GJ Flannery Flipside Crypto MetricsDAO Web3 data analytics SaaS Elwing Ventures RCB Global Teverity San Diego

GRTiQ Podcast: 123 GJ Flannery

Today I am speaking with GJ Flannery. GJ is helping lead the growth of the MetricsDAO community, a DAO that connects web3 data analysts with blockchain projects and on-demand data insights and tooling. MetricsDAO is playing a vital role in onboarding data analysts into the world of web3 by creatively introducing DAO members to blockchain projects and data through bounties, challenges, and web3 tooling, including The Graph.

I wanted to speak with GJ to learn more about MetricsDAO, delve into the fascinating realm of blockchain data, and gain his perspective on where The Graph fits into this landscape. During this interview, GJ shares intriguing aspects of his background and his passion for literature. We also explore his captivating travel experiences and receive his scuba diving recommendations.

GJ provides us with an introduction to MetricsDAO, shedding light on its vibrant community and its mission. We dive into the role MetricsDAO plays in fostering connections between web3 data analysts and blockchain projects. GJ elaborates on the creative approaches employed by MetricsDAO, such as bounties, challenges, and web3 tooling, to cultivate a thriving ecosystem of data-driven insights – and we’ll gain a deeper understanding of how The Graph contributes to this ever-evolving landscape.

The GRTiQ Podcast owns the copyright in and to all content, including transcripts and images, of the GRTiQ Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well our right of publicity. You are free to share and/or reference the information contained herein, including show transcripts (500-word maximum) in any media articles, personal websites, in other non-commercial articles or blog posts, or on a on-commercial personal social media account, so long as you include proper attribution (i.e., “The GRTiQ Podcast”) and link back to the appropriate URL (i.e., GRTiQ.com/podcast[episode]). We do not authorized anyone to copy any portion of the podcast content or to use the GRTiQ or GRTiQ Podcast name, image, or likeness, for any commercial purpose or use, including without limitation inclusion in any books, e-books or audiobooks, book summaries or synopses, or on any commercial websites or social media sites that either offers or promotes your products or services, or anyone else’s products or services. The content of GRTiQ Podcasts are for informational purposes only and do not constitute tax, legal, or investment advice.



We use software and some light editing to transcribe podcast episodes.  Any errors, typos, or other mistakes in the show transcripts are the responsibility of GRTiQ Podcast and not our guest(s). We review and update show notes regularly, and we appreciate suggested edits – email: iQ at GRTiQ dot COM. The GRTiQ Podcast owns the copyright in and to all content, including transcripts and images, of the GRTiQ Podcast, with all rights reserved, as well our right of publicity. You are free to share and/or reference the information contained herein, including show transcripts (500-word maximum) in any media articles, personal websites, in other non-commercial articles or blog posts, or on a on-commercial personal social media account, so long as you include proper attribution (i.e., “The GRTiQ Podcast”) and link back to the appropriate URL (i.e., GRTiQ.com/podcast[episode]).

The following podcast is for informational purposes only. The contents of this podcast do not constitute tax, legal or investment advice. Take responsibility for your own decisions. Consult with the proper professionals and do your own research.

GJ Flannery (00:00:19):

I think The Graph has been a pioneer in making this happen and thus empowering builders who are going to make the products and services that are going to bring in the next wave and make all of this 10 times, 100 times, 1,000 times bigger than it is.

Nick (00:01:02):

Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today, I’m speaking with GJ Flannery. GJ is helping lead the growth of the MetricsDAO community, a DAO that connects web3 data analyst with blockchain projects and on-demand data insights and tooling. MetricsDAO is creatively onboarding data analysts into web3 by introducing DAO members to blockchain projects and data via bounties, challenges, and web3 tooling and infrastructure like The Graph. I wanted to speak to GJ to learn more about MetricsDAO, the world of blockchain data, and to hear his perspective on where The Graph fits in. During this interview, GJ talks about his background and love of literature, his worldwide travels, and recommendations for good scuba, and then we talk about and introduce MetricsDAO, its community and its mission. As always, we start the discussion talking about GJ’s educational background.

GJ Flannery (00:01:59):

So four years of school in Boston, Boston College Eagle, had a great time, and then master’s degree in economics and Chinese from the School of Global Policy Studies in San Diego, UC San Diego.

Nick (00:02:12):

What did you intend to do with a degree in economics and a degree in Chinese?

GJ Flannery (00:02:18):

So my undergraduate was a lot of great books and then international studies. On top of that, I was in the honors program at BC, read a lot of great literature, a lot of philosophy, theology. I didn’t have any marketable skills, whatsoever. I could talk to people about literature. So I intended to learn a little bit more about the structures that influence how the world works. I got really into energy when I was there. So it transitioned to an energy economics focus on the back half of it.

Nick (00:02:47):

Talk to us about learning Chinese. I’ve heard that’s one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn, but what was it like learning Chinese?

GJ Flannery (00:02:55):

I really enjoyed it. I will say reading and writing and speaking are all pretty different. I did not find learning to speak particularly challenging, but doing that on top of learning the character system, mastering 3,000 characters or so, being able to read, and then just to write. Doing all those things at the same time, it was arduous, for sure. I mostly regret that I haven’t kept it up. I quit any regular practice about three or four years ago. I would love to go back to it at some point.

Nick (00:03:32):

When it comes to reading in a foreign language, something like Chinese where there’s characters and you’re reading literature, how has that changed? Is there more meaning? Is it more difficult to decipher the meaning of literature when you’re reading in something like Chinese that’s character-based?

GJ Flannery (00:03:51):

Doing anything in classical Chinese, I basically need a primer or a text not for the characters themselves, but for all the cultural context that goes with it. My dad, among many other things, is a Latin teacher. I studied Latin, Spanish, and there’s so much cultural context that goes with, I’ll say, great books in the Western world or really anything in the popular literary canon, at least as I studied it, that I just have, that I had growing up reading Greek myths, for example, understanding these references. There’s a whole rich lexicon in China that is wildly different, and without having some of that, just like any literature there are references that you just won’t pick up. So I needed my hand held, especially being out of practice, I still do. With that said, it really forces you to read intentionally, which is something that I appreciated. I could only do 30, 45 minutes at a time just because it’s so mentally taxing, but it’s focused attention, so you really get a lot out of it.

