BAYC NFTs: The Power of Generating Value From Digital Assets

Intellectual property is a powerful tool to give a sense of ownership to the original creator. Hence, intellectual property has to be well protected in the law. Oftentimes, small ventures lack the resources to effectively protect their intellectual properties or, in short, IPs. Even if the modern concept of intellectual property has evolved since the 17th century, primarily in Europe, intellectual property law could date far back. In medieval Europe, for example, guilds or associations of artisans were granted authority by the governors to regulate their respective industries. 

NFT.NYC in late June was a great success. NFT.NYC is the largest and most respected conference for the NFT (non fungible token) industry. Amid a crypto currency crash, the NFT.NYC conference could have been a disaster. But, it received over 20,000 attendees. As some said, NFT.NYC grew into the Super Bowl of NFTs. 

Out of the flood of party invitations for NFT.NYC, ApeFest, in its second year in the row, received the most attention. ApeFest only allowed people to enter, who hold Mutant and Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs. the hottest NFT project in the world. From Times Square to Pier 17, where ApeFest was physically held, many familiar monkey faces bombarded on digital signages, posters, and social media platforms. ApeFest showed the true fandom culture of the NFT world. ApeFest was independently organized and could surpass the popularity of NFT.NYC soon. 

The Bored Ape Yacht Club, or in short, BAYC, is a collection of 10,000 unique Bored Ape NFTs. They are digital collectibles living on the Ethereum blockchain. BAYC is one of the most successful NFT projects building upon the strongest community in the NFT space. BAYC is the brainchild of Yuga Labs, a venture-backed Web 3 marketing firm. 

Yuga Lab is wickedly clever as it has created such a unique sense of exclusivity with 10,000 programmatically generated Bored Ape digital collectibles without any traditional marketing mixes. There was no advertising, search marketing, or extensive social media promotion. 

Instead, BAYC harnesses the power of the community by connecting people together. Yuga Lab makes a BAYC brand to become a badge of honor and a clear symbol of social status in the crypto and NFT frenzy. BAYC NFT is an only pass for those who were brave enough to get on it early on and continues to possess it, which opens up a door to the exclusive community.

BAYC is a new threat to Disney as it is growing its influence as a global power house of new intellectual properties. BAYC was collectively worth $25 billion or about 12% of the market capitalization of Disney in May 2022. If someone purchases a BAYC NFT, then he owns the intellectual property rights that are tied up with his possession of NFT. 

NFTs are yet highly speculative investments, but BAYC could be a good investment opportunity, not only due to the perks that come with ownership, but also a promising road map of its utility as a widely applicable intellectual property. Smart contracts could further accelerate its usage beyond the fandom community.  

In only a few months since the initial BAYC release, BAYC soared. Many famous athletes have acquired BAYC NFTs. Soon after that, it was followed by multiple merchandise drops, including a collaboration with long-standing streetwear brands like the Hundreds. There have been many prestigious appearances of BAYC NFTs across multiple media outlets and also top art auction houses like Christies and Sotheby’s. 

Now, BAYC characters are in the comic books, animations, soft drinks, coffee and ice cream franchises. It is yet hard to estimate the full valuation of licensed commercial activities of BAYC, but all we can tell now is that there shall be more monkeys popping up here and there in the coming years. 

A NFT with character brand recognition will have future utilization across multiple mediums. When we think about a potential buyout of the intellectual property, BAYC’s insanely high price tag can be justified as it is valued based on projected revenue, not its so-called scarcity score card. 

In June, the floor or entry-level price for a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT fell below $100,000 for the first time since August 2021. It was down by 70%+ after Bored Apes launched and had approached nearly $429,000. It could further downplay for a while amid a crypto volatility, but directionally and emotionally, BAYC is heading toward long-term growth trajectory as its NFT commercial value continues to accrue. 

Earlier this year, Yuga Labs, the creators of the BAYC and spin-offs the Mutant Ape, announced that it had acquired the intellectual properties of Larva Labs, which invented CryptoPunks. Yuga Labs also bought Meebits NFT collections. IP licensing models could greatly differ between different NFT projects. Yuga Labs’ licensing model allows a broader commercial use. Yuga Labs now encourages the third party and the community of creators to incorporate CryptoPunks and Meebits into their Web 3 projects. 

