OpenSea is currently the largest online marketplace for NFTs. You could think of it like an art gallery or even a shopping mall, a place where you go to do some window shopping or pick up a one-of-a-kind collector’s piece, just the online version. It’s basically Amazon for NFTs. Launched in December 2017, the two founders’ software engineer Devin Finzer and programmer Alex Atallah saw an opportunity, and haven’t looked back since. As the largest, and oldest, NFT marketplace currently in existence, OpenSea boasts over 39 million NFTs available on the platform. They accept over 150 different types of cryptocurrencies and they have the full range of NFTs; art, collectibles, domain names, photography, music, sports, and trading cards, a little something for everyone.
OpenSea is built on the Ethereum blockchain, however also supports Klatyn, Polygon, and Solana. And whilst there are other NFT marketplaces, Rarible, Binance, SuperRare to name a few, currently, it’s estimated that OpenSea has a whopping 80% of the market share and is valued at US $13 billion. Not a bad position to be in, in just five short years. So how do you get to be the largest online marketplace? You get in early and build fast. Seeing the change in how we interact with digital items, brought about through the likes of CryptoKitties (link) (November 2017), the founders were quick to act. Creating something this large, this quickly is not without its downfalls, and vulnerabilities such as stolen artworks and insider trading were lessons learned early on. Thanks to the increase in interest in NFTs in 2021, the platform’s value increased exponentially and they currently employ over 200 staff, have over 600,000 users, and an estimated 80 million NFTs worth over US$20 billion dollars.
To make the platform more accessible to the masses, particularly creators, OpenSea made it possible to mint NFTs for free in 2020, with the gas fees (cost miners charge to write data on the blockchain) only payable once a purchase is made. NFTs can have both a fixed price or available through auction and the top 10 collections currently are;
- Bored Ape Yacht Club
- Mutant Ape Yacht Club
- Milady Maker
- CLONE X
- Okay Bears
- Cardboard Citizens
Interestingly all of the top 10 are gamified collections centered around animals or avatars, and obviously have very active sales and trading. Certainly, if you are a creator or someone looking to buy, trade, or sell NFTs OpenSea is hard to look past. However, as we know most blockchain technology certainly doesn’t have the best ‘green’ image due to the huge energy consumption chains like Ethereum and Bitcoin are currently using. So, there are certainly some tradeoffs worth consideration when choosing a marketplace. The sooner Ethereum changes from proof of work to proof of stake the sooner places like OpenSea will benefit also.