GRTiQ Podcast: 170 Joe Vezzani

Today I’m speaking with Joe Vezzani, Co-founder and CEO at LunarCrush, a leading platform that leverages social media analytics to provide actionable insights for across many markets, including cryptocurrencies. I’m willing to bet every listener today has seen or interacted with LunarCrush.

This is a very insightful interview with Joe! He’s a seasoned entrepreneur with a compelling story to share. During our conversation, Joe discusses his roots in finance and technology, his early career experiences, and his entrepreneurial ventures leading to the creation of LunarCrush. Throughout our discussion, Joe will shed new light on things like the crypto market, social media, community, and digital marketing, analytics, and the evolving landscape of the industry.

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.,[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.,[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.

Joe Vezzani (00:00:19):

The Graph, we saw that very early on at LunarCrush. It was all over social people talking about it, and it grew this really awesome community, but I think it’s become this-

Nick (00:01:02):

Welcome to the GRTiQ Podcast. Today I’m speaking with Joe Vezzani, co-founder and CEO at LunarCrush, a leading platform that leverages social media analytics to provide actionable insights across various markets, including cryptocurrencies. I’m willing to bet every listener today has seen or interacted with LunarCrush. This is a deeply insightful interview with Joe, he’s a seasoned entrepreneur with a captivating story to share. During our conversation, Joe talks about his roots in finance and technology, his early career experiences, and then his entrepreneurial journey that led to the creation of LunarCrush. Throughout our discussion, Joe sheds new light on topics such as entrepreneurship and career, the crypto market, social media, web3 communities and digital marketing analytics, and the evolving landscape of the web3 industry. And towards the end, I was able to ask Joe about his perspective on The Graph. I started the interview by asking Joe about his upbringing in Chicago, and what he was like as a kid growing up there.

Joe Vezzani (00:02:07):

Yeah, I grew up in Chicago, in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and kid in the mid ’80s, early ’90s, and was heavy into sports as a kid. I was the kid playing two double headers on the weekend, along with two soccer games every weekend, traveling around. God bless my parents for going through some of that stuff. I’m now 38 and have two little ones, and I’m thinking through what that process is like already and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, how in the world did they pull all this off?” We just have three kids, I think about families with more than that. That’s crazy. But grew up in Chicago, loved it, loved the Midwest. As I’ve gotten a little bit older, I’ve started to ask my parents these questions a little bit too. What was I like? And they’re like, I was a very curious kid, always looking for the next adventure in the neighborhood.


Very sociable with my friends. We came up with a lot of games, I would say, as little kids bored in the summer. Now that I’ve gotten older, I think a lot about being bored and the creativity that comes from that, and I think that that’s an interesting lesson. But all in all, I was just an active kid, curious, did pretty good in school but was never very interested in school. I think now that I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that school was not set up for an entrepreneur. I really don’t think it was set up. It’s like I could go and write a paper that gets closer to curing cancer, and I’d have a teacher be like, “You didn’t use six cites in this,” or whatever. I’m like, “Well, this paper is fantastic. What do you mean? I killed this.”


Even at a young age, I feel like I was a little rebellious from that standpoint, but when push came to shove and I had to get the grade, I would always get the grade. I went to university, but I’m starting to be in that camp of people maybe think a little bit about other options and what’s out there. Growing up, I didn’t have YouTube or any of this stuff. Wow, the amount of content that’s out there to learn is pretty crazy, but just a happy kid I would say. Curious, happy kid.

Nick (00:04:10):

When you think back on your younger self, is there a moment or an experience that was pivotal in the way that you framed or began thinking about your career and what you wanted to do with your life professionally?

Joe Vezzani (00:04:23):

Probably sometime in my early teens, I was, I would say obsessed with games and gaming, especially in my early teens, as I know probably a lot of young men are and young women, a lot more men are probably playing games. Back then it was, I played Rainbow Six, and EverQuest, and we would play till 5:00 AM and then I’d hear my mom or dad coming down the hallway. I had this one switch on the side of the wall that just turned everything off, and I would just boom, hit that switch and the light, and I’d sprint to the couch and pretend to sleep. And then they would come in the door because they would probably hear me yelling or something, and then I would be sleeping. I would see him and I’m like, “Oh,” I’d take a big yawn. And then I’d be like, “I think I’m going to get up and maybe I’ll start playing now,” which is just crazy to think.


But there was a lot of skills that came from, I was like an admin for, it was the OGN network at the time, and you were just keeping track of all the different clans that were out there. It was just a little responsibility for that young age to be in charge of the keys to that, and making sure that the rankings were all set and things like that, and part of a group myself. And there’s just a lot of things you do in understanding how a computer works. One of the games, it was like you could cheat a little bit by overclocking the processor. We didn’t use that in the tournaments, but when we played against each other for fun, just little things like that. And so, I always was very interested ever since we got our first home CPU for Christmas one year. I’ll never forget, my dad had this computer, and it was Christmas morning, and we come downstairs, he’s like, “There’s one more thing in the basement.”


And you know you were from the Midwest when you have basements. There’s not basements in California, I don’t get it. And there’s this huge computer. Back in the day they’re all big, and this tower, and he’s got Elton John playing, this one album live in Australia, which is still one of my favorite albums, playing this hardcore song. And I just became obsessed with just computers and how they worked in more of a power user way, and wanted to figure some things out. And somewhere along the lines there, I think I was going to do something with software in some way, shape, or form. That was always stuck in me. And then growing up also, my dad was a banker and was always thinking about the financial route. I don’t know if I was necessarily really in love with the financial route more than I was interested in macroeconomics and the way that just the economy all comes together.


And I tended to do a little bit worse into my finance classes, and could just ace my economics classes in college just without thinking. And I think that was just because I was very passionate about that. And so yeah, somewhere along the lines it was this combination of technology and economics or finance that I knew it was going to maybe be that route. And I mean, gosh, Bitcoin, when I found out about that in 2015, and the rest of the crypto economy that’s come from then, I knew that that was going to be something that I would spend potentially the rest of my life working on.

Nick (00:07:24):

Well, there’s clearly a lot of overlap between what you’re doing now, and macroeconomic and financial themes. It’s embedded or baked into crypto and the whole industry. But if we go back to your decision at university then to pursue a degree in finance, what were you thinking at that time? I mean, you obviously had some interest in software, your father was a banker, were you thinking, “Software was a little bit far off, I would just stick with the financial stuff”? Or take us through that.

Joe Vezzani (00:07:53):

It’s like you want to be the best at what you do. Even a Gary Vee would always talk about this of double down on what you’re good at. It just felt like that was something from where I was at, from a standpoint that I could double down and be really good at. I feel like I almost took a hiatus from being a power user of software after this gaming phase that I had, just because it was intense, it was almost too much. And I took somewhat of a hiatus from that I think, and grew up, but never really lost that edge of that was what I wanted. I wasn’t surrounded by it as much as I would say I was surrounded by the financial side of everything, from friends to job opportunities and everything. So, you just find yourself meandering down that path, but always had this little knack for … And just looking at the market in general, software is eating the world.


That’s where I felt like I should be building something, and being obsessed with it but not completely understanding when I was younger how it worked. It was like I need to challenge myself with something I don’t know how to do. When I came out of school in 2008, finance was everything, market’s booming, and then all of a sudden this financial crisis. I wanted to go work on Wall Street, I thought that that was going to be it. And then next thing I know a place that I wanted to work, Lehman Brothers, doesn’t exist anymore. So, I’m forced to look at the market and say, “What do I go do next?” And I need a job out of school. It definitely was a force function to make me rethink my career, or not even rethink my career, just scramble to find something, and sometimes that’s what you have to do.

