Robert has reported for a variety of international publications including the Associated Press, The Guardian, Vice, and Decrypt. Current areas of interest include the political economy of technology, cryptocurrencies, and privacy. Robert has a Bachelor of Science from UCL, and a Master's degree from the University of Oxford's Internet Institute.
Cool Cats is an NFT project that considers itself “the coolest cats on the blockchain”. It’s a non-fungible project, or a collection of one-of-a-kind cryptocurrency tokens that are backed by the Ethereum blockchain. There are dozens of these projects, and Cool Cats is one of the most successful.
To be clear, Cool Cats is the 9th most lucrative NFT project on the market, having generated $170 million in sales. The project comprises a collection of 9,999 computer-generated NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain. The first generation is made up of 9,999 cats that have been randomly selected out of a total of more than 300,000 options.
Each cat is different, sporting different outfits, faces and colors. The cats are cartoon drawings of blue felines, rendered in computerised marker pen and adorably cute. Some wear dungarees, others have two mouths and some wear candles at hats. Unlike the dour-looking CryptoPunks or the chaotic Bored Apes, Cool Cats are comparatively benign and easy on the eye.Buy and Sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, and over a dozen other cryptocurrencies with Wealthsimple. Sign up and Trade here.
The cats are all derived from Blue Cat, a character created by the project’s artist, Colin “thecatoonist”, over 10 years ago. He’s been posting versions of the cat on his Instagram since then, and since 2015, sometimes murals in the real world, too.
Scarcity determines how “cool” a cat is. According to the developers, “all cats are cool, but completed outfit cats are the coolest.” Rarer items, or unique attributes, sell for more. The floor price for the sole ‘celestial’ Cool Cat is 1,000 ETH; the floor price of the only ‘robot’ is 666 ETH and the single skeleton goes for a minimum of 500. Rarity doesn’t always connote a high price: the 51 Cool Cats wearing frog costumes cost at least 32.5 ETH, but the 75 sporting halos sell for 22 ETH each.
How rare a cat is determines how many ‘points’ a cat is worth. Each cat is worth between 3 and 10 points—the higher the number, the “cooler”, or rarer, the cat. Cats with lower scores are simply called “cool”, while higher-ranked cats might be termed “wild” or “exotic”.
The four pseudonymous creators behind the project—Colin (“Clon”) Egan, Elu, Tom and Linq—created Cool Cats to build “a community-driven collective while simultaneously spreading crypto awareness, adoption, and lastly bringing utility to NFTs in general.”
The project launched as an NFT on July 1, 2021. Initially, it cost 0.06 ETH to mint a Cool Cat. After a period, the minting fee was reduced to 0.02 ETH because not enough people were minting the cats. As of this writing, November 8th 2021, it costs about 6 ETH to buy one, or about $26,000. They’ve all been minted now.
The team promises to give 20% of all ETH raised back to the community through a series of contests, raffles “and more”. A further 100 cats are reserved for ‘competitions and holder airdrops’, and the founding team held an additional four cats for themselves.
The community can also shape the future of the project. “We’ll need help from you guys to determin[e] specifics for future developments like breeding, next generation Cool Cats, the app, and much more,” Cool Cats says on its website.
Breeding will come in “Gen 2” of Cool Cats. It’s unclear exactly how breeding will play out in Cool Cats, but previous projects, including the original NFT game, CryptoKitties, let you pair up two NFTs to create a third. Often, the third ‘child’ NFT will contain attributes of their parents. It’s a fun way to map out the metadata of an NFT, and for holders, this third NFT is often free (minus Ethereum gas fees), so it’s lucrative, too. Separate from this, Cool Cat holders have the chance to claim a limited edition, custom Cool Cat NFT every month; the project has collaborated with others to make this happen.
Sales of Cool Cats have waxed and waned since its launch in July 2021. On August 28th, $18.4 million worth of Cool Cats was sold on a single day. That was by far the exception, not the rule: sales usually average less than a million dollars a day, although occasionally spike from around $5 million to around $7 million.
Although sales remain somewhat consistent, the number of unique buyers has steadily fallen each month—partly because of the rising floor price of the project. In July, there were 3,955 unique buyers; in August, 3,108; in September, 1,437 and in October, just 688.
And while Cool Cats might be the ninth most popular NFT project of all time (as of this writing), it is not nearly as popular in recent history. In the past month, it’s the 19th largest project, for instance, and the 14th largest in the past day. What’s more, there’s a lot of distance between Cool Cats and the top popular projects. While Cool Cats’ total sale volume of $170 million is nothing to sniff at, it’s very far from market leaders like Axie Infinity and CryptoPunks, which have generated $3 billion and $1.5 billion in sales, respectively. (CryptoPunks is the most similar project; a little like Cool Cats, it’s a collection of 10,000 profile picture-based NFTs).
It is impossible to predict the future success of Cool Cats given the innumerable variables on which the NFT market depends. As Cool Cats writes in its FAQ, “Hopefully Cool Cats go to the moon, but like anything in life, don’t spend money you can’t afford to not have.”
What are NFTs?
