Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

avatar
星球君的朋友们
half a month ago
This article is approximately 3403 words,and reading the entire article takes about 5 minutes
Farcaster is not just building a platform; it is laying the foundation for new forms of social interaction in the digital age.

Original author: IOSG Ventures

TL;DR

Farcaster is a decentralized social platform that combines on-chain identity creation, storage leasing and key maintenance, with off-chain data storage maintained by a decentralized node network. This structure enables users to own their own data and identity, forming a decentralized social graph.

  • Channels and Frames are key to user engagement. Channels facilitate centralized community discussions by embedding URLs, while Frames turn broadcasts into interactive applications that support activities such as NFT minting, voting, and secure transactions. These features promote diverse and personalized content supply and enhance user experience.

  • Farcasters open social graph and content algorithms provide unique opportunities for the development of diverse clients. Potential clients include applications focused on AI, video, and audio. This openness mitigates platform risk, allows for innovation, and is expected to create the magic moment of successful social applications.

  • Farcasters ID registry can serve as a foundational identity layer in Web3, solving authentication and accountability issues. It provides secure, verifiable identities that link to various Web3 services, enhancing trust and transparency while managing ownership and responsibility in a decentralized environment.

  • Key challenges include potential issues with importing 1:1 social graphs from existing platforms, resilience in bear markets, managing bots and automated accounts, and achieving mainstream adoption beyond the crypto community. Solving these challenges is critical to Farcaster’s long-term success.

  • Farcasters decentralized and open infrastructure paves the way for innovative applications and a user-controlled social media landscape. By focusing on strategic planning, community engagement, and user-centric features, Farcaster can overcome its challenges and lead the next wave of social media, providing a more secure, dynamic, and user-driven platform.

1. What is Farcaster?

A wave of new social applications has emerged in Web3, such as Friend.tech, Fantasy top, and Farcaster. While most are consumer-oriented applications, Farcaster has built a strong infrastructure layer that paves the way for decentralized social graphs, tracking users and their overall social data.

At a high level, Farcaster performs high-priority operations on-chain, such as ID creation, storage leasing, and key maintenance for different applications. However, the storage itself is an off-chain solution maintained by a decentralized node network Farcaster Hub.

Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

Source: https://docs.farcaster.xyz/learn/architecture/overview

This infrastructure design contributes to Farcasters decentralized social graph, connecting users and their social activities. This could be the beginning of an identity layer that allows for reliable authentication of actions and transactions, reducing the risk of fraud and ensuring accountability, which is a significant barrier to the wider adoption of blockchain technology. Users can link their Farcaster identities to various Web3 services, enhancing trust and transparency across the decentralized network. Additionally, by enabling recovery mechanisms and secure identity transfer, Farcaster provides a practical solution to one of the most persistent problems in blockchain technology: managing and proving ownership and accountability in a decentralized environment. Key features such as Channels and Frames enhance user engagement, while a strong ecosystem supports scalability and adoption.

Channel

Channel is a public space for community discussion topics, the prototype of which is in Warpcast. It is similar to the label in Twitter, but provides a more personalized and independent space for the community, which appears in the form of embedded URL.

Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

Channels follow the theory of Cozy Corners in Farcaster, allowing small communities to emerge within a larger social graph. This is an important differentiator, and the founders of Farcaster realized that this vision could make the product stand out in building a more powerful social graph. This concept, while a feature of Warpcast, is planned to be fully decentralized because Dan Romero recognized its unique value proposition. By cultivating these small, centralized communities, channels can enhance user engagement and create a more intimate social experience.

Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

In Farcaster, Casts (similar to tweets) can link to any URL, not just other broadcast casts. This makes it possible to create new dynamics based on the same URL. For example, all broadcast casts in the Degen channel link to the URL corresponding to the Degen token contract.

Leveraging this capability, Farcaster can develop diverse content feeds. The ability to embed URLs in Cast makes it possible to create feeds that include a variety of content types. This advances Farcaster’s vision of users owning their data, as opposed to traditional social media platforms where the company itself uses user data to algorithmically personalize user feeds and content.

Frame

Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

Source: https://docs.farcaster.xyz/learn/what-is-farcaster/frames

Frame turns any broadcast into an interactive application, creating interactive and authenticated experiences on Farcaster by setting standards. In effect, it is a broadcast with images and buttons that allow interaction with different servers, making it an application within an application. Use cases include claiming or minting NFTs, conducting votes, and facilitating token airdrops. Within a week of its introduction, over 400 applications published nearly 1,000 Frames, directly contributing to the growth of Farcaster and providing incentives like airdrops for active users.

Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

The theory behind Frame is that most social apps are 80-85% similar, but the remaining 15-20% of unique value enables different apps to dominate different markets. The Frame system allows Farcaster to integrate with more on-chain activities, further forming a positive feedback loop that may increase Farcasters user base. At the same time, it positions Farcaster as a more intuitive product that expands the functionality of social media and provides a richer consumer experience (such as a more integrated Facebook Marketplace or TikTok Store).

The most powerful feature of Frame is the seamless integration of Farcaster authentication data with the Frame server. When a user interacts with the Frame, the client transmits authentication data from Farcaster to the Frame server. This process provides the server with verified proof that the user interacted with the Frame and confirms that the user has a wallet associated with their Farcaster account.

Because both Farcaster and wallet data are public and transparent, Frame servers can leverage this information to create rich, authenticated, and customized interactions. This opens up many possibilities such as personalized content delivery, secure transactions, and customized user experiences. For example, a server can authenticate user participation in a vote, ensure the legitimacy of an NFT claim, or facilitate secure token airdrops. This integration of authentication and wallet verification significantly enhances the user experience by enabling trusted and interactive applications within the Farcaster ecosystem.

Client

In the early days of Web2, various third-party clients emerged for platforms such as Twitter, providing diverse user experiences. However, as these platforms grew, they often restricted API access to protect their own clients and prepare for IPOs. Building alternative clients for large Web2 platforms became unpopular due to the high platform risk involved.

For Farcaster, this presents a unique and underexplored opportunity in the form of clients, which are essentially applications hosting infrastructure that display the social graph in a more digestible and interactive way. In the Web3 paradigm, a social platforms most valuable assets - its social graph and content algorithms - are open to everyone. This openness significantly reduces platform risk and could mark a paradigm shift.

Currently, the most used Farcaster client is Warpcast, developed by the Farcaster team. However, this is just the beginning. The platform has not yet experienced the magic moment shown by many successful social applications. The magic moment is a unique combination of user experience and behavior that makes the application stand out. For example, seeing what your friends are doing on Facebook for the first time, finding a match on Tinder, watching a TikTok video, or buying a product on Amazon with one click.

Potential for Diversifying Farcaster Clients

  • AI-focused clients: An AI-powered Farcaster client could summarize social media activity, similar to ChatGPT, instead of having users scroll through long feeds. High-quality Farcaster channels could provide a valuable data source for AI training. Channel owners should be compensated when their data is used for model training.

  • Video-focused client: Given the success of video-centric applications in Web2, a video-focused Farcaster client is a promising idea. This client can leverage the decentralized nature of Farcaster to provide unique video content and interactions.

  • Audio-focused clients: While there are no major social audio apps yet, there is potential for audio-focused Farcaster clients. This could explore new ways of social interaction through audio content, building on the success of apps like Clubhouse.

By exploring these diverse client possibilities, Farcaster can create a vibrant ecosystem where different applications cater to various user needs and preferences. This not only drives user growth and engagement, but also promotes innovation within the Farcaster community.

2. Current status of Farcaster

As a basic overview of Farcaster’s current ecosystem, we can focus on the following ecological forces.

Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

Source: https://dune.com/pixelhack/farcaster

It is worth noting that Warpcast currently accounts for 90% of the network activity, but there can be other clients that offer various unique propositions on top of this infrastructure. In addition, most people use it as a pure Web2 social media platform, as users have not yet been trained to take advantage of everything it has to offer. The important growth signal will be individuals using Farcaster native solutions to make their user experience most like the different features expected (decentralized social graph, framework, etc.), which may take time, as the graph itself is not mature or powerful enough in its early stages.

Data performance:

Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

Source: https://farcaster.network (Compared to Twitter: 245M DAU, 500M Tweets per day)

According to Dan Romero, there is still work to be done in terms of scaling, with Farcasters current architecture able to scale to 10 million active users. However, from a technical perspective, the infrastructure is flexible enough and the team is confident that it can scale further if necessary.

Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

We see increased adoption of Base as the $DEGEN token bootstraps the network through incentive rewards and community engagement. This can be viewed as a vertical in itself, with Farcaster playing a secondary role in that space. With more engagement with seamless user experiences on consumer focused platforms like Base, adoption of protocols like Farcaster will likely see a related increase.

Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

This is a very interesting data point in the context of Farcaster and social apps in general. The high retention rate of about half of its users who use it once a month but the other half who are very active in the user community (the second highest being 250+ casts) suggests that it is very good at providing high value additions to niche communities.

Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

The higher DAU/MAU ratio also indicates that Farcasters retention rate is increasing, with daily users approaching monthly users. This has significantly and almost directly contributed to the revenue growth for the Farcaster team.

Thoughts on attending Farcon: Why is a16z willing to bet big on the next-generation social network Farcaster?

Within a few months, a large number of people were paying for services like storage rentals. This was partly due to the increasing number of users building applications on Farcaster. Since it costs $3 per year to maintain a Farcaster account, which is a precaution against spam and bots, it will be interesting to see how many people actually retain the product and consider it high enough quality to be willing to pay for it over free platforms like Twitter or Instagram in the next year.

3. Three Waves Application Theory

As we navigate the evolving landscape of social media, now is a good time to break down the monolithic stack of established platforms like Meta, X (formerly Twitter), WeChat, and Weibo. Farcaster offers a unique opportunity to rebuild these layers on a decentralized, open web. Entrepreneurs and startups can take advantage of this opportunity to own and co-own every layer of this emerging ecosystem, leveraging Farcaster’s open canvas to innovate and create.

Wave 1: Building infrastructure

The first wave focuses on building a strong infrastructure. This foundational phase is critical to enabling developers to build applications on Farcaster quickly and efficiently.

  • Tools: Development tools are needed to simplify the process of building applications. Who will create Farcasters Heroku to provide developers with the resources and support to enable them to launch applications seamlessly?

  • API: The availability of Farcaster’s official API is another key component. Is it user-friendly and powerful enough to support diverse applications? If not, who will develop Farcaster’s “Twilio” to simplify API integration and expand functionality?

  • Data: Just as Etherscan became an essential tool for navigating Ethereum, Farcaster will require powerful data tools as it grows. These tools will reorganize and make Farcaster data more accessible, supporting a variety of use cases as the ecosystem matures.

The second wave: Driving network growth through applications

Meanwhile, the second wave involves driving network growth through innovative applications. This growth can be divided into user growth and revenue growth, both of which are critical to Farcasters expansion.

  • User Growth: Viral or compelling Farcaster client applications can significantly increase the number of users. By creating an engaging user experience, these applications will attract more people to join the Farcaster network and foster a vibrant community.

  • Revenue Growth: Applications that leverage the financialization and assetization of Web3 can enhance revenue streams. These applications will enable Farcaster users to generate revenue, providing monetary incentives for interacting with the platform. Increased revenue from the Farcaster protocol can fund more paying user acquisition, forming a positive feedback loop of growth and investment.

Wave 3: Participation in the Network – Cautious Growth Guidance

While infrastructure and growth-oriented apps are critical, be cautious with apps designed to purely drive engagement at this stage. These apps are often heavily reliant on an existing user base and may struggle to grow independently. Investing too early in engagement-driven apps may result in stagnant growth if they are unable to sustain growth through user acquisition.

4. The second theory: learning from the past

A valuable way to harness Farcaster’s potential is to study cases where Web2 social applications have faced challenges due to restrictions or pressure from major platforms. Many of these applications have been banned, acquired, or forced to pivot, despite having innovative features and user engagement strategies that pose a significant threat to large platforms. In a more open Web3 environment, these ideas have the potential to flourish without the constraints of centralized control.

Twitter ecosystem example:

  • Meerkat : An initially successful live streaming app until Twitter restricted its access to the social graph, hampering its growth.

  • Klout: An application known for measuring social media influence, faced restrictions due to changes in API access and was eventually shut down.

  • Favstar : Offered a popular service for tracking liked tweets and retweets until Twitters API changes rendered its functionality useless.

Facebook / Meta ecosystem example:

  • tbh: An anonymous social media app for teenagers that was acquired and then shut down by Facebook.

  • Poke: Facebooks own app, similar to Snapchat, which was eventually discontinued.

  • Opportunities in the Web3 Paradigm

In the decentralized and open environment of Web3, similar ideas and innovations can find new life. Farcaster’s infrastructure allows for the creation and integration of diverse applications without having to worry about restrictive API policies or centralized control. This openness can spark a renaissance of innovative social applications, fostering a rich ecosystem where:

  • User-driven innovation: Developers are free to experiment and build on Farcaster, creating unique applications that cater to niche audiences or novel use cases.

  • Decentralized Ownership: By owning their own data and interactions, users can enjoy more control and privacy, which is increasingly important in the digital age.

  • Resistance to centralized control: Without a central authority to impose restrictions, applications on Farcaster can evolve more naturally based on user needs and feedback.

