To better understand the recent and seemingly all-encompassing NFT Craze, we have to understand how we got here. What events in recent history paved the way to enable Jack Dorsey to sell an autographed digital representation of his first tweet for $2.9 million, or Christi’s, a household name in auction houses, to be the first to auction an NFT, which fetched nearly $70M. If you’ve turned on the internet to any social media channel you’ve heard of NFT’s. You might not understand them but you’ve seen the term and wondered what all the hoopla is about.
For weeks major media have been questioning whether after a year of collective lock downs we’ve all lost our minds. But big names, savvy investors, like Mark Cuban, are going all in on NFTs. He’s gone so far as to identify a main failing of NFTs which is a lack of an easy way to show them, so he created Lazy.com. He’s also acquired @nft as a handle on Instagram. I was speaking with Juan Villa, the confident young man who talked Mark Cuban into letting him run with the social drivers for the endeavor, in an NFT for Dummies room I was co-hosting and while I don’t have a recording to quote directly, the gist of it is this: the site is 2 weeks old in beta. Give it time and they will make improvements that will likely (no guarantees) include cross-platform capabilities to display the NFTs you’ve bought.
NFT’s are certainly a disruptor in the art business, giving decentralized permissionless access to anyone to mint their art and sell it directly to the buyer, without permission of a gallery owner to bestow worth or worthlessness. But this first wave of disruption, this isn’t where we are going, it’s just where we are going now, and those claiming we are in a bubble can’t see far enough down the road to understand why the true promise of NFTs is certainty. That is all. Trustless. Permissionless. Certainty.
Anyone paying attention could have seen this coming. One of the first signs of a great disruptor is often those who discredit it and say it’ll never work. Maybe it’s because they fear it. Possibly it is not of interest. Either way, their opinion is strong and they poo-poo it until the day comes when they’re the ones under that pile of poo-poo. Everyone else has adapted and embraced it. They find themselves playing catch-up to what has already caught on. Kind of how you feel when you recall I’ve been shouting from the rooftops since 2012 that blockchain would solve myriad problems. And that bitcoin, due to the tokenomics naturally must go up. And now… it’s almost $60K, and that hurts a little. So don’t repeat the past. Embrace the future!!!
Another way to spot disruptors is that they are mostly awesome. An idea, a business, a technology can all be disruptors. They also grow the economy and extend out the need for disruptors out there. You know their names and I’d be willing to bet that you’ve grown quite dependent on many, if not all, of them.
1. Landline to Cellphones
Big and clunky cellphones became an option for consumers when Motorola brought them to market in 1983. It made a woman’s purse heavier and a man’s pants soggier—if it even fit into the pocket. Ok, it didn’t fit in anyone’s pocket until the Razor was released in 2004. And despite the phone’s weight and $1/minute cell phone rates, the convenience of them quickly caught on, and before long the question turned from “why do I need that?” to “I want one, just make it smaller.” And an industry was born.
When paper companies like Nokia saw that paper was on its way out and cellphones were on their way they dove into R&D so they could compete head-to-head with Motorola, the original. From there, company, after a company has sprouted up that, makes phones and additional companies that sell servicing for those phones. Now people don’t want to wait until they are home to use a landline when they can just make their call right away. It’s simple and convenient.
As for landlines, according to a study released by the US Government in May 2017:
- 50.8% of homes and apartments had only cellphone service in the latter half of
2016. This is the first time that cellphone households were the majority.
- 39% of US households have both landlines and cellphones.
- Renters and young adults are most likely to have just a cellphone. Researchers attribute this to their mobility and comfort with technology.
Think about how this pivotal moment changed our lives. Now we have grown accustomed to having a god-like oracle in our pocket and can’t imagine what life would be like without it.
If you love technology like I do you love being an early adopter/evangelist when new tech drops. Being there before everyone else is a thrill, and NFTs offer that same type of thrill. We’re not into being that person we all know who started out saying “never” or “not interested.”
2. Video Store to Netflix
“People love the video store.” “It’s an important experience for us.”… At least that’s what video store owners said – and believed – in 1997 when Netflix was founded. And for a good many years they believed that would still be the case. No big chain video store was more adamant about this than BlockBuster.
Then things changed and people found it more convenient to know they could add the movie they wanted to order into their Netflix queue, wait for it to come in the mail, and then watch it at their own leisure and send it back when they were done. All without late fees. All without hassle. And absolutely in a more affordable manner. It changed the game.
Eventually BlockBuster did try to compete with Netflix but they were too late, because the change had already begun, and the space was filled. No one thought of BlockBuster as a mail service for movies. After securing their market domination, Netflix began offering digital streaming services and eventually phased out DVDs, because at that point they owned the OTT (Over the Top) market and could guide their users where they wanted. According to TechCrunch, Netflix reaches 75% of US streaming service viewers. Can you imagine if your idea touched 75% of an entire US consumer-base?
Just last year Netflix added 28 million new subscribers, with almost 16 million subscribers in the first three months of 2020 alone. And the only thing bigger is YouTube!
3. Taxi to Uber to Drife
I confess that I loathe taxis. If I never had to step foot in one again I’d be thrilled, which is why Drife is an amazing concept to me. Drife makes it so anyone can be an entrepreneur offering a decentralized ride share service controlled by the drivers. No paying the boss, just paying someone for their service via a utility token.
There’s nothing against taxi drivers, but sometimes it is the most unpleasant experience you could imagine. Awkward conversations and glances, them taking a long way around on a route, and the occasional rancid smell of something that you dare not guess what it is. I won’t even go into the frustrated and lost taxi driver in Turkey going 80mph on a twisty hilly street, cursing in Turkish because he couldn’t find a way out. I get it. They must make a living – we can all understand and appreciate that – but maybe by making a living more on their own terms they could be better off. Many more people have the potential to be their own boss than actually do it.
