Wiser! Essays: Gary Vee had never heard of NFTs 9 months ago. But he spent 50 hours understanding what it was, drew 10k sketches and sold them for $91m in 90 days.
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Back Story: Gary Vee made over $90 million in 90 days from selling his child-like hand-drawn cartoons as NFTs. Nine months ago he had never heard of an NFT.
Gary Vaynerchuk, aka Gary Vee, is an entrepreneur, tech investor and social media (i.e., self-promoting) "thinkfluencer". He started in May when he launched an NFT (non-fungible token) series on OpenSea (the NFT marketplace). From there, Vee used his social media status and network of influencers to promote the series of cartoons called "VeeFriends" that sold like hotcakes.
On October 1st, he sold 5 drawings at Christie's for over $1.25m.
Talking point: This all sounds nonsense, right? An over-hyped fad that is making fools of the suckers getting drawn in at the bottom.
Well not really, if you look at it this way.
NFTs are virtual status symbols for the community of people willing to pay upwards of $50k for each one. Not only do they get the exclusive ownership rights to the Vee artwork, but each NFT also comes with free entry to every Gary Vee event and bragging rights to being inside the VeeFriends Club.
The point is that ownership of virtual objects equals status. In the same way that a billion people on the planet pay over the odds for a mobile phone from Apple because it signals "wealth".
To make this real for a moment, forget Gary Vee's child-like drawings and think about music. You will know the story of how Apple turned the industry on its head with iTunes. Allowing users to buy single tracks instead of whole albums.
TikTok is now disrupting the music industry because it is providing a platform for artists to get massive followings without the need for a record label. In the past, the moat that protected record labels came from their funding of the artists. Without a record labels money, how does a music artist stand a chance?
But in the new world, artists can create music on TikTok (and go viral overnight), then release it through SoundCloud, and then sell it as an NFT.
To be clear, I struggle to see the value in a hand-drawn Ape with very little going for it in the way of artistic merit. But that's not the point (and nor should it be for you if you're looking at this through a cynical lens.)
Because this is a trend that has developed substantial momentum in less than a year. It plays to the very basic animal behaviour of signalling status (a way of attracting potential mates and warding off competition). Owning a virtual object through an NFT gets you into an exclusive club that carries with it additional benefits hardcoded into the smart contract it is written in.
What is VeeFriends?
VeeFriends is a collection of 10,255 tokens featuring 268 doodle artworks created by Gary Vee himself. The tokens themselves are represented by digital collector cards, with simple animal doodles on the front. If you didn't better, you'd think they were a collection of drawings from the local creche. The doodles include 268 alliterative characters such as “Curious Crane,” “Logical Lion,” and “Adventurous Astronaut.” Vaynerchuk claims these character traits are what he values in himself and others.
VeeFriends Token Structure
With over 10,000 VeeFriends NFTs, the range of tokens available can be overwhelming. Fortunately, GaryVee and his team have structured the project into three different tiers:
- Admission Tokens (9400 tokens)
- Gift Tokens (555 tokens)
- Access Tokens (300 tokens)
Admission tokens are the most common, with 9,400 minted. Each character in the VeeFriends universe has 40 tokens with varying levels of rarity. These range from white background “Core” tokens to “Spectaculars.” Spectacular tokens feature one-of-a-kind backgrounds, including:
- Bubblegum pink
These “spectacular” tokens are the rarest in the admission tier and are expected to increase in value significantly over the upcoming years.
There are 555 gift tokens, and all feature the same “Gift Goat” artwork. Obtaining an unused Gift Goat token offers the buyer the chance to experience a curated gift experience by GaryVee and his team.
And for those who want to pick the brains of GaryVee himself, we have the Access tokens. There are 300 of them in total, all allowing personal time with the man himself.
The most common access token is the “Group Access,” with 165 tokens available. These tokens offer both in-person and virtual sessions with GaryVee.
The next is “One-to-One” access tokens that give buyers the opportunity to spend time with Vaynerchuk, with 108 tokens available. These range from Facetime conversations to having a workout session with him.
Then there are the 22 “Competition Access” tokens. These involve competitive time with GaryVee, including bowling, checkers, tennis, and video games.
The rarest Access token is “Scholarship Access,” with only 5 available. These tokens allow the owner to redeem mentoring opportunities with GaryVee. However, unlike the other tokens, this NFT is not bought but is managed through a separate application process.
VeeCon and VeeFriends
One of the key goals of VeeFriends is for GaryVee to build a tight-knit community. By offering gift experiences and one-on-one time through his tokens, GaryVee is instilling real-world value into them. This means the value of an NFT is not simply tied to its digital scarcity but also its use.
This is only possible thanks to the smart-contract technology that underlies NFTs. Smart contracts leverage the Ethereum blockchain and allow agreements between different parties without the need for third-party arbitration. Instead, self-executing code determines when specific criteria have been met.
For VeeFriends, smart contracts are being used to handle the redemption of gift experiences and GaryVee access, as well as the ownership and trading of the cards.
As a thank you to the whole VeeFriends community, GaryVee and his team have ensured that anyone holding a token will have access to his upcoming conference, VeeCon. Each token held gives access to VeeCon 2022, 2023, and 2024 where GaryVee will be treated to Q&A sessions, keynote speeches, and team sessions.
With access to VeeCon exclusively for VeeFriend token holders, the value proposition of the NFT project goes up tremendously.
“This is the career-defining conference of my life, and I will deliver. I hope to see you there.”
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