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BAYC: Money for nothing
Yuga Labs finally launched its Apecoin — oops, sorry, not Yuga, but the Apecoin DAO launched APE. On March 17, the same day the coin launched, it was listed on all the major crypto exchanges in the U.S., including Coinbase, Kraken, and Gemini. (My blog post)
Apecoin has a fixed supply of 1 billion. So far, about 130 million Apecoins have entered circulation, according to CoinGecko. Today, Apecoin is up to $11, and 40% of the volume is on Binance trading against two stablecoins with dubious backing — USDT (35%) and BUSD (5%).
Soon after Apecoin launched, Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT holders took to Twitter, proclaiming how rich they had become overnight. Each bored ape holder got ~10,094 APE tokens, valued anywhere between $80,000 to $200,000.
It’s the same Ponzi promotion story we have heard since bitcoin launched in 2009 — buy this token and you will get rich for free. Everyone who holds Apecoin now wants you to buy APE, so the value goes up, and they can cash out. That value right now is being artificially pumped by tethers.
Hundreds of millions of dollars worth of Apecoin also went to Yuga Labs founders, Yuga Labs itself, contributors to the project, and to the newly formed Ape DAO. Just like that, everyone is rich.
What about Andreessen Horowitz (a16z)? How many Apecoins were they allotted? We may never be privy to the details.
“A spokesperson for Yuga said Andreessen received coins in exchange for assisting with ‘overall DAO governance design’……Yuga and Andreessen both declined to comment on the potential financing.” (FT)
Apecoin serves as a governance token, giving holders voting rights in the newly formed Ape DAO. Big holders, like Yuga Labs and a16z, have a greater say in the future of BAYC. This is the problem with the Ape DAO — it’s centralized decision-making. (Bloomberg)
Someone figured out a clever way to make $1.1 million by “borrowing” another person’s bored apes just long enough to claim Apecoin. (The block; Web3 is going just great)
Benji Bananas, the play-to-earn game that Yuga Labs is using via Animoca Brands to give Apecoin some utility so the SEC doesn’t sue its issuers, was bad and exploitative from the get-go. (Twitter)
The Block got a hold of Yuga Labs’ pitch deck. According to the deck, Yuga Labs hopes to make $455 million in 2022 through virtual land sales. It’s aiming to build a gaming metaverse called MetaRPG, compatible with a host of NFTs, powered by Apecoin. (The Block; Pitch Deck)
Yes, that’s right. Yuga’s next project is selling make-believe land. You can buy the land with APE.
Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs along with Apecoin are inherently worthless. The BAYC project doesn’t offer a service; it doesn’t manufacture a product. Its business model is based on filling a balloon with hot air and getting high-profile celebs to shill its product on prime-time TV.
Sure, holding a bored ape NFT will gain you entrance into a warehouse party — but they don’t even work properly for that. NFTs literally, don’t work for anything they are intended to do.
Insiders acquire Meebits
On March 11, Yuga Labs announced it acquired the IP for CryptoPunks and Meebits collections from Larva Labs. It’s giving the NFT holders the IP, so they can create derivative products, like hoodies, T-shirts, and other merch. (Press release; Techcrunch)
Yuga also got 423 Punks and 1,711 Meebits in the deal. The terms were undisclosed, so we don’t know how much they paid Larva Labs.
The floor price of Meebits doubled after the announcement, climbing to 6.134 ETH ($15,800).
Insiders took the opportunity to buy Meebits in advance and make some easy money.
Lesley Silverman, the head of digital assets at United Talent Agency, formally representing Larva Labs, is one of those people. She bought two Meebits in the days prior to the announcement. (Twitter)
All told, 14 Ethereum addresses, with no previous history of mainstream NFT collection purchases, quietly acquired 159 Meebits between March 5 and March 11. The top address purchased 24 Meebits at once on March 5. (Bloomberg)
Insider trading in the securities business is illegal and comes with harsh consequences, but NFTs are not regulated, so people get away with this stuff, literally, all of the time.
Smile for the camera
Yuga Labs and its partner Animoca Brands want bored ape holders to submit a government-issued ID and have their photos taken to confirm their real identities, so they can register for a mystery project. Bored ape holders are pissed off, some thinking they were going to be turned over to the IRS. (Cointelegraph)
The irony is that this all happened only a month after Yuga Lab’s founders made a big to-do about Buzzfeed revealing their true identities. They responded by directing an onslaught of anger and harassment from the crypto community toward Buzzfeed reporter Katie Notopoulos.
Apecoin resembles a security, like a stock or bond, but that didn’t stop Coinbase from listing it asap.
SEC Chair Gary Gensler has already stated that Coinbase lists dozens of tokens that may be securities. According to securities laws, exchanges that list securities must register with the SEC as a securities exchange or a broker-dealer. Coinbase has not registered as either.
A recent class-action against Coinbase alleges that 79 tokens the exchange lists meet the definition of securities, but plaintiffs were not warned of the risks. The claim, filed by three Coinbase users, asks for monetary relief and an injunction enjoining Coinbase from offering the tokens without having to register with the SEC. (Complaint; Cointelegraph)
I think you should leave
Time magazine wrote a lengthy profile on Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, calling him the “prince of crypto.” Buterin is concerned about what Ethereum has morphed into.
