By Turning Tweets Into NFTs, Cent Capitalizes on Digital Currency Movement

Sam Blake

Sam primarily covers entertainment and media for dot.LA. Previously he was Marjorie Deane Fellow at The Economist, where he wrote for the business and finance sections of the print edition. He has also worked at the XPRIZE Foundation, U.S. Government Accountability Office, KCRW, and MLB Advanced Media (now Disney Streaming Services). He holds an MBA from UCLA Anderson, an MPP from UCLA Luskin and a BA in History from University of Michigan. Email him at samblake@dot.LA and find him on Twitter @hisamblake

By Turning Tweets Into NFTs, Cent Capitalizes on Digital Currency Movement

Whether Jack Dorsey intended it or not, when the Twitter founder sold his first tweet as a non-fungible token (NFT) for nearly $3 million in March, he helped to bring the blockchain-based financing technology mainstream.


He also gave a the company behind its sale some free, high-profile marketing. On Thursday, that startup announced it had capitalized on it to the tune of $3 million from a stable of celebrity investors.

Cent, the company behind the Valuables platform that mints tokens from tweets, will use the funding to further build out tools to help creators make money through NFTs.

Cent began as a social media platform in 2017 meant to help creators earn money via crypto payments. In late 2020 it launched Valuables, which allows users to identify a tweet they'd like to purchase as an NFT; if the tweet owner accepts, Cent mints the NFT and effects the transaction.

"Their insight was in surfacing the inherent value of the authentic, candid, human artifact," said Ron Martinez, a San Francisco-based intellectual property and digital technology entrepreneur.

Investors include Dreamworks and Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg, Zynga founder Mark Pincus, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, and musician-entrepreneur will.i.am. Galaxy Interactive and In/Visible also participated in the round.

Cent co-founder and chief executive Cameron Hejazi formerly worked in advertising, where he said he saw social media platforms racking up billions while the creators they relied on got peanuts.

Cent co-founder and chief executive Cameron Hejazi

"My mission is to try to help the people who are spending all this time creating value on the internet turn that into a sustainable source of income for themselves," he said.

Though Cent has offered few concrete details of its plans, Hejazi said he not only wants to help creators profit from their output, but also to be able to own their audience data.

He envisions creators calling on their audiences on platforms like Twitter, TikTok and Instagram to follow them on the Cent platform, where the creators will be able to own the audience data.

"We'd really like to see the proliferation of these open, interoperable systems," Hejazi said. "All the major companies have operated in closed ecosystems, which was appropriate at the time, but is no longer needed."

NFTs enable digital assets like .jpg files, songs and videos to be certified unique and therefore potentially valuable. They reached a fever pitch in March when Christie's, the auction house, helped digital artist Beeple sell one of his works as an NFT for $69 million.

NFT skeptics have gawked at such eye-popping sums, much of which has been fueled by cryptocurrency whales who've made a killing and are incentivized to see the technology grow. More and more ideas have filed in, ranging from using NFTs to unlock in-person experiences to turning human excrement into a collectible.

It remains to be seen if the cynics will be proven correct. Data from NFT analytics site CryptoSlam offers evidence of both a market cooldown and an acceleration.

The birth of the hashtag and the launch of Ethereum, minted as NFTs.

NBA Top Shot, which turns basketball highlights into collectibles, stood alongside Beeple as a symbol of the NFT exuberance. It sold over $224 million worth of NFTs in February and another $208 million in March. But by July, sales had plummeted to $22 million.

Others have picked up the slack and then some. AxieInfinity, a gaming platform that allows users to earn money by raising digital creatures that have been minted as NFTs, saw almost $667M of NFT sales in July, according to CryptoSlam. That far surpassed its previous high, set in June, of $122 million. And it's already sold over $135 million worth of NFTs in August.

CryptoPunks, which sells low-resolution character icons as NFTs, has had a similar trajectory. It reached a $98 million peak in March, but saw a new high in July with over $135 million in sales. In the first five days of August it has already sold nearly $90 million worth.

