For $5, a string of emojis representing a Newspaper, a smiling Pile of Poo, an Alien Monster, and an Exploding Head became my unique “online identifier.” A $290 price tag seemed too steep for the “featured” string, which showcased my same smiling Pile of Poo, plus a Rocket and a laughing Cowboy Hat Face. If I had stuck with violin and ice-skating when I was younger and wanted to showcase those hobbies, that emoji sequence would’ve cost me $70.

This is the world of Yats, purchasable strings of emojis that are the latest craze in NFT-like digital assets. Since launching in February 2021, Nashville-based Yat Labs has sold more than 160,000 unique strings of emojis, raised over $20 million in financing, and attracted the attention of no less an arbiter than Paris Hilton, who shelled out an undisclosed amount for a Crown and a Sparkles emoji to be her unique identifier.

The idea behind Yats is simple. Usernames featuring letters and numbers are so boring—what if, instead, you could use emojis that better reflect your personality? As a visitor to the Yat Web site, the first order of business is selecting the emojis that best represent you. Based on what you select, the Web site generates the price that it would cost you to buy that specific emoji sequence.

Not your average newspaper-poop-alien sequence: this is what a pair of sought-after Yat emoji strings might look like.

People can buy up to five emojis for a single Yat. Prices, which range from a few dollars to hundreds of thousands, are based on what the company calls a “rhythm score,” a measure from 1 to 100 of a string’s uniqueness, rarity, pattern, and length. The closer to 100 your score is, the more you’ll be shelling out.

For my string, I had a paltry rhythm score of 19, though the popularity of certain emojis can cause a string’s rhythm score and value to either plummet or skyrocket, so there’s hope yet. The current record sits at $425,000, spent on just a single emoji—a Key.

Once you have your Yat, you can display it on your social-media profile (be it Twitter, Instagram, or any other platform). You can also hyperlink it, so that clicking on it leads to your personal Web site or whatever else you wish to promote.

Yat Labs is now extending into Internet search, partnering with the Internet-browser company Opera. Imagine a future where you needn’t use letters to find a plumber’s Web site on Google, but could instead deploy an Anger Face emoji followed by a Pile of Poo. (Or, better yet, an Airplane emoji followed by a Newspaper and a Hot Beverage emoji for the AIR MAIL Web site!)

Whether or not Yats prove to be the next big thing in digital assets remains to be seen. Some investors have scrambled to buy strings, like during the early days of the Internet when a buying craze enveloped Web-site domain names. Others have called it a fad.

For those investors interested: Yes, I’ll sell. The bidding starts at $1 million.

Jacob Robbins is an Associate Editor for Air Mail