Here is my interview with Matthew Gould who is CEO and co-founder of Unstoppable Domains, an NFT domain name provider working to onboard the world onto Web3. In this interview we discuss how Unstoppable Domains works, making crypto adoption easier with Web3 domains, crypto regulations, FTX collapse and crypto bear market, NFTs and more.
Founded in 2018, Unstoppable Domains is building a digital identity platform for Web3. Unstoppable Domains offers Web3 domains minted on the blockchain that give people full ownership and control of their digital identity, with no renewal fees. With Unstoppable Domains, people can replace lengthy alphanumeric crypto wallet addresses with a human-readable name and log into and transact with hundreds of apps, wallets, exchanges and marketplaces. The company was named by Forbes as one of America’s Best Startup Employers in 2022.
Welcome back to the “Thinking Crypto” podcast, your home for cryptocurrency news and interviews. With me today is Matthew Gould, who’s the CEO and co-founder of Unstoppable Domains. Matthew, great to have you on the show.
I’m excited to be here.
Matthew, I’ve noticed Unstoppable Domains from a far distance. I’ve studied your business model and the things you guys have been doing. And I’ve always wanted to speak to someone from Unstoppable, just never got around to scheduling. And, you know, I’m very curious about this just because I own like 300 domains in the traditional domain world, and then I’m obviously waist deep or neck deep into crypto. So the merging of these two worlds fascinate me, so I’m very excited to speak with you.
Yeah, well we think it is, I actually personally think, and of course I would say this, but I think it’s one of the most interesting things that’s happening. Like it’s, you know, I think it’s the top three for what’s happening in crypto and blockchain. And number one is money, like the money use case is really big and how that’s gonna revolutionize finance. And I think that the thing right behind it is actually digital identity and all the things that we’re working with around NFT domains to kind of, or Web3 domains, to fit inside that niche and how that’s gonna make it a lot easier for you to just do all sorts of things in your daily life that you don’t even really think about. And those are some of the big technology changes because, you know, it’s what you don’t see that really changes how people behave that we think is more interesting with new technology.
For sure. So before we go further, I want to get to know you a bit better. You know, where are you from? Where’d you grow up?
Yeah, I’m originally from Atlanta, Georgia, right here in the United States. And I’ve always been fascinated with tech. I actually started out in going to Georgia Institute of Technology all the way, you know, Georgia Tech in Atlanta. And while I was there I made some pretty good friends who ended up moving out to the west coast to start software companies. And so through their encouragement, I ended up making the move myself to San Francisco and learning about the software business and kind of how you can make world impacting change by writing code and fell in love with it from there. I think one of my best experiences was actually working at a YC company, which is where I was just prior to Unstoppable Domains. They really kind of teach you the ins and outs of like how should you grow a business, how should you think about software, how should you think about scaling? And then took that and applied that at Unstoppable Domains over the past five years, and we’ve seen quite a bit of success doing that.
So what was the genesis of the idea to start Unstoppable Domains? What was that moment where like, you know what, there’s a need here or I want to try to do this?
Yeah, so I really come at it from a technologist perspective. And so when we saw blockchains came out, I was talking with Braden, my co-founder, and we just said, these things are really, really good for verifying data and information. Like, that’s what blockchains are just like super good at. And we wanted to find something that was a non-financial use case. And at the time, this is 2017, this is before NFTs had been invented yet, and actually I can go back and look at some of my Ethereum transactions when I was working with Braden very early on, and we were like playing around with these smart contracts that were creating the precursors to NFTs. Like, some ERC-20 tokens and some very early stuff in the space. And we were sitting around, and I kid you not, like, we would go to meetups and there would be less than 30 people in the room to talk about NFTs back in 2017.
And we didn’t even call them NFTs. They were, this is even before the ERC-721 standard. I mean, this is like we’re talking about, you know, blockchain tokens to represent, you know, like represent not financial things. I can’t even remember. I’d have to go back and look and see kind of how we were referring to them at the time. And we thought that naming systems were gonna be a critical component of that, just for sending cryptocurrency. So right away it was super obvious no one’s gonna be sending Bitcoin back and forth to each other or Ethereum or any of these other cryptocurrency addresses using these very long hex addresses. They’re gonna want to have some form of verified endpoint to send money to. And domain name systems are exactly that. And we thought that there’s a lot of potential there, not just for sending and receiving cryptocurrency transactions, which we felt like had to happen, but also for, you know, kind of experimenting on all the different types of things that could be verified back to a domain.
Yeah, and, you know, there’s a big call right now to help make the process of storing and sending crypto easier for the masses who are, you know, when they look at these wallet addresses are like, “What is this?” right? And it scares some people. It’s intimidating. And I think the idea of what you guys are doing with name wallet addresses and so forth, it just absolutely makes sense to take us to that next level of ease of use and less complicated.
