The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) is arguably the most influential NFT project in the world. For nearly a year, it remained second to CryptoPunks in the race for the world’s most successful collection. But as the start of 2022 came and went, the price of BAYC NFTs soared. Today, if you took all the NFTs in the collection and sold them, you’d make billions of dollars (they sell for about $200k each).
And now, the team behind the project is taking on Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta.
Ultimately, BAYC stands as a testament to how everything can change with just a couple of trades. In fact, if it weren’t for one specific NFT collector, BAYC might not even exist. But more on that later.
So…what is the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC)?
In short, the BAYC collection is an edition of 10,000 NFTs.
There are generally two kinds of NFTs. There are standalone pieces of art, which are called “1/1.” These are a little like paintings in real life in that only one exists. Beeple’s “Everydays” is an example of a 1/1 NFT.
Then there are “editions” like the Bored Apes. These collections can contain any number of NFTs and are more like collectible trading cards. To make large editions, creators typically turn to generative art — a process in which new variations are algorithmically generated by a computer program. Creators make a template and produce variations by mixing and matching specific traits. Each trait is typically ranked in terms of rarity, so some traits come up far less often than others.
For example, in the BAYC NFT collection, there are varying fur types, facial expressions, clothing, jewelry, and so on. Only 49 Bored Apes have a dagger in their mouth, 108 have cyborg eyes, and 115 have a cross earring.
And who created Bored Ape Yacht Club?
Any active member of the NFT community is sure to have seen PFP apes throughout the metaverse. And even people who aren’t active in NFTs have probably seen Bored Apes physically everywhere. But where did it all start? Well, as with most projects, a lot of time and effort went into BAYC. And as is true of most projects, things are a little complicated.
This story starts with a few friends who wanted to make something all their own.
The BAYC NFT collection was technically created by Yuga Labs. That’s the parent company of BAYC. The goal of Yuga Labs is, in effect, to build a media empire entirely centered around NFTs. Making the BAYC NFTs was the first step toward fulfilling this ambition.
That’s the basics of the company, but what about the people behind Yuga Labs?
The individuals who created Yuga Labs all used pseudonyms until two of the four founders were doxxed by BuzzFeed in a February 2022 article. They went by the names Gargamel, Gordon Goner, Emperor Tomato Ketchup, and Sass. After the February 2022 doxxing, all founders publicly stated their real identities via Twitter. Gargamel is Greg Solano, who is a writer and book critic. Gordon Gone is Wylie Aronow, a former student. Sass and Tomato Ketchup revealed that their real names are Zeshan and Kerem. Both of the latter are software engineers.
Prior to BAYC, Gargamel and Gordon Goner had been involved in crypto to a minor degree. Neither had experience innovating in the space, but they had been trading since 2017. Tomato and Sass were both a bit newer to NFTs and crypto. The four came together and created the company Yuga Labs, and then they launched BAYC through Yuga Labs.
And which founder created the actual art? Well, that’s a little complicated….in that none of the founders made the art.
The lead artist behind BAYC’s original collection is a woman who goes by “Seneca” or “All Seeing Seneca.” Other artists included Thomas Dagley, Migwashere, and a couple who chose to remain anonymous. Today, Seneca has dropped her own NFTs, and she is working to gain recognition for her work and contributions to Bored Apes.
In interviews, Seneca has stated that she’s not happy with the way she was compensated for her art or with the lack of acknowledgment she received. After her initial public statements, a debate started in the NFT community regarding the ways NFTs seem to be perpetuating many of the negative aspects of traditional art markets i.e., company founders profiting at the expense of artists.
Where did the idea for BAYC start?
Before the idea for BAYC was born, as the troop originally began conceptualizing an NFT project, they found that their ideas for “art” were more fitting for display on a bathroom wall than on a traditional canvas. And running with that idea, they realized that they wanted that bathroom to be inside a bar, but an exclusive bar, one accessible only to members of a club. And thus, the idea of a Yacht Club was born.