Nick (00:04:50):

Well, it’s clear you have a passion and strong background in reading literature of all sorts, and I don’t want to take away from our GRTiQ 10 question at the end of the interview, but maybe as a way to prompt listeners who want to learn more about literature or want to dip their feet in that pool, can you give some titles or some things of like, “Hey, everybody should read or be familiar with these books”?

GJ Flannery (00:05:15):

I have been thinking about this question a little bit since you teased it. My recommendation is going to be a chapter. I think The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky, The Grand Inquisitor, if you only have one chapter to read in any language of anything, it would be that one. Otherwise, I guess more generally, read different things. One of my professors in college, he was a Jesuit, but before that he was special forces in Vietnam. He was a literary correspondent in Cambodia and his point of view was read a legal brief, read the newspaper, read a novel, read poetry. I’m on a bit of a poetry kick at the moment, and then I’m also doing … I’m rereading Dante’s Divine Comedy and I’m doing The Fairy-Queen. So they’re all wildly different from each other.


Edgar Allan Poe is the poet on my computer, on my other monitor. So just if you don’t have a lot of time to read, I think diversity matters a lot. Read different things. Even if you can only do a chapter at a time, the benefits that come from that, just forcing you to think differently, to keep an open mind, that would be my recommendation. Read a little bit of everything.

Nick (00:06:27):

I want to build on that, and I’m asking you this followup because I don’t think I’ve read quite as much as you have, but I also happen to love literature and books and I just think knowledge and reading is such an important part of humanity, but I’d be curious to understand why you’re so interested in literature. I ask it because in today’s modern world, sometimes these softer skills of being able to understand and take the time to read a book or a great piece of literature is frowned upon or on occasion seems like there’s no value to it. What would you say to those criticisms?

GJ Flannery (00:07:05):

I think, actually, there’s a really interesting parallel for me to crypto in that you can just dive in to crypto, you can spend 12 hours in the blink. It’s harder with full-time jobs as such, and the more you do, the more you get involved in, the more telegram messages, but I still remember just blowing days, weeks at a time, just going down various rabbit holes, getting rugs, just dipping my toes into Binance, and then my profession at flip side a couple jobs ago was director of client services, so exploring different ecosystems. There’s a real parallel there with literature. You can just throw yourself into something and have it swallow you and have it consume you entirely.


I think great books and great works speak to the human heart in a way that maybe crypto doesn’t, but in both cases, this ability to immerse yourself and to come out the other side hopefully having experienced something that you hadn’t experienced before or if you’ve done a lot of it, to experience something that’s just tastes different than something that you’ve encountered before is to me, it’s something I draw a lot of pleasure, a lot of joy from, and I think that at least is true across both of the things that we mutually practice.

Nick (00:08:23):

So GJ, after you graduated from college with degrees in economics and Chinese, what did you do next?

GJ Flannery (00:08:29):

So first off, I moved back to the East Coast from San Diego. My dad was really sick at the time, throat cancer, thankfully recovered, but it was very much a move back, take care of the family, figure out what you were going to do next, and I ended up doing solar. So there was a little bit of a stint. I knew I wanted to do energy. Most of my work at that point had been natural gas, energy, economics, and specifically through an international lens. My priest actually was like, “Hey, I know this guy in solar, I know you do energy. Do you want to talk to somebody who does solar?” I was like, “Yeah.” Sustainability mattered, but I wasn’t thinking about it as a career choice. I was thinking about it as just something important to me as a gardener, a bunch of other things.


So I went to coffee with this guy, Tom Custer, who is fantastic, still a mentor to this day, and long story short, I ended up at a company called First Solar, Fortune 500. It’s the premier American solar panel manufacturer, and I did a bunch of things there in the product space, but also on their global accounts team, and I got to do some of the China stuff. I spent a bunch of time in the Philippines. Mostly, I stayed international. I traveled a lot for fun at the same time, but I really took the international affairs stuff that I had done and got to do a lot of that professionally and I’m super grateful for that looking back.

Nick (00:09:53):

Well, in preparation for this interview, we talked about some of the travel that you did, and I’d love to know what are some of the places you’ve been where listeners that also like to travel must go and see for themselves.

GJ Flannery (00:10:04):

Gosh, it’s a great question. I can’t say I’m ever fully prepared for it. I’ll give three. Favorite country, New Zealand. The nature is just incredible. It’s out of this world. I think for my Western audience, you can do a lot in Mexico. There’s just a lot going on that it’s still, for the United States, for those of us who are there, it’s close to home, it’s possible to get there pretty easily, but just the cultural richness, the food. There’s a lot that you can really do. Then the place that I would love for everybody to be able to go, I spent about a month in Uzbekistan after graduation, Central Asia, and seeing what a post-Soviet Republic looked like but superimposed over these 3.000 year old mosques and just ancient buildings and ancient cities, the Silk Road, that was really, really cool and really an eyeopener for me and just an example of how much some of the stuff that we take for granted, I think, in the United States where I’m from just is wildly different in other parts of the world in ways that things look similar, but they just really aren’t.

Nick (00:11:17):

Longtime listeners to the podcast know I always ask a followup when I talk to somebody that’s well-traveled and it’s about food. I would love to know, okay, if any of our listeners find themselves in Uzbekistan, Mexico or New Zealand, what’s the one food item that they need to try?

GJ Flannery (00:11:34):

Gosh, that’s a fantastic question. I’m going to partially answer it. I’ll say the thing that I look for, if anywhere I am in the world, the thing that I look for is good Ethiopian food. I’ve had great Ethiopian food in Washington, DC. I’ve had great Ethiopian food in Cape Town, in Sydney. It’s wild how if you know what you’re looking for, you can find little places that just like for me, it’s Ethiopian, but there are other examples, but that’s the one that I always look for. I’m always looking for a good Ethiopian place.

Nick (00:12:08):

So GJ, I’m not familiar with Ethiopian food. What are we talking about here?

