Jason Yanowitz is the cofounder of Blockworks, a digital media company launched in 2018 focused on the intersection of cryptocurrency and finance.
They have experienced explosive growth as they have scaled to eight figures in annual revenue, dozens of podcasts, and a rapidly growing audience hungry to make sense of crypto.
Jason and the Blockworks team have scaled while bootstrapping (not raising any venture capital) and stair stepped from events to podcasts to a full news site and email newsletter platform.
In this episode, Jason and Aaron discuss the origins of Blockworks, the best strategy for bootstrapping a media business, and what 2022 holds for crypto.
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Jason Yanowitz (1)
Yanowitz:] Crypto is now big enough that there is something for everyone, right? If you're an artist or a creator, go launch your own NFT, go launch. If you're a musician, go create a music NFT. Uh, if you are a trader jump into one of the trading firms, if you are a builder or an engineer, come build something.
Watson: Hey, you're going to love this interview with Jason Yanowitz. The co-founder of block works in this interview, we talk about bootstrapping your way to an eight figure annual revenue, media business, the challenge of recruiting podcasting talent. And we wrap up with Jason's perspective on the 2022 crypto market. Enjoy.
Alrighty, Jason, welcome to the podcast, man. I'm excited to be talking with ya.
Yanowitz: Thanks, sir. Excited to be here.
Watson: Sometimes I try to grab the reins and explain the guests business on their behalf as a kind of jumping off point. But I know that there's kind of been some redefinition of the business over the last couple of years as is kind of par for the course for bootstrapped media businesses.
So I actually thought it'd make more sense to start with kind of in chapters, how you and your business partner and Mike have had to redefine the business as you were getting it off the ground.
Yanowitz: Yeah, I think that's a good place. I mean, I think it might be helpful. We can start right now. So right now block works is the go-to financial media brand, uh, for investors.
To understand digital assets and crypto, right? So we have the largest network of investors traditionally from the, like the kind of traditional capital markets world who are under, uh, trying to kind of either dip their toes into crypto, or they've already started allocating to crypto and they're looking to stay up to date with. Uh, with the industry, right? So we have a large news team. We have the largest podcast network in the entire industry with 15 different shows. We have one of the largest newsletters. We have a big webinar business, uh, we own and operate some of the largest conferences in crypto. So that's today. Right today we have nearly 40 employees, we've, you know, eight figures in revenue really kind of booming crypto media business. But yeah, I mean kind of like you mentioned, it was not always that way. So I I'm, I'm happy to get into the early days, the early story stories, the several pivots, the revenue falling during COVID but you, you got me here.
Watson: Yeah. So I just think it's helpful to kind of visualize what the stair-step is because one of the toughest things for outsiders to really comprehend with any business, whether it's, you know, a wholesaler or a technology company, whatever it is, you know, there's the concept of the minimum viable product.
And there's the concept of, wow, this established, like you're saying Eight figure business here. And what it's kind of full formation is. So my comprehension is that this started as the idea of potentially a consultancy, but in reality and events business, that was your initial on-ramp of revenue, then the podcast, and then this kind of like fully fledged news platform with video and some of these other elements.
And I don't know if we need to necessarily like go overly deep on each of those kinds of Lily pads. But really is, is that the optimal way to bootstrap a media company in this day and age is one of the few people that's actually done it.
Yanowitz: Yeah. I mean, I think though, so the early story is, um, I, you know, it was 2017.
I was fall, and I'd kind of gone down the crypto rabbit hole. And, um, I was living with a couple of guys that at that time in New York city, I became convinced that the business that we needed, uh, that we needed to start was a consultancy to help enterprises understand crypto. By the way, wildly wrong, horrible business for a, like, wrong on both fronts.
A, enterprise blockchain, not that real of a thing, and B consulting businesses are really, really tough businesses. It's just a grind. Um, but we got one thing, right, Which was the industry. And so linked up with. Uh, now co-founder Mike. Um, and we said, you know, let's go start this consulting firm. Mike said, great, I'm a consultant.
Now here's the one problem nobody's going to trust us? Why would anyone ever hire us? I said, okay, valid point. What should we do then? He said, let's go host an event. Um, and so that's what we did. Uh, we. I think it was like Walmart or something, or so we bought the white board for 11 bucks and basically we had one goal, which was to just bring the institutional crowd to an event right.
At that time, all of the information and crypto was very retail focused. You had like crypto Bobby on Twitter. You had like crypto Panda on Reddit. And like, I dunno, I, I was at the time working at this venture capital firm or. Uh, that I was working at a venture capital firm. And like, you tried to get these old, older, gray haired fund managers to talk about crypto and you kind of got laughed off, honestly, because you'd send them Twitter threads and Reddit links.
