Gary Vee is hyped about AI – expanding VeeCon beyond NFTs
Contractor Gary Vaynerchuk’s annual VeeCon conference is underway this week, and the core mix looks familiar: panels and interviews with notable celebrities, creators and business leaders along with concerts and activities, all set in a Midwestern NFL stadium.
But this year’s move from Minneapolis to Indianapolis comes with another change, Vaynerchuk said Decrypt: an expanding focus that is less centered on NFTs and Web3. In particular, he said via video call, he is hyped about the rise of AI tools and their impact on business and creators.
Last year, Vaynerchuk described VeeCon to Decrypt as a “summer camp” of sorts, designed to educate participants about NFTs—and entertain them, too. But this year, with the NFT market sees a steep decline over the past year, he said the goal was to grow the event and make VeeCon the “coolest business conference in the world.”
“Cool” is meant to represent “contemporary voices and individuals who represent the ‘now’ in business and in popular culture,” he explained, albeit within a conference framework still focused on business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Vaynerchuk further described the development as a “strategy shift” from the original incident.
Broadly speaking, the speaker lineup has a similar feel to last year, with celebrities (Drew Barrymore, Neil Patrick Harris, Jessica Alba) plus NFT artists and project creators (Art Blocks’ Erick “Snowfro” Calderon and pseudonym Deadfellaz co-founder Betty), together with musician Timbaland, spiritual thinker Deepak Chopraand entrepreneurs from various industries.
But the NFT ticketed event’s range of panels and chats has a wider range, from sports partnerships to business and culture pairings – and AI is in the mix too. Vaynerchuk said AI conversations could have dominated the event if they had approached it like VeeCon 2022.
“Last year I was incredibly focused on the education of new innovation,” he shared Decrypt. “If I were to do it this year, it would be 80% of the panels on AI”
Vaynerchuk said his Vayner3 consultancy has similarly broadened its focus from Web3 to broader technological innovations, including things like augmented reality and AI. The firm is now helping brands navigate the new and potentially difficult generative AI space.
And he’s personally excited about the technology, too. Vaynerchuk told Decrypt that he believes AI is going to streamline and simplify many daily tasks, freeing people to “use our incredible brains and hearts and souls to do new things.” He compares the rise of AI tools to the creation of the tractor, which he said had kick-started a larger wave of progress and innovation.
“I think AI is about to unlock a lot of hours for very creative people,” he said, adding that shaving off hours typically spent on elaborate tasks — like developing a visual idea from scratch in Photoshop — by tapping AI instead is “going to be profoundly good” for humans.
Vaynerchuk added that he’s been using AI “less than I’d like” amid his hectic schedule of VeeCon planning and his other myriad business ventures, but it’s already affecting his routine.
“I use it several times a week – I wish it was 50 times a day, given how profound it is – but several times a week to give me insight,” he explained. “I use it as a thinking partner [for] observations and curiosities.”
Despite Decline in the NFT market over the past year and VeeCon’s expanding focus, Vaynerchuk said Decrypt that he still believes that a sustainable NFT market will one day emerge.
Vaynerchuk was quick to notice his prediction for 2021 that “99% of [NFTs] comes to zero,” saying that a lot of people didn’t really believe him at the time. But he also noted that in markets such as art and sports cards, 99% of such items are not significantly valuable—and collector of CryptoPunks and other expensive NFTs are anxious to find out what retains its value in the long term.
“What would be most neat for someone like me, who likes to collect and collect, is what is 1% of this era of 30 years?” he asked. “[It] will be fun to watch.”