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Apologies for the delay on this week’s edition of BivNFT. I went to Disneyland yesterday and since then, ideas have been running through my head on how Disney could completely alter the space with a snap of their fingers (Thanos style).
I’ll be writing about some of those ideas next week, but until then, here’s your regularly scheduled Alpha and Beta.
Airdrop season is back.
Early Monday, an OpenSea competitor called LooksRare launched and gave everyone who purchased more than 3 ETH of NFTs on OpenSea a token. Users could then choose to stake their $LOOKS and gain rewards for supporting the indie, alternative marketplace. But as in life, $LOOKS aren’t everything.
(That will be my last $LOOKS pun, as I’m sure you’ve seen enough on Twitter already)
The real story is how people are frothing for a legitimate OpenSea contender to pop up and take some of that huge market share.
Let’s be honest, LooksRare is mid. It’s pretty clunky and it has some glaring feature omissions even for a startup (let me ‘sort’ for godsakes).
But after Coinbase failed to launch its marketplace before the end of 2021, the NFT community has still been stuck with OpenSea through constant outages that all but killed the momentum of certain pumps and some would argue, entire bull runs.
What makes it worse, is that OpenSea continues to raise VC money with no marketable uptime improvements or token drops.
Nate was forced out of OpenSea after insider trading, but it’s gotten so bad that many are clamoring for him to make a return. That’s because OpenSea has become so disengaged with their community, that getting support from someone (even one with questionable ethics) is better than nothing.
Enter LooksRare, which as I discussed earlier is certainly passable. However, it’s been treated as a gamechanger by the desperate NFT community. Someone sold a Punk to invest it all in $LOOKS. There has been an OpenSea diss track centered around $LOOKS. Their token hit $4. It’s not nothing, for sure.
With backing from NFT legends such as Dingaling (but pariahs such as Cole), it remains to be seen if LooksRare can capitalize on this momentum and actually make a legitimate competitor out of themselves. There are likely dozens of marketplaces launching this year in order to directly compete with OpenSea so the novelty of having a new marketplace will wear off quickly.
However, the launch of LooksRare has shown potential, as it’s hard to argue against giving your customers skin in the game. The token certainly got people talking and got plenty of $LOOKS to its website (sorry, had to do one more).
One thing is certain…this is not the last time someone tries to pull this off in 2022. They’re coming for you OpenSea.
Last week, I discussed that I think media (particularly TV and movies) can move the NFT space forward in 2022. I promised that I would be giving my two cents on other trends to look out for 2022…
…but I did not say all trends to look out for are buying signals.
If you’ve ever started a small business, you know that merch is typically the first thing you try to pull off.
That’s because 1) it’s low cost and effort and 2) it offers free advertising for your brand. Not only do you make a profit on the shirts themselves, but you also get someone out there walking around in it, which could (in theory) drive eyeballs and traffic to your business.
It always seems like a good idea on paper. When you are making a few shirts just for fun, it can be effective marketing…but starting a clothing brand? That’s a whole other beast.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot since Creature World launched their fashion line last week (see above). I think it’s the best looking I’ve seen from the NFT community so far - mostly because it’s so different. It’s open to anyone who wants to buy, with certain exclusives for Creature World holders. Sounds promising, no?
Well sure, until you take into account that these nice designs will cost a pretty penny to make and who knows if the margins will make sense down the road when Danny is making way more from his NFT’s commissions. Also, opened up to the normie world, will anyone outside of NFT Twitter actually buy these and rep it?
OK, so just make merch exclusive to your holders…that will fix these issues, right? Unfortunately, it gets even more complicated. Sure, NFTs have a larger market than your local barbershop selling t-shirts, but of projects with 5K unique owners, probably even less of those owners want to wear the art on their head or chest. Does it make sense to make a fashion line for a market that small?
Oh and also don’t forget that there are far more established streetwear brands branching into NFTs. The Hundreds have already released a project, for example, and Nike has acquired RTFKT with clothes surely to come. The NFT “fashion” space will only get more crowded in 2022 with players big and small.
Do note: I drink from a Cool Cats and Robotos mug sometimes. I’m not saying there isn’t a market for this stuff and that there isn’t hope for someone to pull away from the pack and make a real clothing brand out of their NFT.
Gutter Cat Gang did what I think is the smartest merch move yet by collaborating with Diamond Supply Co. for Art Basel. Using an existing streetwear brand to prop up their merch, they at the same time got “hypebeasts” to look into the Gutter Cat Gang, which may likely increase demand for their NFTs AND any future merch drops they have.
Collabs have been used in fashion quite often over the past few years, and I expect if NFTs are truly committed to building a fashion line from their IP, they will have to do collabs such as this to get the respect and attention from the tastemakers of streetwear. Otherwise, it’ll be an uphill battle.
TLDR? Betting on merch to do anything for your investment in 2022 is not a good idea. When you see merch on a roadmap, just realize that it should be just for fun; it won’t be for sending your NFTs to the moon.
I never did get a chance to write about the Pudgy Penguin drama for last week. For those living under an NFT Pet Rock, it was revealed that they were a) actively shopping the project to the highest bidder b) operating as an empty shell after draining its wallet into their own pockets c) using an airdrop of a fishing rod to raise capital they had no intention of putting back into the project. Congrats to Cole for continuing to hustle the NFT community and get away with it.
Because things move so fast in this space, I’ll be experimenting in the coming weeks with the Alpha and Beta sections. I don’t want them to be ‘evergreen’ per se, but I do want them to be relevant for more than a few hours. Ideally, I’m hoping to track and predict trends as I’ve done in the past few newsletters. In turn, I hope you’ll be able to see how everything happening now fits into the “business” of NFTs as a whole.