Ultimately, the potential of what can be done with NFTs will be stated in the terms of licenses. Existing brands are likely to have longer and more complicated licensing processes to protect their most valuable core intellectual properties and maximize their bargaining power. Getting permission from Disney, for example, could take months to years. That’s how license business has been done for decades in the name of brand control. 

Generative and new creative projects like BAYC are far more likely to have broader rights granted to their NFT holders powered by rapid contractual process under the original creator’s governing protocol. This concept would create a sea change in the world of intellectual properties. 

Pairing the global recognition of the BAYC with individual NFTs that have their own recognizable characters and brands, could outpace the value of existing intellectual properties that are owned by large media companies. Fueled by its community fandom power, it won’t take too long to catch up with what decades old media companies have done. 

Further relaxing the usage of intellectual property provides immense opportunities. The fandom community’s ability to get more actively involved will ultimately further seed new ideas and creative projects. Now, coupled with CryptoPunks and Meebits, Yuga Lab will further extend its proven marketing tactics to other intellectual properties powered by NFTs so that the use of NFTs could quickly evolve beyond the fandom community to create enormous mass market appeal and commercial success


Longing for Higher Power

Nothing is certain but death. People increasingly respond to their deepest human needs. We have a natural need to feel connected to the world, to others, and religious traditions. Anthropology, philosophy, or neuroscience can’t simply answer the question if the higher power really exists. We tend to look for patterns, structures, and causes for everything. But, there is no single right answer for our divine purposes and our hopes for higher power.

Religious belief has deeply influenced human society. Many people could claim that they have grown out of religion with their accumulated assets, knowledge, and social influence. But, even today there are a lot of people who are not generally content with their life. People do not appreciate the purpose of their limited lifespan on earth. They hardly find profound connections between their life and other societal endeavors. 

The power of religion helps us to shape our vision on the world and actions on each other. Hence, there is an urgent need for a more sophisticated understanding of religion beyond any discipline. The world we live in is facing a stream of shocking events. In times of such uncertainty and crises, more people will look to religions or philosophical wisdoms for guidance and consolation. 

But, in reality, fewer people regularly attend religious services. Theology or philosophy is one of least popular subjects at higher education. Many people claim that religion has no longer significance in their life. Our faith is in flux. Many people leave their childhood family tradition in faith before the age of 24 and oftentimes, they change it more than once. It is such a public myth saying that people do not like change. People don’t resist change. But, in reality, they just resist being changed. 

Failure is inevitable if we are committed to grow. Before any workout or run, it is important to give a few rounds of body stretches to increase the flexibility of our muscles so they don’t cramp. When we try to practice stretches for resilience capability, therefore, we can become more adaptable to any changes and spring back from any failures. 

We all tend to fear failure. That is probably why we often stop giving a try. We are more likely to grow faster toward success if we learn from each other based on our failures, not only success. A willingness to be vulnerable and share our experiences of failure with others, therefore, is such a critical part of being more resilient in any circumstances. This effort could start with self-awareness and our search for authenticity. But, most importantly, being a part of a community can make us feel as if we are a part of something greater than ourselves.

It is not always easy to be 100% transparent on our own, especially in the world where others seem to have a much better life, at least on their Instagram account. We all like to put our best self forward and hide our weaknesses. That is human nature. Though, there is incredible power when we are true to ourselves and share our authentic stories about how we have gained our strength in the face of failure.

Having a sense of community unites us. When we share our vulnerable, but genuine ourselves with others, people in the community can see a part of themselves through the lens of our journey. Then, together, we can move forward, gain confidence, and do something great for the betterment of society. 

Creating positive influence is a full-time job. We can’t always control what could happen to us, but we can certainly control how we respond to that. We should learn how to positively respond to failures and hardships. We should choose to do so. It is important to know that increasing our ability to bounce back from failure is not a one-time event. It is a life-long journey. 

