Hope everyone is having a great Friday 😎
This is post two of my 30 day writing challenge. In case you missed it, here was the first post I published yesterday! I broke down the a16z state of crypto report released in April.
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Note: If you're reading this post the day it was published (Friday, June 2nd), be sure to join the Nounders history highlight today on Discord!
Today is the two year Nouniversary! Two years ago, Punk4156 posted this iconic thread below which led to the development of a project that has generated $50M+.
For those of you that have been in the NFT space for a few years, it probably feels like NounsDAO has been around forever! In the past two years, the Nouns community has made an impact in web3 that is unfathomable. From Superbowl ads to luxury sunglasses, the community has seen all kinds of projects successfully come alive. And the craziest part about the whole thing is that things got done without a core leadership team.
Was there a CEO? Nope.
Was there a roadmap? Nope.
Was there any pressure from Wall Street? Nope.
You're probably wondering how this "company" was able to generate more revenue than most startups you know today. Simply put, the key to success was a ton of memes and an overzealous community playing a positive sum game!
Nouns is a creative commons (CC0) NFT project. Essentially, all intellectual property is placed in the public domain. What does that mean? Well, the project is basically saying that no rights are reserved for this project and that all members involved in the development are relinquishing their copyright. So anyone can use the artwork, NFTs, and ideas produced by the Nouns community in any form or fashion they'd like.
Technically speaking, I could take Punk4156's profile picture, who is a Nounder (Nouns Founder), and build a whole coffee shop themed around that one single image and I would be legally safe. Imagine if you took the Starbucks logo and put it up on your coffee shop. You'd be drinking all your own coffee just reading through the lawsuits 😂
Even if you haven't heard of CC0 projects before, you've probably interacted with work from the public domains in some form or fashion already. For example, NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art released 375,000 images via CC0 in 2017 so artists could reuse and remix them any way they'd like. Figshare is another great example - the product allows researchers from around the world to publish their data sets in an easy & organized manner.
Putting a database or dataset in the public domain under CC0 is a way to remove any legal doubt about whether researchers can use the data in their projects.
Positive Sum Game
The beauty of Nouns and other public domain projects is that they don't gatekeep! In a world consumed by property rights and notions of ownership, it's refreshing to embrace a mindset that says, "wait a minute...why can't we all use this?" Projects like Nouns encourage people to join the community, engage with excited members, utilize preexisting assets, and contribute to the next layer of growth.The 'Nounders' built the foundational layer, early community members constructed tools on top of that, and then the next person used those tools to build a project, and so on.
These projects epitomize composability.
Think about a traditional company and all that is required just to ship one single feature. I'll use myself as an example.
I started my career off at Salesforce. At the beginning, I had to apply through the portal. Then do a HR filter to make sure I wasn't some malicious character. After that, I went through two rounds of technical interviews. Then I eventually got my offer only to start another round of interviews against thousands of other new Salesforce grads trying to get on the coolest teams. Eventually, after a few manager intros, I got on a team I liked but then had to patiently wait to make changes on the GitHub repo until I went through my onboarding training. And even after the training, I was still forced to pick things to work on from a scrum board!
Don't get me wrong. The process I described above is necessary for many corporations that are operating with the purpose of making shareholders happy. The reality is that organized-chaos can't serve all use cases. But the point is that people shouldn't be forced to operate under such tight constraints for the entirety of their working life. To me, Nouns serves the creatives that are excited to hack away without anyone breathing over their shoulder non-stop. And that's what makes the project so incredible. Everyone in the community wants to be there.
To me, it's no different than folks engaging in their favorite subreddit on a Saturday morning. They are excited to engage with other like minded folks.
Everyone is a creator at heart and deserves an open, permissionless creative outlet.
I'll end this section with a quote that Salvino D'Armati said in episode 2 of the The Bigger Picture Podcast:
pfps are a new kind of institution. A new way to coordinate human beings. It's worth paying attention when humans start to coordinate in new ways. The last time that happened was with LLCs and that basically led to the industrial revolution. Ultimately, what we're trying to do here is to figure out new ways to coordinate and create value together.
Going down Memory Lane
To end today's post, I thought it would be fun to highlight some of my favorite Nouns moments in the past two years! These moments were all possible only because of the incredible community that the OG art work attracted.
Nouns Coloring Book
Nouns in a Superbowl commercial
Nouns Barber Shop
Nouons Tokyo Exhibition
Nouns funded prescription glasses for kids in need
There's probably another 10 projects I could have mentioned but I'll stop here so the post isn't too long. If you you're up for some light reading, you can check out the full Nouns history thread I posted a few weeks ago on Twitter!
That's all for today's post, hope you enjoyed it :)
If you have any other topics you'd like me to deep dive, just hit reply and shoot any ideas away!
Hope everyone has a ~Nounish~ weekend ⌐◨-◨
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