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NFTs: four “secrets” to understand their real value – Domus

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If we take a look at the Bitcoin price chart, it’s quite easy to picture the ever-growing number of investors who, since the cryptocurrency’s first peak in June 2016, have found themselves spending one or more nights staring at those green and red lines, studying spikes and dips, desperately searching for a pattern that would help them predict the currency’s future value. Is it ever possible to predict the value of a cryptocurrency? How about the value of an NFT?
In March 2021, following the worldwide news that the NFT associated with the work of art by US artist Beeple Everydays: the First 5000 Days had just been sold by Christie’s for almost 40,000 Ether, corresponding to $69.3 million at the time of sale, researchers at the Alan Turing Institute decided to set up a data collection and analysis system that would tell the story of the NFT market from June 2017 to April 2021, covering a total of 6.1 million transactions. The recently published article Mapping the NFT revolution: market trends, trade networks, and visual features attempts to identify which factors determine the selling price of an NFT.
In just one year, the non-fungible tokens (NFTs) market has grown from around $340 million to $14 billion, and while some people are still questioning the point of investing in a .jpg and others are protesting against the environmental impact of proof-of-work transactions, luxury brands and auction houses, from Gucci to Sotheby’s, are rushing to launch their metaverse – a series of virtual places where it is now possible, among other things, to collect avatars and game items, wear digital designer clothes and exhibit intangible works of art, all easily purchased in the form of NFTs. In this new market, art and fashion come surprisingly second, imitating and seeking collaborations with the video game industry, while Morgan Stanley claims that in less than ten years, 10% of the luxury industry will be made up of NFTs bought, purchased and above all – get this! – rented, in the metaverse.
Homer Pepe, the currently most expensive and rarest NFT card of the first NFT collection to collect public success: Rare Pepe Wallet, created in 2016. The last auction that saw it as protagonist dates back to 2018, purchased in Ethereum for a value corresponding to approximately 320,000 dollars.
Genesis is the first NFT generated among the CryptoKitties, the collection that brought NFTs to the limelight, the kittens that congested the Ethereum network for the unexpectedly high number of sales, a few days after their release in December 2017. Genesis is born in November 2017 and is currently owned by Stimpson J. Cat who purchased it for the sum of 246926 Ether currently corresponding to approximately $ 750,000.
MoonCat #3531 belongs to a collection launched in 2017, and which was recently “adopted” by Sotheby’s: the MoonCat.
Sir Gregory is currently the most valuable NFT on Axie Infinity, the NFT-based online video game that in recent months has seen its users and consequently also the value of its tokens soar. Purchased in June 2021 for the sum of 369 Ether, currently corresponding to 800,000 Dollars. The rarity value of these characters, usable in the game, depends on their attributes and their “mystical parts”. Sir Gregory has three attributes: “Pink Turnip claws”, “Dreamy Papi eyes” and "Lam Handsome fangs” and a “Shiba tails”, apparently very popular.
Currently on sale in Sotheby’s Metaverse, Color is an NFT work composed of a generative script and therefore capable of generating almost infinite forms. Color is the perfect example of what can be found on Art Blocks, a collection of generative content hosted on the Ethereum network.
The legendary work of the artist and video game creator David OReilly, sold on the site of the Japanese auction house SBI Auction in November 2021 for the sum of approximately 12,000 dollars. Among other things, the artist declared: "POTATO literally represents my Irish roots, while as an NFT, depicts my future as a cyber-organic hybrid. POTATO embodies the collision between the past and the future.⁠ "
One of the database views of Mapping the NFT revolution: market trends, trade networks, and visual features. The densest clusters display very active moments in the history of a collection.
Homer Pepe, the currently most expensive and rarest NFT card of the first NFT collection to collect public success: Rare Pepe Wallet, created in 2016. The last auction that saw it as protagonist dates back to 2018, purchased in Ethereum for a value corresponding to approximately 320,000 dollars.
Genesis is the first NFT generated among the CryptoKitties, the collection that brought NFTs to the limelight, the kittens that congested the Ethereum network for the unexpectedly high number of sales, a few days after their release in December 2017. Genesis is born in November 2017 and is currently owned by Stimpson J. Cat who purchased it for the sum of 246926 Ether currently corresponding to approximately $ 750,000.
