At Gary Vaynerchuk’s ‘VeeCon’, the only way in is an NFT ticket

Those looking for evidence of the recent cryptocurrency crash need not look to Minneapolis, at least for the next few days.

This weekend, thousands of NFT holders will descend on the Twin Cities for Gary Vaynerchuk’s “VeeCon,” a four-day conference bringing together business leaders, entrepreneurs, and Web3 evangelists to discuss digital transformation in everything from art to the assets.

In addition to being a serial entrepreneur and social media influencer, Vaynerchuk is well known for his early investments in companies including Facebook and Coinbase.

Vaynerchuk’s “VeeFriends” NFT collection is comprised of 10,255 character non-fungible tokens available for purchase via cryptocurrency ethereal. Each token includes a “smart contract” with metadata that Vaynerchuk can use to interact with its buyer. Token holders also have exclusive access to the annual event for three years after the NFT purchase.

Pets of “VeeFriends” characters prepare for Gary Vaynerchuk’s “VeeCon” conference.

Riley de Leon | CNBC

Not only is this the inaugural VeeCon, but it’s also the first NFT ticketed event. Token holders access their ticket through a digital wallet on their phones that verifies their ownership of Vaynerchuk digital assets.

NFTs are a type of digital asset created to track ownership of a virtual item using blockchain technology. Such unique items could be works of art or sports cards, a market that Vaynerchuk became familiar as a teenager, he sold baseball cards for thousands of dollars each week.

Ethereum price has recently traded up 60% from its 2021 high.

“The timing of VeeCon couldn’t be better,” Vaynerchuk said in his opening remarks at the conference on Friday. “There will be an amazing chapter of Web3 next year. Everyone here is well aware that there has been a fix in [crypto] pricing…it’s no fun when your assets go down on paper. It is what it is, but the timing is remarkable because so much good work is being done now. Much of the innovation takes place.”

Hosted at US Bank Stadium, the event features prominent speakers who have recently appeared on the Web3 scene, including Snoop Dogg, Spike Lee, Deepak Chopra, Eva Longoria and Mila Kunis, among others.

“Obviously for who they are, celebrities are going to get a lot of attention and I think they have a responsibility. [to educate] with the size of their audience,” Vaynerchuk told CNBC. “Anyone involved in this space has to think hard about whether or not the short-term money is worth the reputational risk.”

VeeCon has also been a boon to the local economy in Minneapolis, which is one of many communities across the country trying to recoup lost tourism dollars from the Covid-19 pandemic. Token holders from all over the world attended, including India, Australia, Romania, France, and Sweden.

“As a Minnesota resident, I am so proud that the first VeeCon is taking place in my backyard,” said Maha Abouelenein, local event organizer and CEO of media organization Digital & Savvy. “I can’t wait to see all the friendships made at VeeCon.”

Still, there is some fear surrounding the longevity of the space. Bitcoin hit its lowest level since December 2020 earlier this week, below $26,000, and shares of the publicly traded crypto brokerage firm base of coins they were down as much as 74% year-to-date this week.

“Right now, the overwhelming energy of space is very short term. I would call it greed. Many don’t spend their time on education,” Vaynerchuk said.

“The reality is that all of that behavior is going to lead to 97-98% of these current projects losing value in the next 24-36 months because the supply and demand curves won’t work.”