Instagram NFTs, gobbling art, and paying for the blue tick (Issue #46)
If you've always believed your Instagrams are so good people would pay for them, well, your time has come, fren.
If we sound like insiders, it’s because we are insiders. The team at Metaversal builds and invests in iconic NFTs and the technology behind them. We are collectors, investors, creators, and artists. We’ve also been scammed, sold too early, failed to take profits, gone all-in on a sure thing that wasn’t so sure after all, and experienced all of the highs and lows required to call ourselves “degens.”
We write The Metaversalist each week to help you learn from our mistakes and to show you our work as it happens. We don’t always get it right, but we hope you’ll appreciate our candor when we go out on a limb and get it wrong. Because if you never get it wrong, you’re not taking enough risks.
So buckle up, strap in, hold onto your hat, and come with us on a journey through time, space, and the future of culture.
In this week’s edition:
Meta gets into bed with Arweave (mmm, cozy) 🛌
Art Gobblers causes waves (it was never gonna be smooth sailing) 🌊
Ralph Lauren enters the metaverse (fix up, look sharp) 👕
Musk continues to Musk (this is why we can’t have nice things) 🐦
Right, let’s get straight into it!
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Meta x Arweave 🤝
Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp parent company Meta has partnered with blockchain-based storage service Arweave and will soon let creators mint and sell NFTs — or “digital collectibles,” as Meta’s chosen to describe them — directly inside Instagram using the Polygon blockchain.
Instagram is only offering the feature to a few creators initially but plans to roll it out more widely eventually. Why does this matter? First and foremost, it’s an incredible way to onboard newcomers to web3. “Accessibility is still one of the biggest hurdles to onboarding new users to web3 and making this process easier, faster, cheaper, and more approachable will have an immense impact,” Polygon Studios CEO Ryan Wyatt told Decrypt.
The move will also make it easier for creators to monetize their content and reach new audiences. But the Arweave partnership also ensures a sort of longevity social media normally can’t promise. Instagram NFTs will now live on long after the service dies… which would’ve been great in the days of MySpace (RIP), although, given our musical proclivities in those days, perhaps it’s for the best those pages didn’t survive.
As Arweave’s co-founder and CEO Sam Williams explains in his Twitter thread announcing the partnership:
As well as ensuring that humanity's cultural record is preserved — from art to personal memories — Arweave's permanent storage exists to offer an immutable, censorship resilient ledger of history.
Meta says it’s launching the new feature with a handful of artists, including the likes of Amber Vittoria, Dave Krugman, and Isaac “Drift” Wright, and that it won’t charge creators to list collectibles on Instagram… at least not at first. Buyers also won’t pay gas fees at launch because Meta will foot the bill, and the company says it won’t take any fees itself until 2024 (by which time it hopes users will be hooked and willing to suck up whatever fees it does, inevitably, choose to levy). It does warn, though, that purchases made through the Google Play Store or Apple’s App Store will be subject to those platforms’ respective fees.
The market responded well to the news, with the price of Arweave’s token climbing 60% in the 24 hours following the announcement. But will people want to mint or buy NFTs through Instagram? The short answer is “yes.” It’s a simple matter of scale. Instagram has over 1.4 billion users globally. At least some of them are going to use any new feature it offers.
There was a time when we loved Instagram. It used to be home to beautiful photography and snapshots of our loved ones’ lunches delivered chronologically and ad-free. Today it’s a feeble copycat of TikTok, packed with advertisements deceptively designed to look like authentic content, and one of the chief perpetuators of unrealistic beauty standards. But… you can’t argue with those user numbers.
Instagram is undoubtedly going to onboard newcomers to web3 with this move. Whether it’ll be able to keep them in its ecosystem once they become au fait with it, though, remains to be seen.
💰 It was all a blur 🪞
Probably nothing 🤔
The art of the gobble 👄
One project has dominated the NFT-related headlines this week, and with good reason. Art Gobblers is a project from Justin Roiland (of Rick and Morty fame) and tokenomics experts Paradigm that dropped on Monday as a free mint. Though the total supply is set at 10,000, only 2,000 Gobblers were released at launch, and holders can use the “goo” their Gobbler generates to buy more Gobblers or purchase “blank pages” which they can turn into digital collectibles and which Gobblers can, well, gobble and display in their stomachs.
