Republic Realm, a metaverse real estate development and investment company, announced the grand opening of Metajuku, a shopping district in the Decentraland metaverse, with DRESSX becoming one of the first digital-only companies to open a store inside the district. In addition to the digital fashion outfits displayed in the store, there are 3 NFT artworks inspired by DRESSX collections dedicated to SpaceX launches and created by the digital artist Hanne Zaruma.
Metajuku is a 16,000 sf (256 m2) project built with a pedestrian-friendly open space at its center. The district is located at the coordinates 94, 21 in Decentraland (and I highly suggest that you check it out). Metajuku takes its roots in Harajuku, a district in Tokyo known as the center of Japanese street fashion.
“Real-world shopping malls are sitting half-empty as stores move more business online,” said Janine Yorio, co-head of Republic Real Estate, “meanwhile, elaborate virtual malls are being built in the metaverse, a nascent industry called ‘de-commerce.’”
DressX is the largest fashion store for digital-only collections from well-known brands and 3D designers. Through the use of digital clothing, users can simply layer fashion items on top of photos that they have taken in order to create whole new outfits. As a solution to the negative environmental footprint produced by the fashion industry, DressX was created by Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova in July 2020 as the first-ever platform for digital garments that generate zero waste, carbon footprints, and chemicals during their production.
“We are very excited to create a virtual shopping experience accessible to anyone, anytime, and anywhere in the world. At DressX we see it as our mission to drive the development of the digital fashion industry and provide more opportunities for people to leverage available technologies, immersing themselves into the new virtual reality or connection in social media. The shopping mall built from the ground up in Decentraland and offering digital-only clothes from DressX cosmic collection is our joint next step aimed at merging the traditional fashion experience with the world of tech and innovation.”
Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova, co-founders of DressX.
Today, nearly 9% of all fashion is acquired for content creation (Instagram posts, photoshoots and the like), and the fashion industry is considered to be one of the world’s largest polluters. Digital garment production provides the fashion for content with 97% less CO2 emissions. Moreover, virtual real estate does not have the same physical constraints as real-world real estate development, therefore the DRESSX virtual store was designed with zero-gravity features, in which digital clothing is displayed floating in zero-gravity balls in the air.
Although the digital wearables market is still in its infancy, glimmers of its potential are apparent from the video game industry where gamers have paid more than $40 million for wearables in the game Fortnite alone. Digital real estate prices have exploded in recent months. For example, parcel price in Decentraland has doubled over the past two months, from roughly $1800 per parcel to $7,000+ today, which represents a 4x return in just two months.
Republic Realm is a digital real estate NFT investment vehicle that acquires and develops digital real estate NFTs in decentralized, blockchain-based virtual worlds, including Decentraland, The Sandbox, Cryptovoxels, and other new emerging metaverses. Republic Realm is professionally managed by a cross-disciplinary investment team at Republic from both the cryptocurrency/tokenization and traditional real estate groups. Republic Realm is co-sponsored by Republic, the private investment technology platform with over 1 million worldwide users.
If you want to see the store for yourself, DRESSX digital collections are now available for purchase in DRESSX virtual flagship store at coordinates 94, 21 in Decentraland.
Two new NFT mobile apps at different stages of development, AirWire and S!NG, are worth considering for more than their innovative approaches. Each app is designed to bring NFT creation to mainstream users via an integrated process that includes NFT marketplaces. Each app also reminds us that the flood of files that will one day be auto-minted to blockchains as a byproduct of daily life may not be the outcome we desire.
AirWire: NFT Your Life
Last week AirWire announced the launch of its NFT Camera App in beta with the slogan, “NFT Your Life.” This is a pivot for AirWire which previously focused on cryptocurrency services before having to shut down. AirWire was subsequently acquired by Alpha Sigma Capital in 2020 with the current focus emerging after a “reboot.”
One can sign up to be a beta tester on the AirWire site homepage. At that point, one will discover how far it’s gotten with the details of what is essentially a vertical integration of the NFT creation and sharing/monetization process. The plan is to enable users to take photos/video/audio, edit the creation in-camera, mint an NFT and then share and/or monetize the NFT on AirWire’s marketplace or an open platform such as OpenSea.
A particularly interesting feature, noted in the announcement, is the option of “Private, Public, and Retail albums” that allow users to control who sees their NFTs and whether or not they are available for sale. At this stage, it appears one could use the app without ever publicly sharing one’s creations or selling NFTs. While exclusive use of this option may not be a desirable outcome, it does suggest that AirWire could one day become a full-featured, NFT-enabled, mobile media sharing app.
S!NG: Document Your Creations
S!NG x Rarible: How To Sell Your NFT
S!NG launched its NFT mobile app in March with a focus on giving creators the ability to record creative ideas as NFTs and track development over time in order to document IP creation. However, one can also mint and sell NFTs on Rarible using the app. In addition, the S!NG Market will allow for the sale of NFTs for “music fans.”
How well S!NG app NFTs will function as records in a court of law remains to be seen. Of course, a lot of issues are settled out of court because one party reveals they have evidence that would stand up well in court. The problem with all such approaches to protecting copyright by creating an NFT is that minting an NFT doesn’t actually prove one created the material being minted. However, as part of a body of evidence, such an NFT or group of NFTs could be quite useful.
That said, S!NG also has the potential to become a key vertically integrated NFT creation and distribution tool for creators with additional tools for collaboration including tracking with whom one has shared files. In June, S!NG announced a partnership with Rarible for “one-touch” NFT sales. So, in addition to documenting creation processes, S!NG could easily be imagined as an app a musician, for example, might use to create and sell NFTs that track the progression of a track from sharing ideas to completing a song to performing it live.
The NFT Flood
Both AirWire and S!NG have much potential as individual projects and suggest a much easier route into NFT creation than the current process of haphazard self-education most creators currently undergo. But both apps also help us envision a future for NFTs that leads to the same level of endless clutter enabled by Web 2. Let’s consider the implications of AirWire CEO Ken DiCross’s statement:
“It’s time to start building blockchain applications that everyone can use without the educational barrier of blockchain technology. AirWire has built a consumer playground that allows anyone who can take a picture on their phone to mint NFTs and monetize their assets.”
