Solana's Monkey Business (SMB), one of the first and most valuable NFT projects on the Solana blockchain, has a new owner. Hadeswap—the Solana NFT trading platform—announced today that it has acquired the intellectual property rights to the project.
Hadeswap, a unique type of trading platform that uses an automated market maker (AMM) and trading pools instead of traditional product listings, has acquired the rights to Solana Monkey Business from the original creators and plans to continue supporting the outstanding project.
On its web page announcing the news, Hadeswap said it intends to "respect the legacy" of Solana Monkey Business while "filling the gaps for its shortcomings" and making the project more accessible to a wider audience. The platform also plans to integrate the project into its Hadeswap and HADES token ecosystem.
Solana Monkey Business launched in June 2021 as one of the first projects in the nascent Solana NFT space, launching 205 initial pixel collectibles featuring a monkey in space. The larger Gen2 collection included 5,000 NFT profile pictures (PFPs) that have become popular among Solana collectors over the past year.
Gen2 assets have a current minimum price (or the price of the cheapest listed NFT) of about 283 SOL on the leading market Magic Eden, or almost $5,800. This is the second-highest starting price for any large-scale Solana NFT project of at least 1,000 pieces, after DeGods.
But according to data from CryptoSlam, SMEs have received more trading volume (in US dollars) than any other Solana project, amounting to about US$159 million. This is largely because it was popular when SOL was close to a peak price of $260 in late 2021, as opposed to the current price level of around $20.
Despite the continued popularity of the project, the original SME creators faced significant pushback from NFT owners. Many NFT holders have created an informal online collective or DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) and turned to MonkeDAO to further develop the project and expand its ecosystem.
At this time last year, MonkeDAO entered into a public battle with project creators over the recognition and funding of DAO projects. Some participants have said that they are considering “packaging” their NFTs to turn them into new assets, thus allowing them to remove the royalties from the secondary sales of creators (which is how the original creators generate revenue) — and instead redirect those funds to the DAO.
In the end, the two sides agreed to a truce and buried the fight without any ill-advised measures, with Solana Monkey Business agreeing to help fund the DAO's efforts. But now that Hadeswap is taking over the project, it's unclear whether MonkeDAO will be an ally.
On its announcement website, Hadeswap said it is in communication with MonkeDAO members and hopes to "[work] closely with one of the most powerful and efficient DAOs the Web3 has ever seen." But in a tweet today, MonkeDAO said it first spoke with Hadeswap about the acquisition on Sunday, and that there is no alliance yet.
"At this time, we have not entered into a partnership agreement, but MonkeDAO is open to dialogue with the HadesDAO team to determine the best path forward for all stakeholders," the statement said. "HadesDAO's acquisition of SMB does not change the SMB owner's access to MonkeDAO, nor does it grant HadesDAO access to manage MonkeDAO."
MonkeDAO still plans to release its own NFT collection "in the coming months," which seems to build on the original Solana Monkey Business vibe with an expanded set of PFP designs and character attributes.
“The MonkeDAO team is as surprised as you are by the Hadeswap SMB acquisition,” tweeted attorney and MonkeDAO member Ariel Givner. "After months of discussions with the SMB developers, unfortunately, it didn't work out," she added, suggesting that The DAO itself was also trying to acquire the project.
Hadeswap, which just launched last fall, said its own HadesDAO community will lead the future development of the project. The Hadeswap platform was created by an NFT investor under the alias HGE, who is also behind the popular Ethereum-based Solana NFT ABC and OpenDAO project and its associated SOS token.
Hadeswap does not require traders to pay royalties to authors for sales, potentially ending further funding for MonkeDAO. Decipher reached out to Hadeswap for comment, but did not receive an immediate response regarding its plans and terms of the deal.
The move is reminiscent of what happened in the Ethereum space just under a year ago when Bored Ape Yacht Club creator Yuga Labs acquired the rights to CryptoPunks and Meebits IP from original creator Larva Labs. Yuga has since given CryptoPunks holders more rights around their NFTs and developed initiatives around the influential project.