DeLabs, the startup behind NFT projects DeGods and y00ts, has launched a cryptic website—inspired by old-school Facebook—ahead of the rollout of its DeGods Season III and y00ts2 content and feature expansions in July.
Founder Rohun “Frank” Vora called the site “performance art,” and an alternative to the traditional written roadmap approach. “Roadmaps are stupid,” the website claims. The launch has prompted community members to scour for hidden clues and Easter eggs, and speculate on upcoming features and opportunities that will be released for NFT holders.
Teases on the site suggest the introduction of female DeGod avatars in Season III, changes to its gamified DUST token model, and a novel approach to IP rights for NFT holders that expands upon current models, offering holders the ability to become official licensees of a brand.
Frank founded DeGods in 2021 and has cultivated a community based around exclusive real-world events and social connection—including a beach event for holders late Thursday. In the process, DeGods became the most valuable NFT project on Solana last year, and the success led DeLabs to launch the subsequent y00ts project, as well.
DeGods and y00ts both departed the Solana blockchain in January this year, with DeGods migrating to the Ethereum mainnet and y00ts opting for Ethereum scaling network Polygon—thanks in part to a $3 million grant from Polygon Labs. Both are tokenized profile picture (PFP) projects. DeGods NFTs currently start at 9.35 ETH (approx $17,240) on secondary markets, with y00ts coming in at 1.72 ETH (approx $3,310).
In a Twitter Spaces Q&A following the announcement, Frank spoke of his affiliation for nostalgic branding, stating that “there’s something about the early Facebook days.” He added that “back then, social media was really just about connecting with people in your network.”
The outspoken DeLabs founder further explained the decision to release a teaser site in the style of an early Facebook page. He said that as the internet expands amid the rise of “algorithms that are designed to maximize dopamine,” there’s “great content” and opportunities for creators—but added that he thinks “we lose that social connectedness.”
The evolution of the @DeGodsNFT roadmaps.
V1- simple boring word doc
V2- complicated map with multiple East Eggs
V3- old style website with even more Easter eggs and interactive features pic.twitter.com/FHjM58bIw8
— Baer (@BaerEvo_) June 30, 2023
“I think that NFTs help you find your tribe on the internet,” he added. “As a kid that grew up on the fucking internet, I’ve always wanted a tribe. We’re going to try to build what we’ve always wanted here.”
Decrypt reached out to Frank, but did not receive a response by the time of publication.
Rethinking IP rights
In August 2022, DeLabs released a white paper for y00ts outlining a proposal for a unique form of intellectual property in the NFT space. The white paper was called a “pretty rough approximation” of the plan, and it’s not currently featured on the y00ts website—but it detailed the potential for a copyright-style registration for the y00ts collection.
On the Twitter Spaces today, Frank revealed more insight into the behind-the-scenes process, stating that the team has “spent the last seven months working with our legal firm to draft up a new form of IP rights.”
DeLabs’ ambition is to build a new standard for NFT IP rights, named de[license], which is focused on nurturing viable and profit-driving derivative brands that are building on top of existing collections—in this case, DeGods and y00ts.
Whereas the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT project’s license allows holders to utilize their Ape avatar for commercial usage, that does not extend to the project’s brand name or logo. Frank suggested that his team’s approach will adhere to legal standards while granting holders the ability to become official licensees of a brand.
“I think the market for someone making a Bored Ape Yacht Club hoodie with their individual ape on it would have a lot less audience,” said Frank, “compared to if they were able to make a hoodie with the Bored Ape Yacht Club logo on it.”
“Everything that we built on both the technology layer and on the legal framework layer will help solve for quality control,” he added, “which is the biggest blocker from allowing people to become official licensees of a brand.”