Yeah, and we talk about this internally, I think it’s the worst experience ever for a new product the first time you use it to be afraid or scared. And my first time sending cryptocurrency, I had that, you know, fear. And everybody does this like test transaction thing where you send like just a little bit and then you send the rest of it. I don’t do that anymore.
I still do that.
Right, I’m now confident. But like what I think is also funny is that literally Vitalik Buterin does that, if you go and you look at his transaction history. So it’s everyone in this space. We’ve come to believe that names are critical to solving that problem, but we also believe that it’s not enough, right? So like, so when we’re talking internally at Unstoppable Domains, we’re trying to think about, okay, great we have this digital identity for you that can make it a lot easier for people to remember and send cryptocurrency to you. But what can we also do with that name in order to make it even easier for users ’cause it’s still not easy enough for people. And if you look, I think a lot of the work that we’re doing around your Web3 profile is actually pretty interesting. And what we’re thinking about in the future is when someone wants to send cryptocurrency to matt.crypto, we can surface additional information about that person, meaning like, you know, you could see their verified Twitter handle that’s with that. Maybe that makes you even more comfortable to send that transaction. If we go working with some other partners in the space, we could potentially let you know if that person has potentially been involved with some things that may not be great for you, right? So like we could maybe return your risk score around interacting with that individual. You know, especially we’ve seen this past year, there’s been a lot of issues around theft and fraud in crypto, and there’s always that continuing. And so that’s a great thing about Web3 domains is that we can verify more external information, right? And then put that on chain so that you can feel more confident about it. So yeah, we 100% agree. It just doesn’t make any sense at all for you to be sending cryptocurrency to anything other than a domain. And that just needs to be fixed. So we’re gonna continue to work on that over the next couple years, working with partners to get domain names into the hands of everyone in crypto. But in addition to that, there’s a lot more coming is what I’m trying to get to.
Yeah, that absolutely makes sense. And you think about the consumer and people are trained now to use handles and usernames and so forth, it just makes sense to move into the realm of crypto with handles and domain names and where it’s just once again, beyond the crazy wallet addresses that’s how many characters and just scares people off, especially those who may not be as tech savvy, and it would just be so easy to have that domain name.
And another thing we’re super interested about is the digital reputation that you build. So, you know, you may know your favorite person on Twitter, you may know their Twitter handle, right? Or maybe the famous anonymous account that you follow or something like that. And we think that’s super interesting because that person has spent a lot of time building their digital reputation, and we’re just seeing in this space that reputation is gonna be even more important moving forward with crypto. And so if you have a name, you can potentially, you know, in addition to making it easier for people to send crypto to you, in addition to making it easier for people to look you up and find more information about you, you can also make it easier to actually invest in and build your digital reputation. And when I think more globally, like when I try to think bigger, we just have had this huge increase in the number of people who have found careers in, you know, being their own business as an influencer or what have you. And that’s built a lot around personal reputation. And I think the analogy that I use is Web2 traditional domains like .coms are like domain names for your business. And I think that Web3 domain names are domain names for the individual. And there’s a lot of differences that can be pulled out between those two different parts. But that’s the evolution that we’re seeing in the space right now.
For sure. So if you can, can you summarize Unstoppable Domains, the business, the services you offer for those who are listening who have not heard about you and just so they understand, you know, the scale of what you’re looking to achieve?
Yeah, so we create user owned digital identities, also known as Web3 domains, to function as an endpoint for you to receive cryptocurrency. And we think that this is also gonna allow you to own and control the data associated with you, all those verifications, between applications. And we think that being able to own and control that information about you is going to give you more power, privacy, and ultimately hopefully help you to save time and money on the internet. So simply, we make a Web3 domain like matt.nft or nora.crypto or what have you, and then you can associate that back to your crypto wallet. Some crypto wallets do that automatically. And then when someone wants to send you money, they can just send money directly to thinkingcrypto.nft instead of having to copy and paste a long Bitcoin address. And then there’s a whole bunch of other features that come along with that digital identity that are being built out over the next several years to enhance the reputation around those endpoints.
So you mentioned folks can send crypto. Is it you’d have to designate on your end in the settings, let’s say tony.crypto, right? That I want to receive Bitcoin or I wanna receive Ethereum or Cardano, whatever it is, right? I would designate that respective currency, then I would tell the user to send me that respective currency?
Yeah, that is correct. And so the NFT domain that you own is actually owned and controlled inside of your wallet. So any transactions, anything that’s updating the information on that, it’s a blockchain asset, it’s an NFT. Anything about you that you put on there, your Bitcoin address, your Ethereum address, you’re signing transactions to verify that’s true. So you have full control over what information is stored on your NFT domain, on your digital identity. And then people can send money to it. Now there are some cases where we have wallet partners, for instance blockchain.com, where when you sign up through their KYC process, they will issue a free domain. And this is one of the things that we’re doing is that we think that everyone should quit sending crypto to naked addresses. I think it’s dangerous. And so like we just issue a free domain as part of that onboarding process with them, and they auto associate your cryptocurrency addresses for their wallet so that you don’t have to copy and paste each address in for your blockchain.com wallet. So yeah, so you have full control over it, but there are some cases to make it easier to get it set up for you. But the idea is it is 100% your responsibility, and you can decide what you wanna do with it and update it how you see fit. So just like a normal crypto NFT.
