Bored Ape Creator Yuga Labs Acquires Moonbirds NFT Startup Proof

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Bored Ape Creator Yuga Labs Acquires Moonbirds NFT Startup Proof
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Bored Ape Yacht Club creator Yuga Labs has acquired Proof, the NFT startup behind the Moonbirds collection and the Proof Collective membership program, the company announced Friday.

According to Yuga Labs, the company has completely acquired Proof and all of its properties, including Moonbirds, Oddities, Mythics, and Grails. Yuga will add the Proof team into its staff, and integrate the Moonbirds collection into its upcoming Otherside metaverse game.

Proof co-founder and CEO Kevin Rose, a tech entrepreneur who also co-founded Digg, will assist with the handover before becoming an advisor to Yuga Labs. Rose had previously denied that any Moonbirds acquisition deal was imminent. In a message shared to Twitter in December, Rose acknowledged that there was a “high-level conversation” with another unspecified founder about a deal that “never went anywhere.”

In an interview this week, Yuga Labs CEO Daniel Alegre told Decrypt that “there had been discussions in the industry about what was going to happen with Moonbirds,” and that the Bored Ape maker had reached out to see if it could help Proof in some way. Quickly, he said, that outreach turned into discussion of a potential acquisition.

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“We had a meeting of the minds and we said, ‘You know what? Let’s do this, let’s have Proof become a part of the Yuga family,’” said Alegre. “And then it all worked out. It was actually pretty quick too.”

Rose was unavailable for interviews around the deal, a Yuga Labs representative told Decrypt. Yuga Labs also would not disclose the terms of the deal.

Alegre said that Moonbirds makes “perfect sense” for Otherside, a game world that will feature avatars from a variety of NFT projects, including those in Yuga’s own stable like Bored Apes, CryptoPunks, and Meebits. He wouldn’t elaborate on the planned integration, but said he believes the Moonbirds art looks like it was “actually created for Otherside.”

Yuga Labs also plans to continue running the Proof Collective as it is, and will align the Proof brand with its art world efforts around CryptoPunks and its TwelveFold collection on Bitcoin’s Ordinals protocol. Whether the Proof branding will remain long-term is still to be decided.

“We’re still working through the exact whats and how things are going to evolve,” Alegre responded when asked about the branding.

What is Proof?

The Proof Collective was launched by Rose in late 2021 as an Ethereum NFT-based membership plan for digital art collectors, offering member-exclusive mints and other benefits like real-world meetups and exclusive perks.

Secondary market prices for the 1,000 passes skyrocketed a few months later amid the NFT bull market when Proof revealed Moonbirds, a 10,000 item profile picture (PFP) collection that would allocate free mints to Proof Collective holders. The launch was a smash, generating $280 million worth of trading volume in the first two days alone.

Proof was riding high on the hype and raised $10 million from Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six venture capital firm just days later. A few months later, Proof raised another $50 million in a Series A round led by VC giant Andreessen Horowitz, and revealed plans for a crypto token that has yet to materialize as of this writing.

However, the time since has been marked by several challenges for Proof. Moonbirds launched right before the bottom fell out of the NFT market, which means many people bought assets that quickly lost substantial market value and have yet to recover.

Proof also faced pushback from Moonbirds holders in 2022 when it announced that it would open-source all of the collection’s artwork, limiting opportunities for owners to license or commercialize their owned images. Last year, Proof canceled its first planned conference following limited demand, and later conducted layoffs.

Rose has been open about the challenges of running an NFT company, admitting to Decrypt in an April 2023 interview that the Web3 ethos of building in public and interacting directly with asset owners—some aggrieved by the loss in value—had taken a toll.

“Holy shit have the last few months been tough, right?” Rose told Decrypt last April.

He said on the “Tim Ferriss Show” podcast in December that the experience had caused him various health issues, and that he had sought treatment including ketamine therapy.

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