MoonCat #3531 belongs to a collection launched in 2017, and which was recently “adopted” by Sotheby’s: the MoonCat.
Sir Gregory is currently the most valuable NFT on Axie Infinity, the NFT-based online video game that in recent months has seen its users and consequently also the value of its tokens soar. Purchased in June 2021 for the sum of 369 Ether, currently corresponding to 800,000 Dollars. The rarity value of these characters, usable in the game, depends on their attributes and their “mystical parts”. Sir Gregory has three attributes: “Pink Turnip claws”, “Dreamy Papi eyes” and "Lam Handsome fangs” and a “Shiba tails”, apparently very popular.
Currently on sale in Sotheby’s Metaverse, Color is an NFT work composed of a generative script and therefore capable of generating almost infinite forms. Color is the perfect example of what can be found on Art Blocks, a collection of generative content hosted on the Ethereum network.
The legendary work of the artist and video game creator David OReilly, sold on the site of the Japanese auction house SBI Auction in November 2021 for the sum of approximately 12,000 dollars. Among other things, the artist declared: "POTATO literally represents my Irish roots, while as an NFT, depicts my future as a cyber-organic hybrid. POTATO embodies the collision between the past and the future.⁠ "
One of the database views of Mapping the NFT revolution: market trends, trade networks, and visual features. The densest clusters display very active moments in the history of a collection.
These staggering numbers raise further doubts and questions: Is this a bubble destined to get bigger and bigger as long as there are newcomers, and then to finally pop, or is it an investment capable of securing forms of “eternal passive income”, especially when NFTs can be rented out? From a conversation with two of the authors of Mapping the NFT revolution, some questions were finally answered.
Mauro Martino, director of the Visual Artificial Intelligence Lab at the MIT-IBM Research AI Lab in Cambridge, and Andrea Baronchelli, head of the Economic Data Science team at the Alan Turing Institute, tell us how from the very beginning – that is, since the rise of CryptoKitties (2017), one of the very first successful experiences in the world of NFTs – what we will call the first secret of the value of NFTs was already very clear: the sale value of NFTs depends on the community that supports them.
Here we are at the dawn of a new digital age. While we ask ourselves whether it makes more sense to invest in a sweatshirt made of only pixels from the “Balenciaga x Fortnite” collection, or in a piece of land next to rapper Snoop Dogg’s villa on the Sandbox metaverse, or simply in a digital potato, like the one sold by Irish artist David OReilly on the website of Japanese auction house SBI Art Auction, we should look, first of all, more than at the object for sale, at the potential fan base that supports it.
According to the researchers, this leads us to discover the “second big secret” of the sales value of NFTs: communities and capital are more likely to nest around collections or gamified experiences than episodic sales.
In Mapping the NFT revolution we discover that the greatest NFT buyers, the so-called whales, aren’t a lot – “the top 10% of traders alone make 85% of all transactions” – and tend to get attached to a single collection, making “at least 73% of their transactions in their main collection”. It is hardly surprising that companies traditionally associated with the world of sticker and card collecting, such as the NBA, MotoGP, Panini or Magic the Gathering, have jumped into the fray, quickly creating their own digital marketplaces.
As Martino and Baronchelli explain, the NFT landscape varies greatly depending on the industry it belongs to. There is the art world, where newly formed crypto marketplaces such as Foundation, Rarible and Nifty Gatheway fight against traditional auction houses. There are NFTs belonging to the “Metaverse” category, which would make no sense to exist outside of that world, as well as NFTs generated by the “Gaming” industry. Finally, there is the “Collectibles” category, the virtual counterpart of collectible cards, which could be considered as a kind of progenitor to imitate.
In Mapping the NFT revolution’s prediction system, half of which is based on data from previous sales, a big variable is the visual appearance of NFTs, analysed using AlexNet, a pre-trained convolutional neural network, which is simply an artificial intelligence that can ‘see’ images and detect recurring patterns. And what it sees is that buyers seem to like similar images. Just like the most mundane textbook instruction in social media management, the consistency of the feed rewards the artist.