So talk to us about security, right? How are these domains protected? How do I access the domain settings? Is it through the Unstoppable Domains app? And the security layers that you have there.
Yeah, so these are smart contracts, and we actually have bridges between a couple different blockchains. The most popular one that we’ve moved over to is Polygon in order to have reduced fees right now. So it’s a suite of smart contracts on blockchains, you know, on the Polygon blockchain is the most typical case here. And so the security is the security layer of the blockchain. And then like I said earlier, every transaction you sign, you’re signing with your private public key pair. So it’s the same, just as secure as like sending a Bitcoin, right? So that same level of security there. And then as far as accessing it, we are building all the middleware in order to make it easier to interact. So you can interact with it directly on something like PolygonScan by going in and reading the contract, but you can also interact with it on our website at unstoppabledomains.com, and then you can interact with it through our mobile app, which we have built as well for free for users. And then all of those pieces we’re now opening up for others to use, so that’s really kind of the transition this year. So like our unstoppabledomains.com, we’re building out the APIs and all the necessary pieces there so that, you know, GoDaddy should do it, right? So like tell GoDaddy they should start supporting NFT domains, right? If you’re listening. And so that, because they don’t know how to read the blockchain. So we as Unstoppable Domains the company need to publish the open source repos for those people to go in and be able to read and interact with those things. Same thing with the mobile APIs, it’s just another set of APIs and libraries that we’re making to self publish. And we’re trying to get those out there to as many places and people as possible, and some people are actually building businesses on top of it. We’ve actually had a couple of registrars, which are people who help you manage domain names in the traditional world, that have started to become integrated with us. So I think that you’ll have lots of places to manage this, and, you know, to manage those interactions with the smart contracts.
And can you tell us about the different extension names that you have? You mentioned like .crypto, there’s .bitcoin. And which blockchains you support? There might be a lot, so maybe you can give a number.
Yeah. Yeah, yeah, yeah. So no, we’re on three right now, Zilliqa, Ethereum, and Polygon. And we started historically on Zilliqa back in 2018. So that’s just historic from where we were, and we’ve evolved over time and moved registries and built bridges across them for people to move to the lowest cost place that we can find for our consumers. And that’s kind of what we try to do at Unstoppable Domains. We’re just trying to make it as easy and smooth an experience as possible to interact with these digital identity assets.
Any extension names you have? Some of those.
Yeah, so we have nine extensions currently, and it’s everything from .crypto, .nft, .x, .wallet, .bitcoin, .dow, .888, .zil, .blockchain. Each of those have their own characteristics, right? So I would say like .dow, obviously that’s much more targeted towards organizations as opposed to something like .wallet where maybe that’s just something you want to use for your wallet address. .nft is for people who are really into the NFT space. And whereas .blockchain is our work with blockchain wallet, right? And that’s part of their onboarding flow in order to get people in. So there’s plenty of choices out there, and I think that’s good. So you’ll have a lot of different places to find a name that fits for you. And also something fun we did recently is we actually have an AI search suggestions now, using ChatGPT. So everyone’s doing that now. So you can actually go on and if you’re looking for a domain name, we can help you find some pretty good suggestions for what you might want to be your digital user handle.
Nice. Tell us about domain squatting. It’s something that happens in the traditional domain market, right? People buy and there’s a lot of flipping sometimes and so forth. Is that something we can’t avoid or is there like a, you know, some sort of guardrail that you guys have in place?
Yeah, so we took a business decision to do a lot in order to try to cut back on domain squatting. So we reserved hundreds of thousands, I think it’s actually over a million names over the course of the time for trademark holders to protect people’s various IP to prevent people from registering domain names from known businesses and organizations and famous people, ’cause we think that would hurt adoption, right? And so, like I know that, and squatting in general is a very antisocial behavior, right? And what you’re trying to build is essentially, you know, a new social network for people’s digital life. And so we try to eliminate that behavior as much as we could. And then if you are a brand, so like if you are Coca-Cola or Nike or something like that, we have the domain reserved, so just reach out to us and we’ll make sure that that gets to you instead of trying to get that, you know, instead of having to negotiate with the squatter or something like that, we had the domain name reserved. We have a nominal fee for those things, for those companies to get their domain names and get them into the space. And it’s actually been a really good point of entry for us ’cause we’ve actually had celebrities or corporations contact us, say, “Hey, you know, we saw our name was protected “as part of your trademark policy, “we’d like to get your domains.” And then what we find is the domain is really the starter of a conversation about Web3. So we’re like, “Okay, now you’ve got your domain name, “you know, what’s your guys’ Web3 strategy?” And then all of a sudden that just opens a bunch of doors for us and also I think for everyone in Web3. And I’d say so far it’s been pretty successful.
