Firstly, if you’re already a Wassie expert and just want to hear the illustrious Loomdart and Wassielawyer wax melodic about them, feel free to skip ahead to the interview section below – but if not, let’s begin with:
What is a Wassie?
According to research pulled from ByWassies and Wassiepedia (which we are told is being revamped and re-launched!), the Wassie is a pest-like creature that emerged after a historical, radioactive incident. They’re some sort of hybrid crossover between a penguin/platypus/duck, and they're known to have a remarkably short lifespan (which can be extended through refrigeration – not to mention, they also just really like fridges), a left-curved IQ, and an unconscious/magnetic tendency to die in silly or picayune ways.
More broadly, the Wassie is a meme that emerged sometime in 2017 on Crypto Twitter. The idea is that a degen named Maru (@wasserpest) discovered an art piece of a penguin-like creature by Japanese Artist Tukinowa Gamo, and eventually, Maru started referring to these creatures as ‘Wassies’, a nod to his username ‘Wasserpest’. The idea and the image of the Wassie slowly but surely seeped into CT culture, where myriad degens and shitposters (notably including Smolting (@inversebrah)) helped propagate the Wassie meme over the subsequent years. By August of 2021, Wassies had been featured on Fortune Magazine’s infamous ‘Crypto vs. Wall Street’ Cover. And finally, in September of 2021, we got Wassies By Wassies, the hyper-ironic 12345 item NFT collection that symbiotically rebranded Loomdart’s LoomLockNFT project.
If you’re not familiar with LoomLock NFT, the premise is that you buy an NFT which makes you eligible to receive a physical locking device, aka the LoomLock, which is time-sensitively designed to “help improve your self-control and willpower”; so, for instance, you could lock your cigarettes for 8 hours each night to avoid the somnambulist urge for a 4am dart.
Perhaps in the future, we'll do a Pt.2 and cover the full LoomLock thesis/roadmap, but for now we’re focusing on the Wassies.
Today, ByWassies (short for ‘Wassies by Wassies’) still represents the small, absurdist creatures, except now the whole thing feels a lot more real. ByWassies have been traded for over 10k Eth in volume; they currently cost more than an apple watch in relative terms, and they’re moving hastily across virtual and physical landscapes alike.
Part of their success has to do with the fact that Wassies cannot be easily categorized, intellectualized, or even written about (as we try to do here) – thus making them, in an odd way, extremely relatable.
Another part of the ByWassies success, though, can be attributed to the fact that 100% of royalties received by the team go toward the Wassie Grants Pool, which funds “projects and initiatives from members of the Wassie community.” To date, the Wassie Grants Pool has disbursed over $420,000 to various grant projects ranging from ‘Wassie Coffee’ to ‘Wassie Games’ to a ‘Wassie Mockumentary’.
Not too long ago, the Wassies community even opened ‘Emporium by Wassies’ a brick n mortar coffee shop located in the tourist district of Singapore, replete with custom Wassie branding and merch. The ByWassies team has assured the community that ‘Emporium by Wassies’ is just the start for physical locations – hopefully, there’ll be countless other similar emporiums, B2B Wassie catering, and coming soon, a Wassie art takeover of a six-story hotel in Singapore.
Sort of relatedly, although not in the sense of being physical, the Wassies are working on building compatibility and a native virtual home within the metaverse, specifically through Webaverse (Upstreet) and AEXLAB (VAIL VR - now in Early Access).
What role does the absurdist lore and ethos behind Wassie culture play in the strength and growth of the community?
Loomdart: Our lovely core Wassies are... lunatics, for lack of a better term. And it's absolutely amazing. They love the project, the community, they love their Wassies, and I think if we had a few more of these we could truly take over the world (hehe, jk). The lore and history let's us build the first few chapters of a grand novel, a novel we intend to have everyone write and contribute to.
The core Wassie lore is absolutely fundamental to our project. Wassies are for the reply guys, the people who don't want to be the main heroes, who just want to chill, work, build, create, ignore all of the annoying bullshit. We aren't here to check accolades or degrees; we are a brutally honest community that allows people who want to do stuff the ability to do stuff. We value you on what you've done, not your name or anything else. I think the absurdity of the Wassie lore and the hyper-shitposting is actually conducive to bringing in people who "traditionally" would be a bit more professional, suit and tie if you will, because at the end of the day we are all human and suits come off when it's time to relax. I've had first-hand experience at how actually awesome this is, as the person currently heading our physical location efforts (the wonderful Locomotiff) originally came in as a contractor to help out with our grants programme, and now she's fully wassified, working at an almost terrifying pace, gmeowing me every morning.
- *As an addendum to the previous question— how do you guys reconcile the shitposting/irreverent side of Wassies as you seep into slightly more commercial endeavors? Do you have to tone down the spiciness of Wassies, or do you only work with folks who are on board for it? **
Wassielawyer: The absurdity simply lets us get talent that you otherwise couldn't hire to passionately work on stuff and this is the most beautiful part of the project IMO; people taking something fundamentally silly and absurd, and then taking it too seriously.
Wassie Pawn (which we have since wound down) was pretty much this. We did NFT-backed lending over a year ago before it became all the rage because a few people in Discord memed about how crazy it would be if you could collateralize JPEGs. Loomdart said let's do it, I volunteered to structure it from a legal perspective, and a gigachad from the community, Omnus, coded the smart contract in less than a month.
