The difference now, of course, is that no one has to be convinced that cryptocurrencies are a good deal. It’s already a trillion-dollar industry that spawned dozens of big companies, created dynastic wealth for early adopters, and attracted many of Silicon Valley’s best and brightest minds.
And when I looked beyond New York decadence, I could see the threads of Web3 begin to weave into things that real people might want.
On Monday night, for example, I went to Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to attend a party hosted by Friends With Benefits, a new type of leaderless crypto club known as a “decentralized autonomous organization” or DAO. Right now, DAO – they were described like “group chat with bank accounts” – they are mostly an experimental toy. But optimists think it could one day be one way businesses and communities organize themselves.
Instead of selling regular party tickets – which featured a performance by Russian punk protest group Pussy Riot – Friends With Benefits required attendees to scan their crypto wallets at the door. If you owned at least five $ FWB – the group membership tokens, which cost around $ 140 each at the time of the party – you walked in. Bring a required plus-one with $ 75 FWB, or about $ 10,000. (There was a way to skip the line entirely: win an auction for the NFT official of the party, although it ultimately sold for more than $ 50,000, making it a poor choice for budget-conscious ravers.)
All this velvet rope exclusivity might seem at odds with cryptocurrency enthusiasts’ claims that Web3 is a democratizing force that will expand access to financial services, level the playing field, and get rid of legacy middlemen. And I wondered, at times, if the guys at Web3 were trying to tear down the old social hierarchy, only to replace it with a new, tokenized one that they were on top of.
But the deal seemed to work for everyone – at least until around midnight, when the venue filled up and $ FWB token holders stuck on the sidewalk could no longer enter.
“I paid $ 600 to go to this party,” grumbled a man in line. “Oh well, at least the token could go up.”