Investing in Platforms today: Learning, Data drivenness, and Web3 – with Gigi Levy Weiss



Investing in Platforms today: Learning, Data drivenness, and Web3 – with Gigi Levy Weiss

Gigi Levy Weiss joins us for the last episode of the season to talk about what it means to be investing in platforms today, from what we can learn from the gaming industry to the different layers and use cases of Web3 marketplaces he sees evolving.

Podcast Notes

A Founding Partner at NFX, Gigi heads up NFX Israel and is widely known as one of the most prolific investors in the region. Gigi has founded several startups, including Playtika, Beach Bum (acquired by Voodoo), InceptionVR and Ridge. He was also the CEO of 888 Holdings, one of the world’s leading online gaming companies, and a Division President of Amdocs, a leading billing and CRM provider. In 2014, Gigi was appointed to Facebook’s EMEA Client Advisory Council. In 2015 he joined the supervisory board at Bertelsmann, one of the world’s largest media companies.

As a pilot in the Israeli Air Force, he learned the value of striving for excellence at all times, building learning organizations, and that working together as a team is the real secret to winning.

Tune in to this episode as we explore what other industries can learn from gaming companies, the four layers of the evolution of Web3 marketplaces, the existential role of technology — and why Web3 hasn’t changed the world yet.

At the end of the episode, we give a short wrap-up of season 3 of the podcast — as this is the last episode for the season — and we focus on what we learned and what are the key topics, in the context of organizing at scale, that are on our minds. We cover the seemingly ramping importance of modularity and composability in markets — also check out this piece that captures some of the ideas — and some additional thoughts around the questions concerning our relationship with technology, adopting a regenerative mindset and convivial organizational models.


Key highlights from the conversation

We discussed:

  • What we can learn from the gaming industry in the context of platforms, ecosystems and marketplaces
  • What it means to be a learning organization
  • Designing products for people to engage in learning
  • How Gigi approaches Web3 as an investor
  • The role of centralized services in platforms
  • Solving real-world challenges through the Web3


To find out more about Gigi’s work:


Other references and mentions:


Find out more about the show and the research at Boundaryless at

Thanks for the ad-hoc music to Liosound / Walter Mobilio. Find his portfolio here:

Recorded on 20 July 2022.

🌐 Boundaryless Conversations Podcast is about exploring the future of organizing at scale by leveraging on technology, network effects, and shaping narratives. We explore how platforms can help us play with a world in turmoil, change, and transformation: a world that is at the same time more interconnected and interdependent than ever but also more conflictual and rivalrous.


Simone Cicero:
Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the Boundaryless Conversations Podcast. Today with me, we have my usual co-host Stina Heikkila.

Stina Heikkila:
Hello, everybody.

Simone Cicero:
And another very special guest, Gigi Levy Weiss.

Gigi Levy Weiss:
Hi, Simone. Hi, Stina.

Simone Cicero:
Thanks so much for your time. We really, really appreciate it. We know you’re super busy and making space for the conversation with our listeners, which by the way are very much looking forward to learn from you. So, I don’t think, Gigi, you need much presentations as part of the NFX VC and also multiple times entrepreneur and has been a voice that marketplace and platform entrepreneurs have been following, thanks to your writings, several podcasts you’ve been on.

So, today our major aim is to add some more meat, let’s say, and something new, helping you to share some from your experience to our listeners. So, basically, we can probably start from a quick initial question that I want to ask you to address. You have this long experience in gaming both as an entrepreneur and as an investor. And games have been countless times somehow pioneering new interaction models and innovations that have then later on been adopted through other experiences and services.

So, maybe one initial question is what can we learn from the gaming industry that can be applied broadly more broadly, and especially, I would say in the context of platforms, ecosystems and marketplaces that seems to be your bread and butter these days. So, I’m thinking about patterns, primitives, mental models, key elements that you believe are going to be exported, and more generalize, let’s say, coming from the word gaming into more generally, the digital service industries.

