What are major companies and big industry players doing to enter the Web3 space? Joining us today is Keith Grossman, President at Time and Creator of the media brand’s NFT business, TIMEPieces. He shares how he shifted Time’s timeline in the most Web3 way imaginable and is now leading the way for legacy media companies entering the space. Keith also discusses a new project integrating NFTs into communities and sheds light on how NFTs will impact every industry imaginable. Plus, don’t miss our Hot Topics section with quantum pop artist Z-HOVAK as we discuss how she’s bringing hope and inspiration to animals and humans by combining physical art with NFTs and giving back to the animals via charity. Listen in to find out more.
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Keith Grossman Of TIMEPieces & Pres @ TIME, Plus: Z-Hovac’s Animal Spirit NFTs, And More…
This episode features Keith Grossman, President of TIME, and creator of the media brand NFT business, TIMEPieces. Keith is a global leader in the rapidly evolving world of Web3 and leads TIME’s growth within the Web3 ecosystem. Under Keith’s leadership, TIME’s NFT Web3 community, TIMEPieces, has grown to include well over 50,000 artists, collectors and enthusiasts. In 2021, TIME’s Web3 strategy produced eight figures of revenue as the brand expanded from NFTs to community building to partnering with several NFT creators to develop their unique IP into animated series for TV with TIME Studios. TIMEPieces has released four collections, Genesis, Inspiration, Long Neckie Women of the Year, Slices of TIME, and The Beatclub Collection. Keith, it’s great to have you here on the show.
Thank you so much for having me.
It’s a pleasure. TIME, the history here is amazing. There are not a lot of brands that have such a rich history and are still relevant as TIME is now. As you think about such a robust community and a deep following, and something as groundbreaking and forward-thinking as Web3, how did you balance these different elements when you were laying out your game plan for TIMEPieces? What was the sell like internally? Was this an easy sell or did it take a bit?
To answer that question, you have to step a little back. I joined TIME a few years ago. It’s under new ownership, Marc and Lynne Benioff. It’s a private asset. Marc is the CEO of Salesforce, and Lynne is his wife. The remit was how do we take this 100-year-old brand and ensure that its objectivity or that red border lasts for the next 100 years. The one thing that we knew was that the way that it evolved for the first 100 years would not be the way that it involved for the second 100 years. I would be lying if I said that as we thought this through, we ever thought we would be in the Web3 crypto business.
There’s this great philosopher, Mike Tyson, who came out with the quote once that said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” 2020 was the punching in the mouth. What we realized was quite a lot. The way that we were evolving would take us on one trajectory. I don’t know if you’ll all agree but I assume I’m talking to a fairly biased group of individuals. I think that Web3’s adoption accelerated probably by ten years because of 2020. I don’t know if you all remember where you were at the time. I was upstate in New York. I’m walking around and lonely. I realized for the first time that my social media or my digital identity is just as valuable as my physical identity.”
I had this incredible reach. You guys have this incredible reach with this show. I have three friends in real life. I’m like, “It doesn’t make sense.” By the way, I can’t even talk to them because of 2020. I came across NFTs and it blew my mind that you had something that if your digital identity was as valuable as your physical identity, you can now validate digital ownership. That ruminated in my head for a while. It didn’t connect with me that there was anything there and then. I’ve been into crypto since 2013 and 2014. I started my career at WIRED and ARS Technica.
What you’ll see over the course of this conversation is I’m a dorky guy who likes technology, art, crypto and do business models and evolution. In September of 2020 or maybe a little earlier, I started to look into crypto because I didn’t believe the news and everyone saying that there will be no inflation. I went down this rabbit hole. I was on Anthony Pompliano’s podcast in September of that year. In the last two minutes, I asked him, “If you were in my position and you could implement crypto strategies for TIME, what would you do?” He started to give all this good advice. You could see at that point it was ruminating in my head.
In February of 2021, our owner, Marc Benioff, sent me an email that said, “Did you see this?” It was the Nyan Cat sale. Do you remember when the Nyan Cat sells for $500,000? All of a sudden, if there’s ever that lightning moment, it went off. I’m like, “We could do this.” Everyone was like, “What do you mean?” I’m like, “Do you all understand why a cat with the body of a pop-tart, farting a rainbow, just went for $500,000?” Everyone is looking at me like I’m crazy. What I realized at that moment was for 100 years, what has TIME been doing with the cover?” The TIME cover has been an analog meme for 100 years.
It hit me and I did an announcement in mid-March. I said, “This week, TIME is going to enter into Web3. Within 30 days, we will also accept digital currencies for subscriptions,” which we did within 28 days. We took 32 different cryptocurrencies we sell on Bitcoin. We take 33 because we accept 8 Coin, which we announced two days after 8 Coin came out. I said, “Within 6 to 7 months, we would figure out how to use the token, the community, and the blockchain to change the relationship we have with the community.” I had no clue how that was going to happen. I just knew it was possible.