And so our goal was basically to just build the best place for the institutional crowd to understand crypto. We did that in one way. So the only way we knew how to do it, which was just by hosting events. Um, so yeah, I mean, block works started as an events business. Once we got that off the ground. Uh, we launched the podcast network with this guy, Anthony Papaliano. in August, 2018. Um, that really took off for those who probably know Papa on Twitter. That was a big success. Um, and since then we've launched probably 25 different shows about 15 of the 25 have worked. Um, and we did that for like two years. Honestly, it was good business. We had a big podcast network and big events business.
And it wasn't until COVID when things really took a turn. So flashback to March of 2020 business was booming. We had just had our biggest two months ever. Revenue skyrocketing team growing COVID hits. And to summarize a long story, revenue fell 80% month over month. Right Things were tough, right. It was like really, really a grind.
A lot of our revenue came from events at that point. Um, but we kind of did what anyone does during a tough time is we just went back to our customers and to our audience, I think we set up I want to say dozens, but I think it was really over a hundred calls with our customers to figure out what they needed. So we spoke with financial advisors, family offices, family offices, high net worth individuals, hedge funds, RAs venture firms, professional traders, and kind of just learned one thing, which is there still, wasn't a great source of information for investors looking at digital assets rght.
And so we looked at every piece of content in the industry. We looked at, uh, you know, podcast, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, uh, research firms, other crypto media sites, mainstream media. And yeah, we really just couldn't find one single source of information that spoke directly to the investment community about crypto.
And so, uh, I dunno, maybe eight months to figure this out. We designed a completely new website. We built a completely new website, uh, and on January 12th of 2021 last year, we launched it to the world and it's been a big success since.
Watson: And so, as you think about like just on a, on a per unit cost. I'm sure that website build was, um, uh, you, you were going as, as kinda down to the bone as possible, but it was still a consequential cost for the business to get that built out.
As you kind of look at, you know, something like, uh, like an event there's maybe. Uh, there's a, there's a rental fee potentially. Or if you, you know, can shake the right hands and make the right deal, you can get people in there at a relatively low cost. Someone who is trying to get it off the ground outside of the concept of you were dead, right.
You decided to make this investment in the real winter for crypto post 2017, kind of spike. You you, you planted the seed in the right field, but in terms of a strategy for bootstrapping, that thing off the ground is in hindsight, you say, well, I guess it worked so it was valid or there really is, you know, on a, on a per cost basis or a minimum viable, viable product basis, the right entree versus potentially starting with the website first and then eventually getting to events.
Yanowitz: I mean, I think there's two conversations there, right? And we can, we can get into both of them. One is bootstrapping, right. Should I bootstrap or should I not bootstrap? Um, and we can talk about that. And then the second one is what is the right way to build a media company in 2022.
Right. And even though we launched this a couple of years ago, we can talk about today. I think there's still a massive opportunity to go build a bunch of, uh, media businesses. Uh, as specifically niche media businesses, B2B media businesses, that will be quite successful. So just touching on the first one first, I think the, uh, the VC verse bootstrapping argument has gotten way too caught up in like good versus evil.
Right. Good versus bad to bootstrap. Um, it really just comes down to two things, right? Like what are the business goals and what am I optimizing for? Uh, and, and what should we optimizing? Uh, what should we optimize for? Right. And once you answer those, you can determine what you should do. So like, let's, let's take media, for example, when you look at media companies that have raised venture capital more often than not, they fail because media is just a collection of communities who are interested in one specific topic and like to engage with your, with that topic in a variety of ways.
And the media company is the thing, the brand that provides the, the places for the community to engage. So. When you take media, when you take venture as a media company, if you just think about the way that a venture capital firm works, where they have, let's say 10 portfolio companies, eight of the 10 are going to fail.
One might break even, and one is going to return the fund. That's a shit business model for the media company that takes venture because now the venture firm is pushing you to, uh, to get bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger beyond what you probably should do. And. The most successful media companies stay niche for as long as possible.
But when you raise venture money, you get pushed to again, go bigger and bigger, which means you have to, you're forced to expand outside of your niche pretty early on. So with block works, if we had ever raised venture money, uh, we would have, you know, I'm sure our VCs would have pushed us to go into FinTech.
