By: Christos Makridis
Vayner3 and VaynerX debuted at Art Basel Miami Beach with the tokengated V event at Scope Miami Beach in partnership with tokenproof, celebrating art, culture, and technology through exhibitions, performance, and panel discussions around web3, NFTs, and creators.
Gary Vaynerchuk, chairman of VaynerX and, kicked the event off in a conversation with Francis Suarez, the Mayor of Miami, talking about the importance of humility and breaking off fear in the context of entrepreneurship, innovation and web3.
“The single most important trait that I won the ‘DNA draw on’ and leads to my happiness is humility. I am so grateful that I don’t think I am special… I am a good entrepreneur and communicator, but I don’t get high on my own supply,” said Vaynerchuk. “Humility leads to more happiness than almost anything.”
The conversation reflects a growing collaboration between Miami and a wide array of entrepreneurs and technology companies, fueled by a bold vision by Mayor Suarez to make Miami a destination for not only tourism, but also business and innovation. “This is an evolutionary moment for us. In the last two years, there has been a metamorphosis… we’re number one in education tech jobs, wage growth, and more,” said Suarez. Miami has also become arguably the crypto capital of the U.S., emphasizing much more than just fungible tokens. “We empowered 54 local artists in Miami so that each of them could create an NFT that could be sold for charity and support them,” said Suarez.
Vaynerchuk and Suarez have had a close relationship, reflecting a more holistic focus on value creation by entrepreneurs, like Vaynerchuk. “Entrepreneurs often look to the government for a handout, but I like going the other way by asking about their needs and starting by bringing value… go out and find those like-minded people,” said Vaynerchuk.
Miami has also capitalized upon a large-scale flight from other major cities during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to professors Joshua Coven, Arpit Gupta, and Iris Yao, particularly given the much softer restrictions on mobility, schools, and business that the state as a whole took.
Every attendee at the V event required an airdropped NFT or QR code to enter, building off the success of the pilot at VeeCon 2022 this past May in Minneapolis where every attendee had to own an NFT from the VeeFriends collection. “Right now, we’re using plastic QR codes and email confirmation codes for many things that the blockchain will eat up because it’s better technology, and that will just take some time… it’s just a matter of time,” said Vaynerchuk.
“Vayner3 believes token-gated experiences (both digital and IRL) present a clear use case for enterprise brands, particularly those with deep event strategies and sponsorship commitments. We token-gated V at SCOPE Beach as a way to showcase the potential of token-gated events to our guests and brand partners,” said Avery Akkineni, president of Vayner3, in their recently-released whitepaper on tokengating. Tokens increase the realm of possibilities for brands.
“Imagine a sports team with a fan club. You receive a free token, which is your passport to the fan club. If you watch the game at home, your passport gets 50 points, but if you go to the game in person, your passport gets 500 points. Then, you receive different points-based rewards you can collect and trade on the secondary market,” said Fonz Olvera, founder and CEO of tokenproof.
The downturn among cryptocurrencies has not affected Vaynerchuk’s optimism about NFTs and their ability to transform the world. “It’s the same place I stood a year ago: I thought 98% would go to zero, but the consumer blockchain is one of the biggest technologies that has come along since the internet,” said Vaynerchuk. “I hold onto art and collectibles for 10 to 50 years, so that doesn’t mean anything… VeeFriends is completely in my control and is an intellectual property play that will take 50 years to build, so I am not overanalyzing myself 15 months into the process… I think it’s healthy we’re out of the hysteria of the goldrush, but upset that people did not heed the call earlier.”
While the future is always uncertain, there is no doubt that Vaynerchuk is personally committed to building community and piloting new NFT use-cases. For example, the VeeFriends NFT collection that was pioneered by Vaynerchuk aims to popularize core human virtues, ranging from humility to patience, through a series of animal characters that are making their way into schools, stories, and more. The original VeeFriends collection features 10,255 NFTs and the second iteration features 55,555 lower priced NFTs as of April 2022, culminating in a body of intellectual property (IP).
While minting an NFT is the first step towards establishing IP on the blockchain, it is a much bigger task that means “having VeeFriends represented where people are spending their time, including in children’s stories, movies, and curricula” according to Andy Krainak, president of VeeFriends. They have also taken the appropriate steps to build an audit trail for the brand. “We’ve been extremely aggressive to protect our IP,” trademarking every VeeFriends character. “The upside of FTX is that it will force greater regulatory clarity on the enforcement of smart contracts,” Krainak continued.
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