Everipedia: The Makings of a WeFunder Success Story
- Mar 22, 2018
Discussion with Co-Founder & CCO, Mahbod Moghadam
- Everipedia raised $149K from 201 investors via WeFunder on December 17, 2016
- Recently raised a $30M series A
- Top 1,000 most visited sites on the internet
- Larry Sanger, Co-Founder of Wikipedia recently joined as Chief Information Officer
- An Airdrop token is going to enable all contributors to be incentivized to produce content
- Vision: The Wikipedia of the blockchain era
In just over a years time, Everipedia has proven that equity crowdfunding can help to get crazy ideas like reinventing Wikipedia for a new generation to get off the ground and into the hands of millions of readers online.
The Everipedia team has skyrocketed the valuation for all 201 original WeFunder investors by producing a blockchain empowered Wikipedia that enables all contributors to share in the gains of the content they produce. And in doing so they are working to create a superior Wikipedia, which includes bringing on acclaimed Co-Founder of Wikipedia, Larry Sanger who is now the Chief Information Officer.
Check out my incredible discussion below with the brilliant Mahbod Moghadam, Co-Founder & Chief Community Officer of Everipedia.
CL: Around a year ago Everipedia raised a round of capital via WeFunder, and ended up raising $149K. How did you utilize that capital to build the platform and how did it help you to raise the latest $30M round.
MM: WeFunder was huge for us. We did a total raise of $1M from VCs at that time including the $149K from WeFunder. And the WeFunder raise in many ways ended up paying the most dividends for us, because our investors got behind us and found ways to help us grow.
For instance, one investor who made a small dollar investment, less than $1K actually ended up launching Everipedia in Germany. He really loved what we are doing and decided he wanted to start producing content and driving people to it in Germany.
We really loved our experience with WeFunder, and were surprised with the level of sophistication associated with it. Essentially our investors via WeFunder were given a SAFE that looks exactly like the SAFE investments you see at Y-Combinator.
CL: If you can disclose, what would returns look like for investors via WeFunder last year at the latest valuation from the raise?
MM: Without getting into specifics, I can tell you that last year our WeFunder investors got in at a $22M valuation and we just recently completed a $30M raise at a much higher valuation so they have done extremely well.
CL: For those that don't know how do you define Everipedia as a business?
MM: Everipedia is a knowledge project, similar to "Genius" that I previously built which focused on the music industry. At our core we aim to fulfill Larry Sanger, Co-Founder of Wikipedia's vision back in 2001 by implementing blockchain technology to enable all contributors to collectively have a financial stake in the success of Everipedia.
In fact, Larry recently joined as Chief Information Officer, after working with us for some time, because he believes Everipedia completes the original vision of Wikipedia. When Larry, and the other members of Wikipedia were building it originally they thought, "What if it could be collectively owned by all contributors?" But there was no blockchain in 2001. Now there is and we can make that a reality.
CL: In addition to being collectively owned by using a token drop, are there any other issues you hope Everipedia solves?
MM: Wikipedia is great, but it was built for internet 1.0 and hasn't changed since then. Another issue with Wikipedia is it's deletionism, which is actually what initially got me excited for the idea of Everipedia. I originally had a Wikipedia page made in 2013 and then they deleted it even though I was excited about it because they basically said I wasn’t important enough to have a page.
But in 2015, I was talking at UCLA, and Sam Kazemian, Co-Founder & President of Everipedia, was a senior at UCLA and came to my talk and showed me my Everipedia page. I said, "If I want my own wiki page, and they give it to me, there are probably millions more who want it the same way." And that has turned out to be true. Regularly, we are a top 1,000 site in the US.
CL: In many ways it sounds like the vision is to ultimately replace Wikipedia. Would that be a fair statement to make?
MM: I'd love to live in a world where this is all one thing. We wanted to build an expansion pack to Wikipedia, but then we realized that tokenizing Everipedia and giving our contributors financial incentive would enable us to provide a straight up superior version of Wikipedia.
Who knows what will happen. We are still working on Everipedia 1.0, but we already have a big community. Like I said, we are always in the top 1,000 most visited sites, have hundreds of active contributors, and are just months away from launching the token.
The airdrop date for the token is set and we believe this will become the blockchain knowledge project that becomes the stable of the internet.
CL: Unlike many other companies you aren't pursuing an ICO, rather deciding to just airdrop tokens to users. Why not pursue the bountiful opportunities currently available in the ICO markets?
