Opinion: How to Kill Your NFT Project, Larva Labs Edition

key takeaways

  • Larva Labs is the creator of the iconic CryptoPunks NFT collection.
  • The design studio also launched a collection called Meebits last year, raising $80 million in one day.
  • Larva Labs has taken a strong stance against CryptoPunks impersonators and recently took controversial action against V1 Punks born from the original CryptoPunks smart contract.

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The CryptoPunks community is getting more and more frustrated with Larva Labs. crypto reportChris Williams editor explains why.

How Larva Labs tarnishes its reputation

Over the past year, I’ve spent a lot of time cursing all the blue NFT tokens I missed (the crypto report team is well aware of this; I’ve talked about it enough in our daily calls.) Of all the things I couldn’t pull the trigger on, the one that disappointed me the most was CryptoPunks.—it was such an obvious exchange after that Beeple auction, so it really wasn’t a surprise when they looked at reasonable-size home prices during the summer of NFT.

But more recently, CryptoPunks have fallen out of favor, leaving me less salty about my miss. There are many reasons for the project’s fall from grace, including its community of occasional closed-minded snobs who were lucky to get to Ethereum early, and a certain collection of apes that caught the attention of Paris Hilton and Jimmy Fallon. But the main reason CryptoPunks has lost its crown is due to its creator, Larva Labs.

Punk #7610, owned by Visa (Source: Larval laboratories)

For those who don’t know, Larva Labs is a design studio made up of Matt Hall and John Watkinson. A pair of creatives who had previously worked on mobile apps and projects for companies like Android released the now-iconic 10,000-pixel Punk characters for free in June 2017, long before anyone had to deal with whitelisting or any other shenanigans. prior to minting. . Like other key crypto projects like Bitcoin and Yearn.Finance, the launch just played off the huge success of CryptoPunks. It was also very early; For the moment The New York Times Y TechCrunch were writing about NFTs in 2021, CryptoPunks were already historical artifacts. Christie’s and Sotheby’s auctioned them off, Jay-Z and Visa bought theirs, and, well, we all know what happened to floor prices after that.

But even as CryptoPunks cemented its place as a cultural gem, Larva Labs managed to tarnish its reputation on multiple occasions. Hall and Watkinson abandoned an uninspiring project called Meebits at the top of May and set up a Dutch auction starting at 2.5 ETH (about $8,000 at the time) knowing that the people who priced out Punks would buy the hype (to be fair, Punk owners could mint a free Meebit). They made $80 million in a day. Nothing has happened with Meebits since then, and the collection has underperformed all notable NFT avatar projects in terms of price.

They also signed a deal with Hollywood that would allow their NFTs to be used on the big screen. Although Punk holders applauded the move, it was a warning of things to come: Around the same time, the pair became more aggressive in issuing copyright takedown notices for the various Punk knockoffs that emerged on Ethereum and other blockchains.

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V1 Punk #6083 (Source: v1 punks)

More recently, Larva Labs has opposed v1 punks, a set of algorithmically generated punks that are almost indistinguishable from those in the main collection (unlike their more famous tokenized cousins, the V1 punks have a pink background). V1 Punks was born from the original buggy CryptoPunks smart contract, and although Larva Labs took them down in 2017, a community has since formed around them wrapping them as ERC-721 and acknowledging their OG status.

Larva Labs doesn’t like how V1 Punks has gained popularity as it apparently ruins the prestige of the main collection. how cobie summarized Well, this week, while Hall and Watkinson usually lag behind in any form of community building, they recently responded to the latest V1 Punks rally by throwing 210 ETH into the market and firing all their guns on copyright charges. In a Discord post, Hall said that he wants to prevent V1 Punks from using the CryptoPunks name or artwork. Interestingly, he then added that the 210 ETH would go to the Rainforest Foundation.

CryptoPunks dominate a floor around 69 ETH today; Obviously, I wish I had one. However, they are far from the most valuable NFT avatar out there these days. That title goes to Bored Ape Yacht Club, the celebrity-endorsed collection that saw a meteoric rise by embracing Web3 values. The team behind the project, Yuga Labs, gave its holders ownership of the lucrative copyright and airdrops, partnered with world powerhouses like Adidas, and will soon issue a token. As I pointed out the week after Bored Ape Yacht Club launched, perhaps Larva Labs could have learned something from them.

Don’t get me wrong: CryptoPunks will likely be of great historical importance, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the price of entry for a punk skyrocket in the future. But that’s assuming its creator doesn’t completely remove the project’s legacy first.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this feature owned ETH and several other cryptocurrencies. They also had exposure to YFI in a cryptocurrency index.

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