Web3 CMO Stories

Redefining Marketing Boundaries with Ethan Pierse: A Journey into Web3, NFTs, and AI | S3 E26 (at Web Summit)

December 01, 2023 Joeri Billast & Ethan Pierse Season 3
Web3 CMO Stories
Redefining Marketing Boundaries with Ethan Pierse: A Journey into Web3, NFTs, and AI | S3 E26 (at Web Summit)
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Get ready to unlock a revolutionary way of thinking about marketing as we sit down with Ethan Pierse, co-founder of Borderless Ventures and NFT Factory. Ethan reveals how Web3 technologies are transforming not just the way we advertise, but how we solve problems in areas like digital identity, collectibles, and logistics. With his insights into the potential of Web3 within the music industry and the concept of creating digital twins for physical goods, we are brought to the very edge of a new marketing frontier.

But we're not stopping there - we're pushing further into the future with a deep-dive into the meeting point of Web3, AI, and digital art. Ethan enlightens us on the NFT factory, a physical hub for the Web3 ecosystem, and the rising interest in digital art as a fresh asset class. We also engage in a lively discussion on our involvement in Super Chief, a similar project in the US, and the trend of collecting digital art. Get ready to see the future of marketing through a whole new lens!

This episode was recorded at Web Summit in Media Village on November 14, 2023. Read the blog article and show notes here: https://webdrie.net/redefining-marketing-boundaries-with-ethan-pierse-a-journey-into-web3-nfts-and-ai-at-web-summit/

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Ethan:

And that you're the one who owns it, to prove that that artwork that you want to buy is actually real. Yes, Web2 solutions do this, but they don't do it, as ever, and they don't do it.

Joeri:

Hello ev eryone and welcome to the Web3 CMO Stories Podcast. Again an episode that we are recording at the WebS ummit in Lisbon. And my guest today is Ethan Pierse. Ethan is a co-founder at Borderless Ventures and NFT factory. He is a sought- after MCM prolific keynote speaker at leading tech conferences. Ethan educates and inspires audiences on Web3 as a future of brand marketing. Ethan runs the European Emerging Tech Investment Syndicate. Focus one Web3 AI, and sustainability. Hi, Ethan, good to see you in real life. How are you doing?

Ethan:

Finally we, after all these moments being connected with these discord or, you know, other communities and all this stuff, to finally be in the same place, at the same time.

Joeri:

Exactly, yeah, obviously, we recorded the podcast episode in the beginning of season two. It was in the beginning of the year. Now we are here together at the WebS ummit, Ethan, and yes, obviously all of these things happen in a short time. Can you tell us a bit on your side? But what are the exciting things and focus a bit on, like you know, Web3 and marketing on your side, what has been happening?

Ethan:

Yeah, this year has been super busy. You know. For me, all the Web3 stuff that interests me is really on the side of what brands are doing around marketing and community engagement. So you know everything on the digital identity, digital twins, and digital collectibles side. But then we get into you know things with rewards and loyalty programs. We get into NFT ticketing and events. We get into everything around supply chain and logistics. The digital product passports that we'll see in Europe around, you know, showing the sustainability kind of background of a product. This will be a regulatory you know thing that people have to do starting in 2026 and it's all a blockchain you know approach. So digital twins, but very much as just this blockchain history of the company. So the supply chain and logistics piece of that is super interesting. Everything around in- game, video game assets, or user- generated content in the metaverse. You've got the music industry, which is going to be a huge adoption thing over the next year, I think, into Web3. All of that stuff is super fun because it has nothing to do with whether, you know, bitcoin is zero or 40 K, which is a whole other great interesting subject. But actually so much of the utility of Web3, not utility. So much of the interest of how these technologies can be leveraged, especially for marketing and brand, is in these spaces where the NFT is just basically a software solution that is bringing value to, that is solving some problem that companies so it's not because it's blockchain, it's not because it's tokenized, it's not because it's NFTs, it's not any of that. It's actually maybe even despite that in some ways, depending on how people feel about those words, but they can't deny that for some of the problems they're trying to solve, these are the technologies that do it better than before. So it's a fun year to be talking about Web3 and marketing.

