September 7, 2021 - 11 min read
In this article, I break down VeeFriends and its creator, Gary Vaynerchuk in detail. This is a great case study of observing a founder's actions to help pick winners that will sustain popuarity in the long-run of the digital collectibles market.
This article has been a long-time coming. I am a big fan of Gary Vaynerchuk, his community, and the value that he’s brought to so many people. By executing his advice, my trajectory has changed entirely and he’s the reason I started this blog.
But please keep in mind, just because I love a project doesn’t mean you have to. I do not own any VeeFriends, but every ounce of my effort in the NFT space (including this blog) is part of my larger plan to acquire one. Also please remember, do not spend money you cannot afford to lose. This is the exact reason I didn’t buy one in May — I could not afford one. It was the hardest decision of my life, but it was necessary at the time. If I can stay disciplined, you can too.
The floor price for VeeFriends is currently at 17.4 ETH (~$68,000) and out of reach for many, but I implore you to read this article to get a better understanding of what qualities to look for in a project creator.
I do not believe you will find many who rival Vaynerchuk’s ability to build community, create demand, and commit publicly to a project for 4+ decades, but I do believe you can learn from him and help develop a smarter lense for evaluating NFT projects.
As the market grows, many will be looking to pick “winners” at affordable price points. This breakdown of VeeFriends will provide some tangible qualities to incorporate into your NFT analysis so you can spot quality projects at a time when they are affordable.
Make no mistake, if you aren’t familiar with Gary V, he isn’t a suit in a corporate office. He’s boots on the ground interacting with his community and fans across multiple social media platforms on a near-daily basis with the intention of giving more than he takes.
The characters featured in the tokens display many of the core values Gary believes are important in business and in life. If you’ve paid close attention over the past 8 or so years, it’s these values that he continually shares with his 30+ million social media followers.
The tokens include everything from an Arbitraging Admiral (arbitrage is a word he’s said 568 times in his content) to Willfull Wizard and everything in between. You can read about all 268 characters with this useful guide.
The character tokens are broken down into 4 categories (all include admission to VeeCon):
Admission (9,400 tokens) — only those who hold VeeFriend tokens will be admitted to
for 3 years
Gift (555 tokens) — those who hold these tokens will receive curated gifts from Gary V and the VeeFriends Team for 3 years
Access (300 tokens) — Group or 1:1 access tokens get the holder access to Gary V in various settings (group access, one-on-one access, competition access, scholarship access) for 3 years
Gary Originally Owned (GOO) — These tokens are part of Gary’s personal collection and are branded as such. They were not available for sale at the launch of VeeFriends but he has given some away to members of his community
Many people I’ve spoken with directly and through observation of Discord comments are fixating on the 3-year utility limit for the tokens. The perception is that VeeCon is the only utility and once that is over, the tokens will lose their value.
There’s a key lesson here: you must observe and get clear on how much a project creator has staked in an NFT project. The stated utility only goes so far because the market will change over time. It’s up to the creator to continually innovate, bring value, and create demand.
Gary V has publicly said multiple times that his entire reputation is on the line with this project and bringing value to its holders for the next 40+ years. If you are fixating on a 3-year conference as the only utility and value of the project, you’re missing the bigger picture.
What I’ve observed by watching Gary on Twitter and in Discord groups is that he is eager to learn from other projects to figure out what’s working well and what isn’t. He often shows up and interacts in other Discord groups and it’s clear from his public wallet that he’s buying from a wide variety of projects to learn and explore what’s being offered.
These are honest signals of commitment. It’s one thing to say you are doing to do something, it’s another thing to actually do it, and to do it publicly.
The advice here isn’t to trust no one, it’s more about the observation of the behaviors of a successful project creator. It may seem tedious, but this can prove very valuable when evaluating NFT projects if you pay close attention.
The current focus of the tokens is on the utility and VeeCon, but there is also a structure of collectibility built-in. There 9,400 admission tokens in the project are broken out into different rarities, each with a specific supply. You can find a full breakdown of all tokens (with examples) by clicking here.
The characters have 40 tokens each:
(5) Very Rare
(1) Spectaculars (these are one-of-one tokens w/ different backgrounds)
By including different supplies of the core tokens, Gary has added an element of collectibility due to the rarity.
For example, the 2 record sales for Veefriends tokens (105 ETH and 100 ETH) came from one-of-one Spectaculars:
Gary has talked about building an “IP Empire” through VeeFriends. These characters are his personal Harry Potter, Hello Kitty, etc. I’ve written before about how hard this is to do by highlighting 50 Famous Failed Animated TV series, but we need to turn to the observation of behaviors, starting with Gary’s content:
Source: Gary Vaynerchuk Instagram
He’s posted on Instagram 6,997 times (Instagram has only been around for 4,015 days). He’s organically amassed 2.4 million Twitter followers and it's common to see him interacting directly with fans. He also has 3.1 million subscribers on YouTube.
