David: In your eyes, what are some of your favourite accomplishments?
WhaleShark: So I think so accomplishment-wise, I mean from an investment perspective, I’ve done extremely well in the space. While I want to take credit for everything, I do think it’s always a tiny bit of luck, right? Or quite a bit of luck. So, I guess my very first accomplishment in the crypto space would actually be buying Bitcoin in 2012 and then selling it all for Ethereum in 2015. I bought Bitcoin at 200 and sold Bitcoin at 1000, bought Ethereum at $8 and then sold at 1,400 and then got into NFTs in 2019.
Because, you know, when I entered into the space at that point in time, there was a lot of ambiguity regarding the future of crypto as a whole, as well as the ups and downs of the rollercoaster. That is, that is the value of crypto in, you know, just being able to buy and hold and to continue to accumulate.
It probably took every fiber of my being because, again, the pricing rollercoaster can really take an emotional toll on a lot of people. I think I’ve done relatively well by, I guess, being very thoughtful about the way that I’ve invested money, about the way that I’ve grown this empire of crypto, as well as investing in a lot of leading projects within the crypto space as well.
So I think that would probably be one of the achievements that I’m very grateful for. Over the past couple of years, the second achievement or accomplishment that I’m very proud of is the relationships that I’ve built up with artists in the crypto community. So again, I know everybody has a lot of different preferences for the type of NFTs that they buy. It’s no secret that I made it very public that I’m a huge fan of crypto art and a huge fan of the digital art scene in general. One of the most enjoyable things and one of the largest accomplishments that I feel that I’ve made is the ability to forge these very positive and very beneficial relationships, particularly for artists within the space.
And to see them grow from selling their art pieces for hundreds of dollars to many who are actually in the whale portfolio now what we sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions. So I think that’s another accomplishment in itself.
The last accomplishment probably that is most near and dear to me was actually creating the whale community, right? So basically taking the entire NFT collection, sharing it with an NFT community and seeing that community grow from 500 people to the world’s largest general collector and creator Discord community with over 20,000 members. And you know, that’s been a wonderful journey. It’s a lifelong pursuit of mine and the whale community is going to last for as long as my lifetime and beyond. So I’d say it would be those three.
David: You’ve excelled at being able to select projects very specifically. Ignoring a lot of the fud that’s come out around this space, especially when you started getting into NFTs in 2019, I think it was all fud, more or less in terms of the press around the space. You’ve mentioned in the past that 99.9% of projects fail – what differentiates the valuable projects from the rest?
WhaleShark: So in my previous professional life, I did a lot of market analysis, company analysis, opportunity analysis. Whether that be within categories or whether that be within certain categories of products or whether that be in categories of companies.
I think it was very serendipitous when I entered the space. You had a lot of collectors who didn’t have that background, so I was actually able to develop and apply an investment matrix to really understand which projects I want to hold for the long term. Now, given that you say that, it’s very kind of you to say that, you know, my, my journey through crypto has been very much a playbook. There’s a lot of money to be made both from, as a long-term investor, as well as a short-term trader.
For me, I just don’t have the ability to trade on the short term. So my investment thesis is always based on a longer term horizon. Now, you know what differentiates the 1% or the 0.01% from the 99.99%. It’s really the stability and the pedigree of a project. So what I do as you will see any VC or any investment manager do when they look at a project is the first thing I get to know the team extremely well. Right. I get to know their background. I get to know their expertise. I get to know their wealth of knowledge and really understand how adequate and how adept they are in terms of being able to run a business.
It’s a little bit difficult in the crypto space because we do have a lot of first-time entrepreneurs. But among those, there are some that are extremely talented. And as an investor, what I can bring to the table usually is that business discipline and knowledge that they might not have been able to accumulate over the course of their experience.
So I looked at the team one thing that is extremely important to me, and again, it sometimes does preclude or exclude some opportunities that are extremely innovative. I actually like to look at things that have escalated in value in the traditional and the physical world. And it’s very easy to draw a parallel into the digital and really understand. So, for example, if basketball cards escalated in value in the physical world, it’s very likely that its digital equivalent is going to increase as well. So looking at the product, just making sure that there is a previous case whereby there was a successful case study and it could apply in a digital manner.
The third, most important thing that I look at is the financial health of these projects. You want to make sure that a project can run through the cycles and we’ve seen NFT cycles in terms of bull and bear runs run roughly anywhere between three to four months, each time you don’t want to invest in a project that’s going to go bankrupt in three months, right? Due to poor money management or due to lack of capital. So what’s very important to me is looking at these projects, understanding how long of a runway they have, and understanding how disciplined they are in terms of managing that cash flow. So I look at a lot of different points. I probably look at about six to seven points for each project, but those are the three main points for financial viability that I looked at before investing in anything.
