December 2, 2023

Who is this person anyway?

Irene Zhao, the Simp-Queen mastermind behind the SO-COL platform and a Crypto Twitter influencer, explains that having a celebrity in your corner can turbocharge your NFT collection.

Zhao’s first Simp DAO and NFT collection, IreneDAO, started with a floor price that was basically pocket change in ETH.

“I think it was about zero-point-something ETH,” Zhao recalls.

However, the game changed for Zhao when controversial YouTube star Logan Paul threw in around a quarter of a million dollars in January 2022.

“The next day, I woke up, the floor price went up five times when Logan Paul bought about 20 pieces or something. I was really shocked,” she explains. 

Zhao reveals that Paul stumbled upon the project after billionaire crypto investor Mike Novogratz posted about it on Twitter. That kickstarted a friendship with Paul:

“Logan followed me on Twitter and Instagram after he bought my NFTs,” Zhao says, adding, however, that they’ve never managed to meet up.

“I was going to travel to Los Angeles, but at the time, he was somewhere in Puerto Rico. So, we didn’t get to meet in the end. But we do have conversations about NFTs.”

Rubbing virtual shoulders with big names like Paul is just a regular day in the life of a crypto influencer. Zhao boasts 194,300 Twitter followers, runs her own Web3 NFT platform company, SO-COL, and globe-trots to speak at crypto conferences.

“I meet a lot of cool and successful people, and they all have very interesting personalities. Otherwise, they wouldn’t choose crypto as a career because it’s a very dynamic and very fast-paced career industry.”

What led to Twitter fame?

Zhao had already built a following as a social media influencer in the Web2 space, and much like Bitcoiners orange-pilling their friends, she has introduced most of her followers to NFTs.

“I have been building my own personal branding as a key opinion leader across various social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube. So, right now, I have about half a million followers across all platforms.”

She jumped into crypto because she wanted to have control over her own content. She was fed up with only monetizing her content by promoting products, which is how Web2 influencers make a living.

“I’ve built a deep connection with a lot of big brands, but it kind of sucks, because even though I have a very huge following on all other social media platforms, I don’t really get most of the benefits. I don’t really own my content or my community.”

Zhao set up one of the first Simp DAOs, where NFT purchasers could join her Irene DAO fan club and get closer to their Simp Queen. She later spun this idea out for the SO-COL platform.

Zhao jokingly mentions that she’s a big deal in Asia but can roam under the radar in the Western world:

“They recognize me, especially in Asia, but in the Western world, the white people can’t really recognize Asian people. They think everybody looks the same,” she laughs.

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What content can people expect?

Zhao isn’t a fan of the serious tone of some in the crypto world. In her perspective, those who enjoy technical or trading discussions might not necessarily be the most appealing minds in the crypto community.

“I think I like the shitposting. It’s pretty funny; it’s very entertaining to look at all the memes.”

Zhao holds the belief that making crypto memes requires a bigger brain than sharing trading tips:

“It is a very smart move because you have to understand the market, and you have to understand the audience to come up with the exact meme that people want. So, it’s a very rare talent to have.”

Nasty Beef: Lady of Crypto

Zhao had a public beef with fellow crypto influencer Lady of Crypto in December 2021.

The feud lit up after Zhao lightly teased her on Twitter for dishing out a no-brainer tweet.

“She was predicting the price of Bitcoin or something, but it was a super obvious trend. So, I was like, ‘You are stating the obvious,’ and then she got offended.”

The situation took a sour twist when Lady of Crypto fired back with some nasty comments about Zhao’s English skills, saying, “In your vids, you can barely string two words together.”

Zhao didn’t let it get to her personally and thought it was “super funny.”

Ever the businesswoman, Zhao was more interested in the fact that the post accumulated around “4 million impressions.”

Predictions?

Zhao’s predictions are pretty much in line with common, received wisdom. She’s eagerly anticipating Bitcoin to reach the $100,000 mark.

However, she’s also betting big on real-world assets taking off in the next year:

“Of course, I’m still bullish on BTC, Ethereum and all the basics. People are talking about RWA a lot. I think real world assets are probably going to go big in the next 12 months.”

She also believes that NFTs still have room for growth because plenty of celebrities haven’t hopped on the bandwagon yet.

“I think NFTs for creators is going to be a real hype really soon because we haven’t really experienced it yet,” she explains.

“I’m still bullish on social collectibles because we haven’t really onboarded all the Web2 creators to NFTs yet. So, I think there is still much room for that.”

Ciaran Lyons

Ciaran Lyons is an Australian crypto journalist. He’s also a standup comedian and has been a radio and TV presenter on Triple J, SBS and The Project.