Decrypt’s Art, Fashion, and Entertainment Hub.
Roll, a New York-based social token infrastructure company, today announced it has raised $10 million in Series A funding led by IOSG Ventures.
Other participants in the round include Animoca Brands, Alchemy, and Huobi Ventures, all joining existing Roll investors such as the CEO of Messari Ryan Selkis, former CTO of Coinbase Balaji Srinivasan, and Gary Vaynerchuk, the CEO of VaynerMedia, among others.
What are social tokens?
Social tokens are a relatively new yet increasingly popular method of rewarding content creators—artists, musicians, writers, and social influencers.
“Social tokens, or social money, represent both an ownership stake and utility within a community,” Bradley Miles, CEO of Roll, told Decrypt.
These tokens create markets run by blockchain-basedthat belong exclusively to the creators and their audience rather than any centralized intermediaries.
Miles also drew parallels with traditional web 2.0 systems like Patreon, Substack, and YouTube, where it’s impossible to have a propergovernance model in place. In other words, such platforms don’t allow creators to let their community govern decisions, including how their social tokens are spent.
Launched in 2019, Roll is built on theblockchain, which, according to Miles, not only lets members own a piece of their community, but also ensures those social tokens’ interoperability across the decentralized web.
“The innovation of Roll is using social tokens to bridge Web2 and Web3 systems,” he said.
By using Ethereum smart contracts, Roll's social tokens can interact with both traditional web platforms and decentralized applications (dApps) built by third-party developers, including decentralized finance () protocols.
“We call social tokens on Roll ‘social money’ because our APIs allow these tokens to integrate directly into traditional financial systems and social platforms as well as Web3 financial infrastructure like,” added Miles. He said that some Roll creators are using the service to grant exclusive access to their Discord or Telegram channels to their token holders.
As Miles explained, “this feature allows an application layer for social token ownership to form and gives dedicated members the economic benefits of being early in a community.”
“DAO governance is beginning to occur at the community level as well. Creators are letting their community govern its decisions and how their social tokens are spent,” he said.
Roll’s one notable feature is allowing the artists to create their own markets and trade the social tokens they mint. Some tokens like WHALE from creator Whaleshark are even listed on major exchanges like Huobi.
And there are likely to be more use cases on the horizon, as Roll is currently engaged in talks with platforms, DAOs, agencies, and even creators who want to use Roll’s tools to mint social tokens on behalf of other creators in their network.
“This is where we see the most potential for exponential growth in the category,” Miles told Decrypt.
Becoming the Stripe for social tokens
When asked whether Roll would consider integrating other blockchains that boast higher transaction throughput and reduced fees, Miles said that “Ethereum currently represents the best version of the decentralized web for Roll.”
However, “if a viable DeFi ecosystem emerges on another chain and creators want to leverage those tools, it’s something we’ll begin to seriously consider,” he added.
As for the fresh funding, Miles said the new investment “allows us to build out our APIs and begin to integrate social tokens natively into the fabric of the social web.”
Beyond that, Roll is looking to do "what Stripe did for e-commerce," said Miles, adding that Roll is aiming to open up their APIs to more developers early next year.