NEARCON 2022: Highlights, Talks and Videos
Missed NEARCON 2022? We’ve got you covered with content from the four conference stages, as well as a dizzying host of awesome announcements.
Here’s a sizzle to get you primed for all that happened at this year’s NEARCON. A NEARCON 2022 Dropbox folder has also been set up so everyone can peruse, download, and share all of the photos from the conference. There is also a NEARCON 2022 YouTube video playlist worth checking out.
NEARCON Day 1: Year in Review, Regulatory Frameworks, Brave Fireside Chat, and More
From NEAR’s first ever transparency report to the announcement of a new Sports and Entertainment fund, here’s all the big news from Day One of NEARCON.
- Few and Far, a next-generation NFT marketplace built on NEAR, won a grant to advance NFTs across the ecosystem.
- NEAR unveiled the eleven winners of the Women in Web3 Changemakers competition to spotlight the achievement of women in Web3 and to showcase female role models in the ecosystem.
- Tether, the first and most widely used stablecoin (“USDT”), launched on NEAR.
- Sender Wallet raised US$4.5 Million in a private round led by Pantera Capital.
- NEAR Digital Collective (NDC) will help decentralize NEAR’s ecosystem governance and move decision-making on-chain to make community more resilient, transparent, and fair.
- Phase 1 of NEAR’s Nightshade sharding was unveiled, making NEAR even more decentralized and scalable.
- In a new Entertainment Fund, NEAR is backing a new $100m VC Fund and Lab focused on Web3’s evolution of culture, media, and entertainment
- The Fireblocks integration on NEAR went live.
Day 1 Videos
NEAR Year in Review and Transparency Report
NEAR Foundation CEO Marieke Flament and NEAR Co-founder Illia Polosukhin began the day by welcoming attendees on the Layer 1 Stage and delving into how NEAR is building beyond the hype through 2022 and beyond.
“We’re extremely excited about the diversity of attendees and over 220 speakers from so many different verticals and industries,” said Flament. “And we’ll continue to build upon our core vision of onboarding the next one billion users onto Web3 by helping the ecosystem build things that people can use.”
Flament returned solo to the stage for the “NEAR Year in Review,” recapping key milestones in the ecosystem over the last 12 months and unveiling NEAR’s first ever Transparency Report. Flament communicated top data from the report, including how the NEAR Grants fund had reached over $800 million in capital with over $540 million deployed within the ecosystem. Among the key sectors of grant recipients were Startup Funds, Regional Hubs, NFTs, Gaming and & Entertainment and DAOs.
Bridging the Gap Between Web2 and Web3
Onboarding the next billion users onto Web3 requires an efficient tech stack and rich ecosystem of useful decentralized apps (dApps) and services, a topic that James Tromans from Google Cloud took to the Layer 1 Stage to address. While Tromans championed Web3, he also pointed out the Web2 services can play a role in easing the transition for developers.
“We need to make building in Web3 faster, better, and easier,” Tromans said. “For now, we can bring the best of Web2 services like Google Cloud to Web3 so that not everything has to be built from scratch.”
Tromans was then joined by a panel moderated by Emily Parker from Coindeskentitled “Bridge Builders, Why We Need Web 2.5.” In addition to Parker and Tromans, Susie Batt from Opera Browser and Satish Ramakrishan of BitGo contributed their opinions on the concept of a “Web 2.5” that could enable a more seamless transition to Web3.
Shelia Warren discusses Web3 regulatory frameworks
One of the biggest names headlining day one was Sheila Warren, crypto legal expert and CEO of the Crypto Council for Innovation. Warren took the Layer One stage during the afternoon to help attendees wade through the complex and controversial topics of regulation, governance, and legal frameworks in crypto and Web3.
“Who regulates crypto?” Warren posited to begin. “There is no definitive answer other than it’s complicated. It depends how projects are classified and certain power dynamics between the industry and regulators. What we need is a regulatory policy framework that addresses multiple aspects of decentralization.”
Warren added that regulation is not all bad and could have a beneficial effect on the space if done in an intelligent and collaborative manner.
The next year on NEAR and Brave Fireside Chat
Looking ahead, NEAR Co-founder Illia Polosukhin took the Layer 1 stage to offer his sentiments on the year ahead for the NEAR Foundation, protocol, and ecosystem. Polosukhin predicted a steady increase in both ecosystem funding and projects, with over 800 projects and growing, according to AwesomeNEAR.
“I’m very excited about next year as we’ll continue to build out a wide range of developer tooling that will facilitate the next generation of NEAR apps,” said Polosukhin. “We now have all the necessary primitives — like Paras for NFTs and AstroDAO for DAOs — that the NEAR ecosystem can now become more composable with richer experiences.”
NEARCON Day 2: Headlined by Messari, Armored Kingdom, and SailGP
Most anyone at Day Two of NEARCON could attest to the level of excitement and momentum for the entire NEAR ecosystem. And if there’s one thing that Day Two showcased, it’s that Web3 and NEAR are well along the path of mass adoption. From sports to social media and entertainment, real-world projects building on NEAR stepped forward in a big way on Day Two.
