Leaders in web3, social media, DAOs, women’s communities, beauty, technology, and finance converged in Soho this week for “Playhouse @ NFT.NYC,” a pop-up hosted by social media startup platform Playground. The three-day “unconference” event at NFT.NYC  – the nation’s leading NFT expo – featured more than 50 creative companies, DAOs, and entrepreneurs on Playground’s platform coming out in full force to host, speak at, and attend the activities. Produced in partnership with gaming giant Animoca Brands and HerHouse, a web3 ecosystem of women builders focused on creating live activations and workshops, Playhouse was a clear hit. Playground also recently announced the launch of its multi-city, immersive event space also called “Playhouse” so its communities can connect IRL.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 22: (L-R) Animoca Brands Head of Tokenomics Mohamed Ezeldin, Angel Investor & HBFIT Founder Hannah Bronfman, Friends With Benefits Founder Will Griggs (speak at Playground’s Playhouse @ NFT.NYC on June 22, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Playground)

Playhouse @ NFT.NYC Holds Standout Panel on Future of Social Media

While each part of the festivities had something to recommend it, the event’s standout panel was “Building the Future of Social,” where a curated room of venture capital, web2 and web3 experts listened to a core group of changemakers break down what social media in web3 will look like. The panel featured Hannah Bronfman, activist and angel investor and founder of the digital health/beauty/fitness platform HBFIT; Jia Linda Yang, founder and CEO of Playground; Will Griggs, founder and New York City Head of Governance for the global DAO community Friends With Benefits ; Mohamed Ezeldin, Head of Tokenomics at Animoca Brands; and moderator Eric Spivak, founder of the marketing agency URCONDUIT.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 22: Playground’s Playhouse @ NFT.NYC on June 22, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Playground)

Hannah Bronfman of HBFIT on Instagram Growth

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 22: HBFIT Founder Hannah Bronfman attends Playground’s Playhouse @ NFT.NYC on June 22, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Playground)

Hannah Bronfman shared, “I’ve been literally doing this for 12 years now and I am just about to hit 1 million followers on Instagram. But people come on the platform and blow up overnight! When I think about it, I was probably one of the first Black creators who broke through the wellness world. But the value I was suddenly being given by the market, being my endorsers, the Adidas and P&Gs [Procter & Gamble] of the world, what I realized is that I’m opening doors for other people who look like me to get those dollars. What does the future of creators look like? It’s, ‘How do we put value on something that you actually built outside of these corporate dollars?’ Obviously, it’s great making money, but it would be even greater to make money on our own without having to go deal with ‘the man.’”

Playground Founder Jia Ling Yang on Social Media, Connection and Web3

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 22: Playground CEO & Founder Jia Ling Yang speaking on Future of Social Media in Web3 panel at Playground’s Playhouse @ NFT.NYC on June 22, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Playground)

Jia Ling Yang sparked applause in the room when she shared her vision for connecting people—one that brings together the online and offline worlds. “I think that ‘social media’ the way it is today just shouldn’t exist. I think Facebook is evil. There’s too much wrong with it. I see the next generation of social media, as ‘community media’ built around group features that encourage play— a home for your community to host events, projects and to facilitate connection online, in real life or in the metaverse. But it should intentionally strip out scrolling, filtering, and liking with an active, immersive experience that inspires people to participate and contribute. That way, web2 to web3 social goes from looking at people’s lives and feeling like, ‘I’m just watching it’ versus ‘I’m part of it, I’m participating in it, I’m experiencing it and I’m invited!’ We have to take social media from passive to active, from content consumption to experiential and then most importantly from centralized to decentralized.”

URCONDUIT Founder Eric Spivak on Social Media and Community Reset

Moderator Eric Spivak said, “Now more than anything, in terms of rewording, reworking, and renaming what this social experience is digitally, it’s so important to pay attention to, because we need that reset. We almost had that reset with COVID, but nobody stepped up to create something new that was mass-adopted, because so many people don’t understand it. So here we are, trying to understand it, and it’s why community-first startups like Playground and Friends With Benefits are so needed right now.”

Spivak segued from this thought by asking the panelists, “What do we feel is the expectation of a socially responsible way of reintroducing yourself to your friends and family? Because that’s what you forgot about potentially by leaving the Facebooks of the world and stepping into a space where you’re not in it for anonymity, but you’re in it for identity and branding yourself.”