“Buterin worries about the dangers to overeager investors, the soaring transaction fees, and the shameless displays of wealth that have come to dominate public perception of crypto.” (Time)
It’s funny Buterin should have these feelings.
Ethereum was literally designed for all of these things. It fueled the ICO bubble of 2017. Most ICO tokens live on the Ethereum blockchain, just as most NFT tokens today are bought and sold on Ethereum. And Ethereum’s proof-of-work consumes the energy of a small country.
Buterin is the guy in the hotdog suit in a sketch from the comedy series “I think you should leave.”
In the sketch, a hot-dog-shaped car has crashed through the window of a menswear shop. Everyone is looking around to see who is responsible. Suddenly a man in a hot-dog costume appears out of nowhere and says, “Yeah, whoever did this, just confess. We promise we won’t be mad!”
Never forget, Vitalik created Ethereum because World of Warcraft nerfed his favorite warlock.
VCs shovel more millions into ConsenSys
Joe Lubin’s ConsenSys got another $450 million round of funding with a $7 billion valuation. This comes just four months after its Series C that raised $200 million and valued it at $3 billion.
The company has more than doubled in value, thanks to the venture capitalists.
Lubin is one of the cofounders of Ethereum who struck it rich in Ethereum’s early crowdfunding sale.
ConsenSys invested in ICO projects throughout 2017 — mostly hilariously bad ideas like Civil. When none of these projects had any hope of making it, and some like Airfox and Paragon, had to pay hefty fees to the SEC for securities violations, ConsenSys went through a “strategic transformation.” It cut staff and converted its failing portfolio business into a separate company called ConsenSys Mesh, effectively pushing the ugly mess off into the corner.
Nowadays, Lubin is busy hyping software like Infrura and Metamask to build Web3.
Stephen Dhiel explains why Web3 is “bullshit.”
The latest round will “accelerate the global adoption” of Infura and ConsenSys’s efforts to “drive NFT adoption for artists, content creators, brands, intellectual property owners, game publishers, and sports leagues.” (ConsenSys blog; Decrypt)
Anyone who thinks NFTs are going to crash soon has little understanding of how much money VCs are shoveling into this space. This money will keep the space propped up long enough for investors and insiders to cash out, just like they did with ICO tokens.
Elsewhere in cryptoland
Vice did a story on nocoiners — bitcoin skeptics, as we call ourselves. It has some good content, but also a misleading flaw: it makes it seem that nocoiners are insignificant because the “nocoiner industry” moves a tiny amount of money compared to the crypto industry. (Vice)
NYT reporter Kevin Roose wrote a lengthy story explaining crypto to the masses. Don’t be fooled. This is a piece of crypto boosterism, where Roose continually tries to convince the reader that he is a “crypto moderate.” The story is especially pernicious because of its “reasonable” tone. (New York Times)
Vice reporter Edward Ongweso went to the first SXSW post-covid, only to find out it was overtaken by crypto-mania and NFT nonsense, like 3D anthropomorphic rabbits plastered everywhere, “which I gathered were somehow related to crypto though it wasn’t clear how.” (Vice)
Mark Zuckerberg says that in the coming months you’ll be able to mint NFTs within Instagram. “I would hope that, you know, the clothing that your avatar is wearing in the metaverse, you know, can be basically minted as an NFT and you can take it between your different places,” he said. (Engadget)
There is no actual metaverse. Zuckerberg is lying. Metaverse is a meaningless marketing term used by companies in an effort to separate people from their money.
“Zuckerberg created this conversation to distract from his problems and made fertile ground for truly evil people to profit,” Ed Zitron wrote in a blog post last month.
Jorge Stolfi, a computer science professor in Brazil, says Web3 is nothing more than a new way to frame cypherpunk’s utopia: “The cypherpunks are a bunch of ‘socially challenged’ nerds who dream of building a society on the internet that is totally beyond the reach of governments. That the cops cannot monitor, regulate, or control.” (Reddit: here and here)
The CFTC is looking into Binance to see if the exchange permitted U.S. residents to buy and sell derivatives traded on its platform. (Bloomberg)
Also, Binance has stopped serving residents of Ontario, this time for real. (Binance Letter of Undertaking and Acknowledgment; OSC press release)
Münecat just came out with a brilliant video (100 minutes) explaining Web 3.0. Picture this: The year is 2063, and the global currency is Moosecoin. (Youtube)
Wikipedia editor and software engineer Molly White did a podcast with “Scam Economy” talking about her “Web3 is going just great” project. (Youtube)
If you haven’t read it yet, this Verge article on Tron CEO Justin Sun is an amazing piece of reporting. Sun has a huge tolerance for risk. The story also explains what happened with Poloniex, the crypto exchange that Circle bought in early 2018 for $400 million and spun out for a $156 million loss. (Verge)
Me in the news
I recently wrote a story on BAYC for Artnet News, and one on Ethereum’s move to POS for MIT Tech Review. I did a podcast for Artist’s Well and made some minor updates to my “Bitcoin Widow” review.