The Ronin hack, Discord disasters, Azuki mooning, and a technicolored NFT LA (Issue #16)
Some weeks are the longest months. But they can also be the best ones.
This week, Ronin, a partner of the posterchild of play-to-earn games Axie Infinity, fell victim to a massive hack. Days later, Discord servers for notable projects got hacked. In the same seven days, World of Women and DeGods dropped new projects, the degens descended on Los Angeles for NFT LA, and we got to dress up like Walter White and paint the town every color under the Californian sun.
Right, let’s get straight into it!
Ronin Networks is a blockchain service that enables players of the play-to-earn game Axie Infinity to move money in and out of the game. This week, a hacker (or hackers) managed to purloin around $625 million worth of ETH and USDC from Ronin, making it one of the biggest hacks in crypto history. Also this week, more than a dozen Discord servers — including Bored Ape Yacht Club’s and Doodles’ — were infiltrated by hackers for a time via a compromised bot (a plug-in that provides functionality to a Discord server).
The Ronin hack was enabled by compromising a sufficient share of Ronin’s validator nodes and by getting hold of private keys (yikes)... and it took almost a week to be noticed. Questions, understandably, abound. Why wasn’t Ronin’s security tighter? Why didn’t it notice for days? Who are the culprits? Will affected users be shored up? Can Ronin survive this? And will the hacker actually be able to use their loot?
As we’ve seen with other enormous hacks, stealing cryptocurrency is one thing, laundering it and getting it into fiat is a different story entirely. That’s the blessing (if you’re affected) and curse (if you’re trying to hide your activity) of distributed ledgers: anyone who cares to can trace transactions.
That hasn’t stopped the hacker from moving slivers of the proceeds to exchanges like FTX and Crypto.com. It seems a strange move for someone capable of this level of attack and could indicate they either bought other exchange users’ accounts or are trying to use them as mules.
Whatever the motivation, for now, the bulk of the proceeds remain in one of the hacker’s wallets, and could stay there for years given many eyes (including those of law enforcement) are now watching closely.
As for Ronin, it’s going to have a very hard time convincing its partners to continue trusting it, and it or Axie Infinity are going to have to do something to reimburse those affected — while players with big bags might be able to weather big losses, smaller players (like many of the Filipinos who account for an estimated 40% of Axie users) rely on the game for much of their income.
For other play-to-earn companies or those who use bridging services like Ronin, this week’s events better prompt them to reexamine their own security measures and adjust accordingly.
For Discord users, it’s a reminder to remain wary and suspicious until something is unambiguously proven legitimate… and even then, to check again before clicking on any links.
It’s still frontier country out here in NFT land, and that means there are going to be bandits.
🚘 It’s not you, it’s us 🌞
Sounds rare 😲
Art of the Matter 🤖
On Monday, April 4 we’re hosting the fourth installment of our weekly Twitter Spaces called “Art of the Matter” where we speak to notable artists, builders, or creators in the NFT space.
This time around hosts Jessica Angel and Craig Wilson will be joined by artist and programmer Gene Kogan, and polyglot developer Moises Sanabria, the creators of Abraham, an “autonomous AI artist.” They’ll be talking about AI-generated art, how the project came to be, and so much more. You can set a reminder via the tweet below:
Painting Party 🎨
We had a busy week in LA. We hosted a super-exclusive launch party for Crypt TV’s forthcoming NFT project, Monster Fight Club. We brunched with our partner CoinFund (and a mix of our own investors and people from projects we’ve invested in ourselves). We caught up, broke bread, and sipped high-end libations with Clubhouse Pictures. And on Thursday, we were the proud sponsors of a FEWOCiOUS paint party. As predicted last week, it was messy, and it was beautiful.
Thanks to FEWOCiOUS and his amazing team for putting on such a memorable event, and to those of you who were able to join us in person. We’re still finding paint in unexpected places.
Probably nothing 🤔
This week OpenSea announced it’s adding support for Solana. In anticipation, there’s been plenty of action on Solana, with some collectors snapping up pieces from the chain’s best-known projects and creators. While trade volumes on Solana pale in comparison to those that take place on Ethereum, it’s developed a loyal and diverse userbase and remains a cost-effective alternative to the most popular (and populous) NFT chain.
The news is encouraging not just for Solana users, but for a future where chains are interoperable… or at least not something artists or collectors need to pay too much attention to when navigating marketplaces.
Enter the FewoWorld 🌈
This Sunday, the aforementioned teenage phenom FEWOCiOUS launches “Paint,” an open-edition drop taking place on Nifty Gateway and open for 24 hours. The artwork for each Paint droplet is generative and may include audio. Paint will grant holders access to FewoWorld and is being described as its “building block.” It’ll also unlock future items like “canvas,” and “Fewos,” the inhabitants of the magical land.
The more Paint a collector has, the more features they can expect to unlock, so there’s an incentive to stock up if you believe in the project (and can afford to). Owners of FEWOCiOUS’s previous works will get a private drop and pay $500 per Paint, those without existing works will pay $1,000 per Paint. With a full day of sales, we expect Paint will move tens of thousands of units… especially considering XCopy sold nearly 8,000 NFTs in a mere 10 minutes last week.