It’s important to be practically optimistic because I see too many people buying into projects with the promise of IP from creators who don’t have a long history of demonstrated performance in this arena.
When you dig into Gary’s digital presence, it becomes clear that he knows how to build an audience through his content. This reminds me of Larva Labs (CryptoPunks, Meebits, Autoglphys) founders Matt Hall and John Watkinson, who had successful entreprenurial careers, including mobile app creation for T-mobile before they launched their first NFT.
This doesn’t mean new creators can’t come along and find success, it happened with Bored Ape Yacht Club, but if you are going to heavily invest in an NFT project, track record matters.
The utility of this project seems to be much, much larger than Veecon and it’s backed by a motivated founder who has publicly staked his reputation on bringing all Veefriend holders value over the long run. The NFT space moves quickly and for a new project to succeed for years to come, it needs to be driven by creators who “get it” and can see around corners.
Gary V is a serial entrepreneur, best-selling author, and currently is Chairman of Vayner-X and CEO of Vayner Media. He’s had a strong track record as an angel investor (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Venmo, Snapchat, Coinbase, and Uber) and spends some weekends at garage sales to teach people how to use arbitrage as a jumping-off point to build capital and business skills.
His family immigrated from Belarus to the United States (Queens, NY) in 1978 and started working for his family’s liquor store business at the age of 14. When the internet started to become more popularized, he saw an opportunity to convert his father’s liquor store into an e-commerce platform and grew the business from $3 million per year to $60 million per year.
He reminds people often that he did not have equity or a stake in the business, he built it for his parents before starting Vayner Media at the age of 34.
Throughout his career, he has been able to keep a pulse on consumer behavior and be ahead of others in that aspect, even making some pretty accurate predictions. He predicted Twitter would IPO in 2012 (this happened in 2013), he predicted Facebook going mobile (which happened in 2012), he predicted Facebook buying Instagram (which happened in 2012).
If there’s someone you want in the foxhole with you when the digital landscape is changing, it’s likely going to be Gary Vaynerchuk.
Last July, I remember seeing Gary V respond to a tweet from a follower (which he often does) and it stuck out to me more than anything else he’s ever tweeted:
As Gary’s audience continues to grow, so does his challenge to get people to execute his advice to tangibly change their lives. While this may be his current problem statement, it is also the problem statement for his fans.
In my opinion, this is a good thing.
Demand creation for 40+ years is no easy task, but my own prediction (through observation) is that the VeeFriends IP will be structured around solving this problem. Between his leadership roles, building businesses, writing books, investing, speaking around the globe, etc. he spends time giving people 1:1 feedback.
In 2020, he created the Tea With Gary V show, which I appeared on, to give his fans practical advice during the pandemic. He has deep experience understanding people, their situations and giving guidance that can affect change.
Because the VeeFriend characters embody the traits that he so often weaves into his advice, I really do believe he will build on this and help change lives at scale.
It’s clear that there is a gap in the market and there’s even a gap with the number of people who listen to Gary but don’t follow through on the advice. He has hands-on experience solving that problem, creating content from it, and expanding his audience even further.
Building IP is hard, but I think betting on Gary to do it is a wise move.
Please remember, this is MY prediction. I don’t know any future plans for the VeeFriends, and it’s important you come to your own conclusion, but my hope is that this highlights how closely you should study a project founder before buying into a project.
If there’s one takeaway from this article, it is to study the artist, creator, developers, marketers, and founders responsible for a project in detail. Watching their actions and monitoring their track record is even more important.
This isn’t necessarily fun advice. Many want to be told what to buy, but that’s a short-term strategy that might not end well. NFTs have the potential to be a paradigm-shifting technology in our culture for years to come, so it’s okay to be patient as you explore and uncover opportunities to make your move.
There will be exceptions as I’ve mentioned before, but overall, this market is getting more competitive by the day, and projects more likely to survive are going to have strong and committed leaders steering the ship as new people are on-boarded into digital collectibles.
Keep in mind, there were only ~116,000 active wallets buying and selling NFT assets at the end of August. That is a fraction of the potential population who may get involved in the NFT space, and Gary V has been a strong and educational voice to onboard people into the space both for his project and others.
Even if VeeFriends isn’t a fit for you, it’s been a vehicle to onboard people and brings more attention to NFTs.
There is a lot of talk about historical significance and how it will play a role in which projects do well in the long-term because many believe 99% of current projects will go to zero due to the sheer abundance of supply.
VeeFriends may be a relatively new project in the space, but if it goes down in the NFT history books as an influential project that helped get a wide audience to pay attention to digital collectibles, it would add even more value and long-run viability.
Lastly, please remember: do not spend money you cannot afford to lose.
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