From there, they decided that the club would be inhabited by the Apes of the future. Specifically, those that “aped” into (jumped into) crypto and NFTs. Years from now, the apes find themselves bored, spending most of their time sitting around at a bar with their friends. That basis was good enough for the founders to roll with.
They reportedly drained their savings into the project. Then, with traits decided, art secured, and minting contract written — the team at Yuga Labs set to launch the Bored Ape Yacht Club. It began on April 23, 2021. Priced for fair distribution at .08 ETH per ape (about $190 at the time), things started out slow at first.
By April 30, sales still had yet to take off. Then, popular NFT trader Pranksy bought a lot of apes. He tweeted about it to his large following. And with those few tweets, everything changed. BAYC sold out 12 hours later.
Notably, the BAYC team said in interviews that they didn’t communicate with Pranksy ahead of the sale. Over the next month, one significant thing started to happen: Ape secondary sales began to pick up fast.
Why is Bored Ape Yacht Club so expensive?
As mentioned, Bored Apes are a little like trading cards. And exclusive trading cards can get very expensive. Would everyone be willing to pay money for them? No. But you don’t necessarily need a lot of people. You just need enough of the right people.
Remember, the initial sale was largely driven by tweets from one popular collector. In the months following, Jimmy Fallon bought BAYC #599. Eminem bought BAYC #9055. Timbaland? Ape #590. The Chainsmokers? #7691. And there are dozens of other stars who bought in, like Paris Hilton.
But what drove those first popular NFT traders to buy if there was no prior communication? They say one of the main reasons they bought the NFTs is the utility of the NFTs. An NFT’s utility can be things like access to future events, merchandise, or any number of other things. Part of what the BAYC founding team did right was making the utility clear from the start. Subsequently, they kept their community interested — and individuals interested in buying their NFTs vis secondary sales — by continually offering more perks.
All of this has functioned to increase the cost of theBored Ape NFTs.
BAYC utility: What does BAYC offer its community
At this point, you’ve probably guessed that there’s a lot more to BAYC than just NFTs. And you’re right. The Bored Ape Yacht Club is a club. At least, that’s what the creators are trying their very best to make it feel like. And the hangout spot for this club? The Bored Ape Discord.
At this point, the only way to join this “exclusive” club is to purchase a Bored Ape via secondary sales. Although enrollment started out low, the ape floor is now usually sitting at over 100 ETH, which is just shy of $300,000. Yet, members of the club themselves won’t hesitate to advise you that buying a Bored Ape NFT at the floor (the lowest amount of money you can spend to buy an NFT) is always worth the money, as the perks of joining outweigh the loss of ETH. And by “perks” we mean financial gains.
Thus far, the BAYC community has received quite a few rather pricey member rewards:
- Members have the commercial usage rights to their apes. Meaning they can make and sell prints, T-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.
- BAYC also released their own merch, which was exclusive to Bored Ape NFT owners. This required members to sign in using their ETH wallet to verify ownership prior to purchase.
- A new project called the Bored Ape Kennel Club (BAKC) was launched, and the entire supply of NFTs was airdropped exclusively to Bored Ape owners. 1 Ape = 1 Dog. The floor of BAKC almost immediately surpassed 1 ETH (over $2,000) on the secondary sales market.
- The Mutant Ape Yacht Club was also originally a member exclusive NFT collection that opened up to the public after a waiting period.
- BAYC members have a say in where the project’s funds go. As a bonus, these community initiatives have donated millions to various charities.
- Recent roadmap updates have announced even more members-only utility, including a scavenger hunt, BAYC project narrative updates, games, and more on the horizon.
Beyond the incentives, the BAYC feels exactly like the developers intended, according to the members. This is because the exclusivity is rewarding to those who made the decision to buy an NFT and join the crew.
NFTs, in general, have allowed those from all walks of life to be a part of one of the latest innovations in tech, culture, and finance. And BAYC is truly indicative of that. That doesn’t mean that there are no downsides or controversies related (like how they buy competitors and have venture capitalists on their Board of Directors), but it does mean that the Yuga Labs team has stuck by what they laid out in their roadmap.
