By Amy Wu and Mercedes Bent

NFTs were originally founded in the last crypto rally of 2017 as a cryptographic tool to tokenize digital items and impart ownership to a digital item. Four years later, the world saw the first major NFT rally in 2021, driven by a crypto surge and resulting cultural phenomenon as famous artists such as Beeple set records selling NFTs ($69M!) and even the NBA got involved with NBA Topshot. To date there has been over $6B of NFTs sold in 2021, led by Axie Infinity’s Axie sales and popular NFT studios Larva Labs (Cryptopunks), Art Blocks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, and others. In August, Visa and Budweiser became the first brands to purchase NFTs furthering NFT’s pop culture moment.

We watched this space closely as consumer and crypto investors and have loved the cultural zeitgeist created by the rise of NFTs. They’ve been embraced by so many across art, gaming, music, and other sectors. So when we met Charlie Graham, Founder of Hawku, and heard his thesis about why he was building a NFT marketplace that would become the premier marketplace for gaming and utility NFTs, we immediately knew he had something special.

If you’re like Mercedes, the first time you bought a Zed horse, you bought a money-losing horse. Below is her adorable money-losing glue of a horse named Holy. She’s a beaut, and of the Nakomoto bloodline. This was some of the information Mercedes could see on OpenSea when she was pursuing horses. She noticed Holy was selling for less than he sold previously, so she knew something was off, but didn’t know what or why. The fields she could see didn’t quite give her enough information. She would later find out on Hawku the reason why: Holy doesn’t win races.

As you can understand through Mercedes’ money-losing-horse saga, current NFT marketplaces have done a great job targeting the needs of collectible and art NFTs — showing the aesthetics of beautiful artwork or the rarity of a social token — but less so for performance based assets.

Those aesthetic driven criteria are not very useful when determining value for utility/gaming NFTs whose valuation is based on the functional value they provide. As a result, most people are currently in the dark when making purchase decisions on these types of tokens.

Hawku is changing that. They are building a marketplace focused on the specific needs of gaming and utility NFTs. Their vision is to provide people with the real-time data they need to be able to research, buy and sell these assets.

TToday, Hakwu already has a platform providing the key information players need to be able to research, buy and sell horse NFTs for the popular game platform. Check it out here: In the four months since launch, Hawku has already reached 3M+ monthly page views and built an avid following.

We strongly agree with Charlie that the next generation of NFTs will be dominated by utility and gaming NFTs that provide functional value, NFTs that return something of value like tokens or revenue. This could include anything from character NFTs for online games (avatars) that let you earn tokens when you play with them to the NFT of a digital billboard that produces daily ad revenue to the NFT of a revenue-generating real estate asset.

Amy and Mercedes can’t wait to see what experiences are built with productive utility based assets and couldn’t be more excited to partner with Charlie, Multicoin Capital, Dragonfly Capital, Alameda Capital, Animoca Brands, Solana, Virtual Human Services and many more. Stay tuned.

Hawku is hiring, if you’re interested in joining this journey, check out the roles here:

Amy is a Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners where she invests in crypto & gaming.

Mercedes is a Partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners where she invests in consumer, fintech & the metaverse.

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