From being the CEO of award-winning ad firm VaynerMedia and VaynerX, founder of Eva Nosidam Productions, and VeeFriends, to investing in various big NFT projects. Gary Vee has lived many lives, the physical and virtual, to become who he is today.
As Gary continues to collaborate and work on different projects, he wants to showcase his ultimate legacy through VeeFriends, which will soon rival the popularity of Marvel or Disney in the NFT world as a dynamic IP. Through VeeFriends, Gary Vee hopes to become an influential figure who changes the way the world connects with one another.
In an interview with Boardroom, Gary Vee shares his journey as an influencer, entrepreneurship, future predictions for big Web3 NFT projects like World of Women and BYAC, Elon Musk Twitter, and his ultimate legacy via VeeFriends.
See a glimpse into Gary Vee’s life story:
One Step Ahead
Gary Vee is one of the big investors who have always been on the lookout for innovations and new technologies. Having experience with the internet of things since the late 90s, Gary Vee remains one step ahead of the rest of the world. The same goes for NFTs. During its initial years, Gary understood the true psychology behind this digital token and how it would massively impact the market.
He said, “The NFT thing, I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was at the right place in my career with all those micro-wins underneath. I understood and understand where it is right now in a way that comes very natural to me because of my background.”
Although NFTs were quite complicated to get used to because they were completely different from what the usual internet looks like.
The entrepreneur said, “It was just a lot of bricks and then the right macro trend, because what I’m doing with NFTs I did with e-commerce in 1996, with email in 1997, Google AdWords in 2000, YouTube in 2006, and Twitter in 2007. That’s how it all built.”
However, instead of contemplating whether investing in the industry was right or wrong, Gary took the leap and dived into the sea of NFTs despite shark-like risks. He knew this industry was bound to profit him and change the world completely.
“I went out and put VeeFriends friends at the forefront, was an investor in the right projects,” He said, “So 99.9% of people see me on social, but the .1% that really pay attention, there’s a level of “wait a minute, that’s a billion-dollar company, too.”
Gary believes “people have their moment when things shift a little bit, and I definitely sense it,” and this is what makes him a successful entrepreneur.
Human nature and NFTs
As mentioned before, Gary Vee’s success comes from his ability to understand people’s psychology. Gary is famous for predicting some of the greatest world trends ahead of their time. He sees the world from a different perspective than others.
According to VaynerX CEO, he knew NFTs would blow up because they played well with the human nature of showing off wealth. He saw this in the 2010 and 2011 Facebook feed where people would show off their sheep from Farmville. He realized that just like Versace limited edition bags or Rolex watches, virtual assets would also become a source of pride for people.
The blue ticks and followers count on social media, or Fortnite skins and Roblox, Minecraft, everything came around to the single aspect of human nature: to show off and be admired by the world.
Gary says, “It’s not that I knew that NFTs were going to be the thing. The blockchain hadn’t really been hit when I started realizing, but it is why I understood social better than most people on Earth.”
As a social media influencer, he used the power of communication to benefit from this opportunity. The thing that people call “flex” for buying a skin or a house in a video game is “a form of communication.” And if it draws the viewer’s attention then people will be ready to spend hundreds of dollars to buy it.
In terms of NFTs, Gary found it quite simple to explain this concept to others. He said “One of the easiest ways to communicate NFTs to people that don’t get it – people that have six- to 12-year-olds – ask them if they’ve ever paid for anything inside of a video game, and they say, “of course.” I’m like, well, the blockchain is the world’s video game and it’s going to really matter.”
Understanding Web3 and NFTs
Web3 is a brand-new concept that precedes Web1 and Web2. According to Gary, the reason why many people don’t or refuse to understand Web3 and NFTs is due to the lack of knowledge. Currently, all those people who dominate the high positions worldwide are from before when the internet became a business. In 1995, 1996, and 1997, the internet was considered a tool to make things easier.