If one combines the concept of mobile NFT apps emphasizing ease of use without requiring blockchain knowledge with a ubiquitous mobile computer connected to a widely available global communications network then one has the basis for worldwide mainstream adoption of NFTs.
Given that is essentially the point we are at now, what form would this mainstream adoption take?
Think about any incredibly popular site on the internet where one can freely share fun content with friends and foes alike using mobile devices.
Do your thoughts include endless piles of nonsense content and relentless exchanges of empty communication creating huge amounts of noise and making it difficult to find things you want to enjoy online?
Have you noticed NFT Land is already like that?
What happens when everybody sets the CREATE NFT button to EVERYTHING and suddenly we have all the junk we currently encounter on social sharing sites replicated by NFTs?
In lieu of a traditional conclusion, these questions should inspire your thoughts of what might happen long-term when Web 3 ideals fully meet the realities of online human behaviour. And of what you might do as an NFT creator, developer or business person when NFT Land becomes much noisier and even more crowded.
Who would have thought Jackie and Kelso from That 70s Show would be early adopters in pioneering an animated NFT show called Stoner Cats? Although the name does fit the roles they both played as actors back in 1998.
Despite Ashton’s involvement with cryptocurrencies for nearly a decade, it was Mila Kunis who originated the idea to create the animated NFT show Stoner Cats. Mila explains on their YouTube channel that while stuck in the same house with Ashton during covid, she overheard what others were saying about how digital art was being sold as NFTs. Mila finally asked her husband if she could create an animated show as an NFT, to which Kutcher replied “Well, yes you could!” Fast forward to yesterday’s complete sell-out of Stoner Cats NFTs in 35 minutes.
Stoner Cats Teaser:
Low-effort Celebrity NFT Cash Grab?
While some in the NFT community would view this as yet another celebrity cash grab, there is much more nuance to be understood here. First of all, the project has an absolutely insane lineup of all-star talent voicing the characters of this adult cartoon including Jane Fonda, Seth MacFarlane, Chris Rock, Mila Kunis, Ashton Kutcher, and Vitalik Buterin himself. The all-star lineup doesn’t end with the celebrity cast, former CryptoKitties creative director Mack Flavelle is leading the effort along with the animation team of Chris Cartagena, Sarah Cole, and Ash Brannon. This breaks the low-effort celebrity cash grab narrative that in my opinion is really just rooted in a disguised form of jealousy amongst some of the louder voices in the space. There is already a mockery NFT project looking to capitalize on all the buzz Stoner Cats is generating that I won’t even mention here. In my own view, I choose to celebrate the success of others instead of criticizing it, regardless of how successful they were previously. The last time I checked, it takes quite a bit of effort and work to become an accomplished celebrity and to deal with all the haters that inevitably come with it. I spoke with a few other prominent NFT community members within the WTF Dao to get their opinions. Bryan Brinkman had some insightful nuggets he shared with me. “I may be an optimist, but as an animator who has worked in the industry, I’ve seen how hard it is to get a network to approve an idea that doesn’t fit into the mold they are looking for. This space is all about decentralizing and removing gatekeeping and this could prove to be a way for creators to do that.”
“I see this project as a rough roadmap for how creators can bankroll and build a community around their ideas in the same way Kickstarter and Patreon have. The difference here is that as an investor, you hold the value you invested in the Non-Fungible Token. As a supporter, you can help the project grow in value and increase the return on your investment. It’ll be interesting to see how the next wave of projects learn from what did and did not work in this one. I see future examples as having more utility and ownership of the content.”
“This project signals a new wave of “Celebrity NFTs”, prior to this we had some musicians, athletes, and actors joining the space, but none of them had the star power that this project brings. We are now going to see celebrities and influencers that have access to major networks late night and daytime talk shows being able to promote their NFT projects and that is going to onboard a massive wave of new interested collectors that I think will rival the boom we saw at the beginning of 2021.” Bryan’s comments really just confirmed my own observations about what this project was really about. If you are a builder or creator in this space, the selling out of this Stoner Cats NFT project is likely to inject an enormous amount of interest in NFTs, which is a net positive for creators in this space over the long term.
Failure to Launch and Gas Problems
This project was not without its own set of challenges and problems, I was in the Stoner Cats discord when its failure to launch on the original drop date prompted a flurry of anger and frustration along with an overwhelming amount of keyboard warriors with no manners saying things they would not dare say to another human face to face.
The very next day after the team worked tirelessly to fix the issues with the smart contract, they launched on time, however, there was so much demand for these Stoner Cats that gas prices on the Etherum blockchain skyrocketed north of 500 Gwei from less than 30 prior to the launch.
I myself had a transaction that failed after 40 minutes of waiting. According to data from Dune Analytics over $700,000 USD was lost in failed transactions.
I also got to speak with another WTF Dao member, Kai Turner, founder of the Meebits Dao, Experience Designer at Netflix, and Product Content Innovation lead and Advisor to NFT42. This is what he had to say:
“Funnily enough, I pitched a similar idea to the now-Dapper Labs CTO when I was at Sony Pictures Entertainment suggesting that CryptoKitties should do something exactly like this in 2017. So it’s notable that the former CryptoKitties Creative Director is leading the effort because maybe he saw similar potential in the space.”
“In terms of the creative concept, I think they could have set a higher bar. It does feel like someone has asked: What does the crypto community like? Cats and Weed! However, even though these are hackneyed themes within our niche, they might be slightly novel to the broader adult animation audience– so given the names, especially Seth McFarlane, attached — there is still a lot of potential for this to become a quality piece of entertainment.”
“Finally, with the NFT release, lots of complaints about the launch, but for us who have been in the space for a while, we’re used to the gas spikes. Although I think we do need a better model for oversubscribed drops than just pushing the contract and website live – Top Shot is pioneering models here out of necessity. So if it’s queues or tickets or waitlists
– just telling the community to pay a 200% premium on gas is not good enough anymore.
