Since joining Coinbase in 2013, I’ve been obsessed with marketplaces that make emergent asset classes more accessible. I saw firsthand the value created by a great product and strong brand that brought accessibility and trust to a new global asset class and we’ve since invested in many such marketplaces: OpenSea (NFTs), dYdX (decentralized derivatives), SuperRare, (cryptoart), Notional (fixed-rate loans), Nexus Mutual (crypto insurance), Catalog (music NFTs), Primitive (decentralized options), Polymarket (prediction markets) among others. An emergent asset class that I’m especially excited about right now is photography NFTs. We recently led a $2M seed investment round in a marketplace making photography NFTs more accessible for the world: Sloika
Like most digital creatives, photographers have not been treated well in the web2 era of the internet. The web2 paradigm gives ownership and control of data to large companies like Facebook and Twitter and leaves photographers struggling to find meaningful ways to monetize their work. web3 improves the lives of photographers by giving them control of their work and allowing them to sell scarce, authentic works to anyone who appreciates their creativity. Sloika is built on Ethereum and makes the transition from web2 to web3 easy and efficient for photographers. I believe selling NFTs will become the standard business model for photogs and Sloika will play an important role in making it happen.
On the demand side, collecting scarce, authentic photography is still a relatively new behavior. Today when most collectors think of NFTs they think of visual art and understandably so — 183 artists have sold NFTs worth over $1M in the past few years and artists like Beeple have become mainstream stars. There’s a strong belief among a growing number of people that visual art NFTs have tremendous value. The same belief isn’t there yet for photography, but you can see signs of it starting to form. Look no further than Justin Aversano’s epic Twin Flames collection — a piece from the collection recently sold at Christie’s for $1M+. I think it’s only a matter of time before photography is a multi-billion dollar asset class just like visual art is.
Sloika founders Ev and Arseniy have been working on improving the lives of photographers for over a decade (previously web2 platform 500px). This isn’t a hot new trend to ride for them — they’ve been connected to the photographer world for longer than the cryptocurrency industry has existed. I’m excited to work with them to help take this asset class to new heights.