Cent, the platform Jack Dorsey used to sell his first tweet as NFT, raises $ 3M – TechCrunch

Penny was founded in 2017 as an ad-free creator network that allows users to offer themselves crypto rewards for good posts and comments; it’s like giving away prizes on Reddit, but with Ethereum. But in late 2020, Cent’s small San Francisco-based team created Values, an NFT marketplace for tweets, and in March, the small blockchain startup hit a serendipitous curveball.

“We just finished the day, I was about to go to dinner and all these people started texting me,” recalls CEO Cameron Hejazi. Then he realized that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had coined the first Twitter Tweet through Cent’s Valuables app. “Basically I was kind of shaking slightly for the rest of the night. The whole team, we said, ‘Okay, battle stations, prepare to get hacked!’ “

Dorsey finished selling your NFT for $ 2.9 million, and he donated Proceeds will go to Give Directly’s Africa Response fund for COVID-19 relief. But for Cent, it was as if the small business had just received a free marketing campaign. Now, about five months later, Cent announces a $ 3 million seed funding round with investors including Galaxy Interactive, former Disney president Jeffrey Katzenberg, Will.I.Am, and Zynga founder Mark Pincus.

In Values, anyone on the internet can bid on any tweet, making it possible for someone else to counter offer. If the author of the tweet accepts an offer (logging into Valuables requires you to validate your Twitter account), then Cent will coin the tweet on the blockchain and create a 1 of 1 NFT.

The NFT itself contains the text of the tweet, the creator’s username, the time it was minted, and the creator’s digital signature. The NFT also includes a link to the tweet, although the linked content lives off the blockchain.

There is nothing proprietary about tweeting like NFT; another company could do the same as Cent. Even Twitter itself has recently dabbled in giving away free NFT art, although he has not tried to sell real tweets like NFT like Cent. Still, Hejazi sees Dorsey’s use of Cent as an endorsement; thinks it would be difficult for Twitter to shut them down, as Dorsey made $ 2.9 million on the platform. After all, Dorsey chose Cent instead of taking a screenshot of his first tweet, minting the .JPG as NFT, and posting it on a larger NFT platform, like OpenSea.

“We have talked to people on Twitter. I’m sure we have a healthy relationship, ”Hejazi said (Twitter declined to comment or confirm if that’s true). “We thought about applying this approach to other social platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, but we hypothesized that this is particularly suitable for Twitter, because it is a platform for conversation, and it is where all crypto people really live.”

With Cent’s seed funding, Hejazi hopes to continue building the platform. The company’s goal is to enable any creative person to earn income by using NFT, which means developing tools to make it easier for its users to create NFT, but also building their existing creator-centric social network. The content that people post on Cent is usually creative work, such as art and writing, rather than short posts; is closer to DeviantArt than Reddit. These are lofty targets for a $ 3 million seed funding round, but there are aspects of Cent Beta platform that make it promising.

“There is already value in what we post on social media. It’s only being used as a proxy through ad dollars, and it doesn’t have to be the case that there is such a concentration of wealth in a single entity. We can work towards a system that decentralizes that wealth, ”Hejazi said. “These networks, as they exist, have monopolies on distribution; you can’t take your Twitter audience, download it as a .CSV, and email them.”

A screenshot from Cent’s social platform.

In addition to independent mailing lists, Hejazi wants to get away from the internet with advertising. He references Substack as an example of a company where the creator has control of their list, and at the same time, the platform can remain ad-free, since the money that drives it comes from users who pay to subscribe to newsletters (and also, risk capital help).

But Cent does something different by allowing users to essentially invest in creators that they believe have the potential to take off on their platform.

Users can “seed” a post, which is how they subscribe to a participating creator on the creative side of Cent’s platform. As a sower, you pay a flat fee of at least a dollar a month. There is an incentive to support emerging creators on the platform, because seeders get a share of future creators earnings; it’s like betting on them that they will continue to create great content in the future. Five percent of the proceeds go to Cent, but the remaining 95% is divided 50/50 between the creator and all of his previous seeders. Participation in this platform would allow creators to network and show support for each other, but it does not prevent them from more directly monetizing their work on other creator platforms, such as Patreon.

In addition to seeding posts, users can also “spot” other people’s posts, Cent’s version of a “like” button. Each “place” is the equivalent of a penny from the user’s crypto wallet. Cent’s argument is that getting 1000 likes on a post on other platforms produces nothing more than a vague sense of social influence. But on Cent, if a user gets 1,000 “places”, that’s $ 10. Still, a project like this can only work if enough people use the platform.

“When we started Cent, we chose cryptocurrencies because we loved the idea that someone could make money with nothing but their creativity and a crypto address,” Hejazi said. “Over time, we have discovered that it is a limiting type of payment: very few people own it and have it ready to spend. We are working on ways to facilitate payments to creators using Cent, and we are exploring both crypto and non-crypto options. “

This mindset is echoed by other NFT startups like Yat, which allows payments by credit card as part of its “progressive decentralization” model. Much of the success of these companies depends on public acceptance towards an eventual decentralized internet based on blockchain. But until then, companies like Cent will continue to experiment to reinvent how creatives can be paid online.


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