Gas isn’t my main concern though – I think the drop could have provided more variation than the same characters, the characters associated with characters in the show could have been the rarest ones, but why not build out a Stoner Cats universe of all the cats in the world? Even if they don’t make an appearance in the show in season 1 — there is future potential for them to! — maybe as a community reward/competition.”
“Overall, I’m enthusiastic about the project and the hope that it will set a new model for funding content – but like Kickstarter projects in the past, I’ll believe it when I see it … the execution of the final product is what matters most.” – Kai Turner
For me, the general takeaway is that despite all of the problems with the initial launch, the gas wars, lost funds, and the hate being hurled at celebrities for “daring” to use this nascent NFT technology; this project looks to be a major success in proving NFT’s are a better way forward for creatives in the entertainment industry. The idea that celebrities and all of Hollywood would not eventually be beating down the door to enter into this space is a short-sighted sentiment. There is a tremendous opportunity for those who are open to seeing the importance of this very moment in history as the future infrastructure for nearly all forms of entertainment media, is being built now. NFTs will continue to empower more creators and break down some of the very entrenched middlemen in the entertainment industry. Studios and publishers have carved predominantly predatory relationships with creators, but this new model of funding creative works via NFTs will force them to innovate and alter the way they interact with the true creators of value behind all types of intellectual property. I see a future world where the consumers of entertainment experiences will also be the stakeholders, contributors, and even the co-creators themselves, where the fans can have a more intimate connection and even ownership of the stories they love without all the bureaucratic bullshit, all brought to you by Non-fungible Tokens.
Featured image credit: Stonercats.com
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The last minutes of the Ethereum Community conference ended in some fast & furious token-swapping in the lobby of the Maison de la Mutualite. The excitement was courtesy of Hermez, a decentralized ZK (zero-knowledge) rollup specializing in low-cost token transfers. In cryptography, a zero-knowledge proof is when one party can prove to another that a specific mathematical statement is true without revealing any additional information. The concept helps with the transfer of sensitive information and allows blockchain transactions to remain private.
But back to EthCC . Hermez hosted a conference-wide token exchange, which included tokens with quirky names such as the Future of France, Lambo, Elon Musk Muted, and Corgi. This “conference trading” served as a casual ice breaker for attendees, although the atmosphere throughout the venue was already very social. Additional gamification elements were also present throughout the week (including a POAP raffle for volunteers and SushiSwap’s NFT giveaway), making EthCC a nice balance between networking, community building, and educational initiatives. Before we pull the curtain on this year’s Paris conference, let’s look at some of the highlights from day three:
CRYPTO LAWYERS ON THE LOOSE
While building futures is exciting – at some point, the incoming regulations on Cryptocurrency and tokenization will likely put a slight damper on the Web 3.0 party. Luckily lawyers @silkenoa and @fatalmeh provided some insight on how to start thinking about these inevitable changes and incoming amendments to the law. Although they presented views rather than legal advice, the duo did cover a lot of important points that all holders of crypto and incoming DAOs should consider. In addition to clarifying that there is always a legal risk when holding crypto, there were some great jokes about the exodus from Berlin to Portugal due to the lack of elevators. For anyone looking for more insight into the legal side of tokenomics, they put together this handy (and collaborative) Crypto Legal Risk Checklist.
As announced today by @silkenoa and I in our talk at #EthCC4, here is the v.1 of the checklist to assess the situation of your project from a crypto legal risk point of view. https://t.co/uWns4r0aVG
The concept of Proof of Personhood has been around since 2017 (and Vitalik Buterin proposed an identity system in 2014). However, Proof of Humanity (PoH) was only announced this past March by Kleros. POH is a social verification system that can help to throttle evil bots and provide resistance against Sybil attacks. One use case being explored by the decentralized arbitration service include a Universal Basic Income Token.
Humanity is a hot topic, especially as we enter a future filled with AI, IoT, and robots. As discussions around humanity increase, it’s also opened up the conversation about extending human rights to animals and natural resources. Many initiatives are utilizing NFT technology for environmental and social good to tackle this, including Project Ark. Today, however, we’re discussing tress.
On the main stage of EthCC, James Beck (Director of Communication at ConsenSys) discussed environmental personhood and how rights can be referred to natural resources on the Ethereum network. The concept of assigning human rights to non-humans is gaining traction, and Beck believes that the Ethereum blockchain can play a vital role in protecting and sustaining natural resources.
The example used by Beck was street trees, highlighting the need to protect them from damage and destruction. Utilizing the New York City Street Tree Map of 700,000 street trees, Beck explained the unique benefits of street trees: they absorb carbon, prevent erosion, and cool cities in the summer. He highlighted initiatives such as terra0, based in Berlin, that aims to provide automated ecosystem resilience frameworks.” In 2018, terra0used censors on a bonsai tree to determine its various needs (more water, more light, etc.). Essentially, the tree is managed by a DAO, and when Ethereum is sent to the tree’s smart contract, humans provide the required upkeep.
Citing this example, Beck seeks to expand on this concept by creating an NYC Street Tree Dao. Using the platform, he is crowdfunding for a specific Japanese Zelkova tree in Brooklyn. Beck’s case for tree DAO’s is further explored in a collectible NFT piece on Mirror.
LEGALITY IN NFTS & EU REGULATION ON CRYPTO
Yes, there was a lot of legal talk happening on day three of EthCC. Primavera De Filippi (legal researcher at the National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS) in Paris) made it clear that current Intellectual Property (IP) and copyright laws do not necessarily protect works that are copied or re-sold on the blockchain. Not the best news, but at least there’s going to be a party on the Moon!
And finally, we got an update on the EU regulation, Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA), from Dea Markova, Senior Director at the EU division of FTI consulting. While it appears these regulations might not come into effect until 2024, Markova hinted that the EU is far ahead of the U.S. and other major financial markets on regulation. Furthermore, the EU is more focused on providing solutions to problems rather than just presenting the problems themselves. In Brussels, the INATBA task force has been established to help lawmakers create regulations that don’t stifle innovation and development. One insight Markova provided is that tokens will likely be regulated based on the utility and purpose they provide (stablecoins will have different regulations than altcoins, for instance).
