Questions for the Universe Team

Hey guys. My day job working in trad-fi has kept me busy with markets melting down over the last few weeks, but I’ve been able to come up for some air and start to dig back into the projects I like a lot. In looking at some of the developments in Universe over the last few weeks, both within the project and also within the broader crypto market, I have got quite a few questions. Hopefully you’re able to provide some color (and ideally some specificity as opposed to more vague or open-ended answers), either here or on the AMA.

Is there any clarity on what the major priorities are right now in terms of upgrading the platform, and what is the timeline for rolling out new and updated features?

How is the team thinking about dividing their time between Polymorphs, Universe, and any other projects? The scope of what you’re trying to build is large and impressive, but I’ve wondered if it makes it hard to focus. Has there been any thought as to whether it makes sense to put 100% of the team’s focus into one project at a time in order to push it to completion and then move on?

It had been mentioned a couple times previously that one of the largest impediments was the need to add more dev talent. That is to say NOTHING about the talent you have—we know it is top notch. Rather, it sounded like you were looking to add more. Is this still the case? If so, do you guys think it may be easier to find people if we enter into a prolonged downturn and other projects disappear?

What is the monthly run rate for operations and development of the group as a whole? With conditions turning decidedly against risk, it’s obviously a much tougher environment and we likely won’t be able to bank on capital appreciation of treasury assets for a while. I’m wondering how long the group can operate without having to raise cash and still push forward.

Piggybacking off of that last question, has there been any thought given to diversifying the treasury out of ETH and XYZ and into more USDC? Nothing is certain, but it feels like the highest probability outcome is for markets to continue to move lower. If that’s the case, the USD value of the treasury could fall fairly quickly and the team’s runway could shrink.

Marketing has come up recently and for a while we heard that we didn’t want to market the product because it wasn’t quite ready. More recently, it seems all but certain that we are going to spend 4-5% of the treasury on sponsoring a party for ~1,500 people. I’m wondering what the general state of marketing is, and how you think about what is worth doing now and what isn’t. Moreover, how do you guys think about or plan to think about actually measuring the ROI of marketing dollars. The idea that we can’t measure the ROI on marketing because it is impossible to know the opportunity cost of not doing something (which is what was stated in reference to the party) simply doesn’t make any sense at all. An ROI has nothing to do with opportunity cost and I’d have to think you could look at metrics like dollars spent versus things like site traffic, transactions, twitter mentions, etc.

More broadly, I’m wondering how the core team thinks about the community and its involvement in the project. The project is touted as being DAO-first, but it seems like the tokens are distributed in such a way that whatever the core team wants, the core team gets. I may be in the minority, but I actually think that’s necessary when building. You have to make choices and act quickly to get things done—a DAO is not conducive to that when you’re trying to build. With that said, it also seems like there is more interest in vibing in the discord with the community than actually listening to feedback. A lot of the same issues—particularly around communication and priorities—keep cropping up and it certainly seems like little attention is given to actually changing things. The weekly updates are a great example. They were born out of a community push for more communication and transparency, lasted exactly three weeks, and then stopped. As a community member, it feels a bit like the core team members simply don’t care too much about what I actually think unless it’s positive and in support of what the core team wants.

I appreciate anyone taking the time to read and respond to this. Please believe that it is all coming from a good place. I just think that these are some really important issues that we could all use some clarity on.

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Tailing on this, we spent $500k last year and it’s unclear what the return has been on that investment. We met people and spread awareness is pretty generic. Who did we meet? How have they contributed to the ecosystem over the last year? Have any hard commitments come from these relationships? Would it have been better to use those funds for dev costs / hires? What about this years funds?

