How one silly JPEG of a Bored Ape changed my life

A little over five years ago I started investing in Bitcoin, and before you think, “oh great, some obnoxious crypto millionaire is about to brag about how much money he made in crypto,” let me make it clear — nope — that’s not me. I didn’t make millions off of Bitcoin and, I also didn’t promptly move to Miami and buy a Ferrari. Instead, Bitcoin got me interested in Ethereum which then sparked my interest in the whole world of Blockchain and Defi.

I was pretty active in crypto back in 2016 and 2017, but it was getting stressful, I was checking prices constantly and it went from fun, to well, a lot less fun. So I decided — time to move everything to cold storage and forget about it. Tracking crypto prices daily was just too stressful and I thought it would be a better move to just tuck it all away and look at it in a few years.

Fast-forward to 2021 and I started to hear more and more about NFTs, mostly about these tiny pixelated punks called CryptoPunks. If you don’t know what those are, they look like this ⬇️

People seemed to be talking about CryptoPunks more and more and the sales volume was picking up, but the prices seemed totally nuts to me. But at this point I was officially curious.

I remembered CryptoPunks and CryptoKitties were a thing when I was getting more involved in crypto but I ignored them, it didn’t make sense. Looking at this with a fresh set of eyes ~5 years later…it still didn’t make sense.

But it became harder to ignore as people I know and respect in the crypto space started talking about NFTs more and more, and the volume and sales of CryptoPunks was getting to a point that it was clear something was going on. At the same time I had pretty much decided — I missed the boat, I’m too late on this one, I’ll have to wait on the sidelines.

Then, I started to see more and more about something called Bored Ape Yacht Club on Twitter. Minting was coming up and honestly, it seemed completely ridiculous, but also intriguing. What made Bored Apes interesting, or at least interesting to me at first, was the concept that owning the NFT gave you exclusive access to a club, specifically, a swamp club for apes.

I couldn’t quite figure out what you got with the club membership, but I knew you were able to access a different part of the Bored Ape Yacht Club website, which had behind it - a bathroom with a wall that everyone was allowed to write on. I sat out the mint but followed every minute of the action pre and post-mint on Twitter.

That’s when the FOMO started to sink in. Had I missed the boat again? I didn’t mint and the prices were climbing. I went onto OpenSea and saw Bored Apes were now up to 0.4ETH, which was around $1,400. Could I actually bring myself to spend over $1,000 on a JPEG of a Bored Ape that gave me access to a digital bathroom wall?

Oh well, I thought — I can’t miss out again, and I bought this ape that I aptly named Captain Morgan, on May 4th 2021 for 0.4455 ETH or $1,569.

The first thing I did after buying my ape was to go straight to the website, log in, and learn what my new VIP swamp club membership would be. The VIP bathroom wall experience I had just paid to have access to was there in front of me, I had finally made it…and it was an ugly chaotic mess of scribbles. What have I done?

I’ll be honest, I felt pretty weird for a few hours — did I just buy into some strange hype train and the end result was a digital bathroom wall that I could scribble on?

So I decided to head to the Bored Ape Discord — what was going on there? The energy was palatable, people were beyond excited…I was still confused. There were a lot of people talking about changing their Twitter profile picture. Uh, that would be a tough one, my Twitter profile picture has always been a picture of me, I can’t suddenly change it to a cartoon ape can I?

That when I made a decision that was without a doubt the tipping point for me — I had made it this far, why turn back now. So I did it. My profile picture on Twitter was now an ape wearing a Captain’s hat with an eyepatch. About an hour later I got a text from a friend, “was your Twitter account hacked?” then another “are you sure you want that profile picture?”

Maybe I had made a big mistake? Was this embarrassing? Did I look like a crazy person? Am I a crazy person, I just spent $1,500 on a JPEG of an ape with an eyepatch. But then I saw some apes on Twitter, followed them and started tweeting with them. There was this instant connection, a connection that I wasn’t used to on Twitter. And then came the followers, way more followers than I was used to getting…

As more Bored Apes followed me, Twitter became more fun. Rather than talking about all the doom and gloom in the world, we were all joking around, talking about NFTs, and sharing our love for their weird ape JPEGs we had all bought. More and more people started changing their profile pictures, it was becoming a movement.

All of us early Bored Apes had a pretty interesting connection and a similar experience — most people thought we were crazy, and trying to explain this to our friends and family was, well, pretty awkward.

As time passed, Twitter fundamentally changed for me and many others. It shifted away from a place where people focused on the division in our society and the things that frustrate them about the world and became a place where we all celebrated each other, joked around, and just had fun together.

I was loving it, and well, I kept buying apes.

I will never forget the summer of 2021. As the price of Bored Apes kept rising, my interest in NFTs kept growing. I jumped into the mint for a project called Gutter Cats, and boom — a new community developed. Me and many others got excited about these happy looking Yeti’s…which well, we try not to talk about the Yeti’s.

Now it’s October, I have a family of apes, some matching dogs, I’ve flipped apes for over $100,000 and taken that money and put it right back into apes. And I have about 6,000 new followers on Twitter and a whole new community that I absolutely love being a part of. I’ve also invested in a lot more projects, studied rarity traits, and officially gone down the NFT rabbit hole.

Today I chat with and collaborate with creative people all over the world, I have a regular blog about NFT Investing, and a whole new perspective on digital assets and where all of this is going. While people talk a lot about how NFTs have changed their life financially, and yes — that’s awesome and definitely hard to ignore, it’s the way my life has changed socially, and that I see the world changing socially, that I’m the most excited about.

NFTs are taking people like me, who never considered themselves art lovers and exposing us to art and making us realize that maybe we do like art, and maybe we are okay spending $10,000 or more (sometimes a lot more) to support artists we appreciate and art we love. It’s also showing all of us at such an interesting time in human history that we can choose to find ways to divide us, or ways to bring us together.

By taking a risk and spending $1,500 on a silly JPEG of an ape, I changed my life, and something tells me this is only the beginning of an incredible transformation. So if you “don’t get NFTs” or think they’re silly, know that we all did, and in some ways still do, but that’s okay, sometime something silly is an important part of radical change.

co-founder at Bold Metrics| previously at Sonos | I write a lot and take way too many photos