It’s too early to tell how this will all play out, but more governments and financial institutions are entering the DeFi space as these laws are being created.
What a whirlwind week in Paris! Of course, this is just a small amount of the information shared at EthCC. Check out this fascinating talk about MetaFi and the Open Metaverse by Outlier Venture’s Jamie Burke, as well as other talks from the EthCC  main stage.
Au revoir, and see you at the next Ethereum Conference!
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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:
Axie Infinity, the wildly popular virtual world NFT game, recently hit a series of landmarks that revealed just how successful of a force the game has become and how much more may lie ahead. The virtual world game, which features appealingly designed “pets,” or “Axies”, offers a variety of ways to earn money, from breeding to battling. Steadily building since late 2017, Axie‘s recent explosive growth is now catching attention across NFT and crypto demographics as both a business and community success.
“Axie Infinity Community!”
Axie Infinity, or Axie, for short, at first appears to be a fairly simple concept that reveals its complexity as one digs deeper. In the Axie Infinity Whitepaper, the game is described as a:
“Pokémon-inspired universe where anyone can earn tokens through skilled gameplay and contributions to the ecosystem. Players can battle, collect, raise, and build a land-based kingdom for their pets. It’s also taken on characteristics of a social network and jobs platform due to the strong community and play to earn opportunities that have come from its early success.”
The play-to-earn concept is key to Axie‘s popularity. Axie has multiple ways to earn in the game with more on the way. Just as the “play” side evolves, so too does the “earn” side.
According to its timeline, Axie Infinity‘s development began in 2017 with its first Axie presale in February of 2018. Parent company Sky Mavis was officially launched in early 2018 with headquarters in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam where it is led by CEO Trung Thanh Nguyen. More importantly, the timeline reveals the systematic development of Axie which laid the foundation for its recent explosive growth.
Growth highlights include:
“Axie Infinity has generated over $39 million worth of total revenue between July 10th and July 17th, 2021…To put into perspective just how astonishing that figure is, in the same span Ethereum and Bitcoin generated $37.9 million and $4.7 million in total revenues respectively.” (William M. Peaster)
“Over the past 24 hours, 7 days, and 30 days, Axie Infinity has done more volume than any other NFT Marketplace, including open ones like OpenSea, Foundation, and Rarible, and asset-specific ones like CryptoPunks, NBA TopShot, and SoRare. It’s now third all-time by volume, and amazingly, its past 30-day volume alone would rank third all-time!” (Packy McCormick)
“Today they’re getting ready to surpass Fortnite as the largest discord community in the world.” (Ryan Sean Adams)
Many factors have played into Axie‘s success, from consistent development to great art to the opportunity to play-to-earn. Axie‘s overall set of features already feels quite complete with more to come. However, Axie‘s deeper appeal and perhaps, one day, its historical significance derives from the overlap of community and play-to-earn heightened during the Covid pandemic. A recent documentary explores this element:
“‘PLAY-TO-EARN’ | Trailer”
“PLAY-TO-EARN” is a documentary by Coindesk columnist Leah Callon-Butler. Callon-Butler first wrote about a community in the Philippines, Cabanatuan City, where seemingly everyone played Axie Infinity. Callon-Butler then went on to create the “PLAY-TO-EARN” documentary about the village’s relationship to Axie. Both the documentary and Cabanatuan City are now symbolic of the potentially life-changing economic power of Axie and the community forces that have become part of the game’s power.
As she notes in her follow-up article, the earnings from Axie enabled whole families to play and to earn the money they needed to get through the Covid crisis when so many lost their jobs. While the Philippines is not the only nation where Axie Infinity is popular, it has been the strongest example of widespread uptake fueled by stories of gaming success such as the man who bought two houses with his winnings.
As Yield Guild co-founder and NFTS WTF DAO member Gabby Dizon states:
The most important thing to understand about #PlayToEarn is that we're arming people with hope. Once they understand that their gaming skills can give them a better life, it gives them agency to take control of their own lives and make it better. How many games can do that?
The unique ability of the Axie Infinity team to grow a virtual world game over years and successfully connect to players in a meaningful way is in itself a huge accomplishment. To have an effect on the economic well-being of whole communities reveals Axie Infinity as an example of the potential for NFTs to become a tool for creating a better world.
Paris has always been at the forefront of cultural movements, so it’s no surprise that it’s become the home for “the largest annual European Ethereum event focused on technology and community.” This week, the “city of lights” is playing host to the fourth annual Ethereum Community Conference ( EthCC ) with a series of exciting speaker series, workshops, and networking events focused on scaling and amplifying the Ethereum network.
While Bitcoin has been in the “mainstream” since at least 2017, 2021 could very well be dubbed “the year of Ethereum.” Both DeFi and NFTs are responsible for this growth, with banks and major corporations rushing to claim the title of “pioneer” within the blockchain space. On the first day of EthCC : DAOs, DeFi startups, new protocols, and established blockchain companies were set up throughout the sprawling Maison de La Mutualité. All of these projects presented are part of the Ethereum ecosystem and help developers and builders find the tools necessary to their decentralized objectives. Companies on-site included Boson Protocol,AAVE, Paraswap, Hermez, Celo, and the Stake DAO.
On the first day of the conference, there were many conversations in conference rooms and hallways alike about tokenization, smart contracts, cross-chain solutions, and derivates. There was also lots of talk on the subject of NFTs, one of the star applications of the Ethereum network.
From Charged Particles to presentations by digital art advisor Fanny Lakoubay, here are some of the NFT highlights from Day 1 of EthCC .
STATE OF THE MARKET FROM NONFUNGIBLE.COM
It’s hard to believe that the mainstream buzz around NFTs began only four months ago. In that time, there have been record-breaking sales, countless meme mintings, and numerous news articles proclaiming that NFTs are dead.
Beyond speculation of where the market is going, the numbers show that NFTs in the form of collectibles and digital art assets are still a very promising market. According to data compiled by www.nonfungible.com, there have been more than 200,000 sales during June of 2021, with collective revenue exceeding $224 million USD.
