#217: Profile Pictures for the Culture - Opepen x ThreadGuy

PLUS: 📊 4 reports on the state of Crypto/Web3

Another week, another theme or meta. And This week’s (so far) has centered around Opepen and ThreadGuy. What was the big deal?

ThreadGuy changed his PFP (profile picture).

Wow, Crypto is really in the dumps. THIS is news?! Time to tune out and unsubscribe.

Don’t blame you if you do. Fortunately, there’s much more to the headline.

Who’s ThreadGuy?

ThreadGuy is a NFT influencer that dropped out of college last year to double down on web3 and content creation. He’s focused on shitposting, memes, hot takes, and hosting Twitter Spaces. As a result, his audience has steadily grown to 133k followers on Twitter.

ThreadGuy IRL

What is Opepen?

Opepen is Jack Butcher’s second Open Edition and art-focused project. I mentioned Opepen in Co-Determination Pt 2 as a great example of how creators are finding novel ways to partner and collaborate with their respective communities.

The project is only on the 9th release out of a possible 200 releases, so the story of Opepen has just begun.

The mechanics built into the voting and reveal process along with the art focus have helped Opepen maintain relevancy in the ecosystem, while the broader NFT PFP market continues its downward trend.

Bids for ThreadGuy’s PFP

Last week, Bored Opepen (@boredelonmusk’s alt account, btw he has 1.7M Twitter followers) made an irresistible offer to ThreadGuy.

A 001 set Opepen costs ~$47k, while a Mutant Ape costs ~$11k so this would be a no-brainer trade. However, this isn’t any Mutant Ape we’re talking about. It’s ThreadGuy.

Bored Opepen’s bet was:

  • By making the trade, ThreadGuy would likely change his PFP to the Opepen since it would likely be his most valuable NFT, and PFP changes are typically notable events for larger figures

  • ThreadGuy’s account and influence will continue to grow, resulting in more followers and views, resulting in more exposure for Opepen

  • Bored Opepen wins, ThreadGuy wins, Opepen as a NFT collection and meme wins

Bored Opepen’s hypothesis here, which is a nicer way of describing my take above.

Like a true influencer, ThreadGuy shows his social media savvy, which is a great mini-case study:

  • TG replies 13 minutes after being tagged and gets 247 views on the tweet as a reply at the time of the screenshot which was probably a minute after tweeting it lol

  • TG screenshots the exchange and tweets it out, asking his audience a provocative question, gaining another quarter million views

This is what Bored Opepen is betting on.

As this offer started gaining more traction and commotion, more unsolicited offers started coming in:

  • Bored Opepen ups the ante: If TG accepts, Bored Opepen will return the Mutant Ape after a year in his custody.

  • Frank (founder of Dust Labs) offers 1 DeGod and 1 y00t for his Mutant

  • Bored Opepen ups the ante again: The deal does not require TG to use the Opepen as his PFP, only to hold onto the NFT for 3 months. This allows TG to accept other offers, such as this one from Luca Netz of Pudgy Penguins (basically a $100k guarantee with much more upside).

  • Companies get in on the action: Trust Way offers 42.69 ETH (~$81k) for the Mutant Ape

  • Bloom Capital offers a rare ENS address if TG changes his Twitter display name, no requirements on the PFP.

Plenty of joke offers came in as well as a form of engagement farming, but no one’s complaining. Speculation continued with people wondering if TG would take an offer, and if so, which one.

The answer came on Sunday morning.

Opepen Threadition

TG didn’t accept any of the above offers, as lucrative as they were. He decided to strike a deal with the Opepen mastermind himself and rocked an Opepen based on his original PFP.

In return, Jack Butcher responded by:

This brings the total amount raised for TG to $100k+ and counting. TG decided that the best trade was one that didn’t involve trading away his Mutant. Instead, the best deal was creating a new PFP inspired by his old one.

Do you wish you received a $100k+ offer for your PFP? If so, share or subscribe!


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Opepen Proliferation

As the weekend’s Opepen events rolled into the workweek, larger names started to perpetuate the Opepen meme by changing their PFP for the culture, to support creators, and get in on the engagement frenzy.



Additionally, @tanishqxyz created Opepen Studio, a tool that make it’s ridiculously easy to create your own Opepen by uploading a photo, or manually changing the colors of each section. Pretty cool!

Emerging Themes

Memes 🤝 Web3

Starting with the basics, memes are the dialect that many of us speak when on social media.

They make us laugh, they take over our timelines, they communicate a message (sometimes), they make creativity more accessible, and they’re just plain fun.

They’ve become a part of marketing strategies and content calendars, especially with brands that get it.

Web3 takes it to the next level.

As we’ve seen with Opepen and ThreadGuy, memes in web3 have taken the baton from the previous generation and are expanding the boundaries of what a meme is and can do.

