Interview: web3 Pioneer GMONEY on Connecting Communities Online and Offline

Catching up with the 9DCC founder in the middle of his real-life treasure hunt

A founder, futurist, innovator, enigma and collector, GMONEY is one web3’s most notable pioneers. Known simply by his alias and recognized immediately by the rare ape CryptoPunk that he uses as his PFP (profile picture), GMONEY continues to be one of the guiding forces across web3—whether that’s as the founder of Admit One (a membership-based group of NFT collectors) or as the founder of 9DCC (a web3-based fashion brand that seamlessly integrates tech).

We caught up with GMONEY at the final stop of his 9DCC Treasure Hunt, throughout which the community was encouraged to visit various NYC locations that have defined his life—in order to engage with one another and collect various POAPS (aka “Proof Of Attendance Protocols”). Essentially tokens, these POAPS were given out to community members after scanning one of the previously released 9DCC pieces on location—in an effort to qualify to win various high ticket NFTs.

Tell us a little bit about this week. Rather than taking one big event and putting it all into four walls, you iterated on what community is and brought it to life. What transpired?

We did so much this week. We had a three-day Treasure Hunt, starting at a bodega. We had 11 stops throughout New York—some places that mean a lot to me personally, because I lived here for so long. I just wanted to showcase a little bit about what I love about New York, some of my favorite spots, get people together and hang out. I think it kind of builds on what we did back in December, where in Art Basel we had one location [at NFT NOW’s The Gateway]. And I feel like we created an amazing experience and I was intimately involved in that. This time, it was kind of telling my story a little bit.

I didn’t want something where it was a race. I wanted something where people can get to know each other, make new friends, connect and experience parts of New York that you might not find in a travel guide or on a list of the first five sites to see. But sites that, I think if you lived here long enough, you as a New Yorker, you’re like, oh, that’s a cool spot. I go there.

Iconic local spots.

I think I lived in New York for 13 years. I probably went to Times Square less than 10 times over the course of those 13 years—and it was never by my own will. It was because I had to. I think most New Yorkers have that experience. That’s really what I wanted to showcase with the Treasure Hunt.

How much of the design of 9DCC is drawn from your experience and your life in New York?

I think everything I do is from my experience. I design stuff that I would want to do or I would want to wear. I come from that framework. I design for, let’s say maybe a younger version of myself and things that I would want to experience, things that I would want to wear. That drives a lot of it. I have a background in luxury in terms of, it was a family business that I worked, that my father founded years ago. I’m just not going to mention the industry because that would dox me. But I have a background in that. When I think about the things that I’m doing, I want to create these top-notch experiences that I want to be partaking in myself and hopefully other people want to partake in them as well. So far, it seems like it’s been a resounding yes in terms of people wanting to come along for the ride and experience these things as well.

You’ve really taken your community from all the different corners of the internet and of the globe and brought them together and created something that really encouraged people to get out there. Even through the dynamics of scanning to get the POAPs, people had to engage with one another to qualify for the rewards. What was the thought process there?

Close to two years ago at this point, I did a scavenger hunt in Miami for BTC Miami. I had three stops. I just tweeted out, “hey, go to this place, collect a POAP and get a free bite, a free coffee or something.” And the feedback I got from that, from the people that did it, was that was one of the coolest things I did regarding NFTs during that entire conference. I had the added bonus of hearing stories of people that ended up meeting at one of the stops and ended up starting a venture fund together. They ended up raising $35 million after meeting at one of those stops. The power of human connection and the power of meeting in real life, I can’t stress how powerful that is.

One of the things I really started thinking about from that moment, because I’ve been thinking about this for so long, is how can you start to scale that so that it’s beyond just me? It’s beyond just me throwing out a tweet. How can you find other like-minded individuals in the wild and connect with them?

When you see somebody with a 9DCC product, you can go, “oh, hey, I like what you’re wearing. Oh, hey, let me scan it, collect the POAP.” Because you know that’s part of it. Now that relationship comes from off chain to on chain, and you can kind of crystallize that long term. I think the power of human connection is real. We all ultimately want to connect. I think being able to use these tools that we use online and bring them into the real world is really the secret sauce for me. I think we’re starting to see that other people get really excited about it as well.

How do you continue to distinguish yourself and forge the path of web3 fashion? 

A lot of the conversations I’ve had with the traditional fashion brands, they tell me what they want to do. I always laugh because I’m like, I’m doing exactly what it is that you’re trying to do. But I think the mistake or the error that they’re making is they’re trying to build for an experience that doesn’t exist. Again, and I think this comes back from, I do shit that I want to do. I don’t want to hang out in an 8-bit metaverse that isn’t fun and engaging. I don’t want to tell people to go there.

Right. You want to go to Joe’s Pizza.

Yeah. I want to do something cool. I want to hang out with people in a place where I want to hang out with them. We have a Friday afternoon call for our community where we just hop in Discord Voice. We could do that in a metaverse, but then it becomes really clunky. You have people with headsets on. It’s just like the tech isn’t there yet. At some point the tech will be there, the hardware will catch up to the software, but it’s not there yet. So if I don’t want to do it and I don’t think something’s cool, then I’m going to be like, “all right, cool, I can wait.”

I think at some point, for the tech, there’s going to be some platform that scales where I think we’ll all be like, “that’s it. That’s where we need to be. That’s where we want to be.” At that point, we can all move resources toward there. But to try to build a world or build an experience for an online-only audience that isn’t fully immersive or fully that people can connect with doesn’t necessarily make sense to me.

The fact of the matter is the world is open again. Instead of hanging out, making pizza in my oven and talking to my friends in Decentraland or Discord, fuck it, why not just go and hang out at Joe’s, or hang out at McSorley’s, or hang out in an art gallery? Which is kind of why we’re all here.

What can we expect for the future?

I have a couple really cool things planned. But I guess the next shop we’re hoping to do at some point this summer. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. There’s going to be some gamification involved in it, working with a really dope artist in the space and bringing to life some of their thoughts and what they want to do. So yeah, I guess I’ll leave it at that, but I’m looking forward to it.

Images courtesy of 9DCC

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