Two Years of BAYC
A look back and what's next
Two years ago, I hastily loaded up my new Metamask wallet with 0.08 ETH for the first time and minted a non-Top Shot NFT.
I got a cartoon monkey picture in return. I thought mine was ugly. There goes ~$200, I guess.
It’s been two years since that fateful evening, and the universe of Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and Yuga Labs has grown into the multi-billions, first dominating the bull market and then finding their place in the bear through gaming.
Here’s how they got to where they are today (with some of my anecdotes mixed in), and what challenges lie ahead for BAYC.
Note: I no longer own any apes, as I sold mine in October 2022.
The founders of BAYC were four friends that live in Miami (and still do). The idea of the project was to portray early investors in crypto who “aped” in crypto and were now bored, living in a fictional swamp in 2031. The art was done by All Seeing Seneca.
The wildest part of all of this is that BAYC had a presale that nobody even really cared about. It was probably when Pranksy bought a ton of them during the public sale that they caught the attention of people on NFT-focused Discord servers, and sold out quickly after that.
Those who had a BAYC could enter “The Bathroom” on the website, and write one pixel of graffiti art on the digital wall. It was all just kind of fun and stupid. But apes set the bar for other PFP projects in many ways, by allowing holders full rights to the IP, and being a “membership token” into an exclusive club.
I went to a BAYC meetup in Venice at Bright Moments gallery in July 2021, and the first official ApeFest was later that November. Community events started happening around the world, as ape holders met up more IRL. That was just the beginning.
BULL MARKET DOMINATION
BAYC launched during a time when every NFT was “number go up.” For holders, BAYC has delivered a Bored Ape Kennel Club, a Mutant Ape serum, Otherside land, ApeCoin, Sewer Passes, and more. The cumulative value of these at the top added up to hundreds of ETH. The team released so many products in 2022, and the hits just kept on coming.
Of course, not everyone sold the top (wouldn’t that be nice?). Now, Bored Apes are down to 45 ETH from an all-time high of 152 ETH. Everything is down, but PFPs are seeing the brunt of the floor erosion lately.
BAYC Floor Price in ETH over time
Many who have held from the beginning are emotionally attached to their apes, or they have built businesses around their IP. Some holders are staking them to passively earn ApeCoin, even though this is technically not allowed in the US. But it is currently the biggest financial benefit to holding.
During the bull market, celebrities like Justin Bieber, Madonna, Eminem and Steph Curry all showcased their apes on social media. But looking back now, that may have just been a moment in time.
Otherside’s (Yuga Labs’ metaverse) initial land sale was a calamity of epic proportions. I was truly drinking all the Kool-Aid about this mint in 2022. We were all strategizing days ahead of time, and I had my $APE all ready. I gassed up to a wild amount and still wasn't able to mint mine (though they later refunded it).
Since that $310 million land sale, Otherside has done about a billion dollars in secondary sales. It’s by far the largest metaverse by sales volume. They recently migrated the contract for Otherdeeds, likely to enable future utility and enforce royalties.
The First and Second Trips to the Otherside allowed players to experience the metaverse in an early format. Players were impressed as over 7,000 of them explored the lands simultaneously with minimal lag. I’m not even a gamer, and it was a pretty fun thing to experience.
Otherside is an online world where Yuga’s own official content can coexist with the creations of potentially tens of thousands of players and digital land owners.
Yuga has said that if all goes to plan, they could be on track to open up the world to other builders by the end of this year. Metaverse land prices have truly fallen off the face of the earth, but they’re still out there building for this vision.
Otherside Second Trip
THE GAMING META
The first foray into gaming for BAYC was the Apes vs. Mutants mobile game in February 2022. Plus, we played some fun casino games in Decentraland on that riverboat. But when Dookey Dash came on the scene in February 2023, it temporarily destroyed productivity in all of web3.
Sewer Pass NFTs allowed players to play the game and have their score etched on the blockchain for eternity. The game used ApeCoin to power in-game boosts, bringing in a total of $2.2 million in ApeCoin alone.
Traditional gamers went after the elusive 1-of-1 Dookey Dash key for the first-place winner. The winner of the key was a gamer known as Mongraal. He ended up selling the key to entrepreneur Adam Weitsman for $1.6 million, which was the third-largest e-sports purse of all time.
This is just the beginning for Yuga Labs in the gaming world. They have already hired gaming executives like:
CEO: Ex-Activision president, Daniel Alegre
CTO: Ex-Riot Games and Epic Games CTO, Mike Seavers
CGO: Ex-Scopely and GREE president, Spencer Tucker
APES ON LAYAWAY
Apes and Mutants have done well on NFT lending sites for people looking to keep their ape and use it as collateral instead of selling it outright. Now, Blur Blend has launched buy now pay later for Mutants, and borrowing for Apes.
If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. It’s one way for new holders to be able to afford Mutants, which can now be bought with just 1 ETH down. But these buyers won’t be able to stake or get most utility from the apes unless they buy them completely.
The BAYC Roadmap 2.0 is still very much alive and well, even though most other roadmaps are ancient relics of 2021.
The Yuga Labs team has faced many obstacles thus far, including the Ryder Ripps lawsuit, addressing cofounder Wylie’s Aronow’s tragic health issues, and having to surpass the highest expectations of any project in the space in a brutal market.
They also now have a seemingly never-ending list of partnerships, including ones with celebrities and luxury brands.
Yuga Labs’ latest collection HV-MTL was revealed this week, with a weak reception by the market overall. Some BAYC OGs are concerned that they’re spreading themselves too thin. Can Apes survive as the king of PFPs in this new post-royalties world?
Roadmap 2.0 remains.
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