“In Web3, I see a lot of bear market excuses and few solutions emerging”

Worth more than $1 billion in 2021, the celebrity signing service Cameo has been publishing NFTs since February. At the unveiling of a new collection on August 29, the co-founder and head of the Web3/NFT division shares the ambitions of the startup at JDN.

JDN. Cameo’s core business is video interaction between celebrities and their fans. What was the motivation behind Cameo Pass, the company’s first NFT?

Oliver Maroney, co-founder of Cameo Pass. © Cameo

Oliver Maroney. We have always wanted to translate our core business into real life, which led us to create real experiences where we invited celebrities on our platform and people from outside. How to improve this experience with Web3? Instead of a regular pass – there are a lot of them – we launched this 3D pass, which revolves around itself and contains art, because we asked three of our favorite artists to each draw a version of a pass. With this pass, the owner benefits from physical, virtual and artistic experiences, i.e. access to the physical events we host and the NFT releases of the talents we collect and believe have been around for a long time.

Exactly, CameoPass will reveal the avatars of its 4 this Monday, August 29e collection, sold out in a weekend. Can you tell us more about this decline?

The artist of this Daydreamers collection, Ross Plaskow, had decided not to pursue this project, so we decided to buy it so that our keepers could get what they were promised. Few projects would have done that. These NFTs will play a role in the governance of CameoPass by granting voting rights to holders on the projects we will carry out.

“It is important for the future of Web3 to produce for the virtual but also for the real”

How do you go about selecting the artists who belong to the collections?

We’ve had hundreds of conversations with hundreds of artists and not all of them always understand this space, we close with those who want to invest for the long term and we help them do everything for this.

For example, we teamed up again with Luke McGarry, who designed one of our first three passes, for an entirely hand-drawn collection, which I’d never seen in this space before, and our community was able to acquire it for free thanks to our pass .

After the releases of NFT, have you been able to deliver on your promises of real experiences?

In the last six months we have created six events in six different cities, such as Miami, London, Los Angeles or New York. We will have another one at the beginning of September. They are all different. And we will continue to build on that. I can’t say too much, but we design virtual experiences specifically tailored to our community. I think it’s hugely important for the future of Web3 and for the future of Cameo Pass that we continue to produce not only for the virtual, but also for the real world.

“There are too many NFT projects and too few applications”

Does the NFT bear market affect your ambitions?

Everyone is feeling the effects of this bear market, whether we like it or not. At the same time, I believe that this is the best time to reflect on our company, our evolution and our way of doing things. I see that there are many excuses, complaints and I do not see many solutions emerging. It is very important that Web3 is serious. We see the price of ether falling, some “flagships” of NFTs losing 50-60% of their value, but I believe we are just witnessing a consolidation of the market and at the same time a dissociation: you have the collections and projects who have produced and are focused on their task, and you have the others who have not kept their promise and will be forgotten.

Ultimately, it is very good for the sector. It’s a bad patch, but it had to be done. People like Gary Vaynerchuk (investor in Facebook, Uber, CEO of VaynerX) say it well: there are too many NFT projects and too few applications. We are at the stage where we will see 10, 20, 30 dominant projects that will stay because they delivered. That’s why I honestly didn’t care about the price of our collection. When I see our community, the reception around our project, the retention rate of our NFT holders, I am very happy.

However, no company strives to lose money. Cameo’s NFT Division Wins…

It was never our only intention. We are sorry to interrupt you, but our wish is that the funds we received during our first coin be redistributed in our events, the collections we release and we are confident that if we continue to produce concrete, we will see the secondary market flourish, even if it is not right away. We feel that there are not many elite projects: few do it our way and we are sure that the public will understand our vision, even if it takes one, two or three years. If not, there will be changes of course, but we have structured our project in such a way that we can continue to build and grow. There is one thing that works in our favor: we have an excellent team.

How sustainable is it?

As long as Cameo believes it is, CameoPass will continue to exist. I’m not really the financier of the company, even though I necessarily manage a budget. Of course we need to get money coming in, but you know we raised a lot of money during the first issuance of our passes last February (about 1,200 ether, or $3.3 million at the time). We’re in a very good position and, I think, one of the few collections that can continue to make big bets like the Daydreamers collection. I can’t give you all the financial details, but we are in a very good situation, both financially and as a team, for the next year and a half or the next two, three years.

Is this NFT division a major focus of Cameo today?

Devon Townsend, one of Cameo’s co-founders, worked on this project alone for over six months. This says a lot about the direction we have in mind for Web3. Cameo’s founders understand the short- and long-term impact this can have, not just for our company, but for everyone else as well. The nice thing about Cameo is that we are still small enough to be flexible. Not all companies can say that. Personally, I’m very proud to have been able to release a project like Cameo Pass and deliver on our promises, even more: I don’t target anyone, but there are many projects that are content to release an NFT with no follow-up up, with no value added.

“There is nothing like Passtronaut in this sector”

What’s next for Cameo Pass? And are you planning more activations for your international holders?

We are planning an IRL event for NFT London and then we will launch Passtronaut, an innovative profile picture, customizable so you can integrate the NFTs that represent you and will be a universal portal to Cameo experiences. We are not here to denigrate the other collections, but to grow with them and give them visibility. There is no such thing in this area.

Can we expect a link with traditional Cameo services, such as live video calls?

There’s a real hunger to bridge the gap between the virtual and the real and I think what we’re going to do is going to be really innovative. I can hardly say more, but it will be an opportunity for all people in Europe, Asia, to benefit from a unique virtual experience. We expect this for this last quarter.

Oliver Maroney, a former US press basketball journalist and then head of media strategy for the Big 3 (the emerging basketball league founded by rapper and investor Ice Cube), delved into NFTs during the Cryptopunk wave. Since January 2021, he co-founded and led the NFT & Web3 division of Cameo, the celebrity signing startup.

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