Next Disney from Web3
Last week, I had a fun conversation on a LinkedIn live audio event with a bunch of web3 experts about whether the next Disney could come from a web3 project. I thought I would share more of my thoughts here.
The consensus was that a community driven media project could be a big hit if done right. The upside of a rabid fanbase that has ownership of a media brand is huge. The initial audience would be locked in, and the content would have a big group of people that would promote it for free to their friends and social media followers. The compounding impact could be huge.
The conversation went back and forth on whether a web3 media winner would be top-down, bottoms-up, or a hybrid. I wrote previously about these different approaches to the intellectual property (“IP”) here. Top-down would mean that the project would control the IP and make the decisions in a centralized way. The leading contender to build a top-down media powerhouse is Gary Vaynerchuk’s VeeFriends. Gary Vee has made it clear many times that he wants VeeFriends to be the next Marvel, Hello Kitty, or Pokemon.
A bottoms-up approach would be something like Moonbirds, a project from social media veteran Kevin Rose. Another one with this strategy to watch is Nouns. On these projects, the NFTs are Creative Commons Zero (“cc0”). This means anyone, whether they own an NFT or not, can create content using the IP.
Bored Ape Yacht Club is a bit of hybrid, where the holders have control over the IP of the NFTs that they own but the project maintains the overall IP reins. Individual BAYC holders are making content about their Apes, and the parent entity has created a metaverse game and is exploring opportunities for the brand as well.
If I had to bet on an approach here, I’m voting for a top-down project to win the day. Building a powerhouse media brand is so hard. It will require a strong person in charge making decisions and driving the content and partnerships. I’d say Gary Vee is likely the best situated to make this happen with VeeFriends. He has significant resources including cash, a top tier marketing organization, personal name recognition, and a big social media fanbase. He is an experienced operator with a proven track record.
Several of the speakers on the audio event would likely have voted for Bored Apes as the likely winner here. I see the upside and success of the project thus far, but they still have lots of challenges ahead. They raised a lot of funding at the top of the market, and they acquired strong brands with their purchase of CryptoPunks and Meebits. I just don’t know that making a big media splash is their top priority.
We also had a discussion on whether a web3 media brand would be able to share revenues with their NFT holders. This is a tricky one. If an NFT project does this, they run the risk of being declared a “security” under U.S. laws, which would be terrible. No NFT project has registered as a security, so they must avoid this designation at all costs. I think the way NFT holders will be rewarded is with airdrops of future NFTs or tokens or through the price appreciation of the NFTs they own.
If you want another perspective on this, one of the speakers from the event Pete Cashmore wrote a good summary of our discussion here.
So, back to the big question, can the next Disney be built on web3? I think it’s possible we will see a huge media company built using NFT technology. It’s even possible we already have one on the right road today. Check back with me later for more on this topic.
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