Right. And then they would have pushed us to go into traditional equities. And then when like GameStop and Robin hood stuff was happening, they would have pushed us to go cover that and getting, get into meme stocks. That's not- And that would have, that would have destroyed the business. Right. Because then we're competing against CNBC and Wall street journal and things like that.
So if we were building a software company, go raise a hundred million bucks right out of the gate. Right. But that's a software business for us. We, as a media company, like our goal was to get to profitability within 90 days. And so that's what we did. Right. We started selling ads and sponsorships and tickets to our events.
So. That, that was kind of the media conversation. I don't know if you want to pause there and talk about that.
Watson: Well, to kind of build off of that, one of my favorite books is called Hitmakers by Derek Thompson and he has this really good framework of what makes for a hit. And you could say. late, late 2017, early 2018 to now the success to get all the way to an eight figure business bootstrapped would qualify you guys as a hit, um, uh, amongst another, uh, a number of reasons. And my interpretation of that is he says, you know, you to be a hit, you have to have this blending of the novel and the convention. When you even hear that, that with like pop music, where, where they'll sample some past hit, that's familiar.
So there's this element of familiarity blended with the new face, the new voice, the new take, whatever the new, the new beat is tied to that. And so with you guys, um, I don't know if this is intentional, but the branding isn't drastically different from Bloomberg. Um, just in, you know, seeing the ticker, the aesthetic, the big B, not to say that you guys are exactly the same, but there's an element of familiarity there to a financial audience.
But then it's so locked in on the crypto niche in a way that, you know, maybe some, a CNBC or some of these characters at most could dip a toe in at most could kind of a partial off a little corner of their enterprise. You get to sit in that community, sit in that very specific arena and craft this very kind of effective counter positioning to the other forces out there while being easy to digest for people that come from the outside world.
That's my interpretation. Let me, let me see what you think of that.
Yanowitz: Yeah, I think that's a good interpretation. I mean, you mentioned that. Oh, you mentioned the book, right? Uh, hit makers. I think there's this concept in there called Maya, right? It's like the most, uh, the most advanced yet acceptable. And like, basically what that means is you have to kind of hit the bulls-eye between familiarity and, and futuristic where, and so for us, it was like, we're talking about these for us design was a way to feel comfortable.
So you mentioned our website, like our website. Uh, we, we got a lot of inspiration from the Wall street journal and from Bloomberg. And the reason is like, when you think about our target audience, we are talking about some, some weird stuff, right? Like sushi swap versus a unit swap and liquidity provider like automated market-makers.
And now we're talking about NFTs and let's metaverse stuff. And like, Um, it goes over most people's head, right. And that's our job to break that down and make sure it doesn't the easiest way to make it feel comfortable for folks is not pushing the boundaries on everything. Right? So we push the boundaries on content with the industry that we cover.
So that means we need to make sure that the design language and like how things feel is very, very comfortable, right. If we were covering traditional equities, It would be the, it would be flipped right? Because we'd be covering something that's very, very comfortable for folks. Uh, there's a lot of people who cover equities, we would really have to push the boundaries on what block works was and what it looked like.
And we'd go launch it down and all this futuristic stuff so that it could differentiate itself. So I think you have to pick, pick one or the other when it comes to yeah. To what you do there.
Watson: Yeah, you exactly hit the nail on the head. Cause I was thinking, you know, there's plenty of people that would want to cover crypto, but then they'd also want to structure the company as a Dow and have, you know, a community token and all these other things.
And it just becomes inaccessible with, with not enough familiarity for people to latch onto it.
Yanowitz: Yeah. I mean, I think one thing for us that helped us be successful is like we, we picked one target. Um, and we, and we picked really one thing to focus on kind of one thing to focus on every, like, I'd call it six to 12 months.
Right. So, whereas a lot of people, there were a lot of media companies that were launched in 2017. I think we're only, we're one of the only ones still left, uh, from, from our industry, at least. And everybody tried to do a lot of things, right. They launched a daily newsletter. They launched a media site with, you know, with, with a news team.
Uh, they launched an events, businesses, a business, they launched two different podcasts and they ended up failing because they stretched themselves too thin for us. It was like right out of the gate, build the best events. And you know, I've never really publicly shared this, but like we had one target, right.
It was, it was CoinDesk consensus about. When we launched the business, we officially launched may of 2018 May 10th, We hosted our event. It was like 150 person happy. A day later, CoinDesk hosted their 7,000 person consensus event. So we said target on their back. Let's build a better event than consensus.
It's taken us a couple of years, but now it's, I mean, I don't, I'm not even sure anyone attends consensus anymore. Right. And we taken a couple of years and now we have the best events in crypto. Uh, and, and then we did that again with podcasts, right? There's a bunch of different crypto podcasts out there.