Nick (00:09:22):

When you think back on your career in traditional finance, and I think we’re talking about roughly 13 years, so over a decade of your professional experience working in finance, and you had various roles with some very large firms. But when you think back on that, are you happy about it? I mean, was that a learning experience for you, something you still leverage today in your role and what you’re doing at LunarCrush?

Joe Vezzani (00:09:44):

I wanted to go more into finance, but I ended up getting tossed into some other things that I did in my career. When I came out of school in 2008, I wanted to, like I said, go work on Wall Street. I ended up working for an advertising agency, and I was in the finance department of that advertising agency, which was like the proverbial mail room, if you will, of an advertising agency. It’s like no one gets from the accounting department into the creative department, that would be insane. And so for me I was like, “Well, how do I get as close to that as I can? That’s the lifeblood of this industry.” And I was kind of taken for a turn because I didn’t even know when I got my first job out of school what that company did. They’re like, “We’re an advertising agency.”


I was like, “Is this a job? Do you pay? I’ll take it.” So, it’s like you said, finance and financial analyst, I think it was a little bit of a swindle by them calling it a financial analyst. It was accounting, general ledger. I got in there and one of the first weeks I was there, they were like, “Hey, we won this new account.” It was this Miller-Coors account in Chicago, and Miller-Coors had this merger and they’re celebrating, and then it was like, “Come to the party,” and it was like the Backstreet Boys were playing in our office. I was like, “What is going on here? This is insane.” And they did a Q&A after, and I’m probably the fifth day on the job and advertising agency tends to be, there’s more women working there. So, a lot of these women were at the age group that were obsessed with the Backstreet Boys, and so no one was raising their hand.


And so, I just raised my hand. I don’t know if I looked it up beforehand or something, but I think one of the guys wasn’t with the band anymore. And so I said, “What’s it like making music without Kevin?” And they all turned their head and everyone turned to me like, “Who’s this kid?” Or whatnot. And I don’t remember what happened after that, I probably blacked out, but that was a fun experience for me to be introduced to the creative process and what that was. And being that curious mindset, I was always like, “Well, how do I move around this organization? What else is there to do?” And found out pretty quickly that some of the skillset that I had in finance could cross over into production and business management. And so, I was like, “Okay, I can work with spreadsheets, I can make budgets, I can figure this out.”


And that got me a little bit closer to some of the stuff that they were doing around radio production and television production, and those were things for me, it’s like growing up in Chicago as a finance kid, I was like, “This is Hollywood type stuff,” which was really exciting and fun for me to learn about. And so, then on some other paths in my career, I love that job. It got me out to California, loved working at the office that they had out here. Great opportunity I got from my boss at the time, Eric, who was a cheerleader for me and knew what I was capable of, and so continue to work on that, but eventually wanted to try some other stuff as well. And so, as you adapt in your career, it’s like for me, I’ve always just jumped into something different.

Nick (00:13:42):

For listeners of this podcast who are younger, so maybe at their point in their life they’re where you were at that point in your life, trying to figure out career, and like you said, the ’08 crisis happened. And so, you were just looking for a job and you wanted to get to work, and maybe there’s listeners that are trying to do the same or maybe they’re trying to massage their career and find the direction they need to go. But as you look back on that time in your life, what’s the insider, the advice to anybody that’s trying to navigate something similar?

Joe Vezzani (00:14:07):

Yeah, you come out of school and you think you might be working on all of this really interesting stuff, and then you get there and you’re like, “Man, I really wish they took Xerox 101 in school, because I’m just making copies or whatever else I’m doing.” It’s like you don’t know what you don’t know, and I would say be okay with that in your 20s. It’s like depending on who you are, wherever you’re at is where you’re supposed to be, and it’s okay. And have these aspirations to do things, stay curious, ask questions, be timely, skate to where the puck is going and predict a little bit what the person you’re working with or your boss, if they’re a quality boss and they’re a kind person, try and figure out and always be one step ahead. And if you’re not exactly where you want to be at that second, that’s okay.


You have to have some patience. If you’re listening to this and you’re 22 or 23 and you’re like, “I’m at this job and I should be better than that,” it’s like maybe you shouldn’t be because you’re not there, and that’s okay. And just be okay with where you’re at. And depending on who you are, what you’re doing, it’s like have some fun in your 20s. Focus on your friends and some travel, and if you’ve got friends that are consultants that can travel on the weekends, go stay in their hotel rooms, and take advantage of those things and explore a little bit, because for most people, if you eventually want to have a family and all those things, it does change your ability to do things. Obviously it opens up a lot of opportunities, but also is a lot different. I can’t go sleep on couches, or don’t go sleep on couches of friends and just leave on a whim with a family now.


I would say just have some fun. I got some great advice from a previous friend and boss of mine when I was interning in college, and I called him around the same time. I was like 25 or whatnot, and I was like, “Joe,” his name was Joe too. I was like, “I don’t know, man. I want to be doing this, I don’t know what I want to do next.” And he’s like, “Just go have a little bit of fun in your 20s. Explore, figure some things out, meet people, travel around, maybe move a couple times and figure out what you want.” And I think a lot of people are probably like that. I’d say sure, there’s probably a subset of people in their 20s, you see some of the entrepreneurs that started and it’s like, sure, I can name the names of the Mark Zuckerbergs or whatnot of the world, but there’s 1,000 of unnamed people that also do really well that don’t want to go do those things.


And they’re like, “I’m just going as hard as I can in my 20s. I’m going to start my own thing, and I’m going to go after it.” That’s a little bit of a different path for some people. I’d say a lot of people actually are probably in the camp of trying to get some experience first and then maybe going and trying something. A lot of entrepreneurs that do well, I think I read the other day the average exit, the average age is over 50. People would think, “Oh, all these entrepreneurs that start companies are in their 20s and that’s how it works.” That’s not true. So, I’d say have some fun and be patient, and it’s okay that you don’t know everything. Just go learn, find good mentors, find people that are five years ahead of you where you want to be, stay close to those people. Find people that are 10 years, 15 years ahead and really just try to talk to them and understand where you are in your life based on that. And I think it’s like finding good mentors is pretty pivotal.

Nick (00:17:00):

In 2014, you took another turn in your career, and we’re taking big leaps here obviously, but you throw your hand into entrepreneurship and you launch Lifeline Response. Was that your first entrepreneurial venture?

Joe Vezzani (00:17:15):

It was, yeah. I was brought in by another friend of mine. He called me one day and he’s like, “Hey, I’ve got this idea. Here’s this app that I’m building, do you want to be a part of it?” And I said, “Sure.” For me, it is like just making another jump. People talk about risk, that’s one huge lesson also to people that are younger is that everyone thinks that there’s this huge risk to starting a company or going and starting something on your own. The risk to me is not trying something on your own. That’s why it’s important when you’re a little bit younger, whether it’s benefits, that’s a whole other avenue. That’s one of the main reasons people don’t start companies is like, “How can I to stay healthy?” It’s like, my gosh, how are we stifling innovation by not taking care of people?


But I don’t know what the answer is there. There’s a rub there. But yeah, that was my first venture in. We so happened to get into a tech stars program in Kansas City, it was one of their first Powered By programs in 2014 with Sprint. For me, it was another one of those opportunities where my eyes were wide open and you’re drinking from a fire hose, and you’re like, “What is this world? What’s going on?” But I do remember being there and in the first week there’s 10 companies, and meeting some of the people that had started these other companies and being a part of that where I realized like, “Oh, this is who I am, for sure. These are my people, these are the people that I can have conversations with that are thinking the way that I’m thinking, that are curious like I am to do things, that are taking risks.” I just remember feeling like, “Okay, this is what I’ve been missing. I am an entrepreneur, that’s what I do.”

