Adryenn Ashley, Co-founder of the Billionaire Zombies Club, Talks About the Future of NFTs and the Metaverse

The Metaverse has different meanings to different people, based on their experience and perspective. Our Q&A today is with Adryenn Ashley, who got her first bitcoin in 2009, wrote HTML before the internet was born and designed her first NFT in 2015, before it was technically easy or affordable, for a hospital. She’s an award-winning film producer, nationally broadcast television producer, and award winning author.

Adryenn Ashley was also named #1 Woman in Blockchain Influencer in the world, and spent three years touring the world, speaking at conferences, and teaching hedge funds and family offices due diligence and compliance in blockchain. She’s back on tour appearing at NFT LA Live, NFT.NYC and Miami NFT Week, among a dozen more around the world.

Over the years she’s touched a variety of industries, from supply chain, music and film, luxury goods, green energy, medtech, fintech, social impact and more. With a background in entertainment and a resume that reads like a spy novel (she used to “break into banks for a living” – as a security tester), it’s not hard to see why her perspective on the future of tech and consumer adoption diverges from the mainstream. As she puts it, “I collect dots. But it’s my ability to connect them that is my superpower.”

Adryenn Ashley Is one of the co-founders of the Billionaire Zombies Club, co-organizer of the BZCDAO, and now launching a global nonprofit campaign to educate 1 million women and girls in blockchain development and entrepreneurship. Now she’s set her sights on the Metaverse. Her next book, “Minting the Future,” is all about NFT’s and the Metaverse.

BT: BZC is an art-focused area of the Metaverse. How do you see the role of art developing in the Metaverse, and do you think there is long term potential for digital-only (no physical counterpart) in the art world?

Adryenn Ashley: There’s only so much wall space. Even the museum of modern art in San Francisco has a huge warehouse / rental gallery filled with art it doesn’t have wall space for. I’ve had NFTs since 2017 but I got my first 3D motion NFT in 2000. It’s a prancing EDM llama by PsycheDre. I don’t meditate, but for months I would pull up my llama and it would make me smile and giggle and start my day with a smile no matter where I was in the world. You can’t take a Monet with you, your insurance company would cancel you if you tried! So the question is also of safety of investment. We have hardware wallets but those can be lost, keys can be lost, and I think that would make most serious art investors a little hesitant. Crypto natives are buying and seling Bored Apes like it’s lunch. But old school investors are moving into the space more slowly. Platforms like OG2D, which offers a custodial wallet solution with $30 million in insurance for your NFTs (no matter where you bought them) and certificates of authenticity of every NFT on it’s platform is the bridge those traditional collectors need. As for the metaverse, with the flip of a switch I can swap out my gallery from abstract to neoclassical without having the call the movers and worry that a picture is crooked. As a society, especially after 2 years of lockdowns, I believe we will be spending more time in the metaverse. And with that, more decorating, more collecting and more abilities to display. And speaking for displays, you can actually display your NFT at home. Samsung is coming out with a TV to do that, but there are a number of companies already producing digital frames to hang on the wall to flex your wallet holdings. To help showcase just how epic the metaverse can be, Billionaire Zombies Club are in development of a television show in the genre of a home decorating show where my ZombieMama metaverse avatar is decorating my castle. Part hilarity, and a lot subconscious education, I think people will understand the value of something you can only see, and that will be the tipping point for digital assets going mainstream.

BT: Although the term ‘Metaverse’ is being used extensively in both the media and marketing material, for the moment, the actual situation looks a lot more like many isolated platforms, instead of a unified Metaverse. How do you see the Metaverse evolving?

Adryenn Ashley: We are in an experimental phase, learning which technologies will work best, what use cases will attract users, and how to structure the tokenomics for long term sustainability. And while there are benefits to each flavor of blockchain, the real technological breakthrough will come in the form of cross chain portals, where users can have their avatars travel with them wherever they go. And we are very close to that being a reality. In the future, the metaverse will function much like our web browsers do now. Where do you want to go? Ok, let’s go. There will be no barriers to entry. And while we are far from the Ready Player One experience, what you can experience now is remarkable. A great example is Burning Man, their virtual burn was epic and you could portal from one camp to another. Now imagine that you can travel from the Billionaire Zombies Club and Crypto Pills party in CryptoVoxels and through a portal head to the afterparty at a speakeasy in Decentraland, and then head home to your custom build mansion in Somnium Space. Portals will function just like the address bar in your browser. For now, because there is no global standard, we are seeing divergent tech developed that each is geared toward a different user experience, with the only common thread being that there is a user experience. Who will dominate? All I can say for sure is that the decentralized future will rest upon the choices the users make. They will quite literally vote with their wallets.

BT: NFTs are at the core of the current Metaverse concept. They allow ownership of unique digital property that can be freely traded. As the Metaverse evolves, how to you see platforms integrating NFTs that are from other platforms. In other words, do you see a Metaverse that is open to NFTs from any platform?

