My Non Fungible Journey in NFT Land (Part II)

In Part I, I described how I went from WTF are NFTs to creating my own collection. This one will be about my random ballad afterwards…

In the previous article, I concluded:

I won’t recommend “investing” in it unless someone really likes a piece of art, wants to reward its authors, or are simply happy to own an NFT for a utility they can clearly understand.

Plus, it’s definitely not scalable as an investment means, you can make a profit by speculating and flipping, but only a few NFTs at a time won’t make anyone rich, except very few lottery winners.

Now I must admit I didn’t do exactly as I said, and actually kept exploring and randomly spending time and Eth in this crazy world, and I really enjoyed the ride!

So here is what happened…

2.1 Zen Academy & The Littles

Zen Academy is an NFT trading club lead by a Poker player who goes online by Zeneca. I bought a membership to get in for 0.033 Eth ($150) and it’s now worth $250, so it’s not wasted money yet.

The founder presents an appealing vision for his community but I am skeptical, it also looks like an influencer building a community to promote particular projects.

One of his first “shills” was The Littles NFTs, he said that he bought 12 of those and that it would be a good investment under 0.5 Eth, “because the team is talented and showed a great roadmap.”

I couldn’t buy under 0.5 but got one at 0.58 Eth ($2500)

My Little NFT

As of today, the minimum price for those is 0.28, so I feel silly owning such an expensive childish thing, and also loosing a solid $1k on this bet already.

But I will give it a few months to see how this project roadmap will go. If it turns out to be a good investment, I will say that Zen Academy is great and thank Zeneca; if not, I will sell both my membership and this little NFT and call it cost of learning (or the shameful price of stupidly following influencers.)

2.2 Weiner Fish

I bought a couple of these for 2 reasons:

  • The team is from Australia, and Australia is cool.
  • They were free.

This collection was actually having trouble selling out so they decided to go free. When I heard it, I thought it could be a good plan so I spent $100 in transaction fees to get these 2:

But aren’t they ugly?

They’re worth less than $50 each now so I guess I’ll just need to remember the lesson: there’s no free lunch!

2.3 The 100 Pieces of Shit

This is a collection I deployed to experiment, learn and have fun.

After trying different narratives, it ended up being a collection to record scams, memes and random Ethereum significant events, and I even recently created a Twitter account for it, because all collections must have one.

Except mine only has 17 followers.

https://twitter.com/the100pieces

Though only a few people were willing to buy those pieces of shit, I got a lot of very nice feedback from different sources who found it funny, and sometimes even interesting.

This one is the best fan so far:

For context, there was a project, called Anubis DAO, where the roadmap simply said “Bark Bark”. The team of 4 raised $60Million in one day, and that’s already bull-shitty; but then the 60Mil were immediately stolen by a hacker, very bad-shitty.

A friend suggested we should drop one piece of shit into the hacker’s wallet, and that drove a lot of traffic to my website.

Anyways, there are actually 25 pieces minted so far, about half I own or gave away, but the other half were actually paid for, $150 a piece, to reward this initiative, big thanks to all these new friends!

I also got to e-meet this developer who ran a brilliant experiment and offer her this piece:

As of today, after transaction fees, I made about $1000 with this collection, it has 15 different owners, and the exchange volume is zero. Very shitty numbers indeed.

Compare those to The Littles NFTs after 2 days only: raised $5Million, 5500 owners, and almost $17Million in exchanged volume already.

But hey, maybe the last shall be first, and The Littles NFTs will end up being a pump and dump recorded in the pieces of shit collection, and the latter will end up in the blockchain history worth millions? You never know in these crazy times, but one thing for sure, what a time to be alive, eh?

2.4 The Chain Runners

I kept the best for the end, please read this carefully.

When I joined the discord server of this collection, the minting was already open, but unlike other projects where they build the hype first, sell out quickly and a lot of flipping happens, this one was kind of deliberately slow in building the community.

The team had a previous reputation of success and some famous collectors were onboard already, so I was actually surprised that it was so easy to mint and join that community for 0.05 Eth + transaction fees (About $250.)

So I got 2 of those chain runners:

Pixel profile pics again? Yeah, but as I dove into these, I really found them special! First, the website built by the team to mint them was exceptionally well done. And then I looked into the smart contract, and the code itself was a piece of art. Remember that for these NFT collections, Ethereum is used to store “property certificates” and trade them with cryptocurrency. But these guys added an additional capability to the contract, they made each of the runners have a unique DNA, and built another contract in Ethereum to render the runners images and attributes, included references to movies I loved, and it was all perfectly executed.

