What if we thought about time as an alternative asset?
On the value of time, games, and work vs play
“Remember that time is money …” —Ben Franklin
We often talk about the value of time. Certainly, time is valuable. Time can make us money. And money can buy us the freedom to spend our time the way we choose.
What if we thought about time as an alternative asset?
Play-to-earn and learn-to-earn make time a worthy investment
There are two trends emerging in the Web3 world – play-to-earn and learn-to-earn – that value time as an asset and enable asset ownership.
Ownership is a critical component to investing; it’s a large driver of why alts have gone mainstream. People want to own assets – through owning an asset they feel more involved in the community organized around the asset.
Play-to-earn and learn-to-earn models in Web3, where people earn assets for investing time in playing a blockchain-based game with NFTs or learning how to interact with a protocol, are creating the on-ramps for asset ownership.
Play-to-earn (“P2E”) blockchain-based games allows gamers to turn their time into money by enabling them to earn tokenized in-game assets for playing the game. These digital assets (NFTs) can be exchanged for other in-game digital assets or real money. The assets in these games can grow in value as more participants join the ecosystem. This structure differs from many online games, where historically gamers have played freemium play-to-win games where money from the game stays in the ecosystem and doesn’t flow to the game players.
Learn-to-earn (“L2E”) is based on a similar premise to the play-to-earn model. Users can earn token rewards for interacting with blockchain protocols. Not only does this create asset ownership, but it also incentivizes users to participate in crypto networks rather than simply be speculators of that network’s crypto asset, as Brian Flynn of Rabbithole says.
The key feature in all of this? Ownership and skin in the game. When users play P2E games or invest time in performing gamified tasks to learn about a blockchain network in the L2E model, they gain ownership of assets - tokens - in exchange for their time. Or, as P2E game Sorare so eloquently tells its players - it enables participants to “#OwnYourGame.”
On-ramps to new asset classes could define retail financial services
We’ve talked about the important role on-ramp companies play in bringing investors into new asset classes. There is something incredibly profound about creating an on-ramp to a new asset class.
Back in March, I wrote that on-ramps to new asset classes may come to define the future of retail financial services in large part due to younger investors who view financial assets and investing in a different light than prior generations.
These younger investors view culture as an asset class. Whether it’s sneakers, sports cards, collectibles, NFTs, or crypto, investors want to invest into things that they can identify with as their interests.
We live in a new world of investing. When I talk with these young investors and ask them what they are interested in, they all say crypto. They want to buy BTC or ETH or DOGE, not Apple, GM, or Under Armour.
As a result of “interest-based investing,” we may see entirely new consumer financial services firms emerge. For younger investors, the first relationship they might have with an investment or financial services firm could be due to one of these culture assets – crypto, sports cards, sneakers, collectibles, NFTs.
The next evolution of this thesis is that play-to-earn and learn-to-earn models like Axie Infinity and Sorare (play-to-earn) and Rabbithole (learn-to-earn) are not only the on-ramps to ownership in the Web3 world, but are also the potential on-ramp to the financial services world for many consumers.
The power of these models lies in the ability for players to own assets. That ownership is a result of time spent playing the game. And thanks to the interoperability between crypto and fiat, those earned assets can be transferred into real-world, fungible assets, just as this Sorare user was able to sell his Sorare NFT gallery for 19.5 ETH, enough to buy a house in Nijmegen.
Play-to-earn is not the only on-ramp to asset ownership in the Web3 world. Learn-to-earn models like Coinbase Earn and Rabbithole also reward asset ownership for time spent learning crypto networks and participating to govern.
Platforms like Rabbithole are playing a critical role in bringing new users into participatory roles in crypto networks. For that participation, users acquire tokens, can level up, and earn rewards for interacting with those networks.
The extension of the learn-to-earn model is that it becomes both a Web3 identity and a resume for hiring and participating economically in the Web3 world.
Proof of work
Blockchains are beautiful because they show proof of work. Wallet addresses offer a window into someone’s activity on chain. Every task that’s done on the internet contributes to their resume. The work that someone does on the blockchain becomes a piece of their identity. And this proof of work can become their resume to unlock job opportunities, investment opportunities, membership into communities.
An investment in time is an investment in the future
So, next time you see your kid playing a blockchain-based game like Axie or Sorare, they might very well be investing in an alternative asset – their time – and their future.
Welcome to a new world of investing, where people’s play is their work and their work is their play.
A world where time and work get rewarded in ways previously not possible. Because in a Web3 world, time spent playing a game can lead to asset ownership that could yield a monetary return and be transferred into fungible value.
gg (“good game”).