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8 August 2022
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Fun and business: does this marriage work in the NFT universe? | Opinion


From June 20th to 23rd, the NFT NYC event took place in New York City — and if you followed it on Twitter, you might have gotten the impression that the entire meeting was a disaster, which only resulted in public ridicule.

There were tweets that mocked the “apefest”, tweets laughing at a dating request between holders of non-fungible tokens (or NFTs) and a series of viral tweets declaring that NFT NYC “had already failed” on Monday night (20), when the week had barely begun.

The truth is less pleasant for critics and “haters” of NFTs: the mood was super positive and everyone I met* was optimistic despite the brutal crash of the cryptocurrency market. According tweeted Amy Wu of FTX Ventures: “Last week, people told me that NFT NYC would be weird because crypto was over. I am happy to report that the opposite has happened.”

At lunches, panels, and parties across the city, people showed off their JPEGs, of course. There were plenty of Punks, Apes, Cool Cats and Gutter Cats in caps, hoodies and denim jackets. But people also discussed the usefulness of NFTs, NFTs as tickets to in-person events, and other potential use cases beyond just boasting.

Two specific parties provided a perfect and accidental contrast to the situation of the two main collections.

Doodles, the 13th best-selling NFT collection, held a “starter party” Tuesday night at the Palladium Theater in Times Square. The event was scheduled for 7pm (local time), but NFT holders had to wait until 10:05pm, which is when Julian Holguin, CEO of Doodles and former executive of Billboard, took the stage.

Holguin delivered a PowerPoint presentation. A slide reminded the audience of what Doodles has achieved so far, including bookmarks with “sold out in minutes” and “2,600 ETH on Doodlebank”.Julian Holguin, CEO of Doodles, on stage at the Doodles party on June 21 (Image: André Beganski/Decrypt)

Then Holguin recalled all the marketing activities that Doodles did at this year’s SWSX conference three months ago. Even fanatical Doodle holders in the audience were mumbling. It felt like a corporate presentation.

Finally, Holguin featured a pre-recorded video of Alexis Ohanian announcing that 776 Ventures had spearheaded the first funding round for Doodles (not disclosing the amount raised). He then showed another video from Doodles’ new brand director Pharrell; the audience went wild.

After the Doodles event, I went to the Goblintown party in Terminal 5. The contrast was stark.

Graffiti art of Goblintown on a “burger truck” at a party on June 21, 2022 (Image: André Beganski/Decrypt)

The NFT Goblintown collection popped up in May, and by June 1st, its floor price had doubled overnight to around 9 ETH (or $17,000 at the time). Since then, its price on the OpenSea marketplace has dropped to 3.65 ETH (or $4,500).

The theme of the collection revolves around urine and nihilism, and states: “No [há] roadmap. No [há canal no] Disagree No [há] utility” — referring to tools, such as “roadmaps” (or development roadmaps), that NFT collections or other projects often provide their investors to learn what the expectations or steps are for such an asset in the future.

So it made sense that the Goblintown party would have a rustic, unpretentious vibe. A “food truck” outside was selling hamburgers; party organizers spoke only the goblin language; inside the party, there were Illuminati triangles, tarot cards and a (real) tattoo booth.

At the “afterparty” on the Chelsea Music Hall dance floor, there were more people wearing goblin masks, crumbling hamburgers and “WANTED” posters featuring the face of the “Beeple” artist.

It was pure fun, with no talk of marketing or branding. It struck the right tone for the current crypto market as it appeared to be a community.

The response from Doodles fans to all of this was obvious: Doodles is taking a serious step as a business to present value to the holders and promote its brand.

NFT influencer “NFTbark” had attended the event and posted praise: “Doodles is a brand ready to permeate pop culture for years to come.” He loved the slides and mission statements. He concluded that the presentation “would be impressive in a company [pertencente ao índice] Fortune 500”.

Maybe yes. But NFTs should also be fun. If it’s not fun, what are we doing here besides trading designs and making a profit?

I don’t have a Bored Ape or a Goblin, but now I know which group throws the best parties.

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