On the heels of the publication of February’s Top Shot Mailbag, the CEO of Dapper Labs and NBA Top Shot, Roham Gharegozlou, hosted an AMA with members of Top Shot’s VIP Community on Friday, March 3, 2023.
The AMA was open to all collectors to read and invited VIPs to ask questions directly to the CEO. Ask a question that didn’t get answered? Want to ask a question that’s on your mind? Send them to email@example.com and they may be included in our March 2022 Mailbag.
The full AMA feed is preserved in the Dapper Sports Discord. Below you'll find a copy of the AMA conversation broken down by theme, with answers edited for clarity and readability.
On Recent News
Let's clear the air on some of this first – to be clear: my personal expenses are personal.
The “mansion” they showed was my friends’ home I was staying at for free. $0 of my private travel is on Dapper Labs. The party Diplo showed up to was a personal expense celebrating a friend who was being honored at the Cannes Film Festival. In fact, my personal spending often benefits Dapper, as it should.
The culture points are very important. And to be clear, the buck stops with me as CEO. We grew way too fast and didn’t build the right foundations in terms of hiring, onboarding, performance management, etc. Hired different DNA than tech company DNA, and that’s all on me for sure.
It’s also on me to fix, and I’m confident we have the right people around the table now to fix it. We need a high-performance, impact-driven, data-centric culture to succeed.
On Rebuilding Customer Trust
At the end of the day, what matters in winning your and all our customers’ trust is actions – not just one, but a consistent series of actions. I’ll be sharing more about how we’re thinking about things here, and our last Mailbags (Holiday, January, February) are also a great indication of our internal alignment, but fundamentally what matters is how we deliver for you in the next months and years.
The core of Dapper Labs is rock solid, and the people we have on the front lines of NBA Top Shot are also shining – @nbatopshot on Twitter is a perfect example of that.
We built the most innovative parts of our company with a small, lean, focused, technical team – and it's exactly what we need to innovate and push forward in this next phase of the market.
On Series 1-3 Supply, Locked Moments, and Summer 2023
This time last year, we had no locking or burning - today we have ~4m moments burned and 3.5m locked. You're right that 1/3 of the moments were locked in the first month of locking. You’ve seen some of the Leaderboard Rewards coming which I think are very exciting, but in general, this was the first year of Leaderboards and we expect as we refine locking / leaderboard rewards, more people will find the value in locking their Moments continuously.
On Top Shot Revenue Channels
With the new restructuring, NBA Top Shot is not under pressure to create revenue in a way that's not healthy or sustainable. We do want to focus on investing in the core experience and making it better for collectors. It is possible though we'll partner with some larger companies to provide more utility as well as get a different level of distribution than we can by ourselves, also we are exploring ways to enable our ecosystem to create revenue, for example through "repacks" or affiliate type systems.
On Collector Sentiment
The strategy going forward is simple: build the best collecting product and community.
Top Shot invented a new category, and we made more than our share of mistakes, but I think you’ll like what you see next few months.
Our priorities are:
1/ Tightening economic rules around supply and rewards to get to as much transparency, consistency, and clarity as possible – then build these clearly into the product user experience so it’s very straightforward to discover, for example, the value proposition of Leaderboards. Refer to our last two mailbags for some of the progress we’re making, starting with more clarity on Top Shot Score and Leaderboards (with more coming) as well as supply commitments core sets (including MGLE and Top Shot 50) and rookie Moments. More coming, including player caps.
2/ improving the product user experience specifically aimed at collectors – if you have the App, you can see the standard of product quality we’re going for. We see so much low-hanging fruit that we’re chipping away at, but the experience for savvy and new users alike on browser isn’t close to where it needs to be.
On Building a Better Collecting Experience and Enabling Set Collecting
Top Shot going forward is decidedly a collectible first, and what that means is you’ll see us double down on ways for collectors on our platform to feel the joy and delight of collecting.
