The emerging third generation of the internet, also known as Web 3.0, is set to upend some of the traditional ways marketers have connected with customers.
That’s the premise behind Holder, a marketing and customer-relationship management platform that launched Thursday as the latest portfolio company associated with Indianapolis-based venture studio High Alpha.
High Alpha has launched more than two dozen business-to-business software-as-a-service companies since 2015, but Holder represents High Alpha’s first Web 3.0-focused launch.
Holder’s co-founder and CEO is Drew Beechler, who formerly led High Alpha’s marketing efforts.
Beechler said Holder aims to address the disruption that Web 3.0 is bringing to the world of online marketing.
Web 3.0 is still emerging and its definition varies. But in general, Web 3.0 uses blockchain technology–the technology that enables things like cryptocurrency and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
Traditional marketing and customer-relationship management platforms aren’t well suited for use in Web 3.0 because users are essentially anonymous, Beechler said, which is why he sees big potential for Holder.
“The opportunity here is so wide,” Beechler said. “If [Web 3.0] lives up to only a fraction of its potential, I think there’s a very very large business here to be made.”
According to a report issued this week by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, revenue from NFTs could top $130 billion by 2030. (The report also noted potential privacy, investment risk and fraud concerns with the technology.)
Cryptocurrency and NFT activity reached a fever pitch last year, but the market has plunged since then. As one example: Bitcoin, which hit an all-time high of $68,790 in November, was trading at $20,833 Thursday afternoon.
Beechler said the market turmoil doesn’t dampen his confidence in Holder’s potential. “We’re out to build a company for the longer term. The short-term market volatility–obviously it is not always fun.”
Existing marketing and customer-relationship management platforms are built around e-mail addresses. But as blockchain technology becomes more prevalent, Beechler said, consumers will be using digital wallets to make purchases and interact online.
A digital wallet is a place to store assets such as cryptocurrency and nonfungible tokens, or NFTs. Third parties can see that an asset is associated with a particular digital wallet, and they can see the activity associated with that wallet, but they don’t know the identity of the wallet-holder.
So Holder will help marketers use data from digital wallets to reach those wallets’ owners, even if the marketers don’t know who those individuals are.
“It’s a completely different way of thinking about marketing,” Beechler said.
Holder is releasing a beta version of its product to a select number of launch partners, with the goal of releasing a public version of the platform by year’s end.
Launch partners include a number of NFT projects and decentralized autonomous organizations—entities that are governed by their community members rather than a central authority. Those launch partners include Woodies, Krause House, The Tick3t and PixelBeasts, among others.
Beechler said Holder doesn’t yet have any paying customers, but the goal is that the partners will become paying customers by the end of the year.
Beechler is currently Holder’s only employee, but the company is hiring and hopes to have eight to 10 employees by the end of the year.