Gigi Levy Weiss:
Yeah. And thanks, Simone. I think it’s a great question. At the end of the day we invest in many things and everything from B2B, SaaS, and B2B marketplaces all the way to consumer products and games. And the question always comes up, is games a separate thing? Or is it just part of the same continuum? And what we like telling people is that games is actually not just part of the same continuum but actually, it’s a lot more than that. Games is maybe the most extreme and pure form of Internet businesses. And I’ll explain in a second why that’s the case. Being that that’s the case, by the way, many times we would have a CEO where we feel the company’s not moving fast enough or not iterative enough, or not data driven enough. And we can take such a CEO and send them to a day or two in a games company. And they come back where their minds open to how things could be run, which is very different than the way they run their businesses. So, let’s dive into the specifics.

I think that at the end of the day, what many people don’t understand about games is that games are a product, right? It’s not just entertainment, it’s really a product. And this product is aimed like many other products to generate customer acquisition, and then customer retention, and engagement and monetization. But the difference between games and other products is that the quantity of data, and the quantity of interactions we have in every game are ridiculously higher than in any other types of products. So, if we take for example, an e-commerce page, then I come to an e-commerce store and I look at a bunch of products. Let’s say that I have my time and I look at 10 products, okay? And that takes me like 20 minutes, and I click on a bunch of things, and I look at similar products. And altogether, maybe there is, at the end of it 50 to 100 data points about what I’ve done, what products I looked at, what similar product did I look at? Where did I browse from, what time of day it is, how long did they stay on every product?

At the equivalent session of a games company, it is very likely that there’s more than 10X data points on the same session length. Not to mention, of course, that I’m very likely to come to that ecommerce page, maybe once a week, maybe once a month, but definitely not five, six times a day. While for the game that I like I’m coming back five, six, 10, maybe 12 times a day. And so not only do we have more data per session, but we also have a lot more sessions per day and a lot more sessions per week or active days per week.

The outcome of that is that all the principles that everybody is preaching on internet businesses, which is that every decision and every product decision, and every iteration needs to be based on data that is actually amplified dramatically when it comes to games, because we have so much more data. Because we have so many more things that we know about the customer at that point, about the playing style, about what the player does when they lose, what the player does when they — what does the player do when they win? What happens when they’re out of coins, what happens when they just won something?

And all this data eventually dictates our analysis of the behavior of the player, which then dictates a bunch of things. It dictates the way we interact with the customer. Like, what do we tell the customer at any point? It impacts the way we monetize the customer. When do we offer the customer to buy something? What do we offer them to buy? How do we respond to what’s happening in the game? And it’s very much impacts the way we retain the customer. Oh my God, the customer just lost their army. What’s going to happen now? Do we need to now give them a small army to start with because they just lost the army in the battle? And maybe they’re going to churn? Or can we just continue and wait and see what’s going to happen?

And so the outcome of all these data and the fact that there’s all these sessions and all these decision points, means that game companies today are by far, the best users of customer data of all types of companies. They are generally the most iterative, meaning that they do more and more and more iterations, on every feature that they put out, or every change they make. They’re the best in personalization, because two players can behave very differently to the same thing, which may not be exactly the case 100% in e-commerce, but it’s very much the case. And we have companies like Optimove that will take your customers and slice and dice it to thousands of micro segments, and offer each micro segment different offers at every point of the game. And at the end of the day, game companies because of that are faster.

And so when I think about what other industries can learn from game companies, it is mostly how to be more data driven, more iterative, more responsive to the player behavior, and think more about personalization and micro segmentation than any other companies out there. And this is what I think non-game companies can learn from game companies today.

Simone Cicero:
That’s great. Especially I think, when you refer to the care that most of gaming companies put into ensuring the player engagement, right? And you spoke about onboarding sometimes, and there is also this attention towards the flow. So, basically giving the player challenges that are according and in line to his or her state of capability and play. So, I think these are things that are really, really resonating as well with how we look into platforms, right; as a way for an ecosystem as a way to get people to increase their capability, their contribution, their possibilities, their potential, looking into new options that arrive. So, looking into these systems as learning systems and evolutionary systems. And I think games are really pioneering also that part. So, thank you very much for this initial reflection.

Gigi Levy Weiss:
I’ll say one more thing. I think that you’ve mentioned something that I really liked, which is the concept that we have called the learning organization, which is basically the fact that we think that nobody knows everything. And every organization as it evolves and as it gets more customer data, it needs to learn a new thing and it needs to evolve. Not just evolve the product, but evolve the way it works, evolve the way it retains, evolve the way it monetizes. And when I think about good games companies, it’s a nice way of thinking about it. They’re probably the most learning organizations out there. Meaning that these are the organizations that don’t take anything for granted.