This approach not only restores the innovative spirit of social apps of the past, but also ensures a more resilient and user-centric social ecosystem. Entrepreneurs have the opportunity to revisit and reimagine these once promising ideas to better allow users to regain control of customizability.

5. Challenges

Although Farcaster has promising potential, several challenges must be addressed to ensure its long-term success and adoption.

1. Reservations about importing 1:1 social graphs

One challenge for Farcaster is the potential issue of importing a 1:1 social graph from an existing platform. While integrating an existing social graph can ease the transition for new users, it may not foster the same community dynamics that were developed natively. Imported social graphs may not translate well to Farcaster’s decentralized environment, potentially leading to a disjointed user experience. The high community receptivity to social apps that implement custom app experiences and status games for new celebrities may also be a driver of user adoption. Having a strong graph of already established key opinion leaders and important personas may weaken this experience, which is what many users look for in social media. However, as demonstrated by products such as Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts, many of the same in-platform influencers can recycle their content across different platforms, which may provide unique opportunities for these influencers to leverage Farcaster’s graph.

2. The decline of previous social products during the bear market

History shows that many Web3 social products struggle during bear markets. Crypto market downturns often lead to reduced user engagement and investment, which can severely impact the growth and sustainability of platforms like Farcaster. To build resilience to market volatility, Farcaster needs to ensure that its value proposition extends beyond the crypto community and appeals to a wider audience. Diversifying its user base and creating engaging, non-market-dependent features will be key to navigating market volatility.

3. Bots exist on social media platforms

The presence of bots and automated accounts is a widespread problem on social media platforms, and Farcaster is no exception. Bots can distort user engagement metrics, spread misinformation and propaganda, and create an environment that is unfriendly to real users - similar to a Sybil attack. Implementing strong bot detection and prevention measures is extremely beneficial to maintaining the integrity of the ecosystem. By prioritizing user verification and developing algorithms/mechanisms to identify and mitigate bot activity (fortunately, there are many applications on Farcaster like Phaver or Desmos that are trying to solve this problem), Farcaster can create a safer and authentic social space while maintaining the vision of the unique identity layer designed by Farcaster.

Mass Adoption in the Future

Breaking through the crypto communitys self-entertainment and achieving mass adoption is one of the biggest obstacles facing Farcaster. While the platform has gained traction among crypto enthusiasts, attracting a wider range of public users will require overcoming several barriers, including education, ease of use, and perceived value. Simplifying the onboarding process, providing a user-friendly interface, and emphasizing Farcasters unique advantages over traditional social media platforms will be key strategies. In addition, promoting Farcasters decentralized, user-owned nature can attract users who are concerned about privacy and data ownership. This all ties in with Farcasters marketing strategy to educate a wider audience about the unique value that Farcaster adds to niche communities outside of the crypto community.

6 Conclusion

Farcaster is essentially a social infrastructure layer that allows communities to audit users, and users to audit communities, through its core features: Identity, Graph, Feeds, and Frames. This is all made possible by the unique design of the protocol and the features that allow developers and entrepreneurs to get creative with the platforms social graph. Farcasters biggest value proposition comes primarily from the identity layer it leverages, and the ability for users to own their data, rather than large companies - a point that is borne out in the narrative of large social companies being scrutinized for data abuse.

While there are challenges such as integrating with the social graph, market volatility, bot management, and achieving mainstream adoption beyond the crypto space, these obstacles are not insurmountable. Through strategic planning and innovation, Farcaster can overcome these obstacles and pave the way for a new era of decentralized social networks.

Strong infrastructure, combined with the open and transparent nature of Web3, provides fertile ground for innovative applications and user experiences that are not possible in the Web2 paradigm. By leveraging the unique advantages of the Farcaster protocol, developers can create diverse and engaging applications, drive user growth and engagement, and cultivate a vibrant and resilient ecosystem.

Looking ahead, Farcaster is committed to decentralization, user autonomy, and innovative features, positioning itself as a potential leader in the next wave of social media platforms. This journey requires continuous improvement, community engagement, and a constant focus on user needs. Building a more secure, user-controlled, and dynamic social media landscape is worth the effort. Farcaster is not just building a platform; it is laying the foundation for a new way of social interaction in the digital age.

This article is from a submission and does not represent the Daily position. If reprinted, please indicate the source.

ODAILY reminds readers to establish correct monetary and investment concepts, rationally view blockchain, and effectively improve risk awareness; We can actively report and report any illegal or criminal clues discovered to relevant departments.

Recommended Reading
Editor’s Picks