Exploring the opportunities and challenges associated with real-world applications of Web3 technologies in cities.
Cara is the Chief Revenue officer at Nabr, a direct-to-consumer housing startup focused on delivering custom, sustainable apartments in urban centers. She also serves on New York Mayor Adam’s and Governor Hochul’s “New” New York Panel designing strategies to revitalize the city’s central business districts, and as a Visiting Scholar at Cornell Tech’s Urban Tech Hub. Previously, Cara worked at Zigg Capital, a real estate tech venture fund, and at Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs, where she incubated a new modular building business. She began her career in Copenhagen working with LEGO's Product and Market Development team on LEGO's five-year R&D plan.

Cara graduated from Princeton where she focused on urban policy and planning and Coro Leadership New York, a development program for mid-career civic leaders. She completed one year at Stanford's Graduate School of Business before she dropped out to join Nabr. In 2014, she was a National Geographic Explorer covering the post-war redevelopment of Sarajevo, and her writing about cities has been featured in numerous media outlets. A fourth-generation New Yorker, Cara is always looking for opportunities to help build an even more dynamic city.
Project Description

Web3 and the Real Economy: Opportunities and Threats for New York City

Emergence of Web3 and City-Building

In the past year, Web3 technologies, a catch-all term increasingly used to describe services built using decentralized blockchains, have dominated public discourse and seen a surge in funding. Approximately 20% of American adults have traded or now  own cryptocurrency. Despite all the fanfare, actual successful applications of Web3 beyond the financial sector (e.g., payment of remittances to the underbanked) have been limited. Today, much of the investment activity has been speculative: a bet that a digital currency, a digital artwork, or artificially scarce land in the metaverse will one day be worth something. Still, as the New York Times posits in its "Latecomer’s Guide to Crypto", crypto wealth is “going to be a transformative force in our society in the coming years,” and the underlying technology deserves serious study.

Most of the municipal-focused applications of Web3 technology to date have been concentrated in rural areas or are focused on building net-new cities. Most prominently, there is CityDAO, whose members have organized to purchase a parcel of land in Wyoming, with plans to divvy up sub-plots and auction them off as NFTs. Then there is San Francisco-based Praxis, which recently secured Series A funding from Paradigm—the world’s largest crypto venture firm. Praxis self-describes as a “grassroots movement of modern pioneers, “scouting for a location to build the world’s first “city-cryptostate.”

However, the range of experimentation with Web3 technologies in existing cities has been limited. In New York, local regulation primarily stems from the New York State Department of Financial Services (DFS)—most notably its BitLicense legislation, requiring companies that use cryptocurrencies for commercial purposes to obtain a license to operate, a move that was opposed by large swaths of the crypto industry. Municipal-oriented Web3 activity has primarily originated from independent private actors or coalitions, like the group that started to issue NYCCoins, with the stated mission of eventually giving a portion of the funds raised to the City.

There is currently minimal government infrastructure in place to either promote or effectively regulate the existing industry. The consequence is higher risk of dangerous and potentially fraudulent speculation, with few of the upsides that could be conferred by the emergent technology