UPDATED: Cryptoland Just Lost Its Island in Fiji

Cryptoland’s contract to purchase Nananu-i-cake, the Fijian island which was to be its home base for its fantastical crypto paradise, has fallen through, and the island is once again up for sale on the market

You may have been following my recent blogposts about the Cryptoland project (here and here), and so I bring you this breaking news, courtesy of The Guardian newspaper:

Widely mocked plans to establish a tropical haven for cryptocurrency enthusiasts have run into trouble after a contract to buy an island in Fiji for US$12 million fell through.

A group of crypto-evangelists, led by Max Olivier and Helena Lopez, outlined plans for the island, Nananu-i-cake, in a lavishly animated YouTube video, featuring a wide-eyed crypto bro named Christopher landing by helicopter and being given a guided tour by a talking coin called Connie.

The full YouTube clip has been taken down, but cached copies show it touted the island as “an international hub for the community to come live, work and have fun and enjoy a first-class crypto lifestyle”, boasting “a complete ecosystem that represents the blooming crypto space” that was “a paradise made by crypto enthusiasts for crypto enthusiasts”.

Ben Butler of The Guardian goes on to write:

But the project appears to have hit a bigger hurdle than bad publicity. The real estate agent selling Nananu-i-cake, Rick Kermode, of New Zealand firm Bayleys, told Guardian Australia that the contract to sell it to Cryptoland’s backers fell through this week and the island was back on the market.

“We’re telling people that it was under contract during the period of time that they had the contract but it has come back on the market,” he said.

So, it would appear that Cryptoland’s grand plans have come to nought, unless they can somehow find a way to renegotiate the contract. Somehow, given all the negative publicity and ridicule this project has attracted, I don’t think that is going to happen.

I had also heard that they had removed the project’s highly-scrutinized white paper (called a “Why Paper” ) from the Cryptoland website, but I was able to locate it fairly easily, here. Of course, they’re still minting their butt-ugly NFTs, and still trying to sell the project to crypto bros using the face, voice, and quotes from Carlos Matos:

As to why Cryptoland would want to associate Mr. Matos (infamous for his batshit crazy speech promoting the BitConnect ponzi scheme) with their project in any way absolutely mystifies me. I mean, c’mon people, the quote comes from this:

So, it would appear that the strange Cryptoland saga is coming to an end sooner than expected! However, I have no doubt that many equally cringeworthy NFT projects will come along to take its place in 2022.

UPDATE Jan. 16th, 2022: Well, it looks as though I wrote off Cryptoland too easily! Apparently, the team is undeterred by this development. I am not on the official Cryptoland Discord, but someone shared the following screen capture with me:

I know it’s a bit hard to read, so here is a transcription:

Thanks for the list of thoughtful points.

1. Right now the purchase agreement is until December 17th, but we had a conversation with the sellers of the island and they said they would be open to extend it (for a few more months, we need to discuss that still) if things look promising (if we get more investors). The island has been for sale for many years, no one is going to buy it right now, even if the contract expires.

2. If somehow someone were to buy the island, we would find another one (there are some) or we could re-buy it from the new owner maybe. This island is going to be for Cryptoland, we know the market for islands like this is very small, the risks of someone else acquiring before us are very low.

This response seems overly confident, bordering on brash, to me. All this talk about simply switching to another island if Nananu-i-cake is sold to another buyer means (among other things) that the Cryptoland team will have to completely rewrite their white paper proposal, as well as impact the layout and even the number of real estate parcels they can sell. Stop and ponder this incontrovertible fact for a moment: Cryptoland is already selling land on an island they don’t even own yet.

I still believe that this project is never going to come to fruition. Anyway, the Cryptoland saga seems to have a few more chapters left, Stay tuned!

UPDATED! Cryptoland and the Streisand Effect: the Craziness Continues

The Streisand effect is a phenomenon that occurs when an attempt to hide, remove, or censor information has the unintended consequence of increasing awareness of that information, often via the Internet. It is named after American singer Barbra Streisand, whose attempt to suppress the California Coastal Records Project’s photograph of her residence in Malibu, California, taken to document California coastal erosion, inadvertently drew greater attention to it in 2003.

—Wikipedia article. Streisand effect

Since my original blogpost about one of the bat-shit craziest NFT projects which I have seen to date (and trust me, in the current environment, that’s saying a LOT!), there have been so many new developments in the past 24 hours, that I decided it was time to start a new blogpost, rather than keep updating the original one!