GJ Flannery (00:12:13):

So I’ll answer this obliquely. In Uzbekistan, it was a lot of samsa. It was a lot of pastries and meat, which is really good. Ethiopian, you’ll get a pancake, you’ll get injera, a really thin rolled up pancake and then a turntable or a bunch of circular dishes or whatever. So it’s almost Mexican in this way. If you think a really thin tortilla, you can then just put meat and beans and stuff on, but lentils. I had stewed vegetables. You can get meat, you can get lamb as well. So it’s a very different take.


You eat the whole meal with your fingers. There are no utensils and you’ll just roll it up in these, again, this really thin flatbread, but it’s cool, and the spices too. The spices are unbelievable, but it’s cool to me to compare that to, again, something like Mexican, where the principles are the same. It’s some type of I’ll just say tortilla or injera, whatever, some flatbread and then you can customize and make your own, which, okay, it sounds obvious, yeah, that’s a bunch of staples, but it’s really not anything like American food. It’s nothing like with the whole meal comes and it’s prepared for you and you eat it. It’s just a very different build your own adventure type of thing, and I love that.

Nick (00:15:02):

When listeners recommend an episode on social media, more people access the content and hear our guests’ stories and who knows? Maybe your rating or review or sharing the episode on social media will be the thing that introduces the next indexer, delegator or core dev team to The Graph ecosystem. Thanks for listening.


GJ, you’re a very interesting person to me because you love literature and you’ve already explored a little bit why you’re passionate about that. You have traveled quite a bit and seen some remarkable places, and then you’re into scuba as well, scuba diving. Talk to us about how you got involved in scuba diving and what it is that drove your interest in doing that.

GJ Flannery (00:15:49):

I was in Sydney. I spent about five months in Sydney, and I did the Great Barrier Reef and it’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet, that is I wouldn’t recommend it to everybody because some people have sharks or deep water or whatever, but that’s something I really wish everybody could see. It’s almost indescribable the amount of color and life and vibrancy that’s going on. I find scuba to be very contemplative. It’s the perfect antidote to too much time on computer screens or whatever.


So I got into it there. I was like, “I have to do more of this. This is a peak experience.” So I got certified and then I got advanced certified and started doing some rec diving, and it’s the type of thing where if you’re looking to travel but you’ve been a lot of places, having guiding principles is a good one. For me, a really nice guiding principle is I’m looking for good scuba and that lets you know what type of vacation do you want, what type of people are you going to be hanging out with. Scuba people are really cool. They’re like surfers in a lot of ways in my experience. So it’s really nice to say, “Hey, I’m not going to spend a lot of time figuring out where to go. I’m going to look for fantastic diving,” and that’s guided a lot of my travel since then.

Nick (00:17:02):

Well, you provided a really cool explanation for why the Barrier Reef might be something that someone would want to see, but are there other places that people should put on their list of places to go scuba if they’re interested in that type of thing?

GJ Flannery (00:17:13):

Yes. Some of my favorite dive sites, there’s great diving in Cabo, the southern tip of Mexico. I’ve got a beach town called Cabo Pulmo on my radar for the next time I’m down there. There’s great scuba in Tanzania. I was there a few months ago. That was my winter trip. Belize. If you live in the United States, you’re spoiled for choice. The Caribbean has so many good options, St. Lucia. I did my advanced cert in St. Lucia. That was unbelievable. I’ve got a buddy who did great scuba in the Mediterranean. So there’s so many places. It’s such a big planet and there’s so much water out there, but those are some of my favorites.

Nick (00:17:47):

Do the skills that one acquires in learning how to scuba and getting certified, do those types of things apply in your professional life? Are you using some of those skill sets everyday in your work?

GJ Flannery (00:18:00):

I will say it’s a fantastic question. I’ll say emotional regulation, maybe less so in my work. I think a lot of my work is just talking to people about data and understanding their needs. So I don’t know if that’s a scuba thing like empathy, compassion, intellectual curiosity, but as a trader, I would say the ability to regulate my emotions, that’s super important in scuba. Breathing is central to it, but also just enabling yourself to quiet your mind and enjoy the experience really matters. That has been super important to me as I have gotten involved in crypto and I’ve traded stocks for half my life. My dad is a day trader, but that is super important and super transferable in work, but also just in chasing the bag side of crypto.

Nick (00:18:51):

So let’s turn then our attention to crypto. If we go back in time, do you remember when the first time was you first became aware of crypto and what some of those initial impressions were?

GJ Flannery (00:19:03):

One of my dive buddies, actually, he’s a macroeconomist. He’s a senior economist for a firm called CapEcon, Capital Economics in London, but at the time he was working for Vanguard in Philadelphia and he came by and was telling me about Ethereum and he had thrown 100 bucks, this would’ve been 2017, and we talked about it, and both of us, master’s degree economics, we were very interested in the systems and what an alternate form of money might look like, less so in the technology at that point. This was purely on the financial and economic perspective. That was my first taste of it.


So I remember the conversation vividly. It was 10 feet away in my apartment when we were talking about it. I learned that I got tangentially involved, but I didn’t go deep down the rabbit hole until 2020. Same guy, actually, we were out West. We were driving up from San Diego to Seattle and we were looking at Bitcoin at the time and it was like, “All right. Bitcoin has …” We were talking about it at 9,000. I was like, “Man, let me take a swing here.” At the time as well, COVID, I had quit doing what I was doing at the start of the year, which was insurance technology in Chicago. I was flying a drone on a solar field to make some money. I was like, “I need the next thing.” That’s when I started thinking about it seriously as a full-time thing.

Nick (00:20:26):

This transition from speculative interest in cryptocurrencies from a trading monetary perspective but moving or evolving to an appreciation for the tech and the emergence of the industry is a pretty common storyline. What was it that signaled that light bulb moment for you where you shifted from the speculative nature of the industry to this foundational technology?

GJ Flannery (00:20:55):

I would say I didn’t go as deep in 2017 as a lot of people did. We’re talking 100 bucks at a time or whatever and watching it whip saw. That’s fine, but I would say, and I don’t know if this is a single moment, but this was really the catalyst for me. It was reading the original Bitcoin white paper, which I do once a year on the anniversary, and in parallel, interest rates have been a topic of great interest for me for a long, long time because as I said, I was fairly involved in equities, and there was this environment for a lot of the 2010s where no matter what you touched, you made money, nothing like crypto, but still the trend was just up and up and up in this zero interest rate environment. I was like, “This can’t be sustainable. There’s no way this can last. What’s going to change it? What’s going to cause it to change?”


