Hello, NEAR community,
It’s a tough time for everyone. Economic recession, massive drop in crypto and a somewhat pessimistic outlook, war, potential nuclear threat. People are stressed across the board, and all of this leads to more personal and family health issues.
So the first thing I want to say is that we all need to chill, take a deep breath.
The NEAR ecosystem is built around vision, values, and amazing people. If you were at NEARCON, you would have felt it.
We have to focus on that when things get difficult or uncertain, because all of this will happen again: this is Web3, we’re building something very new and it’s still early. It’s also very ambitious, which means it will not be easy.
Mistakes have been and are going to be made, that’s part of the growth mindset. Projects and efforts are going to fail. And even some companies building on NEAR are going to close. That is normal, we all together will find a place for people if that happens and learn our lessons. Some efforts will get funding from the ecosystem at large (not just NF, but eco funds, VCs, and community) and some won’t. And some people will decide NEAR is not the right place for them and they will leave, that will be their choice. These are not failures––they are part of growth.
It will hurt in the moment, but none of this should be a cause for panic. You can’t react to everything negatively and attack the people around you. Placing blame, attacking or undermining people pulls the entire community down.
Things take time. But it is time worth spending on your core efforts.
I understand the desire to try to capture every opportunity and expand as fast as possible when it always feels like NEAR is behind or doesn’t have enough users/apps/TVL/NFT volume. While everyone else in blockchain used unsustainable approaches to bootstrap growth, the NEAR ecosystem has tried to focus on the long term efforts.
Trying to do everything at once actually slows everything down. So far every time the team has focused on their core set of efforts, it has led to amazing results compared to when it was trying to deliver more value for the ecosystem and got spread thin. This includes me personally.
We grew out of a team sitting in one office in San Francisco. This went into COVID when everyone worked remotely and was isolated from each other, their friends and family. We then turned into the craziness of the bull market where it felt like everything was happening and NEAR was missing the boat. We had only just launched mainnet and not everything was ready, but we’ve made a lot of progress since then.
We have started spinning out efforts and starting hubs around the world to build presence, projects, and go to market teams. I still believe in this approach. I do think that decentralized organization is how we can compete with incumbents like Facebook and WeChat––reminder that this is who we are competing with for users, not other blockchains.
This speed of growth is often painful. We went from ±60 people at the start of 2021 to 200 in the beginning of 2022 to 1000+ across the ecosystem today, and in many different companies with loosely defined boundaries. With this kind of scaling, it can be hard to maintain a sense of community and closeness.
We are still early, most of the stuff on blockchain still doesn’t work. There are no blockchain apps that have PMF. Exchanges have PMF, but not much else. Stablecoins and yield generation have probably gotten the closest, though decentralized versions have gotten burned. And that is it right now. We all feel the pressure, but it is early days for the entire Web3 ecosystem.
So we can take our time to structure things right, align communications and coordination, set proper expectations that are clear and transparent, and figure out the strategy that is going to get us to 1B users.
We have really great fundamentals. We have an amazingly diverse ecosystem that is all aligned around the shared goal of mainstream adoption.
I appreciate everyone’s work and contributions to the NEAR ecosystem. Let’s try to never lose sight of what we hope to accomplish. Communication is the best way to ensure that we maintain a strong community that supports each other, and we need to keep figuring out new ways to communicate as we grow.
PS. If you are frustrated or think that somebody else did something wrong, turn that into specific feedback and deliver it to them directly. You may learn the reasons for why they did what they did, or figure out together a way to improve for next time (values: transparency, growth mindset).
The model to use is COIN: Context (what you are talking about), Observation (what has the other party done, from your perspective), Impact (how did that affect you), and Next steps (what you can do together to address this).
Join the AMA with NEAR Foundation leadership and me on 1 November to discuss some of the community’s current concerns directly (stay tuned on Twitter @NEARProtocol for details). Let’s focus on making NEAR the best community in Web3 and beyond.
Thanks for reading,