"We're witnessing the first generation of NFTs," Hejazi said. "I think the opportunity is around getting people a footing in what it means to create an NFT and what it means to own an NFT."

Cent earns a 5% commission on NFT sales and 2.5% on any secondary trades. Creators earn the remainder of the primary sale and 10% of the secondary. The company has about 50,000 users on Variables, from which it generates about $20,000 in monthly revenue, Hejazi said. It also earns revenue from its Cent social platform, but he would not disclose how much.

Professionals who work with creatives may welcome the new monetization opportunity.

"I am normally very cynical about this kind of thing and names of celebrity investors don't impress me, but this looks promising," said entertainment-tech lawyer Richard Thompson. "An NFT platform that is oriented toward creative people who have some sort of following is needed now."

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🚁 One Step Closer to Air Taxis in LA
Image Source: Joby Aviation

🔦 Spotlight

Joby Aviation, a pioneering electric air taxi company, has achieved a significant milestone by successfully flying a hydrogen-electric aircraft demonstrator for 523 miles with only water as a byproduct. This groundbreaking flight showcases the potential for emissions-free regional travel using vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft, eliminating the need for traditional runways. The company's innovative approach combines its existing battery-electric air taxi technology with hydrogen fuel cells, paving the way for longer-range, environmentally friendly air travel.

For LA residents, this development holds exciting implications for future transportation options. Joby's technology could potentially enable direct flights from LA to destinations like San Francisco or San Diego without the need to visit conventional airports, offering a cleaner and more convenient alternative to current travel methods. The company's progress in both battery-electric and hydrogen-electric aircraft positions it at the forefront of next-generation aviation, promising to revolutionize urban and regional mobility.

Notably, Joby Aviation has already made strides in Southern California by securing an agreement with John Wayne Airport earlier this year to install the region's first electric air taxi charger. This strategic move sets the stage for LA to be among the initial markets where Joby will launch its electric air taxi service. With plans to commence commercial operations as early as 2025 using its battery-electric air taxi, LA residents may soon have access to a fast, quiet, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation that could significantly reduce travel times and traffic congestion in the region. In the not too distant future, LA might find itself in an identity crisis without traffic and excess smog 🤞🤞.


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Fuel Innovation: 7 Unforgettable Team Building Experiences in LA
Image Source: Discover LA

In today's competitive business landscape, team building activities have emerged as a crucial tool for fostering a positive work environment, enhancing productivity, and crucially, improving employee retention. Studies have shown that such activities help employees feel valued, with one report indicating that 93% of those who felt appreciated were more motivated at work. Importantly, team building events may improve retention rates, as employees who feel connected to their colleagues and company culture are more likely to stay long-term. With these benefits in mind, let's explore some of the most engaging and effective team building activities available in Los Angeles.

Pickleball

Image Source: Modern Luxury Angelino

Pickleball is a fantastic team bonding activity because of the easy-to-grasp rules and gentle pace make it perfect for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. The game thrives on communication and teamwork, as players must collaborate and strategize to outplay their opponents, boosting team cohesion. Plus, the lively, fast-paced action sparks friendly competition and laughter, creating a fun and spirited atmosphere that brings everyone closer together. Los Angeles boasts numerous pickleball courts that are easy to rent if you have your own equipment. If you need additional assistance organizing your pickleball outing, there are plenty of full-service companies ready to handle every detail for you.

Resources: Pickle Pop, Corporate Pickle


Escape Room

Image Source: The Escape Game

Escape rooms are a great way to build camaraderie. They require participants to work together, combining their problem-solving skills and creativity to overcome challenges and puzzles. The immersive and time-sensitive nature of escape rooms fosters collaboration and communication. Additionally, the shared experience of tackling complex tasks and reaching a common goal helps build trust and foster positive emotions among colleagues.

Resources: The Escape Game, 60Out


Day Trip to Catalina Island

Image Source: Love Catalina

Catalina Island is a perfect day trip for a team because it provides a break from the usual work environment, allowing team members to relax and connect in a new setting. Shared experiences during the trip, such as exploring new places and participating in fun activities, help build stronger relationships and foster a sense of camaraderie. There are numerous team-building activities such as an arboreal obstacle course, an island tour, scavenger hunts and more.