That was a six-month masterclass of sitting in Clubhouse, listening and learning to the likes of JN Silva, ThankYouX, Dave Krugman and others. You ask how did we sell this through. It’s fascinating if you step back and it’s February 2022, I’m like, “We can do this.” All of a sudden, Marc introduced me to Guy Oseary. Guy said to me, “I’m going to introduce you to a bunch of people. That way, you could understand all the players in the space.” He could not have been nicer. He’s an amazing person.
I went on what I would say is a technological speed dating evening, where I met a bunch of players. At the end of it, because everyone else wouldn’t take my call or anything else, the only two people who took us seriously in the entire ecosystem were Jimmy McNelis, who I love and you all know, and John Crain of SuperRare. John Crain was an awesome individual. He teaches me how to mint my first NFT. I ran out of ETH. He replenished it for me. What he didn’t tell me was when I minted the NFT, it was visible on the blockchain. I didn’t know that. That gives you an idea of how ignorant I was at that time.
I minted them all on a Saturday, the Is God Dead? Is FIAT Dead? Is Truth Dead?, then I went into the kitchen in my apartment to get a coconut LaCroix. I opened it up and my phone rings. Somebody offered me $15,000 for Is FIAT Dead?, so I called John Crain up. I said, “You MF-er, you didn’t tell me this was public. What do I F-in do?” You could ask him. I dropped the F word more than anything else because I want it to be a big surprise. He’s like, “It’s supposed to be public? What are you getting in?” I said, “What do I do?”
He said, “Reject the deal and start your auction and have it end around Wednesday evening.” I did that. Nobody bid on any of the TIMEPieces, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. I was so angry at John. It was funny. He got texts from me every five minutes. On Wednesday evening, we did a Clubhouse room. By the end of the night, it exceeded all of our expectations. We did $440,000. You asked this question, and this is my long-winded answer. I rarely told this story. What people don’t know is the funding of TIMEPieces was quite easy to get done because when we were doing the one-of-one NFTs, I needed assistance from our legal department and from our creative director to provide me with those assets. There was nothing there.
Right after we did those first few drops, then we continued to sell numerous drops. We sold about eleven drops on SuperRare during that time. One day I woke up and I got this text message from John Knopf. If you’ve ever been in space with John Knopf, he’s like a brother to me. The text message said, “Did you see that you can convert the RARE token to Ethereum on Uniswap?” I said, “What do you mean?” He said, “Are you paying attention to your email?” I was so busy. I missed an email. He’s like, “Check your email. SuperRare converted to a DAO and they issued RARE tokens.”
I looked and I missed it. I filed it away. I went in and I reclaimed the tokens. Our finance team said at the time that they felt comfortable taking Bitcoin. They felt comfortable taking Ethereum on our books. Altcoins are not innate. They’re not okay to stay and keep in the books. They said, “You have to convert to Ethereum.” I looked and we had so many RARE tokens from all of the drops that we had done that the RARE tokens paid for the launch of TIMEPieces. We never had to ask for funding.
In most Web3 stories of birth or a brand’s evolution into the space, I don’t know how you could top that. John Crain took a shot on me. He taught me how to mint. I found success on his platform. I used his platform. His platform became a DAO and issued tokens. I convert the tokens into Ethereum because I had to, and ultimately paid for the launch of our future brand’s evolution into Web3.
That is the Web3 story. That’s amazing.
I had not told that story publicly.
What an honor. You don’t have a shortage of believers now in the space, but it’s nice to understand how these things start. It gives so much perspective on what’s happening in the industry. We started in March 2021. Jeff got a rare NBA Top Shot. That was a pivotal moment for us. I’m going to share two anecdotes, guys. Don’t kill me for this. Stanley Bishop is a dear friend of ours. I met him at Bright Moments when we were starting the show. I found out that he was at the meetup with the founder of CryptoKitties, Zach Sekar, who is now our head of NFT LA, organized back in 2017 or 2018.
That was the same day Jeff met Zach and Stanley, and now we’re all deep in Web3. There’s this interesting flow to this industry. I’ll add one more detail here. Our dear friend, Nicole Buffett, introduced us. I was at her house. She has these amazing wild horses. We met her at a party. Another friend of ours introduced us too. We’re so connected that we did a collaboration together. It was the collaboration that was our first NFT drop that we’re the first 100 NFT tickets to NFT LA.
Can I take it one step further? I know this wasn’t in our discussion points, but it’s amazing on the topic of Nicole Buffett. You know that Nicole Buffett is a TIMEPieces artist, right?
Yes, of course.
Do you know the story of her TIMEPiece?
TIMEPieces: The way that Time evolved for the first hundred years would not be the way that it evolved for the second hundred years.
I don’t know all the deets.
I heard a little bit about it. There’s a woman involved. It’s this Mother Tree thing.
It’s called the Mother Tree. There’s this tree at her mother’s house. I don’t recall exactly the house. Justin Aversano can tell the story better and so can Nicole. I’m going to butcher it a little bit, but you’ll get the point of it. The NFT is called the Mother Tree. It’s this beautiful tree that’s on either one of Nicole’s houses or her mother’s house. They left the camera open with the open exposure for the evening to capture the tree how they want to then depict it.
