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The Bored Ape Yacht Club Saga: Triumphs, Trials, and Tragedies
I noticed on Twitter (or should I say X) that many were wondering what happened to the Bored Ape Yacht Club and why things don’t seem so bright anymore. I am surprised that some people are surprised about it…
What do they say - Higher you climb the harder you fall?
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Let’s dive into the story of the biggest company in the NFT space: Yuga Labs.
At the very beginning of the NFT hype cycle - many 10k NFT PFP collections with different animals were launched. One of them back in April 2021 was the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Unlike what you may think, the collection did not sell out within minutes. In fact it took them over a week to do so.
I personally stumbled upon them accidentally. Back in those days when I was exploring the space I ended up in a Twitter Space full of ugly looking monkey avatars (all male) speaking to each other. It felt like a very friendly place where people discussed how to contribute to their community.
They spoke about creating a book club, about the web3 in general, their stories of how they ended up in space, etc. Overall it was a very cozy place and I was surprised that unlike other NFT degen spaces, here no one actually spoke about alpha, the floor price, big gains, etc. Although most of them already had quite good gains, since by that time the BAYC floor price was already 3 ETH (compared to the original 0.08 mint price).
Shortly after that Bored Ape Yacht Club would become one of the most popular NFT collections in the market that everyone was going to talk about and I would kick myself for not getting several apes back when I discovered them so I could sell them later and retire…
Anyway. Let’s try to understand
What was behind their success?
There were different components that many argue played a role here.
people thought they had missed out on lot of NFTs that were already too expensive for an entry point (Cryptopunks, etc.)
apes were affordable
fair distribution - not a bonding curve (fixed mint price of 0.08 ETH)
for the first time, here the holders were receiving full IP rights of their Ape
utility? - the main utility was the NFT being a membership token + there was this very arguable utility for holders to draw (dicks) on the bathroom wall
I maybe be biased - but I would argue that all the above would not matter if they had not nailed down the last point
A story that resonated with the buyers
If I am not mistaken the Ape high-level story read something like this:
The year is two thousand thirty everyone who aped into crypto is super-rich and extremely bored and wants to hang out with other like-minded apes.
Why do I think it worked?
Yeah, it’s not an amazingly well crafted or detailed story, nothing too complex there. But as long as I remember before no other project even bothered to tell a story apart from the story of “you will get rich quick”. So here at least we’ve got something.
But the important thing is that in this story the people they were targeting: the degens were the heroes of the story. The story was tapping into their strong dream and desire and it made them the hero who succeeded at the end. Also using the term “aping/ape” seemed to click.
More mints - more money
After the Bored Ape Yuga Labs dropped 2 more collections:
Bored Ape Kennel Club (airdropped to Ape holders)
Mutant Ape Yacht Club in Aug 2021
These 2 drops made Yuga Labs as well as the Bored Ape holders richer.
And now we are reaching the point where Yuga Labs and its collections grew massively!
The demand would not be so crazy and the floor prices would not skyrocket, if not the “heavyweight shilling army” that got involved: the celebrities.
Many “normies” saw a Bored Ape for the first time probably in January 2022 on the “The Tonight Show” episode from January 2022.
Who else was involved? Plenty of them!
It was a massive marketing campaign relying on Guy Oseary connections I presume. (Guy is the founder of the management firm Maverick, whose clients include Madonna, U2, etc. who worked with Yuga Labs).
All those celebrities started rocking their Apes and Mutants as PFP on their socials. As soon as they started promoting it the project became something else. The prices mooned and holding a Bored Ape became a status symbol.
I would also argue that it became the turning point for the community too: it became very diverse and lost part of its vibe and unity.
Essentially owning a Bored Ape became a flex.
ANON? Not Anymore!
Yuga Labs founders were anons and their identities were not public. Usually, for various reasons that’s what many prefer in this space.
But in February, 2022 BuzzFeed published an article revealing the identity of two of the four BAYC co-founders: Gordon Goner and Gorgamel.
The journalist and the media got a backlash from the community since they felt doxxing people against their will was unethical and some felt that it also compromised their safety.
But at least now people knew who were 2 out of 4 people who were responsible for making them rich…
or creating a Nazi brand?!
The accusations about Yuga Labs being Nazi and Racist started circulating around the end of 2021 already.
Ryder Ripps launched a website at https://gordongoner.com/ (getting the SEO juice) with all the concerns and details at the beginning of 2022.
Not many back then seem to have paid much attention to those. There were some discussions here and there but it did not gain massive traction (spoiler it will later on… but not just yet).
Hot Spring 2022
The Spring of 2022 was massive for Yuga Labs. It was packed with few huge events that resulted in positioning the company being the biggest and most powerful in the whole space.
On March 11, 2022 they acquired CryptoPunks and Meebits collections.
