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With apps available for smartphones running on Android and iOS, users could express themselves by forming a virtual identity and dress it up with costumes and clothing from their favorite brands, band T-shirts or other items featuring whatever they desire.

“The internet was initially created as a safe place to be your fully authentic self. Lately, we’ve gotten away from that,” said Akash Nigam, chief executive of Genies. “We believe that avatars are able to help swing the pendulum back to the internet’s founding philosophy and enable humans to harness and express emotions in unique, authentic, and therapeutic ways.”

Genies is already rolling out its new marketplace and platform to beta users who can test using Giphy’s distribution network via a custom integration.

A digital marketplace

Above: Shawn Mendes sold this virtual guitar as a unique NFT collectible.

Nigam said that the business is based on celebrities driving the digital likeness marketplace and selling items to their fans, who in turn can express themselves with their own Genie avatars.

“When you put all that flywheel together, that’s like the new identity layer for the internet,” Nigam said. “We’re just stockpiling all of our talent and all their Genies, and their digital goods are wearable, so that when our marketplace with Dapper Labs goes live this summer, we’re going to be able to release everybody in volume in our own marketplace.”

Later in 2021, Genies will launch a secondary digital goods market, allowing consumers to buy, sell, and trade digital wearables via a partnership with Dapper Labs’ Flow — the blockchain for open worlds.

The fact that we can allow anybody to sell digital goods and wearables is what gets me really excited.”

The NFT craze

Above: Akash Nigam is CEO of Genies.

Dapper Labs is the team behind NBA Top Shot and CryptoKitties, which have generated hundreds of millions of dollars in NFT sales. A lot of people are excited about the nascent technology of NFTs — which has benefited from the craze stirred by Elon Musk‘s endorsement (and his wife/musician Grimes), Bitcoin breaking $50,000, GameStop shareholders’ grassroots revolt against Wall Street, and NBA Top Shot (listen to this ESPN podcast about it).

“It’s exciting for the whole category,” Nigam said. “The next big play is Genies is going to be powering the whole marketplace. And we announced our partnership with Warner Music Group.

Rather, people can take their avatars and move from place to place in a distributed metaverse. He said the partnership with Giphy will help folks us Genies as cultural accessories for their digital selves and use them in digital communities where they already belong.

Bond’s Mary Meeker

Above: Genies creates digital avatars for celebrities, influencers, and athletes.

Bond was formed a few years ago by Meeker and other former leaders at Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins. Meeker will now join the Genies board of directors. “Mary Meeker is joining the board, which we’re very excited about,” Nigam said.

“What closed the deal was Mary Meeker joining the board.”

This is another metaverse play by a big investor.

“The investment is based on what business really is right now and the potential for metaverse,” Nigam said.

We’ve had this consumer-first approach outside of the NFTs, and this is what we were doing this entire time anyways.”

Upcoming partnerships

Above: Genies avatars can wear digital goods.

Later this year, Genies plans to roll out hundreds of partnerships where users can use their Genie to allow for a “virtual portable identity,” which users will be able to take with them across the internet. It recently partnered with Giphy, which has more than 700 million users who go to the search engine daily to find animated GIFs, or those silly moving images associated with internet memes and recorded in graphics interchange format (GIF).

To upload a Genie avatar into Giphy, users create a Genie in the Genies app and then use the deep link to connect them to Giphy. Once in the Giphy app, users can upload their Genies to their channel and use it throughout Giphy.

Интернетом и заботитесь о том, что люди думают о вас и о том, кем вы являетесь в Интернете, даже иногда больше, чем о вашем физическом «я», – говорит Нигам. Мы думаем, что, войдя в метавселенную, каждому понадобится цифровая идентичность. Мы хотим быть впереди».

Давний разработчик, Нигам рассказывает, что он страдал от депрессии и беспокойства, но идея аватаров помогла ему преодолеть это, по крайней мере частично.

«Я влюбился в эту концепцию визуальной идентичности, потому что действительно чувствовал, что могу быть собой и обуздывать эмоции, мысли и чувства с помощью аватара, не ограниченного моим физическим «я» или страхами от пребывания в реальном мире», – говорит Нигам.

Генеральный директор Dapper Labs Рохам Гарегозлоу говорит, что он так же уверен в этом начинании, как и в случае с NBA Top Shot.

Genies’ foray into NFT economics is a bet on Dapper’s particular brand of blockchain, one that may be less decentralized than networks like Bitcoin or Ethereum, but one which offers a number of baked-in user benefits, including lower fees, higher transaction capacity and a developer platform that’s friendly to web3 “luxuries” like processing credit cards and users forgetting their passwords.

Flow is certainly not the only bet on a more consumer-friendly blockchain with lower fees and friendlier onboarding, though Dapper has raised some $600 million from investors on the promise of its future success. Competing Layer 1 chains like Wax and Solana have seen more action from native NFT projects in recent months as developers aim to tap into the platform’s strengths and the wallets of coin holders.

And Genies says it will offer its investment portfolio companies access to its proprietary SDK that is set to launch this fall.

Genies has partnered with brands including Gucci, New Balance, Bird, the NFLPA, MLBPA, NBPA, CDC, World Health Organization, and Frito-Lay, as well as celebrities and influencers such as Jennifer Lopez, Offset, Shawn Mendes, Rihanna, Russell Westbrook, DJ Khaled, Billy Ray Cyrus, and Kyrie Irving.

“We basically represent in digital avatar form the top 500 celebrities, and we represent every single major athlete in digital avatar form,” Nigam said.

To pull off an avatar-based promotion, a celebrity like Irving has to send their voice to Genies, but then the company takes over and matches the audio to the avatar’s animated presentation.

We’ve become the official avatar and digital events distributor for all of their talent underneath that umbrella.”

NFTs were always part of the Genies vision, but Nigam didn’t think they would go mainstream for a while. Now that they are getting closer to doing so, the company has begun to roll out its NFT strategy with art drops for celebrities like Mendes.

“The cool thing is that Genies isn’t an NFT company. And we’re also not a crypto company,” Nigam said. “It’s like we’ve been talking about the philosophies and concepts of NFTs for years, but we’ve been talking about it as a comparison to digital goods, on skins that you see in video games.

And we’ve talked about unlimited capacity, exclusive capacity, and so forth. But never said the acronym NFT until we started to realize what was going on in the past year.

New Collectibles will be Released to Celebrate Each Champion of the 2021 AFC and NFC and Super Bowl LVI

VANCOUVER, February 7, 2022— Dapper Labs Inc., the makers of NFL ALL DAY, today announced an extensive collaboration with the NFL’s Clubs to create limited edition NFTs (non-fungible tokens) for the 2021 American Football Conference Champion Cincinnati Bengals, 2021 National Football Conference Champion Los Angeles Rams, and the winner of Super Bowl LVI.

Releasing 2021 NFTs for each respective conference, the NFTs will become available at 12pm EST February 7, 2022, and will feature a visual of the conference’s respective trophies, alongside the winning team’s logo, the date, and score of the game celebrating the team’s accomplishments.

The partnership with Dapper Labs was first unveiled in late 2020, and last week, the companies toldForbesthat the Genies NFT marketplace will officially be the next NFT initiative to launch on Flow, with a beta version planned to debut in Q3 2021.

Once live on Flow, Genies will release limited-edition digital items that are tokenized on the blockchain, which is how they prove their rarity and scarcity. That would allow artists and fashion brands to launch virtual drops of licensed apparel, much like the limited drops of physical apparel we see today, and then only those owners would be able to use those items on their Genies avatars.

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