Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Reshaping Digital Art And Luxury Space With NFTrends: Marsha Lipton, Ph.D.

We recently had the opportunity to interview Marsha Lipton, CEO at Numeraire Future Trends (NFTrends). She began her career in science as a Ph.D. student at the renowned University of Chicago and the James Franck Institute, which throughout their history were a constellation of such stars in the world’s science as Enrico Fermi, James Franck, and Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, to name a few. However, her life took different turns, and each time she came out on top of the challenges she faced. In this enlightening session, Marsha Lipton shares insights into her professional journey, the obstacles she has surmounted, and outlines her new company’s services and unique approaches .

The Advent Of Marsha’s Journey

We started the interview by asking, “Can you walk us through your professional journey and how it led to where you are today?”

Marsha Lipton

Marsha responded, “I completed my Ph.D. thesis at the University of Chicago under the tutelage of Prof. Karl Freed, who counts among his former doctoral students Nobel Laureate 2023 in Chemistry, Moungi Bawendi, and John M. Jumper, a senior research scientist at DeepMind Technologies, the leader of the group that created an AI model for protein folding. As demanding as the program was, I also completed the full MBA program at the University of Chicago, graduating with two diplomas at the same time. Reflecting on this period, especially with my daughter being just two years old at the time of my graduation, fills me with a mix of amazement and humor.”

Overcoming Major Adversities we asked-Marsha Lipton

To learn more about the challenges overcome by Marsha Lipton over these years, we asked, “Reflecting on your career, what have been some of the most significant challenges you’ve faced, and how did you overcome them?”

She replied, “Balancing a Ph.D., MBA, and parenthood taught me that juggling any two of these challenges might be feasible, but all three together was a real stretch. The most valuable lesson for me was learning how to prioritize. Having always been a straight-A student who aimed for perfection in every endeavor, I faced the reality that maintaining such a standard was impractical with so many diverse moving parts in my life. This realization led me to differentiate between tasks, enabling me to focus on what truly mattered for achieving the final goal. As I progressed in my career and took on leadership roles, I learned the critical value of delegating work to others.

 The realization that no single person could deliver flawless execution of all tasks, yet every team member could contribute their optimal solution, was pivotal. Hence, the life-long lesson I learned was the significance of gathering a team of not just skilled but aligned vision partners – soulmates rather than mere coworkers. And that is always a significant challenge.”

Marsha added, “The next valuable lesson I learned is the power of having a reliable and understanding partner. Such a partner was, and always has been, my husband, who shared with me all the challenges. Being a full-tenured professor of Mathematics, he left his secure position at the university to move with me to New York when I got my first position on Wall Street. It turned out to be a life-changing shift not only for my career trajectory but also for his, as he became one of the legends of Wall Street in Financial Engineering, Prof. Alexander Lipton.”

Building A Strong Base

Eager to learn how Marsha Lipton balances the operations of her business efficiently, we asked, “How do you balance long-term vision with short-term operational needs?”

She replied, “I strongly believe that before building a large organization, the leaders should create the core team of senior people with aligned strategic vision and then work with various stakeholders and subcontractors, initially temporarily to fill in short-term needs. Only after the initial testing period, the company should expand. This approach enables us to avoid many pitfalls of tying up equity with the wrong people and meet more candidates. This is especially important when your company pioneers an innovative approach, as NFTrends does.”

Current Offerings Of NFTrends we asked-Marsha Lipton

We were curious to learn more about the services offered by Marsha Lipton and her business. So, we asked, “Tell us more about your services and if you are planning to add something new in the future.”

Marsha responded, “In the bigger picture, NFTrends addresses the main pain points in the process of digitizing real-world assets and their subsequent tokenization. These include tracking asset provenance data, often maintained off-chain, throughout the digitization and tokenization phases; aligning ownership details between off-chain and on-chain environments; and consistently authenticating digital-only assets to guarantee access exclusively to legitimate and authorized parties. It’s crucial to emphasize that NFTrends does not specialize in art; rather, we operate within the realm of Art- and Lux-Tech. In other words, we create technology that solves authentication, provenance, and ownership problems in the art and luxury markets. A key NFTrends’ innovation is our distinctive technology aimed at authentication, as well as tracking ownership and provenance of CONTENT.

