Blockchain, Crypto, hustling

NFT: Vintage Pixels Collection

TL;DR

  • An NFT Advent Calendar featuring collectible vintage icons
  • Every day a new drop until xmas morning
  • Web 1 classics seen and used by billions — yes that’s Billions with a B
  • Created by Vidar “blacktar” Andersen (aka me)
  • Some 20 plus years ago
  • I’m the only one who can legally sell these & give you authentic ownership
  • Auction running on Open Sea until Xmas morning — it’s the season!
  • Stay tuned for extra wildcard drops
  • More information below

Pay peanuts, get monkeys they say. Well, these are not the apes you’re looking for. In fact, these are the iconic Web1 vintage pixels exactly nobody was looking for — until now. 

NFTs at this stage of maturity are mostly the equivalent of factory prints on pre-signed blank Salvador Dali sheets; Sweat-shopped assets ground out by anonymous hired hands, mass-produced by — and artificially inflated to fill the coffers of — the industrial crypto overbros.

This, on the other hand, is the real-Susan-Kare-like deal; It is now possible to own a true artisanal vintage artefact — a literal icon of Web 1, a perfect preserve of the zeitgeist of an era set for all posterity in pixels, offered directly to you to own for yourself — from the artist himself, complete with the well-travelled essence, the patina, the pedigree — that no boilerplate apes, stonks memes, or 3D amateur fests will ever appreciate to.

Here is your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to own a unique piece of Internet history, crafted by hand, pixel by pixel, just as the sun was setting on the wild wild west, at the very moment the frontier period of the Internet was coming to an end and the heydays of Web 1 as it were to be know would be gone forever. 

These classic icons serve as a unique vehicle, an instant connection, to a bygone era where success on the Internet was still measured in Super Bowl ad spend, and amount of Miller Aeron Chairs and Spark Stations amassed.

The limited Vintage Pixels collection features three vintage icons up for auction today, representing the most infamous three out of a set of over 40.

Originally created for a content management system named Plone, these pixels soon however ended up in all sorts of places around the world outside the world of Plone too. For a time, they were the most copied, or shall we say

Originally created by yours truly for a content management system named Plone, used by the likes of The FBI, The CIA, NASA JPL, Govt. of Brazil, Yale University, University College London, etc. These pixels soon however ended up in all sorts of places around the world outside the world of Plone too. For a time, they were the most copied, or shall we say ‘borrowed’, icons of Web 1. 

If you used the Internet between 2001 and today, you already saw and used one or more of these icons already.

Further more, the NFTs on offer in this one-off auction are in a pristine uncompressed PNG condition and have been stored in a direct line of succession — from the first hard drive the files were originally saved on (a Seagate Barracuda 20.2GB, purchased 1999, receipt can probably be produced on demand) from a period in time where The Cloud was still an insider joke and AWS had yet to be invented, and your Facebook and Snap was called IM and ICQ — until today.

But wait, the screams of just about every crypto edgelord out there echo — these are not the instantly meme-able shitposts we were looking for! Hower, as the real NFT connoisseurs out there will know, this is indeed a feature and not a bug; As the relevance and value of stonk ape memes fade inverse-squarely over time, these pedigree iconic classics, much like a fine wine, will only appreciate with age.

And to all those naysayers claiming NFTs have no real utility, the NFTs in the Vintage Pixels collection of course come with indisputable proof of utility, having served the world online as pictorial descriptors with no needed additional text for nearly twenty years. That will certainly show them.

Reserve a Web 1 classic for yourself today and help rescue it from the accelerating threat of extinction; Now is the time for you to act and secure these rare vintage icons for yourself before some other bro does — because let’s face it, who would not want to hang the complete trifecta of pure dot com nostalgia above the virtual metaverse fireplace this holiday season? 

And speaking of the holiday season, this is by definition the perfect gift for that special person who has literally everything: This, by its very nature, is comes with a guarantee that they don’t already own it — and to boot, it comes with proof of ownership to guarantee that nobody else will have this either. Nobody. Ever. 

Introducing The Vintage Pixel Collection: Collect Them All

Dec 1: Lot 1
User Icon

Lot 1 is arguably the most famous in the collection. It’s the user icon that e.g. sat at the top right of your browser, staring down at you on every page when you were visiting Wikipedia, for years on end; The sights it has seen, the stories it could tell. It’s seen you, fo sho. And to some, this might be the ultimate PFP to destroy them all.

