RTFKT missteps, Ledger gets stackable, and fowl get fierce (Issue #51)
U.S. exceptionalism is great… assuming you’re in the U.S.
In this week’s issue of The Metaversalist the trusty hardware wallet gets a snazzy upgrade, Nike and RTFKT screw up big time, and we share what the Metaverse Goats learned at Miami Art Basel (beyond Baz Luhrman being right about the sunscreen).
Right, let’s get straight into it!
Dropping the ball 🏀
One core tenets of web3 — courtesy of its interconnectedness with blockchain technology — is borderlessness. So when Clone X creator and Nike subsidiary RTFKT decided its forthcoming sneakers called “CiRL” (Cryptokicks iRL) would only ship to the U.S. — allegedly because of “advanced tech and product regulation” (AKA, built-in batteries) — there was understandable and inevitable outrage.
But it’s not only the regional restrictions on NFTs that were sold globally that got Clone X holders hot under the collar, it’s also the fact that many of them spent thousands of dollars on the MNLTH2 NFTs, the utility of which wasn’t previously revealed. That left holders expecting they’d receive commensurate value down the road… not a $150 discount on a $450-$1,333 pair of kicks.
The result has been MNLTH2’s floor price plummeting by ~70%, the Clone X floor falling a couple of ETH (to half that of rival project Azuki’s), and numerous Clone X whales offloading their holdings, which isn’t a great look for a project that was meant to be the poster child for big business — specifically, Nike, one of the biggest businesses of all — entering web3.
What this week’s events show is how hard it is to bridge the physical and virtual worlds, how hard it is to manage expectations, and how hard it is to make sure the value a project can offer keeps pace with how the market is valuing its NFT. An NFT priced at $2K must offer a lot of value.
In this instance, the “reward” for holders was a physical item only some people can access, that inevitably won’t appeal to all of them, and that still requires the holder to fork out extra cash. That doesn’t feel like much of a reward, particularly in a sector where some projects have airdropped their holders NFTs worth thousands of dollars, or have distributed merch to holders for free.
There’s speculation that Nike’s to blame here and that it wanted to show it could use NFTs to sell millions of dollars worth of physical sneakers (which remains, ultimately, its core business). But in doing so, it positions those holding its NFTs as the product, and as merely a means to further monetization. It’s the view that access and exclusivity are enough to keep NFT holders happy and a sense of community strong.
That thinking it’s surprising from Nike when you consider how well that’s worked for its SNKRS app, where it hosts raffles for physical sneakers, and deliberate (and, frankly, often arbitrary) scarcity drives up prices on the secondary market. That makes getting access to a sneaker you still have to buy feel like a win… even if, as in the case of CiRL, there’ll be up to 19,000 pairs.
But web3 users have different expectations. Had Nike announced it would ship its sneakers anywhere (or at least, to any markets it has a physical presence in… which is most of them) and that MNLTH2 holders would get them for a free (or a free version, with the option to pay to upgrade to more exclusive versions), things may have played out completely differently.
RTFKT is trying to make amends. It’s airdropping a new “MNLTH X” NFT to Clone X holders, and creating a means of trading unclaimed ones on the secondary market, while also giving those outside the U.S. who do want the shoes more time to secure a U.S. shipping address, and the company has confirmed the “move-to-earn” component of the footwear will work anywhere in the world. But many questions remain about returns, after-sales support, what to do if you order the wrong size, etc.
Has this whole thing been a mess? Undoubtedly. Nonetheless, what Nike and RTFKT are doing is an important experiment in the quest to bridge the digital and physical fashion worlds. Getting people comfortable with digital fashion will likely require far more crossovers, and Nike has the resources, expertise, and patience to keep trying until it succeeds.
🙃 One day this’ll all be memes 🤖
Probably nothing 🤔
Looking stacked 🦾
Hardware wallet maker Ledger unveiled its latest security solution this week, a stackable, touchscreen, e-ink device called the Ledger Stax. Preorders of the $279 device are open now, and they’re expected to ship by the end of March, 2023.
The Stax has a curved e-ink display that wraps onto one of its edges, allowing owners to name their device and display the name on the edge. Meanwhile, magnets each Stax allow owners with multiple Stax to, umm, stack ’em. We expect it’s going to be one of the hottest accessories for digital collectibles collectors next year.
Rooster pugilists 👊
Look out, CryptoDickbutts, there’s a new hard-to-talk-about-around-children NFT collection in town. “The Legend of Cockpunch” is the new NFT collection from celebrity life-hacker Tim Ferriss. The collection consists of 5,555 roosters who look like they’re headed to Comic-Con, and all of the proceeds from the primary sale are going to the Saisei Foundation, a nonprofit that funds research into psychedelic medicine, mental health therapeutics, life-extension tech, and the like.
Ferris says the world of Cockpunch is a “fantastical realm” where “stories are the gateway drug.” He describes it as an “emergent long fiction project” or “ELF” and says related characters, maps, fiction, podcast episodes, and more will follow. Despite the lack of concrete info, the project minted out (at 0.3 ETH apiece), and the floor price on the secondary market soared to 4 ETH for a time before settling at around 1.6 ETH (~$2,000).
🛏 Bedtime stories from AI 😴
Yep, SBF still isn’t in jail 🦅
Decrypt reports that, astoundingly, Sam Bankman-Fried remains a free man. The former head of the former FTX must know his odds of remaining footloose and fancy-free are slim, though, because he’s hired Mark S. Cohen, the same lawyer who represented Ghislaine Maxwell.
It turns out that while obviously chronically negligent, it’s less clear whether SBF was criminally negligent (and he’s definitely trying to pretend he knew surprisingly little about how his businesses were being run). The company being based in the Bahamas further complicates things, though the island nation does have an extradition treaty with the U.S…. so there’s that. Ahem.
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To the moon (or not) 🌛
Art Review announced its annual Power 100 list of the people who it considers the most influential in art… and if you’re a degen you’re going to have to scroll right to the end to spot anyone familiar: Casey Reas in 96th spot, and Jason Bailey in 99th. We’re still early, anon.
Someone’s created a DAO to try and buy a copy of the U.S. Constitution (again) —Mark Ronson and/or The Smiths would like a word — but this time with the ability to hide the donations so a billionaire can’t swoop in and outbid them at the 11th hour.
OpenSea still can’t decide exactly how it wants to treat royalties, and some artists like Erick “Snowfro” Calderon are a little exasperated:
If you have a Bored Ape, a surplus of cash and a deficit of sense or taste, you’ll soon be able to buy one of 500 Timex watches and plaster your Ape on the face, engrave it in the watch back, and choose from a variety of straps and other customizations for *checks notes* 1.5ETH (~$2,000). That’s a lot of bananas for a *checks notes again* Timex that looks like something Disney might make.
🪡 Thread of the week 🧵
Goats only 🐐
Whether you own one hardware wallet or a stack of them, 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’re back from Miami and reflecting on what they learned at Art Basel this year. They also unpack Uniswaps huge airdrop and new trading platform. Check out the latest episode here:
Aside from providing invaluable insights into digital art and collectibles, Stan and Yossi have also put 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.
Until next time, see you in the Metaverse.