I can't believe it's already May 🤯
Wishing all of you a great month ahead :)
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Coffee Thoughts ☕
Last week, I released my first episode of TBP which was a conversation with Degentraland.
A community member sent me a message saying she loved these two quotes from my last blog post:
The brands that are keeping a community-first approach are shining.
Memes are simply the units that make up culture. And culture must be owned by the people to be truly authentic. People need to own the culture they help build and be rightfully rewarded for it.
Seeing that e-mail made my
As a creator who is just getting started, it can sometimes feel like I'm just shooting out content into a void.
Is anyone reading? Who cares about my writing? Why would anyone listen to my episode?
It can feel frustrating and scary at times, but the 🔑 early on is all about CONSISTENCY! I know that as I crank out new episodes and weekly posts, I'll be finding my true fans.
With that in mind, I'd love to hear your thoughts on what you liked or didn't like about this post! I'm always open to feedback and suggestions. Just hit reply and message away.
Note: still working on getting approval for Apple and other podcasting services - the process changed slightly because Anchor hosting service is now "Spotify for Podcasters".
Okay, onto today's post!
Salvino D'Armati is not a real person
If you look up "who created the eyeglasses?" on Google, you'll see conflicting articles on what the true story is. However, one name will be in every article: Salvino D'Armati. For the longest time, it was believed that this Florentine man was the inventor of the eyeglasses in the 13th century.
What's the catch? Well historians claim that he's not a real person...
Though he has been credited for many centuries, genealogists claim that there is no one named "Salvino" in the Armati family lineage. Also his epitaph had this written on it:
"Here lies Salvino, son of Armato degli Armati of Florence, inventor of eyeglasses. May God forgive his sins. A.D. 1317." (Translated)
The problem with this epitaph is that the term "inventor" didn't even exist in the Florentine vernacular during the 14th century.
So did someone just magically come up with this name and credit the invention of the eyeglasses to an imaginary figure? No one truly knows.
Here's chatGPTs take, probably the source of truth these days 😂
But here's what I can tell you.
There's a new Salvino D'Armati in town. A modern version who is active in the NFT world.
Some of you may have seen him around on Twitter. Some of you may have purchased a pair of his glasses. And some of you may have even interacted with him in person without knowing it 👀
And with that, I'm excited to present my second guest of The Bigger Picture podcast...
Salvino D'Armati is a pseudonym used by a friend of mine who runs a Twitter account under that name. He is the co-founder of the Nouns Vision glasses, which have become highly popular and easily recognizable within the NFT community. In our conversation, we dive deep into the process of building with Nouns, on-chain businesses, intellectual property, and luxury brands.
The post below covers key takeaways from my conversation with Salvino.
If you want to skip my ramble below and listen to the episode directly, feel free to check it out here on Spotify or Youtube for the full video!
Are you a Coachella or a Burning Man?
Most of you reading this have probably come across a Bored Ape while browsing on Twitter or diving into NFTs. The apes set the tone for the last NFT bull market which consisted of many 10k pfp projects such as Doodles, Azuki, etc.
These NFT projects are run by a core team that launches the collection and tries to grow a community around the jpegs by providing utility. For example, the Bored Ape community is being built by Yuga Labs and the Azuki community is being pushed forward by Chiru Labs.
They're the centralized version of NFT projects. Wait what?? Wasn't the whole point of NFTs to be decentralized? Well yes, and they definitely are to a certain extent. If I want to sell my Doodle, I can do that and no one can stop me. But they're centralized in the sense that the brand itself has a top-down order with the core team setting the roadmap & restrictions for the rest of the community. At the end of the day, if the core teams make a decision that I don't like, I can't really say no.
For example, one of the NFT OGs Punk4156 sold his iconic cryptopunk for $10.26 million because he wasn't happy with the way copyright was handled. He decided to sell his cryptopunks as the founders also did not show him the respect he deserved as an involved community member.
So what's the decentralized version of NFT projects?
If you don't know too much about Nouns, check out this Twitter thread I wrote a while ago covering the mechanics and story.
NFT collections that use the creative commons license (CC0) are decentralized by nature because anyone can use the intellectual property. These projects rely entirely on community engagement and contributions to grow the brand, as members are motivated by their passion for the project.
The best way to understand the difference between 10k pfp projects and CC0 projects is by thinking of Coachella and Burning Man.
Coachella is a concert that is run by a core team. They are responsible for putting together the lineup, making sure the venue has the right facilities, hiring the right teams, etc. When you go to Coachella, you most definitely have the freedom to pick which artists you want to see and how long you want to be there, but there are a set of rules you have to follow.
On the other hand, your Burning Man experience will be what you want it to be. It could be anything from handing out cookies all the way to hosting a party in a 747.
I personally don't think one is necessarily better than the other. Both Coachella and Burning Man can be lifetime experiences and more fun than you can imagine. Just in different ways. Similarly, being part of an awesome community like Doodles which has a CEO and investor backed capital can be just as great as being active in the Nouns community.
So with 10k pfp projects, it's obvious that growth and utility are being pushed forward by the core team.
But how do CC0 projects like Nouns really take off without a real roadmap? Well, just like how Burning Man took off.
Community members that are passionate about the brand will build for it because they want to see it grow.
Joint Stock Corporations, LLCs, and...Nouns
Today, we have the luxury of creating an LLC in just a few minutes online. You can give an idea of yours a name, pay a few hundred dollars, and hit submit. Boom! The government now officially recognizes your company as an official entity.
