Dev Spotlight EP10 - Alex Slobodnik - NameStone, NftyChat, ENS Steward

Dev Spotlight EP10 - Alex Slobodnik - NameStone, NftyChat, ENS Steward

September 29, 2023

Our latest Dev Spotlight interview was with Alex Slobodnik, better known as slobo.eth in web3 circles. As an ENS steward, creator of NftyChat and NameStone, and all-round contributor to the ENS ecosystem, Slobo has a uniquely insightful perspective on digital identity and community building in Web3.

Starting with Identity

Slobo's journey into the world of blockchain began when he first learned about the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) in 2017. Coming from a background in marketing, he immediately recognized the profound potential of ENS to enable global, self-sovereign digital identities - something that simply wasn't possible within traditional web2 systems. This realization of ENS' vision is what first attracted Slobo and set him on a path to becoming deeply involved in helping shape the ENS community.

Once Slobo purchased his Slobo.eth name, he wanted to start utilizing this new identity. This led to the creation of NftyChat - a chat service built specifically for ENS-to-ENS communication. Through experimenting with NftyChat, Slobo discovered that around 70% of users did not actually have their own ENS name due to the upfront costs. This inspired him to build NameStone, a solution for issuing free gasless subdomain names.

Building NameStone

NameStone has grown tremendously in popularity and usefulness. As an API-first product, Slobo continues evolving it based on customer and community needs. Features like improved admin tools make NameStone accessible for non-technical teams to manage names at scale. Companies like wallet provider Obvious are now able to provision thousands of names for their users thanks to NameStone's offerings.

Slobo's role as an ENS steward gives him a uniquely holistic view into developments across the ecosystem. He's continually learning from a diverse set of builders working in areas like cross-chain identity unification. As someone who started as a user and became a core contributor, Slobo emphasized the importance of experimenting through small, community-focused projects to help identify opportunities for growth.

Slobo's passion for ENS and enabling inclusive access to digital identity solutions was evident throughout our discussion. As long as global usernames remain prohibitively expensive for many, there will continue to be important work done by projects like NameStone to lower barriers to participation. Slobo sees ENS as a critical piece of infrastructure that can aggregate identities across multiple chains in a user-friendly way.

Slobo remains devoted to customer-centric development at NameStone while also fostering growth across the entire ENS ecosystem through his stewardship role and public communications.

Advice to web3 Devs

When asked about advice for newcomers, Slobo's message was to plunge in, get involved in builder communities, and start contributing in any way possible - even just fixing documentation. This aligns with his philosophy of gradual, experience-driven progress over flashy hype. Through building connections with other builders early on, new developers can gain exposure to mentors while finding projects aligned with their strengths and interests.

With attention to UX challenges and collaboration across the community, ENS has the potential to onboard millions of new users to Web3. Based on Slobo's experience leveling up through practical experimentation and community involvement, this approach of start small and learn through building seems especially effective for developers looking to get involved and make an impact. Building tools that solve real problems for real users, like NameStone, results in sustainable progress for both products and communities over time.

For anyone curious about digital identity, community infrastructure or just starting out in Web3 generally, Slobo invites connecting on Twitter or attending one of the weekly ENS ecosystem calls - a great first step to becoming part of building the persistent social graphs of the future.

Make sure to follow him on Twitter

And check out NameStone

Meet the writer

Tom is a web3 Marketer and Growth Hacker. He’s been helping both brands and creators launch their own web3 ideas and experiences since 2019, mostly focusing on blockchain gaming and the Metaverse he brings a down-to-earth and open-minded perspective on these huge trends.
Tom Sargent
Founder of ExpensiveJPEG, Ex-Landvault, and now Marketing here at Mailchain.