This is part of a series of interviews with founders and builders in the Web3 space called the Web3 Growth Handbook. The official handbook will be released in the coming months, but you can read all of the other available interviews here.
The hardest part is there is no silver bullet. It’s a new frontier. There’s no one partnership or feature that will take us to the moon. No individual problem is insurmountable but it can be crushing to be under the weight of a bunch of different problems.
The fundamental challenge of proper incentive mechanisms has plagued open source development for years. This problem has been exacerbated in the blockchain and Web3 community. How do you ensure sustainable development in a market that absolutely requires long-term commitments before there are any returns? Kevin Owocki of Gitcoin believes he has a solution. Starting with bounties, Gitcoin allows developers to earn money for their work on open source software. They’ve since expanded to other products that focus on connecting those that need development (largely open source projects) with those that would like to be paid for the significant work they are putting in.
Built as an internal Consensys product, Gitcoin has grown significantly. The company is still under the Consensys umbrella, but it has built its own brand, its own following, and its own revenue model. Kevin has contributed so much to the success of Gitcoin, but so have the developers who have opened pull requests, made suggestions, and fixed bugs. All of this has allowed the company to expand into a full product suite that offers bounties, grants, hackathons, ethical advertising, and more.
We had the opportunity to talk with Kevin about the challenges of growing a company in the Web3 space, the successes he’s seen thus far, and what he believes the future holds.
Gitcoin does a lot of things, so how do you define growth?
Our KPIs are gross marketplace value and daily active users. We also have vanity metrics like total users. The problem in this space is everyone keeps trying to measure the number of transactions per second but in Web2 you don’t measure the number of database calls. So, we have to focus on real growth just like Web2 does.
What has been the most difficult part of growing your company so far?
The hardest part is there is no silver bullet. It’s a new frontier. There’s no one partnership or feature that will take us to the moon. No individual problem is insurmountable but it can be crushing to be under the weight of a bunch of different problems. We’re lucky that our users are technical and the hurdles for getting started aren’t as difficult for them. Installing Metamask isn’t a big problem, but we run into other standard blockchain usability problems.
What do you think needs to happen to help accelerate the growth of Web3 and Gitcoin?
The regulatory landscape in the United States is pretty frustrating. We could be custodial and handle a lot of the usability issues and generate more growth, but then we become a money transmitter. That’s difficult.
Additionally, we’re basically a big fish in a small pond, so the total available market needs to grow. We need to grow familiarity or hide ethereum functionality for regular users to be able to adopt the technology in a way that leads to big growth.
What tools do you wish were there to help you growth?
The Ethereum usability is difficult. What Torus is doing from the wallet side of things is interesting. I think that key custody is an issue. That’s the big thing that causes usability frustrations.
The Ethereum transaction times are troubling too, but there’s work being done to solve this. And one final thing that tools or something else needs to solve is ensuring a sane gas market.
What are your predictions for Web3/Blockchain growth in 2020?
The bitcoin halvening will result in decreased supply in bitcoin, theoretically increasing stock to flow. The entire market follows bitcoin and hopefully we see a 10x increase in the market. The one external threat is that we have seen a 10-year bull run in the stock market, and I don’t know how an adjustment there is going to affect the crypto market.
I think DAOs and DeFi have their momentum now, and so I would describe 2019 the year of sprouts and I’m hoping to see more sprouts in 2020 and a couple of sprouts grow into small trees.
Gitcoin is playing a fundamental role in powering the entire Web3 movement. If you’re a developer or an open source project, you should give them a try.