Outside says its new NFT marketplace is an ‘anti-metaverse’

Hear the words nonfungible token and you’ll probably think of a computer or smartphone screen. But the creators of a new NFT trading platform have a different vision: They want you to spend more time outside.

Outside Interactive — the Boulder-based parent company of outdoors and healthy-living-focused media brands including Outside magazine, Vegetarian Timesand the ski film production company Warren Miller — announced on Monday that it’s launching an NFT marketplace, a publishing platform for outdoors-focused content, and a loyalty program that incentivizes people to spend time outdoors, all of which is collectively being referred to as the Outerverse.

“The concept of the Outerverse is to be the anti-metaverse,” Outside CEO Robin Thurston tells Fast Company. “It is not my goal to get people to spend more time in VR or inside on screens.”

The new platform’s first offering, a limited-edition NFT (called the Outerverse Passport) slated for launch in early June, will offer a few benefits to holders. They’ll get a three-year subscription to Outside +, the company’s subscription product, provided they don’t sell the token during that time. They’ll also get early access to buy additional NFTs that will be created over time, somewhat similar to how fan clubs have traditionally been granted early rights to buy concert tickets or physical collectibles. Outside also envisions offering rewards to people who spend a certain amount of time engaging in outdoor activities like skiing or backpacking, harnessing data from its own Gaia GPS product and third-party fitness trackers.

“Most of these have open APIs,” Thurston says. “We’re connected with a lot of them.”

[Image: Outside Interactive]

For roughly the first year, the company’s new marketplace will then feature a curated selection of NFTs from various artists and influencers, outdoor-focused brands, and nonprofits. Outside also plans to work with artists to produce its own digitally collectible NFTs, focusing on athletes, locations, and events relevant to its audience. Later on, the company plans to open the NFT marketplace, which is being built in collaboration with crypto company SuperLayer, to a wider range of projects — and provide a platform for writers, photographers, and other creative people to publish their own work.

“The reality is there are millions of creators on the planet in the outdoor, active lifestyle category we’d like to have a broader relationship with,” Thurston says.

Thurston emphasizes that while blockchain technology is often faulted for its steep environmental impact, the Outerverse will rely on the Solana blockchain, which uses algorithms said to make an NFT transaction take less energy than two Google searches. Outside has indicated it will study and report on the new platform’s energy use as part of its plan to make the company carbon neutral by the end of 2026.

Outside also plans to give 20% of revenue from the marketplace to organizations focusing on sustainability and on diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Thurston says he hopes the new platform will attract younger and more diverse audiences to the company’s media outlets and new outdoor activities. And he hopes it will help further incentivize environmentally friendly blockchain technology.

“We obviously selected Solana because of the potential environmental impact, and we want to have the lowest possible impact,” he says. “In the long run, I do believe that blockchains will get greener and greener.”

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