Dec 2: Lot 2
Print Icon

Lot 2, or infamous #2, is the legendary print icon that for turned up in random places like the “slsk”, pronounced “soulseek” by the cool kids of the day, app — at one time the unofficial heir to Napster (ask your parents what that thing was). What it could tell is probably still covered by statute of limitations in most jurisdictions — so it won’t. You’ve seen or used this one too.

Dec 3: Lot 3
Link Icon

Lot 3 is not scoring any points for originality, but for familiarity. It’s the legendary world globe used and abused on millions if not billions of web pages and apps signifying a link to another web page.

For the following days of the Advent Calendar, view the evolving Vintage Pixels collection on Open Sea for the next reveals and drops.

About the artist

I’m Vidar “blacktar” Andersen (Why “blacktar”? “Who the hell in their right mind would use their real name online?” — snarky 90s me), and I created these icons out of necessity in and around 2001 (my memory thereof is a bit sketch), just as the dot com Web 1 bubble was bursting. Their provenance come guaranteed — by me; There are many icons out there, but these are mine.

Now, this isn’t quite my first rodeo; I have a history of building stuff in public — many things of which flopped — to help better understand new tech and its possibilities.

I co-created a web-based game in the 90s that had millions of daily users and was featured on BBC Click! to learn about the capabilities of dynamic web apps and databases — (before there were any viable way to monetise such apps).

I helped make several content manage systems, Plone (one that didn’t flop much) I already mentioned, to better understand how to serve and manage web content properly and securely.

I did probably the first social discovery app for the iPhone to learn about SoLoMo [cringe] and mobile apps, which flopped, but served me well by fulfilling the app’s original intent of finding my people and expanding my network. It was called Gauss, and it was a people magnet for your pocket.

I did OneSec — an Instagram for one second videos — with a fren, 6 months before Vine launched (#facepalm) to learn about crowdfunding and social video formats.

I even co-founded an ICO (actually an ITO) about attribution for the creator economy — that hinged on a lot of significant Chinese backers already signed on, flopping when just two weeks before the planned launch the Chinese government decided to crack down on crypto, all to learn about ICOs and decentralised / token economies the hard way.

Weirdly, I’ve also accidentally created world famous logos — some that I’m not allowed to talk about. Still.

You can read more about me than even my mother wants to know about me if you google me. But that would be a waste of time compared to heading over to the Vintage Pixels auction and bidding for these gems to be yours at this point.

Today, I’m dropping, these NFTs as a part of my journey to learn more about crypto, blockchain, ownership — the whole Web 3 yards and to help preserve a classic part of Web 1 for posterity that would be otherwise lost.

Or in not so many words, the intentions behind this auction are:

  • Learning about crypto, blockchain, NTFs, and the whole Web 3 thing by doing
  • Help preserve landmarks of the Web1 era for posterity
  • Quite possibly touching Python again, learning Hardhat maybe finally
  • Meeting new interesting people & having some lulz while at it

And this whole NFT auction business wouldn’t be much fun without throwing some stupid extras into the mix, though…

Enter STRETCH GOALS:

STRETCH GOAL #1
0.01 ETH

I’ll throw in an additional NFT of an icon from the original set — that may or may not have been ever published before. Wow, many promises, such suspense, so mystery!

SECRET STRETCH GOAL #2
Thresholds only announced after Stretch Goal #1 is unlocked

If the threshold is met, the respective iconic icon [sic] will also be delivered as framed A0 hand painted oil on canvas painting painted by me, signed by me, and also signed with the respective string for the digital NFT asset, if applicable. Nothing more subtly signals impeccable taste and peerless means like oil on canvas originals hung on your reading room wall. 

Additionally, I’m also working with a German tech startup that will also issue a digital hash, a certificate, for each oil painting based on their unique physical makeup, insuring the authenticity and making sure they will never be able to be faked. Ever. This means you’ll own a hash for both the digital AND the physical asset. For reals.

SECRET STRETCH GOAL #3

An additional discrete object of envy will be unlocked; an actual physical 3D printed pixels version, preserved forever in a block of sexy epoxy resin, complete with a signed golden proof of authenticity and ownership. Perfect for also tastefully claiming your bragging rights, be it on your mantelpiece or your office desk. And of course the German startup will also issue a digital hash, an actual certificate of authenticity, for each of the physical 3D icons. There can be only one.

Close your eyes and imagine the gorgeous physical 3D printed object encased in resin here. Think those wooden furniture with filled resin TikToks meets brightly colored 3D printed custom LEGO(-like) icons and a golden plate with the proof of ownership on it? Mmmm hmmm?! (Although well versed in the ancient witchcraft of photorealistic rendering through LightWave3D, an almost obsolete artefact in itself, I’m too lazy to mock it up for you). Just think it — be it!

