An inside look at Wormhole Labs with CEO Phil Ranta
Phil’s path in the creator space began when he started working as a comedian through college. He then gained operator experience in full-screen during the beginning of his career.
Recently, Phil was the Head of Creators at Mobcrush, followed by the Head of Gaming Creators at Facebook. Now, Phil uses what he’s learned throughout his career to build Wormhole Labs—a live representation of the real world that’s crowd-generated.
He shared an inside look at his 15 years of experience working with creators, how he’s navigating brand opportunities for Wormhole Labs, and where creators can seek opportunities in the virtual space.
Applying previous experience working with creators
While working at Facebook, Phil had the opportunity to build out his department how he wished. Using what he knew about Facebook platform usage, he honed in on live videos to create a competitive advantage. He drove success by focusing on community-first and monetization.
Phil learned three key takeaways while working at Facebook that led to a bottoms-up platform play for Wormhole Labs:
- It has to be mobile-first.
With 3.5 billion smartphones in circulation across the world and virtual reality technology lacking, a mobile-first experience is crucial. Highlighting a mobile-first experience provides Wormhole Labs an easy platform to build their business around.
- It needs to feel like Facebook.
Facebook revolves around the concept of users wanting to know what’s going on and providing easy access to information. But there’s a delicate balance to strike between too much information and highlighting key events, such as Coachella, that will draw users in.
- The experience needs to draw on gamers’ knowledge.
Using what we’ve learned from video games as the forefront of avatar-to-avatar communication, core gamers should be able to apply this knowledge to the Wormhole experience. For example, tapping on somebody should allow you to chat with them, as is the case in most video games.
“I was pulling on everything from why a user would want to be inside this platform and how to make it easy enough for them, to why would a creator want to invest their time and energy on this platform, to why would a brand want to spend their money here instead of Facebook.”
How Wormhole Labs is creating brand opportunities
Luring in brands and helping them understand this new platform isn’t always easy. Pushback is inevitable. Brands have fears around the unknown, measuring success with a new platform, and fears based on experience with other social platforms.
Phil focuses on finding brave brands who will grow with Wormhole and sells the opportunity to them, highlighting three features:
- Provide solutions for gaps that exist and resonate with brands.
Wormhole Labs is creating a platform that provides a solution for bringing attention to events and causes around time and location. This type of platform doesn’t currently exist, making it a unique solution for brands willing to give it a go.
- Avatars inherently create brand opportunities.
Through skins and item sales, avatars offer many opportunities for brands to take advantage of representing themselves, similar to how Fortnite has been able to interact with DC, Marvel, and Star Wars.
- We are creating an opportunity for branded moments.
Brands can celebrate moments, like opening new locations, by standing up larger activations. These moments in time are gamified and fun and provide users the chance to interact with specific brands for special occasions.
“I’ve been in digital long enough to know there’s no rush. You just have to keep telling your story. You have to believe your story; you’ve got to keep developing the product. It’s got to be iterative. You’ve got to keep putting one foot in front of the other.”
Upcoming opportunities for creators in the virtual space
- Creators realize the power of live activation.
To optimize live experiences (think Tanacon if it had been successful), a digital extension needs to coexist. Digital extensions that currently exist are insufficient when it comes to highlighting the power of a moment in time. This is what Wormhole Labs strives to highlight as a digital extension.
- Getting your fans in an environment where they feel close to you.
Cameo is interesting because it’s the first time where we’ve been able to connect with and feel close to celebrities. Likewise, on Wormhole, you can feel as if you’re in the same room as celebrities. Sure, it’s their avatar, but their avatar represents them, which still creates those feelings of closeness.
- It’s an easy way to do “always on” entertainment.
Wormhole offers a “super social” mode that allows users to leave behind breadcrumbs for others to explore. This entertainment option speaks to those who like or want to share their location frequently and often with their following.
“It’s a lot of different and new ways to provide content and context to your audience.”
One final thought on digital creation
I’m excited about the future of Wormhole Labs and everything Phil is doing. Before wrapping up the conversation, Phil shared that his current favorite creator is Beeple. Beeple has been a digital creator for years. He recently sold a compilation of his thousand-plus artworks for $69.3 million, purely driven by passion after not making money for years.
Phil left us with one final piece of old school idealism around digital creation: “If it’s truly driven by passion and skill, and it’s somebody who’s not there for the cash grab, and it’s not there because they want to look cool...eventually your time will come.”