Now we have the biggest crypto podcast network. And I think for us, How do you just stay as focused as humanly possible while you're in an industry that's moving. So, so, so quickly. And so for us, it was like focused on events, focused on podcasts. Don't try to cover too much. Just don't try to talk to too many people.
Don't talk to the developers at the start. Don't talk to the retail audience, just talk to capital markets. And so that, yeah, I think that was a big key.
Watson: So let's talk about bootstrapping, uh, uh, podcast network. Obviously Pompe was a really big early get for you guys, and he's just had an explosive on of success as a podcaster.
Um, but really, you know, you, you fall in this similar category or genre, at least in my mind of these modern digital brands that really lean into the individual voices that make up their ecosystem. So if I think about shows like, you know, the journal, which is the podcast that a wall street journal puts out.
I would struggle despite listening regularly to tell you who the host's name is. And yet every single bar stool show, every single, you know, character from the morning brew, every single one of these kinds of digitally native brands has the muscle built to put a ton of trust into the voice that there is that they're highlighting and attaching the kind of macro banner brand to that.
Um, and that allows for all sorts of things, whether you're launching new characters or signing new talent, uh, but just take me through how you've thought about that and what your recruit, how that recruitment has happened in order to bring all that talent under the block works banner.
Yanowitz: Yeah. I mean, so I think first off, everyone's really excited about the creator side of things, and everyone's really excited about the creator economy and things like that.
Uh, and I think people oftentimes in media, I always hear people point to the Barstool model where everyone always points to the Barstool model. It's like Barstool is the first desk. Barstool is not the first to do this right there. This goes back since the beginning of media, since there were three different channels on your television right. And like, if you look at, um, so we just look at how media works. Um, and you look at, I don't know if your audience is like a CNN or a Fox credible, like CNN it's like Wolf Blitzer and like Jake Tapper. And then on the Fox side, you've got like Gretchen Carlson and like all these big Sean Hannity. Right. These are, these are creators, right? It means-
Watson: going back and still O'Reilly was like the guy.
Yanowitz:Yeah, exactly, exactly. And so I think what we just said is like, how can we give them a platform? Uh, if you are, so we've done. Uh, you know, we did, we worked with, with Pompe for a couple of years. We're not working with Pompe anymore on the podcast.
Um, but we're working, you know, there's a bunch of different, big podcast hosts out there. They want to create content. They're really good at marketing and creating content, what they don't want to do, they don't want to send invoices. They don't want to get on sponsorship and advertising sales calls. They don't want to go create a media kit.
They don't want to go transcribe their podcasts. They don't want to go find guests. So we take care of all of that. At the beginning of block works, you know, we kind of called it a podcast in a box. Right. And we worked with folks like Ryan soukous melt them to mirrors, Joe Carlson, Scott milker, Charlie Shrem, and built podcasts with and around all of these people.
And for them, it was amazing because they could sit in front of a mic and make a half a million a year. For us. It was also amazing because it allowed us to never take venture capital money, the podcast business spit off this cashflow that allowed us to bootstrap the business. The counter to everything I'm saying is it's not an amazing business model.
It's not an amazing business model because sometimes you don't own the IP and you don't actually own the content. So the biggest focus for us moving forward, uh, we launched three shows last year. In-house podcasts. Our first in-house podcasts that are owned 100% by block works. They're operated by block works employees, uh, and they are, and that's the big focus over the next couple of years is, is bringing talent In-house continuing to provide a platform for these, uh, creators and influencers, uh, but, but kind of aligning incentives better for block works and the creators.
Watson: and really, you know, that, that brings me to two examples to mind. Um, the first is, is more abstract, which is Danny Meyer and the union square group, and all the way down to owning shake shack.
And there's this beautiful blog post about how he's created this massive vertical ladder for someone that wants to be in food, but maybe starts off as a fry cook in shake shack and can literally work their way up. Not quickly, but all the way up to working in a Michelin star restaurant as an executive chef, if they're willing to kind of put in the hours because he's stratified from, you know, the, the kind of broadest low end solution, all the way up to the kind of high-end creme de la creme and, uh, giving real legibility into your ability to climb through that ladder.
And then the media space, you've got the ringer where they have the ringer NFL show, the ringer NBA show, but if a talent and individual talent. Builds enough kind of credibility within that ecosystem. Then they get to spin out something where they probably have more economic upside and because the ringer as a platform is what was involved in the launch.