The Emporium has a similar story. Tiff (another core team member) and I were in the market for warehouse storage space because of our budding merch business. We saw a pretty cool shophouse (then a barbershop) on a busy street and told Loom, “Now we know this wasn't the plan but it would be awesome if we could set up a coffee shop here.” Loom approved it and Tiff turned the barbershop into a Wassie experience store in about 2 months. Today, Wassies are randomly coming in to work at the coffee shop (decorating it, making coffee) just because it’s absurd and fun.
What’s the larger plan for Emporium by Wassies?
Wassielawyer: Our goal is to set these up around the world, starting with places which are more population dense such as Dubai, London etc since it’s much easier to build a community around it and to negotiate partnerships. For instance, in Singapore right now, we are already negotiating partnerships with various retail / F&B places to get discounts for Wassie holders. Since the country is small, any partnerships we negotiate will provide benefits to all holders, and every Wassie holder in Singapore is probably 45 mins away max from the Wassie Emporium. Again, an extension of the absurdity, it's pretty much us looking at everyone trying to raise funds to build 'the network state' and having all these super serious discussions and us going 'lol what if we just made a Wassie network state'?
On the metaverse end of things, Wassies are working with Webaverse (the UpStreet) and AEXLAB – what’s unique about the Wassie approach to the Metaverse play?
Loomdart: On the metaverse end, I didn't want to fall into this trap everyone else seems to be falling into which is (wow, we can dominate the metaverse pie by making our own metaverse project) because this is just simply a very, very dramatic undertaking and something that I don't really think reflects crypto values. Our goal is to instead create a gigantic fucktonne of tooling and a really big blank canvas (for example, we have a deal with Webaverse that gives us a gigantic plot of land we will be airdropping holders tickets for, with the goal being that people who WANT to build on this gigantic canvas can, and the people who just want to like, sit on their land and speculate on it can – so we won’t have satellites of cool stuff surrounded by many many empty land plots). What’s more, we're working so closely with Webaverse because, due to their open standards, anything we build there can be ported over to most other projects / we can literally just fork their repo and host it all ourselves (again, crypto values!!)
What’s unique about the ByWassies IP structure?
Wassielawyer: Our IP structure actually started as an extension of the absurdity - taking something silly too seriously. Loom and I discussed IP pre-mint and I remarked that the IP licensing structure in most NFT projects (including Bored Apes etc) don't work very well. He said that he wanted holders to 'own' their IP so I started thinking up ways we could do this.
We ended up creating an incredibly novel structure where every ByWassies NFT holder is actually a beneficiary of a trust which holds the image rights to the Wassies. I came up with the legal structuring (this was even referenced in the UK Law Commission Consultation Paper on Digital Assets!) and our incredible dev Ved created the tech means which enabled the solution. This was initially for novelty value but we realized that we actually just created the means by which a true community-owned brand can be built.
Every other NFT project 'licenses' their IP to their holders. We are the only project in the world that licenses the IP from our holders. See here for more info.
We are now starting to demonstrate the value of this. Although it was previously theoretical and cool - we licensed the IP of a 1/1 Unicorn Wassie NFT (which was owned by a community 'DAO') from the 'DAO' and created an entire merch brand that is now being retailed online and in the Wassie Emporium, with part of the proceeds going back to the owners of the 1/1 NFT. We intend to do this with other Wassies in the collection – and earlier today, I was scrolling through OS looking for certain Wassie 'types' that we could potentially license.
I could rant on further, but the unicorn is actually another demonstration of the absurdity creating magic. We had put the unicorn up for auction with proceeds being donated - although we had a few strong bidders, a group of community members spontaneously came together in the last few hours (by memeing about it on Discord) and ended up winning the whole thing.
Five years from now, what might Wassies by Wassies look like?
Loomdart: Five years from now, I imagine the project will look like this:
You buy a ByWassies NFT and you get infinite tools and access to communities of people willing to work with you on as much dope stuff as possible, crypto and non-crypto. I want us to be the largest collection of builders, tinkerers, explorers, and inventors ever. In pursuit of this, we are doing our best to build the foundational building blocks of these pursuits, such as creating a gigantic canvas for (eventually) community fuelled artwork (the boutique), creating 3D models (these are finished, and we decided to launch a 3D production studio so that we could continue in these endeavours) that our holders can use to shitpost as a Wassie in various social digital platforms (think vrchat etc, not really metaverse), and maintaining IP licensing that enables holders to rest assured their IP is theirs and truly theirs.
Wassielawyer: I envisage ByWassies being a truly global brand that is simultaneously exclusive and inclusive. Exclusive in that you must be an NFT holder to participate in holder-exclusive activities, but inclusive in that any person - even someone who doesn’t know anything about NFTs - can appreciate and participate in the brand.
On the merch front, my hope is that we will have Emporiums and retail outlets around the world retailing items to the public created by NFT holders with the proceeds of sales being given to the creators. This would allow us to truly be a brand directed by the community and for the community.
I’d also like for us to be delivering Wassie coffee to Web3 offices, so if you are a Web3 company in Singapore that wants some incredible coffee - let us know since this is where we are starting! We are also rolling out our catering capabilities with the hope that we will be able to cater food and beverages to every major Web3 event globally using our network of ByWassie NFT holders.
Ambitious as this might be - I would also love it if the Wassie Hotel becomes a resounding success and an indicator of our execution capabilities… and allow us to negotiate for ‘Fridge Suites’ in various hotels worldwide. Imagine if you could rock up to a network of premium hotels, show your Wassie and be allowed to book an exclusive suite that looks like a fridge and has Wassie bathrobes!
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