverse, based in Hong Kong.

His pseudonym was inspired by the character Tyler Durden in the movie Fight Club. And like this character, Mocaverse's Tyler Durden has a rebellious personality. His career working in a "traditional" business only lasted 7 months. Since then, Durden has mostly worked as a founder of or contributor to startups.

Before joining Web3, Durden was involved in a variety of very early-stage sectors: renewable energy, cross-border e-commerce and artificial intelligence. "It could be said that I entered too early, given that these fields have only recently begun to gain traction," he said.

The Spotlight is an exclusive interview series between Coin98 Insights and industry builders about hot topics in the market.

nft and culture

- Mocaverse started out as a collection of 8,888 PFP NFTs. In a short time, the project has developed into a complete ecosystem with many pieces, such as Mocas NFT, Moca ID, Realm Network, and the Moca token. Can you share more about the development process and mission of Mocaverse? 

Tyler Durden: We indeed started with NFTs, but what we're building is way beyond a PFP project. Mocaverse's mission is to bring interoperability to the entire space. People in Web3 talk a lot about interoperability but this has not really been realized yet.

Currently, every week there are 5 new chains coming out, so how can there be interoperability and network effects? At Animoca, we think we are one of the ecosystems best positioned to bring network effects to the entire industry.

And we're starting with account, reputation, ID, points systems, and a token to drive user growth, develop utilities, and bring all of this to the broader ecosystem.

For that reason, this is like an industry-wide project, not just Animoca's.

Read more: Phaver: Empowering users to monetize their personal data

- Why did Mocaverse choose the number 8,888 for its PFP NFT collection?

Tyler Durden: In Chinese, 8 is a lucky number, it also means getting rich. If you look at Animoca's fundraising rounds, you'll see we raised $138.8888 million. Even with Mocaverse's fundraising round, the amount raised was $31.88 million.

- Since their inception, NFTs have received a lot of attention from the community. Can you tell us about the role of NFTs in the Web3 market as well as in the Mocaverse ecosystem?

Tyler Durden: Firstly, NFTs serve as a store of culture and community power. They represent the mission of a group of people who get together and believe in the culture and values ​​of a project. At Mocaverse, we believe the project's NFT holders are also its co-founders. We build together: they give us feedback, we build the project for the long term.

Secondly, I think NFTs represent identity and reputation. That's what we're building with Moca ID. The product was launched in November 2023 and currently has about 1.5 million minted Moca IDs, with an active user base.

Additionally, NFTs can be used in many ways, as structured financial products or composable digital asset classes.

- If NFTs serve as a store of culture, do you think memecoins also contribute to culture in Web3?

Tyler Durden: I believe memecoins are like a fragmented version of culture building, but they’re different from NFTs in a way. If you hold memecoins, you feel like part of that community, but it doesn't have the same membership feeling of an exclusive club as with NFTs.

So the way we think about NFTs is as people belonging to an exclusive club who believe in the project mission from very early on. For example, if you minted NFT Mocas initially, their price was 0.069 ETH each; at that time the price of ETH was more than $2,000. Now the floor price of 1 NFT Mocas is 4 ETH; you have profited at least 50 times.

If you hold memecoins, you feel like part of that community, but it doesn't have the same membership feeling of an exclusive club as with NFTs

However, you make money only if you truly believe in the project mission, believe in the team and believe that NFTs have long-term value, like the saying "if you can't hold, you can't be rich". Most people sold NFT Mocas at 1 ETH and a lot of people sold at 0.6 - 0.7 ETH.

That's one way of thinking about NFTs in terms of financial gains. Another way of thinking about it is that you hold a project's NFT because you want to be a member of this exclusive club for the long haul.

future pfps

- What do you think about the role of PFPs in expressing identity and building brands in Web3?

Tyler Durden: I think PFPs definitely play a role in building personal brands. There are two groups of NFT buyers in the market: the first group only buys at floor price, and the other group always overpays for NFTs they feel represent them. I belong to the second group.

For that reason, I think PFPs have room for the expression of identity, be it a present identity or one the user can compose based on their true reputation data. For example, if you could keep attesting your on-chain data in such a way that your PFPs would change over time, this would be a pretty cool thing.

There are two groups of NFT buyers in the market: the first group only buys at floor price, and the other group always overpays for NFTs they feel represent them
There are two groups of NFT buyers in the market: the first group only buys at floor price, and the other group always overpays for NFTs they feel represent them

It's a bragging right, for example, you tell your friends that you have just been promoted to diamond status when flying on an airline, and therefore your membership ring has an extra 8 carat diamond.

I think this special form of identity and data representation actually brings culture. If you look at the Moca ID, it's now a flat image of a car with a user name on it. And I imagine that over time, each Moca ID will contain their story, history, on-chain engagement, and other things that represent the users that they can show to their friends. This could be the future of PFPs.

- What is Mocaverse planning to bring value to Mocas NFT holders and attract new users?

Tyler Durden: Maybe some projects don't pay too much attention to this, but we spend a lot of time thinking about where the value comes from. How do we take that value and bring it back into the system to redistribute to our holders?

Even after the Moca token launch, Mocas NFT will still play an important role in the design and economic model of Mocaverse. So much so that NFT holders are positioned as co-founders of the entire ecosystem. Therefore, real value comes from user development, along with capital growth, opportunity and accessibility.

Over the past 6-7 years, Animoca has invested mostly in consumer markets such as music, sports, and gamefi. Our portfolio includes hundreds of projects that are sitting in different chains and do different things.

