StrictlyVC San Francisco: What’s Next for Worldcoin with Tools for Humanity CEO Alex Blania

So now I'm very excited to um announce Our upcoming speakers one of them is my Colleague Jacqueline melanic whose Presence here I very much appreciate she Just flew in from New York she covers Crypto for Tech crunch very well she Also has a really great podcast that you Should check out if you've never heard It called chain reaction with her is Alex BL uh the co-founder and CEO of Worldcoin a company that really captured Everyone's imagination last year year a Fintech and I'm sorry let really a Financial and um uh individual identity Company uh whose aspirations have um Really fascinated people and I think in Some cases concerned them this is of Course the iris scanning uh orb company And he's going to tell us all about what They're up to they do have the orbs here So if you've not had a chance to check Them out yet because they're really just Now entering into California you should Check them out you can get your iris Scan but do that at the end of the show Thank you Guys Yeah yeah if you Want a single hello everyone thank you Connie for that nice introduction I am Jacyn melanic I am a senior crypto Reporter at TechCrunch and as you Mentioned I am here with Alex lania he Is the CEO and co-founder of tools for

Humanity which is the team that created Worldcoin uh as she mentioned worldcoin Is a crypto project that Alex co-founded Alongside open AI Sam Alman and Max Novenstern and it gives World IDs to Users by scanning human irises and that Gives you access to the Project's Application and also a quote unquote Digital passport that you can use on Sites like Reddit Telegram and so on I'm Sure we'll get into this but to start Alex I feel like I kind of want to know Why why did you even get involved with Something like this that some people Might have been like a little skeptical Of especially four years ago when you First got into it yeah so um when We essentially I I was actually not at All in crypto I wasn't even in Tech I Was in theoretical physics um and and so I was using pretty large neural networks To predict Quantum systems back then uh In Kelch and Los Angeles and Sam and Max were were Already working on rcoin actually and um So I I I got an email about this new Company Sam Sam's new company worldcoin With a quick pitch and it sounded Straight out of a sci-fi movie and um I Drove from Los Angeles to San Francisco I I spoke with Max and sandic then and Uh learned much more and like it Probably still sounds crazy to you today But back then it sounded really really

Crazy like just like was four years ago And uh just a simple proposition that AI Is going to happen and you will need Pro Of Person of the internet all of those Things like that back then sounded uh Very very Crazy and uh even though I I back then I Decided all right like I can I can my Default path was to get into either Quant Computing or AI back then so I Thought okay the opportunity cost of Trying this out is actually pretty low And um I remembered the kind of these Paul Graham quotes that the best ideas Sound somewhat ridiculous but you can Actually figure out a way to make them Work and uh so I I sat down for two Weeks and really Tred to kind of attack It from every angle um and thought well Like it's pretty unlikely probably less Than 1% that we might succeed but if it Works it it's going to change the world And um so I joined Max and Sam on the Journey um did the did most of the Engineering and research in the first Year and then became the CEO uh so quick Uh rise to the Top surely not everyone that that you Spoke to early on was on board with Worldcoin uh I know we've spoken before This and you mentioned that some Investors kind of looked at it like it Was crazy you mentioned it felt like a Sci-Fi thing how did you kind of handle

The initial push back because now you Have all these bigname investors but it Wasn't always Like That well so first of all it obviously It help to have Sam um and so so Actually Sam then back then did the Pitches series a and but e even though Even with that it was like people were Mostly making fun of us actually um and It was it was right after it was a Complete crypto bear Market no one was Interested in crypto at all and AI was Not a thing open AI was not what it was Today so like all of those things Together with a with a pretty ambitious Large scale idea was uh was pretty hard To pitch um so I think at the series a We had probably North 50 Conversations um to uh to get the round Together but then actually Andre and Horz led it uh Chris six from Andre horz Which was awesome and um after that it Became easier and easier over time so we Raised PR round in total 250 million um So series a was Andre Horwitz series B Was uh vode Coos Ventures and andr Horwitz and then uh Ser was blockchain Capital and and again Andre Horwitz so Um it's at some point it got much Easier and I I know we talked about this In the intro but I kind of just want to Get to like the Crux of this is like why Even create World coin why do we even

Need this like I have face ID I have my Government an ID I have user logins why Now is why is this so important to you Yeah so the the initial idea was Actually motivated by two fundamental Things so the the first pitch I heard About rcoin was okay um AGI is going to Happen and it's going to Change uh everything and in a pretty Fundamental level and we will need Societal infrastructure to react to that And we I will get back to that what that Actually means um and two crypto is Somehow around since so many years now But somehow it doesn't it doesn't break Out like somehow there's no matter who You ask there's like somewhere between 50 to 150 million users um and somehow Things move relatively slow so the idea Was like okay what if actually it's Fundamentally about getting creating a Large Network and and and getting to Network effects and what if all that Matters is getting to a billion people And getting to sufficiently high density How would we do that and so the idea was Simple what would what what if we would Launch something like like Bitcoin um But with not incentive alignment around Compute and security but incentive Alignment around scale in terms of real Human beings that actually join the Network because that these are billions Of dollars there's billions of dollars

