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‘The most profound advance since the internet’

There’s a lot of cynicism about NFTs and cryptocurrency right now as a result of the sector’s eye-watering crash in valuations. But this hasn’t shaken the faith of web 3.0 entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, founder, chairman and CEO of VaynerX and VaynerMedia.

Speaking to a packed Lumiere Theatre alongside fellow NFT/metaverse evangelist Paris Hilton, Vaynerchuk said: “What we’re witnessing right now is the result of an overheated market, just like we saw during the dotcom crash two decades ago. But that crash didn’t stop brands like Amazon and PayPal emerging as successful businesses.”

Vaynerchuck’s view is that now is a great time for brands to explore the opportunities associated with NFTs and blockchain.

“Now that the greed and hysteria has died down, it’s a much safer moment for brands to learn about the underlying technology, which is the most profound advance since the arrival of the internet.”

Addressing the negativity around NFTs, he said: “At the moment, everyone is focusing on the issue of NFT collectability. But collectability is just the entry point, in the same way college kids were for Facebook and dancing teens were for TikTok. This tech becomes really significant when it’s more about communities and utility. To all those people who are judging NFTs on the basis on a few headlines, I would say: ‘Do 50 hours of immersive homework, then decide’.”

Paris Hilton is best known as a socialite but is also CEO of an innovation-driven firm called 11:11 Media. She hit the headlines last year when she sold a piece of NFT art for $1.1m. “What a lot of people don’t realise is that I’m an undercover nerd,” she told delegates.

Paris Hilton looking to across the audience on the Cannes lions stage
Paris Hilton

“I got into gaming back in 2004 and later moved into digital wearables. My metaverse Paris World is on platforms like Roblox and has some amazing activations and brand partnerships.”

The phrase web 3.0 is increasingly used to describe the new wave of digital innovations associated with blockchain. Asked to distinguish web 3.0 from the current iteration of the internet, Hilton said: “Right now, the web is about building audience, but web 3.0 is about community. Everyone is so willing to teach each other — I’m learning something every day.”

Like Vaynerchuk, Hilton expects huge upsides to come in the world of NFTs and the metaverse. But she also sees her role as “empowering and elevating women in this space”.


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