Blonde apes and bad vibes (Issue #7)
Big reveals and plenty of tears.
When wallets get lean, people get mean. Which might explain the significant level of snark doing the rounds this week. Between questionable moves from OpenSea and new celebrity entrants attracting eyerolls and vitriol on social media, the last week has been a trying one for NFT optimists.
But like all things, it too shall pass, and in the NFT space, it’ll likely pass very rapidly indeed. Either there’ll soon be something else to be outraged about, or something so exciting the collective mood will shift. However it plays out, we’ll be here to tell you about it.
Right, let’s get straight into it!
This week OpenSea capped users’ ability to mint on its platform to up to five collections with 50 items in each, and the rage was immediate and fierce. So much so, OpenSea backtracked on the policy and apologized for it. It also warned users that a bug related to “inactive listings” could inadvertently trigger sales, and announced it’s reimbursing those who lose money because of it.
On the one hand, it’s good to see the most popular NFT marketplace responding to the demands of its users and being willing to change tack when pressured. On the other, it’s troubling users had to demand the new restrictions be scrapped given how ill-conceived they were in the first place. Similarly, it’s good to see OpenSea addressing UI problems, but it’s disheartening they keep happening.
Complaints about OpenSea tend to fall into one of two categories: 1.) It often has technical difficulties. 2.) It’s too dominant in a sector that champions the decentralized, distributed, and democratized.
Last week we looked at rival marketplace LooksRare, which has gone from zero to booming in short order, albeit with teething problems (*cough* wash trades *cough*) of its own. The lesson from this week is an addendum to last week’s. We should welcome more marketplaces in the same way we should welcome more players in the NFT space.
Competition slays complacency. It combats monopolistic practices. It pushes down prices. It fosters openness. And it rewards nimbleness. In the nascent stages of the NFT economy, these are all crucial. The alternative is to resign ourselves to working, playing, learning, trading, and creating in the sort of legless, soulless, anodyne Metaverse imagined by Meta/Facebook/whatever it’s called this week.
That’s not to say we’re dyed-in-the-wool NFT libertarians. Au contraire, as the sector matures new guardrails may become necessary to prevent consolidation, collusion, or the myriad other challenges that can emerge in unfettered free markets. But in the early stages (which we’re still in), having multiple players can help keep things in check, especially if the goal is a multi-platform, interoperable, open, diverse, and inclusive Metaverse.
Amidst all of the week’s bad news, there are, however, various bright spots. First, it looks like Diem/Libra/Facebook’s stablecoin project is being stripped and sold for parts. Second, sci-fi NFT card game Parellel raised ~$260,000 for education service Khan Academy. And third, a new study suggests there’s just about gender parity in terms of NFT ownership.
In other words, despite the dark clouds, #wagmi.
🙉 Monkeying about 🙊
Probably nothing 🤔
LeBron and Crypto.com 🤝
The LeBron James Family Foundation has announced a “multi-year deal with Crypto.com,” the same company whose name now adorns the Lakers’ home court in L.A. Details are a little scarce, but the most interesting part of the announcement for us is the educational aspect of the arrangement.
LeBron’s I Promise School in Akron, Ohio, will benefit from new crypto and web3 curricula as a result of the partnership. That’s the sort of inclusive, progressive, pragmatic, altruistic, and inspirational use of clout we love to see.
Cool Cats being extra cool 😻
Like Mutant Apes and Bored Ape Kennel Club, Cool Cats has promised an offshoot project in the form of “Cool Pets.” But because of OpenSea’s recent trials and tribulations, and some problems spotted in the code, the mint has been pushed back from tomorrow (January 29) to Monday, January 31.
Why does this make the good news list? Because we welcome teams doing more due diligence and trying to provide the best experience to their communities, even if means pushing out deadlines.
The Cool Cats team is also running an Allow List giveaway that’ll allow 300 collectors who aren’t Cool Cats owners to mint Cool Pets. You can sign up over here. Cool? Cool!
Where the willow meets the leather 🏏
Cricket, the sport where two teams of 12 attempt to hit a leather-wrapped ball with a paddle-shaped bat (and which includes a five-day-long variant), is foreign and inscrutable to those of us in the Americas. But it’s extremely popular in much of the rest of the world, so it’s great news that the game’s governing body has signed off on its own version of NBA Top Shot.