Modern societies are built on public institutions. Institutions are designed to address societal challenges in some form. But, these institutions are under severe pressure regardless of religious affiliations, social affinity, or intellectual origin. The trust and legitimacy is among the most important issues on the societal and political agenda of public institutions. For example, institutions based on hierarchy and control (ex. military, bureaucracy, and the state) often provide the greatest facilitation of evil. 

Learning through religious and moral education will enable us to recognize religion as an important expression of human nature. It is important to learn about and learn from the beliefs, values, practices, and other religious traditions. Spiritual practice could strengthen our perspective for a better future. We always encounter challenges in our life, but we can still stay hopeful during crises and persevere. Spiritual growth is, therefore, our enhanced ability to deal with life and bounce back from any difficulties.

The primary purpose of religious leadership in the public institutions is therefore to ensure spiritual success through process, material, and training improvement for each individual member. It is not about building humongous new temples or legacies. It will be only accomplished through collaboration among different individuals such as teachers, parents, community leaders, and so forth.

Healthy spiritual life gives a sense of peace, wholesomeness, and balance among the physical, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of the human-being. The path to spiritual excellence will be full of struggles and suffering. It often includes experiences that are frightening and painful. Compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering. With compassion, you can feel warmth and build desire to help others.

Spiritual values should be a part of education. Children will learn better when they know the purpose of their life and spirituality. That said, it will grow our mind, body, and soul and will eventually form our character. The purpose of spiritual education is, therefore, to fulfill the divine potential of human-being. It prepares them for struggles and suffering by giving them the tools they need to keep on learning throughout the many tough circumstances that will come to them. When we speak of spirituality, please forget about large institutional propertiea or complex procedures to make you feel religious. We don’t need that.

It is strongly recommended that education in values and spirituality is at the core of what we are supposed to teach with the goal of enriching human personality. Voluntary simplicity for spiritual life saves a lot of overhead costs. At the end of the day, it will protect people or institutions from the temptation to add to resources through sometimes unfair or dishonest means.

Be Aware: The Singularity is Near

Artificial intelligence would exceed human intelligence. Elon Musk once said that AI would grow vastly smarter than humans. Musk pointed out that AI would overtake the human race by 2025. In contrast, some experts say the rise of artificial intelligence would make the most of us to be better off over the next few decades, not replace, nor make humans extinct.

The singularity is a conceptual and meta-physical term. When it comes to a technological jargon, the singularity is often described as a point in time when innovation reaches critical mass. At critical mass, new innovation must be widely adopted. Technological growth explodes and shall be kept self-sustained at the singularity.

This connotation of reaching the singularity is sometimes articulated along with a bit of negative nuisance. For example, some says that technological growth becomes so big at the singularity to the extent that technologies become uncontrollable and irreversible. AI would have many positive impacts, but it could also result in unforeseeable negative changes to the human race.

We have to cope with AI. There is fear, uncertainty, and mixed feelings. AI, robots, and other innovations may put millions of us out of work in a few years. If we adapt well and if highly intelligent systems are well within the scope of our purposes, the future could be promising. We can rather focus on what humans are truly good at.

Raymond Kurzweil is one of living legends. He has had many great inventions. He also started an alternative education institute called Singularity University in 2008 along with Peter H. Diamandis, a founder of X Prize Foundation. Singularity University aims to educate, empower, and inspire leaders to leverage exponential technologies to solve humanity’s grand challenges. Two co-founders believed that exponential technological advancement could give anyone at anywhere the ability to create a positive impact.

For reference, Raymond Kurzweil has picked an example and argued that the technological advancement in medicine such as gene therapy and bio-informatics would help humans to continuously repair and replace defective components in our bodies and prolong life. Medical advancement would allow people to protect their bodies from the effects of aging and make life expectancy much longer.

The singularity comes with an important notion of self-directed learning and self-sustainable attribute. Superhuman intelligence is about to be invented through the amplification of collective human intelligence and the power of artificial intelligence. Superhuman intelligence is a good thing as it would bring many positive outcomes. Superhuman intelligence powered by AI would help humans solve complex problems and keep our inventive skills and creative souls to become more effective.

At the singularity, AI may have fundamentally different cognitive qualities and abilities than biological human intelligence. There are things that humans can do, but AI can’t. AI will be more capable, but still, there are things that AI can’t easily copy such as making moral decisions or inventing something on their will.

