CryptoPunks are iconic in the crypto world, and the project has spurred countless imitators by popularizing tokenization NFT profile pictures. But with a new owner in the form of Bored Ape Yacht Club creator Yuga Labs, we’re starting to get an idea of how the new steward plans to expand the usefulness of the Ethereum NFT and drive the brand forward.
Yuga Labs Acquired CryptoPunks and Meebits properties of the original creator Larva Labs in March, as well as a large reserve of NFTs from both collections. In June, the company hired Noah Davis, who previously ran digital sales at auction house Christie’s and sold $69 million NFT from Beepleto oversee CryptoPunks’ future as its brand leader.
Davis said Decrypt that the opportunity was originally offered to him by Guy Oseary, the veteran music industry manager and former label executive who represents Yuga Labs. Oseary was vague about the position at first, but assured Davis it would be a worthwhile job. Once Davis heard all the details, he agreed.
“It’s an opportunity I couldn’t turn down,” Davis said. “It’s my dream job.”
He has spent the past few weeks meeting with CryptoPunks owners to discuss their feelings on the collection, which has generated dozens of NFT sales. at least $1 million each-and over $2.3 billion trading value to date, although it’s free to strike at launch in 2017.
Along with the acquisition in March, Yuga Labs also announced that the Web3 The startup will grant full commercialization rights to CryptoPunks holders, allowing them to create projects and derivative products based on their own works. This is what Yuga Labs is already offering Bored Ape Yacht Club owners, and it will also extend the rights to Meebits holders.
CryptoPunks owners will be granted these rights on August 15 when the IP license agreement is published. The end result is ultimately the same as the Bored Apes, Davis said, but there’s one key difference: While the Bored Apes’ commercial license is short and sweetthe CryptoPunks and Meebits license will apparently be a bit longer.
Although Yuga is not directly involved in the collaboration between @dt_chain, @TiffanyAndCo & @alexarnault, it’s a great example of the kind of things Punks owners will be able to do with the IP License Agreement, which we intend to release on 8/15. See 🧵 for license details. https://t.co/clS7XyfmT7
“We wanted to make sure that with the license we’re giving to punks, we expand into some of these newly defined gray areas,” Davis said, “by giving more protection where we can and more explicitly describing what that’s what the license does, and also what it doesn’t do.
Several NFT projects have struggled to navigate marketing rights grants over the past year, a process Davis describes as a “swirling shitshow for everyone.” He said there were key additions to the CryptoPunks license that are not present in the Bored Ape Yacht Club license – which Davis clarified will not be updated or extended to match the new Punks and Meebits terms. .
As with Bored Apes, licensing rights are tied to each individual NFT. But one of the “grey areas” described by the CryptoPunks license is that if a Punks owner sells their NFT, they can “continue to use and enjoy what they have already created and published.” per tweet from the official CryptoPunks Twitter account.
Asked for more details on how this specific model works, a representative from Yuga Labs said Decrypt to “refer to the full license when released on August 15”. Otherwise, Davis said the main limitations of the license are that punks cannot be used to create content that is hateful or for any illegal purpose. Otherwise, everything else is fair game for holders to create and profit from.
Davis said that while the brief Bored Apes license is “super punk rock,” he thinks legally it’s “better to be exhaustive” as Yuga Labs develops new commercial use licenses for its recently acquired properties.
Luxury jewelry brand Tiffany & Co’s recent fall of NFTiff is an example of what is possible with the new license. This launch allowed CryptoPunk holders to purchase one of 250 Ethereum NFTs for 30 ETH each (over $50,000 at launch) and then exchange it for a physical pendant based on the holder’s CryptoPunk image.
This was not an official Yuga Labs collaboration, the CryptoPunks account tweeted, but rather an initiative between Tiffany and infrastructure provider Web3 Chain, the latter company’s CEO. holds the record for most expensive Punk purchase. Davis described Tiffany’s downfall as “a great example” of how the Punks’ commercial rights can be leveraged for new projects.
Granting marketing rights holders finally addresses one of the main complaints from holders, as Larva Labs had previously dithered over whether or not to grant such rights. A prominent holder, the pseudonym 4156, finally sold his CryptoPunk (#4156) in December 2021 for more than $10 million worth of ETH following a dispute over intellectual property rights.
“CryptoPunks as Art”
Resolving this bubbling complaint is one part of Yuga’s CryptoPunks plan. Another, Davis said, is to provide opportunities to better connect the holder community, addressing another common gripe that Larva Labs had been too passive in the past.
“Community is utility,” Davis asserted, while acknowledging that “community” and “utility” are terms that are overused in the NFT space to the point of parody. However, he said he believed the statement to be true and that finding new ways to connect and engage holders was one of his top priorities.
“It’s pretty clear that CryptoPunks [holders]generally speaking, are some of the most talented builders, storytellers and creatives on Web3,” Davis said. Decrypt. “Amplifying the community is the most important thing for most punks.”
It remains to be seen, however, how Yuga Labs plans to turn CryptoPunks into a revenue-generating business. CryptoPunks has a 0% creator royalty, which means that Yuga does not currently receive any secondary sales discounts.
Yuga recently changed Meebits fee from 0% to 5% to fund future initiatives – a move that has received mixed reactions from the community – but there is no immediate indication that the same will apply to punks.
“I think right now the idea is not to focus on turning CryptoPunks into another golden goose, because there are already a few golden geese for Yuga,” Davis said. “In the long term, of course, it will be part of the agenda and perhaps the internal roadmap.”
Yuga’s purchase of the CryptoPunks IP also raises questions as to how it will fit into the startup’s broader Web3 ambitions, including the upcoming Ethereum Metaverse Game, Otherside. We’ve seen a punk before in the game’s trailer, but Davis said they struggle with questions about how punks fit into a Bored Ape-centric world.
“Punks were created in 2017, created a long time ago in the crypto age – decades in the crypto age,” he said. How they are ultimately represented in Otherside remains an “open question”, he added, and said he “aggregates the vibes” of the owners of Punks he speaks with.
There is significant cultural cachet for CryptoPunks among crypto enthusiasts, which could have other benefits for Yuga beyond commercial royalties and revenue-generating initiatives. CryptoPunks are not just some of the the most valuable NFTs ever soldbut they are increasingly iconic and have had a massive influence in the NFT space.
“Is it cool to own the Web3 cave paintings?” Davis said of CryptoPunks. “That’s an incredible weight, in and of itself.”
This philosophy, along with Davis’ own experience, suggests a path that Yuga Labs intends to pursue in the future: advocating for CryptoPunks as an important piece of modern art.
“For me, the goal is to really make sure people view CryptoPunks as art,” he explained, “and to establish that legacy as a work of art, as well. what an incredible use case for this new non-fungible token technology.”
CryptoPunks were auctioned before and to huge sumsand Davis himself helped facilitate the sale of a batch of nine CryptoPunks for almost 17 million dollars value of ETH at Christie’s in May 2021. But for Davis and Yuga Labs, the goal is less to generate sales at the best price than to ensure a wider appreciation of punks and their influence.
“You don’t get a lot of institutional recognition for CryptoPunks, seeing Punks in museum collections and on display in museums,” he said. “These public outreach opportunities are onboarding opportunities for decentralization and Web3 in general.”
“Certainly focusing on institutional weight is going to be important to me,” Davis added.
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