They left and they forgot the camera at the home. They started driving away. They got a few miles away and they realized that they forgot the camera at home. They went back to pick it up and Nicole’s mom was choking and couldn’t breathe. She was almost unconscious or something bad. They saved her life. If they had not forgotten the camera or left the camera at the house after taking the picture for the production of that NFT, they don’t know what could have happened. They look at that NFT and it’s special and meaningful. That’s why it’s called the Mother Tree.
She hasn’t announced it yet, but she has quite a special drop in the coming months that I’m sure we’ll both be supporting fully. Shout out to Nicole. We would love to elaborate on the discussion around where this is all going. It started rather with a high-level vision and things fell into play in a special way. Is that the same approach you’re taking to the near and long-term vision or are things a little bit more framed out from here on with TIMEPieces?
You study this space every day like I study this space every day. If somebody could tell you where this space is going to be in six months from now, I can tell you that I don’t want to be anywhere near that person. The space in my opinion is the most exciting moment. At the top, there’s too much friction for mass adoption. We’re still seeing that technology dominates, and the experience is not taking the lead. There’s not enough regulation and clarity for major companies to enter in. There’s not enough education in the marketplace.
At the bottom, there’s enough of a foundation for real innovation to be built and real change to take place. Probably for the next 24 to 36 months before the top collapses on itself and the mass entry enters into the ecosystem, this is probably the most exciting time. This is a space that’s designed for insomniac workaholics. I’m going 24 hours a day, as I’m sure all of you are and as are my team, thinking about how this place evolving. If you look at our first few drops versus our last, I would have never thought that we would have had a burn mechanism with an instant reveal. I wouldn’t have thought that we would have done music NFTs with Timbaland. I wouldn’t have thought about half of the stuff that I’m thinking about now.
That’s what makes it exciting and so much fun. You all have to be having so much fun when you have all these conversations because you see insights from every different thought leader in the space. I have so much fun watching what other people are doing every time and thinking to myself, “How can I do something like that?” When Dave Krugman did the Shatter Contract with Transient Labs, weren’t you all like, “That’s pretty cool?” I don’t know if you knew this but I was the top bidder on that and I lost because I went for a walk and I don’t have MetaMask on my mobile phone. I was pissed that I lost that. That’s an amazing contract when you think about that. That was not possible a few months ago.
The thought process that I share with Maya Draisin and the team at TIME is we have to have enough structure that we know where we’re going, but we have to be fluid enough that we feel comfortable with it. You take the Micah Johnson drop. We didn’t know that that was going to be the drop until a few weeks before. The Matt Ball article got moved up. I didn’t find out that it got moved up to a drop on a Monday until the Thursday before. We’re like, “We need to get this in the market fast. The only way we could get in the market fast is not mint from our site, but do open edition on OpenSea.” That fluidity and flexibility are something that’s new and natural to larger organizations. We have to always remind ourselves that that’s what’s required in this space.
That’s impressive. That’s also what we all love about this space. When you enjoy being creative and being extemporaneous and you get bored easily probably, it’s fun to have to readjust to whatever is next and come up with something new.
The next NFT LA is going to look so different from the first. We had over 300 requests to be on the show in the last few months. If you merged all the innovations together that all these amazing people are doing, it’s incredible.
It’s from everywhere. That’s what’s cool. What I like about the space is you could have someone like Richerd or Eric in Manifold doing amazing innovation out of Vancouver. It’s not coming just out of New York or Miami, which I have a lot of respect for, LA, San Fran, or the traditional hubs. It’s everywhere.
We’ve got some fans that I met at NFT LA. A guy that bought one of our Spirits Seeds, which we mentioned earlier coming out of Latin America, and these two business partners. The guy told me that his buddy wrote this little Bible on NFTs and made him read it. It’s from everywhere and every angle, and in interesting places. We found out one of our hugest demographics on YouTube is in the Philippines. We knew people were listening to the podcast in the Philippines. They’re one of our major stakeholders in the YouTube audience. It’s fascinating.
I find that the ability that the Web3 ecosystem does to provide commerce with the long tail of the world has all of a sudden, opened up experiences that you wouldn’t ever think of, connections that you would have never anticipated, and markets for artists and collectors that people never thought were possible.
I want to switch the direction here a little bit. I’m back to some of the projects that TIME is doing here. We had the Micah Johnson TIME cover that came out here. It has received a lot of attention. Why do you think that’s the case? It’s metaverse focus. What does the metaverse represent to you and TIMEPieces?
D.W. Pine and Edward Felsenthal, the Editor in Chief and the Creative Director, called me and said that they had an exclusive excerpt of Matt Ball’s book. Given how it played towards the Web3 space well, they said, “Do you have any ideas as to who could do a great cover?” If you step back and think about TIME, its real superpower is the cover and what that cover ultimately is. That’s not discounting the editorial. The editorial is excellent, but the cover is its superpower. It’s the meme. The cover is capturing living history. The reasons that it hit everyone so hard and positively are numerous.
