An image of the Twitter logo in the form of a fuzzy plush toy
The "Furry Twitter" NFT

Last week, I was one of the few lucky winners of Twitter's surprise NFT giveaway. Just a day later, I accepted a $15,000 USDC bid for the piece. I effectively was betting that the price would only go down from there. The party on the other end of the bid - an account named "NFT Flipper" - clearly disagreed. So did many of the other winners of Twitter's NFTs.


So who's right? Was this a historic drop whose value will be clear for years to come? Or did I pick the right time to cash out on a flash-in-the-pan drop?


This post will lay out why I thought $15,000, and an excellent price to accept for a piece in Twitter's "140 Collection."


The Drop


In a flash marketing stunt on June 30th, Twitter revealed twenty editions of seven NFTs they had created as part of a series they called "The 140 Collection." (That adds up to 140 total editions, by the way - the traditional number of characters allowed in a tweet.) The NFTs were minted on Rarible as ERC-1155 tokens.

Twitter distributed the pieces via their own Twitter account by engaging with users who commented on the announcement. Editions were awarded seemingly at random to some users who requested one.


I happened to be one of those lucky commenters who received one. After commenting on my reply, @Twitter DM'd me, asked me for some personal information (I assume for tax or KYC reasons), and then sent over an NFT to the wallet address I supplied them.


Twitter sent me an edition of Furry Twitter - a looping image of the Twitter logo done up like a stuffed plushie you'd hang on your rear-view mirror. (As far as the art goes, I think it's pretty decent! I appreciated the understated, realistic animation of the bristling fur. I'm not so sure about the tag on the tail showing the Twitter logo - besides being redundant, it seems to add a 2D element into a 3D image. But overall, they could have done much worse for a first NFT outing.)



I was, of course, delighted to have won! It seemed like everyone on NFT Twitter, including some big name artists, were begging to own one of these. I quickly spotlighted the new trophy on my Showtime profile, looking forward to reading the comments as they came in.


But, of course, just as soon as the nifty hit my wallet, I headed over to OpenSea to check its value on the secondary market. That's when I saw that an edition had already sold for 25 ether (about $52,000).


Was I really holding a $52,000 image in my digital wallet? I was not convinced of that, but nonetheless, I listed it for 25 ETH in case someone was inclined to disagree. 😜



It was at this point that I started to consider the value of this nifty. What was the quality of the art and the technical execution? What was the broader significance? What would I have paid for it? What would I expect excited collectors to pay for it? Did I think it was likely to increase or decrease in value?


I determined that it was probably worth a few thousand dollars. Any amount over $10k was certainly an overvaluation. And therefore, I would be happy to trade around that price.


Here's how I decided the Twitter NFTs were overvalued.

  1. The NFTs were officially created by a corporation. The crypto space broadly, and much of the NFT community, comes from an anti-authority, anti-centralized perspective that sees large corporations as untrustworthy and often immoral. Given that political and cultural context, I could easily imagine that in a year, Twitter's NFT drop would look more like a cringey publicity stunt from a corporation trying to capitalize on a trend and less like a historic, forward-thinking evolution of a beloved brand.

  2. The NFTs were not officially associated with artists. The NFT art world thrives on communities and cults of personality. It values artists for their personal contributions. Though the artists were publicly shouted out on Twitter by an employee, they were not officially connected to the project. The elevation of a profit-bearing entity over creative individualism seemed like another red flag that I believed the general NFT community would point to in the long run.

  3. The NFTs would never be more exciting than the week they launched. As a surprise coordinated campaign, this drop was built on hype, and I figured that it would need continued hype to thrive. As attention faded, so would values. I couldn't imagine a reason that any of these pieces would naturally increase in value over time.

  4. The value of these NFTs was in novelty, not in the art itself or any utility. This drop was pretty run-of-the-mill. The most notable parts were that it came from a social media company, that they were given away for free, and that Twitter did not enable resale fees (meaning that Twitter would not take any cut when the items were resold). As ERC-1155 tokens (a sort of batch version of NFTs), these aren't even terribly unique NFTs.

  5. $15,000 is a lot of money. We can argue able proper value all day long. But $15k in the bank today is worth infinitely more than a hope of higher value to come. And more importantly, I now have a chance to reinvest the proceeds into many NFT projects that I strongly believe will hold or increase their value over time, rather than one uncertain basket.

Having decided that, I started to keep an eye on the bids, and checked them regularly over the next 24 hours to see how the market was reacting. The bids kept going up, reaching a high of $15,000 USDC on OpenSea. For most of the day, there was a comfortable ladder of supporting bids in the same neighborhood.