And is there a secondary market where let’s say I have a domain, thinking.crypto or whatever it is, right, for the podcast, but for whatever reason I said, you know what, I don’t want to do this podcast stuff anymore. I’m gonna go, I don’t know, sell something at the beach or something, whatever it is, right? I changed careers, could I resell that domain?
So because they’re NFTs, they actually work on all the traditional marketplaces, right? So they work on, well, I say traditional, on the traditional NFT marketplaces. So it works on OpenSea, it works on Rarible, it works on Coinbase, right? So like all these different places where you could buy and sell NFTs, you can actually do that with Unstoppable Domains as well. So yes, and they are, you know, they’re just like every other NFT that you have out there in that regards, in how the secondary markets work. So, and we like to leave that to the experts, so that’s not something that Unstoppable Domains gets involved in. Like, you know, we let OpenSea build the marketplace, we just focus on domains and domain name functionality for end users, and that way people actually end up having more choices also as well.
Now, I don’t know if you addressed this, and I apologize if I missed it, but is there functionality currently or in the works where like a traditional domain it points to a website but it can also be a wallet address? Can thinking.crypto
be like a website and you can also send funds to me?
Yes, we’re actually active in two browsers right now, Brave browser and Opera browser. So you can actually set your website up right now with one of these domain names and it works in those browsers. We think that as we continue to get adoption over the next several years, that we’ll be able to extend that out to other browsers. And so that’s just about, you know, waiting for crypto to have its day in the sun, and we think that’ll eventually come around. But yeah, we’ve supported websites since the beginning. Another way to think about it is Web3 domains are like regular domains with superpowers. So regular domains can do a website, they can route your email for you, right? You can have an FTP server if you’re a developer out there or something like that. But they really have a limited number of functionalities that’s plugged into them. Whereas these Web3 domains, you can actually attach any kind of generalized data back to and then route that information to those users. So we can do websites, we can do email, we actually have email as well that does forwarding, but then we can also do cryptocurrency wallet addresses, and we can also do Twitter verifications. And so this is why we think that it’s actually the next evolution of technology for domain name industry in general.
So do you think GoDaddy’s gonna come knocking your door for acquisition?
Well, so we’ve actually talked to a lot of people in the traditional industry already, and they’re super interested in seeing what’s happening in this space. I will say that, candidly, that like after what happened with FTX last year and a couple of these other crypto, you know, bubble pops or whatever, they’re gonna move slowly, right? Which they should. In exploring this space. But I do think that someone like Unstoppable Domains is a really good partner for those people trying to learn more about, hey, how does this maybe fit into their business model? And I’ll say that I think that what they think is most interesting is the digital identity aspect because when we’ve had conversations with traditional industry players, we say, you know, their business is currently 20 to 50 million small businesses and then the total size of the domain market’s around three to 400 million registered domains, okay? But when we’re talking about domains as digital identity, then you’re talking about three to four billion internet users, right? And then the total size of the domain market is probably three to five X that, so you’re talking 10 to 20 billion registered domains. So they’re literally looking at our market as being 50, 100 X bigger in terms of the number of end users that they’re gonna have than their current market, ’cause, you know, there’s only 20 to 50 million small businesses. So yeah, they’re super interested about this category. I think this is the future for growth in the domain industry. And I also think it’s interesting because it expands the scope of domains to actually take on some of these more adjacent categories like identity and, you know, it’s up to us to make that happen.
Yeah, to your point, there is a identity, maybe I shouldn’t used the word crisis, but there is an identity problem, right? Where you have a lot of impersonations happening on social media, and it’s non-stop bots going crazy, right? I get targeted big time people using my personal name as well as the podcast, and it happens for other creators as well. So blockchain is certainly gonna be a solution, but if you can have, you know, another verification layer with the domain names and people can go to that and, you know, if it’s integrated in a way where they can see, okay, this is the actual person or this is not the person, that will be amazing, especially if it’s integrated into social networks.