First, if you haven’t seen it yet, here is the cartoon portion of the original promotional video for Cryptoland (the complete video was taken down from YouTube, but you can find it via PeerTube, where it has racked up an impressive 12,000 views in just 2 days). Honestly, even if you aren’t up to speed with all the crypto lingo, this is one of the most cringeworthy things I have ever witnessed:

Among other things I mentioned in my first blogpost, the creator of the seagull used in this cartoon has publicly stated that the creators of this cartoon did NOT have her permission to use this asset to promote this NFT project. The team behind Cryptoland then promptly blocked her on Twitter, as they have many other people who have commented on and criticized this project:

Molly White first alerted me to the existence of this video via this epic, hilariously snarky Twitter thread, which you really should settle down with a cup of coffee and read through, to bring you up-to-speed as to what’s been going on over the past four days.

So, what’s been going on lately? Glad you asked 😉

Yesterday, the people behind Cryptoland send the following threatening message to Molly, which she was only too happy to share via Twitter:

Needless to say, this announcement provoked an outpouring of hilariously sarcastic comments (you can read through them here).

One commenter stated, “How about your attempt to scare someone for exposing your bullshit? Impersonating a lawyer is a felony. Keep digging that hole, guys.”, which prompted the so-called “Cryptoland Legal Team” to respond with this gem:

A lawyer using the phrase “Perfectly legit tool”? And “Cease and decease”?!?? Well, you can imagine how this went over. Eventually, heavy hitters like Keith Olberman (with almost a million Twitter followers) retweeted both the original threat and the Cryptoland team’s response far and wide. If Cryptoland had expected their efforts to extinguish the firestorm, their bully tactics backfired rather spectacularly!

Witness the Streisand effect at work: dozens and dozens of people, who had never heard of Cryptoland before, started looking for and watching the original video that prompted this back-and-forth on Twitter! A video which the Cryptoland team is now apparently trying really hard to erase from the internet, without success.

And there is now a small cottage industry of YouTube reaction videos to the original Cryptoland promotional video. I shared three as updates to my first blogpost, but here’s a fourth one I watched last night (I roared with laughter at points!):

But wait, there’s more! In a now-deleted tweet (still viewable via the Wayback Machine), they responded to a question about the age of consent on Cryptoland (a perfectly reasonable question, given that a cartoon was created to promote the project) as follows…

…which (of course!) just poured gasoline to the fire. The YouTuber in the video I linked above talked about this tweet, referring to the Cryptoland island as “Epstein Island”, and even non-crypto folks started to weigh in:

Cryptoland’s responses to this storm of controversy? Well, they’ve been busy trying to spin their self-inflicted wounds into some sort of organized, diabolical conspiracy to discredit this truly hare-brained scheme, as Molly has only been too happy to report on:

So, at this point, me and literally thousands of other people are like:

Stay tuned!

P.S. It turns out that Cryptoland is not the only NFT project involving a real-world island! VICE reported in an article about both projects:

As The Next Web pointed out in its dive into the island and Wikipedia editor Molly White in a Twitter thread sharing her research into the project, there are a few problems that stick out even beyond Cryptoland’s wild marketing video. Take the fact that the island mentioned in its “Why Paper”—an island in Fiji named Nananu-i-cake— is still for sale on at least two websites, despite the project’s website claiming that it has secured an “island purchase agreement.”…Cryptoland did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.

Cryptoland isn’t alone. Satoshi Island is another crypto utopia supposedly in the works, featuring a 32 million square foot island (approx 1.1 square miles) in Vanuatu—an archipelago of islands between Australia and Fiji. It’s slightly larger than Cryptoland, but has substantially less information available on it.

Its website states that the island is owned by Satoshi Island Limited, but there’s no information on who runs the company or how beyond a Team section listing some individuals involved. It also claims to have “a green light from the Vanuatu Ministry Of Finance and all approvals in place.” Motherboard reached out to various Vanuatu offices to confirm this, but has not heard back.

Hear that? There’s TWO projects out there! This just keeps gets better and better, people!

Buckle up; it’s gonna be a wild ride to follow these projects!

