🕶e8:NFTs, what in tarnation? Is this the future of art collecting?|No beef between McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut as they all partner with Beyond Meat?
👋 Good Morning and Happy Sunday! Welcome to the e8 newsletter, a hand-picked collection of business and start-up news, resources for entrepreneurs, job/internship postings, and noteworthy trends that are happening this week! I hope you find this weekly newsletter informative and engaging!
🖼️NFTs, what in tarnation? Is this the future of art collecting?
Alright, so unless you haven’t been on the internet in the past couple weeks, you’ve probably heard about people selling their art, video clips, Pokémon cards, music, etc. for Ethereum tokens. This is all through the selling of NFTs, aka Non-Fungible Tokens (for those familiar, feel free to skip this intro). Everyone else, let me get you all up to speed by breaking down some basics. These new tokens live on the Ethereum blockchain as well as other blockchains that started rolling out NFT support (ex. Tron) but work vastly different from how traditional cryptocurrency coins operate. Unlike trading Bitcoin or Ethereum, each NFT is unique and has its own wallet address containing the original data (or a copy) of anything from a video, image, tweet, brain scan, video game character, or just about anything you can attach the piece of data to. So what’s driving this hype? And is it actually here to stay, or are we seeing another ICO incident?
Are NFTs the new ICOs?
This new excitement surrounding NFTs has many people reminiscing about the 2017 cryptocurrency days where basically anyone could “make” their own coin through an ICO (Initial Coin Offering). Unfortunately, this unregulated market was plagued with scammers and often left uneducated investors with nothing, as the value of their coins turned to 0. This was also the birthplace of the infamous DogeCoin lol. But will NFTs face the same fate ICOs did? Probably not. Unlike the coins, which act as fiat currencies, these new Non-Fungible Tokens act more like collectibles, setting the value in the eyes of the beholder. The price will always be set by heavy speculation but at least the assets are backed by the blockchain (which adds to security and authenticity) and carry some form of intrinsic value.
So who's benefiting from all these NFTs?
For many artists and developers, this NFT explosion may be viewed as an upcoming renaissance era, a new way to get recognized and paid for your work, which sounds great on the surface, but most investors are looking to flip these assets at a much higher price. Some people argue this by stating that throughout 2020, the NFT market has started maturing and more people have bought assets as long term holds; but inherently, the scalpy nature of today’s markets, mixed in with celebrities cashing in on their fans, and millions of dollars being shelled for seemingly worthless assets will overshadow the areas where NFT blockchain technology really shines.
Man oh man, the concept and execution of these NFTs are definitely hard to wrap your head around and while researching would constantly have me questioning why anyone would pay so much money for these random digital assets, and what benefits these NFTs actually bring to our society rather than just acting like a playground for the mega-rich. Starting with the latter question, I believe that NFTs could really shake up the resale market for street wear and shoe enthusiasts. Nike has already locked in a patent to show us how this could work: by generating a digital token that is attached to the unique identifier of a shoe that is then placed in the purchaser’s “Digital Locker”. A similar verification system could be used as a standard to validify the authenticity of other physical items.
Pivoting to the dilemma of paying large sums of money for these digital assets, it’s hard to justify many of these purchases. Like real art pieces in museums, they’re prone to theft and deterioration. And although the blockchain is very secure, the method of storage and willingness to retrieve a stolen asset come into play during a security breach. Coupled with unforeseen problems such as data degradation, website failures, and the human mind forgetting its own passwords, the idea of investing into these NFTs doesn’t sound so promising.
All in all, that brings me to my final point of the macro health effect of NFTs on the cryptocurrency markets. Currently, the addition of NFTs will proliferate the amount of investors getting into the crypto market due to the fact that ETH is currently the most popular blockchain and payment platform for NFTs. But, as more blockchains decide to add this feature to their platform we will experience a black swan effect once the data degradation sets in and people start freaking out that they’re losing their assets.
🍔No beef between McDonalds, KFC, and Pizza Hut as they all partner with Beyond Meat?
The next time you roll up to your favorite fast food spot, are you going to consider a meatless burger or a faux egg? For many diners, this news will fly over their head, and they’ll move forward with their regular orders, but for curious folk looking to try new offerings or vegetarians who have been traditionally limited with fast food, this is a good sign. So what’s the sauce? This past Thursday, California-based Beyond Meat had announced a multi year preferred supplier-deal with McDonalds and a menu partnership with Yum Brands, owners of KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. The introduction of meatless/plant-based options isn’t anything new in the Fast Food industry as these major players have already been working with Impossible and Beyond in their R&D departments since 2019. So let’s take a closer look at what makes this announcement significant for these fast food giants and plant-based companies!
The Golden Arches
McDonalds has experienced its ups and downs experimenting with plant-based options. Around 2019 when plant-based burger R&D was ramping up in the company, many pilot programs had obtained negative results showing people still prefer meat. Since then, they have rejected working with Impossible brands, opting for Beyond meat as their research partner, then dumping them towards the end of 2020 and opting to release their own plant-based burger… The McPlant… which was co-created with Beyond Meat (LOL), and already released in Sweden and Denmark a month ago (January 2021). A McDonald's spokesperson has confirmed the McPlant will be coming as a product line in November that will consist of imitation burgers, chicken, and breakfast offerings, but no specifics just yet!
The Colonel, The Bell, and Many More
Yum! Brands have also been eyeing the plant-based space for quite a while, starting with their KFC and Beyond Meat partnership, Beyond Fried Chicken. This turned out to be quite the hit and as a result, the plant-based options have started making their rounds across the world, making them a staple on menus in Canada and China. On the heels of KFC’s success, Pizza Hut U.S. started exploring its own partnership with Beyond Meat for their toppings and the Habit Burger Grill pushed to ink a deal with Impossible foods for their patties. Now, moving forward with their newly announced partnership with Beyond Meat in 2021, Yum! will be focusing on creating new menu items as well as expanding on earlier introductions.
This is definitely the biggest food deal for plant-based products to ever come to fruition. And I’m sorry for people who aren’t huge fans of these “Imitation” products, but they’re most likely here to stay. With these newly inked deals, I believe that Beyond Meats has definitely established themselves as a top dog in the plant-based food market and will continue to grow as they come out with more offerings for fast food restaurants, which will surely improve their grocery store offerings. So can we look forward to exponential growth from plant-based foods?
Unfortunately, I don’t think so. How I foresee the growth is there is already a set market of vegetarians and vegans who are the main “target” audience and are spending the most money on these products. Next, we will see companies come out with new products that capture new markets, by creating fanbases for niche products but not generally inspiring the customer to buy more plant-based foods in the future. Aside from that it could be a once in a while thing.
For most people, however, when they are visiting a fast food spot they have already decided whether they want beef, chicken, pork, etc. Having options such as soups and salads feels like enough healthy alternatives for them, and the only plant-based options they’re going to enjoy are french fries.
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💯Thank You For Reading, See You Next Week!
What's up, my name is Evan Hiltunen! I am a recent finance grad from Indiana University and financial analyst @ Goldman Sachs. I have a strong passion for start-ups, finance, and technology, and I hope you find this newsletter informative!
I’d love your feedback - feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org