Curio DAO
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September 6th, 2022

The Philippines was the epicenter of the Axie Infinity surge. In 2021, in the middle of an eighteen-month lockdown, many impoverished teenagers and young adults turned to the blockchain game to supplement their income. If you don’t already know, Axie Infinity is a play-to-earn game originally developed by Sky Mavis in 2017, which launched with its own in-game non-fungible tokens (NFTs) — “Axies”, animated Pokémon-inspired creatures. During peak NFT-mania, many of its NFTs sold for life-changing amounts of dollars. The project helped Filipino youth — over 40% of players of the game at one point — who were bored at home and looking for money make above, sometimes double, the minimum wage (even if some players are now in debt).

For a country with a low GDP per capita and widespread poverty, this kind of crypto-based boom is a potential game-changer. Yet the Philippines had already become relatively progressive toward Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in the years prior, helped in no small amount by one of its country’s most innovative crypto entrepreneurs and minds, Luis Buenaventura.

Buenaventura’s ventures have coincided with both the Philippines’ and the global cryptocurrency story. He’s had a hand in every wave of adoption, and found himself the face of NFTs for the island nation under the moniker of Cryptopop. Struggle, adversity and luck all drove him to all time highs.

That’s the price — and the reward — for being a serial, creative crypto entrepreneur.

Most NFT artists don’t have a Ph.D. in Biology from Stanford University. But this one does.

That’s right: Daniel Friedman is a statistical anomaly. He’s an outlier; an entomologist studying ant colonies, an expert on decentralization and crypto, and a flourishing artist whose pen-based drawings for Curio Cards have been picked up by wealthy collectors, including those who bought full sets during auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in October 2021.

But how did the Bay Area-native get here? If Friedman’s evolution might seem unexpected and complex — it’s because it is. Like a blockchain, or an individual’s career, a number of random things fell into place for him to be where he is today. Certainly, he was in the right digital place at the right time. But his success was also built upon a natural predisposition toward being fidgety — paired with the right creative tools.

May 9, 2037.

You’ve got the first Ethereum art artifacts in your wallet. Someone in your personal metaverse gallery asks you if you know what they mean. “They’re from a moment in time, a pre-NFT world,” you say, tipping your sombrero knowingly. “An art show born out of the Bitcoin meetup days…” You pause, unable to hold back a smile. “Pre-CryptoPunks. Each artist has their own style.”

“But do you know about the stories,” they ask, shimmering in and out of a Raccoon-colored waterfall. “Do you know about the sets, and what the Cards really mean?”

“Robek?” you say, confused and entranced, seeming to recognize the voice.

To create is to participate. So says the art collective, Marisol Vengas. Formerly anonymous, now firmly public polymath and DAO innovator Max Infeld, Marisol’s emergence as auction-house-selling Curio Cards artist last year seemingly came out of the blue — their art had never sold, and only a few friends and loved ones seemed to care. Pull back the layers, however, and Infeld, the “stage director” behind Marisol, has an NFT art success story years of experiments in the making.

Art engaging economy

Max Infeld’s road to creating million dollar NFT art history began with cryptocurrency. Unlike most early adopters, though, he found crypto via art. But even art wasn’t initially on the cards for the Chico-based artist, professionally; in the early 2000s, he attended California State University to study computer science, completed most of the classes, and then realized he didn’t want to pursue it, because, he says, he “kind of had a problem with how sterile it was.” Following the prescribed course also seemed “absurd,” after he discovered all the manuals for programming languages were available online. “I really just wanted to build my own graphic software,” he says, in an interview with “Vintage NFT” collector, Zero G. “But they were like (...), ‘On your fifth year of college you might be able to do that.’ (And) I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, this is ridiculous.’”

Instead, Infeld chose to do an art degree. Classes were immediately more engaging and interactive. He liked the “biome” of people being “hyper social,” especially when they’d show each other techniques, and says, “The coolest people I met were artists.”

Curio Cards’ on-chain data is now neatly organized and searchable in one place.

In a recent Twitter Space titled “Curio Cards x Graphrica talk Subgraph APIs for NFTs,” Curio Cards founder Travis Uhrig spoke to Graphrica founders Mack and Richie about the ‘subgraph’ they’re using to track and index Curio Cards’ blockchain data. This includes all transaction data, enabling what Mack describes as the ability to “look at every single event that has happened on every single contract.”

Subgraphs and The Graph

Subgraphs are “decentralized APIs” implemented by The Graph, “a Web3 protocol for indexing and querying blockchain data.” You can think of it as a “decentralized query market,” Richie explained.

The newest paradigm for business is DAOs.

If you’ve been around Web3 — blockchain, crypto, and most recently, NFTs — you’ll have come across DAOs, or Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. They’ve been part of the wider crypto conversation since 2016, the year the levitating lightbulb was named in TIME magazine’s ‘best inventions’ list.

Like the levitating lightbulb, the first DAO — known as the ‘The DAO’ — immediately took off, raising 11.5 million ETH from a token sale in April 2016. But then it got hacked. This was disastrous. Not just for those who lost out. But also because it might’ve undermined the perception of a crypto-unique organizational model able to transform how businesses fundamentally operate: with no central authority, connected via blockchain, with all ‘participants’ as direct stakeholders.

With NFTs and new DAO tools added to the equation, we’re beginning to discover the model of the modern DAO, currently emerging out of the thousands of DAOs springing up in industries ripe for blockchain disruption.