Last week brought news that shook the NFT world: The SEC is investigating Bored Ape Yacht Club’s parent company, Yuga Labs, over potential securities violations for the sale of Bored Ape NFT as well as ApeCoin tokens, according to Bloomberg, citing an anonymous source.
The news sent APE down more than 10% and some legal experts said SEC Chairman Gary Gensler was clearly widening his regulatory net to include NFTs.
But if you ask Bored Ape Yacht Club co-founder Greg Solano, “It’s not that surprising, given all that’s going on, that NFTs are being scrutinized.”
Solano, talking about the latest episode of Decrypt‘s gm podcast with co-founder Wylie Aronow, continued, “Decision makers want to learn more about Web3 at every level. It’s new, it’s uncharted waters. And at Yuga, we take our position as industry leaders and we look forward to the opportunity to work with the rest of the industry and policy makers to help shape the ecosystem.”
Industry leaders, indeed. The original Bored Ape Yacht Club monkey JPEG series debuted in April 2021. Just a year and a half later, parent company Yuga Labs has a $4 billion valuation and also owns the rights to CryptoPunks and Meebits, and its NFTs account for the lion’s share of the market capitalization of the top 100 NFTs.
BAYC: “A successful garage band”
Along with the rise of BAYC and Yuga, Aronow and Solano have become Web3 celebrities and are no longer pseudonyms, after a BuzzFeed article published their real names last February. At the time, members of the crypto community called it unfair “doxxing”.
Thinking about it now in their candid interview with Decrypt, Aronow and Solano (both of whom now post their real names on Twitter in addition to their crypto identities, Gordon Goner and Garga) are virtually unaware of all the kerfuffle. So why was it treated by the Web3 community as such a scandal at the time?
“I think the journalists are the ones who exaggerated that more than anything,” Aronow replied. “The government knew who we were, our employers knew who we were, our partners knew who we were, we were in Zoom meetings showing our faces all day. I think we just wanted to come out and reveal ourselves. Okay Of course, one journalist thought differently, that no one at the head of a big company should be allowed to be pseudonymous, and I guess that’s their prerogative.
Both men cited the thrill of being recognized and crammed in by adoring Ape owners at ApeFest, the four-night party they threw for BAYC holders in June during NFT NYC; it attracted thousands of attendees and performances from major artists.
“It’s really been a blessing and a curse,” Aronow continued. “It had to happen eventually, we just hoped we would be able to do it on our own terms.”
Since their identities were revealed, Aronow and Solano have only appeared on camera a few times yet, which Aronow said is by design.
“I sort of look at us as a successful garage band,” he said. “And we always try to keep that authenticity. And frankly, I’m kind of precious about that. We don’t do a lot of PR, we don’t do a ton of interviews, we’re pretty selective about it, just because, to me, it’s just a little too rock star.”
Listen to the full gm podcast episode wherever you get your podcasts and be sure to subscribe.
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