Headless Marketplaces: Go Where the Wallets Are

Composability has been a holy grail for crypto, and we’re on the verge of an explosion of it. The reason is a new go to market strategy for founders may have just become viable: go to where the wallets are, build a headless marketplace.

A headless marketplace is a market leveraging global, onchain identity, money, and data while distributing locally—wherever a user’s wallet already is (e.g. inside a Telegram group chat or Farcaster feed.)

Since major social platforms cut API/platform access, bootstrapping a new app or marketplace demanded a miracle in distribution hacking.  The rise of decentralized social protocols and wallet infrastructure might simplify things a bit.

Thats because its now possible to go to where the users are, without fear of platform risk—and crucially, because decentralized social networks leverage crypto wallets for identity, its now possible to tap users' existing identity, money, and data in your application too.  

Historically, most marketplaces have been destinations. Users have to travel to a website or open an app, sign up for a fresh account, input a credit card and profile data, etc. With headless marketplaces, the destination can be the user’s wallet in whichever application they're already spending time.  The result is much lower friciton to transacting.

About a week ago, I wrote a tweetstorm on this topic and used Bountycaster as an early example of a headless marketplace:

A great example is @bountycaster (on Farcaster), which leverages the social network for its "local" distribution. By tagging the Bountycaster bot in a cast, users can participate in a global marketplace for talent or bounties. Anyone can build an interface to view or transact with the market’s liquidity (and a number already have) but users don't need to go anywhere but their @warpcast feed to participate.

Since then, Farcaster launched Frames. Frames leverage Facebook’s OpenGraph standard to enable third party developers to build “mini apps.”  These apps can pass signed messages from Farcaster user wallets, enabling arbitrary, structured interactions with third party applications directly from the feed. Running with Bountycaster as the example, a soon to be built Bountycaster Frame will enable users to bid on a bounty or pitch in funds to a bounty, directly from an embed in their social feed.

For founders, the takeaway is that you now have the ability to tap directly into existing user attention, engagement, identity and data as you plan your GTM, the same way that Zynga famously did with Facebook. Only this time, users’ money will be there too, and their identity and data can’t be rugged from underneath you.

When a new go to market strategy becomes clear, a wave of innovation and opportunity often follows. In 2024, you can go to where the wallets are.

My DMs are open if that is what you are doing.

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