In My Wallet is a space in which Palm NFT Studio explores the democratization of art collecting through the personal experience of unexpected patrons. Explore rare NFT finds from some of the most notable NFT collectors in the crypto ecosystem.
In this week’s In My Wallet, Palm NFT Studio invites Tom Schmidt, one of the web’s most influential NFT collectors and a General Partner at Dragonfly Capital. Tom has previously been a PM at Instagram, worked for 0x Network, and is now a partner at Dragonfly. Read the story below as we dig into Tom’s perspective on the history of NFT art collecting, the digitization of art in our increasingly technology-based world, and how Tom decides on which NFTs to pick.
What was your first NFT? If you can remember.
Tom: “It had to have been Cryptokitties, but God’s Unchained packs a close second. It’s crazy to me how no one really believed in NFTs in the beginning. The Dapper Labs team was just giving out Cryptokitties for free at hackathons and Punks were free to mint. There was actually a lot of fragmentation in the early days because the ERC-721 spec hadn’t been finalized, so technically, Cryptokitties aren’t ERC-721. When 0x added support for NFTs, we actually spent a bunch of time at ETH Denver 2018 with other projects to help formalize the spec. I ended up building erc721.org with some other folks which still gets a bunch of traffic to this day!”
How do you envision the onboarding process for the next era of communities entering the Web 3.0 landscape?
“I think we’ve failed to see most, if any, web2 (or non-digital communities) successfully bridge into web3. In some respects, web3 presents a lot of challenges compared to these other media: people are often anonymous, they’re much more global, there’s implicitly or explicitly a monetary component involved, the tech is often very immature, etc. But from another angle, these can be viewed as benefits that are more inclusive.
You don’t have to dox yourself if your identity is sensitive. You don’t have to live in a major city in a developed country to have access. You can get compensated for your labor and easily earn equity. I previously thought that much of the underlying technology would be abstracted out and people would access these systems through interfaces and experiences much like web2, but what we’ve actually seen play out is people warming to ideas like owning a wallet or paying gas for transactions and embracing them natively. If I had to bet, I think we will just naturally grow into these ideas versus trying to hide them away.”
What’s the true importance of community in the world of NFTs?
“In crypto, we sometimes say that community is what’s left when the market goes down. That is, it’s easy to feel like you have a community when people are making money, but the real tell is if people stick around and keep contributing when they’re not making money anymore. NFTs feel similar to me in that there are many ‘communities’ that look more like speculative bubbles and other communities that genuinely love the NFTs, what the NFTs say about themselves, and the other members of the community. It’s also important that these feel like collectives and not just one company or core team producing content and everyone else consuming it – there can be flatness in terms of accessibility and ability to contribute, with leaders driving vision and helping allocate labor and resources.”
Beyond digital art, can you inform us more about Dragonfly Capital and how NFTs relate to this organization you’re currently working within?
Dragonfly is a global crypto venture fund. We’ve been around since 2018 and currently manage ~$4B in assets. There are a few interesting things about Dragonfly that most people might not know. For one, we only invest in crypto assets and crypto-related companies and when we invest, we have a very long target holding period, on the order of 5+ years. We’re also global: crypto is fundamentally a global phenomenon with global communities, and our fund reflects that. We have roughly half our team, portfolio companies, and LP base in Asia (China, Hong Kong, Singapore) and half in the US. This gives us a very unique perspective on the market and we often help teams that are looking for a global approach to their product, team, and GTM. Lastly, while many fund managers tend to have finance or banking backgrounds, almost everyone at Dragonfly is technical and has prior operating experience at crypto startups.
Lastly, what’s your favorite NFT project right now?
On an artistic and execution level, I really love Shields. Super cool idea, brilliant execution, and beautiful design and code. I suspect we’ll see more “build your own NFT”-type NFT collections in the future. On a personal level, I have a soft spot for Milady Makers. They’re cute, I’m into the Y2K Japan aesthetic and the other Milady holders are great folks.
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