Web3 Inherently Has Anti-Monopolistic Qualities Embedded in it: Animoca's Yat Siu Having started Animoca Brands in 2014 as a mobile games developer, Yat Siu pivoted the startup towards blockchain gaming and NFTs in 2018. Gaming has been one of the fastest adopters of it since it is a digital-first and a digitally native experience

By Paromita Gupta

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Yat Siu, Chairman and Co-founder, Animoca Brands

Hong Kong-based entrepreneur and angel investor, Yat Siu in all sincerity, refers to himself as 'An advocate of true digital property rights,' and rightfully so. At present, he's intensively working towards making the gaming market a much more democratized and decentralized one.

Having started Animoca Brands in 2014 as a mobile games developer, Siu pivoted the startup towards blockchain gaming and NFTs in 2018. Gaming has been one of the fastest adopters of it since it is a digital-first and a digitally native experience.

From its struggling days almost a decade ago, Animoca Brands was last valued at about six billion dollars and has Torque Burnout, Torque Drift, Benji Bananas, Base One, Siegecraft Commander, Crazy Defense Heroes, and Crazy Kings as its primary game offerings. Its 450+ Web3 investment portfolio includes Axie Infinity, Sky Mavis, Axie Infinity, OpenSea, Dapper Labs, Colossal Biosciences, MoviePass, and CryptoKitties. It counts Mocaverse, Anichess and The Sandbox as a few of its blockchain projects. The Brands is slated to launch two new projects- MotoGP™ Ignition and Formula E: High Voltage.

Safe to say, Animoca Brands has gone on to become a global leader in gaming and blockchain. While 2023 saw the Binance-CZ split and US SEC crackdown, along with a lull in funding space, especially for Web3 startups, Siu terms the year as a 'clean up' one. One can call him an optimist because, after all this time, he's still able to point out the silver lining, "the situation with Binance could have ended worse than it was and turns out that with the settlement, Binance is kind of like any other bank in a way. And in some ways that's actually comforting to know that the US has now viewed Binance in that fashion and penalized."

While the US , UAE and China have warmed up, where does India stand? Siu believes that the policies will come in place, and thinks 2024 will be a good year for entrepreneurs to start building up for what will be one of the biggest markets in Web3. "India hasn't traditionally been a first mover, but it's always been someone that came in later but in a really big way in whatever industries that they were building. So being a first mover isn't necessarily always an advantage in that sense," shares Yat Siu, Chairman and Co-founder, Animoca Brands.

Make the bet, small or big

While being stuck in the Bay Area during the pandemic, Siu observed one thing. "The last 30 years have been devastating to non-tech or non-finance people in America. I started to explore America and literally half an hour down in Santa Cruz, I was like, wait a second, is this California? It was a completely different thing. Meanwhile, witnessing the complete deterioration of San Francisco literally in front of my eyes was something that was hard to imagine from an outsider's perspective."

As data became the new oil, he believes that this extreme form of value creation ended up benefiting even fewer people because the majority were not technologists. "It almost doesn't matter how you invested as long as you invested. If you took a hundred bets, you were fine," he adds. He views gaming as a three-decade-old predecessor of Metaverse.

Almost five decades ago, life was very different. He feels this capitalist imbalance is creating a new kind of feudalism because money is feudal.

Web3-who are the biggest stakeholders?

"I think of Web3 as having inherently anti-monopolistic qualities embedded in it. I think it will solve the issue," he quips. How so? "For instance, if you own Ethereum and participate in the network, then regardless of the fact whether your business succeeds or not, you'll benefit from other people succeeding on the network because you end up becoming kind of a quasi-shareholder in the network. And that means that while you won't make as much money as someone else, you still get to benefit." You might be envious of the other person doing better, but you wouldn't want them to fail since it results in benefits for you.

According to Siu, the non-tech population will drive the Web3 space, "when you look at NFTs, the biggest beneficiaries of the participants in NFTs are not tech guys. They're not the ones who wrote the protocol, they're the creators, they're the artists." He feels that everyone's a creator, after all, web2 demonstrated that with Instagram and TikTok particularly, "it's proven one thing that we're actually all creators in different ways and that we're actually all naturally creative in itself."

On being asked which industries will be the biggest adopters of Web3, Siu notes that it's not which industry will grow; rather if you're not trying to be creative or embrace creativity in your workforce and culture, then you will very quickly become irrelevant.

Focus on education

Education is a really big theme for Siu and the people at Animoca Brands, "What we found in our own view is that in order to bring someone to Web3 fully, one has to become financially more literate than what one's today." They are taking big bets on Web3 education. And that's what they are doing by joining the Open Campus Protocol's USD 10M Web3 Global Educators Fund, "we're allowing teachers to become NFT creators, kind of like how artists and musicians were doing it before."

Way forward

With the Bitcoin ETF getting the green-lit by the US SEC, it's not that only people who bought Bitcoin will benefit. Rather the liquidity of it will flow through the other ecosystems.

"For some of us, money is our end. That's maybe a small community, and that was the community that occupied most of crypto. But the majority of us look at money as a means to an end." Animoca Brands is not investing in one big-potential which can be the winner, but rather in multiple smaller ones, because that cannot happen in the real Web3.

Paromita Gupta

Features Writer with Entrepreneur India

Covering news and trends in AI and Metaverse segments. An avid book reader running her personal blog on the side. You may reach me at paromita@entrepreneurindia.com. 

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