CryptoPunks was launched in June of 2017 by Larva Labs. It was one of the first NFT collections on the Ethereum blockchain and is currently one of the most valuable brands in the NFT world. Meebits was also created by Larva Labs and, after launching in May of 2021, quickly joined the ranks of the world’s most prominent projects. Today, Yuga Labs, the creator of Bored Ape Yacht Club, announced that it had acquired both.
As a result, Yuga Labs now control three of the most valuable NFT collections in existence.
According to data obtained from OpenSea, which is the world’s largest NFT marketplace, more than $1 billion worth of BAYC NFTs have been traded to date. This makes the project the second-largest NFT collection of all time by trading volume. CryptoPunks comes in at $2.2 billion, and Meebits have traded around $227 million.
Ultimately, Yuga Labs says 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 will transfer IP, commercial, and exclusive licensing rights to the individual NFT holders. This will enable CryptoPunks and Meebits owners to create artwork and products based on their NFTs the same way BAYC owners have.
As part of the deal, Yuga Labs also received 423 CryptoPunks and 1711 Meebits. When asked what they plan to do with them, Gordon and Gargamel, the pseudonymous co-founders of Yuga Labs, said, “We’re not in a rush to do anything but give people their IP, see what they build, and listen.”
In a statement, Larva Labs co-founders Matt Hall and John Watkinson said they decided to move forward with the deal because of how well the BAYC brand is managed. Ultimately, they felt Yuga Labs would be better stewards of their projects going forward. “Yuga Labs are the best in the world at what they do, and are the ideal stewards of the CryptoPunks and Meebits. In their hands, we are confident that they will continue to be vital, thriving projects in the emerging decentralized web,” they said.
Hall and Watkinson may be correct. Recently, the duo has faced much backlash for the handling of CryptoPunks.
Specifically, Watkinson sold a number of V1 CryptoPunks, bringing in quite a lot of money from the sales. Then, only days later, his company denounced the very NFTs he had just sold and made money off of. This denouncement had the potential to cause the price of V1 Punks to plummet, creating a financial loss for everyone who bought them from Watkinson. Watkinson, meanwhile, kept all the money from his sales and would incur no losses from the drop in price, which was a drop that was caused by his own company.
What’s next for BAYC and CryptoPunks?
Nicole Muniz, CEO of Yuga Labs, attempted to quell any fears for current BAYC collectors. “We’re honored to take on the stewardship of these brands and the communities behind them, and are very excited to build alongside CryptoPunks and Meebits holders as we step into this new world. That said, we want to make it abundantly clear to Yuga’s existing community that the BAYC ecosystem will always stay at the center of our universe,” she said. Of course, it remains to be seen whether this will actually be the case.
Notably, the acquisition comes at a time when the NFT market is slowing down. Compared to last week, NFT sales have witnessed a fall of 29.46%, and the total trade volume has dropped from January’s whopping $4.3 billion to just $2.6 billion this month. However, the NFT landscape underwent massive growth in January. After such periods of intense growth, there are always downturns. So the recent slide isn’t necessarily a good indicator when it comes to the future of the NFT ecosystem.
That said, the BAYC team will need to figure out how to monetize its latest acquisitions. They get a cut each and every time a Bored Ape is resold. However, Larva Labs didn’t do that with CryptoPunks and Meebits. Yuga Labs says they don’t plan to change that, but they didn’t offer any statement indicating what they do plan to do with the collections.
But regardless of any future plans, one thing is clear now: This is the first sign of major consolidation in the NFT community. Yuga Labs is officially acting like a real company. Perhaps this will be a good thing?
This story is developing and will be updated.