One is there was a recognition that we’ve been talking about things like metaverses for many years, but it never hit the cover of TIME. It’s beginning to get discussed in the general zeitgeist. You can see that everywhere you go. The reason that the Aku cover did well is what Micah Johnson and Summer and the team are building is something bigger than an NFT. If you’ve ever met Micah, he is one of the nicest and greatest guys. He’s a TIMEPiece artist. I consider him a friend. If you’ve ever met Summer and his precedence, she’s brilliant in all intents and purposes.
When you think about the story of Aku, this was my rationale for why I called Micah up. I said, “I have a question for you.” He’s like, “What’s up?” I go, “Do you want to do the cover of TIME for the metaverse issue? I have a cool idea.” It was not even a discussion or anything. He was so into it right from the get-go. Think about the origin of Aku. You have Micah on a couch, depressed that his baseball career is over. By the way, I’m going to make sure Micah listens to this. I want to throw in one side note, which is Micah holds a stat for the most stolen bases in one season in the MLB. Also, as a Major League Baseball player, he never hit a home run as a professional. He did in the Minors.
He was laying on the couch and his nephew comes up and says, “Can an astronaut be Black?” The answer is yes, but NASA can never promote or market itself. It’s a natural question. I have an eight-year-old daughter. She once asked me, “Why can’t women be president of the United States?” I had to say to her, “Women can be president of the United States. They just have not yet been president of the United States.” I had to explain to her the difference.
Micah had this conversation with his nephew that led to ultimately creating Aku. In my mind, I said to him, “The Genesis of Aku was a kid who saw only life’s limits. In my opinion, the cover that Micah produced was a kid who saw all of life’s potential. People see that when they see the cover. People see that when they see Aku and what they’ve built over there. The IP that they built over there is more important than just an NFT. It’s bigger than an NFT.
I know that’s something that’s shared by my entire team who feels that way about Micah and his team. Aku is something special and important, and it’s going to be bigger than just a community that’s in the Web3 space. I think that it will transcend. That was in my mind why I think it has hit so hard. What you’re seeing is how powerful the Web3 ecosystem is because it is the fifth most popular bought cover in the TIME cover store as a physical in 2022. The cover is a piece of art. Our prediction is it will become number four of all covers in 2022 so far.
When you think a little bit deeper about it for the metaverse memes and how it’s connected to all that, you’ve got the Ready Player One moviefication, that concept of a playing field that has a lot of potentials. We’re seeing all these interesting things happening. People are coming from all over the globe. We had Josh brought in this kid from Egypt who is making video game maps. His parents wouldn’t give him a PayPal account or a credit card, but he was making cryptocurrency. It is making an interesting place where the limitations can even further reopen. All of us here believe that there are way fewer limitations than we perceive in the “real world.” The metaverse certainly and all this being created offers more push in that direction.
TIMEPieces: At the top, there’s too much friction for mass adoption. There’s not enough regulation and clarity for major companies to enter, and there’s not enough education in the marketplace. But at the bottom, there’s enough foundation for real innovation to be built and real change to take place.
It sounds like there’s a part two with Micah. Micah, you’re welcome to join us on the show anytime.
We’re talking about metaverse and what it means to TIME. There’s this cool collaboration with Sandbox queued up, where you’re crafting a virtual representation of Times Square out in New York in the metaverse. What should we expect from this? Who’s building this out?
The natural inclination for a lot of big brands is to enter into Web3 through a metaverse first. That makes sense because a lot of big brands will think of it through the lens of it’s easier to appropriate marketing into a metaverse experience than it is to think about how to build a true consumer-engaged experience through NFTs and community-building efforts first and foremost. When we got to the point where we felt that the TIMEPiece community was strong enough, we had enough assets going, and we had enough connectivity into what our core brand is and what I’m calling Web2.5, we realized that it was the time that we could expand what our strategy was. We started to incorporate metaverses like many of them, the Sandbox being the first one.
I have tremendous respect for Arthur and our staff over there and the team. We knew that we wanted a square and we knew that we were TIME. We knew that everyone would remember if we called it Time Square. We were technically a square there. It wasn’t like we did anything wrong or violated anything. In true Web3 fashion, what we did was we announced that we secured the lot. The ultimate goal is to evolve the experience of our consumers so that if you have an NFT, it can unlock different experiences and we can bring different things together. Keep in mind that outside of the Web3 space, we have Time Studios, which has done amazing things.
If you saw the Kanye West documentary on Netflix, we produced that and sold it to Netflix. If you saw the documentary Inspiration4, we produced that. We have a huge studios division. It’s easy for us to think about, if we wanted to do screenings, where would we want to do screenings or if we wanted to bring together educational experiences. The Sandbox is not our first metaverse experience. The first metaverse experience ever is in Fortnite where we rebuilt Martin Luther King’s I had a Dream speech from 1965. It was a virtual reality experience we had at the DuSable prior to COVID hitting.
We saw millions of people go through that experience and want an incredible educational experience in the metaverse. We saw engagement through the roof on that. We knew that we could unlock many different assets that we have at TIME in a metaverse but a true Web3 fashion. If you look at my announcement and we’re opening up entries for this in September 2022, we’re going to build what that experience looks like with the community. We’re going to do an open call for an architect, strategists, and community members to come forth with their suggestions. What we’re going to give is a canvas of what all of our experiences are, and what our hope and goals are.