Gary elaborated that before eCommerce people refused to use their credit cards for digital transactions for fear of scams. The same is with blockchain. He said, “Right now, everyone’s like, “Gary, this isn’t going to work, they’re scams.” I showed them the Wall Street Journal from back then saying the Internet won’t succeed because of credit card scams. History just repeats itself.
For Gary, Web2 was less insane than Web1 or Web3 because of social media. People didn’t understand the concept of why would someone want to talk about random things on the internet but now social media is filled with random and everyday discussions.
He sees that people are unable to wrap their heads around the concept of digital currency. VaynerX CEO explains, “The reason everyone is struggling with Web3 right now is [that] everyone’s bringing their Internet brain to the blockchain. On the Internet, you can’t own anything digital. People just became accustomed to that.
Blockchain is a completely different concept, it is even different from how YouTube’s intellectual property policy works. On the internet, it is easy to plagiarize and produce fake things while on the blockchain it is nearly impossible. Gary says, “The blockchain is a ledger of affirmation. And once everyone understands that, it’s all going there.”
Bored Ape and its impact
The Bored Ape Yacht Club is one of the historical NFT drops of all time. Until now, the collection has made a big name in the industry, recording billions of dollars in sales.
The success of Bored Ape was apparent to Gary when he was working on his own NFT community called VeeFriends. The entrepreneur was ready to launch VeeFriends on May 5, his lucky number, but it got pushed due to some tech issues.
During this time, Bored Apes dropped and Gary witnessed the sudden interest of his Discord community and his friends in the NFTs, which made him realize that Bored Ape would eventually dominate the industry.
According to Gary, “Bored Ape has captured the Supreme-Palace-Kith energy” making it an authentic IP brand within one year of its release. He said, “They’ve done an unbelievable job in not only making Bored Ape the bomb, but Mutant, Kennel Club, and now they just did their land [Otherside], which has profound economics behind it.”
Gary considers Bored Ape as a revolutionary NFT project that is much similar to the way Yahoo and Facebook were before Google came out. He’s closely observing Yuga Labs’ steps now that the whole world has its eyes on them.
Gary expresses, “I’m sure they’re sitting around and saying, “Now the work begins. We’ve got this huge valuation. We’ve got all eyes on us. It’s ours to lose.” That’s a fun, high-pressure place to be. I’m just very happy for them.”
CryptoPunks introduces user-owned IP
After Yuga Labs acquired CryptoPunks, the NFT brand introduced a new way of increasing engagement in its community. CryptoPunks now allows users to create and own IP which can be a good way of making revenue other than dropping NFT collections in the future.
When asked to share his opinion on this new idea, Gary called it a “profound strategy” and expressed his anticipation of how it will transform the NFT industry. He observed that for the past century, big brands and corporations have established their authority by taking control of every single thing.
However, he also derived an important debate as to whether giving Creative Commons to users is a good decision in terms of the brand’s reputation or not. Gary questioned that if someone does something detrimental like creating a product for commercial success that could damage the overall brand, how can brands recover from the backlash?
He said, I don’t think we’ve figured that out yet, but I love it. The big curiosity is watching 5,000 separate entrepreneurs monetize the IP and what that means for the consumer.”
CryptoPunk IP not only rebels against the usually controlled system but will also open doors of opportunities for the members. Nonetheless, the brand must first figure out how it can deal in case someone wrongly benefits from it.
Influence of the World of Women
In the discussion about the influence of the World of Women, Gary agreed with the interviewer that it is a revolutionary project highlighting women in the Web3 world. “It feels like it has a real soul,” he said.
Gary shares his experience seeing WoW on Twitter and he knew it would be a great hit in the market. Similar to how Bored Ape got its fame, WoW also built a successful infrastructure in Web3. Gary said, “They’ve stayed the course. They’ve built a real community. I think Yam is a real artist forever. She’s young. And most importantly, again, not much different than CryptoPunks, when the history books are written of this era, [there’s] going to be this pioneer female project, and this is it.”
