To anyone who still considers our parent company, Outside Inc., an old-guard member of the media landscape: you can put the notion to bed. On Monday, the company announced the launch of its first NFT and Web3 initiative, the Outerverse.
Aimed at getting more people outside, promoting sustainability, and helping content creators distribute their work more profitably, the Outerverse is the “first comprehensive foray into Web3 technology by a major consumer media company,” according to a company statement. It’s also meant to challenge the commonly held idea that the metaverse and its attendant technologies are antithetical to spending time outdoors.
“The concept of the Outerverse is to be the anti-metaverse,” Outside CEO Robin Thurston told Fast Company. “It is not my goal to get people to spend more time in VR or inside on screens.”
Building the Outerverse
The initiative will roll out this year and consist of three parts: an NFT marketplace, housed on the just launched website Outside.io; a community-oriented creator platform; and an Outside-branded token. All will run on the Solana blockchain.
“The emergence of NFTs, cryptocurrency, and Web3 systems are game-changing developments for media,” says Thurston. “Our vision is really bold: we want to harness these new technologies to get the next generation of adventurers outdoors, and we want to infuse blockchain culture with the values that our followers hold dear.”
The first Outside-branded NFT, called the Outerverse Passport, will drop in early June. This limited-edition NFT will grant owners three-year access to Outside+, the company’s core membership product, as well as early access to all upcoming NFT mintings from Outside and its partners.
The home of the company’s Outerverse marketplace also launched Monday at Outside.io; this is where fans can buy a Passport and find future NFT collectibles from a select group of artists, influencers, nonprofits, and other partners celebrating the Outside audience’s “favorite athletes, destinations, and races,” according to the company. (You can also learn more by joining the Outside community server on Discord.) Later this year, with the help of development firm SuperLayer.io, the marketplace will open to a wider range of creators.
Contributing to the Outside Mission, Sustainably
At its core, the Outerverse concept is meant to get more people outside.
Outerverse Passport holders will get “interactive rewards for peak bagging, trail maintenance,” and other active-lifestyle pursuits, according to the company, which is based in Boulder, Colorado. “We love technology, but only as a means to more adventure,” the company says. “Our ultimate goal with reward-enhanced NFTs is to inspire less screen time and more sky time.”
Adds Thurston: “Big Tech wants you to live a virtual life. We’re creating experiences and content that will help you live a real life. The Outerverse is a place where technology exists to fuel adventure, inclusivity, and sustainability.”
Also in line with the company’s mission: it wants to do all this with minimal impact on the environment.
NFTs and other cryptocurrency often get a bad rap—rightly so—for being environmentally unfriendly. This is mainly due to the energy inefficiency of certain big-name cryptocurrencies and blockchain platforms like Bitcoin and Ethereum. To avoid that particular quagmire, Outside is building the entire Outerverse on the Solana blockchain, a greener option, whose platform is said to be so efficient that a single transaction uses approximately the same amount of energy as two Google searches.
Outside will also “calculate, report, and neutralize 100 percent of the footprint of the Outerverse,” the company says. Twenty percent of the net revenue from every new NFT sale will be distributed to a group of nonprofit partners, including organizations promoting sustainability and diversity in the outdoors.
It’s a more scaled-up (and logical) take on smaller efforts to promote environmental conservation through NFTs, like one that launched earlier this year focused on U.S. National Parks and run on the more environmentally harmful Ethereum blockchain.
“We obviously selected Solana because of the potential environmental impact, and we want to have the lowest impact possible,” Thurston told Fast Company. “In the long run, I do believe that blockchains will get greener and greener.”
Giving Power to the Creators
One of the most powerful promises of the new project, according to Outside, will be the control it gives to artists and content creators who will eventually be able to distribute their work through the company’s NFT marketplace.
“The Outerverse will feature a platform that will enable creators to publish content to very large audiences and directly benefit from the engagement and revenue they drive,” says Thurston. “It will be a home for the world’s best storytellers and artists.”
The company has already partnered with some of the biggest names in outdoor sports media, including photographers Chris Burkard and Bo Bridges, for the launch. Upcoming drops from athletes include NFT projects from rock climber Sasha DiGiulian and snowboarder Jeremy Jones. Brands with Outerverse drops in the works include Brooks, Skratch Labs, and SRAM.
“The NFT initiative is just the first milestone in a road map that will redefine many aspects of our business,” says Thurston, summing up the announcement.
In the coming weeks, more details will be released on the project’s landing page, Outside.io. You can also visit the site to join the mailing list for information about the Outerverse Passport sale, which begins June 1.