Thoughts from Michael Rubin, Mike Novogratz, and Gary Vee on lowering the barriers for participation in the words of blockchain technology, NFTs, and beyond
The world of Web3 offers tremendous promise for the future, but here and now, it has its flaws. Several on the consumer side of things have been increasingly well-publicized, but less attention tends to be paid to inequities within the industry itself.
We must not simply ask several questions, but answer them:
- How do we ensure we create an inclusive cross-platform digital economy that creates opportunities for everyone, from creators to collectors and beyond?
- How do we make sure the availability of tools for this new revolution of information and networking is equitable for all?
- How do we make this growing pool of founders and innovators even bigger and more diverse?
A discussion among three middle-aged white guys may not be the place or venue to provide the most comprehensive and authoritative responses to these potentially uncomfortable questions. But at last weekend’s VeeCon in Minneapolis in a panel hosted by NFT platform Candy Digital, Fanatics CEO Michael Rubin, Galaxy Investment Partners CEO Michael Novogratz, and Gary Vee himself reckoned with these issues as part of a wide-ranging conversation that sought to take at least one meaningful step forward in the quest to build a more inclusive Web3 that brings new founders and creators off the sidelines and into the game.
In their own words, here’s what these tech leaders had to say.
CEO, Galaxy Investment Partners
I think about this a lot. I’ve run a cryptocurrency business with 650 people by the time we finish our merger. First of all, it’s hard. We’ve had an inequitable education system in America for a long time. Blacks are 13.5% of the population and they have less than 2% of the wealth. So we’re starting at a skewed place because of a huge legacy of oppression, slavery, and everything else. You’ve gotta be conscious about it. You’ve gotta try. So at our company, we’re literally now recruiting at HBCUs. We are looking at ways to bring people into the space.
What’s really interesting about NFTs moreso than even the crypto space, it’s so much about culture. And so much of our culture is dominated by [African-American culture]. Hip-hop culture, athletic culture. It’s starting to change — you’re starting to see it with Jay-Z, who’s got his own company, you’re starting to see athletes control a lot more of their revenue than they did in the past.
We need to make sure that happens in the NFT space. There’s no silver bullet. It’s consciousness. It’s effort. It’s talking about it. It’s questions like this. But it has to happen if we want a better America. That gap between 2% and 13% at least has to start closing. The first derivative, if you’re a math guy, has to be positive. Right now, it’s still going in the other direction.”
You know where I’ve stood on this. Knowing that you know that I’ve been putting in the work with [Rubin and Novogratz] and many others, I’ve given up a long time ago on trying to convince people about things. I’ve given up a long time ago on trying to shame people into things. I am in the business of doing, and letting the collateral of my doing impact it.
I’m putting [in] a lot of effort on it. I’ve been very purposeful in my work on the projects I support from a diversity and inclusion standpoint. I put in work at events like yours and others. I put in the effort and the time, and much of my interest in popularity is that my popularity creates copycatting of my behavior because I’m the byproduct of tremendous parenting and very good circumstances that have led me to being very proud of how I roll, and I hope that impacts others to do the same. And so on issues like this and others that are important to me, I’ve really gone all-in on doing and communicating about that doing when appropriate.
I think a lot of people do things to make themselves look good, and I think intent matters. And I know what my intent is on all these kinds of issues and I put in the work.
If you don’t think that way in whatever business you build, whether it’s an NFT business, Mitchell & Ness that we own, whether it’s VaynerMedia, Galaxy, I think you’re dead. So let’s just start with the basic fundamentals of if you don’t build a diverse employee base, if you don’t build a diverse consumer base, if you’re not all-inclusive in everything you do, you’re not going to be successful. So I think it’s kind of 101 at this point. I think any company that doesn’t have that is going to be dead or eliminated sooner than later.