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Strider has raised $3 million to enable creators to take control of their projects through blockchain-based decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).
The startup is creating a Web 3 platform (based on the transparent and secure digital ledger of blockchain) that lets creators use DAOs, which are a kind of substitute for a company. In this case, the DAO spreads membership and ownership of the project across both creators and the users — or players in the case of games. Strider describes it has a kind of decentralized evolution of the crowdfunding model.
1kx, an early-stage crypto fund, led the round with participation from Decasonic, Scalar Capital, Sfermion, Metaorient and Yield Guild Games (YGG). Angel investors Jeffrey “Jihoz” Zirlin, co-founder of Axie Infinity, and Jaynti “JD” Kanani, co-founder of Polygon, also participated.
The funds will be used to further scale and develop the Strider platform. Strider will give people instant and transparent access to teams developing new intellectual property (IP) for entertainment and games while allowing them the opportunity to co-create and invest.
“While social media gave broadcasting power to individuals everywhere and invented the content feed, it eventually homogenized shared spaces and controlled access which dampened digital connectivity. We believe we can not only reverse that trend with Web 3, but can make everyone a co-creator and co-owner in building the biggest IPs in the world,” said Andrew Green, CEO of Strider, in a statement. It’s like a big D&D game where creators and fans play together, but through playing, they build something new.”
The work of creative and development professionals supports the $205 billion global over-the-top (OTT) content market and the $175 billion global games market. Strider aims to provide these creators the opportunity to easily build and validate their own IPs and ensure everyone who participates receives fair compensation, including ownership, for their contributions.
With Strider leveraging blockchain to power these new storytelling and economic opportunities, the startup’s founders believe this approach will ultimately allow for more inclusive and diverse creation of content, delivering a wider range of products and greater value for creators and their fans.
The Strider platform will provide users with DAO tooling for creative production, such as contributor payouts, creative bounties, proposal submissions, a programmable treasury, token issuance, tiered governance structures, and an inventive new take on the front-end user experience and voting mechanisms. The startup’s goal is to empower the community by unlocking the ability to easily, quickly and efficiently launch and retain ownership of projects.
“Content publishers today lie in the middle between users, or players, and the actual creatives that produce content and IP. As such, they are in a dominant position to increasingly extract value from both sides. We see Strider as an exciting opportunity to enable better value distribution and attribution for creatives and propose a new, more creative, and better-aligned model for how IP is developed,” said Lasse Clausen, Founding Partner at 1kx.
Besides Green, the founders include Nick Braccia and Michael Cala, who each individually bring over 20 years of industry experience to the team. As CEO, Green gained experience in game development and marketing at Electronic Arts (Dead Space, Spore), Atari (The Matrix: Path of Neo), Take-Two Interactive, and TinyCo (Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery) which was acquired by Jam City, as well as management and investment experience at Stillfront Group and as a partner at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).
Braccia, vice president of content and partnerships, has worked on content and strategy for IP including Westworld, Dead Space, Watchmen, and The Purge. He was co-creator of Video Palace, a ten-episode original fiction podcast and book for AMC’s Shudder network.
Cala, vice president of creative, has a background in creative development in games, having developed brands and content for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Red Dead Redemption, Bully, Life is Strange, Batman: Arkham Asylum, and Just Cause, during his time at Rockstar Games, Square Enix, and his own Supernaut Studio.
Additionally, casting director Linda Lamontagne has joined the team as head of talent. Lamontagne has served as the casting director for properties like Invincible (Netflix), Family Guy (Fox), Bojack Horseman (Netflix), American Dad (Fox), and The Powerpuff Girls (Cartoon Network).
“Most Web 3 projects best start with a creative vision for digital assets and evolve through a dialog with the community. The way Web 3 communities develop is a bit more flexible in terms of the end product than traditionally dictating the product vision. It’s really exciting,” said Green in an email to GamesBeat.
He said that with nonfungible tokens (NFTs), the assets are decoupled from underlying game systems, so initially creators can incentivize a variety of community behaviors that are fun around the building of a new IP with the community. Bored Apes started as Profile Pics, and now have a variety of products (including games) in development alongside the community.
“For projects that are starting just as digital assets, Strider can create a roadmap to a game experience or storyworld, and can engage the community to participate in development as active contributors or passive fans,” Green said.
For companies that just say “we’re making an NFT game” that’s great, but it’s not necessarily the best marketing plan for blockchain games. You have to build the community in a more deep way in which they feel like owners and ensure the incentive structures and value of the experience are right, Green said.
A great example is Forgotten Runes. They started with characters (Wizards) and gave the community open access to write the backstory of the characters. They are now making an animated show with one of the biggest producers in Hollywood (titmouse), Green said. The team has six people.
Green said his cofounder Braccia has experience selling IPs to major entertainment companies and was shocked by how difficult it was to retain any ownership.
“I felt the games market’s dynamics in terms of investment, distribution risk, and discoverability were making it hard for new teams to build and innovate with flexibility and speed,” Green said.
He added, “Nick and I both remembered this issue of Nintendo Power we read as kids in which J. Scott Campbell was a young teenager who submitted his game idea and art to a contest in Nintendo Power and they published it. Nick and I didn’t know each other back then, but we had the same reaction, which was to start drawing our own game levels, characters and logos even if we sucked at drawing.”
They were creating a new game IP with no barriers or idea for how games were made, and it was fun.
“Realizing we had that same experience as adults, and both having some passive experience with NFTs and crypto, we saw a path to get that amazing feeling we felt as kids, and leveraging it as a platform for folks to start building in a low risk but extremely fun way,” Green said. “We got hooked on the idea and Gabby Dizon [founder of Yield Guild Games] and Kavin Stewart (cofounder of Lolapps) thought we were onto something and it gave us more conviction and here we are.”
YGG started as a company and is converting itself into a DAO.
“This is better for new DAOs as they can cohesively align operations and vision, and ensure great execution while aligning incentives with the community,” Green said. “The goal is that it will gradually become more autonomous with token holders driving more of the decision making on investment and distribution or expansion projects as the models of work coalesce. Additionally, YGG has not expanded centrally, but instead has aligned with SubDAOs (SEA, BAYZ, IndiGG) across regions and in certain games as a way to further decentralize control.”
I asked what kind of ownership structure Green recommends.
“Every DAO is different and should base their incentive structures according to what their community is trying to achieve. There are different models used by Worker DAOs like Raid Guild and dOrg, or ecosystems like TreasureDAO, and collectives like FWB,” he said. “Our ethos is that the future metric of success should not be revenue and capital growth centrally. It should be about the value of the ecosystem you create around you: how much value have you created for contributors, collaborators, fans, managers and those using your platform or protocol. This should reflect in whatever token value or comp you have as a builder. Any other way is illegitimate. In fact, one of the developers of Dark Forest said that in the future the most important value metric will not be monetary, but will be legitimacy. If you’re legitimate, people will work with you and join you, if you aren’t they won’t.”
He added, “Each community we are currently building is bespoke as we figure out the optimal model, but really you want the lion’s share of any value from work to go to the builders, like 90% or more and in some cases 98%. The rest goes to the treasury which the governance allocates to projects or distribution. All of these systems need to be designed very carefully as it needs to be extensible for the future like any good organization or economy.”
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