It’s a Small (Virtual) World After All
Disney reportedly lays off its metaverse team, and the U.K. Treasury cancels its NFT plans, but on the bright side, NFTs for tickets are having a moment.
This week, Disney (DIS) reportedly laid off a small team dedicated to building its metaverse offerings in a move that highlights corporate uncertainty around Web3 and waning interest in the metaverse by big brands.
Also, the U.K. abandoned its plans for a government-backed non-fungible token, citing questionable demand.
Meanwhile, we’re seeing some positive signs for adoption of NFTs as a ticketing mechanism, with Ticketmaster working with band Avenged Sevenfold for token-gated access to tickets and a major low-cost airline going all-in on issuing tickets as NFTs.
You’re reading The Airdrop, our weekly newsletter where we discuss the biggest stories across Web3. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Friday.
This Week's Alpha
Disney ditches its metaverse plans: The entertainment company has laid off its small unit that was developing strategies for its expansion into the metaverse, The Wall Street Journal reported, as part of a broader company-wide restructuring. Sources told the newspaper that about 50 people tasked with using the company’s intellectual property to tell interactive digital stories lost their jobs in the shuffle. Disney began developing its metaverse strategy in 2022 and chose Polygon as its blockchain to do so.
- Metaverse “cooldown:” It’s unclear why Disney decided to scrap the fledgling business unit, though other major companies that bet big on metaverse development have also scaled back their efforts in recent months. Cathy Hackl, chief metaverse officer at innovation and design consultancy Journey, told CoinDesk’s “First Mover” on Wednesday that the formerly red-hot metaverse market is facing a “cooldown moment,” though she said it’s “not necessarily a bad thing,” because many Web3 natives are continuing to build despite the downcycle.
Royal NFT mint: The U.K. Treasury has canceled its plans for a government-backed NFT that was meant to signal the U.K.’s openness toward Web3. The idea was Initially proposed by U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak when he was chancellor in April 2022. He had assigned the task to the Royal Mint.
- Dying demand: Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt said in a Treasury committee meeting that the government questioned the demand for such an asset. "I think we always want to be at the cutting edge in the U.K., in terms of new technology, but the world has changed significantly since then, and we're not convinced that the demand is going to be there in the same way,” he said.
Token-gated getaways: Argentinian low-cost airline Flybondi will issue all of its e-tickets as NFTs. The new integration, an expansion of its existing relationship with NFT ticketing company TravelX, is built on the Algorand blockchain and allows passengers to change their name, transfer or sell their "NFTickets" on a secondary marketplace.
- Are NFTs the future of flights? Not necessarily, although ticket-related rules and conditions can be integrated into the NFT's smart contract by an airline, allowing them to create a smoother and more flexible travel experience for passengers. Airlines can also generate additional revenue on NFT trading fees and empower their customers to book travel with less hassle. TravelX says that more than 60 airlines worldwide are already exploring NFT tickets.
Projects on the Rise
Who: Created by artist Mason Rothschild
What: Dusting himself off after Hermés won the lawsuit over his provocative MetaBirkins project, Mason Rothschild has released a new NFT project titled “This Artwork is Subject to Change” through his creative agency Gasoline. Launched as an open edition on Manifold last month, the artwork attached to the 10,987 dynamic NFTs is "subject to change" at any point and functions as a commentary on the future of our cultural and financial systems.
How: Taking inspiration from Jack Butcher's Checks VV and Opepen NFT projects, the collection deploys several interesting mechanics – like allowing holders to “freeze” their NFT metadata on a particular artwork or "burn" their NFTs to transform them into smaller and rarer ones – in order to keep its community members engaged. I interviewed Rothschild to find out more about the project and his plans to make the NFT market more fun and accessible.
In Other News
Ticketmaster token pilot: The ticketing behemoth teamed up with metal band Avenged Sevenfold to offer token-gated priority access to tickets for members of the Deathbats Club NFT community.
The book of ETH Genesis: NFT marketplace Magic Eden launched a beta version of its upcoming native Ethereum marketplace called ETH Genesis. The move expands on the platform’s initial integration of the Ethereum ecosystem last year and adds to Magic Eden’s cross-chain expansion.
NFT Now tackles Web2 media: NFT news site NFT Now released its Now Pass, an NFT collection aimed at fixing the issues that plague Web2 media. The pass offers special perks to its community such as exclusive content and access to events. It sold out in under 48 hours, raising over $1 million in sales.
What Is Decentralized Identity?
If you’re reading this, you have a digital identity in the form of an email address. Other familiar digital identities are Twitter handles and Facebook pages. But unlike those traditional identity tools, which use centralized methods to store and control user data, decentralized identities integrate blockchain concepts to remove the reliance on third parties like Google and Facebook.
Decentralized identities are often hosted on decentralized file-sharing platforms, such as the InterPlanetary File System. These open-source protocols store data on decentralized networks that are difficult to shut down and give users ownership over their online data.
The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.
Learn more about Consensus 2024, CoinDesk’s longest-running and most influential event that brings together all sides of crypto, blockchain and Web3. Head to consensus.coindesk.com to register and buy your pass now.