The South China Morning Post is spinning its blockchain-based NFT business to form a new company led by its current chief executive.

Gary Liu will remain chief executive of the publishing group while it undertakes a global search for his successor. Once one is found he’ll transition fully to overseeing Artifact Labs.

The legendary 118-year-old Hong Kong-based English language newspaper on Monday sold off half a year of its front pages as NFTs, in a bid to jump-start what it hopes will be a new ecosystem for cataloguing and tokenising historical assets using a new NFT standard.

Now that effort is being spun off into Artifact Labs, which will seek third-party capital. The SCMP will remain a shareholder.

The new company plans to launch a marketplace for these historical NFTs, which will have standardised metadata about their historical provenance and significance.

They’re aimed at collectors, publishers, libraries, museums and any institution interested in preserving history, the SCMP said.

“Blockchain holds great potential for the media industry and SCMP is committed to leading in technological innovation and new business development. The founding of ‘Artifact Labs’ is part of this mission,” Liu said.

“We expect that millions of people will own ARTIFACTs issued by media, historical and cultural organisations around the world, and that historical NFTs will be the gateway for many users into Web3.” 

‘Transformational step’

“SCMP’s creation of ‘Artifact Labs’ to explore the potential of blockchain applications for media is a transformational step for our 118-year old organization,” said SCMP chairman Joe Tsai.

“With his experience running a news organization and extensive expertise in technology, Gary [Liu] is the perfect person to lead our new effort in Web3 and explore future growth opportunities for SCMP.

“I look forward to closely working with Gary to transition the leadership of our publishing group as we continue to fulfil our commitment to supporting the long-term growth of SCMP.”