Aping in: joining The Bored Ape Yacht Club

4th May 2021

Just when people were saying that the NFT collectibles market was grinding to a hault, along came the Bored Apes. Over the course of several days, Bored Apes Yacht Club has sold 10,000 NFTs and has grossed over 3,000 ETH and marks the second most liquid generative art collectible on Open Sea to date.  On April 18th, 2021, the Twitter account @Boredapeyachtclub began promoting a new collection of Cartoon Ape NFTs.  Similar to Cryptopunks, the company promoted the fact that each Ape was “unique and programmatically generated from 172 possible traits, stored as ERC721 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain” opening up for presales a few days later on April 23rd.

Though it took several days for the pieces to catch on, aside from the unique aesthetic collectors began to be drawn into the drop because of its unique membership ‘club benefits’:

“Your Bored Ape doubles as your Yacht Club membership card and grants access to members-only benefits, the first of which is access to THE BATHROOM, a collaborative graffiti board.” The Bathroom “contains a canvas accessible only to wallets containing at least one ape. Like any good dive bar bathroom, this is the place to draw, scrawl, or write expletives. Each ape-holder will be able to paint a pixel on the bathroom wall every fifteen minutes. Think of it as a collaborative art experiment for the crypto sphere. A members-only canvas for the discerning minds of crypto Twitter.” 

This is just one of the many examples of the unlockable content that come along with these particular NFTs.  Others include the ability to join a private “club,” access to exclusive drops, and (most significantly) the rights to use the images of the apes one buys commercially in perpetuity.  This is quite a rare offer in the NFT space and has been something that many artists have been drawn to, with NFT staples such as JR Artspace, Taylor Wtf, and many others pumping out several popular artistic remixes of their own apes over the past few days.

However the momentum really picked up between the 24th of April and culminating in May first when @Pranksy and @J1mmy.eth collectively bought over 250 apes.  From that moment alone, the Bored Ape Yacht Club went from 500 pieces minted to entirely sold out in less than 10 hours…

According to investor Mike Damazo: “It definitely went crazy when @Pranksy picked up 250 before secondary.  Then Farokh came in at the secondary market. “  From there, “someone tweeted at Gary V which led him to the discord. Then “3LAU held two giveaways in his discord group.” 3LAU doing this giveaway referenced one of his own earliest NFT related stunts.  Several years ago he famously gave away free NFTs at various music festivals by way of a QR code he would have physically with him on his personal cellphone.

But, celebrity associations aside, why did initial investors bite?  According to a conversation we had with @J1mmy.eth: “the pricing was fair and approachable and the narrative of the site and being a part of the club drew me in. The community has been great as the project has started to pick up steam!”  This low and consistent pricing was very important to the Bored Ape Yacht Club team, often cited as calling popular NFT pricing systems such as ‘bonding curves’ quite pointed names such as “Ponzi schemes.” But the incentive to buy went far beyond this. According to @J1mmy.eth: “bored apes make great personal profile pictures.” Jimmy also wished that the collection was “on-chain” but still insists that the apes that he bought “still captured my attention despite that deficiency.”

It seems as if the issue of the apes being minted on open sea, and not an “on-chain” platform, such as Rarible with integrated IPFS, or an equivalent.  Though the Bored Ape Yacht Club did include an IPFS certificate with each ape included in their unlockable content, this still wasn’t enough for many staunch collectors.  To quote an analysis on HackMD: “the company/entity minting is paying Google [for hosting] those server-less functions to service the actual JSON metadata.” Calling this a “huge single point of failure.”

Despite this, all Apes sold out in the primary market We asked @Pranksy about his monumental purchase of Apes and he also mentioned that “They were fairly priced, unlike recent projects using FOMO price curves, and the art for me passed the ‘profile picture’ test.” It is interesting how much collectors both resonated with the stable, and relatively low, initial price; as well as the ‘profile-picture-ability’ of the collection. Similar to Cruptopunks, Cryptokitties, Poklamons, or other popular collectables – most buyers, in the initial market at least, simply seemed drawn to to the Apes they liked the best aesthetically.  Wanting to use them as profile pictures, add them to virtual art galleries, and more. Because they were relatively cheap people could mint many multiples until they got the one they aesthetically liked the most or match their profile. On top of that buying into a club and the promise of all of the unlockable content, this seems to be a major driving factor in the minds of buyers.  However, it would be a shame not to analyse some of those cool features that was released throughout the sale.

Since all of the pieces are now in the secondary market, it’s also worth going through the Bored Ape team’s landmark incentives.  At 20% sold, they released “the Caged Apes tokens held back from the initial sale which [were] airdropped to random Apeholders.”  At 40% sold, BAYC launched “its own YouTube channel, BAYC LoFi Radio.”  At 60% sold, a “Member-Exclusive BAYC Merch Store got unlocked, featuring Limited Edition tees, hoodies, and other goodies.”  At 80% sold, “The clubhouse image [became] interactive and the ‘Mysterious Note’ [became] legible, beginning their treasure hunt.”  According to the Bored Ape Yacht Club team: “The first to solve the mystery will be rewarded 5 ETH and a Bored Ape.” At 90% sold, The Bored Ape team initiated their own liquidity pool.  And finally, when the collection sold out 100%, “The Mutant Ape (NFT Breeding) Arcade Machine gets fixed” thus allowing owners to “cook up new ways to ape with our friends.” At this point all of these incentives have been released, making the secondary market for these pieces quite volatile.

So what is the future of these apes? Well as of today (May 3rd, 2021), one of these Apes has been sold for an incredible 21 ETH ($69,080.76 USD).  According to Kevin Wu, This makes this ape sale on par with some low-priced Cryptopunks, a staple in the NFT collectable community.  Despite this momentous secondary sale, it seems as if things aren’t slowing down, with owners reporting bots constantly attempting to buy their apes!  It will be interesting to see how these collectables continue to grow in the coming days and weeks.

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