NBA guard Spencer Dinwiddie was recovering from a torn ACL in the midst of a pandemic. Outside of his rehab, he had nothing but time on his hands.
If you follow Dinwiddie on social media, you’ve seen him tweet his insights about cryptocurrency, investments, blockchain, NFTs and more. The 28-year-old, who played for the Brooklyn Nets between 2016 and 2021, is applying that knowledge into one place as the chairman and co-founder of Calaxy.
Calaxy, a social media app he is launching for creators that is currently in beta testing, is designed to use the blockchain to reimagine the way people use social media. He aims to empower more meaningful and fulfilling fan experiences by giving creators a toolkit to interact with their fans in one place — while also rewarding fans for their engagement.
The company has already raised $7.5 million in funding, including notable investments from the likes of NFL star Ezekiel Elliott and The Bachelor‘s Matt James. Some of the other big names attached include entertainment superstar Teyana Taylor and NBA champion Iman Shumpert.
Dinwiddie, who will reportedly join the Washington Wizards on a multi-year deal, told For The Win that he will also continue promoting Calaxy on his Instagram and that you can request a beta key on their website before their launch in the App Store — which will likely come around Q3.
Please note this interview was minorly edited in its transcript for clarity.
Spencer Dinwiddie: Back in 2014, I was told about it. I was a rookie at the time and I was too scared to put my money into it because you hear horror stories about people losing all their money. In 2017, I was a bit more stable in my career so I had a subsequent conversation. I ended up getting in with a small amount of money. I experienced one of the boom markets and I made some money. Then I experienced one of the historic crashes as well. I ended up not making nearly as much money as I would have if I had sold at the top. But that sparked an interest in learning. Markets have cycles like that but the volatility that crypto had, as well as the potential gains, that’s how I got so attracted to it. The concept of turning a thousand dollars into a million dollars was an initial piece in terms of the potential for wealth creation. That sparked a learning curve and that’s just part of what has kept me in this space for the last four or five years. The technology and the ability to change things has kept me, too.
Calaxy is Coming.https://t.co/hlDoaxMRhB
— Spencer Dinwiddie (@SDinwiddie_25) September 15, 2020
SD: Calaxy is designed to be a decentralized app for personalized monetization. In the big elevator pitch with a 50,000-foot view, that’s what we’re trying to do and accomplish in a variety of different ways. The way we lean into that, in terms of a pilot, you saw what I did with my contract. For what becomes more public, you’ll see a lot of the features that will be familiar to you on Patreon and OnlyFans but in a decentralized fashion. As you progress and as you get a bit more sophisticated, you’ll see people bring liquidity to illiquid assets like intellectual property. We’ll circle back to sports contracts and all types of things. Down the road, those things will be traded in a market unlike any other. It’s a pretty comprehensive vision but it all centers around personal monetization.
The way we compare to others is we have a more comprehensive, robust model. We also charge half the fees. We’re future-focused. So it becomes a more attractive system. We’re built by the people that generate content. Our goal is to become decentralized and have governance and put the power back in the hands of the people. Patreons, OnlyFans and Cameo — there is always going to be a half-step before there is a full-step. You had MySpace before Twitter and Instagram. Each one serves a purpose but things are always going to continue to evolve.
— INFINITE by Suku (@infinitebysuku) July 30, 2021
SD: If you look at my road and journey, a lot of the stuff I’ve talked about has a similar wavelength. It just kind of expresses itself in different forms and fashions. I’ve always talked about the person. I’ve always talked about the decentralization of power towards the hands of the people. I had a similar concept with the shoe stuff. I was able to make a little bit more money making my own shoe than I would have on a Nike contract. It was also a lot more fun because I used to draw shoes as a kid. I got to live out a passion project. I learned so much about buyer conversion on social media. I learned about specific price ranges and business hiring strategies and things like that. I learned that the more connected your fans feel to you, the more true fandom is created. The more you make people feel connected and a part of the journey, the more you can have a true following and you can build and cultivate an ecosystem.
In this specific wavelength and plan, getting into blockchain back in 2017, all these systems that I’m attracted to attract me because they make sense in my mind. We talk about inflation and just printing money in the United States, for example. The modern monetary theory doesn’t really make sense to me. I get why they do it. I’m not saying I can’t read the text. But overall, just in terms of value and value creation, it doesn’t make sense to me. Blockchain, in terms of that transparency and trust, does make sense to me. When you apply that to the entertainment industry or to the NBA, that makes sense to me because I’m in it and I understand it. You just start to have some more nuanced ideas and more macro ideas that Calaxy hopes to reign on top of and usher in this kind of paradigm shift.
SD: The people who generate the content are the ones generating the value. It’s the same thing with the NBA. There is inherent value for making a transaction seamless or making it so where you consume the content is easy to find. It’s very nice to know I can go to Barclays Center to watch Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving. But at the end of the day, they’re the ones who are creating the value and they deserve a lion’s share of the profit. The reason why things like that don’t typically happen is because the power has been in legacy systems.
