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On June 16, NFT platform Verse unveiled the first part of its debut digital exhibition, This Is Tomorrow, featuring NFTs by artists Katherine Frazer, Jason Gringler, Rhea Myers, and Tyler Hobbs, handpicked by panelists Pari Ehsan of Pari Dust, Elena Soboleva, and GrailersDAO, a collective supporting generative art. Upcoming chapters of the exhibition will feature yet more artworks nominated by other notable advisors, including artist David Shrigley, former Tate Curator Leyla Fakhr, and Noah Davis, Head of Digital Sales at Christie’s. 

“Our strategy is to align ourselves with people who know what they’re doing,” says Jamie Gourlay. Image: STUDIO VIDEO (FIRE), 2016, Jason Gringler / Verse

Co-founded by CEO Jamie Gourlay and CTO Augustinas Malinauskas, Verse was created to help collectors easily spot and acquire contemporary art NFTs that have been selected by reputable curators and recognized galleries. The marketplace has recently raised $2.4 million in seed funding. “Our strategy is to align ourselves with people who know what they’re doing. They’re people deep in the art industry who know their stuff and understand there is real value [in NFTs],” Gourlay says. 

Verse also offers both primary and secondary markets for sellers, meaning that collectors can directly purchase from the artists themselves or buy from resellers. “If a limited edition piece sells out quickly, people will be able to kind of make offers on the secondary market,” he adds. 

He also notes that Verse isn’t designed to disrupt the art or collectors’ market but “rather to co-exist alongside the art market. “There are so many amazing physical exhibitions, but you could easily have an NFT component of the physical pieces,” he says. “We’re not trying to shake up the traditional art market. We just want to give people another option.”

However, there are still many obstacles NFT marketplaces face asides for competition, one of which remains the continued doubt surrounding whether NFTs represent “real art.” This skepticism is what Verse is addressing by involving curators and other key art players into its projects. Likewise, the platform has also aimed for security, employing three backend engineers to implement protocols like two-factor authentication.

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Verse has also launched amid a crypto bear market, a downturn that has seen Bitcoin’s value tank, accompanied by a drop (or a cooling off) in NFT art prices. Gourlay recognizes that it’s an “interesting” time to launch, but remains positive about our crypto future. “Seeing more platforms like ours coming out makes me excited because the more familiar people become with NFTs, the more necessary cryptocurrencies are gonna become,” he says.

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