2020 was an Awakening for Social Tokens.
Here are the highlights.
Social tokens are an emerging category of digital assets backed by the reputation of an individual, brand or community. In this report we aim to highlight the flourishing ecosystem of projects, tools and professionals that have driven the category forward this past year. From early personal tokens to the growing number of community tokens, 2020 has seen new projects, models and applications emerge to lay the groundwork for what looks to be an exciting 2021 for social crypto.
Social tokens are a response to a longstanding demand from creators to receive more equitable pay, and forge deeper relationships with their audiences and communities. The rise of creator economies was first defined as the passion economy by Li Jin in her post The Passion Economy and the Future of Work in 2019. Since then, the movement has grown dramatically as social tokens have come a long way in 2020.
Here's a quick timeline of the major events that have transpired since.
1 $BOI for 1 hour of Matt’s time. He went on to design the Saint Fame Genesis Shift ($FAME) and triggered a whole wave of time tokens.
Prominent DAO summoner Pet3rpan created his own time token ($MAGIC) while Ameen Solomani created a personal token good for one retweet ($PEW).
The earliest days of social tokens saw creators offering fixed services for each redeemed token.
Creators like Connie Digital showed how closely social tokens and NFTs are intertwined with the creation of $HUE.
This quickly turned into HUE-only NFTs on OpenSea, drops in Cryptovoxels, AudioNFTs and other creative ways of spreading brand awareness using a social token.
The NFT and metaverse communities soon followed suit when Whaleshark launched $WHALE (more on this below) and Skeenee launched $SKULL.
In perhaps the most notorious development of the year, creators experimented with micro-raises through social tokens. Alex Masmej raised $20k through $ALEX to fund his move to SF and Kerman Kohli raised $20k through $KERMAN.
The commonality? Both creators gave purchasers rights to future income, enforced socially rather than on-chain. While both have taken their personal token income agreements in different directions, many other tokens are now toying with raising small amounts of capital to bootstrap their career trajectory in exchange for future income.
Before CollabLand was a de facto part of every social token community, KarmaDAO showed the potential for token-permissioned access groups. Community members were required to hold a minimum of 200 $KARMA to join an exclusive Telegram group, good for networking and sharing access to deal flow.
Within 48 hours of launch, nearly 500 members had joined the group - opening the floodgates for token-permissioned chat groups that are a commonality amongst virtually every social token community.
Communities are not just forming around culture and content. Social tokens are poised to help the creator economy forge a novel path whereby artists can interface directly with their audience. RAC, a grammy-winning artist and producer, partnered with Zora to launch a community token called $RAC.
$RAC was awarded to loyal fans and listeners retroactively, meaning fans (many non-crypto native) in RAC’s orbit were airdropped tokens for supporting his career through platforms like Patreon, Twitch and Bandcamp.
$RAC unlocks access to various perks, exclusive content and redemption bonuses on drops like $TAPE.
As of Dec 28, 2020
Source: Forefront / Coingecko / Collab.land
You’ve seen him on every high-profile NFT leaderboard there is. We’re talking about WhaleShark Pro, the praised NFT collector whose aggregated more than $2M worth of assets in a community-owned Vault. $WHALE was the brainchild of the shared ownership of this Vault, which has now evolved into an ecosystem of artists, collectors and enthusiasts pushing forward the Whale brand through a number of socially incentivized campaigns. The latest spinoff - E1337 - introduces the “world’s first luxury E-sports apparel brand”. From NFT mining to airdrops, games and events, the WHALE community is a pure example of the vibrant NFT community, and one that frequently comes up in conversation for all things social tokens.About Whale
Don’t let the name deceive you. Positioned as a ‘digital cornerstone between the technology and culture communities’ Friends With Benefits is a vibrant group of crypto-natives and crypto-curious creators banding together to explore the future of web3. Friends with Benefits is gearing up to launch its first Season in 2021, making this a community worth keeping an eye on. With a growing staff of musicians, developers, and writers, $FWB offers access to a curated list of high-value channels, including community-driven essays called ‘rough drafts’, Discord bots to bookmark notable links, exclusive Substack subscriptions and recurring #coffee-time voice chats.Community Overview
As a breeding ground for gaming’s most curious minds, RNG has quickly turned into one of the most active social-token communities in the space. Featuring interviews with various domain experts, book clubs, game nights and more, RNG is the epitome of a community building for quality over token price. In fact, $RNG is one of the few social tokens currently not liquid on secondary markets, giving the founding team the opportunity to seed its contributors for bringing real merit, rather than looking to make a quick flip. Richard recently recapped his learnings starting RNG, a read we’d highly recommend for anyone thinking of starting their own social token.Reflections on Community
As one of the first social tokens to exit to the community, JammSession shifted its entire vested supply to a community treasury. This has led to multiple members being paid for their ongoing contributions to community and treasury management, and the breeding group for exiting new experiments. JammSession was the first to utilize Outpost for its token-permissioned newsletter and is now exploring the use of SuperFluid for programmable onchain cashflows to reward active contributors on a real-time basis.token-permissioned newsletter
A vibrant social token ecosystem needs tools and infrastructure to support it. Enter Seed Club Hacks, the first of its kind Social Token Hackathon.