The mechanics are novel — and will become even more so if big-name artists start creating art for the Gobbler ecosystem — but that’s not what’s had tongues wagging. Instead, it’s the combination of the allow list mechanism and the price activity that’ve been the topics of discussion. To get on the allow list, you either had to be invited or needed to submit artwork for the chance to be added. Some critics have argued there were too many influencers on the list and not enough regular folk, but the Gobblers team points out anyone could submit art and could’ve gotten on it that way.
So intense as the hype and FOMO that pre-reveal, the floor price was already sitting at a respectable 12 ETH (~$18,900). Post-reveal it rocketed up to 20 ETH — which is unusual for any project, but especially so for those with, err, divisive art — before coming back down to around ~9 ETH in the days that followed. Whether the project can maintain momentum and sustain that floor price in the days, weeks and months to come is anybody’s guess, especially given there’s sure to be another “next big thing” around the corner.
Blue ticks for sale soon 🔵
It’s been a week since Elon Musk rolled into Twitter HQ after accidentally buying the service for an eye-watering $44 billion, and aside from firing a handful of top executives (triggering a slew of lawsuits in the process), he’s also begun making suggestions about how the service might actually make some of that wildly inflated sales price back for him. The first is to charge users $8 for the coveted blue tick verified accounts get.
There’s been significant pushback against the idea, and not only from verified account holders who resent having to pay for it (and a very pissed-off Stephen King, who got Musk down to $8 from his original proposal of $20 a month). Verified and non-verified users alike worry that being able to buy what’s meant to be a signifier of authenticity will only exacerbate our favorite hellsite’s already enormous problem with imposters, impersonators, fraudsters, and scammers. Sigh.
Enter the “Curryverse” 🏀
Basketball star Steph Curry, who bought a Bored Ape for over $200,000 in August last year, has filed a trademark for the “Curryverse.” What is the Curryverse, you might ask? It’s unclear, but the filing includes details about “online gaming services,” “virtual worlds,” and an “online marketplace.” Whatever it is, given Curry’s enormous fanbase, it’s going to get attention.
Ralph Lauren x Fortnite 👕
Fashion brand Ralph Lauren has collaborated with Epic Games to create a collection of virtual wearables and accessories for its most successful title: Fortnite. The company is also planning to make physical versions of the items, which will go on sale at a later date. As part of the hype-building efforts, Ralph Lauren will cohost a Fortnite tournament, and it’s hosting a launch party on the streaming service Twitch.
To the moon 🌛
Shoemaker Asics is launching a physical shoe in conjunction with move-to-earn app StepN and the Solana blockchain. Available in black or white, the shoe costs $200 in USDC, and Asics will also be airdropping 1,001 StepN NFT sneakers to select buyers.
The final 15,000 y00ts NFTs are being revealed tonight (Friday, November 4).
Yuga Labs, the company behind Bored Ape Yacht Club, is working on “open standards” that’ll make its NFTs work across metaverses.
NFT marketplace OpenSea has introduced two new tools to try and combat scams on its site.
Formula One team Haas is partnering with OpenSea to produce a collection of branded NFTs.
🪡 Thread of the week 🧵
Bedtime reading 📚
It’s clear from the growing number of projects employing it (and the increasing number of services that enable it) that AI art is taking off, but how do the artists and illustrators whose style is being fed into machine-learning models so it can be mimicked feel about having their work used this way? Andy Baio spoke to LA-based illustrator Hollie Mengert about exactly that.
Bag boosters 💸
The week that was (Oct 28 - Nov 4, 2022) 🗓
You get zero points for guessing which project gobbled its way to the top of this week’s chart. Beyond that shakeup, it’s business as usual all the way down to the last two slots in the top 10, which are filled by newcomers Aopanda Party and KPR in places 9 and 10, respectively.
Goats only 🐐
Whether you’re a diamond-hander or a paper-hander, you should be watching or listening to Goats and the Metaverse, AKA “The most underrated NFT show on the planet.”
This week, they unpack Art Gobblers and tell the tragic tale of how Yossi lost out on $20,000:
If you enjoyed Goats and the Metaverse, why not share it with a friend? When the show hits 5,000 subs, one lucky subscriber will win the contents of the “Goat Vault,” a collection of NFTs worth over 9.5 ETH (~$15,000)!
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. You can also send us an old-fashioned email to let us know which stories left you cold, steaming mad, or lukewarm. However you choose to reach out, we love hearing from you.
Until next time, see you in the metaverse!