The Fortnite X Balenciaga 3D digital clothing collection debuted on the multiplayer video game Fortnite. The multiplayer shooter made by Epic Games is currently the digital environment with the most users in the world.
This “Super Mega Yacht” called The Metaflower is currently the most expensive item in The Sandbox metaverse, purchased for $ 650,000. The Sandbox is currently one of the main metaverse platforms, which has seen its prices rise for collaborations with brands and celebrities such as adidas, Atari, Snoop Dogg, DeadMau5 and Bored Ape Yacht Club, another famous NFT collection.
Gucci recently inaugurated its “Gucci Garden” in the Roblox metaverse, another of the most powerful candidates in the “race to the metaverse”, which has recently opened its doors to other famous brands such as Nike and Sony.
A screencapture of the entrance to the Sotheby’s auction house virtual recreated in the metaverse of Decentraland, another top player in the metaverse and a real NFT real estate. Land plots on Decentraland are purchased with the local currency, MANA. In June 2021, Republic Realm spent an amount equivalent to $ 913,000 on 259 land plots in Decentraland, to transform them into a virtual commercial district called Metajuku, inspired by Harajuku, a famous Tokyo shopping district.
An example of an art gallery in the metaverse, in this case it is the Oasis Artwalk created by NFT Oasis on AltspaceVR.
A small part of the work Unsupervised, created by the famous Turkish-American artist Refik Anadol, exhibited in a royal gallery, the Moma, an exhibition of works created by training an artificial intelligence by feeding it the public metadata of the Moma collection. From 18 November, every three days new Unsupervised works will be revealed and put up for sale on Sotheby’s, following the gamified logic of the NFT market. The cover of this article “Machine Hallucinations – Space _ Metaverse” is part of a similar work by the same artist, created in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also for sale on Sotheby’s NFT platform.
The Fortnite X Balenciaga 3D digital clothing collection debuted on the multiplayer video game Fortnite. The multiplayer shooter made by Epic Games is currently the digital environment with the most users in the world.
This “Super Mega Yacht” called The Metaflower is currently the most expensive item in The Sandbox metaverse, purchased for $ 650,000. The Sandbox is currently one of the main metaverse platforms, which has seen its prices rise for collaborations with brands and celebrities such as adidas, Atari, Snoop Dogg, DeadMau5 and Bored Ape Yacht Club, another famous NFT collection.
Gucci recently inaugurated its “Gucci Garden” in the Roblox metaverse, another of the most powerful candidates in the “race to the metaverse”, which has recently opened its doors to other famous brands such as Nike and Sony.
A screencapture of the entrance to the Sotheby’s auction house virtual recreated in the metaverse of Decentraland, another top player in the metaverse and a real NFT real estate. Land plots on Decentraland are purchased with the local currency, MANA. In June 2021, Republic Realm spent an amount equivalent to $ 913,000 on 259 land plots in Decentraland, to transform them into a virtual commercial district called Metajuku, inspired by Harajuku, a famous Tokyo shopping district.
An example of an art gallery in the metaverse, in this case it is the Oasis Artwalk created by NFT Oasis on AltspaceVR.
A small part of the work Unsupervised, created by the famous Turkish-American artist Refik Anadol, exhibited in a royal gallery, the Moma, an exhibition of works created by training an artificial intelligence by feeding it the public metadata of the Moma collection. From 18 November, every three days new Unsupervised works will be revealed and put up for sale on Sotheby’s, following the gamified logic of the NFT market. The cover of this article “Machine Hallucinations – Space _ Metaverse” is part of a similar work by the same artist, created in collaboration with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, also for sale on Sotheby’s NFT platform.
Martino notices how the sentence of having to be recognisable, the nightmare of every artist and the imposition of every art gallery, is also present in the NFT industry: if Basquiat was forced to be Basquiat, today Mad Dog Jones will be permanently bound to the bright colours of post-vaporwave and to the cyberpunk illustrations that make him Mad Dog Jones, one of the most famous and prolific NFT artists on the scene. Apparently, as Martino and Baronchelli laughingly observe, even the non-fungible token, to sell better, ends up becoming fungible, i.e. potentially replaceable by a series of works that are identical to themselves.