Nick (00:18:42):

That’s amazing, and not everybody gets the opportunity to have that insight. And so, if they’re trying to scope that, if somebody hasn’t had that opportunity but they’re trying to determine, “Am I an entrepreneur, am I not?” I mean, what are the characteristics in your mind of what makes an entrepreneur?

Joe Vezzani (00:18:58):

I think it’s understanding risk. There’s a little bit of an incessant need to try and make a change or to see the world in some way. A lot of the entrepreneurs also that I know, could we swear on this podcast? They’d bitch a lot. They’re just like this line, the line is set up wrong. The line should go around this way. Like who set this line up? Everyone was like, “Why do you care about the line?” Something that always used to drive me crazy. My dad had this car and it was one of those cars that had the early days, had the interface on the front of it and you could tap it. The name of the band or the song name, even though it had way more space on the screen was always truncated into dot, dot, dot. I was like, “Use the rest of the screen.”


It’d just drive me crazy. I was like, “Who designed that?” I don’t know. I think there’s something there where if that is the way that you are, you might have some ideas or you have this need for constant improvement and iteration on things, and wanting to push stuff, and I think that that’s a trait that bodes well for success at startup is like fast failure, fast start, being okay with failure. If these are some of the things that you realize that you’re good at, then maybe this world is for you. It can be for anyone. All these traits are all learned, even with a software startup. There’s designers, there’s product managers, there’s developers, there’s sales roles, there’s growth roles. And so, I would say even if you’re like, “I don’t know what the idea is, or maybe I don’t want to start something day one myself, or what would I start? That’s not me.”


I mean, there are so many startups with three, four, five people. If you could be number five or six, even if it’s at a startup that you don’t know if it’s going to grow or anything else, you’re going to get a great experience and you’re going to get closer to that nucleus of innovation that happens. You’ll just know inherently in your heart, “Do I like this or not?” And if you’re up every night just worried, like, “Is this company running out of money or what’s going on?” It’s like maybe Google is for you, and that is totally fine. There’s this other class of person that they need to be working on something that’s theirs, or they need to be improving or changing the world in some way. Even so, it doesn’t mean necessarily mean that that entrepreneur is going to make as big of an impact even as someone maybe that is at Google, or is at some other company that can make an impact, they’re just different things.


I think startup and entrepreneurship has been glamorized in a way, almost too much. It’s a grind, man. It is a hardcore grind, and you have to be willing to take the nose, and being in an early stage startup is the best and worst day of your life over, and over, and over again. And if you’re not willing to go through that, there’s maybe some sadistic piece to it of that’s just … I don’t know. I’ve always wanted to go and do a survey on every CEO and founder, and some sort of childhood survey when I ask, “Were your parents split? What went on?” I think a lot of people did come out of environments that might’ve not been the environment that maybe you think that they came out of.

Nick (00:21:51):

I’ve had the opportunity to have interviews with a lot of entrepreneurs working in web3, and I always like to ask this question about fear because I think a lot of people who may fancy themselves as an entrepreneur, or involved in entrepreneurial venture are tripled by fear, either the fear of failure, the fear of what happens next, the fear of not knowing what to do. And so, my question is how do you frame fear? Are you afraid of failure?

Joe Vezzani (00:22:18):

I think I was. You grapple with it, and then you understand what actually is failure. I also tell this to a lot of the younger folks, or even people that would want to join LunarCrush as an employee, or someone that’s a young entrepreneur trying to start their own thing, is that there is no true failure with trying to start something on your own. If you go and try a startup, or you’re an early employee to a startup, you work there for a year or two, you are going to move leaps and bounds ahead of the rest of the people that are in your class, say graduated the same year as you, in the same field as you, because of what you learn about how businesses organize. And it’s going to blow your mind that when you get back into the workforce you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I just do this one small thing? I was doing all of these other things.”


I think that’s why you do see people always drop back into startup life because they’re like, “Man, I need you just to do more. This is boring.” The level of risk is actually much lower than you think it is when you’re thinking about starting something. And I think that’s the fear. The fear from where the next paycheck is going to come from, but you’re going to figure it out, especially if you’re younger. I had my great uncle passed away recently and he was 101, and he had a startup at age 90 that he did, and I think he might have sold it or something at like 95. And then I got entrepreneurs and people are telling me that they’re like 24 years old and now they’re 26, and they’re all freaking out about everything. And I’m like, “Great uncle is 90, and he ran his company five years than you at 95. You’re only two years into it and you’re like 26? You have 70 years left to figure some stuff out. It is not over.”


And so, I think people sometimes have a hard time seeing five feet in front of their face, but you got to remove yourself from that fear. There’s also these outside forces that really impact people around the family, and their family did this, or my dad did that, or my mom did that. Or they said, “Go get a job at this consulting company versus starting my own thing.” And, “So-and-so said it’s stupid.” Or, “When I go take this out to the world, what are people going to say?” Who cares what people are going to say? It just truly doesn’t matter. At the end of the day, it’s you versus you, and can you build something? And do you think every other entrepreneur that had a ton of success, they did something, they stepped out on day one and suddenly they were like a hero, and everything was great, and it was an overnight success?


It just wasn’t. But I think I’ve probably said this kind of thing on a podcast a lot, but what you realize is that some people, they just don’t have everything coming to them. They don’t have all the data, they don’t have content maybe like this to hear from other people. And so, I think that’s why it actually is a hard thing for people to get over, but you can’t have fear out there. I mean, especially it’s like if you’re running a software company in web3 and crypto, it’s like you’re really passionate, but if you fail no one’s dying. It’s just you back in the workforce potentially, or starting your own thing. A lot of investors love backing second time entrepreneurs that failed. You went through it, you’re trying again. They’re like, “Okay, this kid’s not going to give up. Let’s give them a chance.”


And so, fear is there. It’s good for certain reasons. It’s good to have some positive anxiety around you want to keep the lifestyle that you have and do the things that you’re doing, but I would say rein it in and focus on what you’re doing, keep your expenses down. You don’t need to be keeping up with the Joneses if you’re trying to operate a business on a shoestring budget, because those little things in your life all kind of are synergistic with the outcome that happens. So, it’s like if you’re staying fit, if you’re eating well, if you’re sleeping well, if you have gratitude and positive relationships in your life, if you take time to yourself and you foster relationships with friends and family that matter, and do take time for that, and then you wake up in the morning you’re going to be firing on all cylinders versus treating your body like shit, eating, drinking bad, doing all of these things.


That’s when you don’t have a full gas tank and the anxiety can creep in, and all these other things can creep in. So manage yourself, manage your body, and know that the outcome, no matter what it is, you’re going to be better for it.

Nick (00:26:14):

So after Lifeline Response, there was one more stop before you launched LunarCrush. And so, if we just go back to your story here, what happened to Lifeline Response, and what’d you do afterwards?

Joe Vezzani (00:26:26):

Yeah, I mean, Lifeline’s still rolling. Pete over there, I think he’s doing well. They’re doing well, they’re out there. For me, it was one of those moments where it was like I needed to go do something else, and ended up serendipitously into another ad agency out here in Orange County. It was actually my co-founder now, John, who I met, and he was the one that brought me in there. And it was a good example of what I’m saying of getting into an organization that did advertising that I was like, I never thought I was going to even be in advertising again after being a part of a startup. I also had a stint of doing some sales, I was in building construction materials at Owens Corning, which is an amazing experience too. But anyone that’s been at a startup for a couple years, I just needed a breather.


