Yuga Labs, the company behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club, has purchased CryptoPunks and Meebits from Larva Labs. Meebits immediately joined the list of most valuable NFT collections after releasing last May, and CryptoPunks is one of the oldest and most valuable brands in the NFT market.
Yuga Labs intends to create a “community of builders” around the two projects to create derivative products. To do so, it wants to provide CryptoPunks and Meebits owners intellectual property and commercialization rights, letting people to develop works and goods based on their NFTs in the same manner as Bored Ape owners have.
“Everyone knows CryptoPunks, and everyone loves CryptoPunks,” says Greg Solano, a co-founder of the Bored Ape Yacht Club who goes by the alias Gargamel. “It’s just iconic, and it was much ahead of its time.” It’s forward-thinking, and it’ll be around for a long time. We were just ecstatic about it right away, even though we had no idea what the next step should be.”
The co-founders of Larva Labs, Matt Hall and John Watkinson, believe Yuga Labs will be a stronger steward of the projects in the future. Hall tells The Verge that the team started CryptoPunks in 2017 as a “kind of a digital art project.” “As a couple of software development experimentalists, we felt like we were getting less and less suited to this.”
As part of the purchase, Yuga Labs will acquire more than 400 CryptoPunks and 1,700 Meebits from Larva Labs. The transaction price was not disclosed by the corporation. Larva Labs will continue to work on new projects while remaining independent.
According to OpenSea, which rates the collection as the second-largest NFT collection of all time by trading volume, more than $1 billion worth of Bored Apes has been exchanged to date. Only CryptoPunks ($2.2 billion) comes close. According to OpenSea, Meebits have traded for roughly $227 million in volume.
The purchase comes as the NFT market has begun to cool. Following a strong increase in sales volume and value for much of last year, the market began to fall around the holidays and has yet to recover. NonFungible estimates that yesterday’s NFT sales totaled roughly 12,000 transactions for a total value of $30 million. Through August and September of last year, transaction totals were 10 times larger than they were a month ago; even a month ago, sales volumes and value were twice as high as they are now.
While Yuga Labs has become even more of a force in the NFT field as a result of today’s acquisition, its founders are looking beyond NFTs to see what’s next. The company has already hosted retail drops, a limited-edition mobile game, and a celebrity-filled party in Brooklyn.
“We see ourselves as having tentacles in all of those things: streetwear, events, gaming, NFTs, and so on,” adds Wylie Aronow, aka Gordon Goner, another co-founder of Bored Ape Yacht Club. “All that’s left is to figure out how to extend that benefit to these new IPs.”
The team will also have to work out how to monetize its new purchases, which were previously unprofitable for Larva Labs. Although Yuga Labs takes a portion every time a Bored Ape is resold, Larva Labs does not. Yuga Labs has no plans to change that, so they’ll have to come up with something else. Yuga Labs declined to comment on CryptoPunks and Meebits’ future ambitions. With CryptoPunks and Meebits, they don’t want to recreate Bored Ape’s “subscription club” model, according to Aronow.
Yuga Labs has also been quickly expanding. As of January, Yuga Labs employed 11 employees. The co-founders estimate that the number is now closer to 50. Andreessen Horowitz is said to be in talks with the company regarding a multi-million dollar investment at a valuation of around $5 billion. Yuga Labs did not respond to a request for comment on a potential investment.
The acquisition is significant for another reason: it may be the first evidence of the NFT industry becoming more professionalized and consolidated. Apart from the NBA’s Top Shot, the most of the large brands in the NFT space have been quirky ventures like Cool Cats and Pudgy Penguins, which appear to be run from Discord servers. Yuga Labs is beginning to behave like a genuine corporation, and like any company attempting to stake a place in a developing sector, it is looking to consolidate.
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