Onboarding The Next Billion Users To Crypto Rails
Today, we’re announcing we co-led TipLink’s $6M seed round with Sequoia. Our colleagues from Circle Ventures, Solana Ventures, Paxos, Asymmetric, Big Brain Ventures, Karatage and Monke Ventures also participated in the round.
Nick Grossman wrote a thesis we’re fond of called The Butter Thesis which he defines as interactions and experiences that are super smooth—rich, easy, delicious. As Nick writes, “it’s hard to define formally, but you know it when you see it.” The Butter Thesis is particularly relevant for crypto projects because the reality is that most of them are not rich, easy or smooth, much less delicious.
TipLink is the epitome of Crypto-Butter. With TipLink, you can send crypto and NFTs to anyone in the world—regardless of whether you know them, and even if they don’t have a public key—with just a URL, in the same way you would send a link to a friend or colleague. With TipLink, the URL is a non-custodial wallet.
TipLink is solving a huge, invisible problem in crypto: key management. Simply put, key management is daunting for everyday users. As people who live and breathe crypto every day, we take for granted that users know what public and private keys are, how hot wallets and seed phrases work, how to secure assets, how to transfer NFTs, etc. Wallets based on multi-party computation (MPC) such as Web3Auth and mobile apps with native social recovery have made strides in reducing barriers to entry. But in addition to Web3Auth and mobile wallets, we need tools designed for mainstream users that know absolutely nothing about crypto.
If you want to send your mom an NFT, TipLink is the easiest way to do it. If you want to pay a friend with USDC for dinner, TipLink is the easiest way to do it. If you want to grant someone an NFT for a token-gated Discord channel, TipLink is the easiest way to do it. If you want to distribute 5,000 POAPs at Lollapalooza or the Super Bowl, TipLink is the easiest way to do it.
Note: Tiplink demo from the 2022 Multicoin Summit
To describe TipLink as a new “payment” primitive falls short of the addressable opportunity. Links are the bedrock of the internet. Google Search is predicated on understanding how pages are linked to one another across the web. People share links everywhere, everyday—in email, SMS, iMessage, Slack, Discord, Telegram, Geneva, Whatsapp, etc. That’s what makes TipLink so powerful: TipLinks naturally flow over every communication channel on the planet.
Right now, if I want to send you some BONK tokens, you would need to:
- Download wallet software (e.g., Backpack, Phantom, Solflare, etc.)
- Set up your account and generate a wallet (those 12-24 words we all love)
- Copy your public key (thanks for doxxing yourself!)
- Send your public key to me
If I’m sending something valuable, say 100,000,000 BONK, I may also want to send a test transaction first to double check that the pubkey you sent me was 100% accurate.
This whole process, start to finish, takes on the order of 10 minutes on the low end for an experienced user and up to 1-2 hours for first-timers. It’s no wonder that people say crypto is hard—it is!
TipLink cuts that flow from 10 minutes to 10 seconds. With TipLink, I send you a link and then you:
- Open the link
- Claim the wallet with Google Connect (if you don’t already have a crypto wallet), or 1-click withdraw to your Backpack or Phantom wallet
Notice that I didn’t have to ask you for your Venmo name, bank wiring info, or your .SOL address or your pubkey—no doxxing, no prior relationship required. I simply create a link and send it to you on any medium (WhatsApp, Signal, Twitter DM, Discord, email, etc). From there, you decide where the tokens or NFTs go.
The process of creating TipLinks is simple. Today, the vast majority of TipLinks are generated at TipLink.io. You can go to the site, select an asset type, type in the amount you want to send, and create a TipLink. From there, just copy the link and send it.
TipLink also offers developers an SDK/API to do this at scale. Want to generate 1,000 links with 1 USDC each? No problem. Want to send 10,000 NFTs to your community? No problem. Want to embed TipLink into chat and enable functions like “/sendtiplink 10 SOL”? No problem.
TipLink is an entirely new payments primitive. But not all asset transfers are payments in crypto, as is in the case of NFTs. TipLink therefore is a crypto-logistics tool capable of sending and receiving any digital asset, across any channel, anywhere in the world.
With so many opportunities, the question is, where to begin? We see three addressable opportunities where TipLink can make an immediate impact.
Crypto Payment Chat — Crypto payments are hard, and no one has built Crypto-Venmo yet. Everyone lives in DMs on Discord, Geneva, Telegram, Twitter, etc., and no one wants to download yet another app. TipLink has the opportunity to sit on top of all of the communications channels in crypto and serve as a better, more frictionless payments/transfer/distribution experience for digital assets.
Crypto-Invoicing — Empty TipLinks are an interesting idea akin to requesting a payment or invoicing. For example, I send you a text with an empty TipLink and say, “Hey, the movie was $10. Can you hit me back?” To repay me, you quickly deposit 10 USDC into the TipLink I shared, and then text me back to let me know. From there, I can 1-click claim the $10 into my mobile Backpack wallet. This can be done at any scale.
1-to-Many Distribution — Airdrops are the state of the art in crypto marketing. The promise of a future airdrop works because it incentivizes people to tinker with different dapps. The problem is, in order to do an airdrop you have to take a snapshot of wallet addresses—i.e., you have to know the addresses to begin with. While effective in the sense that it’s acquiring users from crypto’s fixed pie, it’s completely ineffective at getting new users off the sidelines and into the game. TipLink solves this problem: developers can send TipLinks to users in-app, even if they’ve never interacted with a blockchain before.
We expect to see TipLinks used for “Air Raids,” which are effectively crypto airdrops on top of web2 workflows and marketing tactics. Outbound sales and SMS/email/drip marketing work extremely well. Using these same tactics, teams can embed TipLinks into email marketing campaigns that direct new, non-crypto users to get their hands on digital assets for the first time. This concept was recently proven at small scale at Format Festival, where the Solana Foundation used TipLinks to distribute POAP NFTs to festival goers in the form of QR codes that anyone could scan and claim. We expect to see hundreds of experiments in this vein by projects, brands, and agencies using TipLink’s API.
TipLink is a toolset that can and will expand the crypto pie. It will help onboard the next billion users. It doesn’t require any new infrastructure and the learning curve is nearly non-existent. Its beauty is in its simplicity and its universal applicability.
We’re excited to back Ian, Aashiq, and the entire team at TipLink. Their API is available today in public beta and they are hiring more engineers to scale up quickly.
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