Collectibles continue to lead sales, accounting for almost 66% of the total NFT market, while art NFTs only account for 14% of all total sales. NonFungible.com co-founder Gauthier Zuppinger presented this data at the conference.
While the market is not as bullish as it was in March, it’s likely this fall will see a plethora of new projects, which will potentially bring in entirely new collectors and revenue to the space.
ART MARKET CASE STUDIES FROM FANNY LAKOUBAY
Insight into French public opinion was delivered by New York-based digital art advisor Fanny Lakoubay. While many traditional institutions have yet to embrace or see value in utilizing NFTs, many auction houses (Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Bonhams, Phillips, Cambi) have leaped into the space. It’s also interesting to note that a handful of museums are also experimenting with NFTs. There have been NFT projects from the Italian museum Le Gallerie Degli Uffizi, The Hermitage, and The Whitworth at the University of Manchester.
In addition to showcasing how NFTs have affected the traditional art market, Lakoubay also highlighted some leading marketplaces in the ecosystem. These included permissionless platforms such as Open Sea, Rarible, and Hic et Nunc; invitation-only platforms like Foundation, Super Rare, Makersplace, and Known Origin; and curated platforms such as folia, blank, palm, and snark art.
The presentation by Ben Lakoff from Charged Particles helped to reiterate that the capabilities of NFT technology extend far beyond art. Lakoff also shared insight into the “NFT Avatar” market, which includes projects such as Crypto Punks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, Super Yetis, and Wicked Craniums. According to the data presented, secondary sales of NFT Avatars reached almost $350 million (USD) in the second quarter of 2021.
Lakoff highlighted the use of NFTs as access tokens, which allows owners to unlock private content and helps facilitate the creation of community memberships. With global loyalty programs expected to reach $216 billion by the end of 2021, it’s likely more brands and companies will capitalize on this use case of NFTs to drive revenue and strengthen relationships with their customers even further.
What does the future of NFTs hold? According to Lakoff, many platforms are focused on fractional ownership. In theory, it will be easier to split the ownership of digital works when compared to physical assets. Other use cases that are on the horizon include the renting of NFTs, and the ability to use NFTs as collateral for borrowing cryptocurrency.
Charged Particles is an innovative platform, allowing users to deposit ERC-20/721 and 1155 tokens directly into their NFTS. In his talk, Lakoff described NFTs as “gift baskets” that can hold a variety of digital assets. In essence, NFTs can be “charged,” holding tokens that can be completely customized. As the NFT market is extremely young, we will have to wait to see how builders and creators choose to build inside and on top of non-fungible tokens.
Stay tuned for highlights from Day 2 of ETHCC tomorrow, including Vitalik Buterin’s state of Ethereum address. I’m Origin and am live on the ground giving you the latest news at ETHCC 2021.
Make sure to tune in for our Twitter Spaces live from the conference Thursday, July 22nd at 10:00 am EST/ 4:00 pm CEST
In the U.S., the National College Athletic Association (NCAA) recently suspended rules that banned amateur athletes from monetizing their “Name, Image and Likeness” (NIL) via such means as product endorsements and merchandise. Those closely following the NFT space rightly recognize the opportunity, but one should not expect an explosion of sports NFTs to follow. There are many more lucrative deals clogging up the pipelines but, long term, the implications of this ruling change are considerable for NFTs especially if the changes are extended to high school athletes.
On July the 1st, the NCAA lifted rules stopping college athletes from monetizing their name, image and likeness while maintaining amateur status. Due to a wide range of activity in this area from state laws, some of which were about to come into effect, to proposals in Congress, final clear guidelines are not yet available. The situation for high school athletes is even more confusing with statements that they are not eligible in response to statements that they are and warnings about dropping NFTs too soon after one has graduated from high school.
However, unclear cut off dates are not stopping future college athletes from dropping NFTs and signing all sorts of deals. And keep in mind that, in April, University of Iowa basketball’s Luke Garza released his first NFT almost before hitting the showers after his last game in the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament. So, with graduation behind them, we should see a rising tide of former high school athletes attempting to gather some NFT back-to-school money.
But can we expect a “flood of college athlete NFTs” to save the day for NFT markets declared dead? Well, yes and no. There will be significant growth in NFTs this year though likely spread over seasons for specific sports. Of course, high-profile athletes are already taking advantage of the shift in rules and releasing NFTs, such as the Kayvon Thibodeaux NFT in partnership with Nike founder Phil Knight and designed by Oregon alum Tinker Hatfield.
Keep in mind that the rules change creates new marketing channels of fresh young stars being offered much fancier opportunities than an NFT. So don’t be surprised that NFTs won’t get the same level of sports headlines as deals like:
Cavinder twins sign with Boost Mobile and Six Star Pro Nutrition
McKenzie Milton and D’Eriq King join Dreamfield, a NIL-focused startup, as co-founders
Hercy Miller signs a $2 million deal with Web Apps America
So this coming year should be big for college sports-focused NFTs but NFTs will not be the biggest news to come from NIL rules changes. Nevertheless, this change comes at a perfect time for NFTs:
2021’s strong introduction of sports NFTs from NBA Top Shot to Sorare establishes NFTs as a new element in athlete’s merch bundle. Being on that checklist now means NFTs will become a standard item with which to maximize monetization.
College athletics have a huge community element and a family fanbase that is often deeply engaged over generations. Such a dynamic can strongly increase the desirability of identifiable digital collectibles, which will kick in even deeper if high school athletes gain similar rights.
Currently, a wide range of NFT platforms and marketplaces are being launched, including many in the sports space. Opening up college and, possibly, high school athletics to NFTs could lead to a wide range of game and marketplace startups centred on amateur athletes.
The enthusiastic community support received by amateur athletes makes them a huge target for marketers. Of course, the big bucks will go to the big stars, but everyone can create something unique to memorialize their years in youth athletics. Once the headline endorsement buzz fades into another element of background noise filled with pet foods and hygienic gear, NFTs from one’s days as a young sports star will remain forever on the blockchain of your choice for you and your fans to enjoy.
