NFT this, NFT THAT- TBH, I’m NFT’ed out after finally completing the Nifty Encylopedia; An Unbiased Technical and Historical Guide to all things NFT-related, but sadly, despite wanting to take a mini vacation from nifty nonsense, I’d be a real asshat if I didn’t share my journey, knowledge, data collection, and first-hand experience with the inventors of this technology.
It’s a total honor to have written a chapter in The Nifty Encylopedia with Eric Pulier, Craig Sellars, and Reeve Collins, these men who are responsible for the smart-powered NFT as we know, work to evolve, and love today.
I hope you got your popcorn because this is a great story! So, let’s get into it! :D
First and foremost, do you even know what an NFT is or what these trendy media mongers were created for?
If you think NFTs are just art, frankly, you fail to comprehend the magical notion of niftys, as the most significant purpose behind non-fungible tokens is actually… togetherness.
Once upon a time, in early 2015 to be precise, an American philanthropic entrepreneur, and author based in Los Angeles, California, proposed a new classification of blockchain tokens that would be interactive and programmable while encompassing an ability to alter their state based on external events such as communicating on the internet.
Eric Pulier's premise after witnessing the first visual NFT, Quantum, produced in 2014, was to create "non-boring Bitcoins” that were uniquely distinguishable from one another. His notion was to enable dynamic, on-chain assets with stunning graphics and audio to interact with users across augmented reality and virtual spaces. It was a solution that would represent an entirely new communication medium.
Pulier believed this innovative dream was more extraordinary than an ordinary incremental step in the evolution of the internet. “This shift,” he stated, “would have the ability to impact every sector of the global economy.”
Pulier’s compositions in early 2015 proposed that such a system would fundamentally alter marketing, advertising, and loyalty operations, consequently diverting the perspective of human engagement from “annoyance,” which aptly describes most advertising, to “value,” with the introduction of smart digital objects.
Pulier argued, “a new creator-to-audience relationship could be built based on mutually beneficial and long-term associations.”
This new method of engagement would permit the corporate world to deviate from surreptitiously acquiring consumer data for profit, allowing them to ethically and legally gather “zero-party data” that consumers intentionally share to benefit themselves.
The notion started with the presumption that individuals should govern their own data via a self-sovereign identity and associated wallet. Pulier wrote that the possession and management of one’s own personal data would bring an “ownership layer” to the internet that would transform healthcare, education, entitlements, real estate, patents, eCommerce, ticketing, coupons, and numerous other aspects of society daily.
In 2015, when the proposed idea of “smart NFTs,” Pulier started fifteen companies. Each of his startups in the past had forecast macro trends in the evolution of the internet, such as transactional websites, open source in the enterprise, webcasting, API management, enterprise cloud computing, and more. As he tested his latest concept on trusted colleagues and potential early employees, the universal feedback was that the idea had merit. Still, the words “non-fungible token” and “NFT” were far too “geeky” ever to catch on. In thinking about what he was setting out to accomplish, Pulier distilled his concept of a dynamic, authenticated blockchain token down to the idea of dissolving the boundaries between what is “real” and what is “virtual.” In the pre-blockchain era, the psychology of ownership was stuck in the rut of the physical, i.e., things made out of “atoms,” On this basis, Pulier coined the phrase “virtual atom” or “Vatom,” and the Vatom corporation was born.
Pulier solicited several trusted colleagues into the mission, including tech entrepreneurs Reeve Collins and Craig Sellars. They worked together during that time and had a history of success in the blockchain industry.
Craig Sellars was the technical mastermind behind Mastercoin, now Omni, and the founding CTO of Tether. Reeve Collins was the driving power and vision behind Tether, the first and still most vastly traded stablecoin to this date.
After hearing Pulier’s proposal, Sellars and Reeve understood they could bring a mere notion into a world-altering reality; they declared, “this is it,” and redirected their focus from stablecoins to developing a non-fungible digital reality. The unusual yet dynamic trio would meet long into the night and postulate on the immense implications of the project.
Within months, the early Vatom team designed and released the first working application stack that showcased what non-fungible tokens could accomplish, establishing the basis for NFTs as we know them today.
