Disclosure: I am invested in Kin and other cryptocurrencies. Also, not so much a disclosure as a fun tidbit, I’m fascinated with Moore’s Law.
In 1958, the first video game was invented: it was a game similar to Pong. In 2008, Bitcoin was invented with the the publication of the Bitcoin paper: Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System.
But it wasn’t until the 1980’s that video games started to achieve mainstream adoption, and I believe 2018 will mark the year when cryptocurrency will start to see mainstream adoption, through Kin. Kin is the cryptocurrency launched by Kik founder Ted Livingston, and soon to be integrated into the Kik messaging app. (Here’s my 5 min explanation of Kin)
Video games started as science experiments on university computer systems… not much different from how crypto started with a few academics and nerds in basements. But video games didn’t become a sustainable mainstream success until a little known wannabe manga artist turned video game designer turned Nintendo’s flop 1979 game Radar Scope’s arcade units into the hit 1981 game Donkey Kong. That fledgling designer’s name was Shigeru Miyamoto. Donkey Kong starred a little man who jumped named Jumpman, later becoming the most recognizable character to children the world over: Mario. Miyamoto didn’t stop there. He went on to develop many other games and entire series of games including Zelda, Pikmin, Star Fox, and F-Zero.
Ted Livingston has a now-struggling unicorn chat app business in Kik that is being revived through the launch of a separate but related cryptocurrency: Kin. Ted was a fledgling messaging app founder who has now found his stride as a crypto-ecosystem launcher extraordinaire. In the same way that Miyamoto has given us hit after hit, Ted may be starting a streak of hits that turn his short ~30 year life into a long career of successful ventures. I don’t know what those hits will look like, but as you’ll see from the rest of this article, they could be news apps, new cryptocurrencies, or simply new (or old but redone) and varied services that can capitalize on the value that Kin will generate.
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Nintendo took video games into the mainstream and brought them into the hands of regular households and the mass of consumers. This is what Kin is doing for crypto. Look at the beautiful simplicity of their new app, Kinit, showing a progression from wireframes to the app as it now stands (Kinit is now available! Get it on iOS or on Android! Sorry, it’s USA-only right now.):
How did Shigeru Miyamoto become the great game creator that he is today?
When Miyamoto was very young, he would explore in the forests and caves of Kyoto, where he grew up. One time while exploring, he came upon a lake that he never before realized existed.
While walking there was a dog that would always bark ferociously at Miyamoto, but it was held back by a chain. This dog become the inspiration for his Chain Chomp “enemy” in the Mario games, just as the previous experiences became inspirations for the sense of exploration, wonder, adventure, and surprise that you find in his games.
Every one of us, including Ted Livingston, has a childhood and a history that we can harness for creativity in order to dream up new ideas. I believe that Ted has harnessed his experiences, including his time at the Crescent School, to forge new ideas, products, and services that are shaping our world for the better.
The greatness parallel
Nintendo is known for games that have impeccable game control and that are truly fun to play. Nintendo has focused on the consumer who may never have taken an interest in playing games before, and they’ve done so by continually experimenting with new ways to engage people through games. Think of the Wii with its motion controls, the Switch with its ability to be both portable or a home console, and the possibilities that come with Nintendo Labo, where people can join the Maker movement by building cardboard objects to help them interact with games. These are all new ways that people who might have never played games can now experience them for the first time.
But Nintendo has gone further. They focus on hiring people who aren’t into gaming, because that helps bring fresh perspectives on what a game can be. Miyamoto doesn’t like to play games that much, he prefers gardening and playing the banjo. If Miyamoto likes to play a game, it’s worth releasing to the public; if he doesn’t like playing it, development is reset and the release date delayed so that the game can be made great.
In 1992, Kirby’s Dream Land was released in Japan for the Game Boy. That game was initially to be called Twinkle Popo. The game was far into development when Miyamoto checked it out. He thought it had potential, but it still wasn’t great. There were a bunch of pre-orders of the game in Japan with the promise of a specific release date, but Miyamoto’s influence convinced the development team to revamp the game and launch it late. Kirby has gone on to be one of the great game franchises in history. I doubt that Twinkle Popo would have fared so well.
The Nintendo 64 was Nintendo’s first truly 3D gaming system. It launched in 1996, but it was missing a key launch title that Nintendo was hoping to bank on: Zelda. That game was delayed for about two years and finally launched as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 1998, all because Miyamoto thought the game wasn’t what it should be yet.
Two years late! A failure by most standards, and in most companies you’d lose your job, but the game went on to break the record for the most pre-orders of all time at the time. The game still holds the highest Metascore on Metacritic when compared to every other video game ever released, and it is considered by many to be the best video game of all time. A two year wait is a blip when the prize is literally to be the best of all time.
All of this to say that I believe Kin will be the best cryptocurrency of all time. It isn’t the first, and it’s not the last, and it may even one day get supplanted by newer, shinier, faster, or brighter cryptos just as The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is no longer the first choice when thinking about what video game you will play tonight. But if Ocarina is still ranked the highest and still considered the best video game of all time, then no new, bright and shiny video game will have ever strip it of that title.
If Kin is the best cryptocurrency of all time, cryptocurrencies may come and go, and 50 years from now, Kin may be a lightly used commodity. But that wouldn’t take away from the fact that it’s the greatest crypto of all time. It won’t take away from something that ushered in the the world of crypto to the great masses that are the global consumer.
