An Inside Look Of The NFT Industry With VC And Early Pioneer Charles Read
In 2021, you have probably heard the term “NFT”. Most likely thanks to artist Beeple and his incredible $69 million Christie’s auction for the “Beeple – First 5000”. This represented the entire collection of every piece of work Beeple had done over a 5000 day period. If nothing else, that’s consistent. NFT means “Non-Fungible Token” and it typically refers to a blockchain token that is attached to a digital asset that proves it is unique. In the case of Beeple, the NFT proves that it is both authentic and unique – great for Beeple, great for the collector.
But where did this come from and what’s the big idea? In short, the NFT industry has been around for a few years but very few people were paying attention to it. One of the people that did pay attention was Charles Read, founder of Rarestone Capital and avid digital art collector.
For the past few years Charles Read has been a vocal advocate for the industry and its use cases, which are vast. In the past few months, billions of dollars have been transacted for NFTs, which does not include various digital collectibles that might not include on-chain data. Global celebrities and entrepreneurs alike have taken notice.
To learn more about the industry from an insider’s perspective, I spoke to Charles Read on where the trend came from, if it's a fad, and why he bet big on it early.
When did you first get into NFTs?
Read: I first heard about NFTs back in 2018. I met a founder at the Bitcoin Miami conference, and she was talking about her project Codex Protocol – a protocol that allows you to authenticate real artwork and verify its authenticity. The idea was to assist auction houses for example, in verifying the authenticity of its pieces and transacting with a token as well – that stored data on previous owners, sales processes etc. This is known as provenance.
When did you make your first NFT investment?
Read: I have always been interested in collectibles. Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh cards for example were a big part of my childhood. I learned about a team building a project called ECOMI. An application for licensed collectibles, and they had some really, really impressive licenses. I made a seed investment as an angel – and ECOMI have since launched their app, VeVe. It’s come a long way, and nice to see the industry as a whole evolve and play out the thesis I had planned.
What do you think about the Beeple auction?
Read: I honestly think that what Beeple has achieved is a remarkable representation of what blockchain can enable creators and artists to do – he has finally had his passion and dedication rewarded. I imagine he never expected to be able to sell most of the pieces he made, but the blockchain element really added a layer of mystery. Beeple is a 3d animator, too, and without NFTs 3d work is very easy to steal and copy. This basically enables a new paradigm for visual creators to take ownership and authentication of their hard work.
Is this NFT trend a bubble in your opinion?
Read: I am sure that we will see a very aggressive market cycle play out around NFTs. But what’s different with NFTs and Bitcoin, for example, is that NFTs apply to so many different industries and applications. The possibilities really are endless. It’d be hard to pinpoint a specific bubble developing because while prices for NFTs are extremely high in some regards, they are still being underutilized in others.
What do you mean by underutilized?
Read: NFTs are not just tokens that store data. They can be layered, used to create puzzles, reward owners over time, and used as access tokens. We’re only just seeing the beginning for NFTs. Next comes tickets for concerts, and your performer will be able to see exactly who is holding what ticket, and how many in their wallet. Keep an eye out for YellowHeart.
What do you suggest for people getting into NFTs?
Read: I think you need to really understand what an NFT can do. If you want to be taken seriously by collectors, you can’t just move your traditional work onto a blockchain and always expect people to find it interesting. Adapt to the medium that is blockchain, and use it to your advantage. You can do a lot of cool stuff.
Who is your favorite digital artist?
Read: I love Fewocious. He’s a real great example of how a young creative is embracing technology and he’ll remain ahead of the curve as long as he continues to. Aside from that, his art work is just amazing – I’d argue he could be our generations Basquiat.
Disclaimer: This article is educational in nature and does not represent financial advice. Please consult your financial advisor before investing in any digital assets.
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