We’ll be looking ahead to the development of that. It sounds like an amazing project for sure.
I’m looking forward to it. Thank you.
It’s exciting. There are some projects that have that it-factor. This feels like one of those. We’ll be keeping a close eye. When we think about building, we’re talking about doing so here in the metaverse, but how do we bridge that gap between the cities and the municipalities? We live in them. We interact with them every single day. The metaverse idea is this idea out there when you think about how to bridge that gap. This feels like a big step people have to take, but we haven’t gotten there. What’s your perspective on that?
I have a biased perspective because we announced that TIME, MasterCard, and Salesforce were going to help bring the city of Miami into Web3 as the first municipality to ever enter in. I hope that that catches people off-guard. I figured it specifically. I was like, “If we for another brand that helped another brand enter into this space or another community enter into the space, nobody would have paid attention. I had to think about a city.” I wanted to go from Miami because I had tremendous respect for Mayor Suarez, who is one of the most innovative mayors in the country. I like him a lot.
I called him one day and I said, “I have a crazy idea. I know we don’t ever talk business but can I have 30 minutes of your time with your team?” I went down with some members of my team and some members of the Salesforce team. Rajat in MasterCard couldn’t unfortunately join that day. I presented the idea that Salesforce has built out an NFT cloud, which provides a scalable solution to onboard tokens into the ecosystem and connects to the larger Salesforce ecosystem. The team over at Salesforce is amazing. We share with the owner and we did everything alongside the compliance needs and whatnot necessary.
I said, “TIME, in partnership with Salesforce and MasterCard, could onboard Miami into Web3. This is how we can do it. Salesforce can do the underlying foundation. TIME can do the front-end development because we’ve gotten good at that. We can do the strategy and the artist relationship. This is not a community play, but rather looking at NFTs as a rewards card play. MasterCard is willing to come to the table. They were amazing partners. When they go live and we’re going to go live in December 2022, if you own one of these NFTs, you’ll be able to connect them to MasterCard’s Priceless Miami program and gain access to all those benefits.”
This isn’t your dinky benefit or reward. You’re getting the best and most successful Priceless cities program they ever executed. I said, “Not only that, but you can use the money raised to go towards the city treasury. You can take a percentage of it and put it towards nonprofits.” They’re going to be donating 10% of the revenue secured from this and from secondary sales to Bake House, which is a local nonprofit for artists. Where TIME wins on this is we take a percentage of the sales as well. There were no upfront costs to taxpayers or the local residents of Miami. We’re going to use 56 artists to represent the 56 square miles of Miami.
Miami has an unbelievably diverse population. The art is going to be representative of that entire population. TIMEPiece artists from the likes of JN Silva and Cory Van Lew were going to help with a lot of the artists selection along with others. We’re excited. This is the first of many cities that will begin to enter into Web3 and see it as a new way that they could potentially engage with their consumer. Now is a rudimentary way of doing it. We’re going to consistently see more and more innovative ways in which this can happen.
In terms of adoption, it’s the easy button. It’s what the NBA Top Shot was for people where you put your credit card down if you buy the moment, and now you’re in this space. You don’t even know that you own an NFT. You don’t even know that you’re participating in this broader Web3 ecosystem. It’s an easy button. What you’re describing is it’s necessary for municipalities to take that step to move in that direction. It starts to avalanche all these other things, the underpinnings of the entire community from driver’s licenses to voting. All these other cool things start to happen once they realize, “This is accessible.”
You hit on the biggest point about the NFT. I’m convinced that the next 100 million people to enter this ecosystem are going to come fast, even with all the friction at the top. They’re not necessarily going to even know that they’re interacting with NFTs. When we talk about NFTs, a lot of times, we talk about art and collectibles. The NFT as a token on a blockchain and the ability to verify ownership has a tremendous impact in every industry that you can imagine. You’re going to see that the NFT is going to be the underpinning of nearly everything in probably the coming 10 to 20 years.
Keith, are you familiar with Sweet.io?
I am not.
They’re an Animoca Brands portfolio company. They’re coming on the show. What no one knows is they’ve done hundreds of big brand NFT projects that are happening exactly the way you’re saying, and they’ve already been happening. Their first drop was with Burger King. Did you know Burger King did an NFT? I didn’t until I talked to them. They did a contract with the NHL. I look at them as a big leader in that space. It’s exciting what they’re doing, but going back to the previous topic, LA, let’s go. Let’s make it happen. Let’s announce it, NFT LA.
If it’s for the mayor, put me in touch.
I’m on it. We don’t know who the new mayor is going to be yet. When we figure that out, let’s get that conversation started. We can start to plant some seeds there for sure.
Is there competitiveness among mayors?
TIMEPieces: We have to have enough structure that we know where we’re going, but we have to be fluid enough that we feel really comfortable with it.
I can tell you something else. Suarez is the President of the US Mayors Council. There’s another reason why it was important to me that Miami was the first city to enter in.
I’m not hating on Miami.
I’m talking about a city entering in, and the mayor also happens to be the president of the US Mayors Council.