On March 16, 2022 it launched the token by an entity called ApeCoin DAO. ApeCoin DAO’s council members include Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, FTX’s Amy Wu, Sound Ventures’ Maaria Bajwa, Animoca’s Yat Siu and Horizen Labs’ Dean Steinbeck.
On March 22, 2022 they “sold their soul to the devil” (i.e. raised a $450 million seed round from Andreessen Horowitz, Animoca Brands, LionTree, Sound Ventures, Thrive Capital, FTX and MoonPay, etc. at a $4 billion valuation)
In May they raised $320M by selling virtual land plots in its Metaverse. A plot in the Otherside Metaverse for around $5,800, plus transaction fees.
I don’t know how you feel about it, but personally I can’t really understand why would one raise funds through VCs when they absolutely did not need to do so. Through all those mints and coin release they already made way more than “enough” - but I guess who cares about the community and why stop at “enough” if you can get $450M more. Why not do so, right?
Oh and once 2022 ended Yuga Labs’ NFT royalty income hit $100M +.
Anyway now let’s see what happens to a $ 4BLN company with so many resources and celebrity endorsements + huge plans of building a game and a Metaverse…
NFT NYC - Summer, 2022
Yuga Labs was the “hero” of the space at this point and the central spotlight at NFT NYC. They had organized a massive token gated Ape Party for their community with tons of celebrities and music performed by EMINEM, FUTURE, SNOOP DOGG & LCD SOUNDSYSTEM!
Remember about those accusations?
Well… they did not get traction back then… but the bomb was dropped during the NFT NYC days… and this time it exploded!
The Youtuber Philion published his video called BORED APE NAZI CLUB.
The video blew up (2M views so far) and even my “normie” friends were asking about it since they somehow stumbled upon it and watched it for the whole 1 hour…
It became the time when the whole NFT community was talking about this. The whole space was divided into 2 camps: those who believed and supported the accusations and those who were dismissing those.
The loudest voices among the first camp were Ryder Ripps and Pauly. And with the time they got massive support and community behind them. Those people were active on Twitter, loud and very passionate.
What did Yuga Labs do?
At first they ignored, then deny all the accusations saying those who spread the rumours are just trolls in few interviews (honestly with so much money, I’d expect them to have a much better PR team advising the team…).
Then they sued Ryder Ripps and Pauly in June 2022.
I keep thinking what would have happened if the Bored Ape community was united and very loyal. If they stood up for the brand and fought for it as passionately as the accusers… Would Yuga Labs still feel the need to go to the court?
Well we won’t know, since it did not happen.
By the way… did I tell what were they being sued for? The logical answer would be defamation, right? I mean, so many horrible things were told about the brand, their intentions, etc…?
But no - the court document states that it’s about something else…
Below is a quote from the document:
In response to the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s popularity, Defendant Ryder Ripps, a self-proclaimed “conceptual artist,” recently began trolling Yuga Labs and scamming consumers into purchasing RR/BAYC NFTs by misusing Yuga Labs’ trademarks. He seeks to devalue the Bored Ape NFTs by flooding the NFT market with his own copycat NFT collection using the original Bored Ape Yacht Club images and calling his NFTs “RR/BAYC” NFTs. Brazenly, he promotes and sells these RR/BAYC NFTs using the very same trademarks that Yuga Labs uses to promote and sell authentic Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs. He also markets these copycat NFTs as falsely equivalent to an authentic Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT. He then goes on to use Yuga Labs’ marks to promote his coming “Ape Market” NFT marketplace, which requires a person to purchase one of his infringing NFTs to join the Ape Market. This is no mere monkey business. It is a deliberate effort to harm Yuga Labs at the expense of consumers by sowing confusion about whether these RR/BAYC NFTs are in some way sponsored, affiliated, or connected to Yuga Labs’ official Bored Ape Yacht Club, in violation of the Lanham Act and related state law.
Note: I think the whole story of RR/BAYC deserves a whole separate story, so won’t go into that and let you do the research if you’d like. I’ll probably visit the topic at some point in this newsletter - but not in this story.
Ok, now let’s see where we are:
Yuga Labs did release a game after all…
Below is the trailer (I will leave it to your judgement)
although some claim it’s an exact copy of another game
Remember all those celebrities? Most of them are no longer using their Bored Apes or Mutants as PFPs.
CNN spoke to several former MoonPay (the concierge service helping celebrities buy their Apes) employees who said they were skeptical the celebrities paid for their NFTs, because there was no evidence on the blockchain.
Even more: the MoonPay and the celebrities have been sued
Looks like Ape coin is at ATL (all time low) now
The floor price of NFTs keeps dropping (to be fair though almost all collections have suffered from the bear market).
The SEC is investigating Yuga Labs for securities violations
Ape Fest this year will be in Hong Kong
During the past year Yuga Labs executive team has gone through massive changes and many have left the project
Only the time will tell what happens to Yuga Labs in the future. Many went too far to claim that if Bored Apes fail then the whole NFT space dies…
I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
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