Really, I guess, coming to this realization that so much of the monetary system and the financial systems that we all inhabit, you’re at the mercy of other people almost entirely, not that everybody’s vulnerable to market makers, to whales, to imperfect information and information asymmetry, but just the goal of having something that wasn’t at the control of government and that wasn’t so politically motivated. As of the time we’re recording this, we just had this debt ceiling showdown and I look at it, it’s just like, “This is ludicrous. This is silliness,” but we don’t have a choice. All of us, you’re opted in by default.


So what really started clicking for me was like, “If this works, if crypto works, you will have a reasonable alternative both as a medium of exchange and a store of value.” That’s what really spoke to me and caused me to go deeper.

Nick (00:22:37):

We’re talking today because you eventually did go deeper and make the move full-time into working in the web3 crypto space. Talk to us about that journey. What happened and what was the journey you took to where you are today?

GJ Flannery (00:22:50):

It started obviously with defi summer and slinging some more funds around and I was and remained a firm believer, if you have no skin in the game, you can’t get crypto at all. You have to trade a little bit just to see how it goes to observe, observe your own emotions, and in parallel, just reading everything I could get my hands on. So I started as technical as I could stomach. It’s been a lot less technical I think since then, which is unfortunate. I don’t read nearly as many white papers as I used to, but I really was a bender for the latter, I guess for the autumn of 2020 when I was interviewing and continued into 2021 and, obviously, perfect time, just to bag, sure, but also just to see what was happening and just to tap into some of that.


So for me, the intellectual journey went in parallel with what projects am I getting exposure to, what am I playing around with. Unlike a lot of other people, I didn’t stay in Ethereum and, in fact, I didn’t spend all that much time all told. I was deep into Ethereum for maybe six to nine months, something like that. I got super excited about v3. For Uniswap, I had started with v2. That’s where the bulk of my money was at the time, getting wrecked by impermanent loss, but I got really interested in, “Well, what are the alternatives out there? Is there anything that’s a better alternative than Ethereum for the future that I’m hoping is going to materialize, the future that I want to spend some of my time helping to materialize?”


So most people I know even still are even if they’re not maximalist, which I certainly am not, they stick to one, maybe two ecosystems. I traveled a little bit more these obvious parallels here, but I traveled abroad, so to speak, to explore more different ecosystems pretty early. That was an important part of the journey too.

Nick (00:24:53):

What’s the advice or insight you learned by using this type of an approach where you’re trying to learn about the industry and so you’re exploring different ecosystems?

GJ Flannery (00:25:03):

Don’t get stuck in one ecosystem no matter what. At least explore a second one even if you don’t stay there because it will help you understand your own better. If you’re an Ethereum maximalist, great, at least go check out Solana or Near or Polygon or whatever. Then if you don’t want to use them, that’s fine, but you’ll be able to criticize them from an informed point of view and maybe you’ll see some features that you like. Account abstraction on Near is an easy one. You can appreciate Ethereum better if you’ve tasted the other dishes at the table, so to speak.

Nick (00:25:41):

As you explored the space and eventually you go full-time into it, did it feel like career risk to you at that point or did you feel like you were jumping on the next big thing, this incredible new emergent industry?

GJ Flannery (00:25:54):

I think some of both. I think I accurately judged that, “Yes, this is risky,” but in my value system, it would be more risky to not do it. So I am in my early 30s. I’m 32. I’m definitely on the old side, at least it feels that way for the industry, but I had worked in startups for most of my 20s after First Solar. So I had three or four years of that. I knew what I was getting into and what I’m still into, but I definitely resonate with what you said. This is an emergent thing. This is part of this super trend and there’s, in my view, there’s only so many of these super trends that you can take a swing at while they’re happening.


So to all the oil and gas crypto Republicans out there, apologies, but for me, renewable energy is one of them on a 10, 20, 30, 40-year timeframe. I think AI is another that I’ve been interested in for a while. Then crypto and the web3 ecosystem that surrounds it is the third. There might be one or two more. I would say the Pacific Century, the emergence of China as a world power and just the demographic trends that are happening along the Pacific Rim, that would be another one. I’d be hard pressed to think of that was for … There’s not that many of those, and to me, the risk is to not have some exposure financially, sure, but also personally to each of those. That’s what I was really hoping to mitigate, and working full-time in crypto lets me do that.

Nick (00:27:26):

Well, I love the lens you apply there. That’s super interesting as you think about different industries, and that list of four is very compelling to me. When you think about web3 specifically, do you see it as a revolution against the sins of web2 or do you see it as some evolutionary step in the progress of tech and how we’ll use it or something else?

GJ Flannery (00:27:50):

That’s a fantastic question. I don’t have a good answer to that even still, but I think, yes, it’s absolutely a pushback against the sins of web2. I don’t think it’s going to solve greed. I don’t think it’s going to solve concentration of power. In that sense, I’m a pessimist. I think where I’m an optimist is that it has a chance to do those things. There’s a chance that my read on it is wrong and that chance is worth taking a big swing at. I think as well the international component is hugely interesting and influential for me. It absolutely has the chance to improve lives in Argentina where I’ve spent some time, in Turkey where one of my best friends lives, in Southeast Asia.


So I would call it, in a lot of ways it reminds me, and I was 10 years old, I think, when we got our first home computer, and so that was obviously a formative time. It really does feel like the days of dial-up to me. It’s going to become something magnificent and broad that could also come with a lot of problems in its wake. I think when we saw this the first time, you see Facebook selling your data for profit. It’s one of many, many examples where web2 has let us down. I think web3, it’s not a cure all, it’s not a silver bullet, but in the same way that you could not possibly have envisioned what web2 would become in 2000 or at least my 10-year-old self couldn’t, now I’m old enough to see this could really absolutely become something that we can’t possibly imagine. So whether you call that a revolution or an evolution, I don’t know, but that’s how I look at it.

Nick (00:29:34):

Do you think eventually if web3 is fully successful, that it just replaces web2 or is there a world in which these things coexist?

