Despite a blanket ban on cryptocurrencies in China, the country’s Web3 space is still attractive to many fresh college graduates looking for their first digital pot of gold.
When Michael, a third-year university student in the country, announced he was hosting a Web3 study group, there were 200 new signups in just a few days.
Michael’s group meets every Sunday evening, with the members chatting with each other on Twitter Spaces. Their discussions cover technical breakdowns, industry trends, popular Web3 projects, and presentations of new business ideas. Sometimes they exchange hundreds of messages every day.
Web3 is a continuation of the evolution of the World Wide Web which incorporates decentralization and token-based economic structures. This is made possible through blockchain technology which uses open ledgers and cryptocurrency. A consequence of web3 is that each user is also a partial owner of any project whose tokens they hold.
“I would feel disconnected if I didn’t understand Web3,” Michael said. “My friends and I often say that the greatest windfalls of the mobile internet era have gone to those now in their 40s or 50s. For my generation, career and wealth-building opportunities are in the web3.
Michael and the members of his study group are not alone. Many people in China, still in their twenties, are accumulating experience in crypto and NFT investments. They use DeFi (decentralized finance) tools and participate in GameFi projects that mix games and elements of DeFi. Teams developing new Web3 projects tend to be younger and have plenty of ideas for how to change the way people connect and transact with each other on the Internet.
End the old, make way for the new
“Working for a tech company as a programmer isn’t cool anymore. It’s another conventional path. The smartest graduates all start Web3 companies,” said Kevin, a computer science graduate from the University of British Columbia.
That’s exactly what Kevin and his friends are doing. “Some are working with NFTs, some are working in GameFi, and some are building web3 social platforms. As far as I know, there aren’t many people who want to start a conventional Internet business,” he said. said “More money is invested in web3 than in other areas, and these investors prefer young entrepreneurs.”
Take Shawn Pang (Pang Shunxin) as an example. After graduating, Pang turned down a job offer from a major consulting firm in Toronto, branching out to partner with Zheng Xiaoming and found Matterverse, which provides hosting services for e-commerce businesses. in metaverse environments. Just a year later, Matterverse raised a multi-million dollar seed round.
“For our graduation project at school, we created software to digitally transform the renovation industry in North America. Later, we realized we could use the metaverse to make this more immersive and bring it to a larger market,” Pang said. After he and his team spent more time learning the concepts of Web3, they felt like they were on the cusp of a new Internet.
Pang recruited more people to form a team dedicated to building metaverse technology. Most of his team members are under the age of 27. They created a hyper-realistic, cloud-native metaverse editor. With advanced color rendering protocols and smooth virtual experience, Matterverse has provided services to many luxury brands, fashion brands and real estate companies.
Pang believes in co-creation and joint governance, so he formed a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) for Matterverse. He often hosts discussions on Discord and Twitter to unpack industry trends and popular projects.
“Web3 is a completely different mode of operation from the current Internet. Since young people don’t have the experience of working in conventional internet businesses, it’s easier for them to develop a purely Web3 way of thinking,” said Danny, an investor who focuses on this space.
“An example is how DAO members manage projects. They believe that these organizations should be egalitarian and equally governed. They won’t operate like traditional businesses, where senior management dictates plans to subordinates,” Danny said. “This is a process of conceptual change, and young people play a vital role.”
In April 2021, according to data published by Stilt. Over 80% of Gen Z respondents said they would consider a career in the Web3 space in the future.
“Over the past two years, almost all of my friends have been talking about cryptocurrencies and NFTs. You need to follow these trends if you want to be involved in these conversations and fit in,” Kevin said.
The “Bill Gates” of web3
“Bill Gates founded Microsoft at the age of 19, after dropping out of college. Mark Zuckerberg did the same for Facebook, and Vitalik Buterin co-founded Ethereum at the same age. As technology advances, it will be the young that will lead the way,” Danny said.
Inspired by Buterin, crypto enthusiasts who are still in their late teens or early twenties are pouring their energy into the web3 space. Some have even become notable names within the industry.
In February, crypto-focused venture capital fund Paradigm announced that a research engineer who goes through Transmissions11 will join the company. Their new team member was still a high school student.
Transmissions11 is already leaving its mark in the web3 space. Not only does it publish sharp observations, Transmissions11 is also researching ways to optimize on-chain transaction fees known as gas.
At around 15 years old, Transmissions11 has already been involved in the creation of a handful of DeFi protocols. His real identity remains a mystery.
“In the future, there will be more young web3 talents like Vitalik Buterin and Transmissions11, just as many young entrepreneurs have emerged to follow in the footsteps of Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. They will be even younger than the pioneers of the mobile internet era,” Danny said.
Stay Believing During a Bear Market
Although web3 devotees are currently experiencing a crypto winter, with tokens losing much of their value from all-time highs of just a few months ago, many remain enthusiastic about the prospects for the web3 space.
“It’s good for the industry to shake off the speculators. When things calm down, it will be a good time to slowly build projects,” Kevin said.
In the eyes of true believers, web3 is not a fragile system that can crumble with a single setback. In fact, it is constantly evolving. Many refer to Bitcoin’s status over a decade ago when it was at the heart of the crypto industry. This changed shortly after the emergence of Ethereum in 2015. New blockchain networks and business models have been developed over the past two years, expanding the web3 ecosystem in many directions.
Common applications and platforms now have Web3 equivalents. Instead of Google Drive, AWS and Dropbox, there is Sia, Filecoin and IPFS (InterPlanetary File System) for cloud storage. Instead of Google Chrome and Safari, there’s Brave. Instead of YouTube and Medium, there’s DTube and Mirror.
While many of these Web3 platforms have yet to gain users at the scale of their Web2 counterparts, the first stage of a migration is underway. A report published by Crypto.com in January suggests that there could be 1 billion crypto users worldwide by the end of 2022.
“When we look back several years later, we can see that it was a time of revolution for the internet. Many people who are at the center of all of this do not realize that they are already part of this change,” said said Kevin “Others will join us in the future.”
As web3 emerges as an important sector on the global tech scene and participation depends on a new mindset, some mid-career tech workers feel uneasy.
“I have the impression of getting old and not being able to tackle new concepts. Every time I come across articles on Web3, I feel like I’m peering into a world that’s important but doesn’t matter to me,” said Alex, an engineer who has worked at Google for nearly seven years old. “I keep thinking that watching people in their teens or early twenties use Web3 tools is like our grandparents wondering about our TikTok habit. There is a bright future in web3, but we are being left behind.
This article has been adapted from a characteristic originally written by Deepmind and posted on Guixingren (WeChat ID: guixingren123). KrASIA is authorized to translate, adapt and publish its content.