And so, found something and didn’t really know what I would be doing, but this is a good example of I was at a software startup building, learned a lot about user experience, and product, and analytics, and these were other talents that I didn’t really have beforehand. And then get into an organization and realize really quickly like, wow, I’ve learned 10 times more than a lot of these people in the last couple years, and it’s probably taken them a long time to learn. That was a great example of that, of like, wow, I am pretty good at all this stuff and I could be helpful here. And so, spent a couple of years there working on some really awesome things. We built a mobile app that brings the test drive to your house for Hyundai.


I really treasured my time there, great people, got to travel a little bit, got to see some cool stuff. We worked on everything from the website, to mobile apps, to strategy for a Super Bowl ad that I got to work on. And so, just got to see a lot of the different sides of the creative process that, when I started my career was like, “Wow, I’m actually doing it.” I went from the mailroom to touching a piece of a really big piece of creative that’s out there in the world now and that’s got my name on it, and providing some direction for those things. And so, that was a really fulfilling thing for me to say, “I’ve moved all the way over here,” because I’ve always felt and saw myself as a very creative person, but we just went down this finance route when I was younger and I was like, “Oh, finance.”


So I think it’s great that hey, I can put together some of the most badass spreadsheets and income statements you’re ever going to see, but then I also have a little bit of an eye for, “Hey, I like the patina of the way that this thing feels.”

Nick (00:28:50):

When you look back then at this point in your career, and you see the path you took to LunarCrush and what you’re working on now, does it feel like it all adds up to it? I mean, this was somewhat of a destined way. I mean, it seems like all the skills fed on top of each other to get you where you are, or do you think in some ways you are always destined to be doing what you’re doing now and any path probably would’ve led you here?

Joe Vezzani (00:29:13):

So, I started to get into my 30s, I realized I’m like a CEO and people can’t take me seriously because I’m too young, but I always felt like inside of a CEO’s body, I guess if you will, once I’ve figured out what the job was of a CEO, even as a startup company. The short answer is yes, being able to see all of these different parts of businesses, and then having this innate feeling that I was an entrepreneur, and that I wanted to take that risk and go do something. I would say, yeah, I’m really glad that I did do the things that I did and have the experiences that I had, because I think it set me up for success in what I would call my second venture. But first venture that was me as a CEO and co-founding, it set me up to say, “I feel like I could be really good at this, and I’ve got the tool set.”


And then what you learn at a startup, and there’s three of us that are co-founders, is that we do a lot of work and we do a lot of different things. And as a CEO, you just fill in the gap for the thing that’s not working or the thing that needs to be done at that moment, and those things could be very wide-ranging. You’re doing founder led sales, you might be doing customer support, you might need to dive in on design on something because it’s not going in the direction maybe that you think is the direction it should go. You need to do fundraising, and what’s included in fundraising? You’ve got to have an awesome deck that makes sense, that makes people feel some sort of emotion with what they’re seeing and the vision for that. You need to be up to snuff on the numbers, and the financials, and the revenue estimates, and income statement, and you’re going to have other financial people poking holes in that.


So, you got to make sure that you are the one hitting the keystroke to say, “Here’s my assumptions that I’m making.” And so, putting those things together and having a finished product on that, and really knowing that I could do that soup to nuts from start to finish myself, I think I realized I’ve got a lot of these little talents that took me 10 years of working in the workforce. Plus I would say starting at age 12, making skins for Winamp or whatever I was doing, and working with Flash to make the cool backgrounds for my whatever clan that I was working on, and things like that. All of those little things add up and you don’t realize the plethora of experience that you have until you’re sitting there doing it. And then now being in the saddle the last five years from LunarCrush, the amount that I’ve learned and grown even since day one here, no one starts out as an expert in crypto or web3.


I mean, when I started I was just like, John came up to me one day at Innocean. He’s like, “Hey, dude. You got any Bitcoin?” This was like January 2015, that’s when we started looking at it. And I was like, “No, but this looks like the intersection of finance and technology. And I think that that’s what I’ve been waiting for since I was 10 years old.” You’re still a beginner. We didn’t actually start LunarCrush until 2018, the beta really didn’t go live until end of 2018, early 2019. It takes time to get there and to make it all happen, but once you do it and you learn, now I could probably say I’m an expert even though I don’t feel like it. But I would say, “Hey, I’ve been operating a business in the industry for over five years now.” That’s probably a lot more than a lot of people have done, but I’m still curious.


I still want to grow and figure it out. And so, that’s where a lot of people also, they’d be like, “I don’t know anything about it.” It’s like, well, if you’re obsessed with it, you just got to dive in. You just got to get in there. And I think it wasn’t until we went full-time on LunarCrush, we were talking to investors and looking around at things, but once you have that conviction and you dive in, that’s when people take you seriously. And I would say if you’ve got a little staging environment, a little beta, and you’re like, “Why aren’t I getting the attraction of what’s going on?” It’s because you’re probably talking to an investor or something else, and they’re like, “Who’s on it?” And they’re like, “Well, a couple of us are on it, but this thing’s amazing.” And it is amazing, but you don’t have conviction to leave your job? Must not be that good.

Nick (00:33:02):

Let’s go back to the origins then of LunarCrush, and you hinted towards it there a little bit with a conversation with John while you were working Innocean, but what was the original vision there? And take us back in time, what was going on in your mind? What was the vision of what you wanted to accomplish?

Joe Vezzani (00:33:16):

Yeah, I mean, just finding Bitcoin was amazing. Reading the white paper, understanding the solving of the double spend problem. Once that light bulb went off, it was an aha moment. And I think it’s like for everyone in crypto and blockchain, when they figure out what that actually means, that’s pretty incredible, because everything that we do stems from that moment. And I think I had that aha moment, and it just sat there. We didn’t really take action on anything for literally a couple years after that. We’re just working on all this other stuff, and we’re friends. And I think the thing that personally I’ve realized, like oh, this is someone that I could start a business with. He compliments a lot of the things that I don’t do, or I wouldn’t want to do, or he’s better at than me. I remember John would always rearrange his office.


He would always be moving stuff. It was like every six weeks, or four weeks or something. It was like, oh, he was in a fresh spot in the office, and it was probably because he just wanted a new perspective or whatever else. And I can imagine maybe he does this at home. In a really weird way I was like, “I think we should start a business together,” because the way he thinks about design and the way he thinks about UI, and iteration, like I said, is so important for a startup. He’s constantly iterating, constantly trying to improve product, and thinking about product, and going through that process. And so, at some point I just, maybe it was in the back of my head at the time and I came to this later, probably just realized, “Hey, we should probably start something together.” He’s as obsessed about this technology as I am.


He had his own kind of little entrepreneurial efforts before, I had maybe some more formalized “VC”, raised money before. And one day we were like, “Hey, let’s just maybe start building this.” And he had another friend that ended up being our co-founder, Dan, and Dan ended up becoming our CTO. We went to Dan and we just said, “We think that in cryptocurrency …” And this is when Ethereum came out and the tokenization of everything, and there’s all these tokens, and we’re out on Twitter looking for different opportunities. And the only thing that was available was CoinMarketCap and Coin Gecko at the time. We’re like, “Man, how do you know the difference between coin number 10 and coin number 80 when there are no earnings reports, there’s no real traditional way to delineate value? We don’t even know where the team is or if they have a team, if it’s a public blockchain, there is no team. And so, what wins?”


