Interview: Starcatchers CEO and Co-Founder, Mauricio Morales

A look at the future of web3 accountability through the celestial NFT organization

Starcatchers represents more than a collection of 10,000 unique cosmic artworks. Co-founded by Mauricio Morales (of Cockroach Labs), the web3 organization is transforming into an entertainment company built upon the strength of a growing team and an engaged community. Their intention is to provide experiences (both online and real-world) as well as products (physical and digital) to their NFT holders. The art is the access point. Since their inception, the Starcatchers team has learned from professional shortfalls, along with observations elsewhere in web3. Now they’ve taken measures to guarantee transparency and they’re sharing how they’ve done so.

In the midst of NFT.NYC, we met with Morales (appropriately enough, sky-high on the 101st floor of 30 Hudson Yards, at Peak NYC) to discuss the future of Starcatchers and what authenticity means to web3. It’s there that the founder explains the context of the occasion, beginning with, “We’re celebrating the start of a new Starcatchers [brand] during a week that honors all the things that have been created in web3. With everything that’s happened with Starcatchers—we’ve had a lot of drama and I’m not going to lie about that—we are now standing at the forefront of accountability and transparency. Now, we want to show a brighter, stronger future—and it’s happening.”

There are two prongs to the electric future of Starcatchers: technology and artistry. Regarding both, Morales is quick to point to the talent of his team, many of whom came from top-tier tech startups. “The things that we’ve been developing, it’s not just about being a JPEG,” he says. “The art we’ve launched is cool and [new lead artist] Arial Jade’s collection that we’re launching is even cooler. She has a really strong vision for the creative strategy behind it. It resonates with who we want to be.”

“On top of that,” Morales continues, “one of the things we are starting to do is open-source some of the technologies we’ve developed. This includes a timeline contract for a four year vesting period for mint revenue.” Not only did Starcatchers devise and adopt this system, they’re sharing the map tracing how they did so in order for others to follow. “If a founder were to leave [their company], for the first year they would not get anything,” Morales explains. “Month over month, year over year, they’d get a portion of that equity.” This prevents founders from cashing out on their community.

Right now, the explosive NFT media saturation from earlier in 2022 has cooled and a quest for balance and longevity is underway. “People are right to be cautious,” Morales says about hesitation. “We are still in the infancy of web3. There’s a lot of shakiness to the space and there are irresponsible behaviors out there.” Morales says that all safe ways to enter begin with research of a “brand and their software, the tech they’re using, the team they’re building and how they’re holding themselves accountable. That’s when it matters.” For instance, having the faces of a team out there, and on platforms like Twitter, is important. Starcatchers even brought an ethics consultant in-house to guide them.

Through these developments, community continues to be a core tenant to the Starcatcher mission. “This began as a community-based project,” Morales says. “Now we’re trying to shape ourselves as a web3 entertainment brand, but the way that we can build a following is through a core group of supporters—folks that really believe in the project. That’s the only way to be able to do anything in web3. The founders of a project can speak to it but their reach can only go so far. We rely a lot on our community to advocate on our behalf and talk about what we’ve been able to contribute to web3.”

Morales addresses his web3 origins and the future of Starcatchers with the same optimism and enthusiasm. “The thing about web3 that brought meaning to me,” he says, “is the newness of it all. It’s an exciting space with a lot of innovation. A lot of the infrastructure is still broken but we’ve got the opportunity to build something that’s worthwhile and give meaningful contributions to a movement that’s bigger than us. That’s essentially what drives me to continue with this project. We can be better because we want to build a better space.” Through a democratization of ideas and data, continued transparency and eye-catching celestial art, Starcatchers will do just that.

Images courtesy of BFA