GJ Flannery (00:29:44):

It’s a great question. I think, again, I’m going to say some of both, but they coexist in the sense that … I’m going to go back to energy for a sec. One of my startup roles was a product manager for software for pipelines, and there were still in our system, there were … This was only in Minnesota, but there were pipelines like gas pipelines made out of wood and they existed and we had to keep an eye on that, not a lot, but you don’t replace everything at once. You replace things over time and you build up your ability to monitor them and tack and iterate and change over time. So web2 is not going anywhere fast, but I’m thinking in terms of the trends I mentioned. These are our 30, 40-year trends. I do think that our experience of web2 is going to be radically different because of web3. I don’t think that web3 is going to kill or replace web2.


It has such a headstart on adoption but also on product experience. I hate banks. I hate going to the bank. It’s a terrible, terrible experience, but a lot of web2 works really, really, really well. I can now when I’m traveling, I can tap into internet basically anywhere I go, even if it’s only in the airport. That wasn’t true maybe in 2010 as a mobile traveler, but it’s certainly true now. web2 solves a lot of what users are looking for, and as a former product guy, a recovering product guy, user experience is everything, and user experience in web3 right now is almost universally bad and it’s going to take quite a while for us to fix that. I think it’s not going to replace web2, but it’s the opportunity to transform fundamental pieces of it and to take pieces of it over replace render obsolete. So that’s where I think it’s likely to go.

Nick (00:31:39):

GJ, I’d like to ask someone like yourself who has experience working in emergent industries because when you were working in solar, that was certainly an emergent industry, and I don’t really know exactly where that industry is presently, but crypto certainly is. What is it about you or what is it that you’ve learned about emerging industries that you’re attracted to this type of thing?

GJ Flannery (00:32:02):

I would say everybody’s got problems, but the freedom to choose what problems you want to work on and even what problems you like, what crosses you want to bear, what wounds you want to suffer, I think that’s a really, really valuable thing. You learn a lot from problems if you let them teach you. So for me, I think emerging industries have really cool problems. There are some problems that I get to solve that I never would’ve solved back in the corporate days, even at First Solar, and obviously when I was there, yeah, it was emergent, but you get to run across interesting problems.


One problem I don’t have, I’m never, ever, ever bored. So that’s what I would say to people who are thinking about, “Do I go with the same thing?” or whatever. Well, what problems do you want? Obviously, if you’re in crypto, “Oh, my portfolio is down 10% today.” That’s a problem that you deal with. You deal with Gary Gensler who gets to decide a lot that maybe he shouldn’t be deciding. He’s not going to say whether Ethereum is a security or not, but he will say, “Oh, yeah, the laws have been written or it’s been decided,” and we have to just deal with that bullshit. So that’s my candid answer. Those are problems we have to deal with, but a problem I don’t have to deal with and a lot of my friends in crypto don’t have to deal with, we’re not bored.

Nick (00:33:11):

Well, GJ, you and I are talking today because of your work at MetricsDAO and some listeners of the podcast will recognize that name, The Graph Foundation and other members of The Graph ecosystem have a great relationship with MetricsDAO and are working on some cool initiatives. Before we talk about that, what were your first formal steps in going full-time and working in web3?

GJ Flannery (00:33:35):

I don’t know how formal any of it is, but networking. I joined because I had a friend who was involved in it. This is a fairly common story. I had someone who had gone full-time in August or September and was like, “Hey, do you want to come check this out?” This is right when I was exploring it already as we talked about from an intellectual perspective and to some degree a financial one. That really opened it to me from a career perspective. Then I was lucky. Shortly after I got involved in the space full-time, before I really had gone deep, I had a Sherpa. So Brian, if you’re listening to this, I won’t talk your last name, but thank you, thank you, thank you for Sherpa-ing me through how to be a liquidity provider, for example, security, wallet security, that type of thing, just a lot of the stuff that I really hadn’t gotten to because I hadn’t gone deep yet, and that really helped. I firmly am a believer in relationships. I think that’s indispensable. There are ways that you can drive growth through making amazing products, but still, it’s going to be you onboard your friends, you onboard your family, and step-by-step that’s how we get there.

Nick (00:34:45):

So let’s talk about MetricsDAO. What can you tell us about what MetricsDAO is and some of the origins behind it?

GJ Flannery (00:34:53):

I would say that for any DAO, obviously, there are service DAOs. There are just clubhouse or membership DAOs. I know a couple of people links DAO. I think that’s super cool for golf, golf courses. MetricsDAO aims to provide awesome analytics services and insights to those who are looking for them and to do it decentralized and permissionlessly as much as possible. So we have the metrics app. V2 of the app should be done by end of June and to really stay true to a mission of decentralization and have it mean anything, it means having a tech stack that anyone can come and use and anyone else can come and interact with.


The glue there is around analytics challenges, so being able to use data providers and use any data source you want and tackle challenges that people post. So you have a challenge that you need solved, you can come and post it using the metrics app, which is built on top of the metrics protocol and someone else in our community or someone outside it who just sees it can come and solve it and get compensated for it. That is the fundamental core of what we’ve built out. There’s a lot that goes around that, obviously. There’s our education stuff, which is wildly popular. There’s the community that I’m deeply involved in. There are client relationships, but at the core, it’s this tech stack and the culture surrounding it and the ability to come and post a challenge and the ability to come and solve a challenge using any data provider you want.

Nick (00:36:21):

So GJ, if I try to summarize that, the DAO is a place for web3 analysts to go learn more about web3 analytics, get access to blockchain data. There’s a tech stack that you referenced there, but there’s also some bounties or challenges where they can go in and perform specific tasks. Have I got that right? Is that a pretty good summary?

GJ Flannery (00:36:42):

Yeah, that’s a good overview, for sure.

Nick (00:36:45):

So who are posting the challenges then? Who are the people coming in and saying, “Hey we’ve got this ask and we’d love to see someone from MetricsDAO solve it”?

GJ Flannery (00:36:54):

So a big part of what the DAO contributor team does is work with data providers. We have 40 partners, The Graph being one of them, but there are many others who have a vested interest in coming and getting people to check out, “Hey, here’s our tooling. Here’s our data.” So we’ll run workshops and challenges for partners specifically, and at the same time, if anyone wants to come and get something solved and is willing to put a little bit of money behind it, now they have a platform, they have the technology to be able to do that, and they have a community that has been doing this for a long time and has built up a really high degree of skill who can come and do that. We aren’t really out there at this point seeking people to come and post new challenges, but we do strive to make this available to anybody who has that need and wants to do it.

