In what could be a culture-defining move, it was announced yesterday on March 11, 2022, that Yuga Labs, the creators of Bored Ape Yacht Club, acquired the IP of CryptoPunks and Meebits from Larva Labs.
The sale comes on the one year anniversary of the previously monumental sale of Beeple's The Everydays, which shook the NFT world last March.
With this acquisition, Yuga Labs now owns the brand, copyright, and IP rights for both collections. Effectively Yuga Labs now owns and controls three of the top six NFT collections by volume of all time.
What Does This Mean for CryptoPunks and Meebits?
Yuga Labs has announced that first and foremost they are working to grant CryptoPunk and Meebit holders the same commercial rights that Bored Ape Yacht Club and Mutant Ape Yacht Club owners already have.
This is a major milestone for CryptoPunk and Meebit holders, as this has been a source of frustration within those communities for some time. Larva Labs adopted the “NFT License” for CryptoPunks and Autoglyphs in 2019, this license did not transfer IP, copyright, or trademarks to Punk owners.
The license did however, grant holders the ability to use their Larva Labs NFTs for their own personal, non-commercial use with commercialization rights on merchandise for up to $100,000 a year. It is important to note, this was for physical merchandise and commercialization only. This license also prevented the ability to modify the NFT art or sell third-party products with a Larva Labs NFT on it.
Yuga Labs believes that they are “aligning CryptoPunks and Meebits with the Web3 ethos” by granting full commercial ownership to each collection.
At the time of their announcement, there are no current plans in the works outside of providing full commercial rights to CryptoPunks and Meebits.
The Larva Labs marketplaces will remain active for CryptoPunk and Meebit trading. Outside of the price speculation, for the time being not much has changed operationally for Punk or Meebit traders.
Yuga Labs is a believer in the culture of NFTs and the communities surrounding each NFT collection and plans to build a community-owned brand that extends beyond the NFT ecosystem, which now includes CryptoPunks and Meebits along with Bored Apes and Mutant Apes.
What Does This Mean for the NFT Space as a Whole?
This is the most notorious acquisition of an NFT collection or IP by another NFT-native business or organization that we have seen so far.
Early on in the days of Web2 the companies that grew to be the largest in the domain didn't just learn from the early companies, but they also acquired early and built on top. Larva Labs creation of CryptoPunks is an iconic NFT collection that helped moved NFTs to where they are positioned today and influenced how Yuga Labs ultimately created and built Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Yuga Labs took the framework built by Larva Labs to expand what a PFP project is in the NFT ecosystem and have been able to build the largest Web3 brand so far.
The CryptoPunks collection has long been known as one of the most historical NFT collections in the NFT space. But with the acquisition, there are many questions outstanding.
While the historical significance of CryptoPunks is still relevant, does the acquisition by Yuga Labs take away from the allure of owning a CryptoPunk?
Do Punks lose their provenance as the “premier” NFT with the acquisition?
These questions will be answered by the market in due time. One thing, however, is for sure, and it is that Yuga Labs is setting themselves up to be one of, if not the biggest, NFT conglomerates with the CryptoPunks and Meebits acquisition.
Speculation on the Future
There is a lot of speculation as to what the future holds for BAYC, MAYC, and now CryptoPunks and Meebits.
Yuga Labs has announced that their utility token, $APE, is already in the works and being created.
With CryptoPunks already having their own established marketplace with no royalty fees, will Yuga Labs look to build on that?
We may see Yuga Labs leveraging the CryptoPunk marketplace to create a Yuga Labs marketplace where Apes, Mutants, Dogs, Punks, and Meebits can be bought and sold royalty-free with $APE.
Or we could see them create a marketplace for their collections similar to LooksRare, where $APE holders are able to stake their $APE and receive royalties via $APE on all marketplace sales. Again, this is all speculation, but as we have been shown by Yuga Labs time and time again, nothing is out of the question and the sky's the limit.