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NFT NYC: The Joys and Anxieties
And nothing beats cold beverages with great people
This is MetaVault, a weekly-ish newsletter that examines the rapidly evolving dynamics of the Web3 and NFT space. Creators, builders, communities, utility, simplicity, DAOs. Vibes.
Considering the current down market, this year’s NFT NYC could’ve felt like a funeral. Sure, there was anxiety about the future, but it was far from somber. The week was full of drinks, laughs, cab rides, long walks, late nights, and “brand activations.” I walked away from the week – or rather, limped, with a terrible fever, cough, and a positive Covid test – thinking about the joys and anxieties I shared with fellow jpeg friends. Here’s a snapshot of my NFT NYC experience.
Oh, the Joy
Building relationships with internet friends over the last 10 months has been incredibly rewarding. One of those new friends, Ned, made a fantastic observation a few months back that I think about often:
And yes, shitposting together is fun. Sharing alpha is a blast. But all the good vibes from chats and DMs can’t hold a candle to sitting across from someone at a happy hour and seeing them smile. That’s what NFT NYC was for me — an opportunity to connect with people, tell them I appreciate them, and cheers to the future. There were tons of small moments I shared with amazing people that I’ll remember for a long, long time. This is just a small sample:
After one too many drinks, me and a buddy head to the Comedy Cellar at 1am. Not letting more people in, we resort to the bar above. The table behind us is full of comedians about to go on stage. We don’t recognize any, but without a doubt some will go on to have their own specials. As we’re chatting with the bartender someone stops by for a second to say hi to him. We don’t look up, too focused on a basket of french fries. After the guys leaves, the bartender leans in and whispers: That was Ray Romano.
An awesome lunch at Skirt Steak with some of the Jenkins the Valet community. Ages span nearly 20 years between the oldest and youngest, but we’re all on the same page. We’re kind of shy at first, but relaxed in a way that is only possible after many hours already spent in Discord and Twitter. We reveal pieces of our lives, tell stories about how we got here, get excited about the project. There’s no ego, just members of a tribe excited to roam the city together.
Sitting across from an incredibly smart, passionate founder describing the genesis of her project, what she hopes to achieve, and whether I’m interested in supporting. The concept is brilliant and addresses a clear pain point in the ecosystem. The idea is still coming together, it’s fragile, there’s uncertainty with all of the next steps — but it’s there and it’s real and she’s going to nail it!
From the Moonbirds party where David Blaine is sewing his mouth shut, I leap into the Manhattan streets with a new friend to get late night snacks. He and I just met a couple days prior — friend of a friend. But this space makes connection so seamless that it’s like we’re long lost brothers. On an overcast summer night, we talk about our childhoods, the four-minute mile, Mamba Mentality, why many NFT projects don’t see themselves as community-focused product companies, and lots more.
Oh, the Anxiety
There was another kind of conversation happening throughout the week. It was a little darker, a bit more fearful. Between ETH dipping below $1,000 and NFTs getting discounted all over the place, the massive gains people once tallied were now quartered — if not full-on losses. Those kinds of reversals can make anyone question the viability of the entire space. I don’t know how many times I was asked, “Are you still bullish on ______ project?” That blank could be the bluest blue chip or last week’s meme project. People were frustrated that they paper-handed certain pieces, and yet also frustrated that they diamond-handed others. Life-changing money sat between those decisions. There were far more conversations about taxes than I expected. Trading and selling at various points in the upswing have caused some sticky situations with the market as low as it is now. The US government doesn’t care that 1 ETH = 1 ETH. They want their USD.
From a different angle, I had interesting conversations with builders, founders, creators, and artists. When sales volume is crazy and ETH is high, the playbook for building a successful project is not top of the mind. Whether utility, product, or art focused, you can kick the can on figuring out how to run a successful business. Times are different now. Builders are really thinking about what works, what might work moving forward, and how to build sustainably. Some were excited to experiment. Some were analyzing other successful projects to see how they might copy and deploy concepts. Others were steadfast — Keep Building. But the anxiety was real.
My biggest takeaway from NFT NYC was Real People are Cool. Not really a surprise, but it’s true. Connecting with internet friends in real life changes the bond. The joys experienced far outweighed the anxieties.
And IRL events, meetups, and hangouts should be one of the top priorities for big projects. I’d travel several hours — both ways — to spend one evening with other community members. Nothing beats cold beverages with great people.
Disclaimer: None of this is financial advice. DYOR. And yes, I own pieces from the collections mentioned in this article.