Many remember the birth of the CGI Influencer, popularized around 2018, out of which the digitally-rendered stars, Shudu, Bermuda, and the one and only, Lil Miquela (who's now just, 'Miquela", and currently has 3 million Instagram followers) were born. At the time this trend took off, lawyers, regulators and consumer watch dog groups wondered: Would people understand that these weren't real people? How could a CGI Influencer recommend a product without having a body with which to use it, or have "real and honest opinions"?
Welcome to Chapter Two.
This week, Decrypt announced that Brud, the company who catapulted CGI Influencers to fame, was wholly acquired by Dapper Labs, the startup behind the massively-popular NFT project, NBA Top Shot. (If you still can't figure out this whole NFT thing, see this recent piece by John Emmerling. Full transparency: I am quoted in it.)
So what does this acquisition mean, you ask?
Apparently Brud’s CEO and co-founder, Trevor McFedries, is also immersed in the crypto world as the co-founder of the decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), Friends with Benefits. (Quick reminder: DAOs, increasingly becoming a central focus of the crypto community, are essentially digital collectives with no central authority, the members of which are organized around a specific set of rules enforced on a blockchain.) Decrypt reports that McFedries will now help Dapper Labs run a new business unit, Dapper Collectives, which will focus exclusively on DAOs.
Explaining the parallels between the CGI Influencer world and the vision for Dapper Collectives, McFedries told Decrypt: "Dapper Collectives is really going to encapsulate our vision for a DAO-driven and decentralized future of media...We've built this incredible audience and this fanbase that is deeply passionate about what we do [with Miquela]...But traditionally, they've been silo'ed—the fans and the creators—within different ecosystems. We want to bring those folks together and allow everyone to share in the value that's created inside organizations.”
This move is yet another indicator, as noted in my last blog post, that we are now living in the Metaverse.
Brud’s Lil Miquela, [Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou] suggested, is an ongoing experiment in community building and social storytelling that will help inform the team’s work going forward as Dapper Collectives. Next, it will create the tools and infrastructure to power future decentralized communities on the Flow blockchain—but these open-source components will be offered up to everyone.