Yeah, I think that blockchain-based naming systems, so Web3 domains are going to be the UX layer that people interact with in order to get to verified data, right? So in order to know that they’re talking to you, right? Or, you know, communicating with the right bank or the financial intermediary or that this person is not a scammer or that they’re not a fraud or that they’re not a bot. So yeah, that’s how we kind of see it. And that means that we’re at that intersection of really having to understand how the tech works. Like, we had to like connect everything up on the backend. And then we have the other side, which is super hard, which is can we make it intuitive enough for users so that they’re not scared? And that’s where I think the opportunity is. And it’s actually a really hard problem, ’cause if you ask people like, what are the hardest problems in crypto, they’re gonna tell you that UX is gonna be, you know, top 10 on their list. And then if you ask a technologist what are the hard parts of crypto, they’re gonna be like, you know, scaling up all these stuff that you wanna do on the backend. And we have to do both of those things. But, you know, that’s why it’s interesting, right? I like the, you know, the quote, you know, it’s like why try really hard to do an average thing when you could try just as hard to do something exceptional? And that’s what we’re trying to do here. And we really do think the impact could be monumental. Like, when we talk about what we’re trying to do at Unstoppable, we wanna change the way that all three or four billion people on the internet are interacting with each other. And that’s not just when they’re online, like sitting at their desktop, that’s when they’re on their mobile phone at the coffee shop or whatever. And it really could be anything. You know, people have been talking about getting real world assets on chain. I think that’s gonna take another decade. But once real world assets are on chain, you know, the next time you try to sell your car, right, maybe you could verify that the person, you know, or the person who’s buying from you can verify that you actually own that title because that title has been registered on the blockchain, and that could be as simple as looking up your name and then seeing a proof that you actually were the purchaser, right? And you could reveal that by, you know, signing a transaction, and you’ll have privacy around that too. So there’s a couple things, there’s not just one thing that’s wrong with the way that we’re interacting with online. It’s like a soup of things. And I think that that’s what makes it harder. And the reason why tech people are so excited is because blockchain gives us this new tool to help us shine a light on these areas where we’d be like, okay, that’s 100% true. And then all of a sudden when we’re able to do that, we’re able to, you know, cut through the noise on these systems and hopefully put a lot more trust into the internet.
For sure. So the fact that, you know, you guys are I think leading in this area for sure, are you getting any pushback from incumbents or people in the traditional domain world? Any regulatory pushback or anything like that?
We’re not getting anything yet ’cause we’re still at the discovery stage for a lot of these people. So we’ve initiated conversations, which I think is really good. We actually just recently announced the Web3 Domain Alliance. We’re talking to other industry partners. We’re trying to get our voices heard, right, in the traditional space. So we’re joining the organizations. We are signing up for the committees on standards bodies, right, to kind of talk through what does this mean for this business. And what we’re basically telling them is we think that there’s something very interesting here, and we think that there’s a huge opportunity to not only expand your business but also to make the internet safer for people to transact, right? And so let’s talk about how these technologies could make that happen. So I mean, there’s a few people that are in the industry who maybe have a negative reaction immediately, and I would, you know, I think it’s totally fair, especially after crypto’s last year, right, in 2022. There’s a lot of egg on the face of the crypto industry for some of the behavior of the people who were in it. And so that makes sense that they would be a little bit more hesitant. But I would say generally the domain industry is actually pretty progressive on, you know, trying to adopt new technology. They have been looking for a way to innovate. You know, domains have been the same since 1996. Do you own any domains from that? What’s the oldest domain you own actually? I’m actually kind of curious. Maybe that’s a good question.
I think I started buying domains around mid-2000s.
So it hasn’t changed much, right?
Hasn’t changed much, no.
Right, right, exactly. So like when we go to the domain, I remember it was 20, it was 2018, I was at NamesCon, or maybe 2019, I can’t remember, but I was at one of those domainer conventions or whatever. And, you know, it’s like, I was basically saying like, your industry has not really changed for 25 years and like this is the thing, guys. And so I think that’s where they’re pretty excited about it. And we gotta let things cool off from last year. People want to digest all the huge positive developments that happen and just all the hype and everything too. But, you know, the building is still happening.
Yeah, I mean, I think the solution you guys have, it’s like much needed, and I know it takes time to build and get things rolled out and adoption and so forth. But yeah, I mean, just seeing what happened and the vulnerabilities, the scams, how people get scammed and sometimes send things to the wrong wallet addresses and so forth. Having named domains that you can send, you know, crypto funds to will just make it so much easier.
Yeah, I agree, I agree. And then specifically with scams, and this is just, we don’t have this product, but we’re just talking about this internally and after seeing what happened in the last year, right? So like I’ve really, security is one of the things I’ve told my team, like, okay, this is a user problem we really need to focus on. And I’m actually quite excited to be working with other people in the industry, so that not only when you look up a name to send money to like matt.crypto or something, you can make sure that you’re sending it to the right address, but I’m also very interested in servicing potential, you know, fraud data associated with that user, right? Because if we can process the information like, hey, what’s that Bitcoin address? Has that Bitcoin address been involved with fraud or so forth like this? And, you know, it’s all public data anyway on chain.
So like it’s not like we’re doing anything that’s not already out there, but just improving the UX layers so that you can know, you know, hey, you got that urgent email. Like, this is what happens, and this actually happened to a family member of mine. You get that urgent email, you know, and it’s pretending to be from Coinbase. Oh, you need to log in right now and do this thing. And what I’m telling my team is like, what if we can service some UX around that with your domain name? So when you connect your domain name into an application or when you’re about to send money to a domain name, we could maybe say, hey, wait a second. You know, this has been, you know, flagged as a possible, you know, phishing scam that you guys should be interested in. And there are companies that already do this information, and we just wanna work with those companies to help surface that at Unstoppable.
That will be amazing.