Strategically, it makes sense, but on an emotional level.
I have to be LA-centric. I’m a New Yorker through and through. How do you think it makes me feel that New York wasn’t the first one?
I’m a Boston guy, RIP Bill Russell. LA is my home for seven years. Jeff is from here. We’re pumped about the creator economy here.
Seven years is cute. I grew up my entire life in New York. I grew up on the Upper East Side. I grew up on the Upper West Side. I grew up in Apartment 9F in New York coincidentally in a different building across town. My entire life is in New York and I helped Miami enter. I’m on the board of New York Cares, the largest volunteer network in New York City, and I helped Miami get on board first. It breaks my heart. I don’t know if you know Jason Yanowitz, the Founder of Blockworks.
I know Jason.
Jason and I were at an event with Eric Adams. You could see it on my Instagram. We asked Mayor Adams if we could take a picture with him. We said, “Before you take this picture, I want you to know it’s going to go through the entire crypto community like no other.” He goes, “Why is that?” I’m like, “We’re both bullish on this.” The next thing you know, it was everywhere. Where were you before LA?
Jeff and I met in DC where we started our prior venture, but I grew up in Boston.
I did live in New York for a little bit. I was in Brooklyn for eight years.
We digress again. Continually, we’ll have to pick this back up at some point. Tell us a little bit about your next Artists-in-Residence drop. It’s going to be in September 2022 if time stays still. What’s the plan there?
The next Artists-in-Residence will be probably in October 2022. I’m not ready to disclose who it is. I will say that it’s somebody who has a deeply profound impact on a lot of people. The goal of the Artists-in-Residence is always to highlight someone who’s doing something unique and powerful and has a tremendous community that we want to uplift, which is why Nyla was the first TIMEPiece Artists-in-Residence. Timbaland deserves credit for what he does within the music space and has been amazing. This individual, when you see it, given what the space is going through now, you’ll say, “That’s an interesting one.” You know who the person is. I’m just waiting and I got the verbal on it. I feel comfortable with that. The person is a dear friend. I’m waiting on it to finally nail down.
We’re about to wrap up this segment, the main interview portion of the show. This has been super fun. We could go on forever. Maybe you could share a little bit about what you are allowed to disclose about what’s in the hopper for other partnerships and colabs. What’s coming next?
A lot of it is out in the open. We do weekly TIME Halls in our Discord and on Twitter spaces every Thursday at 10:00 AM. It’s important to the entire team that we’re pretty transparent. There’s no surprise announcement or move. The thing that we’re focused on right now is we talked a lot about TIMEPieces and the one-on-one sales and everything, but we have one initiative that we call blockchain to the big screen. We’re in talks with the Robotos, the littles, Toy Boogers and Smiles First. They’re all in different stages.
What I love is the Robotos and the littles have been picked up for production by Nelvana out of Canada for television shows. I watch what Pablo Stanley and Will have done at their respective places in terms of character development and story arc for their Bibles as they pitched it out. Maria Perez-Brown who has been running that team at Studios, I could not be more impressed. The team at Nelvana loves it. They’ve been wonderful too. I’m excited about that. The reason is that for the first time, we’re seeing some real creativity come out of this space. When you look at Hollywood now, what is it? It’s remakes of everything that we all liked when we were younger.
It’s like a sequel or a remake.
I love Top Gun 2. I thought it was amazing if you saw it. It blew my expectations away, but it’s still a remake of an original IP. What I love about Web3 is Aku, the littles, the Robotos, and DeadFellaz are all communities that are unique and original. How could you not like that? As we continue down that strategy and that path, I love the idea of constantly tapping into the Web3 ethos and creativity to almost reverse engineer the great IP out of it.
This could be counted as my opinion. I feel like true creativity has taken that step off the cliff and doing something new that has not been tested and tried, and you could guarantee it. It’s why I became a jazz musician and not a classical player. I love classical music. A lot of it nowadays, when even it used to be in the time of Mozart, you improvised over chord changes, just like jazz musicians do now. It’s one thing to interpret the successes of the past. It’s another thing to take those risks and jump out there and lay yourself bare to the audience.
It’s amazing. Take the littles for instance. 10,000 pieces as an NFT with close to 6,000 donors, but 60,000 people in their Discord. You have, essentially on day one of any show, a community that you know is ardent marketers, supporters and believers in what you’re building. They want to build along with you. What was fun was when we started to do this character development in this creation with Nelvana, I remember saying to Maria Perez-Brown, “How long does it take for you from the agreement that we’re going to move forward to us getting a TV show?” She was like, “Usually, a year and a half to two years.” I was like, “In Web3 time, we have to double down on that and speed up.” They did it in five months.
To give you an idea of how great Nelvana was as partners when they signed, the original press release had no images in it. I was like, “No, this Web3 space is about community. It’s coming along with you.” They put in the characters at this moment in time, we’re in the Robotos show and the littles show. People went wild over that. I love the creativity coming out of this space. Let me put it like that. I oftentimes tweet, “Follow more artists.” Honestly, my Twitter feed is more enjoyable when I’m constantly bombarded with great artwork.
