“Asset Discovery” — A Key to Taking NFTs Mainstream

According to the most recently updated metrics by Chainalysis, 2021 NFT trading volume exceeded $40 billion. Of course, starting in Q2 of this year, we’ve seen a large drop-off in volume traded relative to the previous quarter, but we’re still on track for 2022 to see NFT trading surpass trading in 2021.

These numbers are pretty incredible when you consider only a couple hundred thousand people regularly trade NFTs — in a world of 7+ billion people. Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Todd Wahnish, the CEO and founder of Adult Fantasy, a fascinating, NFT-based super-project creating some seriously innovative, next-gen tech, along with an on-chain universe that’s kinda like old-school Marvel, but funnier. Todd is a lifelong comics collector who worked for decades in the entertainment industry at the likes of Adult Swim and Marvel. And speaking with him reaffirmed some of my own excitement about how young the NFT collectible market is and how much growth and innovation is yet to come.

One thing Todd mentioned is that, in an effort to be new and innovative, the vast majority of NFT collectible projects have ignored many of the lessons people gleaned from decades of experience making physical collectibles. And just as interesting, he shared that the majority of people who are currently into NFTs weren’t big into collectibles prior to NFTs — but rather became early adopters because they’re Web3 tech enthusiasts who were naturally early adopters of the tech. According to his research, most NFT enthusiasts were bit by the collectible bug for the first time with their foray into the NFT market.

This was a very interesting insight for me, for a number of reasons — not least of all because it totally jives with our team’s understanding of the NFT market and the tooling we believe is needed to foster wider market adoption. Making NFT authentication less difficult, and ultimately automating it, is of course important if NFTs are going to go “mainstream.” But even more important is clearing a couple other hurdles:

  1. Making entry into NFT markets easier for non-Web3 enthusiasts

The first condition here is pretty self-explanatory: Onboarding new users into Web3 in terms of “fiat onramps” and wallets is the primary barrier to Web3 adoption in general. But for those of us “in” web3, it’s a little less obvious how deficient NFT discovery tooling currently is.— Or, to put it in layman’s terms: We don’t realized how terribly NFT search engines suck, because nobody even tries to use them.

OpenSea.io or gem.xyz is probably the closest thing to an Amazon of the NFT world, but they give you a view into less than 60% of the overall NFT collectible and art market, they’re Ethereum-centric, and they’re nowhere near as powerful as something like Amazon’s or Google. And outside of opensea.io and a couple Ethereum NFT aggregators, the UX quality of inter-marketplace NFT “search engines” falls off a cliff. Slow response time, confinement to NFTs listed on just a few popular marketplaces, poor search results, and a lack of advanced (faceted) search functionality.

But why are better NFT search engines needed to drive NFT adoption? Well, to put it bluntly, because the vast majority of people are not going to get into a collectible market if they have to peruse NFT community posts on DiscordoTwitter for several hours a week. The market needs discovery tools that lead new entrants to the types of projects they’re interested in — without them first having to become an initiate into the Web3 fold. And because NFT project owners, artists, and small NFT marketplaces suffer the most from of the market’s current fragmentation, there’s plenty of reason to make better NFT asset discovery tools, even if it’s technically challenging and very time consuming.

Luckily, our team is led by Giovanni (@CryptoJoe101 on Twitter), who has several years of experience building and optimizing search engines for large, e-commerce enterprises, and Argus’ image similarity tech can eventually bring some supercool functionality to a search engine. We’re determined to build an advanced NFT search engine that’s 1) snappy AF, 2) has faceted search functionality (like Amazon, but without the creepy billionaire), and 3) incorporates Argus for some bonus features. But when we’re able to start this undertaking depends on your support and the results of Fund9 Project Catalyst. That said, if you have the time, and want to learn more about the NFT search engine we’d like to build, you can find our “Advanced Cardano NFT Search Engine” proposal here — and our other Fund9 proposals here. Hopefully it hopefully won’t be too long before we can help you complete more of your searches for the perfect pfp b4u g2g … But until then, enjoy the hunt!

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