Gumroad is a self-publishing digital marketplace platform to sell digital services such as books, memberships, courses and other digital services. It does a roaring trade selling digital comic books.
Brian "Box" Brown is an American cartoonist, recipient of the Xeric Grant, author of the graphic novel André the Giant: Life and Legend and Is This Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman. Recently he has been working for Gumroad. I say, recently.
Brian "Box "Brown tweeted out "so the reason I've been ramping up my original art sales is bc my former regular freelance employer has let me know they'll be…Embracing NFTs so…we had to part ways… it was Gumroad. they employed me for a while and let me do super fun stuff for a while so it was pretty disappointing."
NFTs – or non-fungible tokens – have naturally received a lot of coverage on Bleeding Cool. Intended to be unique digital records of ownership of anything, including digital files, verified by blockchain technology, there are major concerns with the current NFT marketplace. To make an NFT, you have to "mint it"- register it on the blockchain, which takes energy and costs money, from $40 to $1000, depending. That registration can then be sold on. Creating and maintaining the ownership and registration of NFT artwork uses somewhere between weeks, months, years, and even decades of a First World user's average citizen's energy consumption, depending on the work. Ethereum, the digital currency mostly for NFT, uses a protocol to determine their value called "proof of work", through computer "mining". Initially, a background process that could run on a laptop, the proof of work gets harder to match the increase in mining which has led to enormous banks of computers being set up in cheap energy territories in air-conditioned shipping containers, all competing with each other. And in total, using more energy than Argentina.
There have been moves to offer more environmentally friendly NFT solutions, but for some NFT artwork also recreates the worst aspects of the physical art market as standard for the digital art market, regarding them primarily tokens of monetary worth, attracting high roller money laundering and tax evasion, as well as not respecting the copyright of the actual originators of the artwork being NFT'd. For some, it is a Ponzi scheme waiting to collapse, but supporters point that, despite challenges, bitcoin still exists and money itself is just a physical version of an NFT. And for a number of creators, it has become a way to sell digital original art in the same manner that they sell physical original artwork to collectors, though many more are finding their own pirated for NFTS with people making millions off their unwitting backs.
Recent moves for Kickstarter to move to a blockchain model for the operation has seen a number of prominent creators declare they will no longer do business with the crowdfunding leader. And Box Brown's report that that is where Gumroad is going as well was enough for him to quit.
Gumroad tweeted, "If and when we do anything related to crypto/NFTs, you'll hear it from us first. For now, no plans." Box Brown replied with a screencap of direct messages, which showed a message from the CEO of Gumroad, Sahil Lavingia. Box Brown replied saying, "don't lie" and including a screencap of the following DMs.
Gumroad replied with a series of tweets that they have now deleted but have linked to those who screencapped them, which included that conversation in context with a more extended conversation which they doubled down saying Gumroad was not planning NFTs at this time and that Box Brown wasn't openly opposed to NFTs but that his own audience were.
However, in response to this, many Gumroad clients have been removing their accounts or advising that others do.
Because yes, Gumroad has been fighting back on social media that suggests whoever had the keys to the Twitter account has the executive power to say or do anything. And when criticised over, that, take action that sees even more clients want to cancel their accounts.
An SEO account that has access to clients' data and happy to share it online? That tweet was deleted fairly sharply as well. Gumroad since tweeted that "People on both sides are going to be really disappointed when it's 2023 and Gumroad still hasn't shipped NFTs" and changed their Twitter profile to the following;
Before switching it again;
And while some suspected it was the CEO writing the Gumtree tweets, Sahil Lavingia was definitely posting back-and-forths from his own personal account.
And willing to take on anyone and everyone.
But whichever Twitter account was doing the posting, the Twitter spat attitude was present in both of them. And the Fanboy Rampage levels just kept rising.
And competitors made their own positions clear.
See, there is definitely opportunities to be exploited in the NFT marketplace. By saying that you will have nothing to do with NFTs, you automatically get traffic and signups…
Fanboy Rampage was a blog by Graeme McMillan dedicated to comic book back-and-forths online. McMillan has moved on now, becoming a proper journalist for the likes of The Hollywood Reporter and Wired but he gave permission to Bleeding Cool to revive his great creation.