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Stoner Cats: Remember When Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis Launched an NFT Collection?
I missed last week’s newsletter… and if I believed in writer’s block, I’d say that I had one…
But that thing is not real - so I’d come out and honestly admit that I had lost motivation.
Nevertheless, losing motivation is not what we’re gonna talk about in this issue (although at one point I may open up and write a very vulnerable story about that).
This time I’d like to go back in time and tell you a story that happened in the past (summer 2021). During the NFT hype period there was this new trend of celebrities getting into the space and launching their NFT Collections (aka cash grabs).
So today we will go back and check the story of one of them:
The Stoner Cats - the NFT collections launched by Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis!
Ready? Let’s start.
It all started with Vitalik Buterin appearing in Ashton and Mila’s kitchen…
Well, I am sure it started way before that but this video was the first thing we as NFT community saw as a teaser of the Stoner Cats campaign (click the tweet link to watch the video).
Obviously, the video went viral, since it was cool and both communities - the ones who liked the actors as well as the ones who admired the tech genius were pretty massive.
Then we all found out that it was about the Stoner Cats and that became a big discussion topic.
For those who did not follow the whole roller coaster ride - I decided to write up my observations based on what I could discover by browsing the internet, spending some time on Twitter, and reading project conversations on Discord.
As always, this too is an aside look at the events from a relatively inexperienced user’s perspective - and no I don’t own a cat and was never associated with the project in any shape or form.
Ok let’s go.
First things first - what is the whole project about?
As it was initially stated on their homepage Stoner Cats is
“the new series of animated shorts from Mila Kunis and friends, including the creative forces behind Toy Story 2, Spider-Verse, Happy Feet, Cryptokitties and much much more...”
The high-level angle was “joining the magic” and “funding the content you want to watch”. Obviously, it was also about the revolution, cutting out the middlemen, and creators and fans directly connecting.
You could “join the revolution” by getting the collectible Stoned Cat NFT.
And this was not all - seems like the team behind the project decided to tick many boxes at once based on everything that had been done so far and the NFT space and their roadmap also includes such elements as:
Access to content
non- commercial rights to do whatever you want with your specific 2D non-animated Stoner Cat NFT image.
1% of proceeds are being donated to charities - token holders vote on who does the money goes to
Regular community calls
Giveaways and physical collectibles + merch
Sponsorship/product placement opportunities
2.5% royalty from secondary market sales
All this sounded great so far…
Now also add to that the rockstar creative forces behind Toy Story 2, Spider-Verse, Happy Feet, Cryptokitties as well as the star team of voiceover artists.
And things looked even better, right?
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Let’s look at how the NFT community reacted to this before the launch.
There were mainly 2 well-distinguished groups: one saying that the fact that he was involved brings credibility and trust to the project and the second one thought that it did not fit his image and he should not have got involved in such a thing…
Many were wondering why he would even want to do that?
All agreed that he did not need the money - so that could not be the reason.
The second most common guess was that after his speech at the EthCC Paris event, he is open to projects that are beyond DeFi and have more human/emotional/social impact aspects behind them.
I guess we will never know, but the fact is that Vitalik 1. was in Ashton’s kitchen 2. was part of the promo teasers 3. is doing a voiceover 4. endorses the project
“Cash Grab” accusations
Many did not exactly embrace the new celebrities entering this space. The sentiment varied from a mild “meh, another celebrity jumping on a bandwagon” to way more uncensored phrases.
If you are not a complete newb in this space I am sure you’ve heard about Beanie. He was one of the first people to state his positioning about the project loud and clear.
And there is another thread of his worth looking at in here.
Setting up the secondary royalties to 10% as well as the high price of the NFT compared to the other collectibles were helping that narrative too.
Mass adoption illusion
Then there was a group of a naive crowd that had this illusion that the project was awesome because thanks to the celebrities it will attract the attention of people who are not familiar with the NFTs and lure them in. The masses will come for Stoner Cats, get the taste of how awesome the space is and stay, later becoming active participants. And like that, this project was going to have a “social impact” and do the important work of “contributing to the mass adoption”. In fact, some even argued that that’s exactly why Buterin decided to join it.
What do I think about it?
I say it’s bullshit!
If you were tailoring your project to be suitable for the “average Joe” you would ensure a minimum of 2 things: user-friendly UI/UX and fiat on-ramp so people could pay with credit cards since you shouldn’t expect the average Joe to have Metamask and anticipate the brutal slap in the face by the gas fees (more about those fees coming later).
Oh, and you probably wouldn’t price your NFT at 0.35 ETH either when most of the collectibles in the space back then were priced at 0.08 ETH.
The interesting thing that I noticed was that people kept discussing the NFT and were asking each other about what they were actually getting. To be fair, I had not checked their homepage before the launch, so am not sure what was there exactly, but from the discussions that I saw on socials, it felt like the message was not very clear and many were confused about the actual utility of the token…
In the space of NFT collectibles where people saw how the Crypto Punks and Bored Apes made many people rich, many were looking for the next big thing. And they wanted make sure that when they came across that thing, they wouldn’t miss it.
