Taproot Wizards Debut Sale of Bitcoin NFTs 'Quantum Cats' Marred by Tech Issues

The collection was on sale for 0.1 BTC ($4,300) each, meaning upwards of 300 BTC ($13 million) could have been raised if the full series of 3,000 had been placed.

AccessTimeIconJan 29, 2024 at 7:47 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 8:38 p.m. UTC

The much-anticipated sale of a debut collection of "Quantum Cats" Bitcoin inscriptions by the Ordinals project Taproot Wizards was marred by technical issues on Monday, leaving users frustrated and forcing an embarrassing delay.

The planned sale of around 3,000 digital cats, designed to honor a Bitcoin improvement proposal known as OP_CAT, commenced with a two-hour "whitelist" window at 17:00 UTC (noon ET) on Monday, but this had to be postponed until Tuesday due to the issues encountered.

"There’s been an incredible demand for the cats today, and our servers simply couldn’t handle the amount of people who were trying to mint," Taproot Wizards posted on X.

The collection was on sale for 0.1 BTC ($4,300), meaning as much as 300 BTC ($12.9 million) could have been raised if every cat was to be sold.

According to the tweet, around 30% of the cats were minted on Monday. That would equate to nearly 1,000 cats, for around around 100 BTC ($4.3 million).

It was an inauspicious start for Taproot Wizards, which raised $7.5 million in a seed funding round in November, reflecting the high hopes for projects focused on the fast-growing arena of inscriptions from the Ordinals protocol, colloquially referred to as "NFTs on Bitcoin."

The first item in the Quantum Cats series, a special image known as "Genesis Cat," sold earlier this month on the auction house Sotheby's for an eye-popping $254,000.

Udi Wertheimer apologizes

Udi Wertheimer, one of the company's co-founders, apologized to would-be buyers during a live Spaces session on the social-media platform X.

"There's been some glitches," Wertheimer said. "I know this isn't the experience people were expecting."

Following the two-hour whitelist window, the plan was for minting to pause for an hour before the remaining cats became available for general sale.

Complaints filled the project's Discord channel on Monday: "This has got to be one of the worst mint experiences I've ever seen," one user wrote.

The Ordinals protocol allows the inscriptions of data into satoshis – the smallest units of bitcoin – effectively creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the Bitcoin network. The protocol debuted at the start of 2023, becoming a contentious issue for the Bitcoin community, with some users saying they are pointlessly congesting the network.

Edited by Bradley Keoun.


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Jamie Crawley

Jamie Crawley is a CoinDesk news reporter based in London.