99 year-old publisher Time is leading legacy media into the NFT future

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99 year-old publisher Time is leading legacy media into the NFT future

Cover of Time magazine

Eric Baradat | AFP | Getty Images

NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, will probably be the most controversial part of crypto conversations, evoking both passionate criticism and admiration as Web3 becomes a larger part of popular culture.

It is unlikely that you can shut out the noise on both sides of the discussion. Keith Grossman, President of Time, has built TIME Pieces, a 99-year-old media brand NFT business, from scratch.

NFTs are unique digital assets such as artwork and sports trading cards that are validated and stored using blockchain technology, but critics exaggerate NFTs given the energy-intensive nature of cryptocurrencies. We advertise and believe that it may be harmful to the environment. Many NFTs are built on the network behind Ethereum, the second largest token.

With the rise of the Internet, anyone can watch images, videos and songs online for free. People buy NFTs from the belief that blockchain technology can prove ownership of virtual items.

“It’s a token that allows you to verify ownership of the blockchain. Its secondary value is to allow owners to manage their personal information,” Grossman said recently. I told CNBC in an interview.

20,000 TIMEPieces, $ 10 million

TIME Pieces token holders can connect their digital wallet to the TIME website. This allows unlimited access to TIME content and exclusive invitations to both virtual and face-to-face events. The most popular tokens in the TIME Pieces collection include photographs and other formats of digital art by 89 emerging Web3 artists, including Farokh Sarmad, Joanne Hollings, and Julie Pacino, the daughter of actor Al Pacino. It also attracts many famous celebrity collectors, from Anthony Hopkins to Eva Longoria to Miguel.

In addition to auctioning the original renderings of the most famous cover stories, TIME will be on each NFT created by these emerging artists, a group curated by media giant creative director DW Pine. , Add that iconic red frame. Grossman describes it as emphasizing the “next generation of artists” as the brand prepares to celebrate the century of publishing the news-related cover art known today.

According to Grossman, since September, TIME has created, or “dropped”, over 20,000 TIME Pieces NFTs owned by approximately 12,000 digital wallets. About half of them are connected to Time.com. TIME’s profit was $ 10 million, generating $ 600,000 for various charities.

TIME recently partnered with the Ethereum-based gaming platform The Sandbox to create a virtual space on TIME Square called the Metaverse. It serves as the central location for brands that host virtual art and commerce events.

According to CoinGecko, the sandbox, with a market capitalization of $ 1.5 billion, is one of the largest metaverse projects, primarily due to the early adoption of blockchain technology. In November, when Metaverse developer Republic Realm paid $ 4.3 million to buy digital parcels from Atari, the sandbox virtual plot set a record for the most valuable digital land sales.

Investors have quickly argued that the long-term value of digital assets comes from their usefulness. This is a difficult message to digest as collectible artwork for institutional investors, such as the prominent Bored Ape Yacht Club, which was the central setting in the early days of NFTs, and the similarly hyped CryptoPunks.

“As this new technology was adapted, a camp emerged around the concept of building a community with a set of values ​​and principles,” Grossman said. “And something else has emerged around what I call a” greedy community. ” “

Overcome a greedy community

Vitalik Buterin, who co-created Ethereum in 2013, said in a recent interview with TIME that he was worried about the trends observed in space: “The crypto itself could be a dystopia if implemented incorrectly. It ’s expensive. ”

“The danger is that there are these $ 3 million monkeys, which makes it another kind of gambling,” Buterin said.

In a recent TechCrunch talk, Bill Gates described the phenomenon of cryptocurrencies and NFTs as “based on a idiot theory greater than 100%.” they. Billionaire Microsoft co-founder joked that “expensive digital images of monkeys” “significantly improve the world.”

According to CoinGecko, the crypto industry has experienced a significant decline in the reputation of its currency and Metaverse projects since it reached a record high in November 2021. Cryptocurrencies have erased the value of $ 2 trillion. The Metaverse sector is currently estimated to be worth more than $ 6 billion.

In addition to broader crypto concerns, Celsius, a crypto lending platform that promises high yields to users who deposit cryptocurrencies, recently filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection. Meanwhile, OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace and home of the TIME Pieces token list, announced Thursday that it will reduce its workforce by 20%.

Keith Grossman, Time President

TIME Pieces Artist Jeremy Kawat

“Forget the boring monkey for a moment,” Grossman told CNBC. “When you get out of a collectible space and focus on the community [of creators and artists] … tokens allow you to not only verify ownership, but also pay royalties for future sales. “

“The market is volatile and fixed, so what we are currently looking at is that greedy communities with no liquidity in the system are not meeting the expectations of members of those communities,” Grossman said. I am. ..

Turn an online renter into a brand owner

Avery Akkineni, president of NFT consulting firm Vayner 3, says that the value created by technology over the last decade in the Web 2 world is being brought to technology giants, not creators. Blockchain enables a more decentralized way of paying, incentives and rewards, she said, “I think we’re seeing an impact on the media.”