And as things evolve and as they put out new features, or new content, or new live ops or something new, it basically adds to the learning of the organization, so that the organization gets better all the time. And a game company that will not be like that will not be a learning organization. Even if they stumble initially, across something really, really good and the initial numbers are great, they’re just not going to be able to continue optimizing it and continue improving it. And so the concept of learning and the concept of improving and the concept of doing both of these based off data, this is the essence of any games company today. And this is what makes the game companies such great organizations to learn from also for other areas of tech.

Simone Cicero:
Right. I mean, especially as they learn from the users, right, which is another specifically important trait of platforms that having all these data points, as Simon Wardley once said, they have this capability to essentially use platform and ecosystems as a “future-sensing engine”. So, essentially, games are very good also at capturing new behaviors from customers, from adopters and players and given the numbers and game players are also notoriously good at hacking the products so that they — it fits better with their expectations. And so that’s probably another thing that we may bring up that people running marketplaces, running platforms should be really attentive at how users happy their products, and capturing all these data points to introduce new behaviors, new possibilities. So, I think that’s another very important thing; learning from your ecosystem.

So, maybe we can jump into another kind of horizontal topic that is flooding the discussion around marketplaces and platforms besides these horizontality of gaming patterns. So, we can talk about how much Web3 and these new innovations in the blockchain related space and tokenization, tokenomics are bringing into the space of marketplaces. I was reading yesterday, a few days ago, actually, an essay from Fabrice Grinda, which is another very well-known investor. And he was talking about this transition from crypto basically marketplaces that essentially maybe just they use crypto from a perspective of utilizing, for example, adopting it as a go-to market strategy into what he calls, crypto-enabled marketplaces. So, marketplaces that are essentially very entrenched with the new enablers and new ideas that Web3 brings about. So Web3 has a particular capabilities to, and potential to basically help us to develop new primitives and marketplaces, to drive adoption, to create a much more democratic spaces.

And somehow, it’s essentially very, very strongly transforming the very idea of marketplaces. We had, for example, on this podcast a couple of time, people from Braintrust, which seems to be the kind of poster child of Web3 marketplaces. In that case, for example, we just see the marketplace using utility tokens and playing with governance. In other cases, we are seeing marketplaces and platforms even going deeper, for example, having a fully blockchain, on chain based transaction engine. So, the question will be maybe more specifically, your venture fund is very focused at the network effects, it’s very focused on web three. And these two things seem to be sometimes at odds. So, we are seeing Web3 also as a way to disrupt the traditional way that we, I would say, control value in marketplaces.

And so as an investor, when you approach the context of Web3, how you are approaching this? I’m interested in both. Let’s say maybe first, the potential you see in how Web3 can transform the marketplace industry. And on a second point, maybe we can double click on when you invest into Web3 players, how do you do that? Do you invest in the product? Do you invest in a protocol? How do you look into returning your investment, for example, when you invest in utility tokens and things like that? So, maybe, let’s start from what do you see in terms of impacts of these Web3 technologies in the industry of marketplaces first?

Gigi Levy Weiss:
So, we can speak the entire conversation on that, of course. But I want to start by saying that not all Web3 marketplace impact is made equal. And I want to basically break it down into four different criteria, or four different stages of Web3 marketplace evolution and explain how we look at it. So, the first stage, which we think we’re big believers on, but we think is not that big a revolution, is essentially using Web3 or cryptocurrencies for payment. And payment could be payment in and payment could be payment out. When we talk about that, then you take an existing marketplace.

Let’s take Fiverr, for example. And you can say, will some of Fiverr’s suppliers, the supply side, the people that provide the services prefer to get paid in crypto because they come from a country where receiving money is very difficult, or because they come from a country with high inflation. So, by the time they get it in the local currency, or maybe it comes from a country that doesn’t allow to hold dollars. And so the answer is yes, it is very likely that some of Fiverr’s suppliers will want to actually receive part of the money in Web3, in crypto.

