Nike swallows RTFKT whole (Issue #2)
What a week, what a week, what a mighty fine week (what a mighty mighty fine week).
It was hugely encouraging, exciting, and gratifying to see the response to our inaugural newsletter. Thanks to those of you who reached out to let us know you enjoyed it. We’re just getting started.
It’s been another wild week in the Wild West we call the Metaverse. We’ve seen acquisitions and collabs that fill us with optimism and excitement… and a slew of shameless cash grabs and opportunistic plays that make us despair. But one thing’s been constant: The Metaverse is never boring.
Right, let’s get straight into it!
Nike’s aped in on RTFKT 👟
On Monday, sportswear giant Nike announced it’s acquired RTFKT, the studio behind last week’s CloneX drop and one of the leading lights in fashion NFT projects. The companies aren’t divulging the value of the deal.
RTKFT announced the tie-up on Twitter, with a link to Nike’s typically reserved official release in a follow-up tweet. From a high-level view, the play makes perfect sense. Aside from both companies making sneakers (one actual, the other virtual), RTKFT has clout and a solid reputation — the numerous hiccups of the CloneX drop notwithstanding.
Nike, meanwhile, has incredible brand recognition, historical cool-factor, and bags of cash. Plus, it’s doubtless eager to keep up with rival Adidas (more on that below). It’s a sweet deal for both parties, but especially for RTFKT, a company that, after all, was only founded in January 2020.
Of course, by being arguably even hipper than Nike, and one of the progenitors of digital fashion, there are those who worry RTFKT selling to the sportswear behemoth could erode some of its credibility with the wider NFT community.
There are also concerns that, while RTFKT has traditionally focused on sharing value with its early backers without worrying about the bottom line, its new corporate overlord might push it to focus on value-capture first, and rewarding loyalty second.
Here’s hoping Nike is smart enough to leave RTFKT to do what it does best and that, instead, it opts to bring its decades of logistical and operational skills to future projects rather than trying too hard to shape them.
RTFKT has demonstrated its creative capabilities and talent, but it’s been less impressive on the execution front. Granted, the CloneX floor surged to 4.7 ETH on the back of the acquisition announcement, but the drop itself was filled with drama. From accusations of insider trading to halting the Dutch auction and blaming it on a hack, only to then set a fixed price lower than some of those who aped in early paid, it was anything but smooth sailing.
Still, we can’t help feeling the acquisition is great for the NFT space, if only from an awareness perspective. Every time a blue-chip brand enters the fray it adds legitimacy and increases not only the sector’s potential audience but its potential participants in the process.
Vogue on RTFKT’s bid to build the “Supreme of digital fashion.”
Paging the small turtle with wings:
Shopify: Now with NFTs 🛍
While Shopify may not be the household name Amazon is, that’s only because it’s not consumer-facing. But behind most mom-and-pop online retailers, Etsy stores, and other e-commerce players that aren’t Amazon, most of the time there’s Shopify. So it’s a massive deal that the company is launching a beta program that’ll enable customers in the U.S. who use its “Plus” service to sell NFTs.
It’s not just selling, either. Shopify is offering everything from the ability to mint projects on various blockchains (including Ethereum, Polygon, Near, and Flow), to the ability to do airdrops or content-gating. Users will also be able to accept credit and debit cards for NFT purchases and not just cryptocurrency. That reduction in friction combined with Shopify’s enormous customer base of over 1.7 million customers in 175 countries is a seriously potent combination.
Adidas x BAYC drops today 🙉
There are a lot of big names tied to Adidas’s second foray into the Metaverse which we talked about last week. Those who participated in the athleticwear company’s original POAP project, along with holders of collaborator gmoney’s POAP, and BAYC or MAYC holders, all get preferential access to 20,000 of the 30,000 NFTs on offer. With a price of 0.2 ETH per NFT, Adidas is set to make around $24 million.
Why is the drop sure to sellout? The promise of access to exclusive, free merch in 2022, bragging rights, and the potential to flip the NFT itself on OpenSea as hypebeasts who miss out on the initial drop seek to get in on the action.
At time of writing the drop wasn’t going smoothly, though. MAYC owners have had problems with the pre-access mint, prompting Adidas to pause the mint until further notice with 9,255 NFTs minted.
That’s not a good look for Adidas, but it’s also a reminder of how technically challenging it is to get a big drop right, even if you’re a global brand with all the resources available anyone could ever wish for.
