A cover story from Input titled “Planet of the Bored Apes” centers on an interview around Gordon Solano and Wylie Aronow, two of the co-founders of the massively successful Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT collection.
Here’s a look behind the scenes at how Bored Ape started and what’s ahead.
Early Days: Solano and Aronow met at a bar in Miami and hit things off, getting into a fight about author David Foster Wallace.
“We’re an odd couple. We like to beat up each other’s ideas,” the duo said.
Arguments about books and movies and playing “World of Warcraft” online helped the duo’s friendship over the first few years.
It was Solano, known as Garga by many online and in the NFT community, who got the two friends interested in the cryptocurrency market.
“In 2017, I bought a little bit of Ethereum ETH/USD, a little bit of Ripple XRP/USD,” Garga said, adding he called Aronow (also known as Gordon) after his purchased to encourage him to do the same.
The duo fell in love with the crypto community, especially “crypto Twitter” that liked to “Ape” into some asset without doing research on it.
The idea for Bored Ape Yacht Club came from this community and the interactions on Twitter Inc TWTR.
“Wanted to make a club, a token that gave you access to something,” Garga said. “Wanted them to feel like kinda outcasts.”
Launching Bored Apes: The presale and mint for Bored Ape Yacht Club launched on April 23, 2021, with artwork for the NFTs revealed on April 30, 2021.
The NFT collection of 10,000 Bored Apes sold out on May 1 and caught traction from several other NFT communities. Popularity on Twitter also helped the project sell out and see strong traction.
The mint price was 0.08 ETH, or around $220 at the time.
“Felt like success when collection was sold out,” Gordon said.
The duo said a lot of NFT founders were launching projects, taking the money and running. They wanted to show the thesis of what happens when the founders stick around.
“It changed our lives, just that one day, May 1 last year,” Garga said. “Working 14 hours every day since.”
Getting Doxxed: The interview comes months after the co-founders were doxxed against their will by Buzzfeed Inc BZFD author Katie Notopoulos.
“Its founders’ anonymity raises questions about accountability in the age of crypto,” Notopoulos said at the time.
Prior to being doxed, interviews with Rolling Stone and NFT personalities didn’t come with video or a photo spread like Input’s interview.
The duo learned they were going to be doxxed by Buzzfeed six months ago.
“We got 20 minutes warning,” Garga said.
The two guys hopped on a call together and discussed a strategy of taking down personal information from the internet, deactivating social media accounts and warning their families.
After the story came out, the duo and two other co-founders, who were not revealed in the article, shared their photos on Twitter and saw support from the community.
Fighting Off Criticism: Along with being doxxed, the duo has been the target of internet trolls and people placing accusations on the Bored Ape project. This includes conceptual artist Ryder Ripps, who was sued by Yuga Labs for trademark infringement.
Ryder Ripps’ Bored Ape copycat project was delisted from OpenSea. Along with the collection launch, Ripps accused Bored Ape Yacht Club of having racist and neo-Nazi symbolism, which the creators deny.
“It’s extremely apparent to anybody who knows our history how absurd this is,” Gordon said.
While the accusations from Ripps have been the most public and prominent, Garga said there is online hate every day.
What’s Next: The duo said they are working hard to build the metaverse the way they think it should be.
“The biggest thing I think we’re working on right now is Otherside,” Gordon said.
With only 10,000 Bored Ape NFTs in existence, the duo is also looking at ways to onboard more people to the NFT and Yuga Labs space. Gordon said the project didn’t pass the mom test, a reference to it not being accessible enough to Garga’s mom.
“How do we reduce the friction of owning a token on the internet,” Garga added.
The duo would like to onboard one million more people into the Yuga Labs ecosystem.
Photo: Courtesy of opensea.io