🎙 "We Get to Tell Future Pixar Animators They Can Quit Their Jobs and Come Build With NFTs:" Stoner Cats Team

In this week’s episode, I speak with some of the creators and investors behind Stoner Cats, the NFT-infused adult cartoon show. For those who haven't been paying attention, that may sound a little weird, but here’s the deal: Stoner Cats is a cartoon show a...


In this week’s episode, I speak with some of the creators and investors behind Stoner Cats, the NFT-infused adult cartoon show. For those who haven't been paying attention, that may sound a little weird, but here’s the deal: Stoner Cats is a cartoon show about a group of cats who become sentient from their owner’s marihuana. Lisa Sterbakov, one of the show’s producing partners, said they weren’t getting very good offers from the traditional financing avenues, since not many investors and studios wanted to be associated with drug content. So Mila Kunis, the famous actress whose production company Orchard Farm is behind the show, thought of using NFTs for financing. But this is not just another NFT drop. Holders of these tokens are the only ones who have access to watch the show, so these NFTs become something like a streaming subscription.

The team released 10,420 NFTs, centered around one of the seven characters in the show last week. And there are famous humans behind these cats, Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin is one, and Jane Fonda is another. Ashton Kutcher’s VC fund is also involved. With all these big names, there was huge anticipation around this NFT sale -- so much, that the demand made Ethereum gas prices spike, so that many purchases didn’t go through and over $700,000 were lost in failed transactions. Ashton Kutcher said after this interview that the team is going to personally gift ETH to cover all failed transaction fees.

Producer Lisa Sterbakov, investors Maaria Bajwa, Morgan Beller, and NFT creator Jonathan Howard, talk about the motivation behind Stoner Cats, how NFTs is changing the game for creators, what the chaotic launch was like for them, how they got Vitalik to join the show, and more behind the scenes scoops.

The podcast was led by Camila Russo, and edited by Alp Gasimov. Transcript was edited by Owen Fernau and Dan Kahan.

🎙Listen to the interview in this week’s podcast episode here:


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Camila Russo: I am so excited to have you all on The Defiant podcast. For listeners, I have a really nice group of people on the Stoner Cats team, and I will let them all introduce themselves and tell us about their backgrounds. But for those who have been living under a rock, I'm sure if you're a Defiant listener, you'll know about this project.

I am really excited to hear about how it all started, this Stoner Cats project with big names behind it: Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Vitalik Buterin, Jane Fonda, like star cast, and also NFT-enabled and made the Ethereum network crash. People were saying Cats are always doing this to Ethereum, so hugely popular right from the get-go. And here we have the investors and makers of this awesome project. So, super excited to have you all here.

Can we start with intros? Your backgrounds and how you all got into crypto?

Lisa Sterbakov: I'm Lisa, and I’m Mila’s producing partner. So I am on this team that's here on the very Hollywood side of things. I got involved in this because we had a need, being we had a wonderful project to get out in the world, and we felt like this was the best way to do it. I got into crypto from a really personal artistic need with out incredible creators, and then these people came on to me.

Camila Russo: Perfect. Morgan.

Morgan Beller: I'm Morgan Beller. Thank you for having us today. I work at a firm called NFX, which is an early stage venture fund. We can get into the origin of the story. But I was in the right place at the right time when Lisa and Mila decided to experiment with different ways to fund this show, Stoner Cats, and feel lucky to be part of the team.

Camila: Awesome. Maaria.

Maaria Bajwa: Hi, I'm Maaria Bajwa. I've been working on the venture side of a venture fund called Sound Ventures with Ashton, and I've been covering crypto for us for the last four and a half years. I have a weekly crypto newsletter that goes out to a few 100 folks that talks about what's happening in the space. And yeah, I'm just really excited about NFTs and how we can use them to change different industries, including entertainment.

CR: Okay. And then Jonathan?

Jonathan Howard: Yeah, thanks for having us. I'm Jonathan Howard. I'm the CTO and cofounder of Big Head, which partnered with these awesome people on the NFT side. And I've been an engineer, on growth teams or a founder for probably the last 15 years.

Stoner Cats Backstory

Camila: Great. Okay. So now, Morgan, you mentioned the founding story for Stoner Cats. Can you maybe dig into that and tell us the backstory of how this all happened?

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