Interview SEG3 Web3

Meet the Member: “We are going to need more immersive ways to connect even if geography is in the way”

June 14, 2023

The experience of living in a virtual world in the future will of course be different from inhabiting the physical world we know now but psychology doesn’t change at the flick of a digital switch. Some things will remain the same. Perhaps most fundamental is the impulse, the human need, to call things our own. And according to Drew Austin, whose VC firm Red Bear Ventures has just closed a $25 million funding round, this drive to own things supplies the logic of the whole evolution of the internet towards Web3.

“The core concept of Web 3 is digital ownership,” he says. “Before the blockchain was released there was no way to own an asset that was digital and demonstrate proof of scarcity, proof of ownership.  I couldn’t own a piece of art that was digital on a computer and be able to prove that it was the only one. To me, it’s all about ownership.” 

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Most prominent among Austin’s new investors is Animoca Brands – one of the leaders in investing in digital entertainment. The capital infusion supports the launch of Red Beard’s tokenomics accelerator programme, which is currently accepting applications for its inaugural cohort. Each selected company will receive $100,000 to build its brand. 

Austin, who will be a speaker at the SEG3 digital experiences summit at Emirates Stadium in London June 28-29, began building a generic tech investment portfolio via the AngelList platform as part of a syndicate that has done about 200 deals and deployed $50 million in capital. In 2021 he launched Red Beard as a Web3-focused fund. He is also CEO of Knights of Degen, an NFT sports community and fantasy sports platform. 

“There are so many different ways that you can participate in this space,” he says. “For example, with Knights of Degen our company, we have three different assets. We have our equity, we have our Degen token, coming out soon, and we have the NFT assets and all three of those things have to accrue value in various different ways.  I’m a builder. I like to collect, you know, I’m an investor in Dapper Labs and I’m also a big collector of NBA Top Shot moments.  I’m an investor in Sandbox and I own land in their Metaverse. I try to get my hands dirty and get really involved in any project so that I can support them in any way possible.” 

First and foremost, Austin is a collector. “I’m a collector of things, I like to collect, basketball cards, action figures, art, whatever it might be, I’ve been collecting things my whole life.” 

He has been collecting digital art since 2018. “When I first learned about the blockchain a decade ago, I was immediately gravitating to the concept of NFTs, even before NFTs existed.”

“We are living in a global digital world and the more we push forward into more immersive, technology and digital experiences and remote work and distributed teams and so on, the more digital assets are going to become more and more prevalent in our everyday life. So having infrastructure that creates an immutable ledger that tracks the movement of goods, the ownership of goods, is an absolute requirement.”

“And with Generative AI emerging, where you can’t even tell if a human or a machine created a piece of content, to be able to have some provenance and show where a piece of content came from is going to be crucial. I think all content is going to be ultimately pushed to the blockchain at some point in the future.”

“When I think about the NFT art that I buy. I think about the office that I’m going to have in the Metaverse and where I’m going to display it. We’re not there yet but as Apple starts to release virtual reality and Facebook’s improving their virtual reality, we’re all going to want to live in these remote work environments and we’re going to need more immersive ways to connect even if geography is in the way.”

“And I believe that when you’re working and living in a digital world, you’re going to want to do the same things you do in the regular world, show off a nice car, show off your nice art, demonstrate your identity. That’s what this is all about. We can build the virtual world that we want.” 

Click here to purchase tickets to see Drew speak at SEG3

Interview SEG3 Web3