AJ Vaynerchuk, From collecting Pokemon and sports cards to NFTs
Who Is AJ Vaynerchuk?
AJ Vaynerchuk’s trip down the rabbithole began when he bought some bitcoin in 2013. “So that worked out!” He say, understating the investment’s success!. He says that he and his brother, Gary, surrounded themselves with really smart people. SXSW had a conference in 2013 and he and his brother bought into it. In 2014 he says he invested in Ethereum. By 2015 Gary and he had a fund and they became seed investors in a variety of blockchain projects. His brother got him into Cryptopunks and NBA Topshots in the winter of 2020/21. He saw an opportunity with the Topshots right away, “I literally bought around 50 packs because that’s how available they were back in January.” The opportunities for profitable NFT flips have been huge over the past 6 months.
The Vaynerchuk Brothers Were Converted To NFTs
He and his brother have been gamers and collectors for a long time. His thoughts on this new digital realm of collecting are wholly positive,“An improved efficiency around collectibles – showing off those collectibles and trading those collectibles.” He adds that NFTs are a superior experience to eBay, “The experience of buying this card off eBay versus buying a moment on Topshot is night and day. It’s just so much better. There’s so much less friction.”
Gary is 11 years older and AJ considers him to be his best friend. He admits his Gary spotted the potential for NFTs before AJ did. Once he got it, he says they both new that NFTs were the most innovative thing they’d seen.
The Next Big Thing on The NFT Bandwagon
AJ and Nick both agree that there are now plenty of bandwagon jumpers in NFTs nowadays. With Cyberpunks, for example, there are now many similar ideas that are trying to become the next quirky, retro NFT collections. The same is currently occurring with in-game items. The eventual winners of this NFT space are hard to predict.
For the NFT community platform, VeeFriends, Gary drew every character, AJ decided on the tokenomics and describes himself as a strategic advisor to the project. He was a small piece of it. VeeFriends first and foremost is an intellectual property. He compares VeeFriends to Angry Birds, which began as an iPhone game and then eventually became a movie, colouring books, and toys. His brother created characters and stories. VeeFriends has 1500 employees globally and has 150,000+ members in their Discord group so it is a big project compared to most NFT projects. The network effect is taking hold. The brothers have also recently set up a fund focusing on Web 3 and NFT technology
A Buyer’s Eye For NFT Collectibles
Regardless of the collectible series there are always going to be some aesthetic aspect that matters. For cryptopunks, a hoodie wearing character will fetch more than a buck-toothed character. Why? He explains, “Because they are more aesthetically pleasing.” That kind of observation to aesthetics play a part in all types of collecting – physical or digital – and not everyone has that ability.
The projects he gravitates towards two main series – Cryptopunks, VeeFriends. He is cautious regarding other projects. Aavestars, Bored Ape reminds him of the meme stock kind of investment. Like AMC or GME they could just blow up among people who are looking for the next big thing after Cryptopunks.
AJ Doesn’t Like Cynical Celebrity Drops
He says too many celebrity NFT drops have been sloppy cash-grabs. He says these “Didn’t do anything apart from putting together a Tweet or an Instagram post or a quote for a press release. Let their team do everything…They took their couple of million and kept on rolling.” He is firmly against those kinds of cynical drops, “That’s not OK with me.”
For the time being, AJ, is riding an ever-growing NFT wave. Alongside his brother, he has made a name for himself as one of the go-to icons of the industry. Digital, unique collectibles are here to stay, and AJ is well placed to ride that wave.