For Gary, WoW resonates well with human beings irrespective of their gender or identity.
Elon Musk’s Twitter
Elon Musk recently put up the Twitter deal to buy the app. Like many people, Gary also had his eyes on this deal and is quite happy about it. He feels that the bird app will finally see a major innovation under Elon Musk.
Gary went out to claim that Twitter will soon become a rival of Netflix in terms of streaming services. This might sound a bit absurd, but the VeeFriends creator believes that Twitter holds much more capability than what it is right now.
As the world debates over freedom of speech or Trump being unbanned on Twitter, Gary is more interested in how this social media app will transform itself into a completely new form. Much like how Facebook changed from Meta or Netflix selling CDs to becoming a streaming service platform.
He says, “Twitter is the conversation water cooler of society.” Instead of looking at Elon and Twitter from a political perspective, Gary calls it much bigger than that. He also predicted upcoming subscriptions for Twitter. He said, “If I’m Elon, the first thing I do is create a micro-subscription just to get people’s credit cards. Even if it’s 99 cents a year. Every client I have would pay some sort of vig if they had to. I think he’s going to innovate.”
Metaverse and Collectible culture
Metaverse is an upcoming blend of virtual reality with the real-world featuring collectibles. Gary is well-aware of the worth of the collectibles in the future; however, he is still hesitant about Metaverse.
In terms of collectibles, one of the biggest changes is that young teenagers are investing their money in buying valuable products, whether it is through NFTs or physical products. He says, “…you’ve got an entire generation of 15- to 35-year-olds that think they should invest.
In other words, investment is now the new pop culture that almost everyone is adapting to. Every little thing is bought with a calculative decision on how it can benefit them in the future. He says, “…these Gen Z investor kids, that’s going to be the culture. That’s going to be what’s cool.”
This collectible culture was brought in by NFTs and will continue on until the next generation, which is quite a fascinating thing to see.
For Metaverse, the world is still quite far away from adapting to the virtual world. People already find it hard to grasp the idea of Web3 and NFTs, so the metaverse might take time to fully become part of the mainstream culture.
Gary says, “It’s coming, but my point of view is betting the farm on it to get consumer money out of it right now, which a lot of people are doing, is going to be dangerous.”
But then he also said, “We’ve got a long way to go, but do I think in five, seven years from now, I’m playing Madden 31 and I’m actually Zach Wilson in the pocket making throws? Yes. And I think it’s going to be fresh as shit.
Gary’s legacy with VeeFriends
With the various developments happening within Web3 and the NFT world, Gary’s own legendary NFT community, VeeFriends, is also emerging as a leading project. “VeeFriends is an intellectual property that I’m standing up around the virtues that I care most about,” he said.
Drawing inspiration from his childhood cartoons, especially WWF which made human intellectual property, Gary aspires to make VeeFriends, a project of his lifetime legacy. He is still struggling to manage both VaynerX and VeeFriends together but he is sure about VeeFriends being an important aspect of his professional life. He said, “I want to build a Looney Tunes, a Hanna-Barbera, hopefully, something as big as, like, Disney in 55 years. I really think this is what I’m going to do.”
It is a completely different world that gives space for people to unleash their true selves. Gary has used himself as a vessel to make this project a success. He further explained, “An intellectual property with 275 characters — like a Marvel — allows me to say a lot of things to a lot of people in a lot of parts of the world in every age group. I’m going to pump it.”
Gary Vee also shared heartwarming aspirations for his future self. He said, “I’m just going to continue to do the right things to put me in the right rooms, to put me in the right places to see things. And what I’ve done my whole life, starting from where I started to where I am now, it just keeps compounding.”
By promoting positivity and bringing people along the journey, Gary wants to create a space where everyone can win alongside him. Lastly, he said, “In five years, when I’m 51, which is young as shit, something new like social media and NFTs is going to happen and I’m going to see it because I always see it – but I’m going to be a very different animal than I was when I was 18 or that I am even now. And that animal is going to eat more and do more.”
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