Speaking of artists, here is the “third big secret” of the value of NFTs: the art market is an entirely secondary aspect of the NFT phenomenon. As of June 2020, “the most traded NFTs belong to the games and collectibles categories. Only 10% of transactions are related to the NFTs classified as art”.
We are dealing with a complex technology in its first years of use. We can imagine it, the researchers explain, as a Lego tower with vaults and architraves that the most diverse market forms are trying to mount on top of their castles, or their galleons, or their Lego spaceships. Infrastructures that are juxtaposed with other infrastructures, only to undergo violent processes of adaptation, including collapses, breakdowns and work fatalities.
In this scenario, the art industry is perhaps finding it most difficult to adapt. Attempts to gamify works or create communities around collections seem more forced than ever. And if we look at the success stories from the period of the so-called “NFT Craze” between February and June 2021, the greatest sales were made possible by unique factors that are difficult to repeat: “the first NFT sold by a traditional auction house”, i.e. Beeple, “the first Tweet”, i.e. Jack Dorsey, “the first NFT meme” i.e. Nyan Cat, or “the most famous meme ever” as well as the most iconic figure in the crypto world, i.e. Doge, or indeed one of the few visually and technically coherent digital art collections: Art Blocks.
Who guarantees that so many of the NFTs bought during this period of madness will be resold a second or third time, one, three, ten years from now? So far, the data do not look good: out of 6.1 million transactions, only 20% of NFTs were resold a second time, as Martino and Baronchelli note.
And so, we come to the end of this umpteenth gamification attempt, and thus to the fourth and last “secret”: it is impossible to imagine what the value of current NFTs will be one year from now, let alone in ten years from now, given the speed and the massive amount of works, tokens, platforms and metaverses that are currently on the table.
Remember the dot-com bubble at the end of the 1990s? This is a phenomenon of equal size and greater complexity, the researchers explain. We can assume that, as with dot-coms, when hundreds or thousands of economic proposals proliferate, only a few giants will survive, crushing and absorbing their competitors. In the transition between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0, as Baronchelli suggests, it is possible that the current economic system, where the user participates by enjoying free content while donating his data to a centralised platform that reaps huge profits, will be replaced by a model where the concept of ownership is redistributed among users. Following an observation by Matthew Ball, an acclaimed theorist of the future metaverse: if it wasn’t the New York Times, or any other print media mogul, that developed the most used news feed in the world – *spoiler* it was Facebook –, it will probably not be Facebook Meta that will develop the most frequented metaverse, or who knows what it will be called in three years, the most frequented tokenized virtual space.
Opening image: Machine Hallucinations – Space: Metaverse NFT Collection, Refik Anadol, Sotheby’s, 2021
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Cardano (ADA) and Dogecoin (DOGE) Volatility Leads Investors To Buy Flasko (FLSK) | Bitcoinist.com – Bitcoinist

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Some cryptocurrencies are stable, but they are not capable of delivering the returns that investors are looking forward to having. Cardano (ADA) and Dogecoin (DOGE) are great examples of cryptocurrencies. Due to the same reason, investors are now looking for alternative cryptocurrencies like Flasko.
Dogecoin (DOGE) Is Hanging On
There is no demand at all for meme coins as of now. However, the best meme coin, Dogecoin (DOGE), is still hanging on.
Dogecoin (DOGE) completed a $44 billion acquisition last month. And Twitter is looking forward to working closely with Dogecoin (DOGE) as well. Hence, Dogecoin (DOGE) will be able to stay while other leading cryptocurrencies struggle.
Cardano (ADA) Might Bounce Back
Another major cryptocurrency that investors are mindful of is Cardano (ADA). Cardano (ADA) recently went through a massive update that helped investors to keep better hopes for the future of cryptocurrency.
Cardano (ADA) is gaining value along with the increasing popularity of Metaverse. At the end of the current bear market, Cardano (ADA) is expected to become one of the fastest-growing cryptocurrencies to be made available out there.