The virtual hackathon focused on building tools that support creators and the social token economy. The hackathon had over $10,000 in prizes (including social token bounties from $ALEX, $SWAGG and $JAMM) and brought together over a dozen teams to build tools for token creators.
Hackathon winners include
Catalog, a platform that "empowers artists with greater control in monetizing their work and community through the use of artist tokens"
As the most well-known issuer, Roll has helped nearly 200 creators issue a social token in the past year alone. Their fixed model of a 10M supply with 2M going directly to the creator, 1.2M to Roll and 200k unlocked monthly for 3 years has become the standard for social tokens to date. Roll offers an interface to redeem tokens for services or give away tokens through airdrops. They’ve forked Uniswap for easy secondary market trading and are now pioneering a newsletter ‘Social Money Times’ to keep the community informed on the latest from top communities who issued through Roll.Learn More
With a strong focus on bringing social tokens to the mainstream, Rally designed a custom layer two solution allowing for instant transactions, USD purchases and inherent value capture mechanics using a bonding curve. The platform features a native governance token - RLY - which is bonded to creator coins to mint new tokens. They’re currently running a creator incentive program, offering up to $5k to new creators looking to issue a social token (or creator coin as Rally calls it) today. Rally has leaned heavily into DeFi, offering yield farming opportunities through yearn Vault delegation alongside Uniswap and Balancer liquidity mining. This is all backed by a community multisig, Snapshot forum and governance forum.Learn More
The not-so-silent newcomer is making a big splash by onboarding huge names into the social token landscape. The latest series of rappers, Lil Yachty and Lil Pump, are both launching social tokens on Fyooz, catching press attention for the ‘sold out’ sales that seem to be the metric of success for the mysterious platform. Backed by the FYZ governance token, the project is setting out to make an accessible issuance platform for creators to launch tokens priced in USD with redemptions like meet and greets, merch and other exclusive giveaways.Learn More
As one of the first social token issuance platforms, Stake on Me allows creators to issue their very own meToken, priced according to different bonding curve designs. Depending on the curve you choose, the market features a Spend and a Sell Rate, meaning buyers get more value out of spending the meTokens than they do out of selling it. Developed with support from Raid Guild, meTokens is home to a number of deep DAO enthusiasts testing the waters with personal tokens in a very web3 fashion.Learn More
The creator goods platform tested the social token waters with the launch of $RAC, the community token for grammy-award winning musician RAC. Zora’s emphasis on UX allowed fans to claim their tokens through an email and password based login, and offered an added incentive for RAC $TAPE buyers to redeem the limited edition cassette tape in exchange for $RAC tokens. While it doesn’t appear Zora will be launching any other social token in the short term, this example shows that the act of issuing the token is arguably less value than the ease of use for the creator, and the way those fans are able to claim and earn tokens for value added contributions.Learn More
Coinvise is a new issuance platform with a focus on APIs that allow developers to integrate tokens into their existing platforms. Creators can craft and manage rewards for their communities, while Coinvise offers services without taking a cut of issuance. While they’re still in beta, we’re excited to see more issuance come to the table in 2021.Learn More
The social token platform incubated by Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie is gearing up to launch in 2021, offering high profile individuals a means of tokenizing themselves and their upside in a web3 income sharing agreement (ISA). While the platform is still in stealth mode, it goes to show that top names are looking to carve out a niche in social tokens, and one that will likely make some waves in the coming monthsLearn More
Looking for an easy way to collaborate and chat with other token holders? Collab.Land is now powering over 40k addresses and 700 groups with its Discord and Telegram bot that tracks users token/share balances to grant access to specific chat channels. Its integrations include ERC20 (including Uniswap LP) tokens, ERC721, ERC1155, POAP, Roll API and Moloch DAO shares. The bot automatically kicks users if their token/share balance falls below a minimum threshold and can be staked for different tiers on Discord. We also help power Snapshot proposals and voting notifications. Social OAuth based on-boarding, launching DAOs, creating and voting on proposals, community discovery pages and dashboards, airdrops, quests, emoji tipping, vesting, farming, gasless payments, subscriptions, joint collectives and multi-chain support are just some of the features on the CollabLand radar for 2021.Learn More
Off-chain voting tool Snapshot has become the go-to governance solution for all social tokens. Quickly spin up an instance to allow token holders to vote on different issues using their wallet balance at a specific block as a proxy. With no gas required to vote, social tokens and DeFi projects alike are turning to Snapshot for minimum viable governance.Learn More