Spent every year to secure Bitcoin and So we've never seen anything like that And we've never tried anything like that Because we could not because we didn't Have something as simple as verifying Human as on the internet so scale was a Very fundamental part of the of of the Idea and the other one um which is kind Of amazing and it played out like this In that timeline was that verifying Humanness on the Internet is going to be A pretty fundamental thing it's it's It's going to go from right now we need To verify that something is fake we will Need to verify that something is real uh In in probably the next in the next five Years uh and verifying that we are Actually human beings is pretty basic Piece of that and um Twitter X I think Shows you that really well right Elon Talks about the Bots there and but That's only the beginning it's kind of The internet is going to changeed quite Drastically and so those two things Brought together create the largest Financial Network by aligning it set Around scale and building a fundamental Building block for internet proof of Personal should turn out to be very Important I want to talk to you a little Bit about the orb I know they have them Over there if any of you want to scan Your irises this is not me pitching it I'm just you know stay there's an orb

Over there but why create that kind of Object why create it to look like that And how do you kind of see it evolving Over time maybe to a less futuristic Sci-fi look you know what I mean yeah So the first question is like why to do That at all like why do you need a Separate Hardware device and like that Sounds pretty complicated Distributing Around the world getting it in every Country the the answer is actually Pretty pretty pretty fundamental and Pretty easy to explain is um all the Things that you use normally your your Face ID or all of these uh other systems A fingerprint scanner at the at the door They verify that you're the same person Again um so this is again Alex signing Up to a service but if we want to verify Humanus to the internet fundamentally we Need to verify that I'm yet another Person to join a network so it goes from One to one to one to many and and you Can just simply Draw uh kind of on xaxis you can draw Error rate and you can draw all the Different things we could we could use We could use face ID we could use uh Just pictures we could use Fingerprint and um most of these things Will break at tens of millions just Mathematically the error rate explodes Uh so and and and the thing that Actually works is is the eye uh that's

Why many governments are using it and That was a pretty tough Insight back Then like it we were four people we were Not eager to ship hardare devices around The world and roll them out so this was Not like a fun decision or something we Actually wanted to do in fact we pushed So hard against that for for months um But we we built prototypes for pretty Much everything else you could imagine And just couldn't figure it out um so That's why the orb exists I think it's Just like from first principle reasoning The the only way we can solve this Problem at a billion people Scale and then the design actually Predates me so when when I when I came It was already all right it should be a Should be a chrome orb um and uh so That's why it looks very futuristic and Actually Sam's first comment in one of The first meetings was the biggest risk About this is that no one cares uh I Think that that definitely helped so um People care and and the the next Iterations will look quite different we Will have uh devices that are not called Orb they will have different form Factors they will look much more Friendly so it's it's going to happen Actually this was a prototype we didn't Want to launch with that but then also Launch fast okay well see when when Would that happen like those next

Devices first half of the Year this year Okay we will have to check that out um I Want to talk to you a little bit about The massive rise of AI everyone's Talking about it 24/7 more than they Talk about crypto which doesn't help me But that's fine um obviously worldcoin Has a tie to AI with Sam Alman your own Project has in its own sense that too How does the rise and AI affect the way The project is going and where do you See it evolving with deep fakes and Other things going On I mean it it was part of the Fundamental thesis four years ago um it Just now it is actually happening so um That was kind of well personally one of The coolest experiences about all of This is that working on something with Such a long time Horizon is nothing you Usually can do as a Founder right it's Like starting a project with okay we're Going to Now work on this technology and It's probably going to get important Somewhere the next 5 to 10 years and if It if it gets it's just going to become One of the biggest things ever that's Nothing you can usually do straight up University um So yeah I think AI is going to keep Accelerating and um Many other things like I mean obviously World coin will accelerate too so Hopefully we can catch up with that and

Worldcoin has about 3 million people Signed up which is not a nominal number By any means and that's since July but When do you think it will have its own Like chat gbt moment so to Speak I don't know I mean the open AI Team didn't predict the cat gbt moment So it's really hard um I I do think it's Going to be big year for us in in many Ways uh 3 million is is big for for Crypto maybe but it's not at all big for What we try to do um so this is the very Very early Beginnings um and we try to Get to tens of millions really fast but What do you think it would be that would Drive that explosion of Interest there's a couple things I think Um one actually might be the elections This year I think Um this whole idea of of bots on the Internet like it's still relatively Abstract but I think as it gets to the Core of democracy uh it's it's suddenly Going to accelerate from kind of a Little problem to something that is of Societal Importance um and I think there's eight Elections happening this year so if There's one year but this will happen I Think that's the year um and I think It's a genuine threat I don't think it's It's uh it's made up in any Means uh so that might be It