In March of 2022, Yuga Labs announced it had acquired both CryptoPunks and Meebits. As a result, Yuga Labs now controls three of the most valuable NFT collections in existence.
Yuga Labs says that, with the acquisition, they aim to foster a “community of builders” creating derivative works around the two projects. To accomplish this, as they’ve done with their own BAYC collection, Yuga Labs stated that they will transfer intellectual property (IP), commercial, and exclusive licensing rights to the individual NFT holders of CryptoPunks and Meebits. This will enable CryptoPunks and Meebits owners to create artwork and products based on their NFTs the same way BAYC owners have.
This was the first sign of major consolidation in the NFT community — of major NFT creators buying out their competition. It remains uncertain exactly what this means for the NFT community and whether such acquisitions will ultimately be a good or bad thing.
What is the $APE token?
March 2022 was a big month for Yuga Labs. Just days after the announcement that they’d acquired CryptoPunks and Meebits, they announced the launch of a new token, ApeCoin ($APE). ApeCoin is billed as a “token for culture, gaming, and commerce used to empower a decentralized community building at the forefront of web3.”
Specifically, the $APE will serve as a token to govern the future of the Bored Ape community.
Notably, the token wasn’t created just by BAYC (though the founders are involved). Technically, ApeCoinDAO is the creator of ApeCoin. The problem? $APE seems to be replicating a lot of the problems that members of the NFT community decry in traditional capitalism: Venture capitalists and centralization.
Usually, those who have more tokens have more sway in a DAO’s governance. Andreessen Horowitz and Animoca Brands were two of the biggest recipients of ApeCoins, as they invested in Yuga Labs. A spokesperson for Yuga Labs confirmed that they and other launch partners received a collective total of 14% (140 million tokens). That’s the same amount that the entire BAYC community received, which is comprised of tens of thousands of individuals. No matter how you feel about it, one has to admit that it does seem like a bit of a loss when it comes to decentralization, which is a central tenet of the NFT community.
However, Yuga Labs failed to comment on this in their announcements. “The community’s been wanting ApeCoin for a long time now, so we’re excited to see it come to life through community ownership,” Nicole Muniz, CEO of Yuga Labs, said in a statement. “Yuga Labs will continue to be builders of products and experiences that bring new ideas and energy to the community.”
But of course, it must be noted that only the future will tell how all of this plays out. So perhaps we shouldn’t ring the alarm bells too early?
The future of BAYC
The Bored Ape community is still a dynamic, high-spirited space — with a roadmap centered on providing continuous utility to its members. It’s true that time moves incredibly fast in the NFT space, so the question in the air is “what’s next?”
For starters, numerous Bored Ape owners have had the opportunity to sell their apes for a profit. And this is potentially life-changing money we’re talking about. The highest selling BAYC NFT of all time, Ape #8817, raked in $3,408,000 at a Sotheby’s Metaverse auction in October 2021. The Ape sports a wool turtleneck, rainbow spinner hat, and silver hoop earrings. In the coming months, we will likely see Bored Apes go for even more.
The company is also making a lot of money. Yuga Labs completed their $450 million funding round led by silicon valley investor Andreessen Horowitz in March of 2022. And they plan to spend a lot of that money. To begin with, the team is working on a virtual world called “Otherside.” Otherside is ultimately the largest expansion of the Bored Ape NFT universe we’ve ever seen. The MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game) launched with a virtual land sale, and the team is currently working on building out the universe. You can learn more about the Otherside project and get the latest updates in our guide.
The team also plans to continue to expand into more merchandise, events, and even movies.
So, it looks like Yuga Labs is on the fast track to realizing their ambition of making a media empire centered around NFTs. With both Meebits and CyrptoPunks now owned by Yuga Labs, we’re excited to see what’s next. And we truly hope they live up to the initial community-focused precedents that they set.