Resources: Catalina Island Group Activities


Top Golf

Image Source: Topgolf

Topgolf is an excellent team building event because it provides an inclusive, relaxed atmosphere that accommodates players of all skill levels, fostering personal connections and improving team morale. The unique blend of competition and entertainment creates an ideal setting for building trust, enhancing communication, and revealing hidden skills among team members. Additionally, Topgolf offers structured team building packages with guided activities, discussion prompts, and lessons on culture, change, collaboration, and strategy, making it a versatile and effective platform for strengthening relationships and boosting overall team performance.

Resources: Topgolf El Segundo


SoFi Stadium Tour

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A SoFi Stadium tour offers a unique, behind-the-scenes experience of one of the world's most advanced sports venues, allowing team members to explore exclusive areas like premium suites, team locker rooms, and the player tunnel together. The tour provides a shared, memorable experience that can foster camaraderie and spark conversations among team members, regardless of their interest in sports. Additionally, the stadium's state-of-the-art features and impressive architecture can inspire creativity and innovation, while the group setting encourages interaction and collaboration, making it an engaging and enjoyable activity for teams of various sizes and backgrounds

Resources: SoFi Stadium Group Tours


Corporate Volunteering

Image Source: L.A. Works

Volunteer work serves as an excellent team building activity by uniting employees around a shared, meaningful cause, fostering a sense of purpose and collective accomplishment. It provides opportunities for team members to collaborate in new ways, often revealing hidden strengths and leadership qualities that may not be apparent in the regular work environment. Additionally, engaging in community service can boost morale, enhance the company's reputation, and instill a sense of pride among employees, leading to improved workplace relationships and increased job satisfaction.

Resources: Habitat for Humanity, L.A. Works, VolunteerMatch


Corporate Improv Sessions

Image Source: Improv for the People

A corporate improv class encourages spontaneity, creativity, and quick thinking, skills that are valuable in the workplace. It promotes active listening and collaboration, as participants must work together to create scenes and respond to unexpected situations, fostering better communication and trust among team members. Additionally, the playful and often humorous nature of improv helps break down barriers, reduces stress, and creates a shared positive experience that can improve team morale and cohesion long after the event.

Resources: Improv-LA, Groundlings, Improv for the People

🎬 Paramount and Skydance Are Back On
Image Source: Paramount

Happy Friday Los Angeles! Hope you all had a fantastic Fourth!!

🔦 Spotlight

Paramount and Skydance Media have rekindled talks to merge after negotiations abruptly halted in June. The proposed deal, contingent on approval from Paramount’s board, aims to combine Paramount’s extensive media holdings—including CBS, MTV, and Nickelodeon—with Skydance’s film expertise showcased in hits like "Top Gun: Maverick." This merger signals a potential transformation in the media landscape, positioning the new entity to compete more effectively amid challenges from streaming services and the decline of traditional cable TV.

Led by Shari Redstone, Paramount’s controlling shareholder via National Amusements, the deal represents a pivot towards revitalizing Paramount’s strategic direction amidst financial struggles and shareholder concerns. The involvement of major investors like RedBird Capital Partners and David Ellison underscores the financial backing aimed at stabilizing Paramount’s operations and addressing its $14 billion debt burden. Importantly, the agreement includes provisions to protect National Amusements from potential legal challenges, addressing previous hurdles that stalled earlier negotiations.

The deal also includes a 45-day period for Paramount to explore alternative offers, highlighting continued interest from other potential buyers like Barry Diller’s IAC and media executive Edgar Bronfman Jr. This flurry of activity underscores the significant stakeholders’ interest in Paramount’s future and its potential as a key player in a rapidly evolving media industry.


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  • Sidecar Health, a startup that offers personalized health insurance plans to businesses that allow members to see any doctor and pay directly at the time of service, raised a $165M Series D led by Koch Disruptive Technologies. - learn more

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