Unstoppable Domains has been blowing up our Rarity Sniper newsfeed lately. With a growing list of new features and collaborations, a community of millions of users, and an increasingly important role in Web3, the blockchain-based domain name service provider has been dominating Web3.
Last week, we were lucky enough to catch up with Sandy Carter, the Chief Operating Officer at Unstoppable Domains, to chat about how the company got started, survived the bear market, and what lies ahead. We also talked about the utility of Unstoppable Domains and why Sandy believes Web3 technology will be increasingly important in the months to come.
The following interview has been edited for concision and clarity.
Nate Kostar: For people who don’t know Unstoppable Domains, can you tell them a little bit about the company, how it started, and what was the original concept?
Sandy Carter: Yeah, so first of all, thanks for having me on. The original concept for Unstoppable Domains began with looking at what happened with the internet. In the early days, you had to type in an IP address, which was numbers, and then later we went to typing in things like ‘Amazon.com.’
We thought the same thing was going to happen with Web3. Especially as you’re transacting with crypto today, you type in a typically very long string of numbers and letters — which can have mistakes. And so, the concept of Unstoppable was to take that series of letters and numbers and true-translate that into a word.
So, turning that long set of numbers into something like ‘Sandy.NFT.’ That was the original use case, and it’s still the number one use case today. We have over 30 million resolutions from the name to the wallet that happen every week, even still today.
Nate Kostar: To prepare for this interview, I went ahead and bought my first Unstoppable Domain yesterday —
Sandy Carter: Awesome.
Nate Kostar: And then I thought, what do I do now? So, explain a little bit about, maybe what I could do as a content creator and what are some interesting things that people are using this for?
Sandy Carter: There are so many things that people are using Unstoppable for. The first one is the obvious use case; being able to transact [in crypto] easily. So, let’s say you went to Rainbow Wallet or Trust Wallet, you could just type in your name or for me, ‘Sandy.nft’ and that would automatically enable you to transact in crypto.
For a creator, the first thing I would tell them is to set up a profile page for your Web3 brand. So, when you first look at your profile page, it appears almost like a LinkedIn page, but for Web3. These are some of my wallets that I’ve linked to, so anytime I type in Sandy.nft, it translates into that wallet.
You can also set up an avatar, which is important for a creator because that avatar will travel with you throughout different metaverses. My avatar happens to be a Ready Player Me avatar, which is available for use in about 7,000 different metaverses.
And then, you can set up your tokens for what you support. You could set this up to really showcase what you’re focused on, like NFT collections or causes that I support like the climate. So here is a collectible that shows that I made all my NFTs carbon neutral.
I could also filter it for tickets to show you all the cool things I’ve done. I went to the psyche event. I went to these Gary Vee events, too. So, I can filter this on anything that I want to really showcase, but the really cool thing, too, as a creator, what you should do when you first get set up, is you see all these really cool badges. These now enable me to join different micro communities. And so now I can send and receive communication when our messaging app comes out, or I can showcase that I’m a big car fan or a fan of Boss Beauties.
So, one of the first things that I would say you would do as a creator is set up your personal brand and how that might look.
Nate Kostar: Okay, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to build my digital identity. So, one of Unstoppable Domains biggest decisions was to move from the Ethereum blockchain to Polygon. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
Sandy Carter: One of the main reasons we switched over to Polygon is because of Polygon’s support for the climate, so they are now carbon neutral. So anytime that we mint an Unstoppable Domain on Polygon, it is carbon neutral and it’s also important that the gas fees are low or non-existent.
Nathaniel Kostar: One of Polygon’s big things is to onboard people into Web3. And I understand that’s a big part of Unstoppable Domains as well. How do you simplify the process for people who are not Web3 natives? Does Unstoppable do anything to educate people?
Sandy Carter: I think there’s a couple of things that we’ve done to make it easy for Web2 users to learn. First, we don’t require a crypto wallet. You can pay with a credit card or with PayPal, for example. And when you store your digital identity, you don’t have to have a wallet to store it, and we offer something called a vault. And that enables you to store that domain inside of it.
This keeps your domain in a secure place. It’s still owned by the user, and we can transfer it to that person if they want to transfer it to their own self-custody wallet as well. So, I think those are two really powerful moves.
Next, I think that for Web2 users, the profile is a very familiar profile. It is like a LinkedIn page for me for Web3. The difference from a LinkedIn page, however, is really important. I could put whatever I want on LinkedIn, say I graduated from Stanford, which I didn’t. I can say I’m the best employee in the world, I can put anything on my LinkedIn profile whereas on your profile for Web 3, everything is verifiable and credentialed.
They are ‘soul bound’ tokens: I can’t transfer them to you. They’re my classes or the fact that I had that certificate that said I made my NFTs carbon neutral, that’s a soul bound token, so I can’t transfer that out. So, it gives more credibility to the events that I went to or schools that I went to, classes that I took that’s all credentialed on my Web3 portfolio.
Nate Kostar: Tell me more about soul bound tokens. If I graduated from a university, perhaps in the future, instead of getting a paper diploma, I’m gonna have it posted on my Unstoppable Domains website as an NFT. Is Unstoppable the place where this can all come together?
Sandy Carter: Yep, that’s right. I mean, if you really look at that, that’s really a data aggregation. Because what it does is it pulls in any wallet that is connected to your domains. So, your NFTs from different wallets appear.