Damian Hirst, one of the world’s highest-selling artists, is part of the NFT space. Yes, you heard me correctly – I was, at first, confused. Though upon further research into the specifics of his newest drop, my confusion slowly blossomed into intrigue. After his first NFT release with Heni Leviathan allowed him to sell over 7,000 prints grossing him over 22 million USD, he is unsurprisingly back for another go of it. Soon, Hirst will, most likely, sell out his entire new collection of 10,000 physical pieces that people can “apply” to buy at $2,000 each, which he has aptly entitled “Currency.”
All 10,000 pieces come with a red-pill, blue-pill scenario as their principal value add. Do you choose to be shipped a hand-painted physical piece by Hirst himself? Or would you prefer to keep the NFT as a purely digital token? This conundrum leaves many other art collectors and me in the crypto space asking ourselves: why not both? However, this seems to be the point of the collection: to assess the buyer’s relationship with a piece that exists simultaneously in both the digital and physical worlds. Thus, asking the buyer to decide which medium they deem more valuable for themselves. While there are 10,000 physical pieces that have been hand-made to pair up with every NFT, the buyer can only choose to claim one.
The pieces are derivative of his iconic “spot paintings” which he has been doing since 1988. This could be seen as a positive by some and negative by others. While this is, arguably, his most famous motif, it has become quite a mainstream signature of the Hirst brand. In his book On the Way to Work, Hirst describes his exploration with his spot paintings as “a way of pinning down the joy of colour.” By tediously embellishing art paper with thousands of seemly random colourful dots, Hirst aims to “create […] structure, to do those colours, and do nothing” simultaneously. Blake Gopnik, of the New York Times, explained this sentiment in slightly more detail in a piece for Gagosian:
“The Spots were fundamentally about abstraction as reduced to its most basic components: color, form, and placement. You could say that they represented an attempt to reach Abstraction Degree Zero.”
And now, 10,000 of us have the opportunity to bring an authentic, handpainted derivative of this iconic series into our homes through this NFT launch. Though this drop may be Hirst’s attempt to further break into the increasingly thriving NFT market and thereby the wallets of the crypto-whales this space knows and loves, it seems as if this drop is targeting a far more mainstream audience. Making the pieces available through Heni.com, powered by palm.io, the same chain that fueled the sold-out Space Jam drop, the pieces are meant to be accessible to as wide of an audience as possible. Available for purchase directly with FIAT, interested buyers can “apply” to purchase one of the pieces. And; despite the site mentioning that owners of “Cryptopunks, Hashmasks, Meebits, BAYC, and Art blocks” would be prioritized, it still seems that the drop targets non-crypto-native art lovers. This makes quite a lot of sense for Hirst, considering that still under 1% of the world is fluent within this NFT space and has an active wallet from which to purchase. Especially considering he has an audience of over a million fans across his socials to tap into within the traditional market and a healthy collector-base of some of the most significant living collectors in the entire traditional art world.
But this is NFTS.WTF, and we’re not just talking about the traditional art space here. So we wanted to delve into some of the specifics of this drop from the community’s perspective, especially after mainstream outlets have already begun spreading misinformation as per usual. Such as one article citing that this drop’s blockchain was “99 percent more energy efficient than either Ethereum or Bitcoin” since it is run on a POS chain (lol).
To better gauge the response from the NFTfi community about such a significant artist making his next sizable leap into the NFT space, I asked a few leading members of the WTF DAO what their thoughts were in regards to this historic drop:
According to NFT collector and DAO member Silversurfer, he’s planning on “buying one [piece] to keep as an NFT and one to keep as a physical” if he can get in. Furthermore, he “personally think collectibles from actual artists are more valuable than apes/punks/cats and much cooler.”
When chatting with other DAO members about the drop in more detail, he also touched on another valuable point. That in his eyes, “the point of the experiment is to show everyone what is valued more, the physical or the digital?” And I agree.
According to artist and NFT aficionado Bryan Brinkman, he thinks that “it’s certainly going to be interesting to see if the 10K model works at that price point.” Brinkman points out that “Meebits did 5K at 2.5eth, so it’s possible, but most 10K projects are sub .1eth,” in contrast with this collection which sits around 1eth. Despite this, Brinkman said that he “signed up” and that “its certainly tempting to own an affordable Hirst that isn’t a ‘print.’” He believes that “it’s a cool bridge from the old work to the new,” but he also thinks that “it’s not fully diving into the space,” since “the NFTs feel like a checkout mechanism to buy his physical work.”
I quite agree, and though I appreciate Hirst’s work, this does seem like a lot of exposition to still just get a physical piece. Granted, at a much lower price point. Though, according to Brinkman, he thinks “he could have done this project, but as a generative art NFT on artblocks and made just as much.” Brinkman believes that “the fact he’s doing [a] physical shows his reluctance towards the NFT space, and his need to appeal to his traditional collectors which honestly, is a safe move.”
And he’s right! While Hirst is “a big name,” most “people in this space care about Apes and Punks, not Koons and Hirst.” Brinkman aptly mentioned that “there have been MoMA artists on SR flying under the radar for 1-2eth” for quite some time.”
The collector and founder, formally known as @j1mmy.eth, has quite a legendary digital art collection. From being one of the largest holders of Bored Apes to founding Avastars and Nameless, amongst other institutions in the space, he has a great perspective on the climate of digital art. According to Jimmy, he purchased “some of his prints from the HENI thing a few months back.” However, despite Hirst’s reputation, Jimmy doesn’t necessarily “agree with the method/experiment/use of NFTs that have to be ‘traded in’ for ownership of a physical.”
Furthermore, according to Jimmy, “it shows a lack of understanding of the tech” since NFTs in-and-of-themselves “are proof of ownership, and [his] belief is Palm or anyone working with a person new to NFTs, like this artist, should try to explain how this all works and how it makes no sense to burn proof of ownership to receive an item.”
Instead, Jimmy suggests that Hirst and the team at palm simply mark pieces “as redeemed in metadata and include additional information about said redemption.” Without doing this, questions such as “is it burned?” or “is it traded in?” quickly arise.
