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

Cent was based in 2017 as an ad-free creator community that enables customers to supply one another crypto rewards for good posts and feedback — it’s like gifting awards on Reddit, however with Ethereum. However in late 2020, Cent’s small, San Fransisco-based workforce created Valuables, an NFT marketplace for tweets, and by March, the small blockchain startup was thrown a serendipitous curveball.

“We simply wrapped up for the day, and I used to be about to go eat dinner, and all these folks began texting me,” remembers CEO Cameron Hejazi. Then, he realized that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey had minted Twitter’s first ever Tweet by means of Cent’s Valuables utility. “I used to be principally like, mildly shivering for the remainder of the night time. The entire workforce, we had been like, ‘Okay, battle stations, put together to get hacked!’”

Dorsey ended up selling his NFT for $2.9 million, and he donated the proceeds to Give Straight’s Africa Response fund for COVID-19 reduction. However for Cent, it was as if the small firm had simply been handed a free advertising and marketing marketing campaign. Now, about 5 months later, Cent is asserting a $three million spherical of seed funding with traders like Galaxy Interactive, former Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, Will.I.Am, and Zynga founder Mark Pincus.

On Valuables, anybody on the web can place a proposal on any tweet, which then makes it attainable for another person to make a counter-offer. If the writer of the tweet accepts a proposal (logging into Valuables requires you to validate your Twitter account), then Cent will mint the tweet on the blockchain and create a 1-of-1 NFT.

The NFT itself incorporates the textual content of the tweet, the username of the creator, the time it was minted, and the creator’s digital signature. The NFT additionally features a hyperlink to the tweet, although the linked content material lives outdoors the blockchain.

There’s nothing proprietary about minting tweets as NFTs — one other firm might do the identical factor that Cent is doing. Even Twitter itself has lately dabbled in giving freely free NFT artwork, although it hasn’t tried to promote precise tweets as NFTs like Cent. Nonetheless, Hejazi sees Dorsey’s use of Cent like an endorsement — he thinks it will be troublesome for Twitter to close them down, since Dorsey made $2.9 million on the platform himself. In any case, Dorsey selected Cent as a substitute of taking a screenshot of his first tweet, minting the .JPG as an NFT, and posting it on a bigger NFT platform, like OpenSea.

“We’ve spoken with folks at Twitter. I’m optimistic that we’ve a wholesome relationship going,” Hejazi stated (Twitter declined to touch upon or verify whether or not that’s true). “We thought of making use of this strategy to different social platforms, like Instagram and TikTok, however we hypothesized that that is significantly suited to Twitter, as a result of it’s a dialog platform, and it’s the place the entire crypto persons are really residing.”

With Cent’s seed funding Hejazi hopes to proceed constructing the platform. The corporate’s objective is to allow anybody inventive to make an revenue by means of the usage of NFTs — which means creating instruments to make it easier for its customers to mint NFTs, but additionally, constructing out its present creator-focused social community. The content material folks submit on Cent is often inventive work, like artwork and writing, reasonably than quick posts — it’s nearer to DeviantArt than it’s to Reddit. These are lofty objectives for a $three million seed funding spherical, however there are points of Cent’s Beta platform that make it promising.

“There’s already worth in what we submit on social media. It’s simply being proxied by means of advert dollars, and it doesn’t need to be the case that there’s a lot wealth focus in a single entity. We are able to work towards a system that decentralizes that wealth,” stated Hejazi. “These networks as they exist have monopolies on distribution — you possibly can’t take your Twitter viewers, obtain it as a .CSV, and ship all of them an e-mail.”

A screenshot of Cent’s social platform.

Along with unbiased distribution lists, Hejazi desires to maneuver away from the ad-supported web. He references Substack for example of an organization the place the creator has management of their listing, and on the similar time, the platform can stay ad-free, for the reason that cash that propels it comes from the customers who pay to subscribe to newsletters (and likewise, enterprise capital helps).

However Cent does one thing completely different by permitting customers to basically put money into creators who they assume have the potential to take off on their platform.

Customers can “seed” a submit, which is the way you subscribe to a creator collaborating on the creatives side of Cent’s platform. Because the seeder, you pay a set charge of at the very least one greenback monthly. There’s an incentive to assist up-and-coming creators on the platform, as a result of seeders get a portion of the creators’ future revenue — it’s like betting on them that they may proceed to make nice content material sooner or later. 5 % of earnings go towards Cent, however the remaining 95% is cut up 50/50 between the creator and all of their previous seeders. Collaborating on this platform would enable creators to community and present assist for each other, however doesn’t forestall them from extra immediately monetizing their work on different creator platforms, like Patreon.

Along with seeding posts, customers can even “spot” different folks’s posts — Cent’s model of a “like” button. Every “spot” is the equal of 1 cent from the consumer’s crypto pockets. Cent’s argument is that getting 1,000 likes on a submit on different platforms yields nothing however a obscure sensation of social clout. However on Cent, if a consumer will get 1,000 “spots,” that’s $10. Nonetheless, a challenge like this could solely work if sufficient folks use the platform.

“Once we began Cent, we selected cryptocurrencies as a result of we liked the concept of somebody with the ability to earn cash with nothing greater than their creativity and a crypto tackle,” Hejazi stated. “Over time, we’ve discovered it to be limiting as a cost kind — only a few folks really personal it and have it able to spend. We’re engaged on methods to make funds to creators utilizing Cent simpler, and are exploring each crypto-native and non-crypto choices.”

This mindset echoes different NFT startups like Yat, which permits funds through bank card as a part of its “progressive decentralization” mannequin. A lot of those corporations’ success relies on public buy-in towards an eventual decentralized, blockchain-based web. However till then, corporations like Cent will proceed to experiment in reimagining how creatives can receives a commission on-line.