Nicole Muniz, CEO of Yuga Labs, discusses BAYC and Web3

Laurie Segall, from D3 Network, interviewed Nicole Muniz, CEO of Yuga Labs, the company behind Bored Ape Yacht Club. They discussed NFT collections, BAYC and Web3. The original video will be available at the end of this post. 

About the Bored Ape Yacht Club phenomenon

I think what makes Bored Ape Yacht Club special is that it’s culture on the blockchain. And when most people think about Bored Ape Yacht Club they do think about NFTs and what’s cool about NFTs is that they are a truly unique technology

You can apply that to anything. You can apply that to how you buy a house, how you buy a car, but the proof of concept that has like broken through right when we’re thinking about culture and we’re thinking about what people think about they think about art. You can sort of think about Bored Ape Yacht Club as an experiment with like playing with kind of these three fundamental core ideas: identity, ownership and utility.

Identity, in a really simple way, it’s how you sort of see yourself and how you present online, so a lot of people use their Bored Apes as their profile pic on Twitter, it’s completely yours you can do whatever it is that you want with it, you can monetize it, you can create a brand out of it, you can create a band out of it, that’s going to happen soon. You can do anything you want, you know? You can partner with other people in the community and do things. And that’s important because it really empowers the community but it is also very much a tenant of Web 3.

On Why People Pay Hundreds of Thousands of Dollars for a Bored Ape

I think it goes back to culture, and community, and also momentum. I think some people really want to be on the edge of culture and really want to be part of the next innovative thing and experience and for some people, they’re willing to pay, they’re willing to pay for that.

On why the Bored Ape Yacht Club became a cultural phenomenon

It was a key to a club and that’s special, that’s different, because the idea was never “we’re gonna release this art and you own this art and that’s it. We’re gonna walk away”. The idea always was that “we’re going to release this art but this art is a key to the club”. So those people who aped in early, at 220 dollars, they were early members of this club. But as the club grew and it became something really incredible you get to see this interesting dynamic of people within the community. Last year at Ape Fest I saw this with my own eyes, (…) this teacher who aped into the community early and she’s like a really really active part of the community, and she was literally two inches away from Chris Rock.

On Bored Ape Yacht Club affordability for new users and owners

BAYC is just the beginning. We have Yuga Labs, the company, which has a very very big vision and we plan to do a lot of things and that means growing our community that means
growing the greater NFT community, really playing with even more fundamentals of web 3 and what we’re so excited about is that for the first time there’s technology, there’s protocols that allow you to take those values and literally put them into practice with the products that you make. We plan to build more of those roads, so that more people can kind of come on this journey with us.

On Bored Ape Yacht Club origin story

It was almost exactly a year ago. Garga, who’s one of the founders texted Gordon with “Hey let’s make an NFT”. So Gordon and Garga were both really into crypto, they were really active in the community, but they are writers, that’s their background, they are storytellers, they’re creatives. Crypto was this thing that they were fascinated by and they loved, but they were never able to actively participated, because it was technical yeah and they’re not technical. Then NFTs happened and everything was about the art behind it and the beauty and the story and the culture and that was a moment of an unlock where they were like “Oh my god, we can be a part of this now. We can contribute to this now. Because this is something that we can do”.

They just created this story and this world. Garga then texted Tomato, who is an engineer and Tomato texted Sass, who’s another engineer. While Gordon and Garga were building out all of the characters and the world and the story and the lore, Tomato and Sass were building everything out on blockchain and this incredible vision, this crazy story came to life.

On the identity of Bored Ape Yacht Club’s founders

My name is Nicole, and I go by Nicole, but I tip my hat to the community with Vstrange, it’s like a pseudonym that I use on Twitter and in Slack and in Discord because that’s how the community kind of walks through this world. (…) I believe and the company believes that identity is a personal choice. You should be able to walk through this world however it is that you want to walk through this world and there’s these arbitrary rules. It’s your real name at your real job and then later, online, you can be whoever you want to be it.

This has this like domino effect where it actually ends up giving you a more equitable footing with everyone, because now you’re not a woman, you’re not from a certain place, it’s not about where you went to school, it’s not about your ethnicity, it’s about what you think, what you do, it’s a way of saying “you can be whatever you want to be”, but it doesn’t have to be the thing that you were given, like your real name can be irrelevant. There’s this like misconception that because you use a pseudonym you’re not accountable and that’s not true. You have a reputation, I have a reputation, if you go and ask people that know you they know who you are. This community, this is who they are.

Our company is built on blockchain. That’s what we’re doing and blockchain is a digital receipt. If you want to know what we’re doing, you can see it. It’s transparent and what’s on blockchain is public. If you want to know how much of a creator’s fee we take on OpenSea, you can look, anybody can. So I would say that as a company we’re probably more open than most LLC’s in the United States right now. And that’s the other part of this we’re registered in the United States, we pay taxes just like everybody else, we’re completely open, we’re completely transparent and we’re also completely accountable to all of our actions.  

On What People Get Wrong About Bored Ape Yacht Club

I think there’s a misconception right now and part of it is because we’re early. You’ve seen those videos of journalists
saying “What is this internet?”, “What is this email?”. 

Web 1, the early days of the internet, it was read. So you, as a regular person, could now read emails, you could read websites, that’s what you did it. Was a very sort of passive interaction with the internet. And then with Web 2, you could write and what that means is that you can now post photos on Flickr, you can comment, you can blog, you can like things,
you post Youtube videos. That’s writing

And Web 3 means own and we’re really really at the beginning of it.

I’m going to talk about things that I can’t point to, I can’t say like “this company or this or that”, because they don’t exist yet, but the protocols exist, the technology exists, that will enable these things to happen. That you will be able to not only own your identity on the internet but you will be able to take it with you wherever you want. That interoperability, that decentralization. Let’s say when Yahoo bought Flickr, instead of
taking it and forcing people to log in with Yahoo, they just shut it off you would lose all of that content.

With Web3 that’s yours, you can take it with you wherever you want. You own that content.

On how big BAYC can be one day

I don’t know how big BAYC club can be. That’s not to say that I don’t imagine it to be big but I think, I hope that Yuga will be big. And that we will be able to create lots of things that are unique and special and speak to the greater community in different ways.

On if the next internet age will be better than the last

Yes. 100% yes. All in yes. Web 3 is the first time that these very academic concepts of ownership and interoperability and identity and decentralization… Web3 lets you actually take these things that are just very much for a specific type of brain and put them into practice and build products with it and put them in the hands of people and that is so unique, that is so special. And that literally didn’t exist before

Watch the full interview below: