But when a party emerges online that anyone is invited to attend and the 500 person group picks up a punk with a party hat and they all change their social network avatar to this, well that got my attention.
But there is an important difference between fractional/collective ownership of physical and digital goods.
When you purchase a share of a 1985 Air Jordan collection, as I did, you can’t showcase it in your home or office. It is shared ownership with many others. So it goes to a gallery or somewhere it can be shown publicly. That’s fine but somehow less satisfying than having it in your home or office for everyone who comes to visit you to see.
Contrast that to what happened with the punk. Everyone who bought it put it on their Twitter avatar. They collectively displayed it on their own digital property.
The underlying misconception here is to think that in the digital world copies are indistinguishable from originals. In a trivial sense this is true. Let’s say you copy a digital artwork, you will now have exactly the same bit sequence as the original. But in a much more profound sense it is not.
What NFTs do for digital art (images/Punks, videos/Top Shots, music, animations, etc, etc) is they separate the concept of ownership and the display and consumption of them. The ownership is on a public secure ledger. The display and consumption of them is out in the open for everyone to see and hear and more.
That’s not something that is easy to wrap your head around but it is profound.
Go here and read the entire thing because “the Louvre” is a bit out of context in that quote. His point is that crypto/blockchains allow for someone (or a group) to own the original(s) and everyone else to own copies that are as good as the original.
And that is the kind of thing that could make owning digital frames really awesome.
My friend Seth is an entrepreneur and an artist. I have two of his paintings hanging in my office in NYC. His latest work is taking photographs of the sunset every day at Venice Beach and then training an AI model to turn it into a 30 second video. The work is published in a MP4 video. Therein lies the challenge. Anyone can copy an MP4 video so how does he make this work unique?
But NFTs are also a very powerful tool for digital artists to bring scarcity/uniqueness to their work. And we are seeing a fair bit of activity starting to happen in and around digital art and NFTs.
Seth minted an NFT of his work and listed it for sale yesterday and then tweeted this out:
I saw that tweet and placed a bid on it this morning. If you would like to do the same, you can do that here (you will need a Metamask wallet holding Ethereum).
There is still some geekiness/wonkiness about digital art NFTs (like needing a Metamask wallet and Ethereum) and I expect that will go away in short order and the experience of buying NFT art will be more like the experience of buying a rare Luka Doncic Holo MMMX card on Top Shot which requires none of that.
Crypto technology has many uses and is absolutely not limited to speculating on meme coins. In fact, the emergence of real utility (vs speculation) is the single most important thing that needs to happen for crypto to live up to its potential (and current market values). I think NFTs and digital art is likely to be an early example of that utility emerging.
The idea behind Otis is that cultural assets like fine art, rare books and comic books, jewelry and watches, sneakers and skateboards, etc are appreciated by everyone but are only collectible/affordable by wealthy people.
Otis intends to change that by securitizing these cultural assets and selling them off in shares for as little as $25 per share. These fractionalized cultural assets will be shown publicly while they are owned collectively.
You can see how this all works by downloading the Otis mobile apps here.
I did that yesterday and I have already set myself up to try to buy a share of Kehinde Wiley’s Saint Jerome Hearing The Trumpet Of Last Judgement on August 13th.
I’ve also opted to be notified when these assets “drop” so I can purchase a share of them too.
I am not a sneakerhead but for those of you who are this might be of interest to you:
This is just the start of what will hopefully be a highly liquid secondary market for the trading and collecting of shares of cultural assets. The market is starting out highly curated by Otis but that may change over time as things develop.
USV’s focus right now is on backing trusted brands that can open up access to captial, knowledge, and well-being and Otis fits in all three of those categories. We are very excited to be involved in this ambitious effort.
That is our practice. We publish our investment rationale on our blog every time we make an investment. It creates a permanent record of why we made the investment. It is interesting to go back and read them five or ten years later, regardless of whether they worked out or not.
Sofar is a company we have been following for seven years. We have been intrigued by this global community that has been building around the themes of meeting others in the real world, a shared love of music, and intimate spaces (often personal homes).
The Sofar community is large and sprawling.
The scale of the Sofar community, to us, is an example of “unspoken” value that Sofar has created for over one million people in 430 cities across 65 countries including London, Paris, New York, Sydney, Bangalore, Buenos Aires, Cape Town, and Seoul. In fact, more people will attend a Sofar in 2019 than will attend Bonnaroo, Glastonbury, and Coachella combined (also, 13 Sofar artists are playing at Coachella this year).
I just took a look at Sofar to see what events are happening in NYC in the coming weeks:
You can see the Sofars in the coming weeks near you by going here.
Sofar reminds me of our investment in Meetup, which we made twelve years ago. As Scott Heiferman, the founder of Meetup likes to say “use the internet to get off the internet.”
Sofar adds the element of music, performance, and intimate spaces. Andy describes all of this as the “Sofar container”:
Each Sofar has a few known constraints that make the show feel familiar: it will be in a unique space where you wouldn’t expect to see live music, an MC with a loose script will encourage you to get to know your neighbors, three performers will each play three to four songs, the address will only be revealed a day before the show, and the show will end early, by around 10:30 pm. This is what we call “the Sofar container”. The natural outcomes of the container are less tangible; for example, you will hear great music, you will feel safe and comfortable, you might make a new friend or you can attend solo, you won’t be judged. By bringing people together and creating spaces where music matters, Sofar broadens access to well-being – a core part of our investment thesis. The beauty of creating a simple container, with known constraints, is that what goes into the container is dynamic. You don’t know who the artists are, who you’ll be sitting next to or what the venue will be like, but we believe that the essence of Sofar lies in trusting the container.