This week in Business “twttr”: Digital artist Beeple becomes an overnight multi-millionaire thanks to his NFT sale, Roblox has a stellar public debut, and the BBC Dad returns four years later to debunk myths about the viral video.
Here’s everything you may have missed from this week.
1. Jack sets up his “twttr”
just setting up my twttr— jack (@jack) March 21, 2006
If you haven’t heard of NFTs by now, you probably haven’t spent much time on Twitter this week. NFTs (non-fungible tokens) are digital assets that can be copied, but the originals have only one owner, and that rarity has led to some exorbitant prices for things like digital artwork, music, and even tweets. Even Twitter’s founder got in on the action.
Jack Dorsey’s first tweet (also the first ever tweet), from March 21, 2006, was simple: “just setting up my twttr.” Almost exactly 15 years later, Dorsey has minted an NFT of the post, and put it up for auction on NFT marketplace Valuables. The winning price, $2.5 million, was a bid from Sina Estavi, the CEO of Bridge Oracle.
Other celebrities cashing in on NFTs include Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Shawn Mendes, Grimes, and William Shatner, to name a few.
2. Beeple reacts to his record-breaking NFT sale
holy fuck.— beeple (@beeple) March 11, 2021
It’s not just celebrities selling them — the apparent king of NFTs is digital artist Mike Winkelmann, also known as Beeple, who just sold the most expensive NFT of all time for $69.3 million. That price tag has catapulted the artist to art royalty. He’s now the most valuable living artist in the world behind Jeff Koons and David Hockney.
The sale, at auction house Christie’s, was estimated to get up to $20 million, but a last-minute bidding frenzy blew up the price. Beeple reacted to the sale on Twitter with a simple “holy fuck.”
“I think the technology and just this concept of proving digital ownership of something, it feels so inevitable, I think there’s just a lot of hype right now,” Beeple told CNBC on Friday. “I think it’s one of those things where we’re going to get past that.”
3. Roblox goes public
In 2004, we founded @Roblox with the vision of connecting the world. Today, as we celebrate our direct listing on the @NYSE, we recognize the potential ahead of us: to build the platform where billions of people come together to learn, work, and play. #RobloxIPO— David Baszucki (@DavidBaszucki) March 10, 2021
People have been buzzing about video game platform Roblox’s public debut, and the company didn’t disappoint. Upon its opening Wednesday, the stock soared 54% above its $45 starting price, bringing its closing price to $69.50. The company debuted in a direct listing, an increasingly common option as opposed to a traditional IPO.
Roblox founder and CEO David Baszucki expressed his gratitude on Twitter on Wednesday.
“We are deeply humbled by the overwhelming support for Roblox and our public offering today,” he added. “To all those who helped us get one step closer to fulfilling our vision of the Metaverse—thank you.”
4. The BBC Dad video turns four
Since it's the 4 year anniversary of the BBC Dad video, here are some answers to typical questions and a few new pics:— Robert E Kelly (@Robert_E_Kelly) March 11, 2021
A. You staged the whole thing to get famous!
Good grief. Please stop sending me your 'BBC Dad Truther' emails. I can't imagine how one could stage something
On March 10, 2017, Robert E. Kelly, a political analyst, appeared on a BBC news segment to discuss the ouster of the South Korean president. Instead, his two children made a surprise appearance, hilariously interrupting the segment. Four years later, Kelly decided to set the record straight about a few things. He confirmed that he was indeed wearing pants in the video, and he didn’t stage a thing.
Kelly wrote that the loss of anonymity persists today, and that it’s the biggest change in his family’s life in the last four years.
“People recognize us in airports, restaurants, on the street,” he wrote. “It's kinda weird when random people approach you and ask, 'hey, are you that guy?' and the answer is yes. But since it's usually positive and genuine, it's ok.”
5. Balaji on the meme economy
The meme economy will become real.— balajis.com (@balajis) March 12, 2021
- Meme creators will make NFTs
- Timestamps give proof-of-first
- Memegen partially goes on-chain
- Memetic spread is more traceable
- Memers become millionaires
- Risky art becomes uncensorable & monetizable
- Art moves outside regime control
Investor and former Coinbase CTO Balaji S. Srinivasan weighed in on the power of memes — according to him, memes will someday be monetized. The rise of NFTs in the past couple of months seems to have prompted Srinivasan’s prediction, as artists find new ways to make money from their creations. In theory, memes could become NFTs, too.
Srinivasan’s advice for creators? “1) Focus solely on memes, just like Giphy focused solely on gifs,” he wrote. “2) Clone as much existing memegen-type UX as you need, your initial innovation may be mostly backend.”
The phrase “meme economy” is typically used ironically, as there’s no such thing just yet. There’s even a subreddit for it, where Redditors discuss memes as if they were stocks. And now, with the advent of “meme stocks” and “stonks,” the waters are muddier than ever.