Good merging! NFTs with your frappuccino? And LeBron's magic metadata?! (Issue #39)
Can we now call yesterday the "before times" too?
It was a relief to awaken this morning and discover that The Merge had gone off as smoothly as planned and didn’t accidentally trigger any nukes. Phew. With that behind us, it’s business as usual… not that “usual” exists in the world of web3. From coffee chains embracing digital tokens for loyalty programs to an NFT morphing into a LeBron James lookalike, there’s never a dull moment in NFT Land. And that’s why we love it.
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Right, let’s get straight into it!
Drop alert 🚨
What better way to celebrate The Merge than with a new collection from OG NFT digital artist and animator Bryan Brinkman? The drop is called “CTRL” and happens on Nifty Gateway this evening (Sept 15) at 6:30pm ET.
Player Zero is a web3 record label representing what it calls “AVAs” (animated virtual artists), which it expects to see lighting up dancefloors all across the metaverse soon. Holders of the first 100 founders’ passes — which were designed by trailblazer FVCKRENDER — receive exclusive access to future Player Zero events, drops, music, and more. The drop happens later today, too.
And to round out a trio of good drops today, at 6:30 pm ET on Makers Place, you can try and pick up a piece from “Metaversical II” by Antonio Garcia Villaran. Collectors will have the option to exchange their NFT for its physical counterpart if they so wish.
Finally, if you bought one of the first 1,000 RUNNER Issue #1 comic books, you can claim a first edition (1ED) NFT at the omegaxrunner.xyz website for free starting next Wednesday, September 21. If you claim in the first 72 hours, you’ll even get your gas reimbursed.
To celebrate the occasion, the Omega RUNNER team is hosting a 1ED Claim Party (AKA “Milestone No. 1”) in its Discord, starting at 9 pm ET on Wednesday. The event features a star lineup of notable web3 DJs and other surprise guests. If you didn’t pick up a comic, you can still pick up a 1ED NFT on the secondary market after the claim period ends… or you could go to the party… because the team will be giving away NFTs to some lucky attendees.
Last night The Merge finally happened, and before it, there was a Y2K-like frisson in the air. And, much like Y2K, you’d be forgiven for not noticing if, say, you returned from a week-long, internetless, digital detox this morning after it took place and, well, failed to notice it had.
Unless you were watching the Ethereum Foundation’s live stream as The Merge took place, it might have felt like a damp squib this morning to find the world of NFTs seemingly continuing without anything discernible having changed. But that lack of fanfare is the ultimate signal that it worked, anon, despite the massive attendant technical challenges.
The lack of fireworks around The Merge, and even the lackluster performance of Ether’s price this morning, should be celebrated (well, maybe not the price action). But the fact that it feels like business as usual is a testament to the expertise of the team that oversaw it, and an excellent advertisement for the stability of the Ethereum network more broadly.
Perhaps more importantly, the lack of drama combined with a move from the energy-intensive proof-of-work consensus mechanism to the far more energy-efficient proof-of-stake is the death knell for the complaint most often offered up by Ethereum critics: that it’s bad for the environment, unsustainable, and hence, morally reprehensible.
By removing this distraction from the discourse, many artists and entrepreneurs who’ve held off on participating in the Ethereum ecosystem will likely reconsider, and skeptics have to find fresh avenues for critique.
Granted, Ethereum remains imperfect (the cost to transact on the network remains painfully high and volatile, for instance), but by demonstrating both its willingness to address failings and that it has the technical expertise to do so, the Ethereum Foundation has made its offering far more difficult to hate on. That can only be good for existing users and newcomers alike, and for the longevity of the Ethereum network.
PoW is dead (don’t tell the Bitcoin maxis). Long live PoS.
LeBron wants you to subscribe 👇
Did you arrive here because a generous and thoughtful friend, family member, or stranger you met once at a party and exchanged email addresses forwarded this to you? If so, welcome! And how about subscribing? It’s what King James would do if he weren’t already subscribed.1
One, two, you know what to do!
🖐 The grass isn’t going to touch itself 🌱
Looks rare 🖼
Absinthe, D.C. and The Merge 🍸
In the latest installment of his column on all things web3, GPEG considers the fate absinthe met in the 20th century at the hands of overzealous legislators and the parallels with what might happen to NFTs now that we’re in a post-Merge world.
WAGMI is a lovely web3 ideal, but it’s just that, an aspiration. I know many degens “don’t do D.C.,” but the cold, clammy reality is that the crypto lobby is not speaking for the entire web3 world. The well-known crypto organizations in the beltway have very specific interests in mind — and they’ve been quite effective in making their case over the last few years. Here’s the bad news: NFTs don’t rank high on their priority list.
Read the rest of GPEG’s column “Degeneratively yours” over here.
Probably nothing 🤔
Doodles’ Twitter lives! ⚰️
After 50 days of silence on Twitter, Doodles this week tweeted it’s raised $54 million at a valuation of $704 million. The round was led by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s fund, Seven Seven Six, and supported by Acrew Capital, FTX Ventures, and 10T Holdings. Usually, this sort of thing would be seen as a vote of confidence in a project and holders would be bullish… but that wasn’t the case here.
Instead, there’s been a lot of backlash from the Doodle community. While Doodles says it’s going to use the funds to grow its team significantly and that it wants to become the number one brand for metaverse entertainment, its protracted silence has holders wondering how hard it is to take a little time to keep the community in the loop or, you know, hire a social media manager. Moreover, VC money is all good and well, but it represents big business taking a stake in Doodles, rather than a move that has obvious benefits for holders.