The idea of creating human-like technology has a long history to trace back. This idea emerged during and after World War II when scientists like Alan Turing, a British mathematician, discovered that machines could become more than just computing systems. The Turing Test is one of the most important philosophical cornerstones of artificial intelligence and modern computation.

During wartime, technology creted by mathematicians and scientists like Alan Turing helped to break the Nazi’s codes that were regarded unbrekable with human computation skills. It was unfortunate to lose one of the most innovative thinkers in the 20th century from accidental poisoning. His sexual orientation as a gay man was violating laws during that time to the extent putting him not only under stress but also to a criminal charge.

Turing’s story inspired many people to pursue their careers in artificial intelligence, make movies like the Imitation Game, and establish the Alan Turing Institute, one of largest national institutes for data science and artificial intelligence in the United Kingdom. It is a joint venture with leading universities including Oxford and Cambridge with initial £600M investment. The specific role of the Institute is to provide the expertise and fundamental research into data science and artificial intelligenceg that are needed to solve the complex real-world problems.

Perhaps, true artificial intelligence doesn’t exist yet. The word, the singularity, doesn’t stick to one specific meaning, elther. Scientists have laid down principles that have molded the historical record of the relationship between humans and the machines to solve the problems. It may all depend on the context. But, the singularity describes a future that technology growth is reaching out to a new level of massive advancement at one point.

Now, the notion of the singularity leaves the question whether we can control it or what not. Will we ever control the world with our minds or can we even take control of our future? Perhaps not. However, the consequences of the singularity and its potential benefit or harm to humans have been vastly debated over and over. Many tech companies like Google throw their weight behind a new school like the Singularity University or the Alan Turing Institute. That will help forerunners prepare for a future when machines become smarter than humans. We just don’t know when, but it will surely come.

The singularity Is near. In a few years, AI will help significantly speed up complex decision-making and make people more productive. AI will make humans smarter and more efficient. The singularity at the core may not be the ultimate no man’s land. Many researchers would agree that current forms of AI cannot have their own emotions, but they could mimic it. Hence, human Intelligence should also relate to adaptive learning and experience like machines do. There are many qualities in humans that AI cannot easily replace at any point in time, though.

One of the most important prerequisites for the singularity is education. We shall invest in education to train people for a new future. MIT alone invests $1 billion into a new school devoted to AI. Tech leaders spend nearly $20 billion on AI per year. There is no downturn in sight. If we understand what AI is capable of and understand the this domain well, we can start make further discernment of what AI can truly do, not that we just fear about it. More precisely, we must lead it.

École 42: Learning How to Learn

École 42 is unlike any other school in France. When it first started, people could have laughed about it. École 42 has now more than 15,000 students in over 25 countries with 42 campuses. It is recognized as one of the best coding schools in the world. École 42 operates as a tuition-free non-profit computer coding school. Applicants ages between 18 and 30 get admitted through a competitive entrance procedure as only 4 out 100 applicants are admitted. It could take 2 to 4 years to complete the program. However, most of École 42 students can’t finish the program because they land a job before the end of their program. Good quality developers that employers really need are in short supply and there is a huge digital skill gap that École 42 tries to address.

École 42 aims to inspire and educate the future digital generation with an innovative, accessible, and affordable learning experience. École 42 is motivational and entertaining for people who have an appetite to learn. The learner’s reaction has been very positive. Now, it operates globally and tries to keep up with the same level of quality all across the world. École 42 has no teachers, no scheduled classes, and no books. There is a team that carefully designs the gamified curriculum and with an effective pedagogical plan. Curriculum is deeply rooted in project-based learning that is best suited in a collaborative peer-to-peer learning environment.

École 42 encourages people to learn how to learn. It means developing skills to stay relevant and curious about challenging questions in our generation. Learning how to learn helps learners build up confidence and brain muscle for any challenge coming their way. Curriculum is fun to follow as long as learners are willing to tackle a quest after quest. Learners get points when they complete projects in the curriculum. It gives a sense of achievement and also unlocks more projects in the specialization tracks. That way, learners can quickly master different skills and build their portfolio as their tangible achievement to show to a potential recruiter. Learners can also figure out where they stand by comparing their levels in the cohort.

