While Bitcoin is often regarded as the forefather of cryptocurrencies, it’s not typically celebrated for its innovative spirit or groundbreaking endeavors. While some prefer to maintain this status quo, there are those who wish to see change.
Enter Taproot Wizards, a Bitcoin-centric project within the Ordinals space, which drew inspiration from a decade-old Reddit meme featuring the original Bitcoin wizard. The project is on a mission to reshape the perception of the blockchain. Recently, Taproot Wizards secured $7.5 million in funding, spearheaded by Standard Crypto, although the project’s co-founders, Udi Wertheimer and Eric Wall, have chosen to keep their valuation under wraps.
Having been deeply entrenched in the Bitcoin space for over a decade, Wertheimer explained their motivation: “We’ve been in Bitcoin for over a decade. We have these memories of how Bitcoin was. It was very experimental, but it changed. We want to bring back the culture of building on Bitcoin and make it magical again.”
Additional backers of the project include Geometry, Collider Ventures, StarkWare, UTXO Management, Bitcoin Frontier Fund, Masterkey, and Newman Capital. These funds will be employed to rejuvenate Bitcoin’s “wizard village,” symbolizing the community’s aspiration to compete with prominent blockchains such as Ethereum and Solana. Wall added, “We want to enable or introduce a new way of being a Bitcoiner.”
Standard Crypto co-founder Alok Vasudev likened this investment to Yuga Labs’ involvement with the Bored Ape Yacht Club, foreseeing potential for brand expansion and infrastructure development within the dynamic Bitcoin ecosystem. Standard Crypto aims to be an active participant in this movement, not just a guardian of an NFT collection.
“We went for a larger round because we think time is of the essence,” Wertheimer emphasized. “We care a lot about Ordinals and Taproot Wizards, but our mission is bigger than that; we want to bring innovation back to Bitcoin.”
Taproot Wizards has a limited mint of 2,121 wizards, a number paying homage to the total supply of Bitcoin: 21 million. Out of this, 2,106 wizards, or 99.3%, have been created, yet fewer than 1% (20 Taproot Wizards’ Ordinals) have been distributed thus far. Wertheimer did not disclose the release schedule to avoid a rapid loss of hype, stating, “We want to find people on a mission, not those focused on JPEGS.”
Ordinals have been granted to active community members who participated in the “wizard school” or displayed unwavering support, such as getting tattoos or sending videos of themselves showering in wizard attire to claim one.
Launched in December 2022, Ordinals, akin to NFTs, gained significant momentum from the Bitcoin community and others in early 2023, even as the broader NFT industry, predominantly Ethereum- and Solana-based, experienced a decline in value.
By mid-March 2023, Magic Eden, one of the largest NFT marketplaces, introduced a Bitcoin-focused marketplace for Ordinals, partnering with 13 collections boasting the “strongest communities,” including Taproot Wizards, as stated by Magic Eden COO and co-founder Zhuoxun Yin at the time.
According to Dune Analytics data, the total number of inscriptions reached 40.4 million on a recent date, representing a 14% increase from the previous month, with a peak of over 505,000 daily Ordinals inscriptions on November 12.
“This is not just a hype thing,” Wertheimer affirmed. “We’ve been in Bitcoin and crypto for 10 years; we see this as an opportunity to push Bitcoin forward. Hype cycles come and go; there’s a fundamental shift here.”
However, the Bitcoin community remains divided on the idea of NFTs on its blockchain. While projects like Taproot Wizards view Ordinals as a positive and enjoyable means to expand the Bitcoin ecosystem, some “Bitcoin maximalists” criticize such initiatives for potentially compromising the network’s integrity, including taking up valuable block space and increasing transaction fees.
“We think Bitcoin’s innovation has been stagnant due to cultural reasons, not technical ones, and those can be solved,” Wertheimer asserted. “Once that’s broken, we think it’s going to improve.”
Wall noted that certain influential figures within the Bitcoin community have attempted to hinder the project. “There are influential Bitcoiners who have tried to develop code or encourage miners to censor this type of activity on the blockchain, which is completely against the ethos of Bitcoin; they can’t really stop us from having fun with it.”
While Bitcoin is gaining ground in the NFT arena compared to Ethereum and Solana, the two major NFT blockchain platforms, there is still ample room for growth. In the past 30 days, Bitcoin ranked as the second-largest blockchain by NFT sales volume, with approximately $163 million in sales, marking a staggering 1,074% increase during that period, second only to Ethereum’s $279.8 million in sales, according to CryptoSlam data.
“I think the Ethereum and Solana ecosystems are definitely going to continue to exist and grow,” Wertheimer observed. “But Bitcoin and Ordinals will attract people looking for long-term value. It’s a way for people to get started in Bitcoin without having to buy 10 BTC.”
In conclusion, amidst the multitude of NFT collections, Taproot Wizards sees itself in a unique category. “With what we do, I don’t see it as an NFT collection with a mission,” Wertheimer remarked. “It’s a mission with an NFT collection that wants to make Bitcoin magical again. It’s giving that community a symbol to go out and make it happen, which is the really important part.”