March 2nd, 2022

How the rise of verticalized NFT marketplaces is poised to fundamentally disrupt the digital asset ecosystem

For those of us that exist among the ranks of the Extremely Online, it’s been impossible to ignore the rise of NFTs over the past year. Celebrities including Snoop Dogg, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Serena Williams have all flexed NFTs, replacing their Twitter profile photos with cartoon images. It’s hard to think of a brand that hasn’t sold a collection of NFTs (to name a few: Coca-Cola, McDonalds, Dolce & Gabana, Burger King, Taco Bell, even Charmin).

Further, NFTs have become their own cultural movement: for certain populations, affiliating with specific crypto artists, owning a Bored Ape (or a fractional share), or even just flexing Metamask transactions fills a psychological need for belonging. As NFTs have taken off, it’s become increasingly clear that they represent not just a fleeting trend but an entirely new form of consumer product.

The numbers speak for themselves. In 2021, NFT sales reached $25B, a massive 26,000%+ Y/Y increase from a “mere” $95M in 2020. Generalist NFT marketplace Opensea has done an average of $2.9B in GMV per month since July, up from only $8M in GMV in January 2021 (that’s 44,000%+ growth Y/Y if you weren’t keeping track). Indeed, Opensea has been responsible for a whopping 98% of all NFT transactions.