My latest story on the Bored Apes Yacht Club was published in Artnet News today. It’s paywalled but worth subscribing to Artnet News if you want to read it!
I spent a few weeks working on this nearly 2,000-word story, and Artnet News editor Julia Halperin really helped me pull it together. We had the story ready to go on Friday when suddenly, Yuga Labs announced they had just acquired the IP to CryptoPunks and Meebits from Larva Labs. So of course, that meant lots of last-minute editing along with a new headline.
Usually, you make big announcements at the beginning or middle of the week, not when people are clearing off their desks and getting geared up for the weekend.
But then the floor price of Bored Apes was dropping, slipping below $200,000 in ETH—and Yuga Labs needed to act quickly.
Yuga Labs is giving Punk and Meebits owners the IP for their avatars, so they can create derivatives and hopefully further the branding and marketing of the project.
They’ll probably also get to attend yacht parties and warehouse concerts, and benefit from all of the other perks and freebies, like NFT airdrops.
Token projects have been promising real-world utility since the ICO era of 2017, and NFT projects are no different. The goal is to somehow justify the insane prices of these things.
When NFTs became “the next big thing” in early 2021, many people started asking: “What good are these? All they do is point to a JPEG on the internet. I can copy and download that JPEG myself.”
In response to the criticism, many NFT projects now promise utility, and BAYC is no different. Owning a bored ape is a key to a club. It’s culture. It’s a digital identity, or whatever Yuga Labs can think of next.
Ultimately, it’s about marketing. High-value NFTs are illiquid. It’s very difficult to find a 1:1 buyer for a $200,000 bored ape, outside of celebrities. So the goal is to keep bored apes in the public eye and to keep bored ape holders from selling off their NFTs.
In the meantime, Yuga is working on a fungible token that will likely “democratize” their high-priced NFTs. All the better for a16z, if they proceed with reported plans to invest millions into the project.
The Silicon Valley VC firm could potentially get ERC20 tokens in return for their investment, and see quick returns if the coin lists on Coinbase. A16z has two directors sitting on the Coinbase board.
A fungible token combines the best of both worlds — the scarcity of a collectible NFT with the liquidy of an ERC20 token. But it’s complicated, you see. Too often these things resemble securities offerings.
Yuga Labs knows the big money is temporary. Until they work out the legalities of a fungible token, they need to do everything possible to keep the price of Bored Apes Yacht Club tokens up.
So far, the plan is working. Soon after the announcement on Friday, the floor price of Bored Apes went up again. As of today, the cheapest bored ape NFT is $227,000 (90 ETH), according to CryptoSlam.