“There’s never been a better time for businesses to launch free or very low-cost products, which allows the community to participate without very high barriers to entry,” Akkineni said in May, Gary Vaynerchuk. Said in an interview with VeeCon. Minneapolis.

Since September 2021, Time has created over 20,000 TIME Pieces NFTs, generating $ 10 million in profits and $ 600,000 in charity.

Keith Grossman

Salesforce Market Strategy Director Mathew Sweezey — Salesforce co-founder and co-CEO Marc Benioff owns Time — in a blog post, “Pioneering brands search for utilities through NFTs” in 2022. He said it would be a year and mentioned Time’s. The project as a “great example”.

Leading brands from all industries, including Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nike, Gucci and the National Football League, are incorporating NFTs into their marketing initiatives.

Many analysts say that the transition to TIME’s Metaverse heralds a good opportunity for the future. “The more mainstream brands that can move to Web3, the faster we can reach mass adoption,” Kieran Warwick, co-founder of the Metaverse game Illuvium, told The Defiant. “The partnership with the sandbox is big news for everyone in this area.”

“Media companies have been looking at consumers for years,” you are a renter of my platform. They provide access to express your identity on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. In return. I’m going to extract the data. ” “What NFT is actually doing behind the scenes is to allow consumers to own their assets, so we’re moving from an online lessor to an online owner … the personally identifiable aspect. I’m not saying who you really are. “

It’s not just the time in the legacy media industry. The Associated Press and The New York Times have also launched their own NFT collection over the past year. However, Grossman’s strategy is underpinned by the theory that online identity is as important as physical identity.

“In September 2020, I really started to be fascinated by crypto space from a personal point of view, because I kept hearing everyone say that inflation wouldn’t happen, but still everyone got Covid. He was pouring money into the system to stop it. “Grossman said,” The equation didn’t make sense to me. “

Covid played a big role in the NFT boom. Last year, the total value of NFT transactions quadrupled to $ 250 million, according to a study by L’Atelier, a research firm associated with NonFungible and BNP Paribas. Among the people who spend a lot of time on the internet and build more cash savings.

When everything was clicked for Marc Benioff and the President of the Times

In February 2021, the 2011 Nyan Cat Meme Cryptographic Expression was sold at an online auction for approximately $ 590,000. Grossman said that since the acquisition of Grossman from Meredith Corporation for $ 190 million in 2018, Benioff has appointed Grossman as its first president.

“And that’s when everything is clicked,” Grossman said, adding that, for the sake of time, it was a natural extension of the brand’s red-framed cover story. “We said we will start accepting cryptocurrencies for digital payments within 30 days. Today we will accept 33 cryptocurrencies for digital subscriptions … and within 6 months of tokens and blockchain. Understand how it’s used, changing the relationship between consumers and our brand, “Grossman added. “Honestly, I had no idea how to do it. I knew it was possible.”

Demographics for the Time platform vary. According to Grossman, the average reader of TIME magazine is a 50-year-old man. The reader of Time.com is a 40-year-old woman. 62% of TIME’s social feed engagements are under the age of 35, one-third outside the United States.

In the case of NFTs, “it’s small. It’s like psychographics of people who didn’t think about time before, but suddenly it became like a brand,” Grossman said.

The average price for a Time.com digital subscription is around $ 24, while the average price for TIME Pieces NFT is around $ 1,000.

“After all, you can strengthen your relationships with consumers through building a community, just as you would sell a $ 24 subscription,” he said. “Outside [Time] Outside the name and the little logo in the corner, the hero is always the creator. They have a lot of support and are encouraged by their community … TIME Pieces comes in and says, “We want you to be part of this.” Years of heritage and trust. “

Well-known investors continue to believe in the long-term potential of digital assets, but there are many skeptical views.

“I think there’s a lot of hesitation in not understanding why this wave of digital asset ownership is so important,” said Akkineni. “Incredible numbers [CEOs] In reality, we spend our time learning both from a business-building perspective, a community-building perspective, and from a consumer engagement perspective. “

The NFT surge is still quite new, but huge amounts of money have already been exchanged among collectors. For example, according to NonFungible, which has been tracking NFT’s historical sales data since 2017, NFT collections have generated over $ 6.2 billion in sales and digital art has generated over $ 1.9 billion in sales.

Ultimately, the goal is to move technology beyond NFTs, according to Grossman, who is most bullish on the underlying concept.

“It wasn’t until Steve Jobs picked up his iPod and said,’I have 1,000 songs in my pocket,’ people stopped thinking about technology and started thinking about what an experience was,” Grossman said. “In my opinion, technology needs to be invisible for mass adoption. At this early stage [of NFTs], Technology is leading the conversation and the word NFT should disappear from the dictionary. You literally have to go into the background, and the token only needs to perform to provide the online validation behind the experience. “

“It takes a lot of friction to get out of the system to do that,” he added.

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