Those looking for evidence of the recent crypto meltdown need not look to Minneapolis — at least for the next few days.
This weekend, thousands of NFT holders will descend on the Twin Cities for Gary Vaynerchuk’s “VeeCon” – a four-day conference bringing together business leaders, entrepreneurs and Web3 evangelists to discuss digital transformation in everything from arts to assets.
In addition to being a serial entrepreneur and social media influencer, Vaynerchuk is known for his early investments in companies like Facebook and Coinbase.
Vaynerchuk’s “VeeFriends” NFT collection consists of non-fungible tokens of 10,255 characters that can be purchased via the cryptocurrency Ethereum. Each token contains a “smart contract” with metadata that Vaynerchuk can use to interact with its buyer. Token holders also get exclusive access to the annual event for three years after purchasing the NFT.
VeeFriends mascots prepare for Gary Vaynerchuk’s VeeCon conference.
Riley de Leon | CNBC
This is not only the first VeeCon, but also the very first event with an NFT ticket. Token holders access their ticket via a digital wallet on their phones, which verifies their ownership of Vaynerchuk’s digital assets.
NFTs are a type of digital asset created to track ownership of a virtual item using blockchain technology. Such unique items could be works of art or sports trading cards – a market Vaynerchuk became familiar with as a teenager, where he sold baseball cards for thousands of dollars every week.
Ethereum’s price has recently fallen as much as 60% from its 2021 peak.
“The timing of VeeCon couldn’t be better,” Vaynerchuk said in his opening remarks at the conference on Friday. “There’s an incredible chapter coming from Web3 next year. Everyone here is fully aware that there has been a correction [crypto] Pricing…it’s no fun when your fortune goes down on paper. It is what it is, but the timing is remarkable because there’s a lot of good work being done now. Much of the innovation is being implemented.”
The event, hosted at US Bank Stadium, features keynote speakers who have recently burst onto the Web3 scene, including Snoop Dogg, Spike Lee, Deepak Chopra, Eva Longoria and Mila Kunis, among others.
“Obviously celebrities are going to get a lot of attention for being like that and I think they have a responsibility [to educate] with the size of their audience,” Vaynerchuk told CNBC. “Anyone working in this space needs to think hard about whether the short-term money is worth the reputational risk.”
VeeCon has also been a boon to the local economy in Minneapolis, one of many communities across the country trying to recoup lost tourism dollars from the Covid-19 pandemic. In attendance are token holders from around the world including India, Australia, Romania, France and Sweden.
“As a Minnesota local, I’m really proud to have the first-ever VeeCon taking place in my backyard,” said Maha Abouelenein, a local event organizer and CEO of media organization Digital & Savvy. “I can’t wait to see all the friendships that are formed at VeeCon.”
Still, there are some fears about the space’s longevity. Bitcoin hit its lowest level since December 2020 earlier this week at under $26,000, and shares of publicly traded crypto brokerage Coinbase are down as much as 74% year-to-date this week.
“Right now, the overwhelming energy of space is very short term. I would call it greed. Many don’t spend their time in education,” Vaynerchuk said.
“The reality is that all of this behavior will cause 97-98% of these current projects to lose value over the next 24-36 months because the supply and demand curves won’t work.”