In less than five years, over 30 million Vatoms and over five million wallets were created and distributed with some of the largest companies in the world, including Verizon, Vodafone, Unilever, P&G, Nestle, Intel, State Farm, iHeart Media, PepsiCo, and others.
“Vatom,” says Pulier, “adds a “social and ownership layer” on the internet that masks the complexity of consumer adoption of Web3, allowing creators and companies to bring the next generation of the internet to a mass consumer audience.” “Smart NFTs are the cornerstone of Web3, and they are going to usher in a new era of consumer empowerment and engagement,” says
Eric Pulier's vision to Reeve Collins and Craig Sellars led the trio to build Vatom and multiple enterprises, which currently transcend NFTs and metaverse builds.
Vatoms or “Smart NFTs” are programmable, compelling digital objects connecting brands with consumers, artists with fans, citizens with governments, and friends with families. They also provide unification across distinct gaming environments and applications of all types.
Eric Pulier states, “in 2015, when I put forward a proposal for non-fungible tokens, there was no other code built or anything of note published (to my knowledge) about NFTs for engagement, i,e, tickets, data collection, loyalty, redemption, interactivity, and gamification. In fact, even the few posts about putting JPEGs on blockchain at the time were not exploring our concept or proposed direction, a direction that today has become the most common understanding of NFTs and their place in business and society.”
Sellars commented to this author on he and Pulier’s 2015 experiment, “Also, Eric is being a bit too humble - the concept of token issuance may have been new at the time (spearheaded by Mastercoin/Omni/Tether and the Colored Coins projects). Still, all of these tokens were distinctly fungible. Our innovation at Vatom was regarding tokens whose state could theoretically transition. While conversing with Reeve Collins, and myself, Eric proposed a concept of unique and identifiable tokens on a blockchain equipped with a metamorphosis state”.
Sellars continues, “Pulier’s vision was brought to life with an example of a virtual “cold beer” that could “get warm” when not redeemed within a certain period. This beer (conceived at his legendary blues bar, “Harvelle’s” in Santa Monica) would be able to be “seen” in augmented reality and brought into virtual environments, all the while retaining its authenticity, uniqueness, and programmed qualities. In the first example (that would soon become a working pilot), the beer was redeemable for a real one and could change state in real-time based on how many you collected or events such as sports scores. Most important to the concept from that start was the gathering of 1st Party data for communication, which could then be ethically used to create an ongoing communication channel with the owner. The vision was clear from the start– digital objects could be “owned” like physical ones, but unlike physical objects, they could communicate on networks and become a channel. The implications were staggering.”
Sellars states: The token issuing methodology I had created could be extended to allow issued tokens to become individually unique, hence my excitement to join Eric and begin developing a means of uniquely identifying non-fungible tokens on a decentralized ledger. This was not just an image attached to a token (also a novel concept at the time) but many steps beyond that, making tokens not only non-fungible but actually “smart” and “dynamic. We created a
Pulier follows, “My premise in early 2015 was that the first use case for NFTs would be the same as many new technologies–speculation. However, I believed that Smart NFTs would soon explode into numerous more exciting use cases, focused less on “buying low and selling high” and more on the essence of engagement itself. While we aren’t there yet, to this day, I tell people that the vast majority of NFTs will soon be “free,” with a purpose related to their utility and communication power far beyond potential resale value.”
Vatom founders admit they were accurate about developments and trends while wrong about the timing.
“I believed the market would be where it is currently (2022) by 2019; I was three years off. That said, we are now seeing the full fruition of this vision as every company and organization on the planet is setting out to define its ‘Web3’ strategy,” stated Pulier.
In early 2015, vAtomic Systems was founded. Pulier would invest 2.5 million U.S. dollars of personal capital into the startup to hire several employees and contractors, including Gunther Thiel and Lukas Fluri, whom Pulier had met as customers at Swisscom.
vAtomic’s Mission statement at that time was “to create the world's first platform for dynamic, interactive non-fungible tokens.”
