Four CryptoPunks Talk V1 Punks Controversy, Community & More

BY Keisha Oleaga

October 24, 2023

“I don’t think you can talk about NFTs without CryptoPunks,” shared Tony Herrera, CryptoPunks holder and community member.

Introduced in 2017, the 10,000 unique CryptoPunks stand as early NFT trailblazers on the Ethereum blockchain, inspiring the widespread ERC-721 standard for digital art and collectibles. Some could agree that it would be an understatement to say that the realm of NFTs would be markedly different without the guiding presence of CryptoPunks.

In the third episode of “Punks As Told By CryptoPunks,” a revealing new docuseries presented by CryptoPunks and nft now, we dive into a community roundtable featuring Tony Herrera, Beauty and the Punk, Raster Eyes, and Natalie Stone as they explore the history, values, and impact of the pioneering CryptoPunks project.

Discovering Punks

CryptoPunks represented a novel and audacious idea in an era characterized by rapid digital transformation. To those early adopters, owning a CryptoPunk signified membership in a pioneering movement. These early days echoed the spirit of intimate community and the thrill of participating in something avant-garde.

When discussing how each of them had come across the CryptoPunks, while some were brought on through platforms like Reddit or word of mouth, Herrera shared that the Mashable article from 2017 was how he initially came across the project.

Beauty and the Punk, one of the first female punk and ape holders, claimed one of the rare ones; at the time, she only had enough in her wallet to pay gas fees for it. She expressed how she knew or could “feel” that there was something unique about them, especially in the ones she chose specifically, when, at the time, “rarities” weren’t really a thing.

“It was just because it was fun. You had this matrix of all of them. I would look for numbers that I thought would be cool to have. You couldn’t just select anything. You couldn’t sort for anything. You just had to look for it. And looking through, you see that some colors pop out, and then you try to find them,” she shared.

“That’s what they call trying to find a needle in a haystack,” said Herrera as Beauty shared her process of claiming her Punks.

“That’s what they call, trying to find a needle in a haystack.”

Tony herrera

A Welcoming Community

Before spanning globally and experiencing the rapid growth CryptoPunks saw from its inception in 2017, the community was much smaller and intimate, with a Discord of about 20 to 100 people.

“We would call it Punks TV because it was like you would come in there and every day. It was like a new episode of Fox TV and just a very small core group of people that felt like kind of going down to your neighborhood cafe or bar and just hanging out with your buddies, but you didn’t have to leave your house,” shared Raster Eyes, one of the early CryptoPunks discord moderator.

“And then yeah, and then once things started really picking up, NFTs started getting a lot of attention. It just kind of felt like, you know, like suddenly the neighborhood Cafe got bought by Starbucks. And now it’s like the whole world in there.” Raster Eyes added.

“It just kind of felt like, you know, like suddenly the neighborhood Cafe got bought by Starbucks. And now it’s like the whole world in there.”

Raster eyes

The term “community” is examined, with the observation that it’s become a buzzword in the NFT sector and how authentic communities should form organically around shared interests. The conversation highlights the inclusivity and supportive nature of the punk community, which is seen as both a social circle and a valuable network.

“For me personally, the Punks community are some of the most generous and the most giving community,” shared Herrera. “It’s like it’s weird because I’ve done a deal with punks that just it’s just crazy. I mean, like, I’ve seen deals like Pranksy and Beanie where they traded a bunch of assets, and there was over a million dollars of assets being traded, and it was just being traded on trust,” he added.

“It’s builders and supporters, and we support each other,” shared Beauty, when highlighting that while the Punk’s community offers certain exclusive access to different people, there is also a strong powerhouse of kind individuals that support each other, and are a big factor behind the appeal of owning a Punk.

V1 vs. V2 CryptoPunks

The CryptoPunks project significantly evolved in its early days, notably between its V1 and V2 contract deployments. Initially, the V1 contract was introduced as a mechanism for users to claim CryptoPunks. However, due to an unforeseen bug, the project’s creators, Matt and John, were compelled to roll out a new V2 contract. They subsequently airdropped the tokens from this new contract to those claimed under the V1. This transition essentially rendered the V1 contract the claiming entity, while the V2 became the standard for all subsequent trading of CryptoPunks.

The dichotomy between V1 and V2 led to unforeseen controversy. Given that there are only 10,000 punks, the existence of both V1 and V2 created a conundrum over the legitimate ownership of a punk. When someone claimed to own a punk due to their possession of a V1 token, it clashed with the sentiment of those who had transacted and recognized their ownership through the V2 contract. This friction became pronounced as some V1 holders projected a sense of ownership or used the punks as their PFP, creating a perceived dual claim over a single entity. The situation was further complicated as some drew parallels between the redundant V1 tokens and old collectible coins, which still held inherent value while no longer functional as currency.

“I think the reason why it becomes so controversial is because there are only 10,000 punks, and there’s only supposed to be one owner for each, and so when you sell when someone owns a V1 token and say, ‘Oh, I own this punk,’ it kind of rubs the person that owns the punk or in the wrong way a little bit because they feel like they now have to kind of share ownership of that punk or, or someone else can kind of like claim ownership. Or use that punk. Is there PFP, and sort of claim a pseudo ownership of it? And so I think it creates a little bit of friction or a little bit of controversy there,” Raster Eyes shared.

“I don’t think you can talk about NFTs without CryptoPunks.”

Tony Herrera

Regardless of the controversy, the entire roundtable group ended with a positive note on the value and impact this project has had on their lives and the web3 space overall. The project’s true value is rooted in the community that rallied around it. It wasn’t necessarily centered around monetary value or hype but about a collective belief in a revolutionary concept, a shared vision realized through discussions on platforms like Discord and Twitter.

While CryptoPunks might not have been the absolute first, it certainly became the most significant. This fervent discourse and collaboration sparked imaginative possibilities and positioned CryptoPunks as a defining pillar in the world of NFTs.

Watch the full third episode here. Check back each week for new episodes exploring the project’s evolution and interviewing notable figures across the CryptoPunks community.

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