Loot is a viral social networking site that looks nothing like anything you've ever seen.
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Let's talk today about the latest Vine project by a co-founder and what it says about the state of the tech industry. This is a rare story in tech where almost every aspect has surprised me at some point. While some of these ideas are a bit outlandish, I can see many of you closing your laptops to hear more. However, the frontier they represent seems to be getting closer to mainstream.
Loot is the road
In March, I wrote about non-fungible tokens or NFTs. I tried to impress you with some of the most impressive sales figures from that time: $5.8 million for Nyan Cat meme artwork, $600,000.00 for Nyan Cat meme artwork, $230 million in lifetime NBA Top Shot sales.
Some of these numbers are now small compared to what has occurred since then. Thursday saw the sale of tokens by partial ownership by the NFT owners associated with the original doge meme. The piece had been bought for $4 million in June. Coindesk provides a detailed explanation on how this works. The token was snapped up by buyers and is now worth $225 million.
Even though NFTs were no longer in the news, their popularity continued to rise.
Dom Hofmann is the result. Hofmann is most well-known as the co-creator and creator of Vine. This format was a short-form video format that can be viewed on mobile devices. It also became a powerful engine for meme culture. Peach was later created by Hofmann, a social network that quickly became a hit with its users. He worked more recently on a project called Byte to revive Vine, an app that he created. It was sold earlier in the year.
NFTs haven't been in the news as much, but they continue to grow.
Hofmann, like many software engineers, had been keeping an eye on cryptocurrency developments over the past decade. He occasionally bought coins to gain a better understanding of how they work. The original Bitcoin project was the main focus of blockchain attention over the past decade. Developers have become more fond of Ethereum, an alternative blockchain that allows them to create decentralized applications using smart contracts that are more advanced than Bitcoin.
In the initial years following the invitation to Ethereum, not much happened that would be of interest to the mainstream. Then, a few companies began to grow really quickly on Ethereum's blockchain. They built decentralized finance apps that were accessible from any device. This was the beginning of what became known as DeFi Summer.
The rest is history. Ethereum was like any other platform, able to generate large amounts of money. It began to attract developers in great numbers.
Hofmann was one. He began learning Solidity in December. This is the programming language that allows him to create smart contracts on Ethereum. He enjoyed selling an original art piece that he created as an NFT, and also sold it. He became increasingly interested in NFTs as a way to encourage decentralized creative projects.
He created Blitmap in March. This was a community-created fantasy world.
Hofmann, along with 16 other artists, created 100 32x32 pixels images that combined elements of science fiction, fantasy, and technology. These were then used to create a blockchain version of Marvel Cinematic Universe. This would allow characters to be turned into merchandise, games, and merchandise. It was a modest success, the cheapest Blitmap currently costs around $98,000.
It was also a great example of what was to follow.
Hofmann's side project in recent years was to create an adventure text-based like the one that inspired some of the original videogames. He also created a random item generator, which would return names for different weapons, armor pieces, and accessories.
Hofmann was thinking of innovative ways to encourage the creation and growth of blockchain-based art, as well as communities around them, since Blitmaps' launch. Hofmann had an idea to allow people to create (or mint in blockchain-speak) NFTs using his random-item generator, essentially to see what would happen. He wouldn't provide any instructions or art work. He would also give away these bags of items for free, less any transaction fees charged by the Ethereum network.
He said that a lot of people want a game that takes place within a fantasy world or science-fiction realm. They want it compatible with other realms. They want the ability to add to it. They want to be able to keep the things they have with them. I was just trying to build in this direction. It was an experiment.
He stated that his only goal was to have people choose to make all of the bags he made.
Hofmann tweeted Loot last Friday night:
- randomized adventurer gear
No images or stats. For others to interpret, this information was intentionally left out
No fees, just gas
- Total of 8000 bags
Only available by contract. Not audited. mint at your own risk pic.twitter.com/uLukzFayUK dom (@dhof) August 27, 2021
Uncharitably, we could say that Hofmann invented a way for people to pay the Ethereum network to get a list of unimportant names back to them. Loot quickly became a phenomenon because Hofmanns fans saw the situation differently.
All 7,777 bags Hofmann offered for minting were snapped up almost immediately. Coindesk reported that Loot bags were sold for $46million within five days and that the market cap was $180 million. The cheapest Loot bag was available for around $20,000. This bag would cost $46,000 more than it was on Wednesday, as the price has more than doubled overnight.
This seems to be a typical NFT story. Weird artwork is released and the price rises quickly. Loot is unique because of the sheer number and variety projects that have been spun around it at an alarming pace.
First, of course, people started drawing pictures of the Loot bags: some by hand, and some by artificial intelligence-generated pixel art.
sorry can't stop thinking about Loot - this is a real quick take on @hype_eth 's #1 rarity bag in a Derbler style stash pic.twitter.com/G6IvnQYfU7 gremplin (@supergremplin) August 30, 2021
They then started to form guilds based upon the items in their bags. The owners of divine robes (of which only 396 are in Loot), set up their own community and a shopfront to sell them.