I think so too. And like that’s what I was saying earlier, like, you know, UX is a multi-pronged problem, and, you know, like I think that 100% you have to use a domain name to make it easier for sending crypto. But I think that the verifications of the data that we can add to this, you know, because all these blockchains, we can read them and we can see, you know, what’s true and what’s not true, and we can take a look at certain, we can make sure that hey, this is the right, you know, Twitter address associated with this domain name, or, you know, we can take a look and see if maybe you’ve been, that address you’re about to send money to has been flagged for potential scam or fraud. And so that’s the type of stuff, and that’s just one of the places where identity information will be much more useful for making the internet safer.
You’ve touched on a lot, you know, as far as future plans. Could you recap, you know, what you guys have planned for this year and what folks can expect?
Let me start with where we are. So we actually just crossed three million registered domains which I think is a incredible feat, especially coming from my, you know, living room in Las Vegas where we founded the company to get to three million registered domains. So I wanna say thank you to everyone out there who’s been a customer of Unstoppable. We really appreciate your support. You know, it’s just been huge. And then another thing is we actually just crossed 600 plus integrations. We’re now the most integrated naming service for Web3 domains on the planet. And that’s big because we were talking earlier, like if we’re gonna add additional information like to apps to maybe verify data or whatever, sorry, to make sure you’re not dealing with a robot, all these types of things, then we need to be not in 600 apps but in six million, right? So like we need to be in every app. We need to be in your Uber app, we need to be at, you know, all the places where you are. So I think that’s been pretty, that’s been a lot, right? And we’ve gotten there. And so where are we gonna go in the immediate future for this year? Like, I mentioned security is definitely gonna be a focus. We’re gonna try to improve security for users. Coming out of 2022, we think that’s gonna be big. We’re gonna give users more options to express themselves creatively, specifically around their, like how they wanna present themselves in the metaverse. So we’re working with some partners there as well in order to, you know, try to incorporate more visuals for how you wanna see yourself when you’re there. Custody and backup and recovery is a big one. We actually just put all of our domains on chain as of December 31st last year. That was our goal, was to make sure that everything was on chain. And we’re gonna continue to push on that epic, but that gets us to a place where we can build some better backup and custody products to make it safer for you to not feel like you could accidentally lose your domain. So that’s another category there. So there’s a lot. We’re working on a lot of things I guess is the short of it.
That’s exciting, man. I can’t wait to see, you know, these things roll out this year. Let’s switch gears and talk a bit about the crypto market. You know, it’s tough out there, you touched a bit on it, the FTX debacle and all the issues we saw last year. How do you think the industry moves forward? Is it just time that we, you know, we forget about these things that happened last year? And I’ve noticed some exchanges and different platforms raised their standards with audits and proof of reserves and things like that. What are your thoughts overall?
Yeah, so I don’t think that it’s just time. I think that we actually have to take proactive steps to make things better as an industry. And so we’re gonna do the best that we can at Unstoppable Domains to try to do whatever we can to make crypto safer or easier to understand. So we actually have to put the work in. As far as the industry in general, I do think that there is a group of things that will just need to be worked through. So the legal cases, the bankruptcies, there’s a lot of things up in the air right now when you have a 10 billion hole punched into the market, which is what happened with FTX in November of this year. It takes months for all those teams to work through the implications to their businesses. And so, you know, I told my team when that happened back in November that this is gonna take a few months for those, but I do think that they have gotten, you know, like they’re doing the work, so, you know, they’ve got the right teams in place to kind of, you know, the legal teams in a lot of those places are pretty good. They’re working through the backlog there, and they’re gonna have to process that. And that reminds me of Mt. Gox for people who’ve been around that long, and, you know, that bankruptcy actually hit the whole industry for a year or two there because everyone was like, where’s my money, right? So that kind of thing, that’s the work that needs to be worked through there on that side. And then I guess the speculation has cooled off quite a bit, right? And yeah, so and that’s probably an understatement. And I will just point out that that’s, how much of that is macro versus how much of that is crypto?
Is a very important question to ask. ‘Cause if you look at the IPO market for 2022, it was down 94% from 2021. So that’s just IPO, all IPOs, not just crypto. So I don’t think we’ll know how much is crypto targeted versus how much is macro until we get to the other side of the macro. And the other side of the macro looks like it’s gonna be another year here. Everyone’s calling for recession this year. I don’t know. I am not a weather forecaster. I have no idea what’s going to happen. But like everyone’s calling for one this year, you know, Goldman, everybody. So I think that until we get to the other side of macro, we’re not gonna have a perfect picture of how specifically impacted crypto is. I do think crypto was specifically impacted though. I do think that like, you know, kind of like the .com bubble in 2001, this was the .crypto bubble if I may be so bold. And it’s gonna dramatically impact our industry I think more than just the macro. So yeah, that’s my view. I mean, I think about it all the time obviously ’cause I’m in it. And, you know, you just have to be ready to make it through to the other side.