It's easy to forget that there was a time in history when LLCs didn't exist and people building ideas had to start joint-stock ventures. These ventures simplified the process for people to pool together capital and build investment vehicles. But at the end of the day, the shareholders themselves were responsible for any screw-ups and could be held legally accountable. This thwarted innovation as people were frightened of being sent to jail for something related to their ideas.
However, in 1855, the United Kingdom passed the Limited Liability Act, which allowed companies to limit the liability of their shareholders. Now, if anyone had a complaint against a company, the company would be sued, not the person. This led to a massive drive in innovation as entrepreneurs were ready to take bigger risks. And bigger risks sometimes lead to bigger rewards.
The point here is that with each successive progression of the "company", it became increasingly easier for people to pool together capital and build ideas that fundamentally transformed the way humans live.
And now, with Nouns, Salvino believes that it's worth taking note that:
pfps are a new kind of institution. A new way to coordinate human beings. It's worth paying attention when humans start to coordinate in new ways. The last time that happened was with LLCs and that basically led to the industrial revolution. Ultimately, what we're trying to do here is to figure out new ways to coordinate and create value together.
This idea is eventually what got Salvino hooked on Nouns.
He sees Nouns as a meritocratic pool of capital where anyone in the world can join, put out an idea, and get funded to bring it to life.
This train of thought eventually led him and his girlfriend, Signora D'Armati, to start Nouns Vision.
The Ray-Bans of NFT Twitter
If you've heard a of Nouns, there's a good chance you've seen these Noggles.
Heck, there's a chance you've probably seen them even if you haven't heard of Nouns. Did you watch the superbowl? Budweiser partnered with Nouns for their commercial.
The Noggles is the meme that propagates throughout culture, both digital and IRL, to expand the Nouns brand. I have no doubt that in the next decade the mainstream audience will be able to correlate the Noggles to Nouns just as they are able to connect the "checkmark swoosh" to Nike.
For Salvino, it was a no brainer that he wanted to build something around the Noggles. He's seen many people wear paper or cheaper versions and he thought..."why not make a luxury pair?". They would be comfortable, look stylish, and be a flex in the NFT community.
After presenting an initial proposal to the Nouns community, he received $7k to get started on the project as initial funding. For the next month, he iterated on hundreds of different designs and did a mini PhD in sunglasses materials. Soon enough, he had a prototype going and a robust roadmap on how to approach the project. He went back to the Nouns community with what he came up with and this time received a $100k to build out the entire project!
In the following months, Salvino and Signora focused on setting up distribution and a warehouse, organizing a professional video shoot with models and crypto OGs, and deploying their mint page. And soon enough, that summer, the first pair of NounsVision glasses had been shipped out!
A few things to note about the launch:
Total of 8250 glasses made (1843 minted so far)
500 of them were rewarded to NounsDAO as a thank you for their support
Mint price: 0.21 eth (you have to burn the NFT to buy the glasses!)
Available in black, red, yellow, and blue
Only Nouns holders are eligible to get a special Disco version
Nouns Vision is a completely on-chain business. After speaking to Salvino, it became very clear to me that this kind of business model is going to make waves in the next decade.
Everything about the process has wayyyyy less friction. How did Salvino go about it?
Made a new twitter account. Used it for all marketing purposes.
Bought an ENS address for NounsVision. All payments are handled on-chain.
Convinced any vendors that he worked with to accept payment in crypto (some of them were dubious but he put in the effort to explain that it wasn't shady and did test payments)
Created a mint page on Zora so people can claim the glasses. All payments are directly sent to his eth address - no one can interfere with the smart contract.
Deployed a NounsVision landing page where people can connect wallets and burn their NFTs minted on Zora to retrieve the physical pair of glasses.
Of course, the only part of this process that was IRL involved going to the warehouse where the glasses are all stored.
Though it's still early and there's definitely some friction in setting all this up, it's not crazy to think that the process above will be more common especially for 100% digital businesses.
If you think about it, something like a Youtube account is just a digital asset.
And hypothetically if you could connect a Youtube account to a eth address, then it shouldn't be that hard to port ownership if the right infrastructure is in place. To make it simpler to buy and sell digital businesses on-chain, we'll need the right platforms setup. For example, a way to transfer a GitHub repo ownership.
For those of you that are active in the NFT space, you may have come by the news that Luca Netz purchased the Pudgy Penguin NFT project for 750 eth (~$2.5 million).
This is a perfect example of transferring business ownership on-chain that Salvino provides. The original co-founders of the project were in the hot seat when the community accused them of draining funds and failing to fulfill roadmap promises last year. Luca offered to buy the community from them for 750 eth including all future royalties. The contract ownership was transferred simply and he's been crushing it since then.
So Salvino, what's the bigger picture?
I really loved my chat with Salvino! We covered so many other topics and I could go on and on about what else I learned. There's more insight from him on what he thinks about the future of Nouns, fan fiction, intellectual property rights, luxury goods, and much more.
We also discussed what's next for NounsVision after luxury sunglasses. For those of you interested in fashion, it's worth checking out video #3 below!
Here's a few of my favorite snippets from the podcast (all <30 seconds). Check them out if they sound interesting 👀
#1: Picture a subreddit with a shared bank account
#3: What's next for Nouns Vision?
And as always, I asked our guest what he thinks the bigger picture is. It can be about anything. Here's what Salvino had to say...
I hope you enjoyed this post and here are the Spotify & Youtube links for the Salvino episode.
Next Thursday, I'm releasing an episode with a founder that is building the next tool to take over the blogging industry. Hint: you may or may not be on the website right now 👀 Subscribe below so you don't miss it!