Thoughts and Takeaways from NFT.NYC 2022


FT.NYC 2022 was a great event with many exciting companies and brands in attendance and many interesting Web3 projects being unveiled.  Below are some thoughts and takeaways on what I learned, what I believe will be taking place in the near future, and some of the Web3 issues that companies, content creators, and brands should be paying attention to in the coming months and years:

  • Community Matters – This was a key theme throughout the week and across all the different exhibitions/projects that I saw and people that I met.  This concept of “community” took on many variations and meanings, including leveraging the decentralized structure of Web3 to find new ways to drive fan engagement around a content property or brand, developing Web3 projects with specific goals that seek to give both fans and content creators more ownership over their experiences and contributions, and using Web3 technology to drive awareness around real world issues and to create new kinds of communities and tools to help make a difference.  This to me will continue to be the driving force around broader Web3 adoption and the fundamental shift in how people will engage with content and brands in the future.  While this was really great to see, it is imperative that companies, creators, and brands take the time to really understand what they are building, what their goals are, and how this impacts the ways in which they can successfully and productively engage and involve their communities without harming these goals.  This is particularly important as it pertains to the structuring of intellectual property ownership rights and terms of use.  For many of the entertainment based Web3 companies/projects (where NFTs are primarily serving a utility function to support the buildout of an engaged and robust fan community around a separate IP asset such as a video game, a metaverse experience, music content, or a comic series, etc.), failing to do this correctly can negatively impact long-term viability, including chain-of-title problems, potential infringement liability, and an inability to adequately protect their brands and content assets.  Where the giving away of these ownership rights doesn’t ultimately benefit either side, there are many other great ways to give back to their communities and give their fans and userbase a real sense of engagement and ownership, including through unique and exclusive experiences, giveaways, and early access to new products and tools, etc.  If done the right way, this can lead to the creation of powerful content properties where both the company and community win.
  • Things Are Moving Fast – The speed at which Web3 projects are developing is astonishing.  This applies to both the speed at which new projects are being conceptualized and launched, as well as the speed at which existing projects are changing and/or expanding.  While the ability to scale quickly is certainly one of the benefits of decentralized technology, it is important that companies and content creators remain thoughtful about their roadmaps.  In my opinion, the companies and brands that will ultimately be the most successful will be those that strike the right balance between listening to their communities and trusting in the product and the course that they have laid out internally.  Pivoting can be very costly (both financially and in terms of time and ability to go to market) and while it can sometimes be easy to succumb to the voices of a select group of community members, it is important for companies and content creators to really think about how a particular new idea fits into what has been built to date, how it might change the course of things going forward, and most importantly whether it will actually add value to the overall product and community experience before diving in.
  • Importance of Proper Licensing/IP Protection – Speaking of moving quickly, Web3 companies and content creators need to remain mindful of still doing things the right way.  This includes, among other things, taking all the same steps that you would in developing any other kind of brand or content property such as registering trademarks and copyrights, putting together proper terms of use and privacy policies, making sure there are proper contracts in place with third parties being engaged to help in the creation process, establishing proper boundaries with your fan community and userbase as it pertains to the creation process, and most importantly making sure that proper licenses are being obtained where needed.  This can oftentimes be overlooked, but having the right legal team and infrastructure in place is key, and making sure this team is involved at each phase will enable you to do things the right way without having to sacrifice speed.  To date, the world of Web3 has been fairly wild west but there is an increasing amount of litigation, regulatory action, and ownership disputes taking place and making the news.  While it may seem important to simply get your product to market as fast as possible or to dismiss the legitimate risks that can arise from ignoring some of these things simply because there are many others doing the same, dealing with something like an infringement claim can be a major setback.  Additionally, many of these requirements are complicated and as the Web3 landscape continues to develop, there will be many first-use cases and situations where existing rules don’t squarely apply.  Working with a legal team that understands the space will be crucial towards properly navigating new terrain and setting-up your company or brand in the best position possible as the law adapts.
  • Interoperability – As far as what I believe is on the horizon, two things in particular jump out at me, both related to interoperability.  The first will be the continued integration of digital (including Metaverse but not always) and IRL experiences.  Some of the most compelling projects that I saw last week are the ones that are combining ways to experience both worlds in unique ways.  Whether it is the use of NFTs to provide access to VIP tickets for a live concert experience, IRL minting events for a piece of digital art, or the ability to scan your own face onto your Metaverse avatar, as technology continues to develop to make these experiences more frictionless I see continued adoption and buy-in.  For brands in particular, this is something that should be given a lot of attention and considered as part of all marketing plans going forward.  The second will be the further interoperability between platforms and the development of technology and software solutions that help reduce current barriers that exist.  Right now there is still a lot of silos with respect to the interoperability between wallets, cryptocurrencies, APIs, and other underlying technologies on which various Web3 content properties are being built.  It was nice to see that many companies are giving thought to this and are starting to develop new compatibility tools that are very much needed.

Filed in: Digital Media

June 28, 2022