UPDATE Jan. 10th, 2022: VICE has just published a follow-up story on the Cryptoland debacle, covering many of the same points I covered here, plus a few new developments I hadn’t yet heard about:

Even Carlos Matos, the face of the infamous Bitconnect scam that Cryptoland features a memorial and casino in honor of, threatened legal action against Cryptoland for using his likeness in a tweet. “This is the first time I see this and whoever is using my name, brand,  or image here is using it without my approval and authorization,” Matos tweeted on January 5. “I will definitely look more into this and bring this dudes into justice. They may want to get in contact with me before they hear from me.”

In case you have no idea who Carlos Matos is, you need to watch this truly iconic video of him shilling BitConnect, a cryptocurrency which turned out to be a massive Ponzi scheme (Wikipedia article) :

You know your project is in serious trouble, when someone who is literally the face for blockchain scams threatens legal action for using your name and likeness!

The VICE article concludes as follows:

In response to all of this and other criticism, the project’s Discord has been in the midst of an ongoing purge. Criticism is labeled as spreading “FUD” (fear, uncertainty, doubt) or “bullshit,” and a new update posted to the Discord warns that members should not “engage in negative conversations with any of the trolls who enter the discord.” Instead, if you “suspect that someone is spreading fud or negativity, please report it to any member of the team and we will handle it from there.” Links to the Wayback Machine, where Cryptoland’s age of consent tweet is archived, are blocked in the Discord, Motherboard confirmed.

All in all, things are going poorly at Cryptoland it seems. It hopes to be the future beating heart of the cryptoeconomy, but is currently beset by a myriad of questions about how it’ll work, where the funding will come from, and whether its handling of the wave of criticism makes it a viable and responsible project.

I leave you with yet another wonderfully snarky YouTube video by KiraTV, who makes it his business to rip crazy NFT projects to shreds, and is absolutely scathing in his latest update on the Cryptoland project:

UPDATE Jan. 12th, 2022: Callum Upton has dropped a new commentary video about Cryptoland, and the tea is piping hot, so enjoy:

UPDATED! Cryptoland: What the F#$%?!??

See also: Cryptoland and the Streisand Effect: the Craziness Continues

Somebody just dropped the following YouTube video on me via Twitter, and I am legit OBSESSED with how jaw-droppingly so-bad-it’s-almost-good it is, so I have rushed to share it with my readers:

(UPDATE: This YouTube promotional video was taken down, but you can watch the cartoon part of it on YouTube and Twitter.)

Is this a parody? Somebody, please tell me this is a parody! This is INSANE. Is this a joke? Is this performance art?

Here’s the website for this bizarre project. More details later as I find them!

Right now I am watching this YouTube video and I. AM. DECEASED. I just howled with laughter at the BitConnect references in the cartoon! But I cannot seriously believe that a company would spend so much money on a 3D animated cartoon to promote a real project.

Checking out the website now…oh, and they also have a Twitter. I know how I’ll be spending the rest of my evening! 😉

UPDATE 8:46 p.m.: here’s a YouTube video from November 2029 which aims to give a bit of an overview of what this crazy-sounding project is all about:

UPDATE 9:05 p.m: Molly White (whose tweet first alerted me to the very existence of this project) has posted an absolutely epic thread on Twitter, which you must read all the way through to the end! She lambastes the video I posted up top, and even digs a little bit into the pasts of the mysterious cofounders of this project. After doing her research, Molly is inclined to believe that the project is real:

And some of the comments are GOLD:

And one intrepid soul actually found the sales listing for the island in Fiji they apparently are in talks to buy, but I can’t find that particular tweet (argh!!!). I’ll keep looking for it.

UPDATE 9:19 p.m.: O.K., I cannot find that blasted tweet again (I should have bookmarked it!), BUT I did find the actual sales listing for the Fijian island, which is called Nananu-i-Cake, which is indeed the same shape as the island in the cartoon portion of the video:

(By the way, there are plenty of pictures of this island in the real estate listing. Feel free to noodle around.)

The asking price is a cool US$12 million dollars…they’re gonna have to sell a LOT of Cryptolanders NFTs to be able to afford that! This whole project is just bonkers to me. Things are getting very weird in crypto-land (in general) and it looks like Cryptoland (the project) is going to be among the weirdest of them all!

