Modern Finance
April 8, 2021

Cryptopunks, the NFTs that started it all. Their origin story and future plans.

NFT mania is in full swing, but where did it really start to gain momentum?

NFT

NFT mania is in full swing, but where did it really start to gain momentum? CryptoPunks, 10,000 unique, algorithmically generated pixel art characters were sent to the Ethereum blockchain by Matt Hall and John Watkinson of Larva Labs in 2017, where they soon became a sensation. Kevin talks to Matt and John about the CryptoPunks origin story, their current chapter, and what we can expect from them in the future.

BIO
Matt Hall (@matthall2000) and John Watkinson (@pents90) of Larva Labs are the dynamic duo responsible for setting NFT mania in motion when they unleashed their CryptoPunks creations on the Ethereum blockchain in 2017.

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

SHOW NOTES

  • Here's what CryptoPunks are, who created them, and how they're responsible for setting the current NFT craze in motion. [00:26]
  • Matt Hall and John Watkinson of Larva Labs take us back to the conception of CryptoPunks. What inspired them at this time? [03:08]
  • What made Matt and John draw the connection between centralized collectible and decentralized, on-chain collectible? Were they already involved in the world of cryptocurrency? [04:33]
  • How did the Ethereum blockchain become the ideal platform for their experiment? [06:41]
  • How is this data actually stored? [08:35]
  • What is a hash? [10:00]
  • Were there similar art projects going on at this time? [11:13]
  • Who came up with the name "CryptoPunks," and why was this format selected? [11:58]
  • Why did they decide on limiting the number of CryptoPunks to 10,000? [12:58]
  • Most CryptoPunks are human in appearance, but there are also a small number of zombies, apes, and aliens. How did these enter the picture, and were there any interesting ideas that got left on the cutting room floor? [14:26]
  • Knowing now that these creations would carry historical significance in the circles of fine art and finance, do Matt and John ever wish they'd done things differently? [16:21]
  • Do Matt and John have any personal favorite CryptoPunks? [18:24]
  • There are no duplicated CryptoPunks. How many attributes were they programmed to exhibit, and do the number of attributes contribute to (or detract from) a piece's rarity? [21:49]
  • How were CryptoPunks launched, and what could someone expect to pay for one circa June 2017? What helped to escalate their visibility and popularity within the crypto community? [23:30]
  • When did Matt and John notice CryptoPunks commanding mind-boggling prices in secondary marketplaces? [27:08]
  • How many CryptoPunks have gone missing? [30:09]
  • Have traditional museums or curators reached out to Matt and John during the current NFT craze? [32:25]
  • Where do CryptoPunks and NFTs go from here? Are we in a bubble, or are we just experiencing the beginning of a new, sustainable commodity? [35:00]
  • What are Autoglyphs, what inspired their creation, and how do they work? [39:39]
  • What project is next for Matt and John? Will it be as groundbreaking for the cryptosphere as CryptoPunks and Autoglyphs? [42:59]
  • With so many new blockchains popping up all the time, do Matt and John think Ethereum will endure in the fine arts space? [44:45]
  • What other NFT projects do Matt and John find interesting and impressive? [45:41]
  • Thoughts on projects that might be interpreted by some as flattering imitations and by others as derivative knock-offs of CryptoPunks and Autoglyphs. [48:21]
  • From a copyright perspective, how do Matt and John protect CryptoPunks and Autoglyphs from third parties exploiting their work? How can someone who owns an NFT defend their property? [50:05]
  • In spite of their good fortune thus far, Matt and John remain a two-person team. Do they anticipate scaling up? [53:15]
  • Parting thoughts. [55:01]

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