How were Weird Whales created - how a 12-year-old made over $300k in 9 hours selling NFTs (10 min read)
Weird Whales NFT – an Non-Fungible Token collection with pixel whales with different attributes generated created by a 12 year old coder from London, known as Benoni (Benyamin). However that sounds to you, it sold out in 9 hours and the kid cashed in 80 ether. That’s about $300,000 by the time of writing!
Strategy & Tools
Weird Whales History Timeline
Jul 19, 2021:
- 12:33 pm – Weird Whales are released. Benoni posts a Twitter thread that shortly goes viral and gets over 850 retweets.
- 2:49 pm – Vee, a creator of Boring Bananas NFTs and a Twitter persona with 9k followers retweets the thread The sales start to pour in
- 3:01 pm - 10 whales minted(created)
- 5:10 pm – there are some whales left. Benoni sends out a tweet reminding that
- 11:47 pm - Benoni announces that the whales are sold out
Who was the Weird Whales creator?
The creator of Weird Whales is Benjamin Ahmed, a 12-year-old boy. He was skilled in programming, so he used those skills to program whales differentiation with Python script (he got some help with that, though). The boy nicknamed himself as Benoni.
Rarity & Randomness
Weird Whales are similar to one of the first big NFT projects which is Crypto Punks. The art portrays whales with certain attributes that are generated randomly and each attribute has a different rarity. This means that when you minted the NFTs, you were never sure what you’ll get, but you also had the hope to see a rare item on your whale.
How were Weird Whales created?
Benoni made all the layers for the Whales and their traits in pixel art. He has received some help from Vee to program the unique digital collectibles with the customized Python script. The Weird Whales NFT was inspired by the CryptoPunks NFT (a highly successful NFT project by Larva Labs).
How were Weird Whales created – Community membership & Discord
It all started with the Boring Bananas Discord group. Benjamin was an active member of it and received help with coding the NFTs. Once they were ready, Weird Whales had some visibility there, but they didn’t note many sales. Eventually, they became visible to over 7k members of the group, since Weird Whales have been permanently featured as a community member channel.
What was important in the Boring Bananas community was their creator, Vee, who has about 10,000 followers on Twitter. He helped Benjamin with some parts of the project and then endorsed the project a few hours after it was published. As Benoni mentioned in an interview, after that tweet, the sales of the Weird Whales NFT started to pour in.
How did Weird Whales get popular – Twitter
Twitter threads are known to gather higher engagement and if done properly, they are more likely to get shown by Twitter’s algorithm. This is why he got almost 2k likes and about 900 shares.
The Weird Whales became viral pretty fast because Twitter content can quickly go viral with retweets and retweets with quotes. The retweeted content is then seen by all the followers which quickly multiplies the posts reach. Benyamin’s story was retweeted by an account with 10,000 of well-targeted followers. If 10% of them retweeted that and had 400 followers on average, that’s an instant 400k in reach which further spreads. It creates a network effect easier than on other platforms where users are less keen to share other posts.
Although there are thousands of NFT projects out there, most of them are not successful at all. What might be even more important is that there’s nothing exceptional in the Weird Whales NFT. So why people bought it? Because of the story.
This is the only NFT project built by a 12-year-old. He learned how to code when he was 5 and became interested in NFTs after learning about the crypto space from his father. And this is what makes it special and stand out.
Tapping into a theme
A whale is a specific and important symbol itself in the crypto community.
The "Whale" is an individual or entity that holds a large amounts of cryptocurrency. They have enough amount of it that their movements have the potential to manipulate the crypto valuations.
Many people use the "Whale alerts" as their crypto tool, to see when and into what crypto currency the large amounts of money are moved, because it might influence the crypto valuation.
How did Weird Whales get popular – Media coverage
Once the thread became popular on Twitter, journalists started to cover it as it has a high potential of driving traffic. It started with the industry publications about crypto and quickly transferred to the most mainstream media, like CNBC, The Washington Post, and by other influencers, like a popular crypto investor, Anthony Pompliano.
OpenSea is an aggregate marketplace for most NFTs that has about 10M users monthly. This is a foundation layer for any NFT project to get discovered and then traded quickly, so listing the Weird Whales NFT there definitely contributed to its popularity.
NFT’s are like ownership certificates held on blockchain and what this means is that you get the whole history of how were they traded, to which addresses and for how much. This works on building a hype around them as soon as high-price transactions happen on a project – it was similar with F1 Delta Time when someone bought a virtual Monaco Grand Prix circuit for $223,000
How much did Weird Whales make?
Since their launch, the Weird Whales earned Benoni about $160 k overnight (9 hours). In July 2021, Benoni made around $350,000 overall from the sales of the Weird Whales NFT.
Although 3350 whales were minted in just 9 hours, that wasn’t all you could do with them. They could then be sold on a secondary market and while Benoni’s story was all over the news, the prices boomed, creating demand and FOMO in those interested.
Giveaways are a rather standard form of promotion but Weird Whales were also given to random Twitter users who retweeted the post and followed @ObiWanBenoni. The giveaways were held on multiple brands at the same time – Benoni, Vee, Boring Bananas, and a few more.
People, especially children, often learn by recreating examples. There’s an older project called Pixel Whales that is almost identical by the means of the style and idea. Are Weird Whales a copy of them? It might or might not be, but some people are wondering, spinning the story in a more negative way (but still sharing).
Kid’s age controversy
Benyamin is a very bright child – learning programming at 5 is special on its own while creating an NFT project with smart contracts and then making a 5-figure amount on it is unbelievable. Especially that he wrote the thread like a seasoned social media marketer.
Some kids pick up the stuff they’re interested in quickly, so it’s not impossible but is hard to believe. Quickly after the story became trending, there came voices questioning the legitimacy of the whole thing. Benoni later recorded a proof that’s actually him and he’s 12 still on YouTube.
Although NFTs were present long before, they exploded during pandemics – along with baseball cards, meme stocks, and other types of investments. Such assets are the most attractive to millenials who are often contrarian to what’s been tried and true for previous generations.
During lockdown – when most of the places where you would spend money were closed – many people saved a little extra money and looked for ways to multiply it. Traditional stocks seemed abstract to that group which is why millenials went into the alternative space and pumped prices in consequence.
While the network effect is linked to startup growth, it also works for viral content. People share a story to their networks and increase the post’s reach dramatically. Then, people within those networks share the story again and suddenly, millions have seen it.
People fall for stories, engage more with them, and remember them more. This is why, although there are thousands of unsuccessful NFT projects out there, Weird Whales NFT got sold so quickly.
Fear of Missing Out is an important factor that drives asset prices and influences sales numbers. Weird Whales NFT sold out quickly and then became popular on the secondary market, reaching high prices. This all played on the FOMO for others attracted by the project.
Some investment decisions are made based on the social proof. If so many people were talking about the project, it looked much more legitimate and worth buying.
Negative social proof
The negative aspects discussed by others also work as a serious discouragement to a purchase. The wave of questioning whether Benoni is a real 12-year-old could prevent some from seriously considering minting Weird Whales, but it seems that the positive social proof had a much larger impact.
Certain Weird Whales had attributes that made them rarer. While scarce items are perceived to have more value, people were keen on buying them on the secondary market, driving the prices up.
Window of Opportunity
Weird Whales NFT is nothing special as a product. However, its story is part of it and this is the main driver of buyers. You should not forget that the story about your product or service is just as important as the offer itself.
The other important finding is being active in communities – they can become your first audience, contribute to sales, and genuinely promote what you have to offer. You can definitely leverage that.
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