Session attendees came away with big updates and predictions for NEAR ecosystem partners like Sweatcoin and SailGP, not to mention a special appearance and workshop for the creators of Armored Kingdom. Everyone in the building also saw that the Hackathon was in full swing, with presentations and judging right around the corner.
- New NEAR Regional Hubs launched in India and Vietnam to support Web3 innovation, education, and talent.
- Pagoda Console lets devs create without limits from an ad hoc toolkit, a one-stop tool shop that gives devs all they need to build Web3 apps.
- Switchboard goes multichain with NEAR to give developers the best tools and data to build their apps.
- Fayyr launched first NFT Marketplace for Social Impact Organizations on NEAR.
- Chainstack, a leading blockchain managed services provider, launched support for NEAR on its platform.
- Contented Media Group (CMG) received a Near Foundation grant to launch a Web3 platform where brands can interact with content creators.
- Bitstamp listed NEAR token on its exchange.
Day 2 Videos
Ryan Selkis of Messari on navigating crypto cycles
Things started off with one of the biggest names at NEARCON, as Messari co-founder Ryan Selkis joined NEAR CEO Marieke Flament to discuss where we are in the current crypto cycle, building in a downturn, and how to navigate the future. Selkis was well-positioned to speak on the subject, having lived through multiple peaks and valleys of blockchain markets and adoption.
“We’re in the early innings of a long-term game,” Selkis told Flament. “Centralized institutions are weaker than ever and there’s transformational potential in a user-owned economy, empowering individuals and building more resilient systems.”
“This is the part of the cycle where protocols will begin to cross the chasm from MVP to mass adoption,” posited Selkis. “And now is the time to think long term about things like how the Web3 tech stack will develop and what a potential cross-chain future looks like.”
The SWEAT Economy gets NEARCON moving
Another major highlight of Day Two took place on the Layer One stage as Oleg Fomenko, co-founder of Sweatcoin, explained how the SWEAT economy was born, why the NEAR blockchain is playing a critical role, and where the move-to-earn economy is heading.
“We are literally witnessing the birth of the movement economy,” Fomenko exclaimed. “We created Sweatcoin in 2016 with that name because we assumed it would be on the blockchain. Now we’re number one on the App Store in over 66 countries with over 120 million users.”
Fomenko also recalled that in the early days of Sweatcoin, the Ethereum network simply couldn’t handle the number of transactions with adequate speed to truly bring his vision of move-to-earn to life.
“But when we found NEAR, it was a perfect match in terms of both vision and mission,” said Fomenko. “A fast, low-cost blockchain along with an incredible team is helping us push the movement economy forward and help users live healthier lifestyles.”
SailGP + NEAR Have the wind at their backs
Piggybacking on Day One’s announcement of the NEAR Foundation’s new Sports and Entertainment fund, NEAR CEO Marieke Flament returned to the stage to welcome SailGP’s CEO Russell Coutts and CTO Warren Jones.
“SailGP as a brand and product is built on both being exciting and data driven,” said Coutts. “Our boats generate billions of data points per day that we use to improve the fan experience. We’ve always been technology focused, which is why working with NEAR to integrate Web3 and the blockchain makes so much sense.”
Flament added that one of the most exciting aspects to the partnership is how NEAR is currently helping SailGP facilitate a racing team being owned and operated by a DAO. Coutts also expressed this excitement, painting a picture of endless possibilities with how the DAO might choose to operate and increase fan engagement.
“The DAO might decide that certain token holders or the most engaged members can actually talk to athletes in the midst of a competition,” said Coutts. “Other things like special rewards for members or participating in team selection can also potentially be implemented. It’s all up to the DAO, which is what makes this initiative so special.”
Armored Kingdom gives a lesson in storytelling
One of the most anticipated gaming and metaverse projects finally touched down on Day Two of NEARCON. Armored Kingdom creators Lisa and Hugh Sterbakov were joined by writer Brian Turner to deconstruct the process of building a story arc, core elements to great storytelling, and what to expect from Armored Kingdom on NEAR.
“Armored Kingdom is not just a comic book or metaverse game,” said Lisa. “It’s an entire multimedia platform built where fans can participate and co-create. And we’ll be rolling out an animated series to go along with it.”
“Armored Kingdom is our playground,” Turner said. “The world is based on an endless conflict between four major tribes on an alien planet. There are religious undertones as well as a battle for a scarce resource — Armorite — with which very powerful weapons are made from.”
Lisa capped off the session by mentioning that building Armored Kingdom on NEAR is allowing the team to build features and functions into the game easily due to the tech stack, and in the end, fans can put as much or as little time in as they want.
“Web3 is allowing us to create communities and encourage participation that Web2 never has,” she said. “We’re currently receiving fan art submissions through our Discord community that have already made their way into the comic book.”
NEARCON Day 3: Circle, AstroDAO, and NEAR Digital Collective
The biggest NEARCON to date came to a close on Day Three with a slew of insightful speakers, interactive panels, and an unexpected announcement. Big names from organizations and projects like Circle, NearPay, and A16z helped make the conclusion of NEARCON 2022 feel extremely meaningful and memorable.