SECRET STRETCH GOAL #4

If met, the winning bid will of course also get all of the above, AND I’ll delete ALL my original instances and backups of the respective asset, effectively annihilating the source — and I’ll make sure that the process is officially witnessed and signed by a notary as well as live-streaming the deletion ceremony in public, complete with a live marching band doing their best worst impression of Chopin’s Funeral March as all original bits and bytes are being permanently removed from this physical realm. Forever-ever.

SECRET STRETCH GOAL #5

All of the above, and in addition I’ll wear a pink tutu and an Elon Mask and the band will obviously instead be playing “Astronomia” during the deletion ceremony — and you’re cordially invited to participate; I’ll fly you in. Additionally, I will use that crystal ETH to buy much Dogecoin. AND I’ll do my worst to get some dancing meme pall bearers as well as inviting the local chapters of Shiba Inu owners.

SECRET STRETCH GOAL #6

All of the above except NOT wearing a pink tutu and an Elon mask, NOT buying Dogecoin, and instead HODL ALL TEH ETH!

Buterin’

SECRET STRETCH GOAL #7

All of the above except not wearing a pink tutu and an Elon mask, NOT buying Dogecoin, and instead ALLIN BITCOIN HODL! 

Fren, it’s dangerous to launder alone. Take this; A crate of Clorox has been added to your inventory. 

Most of the proceeds from this stretch goal will probably go to a charity named IRS, also known to operate under the name “Finanzamt” in other locals. Probably.

And I’ll finally add laser eyes to my twitter profile and start spamming maximalist tropes and giving away Bitcoin alternately. Scout’s honor.

Yes, there is a discord server for this auction and I have no idea how to use that thing. I’ll be available for questions and I’ll show up live sort of regularly there. I think.

Caveat Emptor: 

This is not financial advice. It’s fair to say that this is not an advice of any kind. In fact, if you’re still reading this, you’re probably crazy. The auction is real, tough – As are the stretch goals.

This might very well be the only drop I’ll ever do. Who knows.

And for full disclosure, I don’t HODL enough ETH to bid on my own auctions in any significant way, so there’s that. Not ratting on the Doge, though.

And obviously you’re bidding on an NFT of the original file, not the original IP attribution which remain with me, nor the usage rights — which are already covered by GPL3.0.

Don’t bro me if you don’t know me.

LFG

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Events, hustling, startup

Startup Ambassador @ SXSW 2016

Hanging with the legend Guy Kawasaki at the German Haus @ SXSW 2016

Hanging with the legend Guy Kawasaki at the German Haus @ SXSW 2016

I was honored and delighted to be invited back as an official startup ambassador to the state of NRW and join the German delegation to SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Last year, I couldn’t make it as I was teaching in Iran – but this year it fortunately fit my schedule. And what a blast we had showcasing the best our region has to offer of early stage startups!

And what does such an ambassador do, you may ask? For one, I help the delegation pick and persuade the best and most representable regional startups to go over there with us – and the kind of startups that also would have a strategic benefit other than vanity in gaining exposure in the US. Once on the ground, I help to make sure our startups connect with the people of their interest and help drag notable international startup people to the German events (kicking and screaming). I also serve as a door opener and “private events” radar, making sure our startups gets into the interesting spontaneous private events during SXSW.

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entrepreneurship, Events, hustling

Producing StartupBus BeNeLux – 72hrs of road trip mayhem

The BeNeLux Bus

The BeNeLux Bus

I was recently honored and thrilled to be invited by Hans van Gent and Mike van Hoenselaar to produce this year’s StartupBus Europe BeNeLux bus bound for Pioneers Festival in Vienna, together with Magnus Petersen-Paasche, after my previous stint with Startupbus.

And after a lot of preparations, we finally went on the road last week – and what an EPIC trip it was: It took us from Amsterdam to Pioneers Festival in Vienna via Antwerp, Cologne, Berlin, Prague and Munich – all within 72 hours!

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Failure, hustling, Lessons Learned, pitching, startup

On failing: Crowd funding an iPhone app on IndieGoGo

My entrepreneurial buddy Francis and I tried to crowd fund a startup. It was an iPhone app. More specifically, an Instagram for one second videos. We failed. Spectacularly.

But don’t let that discourage you from trying. Here are some of the lessons we learned.

Update: For validation of our concept, see now twitter owned Vine and Cesar Kuriyama’s 1 Second Every Day that emerged over six months later.