Once admitted, there is a mandatory experience that you have to participate in called Piscine even if you can start anytime. Piscine in French means swimming pool. Piscine helps learners dive into coding and learn how to swim out from this deep water with help from your peers. Piscine is like a four-week long boot camp. During this period, learners will discover the basics of coding from scratch, but it also filters out those unwilling to progress. Piscine is an intensive process and, therefore, it is not possible for learners to engage or spend time on other commitments or jobs simultaneously. No prerequisites of any kind are required. No degrees, nor prior coding training are needed. There is no fixed limit of applicants. So, if you make it, you make it.

Xavier Niel, the man behind École 42, is a French entrepreneur and self-made billionaire. He is a partner of Delphine Arnault, a daughter of Europe’s richest man, Bernard Arnault of LVMH. Mr. Niel also spearheaded the creation of Station F, the world’s largest startup incubator at la Halle Freyssinet, an old rail freight depot apart from his founding work and major ownership of Free, second-largest Internet service provider and third largest mobile operator in France. He also owns significant shares of Le Monde and sits on the board of KKR (Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) and URM (Unibail-Rodamco-Westfield). His modest upbringing was the inspiration behind his education venture, École 42. He has emphasized on the need for a school that allows anyone to start out on an equal footing. He believed that anyone could become a great coder if they possess only two things: logical thinking and their will to pull through.

In the creative economy, a diploma is not something that you can objectively judge somebody whether they can do a job or not. Diploma is evidence showing that those who have earned it have followed the rules well. In contrast, entrepreneurs are rule breakers as entrepreneurs are always trying to find ways of doing things differently and they often say that any conventional rules shouldn’t apply to them. Pedigree has no meaning to them in today’s context of the technocracy. Engineers and advocates of the lowest-ranked castes from India, for example, say that tech industries don’t care about caste and haven’t discriminated against anyone as long as they are capable of delivering the result. École 42 also breaks all the rules for educating software engineers.

Thirst for an exciting and lucrative career is a powerful motivator. Career aspiration drives the market for education of many types from a competitive kindergarten to elite university. This is simple and enriching to hear this “if you are in, you’ll be a success.” École 42 sounds like a compelling and alternative route to become a successful software developer. Though, coding is not a job. The requirements among employers could vary and individual positions would require different skills. Employers still value conventional credentials. They may call for sophisticated or specialized skills like advanced mathematics or the entire life-cycle of software development with specific and proprietary tools that can be rigorously obtained in higher education. Partner companies could apply for real-life challenges to be included into the curriculum but knowledge foundation and archives created or accumulated by leading institutions are crucial ingredients for a holistic learning experience, too.

Quite recently, I am thrilled to engage with a new education venture in Wales much inspired by École 42. Wales is a country in Great Britain that has a distinctive culture including its own language, customs, politics, festivals and music. Their rich history, culture, and heritage can be combined with the latest digital technologies as it can be enjoyed by a broader audience with no limit. Welsh culture is full of traditions and legends. In Wales, heritage is something that refuses to be contained in museums or dusty books. Wherever we turn, we will appreciate a rich and complex history from the remains of grand estates built by aristocrats and industrialists. Wales was the powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution and many great modern inventions were created there. Wales has adopted many new cultural artifacts, but it is like a well-kept secret with its identity and many local traditions that can be a cradle for the powerful new creative economy. Innovative education can bring in talents and opportunities to this beautiful country. We must invest in education as education could solve a complex puzzle and inspire positive social changes. 


What if Harvard is free? To be specific, Harvard tuition is literally free to students from low income families. Harvard University renewed its efforts and announced the plan a decade ago that undergraduate students from low-income families would pay no tuition. For families who earn between $65,000 and $150,000, the expected contribution is somewhere between zero and 10% of families’ annual income. That said, if families earn below $65,000 per year, students won’t pay anything. The goal is to bring the most promising students to Harvard and ensure that any admitted students could afford their full Harvard experience with no burden on their shoulders.