And so we were like, “Man, this is really going to all be narrative driven and it’s all about the community” And we coined this phrase early on in the industry, without a community there is no crypto. We searched Twitter. It’s like we would go back and look, it’s like we were the first people out there talking about community matters, and now that’s everything. And we coined that. It’s a little bit of our claim to fame, I would say, of just early on, even like CZ back in the day, it was replying in our stuff. I think that they ended up buying CoinMarketCap and they maybe felt like they’re competitors so he stopped commenting on our stuff. But anyway, we went to Dan and we were like, “Hey man, do you think you could get some of this data and we could do some cool stuff with it?”


And so, he’s an amazing engineer and just started diving in on it. I just kept pushing the ball forward, like, “Hey, let’s try this thing. Should we do this thing?” And then it was July of 2019, we had something that just worked. It was just a website that was out there, whatever. We were into crypto. And then we went to a couple different conferences in the space. I serendipitously met the managing director of the Techstars Los Angeles program, and I’d already gone through a Techstars program. And I also said to myself, I’m like, “I’m never doing that again. That was just way too intense.” Like three months and now I’m married, but it was in LA, and one of the who’s now one of our early investors, Alon, was at to some other conference. Because another thing is an entrepreneur, you just got to go and meet people, even if you’re not going to actually have an opportunity.


It’s like, I just would drive all over the place in just an attempt to maybe bump into people that I knew were going to be there. You’re in people’s DMs, like, “They’re not answering,” but I’ll cruise up there and just poke them on the elbow. And I met Alon and we went to one of the conferences, and he kind of knew me a little bit. And so, it was really random, but he was in some session and I saw him, and he right at the same time bumped into the managing director of the Techstars LA program. Her name was Anna Barber, and she was there, and I was talking to her. And I was like, “Oh, I’m like CEO of this company, LunarCrush.” She’s like, “I’ve heard of LunarCrush.” I was like, “No, you haven’t heard of LunarCrush. Like four people know about LunarCrush and you’re the managing director of Techstars. How would you know?”


She’s like, “I was just talking to some guy about it.” Alon was already pitching us. That was great, and she’s like, “You should join Techstars.” I was like, “I’ve already done it, I’m not doing it again. I can’t, I just can’t. We’re going to find another way.” So, I said no. And then I am in a hotel room in Australia on a business trip, and she calls me or sends me a note, and basically says that they had a company drop out of Techstars and they needed another company to come in. And I was pretty vetted, I had already been through a Techstars program, I had a product that was working in the market. I think we might’ve had a customer already. She’s like, “You got to make it happen.” I was like, “You know what? This is it. We’re going for it, it’s time.”


And so, I called John and I was like, “We got to do it, man. We got 48 hours.” I told her, “We’re not doing any entrance, anything,” and if you’re listening, I’m sorry, but I said, “We’re not doing any entrance, anything. We’re in.” But she’s like, “Fine, but you got to let me know right away.” And so, I called him and I was like, “We’re doing it, man. Let’s do it” And at the time, we actually didn’t work together anymore. He had already left and gone to another company, and he came back. He said, “Yeah, let’s do it.”


And so, I think part of it is taking that leap, and he saw probably the conviction I had. I was like, “Let’s go, let’s go.” So yeah, that’s how we got into Techstars. And then that was you go full-time at something, and that’s a pretty big deal. And then we’re off to the raises from there.

Nick (00:38:51):

Talk to us about the name. Where did you guys get the name LunarCrush, and what was the ideology behind that?

Joe Vezzani (00:38:57):

John’s wife came up with it. It was like everyone in crypto was like, “You’re crushing it,” and it’s this big gamer feel around everything, and everything’s going to the moon, up in price. And so, I think was available. We ended up with LunarCrush ever since, it’s just kind of stuck. Sometimes people, they want you to change stuff and you stick with the name. The name is the name.

Nick (00:39:20):

How has that original vision, and you described it so well and it makes total sense, how has the vision for LunarCrush evolved over time and some of the things that you’re working on?

Joe Vezzani (00:39:31):

We started with this idea around social listening for crypto, and really what we were doing is creating transparency on the internet. And in this world of instant access to all this content across different social media platforms, and even back then when we were doing it, I mean, there wasn’t as much like citizen journalism and the mainstream media was not, I think hated on as much as it is now. We did see this idea behind the real time ingestion of data, and really it’s just trying to distill down a million voices into insights, and how do you do that? So, I think the vision’s always just been creating transparency, and that’s an overall good thing for society. And the data that we have could be used for anything. But we were just personally obsessed with web3 and crypto, and we thought that the use case for us was creating transparency for investors in this new economy that’s going to be gigantic.


And like I said, Bitcoin a couple hundred bucks, 1,000 bucks, and it’s a small thing. It’s a huge risk to focus on that one thing, but that was what we thought and what we saw for the world was this is going to be a massive thing. And a lot of institutions on Wall Street, and maybe this stems a little bit back to why I love it so much is that not being able to go work at Lehman Brothers in 2008 because of what happened, and all these institutions, they have access to a lot of this data and the average everyday person doesn’t really have access to that data. And so we serve both markets, but it does feel good to make a lot of this really impossible data that just Wall Street had access to before available for the everyday investor.


And we got out and were doing this long before Wall Street bets the AMC thing. I know we’re back around to that literally this week, which is hilarious, but we were doing a lot of this stuff before all that even. It’s a fulfilling prophecy for myself to be working in helping out with that. And so, transparency on the internet as we have moved through that, the vision going forward is still that, we’ve expanded the ability on LunarCrush to look at other categories. So, it’s not just cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and stocks. You can go see the top 25 luxury brands or you can go see the top automotive brands, and who’s talking about them, and which influencers are the most influential over those brands, and how are they ranked over time? And so, it’s really broadening out the data set and letting anyone that’s really looking for a social arbitrage for anything, social arbitrage for marketing, for your influencer account or growing, or whether you’re looking at it or potentially investing in something, it’s really just giving you the tools. And once you have access to this data, it’s like you can’t really go without it.

Nick (00:42:09):

Prior to Lunar Rush, as you’ve already explained, I mean, you had built up some strong skills and know-how when it comes to advertising and marketing, and you had expertise there, then you go to work on LunarCrush and now here you are working in web3. How has this experience reshaped or maybe evolved the way you think about advertising and marketing?

Joe Vezzani (00:42:32):

Yeah, that is a great question, because it has changed a lot, and I think I’ve seen the evolution in just my career from looking at different jobs that we would launch for different brands back then. And there’s billboards, there’s out-of-home stuff, there’s a lot of that that’s going on to then the most hardcore mobile advertising and banner ads. And digital is this huge thing that everyone’s focused on. And then it’s now bam, social media, and it’s got to be content, content, content. And everyone’s got to make all this content, and that’s what it’s all about, and it’s all about content. To now going through even COVID when it went probably even heavier, that was probably the peak of the content. Everyone’s got a podcast, everyone’s live-streaming, people didn’t make it like you did through the storm, they gave up. And now it’s like, I think we’re to this experiential world a little bit.


And experiences really are what are impactful for people, because people are inside their homes. I was talking about this with a friend yesterday, it’s like social media is actually, you’re just droning on when you’re on this. And it’s almost like the ads on there, it’s like it’s just like another thing. And you don’t know what’s an ad and what’s not an ad, because some influencer has been hired to wear a watch, especially Gen Z is a little bit more numb to that. There’s no bias towards any sort of brand out there, they’re just agnostic trying to figure out what matters. And so, I think these brands are trying to create experiences, and that’s why you see a lot of conferences, and speakers, and parties, especially in our industry it’s all conference driven, and that’s where we all go do BD because we don’t get to see each other.


