Jan 12, 2024

HUG founder Randi Zuckerberg joins "First Mover" to discuss the state of the creator economy and how digital artists can claim more ownership over their work through new technologies.

Video transcript

On this segment of Beyond Bitcoin. We take a look at the creator economy and how this next Trailblazer thinks technology can help creators continue to claim more ownership over their work. Joining us now is Hug founder Randi Zuckerberg. Welcome. Hi, thanks. It's, it's great to be here and always excited to get to chat web three with you Randy. I'm so excited that you're joining the show. All anyone has been talking about lately is this spot Bitcoin ETF and I am just ready to get back to the creators and hear all about what's going on and what we can look forward to in 2024. But I think it's important for our audience to get to know you a little bit. So talk us through your backstory. Uh A little, how did you get into the Blockchain space? Thanks. And yes, we're definitely on kind of the happy, feel good side of, of everything happening in web three right now. Exactly. It, supporting the creators and the arts. It's a, it's a friendly little corner of the space. Um But it's, it's funny, you know, I've always lived two lives in my career as a techie entrepreneur and as an artist. Um and I've gone back and forth between them because for the last few decades, it's been very difficult to combine those two worlds. So I was at the, the front lines of Facebook and Web two. And then I actually left Silicon Valley entirely to perform on Broadway, uh which is something not a lot of people know. Um And when I started to really dive into Web Three, that was the first moment that for me, it made sense to bring tech and the arts together in such a meaningful way. So that's how I fell in love with Web Three. And I'm really excited to discuss more today. Ok. So from Facebook, you were one of the minds behind Facebook alive, you left Facebook, you went to Broadway and then Web three entered the chat, talk to me about how you're combining, combining this all under the hug umbrella. Yes. Well, it's interesting because I started to see even uh how Broadway was shifting. Um audiences just didn't want to sit in a seat for 2.5 hours and watch a show anymore. The, the economics of Broadway are just changing over the last few years. People want to be a part of the creative process and that was the time that I started really hearing about the community economy and what that meant. Um You know, people were talking about the creator economy for years. But when I started to really hear people mention the words, community economy. That's when it really uh captured my attention because I thought yes, we are not in a world anymore where people are just passively watching creators anymore or passively just sitting there. They want to be a part of the process. They want to be a part of the economics. If they discover a creator early, they want to be rewarded for that. So at Hug, we're building a platform where we, we have now 10,000 artists and growing every day from all around the world who uh are connecting with fans who are posting their art, who are getting educated, who are minting and printing their work um and really building and growing their creator careers in tandem with their fans. Now you have a technology background. Are you finding that the artists who are joining the platform who are maybe interested in this new era? I guess for creators are facing a barrier or a challenge when it comes to the technology as we've seen with so many different platforms. It's not that easy to use this technology right now. There are so many any barriers and that's, that's the problem. I mean, first of all, I, you know, let's talk about the barrier of security in the space. Um You know, almost everyone who I talked to in the space has, you know, fallen victim or almost fallen victim to some sort of a, a hacker scam, it's just so easy when you're rushing and, and you're not verifying information. Um And so, you know, that's definitely one of the biggest barriers to entry is that if people have a bad experience, then they, they don't want to come back and, and buy more digital art or uh participate. Um And then artists on the other hand, you know, they didn't just wake up uh when Web three started and become creators, the these people have been artists for years and years and so many of them now they have um their, their Shopify Store, they have Etsy, they have Pinterest, they have all of these like Web two world identities and now they have a Web Three identity also. And uh they don't have the time to manage 19 storefronts. Uh they're, they're hobbyist artists. So that's something we're really trying to, to help with. Um And then not to mention the fact that they also have to educate their customers at the same time on, on what an NFT or digital art is and how to buy it. You said 10,000 and growing? Where are these artists coming from? Are they mainly us based? No, they're all over the world. And that's what's so beautiful about Web Three. We have over 100 and 30 countries represented on Hug. And um actually, even just two months ago, I did, I hosted my own open call on Hug. Anyone can, can do a self service, open call to, to connect and find artists. Um And I wanted someone to design my New York City marathon. Jersey. I was running the marathon. I wanted an artist to design it. And um the winning artist that was voted on by the community. Uh It's from India. And now, like, we have a really special relationship. We talk all the time on Instagram. I wore this artist's work on like the proudest day of my life. Um And we have this incredible emotional connection with an artist that I never would have met otherwise. So to me, those are, that's just one of everyday beautiful moments that happen through web three in the arts. Not only did you create Facebook live and go on to Broadway. You also ran the New York City Marathon. I don't know my medals won here. That's like, that's, it's become like my full crypto and running are my full identity these days. I feel like you could, you could merge those two together somehow running on the Blockchain or, or something that should be our next our next podcast together. There you go. Talk to a little bit more about closing that educational gap. You said 100 and 30 countries. How are you making it easier for creators who want to use the technology? Um And what do you think needs to happen as we move into 2024? Yes. And you know, I will say that creators have all sorts of levels of comfort zones, embracing new technology and not um some of the artists on our platform are, you know, they are fully bought into Web Three and NFTS. Not only that they want to be on the cutting edge of A I they're taking every course that we offer about how artists can have A I as their copilot. Um We have other artists too though that don't even want to use the word NFT or hear it uh or want anything to do with it. Um They have access to all the same tools, but we kind of position their art as you know, digital art that you can leave a tip for the artist and, and you get the digital art and, and that's a way that we're slowly introducing consumers and artists uh onto the Blockchain and into digital art in a way that feels kind of accessible and, and that um tiptoeing, you know, are users still interested in digital art. And the reason I ask that is there were a bunch of different stats and information that came out uh near the end of last year saying that trading volume is low for NFTS, especially on the Ethereum Blockchain opens is changing their strategy. There's not that much demand for digital art. Then there's information that comes out at the beginning of this year that says folks are going crazy for Bitcoin ordinal. So they're looking at NFTS and the Bitcoin ecosystems. A lot of NFTS are back up. What's your experience been like working directly with creators and their audiences? How has demand been? Yes, I mean, I will say that most of the artists on hug are doing um one of one art they're not doing these 10,000 generative collections that people are, you know, um doing the same behavior of baseball trading cards and, or uh buying them in order to flip them and resell them. Uh most of the artists who are on our site and the customers that are on our site are there because they want to buy a piece of beautiful art just like you would have it in your home. And I think as, as more and more of our lives go digital and our online um people want to kind of decorate and have beautiful digital lives the same way that they have in their home. So people want beautiful phone backgrounds for their phones. They want zoom backgrounds. They, um you know, they want to have a nice digital art collection. So, uh we are, we are still seeing a lot of volume in the one of one art uh digital art space. But certainly, um the reselling and those big generative collections have taken a huge hit, Randy. I have to ask you before we wrap. Your brother is the other Zuckerberg behind Facebook. Do the two of you talk about crypto, do the two of you talk about Blockchain and the creator economy um at family dinner, you know, these days, mostly we talk about extreme sports because he has his like M ma fighting. I have my running. Um And that's mostly what dominates the conversation. But, you know, for sure, I think both of us have a real passion these days around the Metaverse Web three where all of this is going and a desire to be on the front line. So, uh I'm, you know, always a huge admirer and looking closely at what meta is building in the space and how much that, you know, drives enthusiasm for the space. So for, for sure, it's a, a topic of conversation, Randy. Thank you so much for joining the show. I look forward to following Hug's journey throughout 2024 and we'll welcome you back for a longer conversation sometime soon. I love it. Thank you so much for having me. That was Hug founder Randi Zuckerberg.

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