Joeri:

Yeah, it is. I like to talk to people like you that are really positive, because on the other side, you know you mentioned Bitcoin it's around utilities, of course, but people look at this market and are more hesitant, so I hear more pessimistic voices and businesses that are hesitating to launch with stuff because of that.

Ethan:

You know, if you, you know so brands can be doing like, if we look at luxury and fashion, so a lot of what they're doing is digital twins. They just want to have a digital version of their physical goods that allows them to prove authenticity, it allows them to prove ownership, so you're able to have this digital thing attached to that physical item, so that that item itself is able to be, you know, real and not a counterfeit product in any way that you own it. That's also stuff we can take over to the digital art space, not necessarily PFPs, but very much art that is digital or physical art that is being twinned. All of that stuff is really interesting. So some of those discussions and some of the digital collectible discussions like Gucci with their super Gucci's or, you know, some of the other projects that we have seen a little bit on the digital collectible side obviously those things are tied to Ethereum, or generally it's going to be Ethereum, but it could be tied to another protocol, but so the value of that asset does kind of matter. But apart from those specific cases where there is an underlying value to the digital asset, the reality is most of those digital twins are just doing things like proving that the Breitling watch on your arm is a real one, yeah, and that you're the one who owns it, to prove that that artwork that you want to buy is actually real. Yes, Web 2 solutions do this, but they don't do it as elegantly and they don't do it in a way where one of the startups that I work with, Ender Seller and Bordeaux, is building a wine marketplace where, basically, you can already invest in wine through these marketplaces. That's easy, that's historically not a problem. You can even do it so that the wine stays in a warehouse somewhere. It doesn't have to travel. If you want to sell it to somebody, you don't have to give them the bottle of wine or whatever that exists in a Web 2 way, but it's all using a paper certificate or contract or it's all using legacy technologies where now I can. If I've bought that expensive bottle of wine or case of champagne as an investable asset which perform extremely well, if I want to sell it to you, I can just sell you the NFT and now you own it and we haven't even touched the asset. But when you go to claim it, when you go to monetize it, it's yours. And so most of those conversations, everything we're going to see in music that's going to pop the next couple months and the next year, everything that we're seeing with all these different brands leveraging this. It almost has nothing to do with cryptocurrency and defense sense evaluations. So there is no bull or bear market effect on what these companies are doing. All of the companies that are in especially fashion and luxury, they are working. They're just like crazy to build these solutions around these technologies, because the technologies solve the problem they're trying to solve, not because it's buzzwords and not because the crypto is worth something or not, and it's just really important to separate. But it is we're at a delicate part because Web 3 does cover many things. It covers that stuff. It does cover cryptocurrencies. It does cover decentralized finance. It does cover PFP communities that are a digital asset with a value that's going to fluctuate. So, unfortunately, we have one word that covers all that. But if we get into the marketing side, with what you focus on and the cases I just mentioned, yeah, that's a space where these the companies that are getting in on this, that have studied it, they realize it has nothing to do with most of those. The things they're not focusing on don't impact the stuff that they are focusing on.

Joeri:

Exactly. Actually, the wine company that you just mentioned also reached out to me to go on the podcast.

Ethan:

Oh, really so they will be.

Joeri:

Yeah, because I really loved the use case. You know how they use blockchain and Web 3 for that, because it's as you said, it has nothing to do with crypto. It's about, you know, the certification and so on. The same thing with art and yeah, I see this. Indeed, these bigger brands, they have the budget, they continue to work on that. Maybe it's more like these smaller startups who have, like, less access to investors' money because of the market sentiment being.

