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Web3 vs blockchain vs crypto

A mental model to identify three general user personas.

8/25/2022by Nigel Lee

If you’ve heard of Bitcoin, then you’ve probably heard of a bunch of other jargon and mumbo jumbo like "blockchain", "web3", "wagmi", "lfg".

On behalf of subculture, I apologize. I personally don’t think we’re doing ourselves any favors by being all mystical and snobbish on concepts and technical lingo.

However, it’s also worth highlighting this weirdness because it tells us something about the industry (its customers, personas, and user segments). That is, you can almost tell which user group someone belongs to based on the jargon they use.

Just like how an accent could indicate where someone grew up, using terms like "MRR" or "ARPU" would make you think a person has worked in SaaS (software-as-a-service). Saying things like "MECE" or "PS sessions" or "top-down comms is indicative of a consulting background.

We have much jargon

Web3 has a lot of jargon.

There are universal terms that anyone in the industry would recognize, such as:

  • WAGMI - we’re all gonna make it

  • HODL - a misspelling of the word “hold”

  • GM - good morning (this is a weird one, I know)

Then there are slightly more niche terms:

  • IL - impermanent loss (DeFi)

  • MEV - miner extractable value (DeFi / investing / devs)

  • 10k - referring to a project with 10,000 unique NFTs (NFT)

Web3 is quickly becoming a big industry with distinct sub-markets. If you’re just starting out here, you should take some time to explore which markets you’d be most interested in. If you’re trying to explain the industry to someone new, I think it’s also helpful to point them to sub-markets or use cases that would be more interesting for them.

Web3 vs blockchain vs crypto

With the above established, let’s get back to the title of this post. What do you think are the user groups that these three major terms represent?

Web3 vs blockchain vs crypto

For me it's the following:

Web3 is a movement

The term implies a Web1 and Web2 that came before it. It’s branding for a new era of the internet. Decentralization, transparency, and self-custody are some of the concepts and core beliefs that come with the use of this term. Accordingly, the users that belong to this group will have these things top of mind as jobs-to-be-done.

Blockchain is tech

Sometimes I find myself surprised that web3 people don’t even understand the underlying technology of the industry. This is where the "blockchain" people come in. These are likely developers or nerds that geek out over the underlying tech of the industry. Important things to them are security, ease of building, and the support network required to build cool stuff.

Crypto is a business

Finally, this group will care most about APYs (annual returns), token price, and "wen moon" (when will they get rich). They probably couldn’t care less about the innovations in technology or core tenets or web3. If you want to cater to this group, then your tokenomics game should be pumped.

These aren’t the only user groups in this industry and more sub-cultures are popping up as the market matures. It’ll be interesting to see how they interact with their web2 counterparts as web3 grows larger.

Know the market and then dive in

So who’s your customer? A web3 person? A blockchain person? Or maybe it's a crypto investor.

If you’re keen to dive into web3 (or blockchain or crypto), I hope this simple mental model is a helpful first step to get an initial vibe of the market.