The OG Streetwear Designer Fighting for NFT Creator Royalties
The Hundreds, co-founded by Bobby “Bobby Hundreds” Kim and Ben “Ben Hundreds” Shenassafar in 2003, was built when a sneaker message board called NikeTalk reigned supreme; when online communities gathered in chat rooms to share news on releases of the newest Air Jordans, discuss product design and socialize with like-minded creators. Sounds familiar? It was the precursor to the crypto Discords of today.
Then the streetwear brand proved the old-fashioned power of customer loyalty and community when it took its first step into Web3 with the launch of an Ethereum non-fungible token (NFT) collection, Adam Bomb Squad, in 2021. The collection of 25,000 unique NFTs was sold out in under 40 minutes. To date, its total sales is valued at 22,000 ether (ETH), or over $25 million, and has generated over $73 million worth of secondary trades, according to data from CryptoSlam.
Building on this success, The Hundreds spent considerable energy and expense expanding its foothold in Web3.
This summer, a video of an NFT protest trended on Twitter. It showed an “angry” mob holding signs that read “God hates NFTs,” “Crypto is a sin,” “Vitalik is the antichrist,” marching the streets of SoHo in New York City at the start of the annual NFT.NYC conference. That’s just when the first flurries of crypto winter snow started to fall.
While some on social media believed it was a real protest against NFTs, longtime fans of The Hundreds knew it was a classic guerilla marketing strategy. Once again, the OG was showing Web3 how old-fashioned marketing is done.
So it was a shock in November when Bobby Hundreds canceled the NFT drop on OpenSea, the largest NFT marketplace in terms of trading volume, in protest of the NFT trading platform’s stance on creator royalties.
Many NFT creators set a secondary-sale royalty on their work, typically a 5% to 10% fee paid by the reseller. Since August, NFT marketplaces X2Y2, Magic Eden and LooksRare clawed away market share by deciding to no longer obligate buyers to pay royalties or contribute to creators. OpenSea took the middle road in this ongoing debate.
“Abandoning creator royalties throws the entire mission of Web3/NFTs off,” said Kim in a Twitter thread.
He has been one of the most outspoken Web3 creators to push back on OpenSea. Instead, The Hundreds moved the November launch of its new NFT collection Badam Bomb Squad to its own website.
To Kim, NFTs today have a lot to learn from the several decades of culture built around streetwear: Whereas streetwear had a good decade to build its artistic appreciation and cultural foundation before reselling stole the narrative, NFTs came up the opposite way – its investment value dominated the narrative before newcomers noticed its potential as a cultural artifact.
What’s more important than marketing strategies to build the cultural foundation for NFTs? The creators. That’s why, in taking a stance against 0% royalties, Kim says, “the artists are always in control.”