Nick (00:38:19):

What can you tell us about the analyst community at MetricsDAO? I think as you know, GJ, a lot of listeners of this podcast are enthusiastic about The Graph and therefore they must have a ton of enthusiasm and conviction for web3 data. You’re dealing with a certain segment of the web3 industry. These are these analysts. Talk to us about them, what are they like, what are they working on, and what types of things are they interested in.

GJ Flannery (00:38:44):

I am firmly convinced that the best analytical talent in web3 is in the MetricsDAO community. No one will convince me otherwise. I have far too much data at my fingertips to support my totally unbiased claim, but there are developers, there are data scientists, there are straight up data analysts, and they come from all over the world. They’re extremely talented. We have power users for Dune. We have power users for Flipside. We have emerging power users for the 40 or so data providers that we have. What you end up with is a group of people who can solve any question and can do it fast, and then a process that they can run through to get those answers QA’ed reviewed by other community members and produce really high quality final products in a very short period of time. I’m immensely proud of that.


I think your outputs are only as good as your inputs, garbage in, garbage out. So the data has to be great. MetricsDAO does not compete with The Graph in the sense. It’s not our job to make sure that the data is readily available or up the snuff. It is our job to make sure that what people build and do with that data in response to a structured challenge meets a certain degree of quality and we’ve built a system to be able to do that, and a community that’s interested in doing that.


So it’s hard to hire and train good talent. If you’re a small project, it’s expensive to hire a data analyst or a data scientist. There’s not a lot of aggregation platforms out there that make it easy to find talent, especially flexible talent. That’s something that we’ve solved for. If you have any challenge that can be answered with on-chain data, you can come to MetricsDAO, and if you’re willing to put a little bit of money behind it, you’ll get an answer fast that meets your needs and we’ll work with you and with the analyst if you want to contract them for further work.

Nick (00:40:39):

I have this question about data in web3, and I want to ask you and get your opinion on it, but it’s this observation that because it’s an nascent industry and not a lot of things, when you think about the world globally, not a lot of things are transacting on blockchain yet. What types of data is available? Is it more data rich than maybe someone like myself who’s not involved directly in this would initially think?

GJ Flannery (00:41:09):

I think what you’re able to glean and what you’re able to learn from on-chain data is very rich, I think, and frankly, honestly, underappreciated. I think that goes side by side with the fact that all the stuff that’s blowing up on crypto Twitter right now is follow whales and look at this, find the next 1,000x coin or whatever, stuff that really objectively is a little bit ludicrous, not to say that you can’t 1,000x something, but this is what’s sucking up all the oxygen because people are looking for something to get hopeful and excited about. So to some extent, that’s what people want to see and that’s what people who are looking to build a profile are going to go and post about. That is not all that you can do with on-chain data. That is just scratching the surface of what you’re able to do.


As more things end up living on-chain, there’ll be more to analyze. That is what it is, but even just something as simple as payments, the ability to pay people and to track what have I been paid. I always go back to doing my taxes. So chase, I have Chase as a banking partner. The ability to actually get all of my banking transactions is a mess. I have to sign in, I have to verify myself. I’ll have to two-factor authenticate. I have to go and find on the website 50 answers at a time, and I can download a CSV maybe. It’s a mess versus all my transactions on-chain with just a tiny bit of discipline are really easy for me to track and chase and categorize. That’s a massive quality of life improvement.


Now, it only really matters once a year when I’m going and obeying the loss and paying my taxes, but the ability to get my on-chain stuff and to do it easily and to do it asked, and if I have a very simple ability to query, which is all I possess, I’m not a SQL pro by any means, just to say for this address and for this timeframe, what did this wallet do, that’s tremendously valuable. As that replaces the ways in which people use legacy systems to transact, the ability to be proficient at doing that for yourself and other people becomes 10 times or 100 times as valuable.

Nick (00:43:25):

I want to ask you this question about some of the challenges and opportunities right now in the web3 space as it relates specifically to data. So you have a unique perspective and so does the incredible community at MetricsDAO. What are a few of the big challenges and conversely some of the biggest opportunities you see?

GJ Flannery (00:43:43):

Sure. So something that I’m sure the audience will appreciate, on-chain data sucks. It’s expensive to maintain, it’s hard to build the pipelines. Every ecosystem is different. They all have vagaries in the way that they structure transactions, in the way that those transactions are communicated. There’s no standardization. Not everybody agrees, and then even past the structure of the data itself, there’s no agreement on what an active user is. For example, just the most basic element, how many users do I have? That’s actually defined differently by all these different ecosystems.


Attribution is really something that you can’t do. The anonymity that crypto affords you is directly at odds with being able to glean insights about your users and what they’re doing. I think, obviously, and this goes a little bit beyond data, but the proliferation of bots makes things really difficult and messy. This also goes beyond data, but transacting on Ethereum is expensive. It’s out of reach for huge swaths of the world that otherwise would be interested in this.


So there’s a legion of problems added to which, obviously, rampant greed and speculation, which to some extent, everybody is in this. Try to make a bag of some sort by taking new extremes, you end up with just a dearth of really deep intellectual content, which for analytical minds, obviously, for myself, for a lot of this audience, you have to square those two parts, the part of you that’s in it for trying to make a better life for yourself, your family, et cetera, and help others to do the same versus watching the SIOP like Ben or whatever, people sending him money to something that is so clearly a scam. It’s difficult to hold these two things side by side and even to participate and say, “How much of what I’m trying to build … Does better access to data and insights matter when this is what’s dominating the space?” That’s hard.

Nick (00:45:41):

For listeners who want to get more involved in MetricsDAO, what are some of the ways they can learn about it and how would they be able to participate?