And so, everyone’s really focused on the experience there and what’s the feeling that they can give you that you can associate back with that brand and almost say that brand’s cool. It’s like, it’s Nike, I just want to be a part of that brand because Michael’s a part of it. I want to be cool like that. And so, I think we’ve seen an evolution there. And crypto, I would say the change from web2 to web3 was this organic, all online, they don’t have Discord channels. They probably tried it once. It really got big for crypto, but it’s probably not a really epic blown out Discord environment for Kohler. Kohler’s kick ass by the way, they’re amazing. I’m not talking shit. Kohler’s is an old company that has the best customer support ever. Kohler, you guys rock. There’s just a different thing there. But that’s the type of customer, crypto maniac, crypto hardcore.


It’s like they live on Twitter, they live on Discord, they’re on Telegram. All the BD in our industry, as you probably know, is all done on Telegram and a little bit of WhatsApp. No one emails. It’s business to business for certain specific things, but then people are like, “Hey, can we take this down to Telegram? Can we take this down to Telegram? Can we take this down to Telegram?” And then it’s just like you never really know when you’re going to need to contact someone. And it’s like, I can’t have SMS with a guy from Google, I need to use something else. So, I think it’s changed a lot. And I think that’s a great question because it’s still evolving, and the way that social media is about to change with TikTok, we’ll see what happens there. X, the algorithm has changed a lot and people on there finding different ways to grow, livestream is a huge thing.


What happened at Clubhouse, Twitter spaces then dominated. I saw something, I think Naval was backing it where it was this audio only, but also it’s like as you’re scrolling you’re hearing audio. I thought that was pretty cool, but haven’t figured it out. Then you’ve got like Warcast or Farcaster, which is decentralized social, that seems to be doing well. I would say they’re doing the best. So, there’s just a lot out there. And as a brand, you’re like, “Where do you focus?” Especially as a small team. And so, you have to just pick a couple or pick one and be really good at it, and make sure that you’re getting product market fit and you’re growing organically before you start spending money.

Nick (00:46:20):

How do you reconcile in your mind when it comes to crypto, this question of value? What value is created by a project or a team? And then this very crypto driven Twitter, CT, sentiment driven value that seems to be all about token and token prices. I mean, how do you think through and reconcile that?

Joe Vezzani (00:46:44):

You used the word reconcile, because you have to reconcile how insane it is and how a lot of times it’s not going to make sense in your mind, and how the market could stay crazy a lot longer than you can stay solvent. That’s the world that we’re in, it’s very narrative driven. I mean, we’re seeing it with what we saw with AMC, shorts getting liquidated, hedge funds going under because retail investors want to support someone and support a cause because so-and-so is not selling. That just makes absolutely no sense, and it’s short-lived but it did make an impact. But in crypto, it’s always been hard. And that’s why we said without a community there is no crypto. And what is a meme coin? I mean, what is a meme stock? What is it? But what I’ve realized the years is that what is a country club?


Sure, I can go play golf there, but you can have a social membership there too. And all you do is you go, and you meet up, and you have dinner, and you pay money to have access to that. And those things have existed for 100 years and those are massive things, there’s social clubs all over our country and everywhere in the world. And so, NFTs started down that path, and I think this last meme coin craze was, “Hey, I can’t afford a Bored Ape for $100,000, but I can buy $20 worth of Dogecoin, or $10 worth of Slur,” or whatever it was on Solana, and I can be a part of something. And whether or not it’s short-lived or long-lived, like I look at something like a Floki. They’ve built some schools last cycle, they’ve got a Dex, they’ve got more utility than some layer 1′s to be honest with you.


They truly do. They got more holders and more users than some layer 1′s, and they’re just a meme coin that’s turned into something. And I think that that inverted business model is confusing for people. You used to start a product in a garage, maybe go get some investors or maybe some early customers, and then you grow a brand. And these people are inverting that and they’re growing a brand, and then working into the product. And that’s really confusing and I think angers some people, because they feel like all these people are raising money and getting all this stuff and they haven’t done anything. It’s like, well man, you know how hard it’s to get attention in this world? It might be harder to get attention than it might be to even build something of value, honestly. And so, the attention is the value.


And so, I think that that is confusing for people, it doesn’t make sense. But at some point you do need to deliver something, but that something can be community, it can be meetups, it can be something that’s like, that’s fine, but I think you have to turn it into something to have that staying power. We look in the top 10 cryptos over the last 10 years, I mean, 10 years ago there’s only one coin that’s still in the top 10 that was there 10 years ago, and that’s Bitcoin. Nothing has staying power. That’s a lesson, the utility side of it, I think it blows people’s minds sometimes when there’s a token that has all this awesome utility and it’s not doing anything. We still are in this weird speculative cycle moment for crypto. People even give Bitcoin shit about Bitcoin really doesn’t do anything. It’s like, well, it’s worth a trillion dollars. People love it, people would rather die than cut their hand off and get rid of it. I think there’s some conviction there. You can’t deny the utility around just HODL-ing.

Nick (00:49:56):

Every cycle it seems like has themes that sort of drive sentiment. Going back, obviously there was the ICO craze, there was DeFi summer. What do you sort of envision as the topics that will drive sentiment in maybe this cycle or in the cycles to come?

Joe Vezzani (00:50:13):

Yeah, we’ve gone through some interesting ones with NFTs, DeFi, ICO craze, we went through that. I mean, Bitcoin’s always just been Bitcoin, and I feel like leads everything off. This time around, it started with Bitcoin again, the ETFs, the institutional adoption that we’re seeing, the inflows that we’re seeing. And it went very quickly to meme coins, which I think was confusing for people. It’s like institutional adoption and we’re formalized, and everyone’s an adult now. And then people were like, “Buy Shitcoin number 28.” It was just confusing people, but people were so burnt by what happened with FTX, like your average more like Robin Hood, white collar investor, that they just didn’t come back yet. And so, it was just a bunch of us dGens, gamers in the corner just trading our little meme coins back and forth.


It was a lot of that money, because money wasn’t making it from the Bitcoin ETF suddenly like into PancakeSwap. It is not going that direction, it’s going back into Netflix or whatever it is from when you buy your iShares like Bitcoin ETF. And so, this term narrative is new for this cycle. You’ve been around a while, we didn’t actually use the term narrative. We started talking about everything as a project back in 2018, 2019, and then people started calling it projects too. And I thought that was really interesting, because that was a new phrase. Because people are like, “Well, if we call it a project,” we’re calling it a project because it’s not anything yet, and it might not be anything. So, it’s just a project and they just so happened to have a 10 billion war chest of Bitcoin like EOS, because they’ve got 130,000 Bitcoin because they did that, and now it’s like EOS has more money than most endowment funds in America.


And whether or not they have utility, it doesn’t matter because you could just manage that money in perpetuity. So, I think narrative is interesting because we’re searching for a narrative and it’s not there. People say, “Oh, it’s AI.” They’re only saying AI because OpenAI came out and that’s a thing, and that’s exciting. So, it’s literally just people thinking that crypto … There’s really very rare intersections of crypto and AI that are making sense. It’s like maybe BitTensor is the only one, and there’s really not a lot out there. A lot of the projects, they’ve all repurposed and rebranded themselves in some ways. I’m like, “I’ve interviewed that guy four years ago and now suddenly they’re like an AI token?” There’s no change. So, I think that’s scary in a way. Real world assets, that’s another narrative people are talking about. That’s just security tokens.