India alone has a population of more than 1.3 billion people, roughly a billion of whom came likely name Cricket’s top players. Seriously, that’s how big a deal it is there. For digital collectibles, that’s a massive prospective audience… assuming the economics are right. If the price point is too high only the wealthy (like fans in England and Australia) will be able to participate, and that would be a shame.
🔬 Research twice, connect wallet once ⏸
The Meta Quest Quest 2 (from Meta) 🥽
We don’t go looking for reasons to criticize Meta/Facebook, after all, its commitment to become a “Metaverse company” has done wonders for increasing interest in web3. But boy oh boy does it keep making weird decisions. This week’s misstep? Changing the name of its Oculus account on Twitter. Oculus being, of course, the virtual reality company it acquired in 2014, which henceforth shall be referred to as “Meta Quest.”
Twitter users rolled their eyes, rolled up their sleeves, and got stuck into ratio-ing the tweet pretty thoroughly. Meanwhile, the social media manager overseeing the account tried their level best to explain the move. But some things can’t really be explained away. Like the inevitable awkward naming conventions that’ll need to be overcome.
Amusingly, the name change was actually announced last October. But Facebook had held off on changing the Twitter account until now. It’s easy to see why.
To the moon 🌝
Lately, not a week goes by without a new celebrity (or two, or three) buying an Ape. This week was no exception, and this time those who aped in were comedian and actor Kevin Hart, and actor and entrepreneur, Gwyneth Paltrow.
Moonpay got namechecked in both Hart and Paltrow’s deals, which leads us to think we’re going to see plenty more celebs turning to it to help get acquire an Ape in weeks and months to come (especially as NFTs are discounted right now). Will one of them be Lionel Richie? Is Moonpay the company he’s looking for?
Meanwhile, in other news, the third version of the NFT marketplace Zora launched and promises more control and lower fees. POAP, the company behind the popular badge-like tokens that show you did/attended/visited something raised $10 million.
Ozzy Osbourne’s snack-enthusiastic CryptoBatz NFT collection sold out fast, and its Twitter now has almost 100,000 followers, which is staggering for a project so new. Ah, the power of celebrity. And Axie Infinity rolled out its eagerly anticipated Builders Program that’ll enable players to create (and monetize) their own minigames in the Axie universe and for which it’s dishing out grants.
Goats only 🐐
Whether you’re an Ape owner like Fallon, Hart, Hilton, or Paltrow, or you think “HAPE Prime” is a lesser-known Transformer, you should be watching or listening to Goats and the Metaverse.
Each week, collectibles OG and entrepreneur Stan “The Goat” Meytin and Metaversal co-founder and CEO Yossi Hasson sit down with a guest to talk about digital and IRL collectibles, NFTs, and the week’s news worth knowing. This week, they’re talking to Marissa Skolnick of Fierce Studios. Check out the latest episode here:
Aside from providing invaluable insights into digital art and collectibles, Stan and Yossi are also putting together a collection of NFTs dubbed “The Goat Vault.” When the show hits 5,000 subscribers on YouTube, one of those lucky subscribers will win the contents of the vault, which this week is valued at over $74,115.
Forget LinkTree, get Koji 🔗
This week we invested in Koji’s Series B fundraising round. Koji is a massively customizable “link in bio” service designed for NFT owners. The service includes support for free apps, which are great if you’re running a project yourself, looking to show off your collection, or an influencer who wants more control than most link aggregators offer.
Koji’s apps include not just the ability to display NFTs, but also to run NFT giveaways or unlock content for owners of specific items. Koji launched in March 2021 and has raised $36 million in venture capital to date. We’re delighted to be able to support its ongoing evolution, and we can’t wait to see which features it adds next.
Money <> mouth 💸
Each week we’ll offer you a look at an NFT project we’ve invested in and the motivation behind it. This week it’s the turn of Clone X #9577 to take the spotlight.
We invested in a number of Clone X avatars ahead of the reveal (and despite the hiccups with the drop) because we’ve been really impressed by RTFKT’s work (so, too, has Nike, which acquired it last month), and because we’re huge fans of Takashi Murakami’s work. Clone X is precisely the sort of project that has “iconic” written all over it.
Hot chaos 🔥
Until next time, see you in the Metaverse.