Fluf World on the surface seems like a bunch of fluff. It is an NFT community based on 3D rabbit avatars, supported by thousands of people who mostly interact online through Discord. Fluf World has spawned offshoot NFTs called Party Bears and Thingies. The community has explored virtual reality, NFT real estate, artificial intelligence, among other parts of the coming metaverse.
These types of NFT projects are seen as the future of brand building, where the community owns a piece of the success. Fluf World’s community already spawned a pop star in the metaverse called angelbaby, a digital rabbit that performs live at parties like the one held at SXSW earlier this month.
And Brooke Howard-Smith and Alex Smeele, co-founders at Non-Fungible Labs, which created Fluf World, are looking for more.
The New Zealanders were at SXSW in Austin earlier this month to help distribute a “metaverse manifesto,” which has more than 2,000 signers, advocating for a “democratic” Web3 that is open, inclusive and has an overall positive impact on the world. Fluf World, in many ways, represents the divide in Web3 circles: On one side there are idealistic communities, and on the other side there are major brands and internet platforms that want to play, too. The NFT vanguard often cast themselves as the anti-Meta, Mark Zuckerberg’s renamed Facebook, which is looking to become a behemoth in the metaverse. Brands like Disney, Gucci, Adidas and Nike are also developing metaverse strategies through virtual reality, digital products, NFT real estate, and Discord communities.
“There is a place for existing companies in the metaverse,” Smeele said in an interview at the tech confab. “But they need to understand that they’re actually going to have to rethink their entire business model, because the way that they’re working currently is basically the antithesis of what we’re trying to achieve with Web3.”
Fluf World is best known for the 10,000 rabbit characters launched last year to kickstart the community, which now includes stakeholders such as Snoop Dogg. Fluf is short for “fluffle,” a group of rabbits. Fluf World NFTs have a floor price of about 3 ETH, close to $9,000, on OpenSea, the Web3 marketplace.
Fluf World is like Bored Ape Yacht Club or Doodles, other NFT communities that are building the next generation of brands in music, gaming, fashion, media and entertainment. Bored Ape also launched with 10,000 NFTs, and it attracted participation from A-list celebrities and brands. Last week, Bored Ape dropped a crypto-token called ApeCoin, and there is a concept for a metaverse called Otherside. Yuga Labs, the company that created Bored Ape, raised $450 million this week at a $4 billion valuation.
NFT clubs like Fluf World are creating a new template for brands. A Fluf or a Bored Ape can become a creator in the style of an Instagram or TikTok star, only in the metaverse. The projects give every member of the club a piece of the intellectual property. Brands need to relinquish control, if they want to tap into Web3, Smeele said. “We’re taking the inverse approach to people like Disney or Netflix,” Smeele said, “because with them it’s all completely locked up and they’re very protective of their IP.”
The only way for brands to get into Fluf is to become one of them, Howard-Smith said. “We love the Mouse [Disney], we love it all, and we can’t wait for Disney to become a part of our community,” Howard-Smith said. “If they want to start buying an NFT, and creating using an NFT, just like any other person on the planet has access, that’s the best way.”
Howard-Smith points to the Fluf avatar artist angelbaby as an example: “angelbaby commercializes content directly with fans, we don’t need to clip a ticket, there’s no record company in this, they are the creator, the distributor, the accounting, everything.”
Brands are starting to get it. Nike recently bought RTFKT, which calls itself a “creator-led organization,” and last month the two entities dropped an NFT called MNLTH, or monolith. The monolith is a mysterious glowing box with a floor price of 6.3 ETH, or $20,000, and there are 8,900 owners, according to OpenSea’s market.
Fluf World is a community of 3,700 NFT owners, based on the 3D rabbit avatars with sharp fur, smoking accessories and an apocalyptic fashion sense. Fluf holders own NFT properties known as Burrows, which the rabbits inhabit. There are the Party Bears and Thingies. Meanwhile, Non-Fungible Labs has partnered with Altered State Machine, a Web3 startup that is developing artificial intelligence for avatars. Altered State’s “brain” NFTs sell on OpenSea with a floor price close to 5 ETH, or $15,000.
“A Fluf isn’t like a ‘Fortnite’ character that you rent,” Howard-Smith said, referring to the popular game where people play as characters in combat and customize them with virtual "skins." “You own this Fluf forever, 1,000 years after Alex and I are dead, this Fluf will still exist.”