L’Oréal NFTs aren’t just lip service 💄
Fashion brands are waking up to NFTs and so too are those adjacent to them. One of the latest bandwagon hoppers is the French cosmetics brand, L’Oréal. This week the company revealed its “Reds of Worth” collection on OpenSea, a collection of five 1/1 pieces from five female NFT artists: Amber Vittoria, Arina BB, Hueman, Lili Tae, and Puks.
We don’t hate the art, but what’s even more noteworthy about the collection is the way the proceeds from the auction of each work will be distributed:
These five artists will retain 100% of the primary sales. A portion of the secondary market sales will be donated to support Women of Worth, L’Oréal Paris’ signature philanthropic initiative that recognizes every day women making extraordinary differences in their communities.
Which is better than most ostensibly philanthropic and “pro-creator” projects deliver.
They’re all around us, Elon:
Stan Lee adjusting his eternal rest pose 🪦
The godfather of comic book culture might be deceased, but his Twitter account lives on, and someone with access to it has announced a forthcoming NFT project launching on December 27 to commemorate what would’ve been Lee’s 99th birthday.
Based on a character called “Chakra the Invincible” Lee developed in collaboration with with Sharad Devarajan and (the amazingly named) Gotham Chopra, being
shilled sold are 6,880 generative FPFs, a selection of 1/1 items for auction, and a 1,000 NFT comic books with five cover options.
Oh, and there’s one more twist to the cash-grab tale. The company behind it, Orange Comet, lists Gloria Estefan as one of its co-founders. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Bob Ross x *checks notes* Funko 🎨
The late Bob Ross was famous for a few things: an incessantly sunny disposition, a soft-spokenness, a giant mop of curly hair, the belief that anyone could enjoy making art, and a desire to share his skills and love of painting as widely as possible for free. Thankfully, the maker of gigantic-craniumed plastic likenesses of pop culture icons, Funko, has found the perfect way to replicate this and honor Ross’s legacy: by selling packs of NFTs for as little as $9.99 for five. Meet the “Bob Ross Digital Pop!™”:
A “Premium Pack” of 15 will set buyers back $29.99. There are 50 different digital Rosses to collect. The rare ones include a one with Ross in a paint can, and those can be used to use to claim a physical Funko Pop of Ross in a paint can (buyers have a 0.046% chance of getting one in a pack). Some napkin math shows that, should the drop on December 21 sell out, Funko will make a cool $500,000. Which seems like a good time to mention you can buy a decent set of paints for around $30.
You can’t fill your belly with metaburgers 🍔
Would you look at that?! It’s another big-name brand deciding to embrace the Metaverse with all the grace and elegance of a the star of a bachelor party clinging to a lamppost they’ve mistaken for their bestie who got an Uber home before the third round of tequilas.
This time the offender is restaurant chain Applebee’s, which has not only minted an image of a psychedelic burger on an relatively unknown platform of questionable fidelity (voice.beta), but also inflicted the URL “MetaverseMeals.io” on the world in the process.
While not the sort of thing that’s likely to help regular folk embrace web3 with the same zeal as Applebee’s has, it is good news for artist Amber Vittoria who, between this and L’Oréal, is really having a great time making bank from the labrador-puppy-like enthusiasm of corporate America. Though, Applebee’s is only granting creators like Vittoria a 20% cut of secondary sales on each of the 1/1 NFT it commissions, which may not be enough to, in fact, dine at one of its establishments.
See, the first in the series of planned NFTs based on Applebee’s "iconic menu items” was snapped up six minutes after it was listed for sale for a mere $25. The buyer was a user with no profile picture and no other assets on the platform. Which isn’t sus at all. The trippy burger NFT does, however, entitle the (presumably proud) owner to a $1,300 Applebee’s gift card. Which, admittedly, is a solid ROI on their 25 bucks... assuming they like Applebee’s, that is.
Crazy Frog’s NFTerized return 🐸
The amphibian precursor to other such cultural annoyances as Mucinex’s “Mr. Mucus” and “Baby Shark” is back (*sigh*) and releasing a series of NFTs (*bigger sigh*) on December 23 via a new platform called Metabeats.
Most sensible people will roll their eyes, stick their fingers in their ears, and move on… but some allies of the infuriating amphibian have taken such exception to the news they’ve inundated the Crazy Frog Twitter account with death threats. Which definitely constitutes spending too much energy on something that really would be best ignored.
But it gets weirder still. There’s a long-running debate about why Crazy Frog has visible genitalia in early iterations that subsequently disappeared (the leading reason seems to be U.S. puritanism). And even more startling is the discovery there’s a sizeable and active Crazy Frog Discord for “fans” (aka, aging millennials), most of whom are outraged at their beloved invisible-motorcycle-riding character’s imminent leap into the Metaverse.