Uber brought that potential to everyday people who wanted to earn extra money by driving others around in their own car. For me, it was ideal, but as you all know, Uber has gotten quite the number of glaring headlines. It’s a culture with some evident flaws. Enter Drife.
With decentralization, peer-to-peer transactions have changed the world. Its run on the EOS platform and is launching in beta in India. It’s brilliant, and it goes to show how easy it is to transition from a third-party, cash-based system to one that is based on a digital currency.
4. Healthcare to Video Medicine
Expensive. Inefficient. Frustrating. Those 3 words describe how most people feel about their healthcare system. You wait forever to get into the doctor just to get a referral, all while you are trying to address something that you know is wrong. Or the one that really frustrates me-you know exactly what’s wrong, say an ear infection, and you’re forced to go and pay $90 for an urgent care visit just for 5 minutes and the prescription that you already know they’re going to give you.
A concept to better healthcare is out there and during Covid more people learned just how easy it could be. It’s called Telemedicine. You can call the number at any time, talk over a video stream to a doctor, and they can even get a few vitals from that call. Then, if it’s something simple, they can get your prescription ordered for you and you’re done. It’s quick and simple. Plus, it is a fraction of the cost. For those of you who have kids, what stinks more than forcing them to go out of the house and to the doctor when they’re sick? That task is not fun for anyone, no matter how optimistic you try to be about it.
In 2020, telemedicine has become a defacto must and is included in most health insurance plans now. In a time when solutions are a struggle and we have witnessed that healthcare is not a one-size-fits-all product, it’s clear no one is going to be completely happy. We must create our own ideal and thankfully dozens of promising telemedicine options are popping up as affordable and effective solutions.
5. Brick-and-mortar Store to Amazon to OpenBazzar and BitBay
When you take pride in the work you do and what you’ve created you’re vulnerable to feelings of invincibility. You can’t fathom why your faithful, lifelong customer would ever go anywhere else. Your friends, maybe members of the same church or on the same bowling team would never choose an impersonal online retailer over you. Right? This mindset was an epidemic that almost every brick-and-mortar retailer out there experienced. It didn’t matter if they were a small shop or a big retail giant. They mistakenly thought they were offering an experience that people just had to have. And up until that point, they did.
Then Amazon surfaced.
Amazon launched in 1994 as an online bookstore and is now the largest online retailer selling everything, despite being initially discredited by the traditional storefront. As the new platform caught fire and started to grow with the internet, people suddenly had options. Those who took the opportunity to embrace e-commerce were eager to meet their demand and suddenly you could live in San Diego, California, and sell a clock radio to a guy in Bangor, Maine. That was awesome, but what surprised many people was the fact that you could get the exact same product for less money. And with free shipping! Before that time, you might not have given a second thought to what something cost. You either paid the price that was asked or took a pass because it wasn’t worth it to you. Those loyal customers proved the old saying that “money talks” and they changed their buying habits in droves. With this new way of fulfilling the consumer need, a new mentality emerged. You didn’t have to travel any farther than your computer to gain access to a lot of merchandise at a reasonable price-a bonus for exhausted working professionals and people that just craved that convenience.
Today, creating wish lists and browsing Amazon is practically an Olympic sport.And for entrepreneurs, Amazon has a marketing platform that is second-to-none. But Amazon still has their detractors, from the discounts they receive to use the US Postal Service, to the rights of workers, Amazon has proven the model but perhaps not perfected it.
Enter OpenBazzar and BitBay, both decentralized marketplaces aiming to grab a bit of marketshare. But due to the decentralized nature of the platforms, oversight is absent. A quick peek at OpenBazzar shows a mural of a woman, ostensibly and original, on sale for $500. And if I hadn’t been creating on Canva just last night I might have missed that it’s a stock photo, swiped and listed. In the glory days of Silk Road, where anything and everything was bought and sold, users knew to do their own due diligence. Very few mainstream citizens ventured into the dark web where on any page they might be mentally scared for life. But this new era of decentralization is missing a core component to the idea of trustless transactions. Certaining of Identity and Ownership.
Enter NFTs, with technology now deployed out to the mainstream. Using art and music to penetrate the media blockade on Crypto, NFT’s have arrived. And with new marketplaces opening daily, the industry is headed to the moon, with a few false starts and rocket explosions along the way. But the art is good. The Collectors are excited. Some struggling artists have made more in the last month than the entirety of their careers. And that is AMAZING! And then there are the listings like a red square selling for nearly $1 million… not to throw shade but at that price, I suspect ulterior motives.
And the most important thing to remember, NFTs are not just a jpg with a serial number logged on a blockchain. Today I had the pleasure of mentoring thousands of artists on their launch and marketing strategies in the NFTClub on Clubhouse. Seeing not only brilliant up and coming traditional and digital artists, but what dancers and sculptors were able to deliver as an NFT inspired me, and proved, there is no limit. It’s not just art. It’s community. It’s access. It’s… ANYTHING you can dream up.
Disrupters are being developed every day. Cryptocurrency, in general, is a big disruptor and has shown a way that eliminates third parties and centralized solutions. While the wild wild west, also known as 2017, saw hundreds, maybe even thousands, of companies whip out a white paper on a whim and a little bit of luck and get funded millions, only to watch the founders squander their opportunity. Of those ICOs very few after all this time and all that money have accomplished anything. Some have, and those were projects focused on doing something necessary. This has led to the potential you have today, which is that which lies in a properly structured, gamified, community building NFT.
Written by Adryenn Ashley