Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s first tweet is well-known on the platform. Published nearly 15 years ago, the tweet reads, “just setting up my twttr.” While there’s no doubt that it’s meaningful in popular culture, Dorsey apparently also seems to believe it’s got monetary value. And it appears he’s right.
Dorsey posted a link to the auction, hosted by a platform called Valuables, on Twitter on Friday without a comment or explanation. Some of you may be asking, how can he sell a tweet? Dorsey is selling a “non-fungible token” of his tweet, known as an NFT. Things that are non-fungible are one of a kind and can’t be exchanged for something of equal value. Tokens represent an asset on their blockchain, or the mechanism by which cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ether, are bought and sold.
Now, what exactly does the person who wins the auction for Dorsey’s tweet get? According to Valuables, you get a “digital certificate of the tweet, unique because it has been signed and verified by the creator.” Despite the sale, the tweet will continue to live on Twitter.
“This autographed digital certificate will only be issued once on Valuables. It is signed using cryptography, and includes metadata of the original tweet like: when the tweet was posted, what the text contents are of the tweet, the timestamp of the tweet, and the digital signature from the creator’s crypto wallet address,” Valuables stated.
While that may not sound like a grand purchase, or even one worth the millions people are putting up for it, buying NFTs is a thing right now. Grimes sold NFTs of her artwork, which included videos, for around $6 million earlier this month. In February, an NFT of the Nyan Cat GIF sold for roughly 300 Ether. The cryptocurrency had a value of roughly $587,000 at the time of the sale.
As NPR pointed out, while some may think you’re just buying something similar to a barcode, it can also be seen as a certificate of authenticity for a version of artwork that is registered on a blockchain as being yours.
“The underlying thing that you’re buying is code that manifests as images,” Donna Redel of Fordham Law School told the outlet. “You’re buying a different format of art.”
Yet, buying an NFT usually does not mean that you’re getting the copyright or trademark to the original. Artists can sell multiple NFTs of their work. Case in point: Grimes made thousands of copies available of two NFTs that she put up for auction. Per the Verge, nearly 700 copies of the NFTs, which consisted of short videos, were sold for $5.18 million.
As of the publication of this blog, the highest bid for Dorsey’s tweet is $2.5 million. The person that bid this jaw-dropping amount for Dorsey’s tweet is Hakan Estavi, CEO of Bridge Oracle, a Malaysia-based company that uses Oracle systems to enable smart contracts on the TRON network.
However, on Twitter on Saturday, Estavi said that he would actually be willing to shell out a lot more for the tweet. He’s willing to go up to $10 million.
Gizmodo reached out to Twitter to ask why Dorsey was selling an NFT of the tweet and what he planned to do with the money generated from the sale. A Twitter spokesperson said the company had no comment.
You know what they say: Art gets its value from what you’re willing to pay for it. I guess that means tweets are art now.
Update 3/7/2021, 12:30 p.m. ET: This post has been updated to clarify that we asked why Dorsey was selling an NFT of his tweet, not his actual tweet.