NEAR’s February Town Hall Highlights

March 2, 2022 — NEAR Team

Web3 is a vast, interconnected global network of open source protocols, projects, and apps. As Web3’s momentum grows, the NEAR Foundation is seeing adoption in several key regions, and town halls are where this global community meets to share, learn, teach, and push the Web3 movement and NEAR adoption forward. 

The February NEAR Town Hall was an exploration of the people and places helping the NEAR ecosystem expand both online and offline. Here is a recap of the February Town Hall, which can be seen in full on NEAR’s YouTube channel or below. 

Growing the ecosystem, talent base, and global awareness

In her opening remarks, NEAR Foundation CEO Marieke Flament touched on a number of topics, particularly the need to bring talented makers, creative projects, and investment to the ecosystem—all of which will help NEAR reach 1 million weekly active users. 

Flament also shared some numbers from the NEAR community. Through February, the NEAR community onboarded 40,000 students and 100 NEAR-certified teachers (more on this below), while $108 million in grants are now spread across 459 recipients. The ecosystem also has over 300 projects and DAOs, 95 million transactions, and 4.2 million wallets. 

Flament also noted that NEAR boasts the fastest developer growth among blockchains, showcasing the appeal of a fast, secure and scalable platform. 

Introducing Pagoda: the first-ever Web3 startup platform

Julie Bissinger, Head of Operations at Pagoda, also spoke on the launch of Pagoda—the first-ever Web3 startup platform, which is built on NEAR. 

“We’re building the next generation of Web3 startups,” said Bissinger. “We [need] to double down on really enabling a more seamless experience for developers and entrepreneurs to launch their own Web3 businesses.” 

“While we’re building a lot, we’re also aggregating existing applications and platforms across the NEAR ecosystem into a single, simple experience,” she added. “Web3 doesn’t have Web2’s stack of tools to help startups get going… [and] every service we use now in Web2 will need to be rebuilt to integrate with WEb3 to support wallets, cryptographic primitives, and blockchain data, among many other things.”

Bissinger emphasized that Pagoda is a place for developers and entrepreneurs to quickly launch their startups, with all of the necessary tools to do so. 

Pagoda engineer Bowen Wang also gave the Town Hall audience updates on the NEAR protocol, including a raft of scaling solutions on Aurora that help it run faster. 

Updates from the Marketing Team on global awareness

Chris Ghent, NEAR Foundation’s Head of Global Brand and Partnerships, spoke about leveraging Web2 marketing strategies for Web3, including bus wrap ads in Miami during Art Basel for Mintbase’s collaboration with Deadmau5 and Portugal. the Man for the NFT single “This Is Fine”. 

“Think about artists as folks who are driving the conversation around change and adoption of new technology with partners like the Mau5trap team and Deadmau5,” he said. 

Ghent showcased recent bus ads in New York City that touted NEAR’s carbon neutral blockchain, as well as ones in San Francisco aimed at NEAR’s partnership with the privacy-preserving Brave browser (a MetaBUILD 2 sponsor), encouraging people to “be brave” and become “builders” on NEAR. The Marketing Team also promoted NEAR ecosystem news and content with partners like Reddit and Coindesk. 

Yadira Blocker, Experiential Marketing Lead at NEAR Foundation, then gave updates on the NEAR community’s activities at ETHDenver.  

“Two weeks ago, NEAR activated during ETHDenver with the angle of building a multi-chain Open Web future,” said Blocker. “Our approach was broken into two parts: the first comprised the NEAR #BUIDL Week Lounge, followed by the ETH Denver hackathon. The Lounge was live for three days. We had 26 sessions total—everything from panels, talks, and networking sessions.” 

Get the full run-down by reading “NEAR at ETHDenver 2022 Highlights”. 

NEAR Education is onboarding tens of thousands of students

NEAR Education’s Sherif Abushadi highlighted the ecosystem’s expanded educational offerings.

“Since the start of the year, we have trained just about 40,000 students, 75% of those coming through training partners that we engaged a couple of quarters ago—Q3 of 2021—who are just now getting warmed up,” said Abushadi. “Only about 100 of those people have earned the exclusive NEAR Certified Developer [NCD] certification at this point by submitting original demos of their own design that have been reviewed by experts in our ecosystem.”

Abushadi noted that almost 300 universities now have active NEAR ambassadors on campus, while 30 companies are actively recruiting NEAR Certified Developers through jobs.near.university. He also spotlighted the efforts of a few individuals and groups, including Hiba M., a former NCD student who is helping bring NEAR to the Middle East.

Be sure to check out Sherif’s full talk for more education and NCD student updates, as well as information on NEAR Hispano, the effort to bring NEAR to Latin America. 

NEAR’s core funding vision

Josh Daniels, Head of Funding at NEAR Foundation, spoke on NEAR Foundation’s core funding vision.

“Over the last year or so we’ve really been spending a lot of time deeply thinking about what this funding means within the NEAR ecosystem,” said Daniels. “As part of that, we’ve developed this vision we call the NEAR Foundation Funding Platform, which is at its core focused on driving success of the platform by providing clear and efficient support across four key pillars.” 

Daniels detailed the support for the first pillar, the “Creator Triangle”, which includes ensuring that creative projects have incentives and get the necessary bootstrap funding. He also dove into funding aimed at the other three pillars: providing access to those projects supporting the ecosystem, community support, and aligning incentives by financing key deals and partners. 

Check out Josh’s presentation for 2021 funding growth numbers for NEAR projects, as well as for more information on how builders can get involved. 

NEAR partnerships and Regional Hub growth

NEAR CEO Marieke Flament returned to the virtual stage with an announcement on NEAR’s partnership with Elliptic, which will bring more robust on-chain security to the ecosystem. She also highlighted recent news that Allbridge is now integrating NEAR with EVM and non-EVM chains. 

Flament then moderated a panel on ecosystem’s focus on regional hubs. Joining Flament were Rune Bentien of Move Capital, who is leading hub efforts in the United Kingdom and Europe, and Claudio Cossio, who is doing the same in Latin America. 

This Region Hub panel is definitely worth watching in its entirety, especially for NEAR community members interested in launching hubs in other regions around the globe. 

Read NEAR in February: ETHDenver, Pagoda Launch, and More to see what the NEAR community was up to in February. 


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