Similarly, could there be companies that would want to pay in crypto? The answer is yes, probably it’s mostly going to be companies that are Web3 first, company that are protocols or companies that have raised money in cryptocurrency and they may want to buy services using crypto. We’re big investors in a company called Ramp which is a fiat to crypto company, this is one of the things they do. There are other companies out there right now that are looking at the payout, some like Bitpay already doing part of it. And so this is the first layer. And this is essentially what we call a very tactical layer because it’s just like in the marketplace, you can have as a pay in and payout method, you can have credit cards, but you can also have ACH. And you can also have PayPal, and you can also have other wallets or other payment methods. This is a tactical thing. Why should we have Web3? And that’s the first layer and that we think is in motion and with time will be available in every marketplace. That’s one thing.

The second layer is to say, well, I’m doing payment in and out. But I’m also doing something else, which is that I’m using a token to create loyalty. My entire marketplace is still centralized. It’s still working the same way. I’m still doing marketing the same way. But I’m going to use loyalty through tokens to basically give the people, generally the suppliers but sometimes also the demand side, to give them tokens that will eventually represent part of the turnover of the marketplace or part of the profit of the marketplace. so that we create a new incentive for people to use the marketplace, despite just having a great match between supply and demand. This is something that we’ve seen some marketplaces do. This is like what Braintrust does. And we’ve seen other companies going in this direction. And they’re more and more companies, more and more marketplaces that are starting to think about that as a way to not replace their current marketplace, but actually enhance it, by creating a mechanism that’s going to create further incentive, both for demand side and supply side to participate more in the marketplace. And that’s something that is we call it, it’s the next level of the evolution, it’s not solely a revolution.

Where we start getting into the more revolutionary world is the third layer, which is where you take the entire marketplace stack, the tech stack, and you say, instead of me having to build a centralized tech stack, why don’t I use smart contracts to actually decentralize the tech stack and not have to build it from scratch? This is almost like a tech decision rather than a business decision. And theoretically, you could take the blockchain technology, and build such a tech stack that will still be centralized completely in terms of business, right? This is a technological decision. We have not yet seen a lot of people doing this. But as L1s become better and better and the tools around building applications on the old ones become stronger and stronger, it is possible that the next marketplace is going to come up, is going to say even if I’m centralized, do I want to use blockchain technology for implementing the marketplace functionality in a simple way.

The fourth one, which is where we are all dreaming, and this is what I was really hoping for and haven’t yet seen this work. This is where you use the blockchain technology and everything that I’ve said before, not just to change the tech decision, the tech selection, or to make something simpler or a little bit better loyalty. This is to change the entire business model of the marketplace. And when utility tokens came up initially, the first dream that we all had was that instead of having and let’s take an example, instead of having Uber or Lyft, which are basically centralized marketplaces, that connect supply and demand, and that basically have an incentive to take as much money from the demand side, almost to the point that they don’t want to drive, and provide the drivers as little money as possible, almost to the point they don’t want to drive, and then take as much profit as possible to the central company that has shareholders. This is the traditional model.

The Web3 marketplace utility model was different. It was: why don’t we create an environment where basically everybody’s incentivized to streamline the transactions as much as possible, the users are paying as little as possible, the drivers are getting as much as possible. And the people that are building it are basically enjoying the increase in the value of the token, the more people use it on the supply and demand. And that was the theory. And this theory is beautiful, because that was the first theory out there for many, many years that basically created for the first time alignment between the three constituencies. The company building the technology, or the DAO or whatever it is, is building the technology, the demand side and the supply side. And the theory was that when you get it right, you’re basically going to take the most market share, because it’s in everybody’s interest that this will work.

Now, this thesis is what got me, I think, excited about Web3 years ago. And this is something that still is part of my dreams as to how Web3 is going to change the world. But the reality is that that hasn’t happened yet. And the question is why? And I personally think that a big part of the answer lies in two things. One of them is very tactical, which is that for most of the new marketplaces or the main marketplaces that we all use these days. By the time Web3 started creating alternatives, the network effect of the marketplaces, because they were around for a few years, were already too strong for anything to change, just because there is a new token and new direction and new utility. That’s one thing.

And the second thing is that I think that many of these attempts were way, way, way too purists and I’ll explain what I mean. I think that what some of these attempts missed, if I go back to the Uber example, is that the customers, they prefer, of course, for everything to be cheaper and better and more streamlined. But at the same time, they want customer service. And at the same time, they want to be able to complain about a driver. And at the same time they want somebody to do vetting of the driver and they don’t want the complaints to go to an Oracle on the network and maybe get something. They want to get a refund for the travel right now if the car was horribly dirty or something.