Now the tricky part was figuring out which one that next collectible would be… and many, for that information, went to… Discord and Twitter to listen to people who with big convictions gave “not financial advice”.
Needless to say, there were many people hyping Stoned Cats and apparently many more who believed in them, and there was real FOMO just a day from the launch.
OK so far so good. Seems like a regular pre-launch dynamic. Nothing too extraordinary. Now let’s see what happened on the launch day.
Many things happened on the Launch date - but the launch itself was not one of those. The launch was postponed to the next day.
Ok, this may sound very bad and even I was joking that this is what happens when a tech genius is recording a cartoon voiceover and actors are working on the NFT collectible release…
Beanie could not miss this opportunity of course...
From what I gathered it partly had to do with adjusting the royalties from 10% to 2.5%.
I have always been advocating listening to community feedback and addressing their concerns - so I would definitely give the project credit for this move. If this is what people wanted then probably it was worth waiting for a bit more...
The other thing I liked about it was that they openly spoke with the community explaining some stuff and taking responsibility.
On the other hand though - I personally think that if just a few dudes can get together and pull a project without any hiccups then celebrities with many resources and leverage and friends like Gary V + rockstar storytellers and a talented visual artist, as well as the expertise of Vitalik - should do MUCH better!
So although I do understand that we are all humans, and mistakes happen and we should not be so harsh about it - I think at this point many people lost trust and were no longer so sure about the project.
Now add to that the unprofessional moderators on their Discord channel, who left the impression that they neither understood the NFT community and could speak their language, nor seemed to understand how exactly the Ethereum and NFTs work… and things looked even worse.
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The Actual Launch
But at the end of the day, it seemed like there were many people who believed in the project and couldn’t wait to ape in. I could totally feel the FOMO vibe and the conversations that were so similar to the old times of the ICO token sale hype. And regardless of all the drama and mess that happened before that everyone rushed to get those cats anyway.
Was the Stoner Cat gonna make them crazy rich? (you’ll find out at the end of this story)
But before that people had to get their hands on those first and apparently it was not that easy. Once again the cats broke the Ethereum (remember Crypto Kitties?).
And we saw the absolutely crazy gas fees again.
And guess what? When the gas fees are crazy and you have tons of failed transitions - you lose crazy money…
What do I mean by crazy money? Check this out!
It is very hard for me to comprehend why would someone be willing to pay such amounts for a gas fee to get a Stoner Cat, but hey what do I know, right?
Anyway, at this point many rushed to Discord to complain about the situation and the mods came back with a “perfect” answer.
Discussion about this here:
As a result, the total was almost $800,000 in Failed Ethereum Transactions was lost.
Well, I guess no matter how much we can criticize the project the “success” of the launch is based on sales, right?
Stoner Cats sold out in about 35-40 minutes before the launch by selling all the 10,420 NFTs at 0.35 ETH each. And I think the miners received more than $3mln in gas fees (nice payday!).
Not sure how many aped in order to “join the magic and revolution” but I know for a fact that most did join to make money. And just a few days later we already see the cats in the secondary market.
Vitalik’s character Lord Catsingtonis was priced at 33 ETH on Opensea and the character with Chris Rock’s voice was priced at 42 ETH. And the floor price was growing back then.
Shortly after the launch I kept seeing different Stones Cats with *ahum - sorry about this” dicks.
In my research I had not found anything about it from official sources, so was almost certain that it’s not anything coming from the team. So I went to find out what was all that about.
So to be completely honest I could not find proof for this one - so can’t claim the legitimacy of it but I saw few tweets and heard on Twitter Spaced that Stoned Cats were refusing to give IP rights to the NFT owners and according to the team’s Discord moderator (those mods seems to be too good…) it was because people might draw dicks and swastikas on the cats if they had the rights… hmmm
As a result with or without the IP rights, we saw it happening… since some thought it’s the best way to protest.
below are just 2 examples:
Back to those gas fees
People kept putting pressure on the project demanding to be reimbursed the gas fees they lost on failed transitions. Not many believed it would happen, but it feels like the Stoned Cats team made the right decision.
A VERY long time has passed since the launch so let’s go back and check where Stoner Cats are at.
Ok, so here is the IMDb page for their series. So far they have released 6 episodes in total (last one on Dec 23, 2022). The rating is ok-ish.
That was the good news…
Those that FOMO-ed in and bought it + spent those crazy gas fees ended up losing a lot of money - 90%+ loss (if they did not sell sooner).
Look at this!
In July, 2021 they raised 3,647 ETH (almost $9M back then). 6 episodes produced and huge decrease in floor price + not many in the community (apart from those who lost their ETH) even remember they existed.
Deciding whether it was a cash grab, just a failure or a rug is up to you. All I do here is just tell the stories :)
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