Bored Ape Yacht Club is a wildly popular collection of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, a status symbol coveted by celebrities, athletes and venture capitalists alike.
According to blockchain data tracker CryptoSlam, Bored Apes is already top 1 most valuable collection of NFTs, with $5,8 billion in all-time sales. They also granted early access to ApeCoin, a new digital currency.
ApeCoin was introduced on Thursday as a “airdrop,” a form of release in which select groups of cryptocurrency holders are automatically given tokens as a reward. 1 billion ApeCoins were dropped in this instance, with owners of Bored Ape NFTs in line to get a piece of the action.
The coin gives its holders control over a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, which is a crypto-native entity. The goal was to offer the Bored Ape community a say in developing web3, a decentralized, blockchain-powered vision of the internet coined by venture investors.
The Bored Ape DAO will use the blockchain to facilitate and record votes on community management decisions
However, when taken together, the ApeCoin and DAO have supplied yet more fuel for some of the most vehement objections of venture capitalists’ influence and power in this rapidly changing area.
The more tokens a DAO participant owns, the more control they have over the group’s governance. And some of the biggest ApeCoin recipients were venture capital investors that contributed with the launch, such as Andreessen Horowitz and Animoca Brands. A spokeswoman for Yuga Labs, the inventor of Bored Ape Yacht Club, confirmed to Bloomberg that they and other launch partners received a combined 14 percent, or 140 million tokens.
Despite the idea that ApeCoin DAO is intended to be decentralized, with no single organization in charge, these token holdings might give Andreessen Horowitz and Animoca significant authority over the group. People like Block CEO and Bitcoin enthusiast Jack Dorsey have chastised VCs for making moves like this.
On Twitter, he argued with Marc Andreessen and Chris Dixon of Andreessen Horowitz about VCs wielding too much control over web3, which Dorsey believed goes against blockchain’s ideas of supporting power distribution and decentralization. In order to dilute their influence, many venture capitalists, including Andreessen, delegate voting of their DAO stakes to organizations such as student clubs.
If Andreessen Horowitz and Animoca choose to sell their tokens and lessen their influence in ApeCoin DAO, they could also stand to make a tidy profit on something they received for free. ApeCoin’s price has fluctuated widely since Thursday and was at $14.36 as of Friday evening, an increase of 66% from the day before, according to CoinMarketCap. At this price, the amount of ApeCoin allocated to launch partners is equivalent to more than $2 billion.
The ApeCoin launch is just a small illustration of how VCs are some of the biggest winners from crypto’s rise, after having collectively poured $32.5 billion into the industry in 2021, according to Pitchbook. Even if Andreessen Horowitz does sell off its ApeCoins, it’s already had a hand in creating ApeCoin DAO.
The ApeCoin launch has other signs of a concentration of power. The four founders of Yuga Labs received a collective 8% of the ApeCoins released. As a company, Yuga Labs received 15% of the airdrop, equivalent to the total percentage given to owners of Bored Ape NFTs or Mutant Apes, which is part of a spin-off NFT collection. The Jane Goodall Legacy Foundation, a charity organization, received 1% of the launched coins. The ApeCoin DAO treasury received 47% of the drop.
The allocation also demonstrates Yuga Labs’ expanding prominence in the NFT space. Larva Labs’ intellectual property for the CryptoPunks and Meebits collections was purchased by the firm earlier this week. According to the Financial Times, Andreessen Horowitz is considering an investment in Yuga Labs that would value the company at $4 billion to $5 billion.
The ApeCoin DAO features a star-studded special council that will carry out the DAO’s decisions, which may or may not be compatible with crypto’s decentralized nature. It comprises prominent crypto figures such as Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, the creator of venture firm Seven Seven Six, and Amy Wu, the head of FTX’s venture arm.
The launch of ApeCoin — which had a trading volume of over $9.2 billion in the 24 hours ended Friday evening New York time, according to CoinMarketCap — could also spark some regulatory concerns as it bears similarities to a public debut on a stock exchange.
Aaron Brown, a crypto investor who writes for Bloomberg Opinion, said ApeCoin DAO is “a placeholder attempt to capture future potential business under the Bored Ape brand name.”
“It’s closer to a SPAC—money raised today for some possible business to be named later—without the legal protections around real SPACs,” he said. “The project is controlled by a small group of individuals.”
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