And as customers want vetting, and as customers want customer service, and as customers want to be treated well if they’re big customers, and as the demand side wants to have the right training and everything, what you understand suddenly, is that you need a lot of these central services, that many of the attempts to create Web3 decentralized marketplaces kind of ended up not supplementing the core product with these additional services. And I think that a combination of the network effects strength of the existing services, the centralized services coupled with the fact that many of the attempts were too pure. That’s what got us to the point of where we are today, where we don’t see any major marketplace in any field, which is predominantly a Web3 marketplace.

And I personally think that in the years to come, as many of the tech challenges disappear, because the old ones are better. And there’s more tools around them, there’s more tools to build products and apps on these old ones. And as more users are savvier when it comes to Web3, and as new founders in this field, understand more and more that you can’t be a purist; you need to make sure that there is customer service, you need to make sure that there is marketing, you need to make sure that there is a way to vet the drivers and so on. And eventually, as new technologies like embedded wallets and so on will allow you to create a Web3 marketplace service without having to send the customer to download a wallet somewhere else or send the customer to buy crypto somewhere else.

As these things happen, I’m still very hopeful that we will see more marketplaces emerging that are of that fourth type, which is really changing the interaction, the engagement model between supply, demand, and creator of the marketplace, to a point that it’s much better for everybody involved. And that’s my hope. And that hasn’t happened yet. But that’s the big promise. The big promise is not necessarily, I think, another payment method, or adding a loyalty token, which are great, but they’re not really the core change that we were looking for in the industry.

Simone Cicero:
I wanted to just ask you a little reflection. So, you’re pointing out that for the Web3 transformations to really produce the impacts that we expect, there is a certain customer experience factor that, at the moment, is acting a little bit as a break. You spoke about the — maybe too much ideological approaches to the market so far. So, how much do you think that this kind of customer expectation, the existing network effects are going to slow down the adoption of Web3 technologies? Because it seems for example, when you speak about not using wallets to connect, to some extent that there is a kind of ideological perspective on the Web3 space that people have to look after their own private keys, right? That’s the change, right? So, how do you expect that these two voices can really unlock?

Gigi Levy Weiss:
Look, guys, at the end of the day, I’m a theoretical follower and lover, but at the same time, I’m also a practical product builder. And at the end of the day, if we want, let’s just just take a stupid example. If we want many people in Fiverr to receive part of their payments in crypto, then if we send them to start deciding which wallet they want to use, and somehow connect the wallet and somehow do it, versus giving them an embedded wallet inside Fiverr where they can take the money out, for example. But if we don’t do that, then it’s likely that it’s going to be a smaller percentage of users that will choose it. And I think when we look at what got people into the Web3 world, a lot of the services that got people into Web3 are essentially centralized services.

And why are they centralized services, like centralized exchanges or custodian wallets? Because for most people, the uncertainty of the decentralized infrastructure is too much for them to handle. And so they need a Coinbase that gives them two factor authentication and gives them customer support. Or they need Binance that is a centralized exchange and lets them basically do whatever they want, just like it’s a normal non-crypto exchange. And I think that we need to understand that if we want to disrupt the world, with Web3 marketplaces, we will need to make these marketplaces as easy to use as Web2 marketplaces, at least. So, that — And if we are going after something that already has a marketplace with strong network effects, it needs to be not the same. It needs to be 10X better, because otherwise people don’t switch, right?

And so this is what we need. We need to make sure that the infrastructure we’re building, the rails that we’re building, the tools that we’re building, are going to make these Web3 marketplaces as easy to use, or better to use. And also, of course, with all the theoretical advantages of a streamlined marketplace where everybody has the same incentives, so that people will actually prefer to use the Web3 marketplace and not the Web2 version of the same marketplace. And this is where the industry failed so fast for a variety of reasons. Part of it was performance of L1s, part of it was availability of easy to integrate wallets. Part of it was just the kind of UX that you saw in some of these projects. Many of these and part of it was the selection, the decision of the people that were building the dAPPs to actually not add centralized customer support or centralized marketing team or whatever, which at the end of the day is required to create a service that’s going to be mass market.

And so I think it’s not that I’m advocating for building only central, the other way around. But I’m advocating that everybody that goes out to build a decentralized marketplace right now, a Web3 based marketplace, should think about all these things and make sure that the product that they’re building is as easy or easier and better to use than the Web2 equivalent.