Boot Screen

Recap for new readers: In the summer of 2012, me and Francis decided to experiment with crowd funding. We’re both busy running a couple of other startups, but since we were both n00bs to this crowd funding thing we thought we’d better get some experience and without potentially involving our main brands.

In short, we were trying to crowdfund an app to shoot and share videos composed of one second shots – six months before Vine and One Second Everyday. (I still remember people laughing at the idea back then…)

Roughly speaking there are two main types of crowd funding: 1) Funding against selling equity, percentages of shares that is, in your company 2) Funding against selling perks, products, merchandise, hot air and bridges in London – for no equity whatsoever. As we are both stingy bootstrappers, we liked the sound of the last option.

We decided go with IndieGoGo since you needed to be a US citizen to use Kickstarter at the time – or find someone with one willing to be use as a proxy, which would raise all sorts of other issues like liability, legality and added costs in fees – and the potential of a 3rd party effectively being able to hold your money hostage if successful.

Here’s what the last iteration of the video pitch on IndieGoGo looked like:

Starting out, we had some assumptions and there were a few things we wanted to test and (in-)validate:

  1. Is it possible (for us, right now) to crowd fund (without equity) the development of an iPhone app?
  2. Is there any interest in this product in the market?
  3. How efficient is spamming, mailing, tweeting, posting and otherwise contacting friends, fools, families, bloggers and journos?
  4. What is the conversion rate from blogs and news sites when and if we get published?

The tl;dr answers:

  1. No
  2. Yes
  3. Abysmal
  4. Disastrous (extrapolated)

Read on for the more longwinded answers and conclusion.

As luck would have it, during our campaign I also got the chance to ask IndieGoGo co-founder Danae Ringelmann (@GoGoDanae) in person at a panel on Crowd Funding of startups in Europe moderated by Mike Butcher (@mikebutcher) at the Campus Party EU in Berlin.

Mike Butcher moderating panel on Crowd Funding at Campus Party EU in Berlin

Danae was kind enough to sit down with me after the panel and give me more advice on our crowd funding campaign. Here’s what we learned from her:

  1. For a very successful IndieGoGo campaign example, look at Satarii Star.
  2. Add as much as possible to the story of “what’s in it for me as a backer”, “only you make it happen”, “if you help this happen you will be able to do X and Y”, focus on the emotional appeal. Think Apple.
  3. If you can, show “what’s in it for me” in images to help emotionalize it.
  4. Ramp up the communication about what is going to happen if you fail to raise the target amount and make sure to communicate the consequences.
  5. Reach more than $ 1.000 before pushing to the press.
  6. Reach out to people who have already pledged for stories and testimonials, publish their stories about why they believe in you.
  7. You can extend the running time of a campaign. Get in touch with IndieGoGo support if you need to extend the time.
  8. Keep pushing press although they don’t react at first. Just keep it up and ping them back on any kind of updates.

BONUS (and this is from me, not from Danae): Pay or raise the plus $ 1.000 yourself with family and friends you will pay back if you can and if you’re going for a campaign that gets to keep the money regardless if you reach your goal and consider the PayPal fee marketing expenses. I’ve heard this trick is more the rule than the exception on IndieGoGo.

It’s evident to everybody by now that we were spectacularly unable to fund the development of the OneSec iPhone app. Was it because it’s the wrong product? We don’t think so based on the feedback we are still receiving. We still think there’s a great opportunity to be had here. We have not given up on it.

Could we have kept on going, extending the campaign, applying and executing on the knowledge that we gained on the way? Certainly, but we decided to call it quits and call it a #fail. We had learned a lot about doing a crowd funding campaign and it was time to move on.

In the course of the campaign we were tweeting, retweeting, blogging, mailing and Facebook posting night and day. Manually and automated. We spammed around 680+ journalists in an email blast. We posted tips to about 20 of the top tech trend agencies. We filled special interest forums. We instagrammed. We YouTubed.

Here’s the results:

And how did this convert? The honest answer; We have no direct way of measuring it as IndieGoGo doesn’t offer standard referral analytics. You can track how many tweeted and posted your campaign to Facebook using the share buttons on the campaign page – but that’s it.

Having no referrer data is insane if you’re somewhat successful and want to identify where the traffic is coming from and what to focus on. Luckily for us, we were complete failures and measuring conversion of referrers when you have zero effects is pretty easy. We still would have loved to see which source drove the most traffic – if any, though. (See Francis’ posts on stats on publishing and conversion for more on this subject).

The lesson to us was pretty clear that spamming journalists and getting some publicity didn’t convert into any pledges.