There's still that kind of upwards trajectory. Whereas in the early days, you guys need to kind of draft off of these other brands to get some momentum, but now you have the platform to be able to deliver that.
Yanowitz: Exactly. I mean, you're you hit the nail on the head. Like we leveraged other people's platforms to build our brand when nobody knew block works.
Right. When we got into crypto is like, uh, there were two media companies, it was CoinDesk and Coin Telegraph. Uh, you had like two scrappy, young twenties people who were like telling other people that there's this third media brand block works that they should care about. Who were they to listen to right. But now that we leverage, when you leverage other influencers, it really helps.
I think one of the keys though, with working with outside, like creators and influencers, if you're a media company kind of doing this is, um, what we've learned is that there's not one model, right? And so you have to, it's, it's kind of tough to scale, but I think you, when you hear on Twitter, it's like you have to give the creator 100% of the power you give the influencer a hundred percent of the power.
And oftentimes what we've learned is they don’t actually want that right. They don't want to sometimes run their own business. They don't want to run their finances and their operations. And so as a media company, there's a lot of room to run if you actually just give them a platform and you're quite flexible there.
And so we have, we've had shows that have been running for two, three years because of just our flexibility there.
Watson: Right on. So I want to switch it up here. Um, one of my favorite recent threads that you've posted, um, was how to find a job in crypto. And as many as there's, you know, we have listeners who are entrepreneurial and thinking of the next thing that they're going to start.
There's a whole lot of people that want to be in startups. They want to be in the kind of macro upward trend. Um, and maybe don't necessarily know how to do that. I actually have a couple of people close to me that are literally in the middle. I've sent them the thread because they're in the middle of some sort of career change trying to strategize that.
So what are some of the big themes that you're seeing as someone who has connections to all sorts of companies across the crypto ecosystem, um, that would make someone, you know, more appealing or just help them get their foot in the door?
Yanowitz: Yeah. I, I think I'd preface this by saying. Uh, the big thing to understand is every, every crypto company is doing phenomenally well right now, right?
The amount of capital that's been raised in, in this industry over the last 12 months is completely bonkers. It's like upwards of 20, 30 billion, I think is the. Uh, and because of this, every single company is hiring. So you, if you ask any founder, like what is your main challenge? Go ask 10 founders in crypto. What's your main challenge, including block works a 10 out of 10, again, including myself will tell you that it's finding talented people to join us. I think one of the problems with crypto is there are a lot of people who care about it, uh, because. I have like a thousand bucks in Bitcoin that doesn't necessarily mean they're talented.
So one of our problems we get, we get literally hundreds of inbounds every single day. The problem for us becomes how do you filter the noise from the signal? And so I think if you aren't getting. When everyone is hiring, like here, here are a couple of kind of tangible reasons. One is, uh, like sloppy outreach.
I'm honestly surprised Aaron, how many people just like spell her name wrong, or have typos in their emails. And that I think we can discredit like 50% of the people just from that. So you have to make your first impression sharp. Uh, the second one is kind of like rambling outreach, right? Again, we receive hundreds of inbounds for every role, write five sentences total on your background.
Why you'd be perfect for the role, experience with crypto, that's it like we get so many, seven paragraph emails. Nobody's reading that. Uh, the third is lack of crypto experience and I think people kind of misunderstand what this means. You don't need to have worked in crypto. You do need to demonstrate your crypto knowledge, right?
You don't need to have worked in crypto, but if you don't, if you haven't worked in crypto, you probably should have used unit swap or like I don't know, staked on Lido or deposited assets on all their compound right. Just to demonstrate your crypto knowledge. Um, and then I think the fourth is just like a lack of tactical experience.
Um, I think there are a lot of people who want to work in crypto. Maybe they're coming from like a non Like SAS or software or tech job, maybe they're a college grad or they're a chef or a sports coach or a teacher. Um, and for that, I'd really recommend two things. Like one is just get involved in a Dow, like any Dow, just start contributing and building a brand.
And the second is like, get on Twitter. Uh, there's this great post. I don't know if by another podcast host Patrick O'Shaughnessy. He said there's still a need for more great writing and podcasts. Right. He said, I never run out of TV to watch. Uh, because we've reached saturation there, but I always run out of great detailed writing and worthwhile podcasts.
If you're early in your career, uh, it's smart to outlearn and then out teach everyone in a niche. And right now, hands down, the number one way to get a job in crypto is by learning and teaching people in public. So that's, I don't that's take, take it for what it is, but like, I think that's a little bit of a feedback for folks who are looking to get a job in this place.