Stina Heikkila:
Thank you for outlining those four layers. That was really helpful. And I got immediately curious when you said that your dream is in this fourth layer. And I’m curious to know as an investor, looking at this space, if you think about that having more incentives aligned between the supply demand, and the creator and in, to some extent, like empowering the producers on the marketplace, maybe to a larger extent, that’s sort of embedded a bit in that vision. I’m wondering how you’re thinking in terms of time. Is that a more of a long-term game we’re entering? Are you going to expect sort of a slower return, smaller returns in exchange for some kind of impact? Or based on what you said now in your last comments, is it really sort of the same expectations in terms of just building basically a better product to invest in that is going to out compete over time the other model?

Gigi Levy Weiss:
So, look, I think it’s a very good question. And as a fund, we don’t get the luxury of investing in things because we want them to succeed. We need to invest in things because we think they’re going to succeed, right? It’s because we’re managing other people’s money. And so our thinking about it right now is that there are areas where we think such dApps can succeed today. And what we’re looking for is for teams that in many cases came from Web2, teams that basically know how to build the Web2 version of what they’re building in Web3. And what we seek from them is a very, very professional approach as to what’s required, what’s the minimal product quality or customer experience required for that to actually work. And in areas, such as a decentralized Uber, which is like a very, very clear, simple proposition, that should not be too complicated, because drivers are multi-tenanting anyhow, and because the product is commoditized. And so why shouldn’t it work?

You know, we’re pretty cautious on this, because we think the network effect is very strong on the existing platform. We also think that getting people to switch without a very, very, very clear, monetary benefit, immediate one, is very difficult. And we see that many platforms came out with better prices, and didn’t win market share, even without Web3. And so, in areas like this, we would be careful until we see something meaningful. But in other areas that are maybe less competitive, we are looking at such marketplaces all the time. I mean, we’ve invested for example, in a company that we love called Radical, which is a peer-to-peer, if you wish, that’s powered by a protocol. And this was an area where we thought there’s going to be enough people that are going to appreciate the fact that this is the way it works, it’s not just a normal, centralized marketplace that’s controlled by a large company. And we are looking at it all the time.

And as I said, the way we look at it is that we believe that when we will find the right founders with the right experience, and the right concept that goes after a marketplace that doesn’t have too strong network effects right now, that are difficult to overcome. And they will come with a customer experience that is as good or better than the Web2 versions, plus all the benefit of the Web3 structure, which is better alignment between supply and demand, which is easier and faster payments, which is all the things that we like, then we’ll be interested in investing in it. But it needs to be the right team. And they need to be, as I said before, not too purist as in saying everything must be decentralized, we don’t want to have anything centralized, we don’t want any central services. We don’t want anybody really — we don’t want it to feel like a Web2 product, where what we think is that, sadly, we need to have it, to make it feel a little bit like a Web2 product because that’s what the majority of people are using today.

Simone Cicero:
I want to add this quick reflection, Gigi. Basically, I was reading a few days ago an essay from Nathan Schneider, that is one of the most important voices in Web3 – he is actually the editor of a book coming up with Vitalik Buterin on proof of stake. But in general, he wrote this post the last couple of weeks ago, saying basically Web3 represents, it’s the opportunity we have had all along. So, when you say, for example, we can use Web3 enablers for more democratic marketplaces, for more marketplaces that concentrate less value into the creators and tech creators, but also distribute those values to the producers, to suppliers. I think if we kind of profess this idea that we don’t want to be ideological about Web3, but we want to just embrace somehow the political challenges and the democracy related challenges that this kind of Zeitgeist is bringing about, somehow we are saying we had these opportunities already. And now Web3 is kind of making it hard to, I would say, to avoid these conversations on how we build the democratic marketplaces, much more collective governed ones. What do you think?

Gigi Levy Weiss:
There is this big debate on whether Web3 marketplaces can overcome the evil nature of the capitalistic trying to extract as much money out of the marketplace, even in the upper brackets, of course, that Web2 sort of created. And there’s this counter argument that says, well, if Uber wanted to charge only 3%, it could charge only 3%. Right? And if Uber wanted to take its profit, and at the end of the year, share it between its drivers and its passengers, Uber can do that without Web3. And so in a way, I think that many people that are skeptic are looking at it and saying, these are beautiful principles, but these principles require a change in human nature to be implemented. And we’re not big believers in changing human nature. Meaning that at the end of the day, the people that will create it will want to eventually make money out of it.