We don’t blame them. This, frankly, is not the Metaverse we were promised.
To the moon
Blue-chip bets on blue-chips 🔵
This week, crypto index fund manager Bitwise Asset Management unveiled its Bitwise Blue-Chip NFT Index Fund. The company’s CIO, Matt Hougan, outlined the details in a Twitter thread. The fund requires a minimum investment of $25,000, and gives investors exposure to the top 10 NFT art and collectible collections (based on market cap and floor prices).
The fund rebalances quarterly so that, should newcomer project trend moonwards (which some inevitably will), they’ll be included in basket in due course.
PleasrDAO owns the first Wikipedia edit 🌐
Investor Santiago Santos has been revealed as buyer of an NFT of the first edit on Wikipedia which fittingly read, “Hello, World!” The edit was made by Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales in 2002. Santos also bought the Strawberry iMac Wales was using around the same time.
Santos paid $750,000 for the NFT at a Christie’s auction, and bought it on behalf of PleasrDAO (he’s a founding member). You may remember PleasrDAO famously owns the one-of-a-kind WuTang album, “Once Upon a Time in Shaolin,” which the U.S. government sold as part of a reclamation of assets from disgraced (and disgraceful) pharma-investor-bro, Martin Shkreli.
Rarible embraces Tezos 🤗
NFT marketplace Rarible has added Tezos to its list of supported blockchains. The platform already supports Ethereum and Flow. Rarible says, as much as it likes the number three, it plans to add even more blockchains eventually.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a whale or a minnow, just starting out or old enough to remember when Satoshi was still active on message boards, 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. Yossi is out on paternity leave, so this week we’re linking to the episode featuring OG gmoney, in honor of his collab with Adidas:
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, at last count, was valued at over $60,000.
Get ready to smash on fx(hash) #️⃣
We’re very bullish about Tezos-based generative art platform fx(hash). So much so, we’ve made significant investments in collections we believe in. This week we made our second batch investment, which brings our total collection to nearly 1,000 pieces.
The platform offers a fresh approach to generative art, a space that’s to date been dominated by Art Blocks. We’re huge fans of Art Blocks, too, but fx(hash) has taken a completely different approach to curation, and it’s one we find really exciting.
Where Art Blocks is strictly curated (new collections need to get the approval of the curatorial board to appear on the platform, which can be a slow process), fx artists can drop whatever they want, whenever they want. Already there are over 2,500 projects on fx, some with over 100 pieces in them.
That can make fx overwhelming for newcomers but, in the near future, a community-based curation system is coming where collectors can pick their favorite projects and flag them accordingly. Think of it like “upvoting” on Reddit. We think that’s significantly more more scalable than the top-down approach Art Blocks takes.
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, we’re turning the spotlight onto what we believe is one of the most iconic pieces Fewocious has created yet, “The Innovator’s Dinner.”
The piece, a clear homage to Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” includes historical luminaries like Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, Amelia Earhart, and WaltDisney, more recent ones like Steve Jobs and Neil Armstrong (in the clouds along with Michael Jordan), and hyper-contemporary figures like Beyoncé, Jay-Z, Elon Musk, Dr. Dre. Elon Musk, and Malala Yousafzai.
Each attendee is someone Fewocious admires — someone who’s not only become a household name, but whose innovations have changed the world around them. We invested in this piece because we believe Fewocious is an innovator, too. One who could very well one day be included in a homage to “The Innovator’s Dinner.” Few digital artist’s have had the impact of Fewocious, and that’s why we believe this work is iconic.
Watch list 👀
This time next week many of us will be drinking eggnog, wearing ugly sweaters, and unwrapping presents. We’re going to be keenly watching to see how many of them come from Decrypt’s Crypto Christmas Gift Guide 2021. And remember folks, if you’re going to give someone an NFT, you should give them a basic primer on securing them, too. Because proper security truly is the gift that keeps on giving.
Messari’s annual, lengthy report is out. So, if you’re looking for 150+ pages of weekend reading, the Crypto Theses for 2022 is just the ticket.
Alternatively, if you want something shorter, Artnet’s “Top 30 of the NFT space” report makes for far lower-commitment reading. It’s also a good primer to forward to any NFT newcomers in your life.
Speaking of Artnet, collector Cozomo de’ Medici did a Twitter takeover of its account, and the results are well worth a read.
And, finally, spare a thought for maxnaut, whose fat-finger faux pas resulted in him selling a Bored Ape for 0.75 ETH (~$3,000) instead of 75 ETH (~$300,000). Ouch.
Until next time, see you in the Metaverse.