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The inspiration behind VeeFriends began between 2018 and 2019 when Vaynerchuk originally wanted to start a line of desktop toys for “positive reinforcement.” The idea derived from the thousands of direct messages he receives monthly from people saying how they dislike their jobs.
“One day after reading like five or six of them and going to the laboratory in my office I walked past like 10 desks,” Vaynerchuk said. “Every one of the desks I walked by — my employee had little Simpson figures, little Marvel figures, little anime figures.”
So originally he was going to launch a toy line, but COVID-19 happened and the NFT boom began, which was where Vaynerchuk merged his plan through the digital asset sector. “I did have a big audience … but I focused on real-life utility,” Vaynerchuk said. “At first I thought I was building Disney, now I think I’m building Sesame Street … I want to create a universe, and I thought the technology of NFTs was an incredibly fun way to start that.”
The future of NFTs and IP
While some major NFT collections like Pudgy Penguins and Bored Ape Yacht Club are expanding their intellectual property beyond the digital world in areas like toys, apparel and more, Vaynerchuk doesn’t think that move is the right one for every project. “I don’t think everyone is capable of that, you have to be self aware of what you’re good at or not but it is something everyone should consider because it provides a lot more opportunities.”
As for greater mainstream adoption, Vaynerchuk doesn’t think digital collectibles are going to be the biggest route forward for NFT growth. “I think it’s going to be ticketing, contracts, title insurance, things like that.”
The internet used to be referred to as the “information superhighway” 30 years ago because it was seen as a place like a library for people to do research, Vaynerchuk said. “Today, we know the internet for a lot more.”
In a similar wave, Vaynerchuk sees NFT collectibles as a part of the ecosystem, but believes in 20 years, when people hear the term NFT, “they’re not going to default to thinking it’s a collectible, they’re going to see it more broadly.”
We also dove into a handful of topics surrounding the NFT ecosystem today and its future, mainstream adoption and Vaynerchuk’s advice for other projects.
For additional context, Vaynerchuk is a five-time New York Times bestselling author and previously created Wine Library, one of the first e-commerce platforms for alcohol, in the early 2000s. In 2009, he co-founded VaynerMedia with his younger brother AJ; fast-forward to today and the company services clients like PepsiCo, GE, Johnson & Johnson, Chase and others.
He is a “die hard” New York Jets fan (and plans to buy the team one day), as well as an investor in a handful of major companies like Twitter, Venmo and Facebook — which we talk about in the episode as well.