Attendees got a glimpse at how DAOs work under the hood, where NEAR fits in with the ever-evolving fintech and payments space, and how builders should approach governance in a crypto winter. And then there was the unveiling of the NEAR Digital Collective, an ambitious leap in decentralizing and enhancing governance on the NEAR network.
- SWEAT and NEAR partner to enable the masses to ‘walk into crypto.’
- OnMachina to provide native large-scale storage system to dApps and services building on NEAR, creating capacity to support billions of users.
Day 3 Videos
Spotlight on Crypto Payments and Fintech
Day Three began with a meeting of the minds between NEAR CEO Marieke Flament and Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle. The pair started a morning of talks and discussions around crypto innovation, payments, and broader implications for governments and fintech.
“You couldn’t have predicted the amount of innovation that’s taken place over the past decade and the millions of developers now on the blockchain,” Allaire from Circle said. “And now that we have the base layer technology in place for programmable money, along with decreasing costs of transactions, the stage is really set for exponential growth.”
Flament then asked Allaire about his perspective on the role that stablecoins and central bank digital currencies (CBDC) could play in the future of a blockchain and crypto-powered global financial ecosystem.
“What we really want to see is a composable system that resembles the software-powered internet,” Allair continued. “There’s certainly room for various stablecoins and CBDCs, as long as they continue the inertia towards self-sovereign commerce.”
The duo was followed by a panel entitled “Crypto Natives vs. Fintechs for the Future of Payments,” including notable names from Checkout.com, Roketo, and NearPay. The group discussed a range of topics, from making crypto payments more seamless for individuals and onboarding small businesses to the blockchain.
Deep Dive into DAOs and Governance
The afternoon on the Layer 1 Stage was filled with opinions and insights about Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), how they function, and the role of DAOs in the future of Web3 and society at large. In a panel about How DAOs Get Work Done, founders and leaders from AstroDAO, The Kin DAO, and CornerstoneDAOall offered unique perspectives.
“We created Kin DAO for the purposes of collaboratively owning physical land to create self-sustaining food systems and micro economies,” said Adrian Bello, founder of Kin DAO and Primordia DAO. “We’re practicing this decentralized governance in person and rehabilitating our relationship with Earth.”
Bello went on to explain that her new project, Primorida DAO, has the goal of onboarding as many DAOs as possible from excluded communities onto NEAR. That’s in large part because of the NEAR ecosystem’s focus on user-friendly DAO tooling and community building through AstroDAO.
“AstroDAO is our home for everything,” Bello continued. “Other chains can be somewhat hard to get into. But AstroDAO is accessible and has a low barrier to entry. We can reference decisions made on-chain and governance is therefore always transparent.”
Jordan Gray, the founder of AstroDAO, also explained how his project is focused on letting everyday users harness the power of DAOs. Smart contracts, APIs, and governance protocols all exist “under the hood” of AstroDAO, making it easier for both users and developers to create, engage with, and operate DAOs.
“DAOs are going to rock the business world in a way that we haven’t seen since the spreadsheet,” Gray predicts. “We’re on the cusp of a work revolution. And if we figure out new ways to incentivize voting, we might even fix democracy.”
Introducing the NEAR Digital Collective for Governance
Day Three of NEARCON concluded with one of the most exciting announcements of the entire conference. NEAR co-founder Illia Polosukhin and Harry Tafolla of Cheddarannounced the creation of the NEAR Digital Collective (NDC), an ambitious initiative to further decentralize NEAR governance and create a more robust, resilient network.
“With the NEAR Digital Collective, we’re striving for a truly autonomous ecosystem,” Polosukhin said. “We need to do this on the people’s level, where we’re all accountable and responsible and systems are not chaotic or toxic.”
Polosukhin went on to explain that the NDC governance framework is akin to drafting the constitution of a newly formed nation, with core community members like Tafolla leading the charge to formulate, define, and implement NEAR governance from here on out.
Polosukhin said that the NDC is a major step in addressing the needs of all stakeholders within the NEAR ecosystem, from users and DAOs to node validators and wallet developers. The NDC will also be dynamic and allow for constant updates and upgrades in governance frameworks and processes.
Hackathon winner and wrapping up NEARCON
Flament then took the stage along with Polosukhin to wrap up NEARCON 2022, highlighting that almost 3,000 attendees from 176 countries contributed to making this year’s gathering such a rousing success. In addition, 38% of all attendees were women, and NEAR handed out the first-ever Women in Web3 Changemakers awardsfor female role models in the space.
Polosukhin also thanked the 500+ hackers who participated in the NEARCON 2022 Hackathon. Out of the 98 submissions, the winner chosen was Pomegrant, a browser plugin that allows users to eliminate ads and donate directly to content creators using crypto.
“If there’s something that we hope you’re taking away from these past three days, it’s without limits,” Flament concluded. “We hope with NEAR you see that you can truly create without limits and realize whatever dreams and visions that you have for both your project and society. So let’s continue to create without limits, build beyond the hype, and get to one billion users!”
Thanks again to all who attended, contributed to, and engaged with NEARCON 2022. A big round of applause for the entire NEAR ecosystem and we’ll see you again at NEARCON 2023!