Watson: So literally last episode, we interviewed Wes Kao of Maven and, uh, of the top 10 cohort-based courses that they ran on their platform last year. I think three of them were like crypto or Web3, um, adjacent. So I think that that's also like, there's plenty of people listening, who right now, even when you said joining a Dow or, or some of those other like strategy.
That just seemed daunting and I know that there's Googling and Reddit threads to go down, but some people kind of want the kind of more curated tour. I think that, you know, being willing to make an investment like that, and I know that's not possible for a hundred percent of people is one of the gateways to do that.
Um, what do you think of that? What do think about the, about those online courses?
Yanowitz: I mean, I liked them. I just think, um, I'm trying to think of the like least, uh, prohibitive methods. And so here, here's the number one way that I would get if I was 22 or maybe later in my career, but like doing a big career transition, I wanted to work in crypto.
Here's the, here's what I do. I would go, I'd pick a hyper niche thing within crypto. Like I would pick gaming guilds. I picked gaming guilds. For example, within gaming guilds, I would find that top 50 people who write about gaming guilds, right? I'd go look at like yield Guild games and wide GG, And I'd go look at Axie Infinity, and there's all these different gaming Guilds.
The content is really, really all over the place. So it's on media, it's on Twitter. Uh, it's in like, uh, like newsletters and things like that become an aggregator of that information. So every single day, post one tweet that highlights the best or a thread that highlights the best information about gaming guilds.
Do this for 30 days in a row, right. As you're doing this, start reaching out to people who run or work in Gaming Guilds. Start meeting them, start getting acquainted with them, use their info, and then use their info in your, in your threads or on your Twitter posts. And again, I think Twitter is the best way because the entire industry lives on Twitter.
Then start writing your own, right? You've now worked on gaming guilds for 30 days in a row, aggregating all this information, write your own media posts, go write it on mirror, right? Like a crypto native medium. Uh, and honestly, I think that's the best way. So we, I mean, there are dozens of people like that who we've hired and our competitors have hired.
They have no resume. They're not on LinkedIn. They just have some, a couple of solid Twitter threads and that's they're in for an interview. And then they interview well,
Watson: Yeah, check out a Nat Eliason and crypto Raiders. If you're trying to source the, that first initial 50 lists too. He's the man.
Yanowitz: Nat was great.
Watson: So, uh, let's kinda transition here towards the back half your view. So, you, you sit at a really interesting intersection of information, being able to digest lots of news about the industry, generally access to a whole lot of thinkers. And I would actually actually, before we get into that, just a fun one.
How do you manage listening to podcasts? If you have that big of a podcast network that you're responsible for, how do you actually manage your attention and not offend the people in the network that you have listen to their show, right?
Yanowitz: I actually did really offend someone, uh, about six months ago.
Cause like I told you, I had tossed into their show in a, in a couple of months and they weren't too happy about it, but, um, I actually don't listen to as many podcasts as I should. Um, I got kind of burned out from listening to some podcasts from, I used to listen to like three podcasts a day, uh, on like 1.8 X speed.
And like, you know, I'd go on these walks and I'd do it. Listen to podcasts while I was doing other things, while cooking dinner, I got really burned out from podcasts. I've actually been listening to a lot of audio books. I will say though, that there are just podcasts. Um, I've been, instead of doing like, uh, subscribing to specific shows, I've been subscribing to different guests.
So, what I mean by this is like, there were a couple of different guests who I just, I want to listen to every single piece of content that they ever put out. Right. So like one, so like, I don't know. Um, if you're trying to like launch a fund or something, you're trying to launch a fund and like build a billion dollar fund, like instead of going and listening to a show about building funds, you should go listen to all 10 podcasts that, uh, Like, I dunno, Henry Kravis from a, from KKR has been on, right.
Or, uh, that like a fund manager that you love has been on. So I'm, I'm trying to right now to subscribe to different guests instead of subscribing to podcasts, that being said, Aaron, can I give a shout out to the empire podcast and tell people to go subscribe
Watson: 110% It is a good show. I was just listening to, uh, the recent episode that you had with multi-coin about that kind of prediction for the year, which leads into really how I kind of wanted to wrap this, uh, interview, which is just you sitting at the intersection of so much information, these podcast hosts, and it's still, you know, I think that there's a couple things out there that you can maybe pick up or kind of disagree with. One of them is that, you know, it's just a four year cycle. Every Bitcoin having that happens every four years, it's going to just kind of follow more or less the same arc and don't overthink it.