Jimmy stressed the fact that when a piece is “burned [it] isn’t really burned, it still exists, just [as] a dead address.” So when this happens, an “owner is just relinquishing ownership of something, not ACTUALLY burning it.” Because of this, they can’t simply say that “the supply is actually reduced” since “the ownable supply is, but not the total NFTs in the collection.”
Giovanni / Fragcolor
Giovanni Petrantoni, founder and CEO of Fragcolor chimed in to agree with J1mmy. Staring that this burning situation “opens up a scenario where people can fork a network if [they] really wanted to revive an NFT trade.” Following up that they are “sure that given enough value, someone might play this card one day.”
Giovanni also wanted to clarify that “the chain needs all of the transactions to regenerate itself, always” and that “it’s immutable.” So the burning simply “sends something to an unusable address,” stopping the trade and allowing “the network [to] become the owner, you might argue.”
In this case, Giovanni would recommend simply marking the tokens as “redeemed… [as a] more elegant [option] than burn.”
These are excellent points to consider for anyone thinking about purchasing one of the limited edition pieces in this collection. While Hirst is more than a reputable artist in the traditional art space, what we’ve learned is that the crypto space moves quite differently. I am sure that this drop will be a success, but I also believe that Hirst and his team still have quite a lot to learn about this space, and I look forward to seeing how his next drops will even further integrate the power that NFTs can unlock for the creator and consumer. While this drop is an exciting and psychological journey into the thought process of the collector, I believe that Hirst can go further, especially within the realms of unlockable content and additional value adds through granted access.
However, this is only his second time attempting a drop within this space, and he’s been functioning at the highest levels in the traditional art world for over three decades. So, I’ll cut him some slack. And actually — I’m considering buying one — are you?
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One of the less-noticed yet game-changing aspects of NFTs is the ability to set a royalty for the artist that is automatically transferred with each transaction. Though not fully realized, NFT royalties allow artists to profit from the increasing value of work over time, typically 10%, and address concerns long-held by physical artists regarding fair payment systems. So it was a bit disappointing to see Binance NFT launch in June with a 1% secondary royalty rate. However, ass the NFT terrain becomes increasingly fragmented across chains, a look back at NFT resale royalties on Ethereum may offer inspiration for those concerned about furthering this development.
Artist’s royalties for secondary sales, also known as artist’s resale rights, are a long-standing topic of debate in the traditional art world. However, such rights have never been fully established, and experiments have been limited. The growing awareness of royalties now being raised in NFT Land may lead to a decisive push forward in that regard and offer NFT artists stronger connections to traditional artists.
In an interview in April of 2021 for NFT Radio, artist Matt Kane told the story of how artists, collectors, and platforms came together to institute a standard 10% royalty going to the artist for secondary sales of art. In 2019, SuperRare had begun setting 3% royalty rates on secondary sales. This did not sit right with Kane, who raised the issue on Twitter but received limited community response. At that point, Kane sat back and waited for community leadership to address the task.
Ultimately Kane realized that he must become the leader he sought and drew together a small network. The group discussed appropriate demands, studied historical information gathered by Bard Ionson, and followed through with a letter to crypto art platforms. Some artists also boycotted platforms or removed their work from platforms without secondary royalties. By the end of March 2020, all the major platforms of the time had agreed in principle to an “industry-wide standard of minimum 10% secondary sale royalties for artist minted NFTs.”
Now, essentially a year later, much has changed with varied progress beyond these initial shared goals. Secondary sale royalties became an expected feature of Ethereum-based NFT platforms and, as new platforms launched and followed suit, the standard was shown to be set. However, though NFT art minting and sales are finally showing results on blockchains beyond Ethereum, royalties and similar standards are not following suit.
Perhaps the next major step in unifying smart contracts and royalty standards on Ethereum, the development of EIP-2981: NFT Royalty Standard, can also affect awareness of such issues on other chains. Its authors, Zach Burks, James Morgan, Blaine Malone, James Seibel, are creating a standard that “allows contracts…to signal a royalty amount to be paid to the NFT creator or rights holder every time the NFT is sold or re-sold. This is intended for NFT marketplaces that want to support the ongoing funding of artists and other NFT creators.”
The proposal closes for review this month and currently seems to be the most promising effort to bring together platform stakeholders around a practical initiative with potentially far-reaching consequences. Artists aware of this proposal have shown a positive response. While voluntary, this approach sets a concrete standard.
It seems likely that most participants in the Ethereum NFT ecosystem will find common ground around an effort such as EIP-2981. Ideally, such actions will raise awareness beyond Ethereum and help all artists understand why, as noted NFT collector and entrepreneur Pranksy states, “The news of only 1% artist secondary royalties on offer from @binance is insulting to creators.”
Such awareness helped focus 2020’s efforts to make 10% royalties a community standard setting the stage for concrete industry standards. As Matt Kane notes, the effort’s success is due, in part, to asking the “platforms and collectors to join the artists as ALLIES in making NFTs stronger,” rather than targeting them as opponents. Those seeking standardized royalties across blockchains will likely find such a unifying approach key to long-term success.
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Anyone who can make a living doing what they love should consider themselves lucky. Yet for blockchain copywriter and Etherpoet Margaret Corvid, also known as MargaretLabour, her luck never stopped, all thanks to her day job. Since selling her Reply Guy NFT for 50Ξ ($110,000), a gift from Twitter for tweeting her NFT poem, it’s back to business as usual for Corvid, whose recent streak of crypto successes is barely luck; not by a longshot.
“I only owned the NFT for I think like an hour, and then I picked up my phone and there was an email from Rarible, and I looked at it, and then I started swearing and shouting at my husband,” Corvid recalls. “And then, obviously, I had questions, so I went to my favorite servers which are Etherpoems and Taylor.wtf’s Discord—they’re full of really wise people—they gave me good advice, so I took the bid,” she said. “And then I looked in my fucking Metamask and there was $110,000 in there.”
