4 Things I Learned at NFT.NYC 2022
I attended NFT.NYC 2022 this year!
Before I joined BotNot, I worked at Coinbase. I’ve been a casual crypto trader since 2017, but I was never sure about NFTs. In the summer of 2021, I finally decided I would try to understand the hype — I decided to buy an NFT.
My first NFT was an Axolittle.
I quickly learned how NFTs foster community and culture in a way that classic “fungible” tokens don’t. There was a social aspect to NFT collecting that was new to me — community-exclusive virtual events, game servers, livestreams, movie nights, Twitter Spaces, the list goes on. In the context of covid, this type of rich virtual social experience feels very important!
Fast-forward 6 months, I was an active member of the Axolittles community. When the community made a bid to take over the project, I volunteered as a backend dev for the new team — a team made up mostly of my good friends from various NFT discord servers.
When these friends told me they were going to NFT.NYC 2022 and asked if I wanted to come, of course I agreed. I was ecstatic for the opportunity to meet them IRL.
I had a ton of fun, barely slept, and learned so much. Here are my 4 biggest takeaways from the conference.
1. NFT People are Sneakerheads and Resellers
While I was in NYC for the conference, I ended up talking a lot about BotNot. It struck me how many NFT people are sneakerheads and collectors; it makes sense because NFTs are digital collectibles.
People really resonated with our mission to combat arbitrage on everyday necessities. Many web3 people participate in arbitrage — but we draw a line on physical goods that people need to survive and thrive.
Beyond life necessities, computer hardware and event tickets were particularly important for NFT.NYC attendees. Almost everyone has been impacted by resellers acquiring these items, and are tired of paying a premium to get them.
They understand collectibles, arbitrage, and respect the reseller hustle, but are cheering for us because, just like the rest of us, they are frustrated with paying these premiums and rewarding bad actors.
2. Culture Over Tech
I had the chance to meet the lead author of the ERC721 standard , William Entriken— this is the smart contract standard that powers most NFT projects that exist today.
William showed us his Su Squares NFT collection which is the first ever ERC-721 NFT project. It struck me that this collection has huge historic importance. If you believe NFTs and the ERC-721 standard are important, then the provenance of this collection is undeniable. Provenance is what gives legendary collections like CryptoPunks, CryptoKitties, and MoonCats their value as collectibles. It’s like owning some of the first baseball cards ever printed.
I was pleasantly surprised to learn Su Squares is still minting, meaning anybody can buy unclaimed NFTs directly from the original contract. I was also baffled; here’s this legendary NFT collection that allows you to store your brand image (or any image) on the ethereum blockchain as a virtual billboard. It’s a piece of history that will persist as long as the ethereum blockchain lives. And yet, it hasn’t seen the excess of public interest and hype that famous collections like Bored Ape Yacht Club has.
In fact, William himself is sort of a living legend. He authored the technology that underpins the entire NFT industry. Instead of crowding around William, everyone in the room at the event was lining up to get a selfie with kmoney. Sure, kmoney is a builder, but mostly he’s an influencer and a cultural leader for NFTs.
Influencers and hyped projects got most of the attention at NFT NYC, and the technology almost felt like an afterthought. For NFTs, culture is more important than tech.
3. Winter Is Here
Whether we actively discussed it or not, the latest web3 winter was a theme in every conversation I had.
The people who are still building and collecting are optimistic about the crypto winter. During a bull market, the FOMO is distracting and even paralyzing. There is an insane level of urgency around every single feature and announcement that teams release.
The deep freeze and bear market means we now have time to reflect on our goals, clarify our path forward and execute on it.
For investors and collectors, it’s an opportunity to join those NFT communities that just a few months ago seemed inaccessible.
For builders, it’s a beat to breathe, have candid conversations, prioritize, plan, and execute. We’re able to think long term and work to position ourselves for the next bull market. We know full well it might be four years until the FOMO is back, and we’ll make sure we’re precisely where we need to be when it happens.
4. A Taste of that VIP Life
My friend talked me into taking a helicopter ride from Manhattan to New Jersey to catch my return flight out of Newark.
Blade is an uber-style helicopter service that offers a breathtaking alternative to trains and/or soul-crushing traffic.
We flew right over the Statue of Liberty on our way to EWR. For me, the helicopter ride was both logistics and tourism.
I think it’s definitely worth the experience to do one time, but I don’t think I’ll make a habit of “blading” into NYC. At least, not until the next crypto bull market 😎.
We may have a long winter ahead of us, but I’m already seeing how the focus on community within NFTs is going to help us through — I have personal relationships with other builders and holders that I never experienced with more traditional digital assets. These relationships will keep me involved, keep me building, and keep me coming back to conferences like NFT.NYC!