Introducing Blockcamp

A Place for Marketers to Learn About Web3, Together

Marketing is in the midst of undergoing a profound shift unlike any we’ve seen since the advent of the social web and digital marketing as we know it more than a decade ago. With this next wave of change will come tremendous opportunities for those who understand the new toolkit and are early and creative enough to capitalize on it. But first, I want to share a bit about how I arrived here and why I have such strong conviction.

Back in 2012, I was working for a consulting firm and was mostly aimless about what I wanted to do professionally. It was then that I stumbled across the nascent concept of “growth hacking”, the term coined by Sean Ellis in 2010 to capture the novel approach to scaling that was newly enabled by having a digital product. I was fascinated by the idea of creating a single function focused on the entire demand side of the business by collapsing marketing, sales, and product. I loved that it required a balance of quantitative rigor (attribution, demand forecasting, web analytics, etc.) and qualitative skills (copywriting, user psychology, web design and UX, etc.).

There also seemed to be tremendous opportunity in the space — social platforms like Facebook and Instagram were growing their user bases rapidly and it all of a sudden became simple to instantly reach nearly anybody in the world to let them know about your brand. Google search made it easy to find people that were looking for exactly what you offered (via both paid and organic search). The entire space of performance marketing and growth hacking was new, the playbook wasn’t written yet, and there was ample arbitrage opportunity if you knew where to look and how to take advantage of it. The transition from the “Mad Men” era of marketing to this new digital paradigm was palpable, and I knew this is where I wanted to take my career.

I made my way out to California in 2013, and after a brief detour at UCLA’s business school, dropped out to join an early stage VC-backed formalwear company called The Black Tux. They had just launched a few months prior and I was maybe the 6th or 7th full-time employee to join, working out of a small “office” in Santa Monica. I put the word “office” in quotes because there was no air conditioning nor access to a functioning bathroom, and it also served as our warehouse, customer service center, and first retail showroom. Oh the glamorous startup life! Over the next 8 years, I built out the Growth and Marketing team and helped scale the company to 250 employees, 30 showrooms nationwide, and nearly $100M in annual revenue (as well as a proper office, bathrooms and all).

In the early years, it was fun. There were new challenges every day that needed figuring out — from attribution to audience targeting and conversion optimization. There was, what felt like to us, low hanging fruit everywhere we looked as many of the things we all know today as “best practices” were not common knowledge at that time. And most of our marketing channels performed incredibly well as user growth on the platforms was outpacing advertiser demand and, quite frankly, level of sophistication.

As time went on, however, everything started to feel like more of a grind. We were still growing, sure, but the gains were much smaller and harder to come by. Over the years, more and more advertisers flocked to the major ad platforms because of the success other brands were having, ultimately driving up costs (CPMs). Further, as the ad platforms themselves matured and their targeting algorithms improved, the edge that could be gained by understanding the nuances of the platforms better than other advertisers was significantly diminished. At the risk of being too reductive, it essentially turned into an all-in-one ad machine that you simply feed dollars into, then sit back, kick your feet up and watch it do its thing. Other channels emerged over the years of course (podcasts, Snapchat, TikTok, streaming video, etc.), and they provided some temporary arbitrage opportunities, but most were short-lived. Shopify had also grown into the behemoth it is today, offering everybody a well-designed and conversion-optimized ecommerce site in just a few clicks. The marketing toolkit was ossifying and everybody was essentially doing the same things. On top of that, I felt like I’d hit a learning wall as the pace of change in the industry slowed.

Fast-forward to March of 2020: my wife and I had just had our second child, the entire world was frantic trying to make sense of Covid, and my intellectual boredom was at an all-time high as I was simultaneously on paternity leave and cooped up quarantining. I was looking for an outlet, and ultimately found it in an unlikely place: crypto. It had been something I was semi-curious about ever since a friend first asked me what I thought about Bitcoin in 2011. I, of course, had no thoughts on it of any kind back then because that was the first I had ever heard of it, but turns out I probably should have looked into it a bit more seriously (whoops!). Years later in 2017, I actually bought my first crypto—a little bit of BTC and ETH—perfectly timing the pico-top of the first true retail bull market in the space (again, whoops!).

But now I wanted to really see for myself whether there was any substance beneath the hype-fueled spurts of mania that thrust it into the media spotlight every now and then. So I started my crypto journey in earnest by going through Gary Gensler’s (oh the irony!) MIT course, Blockchain and Money, and that was all it took. Hash functions, validators, mem pool, PoW vs. PoS, merkel trees; I was fascinated by it all. Once I felt like I had a basic understanding of how blockchains work, I set up a MetaMask wallet, transferred some ETH from Coinbase, and was off to the races. I played around in DeFi (decentralized finance), figured out how to navigate smart contracts and transaction data in Etherscan, immersed myself in “crypto twitter”, and minted my first NFT. I was hooked. The fact that this was all happening during an incredible crypto bull market and “numba go up” certainly added to the fun, but beneath all that, there was something more meaningful happening. I started to see firsthand some of the ways these new technologies could be used in practical applications to improve on old ways of doing things.

I’ve remained active within crypto ever since, mostly during nights and weekends as I continued my day job working with high-growth consumer brands. Over that time, it’s become increasingly evident to me that we are on the cusp of another evolution of the marketing playbook, this one driven by the new technologies of Web3. As a brief aside, while everyone seems to have a slightly different definition of what Web3 actually is, from my perspective it includes blockchains, fungible (e.g. erc-20) and non-fungible tokens (e.g. erc-721), smart contracts, crypto wallets, and other yet-to-be-developed crypto related tools, as well as AI, which I believe will come to be seen as being incredibly symbiotic with crypto. Collectively, I expect this new wave of tools to dramatically impact how companies build products, connect with their customers, and scale.

This is the most excited I’ve been about the space since I first learned about growth marketing, and so I’m starting Blockcamp as a way for all of us to connect, learn, and explore this new paradigm together. It will begin as a newsletter where I curate and share the most interesting and relevant content at the intersection of Web3 and marketing, but my ambition is to build it into a full-fledged community over time. That means a private discord server, Web3 job board, members-only events, and a few other surprises I have up my sleeve.

In my next post, I’ll go into more detail on the specific areas I see the marketing stack being disrupted from where we stand today, so be sure to sign up for the newsletter and follow Blockcamp on Twitter to stay up to date.

Marketing is about to be fun again….