3 Aug 22 – The Next Meta
How do you spot the next trend to make the most profit?
They say it's a bear market, but there has been plenty of development and trading, only if you're following closely. However, the market conditions differ a lot, and traders have to adjust their strategies and expectations. So what are some of these trends and why did they appear as such?
The Free Mint Meta
With liquidity pretty much dried up, projects had to pivot. One of these was to switch to a free mint strategy, such that projects get no upfront "revenue", and instead get paid through royalties as trades get picked up. This was genius for projects building legitimate product, for as long as they delivered value, the market will learn to value their NFTs and hence trade it up. With more trades, they will finally get their functional revenue, and it worked perfectly for Goblin Town.
Many other projects took the opportunity to do "storytelling" through free mints e.g. WAGDIE, creating some sort of burn mechanism, or WZRDS where holders could burn the supply of NFTs that are listed on the floor, essentially raising floor prices. While these are novel ideas for a storytelling project to make some money, holders should be very critical as to – what do they get from the projects after several weeks, months, or a year – because most of the time, it is just a fad.
Trends are good for pump and dumps, so flippers rejoice. Yet, there lies a hidden danger where free mints become wallet drainers, where unsuspecting minters unknowingly sign a "Set Approval For All" transaction in their hurry to mint something for free. Therein lies the unsustainability of this meta. Don't get me wrong, for projects like Goblins, it's still an amazing success and their floor price has held above 2ETH. But what next?
Gen Art Resurgence?
Besides Top Shot and Punks, one of the earliest successful NFT projects was Hashmask. Around this time, it was crypto art that flourished, where besides Beeple and Fewocious, a whole trend of Generative Artists flourished through their Art Blocks drop – most notably, the Fidenzas and Ringers.
In the past couple of months, some Gen Art also started to revive. GM DAO particularly grew as a Gen Art platform, along with the floor prices of some of their drops. But what exactly is valuable about art? And how do you value art?
The truth is, art is subjective, which also means that value is subjective. A lot of art, whether generative or 1/1 is done through social signalling i.e. because there are certain collectors in it, therefore it is valuable. This might sound like utter nonsense for the logical mind, but rather than dismiss it as an artificial value, why not look at what drives value?
Art collectors will exist whether in a bull or bear market. Collectors have their allocated funds and will always have their eyes on some pieces or collections. During a bear market, with depressed ETH prices, many of these artworks thus become cheaper when valued in dollars – perfect for them to scoop out discounted pieces on something they've been eyeing. Add to that some speculators who seek to arbitrage off these sales, and also some market makers who can benefit from reselling these pieces, there thus become some sort of resurgence of interest in this space.
Note, there could really be a whole new wave of interest in generative art. But until it's a clear trend, I'll likely err on the side of caution and be critical about it.
So What Exactly Makes A Trend?
Trends are in part intrinsic, and in part driven. For example, there was an anime meta, but it blew out of proportions thanks to Azuki and many other copy-pastas or wannabes. Then there was the women-project meta, which was pretty short-lived because while the intentions were good, the supply created by multiple projects with the same purpose quickly exceeded the demand. There was also the CC0 meta that started with Nouns, and spread onto CrypToadz and mfers.
But you see, for every one successful project, the spinoffs or similar ones quickly catch on to these trends, and most end up to be subpar versions of the original. Is that a case of latecomers being unable to succeed? I reckon not. Rather, it's that latecomers are most of the time riding on certain hype – and even if they were legitimately building a good product, the fact that they onboarded many hype-chasers meant that their project will eventually lose some followers.
From that point, it becomes a case of, would the founders stick to their original intention and pursue the project? Or will the lack of positive feedback (lack of reinforcement) cause them to lose motivation, and hence choose the quick way out to end their pursuit?
Point is – there is always first some fundamental new development. Then it catches on really quickly, and if enough people catch on, it forms a trend. If not, it can be short-lived as with the women-project meta or with the cross-chain meta.
How Do You Spot The Next Trend?
By the time you realise there's a trend, it's probably too late. The best way to stay ahead is to look at particular "industries" that you are keen on. This could be gaming NFTs, it could be utility NFTs, it could be art NFTs.
And because NFTs covers all social applications extensively, it's impossible for anyone to focus on all areas. The best is to focus on what you are good at, and to work with others who are well-versed in other "sectors". For example, I'm more savvy towards fashion-related NFTs, while some of my friends are more focused on play-to-earn NFTs, and others on utility pass NFTs, and it's when we come together to exchange ideas, do we then find opportunities ahead of others. At the same time, we challenge each other on our assumptions.
Trends are a result of market conditions and market participants. The same product, given a different set of market conditions and participants would probably have a different result. For example, if Goblin had been a free mint during the peak of the bull market, they'd probably have been dismissed for they would have launched with an undoxxed team amidst a ton of noise. Yet, the bear market was perfect for what they did.
Hence, it's not only good enough to know the product. You probably need to assess if the team is capable of releasing and adapting to the right market conditions and whether they can attract the right participants and holders – a complex art really.
If you do find something, drop me a DM on Twitter. From my experience, when someone spots that next trend, he will be so convicted he goes all-in, and he will be so excited to share everything about it but most people will not understand anyway. It's as though as he sees something so valuable and cannot understand why others are not seeing the same (because we all have different experiences).
NFTs was my first convicted play. RTFKT was my second conviction. What is yours?