“They created perceived value out of thin air”: How Yuga Labs became an NFT juggernaut

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About a year ago, two Miami literary brothers decided to start a business.

It was a few weeks after Beeple’s Every day sold for $69 million at Christie’s and NFTs took the art world by storm. Yet few could have guessed at the time that their small company, Yuga Labs, would produce a series of cartoon monkeys that would become one of the most successful and controversial characters in the NFT universe.

“It’s hard to justify that a Bored Ape NFT is worth $300,000 based on art. They are cartoon monkeys,” said crypto journalist Amy Castor. “They’re cute, you know, but are they worth that kind of money?”

For many people, including many celebrities, the answer is yes.

Today, Yuga Labs has over 60 employees and total revenue of over $2 billion. Over the past few weeks, it has been on a roll announcing new initiatives, from acquiring CryptoPunks and Meebits, arguably the other two most popular NFT series, to launching Apecoin, its own cryptocurrency. Larva Labs now hopes to create what is essentially a Marvel Universe out of all that intellectual property and make a lot of money along the way.

But Castor thinks Yuga Labs’ recent acquisitions run counter to the fundamentals touted by NFT evangelists.

“The general idea of ​​NFTs is that they’re supposed to be decentralized. It’s not supposed to be one company that controls the three most expensive NFT projects,” she said. collected out of thin air so they can then monetize that brand.”

His strategy suggests what the future of the NFT space might look like. But it’s unclear whether that future will benefit collectors and everyday NFT enthusiasts as much as it does big investors and founders of companies like Yuga Labs.

To unpack the wild and winding history of Yuga Labs and the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Editor Julia Halperin sat down with Amy Castor, who recently chronicled the rise of this phenomenon for Artnet News.

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