Ethan:

I think there is. So you know, if we are talking about startups that are creating a web three solution, the main issue you're having with fundraising right now is that most people who whose net worth or their, their investable assets are crypto, they're not investing because they they're, I mean, they're right. Their crypto is undervalued, which means if they give you that crypto as an investment there, your, your startup, has to Succeed even more, because if they just held on to their crypto, it would be worth more in the future potentially a lot more, but that's a whole other discussion. But it does create a scenario where most of web three today is having a hard time fundraising from the People with crypto wealth or or necessarily wealth, but just you know yeah and ask a certain amount that they could invest. So it's still mostly all coming from through fiat investments. We are seeing it a bit, but but no, the Definitely we won't see tokenized investments be strong until we are in a more bullish market. But the reality is is for all these starters building all these cool things in Web3, the money is there. It's just not coming from people with crypto money. It's coming from the fiat side of things. So, whether it's venture capital or it's corporates or you know, for me, with borderless ventures, I I do what are called syndicates, which are grouped investments. So when a when a company is raising money, they usually have a minimum ticket size that can be a hundred thousand, two hundred thousand dollars. If you want to give less than that, if that's because that's what you have to invest, well, you can't get in on the investment. I take all those tickets, starting at a thousand euros, and I package them into one single investment, which can actually add up to a lot of money because the average investment is going to be 10, 20, 50, you know, potentially, and not just one thousand, but a bunch of people will potentially come in investing one or two thousand as well. I can package all that kind of untouchable money and make it into one investment because the startup doesn't want, for administrative reasons, for for the expense on the legal side, they can't take your thousand dollars. They'll spend more than that on the lawyer you know, to deal with it. So. So the reality is, and you also don't want to have dozens and dozens and dozens of investors in each round of capital that you raise. So they set a minimum and they're looking to raise that capital from five to ten investors Versus you know a lot more. Well, I can take hundreds, even thousands, of small tickets and wrap those into one single investment. And that's really interesting because it With with web three, a lot of these things come with communities, with AI, that's the same. With the creator economy is the same. And so we're seeing a big move in venture capital, because this is not crowdfunding. What I'm talking about, that's a different regulatory thing that I don't think works that well for a lot of investors. But for what I'm doing is is venture capital. It's. It's the same legal Structure, the same everything about it. On a regulatory side, it's all the same. But I'm just taking all those small tickets and I'm adding them all together, which some be see. There's a lot of VCs that have 10, 20, 50 million dollar funds that maybe they only invest 100k, 200k. So if the startup is raising and the minimum is 500, even that VC can't get in on the deal. So I take all that, I put it together and with the creator economy, with web three, with AI, we're seeing a ton of people building projects with communities and those communities are potentially interested in financially supporting those things to exist. It's it's a very interesting trend in startup fundraising.

Joeri:

Yeah, it makes total sense when a solution like that you know to make sure that the access is not so limited. You also mentioned AI and you've been speaking a lot around the world and so on. It seems like AI is indeed a topic that's everywhere. Do you see AI taking place of technologies like NFTs, metaverse, and that AI is taking over more?

Ethan:

I think it's got more of the mind share right now, just because it's more accessible. Like you can just go to OpenAI's website and start typing into chat GPT and get a result, so people can connect to that technology easier and understand what it's doing for them. I think Web3, the reality is, most of Web3's utility will be stuff that people won't realize they're using it. They're just going to scan the QR code to get into an event and they don't need to know it's an NFT. They're going to buy that digital pass to Ed Sheeran's next song and they're not going to know it's an NFT. But it's going to provide early streaming. It's going to provide early access, first in line tickets. You're going to have extra versions of the recorded song, discounts on the merchandise all of it because you own that digital pass or whatever. So, the technology will work, but people aren't going to necessarily identify it in that way, Whereas a lot of the GenAI you can go to Mid Journey or Dali and just pop out an image and go, holy crap, that's pretty cool. You can play with chat GPT and go, oh wow, I get it, and it's just more accessible in that way. I don't think it replaces the other things, I think it's just a more obvious thing people can play with. I actually think there's a Venn diagram of where Web3 and AI, especially AI that is about generative AI that is, allowing automation side of things for content creators. There's a Venn diagram where those cross over a lot and the reality is the solopreneur, multi-preneur kind of. You know, I'm one person, I'm three people, I'm five people team and we're doing six, seven, eight figures of revenue because we're able to automate so much of the company now through things like chat, GPT, Mid Journey. We're using Web3 for the certain things that we use it for. That's a really interesting dynamic that over the next couple years we're going to see a crazy amount of startups that are doing no code, low code solutions, leveraging AI and GenAI stuff and Web3 to build software products that people use, they pay for. And yet there's not a 500 person team behind these things. There's five or 10 people in an office somewhere. It's a very different economic scenario and again, on the fundraising side, they're probably bootstrapping because they're making money. If they do want capital, they can maybe go to the community they're building for and get it from them. So that's that dynamic. That's getting really interesting. No, I think it's more hashtag-wise and trend-wise AI.

