Former Amazon, Starbucks exec launches Yelp-like platform to review and discover NFTs

Amid signs of life in the NFT market, an NFT-focused startup, Thred, launched today to help users discover new collections, the company exclusively told TechCrunch.

“We think of it like a Yelp, Tripadvisor or Zillow of the space,” Ben Straley, founder and CEO of Thred, said to TechCrunch.

Straley has over 25 years of experience in digital product and customer experience leadership and was the prior head of global outbound marketing and deals at Amazon and the VP of global digital products at Starbucks, among other roles. “Between these two roles, I learned a ton about how to use data and machine learning to elevate customer experience.”

Thred’s platform combines automated machine learning and algorithms to rank NFT collections on the Ethereum and Polygon blockchains and then ranks the desirability of every NFT collection and combines it with collector, consumer and community content, Straley said.

Users can search, read and share reviews of any NFT collection to help buyers understand the collections better and know which ones are “trustworthy or unclear and maybe sketchy.” As Thred currently is compatible with Ethereum- and Polygon-based NFT collections, it will look at expanding to other chains like Bitcoin and Solana in the future, Straley said.

The NFT market has seen a bit of a resurgence in recent months as trading volumes rose for two months straight, with January hitting the highest volumes since June of last year, according to a report. Ethereum, the biggest blockchain by NFT sales volume, has had a 34% increase in sales volume in the past 30 days, to $892.5 million, showing continued growth for the sector, CryptoSlam data showed.

“One of the biggest problems holding back the NFT market is how hard it is for average people to find authentic NFTs relevant to their lives and ones they might want to own,” Straley said. “So it makes it difficult for creators and brands to reach larger audiences in the space. It’s a two-sided problem for consumers and brands having a hard time accessing potential for NFTs.”

Even as the market is expanding, there’s limited options to help people determine which collections are valuable, trustworthy or even of interest, Straley said.

“I think it’s a really great time for us to be entering with this solution because there’s renewed interest in digital assets and NFTs and we’re seeing it in the data,” Straley said. “But there’s still this problem when you hear about a Nike NFT or Porsche NFT or you name it — it’s really not straightforward or easy to know where to go for the authentic collection.”

Once consumers find NFTs they want through Thred’s platform, they are directed to marketplaces to complete purchases or trades. “We think we can be a platform for discovery and for creators and brands to reach who they want to reach,” Straley added.

In the long term, Thred shares a similar sentiment to many other NFT believers that this market is “going to be massive,” Straley said. “What currently exists is just scratching the surface.”

“When we make it possible for the average person to find NFTs and digital assets relevant to their lives, that solves one half of the equation,” Straley said. “The other half, where we are going next, is building the tools and capabilities that enable small, medium and large creators — including brands — to connect, reach and engage audiences in the space in ways that will lead to adoption, growth and engagement with their particular fans and audience.”