Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s founder and CEO, auctioned his first ever tweet as a nonfungible token (NFT). It was originally uploaded on March 21 of 2006 and read “just setting up my twttr”. The tweet was bought using ether cryptocurrency and had a final bid of $2.9 million.
NFT technology enables digital records to be owned by individuals, auctioned, purchased and sold like any other physical good.
The auction began in December of last year, but bids didn’t go higher than the equivalent to $3,500. The auction seemingly took a pause between the end of December and the beginning of March, when the bids went from $4,500 to $2.5 million in a matter of hours on March 6. There were no additional bids since and the final price ended up being the equivalent of $2.9 million due to the increase in value of ether between March 6 and Monday.
The auction took place via the online platform Valuables, which is operated by Cent. Mr. Dorsey converted the proceeds to bitcoin and donated them to the African charity GiveDirectly.
The winner of the auction was the Malaysian businessman Sina Estavi, the CEO of blockchain technology firm Bridge oracle. Mr. Estavi will receive a digital certificate signed by Dorsey and all metadata relating to the post. “I think years later people will realize the true value of this tweet, like the Mona Lisa painting,” he tweeted.
It is a bold claim to compare a tweet to Mona Lisa. But the attention that NFTs are receiving and the prices at which they are selling should not go unnoticed.
Earlier this month a piece of digital art sold as an NFT at Christie’s for $69 million and a Super Bowl champion sold an NFT collection for $1.6 million. The people involved in the auctions are predominantly cryptocurrency investors and tech-savvy individuals. Still, as more mainstream names enter the business, we can expect NFTs to become more attractive to the general population.
While a tweet is not necessarily a piece of art, the first ever tweet might be considered a landmark in digital history. To put it in context, an antique Ferrari sold for $46.4 million in 2018, and jewelry worn by Marie Antoinette sold for $32 million also in 2018. However, there was a far more substantial passage of time.
Following the sale of the tweet, a trend might emerge where celebrities and other influential people auction Instagram pictures, Facebook posts or tweets. After all, this is precisely what Cent’s Valuables platform is designed for.
At first sight, this might seem bizarre, but it is not that much different from the auction of pieces of clothing worn by celebrities at events. The dress that Marilyn Monroe used when singing “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” auctioned for $4.8 million in 2016, certainly not because of the dress itself, but because it was a remarkable moment carried out by a very influential figure. The dress can be compared to the iconic selfie that Ellen Degeneres posted at the 2014 Oscars, which was retweeted over 3 million times and perhaps started the “selfie” trend. With the expansion of NFT technology usage, it is not that absurd to expect such influential posts to be sold as NFTs in the coming years.
One differentiating aspect of selling posts or tweets as NFTs is that the post itself is still visible to the general public. Therefore, while the auction winner officially owns the record, the content can still be appreciated by all. In this sense, posts might continue to be sold at absurdly high prices because it seems that it is more about the buyer’s perception of ownership as opposed to accessing its content.
And there’s no doubt that money from the recent boom in cryptocurrency valuations has been recycled into NFTs.
Jack Dorsey sells his first tweet as an NFT for $2.9 millionIt is hard to predict the extent to which NFTs will be used for auctioning digital records. The millions of dollars now associated with auctioning digital art, celebrity athlete collectibles and tweet posts may not be the norm if the trend continues to expand. Nevertheless, it is exciting to observe the industry’s expansion and how it is enabling a new format of digital ownership.