Benny Giang, co-founder of CryptoKitties and product manager at Axiom Zen, joins Ben and Jay to talk about how CryptoKitties took the world by storm at the ETHWaterloo hackathon, ushering in the biggest moment in crypto since Bitcoin.
Benny recalls the excitement that fueled CryptoKitties, as the company blew every expectation out of the water, flipping the crypto space on its head and for the first time making writing lines of code, shipping product and being profitable (in three weeks) cooler than slinging white papers and ideas for changing the world.
Benny talks about the changing digital asset space and pays homage to CryptoKitties' predecessors including CryptoPunks, Pepe, and Spells of Genesis, who were the first to truly explore art on blockchain. He also delves into the value of providing a "gaming component" -- breeding of cats on chain -- to make Ethereum more accessible, and why this "super cute and fun" part of the game is what truly separates CryptoKitties.
Benny recalls how CryptoKitties nearly crippled Ethereum (at one point they were nearly 25% of the total ETH traffic), and blocked several ICOs from launching at the time.
We dive into CryptoKitties' impact of the feature of digital art and collectibles, and how nearly 800,000 unique cat options and the subsequent four billion variations that can be achieved by breeding "Fancy Cats" and releasing various "Exclusive Cats" is shaping the digital asset landscape. Benny describes why the non-fungible, ERC-721 tokens are key to quickly being able to provide the type of third-party assessment of value needed for digital collectibles.
Benny provides tips for what it takes to successfully launch in China and avoid surprises including understanding the Chinese mentality; managing firewalls (no Facebook and Google, no Google Cloud, etc.); the ban on ICOs and crypto; the huge opportunity that comes with so much gaming and developer talent; private blockchains; managing the impact of large corporate copycats; and getting distribution.
Benny gets excited about how CryptoKitties are being used to support causes; ETH developer Nick Johnson turned a kitty he received for identifying bugs on the platform into cows for farmers in Africa, and how a 12-year old named Bella raised $15k by selling cats, which she donated to the Seattle Children’s Hospital.
CryptoKitties slows their roll on the merchandise, in favor of thinking about what it'll take to get themselves into MoMA.