While we are always told there is gold in those hills, the people who made the most money in the California Gold Rush were those who sold picks and shovels… as well as those who provided overpriced services for food, lodgings and other gold-related paraphernalia.
And so it may be in the New California of the metaverses, the home of the brave and the NFT. The winners will certainly be those who provide services and products, not artists and those who create the content.
Same as it ever was, as Talking Heads once sang… and a band that are probably working on their NFT strategy as I write. If any artist can get his head around making money out of NFTs, then it’s surely David Byrne.
Hence, it was no surprise to see the recent $13 billion valuation of OpenSea after the trading platform received $300 million in Series C Funding. Like anything new, the believers think the valuation is a bargain and the kind-of-Luddites think it’s ridiculous.
Then there’s the thorny subject of crypto, occupying a bizarrely centralised position between creators and trading platforms; beyond ironic based on its alleged decentralised evangelism and personality.
I am privy to many conversations (closed WhatsApp groups – the New Snobbery) about whether crypto or NFTs represent the future or whether they both do, dancing hand-in-hand into the New Goldrush.
It’s a tough call. NFTs seem to be overpriced, but they don’t appear to be as volatile as crypto… and they seem to be represented by very smart people, not those who became crypto experts after stumbling onto the genius of blockchain more than a decade ago. With all due respect etc.
I have yet to hear of anything resembling NFT regulation whereas the drums are beating very loudly about upcoming crypto regulation in the different territories of North America, Europe and Asia. So, perhaps the NFT bandwagon is unlikely to be overturned by regulation ruts riding the road. There may be gold in those wheels as well as those hills.
Moreover, NFTs seem to be uniting a lot of industries and interested parties very, very quickly. While there certainly was a frenzy about IPOs in their heyday, it always felt like a big scam and most of them were, but NFT mania appears to me more measured and planned.
I honestly didn’t know what NFTs were until a year ago when somebody sent me an NFT avatar of my face after I had conducted an online conference; I thought it was something to do with American Football merch. As usual, at the front of the technology queue. Not.
NFTs are fascinating to me
So, while I am new to the game, NFTs are fascinating to me. Whether it’s digital art or the rise of the metaverse or the Kings of Leon making an NFT of their album and sending it into space, it’s certainly something fresh.
But the real problem I have with NFTs is the gut-wrenching vomit of people talking about metaverses when they have no idea what they are.
If you want to stay one step ahead of the game, the next time somebody bangs on about metaverses, ask them which particular one they mean. At the time of writing, there are only eight metaverses, which is hardly multiverse stylee and it certainly puts things into perspective.
It’s as if there are currently only eight places to pan for gold in those Californian hills, so there are likely to be much richer seams once this NFT story pans out (sorry, I’ll get my coat).
That’s why it’s keeping my interest and current conversations are certainly more engrossing than the boring hate/love Bitcoin-bickering that continues to rumble on.
However, saying that, as a veteran record collector, a newcomer to buying physical art and realising that I may have an eye for it, not least in what I like and ignoring critics, I would rather set fire to my pubic hair than buy an NFT in any digital shape or form.
However, if it comes to an entrepreneurial slant, I’m highly likely to be selling the equivalent of picks, shovels and overpriced services to the dreamers and mooners at some stage this year.
Somebody has to do it!
Monty Munford is a tech journalist and advisor to the Chickey Chik NFT and game project.
He is a keynote speaker/emcee/moderator/interviewer at prestigious events around the world and has spoken at more than 200 global events interviewing figures such as the late John McAfee, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, Steve Wozniak (twice in Beirut and Vienna), Kim Kardashian (once in Armenia), Ghostface Killah, ZZ Top, Guns N’ Roses and many others.
He was previously a weekly tech columnist for Forbes in New York, the Telegraph in the UK and continues to write regularly for the BBC, The Economist, The FT and… City AM.