March 11, 2022 12:00 PM PST

Timur Celikel, a 39-year-old software engineer in San Diego, isn’t much of a sports fan. In his youth, he followed the Padres a bit, and he still has some boxes of baseball cards collecting dust in storage. But for the last decade or so, his interest in anything athletic has felt at best dormant.

Then a year ago, a friend introduced him to non-fungible tokens, particularly ones featuring star athletes in action.“He had these little digital statues that were going for thousands of dollars,” Celikel said. “I thought, ‘This is insanity. Why would anyone buy this? This is a flash in the pan. It’s not going to last.’”

But he was intrigued, and after doing a bit more research, he got sucked in. Today, Celikel is the owner of digital wallets brimming with sports NFTs, including the Simone Biles Carbon Premier, an NBA Top Shot featuring Seth Curry, who was then a Philadelphia 76er, and an interception from Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie against the Rams in Super Bowl LVI, among others. Because the leagues backed these NFTs, he felt they had more staying power as investments and were less prone to scams than some of the art NFTs he had looked at. “It kind of scratches this weird itch of investing,” Celikel said, “like owning a stock or something.”

Access on the go
View stories on our mobile app and tune into our weekly podcast.
Join live video Q&A’s
Deep-dive into topics like startups and autonomous vehicles with our top reporters and other executives.
Enjoy a clutter-free experience
Read without any banner ads.
Art by Clark Miller.
Exclusive startups crypto
MoonPay CEO, Other Executives Cashed Out Before Crypto Business Dropped
In November 2021, just as crypto prices were hitting all-time highs, MoonPay—a crypto payments startup that celebrities including Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton had praised for its non-fungible token “concierge” service— announced it had completed its first ever outside fundraising: an eye-popping $555 million round at a $3.4 billion valuation from investors including Tiger Global Management and Coatue Management.
Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang. Photo by Bloomberg
semiconductors ai
Why Nvidia Aids Cloud Rivals of AWS, Google and Microsoft
Nvidia’s business of selling chips for artificial intelligence is going gangbusters, but the company faces a looming problem.
Instacart CEO Fidji Simo. Photo by Getty.
Exclusive startups Finance
Growth Wanes at Instacart, Gopuff
Grocery upstarts Instacart and Gopuff haven’t been able to deliver two things at once this year: growth and profits.
Tim Cook. Photo by Bloomberg
Exclusive apple ar/vr
Apple’s Learning Curve: How Headset’s Design Caused Production Challenges
If Apple unveils its long-awaited mixed-reality headset next week as expected, it will represent the company’s riskiest gamble on a new product since the iPhone.
Art by Clark Miller, Shutterstock (4)
Opinion ar/vr
Don’t Count the Metaverse Out
The technology hype cycle would have us believe that the metaverse—so recently the darling of digital trendsetters—is on the decline, its place usurped by generative artificial intelligence.
Adam D'Angelo photograph by Ko Sasaki. Art by Clark Miller
The 1:1 ai
Adam D’Angelo’s Endless Quest to Answer Everything
Adam D’Angelo is basking in an “ endless summer ” of artificial intelligence. A few weeks before he and 350 industry peers released a bizarre, one-line statement warning that AI could herald a nuclear-level extinction event, the 38-year-old co-founder of Quora told me he actually sees more upside in AI than downside.