OpenSea Goes Pro, Ralph Lauren Takes Crypto

Plus, investments in blockchain games and metaverse projects totaled $739 million for the quarter.

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This week, non-fungible token marketplace OpenSea took aim at top competitor Blur by launching a new platform targeting pro NFT traders. Reception to OpenSea Pro has been generally positive so far, though it’s unclear yet if the move will be enough to entice Blur loyalists to make the switch.

Meanwhile, American fashion retailer Ralph Lauren will soon be accepting cryptocurrency payments at its newly opened Miami store, and decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) VitaDAO has voted in favor of launching a for-profit company to speed up funding for research into longevity science.

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This Week's Alpha

(OpenSea Pro)
(OpenSea Pro)

OpenSea Pro takes sail: NFT marketplace OpenSea, which dominated the market until competitor Blur entered the scene, has launched its OpenSea Pro platform to court professional NFT traders and reclaim its throne. OpenSea has long appealed to collectors and artists for its simplicity and ubiquity, though Blur has managed to edge ahead when it comes to fast-paced traders due to its fee-free structure and trading incentive mechanisms. The two entities have been locked in a tense head-to-head battle in recent months, copying each other’s moves and shifting policies to stay competitive.

  • OpenSea Pro package: OpenSea Pro is a rebrand of Gem, the NFT market aggregator it acquired in April. The new platform is said to pull information from 170 marketplaces and offers traders real-time data tracking, inventory management, optimized gas fees and more. The site also offered early Gem adopters the opportunity to collect an NFT called Gemesis as a reward for their participation.
  • Blurred lines: It’s unclear if OpenSea Pro will overtake Blur, though users on Twitter have responded favorably to the move. Notably, OpenSea Pro allows OpenSea to cater to seasoned NFT traders while still catering to casual traders on its main platform.

Crypto, but make it fashion: American fashion brand Ralph Lauren has opened a new store in Miami that accepts cryptocurrency as payment, becoming its first store to do so. The store is working with service provider BitPay to allow customers to purchase merchandise using bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH) and Polygon's token, MATIC. While Ralph Lauren has been testing the waters of Web3 for months, integrating crypto payments is a big step forward for the retailer and a potential on-ramp for average customers looking to ease into blockchain payments.

  • Adding NFTs into the mix: In addition, the brand is working with Web3 community Poolsuite to release co-branded NFTs that will be gifted to existing holders of the Poolsuite NFT membership collection. Members will gain exclusive access to a "special event" and be able to update their "Leisurist" avatars with digital Ralph Lauren wearables.

Viva VitaDao: Pfizer-backed VitaDAO, a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) interested in longevity sciences, has voted in favor of creating a for-profit company to fund its research. The company, to be called VitaTech, plans to license longevity technologies from U.S. universities and research institutions to continue their development and “bridge the gap between research and commercialization.” The execution phase of the project is scheduled for 10 weeks.

  • The longevity-crypto connection: The DAO previously told CoinDesk that crypto enthusiasts, including Vitalik Buterin, have long been interested in funding research to extend human life. The project closed a $4.1 million funding round in January.
  • Democratizing healthcare research: According to the proposal, which passed on Thursday, “There are numerous exciting longevity-related research projects being undertaken in U.S. universities and national labs, but most of these projects never reach the commercialization or investable stage.” The initiative hopes to democratize and speed up the funding process, potentially transforming the way medical funding is carried out in the U.S.

Projects on the Rise

Nakamigos (OpenSea)
Nakamigos (OpenSea)

Who: Created by anonymous collective HiFo Labs

What: Nakamigos, a 20,000-edition NFT project featuring pixelated avatars, seemed to have appeared overnight and quickly garnered attention across the NFT community on Twitter. Launched last month, the project taps into the name of Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, and added the Spanish word for friend “amigo” to create Nakamigos. Within days of its mint, it reportedly outpaced Bored Ape Yacht Club in the number of lifetime trades and has since amassed over 24,000 followers on Twitter despite it presenting no roadmap or long-term plan for holders.

How: The project’s success has bewildered analysts and traders, though some have chalked it up to clever marketing and a partnership with NFT influencer Sartoshi, creator of the popular mfers NFT collection. The collection allowed holders of the end of Sartoshi (eos) NFT collection to claim free Nakamigos at mint, and heavily promoted a publicity stunt where it gifted 24 NFTs to major crypto influencers including Art Blocks creator Erick Calderon, NFT trader DJ Seedphrase and artist XCOPY that were created in their likeness.

It’s important to note that the origins and intentions of the project remain shady and much of its trading volume has come from eager holders capitalizing on a trend. But will it last? We took a deep dive into Nakamigos, meme culture and their impact on the NFT market, which you can read here.

In Other News

Bugatti x Bitcoin: High-end car manufacturer Bugatti is working with luxury jewelry maker Asprey on a 111-piece collection of NFT eggs on the Bitcoin-based Ordinals protocol. The mint date is slated for May 4, and prices range between $20,000 to $50,000.

Web3 gaming growth: In the first quarter of 2023, Web3 gaming showed encouraging signs, according to the latest on-chain data analysis from a DappRadar report, which showed Investments in blockchain games and metaverse projects totaled $434 million in March alone and $739 million for the quarter.

Non-Fungible Toolkit

Last week we dipped into defining decentralized identity, so we thought we’d follow it up with Web3’s answer to cloud-storage giants such as Amazon, Google and Dropbox. Decentralized file storage networks such as Filecoin, Storj and Arweave offer an alternative to trusting all your files to a centralized company.

Instead of storing data with a single cloud company, decentralized file storage protocols cut up your data into tiny pieces, then store packets on pseudonymous computers (nodes) linked up to a decentralized network. Decentralization means that files are protected by a network formed of lots of different stakeholders rather than a single company.

Edited by Toby Leah Bochan.

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Rosie Perper

Rosie Perper was the Deputy Managing Editor for Web3 and Learn, focusing on the metaverse, NFTs, DAOs and emerging technology like VR/AR. She has previously worked across breaking news, global finance, tech, culture and business. She holds a small amount of BTC and ETH and several NFTs. Subscribe to her weekly newsletter, The Airdrop.


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