Vaynerchuk, who also goes by his nickname “Gary Vee,” has a history of successful business ventures. He is a co-founder of the restaurant reservation software, Resy, and the online wine shop, Empathy Wines. In recent years, he became known for his social media and digital marketing work through his company, VaynerX. He has a big following on Instagram and twitter, where he dispenses advice on business, entrepreneurship, and success. As of May 2023, his net worth is estimated at $200 million USD.
After expressing interest in digital assets, Vaynerchuk saw an opportunity in NFTs and created the VeeFriends NFT collection in 2021. VeeFriends is an NFT project that consists of NFT collectibles, games, and the VeeCon conference.
Vaynerchuk is an outspoken proponent for NFTs and Web3 technologies and is known as an influencer in the crypto world. He remains optimistic about the digital asset space, even during the downturn known as “crypto winter,” stating that it will continue to expand thanks to the hard work of the people that are continuously building.
Vaynerchuk was born in 1975 in Babruysk in Soviet Belarus. His family immigrated to the United States when he was three, first living in New York before settling in New Jersey. He graduated from Mount Ida College with a bachelor’s degree in management science.
Vaynerchuk displayed an entrepreneurial spirit at a young age when he was working in his family’s retail wine store, Shopper's Discount Liquors. After college, he took charge of the business, renaming it to Wine Library and prioritizing sales.
In 2006, Vaynerchuk started posting daily videos on the WineLibraryTV YouTube channel, where he did blind wine tastings and discussed wines sold by Wine Library. The channel became popular, and the wine business grew, expanding into online sales. Under Vaynerchuk’s leadership, Wine Library went from $3 million to approximately $60 million in sales per year.
Vaynerchuk turned his interest to online media and founded VaynerMedia in 2009 with his brother, AJ Vaynerchuk, where he continues to serve as CEO. The company provides social media, advertising, and strategy consulting services to Fortune 500 companies.
He also co-founded the restaurant reservations company, Resy, in 2014. Resy was acquired by American Express in 2019 and currently has over 16,000 participating restaurants globally.
Vaynerchuk is an angel investor in companies such as Twitter, Uber, and Venmo. He has written multiple books about business entrepreneurship and personal growth, including “Crush It!” and “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.”
In addition to his many business ventures, Vaynerchuk has become an internet personality and brand unto himself. He has a massive social media following, is a frequent speaker at conferences and events, and holds influence in many entrepreneurial and finance circles.
Role in the cryptocurrency community
Vaynerchuk’s passion for trading cards and collectibles drew him to the NFT and cryptocurrency space.
In 2020, a friend told him about NBA TopShot, an NFT collection of NBA highlights, but he was too busy navigating VaynerMedia through the struggles of the pandemic to invest. Further, he thought he missed another investment chance in NFTs after seeing the rise of CryptoPunks in 2021. Vaynerchuk obsessively researched and bought NFTs in the collection in the weeks that followed.
He had a eureka moment when he realized that NFTs and the blockchain technology behind them represented the many themes of his career. “Collectability, supply and demand, storytelling, IP, marketing, community-building,” Vaynerchuk recounted in an interview. He decided to not only collect NFTs but also create his own collection.
Vaynerchuk, an avid doodler, launched the first series of VeeFriends in May 2021. The 10,255 collection is based on characters hand drawn by Vaynerchuk. The artwork takes the shape of animals, bugs, and other unique characters, and includes pieces such as Accountable Ant, Gratitude Gorilla, Swaggy Sea Lion, and Alert Ape. VeeFriends series 2 was released in April 2022 with 55,555 NFTs.
The top selling VeeFriend, Empathy Elephant, sold in January 2022 for 130 ETH (approximately $503,000 at the time).
VeeFriend NFTs come in different tiers, with each NFT holding tokens that provide various levels of benefits. For example, admission tokens provide users with a three-year access pass to the VeeCon conference, gift tokens offer unique experiences created by the VeeFriends team, and access tokens provide direct access to Vaynerchuk himself along with other high-profile NFT holders.
Vaynerchuk has expanded the VeeFriends brand into other avenues and communities. The annual VeeCon conference, which debuted in 2022, is a three-day event that offers discussions, talks, and performances from leaders in the Web3 space.
Crypto and NFT forecast
Vaynerchuk is known for accurately predicting market trends, and many in the crypto community have sought his advice in navigating the challenging market.
He believes NFTs will experience similar growth that the Internet did after the dot com bubble of the early 2000s. “We’re in an economic correction,” Vaynerchuk said at an event. “We get out of it the same way the internet got out of it…. In the next 36 months, people are going to build meaningful things instead of fast things for fast cash.”
He also encouraged builders to think about sustainability when planning new endeavors, and to have a plan for when the market softens.
Gary Vaynerchuk essentials
- Gary Vaynerchuk is an entrepreneur, author, and internet personality, known for his many successful business ventures.
- Vaynerchuk launched his NFT collection, VeeFriends, in 2021. These featured hand-drawn characters that embody aspirational human traits.
- Vaynerchuk has been influential in the crypto and NFT space and expresses optimism for the future of digital assets.