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Tailing on this, are there other things causing delays? Legal, NDAs, audits, other things beyond our control or capacity to accomplish? I understand some things cant be disclosed, but my own meme concern of wen is turning into an actual concern of when. Re: when. I dont find the AMAs super productive; just a lot of vague ‘we’re working on cool stuff’ and my hopium supply is running on empty. I’d much rather have a bi-weekly update on accomplishments and next things up in sprint mode. Just straight bulleted facts. Like, are we still in sprint mode? Yes or no. Yes, here’s what we’re doing right now. No, here’s what we’re doing instead. In this vein, the AMAs seem defensive by saying ‘we can do this if you guys want right now but we’re doing other stuff’ when all I (or we) really want to know is what’s being worked on. It’s not a useful excercise to tell us what you could be doing instead when it’s not clear what youre currently working on to begin with.

Lastly, is there anything we can move fast and break stuff with. My sense is we are letting perfect be the enemy of good.

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I’ll try to answer these in the order asked.

Majority of our priorities right now are focused on migrating the database, we are currently blocked on the current testing of the migration because of some internal issues we are keeping private at the moment and may keep private. It could take us a few more days to be unblocked on testing this migration. This was the major lift we needed to fix before implementing the new searching and trait filtering to the marketplace and will also help with the scraper catching up.

The Team is dividing resources slightly but more so we have hired more devs to work on polymorphs and moved the devs who were originally on it back to the Polymorphs.

So now we have a Marketplace team and a polymorph team. We are looking at expanding to build a team just for minting contracts as well because we have about 5 different types of minting contracts ready to push live.

It is not a knock on the team it’s simply we cant push everything we have built live partially because we have a lot of team members and friends who contribute smart contract code.

Yes we are looking for dev ops positions, front end and back end devs. If you know anyone we are actively looking.

Im gonna answer the rest in another post.

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Im not gonna talk in depth about the runway/budget because that is more a question for the founders. From what i understand is we have extensive runway. i do think its worth talking about taking and liquidating some of the polymorph money we raised for hedging downside of the treasury with USDC.

Marketing has come up a lot and we do have plans to ramp that up. I agree oppurtunity cost is not a good way to measure ROI not sure who said that but essentially the ROI on those parties is hard to measure and alot of ROI in marketing is hard to directly correlate.

We can use floor prices, network traffic and social engagement and correlate it but hard to put a real dollar amount on that unless you weight and divide the values based off the total cost of the party. I think we can figure out some ways to represent this. Some of the connections we made last year i think are worth mentioning being the alignment with monstercat the artists involved in the galleries like Pak and toomuchlag. Also met special guests like Marshmello which has led to meeting many others. Also a great time to meet contributors community and friends. But lets try and figure out a way to measure ROI on these events and well report those numbers.

To answer about the weekly updates, part of the reason why I held off on them is because we were still working on the same issues and figured it was redundant information. Now we are closing in on the end of this migration and we were planning on giving a longer well rounded update and explain the progress and what this opens up for us.

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I mentioned some of the people we met like Marshmello and Pak these relationships help being introduced to others and brands. From what i understood Tyler and Tim also paid of half of the Universe allocation and Monstercat paid for their half.

I think Universe treasury only paid 100k-150k but i may be wrong we can always go back and check the chain but i know Ty and Tim had thrown in an extra 150k at least

We had a major incident outside of anyones control last week we are trying to sort it out and once we do we will be able to move much faster. This will unblock the testing for the migration and then we will be able to push mot of our dev updates once the migration is done.

thanks for the responses ser.

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Mark—appreciate the responses to a few of the questions I posed above. I guess I’ve got some follow-up / pushback to some of it.

It sounds like the marketplace focus right now is on migrating the database so you can run testing and implement new searching and filter functions. However, it also sounds like there is some exogenous issue that’s preventing this from happening right now that you’re not comfortable talking about. You’re saying you hope to have that resolved soon, so I have no choice but to take you at your word. In reading the three updates that were given in early April, it sounded like the issue holding things up was a restructuring of something. Now it’s a database migration that’s being held up by something else you can’t tell us about. I guess I’m just a bit concerned about the fact that for over a month and a half, we have had various issues preventing the search and filter functions—key functionalities for the platform—from rolling out and details on what’s going on are pretty sparse. You don’t owe us anything, but I hope you can understand how that may look to a lot of people who are invested in, and supportive of, the project.