Flasko (FLSK) Is Doing Well
Despite the bear market, Flasko is doing good as a new project because of its unique and innovative concept. Flasko enables people to purchase luxurious and rare wines, champagne, and whiskey. The purchases are made digitally in the form of NFTs. However, there will be a physical allocation of the bottles, which users can get when they purchase the full NFT.
The phase 2 presale of Flasko project recently started at $0.085. This value is further expected to increase exponentially in early 2023.
Website: https://flasko.io
Presale: https://presale.flasko.io
Telegram: https://t.me/flaskoio
Twitter: https://twitter.com/flasko_io
 
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Here's Why This Rare Bored Ape NFT Just Sold For $933,792 In ETH – Ethereum (ETH/USD) – Benzinga

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The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is an exclusive community for holders of the ape and mutant themed NFT collections on Ethereum's blockchain. Commonly referred to as the Bored Apes, only 10,000 generative art pieces will ever be in existence.
What happened: Bored Ape #1268 just sold for 780.00 ETH ETH/USD ($933,792 USD). The value of Bored Apes is typically determined by the Ape's attributes, with the laser eyes, crown, and golden fur traits being the most coveted.
Here are a list of its attributes and how many others have the same trait:
Why it Matters: Bored Apes are the ultimate store of culture for NFT collectors. The NFT collection has gained huge influence in 2021, with an ever growing list of top tier celebrities making apes their profile pictures on Twitter. With the recent explosion in popularity surrounding the Metaverse, rare blockchain-based avatars are all the rage for those looking to flex online.
Being a member of the Bored Ape Yacht Club is not just about flexing online. Yuga Labs, the creators of the Bored Apes throw exclusive parties often with free private performances from members of the club such as Lil Baby. Other notable celebrities in the club include Post Malone, Stephen Curry, Dez Bryant, and Jimmy Kimmel.
Yuga Labs also created another NFT collection known as the Mutant Apes, which also provides membership to the elusive club. There are a total of 20,000 Mutant Apes, and the price floor is historically lower than the Bored Apes.

See Also: NFT Release Calendar and Best NFT Projects of 2021
Data provided by OpenSea.
Checkout the full Bored Ape Yacht Club collection
You can learn more about this NFT here.
This article was generated by Benzinga's automated content engine and reviewed by an editor.
© 2022 Benzinga.com. Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.
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How to buy NFTs: Trojans' venture Moonlight aims to make it easier – USC News

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Blake Asherian realizes that most people don’t have a spare $60,000 just lying around — which is about what you’d need to buy an NFT (non-fungible token) of any real value. He also understands that at a broader level, most people don’t even know what an NFT is or how to buy one.
That’s why Asherian and three other Trojans — Gabriel Perez, Matthew Hausman and Can Toraman — have started Moonlight, a fractionalized NFT marketplace that allows users to buy, own and sell fractions of an NFT in a simple and user-friendly way.
Moonlight — Blake Asherian, CEO and founder; Matthew Hausman, frontend architect; Can Toraman, technical advisor; and Gabriel Perez, product and community (clockwise from top left) — allows users to buy, own and sell fractions of an NFT in a simple and user-friendly way. (Photos/Courtesy of Blake Asherian, Matthew Hausman, Can Toraman and Gabriel Perez)
Despite gaining significant traction within the last year, NFTs are still in their infancy, and there are financial risks involved given their uncertainty and high price tags. Moonlight hopes to remedy that, or at least help bridge the gap between most people and this emerging space.
“If the average personal income is 63K, and the average cost of a blue-chip NFT is 51K, that’s a big problem,” said Asherian, a business administration undergraduate in the USC Marshall School of Business.
“Part of the reason why people are not as prone to getting into NFTs is because there’s such a high barrier in terms of knowledge, and technology,” Asherian added. “We’re breaking down that barrier.”
The concept of Moonlight is simple: A group of people will choose an NFT they want to crowdfund, and once the funding goal is reached, each crowdfunder becomes a co-owner. From there, co-owners can buy and sell their fractions on Moonlight’s platform.
Though the platform might be simple — or at the least the goal is to make it as simple as possible for people — the concept of an NFT isn’t widely understood and can seem a little daunting.
