Most Influential 2021: Matt Hall and John Watkinson

This year, everyone from Jimmy Fallon to Jay Z decided to express themselves on social media using cartoon Apes and pixelated heads as avatars. This profile picture (or PFP) craze was part of an overall explosion in non-fungible token (NFTs). CryptoPunks, an early NFT project, was one of 2021’s biggest winners. Only 10,000 unique tokens were ever minted – each corresponding to a portrait of a punky-looking guy, gal, zombie, alien, or ape – created through an art generator, on the Ethereum blockchain. It sounds silly, but some of these tokens have sold for millions of dollars. (Though the highest priced sale to date – $530 million – was more of a publicity stunt.)

The project was started by a team of two Canadian software developers, Matt Hall and John Watkinson, who call themselves creative technologists. And many of the attributes they blended into CryptoPunks can be found throughout the NFT scene – any project, like Bored Apes or Pudgy Penguins, that has a limited mint of 10,000 tokens owes them a debt of gratitude. Now a part of Ethereum’s aesthetics and culture, CryptoPunk intellectual property belongs to Larva Labs, the company Hall and Watkinson founded.

This year, Larva Labs unveiled two new NFT projects, Meebits and Autoglyphs. Together with the punks, those projects are being represented by major Hollywood powerhouse, United Talent Agency (UTA). So a punk may be coming to a screen near you.

The Complete List: CoinDesk’s Most Influential 2021

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