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Ryan Wyatt has quickly become a prominent figure in the crypto space since joining Polygon Labs early last year—but he’s arguably better known for his past in gaming and esports.
Under the gamer tag Fwiz, Wyatt was a fixture in the early Call of Duty esports scene, working as a commentator and later VP of Programming for Major League Gaming. He even co-wrote a bestselling book about the popular esports team OpTic Gaming. He then launched and grew YouTube Gaming from 2014 to 2022 as the company’s Global Head of Gaming.
Given his prominence in the gaming world, what ultimately pulled him into crypto? On the latest episode of Decrypt’s gm podcast, Wyatt said he "really got into just simply the idea of digital ownership, this idea that we're going to keep spending more money on digital items." He recognized, he said, that people "want more autonomy and ownership” over their digital items as both spending and affinity grow—and that blockchain enables that.
“I was immediately sold, right? I think there's an infinite amount of things that can be done in the space on this,” he said. “And that's what made me jump in with such conviction.”
Wyatt, who joined Polygon Studios as CEO in February 2022 and recently shifted into the president role at the rebranded Polygon Labs, said that he’s come to understand why some people are “very spirited” about the economic angle of cryptocurrency. But for him, embracing Web3 was all about seeing the potential future impact of true digital ownership.
The prospective benefits for gamers are obvious, even if some video game fans have vocally rejected NFTs. Gamers already shell out for digital items in games like Fortnite and Call of Duty that they can’t resell or use in other games and worlds. Blockchain-based games can potentially give players that level of control with broader advantages.
Interestingly, Wyatt said he chose Polygon Labs above other potential opportunities due to the ability to work with creators and builders across a wide array of verticals. He helped grow the creator economy at YouTube, and now wants to do the same for Web3 creators without being solely tethered to the gaming space.
“I wanted to expand outside of gaming, and see how all of this world is very interconnected,” he said. “That part, I felt pretty strongly about.” He added that while rival layer-1 platforms like Solana and Avalanche were certainly gaining steam, the Ethereum space already had established users and developers.
Wyatt also “loved” that the founders of Polygon—an Ethereum scaling network that enables faster and cheaper transactions than mainnet—acquired and integrated ZK scaling projects in 2021, signaling long-term ambitions. Furthermore, Wyatt believed he could help elevate Polygon by bringing his experience from the Web2 world.
“I also felt that where I could add value is helping with scaling, and helping add some of the non-Web3-native elements into Polygon to make it more multifaceted,” he said. “And so I just really clicked with Sandeep [Nailwal, Polygon co-founder] and the team because it felt like we were very complementary of each other's skill sets and weaknesses.”
Earlier in his career, Wyatt wrote in his OpTic Gaming book that he hoped to lead a company someday. Now he’s doing it, albeit in a very different industry. And he thinks the next huge tech giant or luminary will come from this industry.
"I have no doubt," he said, "even going as far as like, is the next Amazon already out there? Or that person—is a Jeff Bezos out there? The next Jeff Bezos is out of Web3. Watch out. He's coming. Hopefully he's building on Polygon."
Listen and subscribe to the gm podcast wherever you get your podcasts.