The Bored Ape Yacht Club reached a historical 100 ETH floor, a Q&A with the founders!

Farokh
7 min readFeb 1, 2022

I had the chance to meet the Bored Ape Yacht Club team who doxxed themselves to me on Zoom and asked them a few questions, right before the historical 100 ETH milestone they hit! Can confirm they are just a bunch of nerds like the rest of us!

Q: BAYC has grown to be one of (if not the most) popular brands in NFTs, all in 9 months. How does it feel to be in the position you are in today?

A: We never imagined we’d be in the position we are in today. It’s almost a year since we started work on what would become the Bored Ape Yacht Club, though the collection didn’t launch until April ’21. At the same time, we’re so busy that we don’t often get a chance to pause and take in anything that’s happened. Occasionally something incredible pierces through and shows just how surreal this journey has been, like when we were at Ape Fest looking around at a venue completely filled with people who had gone out of their way to trek to NYC and meet others from the community.

Q: I read the Rolling Stone article the other day about one of the artists behind the collection and have personally heard there was more than one. Who all was involved in creating the original Bored Ape NFT collection?

A: We were lucky enough to put together a talented team of freelance artists (@allseeingseneca, @migwashere_, @thomasdagley, and two others who prefer to remain anonymous) — as well as a family friend who helped with some graphic design. They each helped us bring the vision of BAYC to life. And as we saw it form, sketch by sketch, it got more and more exciting.

Q: The BAYC has experienced so much success over the past year. What are some of the highlights for you as the founders?

A: There’s been too many to count. Selling out the collection on May 1st on that crazy night was magical. Being able to raise nearly $1 million for animal charities with the BAKC collection — when we had no idea how people would respond to the surprise doggos at all — was another highlight. The day Steph Curry joined the club, which was also the same day Mutants were dropped — that day was unforgettable. Being able to be in a fortunate position that we were able to bonus all the BAYC & MAYC artists $1 million each last year was an amazing feeling. And of course Ape Fest. We’ve been in 2 years of COVID and lockdowns, and seeing the community finally meeting IRL and celebrating together while watching Lil Baby was beyond amazing. You just had to be there, it was super powerful.

Q: I had the chance to meet Guy Oseary last year, who has given me a lot of great advice! How has it been to partner with him?

A: Guy came in as our partner in September. A lot of people know him as the manager for U2 and Madonna, but Guy has been one of the most extraordinary investors in the tech space for a decade. From our first call with him, we knew his creative vision was right in line with our own. He’s been an incredible mentor and friend to us. We call him the fifth ape.

Q: You have had a lot of success, but you are also facing trolling and conspiracy theories about the artwork and the founders. I noticed in a previous tweet thread, you mentioned that one of you is Jewish, and I remember tweeting at the time that I felt bad for that team member. What’s it been like to have someone levy accusations, including anti-Semitism?

A: I guess when you get this successful, conspiracy theorists crawl out of the woodwork? The Yuga team comes from an incredibly diverse background, so those lies about us are really bizarre. The founders are Cuban, Jewish, Pakistani, and Turkish. The bullying has been especially hard on Gordon, who is an Ashkenazi Jew and was the creative director on the project. This person is basically calling Gordon antisemitic, which is not only crazy sounding but deeply hurtful.

Regarding the art: it’s also important to take a step back. We have such a broad collection that’s directly referencing popular culture. There’s everything from the Hawaiian shirt from Magnum PI to togas and other historic clothing items to gay pride rainbow suspenders, mixed in with a variety of irreverent references to punk rock and 90’s hip hop. If you isolate these things and only look at 1 or 2 combinations you can spin that into almost any narrative you want.

We wanted to create a collection where anybody could find their own Ape. The range of expression within the collection is what makes BAYC special.

Q: Why have the founders chosen to remain anonymous? Do you plan on remaining anonymous forever?

A: There’s a long history of anonymous/pseudonymous founders in crypto, and there are very real reasons why people want to protect their personal privacy in this space. But equally important to us is trust. We knew as soon as we wanted to enter into the space, that the thing to do would be to form a Delaware LLC. This allows us to be personally pseudonymous, while showing that we’re serious and dedicated to what we do here. Our employees and partners know who we are. And over the past nine months, the community has gotten to know us through our digital identities. We prefer to be judged based on our actions and work. In our view, this is about the club — not us.

Q: We obviously know about the 4 male founders and often hear about the under representation of women in the nft space. Are there any women on your team? I asked this as 2 women on the leadership team were also on the zoom.

A: We actually have more women on staff than men — and they’re across all roles in the company. On zoom were Nicole (AKA @vstrangeYUGA) Co-CEO and @SodaOps COO. Nicole was already a partner at Yuga, and someone who has been involved behind the scenes since day 1. It made sense (for Nicole) to come in full-time as Co-CEO as the company expands. And we’re also stoked to have @SodaOps as our COO, she is a beast at keeping the wheels here turning.

Q: A lot of people have been surprised to learn that Yuga has a lot more people on staff. Anything you can tell us about who you have brought onto the team? And what day to day looks like? Like are you all sending “gm” on Slack each morning.

A: We’re in a big growth spurt right now (we’re currently at 36 people), and part of that is bringing on all the best talent that we can find. In addition to Nicole (AKA @vstrangeYUGA) and @SodaOps, @PezYUGA another partner at Yuga has also moved full time as our CCO. Our team is made-up of Social-media Managers, Community Managers, Producers, Illustrators and Artists, Graphic Designers, Copywriters, Engineers, and IT.

This morning Slack and meetings have basically been consumed by Wordle. Everyone compares how well they did each day and lets the group know when they start. Fun fact: One of our engineers created a Wordle clone (that he won’t share) that lets him keep trying without affecting his real score.

Q: How many apes do you own between you all?

A: Between the four founders, we own six apes. We didn’t like the model of creators holding onto hundreds or sometimes a thousand-plus pieces in the collection. We envisioned someone’s Bored Ape as their digital identity, and their access to a club. So it made sense that each of the founders only really had one or two, and not a store of these. We drew straws on who would get Bored Ape #0-#3. (Side note — Yuga Labs as an entity is currently in possession of 7 more Bored Apes, and 10 Mutants. We’ve never sold an ape or a mutant, aside from the primary sale mints).

Q: What are you most excited about in crypto/NFTs right now?

We’re bullish on the interoperable metaverse. In a lot of ways, it’s already here, with how people have adopted NFTs as their digital identity across platforms. But there’s so much more room to grow, and ways to facilitate its adoption.

A: Anything you can reveal about the next Ape Fest?

What we pulled off last year was incredible, especially considering we only had two months to prepare for it. We started on the next Ape Fest immediately after the first and we’re going all out this time. We think it’s going to be an unbelievable experience, and we can’t wait to share more.

Q: Have to ask — wen token?

A: Ha! You know we can’t answer that one.

Q: Anything else you want to say to the community?

A: Yes — Happy Birthday @ppman !

Personal note: As someone who got his first Bored Ape on May 1st 2021 and has been following the rise of the BAYC closely, it was a pleasure to meet the people behind the brand. It was an honour to get to know them personally and see them trust me by doxxing themselves. Lastly, it was a very pleasant surprise to find out that the co-CEO is a woman!

Thank you all for reading and sharing my first Medium article!

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Farokh

Good Thoughts. Good Words. Good Deeds. Founder of @RugRadio 🎙 Investor, Entrepreneur, Community Builder, Cool Cats lover, gm of gm!