Pulier states, "Since early 2015, even as we’ve continued to build out Vatom Smart NFT platform, Craig Sellars has brought our vision of self-sovereign ID into actuality and built out the proposed goals for identity we formulated initially." This premise and focus on practical use cases for business allowed for broad deployment of NFT use cases and early feedback and iterations even before non-fungible tokens had a designated term.
From 2016 to 2017, vAtomic created and deployed several pilots with large corporations, most notably NASCAR and American Express. The construction of these solutions for prominent enterprises preceded CryptoKitties by several years, and other such initiatives began to seize the public's imagination.
In 2017, Vatom supported an open-source project, BLOCKv, by licensing software into it. The stablecoin technology legend Reeve Collins gathered Fluri and Thiel, all full-time at vAtomic, and left to bring BLOCKv to the world-renowned and loved blockchain brand it is today. Collins, the CEO of BLOCKv, commented to this author, “I raised $22 million U.S. dollars via ICO in ETH; and turned that investment money over to $50 million U.S. dollars by the time it was cashed out.” Further, Collins commented, “Yes, our ICO was massive, which helped subsidize Vatom both financially and in spirit.”
The initial idea behind BLOCKv was to make an object model widely available and to facilitate an open standard for dynamic, interactive NFTs on any blockchain. An object model is a logical interface modeled using object-oriented techniques. It enables the creation of an architectural software or system model before development or programming. The foremost goal of BLOCKv was to create an open standard to help popularize Vatom’s original idea of dynamic, interactive NFTs for the industry.
While today that goal expanded, as BLOCKv is the world’s leading platform for creating, minting, and distributing next-generation programmable NFTs that act as a standardized framework to build digital goods. Since its inception in 2017, BLOCKv has grown from the founding team's vision to the Fortune 500’s favored NFT development platform, providing extended reality experiences, global scavenger hunts, and creative problem-solving for some of the world’s most successful businesses. Based in Zug, Switzerland, and operating globally, BLOCKv offers a broad spectrum of services that together recreate the sensation of physical object ownership in the digital world.
Today, under the name "Vatom Corporation," rebranded from the original “vAtomic,” The company is still dedicated to a world where:
On June 8, 2021, Vatom announced the next generation of the __Vatom Platform, stating it was a “new medium for human engagement.” and “It’s time to think of the cultural and everyday applications of Smart NFTs as part of our reality now, not a futuristic vision,” __Eric Pulier continues, “Smart NFTs may have caught people’s attention first in technology and gaming spaces, but it’s the wider set of usage scenarios that will elevate our lives in education, health care, real estate, retail, loyalty, music, entertainment, loyalty, government, and community.”
Unlike initiatives that entered the space to focus on the short-term benefits of speculation, Vatom’s philosophy focused on the elements that make NFTs impactful and practical for engagement. In Pulier’s mind, this boiled down to three key elements: “people, places, and things.”. People means self-sovereign identity via an easy-to-use wallet that can hold Smart NFTs; Places, means augmented and virtual spaces for social, spontaneous human interactions; and Things are ownable and programmable NFTs that are network-aware and can change state.
The Vatom Platform provides five integrated components:
On June 21, 2021, the
In 2022, Vatom has attracted the world's most prestigious Systems Integrators, Advertising Agencies, brands, and artists to build on the platform. As the world finally shifts from seeing NFTs as speculative instruments to a means of engagement, the most high-profile and widely distributed projects in the space are now being built on the Vatom Platform.
While in the months before Vatom, Anil Dash and Kevin McCoy experimented with tracking a jpeg’s ownership on the blockchain, Pulier’s original concept in 2015 to create a dynamic, non-fungible, network-aware token has become the basis of the modern NFT sector. Vatom was the first group to develop a comprehensive vision of the contemporary NFT, a revolutionary idea for how programmable, interactive digital objects could dramatically advance the internet. In this way, Pulier, Sellars, and their colleagues at Vatom set the stage for a worldwide phenomenon.
