Enthusiasts tend to paint the bold new world of the “embodied” internet, as Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg described the metaverse, in broad, hopeful strokes. But whatever new version of internet may come next, if it’s anything like other technologies, it stands to inherit the same sort of biases and inequalities of other platforms.
Perhaps the time to address the issue is now, before the concrete in the tech foundations hardens — which looks like the main thrust of a brand new Web3-based community launching on Wednesday.
Cofounded by Brit Morin, of Brit + Co, and Jaime Schmidt, founder of Schmidt’s Naturals, with the backing of a slew of celebrities and entrepreneurs, BFF is an “open-access community developed for women and nonbinary people in an effort to democratize education and provide access and opportunity in the Web3 ecosystem to build equity in the new economy,” according to the announcement.
Web3 refers to a newer crop of blockchain-based services that, enthusiasts believe, can form a different type of internet — one where users have total ownership and control of their own data, not Big Tech. Although considered valuable for metaverse applications, blockchain assets like cryptocurrencies and digital goods via NFTs underpin the Web3 concept.
From the group’s perspective, this period looks like a transition phase from “gated” internet and financial networks to a more open Web3 economy. So it wants to take down the barriers and offer equal access to an economy projected to soar into multi-trillion-dollar levels. BFF aims to educate and support women and nonbinary people, who are underrepresented in cryptocurrency and NFTs, to ensure representation in a crypto metaverse where, it said, 81 percent of buyers and investors are men.
“Tech-based investment holds so much possibility — if only everyone felt they had access to it. So far, the new economy has largely left out women and nonbinary people. We believe that BFF can change that,” said Morin, creator of Brit + Co and a founding partner of venture capital firm OfflineVentures.
The group points to a bevy of stats that paint the picture on this imbalance: Cryptocurrency hit a market cap recently that was bigger than Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan and Mastercard combined, with $2.05 trillion, reflecting a whopping 102 percent gain in the last 12 months. But women tended to sit on the sidelines, as men were more than twice as likely to invest.
Of course, it’s crucial to note that these investments can be deeply volatile. The rollercoaster plunged just days ago, in a nauseating turn that saw bitcoin, ethereum and other major cryptocurrencies tank by a whopping $205 billion in one day. They rebounded, but still haven’t fully recovered.
However, such wild rides underscore the need for support and education, making them even more crucial.
So far, BFF has attracted more than 50 famous figures spanning Hollywood, Silicon Valley, fashion and more, including Mila Kunis, Gwyneth Paltrow, Tyra Banks, Rebecca Minkoff, Meta’s Randi Zuckerberg, L’Oréal’s Rachel Weisz and Rent the Runway’s Jennifer Hyman, among many others.
“Web3 has huge potential to be an equalizing force for those historically marginalized by existing systems. We, along with our network of leaders in our industry, are excited to share what we know and grow a strong, equitable community in BFF,” said Jaime Schmidt, founder of personal care brand Schmidt’s Naturals and founding partner at Color Capital, an investment fund specializing in Web3 and consumer goods.
The community launches with a free YouTube livestream on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. ET. Registrations at mybff.xyz offer access to sessions and guest appearances, along with a few surprises, BFF teased.