For the past 10 years, Alex Salnikov has been involved in the crypto world. Back when there was just Bitcoin, he applied his background in computer and data science to explore blockchain, digital ownership, and the expanding possibilities of the world’s financial systems. “Since then, I haven’t looked back,” Salnikov told Whitewall recently.
Salnikov is a Web3 native, and he has built financial products like on-and off-ramp services for fiat currencies, exchanges, and more. In 2019, he saw an exciting opportunity with NFTs and decided to co-create Rarible with Alexei Falin. The platform for artists and collectors aims to create, collect, and trade digital collectibles. As one of the largest and most popular multi-chain NFT marketplaces and protocols available, it empowers individuals everywhere to leverage the power of NFT technology. To learn more, Whitewall spoke with Salnikov.
WHITEWALL: What initially drew you to the crypto marketplace?
ALEX SALNIKOV: A lot of thinking went into what the next “big thing” would be in the blockchain space. Because I was already working in the industry, what really stuck out to me was the high barrier to entry for newcomers and the difficulty to capture the attention of more mainstream consumers.
We knew that we wanted to create something engaging and enticing. We brainstormed ideas involving DeFi, which felt like the default choice given its rising popularity, but we wanted to do something bigger and more fun. So we created several NFTs and traded them between team members, and it felt right to move in that direction.
WW: Rarible is a name that comes up over and over in the NFT space. How do you feel the platform is doing things differently?
AS: Our focus on community is unparalleled. We are the first community-owned NFT marketplace and take pride in carefully listening to the feedback of our users to better our platform. We’ve also curated our marketplace to put the emphasis on creators versus collections, creating an interface that acts more like a profile page than a collection page—so that users get a true feel for the creator behind the digital collection they’re viewing.
We’re also one of the first platforms to be both a marketplace and protocol. Our Rarible Protocol provides developers with the tools and technology stack to successfully build and maintain customized NFT marketplaces.
Finally, we take pride in our seamless user experience targeted at the mainstream consumer—offering NFT minting in under ten minutes, a mobile app, and credit card integrations to accept Visa and Mastercard payments—so users don’t have to defer to crypto when making NFT payments.
WW: How does being a platform that facilitates various purchasing methods impact Rarible?
AS: With so much media attention around NFTs at the moment, it’s easy to forget that we are still at the tip of the iceberg in terms of mainstream adoption. To lower the barrier to entry for those who are still new to Web3—and who may not yet be familiar with crypto wallets—we decided to implement Visa and Mastercard compatibility on our platform. This helps us cater to both experienced and new crypto users, empowering us to grow our community and encourage greater participation beyond the existing NFT ecosystem.
WW: How would you say the NFT marketplace has changed the most since founding Rarible?
AS: Rarible launched with the goal of making NFT technology widely accessible and demystifying the concept of digital ownership. This still remains true today and was a unified vision across the entire ecosystem. Fast-forward three years, we’re seeing significant adoption of NFT across major mainstream companies and communities.
Now, our marketplace is emphasizing keeping the space decentralized and tailored to the countless Web3 communities in existence. We’re bullish on community marketplaces dominating the future of NFT trading. To make this vision a reality, we launched the Rarible Protocol and made it free to use by creators and developers across the ecosystem.
We’re continuing to enhance our ecosystem of custom community marketplaces launched on the Rarible Protocol. Our protocol is the first turnkey solution for NFT collections looking to launch standalone, customized storefronts that aren’t tied to a centralized, aggregated marketplace.
So far, we have collaborated with a number of unique collections to launch their own tailored storefronts, including the historic CryptoPunks V1 collection and the popular Degenerate Ape Academy collection.
WW: What in your NFT collection do you hold with diamond hands?
AS: I have over 100 NFTs in my collection, including the first NFT the Rarible team created before the marketplace launched. Some that I particularly love are my Doodle, mfers NFT, which is my current profile picture on Twitter. And, of course, my $RARI GANG: THE VALIDATOR #7 collectible. Collectibles that capture my attention are the ones that are the most fresh and unique—particularly 3-D and augmented reality items.