So what? Who cares about coding or little images generated in Ethereum blockchain? Well, I’ve been coding for 20 years+ and always thought that a clean design and code required some degree of art. And seeing this team raise $2Million for their work, I felt like the world is somehow finally recognizing our work for what it is, a truly creative craft.

For the first time in this NFT space, I was happy to pay a share of it, and call me crazy, but I almost felt like I was being paid as well!

It’s like Kasparov’s Immortal Chess Game, if you play and like chess, you can’t not respect the art and genius of that piece of chess history.

If you don’t relate to any of the above, let me describe what happened after I got those 2 chain runners, very concretely.

The community started writing about their characters, here is an example:

Chain Runner #8368

Jake, the clown, rising star ’96.

Of all clowns, he smiled widest With chequered shoes that clapped, tapped and doubled up when bowling on Tuesdays. His red nose shone a Mario red, his painted face never smudged, even on the longest, sweatiest days. He made them all laugh.The cool chaperone, torn away from her copy of seventeen, the miner mourning a dying industry, the kid who’d lost his yo-yo to the bigger kid down the street. The desert storm veterans. All of them, for that one moment, were lost in his trail of pure, clown-like joy. He even won an award, rising star Regionals ’96.

But that was before. Before the rent started rising and bookings dwindled. Before someone threw a vanilla shake at him on the sidewalk, telling him to ‘get a life, paedo’. And when the lights dimmed on yet another half sold show, jake decided the gun would shoot ‘bang!’ one last time.

Out came the other costume, the funky bandana, the Morpheus glasses, a piercing, a monroe they call it, and a small hoop earring, on both sides. This is what cool people wear now days, right? Jake would laugh to himself, ‘the jokes on you kid’.

The year was 1999. Jake was 28. He took a job at Starbucks. His friends called it a ‘real job’ He bought a McIntosh and started calling things ‘da bomb’ He’d lose his first real savings in the 2001 dot com crash. A few years later he’d make enough cash to start a yoga studio. He’d sell banging fruit smoothies with açai berries and superfoods. He liked the new OutKast CD. On the weeknights he let local bands practice at the studio.

In ’06 he’d meet his wife, an interior designer called Jocelyn, a vegetarian. She’d divorce him two years later, for the late nights and weekends away.

He died in a car crash in 2014. He was 44. Jocelyn was left his journal. Turns out Jake the clown had returned at some point in the spring of ’03.

At the front of the journal, it read: ‘ I lived to make people laugh, Everything else was just clowning around.’

When I read those, I quickly built a website to record these lores and allow the community to vote and rank them, would be fun I thought, and it was a pleasure to see the community engage and play with this concept…

http://runners.datascience.art

That Mysterious Leader of the Red Eye Syndicate is such a badass!

And of course I was not the only one excited about this project, so many people were contributing in different directions and ways.

What do you think of these derivatives by Scruffy Runners?

Scruffy Runners

The contributors really went in all directions, some making real paintings, one even stitching hand-embroidered Chain Runners on cotton fabric!

And last week-end someone deployed a contract where a runner can declare their love for another, submit a dowry, and if the loved one accepts to mate, they will give birth to a Runner Next Generation.

I couldn’t resist to buy a female runner for $4000 to make a baby:

Reaction in the chat:

Oh, and in case you wonder how I went from spending $250 to get my first 2 to $4000 for the last one, the prices just went up crazy in 2 weeks. That’s another cool part of the story. I actually sold the Pink Hat one for $12000!

I can safely say these Chain Runners are my best NFT project so far. I would not be surprised if in the future Netflix or Disney bought in to make a Chain Runners series with all the material built collectively by hundreds of contributors.

2.5 Conclusion

I ended the previous article with a cold conclusion about the NFT world. I still think it’s a bubble and most of the projects out there are over hyped, and not worth time nor Ether. But it’s also a space where a project like Chain Runners exists, and when you manage to find one, it’s a great and unique cultural experience.

For all the NFT collections I tried, I kept following the prices and tried to optimize my ROI. But for this one, once I found good vibes in the community, I stopped following prices and enjoyed the culture. And ironically, I made more money on that one than all the others.

I have also been building some tools to analyze the data, stay tuned for the next and final part of this series…

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