Mike Lazerow, who sold his last startup to Salesforce for $700 million, is now investing heavily in NFT startups. Here’s why he says the tech will change every industry.
Mike Lazerow may be well known in the tech industry as the founder of the adtech startup Buddy Media, which sold to Salesforce for $700 million in 2012, and for his long string of successful angel investments, from BuzzFeed to Scopely.
But these days, he lives and breathes nonfungible tokens.
“I love subcultures,” Lazerow told Insider, adding that he played a weekly golf game on the Oculus.
“I love subcultures that become culture, like the sneakers behind me,” he said, pointing at his neatly organized cubbies of shoes in the background during a video call. “Or NFTs,” he added, pointing to a flat-screen TV shuffling through his collection of NFT artwork.
The venture firm he cofounded with his wife, Kass Lazerow, Velvet Sea Ventures, has invested $159 million into NFT startups, including in the sports industry with Autograph and the media-entertainment industry with Pixel Vault.
In 2017, “we started investing in art because it was on the cutting edge,” he said, adding: “It took these early projects just to show what was possible.”
While NFT artwork has skyrocketed in popularity, selling for millions, Lazerow said digital art was just the beginning. Lazerow defines NFTs as code written on the blockchain with metadata attached to it. The metadata verifies the uniqueness of the item, which can then be bought or sold as private property.
“For me, my kids, and a lot of my friends, the digital stuff in our life is what we value the most,” Lazerow said. “So the idea that you actually can protect that or share it and still have an economic system that makes sense for that is really powerful.”
But he sees a fit in any circumstance where users today can’t be owners of items. For instance, he predicted NFTs would reshape the media, where the audience wouldn’t be passive readers or viewers but owners and contributors. For subscription businesses, NFTs can replace membership identification. In business models that rely on tickets, they could replace those.
He imagines, and is investing in, a future where users participate and their values of decentralization and community align.
“It really feels like a way to fix some of what has been broken on the internet,” he said. “We’re all in it together.”
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