Sandy is a serial entrepreneur/intrapreneur with 25 years of experience in managerial and executive positions at five Fortune 500 companies and served as a C-Level executive at three acquired startups. Sandy has a BSEE & M.Eng from Cornell University, a BA in Physics from Ithaca College, and an MBA from Wharton.
In the blockchain space, Sandy founded UPGRADED, a blockchain ticketing company that was acquired in 2018 by Live Nation/Ticketmaster, where he took on a role as VP/General Manager. He was also on the Board of Directors at the Maker Foundation, an organization developing "DeFi" technology for borrowing, savings, and a stablecoin on Ethereum.
Currently, he is founder/CEO of Credenza, a Web3 company for the sports space, while also acting as General Partner at Mindspring Capital, a global sports-tech investment and advisory firm.
When did you first become aware of the concept of Web3?
When did you first get a wallet?
I first bought cryptocurrency in 2013, so technically I had a Blockchain address back then. But it wasn't until 2016 that I first started playing around with MetaMask. I admit I didn't do anything very interesting with it because I was mainly using it for development purposes, but I did love the idea of having a unique anonymous account to be able to transact over the Internet. Even then, I saw the possibilities.
What was the first Web3 related thing that you purchased?
That would probably be my Otto Porter Chicago Bulls Top Shot (yeah, I was late to actual purchases). I was definitely intrigued by the growth of NFTs, though I admit that I was a little underwhelmed by my post-purchase experience and that's part of what inspired me to start Credenza.
What do you see as the most important benefit of Web3?
The decentralization and transparency of the blockchain, when coupled with the intrinsic programmability of smart contracts allow for practically any type of transaction to occur without one party having to be the "host". Allowing two parties to transact, operating as peers without the need for a third party to intervene will create the disintermediation that the internet has promised for so long. In the sports space, it will create a closer commercial relationship between the teams and their fans.
Who in the Web3 space is doing work that you admire?
I'm a fan of what Endstate (https://www.endstate.io/) is doing. They're taking the world of sneakerheads and create digital activations off of physical products. That merging of digital and physical is a compelling merging of blockchain and IoT that has some really fascinating long-term applications.
What will be the main drivers in Web3? Sports? Entertainment? Gaming?
I've personally decided to focus on sports because we believe the passion of the customers coupled with the many touch points that a sports team or league has, makes it a great environment for innovation. The money is there, the players are there, the audience is there, and the will is there. It's no surprise that Top Shot was a pioneer in the space, but that barely scratches the surface of what can be done.
What Web3 use case has surprised you the most?
Honestly, NFTs that don't come with rights and strictly rely on a contrived scarcity still puzzle me a little. I get the Bored Ape concept a little more, because there is an extensibility of the ownership that is compelling to certain people. But just owning a picture or a video that many other people do as well, while you are not really the owner of content for reproduction and you do not have exclusive access to the content? I'm still not sure how that took off. But I'm glad it did because it has helped spawn everything that has happened since.
What is going to be the next big thing pushing Web3 forward?
I think the broader applicability of the technology. In the last year, we've gone from novelty to contrived utility, where the token gets you a benefit, but that benefit is still pretty constrained in its applicability. The blockchain is ubiquitous, transparent, and accessible, How do you broaden the benefits of ownership of assets to map to that ubiquity? Ultimately, Web3 will have its Opah moment, the equivalent to when Oprah signed up for Twitter and millions of fans decided to get accounts because the utility was mainstream. But that doesn't happen until Oprah finds a unique use case and that use case will be when we start seeing cross-promotions and partnerships where the decentralized nature of the blockchain lends itself to facilitating the partnership of peers.
Is the metaverse part of your Web3 vision?
Yes, it has to be. The metaverse is a broad term, but we need to acknowledge that it has existed for quite some time with these alternate worlds in Minecraft, Roblox, etc. And the metaverse is better and more monetizable when the blockchain acts as the backbone for commerce and access because the decentrlized nature of the blockchain allows these economies to be more interchangeable, as opposed to the fiefdoms that exist now.
And finally, How do you use your wallet?
I use it to hold assets and crypto, but my company's goal is to focus on innovating what a wallet is. Today, it holds my assets, but I think it will ultimately,represent identity and an accumulation of actions and attributes in addition to assets that will make for a comprehensive tool in facilitating next-generation commerce.