Earlier this morning, I saw a headline from Ad Exchanger that forced me to click 😑

Shouldn’t meme?! How dare you!

What was this nonsense all about? (emphasis mine)

Brands are all-in on social marketing. 

Organic distribution. Sponsored influencer posts. Non-sponsored free merch and giveaways. Repurposing user-generated content. Trending audio. Memes – MOAR MEMEZ. 

Marketers are here for it. 

But uhhh … is any of this even legal?

It’s become commonplace for brands to use meme templates. But this dude who holds up a sign is actually owned by an advertising and social content agency called Jerry Media, according to ad compliance lawyer Rob Freund, in a Q&A with social business newsletter Link in Bio.

Although “Dude With Sign” is an oft-repurposed meme, if a brand uses it – as many social media managers casually do – they’re hit with an infringement lawsuit. 

It’s a new kind of copyright troll.

Marketers frequently promote posts by random users that feature their brand, especially on TikTok. But that’s a risky tactic, too, without contractual terms in place … which usually there are not.

Even organic posts to a brand’s feed are considered ads – or commercial speech, at least – so you don’t have the right to recycle and reuse memes and other user content.

Lawsuit in 3…2…1…

I had no idea that Dude with Sign by Fuck Jerry was so aggressive, and it’s disappointing. But business is business, and I imagine business is pretty good for Jerry Media.

On the other hand, web3 content in web3 tends to be more expansive in terms of usage rights (eg: Nike/RTFKT) or CC0 (anyone can use). Opepen is CC0, which allowed companies, artists, and everyday participants to rep their own interpretation of the PFP quickly and en masse.

Opepen’s One-to-Many content multiplier

Because of CC0, and the broad participation of actors in the web3 space, we saw another example of the one-to-many model framework I first shared in the Dookey Dash piece.

This is yet again another example of how a one-to-many content model (with the right conditions), creates virality even in small ecosystems like web3.

Jack Butcher’s vision for Opepen is to be a canvas of sorts. The official Opepen collection has partnered with various creators, while other participants have also created their own interpretations of Opepen.

The underlying token for Opepen is like an easel. The unrevealed Opepen metadata has been updated several times and will likely continue to do so in the future.

This analogy isn’t true for all NFT collections, but it applies to Opepen because of the way Jack Butcher has positioned it to be set up.

Community x Creator = ∞

The beauty of Co-Creation is that neither side can predict what will exactly come out of the collaboration.

Jack Butcher couldn’t have predicted the situation to unfold the way it did over the past few days. Neither could ThreadGuy. What they did have was a gut feeling that this collaboration was the right one.

Last week, McDonald’s Head of Social Media shared backstory around the mega-viral Grimace Shake trend after the campaign ended. Some speculated that this effort was actually planned as part of the McDonald’s Grimace marketing campaign (PS: If you didn’t read about my case for why Mickey D’s should get into web3, you should).

I encourage you read it in its entirety, but TLDR is:

  • McDonald’s didn’t plan the Grimace Shake trend, they didn’t have the smarts to do something like that

  • The idea started from a random guy on TikTok, Austin Frazier. He had 80 TikTok followers when he created the original video and now has 49k followers thanks to the trend.

  • The team and marketing agencies they worked with weren’t sure if they should jump in on the trend and acknowledge it (emphasis mine):

Honestly, I think my very first text to the team and agencies was "not sure we should jump in". It took us a bit of time to process what was happening. The campaign was already wildly successful, both on a social and business standpoint, so why would we take the "risk" to jump in? But hours of watching, reading the comments, trying to learn and genuinely understand helped us see what this was about: brilliant creativity, unfiltered fun, peak absurdist gen z humor, just the way a new generation of creators and consumers play with brands. I've seen videos which levels of production and craft made me smile silently in admiration and wonder. I've seen fan arts that made us send dozen of emails and texts to friends and colleagues saying "omg did you see that"? We then discussed what was the right thing to do about the trend : saying nothing felt disconnected, encouraging it felt self-serving, so we just decided to show our fans that we see them and their creativity in a sweet, candid and genuine way, as grimace would. The same way you would respectfully and gently nod at someone, without repeating what they said to show you agree with them and stealing their thunder.

I get why McDonald’s and the team had to go through rounds of deliberation across multiple departments. They’re a global company, a public company, a $215 billion company. I’m glad they engaged with their fans and the community that participated and watched the trend grow.

And this is what gets me really excited about the next generation of building businesses and how web3 enhances the process of it.

Building and engaging with the community is on by default.

And that’s why Jack Butcher and ThreadGuy have created this magical moment for the web3 space. It was simultaneously an overnight success and an effort that took months and years to prepare for.

Honestly, I like where this piece ended so I’ll share the 4 reports on Thursday.

Sorry not sorry. Sometimes it’s about that gut feeling. See you Thursday 😉

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