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As the crypto market continues to struggle, plenty of founders and investors are left wondering whether this latest bull run was all some grand fever dream or whether some of the trends of the past two years spell a new future for the consumer web.
This week on TechCrunch's crypto-centric podcast Chain Reaction, we caught up with Naveen Jain, the creator of a product called Yat, which sells what are essentially emoji shortlinks. Some of these go for a few bucks, others have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the startup has been making bank on the back of the idea of digital ownership, which has gained popularity as a result of the NFT craze.
You can listen to the full episode below:
As the NFT world's future gets a bit more cloudy, we talked to Jain about what the lasting importance of owning a "digital identity" is and why someone would want to pay to own their own string of emoji characters.
"When someone owns something, it says a lot about them -- far more than just, for example, clicking on a like button on some website," Jain says. "So when you own something, it's sort of like conviction in that thing, right? You have something at risk potentially. If you own something, you've spent some money or time or whatever it is to own the thing."
In our conversation, Jain talks about the importance of ownership and what it means to have a blockchain-stored asset as opposed to soft ownership of something like a social media handle.
"When you go register an account on a traditional social network you don't really own the account, and they can shut it down whenever they want. And that happens all the time," Jain tells us. "We think that it's really important for people to own their internet identities, just like they do their real-life identities... Emojis are a universal language. You know, everybody on the planet who's connected to the internet speaks emoji, they don't all speak English. And you can use these strings of emoji to really tell beautiful stories about yourself that may otherwise be like harder to tell with just a traditional alphanumerical username."
We pressed Jain on whether consumers have proven that they care about ownership of digital assets and what other plans Yat has to build out its web3 opportunities in the future.