Forkast Labs aims to do for Web3 what Google did for Web1

By Michelle Palmer Jones


Nashville, Tennessee, United States


Reporting on new technologies that are difficult to understand has been a challenge for media companies ever since they started hearing terms like blockchain, NFT, and cryptocurrency. Just like reporting on any other industry, journalists would naturally research their topic and develop a holistic understanding of it before sitting down to write about it. 

It should be no different for journalists writing about blockchain, cryptocurrency, and NFTs. But what happens when the technology is evolving and changing so quickly, that there’s not really complete enough data out there to gather a holistic view on the topic?

Forkast Labs in Hong Kong built products that fundamentally changed the understanding of the digital world. Angie Lau, co-founder and co-CEO, started the firm in 2018 when blockchain, crypto, and digital assets were starting to come to the surface. She wanted to create a place where businesses could learn and educate their professionals about these topics. 

“One of the really key things for me as a 20-year veteran in broadcast and business journalism is how do we use these technology tools to enhance our understanding of the world so that we can participate in a meaningful way and so that our audience can participate in a meaningful way,” Lau said.

Angie Lau, co-founder and co-CEO of Forkast Labs in Hong Kong, explained what the company aims to do with Web3.
Angie Lau, co-founder and co-CEO of Forkast Labs in Hong Kong, explained what the company aims to do with Web3.

In January of this year, Forkast News as it was known, and CryptoSlam, a U.S. based blockchain data analytics firm, merged to create Forkast Labs. The main goal of the business is to look at what’s known in the traditional finance model of media and data and bring it to the digital asset space. Lau told members during the recent INMA Asia/Pacific News Media Summit about tools that could help enhance their business journalism as the digital asset space continues to grow.

Something ironic about the digital asset space, according to Lau, is that since every transaction on blockchain is public, there’s so much data about every move that it has created an overabundance of transparency and, in turn, has also created a lot of noise. Over the past several years, people have tried to speculate what will happen with crypto and blockchain by tracking price action and market caps, but there wasn’t a holistic way for people and even journalists to track what was really happening in the market.

“I ask you to pause and reflect on, if you're doing crypto coverage, if you’re doing NFT coverage, if you’re doing digital asset tokenized coverage in the blockchain space, ask yourself what are the metrics that you’re using to gauge traction and or moves in the marketplace,” Lau challenged. “The market cap of cryptocurrencies and other tokens are simply not good enough of an indicator of what's being built in Web3. Prices do not reflect the underlying economic value.”

If reporters looked at the price of a cryptocurrency and just used that metric to determine the health of the market, Lau believes that would be the equivalent of saying Apple’s stock price is the only indicator of the entire health of the market without taking into account any analysis, using any reporting tools, or looking at innovation or other products being built in the space.

Economic indicators of Web3

So what are the economic indicators for Web3 technology?

Forkast Labs is starting to define that by creating a universal, standardised way in which to assess the real-time value of any one blockchain or, as Lau calls it, a protocol.

Web3 currently doesn't have strong metrics to measure it.
Web3 currently doesn't have strong metrics to measure it.

“There are thousands of blockchains right now. How are you in the world going to track any and all of those things? But we can do that with our data infrastructure stack,” Lau said. “We’ve scaled the onboarding of these protocols. Not only that, we've decoded and normalised this data and standardised, organised, and indexed them so that we can compare protocol against protocol.” 

Since different blockchains, or protocols, don’t all use one method to track or record activity, one event on one protocol may be represented by one transaction where that same event on a different protocol may be represented by 50 transactions. Forkast Labs now has a way to normalise that data so that the same event can be compared apples to apples. 

“That’s really meaningful for us because that is the mission of Forkast Labs,” Lau said. “Just like Google organised the information of online data and became the centre of Web one, we aim to really organise value at the centre of Web3.”

One result of this mission is the creation and launch of Forkast 500 NFT Index. Forkast Labs has taken on the heavy task of taking 200 NFT smart contracts a day and putting them through an automatic algorithm using their own methodology. They take the billion code lines of data from this and normalise it by taking out wash trading, inorganic data and decipher what is really moving the NFT market.

“This is the only view right now that you have of the macro moves up or down of the entire NFT market,” Lau said. “We launched this a few weeks after our merger because we felt that we needed to show a standardised way for people in the marketplace to have a meaningful way to see what the direction of the market is and to be able to assess it and compare it across all of the projects and all of the protocols.”

Currently, Forkast Labs has 25 protocols on the project. They expect to have 30 by the end of 2023, and they’ll add even more next year. This will help them map the macro and micro movements of the digital economy. 

“This is really important because you might think of NFTs right now as a bunch of pictures of apes and frogs and memes and things like that, but in fact that is just the first primary expression of what NFTs actually can be,” Lau said. “NFTs are the data wrapper around any physical asset, which means that at some point in the future they could be used to tokenize real estate, they could be used to tokenize shares of your publicly listed company that you work for and the list goes on.”

Forkast Labs’ latest project

For its latest project, Forkast Labs is diving into what is actually driving the economic activity within a certain blockchain or protocol. They call it Gross Digital Product, and they can assess in real time what’s moving a blockchain like Ethereum for example. 

They can take a look at what the price of Ethereum is doing and then look at things like minor rewards, block fees, NFT production and see how those activities are affecting the monetary value. 

Forkast Labs recently launched its Gross Digital Product.
Forkast Labs recently launched its Gross Digital Product.

“We call it Gross Digital Product because it helps answer and provide a view that is the truest economic activity and fundamental value of each blockchain in real time,” Lau said. “In the same way that we know that we can assess firms through their EBITDA or their operating margins and profit margins and their turnover rates and things like that, these are actually the new vernacular for how to assess economic value and what that simply means is these are a reflection of human activity using this technology, NFT Production, and services.”

About Michelle Palmer Jones

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