Um, you've got all these characters saying, you know, this L1, uh, I guess listeners might not necessarily know what L1 is. Ethereum's dead go to Solana. Uh, you know, Bitcoin's dead go to etehrium. Um, these type of very tribal arguments. Um, what are some of the things that you're seeing from your vantage point?
Yanowitz: Um, I think there were a couple of like narratives and trends to look at first. Like one is. Uh, just a multi chain future. There's a lot of talk about, uh, so actually I think to kind of zoom out a little bit, like what happened last year is, or what happened in 2020 is DeFi took off, right? Defi took off with compound and unit swap and defy summer.
And there were some days that this decentralized exchange called unit swap with 20 employees had more volume than Coinbase with 2000 employees. Uh, and so 2020 was the year of DeFI, 2020, 2021. A lot of the attention shifted. Uh, and then narrative shifted from DeFi to NFTs and metaverse and gaming.
Right? You had things like Facebook rebranding to meta. You had things like, um, you know, an NFT artists, people sold his art for 69 billion, a million dollars. Excuse me. Uh, and just all of these, you know, and NFT art, an open seat just raised at a $13.3 billion valuation. It just went completely crazy. I think behind the scenes, what was actually happening in crypto is a lot of the builders and kind of investors are understanding that we're moving to a multi-channel world, thanks to kind of innovations in UI UX and bridging technology.
And so there are a lot of these like. For folks, not in crypto, you can think of them like ehterium of competitors that are now starting to, uh, have entire ecosystems pop up around them. So for those who are around in 2017, you had etherium competitors. You'd like Cordato and other eith competitors not even worth mentioning what never happened is they, they never built ecosystems.
So there's never like Game's built on top of the ecosystems. There was never Defi built on top of the ecosystems. And now you have all these other ecosystems like Solana and Terra and Avalanche and Near in Cosmos and Phantom that have big DeFi ecosystems around them. Once you get a defined ecosystem, it opens up a lot of the NFTs and gaming and things like that.
So that's one big thing I'm looking at is like L1, staying hot. Dow infrastructure is a really interesting thing. Uh, like Dow tool. Dow's had a really massive year last year, but there are still a lot of core problems that need to be addressed before they go mainstream. So I think Dow infrastructure, Dow infrastructure is a big area for investment.
I think the financialization of NFTs will be interesting. Um, I think gaming's going to get quite big, uh, this year as well. And then I think the last thing is just that a lot of like the smart money investors are talking about that hasn't reached. Uh, the public narrative yet is just how important composability is.
So let's take, um, let's take like gambling, for example. Um, if you want to, uh, if you're, if you're in slack or something, or let's say you're in discord or telegram, or like a text message with a bunch of your friends, and you're talking about betting on the Patriots game, you can't do it within the app because they kind of run on different rails.
Like the app might run on. It's just like th they're very siloed applications, right? So like you're, you're texting with your friends about betting on the Patriots game. You want to bet on it. You then have to leave and go to. I don't know, I'm not a big, better, but like DraftKings or something, you go to a different app with when everything's built on crypto rails, the composability becomes seamless.
So now you have the ability to let's, let's say you had like a discord channel and you want to bet on the Patriots game with your friends, you can, that betting application can be completely embedded inside of the inside. Uh, the discord channel or like I use notion a lot to take notes and keep things organized.
I let's say I wanted to vote on, on chain governance for, for a Dow instead of leaving notion to, or the slack channel to go vote on snapshot, which is how people vote in the, on chain stuff. Uh, on governance, you could actually vote inside of the slack channel for an on chain thing because slack and notion are getting rebuilt on, on, uh, on chain.
So, I dunno, I could blabber on for a while about what I think is coming this year, but that's kind of a highlight.
Watson: So what about the effects of centralization? Because if you are one of the crypto OGs, the whole argument, particularly with Bitcoin is the notion of decentralization. We don't have some central authority that's going to, um, for political reasons or what have you make Uh, monetary policy decisions that are not behaving that the general public and the users of that money and what I see, whether it be something like Solana that just doesn't have the same kind of fundamental de-centralized nature is making that trade off for speed, or just the fact that most users are interfacing with this technology via OpenSea via Coinbase base via some of these centralizing forces.
Um, what is your perception of that?
Yanowitz: There is a long conversation we had around that, or there's a really, there's a two-sentence thing. And I I'll give you the two sentence thing. Um, right now we're at a, a middle ground, right? Where there's a lot of decentralized things that are getting almost traded on centralized things.
