Dapper Labs’ NBA Top Shot has been one of the big winners of this year’s non-fungible token (NFT) explosion, racking up more than $500 million in trading volume and helping introduce crypto collectibles into the mainstream. What’s next for Dapper and its Flow blockchain, then?
We’ve already heard about the upcoming launch of the Genies NFT marketplace, which will feature celebrity-driven apparel and items for users’ cartoonish avatars to wear. Today, we learned about another impending Dapper NFT play: Tibles, as in “collectibles.”
Tibles will be a new NFT marketplace running on Flow with a specific focus on collectibles from pop culture and entertainment brands, particularly “geek culture” properties. Today, the Tibles brand was revealed alongside a $1.14 million seed funding round led by Dapper, with participation from Multicoin Capital, Warburg Serres Investments, and CoinFund.
An NFT represents a deed of ownership for a digital item, and it can take a lot of different forms: still or animated images, video clips, trading cards, tweets, and more. NBA Top Shot moments are real NBA highlights packaged with animated flourishes, for example, each given an individual edition number that can be authenticated on a blockchain.
Tibles NFT collectibles won’t necessarily look like NBA Top Shot moments or any one specific thing: they can vary widely in design based on the entertainment property in play, founder and CEO Erich “Woody” Wood tells Decrypt. Some might take the form of stickers for a digital sticker book, trading cards with an interactive element, or something else entirely.
Wood has a long history with digital trading cards: he was creating digital cards sold on square-shaped CD-ROMs back in 2000, based on brands like MLB and Star Trek. In 2011, he began working with leading trading card brand Topps on digital card applications, including sports leagues and Star Wars cards, and it was the huge success of the latter—which had no gameplay element to it—that convinced him of the potential of digital collectibles.
“It was proof that collecting was its own reward,” he recalls. “People that were fans of it wanted to engage with the brand, and engage with other fans who were engaging with the brand.”
From there, Wood went on to co-found digital trading card app platform Quidd, and through that app’s success with brands like Disney, Marvel, and Game of Thrones, he realized that the one thing still missing was true ownership of digital assets. After seeing the potential of Dapper’s own seminal NFT experience, CryptoKitties, Wood left Quidd in 2018 to begin researching the potential for blockchain applications for trading cards. (Quidd later sold to Animoca Brands and has started its own NFT push. Topps has also gotten into NFTs with its MLB and Garbage Pail Kids cards on WAX.)
Unlike Quidd, Tibles will be a platform spread across multiple apps, which will begin rolling out later this year. They’re planning to release separate apps for each entertainment brand—none of which have been announced yet—or perhaps across genres, to avoid conflicts between widely different properties. “One of the problems with Quidd was you were trying to get Game of Thrones fans to use it, but they went [into the app] and there’s a lot of Mickey Mouse stuff there,” Wood tells Decrypt. “There was a disconnect.”
Another key aspect of the experience will be a strong focus on community-building and trying to keep people around, rather than doing one-off or sporadic drops. The goal is to keep fans coming back for ongoing engagement, along with direct interactions with other users.
“Instead of just putting something up for sale and somebody else buys it, and then I make some money, there’s barter-style trading,” he explains. “You actually have to get to know somebody and haggle with them, and maybe make friends and keep going back to them to try to swap to do stuff. That stickiness of the community is a big piece of what we’re building.”
Tibles’ focus on pop culture collectibles rather than sports, music, or fine art should also help differentiate it from the rest of Dapper’s expanding lineup of NFT marketplaces, not to mention the wider market outside of Flow.