Alibaba’s Joseph Tsai Invests in Web3 Video Platform

Joseph Tsai, co-founder and executive vice chairman of Chinese tech giant Alibaba, has recently taken significant interest in Web3. Shibuya, a Web3 video platform, received seed round funding of $6.9 million on December 8, led by a16z crypto and Variant, which was also the first Web3 startup to publicly accept investment from Joseph Tsai.

This is not the first time that Tsai has intersected Web3 and crypto. On December 28, 2021, the entrepreneur tweeted, “I like crypto,” and as of today, his Twitter homepage still displays a pinned video with the caption, “What’s the crypto equal of a dime?”

Shibuya, launched by digital artist Emily Yang, was valued at $50 million in this round of $6.9 million financing. “The name Shibuya originally refers to a famous neon-decorated intersection in Tokyo,” Yang said. Yang loved animated movies since she was a child. With her deepening understanding of blockchain and cryptocurrency, she hopes that through Shibuya, filmmakers can rely on fans instead of the investment and distribution mode of Hollywood movies.

Shibuya is not an NFT video platform in a strict sense. In fact, it produces long videos in the form of community co-creation. With the official team as the main force, NFT holders decide the direction of the story by voting and contributing innovative content.

Different from the traditional streaming platform, Shibuya gives priority to decentralization and uses blockchain technology to safely publish monetized content, which enables users to participate in movie production just like playing games. Shibuya’s Web3 content authoring model doesn’t stop there. Emily Yang said the next chapter of Shibuya’s current film, White Rabbit, will introduce new interactive mechanisms, adding that the company has been thinking five steps ahead about new ways to interact with NFT holders.

(Source: Shibuya)

Recently, Shibuya partnered with Azuki, a well-known NFT project, to let NFT holders vote on which Azuki image will make a guest appearance in White Rabbit, directed by Emily Yang and Maciej Kuciara, a visual artist. Containing three to five clips, White Rabbit tells the story of Mirai, a young heroine who adventures in a world full of mystery and danger. The story takes place in the future, when the development of computers has endangered the blockchain, and Mirai strives to protect it.

Although the film is free to watch, the producers have added an “economic system” to the film, allowing users to participate, fund, decide the results and become partial owners of the video. Users will decide the direction of the story by purchasing NFTs. If the user votes for the popular option, he or she will be rewarded with $WRAB tokens, and early voting will also be rewarded with additional $WRAB tokens.

After the film is completed, Shibuya will store it in the blockchain, and the community with $WRAB tokens will become the actual controller and owner of the film, and every member of the community will have corresponding rights and interests through the tokens the possess.

Yang hopes Shibuya can become the Web3 version of A24, an independent film production studio that has produced films such as “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” “Ex Machina,” “Moonlight,” “The Farewell” and so on.

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In recent years, due to problems such as content removal, revenue distribution and advertising modes on centralized video platforms such as YouTube, a number of decentralized Web3 video platforms have come into being. Livepeer, for example, focuses on providing users with unfiltered video content. DTube provides cryptocurrency rewards for active registered users and creators who upload videos, and cancels the charging mode of advertisements. 3Speak emphasizes that the ownership of platform assets and communities belongs to users, and the more tokens they hold, the more say they have in the governance of the platform.