We’ve had that forever, we’ve talked about that. I think it’s like BTP down in Brazil has been trying to securitize stuff. It’s not there. It’s like I’m not seeing the application. I want an app that can use my Bitcoin as collateral to buy a home, as home prices hopefully come down here and get more millennials and more Gen Z into homes, utilize the utility of maybe the assets that they have. Lending, borrowing, stuff like that would be interesting. But honestly, we’re searching. The having came, building on Bitcoin I would say is the closest thing that we have to excitement, but there’s a lot of rebuilding that needs to happen of this standard DeFi applications on Bitcoin specifically before you could really have the breakout and the app layer that you want, I would say. But the fact that you can inscribe things in the Bitcoin blockchain, the fact that you can launch a token with Runes now on the Bitcoin blockchain in a better way.


I know there was BRC-20 as well. It’s very interesting, and you’re going to see new people coming in because all roads feel like they do lead to Bitcoin in a way. And all of us, if we’re in the industry, whether or not you’re hardcore Solidity dev building on ETH for your entire life, at the end of the day without Bitcoin we’re all dead. It’s not happening. If Satoshi came around and said, “Hey, I’m Satoshi. It was proven Bitcoin goes to zero in my opinion,” we have these set ways in our industry and it’s like it all leads back to Bitcoin. And so, I feel like if there’s anything special that’s going to happen, it’s going to happen out of that narrative, I guess air quotes, since we’re on audio only, it’s like out of that narrative. I’d like to see more, I’d like to see more adoption from an app layer with banking.


The ability for people to lend, and to borrow, and to utilize their cryptocurrencies in better ways. I think if you did that more people would probably pay taxes, more people would start to utilize these things versus it just being in this funny money in some random land.

Nick (00:54:31):

If you put on your finance background, your macroeconomics thinking, and you zoom out and look at all the cycles, are they evolving over time as well? I mean, this cycle seems fundamentally different from all the prior ones, but maybe that’s what everybody says as we enter a cycle. But how do you think about that?

Joe Vezzani (00:54:50):

I think the adoption level, 2015, finding Bitcoin and probably paying 200 bucks for my first one, and selling it probably like 170 and taking a loss there. If BlackRock was now, and Larry Fink, if I saw the people at that level talking the way that they’re talking now, if you go back in time it would blow everyone’s mind. So, I think it’s in a weird way Bitcoin is like a religion. It’s a positive mind virus, I would say. It’s a truth machine. And I think once people, no matter who you are, at what level, once they realize what it is and what it’s capable of, and they admit it and they embrace it, there’s no turning back. Once you understand it, it’s like you never would suddenly be like, “I hate Bitcoin.” Even if maybe you made a really shitty trade and you lost a bunch of money, “I hate Bitcoin.”


And then suddenly now it’s up. It’s like, well, if you just would’ve held you would’ve made a ton of money. Why were you trading it? That’s your fault, that’s not Bitcoin’s fault. It’s not the truth machine’s fault that’s changing the world with the technology that’s never been done before, and sensor resistant computer with millions of nodes, that’s not that thing’s fault, that’s your fault. Get out of your own head. We’ve come so far, and I think each cycle we go through different things. As much as I hated the fact that FTX happened, because there’s so many amazing builders and everyone had to just basically eat shit for a year and a half and say that you suck, you’re building, and I think it was important for certain reasons to rid out some of the actors that might be doing more nefarious things. It’s like any sort of new technology that’s going to happen, but I think we’re at least a stub function ahead or away from that now, and that makes me excited.


And so yeah, I’d say we’ve made incredible progress with the technology interoperability. It’s gotten a lot better. I think we have some UX layer things that can change, but that being said it could just be people aging up and being so good at technology, even from a young age that we don’t need … People might just inherently, the world might just work. We’re like, “Oh, I have a key that I put into my car and I turn my car on.” Someone in Gen Z be like, “Oh, I have my mnemonic and my private key.” That’s just how the world works, I just know that that’s how it works. And everyone grows up knowing that’s how it works so we all come out of the womb with a private key. We just know.


I think it’s like that actually is the change that’s going to happen. And just like everyone has a bank account and routing number, and a checking account or a credit card, they’re going to be able to work with a technology in a way because they grew up with it. And I think that’s why it’s a long tail change, but it’s happening.

Nick (00:57:22):

Joe, I only have a few more questions before I ask you the GRTiQ 10, and these are 10 questions I ask each guest of the podcast every week. They’re super fun, give us a chance to get to know you a little bit better and get some recommendations, and some ideas from you. But the first question is, you may know this, but a lot of my listeners are very enthusiastic about The Graph, and the things that the ecosystem is working on. From your perspective at LunarCrush and some of the things that you’ve seen over there, do you have any perspective or opinions on the community at The Graph and the things that the protocol’s working on?

Joe Vezzani (00:57:50):

Yeah, I mean, I interviewed Tegan Kline a long time ago, and she was pretty instrumental in those early days. And I think it was Edge & Node that she was working on. Can’t remember exactly, but I was very impressed with her take on the market. And I think The Graph, we saw that very early on at LunarCrush, it was all over social people talking about it, and it grew this really awesome community. But I think it’s become this fundamental layer, like the Indexer for what is possible from a data side within blockchain. I think it’s a very needed portion of our industry and economy that’s here to stay. I think that’s why when you see the market move, it’s always tethered to it with a little bit higher of a beta on the market. So, I’d say keep building. It’s tough because it doesn’t feel like there’s too many super sexy things that have come out.


It’s more like infrastructure that’s come out, so it’s like maybe you don’t need it. Boring is good. Everything’s gone dormant over the last two years and it’s like, I don’t want to see The Graph rebrand and try to be a meme coin or anything else like that. Continue to be yourself and keep building, and I’ve always wanted to collaborate in some way. At LunarCrush, we got a ton of data that’s like off chain. We’re pulling all this social data, like how could people utilize that within a subgraph? So, it’s something that I’ve always thought about too, so I got to keep digging.

Nick (00:59:15):

Amazing. And the final question is when I talked to people that I was going to have the opportunity to interview you, and over the course of this time we’ve spent together, a lot of people said you’re such a great guy, such a nice down to earth guy. And clearly that’s true. You’ve talked about family a little bit during this interview, and I guess the question I want to ask is how have you balanced staying true to yourself, staying true to values and family, given the fact that you work in this industry that’s 24/7, 365 and you’re an entrepreneur, and all the pressure, and risk, and stress that comes with that?

Joe Vezzani (00:59:47):

Yeah, I love that question. I mean, I definitely have the calendar and the Calendly set up in a way to where I have certain days where I have calls available later in the day for me, which opens up Singapore and Asia, and have to take those calls. I definitely have calendar open early in the morning for the calls in Europe and Dubai, and then you get into the day here and we’re on the West Coast, and you’ve got town halls, and you’ve got everything else going on. I mean, we’re a decentralized team so that does help for timing. It’s like no commuting or anything anywhere, which I think is good for some people, probably not as good for the younger generation that doesn’t have a chance to learn in the office. But for someone that’s operating, and as a family it’s the best you could possibly imagine for most people.


And then I kind of mentioned a little bit earlier, it was just really always have been focused on health and fitness ever since I was young, and have never lost that my entire life. I’ve always had something, whether it was rotating different workouts at the gym, kickboxing, whether I was playing softball or soccer in organized leagues, whether it was putting together a gym in the side of my yard that was pretty functional. And staying on top of that, whether it’s trying new diets, whether it’s different technology with the Apple Watch to figure out how I’m sleeping to make sure that my HRV is where it needs to be, or having the data that, oh, if I do have dinner a little bit late or I have a drink later at night, my HRV goes down, my heart rate goes up when I’m sleeping. I feel more tired that day.