Just as Nintendo provided games that are polished and easy to pick up and play, Kin’s Kinit app is a exemplar of user experience and simplicity. The complexity of cryptography, blockchain, and the market value of Kin is abstracted away so that users can earn, spend, and experience the world of crypto as if it were a game. Money isn’t a game, but when you gamify crypto, the masses will come. Think about which smartphone owner who needs some extra cash in the developing world won’t download Kinit to earn and/or spend some Kin. If they get a whiff of Kinit, they’ll be on board.
Miyamoto wants games to be fun for him to play, even though he isn’t much of a gamer, and a part of this is that he’s also fanatical about play control. Play control is that near mystical experience when you pick up a game for the first time and it just seems like the movements you make with your hands via the controller correspond perfectly to the character on the screen. When you press jump in the slightest variance of different lengths of time, your character jumps just as you would expect him to, and there is absolutely no lag. This perfect play control which is so obsessed over by Nintendo is like the “Simple” focus that Kin has for the Kinit app. The app creates a seamless experience for someone who knows nothing about crypto that allows them to have fun by earning, spending, and using Kin.
Ted Livingston doesn’t mind a redo, just like Miyamoto didn’t mind a redo for Kirby, Ocarina of Time, and others. Ted realized early on that the Ethereum network wouldn’t scale for the needs of Kin, so he made the tough decision to switch to the Stellar blockchain, with the option to switch to a customized blockchain just for Kin in the future, if the need arises.
And Ted is being patient. He’s waiting, just as Miyamoto has done countless times, until the experience is right for the consumer before he releases it to the public.
The Kin team is a diverse set of people on at least two continents and at least three countries that bring a diverse set of experiences to focus in on and ultimately solve just one problem: make Kin the most used cryptocurrency in the world.
Ted has an uncanny knack to find the niche in the market that is perfectly needed at that moment in time. The Kik messaging app grew to over one million users in just under two weeks in 2010. That growth stomped on Instagram’s growth when it came out — it launched just a few weeks before Kik.
This insight doesn’t come in a vacuum. Ted had a pulse on the mobile scene at the time, and I believe he has a pulse on the crypto scene today. What’s the one thing that crypto needs today? Mainstream, everyday consumer adoption. Like a Kung Fu master using a long lost wei wu wei technique, Ted has created a perfect engine for the mainstream adoption of crypto in Kin.
It’s called the KRE, or Kin Rewards Engine. Sure, the Kik messaging app will integrate Kin into its app, Kin will be in the wallets of millions of users, and Kin is launching the Kinit standalone app for even more Kin earning and spending opportunities. But these pale in comparison to the epic vision that Kin is projecting with its Kin Rewards Engine. Kin adoption by Kik and Kinit are the shadow that is cast upon every other app and business on this planet. And as other apps join, the shadows of those apps get added onto the greater shadow.
Anyone who know about network effects knows that the value of a network doesn’t just grow with its users, but the value grows as a square function of its users. So as a user base grows incrementally, the value created through the network grows exponentially. Crypto is still in small and early days, but the Kin Rewards Engine is the mechanism to get everyone on board. You see, everyone who jumps on board the Kin wagon is compensated, and the more businesses that jump on board, the greater the KRE payouts because of an exponentially higher Kin value — meaning greater incentive for others to climb aboard. Could competitors crop up? of course… but Kin is the first to propose a universal digital economy like this. I think Kin will be the biggest, but even if it isn’t, I think it will be the crypto of the “independents” who don’t want to join the likes of a Facebook, Apple, or Google.
What’s going to happen, and what should I do?
Kin announced their partnership with the Unity Game Development Platform and Engine on March 29th, 2018. They are building a Software Development Kit (SDK) so that the many games on the Unity platform are able to integrate the earning and spending of Kin within their apps. In the coming weeks Kin will be announcing more partnerships. This is the start of a giant “economic” snowball, the likes of which the world may have never seen before.
Perhaps Kin’s value hasn’t skyrocketed higher than it already has because people don’t understand the Rewards Engine and how every app in the world will be competing for hundreds of thousands of dollars of daily rewards that will be handed out every single day. Or perhaps it’s because Kin is doing something so revolutionary, so different, so unprecedented, and doing it in such a different but more sustainable way than virtually every other crypto to come before it, that the market doesn’t get Kin… yet. But that will change.
Is it hard to buy Kin right now? Yes. I was fortunate enough to get in at the Token Distribute Event (TDE) — that’s Kin’s fancy term for their ICO (Initial Coin Offering). Please read a little more about Kin, understand its vision, and understand its hope, not just of being the most used crypto in the world, but its hope of being a crypto for the masses where every app and business in the universe will have an incentive to incorporate Kin into their model because they can be paid Kin (which is worth cash) to do so. Once you’ve done that, figure out how to get your hands on a chunk of Kin. As we always say in crypto, never invest more than you’re willing to lose. But I wouldn’t recommend losing out on this opportunity if you catch a glimpse of the possibilities: the potential upside is not worth the gamble.
A lot of the Miyamoto stories are memories of what I’ve read, and I didn’t feel like looking up sources: feel free to take this whole article for what it is, an anecdote, and not perfect history or fact.