Twitter: Buyer defends paying $2.9m for ‘Mona Lisa’ of tweets

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The buyer of Twitter’s first-ever tweet by its founder Jack Dorsey for $2.9m (£2.1m) sees it as a wise investment.

“It’s a piece of human history in the form of a digital asset. Who knows what will be the price of the first tweet of human history 50 years from now,” Malaysia-based Sina Estavi said. Mr. Estavi compared his newly-acquired tweet to Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. Experts agree that the first tweet from the Twitter founder on his own platform is a highly valuable asset.

Jack Dorsey’s tweet, which said “just setting up my Twitter,” was first published on 21 March 2006 and was auctioned off by Mr. Dorsey for giving Directly’s Africa Response charity. Mr. Estavi, the chief executive of cryptocurrency firm Bridge Oracle, bought the tweet using ether, a rival currency to bitcoin.

It was sold as a non-fungible token (NFT), a unique digital certificate that states who owns a photo, video, or other forms of online media. NFTs have become hugely popular this year, with expensive digital artwork also being sold this way.

“I believe it’s an emerging market and it’s just the beginning. All forms of digital arts and creations such as music, photos, videos, tweets and blog posts can be traded in the form of an NFT,” Mr. Estavi, a 29-year-old Malaysian national told.

He added that his investors and colleagues “are really appreciative and happy about this investment because they know the value and future price of this particular NFT and the impact it made on social media.”

Overpriced?

While the price paid for the tweet raised a few eyebrows, experts believe it could be a shrewd investment. “A way to explain it is that owning this first tweet can be viewed in the future almost like the first edition of a rare book,” said Cathy Hackl, a social media expert. “Twitter ushered in a new era of communication and this tweet launched it.”

Mr. Dorsey’s tweet was sold via an online platform called Valuables, owned by US-based company Cent. Cameron Hejazi, the co-founder of Cent, said this was the highest valued asset sold on the platform so far. “I was shocked but not surprised – the value of these assets is highly subjective. Plus we are happy the money is going to such a good cause,” he told the BBC.

The NFT market is now worth $1bn and uses the same blockchain technology that underpins digital currencies such as bitcoin to establish ownership and authentication. However, it’s still early days to determine precisely how buyers will value other online social media posts.

Social media history

“To be able to capture the first tweet, of the person who invented this, makes it very important memorabilia,” said Nanne Dekking, the founder of Artory, which records artworks on blockchain technology. Others think some of Donald Trump’s controversial tweets as US president might make for future investment targets.

As the buyer, Mr. Estavi will receive a certificate, digitally signed and verified by Mr. Dorsey, “If that person is a crypto investor, it makes even more sense as they will find a way to make the investment work for them,” added Ms. Hackl. While Mr. Estavi owns the Dorsey tweet, anyone with internet access can see and read it.

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