Essentially, an NFT is a unique piece of digital art that is certified using blockchain, an immutable record of ownership. The non-fungible part means that no two items are alike or equal. NFTs function similarly to how people collect and sell art or trading cards. Some items are worth next to nothing, while others fetch millions of dollars.
Moonlight’s goal is for people to have the opportunity to own fractions of NFTs of real value, which is why the company focuses on “blue chip” — or most valuable — NFTs, like Bored Ape or CryptoPunks, which have the potential to provide long-term returns and can easily go for six figures.
But why would a digital image of an ape or a pixelated person be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars?
Well, why would someone pay over $7 million for a baseball card? Or thousands for any of the “contemporary art” listed on Sotheby’s?
All are fair questions, and the answers could vary depending on the person or item. The common factor is that collectors feel that these are assets that will increase in value. NFTs are just the newest version.
I would always argue with people: What is the difference between your trading card and an NFT? They took a picture of a guy and then put it on a piece of paper, and it has value somehow.
Matthew Hausman, Moonlight frontend architect
“I would always argue with people: What is the difference between your trading card and an NFT?” said Hausman, Moonlight frontend architect and 2021 USC Viterbi School of Engineering graduate.
“They took a picture of a guy and then put it on a piece of paper, and it has value somehow.”
For those who only read certain media accounts, it may seem like NFTs and the cryptocurrency used to buy them are a losing venture, and they might be for some. However, the creators of Moonlight were quick to point out that there are a lot of financial risks out there, and their platform’s crowdfunding feature can help eliminate some of those potential dangers.
With Moonlight, crowdfunding is key. Users select an NFT and then have a certain number of days to raise the funds. If the money is raised in time, the NFT is moved to the Moonlight platform where people can buy and sell shares. If the funds are not raised in time, then everyone who contributed gets their money back.
“No other protocol allows you to literally raise funds to buy cool stuff together,” Asherian said. “The secret sauce here is having a technology that can allow any number of people to put their money into something and as a group get anything they want.”
The next concept, fractionalization, is not necessarily new, but how Moonlight allows users to fractionalize is in direct response to a large issue within the NFT community. Right now, someone who owns an NFT can fractionalize it and sell those fractions at whatever price they see fit, regardless of the actual market value. People who are knowledgeable about and can afford a six-figure blue-chip NFT don’t have a need for fractionalization. So, the practice can take advantage of those who are new to the space — a problem that Moonlight wants to correct.
“For a bunch of people who are just entering the space of NFTs, how can they trust that that valuation is true?” Asherian said. “They don’t know enough about the protocols or the NFT collections. They’re kind of swayed in an untrue direction and it’s unfair to them.”
Asherian and his team at Moonlight emphasize that their platform is truly for everyone. NFTs — and even the cryptocurrency used to purchase them — might seem daunting for those who aren’t already in that world, but their hope is to take away some of that hesitance.
“At the end of the day, if you look at who’s into NFTs, it’s that 1%, right?” Asherian said. “We want to tap into the 99%, so we have to create a product that’s comprehensive for that group, which not too long ago included myself.”
The initial concept for Moonlight came to Asherian in late 2021, but his interest in NFTs started around two years ago when he was working for his cousin, Sean Rad, the founder and former CEO of the dating app Tinder. Rad — at one time at USC student — had invested in Genies, an avatar technology company, and Genies co-founder Akash Nigam started talking to Asherian about the company’s venture into NFTs. Though Asherian knew nothing about NFTs or blockchain, the concepts piqued his interest.
Soon after, he left his jobs to buy and sell NFTs full time. He admits that there were some definite growing pains early on because of the high barrier to entry, but those missteps put him in a position to succeed down the road.
He started drafting up the concept for Moonlight while studying abroad in Paris last year. He connected with fellow Trojans abroad which led to even more connections when he returned stateside. Asherian credits USC with introducing him to Perez, Hausman and Toraman, and making Moonlight what it is today.
Ever since I was a freshman, I’ve always heard that term ‘Trojan Family,’ but then I was really able to witness what it can do.