And just making those adjustments and having enough in your gas tank, because always talk about this to people, especially younger entrepreneurs, it’s like you’re not Elon. You don’t have just people waiting on you. I doubt Elon’s cranking food, and stuff is just done, but he’s one of the richest guys in the world. You’re still going to do the dishes, you’re still going to have to take your kids to soccer practice. If you’re younger, you still have friends and obligations, and people are like, “Hey man, let’s go to Hawaii and go surfing.” Sometimes you have to say no to those things, and sometimes you have to prioritize work, and so there’s no getting out alive. What I mean is there’s no getting out and getting to even a decent level of success in a startup and not sacrificing a lot at certain times.


I think it’s also really important if you are with someone is to have a partner that understands, and being very clear with them. Some of the things that I try to do ahead of time, if I kind of know I have a time period coming up that’s just going to be crazy, or crazier than what is already crazy, I try to communicate that and say, “Hey, I think next week’s going to kind of suck, just so that you know.” And sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn’t. But I think getting out ahead of those things and being transparent on it helps the other person that you’re with support you more. Knowing a lot of other entrepreneurs too, most of the people I know that have been very successful that have stayed together, the significant other was extremely supportive and understood the sacrifice that needed to be made at certain times.


And that yes, the work sometimes did have to come first. I’m not saying it has to happen all the time, but it 100% needs to happen sometimes if you are going to be successful in the way that you think you can with a startup, just plain and simple. And so, I’ve just over the years done that, and even with the second startup it was like I said, best worst day ever. I’ve tried to take the edge off the top and the bottom of those things a little bit where it’s like, don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Know that some weeks you’re not going to make an impact. It’s going to be a bear market and things are going to slow down. And even if you got LeBron James to post about you or something, sure you might have one day, but then it’s going to die again.


So, I think it’s really internalizing that there are ebbs and flows to this process, and you can’t have the best day every day. It needs to be a little bit of both. And so yeah, I mean, prioritize it. You can build an epic startup with a family, you can do great things. You don’t need to work till 2:00 AM every single night and burn the candle at both ends, and do what you need to do. But what I will say is that you’ve got family, you’ve got work, you’ve got friends, and one of those things is going to sacrifice at some point in time, and you’re not going to be able to show up for dinner for friends once in a while. You’re going to have to say no. You know why you’re doing it, and the people that care about you, they know what you’re trying to achieve. And then if they don’t, you got to tell them, “This is what I’m trying to do. I’m trying to do this right now, can you support me on it?” Who’s going to say no?

Nick (01:04:17):

Amazing answer, and I appreciate you taking time to take us through that. So as I said, I want to now ask you the GRTiQ 10. These are 10 questions I ask each week, and I do it because I want listeners to learn something new, try something different, or achieve more in their own life. So Joe, are you ready for the GRTiQ 10?

Joe Vezzani (01:04:33):

Yeah. And you sent me some of these and I started to reading it, and I was like, “I don’t want to read it, I just want to answer on the fly.” So, I’m excited to just see what my brain thinks when you ask me it.

Nick (01:04:52):

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

Joe Vezzani (01:04:57):

I’d have to put Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill, probably one of the top there. I read it when I was 18 years old. That one I was probably in my 20s, but it was thoughts are things. This idea that the thing in your head, no matter how small, there’s this electric impulse that happens, like a synapse that fires, that’s a real piece of matter that is happening. And I think there’s something really weird about that that made me think like, “Oh, this idea could become a real thing.” So, that one was important. And then my mom gave me The Five Love Languages, that was the one that I got when I was 18. And just talks about internalizing personality, and the way that you want to be loved is different than the way that maybe someone else wants to be loved.


And whether those five love languages are the real thing or not, it’s like a good lesson. It helps you realize that you need to learn the way that the person you’re with, if you’re in love with them, wants to be loved. That helps make a huge difference in happiness. And so once you realize that, I think it’s really important. So yeah, those two.

Nick (01:05:56):

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

Joe Vezzani (01:06:00):

As an entrepreneur? I watched Silicon Valley on HBO like once every four years, and it’s just so spot on. Even though it was, I think 2014 when it came out, it’s so good. You just have to watch it. I die laughing every time I watch it. There’s also some lessons, like if you’re an early entrepreneur you might actually pick up a few things.

Nick (01:06:19):

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

Joe Vezzani (01:06:23):

Ooh, that one’s like I can’t even answer that. There’s so many, it’s like depending on the mood. Oh my gosh, there’s an album by Boston I’d probably listen to. It’s eight songs, just rock out.

Nick (01:06:35):

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

Joe Vezzani (01:06:38):

What’s the best advice? Do it now. Just do it now.

Nick (01:06:44):

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

Joe Vezzani (01:06:50):

Happiness, it’s like it’s something earned in a way. There’s a lot that goes into happiness. People think, “I need to get to this certain spot in my life, or I need to get money, or I need to achieve this thing, or I need to see that.” It’s a lot more internal than that, and soul seeking than that. And I think that that maybe is something that a lot of people, they struggle with, and I feel like it’s something that I finally figured out. So, I think it’s identifying happiness.

Nick (01:07:18):

What’s the best life hack you’ve discovered for yourself?

Joe Vezzani (01:07:21):

Probably cold plunge. I know it’s such a standard startup CO thing, but my God is it effective.

Nick (01:07:27):

What are some of the benefits you’ve had from that?

Joe Vezzani (01:07:30):

Mental acuity of if you’re having a day, whether it’s a good day or a bad day, it makes the bad day better, the good day even better than that. If you don’t work out, you feel something and then maybe you start working out. If you do it after you out, you feel good. If you do it before you work out, you feel good. On a hot day, it’s amazing. There’s just so many things, I don’t know. I mean, the science behind it I know is hit or miss, but it’s something that I got into a couple years back and that is a little hack there, especially for just if you’re seeking energy.

Nick (01:08:00):

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

Joe Vezzani (01:08:10):

Curiosity is really important, but I think two things together. It’s focus, and then the ability, like winning and losing. There’s people that love to win, and then there’s people that hate to lose. If you want to be on a winning team, you actually got to go with the person that hates to lose, not the person that loves to win.

Nick (01:08:29):

And then the final three questions are complete the sentence type questions. The first one is, the thing that most excites me about web3 is?

Joe Vezzani (01:08:37):

The people.

Nick (01:08:38):

And how about this one? If you’re on X, I still call it Twitter, and you should be following?

Joe Vezzani (01:08:43):

Mike Alfred. I love that guy, he’s hilarious.

Nick (01:08:46):

And then the final question, Joe. I’m happiest when?

Joe Vezzani (01:08:50):

I’m with my family.

Nick (01:09:00):

Joe, I want to say first and foremost how grateful I am that you came on the GRTiQ Podcast. Every once in a while I get the opportunity to interview somebody, and I’m completely surprised and amazed that I get the opportunity, and it’s indeed the case with you. I really appreciate you coming on, sharing so much insight and wisdom, and sharing the story of LunarCrush and how you got to where you are. I’ll put a lot of links in the show notes for everybody that wants to click and learn more, and explore that. But for listeners that want to stay in touch with you, follow your work, what’s the best way for them to stay in touch?

Joe Vezzani (01:09:26):

Check me out on Twitter at Joe Vez. So, my name’s Joe Vezzani but it’s just Joe Vez. And then at LunarCrush.


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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.