Zora V3

Founded by three Coinbase veterans in 2020, Zora launched as a service that offered musicians and other artists the means to sell digital tokens tied to physical artifacts like cassettes. Since then, the startup has pivoted to focus on building an open source protocol that allows anyone to stand up an NFT marketplace.

Zora now likens itself to a Shopify or WordPress—companies that offer easy-to-use tools for building online stores and websites—but for NFTs and the emerging Web 3 economy.

Those using Zora's protocol include the NFT music service Catalogue. Zora's tools have also powered a number of high profile NFT drops, including a $4 million sale of a Doge NFT as well one for the Warhol Foundation. Zora also lets NFT buyers purchase carbon offsets to minimize their environmental impact.

"The goal is the same—to help creators get as much value from their work," said Horne. "[Zora] lets people create their own independent marketplace. It helps you go from 'zero to marketplace."

Horne predicts that, as the NFT market evolves, the demand will grow for niche verticals where communities of creators and their fans can congregate.

This thesis has been popular among Web3 watchers for some time, but is also challenged by the ongoing dominance of OpenSea, which remains by far the largest NFT platform and takes a kitchen-sink approach to its offerings. Even as the number of rival platforms has grown, OpenSea continues to own upwards of 90% of the market.

According to Horne, Zora is different because, unlike the likes of OpenSea or Coinbase's NFT marketplace, the company does not use a centralized database to manage NFTs, but instead an open and on-chain protocol. He says that already more than 50% of Zora-related NFT transactions come from third party websites—a trend he expects to grow as more artists eschew OpenSea in favor of sites that use Zora's tools to make marketplaces of their own.

As for revenue, Horne says Zora sells development tools to help companies customize its free protocol for their particular purposes—a model used by the likes of Linux provider RedHat. Meanwhile, the company is also building out a DAO that could one day raise money through the sale of governance tokens.

ZORA API is here. The Most Powerful NFT API. Retrieve NFT data for any ERC-721 token:

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