Alter, a Lahore and London-based startup, is set to auction Pakistan’s first non-fungible token meme on July 30.
“We are about to mint and auction a 1/1 NFT of the meme ‘Friendship Ended with Mudasir’ for World Friendship Day (30th July),” it said in a statement, referring to a famous Pakistani meme, probably the first one that went viral on the internet in 2015.
The meme was posted by Muhammad Asif Ali Rana. He posted a photo with his friend on his Facebook account. Both of them were shaking hands. The image had bold and colourful text that read, “Friendship ended with Mudasir: Now Salman is my best friend.”
The original post, which showed Mudasir’s crossed images at the bottom, received 10,000 shares.
The meme "Friendship Ended with Mudasir" spun various iterations, from showcasing the internal conflicts of characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars to the battle for Youtube dominance between Indian Media Giant T-series and Youtuber PewDiePew, to American politics showcasing the transfer of power between the Democrats and the Republicans. The simple meme from the lads from Gujjranwala has global admiration and resonance.
The meme is being auctioned on Foundation, the world's largest platform for NFT listings, Zain Naqvi, Alter's Co-founder told SAMAA Digital. The minimum bid price is 1 Ethereum token or $2320 (at 2:44 pst on July 29).
NFTs are digital codes linked to blockchain technology. It is stored on a decentralised public ledger that certifies any digital file to be unique. They are digital identifiers that can’t be copied.
Think of an NFT as fingerprints that are unique. They have become increasingly popular tool because of their use cases. For example, they have created an entirely new digital art industry worth more than $1b by solving the biggest problem artists faced: copying.
In March, artist Mike Winkelmann, who goes by Beeple, sold the world’s first virtual NFT artwork for $69m at Christie’s, a famous auction. Earlier this week, Polish influencer Marta Rentel sold her emotions through NFT (a digital token) for $250,000.
“Thematically, it [World Friendship Day] would be a great time to market and launch this meme, due to its impactful relevance,” said the startup, which is bridging the gap that content creators from emerging economies face when trying to connect with the latest trends and disruptive technologies. The current gap, it says, leads to creators missing multiple opportunities via the western market.
Pakistan's first NFT meme
Responding to a question about why they chose this particular meme, Naqvi said that majority of the local memes are about local events, but this one appeals to a larger international audience and has greater relevance in that context. People have used this meme in political discussions lasting over three American presidents, that is from Barack Obama to Donald Trump and Joe Biden, he said.
From international celebrities to large media houses, everyone used the meme, but nobody paid Rana, the creator, Naqvi said. The largest chunk or majority of the auction proceeds will go to Rana, he added. The startup will also keep a portion of it while the rest will go to pay Foundation's fee, he said without disclosing the percentages each party will get.
The company says it is providing onboarding and marketing solutions for a range of diverse creators, looking to auction their NFTs. The Friendship Ended With Mudasir is the first of a long lineup of such auctions, Naqvi said without sharing further details.
*An earlier version of the story said that this is Pakistan's first NFT auction. This has now been changed to say that this is the country's first NFT meme auction.