Zora: A New Way to Empower Creators and Communities on Ethereum

By March 3, 2020Ethereum
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Traditional marketplaces for creators have typically been dominated by rent-seeking, wherein third parties become power brokers between entrepreneurs and their fans to extract as much money as possible.

This model makes for good business for these marketplaces, of course, but creators and their audiences get raw deals. What if there was a way to flip that dynamic on its head, so as to maximally empower the producers and consumers?

Here, cue in Zora — a new marketplace system on Ethereum centered on tokenizing limited-edition goods.

Brought to You by Saint Fame

Saint Fame is a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, that launched on the fly late last year as the “world’s first internet-owned fashion house.”

The group gained attention in short order for creating an inaugural line of 100 limited-edition “Genesis Shirts” as well as the $FAME token, which could be exchanged 1:1 on the decentralized exchange Uniswap in order to claim the right to one of the shirts.

This format means these collectibles are dynamically priced, so as buy pressure has grown, the $FAME exchange rate has risen from $8 to over $400 presently. The quick traction and inspired the Saint Fame team to democratize their process so anyone or any group could follow a similar blueprint, which led to the creation of Zora.

On March 2nd, the Saint Fame team rolled out Zora, a marketplace for releasing dynamically-priced products on Ethereum.

The relationship between supply and demand is thus a key factor for creators on the system but it will also open up novel opportunities for fans, its builders explained in a new introductory post:

“The more people who buy something, the higher the price goes and vice versa. Dynamic pricing means that people who buy a popular item early are able to sell it back at a profit before even getting the item. By being ahead of the cultural curve, they’ve now converted their ability to curate into real world value.”

Yet dynamic pricing isn’t the only thing novel about Zora. The marketplace, which is modeled on Saint Fame’s reliance on OpenZeppelin smart contracts and Aragon-based governance in tandem with Uniswap, also opens up fractional ownership — e.g. owning just 50 percent of a collectible.

Another interesting factor at hand is the ability for creators to directly profit from secondary markets around their goods, Zora’s creators added:

[S]econdary markets are part of the game, people love them but creators often try to shut them down. Zora enables both worlds – people get to play the ownership and trading game, and creators not only get their fair share, they get to play along with their community.”

Saint Fame Is First, What Comes Next?

With the creation of Zora, the project’s first “drop” will be Saint Fame’s Genesis Shirts. But what might we expect from the marketplace in the future?

The project’s builders have done some early brainstorming on that topic and have suggested the marketplace system could prove to be fertile ground for creating new kinds of community-owned record labels, production studios, festivals, and beyond.

Moreover, Zora’s creators are currently keeping their eyes peeled for interesting new enterprises that can be fruitfully onboarded to the marketplace.

“We’re looking for creators, communities and brands who want to pioneer this new model for creating and distributing their goods,” the Zora team said in concluding their introduction.

Zooming out, the Saint Fame model and ensuing inspiration of Zora is a sort of de facto rebuttal to skeptics who say DAOs are solutions in search of problems. To the contrary, Zora points the way to new kinds of community collaborations that wouldn’t have been possible before, at least not in the same way, without Ethereum and various “money lego” projects atop it.

This model […]

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