We probably also launched our publicity efforts too soon, before we had reached $ 1.000. Next time we’ll consider paying this amount in ourselves and considering IndieGoGo’s cut as marketing expenses.

Conclusion

So what do we think were our biggest mistakes and lessons learned? What would we do differently next time?

  1. We failed to explain the product well enough
  2. We failed to make an emotional connect with more potential users and backers
  3. We failed to identify the target user segments and multiplier groups
  4. We failed with the tongue-in-cheek, no-budget style whereas more successful campaigns have had more of a serious and solid narrative with polished video content

In hindsight, it’s clear we failed to explain the product to people in the pitch video. Talking to people, the single most frequent first response is “I don’t get it”. Then we take the time to explain it and then they are like “Oh, I see. That’s cool”. We could have made a more detailed demo – especially detailing what we’ve planned for the super-easy editing and the social sharing aspects of it. Making an extensive demo would have taken considerable more time and effort than we already put it, but doing a campaign over again we’d probably start with explaining the product in more detail.

We failed to make an emotional connect with potential users and funders on two levels. On the one hand successfully conveying why we’re doing this, why we believe in this and what will happen if we don’t get funded. On the other we also failed to explain and “sell” the “what’s in it for me” the “how this makes my life better” to the potential backers. Doing it over, we would focus on how the product improves the user’s life like keeping more in touch and more up to date about your life, lives of friends and families, sharing more with others instead of your videos just gathering virtual dust on SD cards and hard disks, Apple-style with people showing real-life use-cases.

Starting out, we spammed targeted our friends, families and fellow entrepreneurs and things looked good for a while. Then as the campaign progressed, growth quickly leveled out as we didn’t manage to identify and branch out to new potential groups of users that would love our product and to other communities who’d be interested in seeing us succeed. Next time, it would probably be smarter to to do some research, tests and cohort analysis to find those groups up front before launching the campaign, having an actual plan on who to market it to, where they are, how to best reach them and how to better enable them to engage with and share the campaign.

In conclusion if we could have invoiced all the work we put in as regular consulting hours with normal customers, we’d probably made more than our original target for the funding campaign. But don’t let that deter you from trying. Just avoid doing the same mistakes we did.

For further reading on lessons learned, make check out Francis’ “Tales of Creation” where other entrepreneurs share their experiences and insights.

Stay tuned for the next installment, in which we perhaps test and learn how to fund an iPhone app – an Instagram for one second videos – with private investors for equity.

Until then, I’d love to know what your experiences with crowd funding are. How did your campaign go? What did you learn? What do you think we did wrong? Share in the comments or join the conversation on Hacker News.

OneSec screenshot 2

Update: We were approached by a major investor in [insert name of massively successful camera product brand here] after we had decided that the experiment had run its course and shortly before the Vine app hit the street. Of course there is no telling if that conversation could have gone anywhere interesting – or not – had we decided to revive it and press on. However, perhaps the last lesson learned was that these things take more time than you think. To create and manage – but also for your message to reach out to interesting new places. And just as you are about to lose faith and passion, your luck just might turn if you stick to it. However, we had already decided to kill it as we had run out of personal interest and passion. With the release of Vine immediately after, that decision was reconfirmed for us and I don’t think we regret killing it.

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entrepreneurship, Events, hustling, startup

Yossi Vardi let me use his keynote to pitch my startup

Gauss CEO Vidar Andersen pitching Yossi Vardi's keynote audience at Campus Party Europe in Berlin 2012

Recently I was invited with our startup to the Campus Party – the biggest electronic entertainment event with keynotes from rockstars like Paulo Coelho, Yossi Vardi, Don Tapscott and Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

It’s no secret that I’ve been a big fan of Yossi Vardi for quite some time, so it was only natural that I was camping out on a front row seat, super eager to hear his keynote.

Then about ten minutes in, something unpredictably awesome happened; As I was answering Yossi’s question to “what’s keeping people from executing on their ideas?” shouting “FEAR OF FAILURE!” out loud from the crowd, Yossi told the keynote audience that I should perhaps hold the keynote instead of him and then proceeded to let me pitch Gauss to his whole keynote audience! Needless to say I was pretty gobsmacked and humbled.

Watch it as it happened:

knew Yossi Vardi is truly awesome – still this kind of spontaneous generosity completely blew my socks off and caught us totally by surprise!

So thank you, Yossi – I’m incredibly humbled and grateful! You are even cooler than I imagined. I hope we meet again sometime in the future. You rock! :)

Here’s a bonus interview with Dr. Yossi Vardi from CP Europe 2012:

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