When it first launched back in mid-March, ApeCoin (APE -0.17%) appeared to be one of the most speculative crypto investments you could make. After all, you were essentially betting on the future price of a bunch of digital cartoon apes -- the "Bored Apes" -- at a time when the non-fungible token (NFT) market was rapidly deteriorating. Bored Apes that once sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars began selling for a fraction of those prices, and many people were losing their faith in the long-term cultural significance of the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
So is APE just a silly meme coin, and did it already have its 15 minutes of fame? It's easy to be skeptical, but there are growing signs that APE has finally figured out a way to become more than just a meme coin. Quite simply, APE could be on its way to becoming a new kind of entertainment brand, backed by a growing portfolio of valuable intellectual property (IP).
The NFT as brand
At this summer's NFT.NYC event in New York City, attendees kept playing up the idea of the NFT as brand. Maybe it was just an attempt to prop up the value of their sagging NFT investments, but it could signal a new way to think about NFTs. They are no longer just "digital collectibles" -- they are now "intellectual property." In short, NFTs can be brands. And some of the biggest NFT brands might one day rival the biggest entertainment brands of today, including the likes of Disney (DIS -1.33%).
Consider, for example, that social media influencer Gary Vaynerchuk (known to his fans as "Gary Vee") recently lined up $50 million from venture capital investors for a portfolio of 283 different NFTs. These VC investors were not investing so much in a company as in a portfolio of brands. As they saw it, if any of these "NFT characters" ever became an iconic entertainment brand, then it would be worth much more than the price of their initial investment. And that's why it's interesting to note all the brand extensions that have come out of the Bored Ape Yacht Club recently, such as the Mutant Ape Yacht Club.
Real-world brand extensions
And there's another reason APE might turn out to be more than just a meme coin. There are now more ways than ever for APE holders to participate in the APE ecosystem. This is critical because, until recently, the APE coin didn't seem to hold much utility. You couldn't use it to pay for things at the local supermarket, and it was terrible as a store of value because the prices of Bored Apes kept falling.
But now you can pay for things like food with APE. For example, you can go to Bored & Hungry, a fast-food theme restaurant in California, and pay for menu items with APE. And you can sign up for the Bored Breakfast Club to get subscription coffee with your ape NFTs. There are plans for a Bored Ape metaverse called Otherside. Think big here. Every digital ape can be a brand in and of itself. There are 10,000 Bored Apes, so imagine a vast menagerie of 10,000 films, music projects, books, TV shows and Web3 projects. Walt Disney would be jealous.
Planet of the digital apes?
But let's not get ahead of ourselves here. The Bored Apes could still very well be a fad. In fact, there are many other NFT collections that look similar, so all of the Bored Ape intellectual property might not be worth much.
The big picture, though, is that APE is already more than just a pure meme coin. It has some real-world utility and is backed by real intellectual property. If APE really is trying to become a mass-market entertainment brand, then maybe it is worth a closer look. APE is trading for about $7 right now -- that's a pretty low price of admission to what could become a crypto blockbuster one day.