 I cannot stress enough the significance of this development. The prevalent ‘authentication’ methods used in the art and luxury industries tend to use DPPs as a marketing tool. These methods often encapsulate a traditional physical Certificate of Authenticity (COA) within an NFT, touting it as a solution for authenticity issues.

 Yet, overlooking the fact that in the NFT framework — comprising of the ownership token (NFT per se) and digital image — the token alone is immutable, while the digital image remains copyable, the NFT’s version of the COA fails to forge any link between the owner and the artifact. Therefore, when luxury brands or many ArtTech companies assert their use of NFTs for authentication purposes, such claims are often no more than a nod towards a more tech-conscious audience.”

Building A Unique Expertise

We further asked, “Amidst the current scenario, what’s the solution to these challenges in your industry?”

Marsha shared, “NFTrends began addressing the challenge of creating a permanent connection between physical and digital items long ago, recognizing and aiming to avoid the not widely recognized pitfalls of the initial NFT boom. We received a set of important patents that integrate into the blockchain ecosystem, ensuring that the ownership keys tie to external ‘oracles’ for object authentication, as well as for provenance and ownership tracking. These oracles can be digital product fingerprints or other unique identifiers of a given item.

 This is a crucial point in combating ‘super fakes’, which drain billions of dollars from the premium luxury market. Only such a direct link between the owner and the newly acquired item, whether a luxury item or artwork, can confirm the item’s genuineness. The process of creating DPPs with product fingerprints must occur at the end of the production line, simultaneously with the item’s registration in the brand’s ledger.

 But that is still only a part of what NFTrends has to offer. Rather than trying to be all things to all people, we decided to build a unique expertise in the authentication and provenance tracking of BOTH physical and digital content for a digitized world. Particularly in the realm of digital art, we aim to create a premium digital art market for originals and author-approved limited editions.”

Achieving Digital Scarcity

To have a unique stance and a strong brand presence in an industry, it is crucial to meet the market gaps. So, we inquired, “So, what’s the necessary component for this endeavor?”

Marsha shared, “I must emphasize that achieving digital scarcity is a notoriously difficult technological challenge. NFTrends pioneered a unique solution for the digital world, offering real-time perpetual authentication for digital artworks. Digital art is inherently replicable, and, as a result, faces challenges in establishing uniqueness and value. This is where our technology proves invaluable.”

NFTs – Issues And Prospects

Lastly, addressing the issue of old NFTs, we asked, “So, what will be the condition of conventional NFTs?

Marsha replied, “NFT diehards often dismiss any suggestion of trouble within the NFT department. Never mind that more than two-thirds of NFTs listed on OpenSea are counterfeit or plagiarized. Devotees of NFTs tend to overlook such issues, swept up in their passion. Yet, without recognizing these flaws, there’s no pathway to improvement or advancing the sector.

 At the heart of the matter lies a misconception held by many: contrary to many enthusiasts’ beliefs, an NFT is NOT the artwork itself but rather the ownership token to a digital asset. The token contains the hash of the underlying, which can be anything from images to videos, documents, or any other type of content. While this token is immutable once minted on a blockchain, the associated digital asset remains unprotected and vulnerable to copying or other manipulations.”

Moreover, a hash tells you nothing about the underlying content. For instance, the hash of War and Peace is 64 hexadecimal symbols long, while the actual novel is 1400 pages long. Any change in the content results in a different hash, which will not match the original hash on the blockchain. However, a digital file (content) can be copied and reissued on the same or a different blockchain. The ease of replicating and re-minting digital content means artists may forfeit their royalties and undermine the concept of digital scarcity, among other issues.

 This challenge spans the entire NFT market, with the high-value segment feeling the brunt. But how can we assure digital scarcity and easily confirm that the digital artwork you intend to purchase is legitimately authorized by the creator? Search no more, as NFTrends offers a real-time authentication link, subtly yet visibly displayed on your artwork, to attest to its genuineness. This authentication link remains with the artwork, transferring to the next owner should you choose to sell, provided they are subscribed to NFTrends’ services.” She concluded.

Follow Marsha Lipton on LinkedIn.

Find NFTrends on LinkedIn and visit https://nftrends.ai/ .

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