And this is like this is called like CFI, right? There's like define then there C5. And then there's a, these are like terminology in the, in the, in the industry. It's like DeFy is like all the JP Morgan's of the world. There's defy, which is these like completely decentralized applications. And what's ended up happening is that CFI, centralized finance is getting built out and booming, right?
Like open sea and Coinbase. And these kinds of. There's one reason for it and it's block space. Uh, so in, and you can kind of think of a, you can make the comparison to Netflix because I feel like this is a story that a lot of people know, in order to make everything decentralized and have all of these things run on DC, like on decentralized protocols, you need to open up the block space a lot.
You need, you almost need, like, you can think of it like bandwidth, right? And so the comparison to Netflix is in 2000 Netflix, Was a DVD business. Uh, their CEO Reed Hastings knew that streaming was the future. There's a really well-known story here. He knew that streaming was the future in the late nineties.
Uh, but he also just knew that bandwidth was limited. So every year he would kind of wait, wait, wait. And then finally he pulled the trigger and said, okay, bandwidth is here. Let's move to streaming and get rid of the DVD business in, you know, 20 years later, a lot of these web 3 entities. I like partially centralized I'd call it.
They're partially decentralized and partially centralized. Everybody knows in crypto knows that decentralization is the future. Everybody's working towards that goal. But the block space is limited in the same way that in 1998, uh, the bandwidth was limited. So, I mean, I think it's the goal of a lot of these founders, but at a certain point you need the technology to improve in the same way that you needed bandwidth to improve.
Watson: Got it. Yeah. It was just an interesting, interesting theme. And I think it makes sense that, uh, you can't jump all the way across the cavern in one go, you got to build a bridge to be able to get to the other side. Um, Jason, this has been fantastic. I want to aim towards asking my standard last questions.
Uh, but before I do that, anything you were hoping to share today that I didn't give you a chance.
Yanowitz: Uh, I think the main thing is just like tying it back to that, that hiring thread, like there is something in crypto. Crypto is now big enough that there is something for everyone, right? If you're an artist or a creator, go launch your own NFT gold launch.
If you're a musician, go create a music NFT. Uh, if you are a trader jump into one of the trading firms, if you are a builder or an engineer, come build something. Uh, there, the space is really big enough that A, everyone can find a path. Whether it's NFTs or metaverse or gaming or trading or finance or entrepreneurship or building companies.
Uh, and then B uh, there's a job for everyone. So whether you're a sales guy or I'm a marketer or an engineer, or a designer or a video producer, right. There's really something for everyone. So I think that's, that's my last thought tutors to. We definitely need some good recruiters to come in.
Watson: Yeah. Um, awesome. So if folks want to learn more about block works and everything that you're up to Jason, where can we point people in the digital world to learn more.
Yanowitz: Um, if, I mean, if people want to get in touch with me, I'm pretty open. My DMS are open on Twitter at Jason Janowitz. Um, our website is block works, dot co.
We have a newsletter. Um, if you subscribe to the newsletter and reply to it, I will see it and I will respond to you as well. So subscribe to the newsletter block works dot C O a and I'm on Twitter too. So hit me up.
Watson: Beautiful. We're going to link that into a podcast
Yanowitz: I also have a podcast that I want to plug, which is empire podcast.Sorry for coming on and plugging.
Watson: No, you're all good. That is literally the whole point of that question is to plug away and allow people to find other cool stuff. Empire is a good one. I am subscribed. Uh, we're going to link all that in the show notes it's available in the app. We're probably listening to this right now, or it's going deep within and.com/podcast for every single episode of the show.
But before I let you go, Jason, I would like to give you the mic one final time to issue an actionable personal challenge to the audience.
Yanowitz: Uh, my thought here as the world moves too quickly by to learn by through reading Right. The world moves far too quickly to learn by reading the key is to play the game. So go trade on unit swap, take a loan out on eBay.
Buy an NFT. Hell it doesn't even have to be crypto. Right. Go play a game on Roblox. Uh, go attend to Fortnite concert, make a video on Tik TOK. Um, I think just for the, the pessimists out there, right? The trend is your friend, your friend. Stop fighting it.
Watson: Getting in the game. I love it. Uh, this was awesome, man. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Yanowitz: Thank you, Aaron. Enjoyed it.
Watson:We just went deep with Jason Janowitz. Hope it out. There has a fantastic day.
Hey, thanks for watching to the end of my conversation with Jason. If you enjoyed it and are looking for more crypto blockchain centric content, check out our interview with the co-founder of Odyssey slash library, Jeremy coffin. We talked about the future of decentralized media, his business model, and a whole lot more.