Are NFTs Done?

“Whatever, I hear?” I get it. Everyone has moved on. We are all staring at the shiny new thing- AI, ChatGPT, GPT-4 … But blockchain is not dead. It’s in the trenches now. What happens when things are in the trenches?

2000- the dot com bubble bursted. I was there. The hype disappeared instantly. Naked emperors were unexposed. Rich VCs lost money and brought with them the careers of a whole generation of workers, who staked their careers on the dream of technology.

Everyone, including me, went back to normal. To many of us, the Internet was set. It’s for email, news, search, a bit of shopping (Amazon), a bit of bidding (eBay), and forums. For a long while, one would get laughed at talking about audacious world changing tech ideas. “A porn website that’s free and not hard to find? You are a disgrace, son!”

But lives of the tech builders and founders had to go on. While stuck in the trenches, they laid low, nursed their wounds, and regrouped. They never stopped organizing, building, experimenting, and creating. Within 3 years, completely new companies began to show up. In fact, the way we interact with tech today, from social media to online videos to virtual meetings, was defined by these bold ideas from folks who hunkered down and never stopped trying during the downturn:

Skype 2003
WordPress 2003
Facebook 2004
YouTube 2005
Pornhub 2007 …

I am seeing the same in the blockchain world. When most of us are distracted by the topic du jour, there are a bunch of capable and battle-tested blockchain folks still going at it. I talked to a few of blockchain founder clients. Here’s their mood:

“It’s less distracting. There are no funds for me to raise. I can only build.”
“The game is no longer rat races of valuation, floor prices, and scams. We can actually spend time building things that is not winning on day -50.”
“Those who are sticking around are vindictive. They love being written off, being the underdogs again. They love this part of the ‘Hero’s journey’ where they get to rise from a gut wrenching defeat. The best time for a founder is when s/he gets to work on a really really hard problem with a pack of very very hungry and humiliated wolves.”

I don’t think we’d know what will come out of the trenches. Just like back in 2001, most couldn’t imagine an internet that’s made up of websites of mundane updates from random people and crappy amateurs videos. So don’t be a downer. Don’t laugh at the crypto folks. Don’t write them off. You are going to be wrong. It may take a few years, but it’s going to make a comeback, and it will be in a completely different form.

And that’s exciting. That’s something worth rooting for. That’s how we make progress.

(Image: “Timex teams up on NFTs: The watchmaker is Bored Ape Yacht Club’s latest brand partner” )






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