Um well I think probably markets are Going to pick up and so the the Financial piece of of this whole project Will probably accelerate quite a bit um That will also help and then the other Thing is just build products that Actually help and are useful and so we Have pretty packed product Pipeline and Integration pipel plan over the coming Months um and it's hard to predict which Of these will pick up how much but it's It's going to be exciting for sure on The note about elections have you been In talks with the US government or any Government for that matter about kind of Implementing a world ID to better prove That you're the one Voting well one of the things about this Project that is so weird is That because it like I mean obviously Because Sam is involved and there's like So much PR around it we talk to Essentially every government We Touch um And and so yes we we we have spoken to Many governments um and also the kind of Really the high level government of Asian Asian countries African countries European countries um and of course AI Is top of mind for Everyone we Go all right that work Thank You all right we have everyone's Attention I guess what do the

Governments want or don't want from you Guys well actually what we just spoke About in terms of Elections that is very Much top of mind for everyone um like How will AI affect elections this is This was actually genuinely Surprising um another thing that I I Guess is not as surprising is that every Government has a different stance on Crypto and um so a large part of the Conversation just involves okay like how Should we view crypto how should we Behave how should regulation look like And many governments are open to that Others are really hostile others are Embracing it um so that was also just Generally very interesting is to hear From decision makers how they view that Whole Space evolving um and otherwise It's just a lot of explanation I mean This project is straight out of the Sci-fi movie somewhat and it's like Explaining what it is takes time and um I think that's probably 80% of the Effort okay I want to shift back to the Venture interest we talked a little bit About that before I think you said you Raised over $350 million 250 $250 Million which is still a lot of money Especially during a crypto be Market as You mentioned what do your Venture Backers expect when it comes to returns Along a timeline do they expect a normal Timeline extended timeline because this

Is new technology I'm curious what those Conversations are Like well I mean we have uh we have so Many investors that I think the the Expectation of each of them is very Different I think someone like VOD from From kosla or someone like Andre Horwitz Christien I think the timelines are very Very long right these are uh I mean Especially you know is a deep Tech Investor and is very much prepared for This so take 10 years and I think that Was that was good um I mean the other Important statement is that return wise It already was a very good Investment um so I think everyone is Pretty happy for now Um so yeah I think well and then of Course what was interesting about this Kind of the the worldcoin fundraises That I think we bridged between very Crypto investors and and very like Andron Horwitz Co lentur are like um Very classical Silicon Valley investors It was very interesting as a Founder to Experience how different these cultures Are uh so yeah I could I could tell long Stories about all that but yeah yeah There's a lot to say about the two Categories for sure on that note how are You like making money I know that's so Blunt and direct but like what are you Doing to generate revenue and Essentially hopefully become cash flow

Positive Well I mean since the token launch we Have a pretty heavy balance sheet um so We have quite some time to figure that Out Um the the the thesis is very simple Like we race towards billions of users Um as fast as we possibly can and we Have not seen that in crypto just Doesn't just doesn't exist and there is Many ways to capitalize it on when we Get there right it's like of course Identity is very very valuable Financial Networks are very valuable um so we have Very detailed answers that I don't want To get into here but um the timelines Are very long I think we talk about 10 Years probably 10 years for it to be Cash flow positive all right cool and Obviously the name tools human tools for Humanity is tools for Humanity so I want To ask you about what other tools are You working on what's in the Pipeline you you will have to wait um You got to share something with the Class come On well a new orb is coming uh I think That's going to be cool and it's going To look again it's it's just so funny It's like here in the US people are just So obsessed with this design of the orb Like they either hate it or they love it And so the next orb is going to look way Tuned down it's going to look like an

Like a like an Apple product and Actually has Apple Roots uh so much more Friendly we we've heard it um I think That that that is a big one the whole Technology stack oh actually an Important one is 80% on the engineering Resources is actually in Decentralization um so we Have 180 people and over half of that Are engineers and over half of that are Researchers and um the main focus is Really to decentralize this whole Technology stack because we think if it Turns out to be as successful as we Think and as important as we think Um being the entity that sits in the Middle of all of that is going to be Very dangerous so we try to get out of There as fast as we can okay and to wrap Things up Alex my last question is what Do you think are some opportunities that Have not been explored yet for the world ID going Forward I don't think there's been Anything explored um well you got the Partnerships with you know Reddit Minecraft telegram you've got the Digital passport what else do you think Is out there that's top of mine I I Don't want to be overly self-critical But I don't think we we see any major Usage yet compared to what I expect will Happen in the next two to three years um I think one of the one of the major

Things to look forward to is Actually well I think as as as soon as I See the first company raising money Building on top of that infrastructure I Think that's going to be an important Moment because you actually want to see Builders using that new primitive so I Think that's going to be the coolest Thing for the year cool excited to see What happens Alex thank you so much for Joining us for and thank you everyone Else for listening [Applause] In


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