What are Moonbirds?
If you’re looking at top tier NFT collections wondering whether to pick something up, you’ll likely have come across Moonbirds.
They’re expensive, but it’s not immediately clear exactly what they’re aiming for, so let’s take a look and get a sense of what they do.
Moonbirds Up To Now
On the surface, Moonbirds is a collection of 10,000 PFPs, each depicting a unique pixel art owl with traits of varying rarity, and the April 2022 launch was massively hyped, primarily due to its founders: Kevin Rose, in partnership with Ryan Carson and Justin Mezzell.
At launch, holders of a closely-related project, PROOF Collective, were allowed to mint two Moonbirds for each PROOF NFT held. There are 1,000 PROOF NFTs, meaning 2,000 Moonbirds were taken. A raffle-style registration process offered access to the public mint of most of the remaining Moonbirds, and they sold out at 2.5 ETH each.
Moonbirds uses a system called nesting, which is a kind of pseudo-staking mechanism. When you nest a Moonbird, it stays in your wallet, but you’re locked in, and keeping your bird nested causes it to climb the nesting tiers, accumulating access to future benefits. When a Moonbird is listed or sold, its nested status resets.
There’s also a side collection called Moonbirds Oddities, which consists of 10,000 NFTs designed by an artist named Gremplin (who’s famous for CrypToadz and Nouns). They were airdropped in the form of something called Pellets (which later revealed as Oddities) to holders of nested Moonbirds.
The first controversy around Moonbirds was when it minted, as there were credible claims that the raffle system had been manipulated by a Sybil attack.
Then, at the end of April, there was the departure of COO Ryan Carson. The presence of Carson had been an attraction for Moonbirds buyers, and it was reported that he bought up rare Moonbirds before leaving, allegedly benefitting from prior knowledge of which traits would be valuable.
Finally, in August, Moonbirds announced that it was switching to a CC0 IP model, also known as no rights reserved, meaning anyone could use the collection’s artwork. CC0 is considered a distinctively web3 style, but not all holders approved, and they had a point, as when Moonbirds went on sale there was no indication that CC0 would be implemented.
Why are Moonbirds Highly Rated?
Let’s be honest, there’s no shortage of pixel-art PFPs out there, and although the Moonbirds design is well executed, there’s no way it was hyped based only on the art.
Moonbirds was a huge drop because of the people who created it, their credentials, and the PROOF community it emerged from.
What is PROOF Collective?
PROOF was founded by the same people as Moonbirds–Kevin Rose, with Ryan Carson and Justin Mezzell–in December 2021. Rose and Carson have proven backgrounds in internet entrepreneurship, while Mezzell is an artist and designer.
The community of PROOF holders includes very famous names from the NFT world, such as Gary Vee, Beeple and Justin Aversano, although some members were gifted passes for negligible sums or entirely free.
As a kind of members-only web3 club, PROOF provides networking, investment information, prestige minting opportunities, and access to real-life events. Membership means you’re on the inside of what’s upcoming, although, in reality, PROOF can also influence and create what’s upcoming.
1,000 PROOF Collective passes minted at a price–found through a Dutch auction–of 1 ETH each, and they hit an all-time-high floor price of, briefly, around 120 ETH. They now trade for a minimum of 36 ETH: a hefty outlay that will get you through the Discord gates at the top tier.
Moonbirds developed out of PROOF, and the two are interlinked, with the same team of original founders. Moonbirds has no Discord of its own, and ownership of its PFPs unlocks entry–albeit at a different level–to the token-gated PROOF Discord, as does ownership of a Moonbirds Oddity.
When assessing Moonbirds, it’s worth considering a valid criticism around PROOF Collective. Basically, crypto was supposed to be open to everyone and provide an alternative to elitism and centralized influence. However, those ideals don’t apply to token-gated members clubs, and–rightly or wrongly–this kind of structure is now part of the landscape.
What’s Planned for the Future?
On-chain or In-Chain?
The majority of NFTs simply point to an image that is kept off-chain, a system which isn’t very crypto, and means there are no guarantees that the link between NFT and image will last forever.
By contrast, Moonbirds are moving all the layers that make up the collection on-chain, where a smart contract will assemble them. This is much more secure, and stays true to how crypto should operate.
Moonbirds is calling this system in-chain, rather than on-chain, to indicate that absolutely everything is on the blockchain and live-rendered, but in-chain isn’t a generally recognized term.
Moonbirds Mythics and Moonbirds DAO
Following on from the Moonbirds Oddities companion collection, a second spin-off is planned, called Moonbirds Mythics.
Not a great deal is known about the newest set, but it seems that owners of nested Moonbirds will receive one or two mythics, while Oddities can be burned in exchange for a Mythic. The plan is to release a total of 20,000 Mythics, starting from sometime in early 2023, although only 25 Mythics will be issued each day, creating (for reasons unknown) a very long process.
The other major plan for 2023 is a Moonbirds DAO, with membership and voting rights for holders of Moonbirds and Moonbirds Mythics. 35% of royalties from secondary sales of Moonbirds and Moonbirds Oddities will go to the DAO, on top of an initial allocation of $2.6 million in ETH and Moonbirds NFTs from the PROOF Collective treasury.
Are Moonbirds a Good Buy Right Now?
When it comes to collections that will still be around by the time we get a bull market again, the near-certainties are CryptoPunks, followed by Bored Ape Yacht Club, and after that, Moonbirds are one of the strongest contenders.
The remaining founders are active and enthusiastic, and have built an influential members’ network. They are experienced from the world of web startups, meaning they understand how to build value and sustain interest.
On the other hand, in PROOF Collective, which is closely linked to Moonbirds, we have an exclusive club whose members can profit simply by being on the inside, which doesn’t sound like a nailed-on prospect in the disruptive, fickle world of NFTs.
That said, there is likely still a lot more to come from the Moonbirds/PROOF network. Moonbirds, Moonbirds Oddities and PROOF are all heavily discounted from previous highs, and, within the context of an NFT allocation, they look like decent buys either as long-term holds, or as potential medium-term flips.