Since cryptocurrency emerged on the scene in 2008, veteran investors and miners have navigated their fair share of ups and downs in the market. But the latest downturn feels a bit different, mostly because crypto has become more mainstream.
Many casual investors were introduced to the space through NFTs (non-fungible tokens) in 2021 and 2022. The digital art craze became a cultural flashpoint when the artist Beeple partnered up with the auction house Christie’s in a $69 million deal last year. Since then, NFTs have been all the rage for brands, artists, and collectors.
An NBC poll estimates that one in five adults own some cryptocurrency, while DappRadar – a global app store for decentralized applications – estimates that the trade volume of NFTs in 2021 was nearly $25 billion.
The talk of a “crypto winter” setting in and the plummeting price of well-known currencies has sent some investors into panic mode. But some in the NFT space see an opportunity.
Mainly, the general downturn in the market could help NFTs become a more mature product.
“A lot of people in NFTs are new to crypto. NFTs are what got them to take a leap of faith, so they’ve never experienced a bear market like this before. But most builders in the space came from crypto first and went through the 2018 and 2020 crashes. And we’ve seen it rebound. So those of us who have conviction in the technology and in the space, this is a time to accumulate and build,” Sayeed Mehrjerdian told Hypepotamus. “I think one of the problems with the NFT space was that as soon as you launch something, the hype is gone. So you have a community of people that are just constantly nagging you to continue to deliver what’s next. And that’s not a sustainable way to run a business…and that doesn’t really happen in other industries. In general people in tech know that it takes a lot of effort and testing and design to ship quality products and I think the NFT and crypto markets have been a lot more immature to that.”
Mehrjerdian, a Georgia Tech graduate and serial entrepreneur in Web3, blockchain, and software, is one of the co-founders of Metaseed Labs. Metaseed helps clients with the backend needs to make NFT art, be it programmatically generating the art or creating the necessary metadata and smart contracts.
In its first year in business, the company attracted some prominent investors and has helped launch some well-known NFT projects, including Alien Frens and Lyrical Lemonade. Just last week the team helped musician Chris Brown launch his first NFT collection.
While the crypto market continues its rollercoaster ride, the Metaseed Labs team is ready to build what’s next for the NFT space and the overall Web3 world.
“I think the NFT market got really saturated and there wasn’t much differentiation between a lot of projects…there was just a lot of speculative trading,” added co-founder Evan Futterman, a Georgia State grad who now lives in Colorado. “Obviously, it’s not as great for our business to have the entire crypto market fall off a cliff. But at the same time, it also is an opportunity and it weeds out a lot of low-quality folks. The companies and the people who have vision and funding and going to stick around and they’ll be better positioned in the long term.”
The Metaseed team believes that the crypto downturn will help create a general “shift towards utility” within the NFTs space. That shift could see NFTs move beyond just fun art on Twitter and into practical fintech, e-commerce, legal, and even healthcare applications down the road.