Bag boosters 💰
The week that was (March 25 - April 1, 2022) 🗓
This week’s top 10 on OpenSea looks vastly different from last week’s. For starters, there’s no CryptoPunks, with the OG of OG projects having been relegated to 11th position this week by new entrants including Kiwami and Imposters, World of Women second drop (WoW Galaxy), and a double whammy of Azuki and its “Something Official” airdrop.
💀 I’d probably DAI ⚰️
Purgatory Penguins 🐧
In the latest OpenSea misstep, the marketplace delisted the controversial NFT project Pudgy Penguins… and then reinstated it. PP’s founders have been variously criticized for trying to cash out on the project, then refusing to sell it to concerned community members offering to take the reins, not responding to owners’ requests for information or reassurances, and generally being uncommunicative and failing to meet community expectations.
Now the founders have gone quiet, with radio silence on Twitter since early January. Despite this, the project still has a floor price hovering a little beneath 1 ETH. Why OpenSea made the project vanish and then had a change of heart is unclear, but what is clear is we haven’t heard the last about the tuxedo-clad flightless birds who at their peak even made an appearance in The New York Times.
To the moon 🌜
If there was a star of NFT LA it was undoubtedly Azuki. The anime-inspired PFP project’s floor has rocketed from 12 ETH to nearly 28 ETH in a week, and attendees of the project’s NFT LA party were told to check their wallets, only to find they’d been airdropped two “Something Official” NFTs for each Azuki they hold.
Though the airdropped items haven’t been revealed yet (the pile of dirt which replaced the crate-and-parachute combo of the original placeholder is surely only temporary), they’re already trading at almost 5 ETH each. For added bag-boosting and clout, the project also achieved a new record sale, with an Azuki selling for 420.7 ETH ($1.4 million).
The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is on the hunt for a “Web3 associate” to help with membership and retail NFT pilot projects, NFT projects with artists, exploring “Discord as a medium of engagement,” and the development of “wallet(s) with an appropriate system of institutional checks and balances.” Curiously, though, it’s only a year-long post.
This week in felines, CatBlox Studios has an airdrop of its own incoming, with its MetaPortals due to arrive next week in the wallets of genesis holders. Users will be able to burn them for various new items, trade them, or hang onto them for future “seasons” of events and drops.
In amphibian news, Aged millennials best prepare their wallets, because the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are skating, surfing, and fighting their way into the metaverse. Details are few and far between right now, but a teaser video has been getting plenty of love.
Meanwhile, in owl land, Private Jet Pyjama Party is gearing up for its second PFP project drop, a collection of 3,333 lady owls, designed to complement the existing collection of ~5,300 male-presenting ones. The combo of original and lady owls is expected to enable breeding opportunities down the road.
Finally, in simian updates, Wiz Khalifa bought a Bored Ape. Because it’s not a week in NFT land in 2022 without someone buying an Ape.
🪡 Thread (of threads) of the week 🧵
Goats only 🐐
Whether you’re an Ethereum evangelist, a Solana supporter, or a Flow fanatic, you should be watching or listening to Goats and the Metaverse.
In each episode, collectibles OG and entrepreneur Stan “The Goat” Meytin and Metaversal co-founder and CEO Yossi Hasson talk about digital and IRL collectibles, NFTs, and the week’s news worth knowing. This week, they unpacked World of Women’s second NFT drop, looked at the FewoWorld drop coming this Sunday, and offer their take on three hot new NFT projects. 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, at last count, was valued at over $89,000 (😱).
The Metaversal Speed Date 🍸
Each week we ask a prominent (or emerging) NFT artist five questions. This week it’s the turn of Archan Nair. Based in Berlin, Germany, Nair is a visual artist, illustrator, and digital artist specializing in mixed media and illustration.
What was the first NFT you ever created?
It is a very special piece of work titled “Etage.” It’s truly a very intimate work of mine.
Which of your own works are you proudest of?
Oh! This is a really difficult question. All of them are part of my journey, and each is a deep reflection, But some of my favorites are “Encoded,” “Encore,” “Quarantine,” “Shine,” and… I think all of them really (*laughs*).
What’s your favorite thing about being an NFT artist?
I love that we are strong elements/creators of this new revolution and cultural shift. I love how transparent and open everything is — that there is such a clear exchange between collectors, artists, and builders of all kinds. There’s so much learning and exploration in this space!
Who are some of your favorite artists?
I love Tipper, Kris Kuksi, Amon Tobin, Yoshitaka Amano, and so, so many other amazing, incredible artists!
Where can people find your work?
😵💫 Can you watch the whole thing? 🙈
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 looking at DeGods. As we mentioned above, Solana NFTs will soon be supported by OpenSea, and this week one of the platform’s most promising and innovative projects, DeGods, enabled holders of its NFTs and $DUST token to convert their DeGods to zombie-like DeadGods. The original art was great… but the resultant art is even better in many instances.
But it’s not just the art, it’s the insights and transparency the creators offer their community. We believe it’s going to be a project to watch. For a full rundown of what we like about DeGods (and DeadGods), check out this Twitter thread.
Until next time, see you in the Metaverse.