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Proof founder Kevin Rose on Moonbirds and the state of the NFT market

Oct 28, 2022
Photo illustration of Kevin Rose.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo courtesy of Proof

NFT startup Proof launched its popular Moonbirds collection in April and saw it climb up the OpenSea charts. Axios spoke with founder Kevin Rose about how the market has shifted in the months since.

Why he matters: Rose was a founder of Digg and an investor in Web 1 and Web 2 startups before setting his sights on crypto, NFTs, and web3.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The NFT space has changed pretty dramatically since the Moonbirds launch. How does the environment affect your plans now and in the future?

  • I always remind our team and community that nothing is broken about the underlying technology that powers all things web3. If you've been in the world of crypto, there is a crazy cyclical market of highs and lows.
  • But great businesses take time to build. We're seeing some correction, but like the last NFT cycle, we're going heads down and building toward the future.

In the NFT space, you hear a lot about utility, but no one seems to agree on what it means. What does utility mean to you?

  • Utility, for me, means two things: What is the company working on that will bring additional value to the collection? It can be cultural moments. It can be big partnerships with some fantastic brands. It's a way to cement that particular project into the culture.
  • The second part is community. When we think of the benefits of becoming a Moonbirds holder, it's not just "wen airdrop." It's about building a community of like-minded people that can get together for things like our annual conference or meet artists one-on-0ne.

Why did you create the Moonbirds DAO, and what do you hope that will become?

  • We created it to further the mission, culture, and vision of all things Moonbirds. It’s important to us to build a presence that goes into different arenas and gets more people aware of what we're up to, but there's only so much we can do internally.
  • So we want to deputize the community to go out and build on our behalf, and this gives them a formalized way to access funding and get community buy-in.

The decision to move to a cc0 public domain license was pretty controversial at the time. Did you expect the blowback you got?

  • If I had to go back in time, would we have changed the decision? I don't think so. But we would probably change the way we communicated it and how we would bring people along for the ride.
  • The beauty of cc0 is that people can build in a permissionless way. The point of authority on this is no longer a centralized organization like a trademark office, but it is now on the blockchain.
  • We've seen a ton of remixes from top-10 grossing NFT artists that [in the past] would have had to be BD deals and licensing agreements. It would have taken so much more time to get to that end result, and now it is just freely trickling in.
  • I'm not ready to claim victory and say it has been a complete success, but we're encouraged by what's happening. And I think we're just getting started here.
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