For riding the wave of digital content ownership and taking NFTs mainstream
The potential of Devin Finzer’s nonfungible token (NFT) startup is as vast as, well, the open sea: In March 2021, his online marketplace, OpenSea, facilitated the sale of US$148 million of digital merchandise—up from just US$8 million in January. With backing from Silicon Valley luminaries including Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and billionaire entrepreneur Mark Cuban, OpenSea closed a US$23 million funding round a few months before.
NFTs can be difficult for some to wrap their heads around: cryptocurrency tokens that document ownership of one-of-kind digital assets and can be sold like physical goods. But that’s changing. More consumers are joining NFT marketplaces—and given its potential to disrupt revenue streams across so many industries, investors are flocking to the business.
Finzer has been remarkably successful in guiding NFT technology into the mainstream. In a fledgling and freewheeling market, OpenSea builds trust by allowing users to view the provenance, trading and sales history of digital items. Investors have called his platform a “one-stop shop to discover, buy and sell” NFTs. Others have declared it “the Etsy of crypto.”
Adding to its high profile is some good old-fashioned pop-culture fizz. In March, rock band Kings of Leon became the first artist to release an album as an NFT, selling When You See Yourself on OpenSea along with live show perks like front-row seats for life. Singer Shawn Mendes worked with OpenSea to sell his digital cartoon avatars, while U.S. National Football League star Rob Gronkowski used the marketplace to auction five NFT trading cards.
And Finzer says he isn’t done yet: “I really hope that the diversity of NFTs continues to expand and that we become this really horizontal marketplace that can support all sorts of different use cases.”