Yuga Labs, the company behind the most valuable NFT collection, Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), has acquired the right to the intellectual property (IP) of two other highly popular NFT collections, CryptoPunks and Meebits, from Larva Labs. Along with the acquisition of the IP, Yuga Labs also now owns 400+ CryptoPunks and 1,700+ Meebits.
For those not interested in the NFT space, this may seem like a nothing-burger, but the truth is we may look back at this as a pivotal moment in the history of NFTs. We’ll take a look at why, but first, some history…
Let’s Take A Step Back
In 2017, Larva Labs created and launched CryptoPunks, a set of 10,000 NFTs that have gone on to become some of the most popular in existence. So much so that a bundle of CryptoPunks were sold at Christie’s for $17 million in 2021.
The only problem with CryptoPunks was that NFT owners had limited commercial rights to the IP. Over the years the owners of Punks continually believed that Larva Labs would eventually give them the rights, but that went out the window when Larva Labs launched Meebits in 2021. Simply, Meebits (and presumably Punks) holders were only allowed to create physical goods (like t-shirts; nothing digital) and sell them for up to $100,000 per year. Not bad, but nothing special for people who are already spending millions of dollars on the NFTs.
How BAYC Differs
After watching the CryptoPunks saga, Yuga Labs famously launched BAYC a little differently by giving holders an unlimited worldwide commercial license.
Yes, there was also an interesting nuance between both business models. Larva Labs did not have any royalties on the future sales of their NFTs, but held back a percentage of each on launch (10% of Punks for example). Yuga Labs, on the other hand, doesn’t hold back a percentage on any Apes but the company does get royalties on all future sales. This means that Yuga Labs would be able to generate revenue as long as people continued to buy and sell Apes. Conversely, Larva Labs only made revenue by selling their NFTs directly into the market. In other words, Larva Labs would eventually run out of revenue on specific collections.
Back To The Acquisition
With Yuga Labs now acquiring the rights to CryptoPunks and Meebits, they announced, “the first thing we’re doing is giving full commercial rights to the NFT holders.”
This move quickly opens up the ability for Punks or Meebits holders to begin using these NFTs in Web3 projects and discover new ways to monetize what they previously could not.
What Would This Look Like?
We don’t know, but Apes holders have famously capitalized on the NFTs by engaging brands and celebrities to launch various Bored Ape-branded enterprises, including an Arizona Iced Tea ad campaign and a Gorillaz-inspired “metaverse band” from Universal Music Group. With Punk holders including Serena Williams, Jay Z, and other celebrities, we expect to see some interesting enterprises.
Let’s Talk Money
Last month, Yuga Labs was reportedly in funding talks with A16z at a $5 billion valuation. But now that they own the 1st and 2nd largest NFT collections, that valuation may be conservative.
What It Might Mean For The NFT Ecosystem
While prices for top-tier collections like BAYC and CryptoPunks remain high, the overall market of NFTs has been soft with trade volumes, transactions, and accounts all down significantly. Perhaps this acquisition though is just what the market needs.