Millennial Musings — What do Bored Apes, A Fox TV show and virtual influencers? Have to do with a hologram at a Polo Club.
I was watching Coachella: 20 Years in the Desert Documentary and it reminded me of the earth-shattering moment of 2Pac hologram escalating Coachella to the mainstream, And a lot of things suddenly made more sense to me.
For one bored ape’s. We all see them changing hands now for ridiculous sums of money and see no value that justifies it. However, from seeing the hologram of 2Pac I can see what these people are buying into. They see the apes as a business, not as a PFP. Two groups of people are owning them. Celebrities that know how to get that influencer money and nobodies (either early “investors” or rich) that can’t grow an audience but want some of that influencer money.
For the celebrities, they currently are becoming the ape. They are changing their profile picture to the ape and gaining invites to the closed group because of it. I can imagine that a few are motivated by a dream (the streamer!) anonymity to separate their online public life and their private life. It’s probably too late for that so they have to settle for it to serve as a lifetime membership to a private members group. That as cost of entry only more and more successful people can join which does certainly have substantial value and appeal. What is more interesting is if they can have a second identity (or in the case of Steve Aoki 11!) that they can direct their audience too. We have seen this happen in niche cases, the one that stands out to me is in twitch streamers. Some streamers stream on multiple channels for several reasons, to produce different content, to stream with fewer viewers for mental health or just to double-dip in subscription money (And emotes!). However, they can only be on one account at once.
But what if you had an ape? We are at a point in technology and culture where the celebrity can get their audience to follow a second account and then the ape can be an influencer and a content creator in their own right. That’s where their value can easily rocket from today. This ape could do anything, they could be used in the most basic sense, run by a marketing agency to put our sponsored posts and engagement building tweets. They can also be a little riskier about the sponsors that they take as the backlash is on an ape and not on the individual (Skinny Tea anyone?). But that’s thinking a little too small, after all, we started with a hologram of 2Pac, why can’t we have a hologram of the ape. I think that this is going to be the next big thing over the next 12 months, v — bands or v — artists. We have companies now that specialise in producing and managing these avatars. And we have people who want to watch them shown by how popular 2Pac was and how popular VTubers are on twitch. Heck, there is even a FOX show called Alter Ego that averaged around 2 million viewers. So potentially the ape could double the engagements, tours, appearances and releases that the main celebrity can and with it double the revenue. But it’s not really just double, Avatars can be anywhere at any time, they can do a personal appearance in China and then 2 minutes later be on stage at madison square gardens, they don’t need to fly, sleep or do anything else us puny humans waste time doing. So, they can quickly pay back their initial, seemingly extravagant price tags.
But what about the risks. All the apes are always linked to one another, being part of the same group or project. What would happen if one of these apes takes a sponsorship or project that gets them cancelled? Would that destroy just that ape’s reputation and ability to earn? Would it extend to the other apes? What if the ape was resold can its reputation be rebuilt over time like a business or is the value forever gone? What if instead the owner of the ape is cancelled? How does that affect all the other owners and apes? There are so many question marks that limit how much these apes can currently be bought and sold for. Potentially these risks make them worthless and my whole analysis a waste of time. We have seen numerous times that a Hollywood figure is very bad and no one wants to be associated with them.
On top of this is even any of this monetization and growing of an ape actually “allowed” and who owns it. We have seen V-Tubers get popular, not have the correct rights and then the original creator of the image takes back ownership. Would BAYC let you do that? I guess that they are ok with it, after all, they do say that they are selling commercial rights for your ape. But what if BAYC is bought out and their new owners try to change the rules and claw back the rules. Would they have the power to stop you, after all, it’s on the blockchain they can’t take the ape back from you? What about traditional lawsuits how do they apply to the blockchain? Epically if you’re in Tuvalu, the ape makes an appearance in England and BAYC is in the United States. I think that PFP’s and NFT’s as influencers is very interesting and we are in the infancy of them. Celebrities, when they see NFT’s as an employee rather than a quick cash grab we will start to see some very interesting and novel approaches. Will they be using an ape (for example) or their project and cut out BAYC? Laws are going to change as this becomes more and more mainstream.
What about the other group of owners, the non-celebs. The individuals that still have not cashed out since launch or are very rich and have bought one based on the HYPE. Their value proposition is very different, and outside of their control, they can’t build an audience for the ape, they don’t have the right skills to do so. Instead, they are banking on the associated value of being part of the same project/group. Will we end up with a splintering of the real popular apes and the non-apes? It certainly feels like it could happen. Each ape is only somewhat differentiated from the others. As a result, the audience is going to be burned out if all the apes are influencers or cash generators.
Maybe after all of this, we are too early and these apes will be a Myspace and we are just waiting for a new project where the NFT is a Twitter account. Where the group earnings are pooled via some new cryptocurrency where everyone wins. But even then what would be in it for the audience creators, wouldn’t everyone then be incentivised to be a leach and it wouldn’t take off? Maybe if it was a small group of equally sized celebs that was doing it then it might work as added motivation to succeed and risk mitigation.