Pacman, the formerly pseudonymous CEO of the fast-growing NFT marketplace Blur, beat the engagement farmers to it.
“Web2 me vs. web3 me,” he posted on Twitter late last night, revealing his previously unknown identity in a thread.
The move came in a world where online personas are the shopfront of valuable brands and multi-billion-dollar tokens, and outing someone’s true identity still can be a controversial topic. Previous identity revelations, such as that of the Bored Ape Yacht Club founders, have sparked rage in the crypto community. The identity of other founders, such as Chef Nomi of Sushiswap and, most famously, Bitcoin’s Satoshi Nakamoto, remain a mystery.
The 24-year-old entrepreneur, whose legal name is Tieshun Roquerre, had been working under the retro game-inspired pseudonym for 401 days, while he and a team set out to build an NFT marketplace for pro traders, fit to challenge industry heavyweight OpenSea.
He had previously asked if he could be interviewed pseudonymously. But now, he is stepping into the light.
Web2 me vs Web3 me— Pacman | Blur.io (@PacmanBlur) February 22, 2023
A thread ???? pic.twitter.com/9BKyNdan3x
“It’s not like I'm hard core anonymous or anything like that,” Pacman said in an interview with The Block hours before the identity reveal. “Since we started Blur, I've just liked having that choice.”
“I like how having Pacman as a character can only represent the brand, so it doesn’t really exist outside of Blur, from a branding perspective,” he added, conceding that it was only a “matter of time” before someone wrote a thread about his identity to a captive audience on Twitter.
Blur has captured the imagination of the NFT community since its launch in October 2022. A schedule of airdropped tokens to frequent traders and loyal users kept people returning. It finally launched its long-awaited token last week, with a fully diluted market cap sitting at around $3 billion, according to CoinMarketCap data. The company recently completed a second fundraise after its $11 million seed, which earned it a billion-dollar valuation.
The person behind the curtain
Tieshun Roquerre dropped out of high school in 2016 at the age of 17 to join Y Combinator’s accelerator program. This led him down the path to MIT where he studied math and computer science. He was awarded the Thiel Fellowship – a prize created by billionaire Peter Thiel, which grants gifted students $100,000 to drop out and pursue things such as research or building a business. Roguerre founded Namebase in 2018, a decentralized domain name tracker that was later sold to Namecheap in 2021.
It was around this time he started trading NFTs. “As we sold the business, I minted a Blitmap and held it up to its all-time high, which was around 30 ETH, and sold it. I was completely hooked afterwards,” he said. Blitmaps are an NFT collection featuring 8-bit drawings of a “sci-fi fantasy universe” which launched in 2021.
Fast forward to October 2022, and he — alongside his co-founder — launched the first iteration of Blur.
Blur’s Binance plan
Since then, Blur has snatched market share of trading volume from bigger players, overtaking OpenSea in December 2022 and extending its lead each month since then. This is partially due to its play for the fastest growing segment of the market — which is pro trading.
Further growth will come from using the Binance playbook, says Pacman.
“We focus on the NFT natives first and from there we can expand, similar to how Binance expanded downmarket and broadened the offering,” he said.
Along with this, Pacman expects growth to come from products which spring out of the community as more contributors build on the protocol. The eventual aim would be to mirror what MakerDAO did with targeted sub-communities, which build out specific parts of the larger project.
“I think a model like that would be very beautiful, because the goal is to build infrastructure that can be controlled by the community,” he added.
What remains to be seen is whether the token will stick, and if Blur’s play for the hearts and minds of the NFT community through decentralization will pan out. Pacman thinks that to own a stake and decision-making power in the future of the business will be a big enough differentiator to challenge incumbent, and crucially tokenless, heavyweight OpenSea long-term.
For now, what worries him most is not moving fast enough.
“You know that if you don’t build something you want to ship, someone else will,” he said. “We have a lot of ideas and a high level of confidence that those will be well-received."
© 2023 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.