Last October, the Cool Cats NFT collection was one of the hottest around. Back then, the average price of just one cartoon cat avatar was $92,000.
Six months later, Cool Cats’ newly-appointed CEO departed under vague circumstances after just three months. And despite the NFT collection signing with one of Hollywood’s top talent agencies for representation, Cool Cats appeared to have suddenly run out of steam.
This month, the price of one Cool Cats NFT has plummeted to a low of just 2.85 ETH each, or $3,556, numbers not seen since August 2021.
What happens when an NFT collection skyrockets in popularity, creates a large community, releases a working play-to-earn game, and signs with a major Hollywood talent agency?
You’d think the collection’s floor price would surge. But for Cool Cats, the opposite happened.
What makes an NFT valuable is often debated by enthusiasts in the crypto community. While some “right-click-savers” believe NFTs have no value at all, others believe that NFTs can provide immense aesthetic, financial, and entertainment value to holders.
But as the market matures, some of the hottest NFT collections are seeing their floor price—the minimum purchase price—fluctuate wildly.
There are often hype cycles based on community interest and memes on social media, such as the Goblintown NFTs, which cost a minimum of 7.85 ETH ($14,600) two weeks ago despite an OpenSea description that is nothing more than gibberish and a community obsessed with urine and gargling into their mics (yes, really). Since then, the floor price has plunged to 3.15 ETH ($3,900), a sign the feces and urine NFT frenzy was short-lived.
Cool Cats were not safe from the fecal matter trend either. The ill poop it Ethereum NFT collection, created May 31, took shots at Cool Cats for “going to shit,” so to speak. The project created an NFT of a Cool Cat embedded in a literal pile of shit, with phrases like “Blue chip? More like 2 blue cat” and “I thought doodle was meant to be the last pussy collection.”
The broader crypto market downturn exacerbated by Terra’s crash led to NFT floor prices fluctuating across the board. But few were hit as hard as Cool Cats, whose average prices have plummeted 96% from their all-time high.
What went wrong? Uncertainty surrounding a quiet CEO, possible Otherside-related selloffs, and mixed feelings around Cool Cats game Cooltopia and the MILK token appear to have contributed to a dramatic decline in interest.
The origin story
Cool Cats began as a character by the artist Colin Egan (“Clon”), who branded himself “The Catoonist” and sold his drawings to the public.
The Cool Cats NFT collection launched in July 2021 with a mint price—or primary sale price—of just 0.02 ETH, which was about $44 at the time, when Ethereum was at about $2,200.
This low entry price made the community feel “really positive” in its early days, according to longtime Cool Cat NFT holder topshotkief.eth, who initially minted ten Cats NFTs. When he first spoke with Decrypt, he held eight Cool Cats and 12 Cool Pets (the companion collection), but has since lost all of his Cool Cats in a “Goblintown burger” phishing scam.
By October 2021, Cool Cats skyrocketed to an average price of nearly 26 ETH per NFT, which was roughly $93,000 each at the time. The collection was even advertised in Times Square.
#tbt when my @coolcatsnft was on a gigantic billboard in the middle of Times Square lmfao pic.twitter.com/Pv8vKAgoOe
— Jeenius (@JeeniusETH) February 18, 2022
The Cats were dubbed a “blue chip” collection by the NFT community, a term only given to the crème de la crème of NFTs in terms of exclusivity and perceived value, like the celebrity favorite Bored Ape Yacht Club and the pastel-washed Doodles.
From October through April, Cool Cats hovered around a floor price of roughly 10 ETH as holders awaited the collection’s long-promised game Cooltopia. Cooltopia launched in mid-April. And yet, in recent weeks, Cool Cats NFTs have been valued around 3 ETH, which is about $3,800.
How did one of the most famous NFT collections fall more than 90% from its all-time high?
Back in January, the Cool Cats founders hired Chris Hassett as CEO, a business executive with experience in crypto since 2015. Hassett was supposed to help the team forge high-profile partnerships. At the time, NFT market sentiment was largely optimistic, with OpenSea breaking all-time records in monthly traded volume.
But many Cool Cats had doubts about the “boomer” CEO, and Hassett left the project after just three months.
Cool Cats Co-Founder Evan Luza told Decrypt via email that Hassett left the NFT project to pursue “a new opportunity,” but did not provide further detail.
When asked about the community accusations that Hassett was “useless” and “not doing anything,” Luza pushed back.