Here within, a note to @twitter from this humble etherpoet, lifted racing heart a-flitter celebrating drops. I know it seems a strange one, @jack knows best the art form, to enshrine and haunt it, I hope that I pass the test because, dear friends, I really want it! #nftpoemhttps://t.co/vjo3BNoBse
— Margaret Corvid is currently taking commissions🕷 (@MargaretLabour) June 30, 2021
While acknowledging that none of this is financial advice, Corvid shared her philosophy about cryptocurrency, which has always been to not use it as a speculative tool primarily, but more so to invest sweat equity—i.e., labor, in exchange for cryptocurrency.
“I don’t want to be spending this principle really at all,” Corvid said of her cryptocurrency coffer. “I want to be earning crypto through the sweat of my brow,” she emphasized. Corvid is currently taking poetry commissions in addition to her work as a copywriter for NFT artists. Painter and art collector Dario De Siena is among her current contractual and collaborative clients.
“I looked around the markets, like OpenSea, and I immediately saw a need for someone with my skills,” Corvid said. I saw a lot of really talented artists with amazing work, but they don’t necessarily carry the confidence in presenting their work in words and descriptions,” she realized. “This is something that I can do.” Corvid’s way with words helps artists articulate what they want readers to connect with about their art—whether it’s helping to establish their identity and brand story in their artist bios, or crafting the narrative for artist statements, grants, contest submissions, artist residencies, exhibitions, and more.
Corvid also writes about the creative process and symbolism in an artist’s work, which she is uniquely skilled to articulate. Her role as a writer and poet in collaborations with other artists often serves to connect visual and literary elements. Being involved with a branded content agency in fiat, Corvid knows how to work through the editing process and give the client exactly what they want. Her experience contributing to publications like The Guardian affects her ability to deliver freelance copywriting services at the highest professional standards.
When you’re working for crypto, you have to be your own bank. That’s the whole point of decentralized finance, which can lead to financial freedom and generational wealth. DeFi isn’t easy to learn, and if it was, everybody would be doing it. It’s a privilege and a given that you’re down for doing your own DeFi when you’re banking on the blockchain.
Remember doing decimals in math class? Did you ever take a home economics class and talk about Compound interest or dollar-cost averaging? That’s the essential math we need to grasp to be our own brokers. Yes, our computers can solve these equations, yet we need to know what to ask them in order to benefit from knowing the answer.
Corvid started counting crypto in 2012 when she first bought Bitcoin. Now that NFTs are here, there’s no question where her focus is, and of course, she’s at the forefront of the crypto art movement. One of her clients even pays her in NFT collectibles. “Those NFTs perform better than any currency I got, so yeah, I’ll take ‘em,” Corvid says. She’s doing the math.
Since becoming 50Ξ richer, Corvid rolled up her sleeves and returned to work as a writer—like her 15 minutes of Twitter fame never happened—except now she’s the proud new owner of a CryptoPunk; one of the very first NFTs minted on the Ethereum blockchain. Corvid’s CryptoPunk purchase for 17.7Ξ has effectively minted her belief in the crypto community she is writing and fighting for every day.
“Instead of looking in my wallet, and knowing I had $110,000Ξ yesterday, then seeing I have $101,000Ξ today, this CryptoPunk sort of hedges me a little bit and I actually feel a lot calmer about it now,” Corvid reflects. “I’m a lot more confident.” Her CryptoPunk makes her an ambassador for blockchain culture and a visible reminder of stored value. CryptoPunk owners command a level of respect in the crypto hierarchy of notoriety and influence that is immediately bestowed upon their owners. As a cultural status symbol, CryptoPunks enhance the value proposition in every crypto space they occupy. While presenting itself as a privileged asset of choice among a forward-thinking few. CryptoPunk ownership embodies Corvid’s enduring presence in the NFT community even while her immutable legacy is still being written.
The news that Twitter was dropping NFTs on Rarible seems like it could have received more attention but it was an NFT drop and those happen every day now. On the other hand, Twitter is not only a leading social media site but also quite likely the foremost social media site for NFTs. So perhaps the news was simply underwhelming given the outsized possibilities, a bunch of fun NFTs versus Twitter going full-scale into NFTs as they probably should have.
Twitter’s drop was well organized, led to some excellent NFT art, a quickly heating secondary market, and a positive reception overall. Unfortunately, Twitter did not take the opportunity to visibly include the artists in the drop and so missed out on deepening community connections. Such connections will be increasingly powerful as we see the further intersection of NFTs and the creator movement.
The reveal was stretched out over the day with drops on Rarible and additional background info and discussion on Twitter. The extra-brief intro created some confusion but it also opened up a bit of a treasure hunt between tweets on Twitter and posts on Rarible as folks sorted things out.
A number of major media outlets including TechCrunch and Bloomberg chose to play along with the bare bones announcement.
Numerous personal touches reminded us there are humans in NFT Land from Twitter leaders like Phonz.eth supporting the project to NFT Land personalities like artchick.eth getting a guest appearance on the official Twitter account’s banner:
But Where Were the Artists?
Despite the strong presence of art, the artists themselves were mostly invisible though mentioned as members of the Twitter team that realized this project. One of the more interesting dynamics in crypto art is the movement by artists between commercial, corporate settings and independent, direct-to-collector approaches. Moving between such worlds sharpens one’s perception and sometimes offers opportunities for raising basic questions that otherwise get lost in the art business as usual:
These artists name should have been in the metadata, but okay. What are your royalty splits looking like?
Did @Twitter leave out the artists names on the token? If so was this a commercial buyout situation, or are they receiving royalties? These, along with the @opensea choice, makes this drop miss in my eyes. We must ask the hard questions to inform on how they can improve. https://t.co/DtNz6yhpI6
Ideally, such questions can lead to rich open-ended improvements and possibilities.
As Florez notes, it really would be amazing for crypto artists if Twitter decided to “launch and immerse themselves in our culture by making exclusive #cryptoartist drops honoring our decentralized methods and highlighting the amazing talents!”
Such a process could have begun with this very first drop and info about each artist and their art. Many of us would find the creation process and workflow of interest as well.
The 140 Collection team had numerous options but also constraints of which we are not aware. That said, making the creators the center of campaigns would allow any company to get closer to the heart of the energy driving the art. Given the current noise in the NFT space will only increase moving forward, building deeper connections will be an important key to remaining relevant to the life of one’s community.