Blake Asherian, Moonlight CEO and founder
“I really believe in the Trojan Family and what it offers,” Asherian said. “Ever since I was a freshman, I’ve always heard that term ‘Trojan Family,’ but then I was really able to witness what it can do.”
A transfer student from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Perez said his interest in NFTs has been a gradual progression since he was in high school. He started by selling stocks with his friends, and then in college he found a new interest in cryptocurrency.
“I kind of fell in love with the philosophy behind Bitcoin, which is a very anti-centralization of money, anti-central banks, power-back-to-the-people sort of thing,” said Perez, a junior economics major in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
“Then I learned about Ethereum, which was the first time I realized this has a huge potential to be the currency of the internet in the future.”
Ultimately, Perez, product and community lead at Moonlight, felt that if he wanted to further his career in the crypto world, he’d have to move somewhere where he felt it was more popular and valued. He found just such an innovative environment at USC, where USC Viterbi even offers a blockchain minor.
He came to USC before the fall 2021 semester and joined Blockchain@USC — a student-run organization that engages with blockchain-related topics, develops blockchain applications, and connects with industry professionals — as the director of external relations.
We started talking about fractionalizing NFTs and the ability for smaller capital players to be able to dive into these collections, and I was hooked from there.
Gabriel Perez, Moonlight, product and community
At USC, both within his field of study and social groups, Perez surrounded himself with other like-minded people that shared his passion, which is when he first heard about NFTs and eventually met Asherian.
“We started talking about fractionalizing NFTs and the ability for smaller capital players to be able to dive into these collections, and I was hooked from there,” Perez said.
By the end of the spring 2022 semester, Perez and Asherian had formed the Moonlight team formed and started the work to launch their idea.
The Moonlight crew is aware of some of the sustainability concerns with NFTs, primarily the proof-of-work blockchain system that is used by most cryptocurrencies so that transactions can be processed peer-to-peer in a secure manner without the need for a third party. Proof-of-work consumes a significant amount of energy. Rooms full of computers are needed to run complex mathematical equations, and coolers are needed to make sure those computers don’t overheat. By one estimate, mining 1 Bitcoin consumes as much electricity as a standard American home would use in nine years.
Most NFTs are part of the Ethereum blockchain, which currently uses proof-of-work. However, next month the Ethereum “Merge” will shift its blockchain to proof-of-stake, which uses 99.95% less energy by reducing the amount of computational work needed to verify the blocks and transactions that keep the blockchain secure.
“Fingers crossed that ‘Merge’ goes well because it’s a very anticipated catalyst in the crypto world,” Perez said. “If it does go correctly, NFTs are probably not going to have much of an environmental footprint at all, compared to something like a few office buildings downtown.”
But before they get to the point of using more sustainable blockchain, Asherian said they must establish their footing. Moonlight is projected to go live later this fall, and Asherian said once they’ve developed their community and built trust, they can influence people to move towards more sustainable methods.
“When you’re a huge marketplace that everyone starts suspecting has authority within the NFT space, then you’re able to sort of tell them what to do next,” Asherian said. “We really want to be able to gain that authority, and the way to do so is by being transparent, simple and fun.”
Trust and NFTs — or crypto, for that matter — might not go hand-in-hand just yet for much of the general population, but that’s exactly what Moonlight is hoping to fix. They see NFTs as an opportunity not just for those “in the know,” but for everyone.
“We believe there is power in numbers,” Asherian said. “At the end of the day, we want to give power to the people so they can own anything they want, together.”
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Three USC undergrads — and sustainability fellowship recipients — believe emerging technologies like crypto could play a vital role in reinforcing the meat supply chain.
The digital cryptocurrency’s value has students trying to understand how blockchain technology works.
Alumnus Randall R. Kendrick’s donation will fund scholarships, endow new faculty positions and establish the new institute.
USC researchers weigh in on artificial intelligence’s future in entertainment, medicine and more.
The Trojan Marching Band will celebrate the centennial of the university’s iconic fight song during halftime Saturday.
The Master of Planning graduate works for infrastructure giant AECOM, where she consults on projects around the world — including the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics.
A computer science and economics duo has created a software company that streamlines the process.
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