The DNA of blockchain is that accounts, access and liquidity should be interoperable. Liquidity should not be locked in a single ecosystem.

Imagine if we could bring interoperability to all of these companies, bring them together and build the largest consumer network. It could be equivalent to Tencent or Amazon. We're trying to acquire companies to create this synergy, something like sharing the same WeChat or Amazon login system.

However, you don't need to acquire companies to make this work. Because the DNA of blockchain is that accounts, access and liquidity should be interoperable. Liquidity should not be locked in a single ecosystem.

- Mocaverse has just launched Realm Network infrastructure. What role does this project play in the ecosystem-wide interoperability you mentioned?

Tyler Durden: Realm Network is a social login account abstraction model that abstracts all the Web3 hassle from the users. The reason we built Realm is because we have strong relationships with Web3 partners that have hundreds of millions of users - who are primarily motivated by financial gain. This is fine, it's the nature of the industry, at least for now.

However, someone needs to provide users with a complete Web3 experience to bring value to the entire industry. Imagine hundreds of companies and applications sharing a single account, reputation and ID system – this would create a powerful network effect. And we're working on it with Realm Network.

Mocaverse is gradually developing into a complete ecosystem
Mocaverse is gradually developing into a complete ecosystem.

Take a real-life example with Cathay Pacific airlines. Suppose your membership status with Cathay Pacific is limited to Hong Kong only, not applicable elsewhere.

But imagine the scenario where you can carry your status wherever you travel, and everyone recognizes it because you share the same account system and reputation. This idea is extremely powerful and is a clear example of the potential of Web3.

I don't believe interoperability will start with interoperable game assets. It took a long time and a lot of effort to develop that standard. So, I think we should start small with the base layer, which is account ID and reputation.

open to community

- After launching a collection, NFT projects need direction for further development. Do you think other NFT projects will follow Mocaverse's development direction?

Tyler Durden: I think every NFT collection has its own path and they shouldn't follow another project just because that project is doing well, without considering their own internal advantages. For example, with Mocaverse we benefit from an ecosystem of hundreds of companies, something not every project has.

Another factor to consider is the project's strengths, which product is suitable for the market? There will be projects that opt for speculation, but Mocaverse wants to follow the path of long-term value creation. Mocaverse is not a random project, we cannot risk destroying Animoca's reputation by doing something not meaningful.

I see many people shame projects that try to "copy" other projects, but I think this is just the way people learn from each other, and learning is nothing to be ashamed of.

Each project is not the same. However, I observed that when Mocaverse introduced the points and ID system, many other projects started doing the same. I see many people shame projects that try to "copy" other projects, but I think this is just the way people learn from each other, and learning is nothing to be ashamed of.

- What do you think is the reason for the success of the Mocaverse NFT collection?

Tyler Durden: I think it's the community. The community holds the NFT and they're the ones who can make it succeed or fail. Therefore, you need to give them a reason to hold NFTs, give them a reason to buy more, give them a reason to spread the word and attract new people into the market. I think building community trust lies in making their interests the highest priority of the project.

Over time, with action, you can prove that you are listening to them, you are changing and trying to improve yourself. By letting them see the long-term vision of the project, over time you can build a strong community.

For example, if you look at Mocaverse's NFT listing percentage, there are currently about 0.5% of NFTs in the total supply listed on the exchange. This is a “thin floor” and whenever this number goes up, it immediately goes back down.

Of course the Mocaverse token launch is a big reason for this, but I believe the way we designed the long-term economic structure for NFTs is another big reason – it gives people a lot of reasons to hold our NFTs.

Mocaverse NFT Collection. Photo: OpenSea.

- In your opinion, do NFTs come first or does the community come first?

Tyler Durden: I think of NFTs as a product, and users buy your product. You should always be obsessed with your customers – not just obsessed with the user experience, but with building a sincere dialogue. Always keep the doors open - it's key to having the right community.

NFTs are just a standard, NFT holders with hearts and souls and blood are the ones who support the foundation of the project.

vietnam web3 market

- What do you think about the Web3 market in Vietnam? How is this market different from other markets like Singapore?

Tyler Durden: I think the Vietnamese market is very strong in games. After the success of Axie Infinity, perhaps hundreds of Axie copycats were born with the same tokenomics, even the same gameplay. And now people have gotten to the stage where they start asking questions like: How do we build a good game with good tokenomics?

In Singapore, I see fewer projects launching tokens. Many founders here mainly focus on building products such as wallets and smart contracts. The markets are in different positions.

I think Vietnam needs a thought leader to come out and drive the narrative, bring people together and coach them to become highly selective founders.

I think Le Thanh, founder of Ninety Eight, is doing a great job supporting the ecosystem and incubating potential founders. The founder of Kyros is also making efforts and pouring a lot of sweat into Asia. We need more people like that.

Or it doesn't necessarily have to be Vietnamese people, maybe some foreign founder will come in and try to build a better vision. Over time, the entire industry and ecosystem participants can learn from it and build another wave of Web3 startups in Vietnam.

- Is there anything else you want to share about your journey in Web3?

Tyler Durden: I just want to tell everyone one thing: building a project is really difficult, this journey is not easy. Teams that want to build for a broader community often have to sacrifice a lot in their personal lives.

I know everyone just wants to ask: “wen token”, “wen Lambo”. But I hope everyone will understand, trust and give the team time to build. This belief is important because not every team takes vacations on an expensive beach – many of them are trying to do what's best for the community.

As for me, my motivation isn't money, it's people investing money in us, and I want to make sure they do it right.