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Roham Faces The Music 🧨
Dapper's CEO faces his top collectors, the PGA drop fumbles, the NBA picks a Chinese NFT partner, and a $1.6M eSports prize.
I’m not much of a conference guy.
Having been in marketing for 15 years, I can safely say I have never been to a conference that was worth it.
It’s typically the same speakers, same topics, and then you get lies wasted with strangers you’ve only known via email (actually that last part sounds super fun).
The same goes for web3 - I’ve been to NFT NYC twice, and NFT LA last year, and its honestly not worth the exhaustion nor the expense. It’s great to finally meet people IRL, but the actual conference part sucks.
Plus, the beauty of web3 is that the most important conversations happen out in the open, every single day, across Discord and Twitter. We don’t need to wait for a conference to hear from the biggest players; they typically show up on Twitter Spaces and spend time in the proverbial streets.
You know where I’m going with this.
Bu before we get to that part, feast your eyes on this absolute atrocity that was the opening ceremonies of ETHDenver this past week.
Warning: NSFW language, and top level cringe.
The mini bull run of NFTs is over. Now its time to get weird.
So let’s get into all the action from this past week.
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🗣️ Roham Addresses The Nation
Here’s a recap of the last 10 days at Dapper Labs:
A judge rejected their motion to dismiss a lawsuit, in which Top Shot Moments might be considered Securities.
20% of staff was laid off, following a 22% lay off last November.
Dave Feldman, general manager of NFL ALL DAY, announced he was leaving.
An article published in The Block accused CEO Roham of lavish spending habits and workplace bullying.
Ex-employees posted passive aggressive GIFs on Twitter, in what they clearly thought was a “gotchya” moment
Whew. And to top it all off, Roham addressed the nation yesterday, in a text-only AMA in the Dapper Labs Discord.
It lasted 90 minutes, and Roham wrote 42 messages in total.
As soon as the channel opened, the questions came in fast and furious:
Roham immediately went for the recent news, attempting to dispel the rumours that he utilized Top Shot’s marketing money to live a big-time lifestyle.
Afterwards, several hundred questions were asked, generally focused on:
How to restore collector/consumer confidence?
How will the economy and supply be fixed in coming months?
Is the relationship with the NBA in trouble?
How do you feel generally about the state of things?
Roham did make sure to address the big questions about layoffs and key personal leaving the company; to which he pointed to “non-tech company DNA” as the reason for the restructure.
Some of his answers were down right bizarre, like this response regarding the question of “Why hasn't Top Shot sold any S4 packs for TT like they did for S3?”:
In general, it seemed like the community thought the AMA left little to be desired. Although many questions were addressed head on, their substance was relatively ambiguous, and pointed to many goals and objectives we had heard before.
Here’s what I think:
Most of the loudest critics (including myself), think that we could do a better job than Roham. But that’s not true. None of us can relate to what its like to run a company like Dapper, nor do we have all the information necessary to know what’s really going on (targets, relationships, etc.). We are armchairs CEOs.
The same complaints were heard, and the same answers were given. This AMA did literally nothing to boost or worsen consumer confidence; rather, it was a necessary PR move following The Block’s article this week. That’s why it happened.
The biggest issue is still supply, across ALL Dapper sports collections, and yet it continues to feel like absolutely no one at Dapper Labs understands this point.
We do not, and will not, ever need Moments to exceed a supply of 1000 per item. 10,000 of a moment is absolutely ludicrous, and was ludicrous even when things were really good.
Many times here, Roham pointed to “improving the collecting experience”. To me, that means more cosmetic features and the build out of the mobile app. But new features don’t suddenly unlock a flood of adoption.
Top Shot has 12k Monthly Buyers. ALL DAY has 14k. No one other Dapper product has more than 2k.
So is the game plan to continue to “upgrade” the collecting experience, and then market the product properly? Or does Roham think the product is marketable as is?
The product needs to significantly evolve, either transforming itself into game tickets and/or a true NBA loyalty program to actually grow. Which is incredibly far off from what it is now.
Perhaps there’s a world where 12k monthly buyers is totally fine. But that’s not the tech world, and I think we’re all eager to see what exactly “tech DNA” means.