With us, we will charge half the fees because we want our content creators to get as much as they possibly can and get what they’re worth. In a decentralized economy, there are going to be a lot of different ways to create wealth. Whether it’s through governance or subsequent apps built on top or with tokens, we’re not trying to be a central controlling equity. We just want to be the central protocol layer where people can express themselves. In the NBA, they can eventually have bespoke endorsements — whether it be NFTs or jersey patches and all types of stuff you’ll be able to do. The sky’s the limit. We don’t want to solve every individual issue. People will come up with cool ideas to help the NBA that we won’t know but if we become the place to build that, it solves everybody’s problem.
SD: I think what we learned through NBA Top Shot, NFTs and the NBA as a whole is that there is definitely a market for collectibles in sports — just like baseball cards. It’s been that way through the dawn of time in that space because of verified scarcity. With the NFT boom and collapse, we also learned that just like anything else, you can’t overdo it. It has to be something we as a fan base and consumers genuinely think is valuable and have thought is valuable. If you just strap an NFT to a leaf that fell off a tree, during the boom, that’s cool. But there is no market for that.
That’s what I’m most excited about for Calaxy. When these things look like apples to apples, it becomes a market and that’s tradeable. It’s not going to be like the NFT experience of this past spring where everybody tried to do a one-off art collab but there was no real market that was able to standardize these things and allow them to really pair up value to see what happened.
SD: Usually, they sign up and get the gist on the pitch. But they really want to know which tokens to invest in. That’s always the initial onset on your foray into crypto. How can I turn a thousand dollars into a million dollars? If you’re a millionaire, like a lot of NBA players, how can I turn a million into a hundred million? I give them pretty safe advice. Shooting myself, I tell them that I have partners. I’ll tell them about my partners. I’m invested with them and Bitcoin and Ethereum are the top two gold standards — one of smart contracts, one of store value. I tell them about five projects or so and tell them to do their own research and make your own decisions. If you come back and want to have a more in-depth conversation, I can geek out about this stuff all day. But the last thing I want to do is sell my brothers down the river. But I definitely tell them about my partners because I am literally putting in sweat equity with them.
— Shlomo Sprung (@SprungOnSports) May 27, 2021
SD: Hedera’s Hashgraph, which is our primary partner, was because Cryptokitties had throttled the Ethereum network. We knew we were going to possibly bring several hundred million people to the blockchain through our app. The last thing we wanted to do was have fees skyrocket or throttle the layer one that we were using. That turned us onto pitching at other layer ones like Tezos and Algorand. Hashgraph had the most robust technology stack. It allows us to just use familiar coding languages — whereas some are much more complicated. That makes the build of the app a little more seamless and a little more familiar for Web 2.0.
In terms of Chainlink, I’m just a fan so I just wanted to reach out to find out what a decentralized oracle can do for the aggregate info that we’re going to need in the app as it continues to evolve. Then for Flow, that comes from personal investment and understanding the space. Dapper Labs built Flow through blockchain for gaming and entertainment. When we started building Calaxy, Flow was not out yet. But we remained in lock-step on their development and we have our eyes set on continuing to make that partnership more robust because they’re the leaders in collectibles. Displaying and omitting those types of things across the chain will be big-time for us. Web 3.0 is going to mean a trust layer, verified transactions, cheaper fees, faster speed.
SD: I had time afforded. I was rehabbing for twelve hours a day, five days a week. But I didn’t have games and I didn’t have scouting reports and I didn’t have the mental strain just in terms of the focus. After rehab was done, I wasn’t doing mental gymnastics like I would have during the season when I was thrown different coverages and different matchups and different lineups and different times and scores and stresses about winning. It’s much easier to start and cultivate a business during a rehab process than it is during a championship run.
Just in general, though, whenever there is a bull run or there is a crazy amount of value creation in a space, especially when traditional markets are throwing out words like recession and there is a stimulus bill and the world is locked down, it’s inevitable that you take notice and you become more locked in to stuff like this.
SD: In terms of how my mind works, just looking at any system in the world whether it be finance or entertainment or whatever it is, I’m a macro-strategist. I’m not as day-to-day involved because my day-to-day is basketball. So I’ve definitely found and struck that balance. But as a macro-strategist, what excites me the most is the marketplace. My co-founder’s intellectual property might trade for my contractual rights and that might trade for your time and expertise in terms of writing a story. When you start to line up apples to apples for human beings and what they offer, you’re going to extract value. It’s going to be traded.
In the future, it might be even more attractive than some of the stocks we see traded today. You can go to in-arena experiences such as verifying that you’re there — whether it’s AR, VR or just collectible things like Top Shot. There are going to be a lot of people that dream up different concepts that you can apply because the sky’s the limit once we realize what people have the appetite for.