Regarding your comments on the team, I guess I’d ask why the focus on the Polymorphs with some of the issues you guys have run into rolling out the marketplace? You mentioned that you’ve hired more people onto the Polymorph team and also sent devs that started there back to work on that project. It sounds to me like the priority may be Polymorphs relative to the marketplace, but I may well be misinterpreting what you’re saying or jumping to a conclusion unfairly.

On the run rate, I respect your desire not to talk about it, but I’d also push back and say that with a treasury of only $2.4mn, all in crypto, I think it’s very fair for the community to try and figure out how long the project can self-sustain. I’d be really interested to hear from someone who is comfortable sharing that info, and I’d probably follow up by asking (without specifics) if there have been conversations about places to cut to expand that runway if markets chop sideways or lower for a longer period of time.

With regard to the comments on marketing, I’ll be super blunt. It sounds very much like there isn’t much rigorous analysis on the marketing spend at all. You’re talking about making connections and making more connections and I’d quite simply say, “So what?” I don’t doubt that maybe that’s helpful “down the line”, but I’d also argue that we have to get to “down the line” first. Opensea and LooksRare aren’t successful because of connections they’ve made, they’re successful because they built a product people want to use / drove traffic with tokenomics (say what you will about those, it worked in driving traffic and publicity).

I’d imagine that I’m coming off like an asshole, but I’d again reiterate that none of this is coming from a bad place. I think if you take a step back and try and look at what’s happening from the perspective of community members and people invested in the project who don’t have the access and insights you guys do, there are a lot of questions to be asked and we just aren’t getting many new or detailed answers.

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I can actually answer this. If things seem like they’re amiss for the last month or so… you’re probably right in general. We had a team member die, who was in charge of the database. So I’m not sure this is the right forum to explain that but that set us back.

It’s also not a bear market suicide situation but something that had to do with mental health that none of us could have seen coming. His death was also a complete accident and I’ve never dealt with this before professionally nor do I really know the right way to properly announce something like that without sounding like I’m making excuses or somehow blaming everything on this one tragic and unfortunate incident. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say that it was a set back nonetheless.

In terms of the Polymorphs… we have so much developed that we need to drop that it would be dumb if we stopped working on them now:

  1. We probably put $700k into Polymorphs and we need to push out that stuff instead of leaving it half finished.
  2. We have auctions to drop.
  3. We have the version of auctions Tim built that is a unique version of an auction the market hasn’t seen.
  4. We have completed minting contracts to drop.

However, we have to sort out the tragic incident before we can really get to any of that. It’s been a nightmare between this, the bear market, part of our dev team leaving, and then the war in Ukraine with so many of our team members being Ukrainian.

Again, I’m not trying to make excuses here but I really can’t see us having more shit sandwiches thrown at us than we’ve seen over the past quarter.

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Appreciate the color on the rollout and Polymorphs, and obviously (hopefully) really sorry to hear about what happened.

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Not only did it lead to huge losses for investors and supporters, but the NFT market was also incomparably bad, with almost no use, slow progress, various excuses, ignorance of what the community needed, arrogance, and arrogance.
The only thing you guys do is make the price go bad and keep supporters out of the community.
They will never come back to the community, you hurt the whole community.

bond will be delisted by Binance, let’s wait and see

Hey - where are you marketing these jobs? It would be great if you started posting them on the popular crypto job boards as well as creating a page for jobs on your website.

Some job boards:

  • Cryptocurrency jobs
  • angel.co
  • she256
  • bankless pallet

There are 2 types of ROI. The ROI that’s tough to measure is offline to online. In the case of NFT NYC my assumption is that the potential partnership value, as well as general awareness value, is the goal. But now that the app is launched we should start tracking traffic metrics, step-to-step metrics/page-over-page metrics for the user journey.

I would say that you could also look at general traffic metrics soon after the party to see if it has any effect on product use.

You might want to hire an analyst to help with stuff like that but I can understand if you feel you’re not at the point where you need one. I’m available to help with tracking and success metrics if needed.

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Hey would always love help from community analysts. I think we are getting to a point where we can start tracking data