Most social tokens have huge sums of tokens that are commonly issued to the creator and core team at inception. Many communities are choosing to leverage Gnosis Safe to mitigate central points of failures by democratizing ownership to that treasury through a community multisig. Whether it be governed by the community or simply shared by the core team, the transparency of Gnosis Safe has turned into the way social tokens issue transparent, on-chain payments and incentives to valued added contributors. With most Gnosis Safes, the majority of signers need to agree to sign a transaction, meaning no one party can run off or choose to spend the funds without the other signers consent.Learn More
Community engagement is a great way to keep tabs on the most active contributors. Tools like SourceCred allow communities to track this engagement using a tracking algorithm that monitors key metrics like posts, likes and responses in Discord or Discourse. These instances can be customized to meet a community's needs, meaning one community may choose to incentivize the quantity of posts in a group whereas another chooses to incentivize the total amount of emoji reactions members earn over time. These scores, called Cred, can then be used as a proxy to distribute social tokens, meaning active members can earn fungible rewards for their continued activity in a social token community.Learn More
Looking to distribute tokens to those helping your community grow? Unite.community is making big waves after winning the Seed Club Hackathon and placing as a finalist at ETH Online. Unite allows creators to set up social campaigns to reward those who engage with content in the form of likes, reposts or follows with a fixed amount of tokens. While distribution is the starting point for Unite, they are also looking into issuance and redemption as a means of expanding their value add in the wider social token landscape.Learn More
Token-permissioned gateways are set to be all the rage in 2021. DFAME is combining sleek UX with impressive web3 gateways to give users a means of gating any piece of content behind any number of tokens. This modular design can be anything from a newsletter to a Youtube video, or private remix. After forming out of Gitcoin’s KERNEL incubator, DFAME is on track to be a key piece of tooling for those looking to take token-permissioned content to the next level.Learn More
Created on the back of the success of KarmaDAO, DAOfi is looking to offer communities a way to better dictate secondary market activity through a social-token specific DEX. From customizing a trading curve to flexible liquidity and price caps, DAOfi looks to give creators control over AMM designs to maximize impact relative to their specific mission or focus. DAOfi is likely to push the social graph narrative forward, best exemplified by the social token leaderboard made in creation with Forefront.Learn More
As a dashboard for treasury management, Llama gives community operators a tool to keep track of inflows and outflows to better record how social tokens are spent on any given month. While the tool is not limited to social token communities, it was founded out of the Seed Club social token hackathon.Learn More
Offering a way to earn from content curation, Yup turns likes into social capital. Social token creators can leverage Yup to encourage their communities to create content, and earn rewards for doing so.Learn More
Similar to DFAME, Outpost is an open-source newsletter that allows creators to gate content behind a token-permissioned threshold. First pioneered by the JAMM community with JammSessions, Outpost is now home to four different newsletters.Learn More
Governance forums are the most frequent place for communities to talk about pressing issues and new proposals for protocol upgrades. Using Cryptoverse, communities can gate access to their forum behind a token-permissioned threshold. Connect with a web3 wallet like Metamask and feel confident that everyone on the forum has skin in the game to comment on your thoughts and ideas.Learn More
Seed Club is a social token incubator that emerged from a community of early social token issuers and explorers all trying to figure out how to best use tokens as creators and community leaders. The core offering is a cohort based program that helps token creators design their offering and launch their project. Creators contribute 3% of their tokens to participate. Early participants include RAC, ALEX, HUE, SWAGG and more.Learn More
Started as a management collective to create standards around social tokens, the Social Token Agency works with a handful of select communities to further iterate and expand on their mission statements. The agency looks to establish consistency around progress, structure around long-term roadmaps and unique use-cases and value props to distinguish what makes one social token unique from another.Learn More
Gitcoin’s incubator program, KERNEL, offers a great opportunity for web3 entrepreneurs to band together and explore the future of community-first products. Its alumni include projects like DFAME, making it a great place for both social token creators and social token platforms to explore the depths of web3 development in a peer to peer environment with courses structured around trust and sustainability.Learn More
Many of the top social token communities are now forming key contributor groups to take on important responsibilities within the group. Whether it's a community, treasury or social media manager, it's no surprise that the top social tokens are forming strong circles of contributors who earn tokens as rewards for value-added actions to the group. Examples of social tokens with key contributor groups include but are not limited to WHALE, FWB, RAC, COIN and JAMM.