NFT is short for non-fungible tokens. These are cryptocurrency tokens that are non-fungible; in other words, they are unique, and you can’t swap them for another one that looks similar (as you can with, say, cash or Bitcoin). This type of token, which takes the technical name of ERC-721 (as opposed to the fungible ERC-20 token) was first invented in 2017 for an unrelated project called CryptoKitties. Cool Cats, released in 2021, is part of the next wave of NFT projects: a small collection of NFTs that gain an elite status online.
More specifically, Cool Cats is a profile picture (pfp) NFT project, since you can upload the mugshots of the kitties as your profile picture on social media sites like Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. Part of the fun, collectors claim, is being able to show off your digital asset in online communities, proof that you know what’s cool (cats) and have the means to flaunt your tastes. It’s a little like rocking up to a party wearing Gucci or flashing a Rolex: they’re status symbols that prove, without a doubt, that you own something valuable.
But since NFTs are built from code, they also have an extra feature that old fashion statements do not: programmability. You can, theoretically, input your Cool Cat NFT into any decentralized smart contract (the name for a bit of blockchain code) that supports it.
How would this work? Imagine that a developer Decentraland, a kind of crypto meets Second Life videogame, created a Cool Cat costume for virtual avatars, but only holders of a Cool Cat NFT could wear it. Or, imagine that the developers of Cool Cats held an in-person conference, and made the NFT the ticket. Lastly, imagine that you wanted to refinance the mortgage on your house, and staked your Cool Cat NFT as collateral. While you can’t do all of this with Cool Cats right now, this is the kind of future that NFT projects are working towards.
The most important part of these profile picture NFT projects is the community. Just 4,962 accounts own the 10,000 Cool cats NFTs, and each of them contributes to the overall feel of the project. If famous people buy NFTs, the value of the collection often increases. There are about 44,000 people in the project’s Discord chat, as of November 8, 2021.
According to a roadmap for the project published in July, Cool Cats is working on integrating with The Sandbox, another metaverse game, similar to Decentraland. It also wants to create a naming market (similar to Hashmasks), and a Paper Cats NFT with an infinite supply.
How to buy a Cool Cats NFT
You can no longer mint a Cool Cats NFT straight from the website—they have long since sold out. Right now, the easiest way to get your hands on a Cool Cat is to buy one on a secondary marketplace. As of this writing, the most popular one is called OpenSea.
When you buy a Cool Cat NFT on OpenSea, you are buying it from someone else in exchange for cryptocurrency. This means that you must do two things: acquire cryptocurrency with which to buy a Cool Cat, and second, convince someone that your offer is high enough to make them part with the Cool Cat of your choice.
You can peruse the Cool Cat selection on OpenSea and sort by attributes, namely Body, Face, Hat, Shirt and Tier. There are four tiers: classy, cool, wild and exotic. On OpenSea, make sure that you’re looking at the verified page. It should have a little blue tick next to it.
There’s also another verified collection called Cool Cats Collabs, which are collaborations between the creators of Cool Cats and other artists, projects and brands. As of this writing, this collection is far less valuable: the 17 items in the collection have an average floor price of 0.035 ETH.
To buy a Cool Cat on OpenSea, you’ll first have to connect a browser-based cryptocurrency wallet. Think of it as a mini bank account, but one that doesn’t require you to hand over any identification and is secured by a password and a secret 12 or 24-word phrase. Oh, and there’s no government insurance, either.
The most popular one of these is called MetaMask. It was developed by Consensys, an Ethereum development studio spun up by Joe Lubin, a co-founder of Ethereum. You can download it for free here, either on your computer or phone. Others supported by OpenSea include Coinbase Wallet or Fortmatic. Once you’ve created a wallet and kept your seed phrase safe, you can connect it to OpenSea by hitting the “my wallet” button on the top-right of your screen.
Then you need to load that wallet up for cryptocurrencies. You can buy Cool Cats in one of four currencies: USDC, DAI, WETH and ETH, but at the time of writing, just six were available in WETH (Wrapped Ethereum, an ERC-20 token version of the Ethereum coin) and the remaining 1,442 Cats up for sale could only be bought in ETH (or Ethereum, the native cryptocurrency of the blockchain by the same name; it’s also the blockchain that supports Cool Cats).
The easiest way to buy ETH is to use a cryptocurrency exchange, like Coinbase or Gemini. These exchanges let you withdraw your funds to your own wallet (Wealthsimple lets you buy and sell Ethereum, but you have to hold it in your wallet, as of this writing). Since ETH is a very popular coin, you can usually buy it outright for a fiat currency, like the US or Canadian dollar.
If not, you can usually buy it for another cryptocurrency. The most popular pairings are usually for Bitcoin (BTC) or for a stablecoin pegged to the US dollar, like USDT or USDC. A stablecoin is an asset that tries to maintain a constant value of some other asset, usually money or gold.
Once you have bought your ETH (or WETH), you can withdraw it to your MetaMask wallet. It’ll be ready for you to use on a secondary marketplace like OpenSea. Then, you can bid on whichever Cool Cat you like. Some listings are for direct sales, which lets you buy them outright. Some listings let the buyer reject or accept any bid they like.
You’ll receive your Cool Cat NFT in your MetaMask wallet, should you decide to buy one. From there, you can become a verified member in the project’s official Discord chat by linking your wallet’s address, or you can do the obvious and present it as your profile picture on sites like Twitter. (Note: you could already do this without buying it, but now you can prove that you own by flashing your Ethereum address in the event that someone challenge you).
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