Tinder Founder Builds Web3 Social Platform
A small number of Web technologies have changed entirely the way we communicate and use the Web. Facebook had us smearing a thumbprint up the screen. Instagram still has us stretching our arms and pouting at self-facing cameras. And Tinder popularized the swipe. Left for a reject and right for the strong hope of a hot date.
Christopher Gulczynski is one of the founders of both Tinder and Bumble, another dating app. Having helped to invent the swipe, he’s now working on a new Web3-based community platform called Niche. The platform is trying to rebuild the foundation of social media, using the blockchain to democratize communities and ensure that members retain ownership.
“It’s Discord on steroids,” Gulczynski told the Bad Crypto Podcast.
Members join a Niche community after receiving a link that leads them to a custodial wallet. The wallet mints an NFT which functions as a membership card for the community. That community might group people by shared interests, background, identity or any other factor, putting them in clubs owned and run by the people who are active in it. NFT-holders can vote, the communities have a built-in place for commerce, and everyone owns their own data.
Community leaders are also free to monetize their groups using digital currencies. While some NFTs will be free, members will be able to pay for versions that provide access to restricted parts of the community using smart contracts to pay their subscription fees.
The result should be a move away from the current business model on which social media companies are currently built and the dubious methods they employ to grow. Instead of trying to increase engagement to generate ad clicks in the way that platforms like Facebook and Twitter operate, members of Niche’s autonomous communities can decide for themselves how to turn their own content into revenue and how to charge for it.
But Gulczynski also sees Niche as a platform on which other developers can build. Tinder uses what Gulczynski says has to be “a pretty dumb algorithm” to match members quickly and easily based on simple information entered into an online form. But as members join different groups on Niche, they’ll provide much more information about their own interests, enabling developers to match them with other like-minded people.
“All these communities and clubs that you’re into build this unique Venn diagram of who you are and what your personality is,” says Gulczynski. “We’re building a new decentralized ecosystem to have other people come in and build on top of this protocol.”
Niche has already started testing with a small number of users but will start sending out invitations at the start of the new year. Whether the rise of online, decentralized communities with NFT membership cards will turn out to be as popular as a swipe remains to be seen. But if you meet someone with a similar token, that’s already a pretty good sign of a strong match.