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Breakpoint 2023: Disrupting Marketplaces: Web3 Ticketing for the People

Michael Saunders, CEO of Captain Labs, details the transformation of ticketing with Web3 technology, aiming to create a fairer marketplace.

The notes below are AI generated and may not be 100% accurate. Watch the video to be sure!


During Breakpoint 2023, Michael Saunders, CEO of Captain Labs, unveiled his vision for a new era of digital marketplaces centered around Web3 tech, specifically targeting the ticketing industry. Drawing from his extensive experience in e-commerce and his success with, which was later acquired by Grubhub, Saunders identifies problems with centralized marketplaces, such as high fees and lack of ownership for both customers and merchants. He explains how blockchain technology, particularly Solana, offers a chance to reconstruct marketplaces with consumer power and data privacy at their core.

Key Points:

Michael Saunders' Background and Qualifications

Michael Saunders comes from a strong background in digital marketplaces, particularly in the food delivery sector with his creation of in 1997. His experiences with the growth and acquisition of this service by Grubhub, along with his time as a senior executive there, gave him insight into the evolution of marketplaces and the impact of centralization. He witnessed firsthand how transaction fees increased and how power shifted away from merchants and customers, ultimately harming the marketplace ecosystem with inflated ordering costs.

Web3 and the Future of Marketplaces

With the advent of blockchain, Saunders saw a chance for a "do-over" in marketplace structure. He is particularly impressed with Solana's offerings that align with his vision for e-commerce. He envisages a marketplace where data is owned by consumers, allowing them greater control and freedom. This model contrasts sharply with centralized marketplaces that profit from controlling customer information and limit the merchant's relationship with the consumer.

Disrupting the Ticketing Industry with XP

Tackling the ticketing industry, Saunders discusses the creation of XP on the Solana blockchain, a platform that aims to rectify current ticketing issues. XP leverages a protocol called tamper-proof to ensure the security and transferability of tickets as NFTs. The platform has introduced over 10 million tickets to the market, marking a significant step towards integrating real-world assets with blockchain technology. XP facilitates payment options ranging from USDC to traditional credit cards and envisions tickets as collectibles that can grow in value and meaning.

The Role of Solana and the Real-World Connection

Saunders emphasizes the critical role of Solana in building a functioning, Web3-based ticketing system. Solana's capabilities allow for fast, scalable transactions—elements essential for real-world applicability. XP seeks to bridge the gap between blockchain's digital promise and tangible, real-world assets, such as concert tickets, by ensuring ease of use and a seamless customer experience.

Facts + Figures

  • Michael Saunders founded one of the first online food delivery marketplaces in 1997.
  • was acquired by Grubhub, where Saunders became a senior executive.
  • Grubhub IPO'd in 2014, with Saunders departing at the end of 2015.
  • Saunders is now the CEO of Captain Labs, focusing on commerce built on the Solana blockchain.
  • Web3 and blockchain present an opportunity for Saunders to rethink and rebuild marketplaces.
  • XP, a ticketing platform built by Saunders' team, launched out of private beta and is now publicly available.
  • Over 10 million tickets are available on XP for U.S. and Canada events as of the launch date.
  • XP works with a network of brokers and offers Web3 trading while also accepting traditional payments.
  • Saunders believes in Web3's potential to empower customers and redefine value within marketplaces.

Top quotes

  • "We're building the future of commerce on Solana."
  • "I started one of the earliest marketplaces, online marketplaces for food delivery back in 1997."
  • "This isn't unique to food delivery. This is really all marketplaces."
  • "It felt like this is an opportunity to really try to rebuild this again but a better way."
  • "So when I first found Solana I was like oh this is it."
  • "An online marketplace where you own your data gives you choice."
  • "We built XP. We're coming out of private beta today."

Questions Answered

What is XP and how does it relate to Web3?

XP is a ticketing platform built upon Web3 technology that allows the trade of tickets as NFTs. It gives consumers more control and ownership over their purchases by linking ticketing assets directly to the blockchain, creating a fairer and more transparent marketplace.

Who is Michael Saunders and why is he involved in Web3 ticketing?

Michael Saunders is the CEO of Captain Labs and has a background in creating and scaling online marketplaces, like the food delivery service His experience with centralized markets and their drawbacks has driven him to explore Web3 as a solution for more equitable commerce dynamics, particularly in ticketing.

What problems does Michael Saunders believe exist in current marketplaces, and how does Web3 solve them?

Saunders points out that centralized marketplaces have become greedy, taking larger fees and owning the customer data themselves. He believes Web3 solves these problems by allowing consumers to own their data, promoting transparency, and giving customers the power to take their business elsewhere if they feel undervalued.

How does XP integrate real-world assets with blockchain?

XP uses a protocol called tamper-proof to secure a keycode within an NFT, which can then be traded. This approach allows real-world assets like tickets to be sold and bought on-chain, merging the physical and digital commerce worlds.

What potential does Saunders see in tokens like event tickets on the blockchain?

Saunders sees a future where tickets are not just passes to events but collectibles that represent a person's interests and support for artists or sports teams. He anticipates that these blockchain-based tickets can become a form of social currency and membership in fan-based communities, offering additional value beyond the event itself.