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From Paris Hilton to Gmoney, here’s what the biggest names in NFTs say the future holds

August 7, 2021, 12:00 AM UTC

Fortune cohosted a Clubhouse chat on Thursday. The conversation drew a big crowd—more than 12,000 people—who were interested in learning more about NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, a sort of certificate of authenticity for digital content, as well as the inside scoop about our recent NFTy 50 list, a ranking of top NFT influencers.

We were joined by some honorees who made the cut, including digital artist pplpleasr (no. 5), celeb Paris Hilton (No. 7), and marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuk (No. 10). They shared their thoughts on everything from their personal passions as they relate to this new technology to their predictions about what the future holds.

Here’s a roundup of what they said.

On diversity: “They need, definitely, more females in the space, more female artists being raised up on these platforms. That’s a huge focus of mine…. I just worked with the Sevens Foundation [a non-profit that funds artists] and I just curated an all-female artist exhibition. All the artists will be notified this weekend. It was just so much fun to go through all of the submissions from all these amazing female artists. Anything I can do to lift women up, I’m always there for.” — Paris Hilton

On the significance of NFTs in business: “I can’t imagine not having an NFT strategy in 2022 as a Fortune [500] brand. Even if it’s just to learn, to be prepared for what you do in 2023. People have to think about it.” — Gary Vaynerchuk

On how earnings from NFT sales can change lives: “My first thought every day is that I’m now able to help my family. … We used to dream about, even helping a little bit, but now we can actually make a difference with the amount of money we’re making.” — Itzel Yard, a.k.a. IX_Shells (NFT artist, No. 11)

On predictions for the future of the industry: “I think the state of the NFT industry is going up and to the right, long term. I think we’re gonna have our little bubbles that come and go over time, but I think that’s just really a function of the technology being so revolutionary.” — Gmoney (NFT collector, No. 43)

On what makes NFT markets different: “Secondary market royalties are changing people’s lives. Like yes, their primary drop can be fantastic. With the secondary market royalties, that’s something that’s very important in the NFT space and something that didn’t really function in the traditional art world.” — Erick Calderone, aka Snowfro (NFT entrepreneur, No. 45)

On hopes for the future: “Really, I just hope that there is a wider adoption of crypto and less scams, because it really is truly a groundbreaking technology. I hope that we can put it to good use and for bringing out the best in us, and not the worst, being driven by greed.” — pplpleasr

By the way, at noon today Fortune kicked off its first foray into NFTs. We put up for sale a series of 256 limited editions of the Aug./Sept. 2021 issue’s cover art, designed by pplpleasr. The lot sold out in two minutes—about the time it takes to confirm Ethereum transactions. In other words, they sold out instantly.

I’m thrilled with the demand—but bummed I didn’t get one!

Robert Hackett
@rhhackett
robert.hackett@fortune.com

NEWSWORTHY

"A game changer." Apple's plan to hunt for child abuse images on U.S. iPhones with a new tool called neuralMatch is being heralded as a long-awaited and critical step from the tech community to protect children. Based on an artificial-intelligence system built on the phones, neuralMatch will look for concerning content and share such instances with a team of humans who can then notify law enforcement. However, security experts warn the system could also give governments an unprecedented look into citizens' personal information. Apple has since said its child safety features do not create a backdoor

BRT's promises. Two years ago, an important group of CEOs made a big proclamation: Companies had far greater responsibilities than boosting profits and share prices—defying the long-held standard championed by Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. Well, new research has found that the Business Roundtable's statement has really been just that, a statement. "Our findings support the view that the BRT Statement did not represent a meaningful commitment," Harvard Law School's Lucian Bebchuk and Roberto Tallarita concluded. 

Cloud stocks reach for the sky. Shares of Datadog spiked 15% Thursday after the company posted a whopping 67% increase in its revenues that blew past analyst expectations. Data and cloud companies like Bill.com, Asana, Cloudflare, and Atalassian have been on a tear in recent weeks, with Datadog's results seemingly helping to bring the whole group even higher. All five companies' stocks closed at all-time highs Thursday. 

John Deere goes automated. The ag equipment manufacturing giant agreed Thursday to buy Bear Flag Robotics, a Silicon Valley startup making autonomous farming tractors. While farming has already moved to automate some of the work, with tractors able to follow GPS on their own, Bear Flag Robotics has been working to create tractors that can function without a human sitting behind the wheel entirely. 

FTC says no way to Facebook. Earlier this week, when Facebook disabled the accounts of a group of NYU researchers, the social network pointed to a privacy order it has been subjected to by the Federal Trade Commission. But the FTC, in a letter obtained by The Washington Post, calls that claim "inaccurate." Facebook, for its part, has gone back on the FTC rationale, saying that the suspensions were based on the company's own privacy guidelines related to scraping data. 

This edition of Data Sheet comes courtesy of Declan Harty.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The future of remote work. Across corporate America, a reckoning has taken place over the future of office work.

Some companies, like most of Wall Street's biggest banks, want workers to return to the office full time with few exceptions. Silicon Valley companies have moved in the opposite direction, with Facebook perhaps most notably letting many of its nearly 50,000 employees move to a remote basis full time. 

And while the Delta variant has injected a new wave of uncertainty in any plans to return to the office, there are still concerns about how the remote workers will fare in a workplace where many of their peers are in the office, as The New York Times reported Thursday.

From the article:

Though most evidence that remote workers are at a disadvantage is anecdotal, at least one study, led by researchers at Stanford University, suggests they are less likely to be promoted than their in-office peers. In the experiment, researchers randomly assigned workers at a large travel agency in Shanghai to work remotely or in the office for nine months. Though the remote workers were 13 percent more productive, putting in more hours and making more calls per minute, they were promoted about half as often as their in-office peers.

"They can get forgotten," said Nicholas Bloom, a professor of economics at Stanford and one of the study's authors.

The result is troubling partly because the desire to work remotely isn't evenly distributed, Dr. Bloom said. He and his research team conducted monthly surveys about remote work since May last year. As of March this year, among college-educated parents of young children, women have said they want to work from home full time around 50 percent more often than men do.

Over time, then, bias against remote workers could compound wider workplace equality problems.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

SEC approves Nasdaq's new diversity requirements for public company boards by Declan Harty

Why digital taxes could survive the hard-fought global deal that's supposed to kill them off by David Meyer

Bitcoin mining is suddenly one of the most profitable businesses on the planet by Shawn Tully

Best Buy CEO Corie Barry: The pandemic shifted customers' digital expectations by Fortune Editors

How Biden's electric vehicle push can help us achieve a carbon-free future by Pedro J. Pizarro

Synthetic biology could help business save the planet by François Candelon, Matthieu Gombeaud, and George Stokol

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BEFORE YOU GO

Squirrels that rival Simone Biles. Squirrels don't necessarily have the best reputation. They rummage in our trash and vegetable gardens for food. They inexplicably run into traffic. After all, they're called bushy-tailed rats for a reason, right? But perhaps an overlooked component of the squirrel life is the leaping acrobatics these animals perform every day to just get around. The New York Times has a fascinating look at how University of California at Berkeley researchers have been exploring these "parkour-like moves," the rationale behind them, and even, what humans can take away from them. Said David Hu of Georgia Tech in the piece: "Don't worry so much about a wrong leap, as long as you can recover like a squirrel, you'll be fine." 

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