Adryenn Ashley: We can already do this. If you have an NFT on Binance or Polygon or Ethereum, there is already technology to verify your NFT and allow you access. And new technology is being developed specifically for this use case. Where in game assets can cross chains to be use in a variety of gaming platforms. Imagine if Play Station and Xbox games were cross compatible? In the current play to earn revolution of blockchain games I think many founders are looking at collaborations as a way to increase their user base. With most 10K generative projects only have a few thousand wallets it’s hard to sustain a game. So you need new users. Who necessarily wouldn’t have a genesis NFT. So how do you engage and retain them? By partnering. I think this form of game interaction will seep into the mainstream and with startups like providing UPR (unique player ranking) across games, and driving NFT adoption to crypto newcomers we should see it become the norm. In our Billionaire Zombies Club Web3 play to earn game, we have devised a clever way to gain new users, but it’s still a secret!

BT: Ethereum has been the base of the NFT revolution. Do you see this as being a long-term phenomena? Or do you think that Ethereum’s days as top blockchain for NFTs are numbered?

Adryenn Ashley: Just like Bitcoin, Ethereum is the standard for dApps. And while newcomers like Solana and Polkadot are gaining traction, there will always be a need and desire for ETH. Think of it like the blue chip blockchain for smart contracts. And with layer 2 solutions offering a fix to the gas wars, it will keep Ethereum Virtual Machines as the leading blockchain technology. But I do see Solana having an advantage in play to earn gaming in the future with it’s 65000 transactions per second. Since Vitalik announced that Eth2 is 6+ years out, I think the entire industry started more seriously looking for solutions. This is why you will see Polygon start taking the lead in so many would be Ethereum projects. The Solidity code I’ve written over the years flawlessly works on polygon. So for those of us with a library of smart contracts, we don’t have to start over. And as gas prices soar, look for Ethereum’s price to as well. (not financial advice).

BT: Major NFT sales from artists like Beeple make headlines. However, many smaller artists are also issuing NFTs. Can you talk about how NFTs make it easier for artists to reach a wider audience? Do you think this is the case?

Adryenn Ashley: Crypto Twitter owns the marketing of NFT’s often with 20,000 tweets per hour just on new projects and #NFTs often trending globally. As with any blockchain project, and even more so with NFTs, it’s all about the artists ability to generating raving fans and keep them excited. Most projects are using Discord, but this is a barrier to entry for those artists who have a more mainstream non-crypto audience. I have found many fine artists who have tried to drag their fans to discord unsuccessfully. My rule, don’t make your fanbase cry. Once you identify your ideal buyers, find them and engage with them in a manner they are used to, that is easy for them. The best practices for artists wanting to gain notoriety is to find a mission. Most importantly, have a purpose more than a JPG with a serial number (as those are flooding the market). With a philanthropic tie in (or many as is the case with our Giving Tuesday $BZC token drop of 1 billion tokens to 10 charities) it’s much easier to grow an organic audience that not only loves your art, but aligns with your ethos. You can also use sites like Look to the Stars to find which celebrities share your passion for your mission.

For my launch, we are educating 1 million women in blockchain development and entrepreneurship through a fun collectible trading card NFT game. Because there is a real and reasonable roadmap our mission is attracting attention of female celebrities, and big name fathers with daughters. It’s G rated. We see feel good news stories about 14 year olds minting out and now having college funds. One of our own #bzcarmy holders sold his zombies to fund his own drop, the Cyborg Wolves, and he crushed his launch, minting out in 27 hours. Then our army decended and bought up the floor and his value increase significantly. He then bought back into zombies but also bought a King so he could be a voting member of the DAO. Oh and he got to meet Gary Vee live and in person. This kid crushed it. If he can do it, it should inspire readers to take the plunge.

If you think you need a huge budget to do an NFT, there are bootstrapped ways to gain attention.

The core philosophies of a winning project are be clever, original, and have such an enticing story that it attracts a community of evangelists! Stories sell. And in the case of Billionaire Zombies Club, the art is Hard! (I don’t know where that term came from, but it’s bandied about on discords in hundreds of projects as the ultimate term of respect for the art). Whether you’re a seasoned artist or a newcomer, NFTs are basically leveling the playing field. Yes those with a huge audience have a bit of an upper hand. But that doesn’t mean they’ll play their hand well. You need to capture your audience on an email and sms list, so you can always reach out and touch them. That is the #1 rule in internet marketing and I see it ignored in the NFT space, opting for discord and anonymity, which works perfectly for the crypto crowd but not the mainstream civilian struggling to install and understand metamask. That rule of owning your audience will win out and those who make the effort upfront to onboard their audience to a system they own, even smaller artists just building a name, will reap the benefits.

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