American magazine Fortune called her one of the 40 most influential people under the age of 40 in fintech. Lawyer by education, artist, militant activist for many years for the “open” Internet and the new democratic governance based on the blockchain, Primavera De Filippi will be one of the star guests of the USI conference, which will be held on 27 and 28 June. at the Palais Bronier in Paris (usievents.com), whose partner is L’Express. She explains to us why the technological innovations created by Web3 are a “revolution in power.”
L’Express: Blockchain, NFT, DeFi, DAO, metaworld … “Web3” causes a lot of terms that are still incomprehensible to most people. So let’s start with pedagogy: for you, what exactly does this expression cover?
Primavera de Filippi: We have reached a point where everything is connected, everything intersects, and it becomes difficult to determine the exact contours of what is called “Web3”. For me, this term covers any web interface that interacts with some form of blockchain infrastructure. But we can say it more simply: Web1 was a limited reading Internet; Web2 has been enriched with written text with the introduction of interactive platforms that encourage users to create content. Web3 is a new stage, a decentralized network. Users are not only readers and contributors, but they can also claim ownership of the resources they interact with … They are given the opportunity to return the value they provided online for free via the blockchain. This is a potential revolution.
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The metaverse, this turbulent virtual world, will become an important part of it. How do you see its development, structuring in the coming years?
We must first distinguish between Web3 and the metaverse. It’s not the same. What characterizes the metaverse is the concept of territories, displacements, movements. Space beyond the physical world, through virtual or augmented reality, which the Internet has absolutely nothing to offer. It remains to be seen what we will do with it … We are currently in a somewhat nascent phase, which takes us back to the era of BBS (bulletin board systems), to the Internet, when we connected to servers. spaces that formed their own small digital universe and that did not interact with each other.
The metauniverse, or rather metaverses, is a bit like this today: entering it, you find yourself in a world completely separate from the rest, and you do not have the ability to exchange messages, transfer resources to another virtual system. We are still really in an unstable, limited model, which makes us lose all the benefits of the Internet, namely compatibility, the ability to move freely from one universe to another. That is why I think we will not be able to resist the desire to open up and create systems that are increasingly interconnected and compatible with each other. This is, I would say, a natural slope. But we cannot rule out that the big dominant player imposes his vision and his model, deploying such a powerful and dominant platform that he will no longer need to interact with others. The equivalent of Facebook in the days of Web2.
But by its nature, blockchain technology and philosophy strive for a very decentralized model. We are tempted to say that the new ecosystem will inevitably reject attempts of this type …
This is not certain, and from this point of view we are living in an interesting moment; Sooner or later there will be a dichotomy, an inevitable opposition between a highly decentralized model, interconnected as promised by the Internet, and a dominant model with two or three major core platforms, along with niche platforms that do not work on the same field and will not be able to compete. Will giant platforms accept other people’s objects, their resources? That’s the whole question. And, contrary to what one might think, the use of a blockchain is not in itself a guarantee of an open and decentralized approach. Look at what is happening in Sandbox and Decentraland: these decentralized platforms do not recognize objects among themselves … As a player, if you buy such an object in their metaverses, you will be able to view it in one, but not in the other. This proves that the struggle for compatibility has not been won.
Today we see a number of ads from leading brands willing to spend a lot of money to buy virtual land. What does this mean other than a marketing coup?
First of all, we see communication operations. But these brands do nothing: there is already a huge market in the metaverse. People spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to dress up their avatar. When he gave a concert at Roblox, American rapper Lil Nas X received more revenue from merchandising. for avatars of spectators than by selling tickets. Gucci, a pioneer in this field, has released a digital bag on Roblox, which was purchased at a higher price than the physical bag sold in stores!
Fashion is a matter of status. If we start spending time in the metaworld, selling avatar accessories will be a very good business. Another option for brands is to sell coupons for purchases in the virtual universe. Bozon, for example, is building a Metaverse mall. What idea? Instead of browsing an e-commerce site and ordering clothes in a few clicks, you are offered a completely different experience: you walk through a virtual store, find the clothes you are looking for, try them on your avatar, buy and receive them sent to you by mail. Metaverse is a new website. Now it looks a bit ridiculous, but a few years ago no one could have imagined buying a pair of shoes online. Now everyone is doing it.
Outside the metaworld, what initiatives and innovations do you find most promising today in Web3?
Everything about decentralized finance is absolutely exciting. DeFi copies all the functionality of financial applications, all methods of trade and financing without having to rely on centralized institutions. At all levels of the chain, everything you can imagine in traditional financial markets is reproduced in a decentralized way thanks to the blockchain. There are also very interesting projects with NFT (editor’s note, fixed tokens). In both cases, we can already talk about a fairly mass adoption. The rest, everything that revolves around DAO, these decentralized autonomous organizations managed by “smart contracts”, is extremely promising and innovative. But this is still reserved for freak communities.
In general, should companies expect their business models to be completely ruined by Web3?
The promise of Web3 is the disappearance of intermediaries, the idea that in the future everything can be done on an equal footing, but this is not true … There is no total demarcation. However, the distribution of value will change. Today, crowdsourcing is the dominant model: large platforms on the Internet do not create value themselves, they coordinate and integrate what users provide; is the heart of the business for all Airbnb, Uber, Facebook and Twitter on the planet …
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In these precise cases, the intermediary monopolizes all value; not only does the user provide him with resources, but he also has to pay to benefit from his services! Can we imagine systems tomorrow that provide a fairer form of redistribution? With Web3, I think so, through tokens, dividends or management rights. That’s the whole point. This is not a complete coup, but a deep evolution: we will no longer put up with the fact that everything is confiscated by a centralized operator.
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