Joeri:

It's more of the dead at this point in time.

Ethan:

The reality is, I think it works hand in hand with a lot of the Web 3 stack to do the things we want it to do.

Joeri:

Right, yeah, I came back from Dubai and they were already speaking about Web 3.5. You know you talk about the Venn diagram, but everything is coming together like Blockchain, Crypto, NFTs, AR, VR, Metaverse. Like you say, it's always coming together. In the last podcast episode we did together, we talked about the NFT factory. Obviously, a lot of happened on that side too.

Ethan:

Yeah, the factory is doing great. So the factory is basically the Web 3 hub of France in a lot of ways. So it was founded by 128 co-founders from companies like Ledger and SoRare, the Sandbox Artifact, which was acquired by Nike, ariane, which is the big digital twin company, and then a whole bunch you know 128 of us that it's startups, it's developers, it's media, it's investors, it's artists, and so you know it's a physical hub for the ecosystem. We put up 70, like 75 screens, so now it's also the largest physical art gallery for digital art in the world Cine Reparis. It's doing incredibly well. I mean, we're just tons of side events, tons of really interesting exhibits, changes two or three times a month with what's you know running on the walls. Very much as an art gallery, it's a typical model, had a lot of impact on the institutional art community looking into this space, so it's a fun thing to watch. And then I just also Super Chief, which is a similar thing in the US well, globally, but it has galleries in LA, miami and New York. I'm now on the advisory council of that as well. I invested into that to kind of further that mission, because I really see digital art as this asset class that there's art that is digital. So digital art in that sense, but also physical art that's being digital twinned for the authenticity and provenance and ownership kind of issues. This is one of the next trillion dollar. You know alternative asset classes because it's we see with Gen Z and Gen Alpha. People like to own digital things and not necessarily physical things. They don't want a lot of physical crap. It's not sustainable, it's not in their, their ideas. So we're seeing digital collectibles and digital art really find a home and it's scaling incredibly well, and so I'm excited to be behind these kind of projects and contribute, if I can, in some way, to this idea that people can create art, they can be creative and they can reach a really interesting audience because their art is online, because it's digital, you can do it in a physical place, because we also do exist in physical places. So it's important to have those opportunities to come. It's really interesting when you see a really brilliant piece of digital art when you look at it on your phone, it's when you look at it on, maybe, your laptop okay, it's fine too, but when you see it on a huge screen, like when I say huge, I say like, you know the size of like a mid-sized TV or something like that, but that's made for digital art. These are, you know, these screens are made to show this kind of stuff. It's really something, and so you know it. It there is a really interesting trend and movement in the art space where people are collecting more and more art that is digital and wanting to experience that. You know, putting up screens in their house so that they can experience the art that they have collected. We know we're not just talking about monkey jpegs. You know Some of those projects can be really cool too, but we're talking about fantastic photography. We're talking about illustration work. We're talking about generative AI type art that artists have created and worked with to build these just wonderful creative pieces. That, no, it's a really interesting space, and so, both on the Web3 hub side of things and on the digital art side, it's been fun to watch the factory grow and do well.

Joeri:

Yeah, like we discussed last time, a lot is going on in Paris. You travel a lot. Do you see lots of differences between the US, between Europe, between, maybe Dubai, and other places when it comes to these new technologies like AI, NFTs, and so on?

