Roham Gharegozlou, CEO and founder of Dapper Labs, sits down with Running Through Walls podcast host and Venrock partner, David Pakman, to talk about Dapper Labs, Flow, and the 5 stages of blockchain gaming evolution. This is an abridged version of the conversation, the entire Venrock podcast can be found here.
David Pakman: To start with your background, were you interested in tech and entrepreneurship at a young age?
Roham Gharegozlou: I had a computer in my bedroom before I was ten and I made my first affiliate website at fourteen. I didn't end up studying computer science in college so a lot of my technical background comes from hacking back in those days. In terms of entrepreneurship, that took some more time: I was a bit of a lone wolf when I first started and it took me a while until I had the maturity to lead a team and inspire others to join.
Can you give us a quick overview of Dapper Labs and what got you to start the company?
Dapper Labs was the world’s first and leading blockchain entertainment company. We built CryptoKitties which to this day is the world’s most successful blockchain consumer app. The reason we made it is that blockchain is more open, it puts users back in charge of their data, and creates opportunities for entrepreneurs without platform risk. Consequently, we were able to bring hundreds of thousands upon millions of new people into the world of crypto, which has been our mission since the beginning.
Can you tell us more about what the CryptoKitties’ launch was like?
When we launched CryptoKitties, we realized that the demand was there from the consumer standpoint, but when people started coming to our website trying to interact with our application, we saw that the platform wasn’t ready for the scale we were bringing. The bigger problems and the reason why we scaled Dapper Labs to address them at a fundamental level, were around user experience: the cost of interacting with anything on the blockchain at that time, and for us as developers it was the slow pace of making improvements.
Let’s get deeper into your latest project, the Flow blockchain. What are the benefits of using Flow as a layer one solution?
Flow is a blockchain that essentially takes care of the hard problems for you so that you may focus on your application:
In terms of applications we’re building on top of Flow, the first one is NBA Top Shot: a collectible experience wrapped around the highlights culture of the NBA. Because Top Shots are digital, they can include various functionalities: there’s a full-scale mobile game coming out at the end of this year where people will be able to use their NBA Top Shots to play against their friends, show off their skills, and showcase collections.
What are your predictions for the next phase of blockchain gaming? Where will we be in 5-10 years?
I can’t pretend to give an exact timeline but I see blockchain gaming in 5 phases: