What is Memeland?

IntermediateJul 19, 2023
Memeland is an NFT ecosystem conceived by the renowned internet content powerhouse, 9GAG. It is not a monolithic NFT collection but rather a multifaceted ecosystem composed of a plethora of NFT collections, incorporating elements such as membership systems, DAO, governance communities, and Web3. In 2022, when the NFT market was subdued, Memeland emerged as a rarity, capturing market attention and drawing the gaze of numerous NFT investors. Notably, the Captainz NFT collections alone accrued over 9,800 ETH in royalty revenue. Memeland’s triumph might seem serendipitous, but the constellation of advisors and investors it boasts is nothing short of illustrious, including American entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and Moonbirds founder Kevin Rose, as well as venture capital firms like Freestyle Capital and First Round. Memeland harnesses its communal acumen in building communities and social media, expertise cultivated over 14 years, and channels it into the Web3 domain, dedicated to crafting its bespoke Metaverse.
What is Memeland?

As we traverse into 2023, the Web3 domain, having experienced two bull markets in recent years, is replete with blue-chip projects in both the cryptocurrency arena and Web3 applications, with NFT projects drawing thunderous acclaim.

In retrospect, it becomes evident that many luminary projects in the industry underwent periods of gestation and maturation; it is rare to witness a project reach its zenith upon inception. The few that do, often owe their success to an innate advantage of being pioneers in their domain.

This year, post the dawn of the new year, we’ve seen a burgeoning of impressive NFT projects, especially considering the precarious foothold of projects with tenuous credentials. NFT projects centered around ecosystem construction and practical application have garnered a favorable reception amongst market participants.

However, Rome wasn’t built in a day. For many blue-chip NFT projects, cultivating an ecological advantage via progressive releases of diverse NFT collections proves to be an astute strategy, a path blazed by current industry titans.

Amidst the languid and listless crypto market of 2022, the advent of Captainz NFT piqued the interest of many industry insiders and crypto enthusiasts. Compared to standalone NFT projects, Captainz NFT, as part of a larger NFT ecosystem, evidently wielded greater allure.

Memeland, the progenitor of the Captainz NFT collections, had already carved a niche for itself within the industry. As it transpires, Memeland is the brainchild of 9GAG, a venerable company steeped in internet culture.

What is Memeland?

Memeland is an NFT ecosystem created by the renowned internet content team 9GAG. It is not just a single NFT collection but a sophisticated ecosystem comprising many different NFT collections, encompassing elements like membership systems, DAO, governance communities, and Web3.

(Image source:twitter.com)

In 2022, when the NFT market was somewhat subdued, Memeland stood out as a rare entity capturing market attention and drawing the interest of many NFT investors. Among these, just the Captainz NFT collections alone generated over 9,800 ETH in royalty revenue at the time.

Memeland’s surge in popularity in 2022 was somewhat surprising. However, the project boasts a robust team and resources. The team’s advisors and investors include American entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, Moonbirds founder Kevin Rose, and venture capital firms like Freestyle Capital and First Round.

Memeland has built specialized communities and social media networks centered around these team resources. Behind it, 9GAG, a company with over 15 years of experience, is making grand strides into the Web3 domain, committed to building a diverse Metaverse ecosystem.

9GAG, through Memeland, has successively launched three different NFT collections aimed at strengthening the bond between its NFT holders and the Memeland ecosystem. Each of the three NFT collections adopts distinct airdrop and minting mechanisms, and holders of different collections of NFTs can access varied functions within the ecosystem.

Currently, the three NFT collections launched on Memeland are YOU THE REAL MVP, Potatoz, and Captainz.

Founding Team of 9GAG

9GAG is a long-standing meme image-sharing website dedicated to the Web2 field, steeped in Chinese heritage. It was founded in 2008 by the Chen brothers, Zhan Cheng and Zhan Jun, in Hong Kong.

(Image source:9gag.com)

Many young individuals who the Web 2.0 internet culture has long influenced might still recall that a few years ago, there was a global surge in the so-called sticker culture on social media platforms across various countries. This trend has evolved and has now become an integral part of the daily lives of digital natives.

In the non-Chinese internet space, these stickers are known as meme images, which in English, similarly convey elements of humor, satire, and trending topics. 9GAG was an early participant and a catalyst in this internet subculture.

Users could upload and share their self-created meme images on 9GAG. To promote meme culture, 9GAG also collaborated with various brands to produce and showcase a collection of humorous memes, which greatly accelerated the popularity of this internet culture.

Those who have created or used meme images would know that images can convey information in a way that is far richer and more engaging than traditional text. The power of a single meme surpasses that of a thousand words, and its popularity worldwide has spawned a whole new linguistic system, rapidly amassing a large user base in a short time.

Not everyone may have used 9GAG, but the user-generated content produced through it has rapidly and profoundly spread throughout the internet.

9GAG, a company dedicated to memes, amassed a massive following and user base quickly. Before venturing into the Web3 space, 9GAG’s meme operation already had over 200 million users globally, with daily active users exceeding 8 million. Moreover, it garnered support from major internet companies such as First Round Capital, Freestyle Capital, and Greycroft Partners.

The cultural attributes inherent in meme images, such as being trendy, satirical, and humorous, align with the elements of internet subculture. Therefore, 9GAG has a keen grasp of emerging internet trends. Following the rise of blockchain and Web3, a wave of Web3 enthusiasts emerged in 9GAG’s global meme communities. When the community effects of Web2 collided and blended with the meme culture of Web3, crypto enthusiasts found an ideal medium for spreading the spirit of Web3.

The meme communities formed by 9GAG initially inspired the Memeland project. These communities were dedicated to consistently spreading meme culture. When this exaggerated yet effective form of internet storytelling was combined with Web3, it opened up new avenues for marketing and interaction within the Web3 space.

Having long embraced meme culture as a core aspect of its identity, 9GAG naturally felt a strong affinity for Web3, especially the emphasis that Web3 places on the ownership and rights of user-generated content, which resonated deeply with the UGC-focused company.

Furthermore, as 9GAG explored new avenues for business growth, pivoting towards the Web3 space seemed like a natural progression. The company launched a project called Memeland, aiming to create a unique Metaverse ecosystem by embracing NFTs, which are intrinsically aligned with meme attributes.

However, Memeland ventured into the NFT space in 2022, as the industry was heading into a downturn. The project’s first NFT initiative, YOU THE REAL MVP, launched in June 2022, coinciding with a transition period in the market.

Representative NFT Collections of Memeland

Since Memeland launched its first NFT collection in 2022, only three NFT collections have been officially released. The official website indicates that the project is planning a new collection called TREASURE ISLANDZ, and the ecosystem token $MEME is also about to be launched.

From 2022 to 2023, the three NFT collections released by Memeland have performed remarkably well in the market and will be introduced one by one below.

YOU THE REAL MVP

(Image source: zapper.xyz)

YOU THE REAL MVP originates from a famous meme associated with American NBA basketball star Kevin Durant. In a time when the NFT market is booming, collaborations and promotions between NBA stars and NFT projects are nothing new. Memeland considered this and made it the first NFT collection on their platform.

However, as the first NFT collection on the platform, it’s more than just a simple brand collaboration or basic PFP product. The early support and endorsement from popular basketball star Kevin Durant were crucial, as featuring him in the launch benefits the ecosystem’s subsequent development.

YOU THE REAL MVP has a total of 420 pieces, and holders can obtain ecosystem VIP membership along with various special privileges, including guaranteed access to white-listing, free minting, ecosystem token staking rights, and eligibility for airdrops of new NFT collections.

Since the number of YOU THE REAL MVP NFTs is relatively scarce compared to many projects, coupled with the successful preliminary promotion and the fact that Memeland has the backing of 9GAG’s enormous global community, as well as Kevin Durant’s influence, this NFT collection generated buzz right from the start.

During its release in June, the YOU THE REAL MVP NFT was auctioned off through a blind bidding process, starting at 0.69 ETH. The final auction price was 5.3 ETH, but to complete the transaction, buyers had to send 5.3 ETH to the project team first to receive the airdrop.

Since its release, the floor price of YOU THE REAL MVP NFT has been on a steady rise, currently standing at 63 ETH, with a total trading volume of 4,371 ETH. For an NFT project with only 420 pieces in supply, this is an impressive achievement.

Of course, the main reason for the overwhelming acceptance by users is not just because the design of YOU THE REAL MVP NFT is glitzy or appears highly valuable. It’s primarily due to the confidence and support from the Memeland community for the project team’s future plans, especially the benefits of being an ecosystem VIP member. Also known as MVP, it embodies the foundational privileges often spoken of in NFT projects.

Potatoz

(Image source:cyberscrilla.com)

The Memeland project launched its second NFT collection, Potatoz, in July 2022, just a month after the release of YOU THE REAL MVP.

Potatoz NFTs are based on an adorable potato character, a highly popular meme within the 9GAG community.

A total of 9,999 Potatoz NFTs were minted. The release strategy followed the Free Mint model, which was in vogue in 2022. This move fueled the already noteworthy market attention the project was receiving. Two hours after the launch, Potatoz NFTs witnessed a trading volume exceeding 1,600 ETH.

Although the release was done through the Free Mint method, allocating Potatoz NFTs was not without criteria. Out of the total, 6,900 NFTs were awarded to the winners of 9GAG and its partners’ campaigns, 3,000 NFTs were distributed to public lottery winners, and the remaining 99 NFTs were reserved for future collaborations and marketing, allocated to project and institutional partners.

Compared to YOU THE REAL MVP NFTs, which mainly focus on future prospects and have a relatively higher collectible value, the unique charm of Potatoz NFTs lies in the symbolism of the Potatoz character, representing the growth of new life.

This is linked to the grow-to-win feature of Potatoz NFTs. Owners can stake their Potatoz to win lottery tickets potentially, $MEME tokens, and more rewards in various lottery formats will be available as part of the application scenarios for Potatoz NFT holders. Anchored on the entire Memeland project ecosystem, Potatoz NFTs possess strong scalability for future developments.

Despite being released through the Free Mint model, it does not imply that the Potatoz NFTs are of low value. The collection has maintained a price well above 2.5 ETH for a long period. So far, the total trading volume has reached 40,328 ETH. By choosing to launch during a bear market and staying resilient for almost a year, the market performance of Potatoz NFTs is commendable.

Captainz

(Image source:twitter.com)

The third NFT collection from the Memeland project, Captainz, showed an incredibly heated momentum even before its launch, built on the groundwork of two previous collections.

Once again leveraging the global community of over 200 million users on 9GAG’s Web2 and the user base and market attention accumulated by the previous two NFT collections, Captainz had over 18,000 addresses participating even before its launch. Such was the fervor that even those on the project’s whitelist struggled to secure one of these NFTs.

The minting process for Captainz deviated from Memeland’s prior simplicity. Users needed to deposit 1.069 ETH on the Mint page in advance and acquire the NFT through bidding within 48 hours. There were a total of 9,169 Captainz NFTs available.

Moreover, to maintain coherence in the project’s overall narrative, eligibility for minting Captainz NFTs was segmented based on user types, prioritized as Memelist, FCFS (First Come First Served), and then whitelist users.

True to its name, Captainz NFTs were like sought-after ship tickets. In the lead-up to its launch in January 2023, thousands of crypto enthusiasts vied to get their hands on one. The pre-sale whitelist price alone reached $6,000 on the eve of the launch.

This spectacular hunger marketing strategy contributed a staggering 9,801 ETH in revenue to the Memeland project team. It has been half a year since, and while the team has not released any new NFT collections, the floor price of Captainz NFTs has soared to 9.2 ETH, with total trading volume reaching an astonishing 45,422 ETH.

This all comes down to the pivotal role Captainz NFTs play in enhancing the Memeland project ecosystem. They connect the narrative functionality of Potatoz NFTs and bridge the benefits of YOU THE REAL MVP NFTs.

Captainz NFT holders can also receive priority airdrop rights for the potentially upcoming $MEME, including priority access to the subsequent project, TREASURE ISLANDZ. Moreover, Captainz NFTs allow for interactive gameplay with Potatoz NFTs. True to its name, users holding Captainz can lead their Potatoz on an expedition to TREASURE ISLANDZ, where treasures provided by Memeland are buried. However, each Captainz NFT can be used with a maximum of three Potatoz NFTs.

Additionally, holding Captainz NFTs allows users to participate in the governance process of Memeland DAO. In the future, it will be open to all Captainz NFT holders, and DAO members will help Memeland make decisions regarding finance, governance rules, and partnerships, and participate in voting.

In summary, this is a brief introduction to the three NFT collections released by Memeland. From the design of the benefits and the narrative content, it is evident that the project’s ecosystem is still in the build-up phase. The three NFT collections continue to elevate user expectations, with all gameplay and functionalities pointing towards the yet-to-be-launched TREASURE ISLANDZ, which appears to be a One Piece-style treasure-hunting adventure.

What is impressive is that Memeland has crafted this story with a highly coherent and complete narrative structure. Coupled with the release of different NFT collections, it transparently presents distinct membership tiers – founding members, regular members, and premium members – to the users. With a clear and well-defined long-term vision, the unfolding of TREASURE ISLANDZ is bound to ignite another frenzy. The rich NFT collections and diverse application scenarios will also provide solid groundwork for the eventual launch of $MEME.

Innovative Aspects of Memeland NFTs

Although the three NFTs under Memeland have performed remarkably well in the market over the past year, especially considering that this success was achieved during a bearish market, it is worth pondering what innovation Memeland NFTs have brought in comparison to previous NFT projects.

NFT projects that construct a worldview and develop a narrative are not uncommon in the Web3 space, and if one looks at some GameFi projects, one will find that such grand narratives are, in fact, commonplace.

After all, the logic of GameFi projects is still more inclined towards traditional gaming products, with NFTs merely being a part of their extensive design. Naturally, projects that establish a comprehensive worldview for themselves are typically associated with the Metaverse, and Memeland also exhibits classic characteristics in this regard.

However, in most cases, the storytelling abilities of Web3 projects are generally weaker than those of Web2. This is one of the reasons why many content-rich Web3 projects ultimately fail. With the entire industry displaying financial characteristics, an overemphasis on storytelling and content design is inherently at odds with the overall needs of users.

Examining Memeland from this perspective reveals that the project team has yet to make groundbreaking innovations in storytelling, especially compared to Dookey Dash, which more prominently used NFTs to build a story, guiding users to drive market feedback during the same period. The mechanics involved in Dookey Dash were also relatively more sophisticated; Memeland has yet to achieve a comparable level of refinement.

Therefore, the innovation in Memeland’s NFT collections mainly lies in the NFT release methods and rights design, primarily in two aspects:

Combination of release format and content narrative

Firstly, Memeland combined common industry practices like whitelisting, airdrops, and auctions in the release of its NFTs. Moreover, it adopted the trendy Free Mint method during the Potatoz NFT release, quickly establishing a stable user base. This shows that the team used past NFT projects and user interactions as a marketing ploy to drive growth and sales.

By employing a combination of tactics to attract more interested users to invest, and creating a strong buying frenzy in the market, Memeland effectively linked its collections of release activities with the content narrative it built. This encouraged users who were already engaged to maintain their interest in the project, while also catering to the interests of users from the 9GAG Web2 community.

NFT Rights Design

There has long been skepticism surrounding the value and application of NFTs. Over the past two years, many players have experimented with various approaches to address this issue. Memeland introduced a “grow-to-win” rights design concept during the Potatoz NFT release, slightly different from the traditional empowerment of rights in previous projects.

The “grow-to-win” concept essentially links NFT holders with other profit returns from the project, placing a greater emphasis on long-term returns, and conferring more economic rights. This is akin to equating NFTs with cryptocurrencies or tokens.

If Memeland maintains high standards in rights design and introduces new digital assets, gradually expanding the entire ecosystem, then all long-term investors will realize the true meaning of “grow-to-win.”

This is not just rhetoric; many NFT projects have already tried to provide users with additional rights through staking and burning, but most have fallen short and failed to strike the right balance between brand content and economical design.

However, given that Memeland’s founding team has the successful experience of 9GAG and is highly adept in marketing and business development, coupled with the recognition and support of a large Web2 community, the energy they can unleash may differ from the typical Web3 projects.

The Underlying Reasons for Memeland’s Popularity

As mentioned above, there are multiple reasons for Memeland’s success, whether the combination of designs during NFT releases or 9GAG’s ability to leverage its extensive Web2 community. These factors represent the surface-level reasons for Memeland’s achievements.

The deeper reason for Memeland’s explosive popularity lies in the project team’s ability to present a future vision through storytelling that fulfills the psychological expectations of users. This is further bolstered by comprehensive rights design and economic planning that make these aspirations seem attainable.

The next phase of the project, involving the rollout of TREASURE ISLANDZ, features a map gameplay element, which is rare among NFT projects. Before this, few NFT projects could achieve this without relying on games or specific applications. However, Memeland has already accomplished this feat solely through storytelling.

(Image source:memeland.com)

The market response to three NFT collections has laid a solid user base for the upcoming TREASURE ISLANDZ. On this basis, whether it’s launching new NFT collections or introducing more applications such as staking, leasing, and other NFTFi modes of play, all are merely expanding the ecosystem based on existing conditions.

Additionally, the right design combination of different NFT collections in the early stage has outlined the basic gameplay features for TREASURE ISLANDZ, which has created a certain value foundation for the NFTs themselves. This is a positive product cycle logic.

Of course, most importantly, $MEME is the core economic support of the entire Memeland ecosystem, which is still in its early stages. For 9GAG, which has been operating the meme community for many years, user-generated content is the intrinsic reason for an ecosystem to maintain its long-term vitality. Memeland’s subsequent planning confirms this point. The ecosystem framework combined with different NFT collections has rich freedom and expandability. The layout of the UGC (User-Generated Content) section has been underway.

(Image source:memeland.com)

$MEME is the ecosystem governance token provided to support user creation. Each Captainz NFT holder can passively hold and stake to earn $MEME, and can also earn $MEME by creating content and publishing works.

This makes $MEME play a governance and circulation role while providing sufficient economic support for implementing the Memeland UGC section.

However, at least for now, Memeland’s intentions in these areas have just started to show. TREASURE ISLANDZ and $MEME have yet to be launched, and more detailed features will only be understood in the future.

Conclusion

As one of the few projects performing well in the market since the Web3 market entered the winter, Memeland is impressive both in narrative and rights design. At this point in time, the system structure formed by NFTs in the Memeland ecosystem is still in its early stages of development. Even so, the project has achieved noteworthy market results, and the ongoing progress of Memeland is worth the continuous attention of every NFT enthusiast.

After all, who would deny the serious attempts of a company that enjoys creating fun memes in the Web3 field?

Author: Charles
Translator: Piper
Reviewer(s): Hugo、KOWEI、Elisa、Ashley He
* The information is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice or any other recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by Gate.io.
* This article may not be reproduced, transmitted or copied without referencing Gate.io. Contravention is an infringement of Copyright Act and may be subject to legal action.