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Chris Liquin, CEO of Cupcake, on CultureFi, Digital Self vs. Physical Self, and The Intersection of Finance and Culture | Ep. 343

Sead Fadilpašić
Last updated: | 4 min read
Chris Liquin, the CEO of Cupcake, CultureFi app and social layer on Solana.

Cryptonews Podcast’s Matt Zahab recently sat down for a chat with Chris Liquin, the CEO of Cupcake.com, a social layer on the Solana blockchain.

In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview, Liquin discussed the reasons Fortune 500 companies are increasingly turning to crypto.

He talked about CultureFi, Cupcake’s games, the benefits of this social layer for crypto adoption, and the work on the next season.

Why Do Fortune 500 Brands Enter Web3?


It may seem that Fortune 500 companies have it all, so to say. Yet, they’re turning towards Web3 now.

According to Liquin, the reason is simple. “They’re just people, too.”

They may seem like overlords reigning over these massive corporations. However, At the end of the day, you’re sitting down to talk to real people. They get their interest piqued as well.

A good way to think about these organizations, Liquin argued, is as slow-moving ships that have been around for decades.

And the trick is to “create those light bulb moments with individuals” within those organizations.

Many individuals Liquin met value what tokens offer. Much of it, in the CEO’s opinion, is the direct-to-consumer connection digital coins create.

“And that has implications across all of consumer marketing,” Liquin said.

It is particularly relevant in the current age and going into the future, when the youth already place immense value in their digital selves.

Children are growing up without a distinct separation between physical and digital worlds. What’s more, they are seeking further digital immersion.

“That’s a long-term bullish signal,” said Liquin, and “it’s a huge one when you think about how consumers will interact with digital tokens.”

Other massively significant points for businesses are blockchain and fractionalization. We’re already seeing their utilization rise, offering another way to have a direct relationship with consumers.

‘You’re the Main Character’


The CEO told us that Cupcake – a ‘CultureFi’ (culture finance) app – is a casual game on Solana. He described it as Web3 Candy Crush.”

It provides a rotating feed (similar to TikTok) of highly interactive social games. And these games are “all about crypto culture.”

For example, there could be a fun mini game that’s celebrating a cultural moment in crypto.

The reason for this setup is simple: reaching new users where they already are. Regardless of how great a product is, if it’s unfamiliar territory and/or something people are not excited about, they are unlikely to come.

However, Cupcake has a familiar feel. “The rotating feed of games feels like a Web2 experience, super smooth, super slick, super polished, and then we have an on-chain rewards economy,” Liquin said.

Players collect Cupcakes of different rarities, climb leaderboards, and get tokens and prizes.

For example, Bonk is one of the partners. Through the Bonk Trivia, players will get airdrops of Bonk tokens.

The benefits are multiple: users have fun, learn about new projects, and get to experience digital ownership.

Additionally, the team is trying to take a very active first-person gameplay approach to create a more active user experience.

“We want people to lean in, learn about things they’re interested in, celebrate crypto culture in a way that feels like you’re the main character, not just kind of passively looking through someone else’s feed.”

Baking Season Two


Cupcake launched their season one last month for a four-week beta.

“It was the lightest version that we could launch,” said Liquin, “a super lean app.”

The app had “tons of games,” as well as simple rewards and token prizes from some of the sponsors.

Also, it saw 15,000 players and over 2 million games played.

“It was an awesome proof-of-concept,” he remarked. “And I think what we took from that early experience was a ton of feedback from our users.”

Notably, the team learned not only what players wanted from the games but also the issues they experienced with understanding the rewards economy.

With all that experience taken into account, the team will be launching season two “soon.”

“And it’s as much alpha as I can give you,” Liquin noted. “We’re really building towards a much more polished [and] slick experience.” Each time they launch something, it gets “more sophisticated.”

Furthermore, as everything is on-chain, all the NFTs from season one “still matter.”

But now, the team is devising different ways for users to interact with those NFTs as part of this “game loop.”

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That’s not all.

In this interview, Liquin also discussed:

  • CultureFi: the intersection of finance and culture;
  • CultureFi vs SocialFi;
  • the advantages of working with the TipLink wallet;
  • building in the Solana ecosystem;
  • getting the Cupcake.com domain and why it was worth its price;
  • improving adoption: meeting people where they are, not waiting for them to come;
  • passive consumption of content;
  • the current and incoming market trends;
  • the team’s stories from Consensus 2024, “cooking up” a video in the Airbnb kitchen;
  • working at Gary Vaynerchuk’s innovation consultancy Vayner3 and learning from this “super cool experience.”

You can watch the full podcast episode here.

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About Chris Liquin

Chris Liquin is the CEO of Cupcake.com, Solana’s social layer.

Liquin has been investing in crypto since 2016 and has worked full-time in the space since 2021.

Prior to Cupcake, he worked as SVP of Strategy & Operations for Gary Vaynerchuk at Vayner3, a Fortune 500 Web3 consulting firm.

During his time, he led over $25 million of work with brands like Budweiser, Red Bull, Coinbase, Johnny Walker, Crocs, and KFC as they explored the frontier of the internet.

Liquin holds an MBA from Chicago Booth, spent his non-crypto career at KPMG and Google Cloud, and lives in Chicago, USA, with his wife and their crazy cat named Bunny.