Keith, we appreciate it. We want to take this next segment and go a little bit deeper into some of your perspectives on things. These are questions to get to know you a little bit better. We’re looking for a short single word or fewer responses, but we may dive in a little bit more here or there. Question number one, what is the first thing you remember ever purchasing in your life?
TIMEPieces: We could unlock many different assets we have at Time in a metaverse, but, in a true Web3 fashion, we’re going to build what that experience looks like with the community.
Vanilla yogurt-covered pretzels.
Is that your go-to in the sweets or snack category?
It’s not. It’s one of my earliest memories. I remember that.
Question number two, what is the first thing you remember ever selling in your life?
Probably seashells when I was younger.
That’s the first appearance of seashells in an episode. I appreciate it. Question number three, what is the most recent thing you purchased?
If you know the photographer, Rachel Stewart, she had an NFT drop for an amazing addition of 35 that she did. The last thing I purchased was her photography NFT.
Shout out, Rachel Stewart. Question number four, what is the most recent thing you sold?
I don’t know. I have no clue. I honestly have no clue what the last thing I sold was.
No worries at all. Question number five, what is your most prized possession?
You’re going to hate this answer. Nothing. I couldn’t care less about anything physical in my life that is purchasable.
A true de-materialist.
That will cue up this next question. If you could buy anything in the world, digital, physical service or an experience that’s currently for sale, what would it be? What do you have your eye on?
I would buy an island where I could go and sleep.
We’ve had that on the show before, but not for that specific purpose.
It would be a sleeping island. I would want a separate sleeping island. I need literally to be left alone, surrounded by water.
It’s got to be 1 or 2 hours from New York to make this feasible for Keith.
I feel like we can’t try to rationalize a completely irrational question.
We’ve had some guests who don’t want to sleep before.
It’s not that I don’t want to sleep. It’s that I don’t sleep that well. I’m always up. It would be nice to have a place where I could go to sleep.
I feel like the fantasy we’re moving towards here, and maybe technology will get there, is there’s an island. You go there. You sleep for 1/3 of your life or whatever they say you’re supposed to sleep for, and then you get to live the rest of your life, 24 hours going nonstop.
I don’t know if you have been an Oculus at all, but there’s this great meditation app on the Oculus called the Maloka. Have you heard of this before?
TIMEPieces: The next a hundred million people to enter this ecosystem are going to come very fast, even with all the friction at the top. They’re just not necessarily going to know that they’re interacting with NFTs.
You have to check this out. It’s a meditation app. I didn’t think anything of it, but then I tried it. It puts you on an island. It’s bare islands. The more breathing exercises and meditation exercises you do, it rewards you with trees and different ways of creating your island and building your own oasis. They’ve done a great job of building this out to trick your brain into meditation and breathing exercises immediately and fast. They’ve also gamified it in a way that is true to relaxation. When you ask me what would I buy and I say an island, it’s inspired by the fact that I’ve been using that Maloka app nonstop.
You got to try the virtual float tank at Upgrade Labs the next time you’re in LA. It’s like a pod. This 20-minute pod is equivalent to four hours of sleep.
Question number seven, if you could pass on one of your personality traits to the next generation, what would it be?
Question number eight, if you could eliminate one of your personality traits from the next generation, what would it be?
Question number nine, what did you do before joining us on the show?
I grabbed the seltzer out of the kitchen to make sure that I was fully hydrated. The extent of my beverage consumption is either seltzer or coffee.
Question number ten, the last one. What are you going to do next after the show?
I have a meeting.
There it is. Thanks for sharing. That’s Edge Quick Hitters. Eathan, word on the street is we got a special hot topic for this episode. What do you say?
Yes. That special hot topic centers around Z-HOVAK, the quantum pop artist and a sneakerhead whose art is the spirit of their dog they met in meditation. Her passion is art with the purpose to be a voice for animals. She combines physical art with NFTs and gives back to the anime animals via charity. Z, welcome to the show.
Thank you for having me. This is awesome. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to you also. It was amazing.
There are two constants in any NFT gathering that Z and I are at. One, she’s rocking her Z-HOVAK hat and I’m rocking my Edge of NFT hat.
There’s one constant to any major event in the world of Web3 and NFT, and that is Z. She’s going to be there front and center.
I love being social. That’s my jam. Ironically, 90% of my NFT community and my friends are all via IRL events, which is so unlike Web3. These are facts.
Tell us about meeting animal spirits in your meditation. I was talking to Nicole Buffett about animals visiting us in real life and our dreams to communicate messages and things like this. I recollected a moment. I met a bird on a mountain top one time. Tell me about this.
Nicole is like a soul sister and also my herbal guru. Anytime I have any questions about any organic arnica or drops, that’s who I tag. It’s like, “Nicole, what should I do?” She’s my healer. Growing up in LA, typically, you could go through the yoga teacher route. That’s me. I took that whole route and became a yoga teacher. I had the honor of having incredible gurus and teachers in my life. I’ve had an insane life. I grew up in a refugee camp. To go through this experience and be healed through the spiritual journey became my lifesaver in a sense. Fast-forward to corporate life and always going insane every day doing trade shows and traveling all the time. That’s what saved me.
