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How To Build A DAO's Micro Social App
A conversation between Jess Sloss, Alex Zhang, and Mike Bodge of Friends With Benefits, on the latest episode of Building At The Edges.
We’re in-between seasons of Building At The Edges. While we incubate Season 4, here’s a special episode to hold you over.
“We're building a vision where these communities will actually be able to trade and barter and connect and communicate with one another all inside of this community owned infrastructure.” — Alex Zhang, Mayor of FWB
Friends With Benefits may be the originator of the idea of a DAO as a group chat with a shared bank account. With the launch of their new app, they’re expanding this to include digital infrastructure, effectively evolving the thesis to its next logical phase: social network with a shared bank account.
Last week, a vibrant corner of crypto Twitter lit up in celebration of FWB’s new social app. In this special episode of Building At The Edges, Jess sits down with Mike Bodge and Alex Zhang to deep dive on their process from concept to market.
The app’s origin story sets the stage for the product’s core objective. Riding high from the incredible community experience of the inaugural FWB Fest, Mike — who leads product — was ready to bring that IRL magic online through a digital community space with a distinctly FWB feel. The Discord was “bursting at the seams,” as Mike says: “Everybody's in a million Discord communities where the channel format is fun and it's cool to chat, but there's so much other stuff going on. There's podcasts, there's events, there's all the other ecosystem things that are going on and it's hard to get up to speed.”
FWB onboarded 100-150 existing community members to the app in the fall to dogfood use ahead of a wider roll out. They lovingly called these members “canaries,” as in “canaries in the coal mine.” Members provided community feedback not only on the feature set, but also on the specific experience points like button choice — something typically relegated to the exclusive purview of a trad startup product team. FWB is making good on their commitment to building with community, rather than just for.
The core purpose of the app is not to create yet another venue for farmable social proof as existing social networks currently optimize for. In the end, follower counts and notifications are noticeably missing from the app, demonstrating FWB’s commitment to purposeful connection and community building. Within the main chat, only the most recent 100 posts are visible and no more — if you scroll all the way to the bottom of the feed, it prompts you to go touch grass.
The longterm vision for the app is to have it scale and evolve with the community needs. They’re calling this category “micro social apps” that exists somewhere between the 24/7 asynchronous feeds of communication apps like Discord and Slack, and the visual medium of Instagram. But instead of a public arena, a micro social app emerges from a curated group of people aligned around a shared meme. In this case it’s FWB.
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