RTFKT, LeBron, and malleable metadata 🏀
Nike-owned studio RTFKT has had a big week. First, it concluded SZN 1 of its “Forging,” where holders of CloneX avatars were able to claim physical fashion items, which varied depending on the traits of their avatar. That’s huge news for the worlds of fashion and NFTs… but it wasn’t the most important news from an NFT perspective. The real news from RTFKT this week involved basketball legend, LeBron James.
RTFKT altered the metadata of an existing CloneX avatar to give it new traits and make it a 1/1 resembling James. It also gave the resultant avatar to him. But it’s the ability to change metadata after the fact that’s caused controversy. Some see it as a travesty and diametrically opposed to the immutability that’s often touted as a core tenet of web3. Others (many of them LeBron fans and CloneX holders) see it as an innovative way to onboard more sports stars and celebrities.
Starbucks embarks on an Odyssey 🧜♀️
Coffee retailer Starbucks has announced a blockchain-based loyalty program called “Starbucks Odyssey.” Interested caffeine addicts can sign up to the waitlist and will get access to the program later this year that’ll let them collect or purchase NFTs that can be used to unlock discounts, rewards, and unique coffee-themed experiences.
In short, Starbucks is simply adding NFT elements to its existing loyalty program, which isn’t exactly revolutionary. But, considering how large the program is and how much brand recognition Starbucks enjoys, it’s signifiant news for web3… even if you’re a tea drinker.
Bag boosters 💸
The week that was (Sept 8-15, 2022) 🗓
Last week’s champion, y00ts, has managed to hang onto a top-five spot over the past seven days, and as was the case last week, three projects of Solana are in the top 10… except this week DeGods drops out of the list, and UkiyoNFT sneaks onto it. Doodles have returned after a lengthy absence (ahem), and newcomer RENGA has been making waves.
🎭 The power of advertising 🥫
To the moon 🌛
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) has announced it plans to auction $70 million worth of art — including works by Picasso, Bacon, Rousseau, and Renoir — and will use the proceeds to expand its digital collection… which could include NFTs.
Yesterday, Sotheby’s Metaverse auctioned an A-list collection of NFTs, all from the collection of MaxStealth. The selection features works from artists including XCOPY, Beeple, Hackathon, Pak, and Robness, and many of them are from the artists’ early days. Unsurprisingly, everything on offer was swiftly snapped up.
News emerged this week that back in May, rubber-faced comedian, actor, and painter Jim Carrey dropped a secret NFT collection titled “Germinations” under his web3 alias @StringBean_Art. Reminiscent of his celebrity persona, the five-piece collection is “joyful, immersive, maniacal,” and each piece is an animated and autobiographical painting narrated by Carrey himself.
Micah Johnson’s “Aku” is at Disney’s D23 expo this week, the only non-Disney IP to be featured, which definitely seems like something to us.
A San Diego-based car wash, Soapy Joe’s, is seeing a spike in customers visiting multiple locations after using NFT collectibles in different locations as a means of unlocking various rewards and discounts. Plus… the NFTs are kinda cute.
And last but by no means least, OpenSea gave its homepage a facelift, complete with a new carousel designed to make it easier to highlight new projects and help tempt you to part with your shiny, new, PoS Ether.
🪡 Thread of the week 🧵
Bedtime reading 📚
For Esquire, Tim Maughan takes a look at metaverse fashion in a feature entitled “Dress Code: The Future of Fashion in the Metaverse,” and not-so-quietly hopes that Facebook parent Meta’s vapid version of a digital mall (and its accompanying outrageous rent-seeking) turns out to have all the longevity of a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s at a Zuckerberg family cookout.
Meanwhile, over at The Point, James Duesterberg takes a fascinating, lengthy, and deep (very deep) dive into Urbit, the “decentralized personal server platform” backed by Peter Thiel and Andreesen Horowitz that’s almost as hard to describe concisely as it is exclusive.
Goats only 🐐
Whether you’re a single espresso person, or your order is a venti green tea frappucino with two pumps of caramel, three espresso shots, whipped cream, and a drizzle of peppermint syrup (🤮), you should be watching or listening to Goats and the Metaverse.
This week, they unpack: RTFKT’s CloneX Forging and what it means for fashion, and the ramifications of Doodle’s $54M raise:
Aside from providing invaluable insights, Stan and Yossi are putting together a collection of NFTs dubbed “The Goat Vault.” When the show hits 5,000 subscribers on YouTube, one lucky subscriber will win the contents of the vault, which at last count was valued at over 9.65 ETH (~ $15,500).
🍻 Cheers, bud 🍺
Money <> mouth 💸
Each week we offer you a look at an NFT project we’ve invested in and the motivation behind it. This week we’re looking at “CENTURY-XXX-METAMOLNAR(S) #336” by REAS.
Casey Reas (AKA REAS) is an artist, UCLA professor, and the co-founder of Feral File and Processing (an open-source programming language for visual artists). Born in Troy, Ohio, Reas is now based in Los Angeles, California.
Reas works in a wide range of media, from generative art (like the above) to paper, video, and large-scale installations. His work has been shown in Asia, Europe, and the U.S., and he’s written numerous essays on digital art, creative coding, media, and architecture. Reas is the epitome of an OG and a genuine thought leader in the realm of digital art. We believe his mark on the sector is indelible, his contributions are iconic, and his legacy is inevitable.
Follow for more 🐦
Congrats on making it all the way down here, fren!
If you’re reading this, it’s not too late to follow @HelloMetaversal on Twitter. We share insights and analyses from our investment team on the state of the NFT market and what we’re collecting ourselves. Plus, you know, occasional dank memes.
Let us know which stories from this week’s issue left you cold, steaming mad, or (worst of all) lukewarm, and we’ll see if the devs can do something.
Until next time, see you in the Metaverse.
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Mr. James’ representatives would neither confirm nor deny that he subscribes to this newsletter.