"The Social Tokens Map"
The Social Tokens Map by Devin Mancuso, is a publicly editable Figma canvas which features a community-curated map of the social tokens ecosystem, including: tools, bots, communities, creators and tutorials.
Everything the burgeoning token creator would need to get started launching their own social token; from Discord server integrations to implementing decentralized governance.
NFTs are becoming more intertwined with social tokens by the day. Many creators are finding digital art to be their first experience into crypto, with social tokens soon to follow.
Prolific designer beeple proved the crypto art demand by selling $3.5M worth of assets over the course over one weekend. Social token creator RAC has been running a series on SuperRare called Elephant Dreams, raising more than $10,000 for each of his three pieces to date.
Lil Miquela flashed a ‘Wen $MIQ’ tag in the background of her first NFT, ‘Rebirth of Venus’ that sold for $82,361, breaking the SuperRare record for highest primary sale on the platform to date.
Coin Artist has been running NFT Farms, giving COIN token holders the ability to farm fractionalized ownership of cypherpunk art using Niftex.
We touched on Connie Digital in our intro, who continues to show both are closely intertwined with his digital art platform danky.art.
Now, with communities like WHALE , SKULL , VAN and OSINACHI crossing over their NFT audience with social tokens, we can only assume this trend will gain more traction in 2021.
Total Artworks Sold
Total Crypto Art Value
As of Dec 26, 2020
Source: Cryptoart / Cryptoartpulse
A 23-Year-Old French Entrepreneur Sold Shares Of His Brain As $ALEX Tokens And Raised $20,000
Trevor Mcfedries - The Defiant
We've Been Creating Value for Instagram and TikTok With Very Little Actually Accruing to Us
Path to Decentralization
Programmable Cash Flows
Social Governance Tokens
It’s been a truly inspiring year for social tokens. What many first brushed off as a fad has quickly blossomed into one the most creative, accessible sectors of web3 today. Some of cryptos brightest young talent is pointed entirely towards social, proving that there is clear value in Ethereum beyond DeFi, NFTs and DAOs.
Social shows that tokens have value beyond their financial components, namely through social capital, ownership and accessibility that is quite nascent in many token economies today. As curation becomes a wider trend in web3, expect social tokens to lead this charge as communities band together to signal to value and drive the next wave of innovation.
Making a bold claim, I expect the social layer to see the same degree of growth as DeFi in 2018, setting the stage for hyper growth on all levels of the social stack. This is when MakerDAO, Uniswap, Aave (then called ETHLend), and Compound were all in their infancy. Looking at social from this lens, what will the Uniswap of social be? What are you doing to prepare yourself for its launch?
If you or someone you know are looking to get involved with social tokens, and brush up on the projects mentioned throughout.
"2021 is the year of social crypto" - @coopahtroopa
Alex / Showtime / @AlexMasmej
Nir / Yup / @_kabessa
Andrew Lee / DAOfi / @alee
Trevor McFedries / Brud / @whatdotcd
Hammad / MetaFactory / @META_DREAMER
Jenil / Coinvise / @0xjenil
Alex Conway / Unite / @alxcnwy
Shreyas Hariharan / Llama / @HelloShreyas
David Tomu / DFAME / @david_tomu
Scott Moore / Gitcoin / @notscottmoore
Priyanka Desai / OpenLaw / @pridesai
Skeenee / $SKULL / @skeenee_art
Gerald Nash / MEZCLA / @aunyks
Louis / Soci3 / @albiverse
Jess Sloss / Seed Club / @thattallguy
Carlos / Forefront / @carlosecgomes
Jacob Horne / Zora / @js_horne
James Young / Collab.Land / @jamesyoung
Devin / dev.in / @devinmancuso
Q / LADZ / @NiftyQ_1
Richard Kim / Galaxy & RNG / @galaxyRTK
Jennifer Tran / DFAME / @jkim_tran
Jonathan Dunlap / DFAME / @jadbox
Luis Egea / DFAME / @LuisEgeaWin
Calvin / Divergence / @cjliu49
Trent Van Epps / Stateful Works / @trent_vanepps
Casey Falvey / User Capital / @usercapital
Jake Hartnell / Public Awesome / @JakeHartnell
Breck Stodghill / Zora / @brxckinridge
Chris Collins / Foundation / @chris3collins