Polygon’s ‘secret sauce’: why Starbucks, Meta and Reddit chose the Ethereum scaler

Polygon’s ‘secret sauce’: why Starbucks, Meta and Reddit chose the Ethereum scaler

In short

  • Brands such as Starbucks, Reddit, Meta, Nike, Disney and Coca-Cola have built on Ethereum’s scaling network or announced plans to.
  • Despite the FTX collapse, Polygon Studios CEO Ryan Wyatt told Decrypt to expect the Web3 brand to continue to build.

In the middle of brutal crypto crash which has only gotten worse FTX collapseshas a blockchain platform repeatedly shown that it can still onboard massive brands with a combined reach of billions into Web3 world: Polygonit Ethereum scaling network.

Recent highlights include Meta-tapping Polygon to let Instagram users create NFTsThe Starbucks building an NFT-powered loyalty rewards programReddit create unique NFT avatarsNike reveals plans to NFTs for digital clothingand a NFT collectibles partnership with Disney after Polygon participated in the entertainment giant’s accelerator program.

The resulting buzz has not only pushed the price up of Polygon’s MATIC token and built the biz-dev reputation of Polygon Studios and CEO Ryan Wyatt, but the early results of these projects are also telling. Reddit recently said that users created more than 3 million Polygon wallets to claim a free NFT avatar, generating momentum around them and the wider crypto space.

Wyatt told Decrypt that when he joined Polygon Studios in February — after several years leading YouTube’s Gaming vertical — he saw a need to bring in more people with traditional web and brand experience to connect with the highly technical, Web3-savvy the builders who are already in the area. “I wanted to fill that gap,” he said.

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“With Web2 [companies], the impact is greater and the implications are always greater for these partners because they are navigating the space for the first time,” explained Wyatt. “And so they’re very strategic in the way they do it. They want to talk through it. It’s a slightly different experience.”

Polygon Studios CEO Ryan Wyatt at Camp Ethereal 2022. Photo: Vincent + Chie

Whether it’s a Web2 brand or a crypto upstart, Wyatt said the team’s goal is largely the same: understand the potential partner’s Web3 vision, convince them that Polygon is the ideal platform to build it on, and then provide support to bring this vision to life.

Bringing together seasoned big tech veterans with Web3 natives who “live and breathe this space” provides a group at Polygon Studios that can help Web2 brands get over the hump and embrace NFTs and decentralized models, Wyatt said. “It’s kind of like the secret sauce of the team,” he added.

Polygon is having a moment right now with mainstream brand adoption, but Wyatt admits that what he sees as the Studios team’s advantage over rival scaling solutions that Immutable X and Arbitration may not last.

“It’s something that others will replicate over time,” he said. “I think we’re taking advantage of the moment.”

But the brand push can also create network effects that convince other companies to build on Polygon. While best known as an Ethereum sidechain that enables faster chapter transactions than Ethereum’s mainnet, Wyatt also pointed to upcoming zkEVM scaling technologyimplying that it assures developers that they can “be on polygon protocols forever.”

He also believes that there is a growing consensus around Ethereum as the platform where most Web3 users and developers are firmly established, and that Polygon provides a way for brands to launch large projects in that ecosystem.

Polygon’s push

Wyatt would not share any new details about his prominent partners’ plans, but did comment on some of their initiatives. He called Meta’s plan to unlock NFT performance for Instagram’s estimated two billion users a “forward-thinking” move, saying Starbucks’ original rewards program was already “ahead of its time” and that the coffee giant “got it” about NFT use cases.

Meanwhile, Wyatt said, Reddit’s announcement that its NFT avatars had inspired three million new Polygon wallet users was “a huge win for our industry.” Reddit avoids NFT terminology in its branding, but Wyatt said the move is less about “masking” NFTs. and more about exploring use cases that aren’t subject to speculative frenzy and “right-click-save” pushback.

Rival Ethereum Scaling Solution Immutable X—from Immutable, itself a game developer and publisher — has made early strides in building game developers into Web3, Wyatt acknowledged. “Kudos to that group,” he said.

But the gaming and esports veteran hinted that Polygon also has big plans underway for Web3 gaming, and that some of its previous game announcements have been overshadowed by its big brand partnerships – a “champagne problem”, in his view. “As you know, with my background, I’ll never sleep on the tab,” Wyatt confirmed of games.

On Tuesday, after Decryptconversation with Wyatt, NFT marketplace Magic Eden announced plans to support Polygon NFTs and launch several upcoming gaming projects built on the blockchain.

He doesn’t think the fallout from FTX’s fall will directly affect brands looking to build and experiment with Web3. If anything, he said, it damage and infection show how important decentralized protocols are, rather than traditional, centralized platforms.

“Ultimately, a lot of this is solved in a real world that is decentralized,” he said. “If you think about where these problems are happening, they’re centralized exchanges and intermediaries in Web3, right? When you start to see a world that’s decentralized, that’s easier to use and that’s built, I think you get away from it all this.”

Wyatt teased more partners to come, hinting at continued brand momentum. But he’s also keen to encourage more Web3-native builders to develop tools for the Polygon ecosystem, such as wallets, marketplaces and ramps, emphasizing decentralized finance (DeFi) build in an industry that just learned a tough lesson about centralized entities.

“What you should ultimately hold us accountable for is bringing a billion people to Web3,” he said, “and I think we’re going to do that in a lot of different ways.”

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