But don’t get scared because you can block it too. If you don’t want someone to see that, say, you went to the Super Bowl or you don’t want someone to see that you’re a super Gary Vee fan, you can also block and hide that too. So, it’s not that everything gets data dumped there and you don’t have control over it. You can be very selective about what you want people to see. But again, it’ll be credentialed and all sitting on the chain.
Nathaniel Kostar: How much of a role do NFTs play in all this?
Sandy Carter: So Unstoppable itself is an NFT, and NFT is a non-fungible token, which is really a hard way to say a digital collectible, something that you would collect in the real world is all it is, it just happens to be digital.
I would consider Unstoppable like a super NFT, because inside of that NFT, you’ve got different types of information. You’ve got your wallet address, you’ve got your address for your Ready Player Me avatar, and you can combine all your data. So, you can aggregate all your data from other NFT collections, or, if others are using a digital collectible, for a ticket or for a wearable, you can also showcase that.
So, NFTs play a big role here, but it’s different than just an NFT that’s a picture where people would say it is just a JPEG, it has no value here. We’re talking about NFTs with utility… I do differentiate between an NFT that serves as a picture that you buy versus an NFT that has utility, that you can do something with. I think the future of NFTs is in the ability to do something with them.
Nate Kostar: Okay, that’s amazing. One of the questions we’ve been asking everybody lately is how they’ve coped with the bear market. It seems like you guys have formed tons of partnerships, and you’re very busy building. But tell me a little bit about what it’s been like the past year and the strategies, mindsets, or attitudes that your team has used to get through.
Sandy Carter: I think anytime you go through a market like this, it’s always hard and you’re always like, when are we gonna come out of it? So, I think that’s part of the mindset, but I think for us, our team has just been so busy building. This isn’t the first time I’ve gone through something like this. AWS was built during a bear market, too. We just kept our heads down, we built and built, and then when the market emerged, we were so far ahead because we had been building. I think the same thing is true of Unstoppable.
Nate Kostar: Okay, I know you guys have some things coming up soon [at the time of interview]. Is there anything that you want to share about the latest releases from Unstoppable.
Sandy Carter: Yeah, first, we’re going to be announcing the marketplace. It will be the largest Web3 marketplace and the first marketplace that has been built with a set of code that was incubated by Polygon. So we’ll be the first and the largest (dApp) marketplace. And what that does is it enables you as a user to really get in there and see all the different opportunities that you can use your domain with.
First, we’re going to feature 10 different applications that have embedded AI into them. So, either for search capability or making your investments more AI oriented, or making the user experience better, you’ll get to see those too. So you’ll be able to not only see all the capabilities, but you’ll also be able to view some of those that have really taken advantage of AI…
And then, of course, on Monday [July 17th], we’re going to announce that we’re also supporting .eth domains. So first of all, this will mean the ability for you to buy a .eth domain [through Unstoppable]. It’s registered through the ENS smart contract, which means there’s no collision. So now you can buy your .eth, your .crypto, [etc.] all in one place.
If you remember earlier, we talked about making it easier for Web2 customers to come over. So if you don’t have a crypto wallet, you can now store that .eth domain in our vault. But just because it’s in our vault domains, the digital identity is fully owned by you and we can transfer it to your custody wallet when you need it. Also, you can put auto renewal on your .eth domain.
And then we’ll be adding a bunch more features in the upcoming months, where you can set your crypto address and can manage your on-chain profile for .eth as well, but that’s all coming in the future…
Nate Kostar: Wow, that’s a lot. We have a few minutes left, so I just want to ask one more question. I heard you say in an interview that you think in five years, we’ll no longer talk about Web3 in the same way we do now. Just like we no longer say Facebook is Web2. How do you think that process will play out, where people become so comfortable with Web3 that it’s no longer like this buzz-word we throw around?
Sandy Carter: Well, for me, one of the things that happens with technologies, is that we see that at the beginning, you always talk about the tech because the tech is new and the tech is cool. Over time, the tech becomes secondary to the business outcome.
So how do I think this will happen? I think it’s going to happen through use cases. So, for example, that profile I showed you — I said that was your Web3 profile. I think because of everything that’s happening with AI, people are going to want a trusted source of information. So over time, the use case is that it will become your profile — not your Web3 profile. Why? Because the technology enables you to credential and verify it.
I also believe that because of the power of blockchain and what it delivers to a loyalty program, and because Web3 technology enables a loyalty program to be more cost effective, more engaging for a customer 1:1, and to be able to prove that is the customer who purchased something — I think we’ll start talking about loyalty programs, not loyalty programs driven by Web3.
So today Starbucks and Nike and IHOP are all highlighted because they have these Web3 loyalty programs. But I think because of the benefits they’re seeing over time it will just become a loyalty program. And the underpinnings will be the Web3 technology.
To close things out, we chatted a little bit about the implications of artificial intelligence. Unstoppable Domains is pro AI and is using it to create avatars, apps, and more. But Sandy also had some thoughts about what AI could mean for Web3 in the near future.
She told me, “I predict that in six to 12 months because of the issue of deep fakes and fake voice, fake video, fake everything, that blockchain and Web3 will grow in importance. And that importance will be to verify data, to provide that social trust, if you would. That will be increasingly important as we move forward in this world, as well.”
At Rarity Sniper, we think that’s a sound take on the potential for Web3 technology to transform the world, or at least help us deal with some of the transformations that are inevitably coming as AI continues to advance.
Sandy is also the author of a new book — “The Rabbit and the Tiger: A Fable of Harnessing the Power of the Metaverse, WEB3, and AI for Business Success” — for folks who want to dive deeper into these subjects.
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