“While our community's feedback is very important to us, we like to focus on all of the incredible things we’ve accomplished at Cool Cats in a very short time under Chris’s leadership—launching Cooltopia, signing with CAA, working with TOIKIDO to launch a new line of merchandise just to name a few,” he said.
In April, the Cool Cats community’s head moderator Chris Peralta also left the project.
Peralta tweeted that his departure was a “mutual decision.”
Otherside price speculation
A 3D version of a Cool Cat NFT appeared in the March 18 trailer for Yuga Labs’ Otherside metaverse game. The next day, Cool Cats saw an inevitable spike in sales, seeing 199 sales on OpenSea.
Cool Cat owner Crockett speculated that any Cool Cats purchased based on inclusion in the Otherside trailer may have led to a selloff once buyers realized that Cats holders weren’t going to see any immediate financial benefits or early access to the Otherside game.
Hot take: the inclusion of Cool Cats, WOW, and Cryptoadz in the otherside Video may have been a bit of a negative to those projects. It seems some buyers may have only purchasing due to WL/partnership speculation who then sold off for less when it was clear there were no benefits
— Crockett (@dailyanger) May 1, 2022
Indeed, some Cool Cats holders did believe that they would get on the presale list for the Otherside mint just because they held Cats NFTs:
I have 1 Mutant and 14 Cool Cats. Assuming I get 1 Allowlist per CC for Otherside Land, would it be wise to sell the MAYC to afford the 14 lands? Obviously waiting on official announcement, but I’m not sure how to play this. I’d flip land back to buy a MAYC in a perfect world. #
— BigBullGashi.eth 💊🐱🦍 (@BigBullGashi) April 20, 2022
“The only reason I’m holding my last cat tbh,” said Balou.eth in response to a fellow community member’s assumption that the Cool Cats would “be a part of Otherside.”
After much anticipation, Cooltopia launched for Cool Cats and Pets holders in mid-April. In Cooltopia, Cool Cats and Cool Pets owners can complete quests to earn MILK, the collection’s official token. Cool Cats are also able to earn passive income in MILK just by holding their NFT.
This was a notable achievement, making the Cool Cats one of the first profile picture NFT collections to launch a game with a working economy.
Ironically, since the launch of Cooltopia, the floor price of the Cool Cats has slowly declined further, going from a floor price of 9 ETH to as low as about 3 ETH at one point.
Longtime Cool Cats holder topshotkief has a few theories on why the Cats aren’t as sought-after right now.
“The game took so long to come out,” he said.
While he likes the game (“It’s cute”), he admitted he’s only logged on “a few times” and believes that for many, “expectations weren’t met” surrounding the game.
Azuki gave their community Beanz
CloneX gave their community Shoes
VeeFriends gave their community another 65k doodle art
Doodles gave their community spaceships
Cool Cats gave their community a functioning p2e that generates income
Guess which one gets mass fud lol
— Nick (@altcoinaffleck) April 22, 2022
Kief cited the declining price of MILK as another pain point, and believes that if the token could become more deflationary, sentiment could change.
He estimated he earned roughly a few dollars a day in MILK by keeping his Cats NFTs, but didn't consider it substantial passive income.
Cool Cats holder weewoo.eth also believes that MILK’s tokenomics are lacking, writing in Discord that the Cool Cats team “failed” by “killing value of rares with poor MILK multipliers” in Cooltopia and arguing that the team did not design a “proper MILK sink on launch.”
As someone who “diamond-handed” 80% of his Cats since mint, topshotkief applauded the Cats team for achieving everything on their first roadmap.
“They’ve done everything they said they were going to do,” kief said, adding that in his view, “It’s only a matter of time” before the Cool Cats gain popularity again.
Perhaps others in the community share kief’s “hodl” mentality, as only 4.9% of all Cool Cats NFTs are currently listed for sale according to data from NFT Price Floor.
Having completed its initial goals, it appears a new era is on the horizon for the project. The team has already published a list of future expansions for their game and released a new roadmap including boss quests for Cooltopia, plush toys to be revealed at NFT NYC, and plans for a 3D metaverse called Coolverse.
As for who will become the project’s new CEO, don’t expect it to be anyone from the founding team, Luza told Decrypt.
“The four of us [founders] love what we do too much to give it up for an operating role long-term. We hired a top-tier executive search firm to recruit just the right person. In fact, we’ve had some insightful talks with a number of stellar CEO candidates who are fully aligned with our vision for what Cool Cats can be,” Luza said.
The community’s initial thoughts on a new CEO? Go for a “Web3 native” this time.