GJ Flannery (00:45:48):

I think the technical term is holler at your boy. My DMs are open. At me on Twitter, hop into Discord and the community pod will happily welcome you. I think the most accessible thing for a lot of people is web3 101. It’s our flagship course. It’s all free. It’s all recorded. Just going through that, learning how to use different tools and just the analytical process of how to think about and structure and break down challenges, that’s a great way to do it. If you want to contribute, this is my strong point of view. For other DAOs I’ve been involved in, this is true as well. Come and look around and say, “Here’s what I want to do for you. I’m going to start doing it and tell me if you like it or not.” Obviously, people deserve to get paid for their work. That’s a huge part of the ethos for MetricsDAO challenges, but the way to get involved in anything, and this is true even for every legacy job I’ve had, put a portfolio together. Approach a consulting client with a one pager. Do this, do that. So if you really want to contribute, that’s how you do it.


I think for the vast majority of people who aren’t looking to contribute full-time, it’s go through some of the education stuff. Then last but certainly not least, I say this to someone in the community pod, come hang out. Come jam with us, come talk data, come ask questions or whatever. If people are just looking to have a good time and talk about web3 data, get questions answered, do that. There’s a lot of people who will do it with you. That’s really fun as well.

Nick (00:47:13):

I’ll put links to all of those things you just mentioned there in the show notes. So I want to encourage your listeners that want to learn more to visit the show notes. You’ll find links and more information for how you can get involved with MetricsDAO. GJ, I only have a couple more questions for you before I ask you the GRTiQ 10. I do want to ask you this question about The Graph. You’re an interesting guest of the podcast and I haven’t had someone on quite like you before because most guests of the podcast are in The Graph ecosystem in the sense that they’re building in it or they’re leveraging The Graph to build something and you’ve got MetricsDAO and you’re working with a lot of different data providers and tech in the web3 space. I’m just curious how you place The Graph within the larger ecosystem of web3 data, web3 infrastructure. How do you think about The Graph?

GJ Flannery (00:48:04):

Look, without offering flattering necessarily, it’s pivotal. As I said, the problems with web3 data and just making it available in the first place are massive. It’s really hard. It’s still super early. We have not come to anything like a consensus on how data should be structured and defined and organized and how terms should be used, and until that happens, I think what The Graph has enabled, I think subgraphs. It’s part of the landscape. It’s become part of the landscape. So I’m grateful. My immediate perspective is gratitude. I’m glad that this exists.


Obviously through MetricsDAO, I come across a lot of data providers. We try not to play favorites, but I’m also, fundamentally, the term we use is metrics minds. I’m inquisitive. I’m interested in being able to access data. I couldn’t do that if people weren’t out there indexing data and curating it and making it available for me to be able to play around with. The Graph has set the standard in a lot of ways for how that’s done.

Nick (00:49:10):

How about The Graph’s commitment to decentralization? Again, I don’t want to put you on the spot. I know that MetricsDAO has a lot of different data partners and some of them are competitors to The Graph, but you know that The Graph’s community, the ecosystem is very dedicated to decentralization. How important is that type of commitment for people within web3?

GJ Flannery (00:49:32):

It’s pivotal. I had a friend say to me about gaming earlier this week. If you’re not having fun, why even bother? If you’re not here to decentralize, why even bother? You can get data from Amazon or whoever you want. If we’re not here to empower users with the ability to access things, to make their lives better without seeking permission from a gatekeeper, then we shouldn’t even be in the space. There are other good reasons, but you have to at least care about that a little bit in my view. It’s that or speculation. Those are the reasons to be in crypto, and the fun, and the memes, and the community. So there are other good reasons, but if you don’t actually fundamentally believe and aren’t willing to put at least a little bit of skin behind making it possible for people to conduct their information business and their financial business in a different way than what we’ve already got, then maybe you’re in the wrong kitchen.


I think for The Graph, there’s a question of putting your money where your mouth is. Are you actually building infrastructure that enables this and that enables builders to be able to, one, to afford, I think first and foremost, but two, to actually functionally be able to build. That’s critical. I think The Graph has been a pioneer in making this happen and thus empowering builders who are going to make the products and services that are going to bring in the next wave and make all of this 10 times, 100 times, 1,000 times bigger than it is. So I’ll reiterate what I said before, gratitude, especially speaking from a place of some knowledge, data is super, super hard. The Graph makes it easier.

Nick (00:51:07):

GJ, the second to last question I want to ask you is about your optimism. Why do you remain optimistic about the future of web3?

GJ Flannery (00:51:14):

I started earlier by saying we haven’t dealt with greed. We haven’t dealt fully with decentralization. It’s super hard. I’m optimistic because I see a lot of people solving super hard problems. Most people don’t like difficult things. They’re not interested in solving super difficult problems. I am surrounded by people in web3 and MetricsDAO who are interested in tackling hard problems, and especially in the community side who spend a lot of their time and energy uncompensated helping other people solve those problems and level up. That fills me with optimism.


The other thing, and this is the more cynical side, is looking at how incompetent and corrupt a lot of the existing providers are. If that’s our competition, you can only feel good about our prospects in the long term. To me, the biggest concern is always desell out. Do the people who are building and who are trying, do they lose their optimism? That’s part of my contribution to the space. Can I keep people jazzed up and remind them what problem are we solving, how do we get there, what resources exist? This is part of why I love working with The Graph, with other data providers. There are so many resources out there that exist. There’s not enough people saying, “Hey, have you explored The Graph? Have you explored Covalent? Can you find someone in the data provider landscape and in the analyst landscape who can solve your problems?” Almost always the answer to that is yes, and that fills me with optimism as well, and I’m here to help make that happen and to contribute to that.

Nick (00:52:53):

The final question I want to ask is going back to your days in energy, and as you mentioned at the beginning of the podcast, you shifted early in your career, in your economics training to focus on the energy sector and you worked in solar and some other things along the way. What do you make of the criticism against the crypto industry when it comes to energy and power? You’re probably the second guest I’ve ever interviewed that can actually answer this question. Is it much to do about nothing or are there things that the industry needs to pay more attention to?

GJ Flannery (00:53:26):

Perspective really matters here. I think most of the takes that fly around are wildly uneducated, both from crypto’s proponents, for example, the idea that Bitcoin is good for the environment, not in any meaningful sense. There’s no meaningful sense. I’ll shout out Crusoe, for example, who does flared gas methane reduction. That’s awesome. I love those guys. Shout out if they ever listen to this, but it’s still a tiny, tiny, tiny drop in a big ocean. For the most part, Bitcoin mining has yet to make any meaningful dent in emissions, in changing energy, electricity composition. So that’s on one end of it.


