Yuga Labs, the startup behind the mega-popular Bored Ape Yacht Club nonfungible token collection, has acquired the intellectual property of CryptoPunks — a pioneer in the NFT space — and Meebits from Larva Labs.
Financial terms weren’t disclosed. Through the pact, Yuga now owns the brands, copyright in the art, and other IP rights for both collections, along with 423 CryptoPunks and 1,711 Meebits NFTs. The acquisition shows the craze for NFTs, which use blockchain technology to verify ownership of digital goods, is still in full swing.
The deal “came about in a very organic way from conversations between our partner Guy Oseary and the Larva Labs founders,” Yuga Labs said in announcing the deal Friday. In October 2021, Oseary — the music industry vet and tech investor whose management clients include Madonna, U2 and Red Hot Chili Peppers — signed Bored Ape Yacht Club and its Yuga Labs for representation.
According to Yuga Labs, now that it owns the IP for CryptoPunks and Meebits, it will soon grant CryptoPunks and Meebits holders the same commercial rights that Bored Ape Yacht Club and Mutant Ape Yacht Club owners have. “We’re working with our legal teams to draft the new terms and conditions for both collections, and expect to share these with the community soon,” the company said. “By handing over these rights, we’re further aligning CryptoPunks and Meebits with the web3 ethos, and we expect a wide range of third-party developers and community creators to incorporate CryptoPunks and Meebits into their web3 projects.”
CryptoPunks, which first launched in 2017, were a key catalyst for the mania surrounding NFTs starting in early 2021. The CryptoPunks character NFTs (examples pictured above) consist of algorithmically generated, individually unique “misfits and eccentrics” in 8-bit-style pixel art.
To date, some $2.2 billion worth of CryptoPunks NFTs have been traded by fans and speculators, followed by more than $1 billion worth of the 10,000 Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, according to OpenSea, the world’s largest NFT marketplace. Meebits NFTs have traded around $227 million, per OpenSea.
“Yuga Labs are the innovators of the modern profile picture project, and the best in the world at operating these projects,” Larva Labs cofounders Matt Hall and John Watkinson said in a joint statement. “They are the ideal stewards of the CrytoPunks and Meebits. In their hands, we are confident that they will continue to be vital, thriving projects in the emerging decentralized web.”
Hall and Watkinson are not joining Yuga Labs; rather, the duo are going to continue running Larva Labs and “will keep doing what they do best: creating awesome projects that help shape the future of web3,” Yuga said.
Yuga said it does not plan to “shoehorn” the CryptoPunks and Meebits NFT collections into the club model it has developed for Bored Ape Yacht Club, under which it takes a cut of secondary NFT sales. “We view BAYC as the center of the universe we are building at Yuga, and CryptoPunks as a historic collection. While we will work to bring additional utility to both the CryptoPunks and Meebits collections, we intend to do so as thoughtful stewards. We’re not in a rush here. We’ll be listening to the community before we decide what comes next.”
“For us, NFTs have always been about culture,” Yuga continued. “Our vision has always been to build a community-owned brand that extends far beyond NFTs, and now we get to bring CryptoPunks and Meebits along for the ride.”
Meanwhile, Yuga Labs has been in talks with VC firm Andreessen Horowitz about a funding deal that would give the NFT operator a valuation of up to $5 billion, the FT reported last month.
Some big news to share today: Yuga has acquired the CryptoPunks and Meebits collections from @LarvaLabs, and the first thing we’re doing is giving full commercial rights to the NFT holders. Just like we did for BAYC and MAYC owners. pic.twitter.com/lAIKKvoEDj
— Yuga Labs (@yugalabs) March 11, 2022