- Artificial intelligence tech entrepreneur Kenneth Kuo and Pittsburgh Steelers pro football player Cassius Marsh have partnered to launch Ownr, a firm that is creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to be bought and sold, according to a statement from Ownr's spokesman.
- The company will work with a roster of athletes to design, manage and sell the athlete-specific NFTs, which are unique digital records that can't be copied.
- The aim of Ownr is to keep the value of the athlete-specific NFT with its owner by way of an associated digital certificate of ownership, or a smart contract. Its a new form of memorabilia for fans to buy and sell.
Collectible NFTs are becoming a multi-billion dollar industry. In fact, CNBC reports that some NFTs are selling for over $400,000 — and one NFT by digital artist Beeple sold for over $6 million.
Initially, a lot of those NFTs were being generated by the art world – memes and graphics specifically created for NFTs. Then, some pop artists began creating video NFTs. Now, musical artists like Kings of Leon and Shawn Mendes are creating NFTs to enhance the user-experience.
Next up? Sports memorabilia.
Setting the stage, Dapper Labs — the maker of NBA Top Shot — is seeking to give NBA trading cards an upgrade by selling NFTs as trading cards, according to online media outlet Axios. NFTs may arrive soon in martial arts entertainment at the UFC too, and are making inroads in professional hockey, sports channel ESPN reports.
Kuo, who is Ownr's CEO, and Marsh, the vice president of the new firm's player relations, are stepping into this fray in an effort to create athlete-specific NFTs for fans through a "full-service, artistic agency and distribution network," the statement said. Ownr aims work with athletes to put their respective stamps on NFTs — having them be part of the creation, design, management, distribution and sale of the token.
The first token from Ownr is due to be released publicly on April 11, said the spokesman, Brandon Kazimer. Such tokens are tracked on a blockchain digital ledger.
Kuo is also CEO and Chief Data Scientist of Ingest AI, a start-up designed to help restaurants operate more efficiently by relying on machine learning.
Marsh is a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He has also played for the Seattle Seahawks
and Indianapolis Colts. The startup was partially inspired by Cash Cards Unlimited, the trading
cards store Marsh opened earlier this year in Westlake Village, California.
Michael Rubin, executive chairman of sports merchandiser Fanatics, recently told Cointelegraph, “It’s almost a frenzy happening right now [around sports-related NFTs.] I think there’s going to be tremendous value created,
but also there’s so many people getting into it, I don’t think everyone’s going to be successful."