P.S. Apparently, there will be a metaverse aspect to Cryptoland as well, a virtual version of the Fijian island, where avatars can gather, high-five each other, and shout “To the moooon!!!” 🙄

Image from the Cryptoland website

Also, Molly runs a cool website called Web3 Is Going Just Great (subtitled “…and is definitely not an enormous grift that’s pouring lighter fluid on our already-smoldering planet.”), where she compiles stories of various follies, crimes, and misdeeds occurring within the blockchain gaming, cryptocurrency, DeFi (decentralized finance), NFTs, and metaverse communities. Check it out!

UPDATE Jan. 7th, 2022: I spent about a day in the Cryptoland Discord server, where I saw people who raised questions and criticisms with this project treated with disdain and roundly attacked, before I decided to leave. Molly reported that she had been blocked by whoever runs the Cryptoland Twitter account.

And I learned that anybody who tries to post the link to the real estate listing, which I talked about above, on the Cryptoland Discord server is blocked from doing so. Apparently, they don’t want anybody to know that the island is still for sale. Wouldn’t it be hilarious if some billionaire bought it out from under them? It would be ironic if they were outbid for Nananu-i-Cake island by another crypto investor.

And, early this morning, the official Cryptoland Twitter account sent out the following message:

Dear Cryptolanders,

We have been victims of what seems to be a planned attacked [sic] to harass, vilify, and twist our work.

We condemn all the false information and false accusations being spread about Cryptoland and invite those who are truly interested, to make [sic] their own research and politely ask us if they want to know anything about this amazing project,

Much love,

Cryptoland team.

Notice the blue bar across the bottom of this tweet (see image above)? It means that only people specifically mentioned using the @ symbol (i.e. nobody) can reply. So much giving people the opportunity to “politely ask” questions. Communication is a two-way street, sweetheart.

Between the interactions I witnessed yesterday on the Cryptoland Discord, and this tweet, their strategy moving forward is clear: demonize the critics, and rally the Cryptolanders (and yes, this is what they call themselves) to attack anyone who has the slightest criticism of this truly hare-brained scheme with its cringeworthy promotion.

Buckle up, folks: this one is going to be an EPIC carnival ride. Bring popcorn! 😉

I leave you with a couple of YouTube videos made a month ago by the first person who actually purchased land in this project, a crypto promoter named Kyle Chassé. Kyle says he spent the equivalent of over one million U.S. dollars (160 ETH) to be the first King Cryptolander (and yes, that’s the official term for them, too). They even refer to him in the first video as “the King of Kings.” 🙄

SECOND UPDATE Jan. 7th, 2022: Oh my God, this just keeps getting better and better…as you might have guessed from the blank screen at the top of this blogpost, the people behind the Cryptoland project took down their video from YouTube. And, not only that, they are trying to remove every trace of their laughable, cringeworthy video from the internet, even going so far as to issue copyright takedown notices to people like Molly:

I immediately messaged Molly to warn her that, if she got three copyright strikes against her, that her YouTube channel would be permanently taken down. I also could not resist sharing this meme with her:

I get the feeling that the beleaguered Cryptoland team are going to learn all about something called the Streisand Effect: once something is publicly available on the internet, you can never really get rid of it completely, and even worse, people will start posting copies of it everywhere just to spite you—especially if you make yourself known as somebody who doesn’t want the item in question to be seen, ever again! Good luck, guys; you’re gonna need it.

P.S. The original video still exists if you use the Wayback Machine to see an earlier version of the YouTube page. Also, copies of this gloriously bad promotional video (plus an extended, uncut version of that cringeworthy 3D cartoon!) are already rapidly proliferating on places like PeerTube, which is a decentralized network of inter-connected small video hosters, each created, moderated and maintained independently by various administrators, scattered all across the globe. (Good luck filing a copyright strike against them, guys. Genie’s out of the bottle, and you won’t be able to stuff it back in.)

And no, I’m not going to provide links; you should know how to find things like this yourself. 😉

That’s in addition to the blistering commentary articles like this and this

…and commentary videos like these from KiraTV and Callum Upton (two guys who routinely eviscerate crypto projects like Earth2 for breakfast every day):

KiraTV did some more research and posted a scathing follow-up video to his first one (he was banned by the official Cryptoland account on Twitter, as well):

And one of the things that KiraTV discusses in his latest video (and which Molly uncovered as well) is this little bombshell: it turns out that the cartoon used a seagull which they didn’t have permission to use! (Yes, the creator of that seagull also got blocked on Twitter when she brought up that fact! Sensing a trend here?)

So, yeah, go pop some more popcorn, folks; I have a feeling this show is just getting started. 😉