When Genies partnered with thousands of celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Rihanna and J Balvin, the digital avatar platform grew like wildfire. Genies allows celebrities to offer digital collectibles (items of clothing or other memorabilia) directly to their fans. Genies CEO Akash Nigam says, “It’s awesome for celebrities because they get to sell digital goods to their fans in places where they already exist,” referring to popular platforms such as Tik Tok and Instagram. The collectibles can be “items that are associated with memorable moments in the icon’s career from a song to an album release.”
While Genies had a celebrity-driven approach until now, the team’s vision goes beyond being a platform for celebrities. “We want to be a product for the masses,” says Nigam. “We introduced an SDK in November which licenses our third-party community and platforms and enables their user bases to create custom avatars for preferred use cases.” The first major partner for Genies is Giphy. The partnership will allow Genies to roll-out their feature across major social platforms, including iMessage, Snapchat and Instagram, tapping into Giphy’s billion-user network. “We want to become the Amazon for NFTs and Digital Goods, offering the ability for anyone to create their own,” said Nigam.
“The goal is to be the virtual portable identity. We want your genies to travel from platform to platform. Depending on the platform, there is a different ‘superpower.’ On Tik Tok, it can be an AR companion, on Giphy – personalized messaging, and on Gucci – another partner we’re rolling out with, a mannequin that you can dress up head to toe,” explains Nigam . As a user would jump from platform to platform, the genie would accompany them and allow them to personify his internet personality with the variety of wearable items available to collect on partner marketplaces.
Nigam points out the appeal of Genies to the younger generation, “We believe avatars are the best vehicle to show off your NFTs. It’s also the best vehicle to invite 14-16 year olds into the space. It’s not crypto-intimidation. It’s not blockchain-oriented. These are tools and characters that they are familiar with and that they already use in video games and other platforms.”
Genies’ most recent NFT drop took place on Friday, Feb. 26 in partnership with OpenSea, the largest peer-to-peer marketplace for rare digital items and crypto collectibles. The collection centres around the Wonder album, released in December 2020 by Canadian singer Shawn Mendes. The artists’ announcement sparked a frenzy of interest, growing the OpenSea user base 67 percent ahead of the drop.
Avatars have been gaining popularity as vehicles for expressing one’s notion of self in the digital realm. Nigam admits they are piggybacking on what Fortnite did last year – generating 1.8 billion in revenue by selling avatar skins and outfits. “So our line of thought is, ‘How can we bring the digital avatar goods from gaming to the social circles for the very first time?’” he says.
“All the items that we are releasing have a massive line of people waiting to activate their 3D genie. We just transitioned from 2D to 3D, which is a more intensive process, and we want to make sure that we are very thoughtful regarding the releases we make. As we announce the new genie release every week, you can find them on OpenSea,” shares Nigam.
According to the DappRadar Industry Report, the virtual fashion economy’s total transaction volume jumped from $21B in 2019 to $271B in 2020. Starting in mid-March, users will can create their avatars on the new Genie app and then port it to all the SDK compatible properties. With the widespread adaptation of the blockchain infrastructure and enforced virtual isolation considering the pandemic, the Genies project comes promptly for the next generation of digital natives.