Luca Netz, an entrepreneur from Los Angeles, bought the collection of 8,888 digital penguins for 750 ETH.
The Pudgy Penguins non-fungible token (NFT) project has a new leader following the successful completion of a long-awaited 750 ETH ($2.5 million) auction.
According to persons familiar with the arrangement, a company led by Pudgy Penguins holder and Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Luca Netz would purchase control of the initiative, as well as royalties, from the project’s original four co-founders. Netz, together with his associate Cameron Moulène and numerous other stakeholders, will be the new head of “The Huddle.”
Control of the project will allow the purchasers’ group to issue a token and execute airdrops to other NFT series holders, among other things.
The agreement comes after the Pudgy Penguins’ founding squad was expelled in a controversial Discord vote in January. Holders of the adorable flightless digital birds have been waiting for information on the project’s uncertain destiny ever since.
“This deal has taken a lot longer than I expected,” said Netz, who last talked with CoinDesk in January, when a preliminary agreement was reached between Netz and the previous founding team.
Pudgy Penguin trade on NFT platform OpenSea soared on Friday as deal completion rumors swirled. After trading ranged between 0.7 and 1.4 ETH in recent weeks, the floor price of a Pudgy Penguin soared as high as 2.5 ETH. The cheapest penguin available at the time of publication was advertised at 2.2 ETH.
Netz intended to publicly announce the sale’s end on social media late Saturday, and in an interview with CoinDesk on Friday, he stated that the deal was “100% not an April Fool’s prank,” explaining his choice to wait until after April 1 to become public.
“Everything is aligned to make this one of the most prominent initiatives of all time,” Netz added, declining to elaborate on specific roadmap items but implying at least one retail relationship.
Pudgy Penguins, which was launched in July 2021, has become one of the most popular NFT collections, with over 49,000 ether in trade volume (about $171 million in today’s ether values) on the NFT marketplace OpenSea.
It was published in a New York Times essay last summer explaining the NFT phenomena, and its current holders include NBA All-Star Steph Curry and artist Tory Lanez.
“My first NFT buy was penguins,” Netz told CoinDesk. He was intrigued by the collection because the digital penguins, dressed in anything from wizard hats to bowties, “emit pleasure,” he adds. Last summer, Netz spent around 0.1 ETH for his first penguin.
“When looking at an NFT project, it’s a fascinating experience to feel,” Netz stated. “The most compelling collections are those that elicit feeling.”
“They were so dang cute, and everyone loved them,” remarked JoeyMooose, a Twitter user, of the project’s first reaction. During an emotional Pudgy Penguins Twitter Spaces event, JoeyMooose owned a Pudgy Penguin with a green mohawk and coined the collection’s iconic rallying cry, “I am my penguin and my penguin is me.”
Netz, who created a successful drop-shipping firm before dabbling in NFTs, says he will spearhead the project’s marketing efforts and make the Pudgy Penguins “a brand that’s renowned both inside and outside of the NFT community.”
When questioned about the possibility of a Pudgy Penguin toy, Netz said, “It would be economically irresponsible if I didn’t do it.”
What is the $PENGU Token?
Rumors arose on Friday that the long-awaited Pudgy Penguins token will be unveiled, pushing the penguin purchasing frenzy even more.
“Speculative fervor is beginning to build around NFT floors when there is the anticipation of tokenization, even if it’s frequently just hearsay,” said GiganticRebirth, a prominent member of the Pudgy Penguins community who owns the rare Ghost Penguin. “Tokenization enhances the premise that non-traditional assets will act as yield-bearing assets.”
This would be similar to Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape Yacht Club, which debuted its ApeCoin ($APE) cryptocurrency earlier this month.
Netz rejected the allegations but vowed that a token that “followed the law” will be forthcoming in the future.
“If [Bored Ape Yacht Club] accomplished it, we will do it,” Netz said on Friday to CoinDesk. “But it’s not something I want to deal with right now.”
Capture of the penguin
Pudgy Penguin owners, also known as “The Huddle” and “Penguins,” have had a turbulent few months following their first rocket to stardom.
With multiple “accidental” de-listings on OpenSea and falling revenues thus far this year, the need for skilled leadership has been long overdue.
According to numerous accounts, the original Pudgy Penguins founding team made ambitious promises to the community, including the release of a children’s book, a token, and a metaverse game based on penguin imagery. Ultimately, none of the initiatives were realized.
Meanwhile, other profile image initiatives like Bored Ape Yacht Club and Cool Cats saw their costs skyrocket last autumn, leaving many Pudgy Penguins NFT holders unhappy.
Cole There, the co-founder of Pudgy Penguins, did not reply to repeated requests for comment through Twitter messages.
Tensions reached a boiling point last Christmas Day when a highly anticipated airdrop showed NFTs of fishing rods, which were first misspelled as “rogs.”
“That was the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Pudgy Penguins community manager ActuallyAgents on Twitter, adding that many penguin owners expected a game at the time of the presentation. “Imagine waking up on Christmas morning and discovering that your grandma had gotten you a PlayStation2 game, but you didn’t possess a PlayStation2.”
In January, the pseudonymous Twitter user 9x9x9 (owner of the rare Banana Penguin) posted a thread stating that the Pudgy Penguin founders emptied the project’s treasury of cash and gave him the project’s shell for 888 ETH.