On the other end of it, if you compare, for example, the electricity demand, which comes from people who purchase the electricity and are entitled to do whatever they want with it, compare that to something like Christmas lights, which I love. I’m a big Christmas lights guy, but the fact that that’s the ballpark that you’re talking about, it’s such a minuscule slice or even video gaming, something else that I spent a lot of my youth doing where there’s so much time and energy spent making this into a political target and hating on crypto for something that is so insignificant when you look at the grandest possible scheme.


So those things can both be true simultaneously. I think that there is absolutely a possibility for, and I keep going back to Bitcoin because it’s the one that gets the most attention. It’s still the major player. Can it help with demand smoothing and intermittency? Absolutely. Does it have the potential to do a lot? Yes, but for the most part, it is still only potential. Unfortunately, even getting data and reliable data on how much this is happening is not easy for most people.


I spent hundreds of hours reading everything I could get my hands on. Most people don’t have the time to do that. They’re going to read the headlines and most of the headlines are written by people who have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about. So obviously, Nick Carter’s the guy who’s done the most work on this. The Cambridge Center has done a lot of great work on this. There needs to be more people, and this is maybe my challenge to myself. Who can put information out there that’s digestible and back it with data and explain, “Here’s what the actual scope of this is. Here’s what the problems are. Here’s the solutions that have been proposed. Here’s what we’re actually talking about,” and to do all that in a way that’s not incredibly boring? So it’s a challenge and hopefully one that I’ll challenge myself to solve, but I would love to see more people addressing this in a way that is free of agendas, whether pro or anti.

Nick (00:56:05):

Well, GJ, now we’ve reached the point in the podcast where I’m going to ask you that GRTiQ 10. We hinted towards it earlier in the interview, but I’m going to ask it formally to you here now. These are 10 questions I ask each guest of the podcast every week, and I do it in hopes of enabling listeners to learn something new, try something different or to achieve more in their own life. So are you ready for the GRTiQ 10?

GJ Flannery (00:56:27):

Absolutely. Let’s do it.

Nick (00:56:39):

What book or article has had the greatest impact on your life?

GJ Flannery (00:56:42):

I’ll go for a different one than The Brothers K that I shouted out before. There’s a book called Essentialism, and I can’t believe that I can’t remember the author, but doing less but better. If I had to distill it, that’s it.

Nick (00:56:58):

Is there a movie or a TV show that you would recommend everybody should watch?

GJ Flannery (00:57:03):

The West Wing.

Nick (00:57:04):

If you could only listen to one music album for the rest of your life, which one would you choose?

GJ Flannery (00:57:09):

I can’t possibly answer that and have it be truthful.

Nick (00:57:13):

What’s the best advice someone’s ever given to you?

GJ Flannery (00:57:16):


Nick (00:57:18):

What’s one thing you’ve learned in your life that you don’t think most other people have learned or know quite yet?

GJ Flannery (00:57:24):

A bit of a longer answer to this one. My mom passed away when I was 16. I don’t think most people really think about mortality, the fact that life can be as short as it is. I think that there are people out there, but it’s really hard to appreciate until you’ve experienced loss, but life is really short. Treasure it, especially if you happen to be in good health, especially if you happen to have friends, especially if you have family, and if you don’t have those things, then being grateful for the things that you do have and going and looking for the ones that you don’t. I think that’s something, regrettably, again, it’s hard to experience if you haven’t been there, but maybe another way to frame it is understand what’s a real problem and what’s an inconvenience. I wish more people were able to, I guess, distinguish between those.

Nick (00:58:11):

I appreciate your answer to that question, GJ. How about this one? What’s the best life hack you’ve discovered for yourself?

GJ Flannery (00:58:18):

I’m not sure I can say breathe again, and I’m not sure I can say do less because we got to that with Essentialism. Here it is. If you really are having fun, you’re going to work really hard, and if you work really hard, you’ll succeed. So find things that … You can come at it from either direction, but the life hack for me is either find something that I really enjoy and just do more of that thing or pay attention to what I’m working hard at and then figure out what part of that is making me happy because if it wasn’t bringing that joy, I probably wouldn’t be working that hard.

Nick (00:58:52):

Based on your own life experiences and observations, what do you think is the one habit or characteristic that best explains how or why people find success in life?

GJ Flannery (00:59:01):

Hard work. I know that’s a really privileged thing to say. There are absolutely barriers for folks. A White guy in tech, keenly, keenly aware of that. Even through that lens, I would still say the people who work hard consistently, there’s a lot of great Twitter threads about there. There’s a lot of great life hacks out there, for sure. For me, in my experience, the consistent driver is the people who are willing to work hard day in, day out, and I guess I’ll tailor that slightly. Working hard and being willing to make even small adjustments, if you do that enough, you will stumble on iteration and you’ll get better over time, and that tends to be the driver of success in my view.

Nick (00:59:46):

Then the final three questions are complete the sentence type questions. So the first one is, “The thing that most excites me about web3 is-“

GJ Flannery (00:59:54):


Nick (00:59:55):

How about this one? If you’re on Twitter, then you should be following-

GJ Flannery (00:59:58):


Nick (01:00:00):

The last one, “I’m happiest when-“

GJ Flannery (01:00:02):

Gosh, a lot of things make me happy. I’m happiest when I’m underwater.

Nick (01:00:16):

GJ, thank you so much for taking the time today to join me for this interview and for sharing a lot of very cool and interesting things about your personal history, but as well the great things that are happening over at MetricsDAO. If listeners want to follow you, stay in touch with the things that you’re working on, what’s the best way for them to stay in touch?

GJ Flannery (01:00:35):

I really like Discord. You can find me on Twitter. I think it’s Sun Slinger on Telegram if you prefer that. I think it’s GJFlannery19 on Twitter. Holler at me in Discord, in MetricsDAO. I’m easy to find. I love talking to people.


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DISCLOSURE: GRTIQ is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any other way connected with The Graph, or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates.  This material has been prepared for information purposes only, and it is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, tax, legal, financial, or investment advice. The content for this material is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information. The Graph token holders should do their own research regarding individual Indexers and the risks, including objectives, charges, and expenses, associated with the purchase of GRT or the delegation of GRT.