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JUNE 22: VIP and guests at Playground’s Playhouse @ NFT.NYC on June 22, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Playground)

Hannah Bronfman on Web3 and Authentic Community

“When we start to think about the box that web2 put us in, the options for re-introducing ourselves in web3 are endless,” said Bronfman, who is a long-time

New York staple in the social circuit. She manages a devoted community of wellness, fashion, advocacy, and lifestyle-centric members. She is also one of the first Black female creators to gain fame and popularity on Instagram. Bronfman continued, “We’re all meeting ourselves at different points in our journey. My POV, as someone who fully lives their life online, is vulnerability and transparency at the end of the day are just fundamentally core. We can all relate to everything changing over the last 2.5 years. But that re-introduction of just meeting people where they are from web2 to web3, sharing the vulnerability and your life, is a key - I hate to use this word - metric. It’s a key fundamental for building community. Authentic community is everything we’re talking about and I think that’s going to be what the difference is for creators, and how they are thinking of moving over to web3 and what that looks like for them. Everything is rooted in community and the relationships that you are making online. How, obviously, that can translate to IRL is extremely important as well. But the reintroduction is limitless.”

Mohamed Ezeldin of Animoca Brands on “Stronger Together” Web3 Growth

“Going back to the value-add, it’s: ‘we are stronger together,’” explained Mohamed Ezeldin. The London native flew in to share his insights and expertise with investors and founders during NFT.NYC, where thousands of developers and creators are seeking ways to monetize digital communities. “I feel part of the issue in the web3 space is there’s a lot of people trying to extract value or speculate into it. People come in and they want to pay 100 bucks, and turn it into 1000 bucks overnight and it doesn’t work that way. I work with a lot of games and gaming companies, and it can take three to four to even five years to pull the trigger on a game. In crypto, they want it done by the end of the month otherwise it’s a failure. It’s also a sense of realization and understanding that, ‘yes, we have hyper growth’ in terms of technology, in the past 20-30 years. But it’s time to take a breath, slow down, see where we are exactly and what it is that we need to do so that we are not the ones who are suffering anymore.”

Who Attended and Spoke at Playground’s Playhouse @ NFT.NYC?

VIPs attending the panel included Anomaly ad agency Founding Partner Jason DeLand, LETS GET FR.EE music festival founders Jocelyn Cooper and Matthew Morgan, HerHouse co-founders Alexa Lombardo and Candace Stewart, members of BoysClub.ETH, Crypto Girl Gang, Animoca Brands, Carnival Art NFT founder Connie Ansaldi and MUSURE world founder Tano Bevacqua.

Other events throughout Playground’s Playhouse spotlighted the gaming community, funding women in crypto and web3, and branding for social impact. Those assembled heard remarks from a diverse array of speakers, such as Rob Fink, Community Engagement Manager of Jam City; McKenzie Elliott, Senior Manager of Gaming Developer Experiences at XBOX; Molly Dickson, founder of NFT collective Computer Cowgirls and Madison Page, the company’s Head of Strategy; and Verta Malloy, co-founder and CIO of online women’s gaming community The GameHers. Attendees also experienced a live NFT Gallery curated by Crypto Lady Gang, plus day-time roundtable discussions and fireside chats.

What Do the Playground and HerHouse Founders Say About Playhouse @ NFT.NYC?

Jia Ling Yang commented, “Crypto, DAOs, NFTs, gaming and web3 are skyrocketing in growth, but there’s still so much room for facilitating collaboration as we build a new digital future together, and more importantly holding space for in-person connection between digital communities of all stripes. It’s exciting to see this 3-day program come to life and kick off the first of many collaborations through Playhouse. We have powerful, diverse VCs and creative visionaries coming together under one roof from around the world and will enable communities to collaborate, co-create and connect. This is exactly what Playground was built for.”

HerHouse co-founder Alexa Lombardo observed, “HerHouse started in my living room as a space for women building in Web3 to get together for intimate conversation and connection, something you don’t get much of at these crypto conferences. At a crypto event during last year's Art Basel, all 43 women attending the event wound up gathering in the bathroom! That was where connections were made and collaborations got started among women. When it came time to organize an event for NFT.NYC, we knew we needed to create a home base for women, especially founders, creators and community leaders to have their own conversations, make connections and also just unwind.”

Lombardo continued, “These are all critical elements to fostering stronger collaboration across our different initiatives. Playground is the perfect partner for this, as Jia Ling and the team share our vision for cross-community collaboration, and we’re thrilled to be part of bringing the first of many Playhouse community activations to life.”