David: Thinking of some of the projects that you’ve invested in and maybe some of your favorites in your thought process. What’s a recent piece, or just a general piece of unlockable content or access that has been granted to you by an NFT purchase that either surprised you or impressed you?
WhaleShark: So I actually bought a couple of locked access NFTs over the course of my career. I would say that the very first one that I bought was actually by DAO records, who continue to be very active in the space. And I believe it was really one of the first unlockable content Ntfs that was ever created. Essentially, Vandal and the team did that I could buy this limited edition gold record, a gold record from Dao records. And essentially, it allowed me to unlock the content prior to the launch as well as receive some additional benefits from actually buying the NFT. So this is really early in the space. And I remember when I did it, I believe the song was called Got Skills. It was done by two Malaysian award-winning rappers. And I really enjoyed the process. I think one of probably the most impressive unlockable content that I’ve ever purchased is actually the auction by Justin Blau.
Once again, it was a record-breaking auction. I was there up against some of the largest collectors; unfortunately, I could only take second place, but it was a wonderful experience. And what Justin did was that he tokenized an entire album, and within tokenizing that album, he had. The drop was very smooth. And instantly, after that auction, I was actually able to log in and unlock all of that audio and visual content actually on that platform itself. So that was an extremely interesting experience and probably one of the smoothest experiences with unlockable content.
David: Amazing. Thank you for that. Thinking about your massive collection at this point- I’m wondering – Do you only buy on ETH? Or do you have any thoughts about projects on MATIC, TEZ, WAX, etc.?
WhaleShark: So I am blockchain agnostic. I mean, you have people who call themselves Bitcoin maxis, you’ve got Ethereum maxis, I’m a use-case maximalist. So essentially I move to the place or I move to the blockchain that shows me that they have the most use case or the best use. If I were a maximalist, you know, again, I wouldn’t have been able to transfer out a Bitcoin all the way into Ethereum.
So I do believe in keeping an open mind and prefacing, my additional comments with that, I actually not only buy on ETH, I also buy on Flow quite a bit. And I’m very excited to see some of the blockchains that are growing native NFTs for the time being. What I really enjoy is: all of the NFTs on Ethereum, all of the NFTs on Flow. I really enjoy what I’m seeing from the two side chains, or layer two. So enjoying what I’m seeing on Matic with the, reduction in gas, ease as well and instant transactions. Also really enjoying being the largest holder of Gods Unchained, which recently unleashed “immutable ex,” which again is another component that will allow people to have instant and low fee transactions.
So I think as the future moves forward, I will go where the best products and where the best creations are, and I’m definitely not closed-minded and just stick to one sort of blockchain.
David: So, after building your $WHALE community and token to such success, what advice do you have for other community leaders in the space looking to add utility to their communities through tokenomics?
WhaleShark: So I’m going to preface my answer by saying that: a lot of social tokens and a lot of communities powered by social tokens have sprouted up over the last six months, right? I do adamantly believe that after NFTs, a very good use case of crypto is for community managers, influencers, and creators to incentivize and drive their community by giving them something of tangible value.
So I think that social tokens are the next wave of innovation that will go into the mainstream. And I’ve actually spent a significant amount of time investing in the space as well. However, many community managers or creators, and influencers don’t realize that you can’t just spend days creating the social token, expecting it to fly. When you create a social token, it’s very much a multi-disciplinary effort. In, economics, in-game theory, and monetary policy, in marketing, and branding, and event management. And in community management, right? So I think there are about seven to ten different disciplines that you need to have. And on top of that, you also need to be extremely active.
I can tell you that within the Whale community itself, our total team is about twelve people. And they are online every single day for 24 hours a day because we’re in different timezones. But over that course of time, we are continually having events, continually having discussions, creating new experiences so that the community feels engaged all the time.
And it is very, very labor-intensive. So I think that’s something that a lot of people who are entering the space really do need to consider as they’re going through this. In addition to that, from a tokenomics perspective, make sure that you have a very solid plan in terms of how the tokens flow, how they’re given away, what people can do with them. But at the same time, you also have to have a very flexible mindset in terms of understanding that you can try things, but you will need adjustments.
I can’t even tell you the number of adjustments that we’ve made to the tokenomics to fine-tune it to where we are today. A lot of trial and error. My friend, I wish I could tell you that we got it. We got it perfect from day one, but it’s been a lot of analysis, a lot of trial, a trial and failure, and you know, again, yeah. Try fast, fail fast, right? And then after that, you succeed. So it’s a continuing project. And again, $WHALE for me is my final project for my lifetime.
So I hopefully will have a very long time to be able to fine-tune it. And it should be a very interesting journey.
Read more about Whale Shark and his ventures into virtual fashion and beyond in part two coming up next week and in the meantime, keep up with him on socials:
$WHALE Discord: https://discord.com/invite/whale