Move over Ethereum—Bored Ape Yacht Club creator Yuga Labs sets sights on Bitcoin NFTs

February 28, 2023, 7:07 PM UTC
Yuga Lab's TwelveFold NFT Project is a limited edition collection of 300 generative pieces, inscribed on satoshis on the Bitcoin blockchain.
Courtesy of Yuga Labs

After dominating the market for NFTs on Ethereum, Yuga Labs is taking on the Bitcoin blockchain. 

The $4 billion company said it plans to launch a new collection of Bitcoin NFTs called TwelveFold, which is based on a 12×12 grid that the company describes as “a visual allegory for the cartography of data on the Bitcoin blockchain.”

Unlike past launches, including the Web3 game Dookey Dash and its Otherside metaverse, TwelveFold will have no utility or connection to the company’s notable Ethereum-based projects like Bored Ape Yacht Club.

According to Yuga Labs cofounder Greg Solano, the collection was designed by Michael Figge, Yuga’s chief content officer, who before joining the company in November created the NFT project 10KTF—which is based around a digital storefront where users can mint unique NFTs featuring their avatar on various metaverse-ready digital wearables.

Although Yuga said the collection of 300 NFTs would be auctioned off later this week, it didn’t give an exact time. The company said it would give a 24-hour notice with auction details and exact timing via social media. 

Although all of Yuga Labs’ past NFT collections have been on Ethereum, the most popular blockchain for NFTs, its announcement of TwelveFold follows a surge of interest in Bitcoin NFTs, which helped briefly push the price of Bitcoin above $25,000 earlier this month.

Using a new protocol called Ordinal Theory, NFT creators are “inscribing” non-fungible tokens onto the smallest unit of Bitcoin, called a Satoshi, which is one-hundred-millionth of a Bitcoin. While NFTs on Ethereum and Solana mostly point to off-chain databases that contain an NFT’s main image, the Bitcoin NFTs, or Ordinals, take advantage of recent updates to Bitcoin’s code to store art on the blockchain itself.

Ordinals have pumped up enthusiasm in the NFT industry over the past month even as Crypto Winter lingers. Already, more than 213,000 Ordinals have been inscribed on the Bitcoin blockchain, according to data from Dune Analytics, as the technology continues to attract big players in the NFT space like DeGods. 

Yuga’s TwelveFold NFT collection is based around a 12×12 grid, and described by the company as “a visual allegory for the cartography of data on the Bitcoin blockchain.”
Courtesy of Yuga Labs

Yuga is entering the Bitcoin NFT space as it faces a threat to its business from the ongoing battle between large NFT marketplaces over creator royalties. Earlier this month, in response to a challenge from upstart NFT marketplace Blur, the market leader, OpenSea, moved to a policy of optional creator earnings. 

This could hurt NFT creators like Yuga, who makes millions off royalty fees from secondary sales.

The impending TwelveFold sale is likely to bring in a significant sum because of Yuga’s brand name alone, but some have said they see the project as nothing more than a revenue boost for the company. 

Others have said the move could be particularly risky for Yuga given how much it depends on and cares about its reputation, as evidenced by its ongoing lawsuit against Ryder Ripps.

In a blog post published Monday, Solano explained Yuga’s thinking on the Ordinals project: “All of these choices are a departure from what’s expected from Yuga. But, you know. Fuck doing expected things.”

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