Yeah, no that’s a great point. We are in a macro bear market. Everything is taking a hit. Stocks, real estate, you name it. And it’s all eyes on the fed, and when they’re gonna pause, and, you know, the recession fears are out there as well. So yeah, it’s almost like, you know, we gotta get through that storm and then we see where crypto is at that point. In regards to crypto regulations though, and the FTX situation may escalate this. We’re seeing talks of stable coin regulations, and we’re still waiting on a comprehensive regulations as far as what’s a security, what’s a commodity, and you have the ripple lawsuit, a lot of eyes on that. You have the SEC not approving a Bitcoin spot ETF. You know, what are your thoughts on regulations, and could we see comprehensive regulations this year?
That’s a good question. I do think that we’re gonna get a lot more out of the regulators this year or next year than we have in the past. And I think that’s because they realize that by not being forceful and clear on their beliefs, they’ve allowed some things to happen that they really wish they hadn’t, right? Like, so if they had been more clear like, hey, if you’re a crypto exchange, you have to segregate customer funds, and you have to go talk to this regulator, right? If they had done that three years ago, well they probably would’ve saved 10 billion, right? And so I think that like that’s a very strong force on them to get some clarity out into the market. I think that it’s likely they’re gonna go more harsh to start, right, because they realize now that they’re behind the curve. So I actually am expecting them to go pretty hard, and I think that they’re gonna do a lot of things instead of saying, you know, here’s how you can qualify, they’re gonna say, you can’t do this at all. So I actually am pretty… I think that there’s gonna be quite a bit that’s coming. So that may be harsher than what most people are expecting. And I also think we’re gonna finally get some litigation here from participants inside the ecosystem, which is also very good because it’s not just that we had a couple people commit fraud and steal billions of dollars from customers, but we also had a lot of inter industry interaction where it wasn’t clear who was responsible for what. And I think one of the most interesting things that I’m seeing right now is a lot of these LPs for the limited partners for these and, you know, the pension money basically is, you know, pursuing litigation against some of these venture capital firms for not being responsible for deploying this capital. And then in that same area, the SEC is actually saying, what were you venture capitalists actually creating? Like, were you actually creating valuable businesses for people to like improve their lives, or were you creating financial instruments for short-term to medium term profit? And that I think is gonna bring a substantial amount of litigation. And just from an optics perspective, I think the SEC is probably looking pretty bad or feeling bad about themselves at least because the FTX debacle. And then I think that a lot of the investment regulators are a little worried about pensions having put money into these projects, and they’re a little upset about what venture capital has potentially been pushing out or pushing onto consumers over the past couple years, and they’re gonna look to try to hold some people responsible. And so I, yeah, I think that’s gonna happen. I do think it’s a good time for them to do regulation. Maybe this is my silver lining. Like, it’s a lot better to do the regulation in the middle of a bear market than it is in a bull market, right? Because there’s lower activity now, so they’ll be able to implement the rules and people will have some time to digest them before the next time that we have an investment cycle in that space. So I’d say that’s silver lining. And I will actually say I hope that they do it right because if we don’t get regulation now after a $10 billion blow up at a large exchange where people lost their life savings, millions of people, right? Then I am afraid that we may not ever get any kind of guardrails on this industry that will help it get to mainstream adoption, and I think that that ultimately will just kill the industry.
Yeah, great point. And it’s, you know, the United States got it right with the .com and the internet and allowing innovation to flourish but also protecting consumers. And I think that’s missing. I think the worry people have is will it be draconian laws, right, where they hurt innovation, but hopefully they can find that balance, right? You have to protect consumers. There are people who are doing bad things, but there is a lot of builders and a lot of innovation happening and this is the next layer on top of the internet, so hopefully we can get it right.
It’s really the fast money that causes the problems. And if you actually look at the internet, like a lot of people, you know, miss this part of internet history, but the first 10 to 15 years of the internet, it was not commercial, right? You weren’t allowed to do commerce on the internet prior to like the early ’90s, and so there was actually like a 10 year development cycle, right, or 15 year development cycle before commercialization came onto the internet. If you look at crypto, we went commercial day zero, right? And so like when people in crypto, you know, like myself have been saying like, hey, we need, you know, like it’s important for you guys to spend extra time here to get the right regulations because the risk is higher, that’s because we’ve been commercialized from day zero with the cryptocurrency industry, which was not the case with the traditional internet. The traditional internet, regulators had an entire 15 years of academics using internet at, you know, universities for them to kind of understand what the implications of this new technology was. Not the case here. So yeah, I think it’s unfortunate that it’s just, they’ve been behind the curve from day one because the way this thing has rolled out, and I hope that they can catch up and get ahead of the curve. I’m also a little scared that maybe they won’t. So we’ll see how that goes. I’m not super optimistic, honestly. I’m bullish on their, I’m like, I’m optimistic that there’s gonna… I guess optimistic is the wrong word. I’m confident that there’s gonna be a lot more regulations, and I’m confident that it’s going to be a lot more expensive to run a crypto company. I’m not confident that that’s gonna be positive for the industry at this point.