Better personalization, and more customization in how you collect. Things like improving the Marketplace with the hover-over to watch highlights were a first step in really leaning into the quality of the Moments and away from the thumbnails, mint counts, etc.
On New Team Members
It has not served us well to dox public personas. I’ll be close to the roadmap and will be accountable to the community. I can say: the Head of Product is the same person that built the NBATS mobile app, and the Head of Commercial is from gaming.
On Top Shot Innovations and Inventions
In Top Shot or generally? I think we spent too much of our innovation and product work over the past two years scaling our platform efforts, rather than investing in the core collecting experience.
We're pulling the lever the other way and investing in our consumer experiences first.
I do not think we invented enough since we launched NBATS 2 years ago.
On Audio in Top Shot Moments
Yes. This is another thing we're getting unblocked ASAP. The product + engineering work is underway –– there are complexities around audio rights and partner approvals that had slowed this down, but we’re now pushing forward and will get this done for ambient sounds to start. No promised timeline yet.
On Tickets, Rewards, and Leaderboards
Yes you'll see further investment in non-Moment rewards (including tickets) but maybe more exciting, making the successes of team communities more accessible to the collector-base.
On Experiential Utility for International Collectors
International is a huge huge opportunity long term. Short term we need to fix the core product experience and simplify // tighten // clarify rules around the economic system.
On Marketplace Health
The major focus is the broader health of NBA Top Shot as a collectible community – which is underpinned by a healthy economy. So it's absolutely not just the top-line metrics.
On Community Oversight
I can't commit to timelines here, but we are working on much better formal community involvement - whether ombudsman or collectors council or a hybrid approach, we are working on doing this the right way.
On Defining Success for Top Shot in 2024
Success one year from today will be a healthy and vibrant economy underpinning a fun, engaging, easy-to-onboard mobile app with a p2p marketplace wired in that lets new collectors onboard seamlessly while letting power collectors manage, show off, and build their collections in the way we all want to. # of users doesn't have to be huge — what is more important is the depth of engagement.
In terms of our loyal customers: step one is communicating better, whether mailbag or these more regular AMAs. step two is delivering on long-standing issues - both economic and product / user experience. step three is deepening engagement.
On Top Shot’s Creator Ecosystem
I think one of our missteps previously was going for breadth rather than depth. We want to double down on the best folks we already have and work with you to create real value for more and more of our community. At the same time, we are creating better documentation, landing pages, and resources for more builders to get started.
On Partner Relationships
We have built this relationship with the NBA since 2019 through many ups and downs. We are committed to the partnership and they are as well. At the end of the day the best IP holders know that this category is here to stay, and investing in learning and building the foundation now is the right strategic move for the long term.
On Top Shot Score and Legendary Moments
The benefit of doing the LBJ anthology as we did was being part of the zeitgeist of the moment immediately after it happened, and we did emphasize the importance of leaderboards as part of that same campaign - but yes, you're right there has to be a better balance and I think you’ve seen the upcoming roadmap we have with MGLE and others is quite different, with TSS benefits going all way up to 5m+.
On Removing S2 and S3 Supply
To add to answers before - basically every challenge we've run or are running includes a deflationary component, and that's why I'm also looking into re-instating trade tickets for packs as well as more non-Moment rewards including dapper credit. Also we're investing in making the product experience of having a large collection more fun - fixing the filters, search / selection screens, Moment display itself, etc.
On Top Shot Packs Moving On Chain
Yes, some complications given NBATS was built earlier but the eng work on this is underway as well! Would unlock packs marketplace on Top Shot. All packs including previous would be eligible.
On In-Arena Growth Initiatives
We finally have the right infrastructure for in-arena events, experimented at Paris and Portland, and have Sacramento coming up - lots of work to get it right but like other things: we have the right team on the job.
Most importantly – we are committed and engaged to deliver for you. I'll be back here in the next couple months to speak to updates and improvements! Thank you again.