Gary Vaynerchuk raises more than $20 million from NFT drop
In the world of NFTs, a CryptoPunk is worth about $100,000 on average, a rare Beeple artwork is worth $69 million—but actual bowling with Gary Vaynerchuk is worth about $20,000.
That is the value, in the crypto currency Ethereum, of two bowling sessions with the agency exec and entrepreneur as valued by his Non-Fungible Token project that went to auction Wednesday and has raised about $20 million so far, according to VaynerMedia.
Vaynerchuk created 10,200 NFTs, which he started selling this week on a website called VeeFriends.com. The digital assets grant the owner, who purchases them through an auction, access to a new VeeCon conference that will be held every year for the next three years. Other digital tokens grant different levels of access to Vaynerchuk.
It wasn’t a given that anyone would be interested in Vaynerchuk’s NFT creation, and he hasn't sold all the tokens as of this writing. Of the 10,200 he minted, about a third of them have been claimed, and the rest will drop over the coming days. Vaynerchuk has a fairly devoted following, even if he is considered somewhat of an acquired taste in the ad world. Vaynerchuk recently launched a Discord community, the site where fans congregate and communicate around niche topics, that already has 140,000 members.
The digital tokens are based on creations that Vaynerchuk doodled, and each one confers different powers upon the owner. The “Checkers Chicken,” for instance, gives the owner two games of checkers with Vaynerchuk. The VeeFriends.com site says the checkers token sold for 5 Ethereum. That is equal to $20,000. The “Bowling Boa” NFT , which is for the two bowling sessions, also sold for at least 5 Ethereum.
One of the characters called "Mentor Meeting Mongoose," is listed as selling for 48 Ethereum, a value of almost $200,000, which gives the bearer two hours a year of consulting directly with Vaynerchuk for two years. Vaynerchuk said that he hopes to turn his characters and conference into a larger intellectual property. The proceeds will partly go to pay for the three VeeCon conferences, according to VaynerMedia. Vaynerchuk also retains 10% of the resale rights to any of the tokens, which is one of the benefits of NFTs, that they include "smart contracts" that give the creator the ability to track and claim revenue from future sales on cryptomarkets. Vaynermedia says 1% of future sales will go toward a charity, too.
“You can expect anything and everything from toys and merch collabs to streetwear, retail outlets and even an animated series,” a Vaynerchuk’s representative stated in an email. “Think Hello Kitty. This is not about a five-day auction, VeeFriends is a company.”
Vaynerchuk has raised $20 million so far, after dropping about half the NFTs into what’s known as a “dutch auction.” That’s when the bidding starts at one price, and then goes down until a person decides to jump in.
Last week, Vaynerchuk described his NFT project to during an Ad Age Remotely video interview, saying it’s not a cash grab. He said he wanted to show marketers how to use this experimental market. “It was very important to me not to be at the mercy of just the collectible ecosystem,” Vaynerchuk said during last week. “It would be asinine for me to spend my whole life and then ruin my reputation off the idea of putting out this thing that people lost money on. I’ve been playing the marathon long-game this whole time. So the thought of going for a short-term transaction has just never been my way.”
NFTs may still need some explaining every time they are mentioned, though: They are digital products that are generated on the blockchain, the same technology that mints Bitcoin and Ethereum, the cryptocurrencies that have taken off in value. NFTs are digital collectibles that have captured the imagination, and wallets, of the art world and technophiles, who pay good crypto for the privilege of owning these one-of-a-kind digital assets.
Brands and advertisers have been testing the NFT markets with their own digital collectibles. Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Pringles, Charmin and others have created NFTs. The National Basketball Association ignited the market for them with collectible digital memorabilia known as Top Shot cards, which are internet-based trading cards.
On Wednesday, one of the most highly coveted NFTs, known as CryptoPunks, raised $17 million in an auction at Christie’s. CryptoPunks are regarded as the first NFT artworks ever minted on a blockchain, and they are simple eight-bit digital drawings of funny characters.
Still, it wasn't all good news for cyrptomarkets this week. Ethereum is soaring in price, but one of Bitcoin's biggest benefactors, Elon Musk's Tesla, announced it would stop accepting Bitcoin as a form of payment for electric vehicles. Tesla noted the environmental impact of mining Bitcoin through energy-consuming computer servers as a reason to hit the brakes. There have been concerns that NFTs and cryptocurrencies, in general, are in a bit of an exuberant bubble that could pop at any moment.
Meanwhile, the most famous sale of NFT art was a creation from the digital artist known as Beeple, which sold in March for $69 million.
That makes checkers with Vaynerchuk, at 5 Ethereum, almost a bargain.