Last week brought news that rocked the NFT world: The SEC is investigating Bored Ape Yacht Club parent company Yuga Labs over potential securities violations for the sale of Bored Ape NFTs as well as ApeCoin tokens, according to Bloomberg, citing an anonymous source.
The news sent APE down more than 10% and has some legal experts saying SEC Chair Gary Gensler is 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 everything else that’s going on, that NFTs are getting looked at.”
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Solano, speaking on the latest episode of Decrypt’s gm podcast along with co-founder Wylie Aronow, continued, “Policymakers want to know more about Web3 across the board. It’s new, it’s uncharted waters. And at Yuga, we take our position as industry leaders seriously and we look forward to the opportunity to work with the rest of the industry and policymakers to help shape the ecosystem.”
Industry leaders, indeed. Bored Ape Yacht Club’s original series of monkey JPEGs 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 a lion’s share of the market cap of the top 100 NFTs.
BAYC: ‘A garage band that made it’
Along with the rise of BAYC and Yuga, Aronow and Solano have become Web3 celebrities—and are no longer pseudonymous, after a BuzzFeed article published their real names last February. At the time, crypto community members blasted it as unjust “doxxing.”
Reflecting on it now in their candid interview with Decrypt, Aronow and Solano (who now both display their real names on Twitter in addition to their crypto identities, Gordon Goner and Garga) practically shrug off the entire kerfuffle. So why was it treated by the Web3 community as such an outrage at the time?
“I think the journalists are the ones who blew that out of proportion more than anything else,” 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 long. I think we just kind of wanted to come out and reveal ourselves on our own terms. Of course, a journalist felt differently, that no one running a massive company should be allowed to be pseudonymous. And I guess that’s their prerogative.”
Both men cited the pleasure of being recognized and crowded by adoring Ape owners at ApeFest, the four-night party they threw for BAYC holders in June during NFT NYC; it drew thousands of attendees and performances from major artists.
“It really has been a blessing and a curse,” Aronow continued. “It was bound to happen eventually, we just hoped we’d be able to do it on our own terms.”
Since having their identities revealed, Aronow and Solano have still appeared on camera only a few times, something Aronow said is by design.
“I kind of view us as a garage band that made it,” he said. “And we’re still just trying to keep that authenticity. And frankly, I’m a little precious about it. We don’t do a lot of PR, we don’t do a ton of interviews, we’re pretty selective about that, just because, to me, that’s just a little bit too rock star.”
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