And the fact that they may want to make money differently doesn’t change much the fact that we’ve had the opportunity to create it before and we haven’t created it, so it’s not going to come. I think that the reality, like everything, is somewhere in the middle. I think that it is true that many of the marketplaces could have been more supply and demand friendly, over the years. Rates or take percentages could have been taken down. And profits could have been shared with suppliers or with demand. And we have seen Airbnb try to see whether they can compensate the supply side, which shares in the listing, which I think was stopped by the SEC. And all of these things has been around at some level. But the reality is that when you build something on the Web3 stack, you’re basically taking this pre-commitment to do it, which is probably much harder to do when you’re starting on the Web2 stack.

So, when you’re starting on the We2 stack, let’s say that you’re going out here and saying I’m only going to take 5% rate. But then you raise money from investors, and then you get a board and then this and then that. And somebody then asked well, would the customers go away at 7%? And you have to admit that the answer is no. And then you said, well, with 7%, we can build better things, we can improve the product more. And then the question is 10%. And then the question is 12. And so the Web2 model by design, I think in the way corporate governance works will, generally speaking, lead people toward that we’re taking as much as we can; be it for our pockets or be it for then investing more in building products and so on.

I think the Web3 model, the beauty of it, is that once you decided to go on that Web3 model, essentially, you’ve taken a pre-commitment that’s going to go with the company forever. Or if it’s not a company, whatever it is, but it’s going to go with that venture forever, right? Because if you’ve created something that is hard coded into the protocol, the fact that tomorrow the board will say “but we want a higher rake”, that doesn’t work like this, because you already now have governance and you have power to the demand and power to the supply. And maybe you could change the rake, because let’s say that you just can’t maintain the service with too low a rake just as an example.

But then there would need to be the vote of demand, supply and creators, and not just the decision of the creators. And so in a way, it is true that Web3 on its own, does not generate a new model, maybe that will take away the desires of each one of the three sides of the marketplace, the creators of the marketplace, the demand and supply to each optimize their own position. You can’t change human nature. However, once you build it on the Web3 stack, it is very possible that if you did it correctly, it limits the ability of which one of these sides to actually act in a way that’s irresponsible to the others. And so this pre-commitment has in it not necessarily a new way to impact human behavior, but a new way to create a pre-commitment that can’t easily be changed later. Does that make sense?

Simone Cicero:
Yeah. Some kind of commitment to build for integrating different points of view and try to build something that is attentive to everybody’s perspective. So, I think you got this very clearly. So, thanks so much.

Gigi Levy Weiss:
If we ask ourself what would happen if every price change in Uber, would need to be voted by supply demand and company. It is very likely that it’s going to act a little bit differently than the way it is if it’s only the company, right, that needs to close a better quarter or near the board is pushing to increase profits or whatever, right? It would be different. By the way, it may even be that it’s not going to be that different between supply and demand because supply and demand both understand the constraints that drivers understand that the passenger is not going to pay triple the price. And the passengers understand that if the driver is not going to get paid, then they’re not going to drive, right? So, it is possible that there is — even today there’s more alignment between driver and passenger than there is between everybody else in the company. And so Web3 kind of solves for this, but it needs to succeed, of course.

Stina Heikkila:
Now, we were talking about how it’s not necessarily, whether it’s Web2 or Web3 that will change human nature as you mentioned and the sort of outcome of some decisions over other, although it changes the premises to make the decision, and it’s probably going to have an influence on that. But then I was thinking about other types of influences, like we’re living in a sort of increasingly unstable world in many respects. So, we have climate emergency, we have a lot of political turmoil, and a lot of other types of pressure that is also influencing this space. So, I don’t know if you have any reflections on how you see this world solving for some of those challenges. We mentioned before paying out in crypto could actually help us to get around issues of inflation locally, for instance, and sort of increase their income power through that. Do you see other ways in which these two are impacting each other, let’s say, like these external pressures that we are experiencing, and the way that the industry is evolving?

