March 25, 2022
Yuga Labs, creator of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, has raised $450 million in a seed round led by Andreessen Horowitz, which has been bullish on crypto and Web3, investing in blockchain firm Solana Labs, game developer Sky Mavis and NFT marketplace OpenSea. Yuga has been busy, too, acquiring Larva Labs’ CryptoPunks collection of uniquely generated characters and Meebits library of collectible 3D characters. Collectively, Bored Apes and CryptoPunks are estimated to be worth about $3.6 billion at current prices. The funding round — which includes investments by Samsung and Google Ventures — gives Yuga what it says is a $4 billion valuation.
While the price for CryptoPunks and Meebits wasn’t disclosed, the deal put “three of the most lucrative NFT collections under one roof — and gave Yuga Labs a bigger roster of IP to pull from when crafting its game and metaverse plans,” says The Verge.
Yuga Labs was formed in 2021, the year the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection of 10,000 cartoon primates designed as profile pictures were minted on the Ethereum blockchain and offered for sale on OpenSea. In April, priced at $190 each, the collection sold out in about 12 hours. The images have been sold many times over, and CNET writes that “the cheapest Bored Ape currently listed” is $300,000.
By October, Yuga Labs and creators Wylie Aronow and Greg Solano were represented by tech investor and music industry veteran Guy Oseary, reports Variety. The signing came on the heels of a $24.4 million sale of a collection of “101 Bored Ape Yacht Club” images at Sotheby’s New York.
“Using a Bored Ape as a profile picture is essentially the crypto equivalent of popping on a Rolex for an important meeting,” writes CNET, noting that CryptoPunks, CyberKongz and World of Women also “have become status symbols.”
In December, Adidas announced the Bored Apes were part of its metaverse strategy in a Vogue Business interview, demonstrating just how chic the slacker simians had become. Adidas is listed among the 36 seed investors in a deal tweet, as is Genies — the avatar startup that last week added Bob Iger to its board.
Yuga Labs calls its metaverse Otherside, described as an MMORPG that connects various NFT worlds. Yuga hopes to create “‘an interoperable world’ that is ‘gamified’ and ‘completely decentralized,’” Aronow told The Verge, which reports the company “launched a cryptocurrency, ApeCoin, last week; the token will be governed independently and used as the primary currency in Yuga Labs’ properties.”