For Brooklyn Nets point guard Spencer Dinwiddie, launching a blockchain-backed digital token in March was only the beginning of a more ambitious plan to use blockchain to launch a platform for community engagement around a new generation of influencers and creators.
Dinwiddie and his team have created Calaxy, short for creator galaxy, a mobile app expected to go live in late October.
On the app, creators and influencers will be able to sell digital blockchain-backed tokens integrated with digital contract company ChainLink that won’t just sell bonds like what Dinwiddie sold earlier this year. Tokens will also be used to redeem interactions with Calaxy’s creator network (like a virtual basketball camp or an online chat with Dinwiddie), speculate on future value and some will be dividend producing, the 27-year-old told me. He’s starting a Series A round of funding in two weeks and is aiming for a nine-figure valuation.
Dinwiddie hopes Calaxy will be the future of community engagement for the creator economy similar to how Cameo helps celebrities monetize their fame and how OnlyFans helps its users monetize other assets. He said that several NBA players, two singers and WNBA player Imani McGee-Stafford are already on board.
“It’s all about connectivity at the end of the day,” Dinwiddie said. “What you want is people to feel like they can reach out and touch you. This isn’t just a bond, revenue share situation for investors. The core of every element of entertainment is about that community, that network. Doing a bond for accredited investors, although it has revenue potential it doesn’t unlock what the whole thing is really about, which is fan engagement.”
Dinwiddie and his team are building Calaxy on Hedera Hashgraph’s platform network, with the company providing a grant paid in Hedera’s HBAR currency to support the development and usage of the application on the network, a Hedera Hashgraph spokesperson said. CoinBase will provide the custody for the Calaxy project, which counts Dapper Labs CEO Roham Gharegozlou as a strategic advisor.
Dinwiddie is aiming for Calaxy to have the security of ChainLink as its oracle system paired with all the benefits of transparency and liquidity, but also with a user-friendly interface like Twitter has with LinkedIn’s element of connectivity.
“What we’re going for is the future of engagement,” he said. “That’s what Calaxy is designed to do. It’s a complete paradigm shift.”
This shift was supposed to happen months ago as part of Dinwiddie’s road map that he began plotting out two years ago. After a breakout run with the Nets in 2018, he signed a three year, $34 million contract extension that December with a $12.3 million player option for 2021-2022. The California native began to really get into blockchain 18 months prior to that and thought that he’d take money from his first big payday to become the first player to “democratize” his contract, as Dinwiddie called it.
Dinwiddie created DREAM Fan Shares, a similar name to his shoe company, for investors and fans to buy shares into a $13.5 million piece of his contract as a blockchain-backed tokenized coin. But he ran into a lot of issues with the NBA, which was so opposed to the idea of having his contract tied to the coin that in January they threatened to void Dinwiddie’s contract due to potential gambling, Dinwiddie told me.
Instead, Dinwiddie went forward with a blockchain-enhanced debt offering called SD26, which was essentially a bond backed by his assets and business interests rather than his contract. He sold nine SD26 tokens at $150,000 apiece, a scaled back number due to the coronavirus pandemic and the state of the overall market, after the round opened on March 16.
While raising $1.35 million in the first round of SD26 seems like a lot, Dinwiddie said it was only a 10% sell-through due to the coronavirus pandemic. He said he’d secured a 75% sell-through before COVID-19 hit and let skittish investors, mainly in real estate, out of their commitments. The people who committed and stuck with the bond offering were mainly blockchain enthusiasts, including Nick Tomaino of 1confirmation and Brad Stephens of Blockchain Capital, Dinwiddie said.
“They understand what we’re going after in terms of this paradigm shift of fan engagement, this future of fan engagement,” he said.
Dinwiddie’s aim was to slowly build out his concept of fan engagement, rather than launch his grander vision right away.
“If you bring up this larger concept,” he said, “everybody’s gonna think you’re batshit crazy when you’re talking about personal tokenization and how creators in general can incentivize a community.”
Everything he went through in terms of that bond was just a precursor to his main business, a rest stop on the way to the final destination on Dinwiddie’s proverbial road map.
With this round of funding leading up to the Calaxy app launch, Dinwiddie is ready to begin next NBA season not just as a world class basketball player but also as a major stakeholder in a $100 million blockchain-based company. He’s ultimately hoping that just like Cameo and OnlyFans, Calaxy will take its place among the paradigm-shifting apps out there and revolutionize how fans and communities come together and interact with one another.