MM: In the ICO world there is a utility token and a security token. This is a clear distinction. We think Everipedia is the best version of utility token currently on the blockchain. The airdrop automatically gets us a huge community, but the money for the tokens comes from Galaxy VC.
Galaxy VC are behind the EOS blockchain platform and are providing the $30M to give to our contributors to have them be financially incentivized to grow our content. And Galaxy has given $30M, but there is currently room for up to $300M.
We are working on building the underlying structure that will allow everyone using EOS to have financial benefit from being a part of the our very lofty project. With tokens its different because what each token represents is ownership of content. The concept behind the tokens is now they own the content. And the site is hosted on the token. It’s a really great fit for what we are trying to accomplish.
CL: The user base is up to 3 million monthly users. How are you driving traffic to the website?
MM: Right now we are still in the expansion pack of Wikipedia status, so we’ve discovered niches that get a lot of traffic. For example, rappers have a hard time getting Wikipedia pages, and historically there has been concern that women and individuals of color struggle to get on Wikipedia, so that is a focus area that drives a lot of traffic.
We also go after social media stars, because they also struggle to get Wikipedia pages even if they have 10 million followers and people are searching for their wiki page. So we have Insta celebrities and social media celebrities.
Lastly, we focus on Everipedia news because Wikipedia is often criticized for not covering breaking news, and instead people are going to places like Reddit and Twitter. So with the community of contributors we have, we can sift through the noise of Reddit and Twitter and provide actual news worth reading, which also is a big traffic driver for us.
CL: What is the monetization strategy of Everipedia?
MM: There are several ways we can monetize this, but right now we focus on a few. We have Everipedia+, because there is a huge blackmarket of people trying to get Wikipedia page. Basically, if you pay us a $400 set up fee we will make it for you. You can make it yourself for free, but we can also make it for you.
We think we we can dethrone Yelp because Yelp is full of partisan shouting on the platform, but it seems like people would prefer to focus on citations and facts. Imagine every business, service and professional on the internet has a page where all the info comes from citations and sources. That's the culture that we want to build. We want everyone to have an Everipedia article and Everipedia+ is one of the ways we do that.
We've also found that we can likely make tokens a self sustaining revenue stream by building inflation into the token and getting creative with how the tokens are utilized. We will see what happens. Larry Sanger said this needs to be bigger than Wikipedia, so we have a long way to go.
CL: Notable investors such as Marc Andreesen have spoken very highly of you. What vision are you selling for Everipedia 3 and 5 years down the road that we should be ready for?
M: It would be cool if this becomes Wikipedia, and instead of non-profit it becomes a decentralized unowned entity. The first and one of the biggest of an entirely new structure of how capitalism can work on the internet, and let the platform where tens or hundreds of millions of people can own content rather than Mark Zuckerberg owning the platform.
It's exciting for me because on the one hand I like capitalism. I really like startups and believe the US is one of the only with such entrepreneurial culture. But it has big problems too,. Centralized ownership leads to the control of money being in the hands of few people.
This new approach appeals to my socialist side. Socialism and collectivism work while keeping incentives that make capitalism so successful. Maybe that’s what tokens can do for us. It’s mainly I was excited about money becoming electronic and now what its turning into is even crazier than what i thought back then, its ownership becoming electronic.
CL: How did the term "Thug Wikipedia" come to be and how does it represent what you stand for?
MM: It actually came about because the first time I met Sam, the co-founder of Everipedia and he told me the idea, I said "Oh, you want to build a Thug Wikipedia." And he said “That’s exactly what I want to do.” And it also became our first T-Shirt for the company as a joke.
You can actually go to the thugwikipedia url and it will direct you to Everipedia. Largely, it is a joke, but it is in fact a word of Indian origin, and in hip hop it can be a good thing. When I originally said it, I meant it in the way Tupac says it in his music, which is basically about him disrupting the marching band and beating to the tune of his own drum, which is what we want to do. But by no means are we trying to break any laws.
Everipedia is one of those ideas that feels a lot like going back in time to the dotcom era. What the team is doing is creating a knowledge base more powerful than any encyclopedia or wikipedia, because they have found a real purpose for the blockchain.
Ownership of content and the ability to be a collective unit that writes and provides news and data on all people, places, things, ideas, etc. while being incentivized in a monetary way makes a great deal of sense. It can empower a whole new level of knowledge and information being unlocked by an even more powerful internet, thanks to the blockchain.
And thanks to 201 small time angel investors via WeFunder, we will get to see Everipedia come to life before our eyes. Luckily for the Everipedia investors, they will also get to share in the major upside over the coming years as the company continues to grow and build in prominence.