Hi everyone - Charley here!
If you’ve been following me on Twitter, it’ll probably be no surprise to you that I’ve been going down the rabbit hole a bit when it comes to NFTs. Then again, if you’ve been spending any time on the internet, it’s been hard to avoid all the hype - heck, even big brands have entered the game (Taco Bell launched their own NFTs, celebrities such as Steph Curry buying in, Sotheby’s auctioning a Bored Ape, Beeple selling a piece for $69M through Christies, and much more). As a result, I ended up spending most of my Labor Day weekend trying to wrap my head around what’s going on.
I initially made a semi-joke tweet about trying to figure out how to buy a fat penguin because I was curious to understand the KYC and compliance processes that users go through (spoiler alert, not a lot). Little did I know that Pudgey Penguins were already outside of my price range at the time. I also ended up getting bombarded by DMs and replies of accounts shilling a wide range of NFTs. I admittedly found it extremely annoying but decided to dive in even more. I started off by following a wide range of twitter accounts (this is my favorite intro to NFT twitter culture) and hopping in and out of some Discords - and that’s when I discovered the metagames and communities behind many NFTs.
One of the projects that I noticed constantly replying to NFT threads on Twitter was Lazy Lions, and I wanted to figure out why. It turns out, there’s an entire metagame that’s driving the reply horde. Anyone can buy a Lazy Lion from anyone else on OpenSea and each jpeg has a random mix of attributes, some rarer than others. There’s even been platforms built around rarity scoring depending on how rare the properties are across the fixed supply of Lions. There tends to be a correlation between assigned value and rarity, but in all honesty it’s driven from retail demand (thus, the community). The Discord for Lazy Lions is extremely active. The team behind it has created a meta game around their NFT - where if you purchase a Lazy Lion NFT, set it to your profile picture on twitter, and validate ownership in the discord, you’ll get ROARwards for usage in games, giveaways, and much more. There’s even an active community searching for opportunities to engage on twitter (fellow FTT community member Everett from Founders Fund even recently got caught in this too), thus driving more demand and interest into the project.
Now there’s obviously a ton of money being made around NFTs. We’ve got Crypto Punks and Bored Apes going for hundreds of thousands to even millions of dollars, the Loot project that just came out last week from the vine co-founder has a price floor of $27K for jpegs of text (yes, jpegs of text), and a lot of it is driven by irrational hype. Crypto, ICOs, SPACs, Gamestop, etc - there’s money to be made but there’s also another game being played this time. By owning and changing your profile picture to a Lazy Lion, you’re now identifying yourself as one of the community (post ownership validation) and that acts as a buy in for your entry into the community, one of us!
There’s also the fun of the hunt - was the project that you backed early going to be the next cryptopunk or ape? Fomo ends up driving a lot of irrationality - everyone has heard of someone telling some version of the story “I bought (or sold) Ethereum 4 years ago at $3” or “I rode Gamestop to all time highs'', and thus no one wants to miss out on the next big wave. But with every irrational wave, there comes a crash and it’ll be fascinating to track what else gets built during NFT winter.
Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying the discussions that NFTs continue to challenge on. The most interesting part about crypto and defi to me is that it forces one to re-evaluate priors and approach pricing from a first principles perspective. Bitcoin challenging what is money, stablecoins challenging what’s a reserve currency, NFTs challenging what is art and how do you value it, etc. NFTs are providing a unique opportunity to engage with a new era of digital artists and it’s honestly been pretty fun once you let go of trying to make money. I recently commissioned a custom profile picture that I uniquely own through Pixel Portraits (feature ice cream and the this is fine fire backdrop) that has its own metagame - the first 1000 will be set as OG portraits and be eligible for future drops with an auction mechanism for moving up the queue for commission spots. I would highly recommend spending a couple days exploring projects that you like. In my next post I’ll cover it from the creators perspective featuring an interview from the ever interesting SCHL0MS. :)