Ivy League schools such as Harvard and Yale live up to images of elitism, exclusivity, and excellence. Attending one of these schools is a dream for many, but the cost of attending is dreadful. Attending Harvard, for example, costs upwards of $51,000 in tuition fees. In addition, room & board and other university fees bring up the total price tag more than $80,000 per year. Yet, this is not the most expensive one. Columbia University in the City of New York, for example, could add another $10,000 to Harvard’s tuition. To sum it up, a Harvard degree can cost more than $300,000 per student if they have to pay the cost in full. 

An Ivy League school degree is more than just a social cachet. It paves the road to a great-paying job or more advanced post-graduate degree program. Many parents think that Ivy league education is an amazing investment by nearly any measure. But, it does not always come cheap. Harvard claims that its admission process is entirely need-blind and it is willing to support students and reduce their cost burden. On average, $53,000 was disbursed to students and more than half of the students enrolled at Harvard receive need-based scholarships. As Harvard is committed to diversity and inclusion, it aims to invite top students with different social backgrounds. Harvard admission is completely based on merit, not money. 

Harvard is a well-funded school by its prestigious endowment program that has scaled up to $53.2 billion. Harvard Management Company returned 33.6% on its investments in fiscal year 2021. This is a monumental financial gain of over $11 billion just in one year. The endowment receives philanthropic gifts donated to support specific aspects of Harvard’s teaching and research. Without doubt, these gifts connect scholars and students from diverse backgrounds and make them land on an opportunity at Harvard. In the 2021 fiscal year alone, $597 million was granted to students in financial aid and scholarships. The endowment is a critical pillar of any funding needs at Harvard, making up more than one third of Harvard’s revenue. 

Any major university endowment is structured to exist in perpetuity. Universities shall continue to rely on the endowment’s earning potentials. Any excess or value appreciation is retained in the endowment so that it can continue to support future generations. The endowment is carefully managed and guided by the principles of intergenerational equity. The majority of 14,000 funders behind the Harvard endowment have specified that their gifts must support a particular cause such as endowed professorships. The sole purpose of the endowment should belong to students and scholars who will shape the future. 

Higher education is a costly endeavor. Most parents will give everything to ensure their children are well educated to succeed. Any external resource would help them to cover the cost of expensive education. The endowment is often misunderstood as a free checkbook, though, but that is not how the endowment is supposed to operate. The endowment has blossomed but it has to continue seeding fairer admissions and making education more equitable. Elite schools have amassed huge wealth and also enjoyed a tax-free nature of a university endowment. Hence, many argue that elite schools like Harvard have a moral obligation to prioritize egalitarian education opportunities even if it could impact their bottom line.

In 2016, Ron Unz, a tech entrepreneur and political activist, organized the “Free Harvard, Fair Harvard” campaign seeking for free tuition fees at Harvard and greater transparency in the admissions process even if he didn’t make it to the board. Claims persist that this free tuition proposal would raise awareness of Harvard as an option for students who may not have considered the Ivy League before. Others also argue that college education should be free with government support. Germany tops the list of countries where one can pursue higher education at no cost. Federal financial aid and scholarships help students afford college. Otherwise, rising tuition costs would bury students or supporting families in debt, raising questions about college’s true value. The economic downturn is poised to worsen the college affordability crisis and widen the opportunity gap between low and high-income households. 

Harvard, like many elite Ivy League universities, has used financial incentives and diversity goals to stimulate the admission of students with high intelligence and potential from modest backgrounds. We’re obsessed with high-status winner-take-all sentiment. Few at the top often get so much more than the rest. I won’t harp on the many themes of exclusivity on Ivy League experiences as college education is not a must-have for wealth and success anymore. However, elite institutions like Harvard continue competing for talent because Harvard lives up to its reputation of admitting the best students and nurturing them to do great things. Harvard has demonstrated this through holistic review in its admissions process as the key to unlocking a diverse educational experience. This is an extremely privileged phenomenon in college admissions reserved for elite institutions with excessive resources required to evaluate college applications and offer ‘almost free’ education to the best of the best in a very thoughtful way. Minds can change and institutions will grow over time. Harvard could be completely free in the talent age as money shouldn’t be an issue to recruit highly talented future leaders.