Ethan:

I'm not sure I'd see a huge difference. I think the issue is, you know, a lot of this is still kind of focused on large cities, where there is capital, yeah, and there's also, potentially, people who already invest into art or alternative assets, whatever those might be you know the wine and spirit industry or whatever but you know those are the same type of people who are probably going to be more interested in digital art. You know, not the PFB side of things, but really the art side, people who already know art and are just seeing this as an extension. I mean, digital art has been around since the 60s. It's just the tokenized version that we have right now. That is new, and so I don't think there's a really a big difference between the places you mentioned. I think it's just, yeah, dubai, new York, miami, la, paris, maybe Geneva, london, places where there's existing art collectors and there's the capital to invest into that art. I don't think there's a big difference between the ecosystems. It's just this right now is focused in those larger markets, because it is still a nascent market, I think, in a lot of ways, at least on the tokenized side of it. But I think it's also. What's fun is all of these things like PFB projects, like board Apes or Pudgy Penguins or whatever, or that PO-UP that you got by going to an event or that NFT ticket that you got. People are starting to have wallets, or even if it's custodial and they have an email address or whatever, and it's not like a true wallet in the sense of what purists would want to stick to, but people are collecting things in a wallet and that is causing them to start to be able to say, oh well, that visual thing I like too, that art I really like, I can collect it too. And so we're seeing this start to build up. Where people are, they're getting into digital collectibles. They're getting into whether it's digital twins or other things, because they have the physical items and that's a great on-wrap to bring people into the digital art side as well. So it does all kind of mix in certain ways and I think, sooner than people will expect, people will be using the screens in their home or having dedicated screens that just show the pretty stuff that they've collected, that they like, whatever that is, whatever those digital collectibles are, because you don't want to just keep that on your phone, you don't want to just keep that on your computer. You already have a big, beautiful TV or you already have framed things in the house. So being able to have a square frame that's a one foot by one foot square, or even bigger screens, that is actually just a really beautiful screen that when you look at it it looks almost the ones we have at the factory, for example. You'd think it's a backlit, like printed image. Unless you see motion graphics on the screen, it just looks like this really high quality image. That's like backlit. That changes your appreciation for digital art and photography and illustration, the things that you've collected that you can experience. I think we'll see those coming. A friend of mine, who a friend of ours, who's not necessarily into art necessarily, but he has the Samsung TV, the frame TV or whatever, where it basically looks like a framed black thing, but when it's on it just shows whatever art you want it to show and that you put into it and because he likes that. I think we'll see a lot more of that, because people are going to have things they want to appreciate that they've collected and that trend is just continuing. The more people collect digital collectibles, the more they get digital twins for their physical things they buy, the more all that stuff shows up, the more likely those people are going to eventually also pick up some digital art and then it will just snowball from there.

Joeri:

Yeah, it seems really fun. Now, guys, you know listening to this episode we are at the web submit. We have a limited time now today, Ethan and I know we have a lot of things going on too. Thank you so much for having been on my podcast.

Ethan:

It's great to get to finally meet you in person to have a longer or another discussion about these great topics. Thanks for all the content that you've been creating and working hard to understand so that other people can learn from you. It's fantastic, so I appreciate getting to come and talk to you.

Joeri:

Thank you, ethan Guys. Also, like always, there will be links in the show notes towards Ethan's social media and everything that he's doing. If you think this episode is useful for people around you, be sure to share it with them, because they will also be excited, as I am. If you're not yet subscribed to the show, this is a good moment to do this and, of course, I would like to see you back next time.

Ethan:

Thanks, buddy.

What exciting developments have been happening on your side, particularly in the realms of Web3 and marketing?
What are your thoughts on the hesitancy and pessimism in the market?
Do you envision AI replacing technologies such as NFTs and the Metaverse, and an increasing role for AI in various domains?
Since our last podcast episode on the NFT factory, what notable developments have occurred in that space?
In your travels, have you observed significant differences in the adoption and approach to new technologies like AI and NFTs between the US, Europe, Dubai, and other places?