So on that note, I had a question here for you. Where do you see the crypto market in five years? And not price predictions, but, you know, are we, we have more adoption? How are things running? What are things looking like?
Yeah, so I’ll, let me talk about the technology ’cause that’s where I’m most excited. So I’m hopeful that we will see continued improvements to the technology to reduce the cost of running these crypto networks. I think that the Ethereum transition to proof of stake was pretty fundamentally important this past year, even though it got buried in the bear market because it just makes the cost of running these networks so much cheaper. Now I will say, they have a lot of problems to fix with that because now they’ve got issues around censorship on the Ethereum blockchain. But I’m just saying, I hope there’ll be more innovation there where we can reduce cost, increase scale. Like, sharding would be another one. And sharding maybe not the greatest word to use here for your listeners. But we need to have blockchains that can have a billion people using them every day. And right now we have blockchains that will work for less than a million people using them every day. So on the tech side, I’m really hoping we can go from blockchains capable of doing a million people a day to blockchains capable of doing a billion. And I think that that really will help the industry tremendously, just being able to handle that much capacity. And then on the user side, I hope that companies like Unstoppable do a great job making it easier for people to use crypto. And I really hope we can reduce the scare factor for sending crypto to your friend or logging into a Web3 application or like playing with a new crypto game. I hope that we can really help you feel safer doing that, and there’s a lot of companies out there like us trying to make that better for the UX for consumers. So that would be where I hope that we end up in five years. And then in terms of like usage, I would like to start seeing at least 100 million people interacting with a crypto product on a weekly basis, right? So like we talk about daily active users, I’m in the tech industry, right? So like people ask me all the time, when am I gonna use crypto every day? Like, once a day. And I think that it’s too far off for me to be able to tell you the number there, but I do think we should see some progress there ’cause most people who are active in crypto right now, I would say personally I think there’s probably about 10 million. So anywhere between one and 10 million crypto users on the planet who are monthly active users right now, who use crypto more than once a month. And I think that it would be great if we could get that closer to 100 million weekly active users over the next five year period, so that would be good. And, you know, just people who are using crypto in their daily life, that’s what I’d like to see.
Good stuff. I got some wrap up questions here for you. First is rapid fire. Well, I should say, actually not. First, if you could create your own metaverse, what would the theme be?
Yeah, so I like, I actually like augmented reality as opposed to pure metaverse reality. So when I think about where I’m gonna be using crypto, I like to think about, you know, being able to walk around in my daily life and then being able to pull facts out from that. So like if you’ve played Pokemon Go or any of those games, you know, like you’re like walking around and then you can catch Pokemon or something. And I’d just like this idea that I could have my crypto wallet with me and I could be walking around and then I could interact with various things that, you know, are not actually there in the physical sense but are there in the augmented reality sense. I like the combination of our digital technology with our physical world, so I like to be in the AR space as opposed to the pure metaverse like Mark Zuckerberg is over there. So that would be my favorite place to be for these technologies, and that’s where I’m most interested.
Awesome. And rapid fire questions. Favorite food?
It’s gotta be cheese. Cheese or chocolate. That’s like top two.
Favorite musician or band?
Oh man, that is hard. I’m gonna have to pass on that one. Literally my Spotify is ridiculous. It’s too many things.
Well again, I love movies. First thing, I’m not gonna say favorite, but the first ones that come to my mind as some of the great movies out there would have to be something like “Forrest Gump.” I love that one. And the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company. I think that’s a pretty good analogy for where we are right now in the crypto market. So I’ll go with that one for today.
Well, yeah, this is… I really like Ayn Rand “Atlas Shrugged.” I thought she did a great job on that one. I read that one maybe 20 years ago. I know that could be controversial, but I thought it was a very good point that she put across there. And then I’m also a big biography reader, so I love reading biographies of a lot of people. There are too many to name there, but if you’ve got a good biography and you have a suggestion for me, please send it to me on my Twitter DMs. I will check it out.
And finally, when you’re not working at Unstoppable, what are you doing for fun as a hobby?
Yes, so I love spending time with my family, right? I also love playing with my dog, Ollie. He was one of the first employees of Unstoppable, so one of the favorite joys of my life is training him or teaching him new tricks. He’s pretty good at training me as well. And then I do a pretty good amount of hiking. I’m a big, I’m an avid walker. I used to be a runner before I messed my feet up running. So for other people out there who like to run cross country, I wish I could be out there running with you. I can’t anymore, broke, so take care of your feet, right? But now I enjoy hiking very much. I love doing that. And I also enjoy driving cars fast when I get a chance, although my wife yells at me for that and at least she got me off the motorcycles.
Matthew, pleasure chatting with you, man. I am very excited for the updates that are coming from Unstoppable this year, and I would love to have you back on, you know, as things progress. But thank you so much for joining me.
Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.