Mark Cuban and Coinbase back Eternal, an NFT marketplace for trading Twitch streamer clips

The NFT world collectively seems to be trying to turn internet memories into one big game — with a lot of cash involved, of course. The original “Doge” image sold for $4 million back in June, the original “Pepe” comic image sold for $1 million in April; in short, people are becoming meme millionaires. Buying and selling six-figure JPEGs is a weird phenomenon, but in the end doesn’t do a ton to convince the average internet user that NFTs are worth caring about.

Eternal wants to turn trading internet history into a game, but it’s focused on a very particular slice of the web — popular clips from game streamers. In a user interface that functions and feels very similar to NBA Top Shot, users can buy packs of serialized clips from Eternal’s network of game streamers they’ve partnered with. The marketplace is built by startup Zelos Gaming, helmed by co-founders Jeffrey Tong and Derek Chiang, which has pivoted from building out a sort of cross-platform battle pass (which we covered here last year) toward now embracing the wild world of NFTs with Eternal.

The startup is building up a pretty wide roster of crypto investment firms and personalities, as its backers include NFX, Mark Cuban, Coinbase Ventures, Gary Vaynerchuk, Dapper Labs and Arrington Capital, which have invested $4.5 million in the startup in its latest funding round. The team was previously backed by Y Combinator.

It’s very much a Top Shot for X type platform at the moment — which is apparent in the site’s design — but the team has big ideas for how the platform evolves down the road. Unlike Top Shot, which was able to nab deals with the NBA and Players Association, there’s no overarching esports or Twitch equivalent, leaving Eternal destined for a fairly complicated weave of partnerships with streamers and streamer networks designed to ensure they don’t take their business elsewhere. The startup says they’re largely focused on popular streamers operating in the top 0.05% of Twitch.

Streamers can sell top clips, which are conveniently already tracked by platforms like Twitch, as well as videos from their social media, “immortalizing” the moments on the blockchain. The company hopes that by pairing up-and-coming streamers with more established personalities they can bring awareness to more creators and help build a network of users that “own a piece” of them and have a vested interest in their success.

Image Credits: Eternal

“I think Top Shot is a great model but [Eternal] works way better for creators because it gives creators a brand new way to monetize,” CEO Jeffrey Tong tells TechCrunch.

Building a closer relationship between fans and creators has shown early promise as an exciting nuance of the NFT world as investors showcase their investments pumping up creators in the process; what’s less clear is how this looks on a smaller scale when users have tens or hundreds of dollars of investment in a creator, versus thousands or millions.

A big selling point of the platform is that it’s built on Dapper Labs’ Flow, a consumer app-friendly blockchain which cuts back on complexity (and a bit of decentralization) in favor of building an onboarding flow users actually make it through. Living outside the Ethereum ecosystem and trading in USD means moving further away from a sizable network of crypto-rich NFT acolytes, but it also means approaching what is potentially a much larger consumer audience. The company wants Eternal to end up on more blockchains down the road by next year, though cross-chain maneuverings seem to get tricky pretty quickly today.

Flow has a pretty low-key suite of active marketplaces on its chain at the moment, but Eternal has shown early momentum. According to Cryptoslam, the marketplace has done about $300,000 in transactions this summer.