But then I noticed the ladder disappear, and suddenly the next highest bid was around half of that USDC offer. That told me that many of the supporting bids had probably come from a single account, a potential indication that there wasn't a lot of demand from a large pool of people; and that one holder now had a short-term opportunity to take a decent bag of cash.


Since the price was well over what I valued it for, and since there was now a time-sensitive opportunity to accept this bid, or one much lower, I decided to accept, and did so.


Now, key to my decision was my sense that there was no ongoing mechanism to sustain or increase the value of these pieces, no community to rally around the collection.



But as soon as I sold, a funny thing happened: the other winners started connecting and organizing on Twitter. They talked about the value they saw in the pieces; made promises not to sell soon; and closed ranks to lock in the price of the art. They followed each other and formed a private Discord server. (I, of course, asked to join the club given my status as an original winner, but was politely told that the server was open to holders only. I find this response to be both ruthless and extremely fair! 😆)


And here's the thing - their approach may be a viable way, maybe even the only way, to sustain and grow the value of The 140 Collection. By keeping the NFTs visible in the community; by touting their value and historic nature; by coming together as a cool kids club and making communal decisions - these holders are forming exactly the sort of invested community who has the incentive and the ability to protect the value of their prizes.


Now, I feel as though they and I are on opposite sides of a bet: I made my wager that the value of Furry Twitter wouldn't go much higher than $15,000. They bet that the minimum value is much higher. I look forward to tracking the collection price and seeing who turns out to be right.

  • J.T.


DEFINITION

In the world of NFT art, an open edition is an NFT for which any number of editions can be minted. This contrasts with a limited edition NFT: one that is limited to a predefined number of editions.


CONTEXT


Open editions are generally seen as less rare or prestigious than limited editions, since they are structured to satisfy demand for the piece in the primary market. Edition limits, by contrast, imply that fewer editions will be produced than there is demand for - ensuring that prices for the piece stay high due to competition for ownership.


However, open editions can still become quite valuable in circumstances such as the following:

  • The artist gains popularity after the open edition release, creating stronger demand for their earlier works.

  • If only a few open editions are minted, those pieces become rare by definition.

  • The artist adds value to the NFT, such as by airdropping perks to holders, or making them eligible for other exclusive rewards and amenities.

The mechanics of open editions can vary. On some curated NFT art marketplaces, such as Nifty Gateway, open editions are still limited-run productions - they are just not limited by a specific number of editions. On that platform, buyers only have a small window of time in which an open edition piece is available to buy. There will be as many pieces minted as are bought in that window of time. Once the window closes, no more editions of that NFT will be minted.


Open editions can be a type of drop, and therefore a marketing tool. For most NFTs created on non-curated platforms like OpenSea and Rarible, though, it's not necessary to specify whether an NFT is part of a limited or open edition if the artist is not in high demand.


Open editions may or may not have an edition number, and may or may not advertise the total number of editions created.


EXAMPLE


In early 2021, the artist toomuchlag dropped a collection called "My Journey" on Nifty Gateway that featured both normal (limited) editions and open editions. The four NFTs in the main (limited) collection were sold at auction and limited to 25, 15, 3, and 1 edition, respectively. This means that each of the four pieces would produce only that many editions (as long as there were enough buyers in the auction to fill up that number).


The open edition collection featured a single NFT called Le Anime that had no limit on the number of editions that could be purchased. In the few minutes it was available to buy, 1,572 editions were purchased. Therefore, 1,572 editions of Le Anime were minted.



  • J.T.


DEFINITION

To shill means to advertise one's creations or items available for sale. NFT creators and NFT sellers may both shill their works to find potential buyers.


CONTEXT

The NFT market is a crowded space, which means creators often have to do a certain amount of self-promotion to stand out and make sales. Shilling is the result, which is what it's called when creators or resellers advertise their goods for sale in public spaces such as on Twitter, Reddit, or Discord.


While shill is a standard English word, it usually carries a negative connotation in general use, implying that the seller is promoting any sort of item that might make them some money, wither it's a good value or not. It's often paired with the word "shameless." In the NFT world, shilling can carry the same negative context, since blatant self-promotion often can often come across as spammy.


But given the economic realities of a crowded marketplace, many people in the NFT community understand that a certain amount of shilling is healthy for the market. After all, almost everyone who buys NFTs will find themselves needing to sell off a piece sooner or later, and in a sometimes illiquid market, that can be hard to do without advertising.


And so, the word shill has been embraced by the community in a tongue-in-cheek way, and can sometimes be used as a neutral term for self-promotion. For example, a Discord server admin may set aside a dedicated channel for creators to shill their works - ensuring the artists who are part of their community have a reliable outlet they can use to hustle for that next sale.