🇨🇳 NBA Picks New NFT Partner in China
I completely missed this last week: NBA partners Chinese fintech giant Ant Group to launch NFTs in China.
It appears the NBA’s web3 team is finally entering the Chinese market, choosing Ant Group (which is part of giant tech company Ali Baba) as their provider for minting NBA NFTs in the country.
From the article:
And apparently they’ve partnered before, going back to 2021 when the NBA worked with Alipay to drop Lunar New-Year themed collectibles in China.
Could this be trouble for Dapper and Top Shot?
For years, the community has hoped that Top Shot would break into the Chinese market. But this seems far less likely now.
⛳ PGA Drop Sputters Out of The Gate
The PGA is launching its first official NFT collection next week, exclusively on Draft King’s Reignmakers platform, and man - they are looking to make bank!
Check out this drop schedule:
That is a lot of NFTs, and its only the start of the season!
Although its important to point out, RM is a platform where you can actually win money with your NFTs, so perhaps the high prices make more sense for the high-end gambling crowd.
But still, they may have misjudged the appetite for these, as the first drop of the “Green Pass” has yet to sell even 50% of the Supply of 3,000.
I investigated this further in the RM discord, and was promptly told something to the effect of “this is a gambling product for gamblers, and hardly an NFT - so get out of here NFL ALL DAY guy!”.
Friendly place, that Draft Kings community.
😱 Bored Ape Key Sells for $1.6M
His prize was a magic key whose utility in the NFT ecosystem is not yet known. But that did not prevent him from banking in on his win.
Earlier this week, he accepted a bid for $1.6M on the key.
I read somewhere (now I can’t find it) that this was the third highest single prize in eSports ever.
Its a move that has and will continue to send shockwaves through the typically anti-NFT gaming world, as there is now a clear and direct link between the two at the highest level.
💰 Sorare Launches “Coin” Rewards
Earlier this week, Sorare launched a Coin system for rewards on its Soccer product, in an attempt to further incentivize players to complete game weeks.
The coins will not be tradable nor represent financial value; rather they will be used for purchasing merch and other pieces, and will be rewarded to a larger number of participants every week than the current ETH/Card rewards.
This is fantastic move, as it signals further development of Sorare’s in-game economy on its leading product (Soccer). It does not apply to NBA or MLB yet, so we will only briefly touch on it here. For a full breakdown, head over to Lucky Trader.
This news comes on the heels of some relatively positive press for the company, as they were recently features in Forbes and Decrypt.
The second article is a bit of an odd one, where they mainly discuss the Dapper Labs securities lawsuit, and then hint at Sorare working with the French government to classify Sorare assets as “a new category outside of existing sports betting and daily fantasy sports regulations.”
They also discuss the potential in the North American market with their MLB product. I’ve got some thoughts there, that I’ll share next week.
🛍️ Highest Off-Platform Top Shot Sale
Despite the negative press, some users are still clearly very bullish on NBA Top Shot, as user Blonde_Mamba purchase the #1 LeBron “From The Top” for $23,000.
The Moment was purchased on Flowty, a zero-fee platform built by community-favourite OG Mike Levy, marking another milestone for the ecosystem.
As you may recall, this Moment is the much heralded “Kobe dunk” from the early days of Top Shot hype.
Did you know - the MLB not only has a new pitch clock for pitchers, but for batters as well? In the new rules, batters only have 8 seconds to be standing in the box and be facing the pitcher, or else they are penalized with a strike.
So naturally, here’s Joey Votto literally not moving an inch after every pitch.
Over to the NBA, I often forget that Anthony Edwards and the Timberwolves actually exist. Yet every week, he seems to drop a new and incredible highlight.
Throwback time, to this memorable freeze from Harden, midway through his MVP season.
And hey here’s someone we never see: 32-year-old Mason Plumlee with a massive reach and a block. Even the ref couldn’t believe it!
Completely unrelated, unless you were a teenage boy in the 1990s: Trish Stratus has made a return to the WWE!
**This is not financial advice. Nothing in this newsletter, podcast, or publication should be considered financial or trading advice of any kind. Please do your own thorough research and make your own trading decisions. This is not advice.”
About The First Mint
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