Why Domain Name Investors Are Buying Up NFTs
About the author
Andrew Miller is CEO of ATM Holdings, and has invested in and advised some of the highest-value domain name transactions on record, including recent deals for Home.com, Candy.com, and Universal.com. He founded CreditCards.com and InsuranceQuotes.com, both successful exits. He started investing in NFTs in 2021, and acquired his first Bored Ape in August.
When I first told my wife, the daughter of a famous collage artist, that I just paid more for a JPEG of a cartoon ape than the value of our Chihuly glass, she gave me that look that says: “Excuse me?” So, why did I spend $48,000 on a Bored Ape NFT?
I first learned about Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) before the collection of Apes were even minted. I took a brief look and moved on. At the time, I had never bought an NFT.
My business background is in buying and selling domain names, and “minting” is also a key term in that space. In domain-speak, minting is the equivalent of hand-registering a domain name. So once all 10,000 Bored Apes were minted, the only path to acquisition, as with a premium domain, became the secondary market.
I began to develop an interest in owning an Ape in late May. By then, I had dabbled with buying a few other (much lower-priced) NFTs. I vividly recall being on vacation on June 3 contemplating with my college-aged son whether to take the leap and buy an Ape when the floor (asking price for the cheapest NFT in a collection) was around 2 ETH ($5,600 USD at that time). By June 27, I was still talking about buying one while sitting around the fire pit with friends; by then, the floor was up to 4.5 ETH ($8,550).
Domain name investors are some of the earliest explorers of the Internet. Many went on to become founders and CEOs of some of the biggest Internet successes. I have been involved in $245 million worth of exclusive premium domain name sales on the Internet. I did not hand-register any of them. My involvement was always as a buyer/seller on the secondary market, and my first one, Beer.com, was in 1998, four years after the first domain names were “minted.” Presently I’m overseeing the sale of the category domain name NFTArt.com, an address for this entire burgeoning industry. Domains are some of the most valuable digital asset classes and are finally starting to mature.
Unsurprisingly, I’m not the only domain name guy fascinated by NFTs. In mid-August, my friends the Booth brothers, two of the most reputable domain investors, made headlines for acquiring the 27th-rarest Bored Ape (according to Rarity.tools), for 400 ETH or $1.3 million. I have seen many of the savviest domain investors buy Apes and hang them on their Twitter account as their profile picture (PFP). I too wanted an Ape as my profile picture. But that was only a small part of it.
I believe we are not even in 1998 yet with NFTs. It’s not even the first inning, it’s 1995 in the domain world. And NFTs are moving faster than domain names did. NFT time is on a different clock since they are more liquid than domains.
So finally, just like I did with domains, I made my move a bit later, at a higher cost, but that’s when I was ready, and it felt right. When making my selection as an investment, I got free advice from those who know more than me and were willing to spend their valuable time helping me choose. One of those in my inner circle on this decision was Morgan Linton, one of the smartest domainers and the founder of Bold Metrics, a leading software company for helping online apparel fit properly. Morgan owns multiple Apes and blogs regularly about them, often providing golden nuggets of information. He told me, “I wish I could say I had some amazing foresight or just knew Bored Apes was going to take off, but the reality is, it was my first NFT and I had no idea what I was doing. I knew BAYC was something truly special when I changed my profile picture on Twitter. A few people told me they thought I had gone too far and asked why would I ever change my profile picture to a cartoon ape. But once I became an ape on Twitter, it changed everything. That’s the first time I experienced the community, and honestly, it blew my mind, and I knew I had to buy more Apes.”
I bought my Bored Ape on August 12 for 16 ETH. Of course, some of my motivation was FOMO. Now I have my Ape avatar and I’ve satisfied my FOMO, but my Ape is so much more. I’m a member of a very exclusive online club. As of this writing, there are only 5,294 Ape owners. The BAYC founders are creating incredible opportunities that are only going to get more extensive. Right now, owning an Ape gets us a companion dog (Bored Ape Kennel Club), mutant ape (Mutant Ape Yacht Club, recently announced), and cool limited edition merchandise, created in partnership with streetwear brand The Hundreds. During the merchandise drop this weekend, Bobby Hundreds tweeted, “in 18 years, we’ve never seen anything like what’s happening on our website right now.” In the future, I could see Ape holders getting real-world experiences or even IPO shares.
When I became a club seat holder of the my favorite NFL team, I got Super Bowl tickets, post-game team party invites, and more perks. I believe owning an Ape will unlock opportunities that we have not even imagined yet, just as some domain names have done for investors. Yes, many NFTs will fail, but I believe BAYC is a “blue chip” NFT collection. Some of those 5,294 Ape owners include athletes like Von Miller and influencers like Logan Paul. Another smart domain investor, Shane Cultra, is launching a new bottled honey brand with his “Colonel Whitenfur” Bored Ape on the packaging. Just this week, beverage brand Arizona Iced Tea bought a Bored Ape and tweeted that it will feature in their advertising campaigns.
I expect this is the very beginning. Will we see an Ape in a Super Bowl commercial in 2022? Who would want to sell, even for a massive short-term return? Not yet. Not now.
My Ape is my author photo for this post. He has a rare mouth, jacket, and hat, and he makes for a more handsome profile pic than me.