Social tokens entered my life exactly 1 year ago, when I had the first chat with my co-founder Pedro about investing in talent.
At that time, we understood that we both had a somewhat controversial belief. 👇
We believe talent is abundant, not scarce.
Everyone is struggling with hiring, that’s a fact. And we might lack qualified and experienced professionals. But is there really a shortage of talented people?
In our opinion, the real problem is lack of visibility and opportunity, not lack of talented people. There’s a lot of undiscovered talent out there in the world - and a lot of potential being wasted.
A year ago, we've decided to create Talent Protocol to solve that and since then we've been fierce advocates on how social tokens can help find and support hidden talent.
Talent Protocol is the web3 professional network where you can discover high-potential talent and invest in their careers. It's the web3 version of LinkedIn, but designed for builders instead of business developers and a platform where you can express who you really are as a professional.
This is something that really resonates with me: my career has been a multi-threaded and unconventional path so far - computer science, DJ, marketing, street photography, web3. A path that no Linkedin profile could accurately represent.
And that is why I've become so passionate about building a future-oriented tool for careers.
So what triggered the beginning of Talent Protocol?
As of now, careers are still often a zero-sum game where you compete instead of cooperate, a rigged game where a privileged few have cheat codes and an unfair game where connections still matter more than merit.
And, as a result, we’re missing out on a lot of talented people who couldn’t go through a proper education or who didn't grow up in the right place.
We allowed ourselves - and those who listened to us since the beginning - to imagine a world where cooperation is rewarded (i.e., supporters are rewarded for giving talent the support they need to succeed), opportunity is more equally distributed (i.e., there's a real incentive to look for talent where no one is looking) and success is shared (a world where the winnings are shared with everyone that contributed along the way).
This exercise took us to the next step - how do we make this world a reality and how could we make careers a fair game for all?
This is where social tokens come in.
Social Tokens can be much more than just a financial asset. They can capture not only financial but also social and creative capital, to name a few. But the best about them is that they are about participation, not just speculation.
In Talent Protocol, high-potential individuals are invited to launch their own personal tokens - the Talent Tokens. These were built to help talent to be scouted, supported and serve also as a signaling mechanism.
The first way Talent Tokens help is by encouraging talent discovery. As previously mentioned, a lot of undiscovered talent is still dependent on a big break while talent seekers struggle to get the best matches for their needs.
In Talent Protocol, anyone can sign up to be a scout and make a profit by identifying undervalued talent. Users can benefit from a direct reward and also by being an early investor in their careers. The sooner they back a talent, the higher the rewards.
Talent is like a little seed, when nurtured, it will flourish.
Talent Tokens help talent to start building their support network. This network takes however a new shape: the shape of a committed community that is financially, socially and emotionally encouraged to help them succeed through funds, knowledge, mentorship, intros, or even just confidence.
There’s social value in supporting successful people early. Everyone wants to be first.
A talent token is a public record of a relationship between two people, independent of any platform or company. They allow supporters to prove that they were there since the beginning and even if they don’t succeed, they will still be publicly recognized as a patron of talent.
Here are 3 talents I’m personally supporting:
$ANDY wants to become the first female President of Cyprus. She sends very detailed quarterly reports to her token holders, sharing her goals and challenges.
Abel ($ATDR) is a climate activist from the Amazon Rainforest and co-founder of an ed-tech startup. He also sends regular updates to supporters and offers consulting calls if you hold a certain amount of tokens.
Sonjide ($SONO) is a project manager born in Bangladesh. If you support her, she will help you build an MVP for your product. She already gave very good feedback on Talent Protocol
Talent Protocol as of today
We know all of this can feel a bit dystopian sometimes, but it’s already happening.
Talent Protocol launched in November on Celo mainnet, and since then more than 1,000 people invested almost 500k cUSD in more than 290 talented individuals. Talent Protocol is free to use, fully open-source, we’re building in public, and on a path to progressive decentralization.
We’re still invite only, but if you can use this invite to create an account.
We've gathered powerful and valuable knowledge during Season 01, which occurred from November until February 2021. Here are some of the things we've learnt so far:
- Participation first, speculation later. Investing is becoming mainstream culture but the mainstream audience will join Web3 by earning crypto, not by buying crypto.
- Make it useful and fun, find intrinsic motivation. Build a platform people love to use before focusing too much on financial incentives. You only have true product-market fit when there’s intrinsic motivation.
- Bring the best of Web3 and Web2 together. Not everything needs to be on-chain nor everything should be immutable. Some of our career information and interactions should happen off-chain.
The challenges ahead
- Abstracting complexity. Great UX design and educational content will be key to abstract all the technical complexity and successfully onboard more users to web3.
- KYC & sybil-resistance. Verifying a talent’s identity, credentials and skills will add more friction and obstacles, but it will be crucial to build trust.
- Dangers of speculation. A Talent Token is a very powerful tool. It can do a lot of good, but it also has some risks that we need to mitigate, specially regarding safety and mental health.
We believe all success is collective, but today economic value is only being captured by a few. Social Tokens are revolutionary because they can bring deeper financial and emotional alignment between a talent and its supporters.
Kevin Kelly popularized the idea that to be a successful creator you don’t need millions, you just need 1,000 of true fans. More recently, Li Jin proposed that, with tokens, creators would eventually need only 100 true fans to make a living off their passion.
I argue that even 10 very committed supporters can be life-changing to most people.