Kevin Rose Catches Flak For Bored Apes Comparison
Much-hyped Moonbirds Are Down 95% After Peaking A Week After Launch
By: yyctrader •NFT News
Proof Collective founder Kevin Rose had the NFT community shaking its head after suggesting that Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) holders who bought at peak prices are worse off “dollar for dollar” than Moonbirds.
Rose made the controversial claim during a well-attended Twitter Space on May 29 while attempting to assuage community concerns about Proof and Moonbirds’ future direction.
Many Ape holders were quick to point out that Bored Apes are still trading at over 500 times their mint price while Moonbirds have cratered below theirs.
“Do I need to remind you we got 100k apecoin drop, otherdeeds, dookie dash pass, not including mutants and doggos. Moonbirds got socks and fanny packs,” tweeted Erick, a well-known NFT trader and BAYC holder.
“When the only thing a founder does to justify their lack of action/delivery is try to pit communities against each other, it's time to run,” said Angel Clark, another prominent collector.
Some prominent voices stepped up to defend Rose, however, denouncing the crypto community’s tendency to engage in witch hunts whenever prices go down.
“I haven't been following the dev of Moonbirds at all… but I will say that Kevin Rose did A LOT to bring attention to the NFT space as it was growing (far beyond his projects),” wrote DCinvestor.
While the bear market in digital assets has seen many ‘blue chip’ collections flounder, Moonbirds have suffered more than most, dropping 95% from their April 2022 highs. Rose cited market conditions as the primary reason for the soured sentiment around the project.
But is that just a blanket excuse for some grave missteps? The Defiant spoke to some current and former community members to find out.
Moonbirds launched in April 2022 at the peak of bull market euphoria.
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It was a glorious time. Ether was still trading above $3,000, Bored Apes had just surpassed a 100 ETH floor leading into the Otherside mint, and collections like Azuki, CloneX and Doodles were going parabolic.
Rose had previously launched the Proof Collective, a “private members-only collective of 1,000 dedicated NFT collectors and artists,” in December 2021 with Justin Mezell and Ryan Carson. Prominent members included Beeple and VeeFriends creator Gary Vaynerchuk. Proof pass holders were eligible to claim two free Moonbirds apiece, which briefly sent the price of the passes soaring above 100 ETH.
Tens of thousands of people signed up for the chance to mint one of the pixelated owls for 2.5 ETH ($7,500 at the time), and the launch was a resounding success, raising an eyewatering $70M.
Fueled by endorsements from celebrities and influencers, the collection rocketed to a floor price of nearly 40 ETH ($120,000) within a week.
The Proof team members were hailed as Web3 wunderkinds, and Moonbirds soon drew comparisons to Bored Apes and CryptoPunks.
Little did we know that the $40B Terra ecosystem would collapse within weeks, taking down Three Arrows Capital and sending markets into a tailspin. A month later, ETH was trading under $1,000.
An early Proof investor, who exited the ecosystem near the peak, told The Defiant that there were warning signs from day one.
“If you went to a few of the town hall spaces that they held, it was very clear that they were riding bull market momentum and didn't have a direction for what they were building. Everything was very, very hand-wavy. I think after 2 or 3 town hall calls of hand-waving, I knew it was time to get out,” they said.
While the collector wishes to remain anonymous, The Defiant verified their on-chain transaction history.
Proof COO Ryan Carson didn’t do the project any favours when it came to light that he had purchased over 200 ETH worth of rare Moonbirds, allegedly front-running the community.
“One of the initial warning signs was that the team seemed a little out of sync. Ryan Carson pumping his investor fund and talking floor price were the initial causes of fud,” nopointinnames, a Moonbird holder since mint, told The Defiant.
Infamous Fanny Packs
Soon after launch, Moonbirds launched a nesting feature that required holders to lock up their NFTs to earn rewards.
It was touted as one of the key benefits, and although the rewards hadn’t been disclosed yet, many speculated that they could take the form of airdropped NFTs or tokens like BAYC had done.
Holders were underwhelmed by the rewards, which included socks and fanny packs. Many questioned why a project that had raised $70M couldn’t deliver more value to its community.
“Minters contributed an insane amount of capital, and it really should have been deployed in creating new and unique value adds to web3,” said nopointinnames.
A secondary collection called Oddities was released to mixed reviews.
“The built-up anticipation that led to the nesting rewards was deceiving since it wasn’t properly communicated that there was no ‘value.’ That fuelled a constant fud vector that continued on to Oddities etc,” AzOgZ, another collector who has been there since the beginning, told The Defiant.
Just as creator royalties have dominated headlines this year, NFT licensing had become a hot topic towards the end of last summer.
Influential projects like Nouns were flying high, and many thought leaders were promoting the benefits of Creative Commons (CC0) licenses, which essentially place covered content in the public domain. Venture capital behemoth a16z even released six new ‘Can’t be Evil’ NFT licenses.
Against this backdrop, the Proof team announced that Moonbirds would be moving to a CC0 public license along with Oddities. “You’re now free to use any Moonbirds and Oddities art in any way you see fit – forever,” Rose tweeted at the time.
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The move caught the community by surprise, and many holders felt that they should have consulted before having their IP rights unilaterally stripped away. One holder reportedly lost out on a six-figure licensing deal.
“So what exactly is the point of owning an #NFT under a CC0 license compared to, say, having it right-click and saved on your PC?” asked Pranksy, an NFT influencer.
Looking back, all the community members that The Defiant contacted believe that the switch to CC0 was the project’s biggest mistake.
“The biggest misstep was easily going CC0, the fud was endless and drove a huge amount of sales and dried up any buying pressure. CC0 itself isn't the end of the world, but taking away an advertised benefit and right without any sort of vote or community feedback destroyed the trust of the holders,” said nopointinnames.
The move didn’t seem to faze institutional investors, however, as Proof went on to raise $50M in a Series A led by a16z and announced a new PFP collection and token slated for 2023.
As the bear market dragged on, however, the new initiatives were quietly abandoned.
A week later, it was discovered that Proof had millions of dollars in Silicon Valley Bank when it collapsed. While no funds were lost, the episode further shook the community’s faith in the team’s financial stewardship.
Road to Recovery
Could a turnaround be on the cards for Moonbirds?
Proof has a well-funded treasury and a community that’s still willing to support the project.
“They need to focus on their new idea of centralizing Moonbirds around art collecting. The project might suffer in the short term, but if they can really give an edge to holders in acquiring art, they might succeed in the long run,” said AzOgZ.
Rose acknowledges that mistakes were made.
“I take full responsibility for the mistakes we've made, as CEO, that's on me. This has definitely been a period of growth and learning, with plenty more lessons to come. Nevertheless, we forge ahead,” he tweeted yesterday.