SXSW Conference Focuses on Web3 & NFT Utility

Credit: Jay Janner from American-Statesman

South by Southwest (SXSW), an annual music and arts festival and conference held in Austin, Texas, was packed to the brim with Web3 panels this year. Despite the bear market in crypto and slump in NFT prices in 2022, SXSW 2023 saw a slew of big brands and consultancy firms discussing the potential of the future iteration of the internet.

But while last year was owned by NFT collections like Doodles and Fluf World, 2023 focused on the utility of NFTs and how brands can strategize for Web3 in the future. The president of Vayner3, Avery Akkineni, summed this up by saying Web3 is evolving beyond its ‘novelty moment’ and moving towards more strategic forms of implementation.

Akkineni said Web3 has the potential to disrupt a myriad of industries, including healthcare, finance, and social media, and that the increased interest in Web3 shows a “shift toward the next era of the internet” — which will be more personalized, immersive, and own-able for users. She added that all brands should be taking time to understand Web3 and implement it into their business models.

Other brands at SXSW included makeup and beauty company L’Oréal Bold Ventures. According to Vice President Rachel Weiss, Web3 can put what the beauty company has built “on steroids” and allow for “ownership of beauty.”

Coinbase also had a presence at SXSW, mainly focusing on the recent launch of its wallet-as-a-service (WaaS) product. Leonard Law, the product lead for WaaS at Coinbase, said that Coinbase’s presence at the conference was important to help connect the “right technology with the right brands.”

Other panels focused on Web3 included “Building an Open Metaverse,” led by Timmu Tõke, the CEO and co-founder of Ready Player Me, a Web3 platform focused on interoperability. Tõke warned that brands have become cautious about launching NFTs in current market conditions, even though they are excited about the metaverse.

However, Nicole Behnam, founder of Beyond Media, had a more optimistic take. She said the bear market gave people the chance to see which NFT teams are following through with their roadmaps and giving value to their communities. Now the conversation about NFTs has evolved from PFPs (profile pictures) to functional utility and practical use cases.

Web3 Conferences and Panels Abound

SXSW Web3 focus is exciting for the entire space. But it’s far from the only Web3-focused conference we’ve seen in recent months. At Rarity Sniper, we’ve covered several Web3 conferences happening around the world. Here are some of the top headlines.

First, on February 24th and 25th, NFT Paris took place at the Grand Palais Éphémère, the cultural and artistic epicenter of Paris. The conference brought in big names from Web3, including Julian Holguin (Doodles), Greg Solano (Yuga Labs), Jonathan Perkins (SuperRare), and many more.

Next, from January 5th to 8th, the CES 2023 took place in Las Vegas. Dubbed the most influential tech event in the world, one area of Web3 tech took the spotlight: the metaverse. Some of the panels discussed virtual and augmented reality, the blockchain, and NFTs.

Finally, in October, Oxford University held its first annual Oxford Blockchain, Art & Technology (OxBAT) Conference. The conference attracted speakers and guests from around the world to talk about how the blockchain and NFTs can foster new types of art.

2022 was a rocky year for crypto and NFTs, but it hasn’t stopped industry leaders from gathering to discuss the future of Web3. SXSW’s focus on NFT utility and Web3 strategies is more evidence that people remain excited about nascent technologies and their use cases.