In Facebook’s early days, it famously limited membership to students in colleges and universities, opening a few at a time. Hyype, a new social network for NFT collectors, plans a similar approach but Discord server by Discord server rather than school by school.
To that end, Hyype today announced a $1.5M seed round from Electric Capital, a venture capital firm that invests in the potential of programmable money.
“Hyype wants to be a cohesive space for a million communities,” Supriyo Roy, one of the two co-founders, told The Defiant in a video call. Scott Lewis, the serial entrepreneur best known for launching DeFi Pulse, the data provider, has joined the project as a co-founder.
Stories About Their Lives
Hyype is going to start by engaging specific non-fungible token (NFT) communities and getting their feedback on what kind of features would make sense for each of them. The big idea is making a social network that will allow owners of NFTs to connect stories to the items in their collection, just as people tell stories about their lives with applications such as Instagram and TikTok.
“Unlike traditional assets, NFTs are social by nature,” Maria Shen, a partner at Electric Capital, told The Defiant. “Communities like CryptoPunks come together based on their shared NFT assets. We need a new social network to support these NFT communities.”
Hyype plans to launch in late September. Interested users can get involved now through its social media channels, and early adopters may get some perks others could envy later. But the end goal is to be open and accessible to everyone.
Roy previously worked on the product team for Alexa Smart Home at Amazon, but on the side he got interested in NFTs in early 2019, starting with CryptoKitties. Hyype addresses a gap he found as a collector in the market. “Nobody really created a wholesome storytelling platform where you could really showcase your gallery as your identity,” he said.
Hyype won’t be the first social network for NFT collectors. Showtime is already live, with backing from Paradigm, and Lazy.com is up in beta, with backing by celebrity investor Mark Cuban.
Even so, it’s still early days and Roy is betting that Hyype’s focus on storytelling will make it stand out. For instance, users will be able to share why they bought a particular NFT or how it’s served as a springboard for making other NFTs derived from its content.
While the owners may change, those stories will continue living with the NFT.
“It really pushes forward the idea that collectively the media you own in the form of NFTs, that can establish your individuality on the internet,” Roy said.
As a social network, Roy envisions Hyype will function on two levels for each user: First, as individual expression. As Roy put it, before NFTs, wallets just held assets, but NFTs put art and collectibles in them, which gave smart wallets real expressiveness. And Hyype will make it easy for users to curate exactly the impression they want to give off.
Next, Hype will reinforce a sense of membership in a tribe. That’s where the Discord servers come in. People buy NFTs and they join groups drawn to other NFTs in that set and mint communities. A person can be part of several NFT tribes, but Hyype will be organized to help each person express their allegiance to each of their tribes more fully.
That’s why Hyype’s starting now by going to some of the strongest NFT communities and gradually building out an individualized lore around each digital item held by members.
“The art of the NFT itself is just the beginning,” Roy said.