Smart contracts were then used to allow people to sell individual items from their Loot Bags to, as the creator said, upgrade your adventurer.
It is important to mention that Loot does not have adventurers. Loot has no games. Loot is a collection of items and photos, along with tens to millions of dollars bets that this will all turn into something more. One tweet stated that "Loot" is NFT improv.
Lootmart is a collab between @rvorias and @lootproject
2. Unbundle your Loot Bag into individual ERC 1155 Loot items
3. To upgrade your adventurer, trade your loot items
4. Dominate the metaverse pic.twitter.com/d4WiHEWtKo Jon Yan (@jonjyan) September 1, 2021
The question now is whether Loot can evolve from an in-game collection to a playable experience. Who will create it? How? At the moment, nobody really knows.
Hofmann said that games are involved in all of these developments because he is a moderator on Loots Discord server. Although it remains to be seen how this will play out, it is definitely possible. It would be awesome.
He is interested in seeing if Loot items can be used across different games by different people. This concept is crucial to what tech leaders have called the metaverse this summer.
It is important to make Loot easier to access, as most people are not willing to spend thousands of money to do so. Hofmann announced synthetic Loot, which is essentially a replica Loot bag, on Wednesday. Anyone who creates an Ethereum wallet can claim it for free.
He tweeted that creators who build on top of Loot may choose to recognize Synthetic Loot to make it easier for more adventurers to join the ecosystem.
What's the next step? Hofmann states that he doesn't plan to switch full-time to Loot. He isn't sure he can really steer the community due to its decentralized nature. He is still the largest shareholder of the project due to the many bags he has not yet released for minting.
He said that he was not in charge of the project. I provide guidance when needed.
He says he is mainly interested in seeing what the community does next.
What will they ultimately contribute to the building of a better world?
I was curious if it is possible to create huge fictional worlds in this manner. The NFT market is crowded with speculators looking to make quick profits from their purchases. The crypto Discords has more to offer than the meme stock mania. There is also a lot of cynicism among investors. What will they ultimately contribute to the building of a world?
It is also true that many people are deeply involved in fictional universes even though they do not own the intellectual property.
Hofmann stated that these items are only items on a checklist. It is all about what people do with them and how they assign value to it. Value doesn't necessarily have to be in dollars. It could be many things.
It is possible, however, that the bottom will fall out and that the Loot market fails to survive. These artificially rare goods may not be as appealing in the long-term as they were to collectors in 2021.
This has been the bear case of the blockchain: eventually, enthusiasm would fade and everyone would lose their funds. Although I have never been as bearish as I used to be, I understand that it is still unclear what anyone needs a blockchain for.
One thing that has kept me from becoming a blockchain bear was the increase in the number of people who are working on it each year. A bet on Ethereum's failure means that you are betting against an increasing number of talented people with every passing month. I don't feel good about the odds of that bet, and they are getting worse every day.
We can see something new emerging from projects with Loot: an open-source project with potential broad appeal.
Kyle Russell, founder of gaming company Loot, envisioned a successor for Marvel's cinematic universe on his blog.
If the project originators followed the Loot zeitgeist's direction, then all of it would be intellectual property that can be reused and remixed by anyone. Although it might sound crazy, it's not the point of having it. The point of owning it allows you to decide how it is used. This is the Disney status quo. You want to increase the value of NFTs you own in a world that is full of projects such as Loot. This value should reflect NFTs reputation and renown. All press is good news, and any remix is a good mix. To be cited is to be culturally relevant. If you have an NFT that describes Arachnid Person you want to make sure it is shared with as many people as possible, so that Arachnid Man #1 can be something you are proud to own.
Loot has proved to be a life-changing tool for the few thousand people who have been able to obtain them. Jackson Dame, the content and community manager for the cryptocurrency wallet Rainbow told me that he only began paying attention to cryptocurrencies eight month ago.
Dame, 28 years old, was a close follower of Hofmanns work. He loved Blitmap so much that he was able to get some Loot bags in the initial release.
Dame stated that he was doing something completely different and with a lot more creativity than most NFT projects. It had a longer-lasting potential, so I was able to see it.
After the market crashed, Dame was forced to sell a portion of his collection. He also landed two divine robes for six figures. This allowed him to pay off his debts and help his family retire.
Hofmann continues to work on several projects. He said that a Blitmap release is imminent. He is also working on Supdrive which is a project to create a blockchain-based fantasy gaming console. He said that he will continue to work on Loot, but as a builder, finding new ways of iterating on it and expanding it.
He isn't raising venture capital or starting a traditional business.
He said that companies are hard. I enjoy having a break from all that.