In 2022, the team continues to spearhead the mission from Vatom’s headquarters in Venice, CA, and other offices in the U.S., Europe, South Africa, and Latin America. As most companies begin exploring their Web3 strategies, the Vatom Platform distinguishes itself with its pedigree as the pioneer that combines the critical elements for mass consumer adoption and management at scale. Like in the 90s, most companies pursued their first Web strategies; now, every brand, creator, and government in the world seeks to leverage the next generation of the internet, Web3. Vatom was conceived and built for this moment.
“After spending years honing our vision and bringing the Vatom Platform to scale,” recounted Eric Pulier, “we saw the first wave of commercial NFT projects spring up to enter a speculative frenzy. It is gratifying to see the market evolving fast to the next stage, where the power and practical benefits of Web3 and Smart NFTs are being realized.”
Vatom offers the first mass-market-ready, blockchain-independent NFT Wallet, no-code smart NFT creation tools, and infinitely scalable social spaces that extend across AR & VR. The platform is widely deployed across vertical markets, including social commerce, education, concerts, conferences, games, education, healthcare, remote work environments, trade shows, brand marketing, galleries, loyalty programs, and more. Vatom is the only platform to accommodate developers who can build plug-in enhancements and new capabilities to resell them to the customer community. Top systems integrators, agencies, professional services companies, and content companies are forming practices and ventures around the Vatom Platform.
“In the future,” says Pulier, “everyone will have a digital wallet that can hold non-fungible tokens and dynamic, interactive digital objects. This will allow people to express themselves, authenticate skills, work, and get paid without needing a traditional bank account or tools. In this model, billions of unbanked or underbanked will earn a living by remotely engaging in tasks, telling their stories, and expressing their talents.“
“We stand on the shoulders of giants,” said Pulier contemplating his role at the inception of NFTs and the road ahead, “from Satoshi to Vitalik, so many brilliant people contributed to laying the groundwork we had the honor to innovate upon. We are grateful to have this opportunity to be part of something bigger than ourselves. We feel like a small part of a long journey that began with the early pioneers of the internet and has evolved as a collaborative effort ever since. The next chapter of this story adds ‘people, places, and things to the internet, opening the door to previously unimaginable heights of creativity, experience, and value creation.”
This story is from The Nifty Encyclopedia. An Unbiased Definitive Guide to NFTs NFTs in 2015, Vatom, co-authored by founders of smart NFT technology and other revolutionary fintech solutions; Eric Pulier, Craig Sellars, and Reeve Collins.
I’d like to thank Reeve, Eric, and Craig for inventing this tech and working so hard to advance things for a better tomorrow. It also means the world to me that you’d take your precious time and write history with me to ensure the correct story is told. I love you all so much, and I appreciate each of you being a part of my Cinderella story after a crazy life that brought me into this industry. May you have continued joy, success, and love in your lives. I’m grateful and here to continue to serve the industry.
Love, Sam <3
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 08: (L-R) X.LA Director of Events Amanda Pool, X.LA Innovation Architect Stefan Cannonball Rollins, iHollywood Film Fest Founder Joyce Chow, investor Michael Terpin, Vatom CEO Eric Pulier, and blockchain strategist Alyze Sam at the 2022 iHollywood Film Fest Awards at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres on September 08, 2022, in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Greg Doherty/Getty Images for iHollywood Film Fest)
The Nifty Encyclopediais a desperately needed guide to NFTs for newcomers and anyone seriously attempting to fully comprehend the interworkings of non-fungible token technology and web 3.0. This beautifully scripted historical and technical guide also includes a chronological timeline, content, and advisory from NFT heroes and inventors of the technology as we know it today. These Nifty collaborators include Reeve Collins, Craig Sellars, Eric Pulier, Joel Comm, Travis Wright, J.R. Willett, and more.
With over 300 hours of research, and two years of writing, The Nifty Encyclopedia needed one full-time author, four dedicated co-authors, three editors, two researchers, and over 25 more advisors and contributors to the only book you’ll ever need in NFTs. There are thousands of people to thank for this perfectly poetic composition, from the robust team it took to produce to the inspiring devs, artists, and visionaries that brought this technology to life.
You can pre-order copies of the book below to give out and help spread the word about NFTs.