Gigi Levy Weiss:
I think that’s a very good question. And it’s sort of very philosophical and very tactical at the same time. I think there’s a bunch — there’s a few ways to look at it, or maybe three different layers to the answer. At the beginning of everything, I think that through tech, in every field, we live in a period of unparalleled abundance in everything humans touch. If you look at the quantity of food around the world, there’s probably for the first time in history, in the last decade, there’s enough food to feed the world with no problem, right? When we look at water, there is enough desalination and purification technology to actually provide, if we wanted, clean water to everybody that needs it.

In terms of education, not only are there more and more people that can read now than in any other period of history in the world. But also through online education, we could basically teach everybody everything if we only wanted to, and so on and so on. Life expectancy has gone up because of medical development. And the ability to prevent diseases has gone up dramatically because of biological changes that we’ve created. And so I think that technology is definitely impacting the world for the better. I have no question. Even with my concerns about where the world is heading, I think that if on every — literally every criteria that we can look at, through technology, the world became a better place.

And even you know, we now have the horrible Russia-Ukraine war. But at the same time, I think we’re at the period where the least people in history are impacted by armed conflicts. And so even on that side, we’re not doing that badly. So, that’s one thing. And I think that technology will continue driving humankind further on everything for the better. And this is something we can’t forget. And when we talk about the impact and the importance of technology in this, we need to remember that this is a given and that this is an assumption that we need to continue, I think living by, because that’s a critical part to the world becoming a better place. And there could be hiccups, and we can talk about them. But that’s one thing.

I think the second thing is the question of whether, at the end of the day, there is a responsibility for the tech ecosystem to basically be more influential when it comes to the problems that needs to be addressed in the world right now. And so the question then becomes, should founders of another game actually dedicate their time to solving global warming? Or to helping feeding the world or to developing better technology for curing a specific disease? And I think the answer is yes and no. In other words, I think that they’re all the needs that humans have. And entertainment at one extreme is one of them and then at the other extreme, there are the existential needs. And I think technology should cater for all of them. But I do always tell people that come to me with a bunch of ideas that if you can have an idea, if you’re debating between two good ideas, and one of them can have a better impact on the world, why don’t you choose that one because at the end of the day, it’s our role as the tech ecosystem to try and do that and that’s the second thing.

The third thing is actually an interesting one. And when you look at the history of Israeli tech, people are always asking how come Israel, a tiny country, less than 10 million people, is one of the top, top tech hubs in the world. And there’s many answers and many potential theoretical answers, but one of them, for sure, is the fact that through the turmoil, conflicts, pressure, and need to solve problems in Israel, many good technologies and many good companies were created.

And so when people ask me, is this a good period to invest in or a bad period to invest in, and I look back, I see that some of the world’s best companies were actually created in the worst times, in the worst crisis when there were other violent military crises, or they were economical crises, or they were supply chain crises or anything. And I think that the current environment, which is super unstable in terms of war, in terms of economy, in terms of — you spoke about Israel — in terms of the political system in Israel. It’s not great, but it is likely that at the end of it, it’s actually going to end up creating more innovation, and more solutions to problems that arise than had everything has been great.

I mean, if Israel became tomorrow that perfect place where everybody lives a great life and there’s really no need to invent anything. And there’s no need to fight the status quo, then it is possible that Israel will lose its position as the main tech hub that created so many great companies. And not that I welcome the political instability or the current turmoil in the world, but in a way, I think we need to understand that part of that difficulty is also part of what creates innovation, and part of what creates new innovative solutions. And so that has, in the big balance of things in the world, that has its role as well.

Stina Heikkila:
Yeah, especially sort of those new, really new subsystems, let’s say that have also grown partially in response to sort of the industrial era, right, where things haven’t been working out.

Gigi Levy Weiss:
Yeah. Exactly.

Simone Cicero:
Thank you so much. We’re mindful of your time so Gigi, that was an incredible conversation. You managed in like 45 minutes to span from gaming to political instabilities and the role of technology in changing the world. So, I’m amazed as always, by your capability to, I would say, roam, very wide in tech, innovation, and whatever. And I really encourage all our listeners to look into your work, whatever you publish, whatever podcasts you’ve been featured on. And again, thank you so much for your time. It was a great conversation.

Gigi Levy Weiss:
Thanks very much for taking the time and for inviting me. And as always, happy to share as much as needed. Thank you guys.

Simone Cicero:
Thank you so much. So, let’s catch up soon.