Can bundling everything NFT creators need into a single app help make mainstream adoption a reality? Op3n wants to make it easy for anyone to create an engaging community in web3. Randy Ginsburg explores what it might look like.
As with many disruptive technologies, the excitement around innovation often outshines the readiness for mainstream adoption. With NFTs, the situation is even more complex. In many respects, web3 technologies are ready enough for the wider world. NBA Top Shot, Reddit, or Ticketmaster’s millions of NFT tickets is a testament to that. But to go mainstream, it is not enough for major companies to make web3 accessible; independent creators must be able to do so as well.
As the classic marketing mantra goes, “people don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole.” The concept is already being applied in web3 by industry leaders. Dapper Labs, the company behind the Flow blockchain which powers NBA Top Shot and Ticketmaster's NFT technology, is widely seen as the leading force behind mainstream adoption. In an interview with the Action Network, CEO Roham Gharegozlou explains that it is often best to forego the technical jargon altogether when aiming for accessibility and non-crypto consumers.
“I try not to talk about the blockchain part,” Gharegozlou said. “To be good at NBA Top Shot, you don’t need to understand anything about crypto. Most of our users come in as credit card users. They aren’t cryptocurrency users and that’s what we like about it.”
That approach is critical. Companies like MoonPay have found success as fiat on-ramps which let users buy NFTs and cryptocurrencies with their existing cards — no wallet needed. Prioritising accessibility, Reddit has onboarded millions of NFT sceptics simply by rebranding their onchain avatars as ‘Digital Collectibles’. Like Topshot, Reddit took a similar route in its external communications about the launch, never once using the term ‘NFT’.
This commitment to a seamless user experience has also proven successful in the technical side of the industry. A brainchild of NFT thought leader Richerd, Manifold empowers developers with APIs and code frameworks to integrate NFTs into their products without requiring knowledge of how to write a smart contract. With the power of the Manifold studio, creators can use smart contract templates to mint NFTs with zero code whilst still maintaining the highest level of onchain provenance and ownership.
“They aren’t cryptocurrency users and that’s what we like.”
— Roham Gharegozlou, CEO Dapper Labs
Meanwhile, ImmutableX, the web3 scaling solution, recently raised $200m in a Series C fundraise round, provides web3 games with gas-free, lightning-fast transactions via just a few lines of code. The trend has always been clear, but is now obvious: eliminating the complexity of web3 is much needed for broader adoption.
Now, Op3n is looking to bring this all under one roof. Founded by Jaeson Ma, who previously co-founded the music collective 88rising, and his long-time partner Eric Tu, a branding and media executive at VICE, Op3n is an 'NFT super-app', designed to integrate all aspects of NFTs, from creation to minting, to community building. Built as a launchpad for community-owned intellectual property, Op3n comprises a TikTok-style user interface with an interoperable ecosystem of features including token-gated events and merch, community chat and live streaming, and a social marketplace.
‘Op3n is designed to integrate all aspects of NFTs.’
The goal? To help creators leverage web3 technology to engage fans and provide users with a convenient way of purchasing NFTs from their favorite creators.
As Op3n continues to evolve, it plans to become a comprehensive suite for NFT solutions, from the creator to the community. This entails integrating with communication apps like Discord, marketplaces like OpenSea, and metaverses like Decentraland in order to position Op3n as a vertical integrator, helping creators fundraise, coordinate, and manage their communities.
A tall task indeed, but investors are bought in on the vision and comprise some major brands in the creative industries, in web3 and beyond. After raising an initial $10 million seed round from a slew of investors including Warner Music Group, Op3n raised a $35m Series A led by video game studio Animoca Brands, who have invested broadly across the web3 creative economy.
Blessed by tight-knit relationships with industry leaders, Op3n has also raised a separate $100 million web3 content fund in partnership with The Avalanche Foundation to jumpstart the projects on the Op3n platform. With a deliberately broad thesis, the fund is making grants to influential projects across all content mediums within music, film, entertainment, gaming, and digital art that can benefit from an NFT-augmented community strategy.
The fund's first grant was awarded to early NFT adopter and Elon Musk's one-time romantic partner Grimes, who plans to launch an ‘intergalactic children's metaverse book’ on the Avalanche blockchain, inspired by Studio Ghibli’s acclaimed 1988 film My Neighbor Totoro.
“Op3n represents the future of art funding.”
“When I first got into web3, this was the kind of project I was hoping to see,” said the Canadian singer. “Op3n represents the future of art funding.”
For co-founder Jaeson Ma, the ultimate goal for Op3n is to make it easier for creators to finance their projects, build a community native to the ownership economy, and one that is as simple as using Instagram or TikTok.
“I've been in this music, movie, entertainment, media space for 20 years,” he said in an interview with CoinCulture. “It's leveraging those relationships and introducing Hollywood and the music industry to NFTs.”
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