During that time, my dog, a German Shorthaired Pointer or a hunting dog, got a frontal cortex tumor. I took him to MRI and all kinds of holistic doctors and regular doctors, and decided that there was nothing. Every day, we did this spiritual journey together. I did a meditation session with him for him and also for me and helped them along the journey of transition to the next frequency because our soul never dies. You just transitioned dimension. At least this is what I believe in my soul. Along the way, I kept seeing this character every single day. As goofy as it looks and people see him in many different forms, that’s what I saw and that’s what I wanted to do. That’s how I created my character.
Could you describe visually for someone reading the look of the character that’s in your background there, and maybe in general?
It’s just Copper, C1P. To people, he’s either a mushroom or maybe a penis. It’s hilarious. Even when I drew out what I saw in meditation, I saw him in different forms. I wanted to stay authentic. I believe part of it is also the spirit world communicating with us to keep it light, goofy, and funny because every time people see him in my art or my merchandise, there’s a reaction and excitement. It all goes back to that moment of, “I made the right choice.” As long as I make people feel I’m doing my job as an artist.
TIMEPieces: For the first time ever, we’re seeing some real creativity come out of this space.
Whatever it is in the background, it’s wearing sunglasses that are also beautiful and golden there.
It has been great having an opportunity to get to know Z and her spirit and why she’s in the space. It would be great to share with our audience what it has been like transitioning into Web3 as an artist and what you’re looking to do next. What are some of your aspirations for yourself and the space?
My purpose is my art and creativity. I’m the vessel to transfer creativity, whether it’s in fashion or art or sculpture, I do it all. My purpose is to help animals. I’ve always been an advocate for animal charities. When I was a kid, I’ve gotten in trouble. I grew up overseas. I used to bring home stray dogs and cats all the time. That’s what I would get in trouble for. As long as they had that one meal, that one water or I would beg my mom to give our last meal to the pet. Having that experience and transitioning into living a comfortable life in the Western world, that’s my purpose. I want to continue in Web3, educating and bringing women into the space, educating all the incredible successful tech people about what it is to have nothing and have everything. It brings a spiritual balance into the space.
It’s an amazing vision. When you think about the roadmap for your artwork, what’s next?
I’m a one-of-one artist. That’s my jam. I’ve had many opportunities to do generative, but I live within the moment of what I want to create daily. I drop casually. I don’t announce. I make a casual deal about it. My ultimate happiness and success if I would have to be answering in an ego-driven way, it would be the female Jeff Koons and Takashi Murakami. In the space, the only person that has my aesthetic, the pop art and the 3D sculpture character, is the creator of Hello Kitty who is a female. No one knows she’s a female but people.
That’s the character that has become so big. That’s my ultimate personal dream in a selfish way. Help educate and give back, but also make an impact and show way also to women internationally because, in the States, you don’t realize what goes on outside. I have lived that and fled to a religious asylum to stay alive. I don’t want that to be my story. I don’t talk about that. I want my actions and my purpose to path the way and give hope to people like me and my background.
You are creating that path for sure. You’re a beacon of inspiration to a lot of people and artists. You had spoken so many words here like a true artist as you think about that roadmap and the flexibility in it and your focus on sharing who you are with the world. On that note, where should we direct our followers to track your progress and everything that you have forthcoming?
Any parting words before we break from this segment?
Stay true to yourself. Don’t give up. Don’t compare yourself to anyone. Be a good human.
Z, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it. Before we wrap the episode overall, Keith, thank you so much for spending this time with us. We could have gone Rogan style and spend three hours for sure, but we do have to wrap. Before we do though, we want to also direct our audience on where to follow you and TIMEPieces and these amazing projects you guys have forthcoming.
You can follow me on Twitter, @KeithGrossman. I’m also on Instagram @KeithGrossman and LinkedIn as Keith Grossman. It would be weird if I was not LinkedIn Keith Grossman. Those are the three main platforms that I’m on. @TIMEPieces exists on Twitter. You should check it out there, as well as on Discord.
There it is, folks. Check it out. Amazing things are happening over there. We have reached the outer limit. Thanks for exploring with us. We’ve got space for more adventures on this starship. Invite your friends and recruit some cool strangers that will make this journey also much better. How? Go to Spotify or iTunes right now. Rate us and say something awesome. Go to EdgeOfNFT.com to dive further down the rabbit hole. Look us up on all major social platforms by typing Edge of NFT in those spaces and start a fun conversation with us online. Lastly, be sure to tune in next time for more great NFT content. Thanks again for sharing this time with us.
- Instagram – Keith Grossman
- Twitter – Keith Grossman
- @ZHOVAK – Instagram
- Keith Grossman – LinkedIn
- @TIMEPieces – Twitter
- Spotify – Edge of NFT Podcast
- iTunes – Edge of NFT Podcast
About Keith Grossman
Accomplished C-Suite executive with a proven track record in digital and all traditional platforms, in leading large and complex teams through turnarounds, innovative development and product launches. A frequent speaker, writer and contributor across high-profile industry, educational and philanthropic events.