An interview with Federico Molina, Head of Marketing at the Decentraland Foundation
Blockchain marketers face a very unique challenge. Not only do they have to compete with thousands of other platforms to attract a limited set of developers, but they also have to raise awareness about nascent (but powerful!) technology that the mainstream still associates with hackers and criminal activity. To top it off, they have to grow this product globally from the get-go, to keep the network decentralized. All that, without any playbook of course.
Fede Molina is the Head of Marketing at Decentraland, a decentralized virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain. The team created a virtual world where users can build and explore 3D creations, play games and socialize. The platform has gained a lot of traction recently with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing people to stay home – virtual gatherings becoming the best alternative.
Fede made the list of the best marketers in Blockchain for 2020 – a list of 35 individuals whose organizations were measured by the lift in FCAS Rating, which indicates user and developer activity as well as overall market risk, and growth in Twitter mentions as measured by The Tie.
Rochelle: What were you doing before going into marketing for the Decentraland Foundation?
Federico: I worked for many years for different B2B and B2C organizations. My previous role was as Head of Growth for Auth0, an Identity SaaS.
Now I work for the Decentraland Foundation, fomenting the growth of the Decentraland ecosystem.
Rochelle: Do you remember the first time you learned how to market? What was it that clicked for you?
Federico: If I had to choose a ‘click moment’, I think it was back in 2007, when I was looking at metrics and realized you could analyze great chunks of data using SQL. I was working for MercadoLibre at that time running large-scale paid marketing campaigns and using MSAccess (lol).
Anyways, along the way I’ve discovered that it’s not all about performance, analytics, numbers and rationales. Decisions are also taken emotionally, that’s why you want consumers to connect with your brand. It’s not your product that people buy, but what it enables them to do.
Having said this, I’m still biased towards the analytical ‘me’. But I’ve been increasingly fascinated by how brands can influence consumers’ decisions and how building brand equity across time is one of the key aspects any brand should aim for.
“It’s not your product that people buy, but what it enables them to do”
Rochelle: How do you do that, for the Decentraland Foundation?
Federico: By bringing together creators, artists, developers, crypto enthusiasts and players in the first decentralized virtual world.
Rochelle: What would you say is the most challenging aspect of leading marketing efforts for a blockchain project?
Federico: With any type of marketing today, you have to grab your users’ attention within the first 30 seconds or you’ve lost them forever. The challenge with any blockchain project at the moment is to explain the technology at a high level so as to avoid confusion, but still giving enough details so people can understand its unique benefits and potential. For example, how do you communicate something like non-fungible tokens on Decentraland without getting too far into blockchain jargon but still far enough to address what the point of them is?
Rochelle: What was a marketing failure that taught you something interesting about how this industry works?
Federico: There was one time where Decentraland planned for a very big creator event we call Game Jams. We pushed really hard for it with huge prizes and all. But I think the results fell short of what we were looking for. Even though we saw a lot of developers joining the platform and many cool creations, we expected more participation.
I think it was mainly due to the product not being quite there yet. It’s the typical chicken and egg scenario – you need developers to build apps on Decentraland to attract users, but developers will only build if there are users who can benefit from their work.
At that time Decentraland hadn’t properly launched yet and developers could not monetize or even see their creations live.
Rochelle: Has Decentraland suffered from Ethereum’s gas fees skyrocketing recently? Would you ever consider leaving Ethereum to start your own blockchain?
Federico: That would be up to the community to decide through the DAO, but personally I don’t see it happening any time soon.
The community of Decentraland developers is currently looking at layer 2 scalability solutions to mitigate Ethereum high gas fees, which can be disrupting in a virtual world experience like Decentraland.
Rochelle: How has Decentraland evolved since the start of the pandemic? Have you noticed a shift, and are you marketing in a different way as a result?
Federico: I think it was something that influenced active user growth in Decentraland but I can’t be 100% certain, mainly because we launched in February 2020, just when the pandemic hit, therefore there is no ‘control group’ to compare to.
“Building strong communities is really key in this space.”
Rochelle: The Tie worked with us to analyze Decentraland’s growth on social media. Looking at Twitter, they found that your number of mentions grew by over 258% since the beginning of 2020, from an average of 38 mentions a day to 138. What do you think can account for this impressive growth in traction on social media?
Federico: We have a very supportive community. It’s something I’ve never seen before, you really don’t get to see this kind of community in any traditional space.
On the other hand, we advertise as many events that are happening within Decentraland at any given time, we use short eye-catching videos.
But if I had to choose, the Decentraland community is the biggest differentiator by far. Building strong communities is really key in this space.
Rochelle: $MANA’s FCAS has also increased 10.10% since the beginning of the year, which reflects growth in Decentraland’s fundamental data. What do you think of crypto ratings that measure the health of networks? Do you use them to measure growth? What type of KPIs do you look at otherwise?
Federico: I think crypto ratings can be useful in certain scenarios, and it is something I am interested in learning more about.
To measure growth we mainly use Daily/Weekly/Monthly Active Users (DAU/WAU/MAU), Weekly Retention Rates and Median Session times.