Valued at over $1 billion in 2021, celebrity signing service Cameo has been publishing NFTs since February. At the time of unveiling a new collection on August 29, the co-founder and head of the Web3/NFT division details the startup’s ambitions at JDN.
JDN. The core business of cameo is the video interaction between celebrities and their fans. What was the motivation behind Cameo Pass, the company’s first NFT?
Oliver Maroney. We’ve always wanted to transfer our core business into real life, which led us to create real experiences where we invited celebrities to our platform and people from outside. How to improve this experience with Web3? Rather than a normal pass – there are loads of them – we launched this 3D pass, which rotates on itself and incorporates 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, that is to say access to the physical events that we organize as well as to the NFT releases of the talents that we gather and that we believe are there for long time.
Precisely, CameoPass unveils this Monday August 29 the avatars of its 4e collection, sold out in the space of a weekend. Can you tell us more about this drop?
The artist of this collection Daydreamers, Ross Plaskow, had decided not to continue this project so we decided to buy it so that our holders could receive 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 proceed to select the artists associated with the collections?
We have had hundreds of discussions with hundreds of artists and not all of them always understand this space, we conclude with those who wish to invest in the long term and we help them to do everything possible for this.
For example, we teamed up again with Luke McGarry, who had designed one of our first three passes, for a completely hand-drawn collection, which I had never seen in this space before, and our community was able to acquire it for free thanks to our pass.
Beyond the releases of NFT, have you been able to fulfill 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 have another in early September. They are all different. And we’re going to continue to build on that. I can’t say too much but we are designing virtual experiences specifically tailored for our community. I think it’s extremely important for the future of Web3 and for the future of Cameo Pass that we not only continue to produce for the virtual but also in the real world.
“There are too many NFT projects and not enough requests”
Is the NFT bear market affecting your ambitions?
Everyone is feeling the consequences of this bear market, whether we like it or not. At the same time, I believe this is the best time to reflect on our business, our evolution and our way of doing things. I see that there are a lot of excuses, complaints and I don’t see many solutions emerging. It is very important for Web3 to be serious. We see the price of ether falling, some “flagships” of NFTs losing 50-60% of their value, but I believe that we are simply witnessing a consolidation of the market, and at the same time, a dissociation: you you have the collections and projects that have produced and are focused on their task, and you have the others that have not lived up to their promise and will be forgotten.
At the end of the day, it’s very good for the sector. It’s a bad patch but it had to happen. People like Gary Vaynerchuk (investor in Facebook, Uber, CEO of VaynerX) say it well: there are too many NFT projects and not enough requests. We are at the stage where we are going to see 10, 20, 30 dominant projects which will remain because they delivered. That’s why quite honestly, I couldn’t care less 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 aspires to lose money. Is Cameo’s NFT Division Winning…
It was never our only intention. Sorry to cut you off but our wish is that the funds received during our initial mint be redistributed in our events, the collections that we release and we are convinced that if we continue to produce concrete, we will see the secondary market flourish, even if it is not immediately. 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, then there will be changes in direction to be made, but we have structured our project so that we can continue to build and grow. There is one thing that works in our favour: we have an excellent team.
How durable is it?
As long as Cameo deems it to be, CameoPass will remain. I am not really the financier of the company, even if I necessarily manage a budget. We obviously have to make sure there’s money coming in but you know, we raised a lot of money during the initial mint of our passes last February (about 1,200 ether, or $3.3 million at the time). We are in a very good position and, I think, one of the few collections that can continue to make big bets, as with the Daydreamers collection. I can’t give you all the financial details but we are in a very good situation, financially as well as in terms of the 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, and this one alone, for over six months. This says a lot about the direction we envision for Web3. The founders of Cameo understand what impact this can have in the short and long term, not only for our company but all others as well. What’s really nice about Cameo is that we’re still small enough to be flexible. Not all companies can say that. Personally, I am very proud to have been able to release a project such as Cameo Pass and keep our promises, even more: I am not targeting anyone but there are many projects that are content to release an NFT without follow-up, without value added.
“There is nothing equivalent to Passtronaut in this sector”
What’s next for Cameo Pass? And do you plan more activations for your international holders?
We are planning an IRL event for NFT London, and next we will launch Passtronaut, an innovative profile picture, customizable so that 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, on the contrary, to grow with them and give them visibility. There is nothing like that in this area.
Can we expect a link with traditional Cameo services, such as live video calls?
There’s a real appetite to bridge the gap between the virtual and the real and I think what we’re going to do will be really innovative. I can hardly say more but it will be an opportunity for all people based in Europe, Asia, to benefit from a unique virtual experience. We expect this for this last quarter.
Former basketball journalist in the US press then head of media strategy for the Big 3 (the emerging basketball league founded by rapper and investor Ice Cube), Oliver Maroney dove into NFTs during the Cryptopunks surge. Since January 2021, he co-founded and led the NFT & Web3 division of celebrity signing startup Cameo.