NEARWEEK PERSPECTIVES Community Edition: Ozymandius
With new initiatives and projects being constantly birthed into the NEARverse on an almost daily basis, a challenge arises in deciphering the most promising, engaging and idea-driven projects on the NEAR blockchain. With NEARWEEK PERSPECTIVES, we seek to create an ongoing, curated uncovering of new, exciting projects and actors throughout the NEARverse, selected purely on the basis of our own subjective merit.
This time, we speak with Michael Kelly, or better known as Ozymandius on the NEAR community. Ozymandius is slightly akin to an enigma within the world of crypto, working on a vast array of impactful projects at one and the same time. These include his role as founder of 4NTS Guild, being one of the first guilds in the NEAR Ecosystem, co-founder of Move Capital and co-founder of Open Forest Protocol. Having worked in the NEAR Ecosystem for close to two years now, we wanted to pick his brain and hear his thoughts on how he got into crypto, the similarities between the industrial revolution and the crypto space as well as about the things that he’s the most excited about in the future on NEAR.
Starting In Crypto And Surviving A Bear Market
Though Ozymandius has only been in the NEARverse for a little under two years, his crypto journey started back in 2016 when some friends introduced him to Ethereum:
“I heard from friends about this thing called Ethereum and how it only cost 7 dollars though everyone claimed that it would go to 100 dollars. They were like ‘You should look into this!’. At the beginning it was just speculation but then my mind started wondering towards possible application of this technology.”
With a background in philosophy and technical writing Ozy was well equipped for diving into the world of crypto and understanding its potential. Curiously, it’s in the midst of the 2018 bear market that Ozy really came to realize the potential of this industry, while discussing with the few participants in the Token 2049 held in Hong Kong:
“The few people that had shown up did not seem to care about the bear market. They actually saw it as an opportunity to keep building undisturbed until crypto would pick momentum again. That’s when I realized that this world had the potential to really blow up though it may take five or ten years for it to do so. It all comes down to the paradigm of what the world was putting out then and the belief that the output would only get stronger as time goes on. That’s why I stayed.``
Crypto’s popularity is highly affected by market fluctuations. However, those that really understand the underlying technology and ecosystem that cryptocurrencies rely on, know that the industry heralds to a world wide revolution that can hardly be stopped by price fluctuations. Ozy’s ability to go beyond financial incentives allowed him to carve out a position at the forefront of a booming industry.
Ozy’s background in philosophy and economic history helped him identify the markings of technological revolutions:
“At the time where the crypto space was starting to take form, I did a lot of work on the first industrial revolution, studying its driving factors and I realized that there were so many parallels between the two. […] I realized that it would be worth to bet on that we would be getting another form of financial revolution within this space.”
By recognising the early signs of a new technological revolution Ozy saw a great opportunity to participate into something that would change society for decades to come. And as time progressed he was able to find more and more confirmations of the up and coming revolution.
Ozy’s NEAR Journey
After four years in the crypto space, Ozymandius stumbled upon NEAR. It was May 2020, the bear market was ongoing and NEAR just managed to fundraise 20 million dollars for its development:
“I was reading CoinDesk article on NEARs fundraiser, how they’d just raised $20 million. This caught my attention since it was a huge amount to raise during a bear market”.
In no time Ozy started digging into NEAR’s docs. What Ozy’s found was a great plan for addressing some of the hardest challenges for the crypto industy such as, usability and accessibility:
“The biggest flaw of the projects from 2017 and that time was that they weren’t really usable for their clients, like corporate supply chain projects, privacy project and so on. It wasn’t usable, you couldn’t understand it, you couldn’t access it. I was looking at NEAR and what they were doing as a compliment to ETH but with an intuitive usability at the forefront. It was a light-bulb moment for me, like ‘this is gonna be huge’”
Amazed by NEAR’s innovative approach, Ozy immediately decided to go full on with it and founded one of the very first guilds of the NEARverse–4NTS.
At first, 4NTS’ objective was to propel the new projects that were built on the protocol in an impactful way. However, as the ecosystem was still in its early stage when 4NTS was formed the guild ended up being involved in building the core pieces of the NEAR ecosystem:
“Initially we wanted to focus on projects’ promotion but we ended up doing what was more needed for the ecosystem at the time, that is, building a community and the core infrastructure for it. We helped figuring out a structure for the guild program, we set up a sandbox, and a DeGen program specifically requested by Illia. We set up the pieces that were needed for communicating to the communities the ways in which they could find their place in the NEARverse.”
Fast forward to today, 4NTs is still playing a role in growing the NEAR community and helping newcomers find their way in the NEAR ecosystem. The efforts of 4NTS helped building an organic and thriving community that sets it apart from other communities for its friendliness and inclusiveness:
“To me, the community is young, open and friendly. It’s defined by people who are product and production focused. And because everyone’s so into what they’re building, the passion for the products built on NEAR is huge. It’s truthful and comes from the heart. The community of NEAR is close-knit, earnest and hard-working.”
Looking Forward: DeFi & Talent Onboarding
Although NEAR has gone a long way in the past couple of years, Ozy believes that we have only had a little taste of the hights that NEAR can reach
“I think we’re still a little ways from that tipping point where NEAR blows up to another level and DeFi is going to be a critical stepping stone for the ecosystem,. It’s going to bring new people in and provide the foundation for new dApps that can facilitate lending and trading. From there comes more serious and fun DAO’s, P2E games, NFT’s, new industrial products, core infrastructure types of products and the like. ”
Onboarding new talent is also going to be crucial for the sustainable evolution of the NEAR ecosystem. Although interest in crypto is rising, people’s mentality and attitude is key to make onboarding successful, as Ozy remarks:
“I’ve found that the making-or-breaking point of people entering the space is whether or not they have the patience and mentality that you need to learn, experiment, contribute, grow, participate and give back to the community as opposed to entering with a mindset of ‘How much am I getting paid for this?’. If you do well and establish yourself as a capable person in the NEARverse, all doors are open for you. Protocols and DAOs will hit you up and you’re gonna have an abundance of opportunity at your feet. But you have to work to get there; nothing is given in advance. It all comes down to being passionate and having your heart in it.”
The doors of crypto are wide open for people that are not afraid to challenge themselves. Working at the forefront of innovation requires sacrificing old mental structure in favour on new ones and trying out different approaches. Ozy’s story points out to the importance of attitude, creativity, and perseverance to succeed in such a chaotic and fast-paced industry, but also to the beauty of building the future.
NEAR is a high-performance blockchain designed to be super-fast, incredibly secure, and infinitely scalable. NEAR’s vision is to create a network that enables people to re-imagine finance, creativity and community in new and inclusive ways.
NEAR is built by an award-winning team of engineers and entrepreneurs to be simple to use, inclusive and good for the environment. NEAR is backed by top VCs such as A16Z, Pantera Capital, Electric Capital, Dragonfly Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Blockchain.com, and Baidu Ventures.