In brief

  • ApeCoin’s “launch contributors” are set to collectively receive 25 million APE tokens, or about $115 million worth as of this writing.
  • APE’s price is down about 9% today ahead of the unlock amid questions over whether recipients will dump their tokens on the market.

ApeCoin, the Ethereum-based token built for the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT ecosystem, launched to immense hype (and significant paydays for BAYC holders) in March. Now some of the project’s backers are set to reap over $115 million worth of APE tokens as a reward, leaving holders wondering how that unlock might impact the token’s price.

On Saturday, the ApeCoin DAO treasury is expected to unlock 25 million APE tokens allocated for “launch contributors,” which the website notes are the unnamed “companies and people that helped make this project a reality.” The 25 million tokens are set to unlock six months following ApeCoin’s launch, which took place on March 17.

At a current price of $4.61 per token, that’s just over $115 million worth of tokens that will enter the market, expanding the circulating supply by about 8%. ApeCoin was created with a permanent supply of 1 billion tokens, with just over 318 million APE currently in circulation. The rest will unlock across a four-year period from March’s launch.

It’s unknown who falls under the launch contributors banner. However, in a new report, crypto industry research firm Delphi Digital writes that the list could include backers of Bored Ape Yacht Club creator Yuga Labs, which raised $450 million at a $4 billion valuation in March.


The research firm pointed to investments firm Andreessen Horowitz, Animoca Brands, and FTX Ventures as likely beneficiaries. Decrypt reached out to Yuga Labs for clarification, but did not immediately hear back.

It’s worth noting that Yuga Labs is not described as the creator of ApeCoin, apparently for regulatory compliance reasons. The ApeCoin Foundation acts as the “steward” of the token, and it’s governed by the ApeCoin DAO, or decentralized autonomous organization—essentially, an online group united by a shared goal with token-based membership.

Whether such contributors will hold their tokens or flip them onto the open market remains to be seen, but the impact of an incoming bump to the circulating supply is raising questions about how the market will react to the token unlock.

Ahead of the unlock, APE’s price is already down nearly 9% over the last 24 hours, per data from CoinGecko. It’s now down 26% over the past 30 days.


“The million-dollar question is whether the launch contributors will sell their tokens once released. This will lead to significant sell pressure on APE,” Delphi’s authors write. “No one knows, but we can postulate that if they are long-term investors in Yuga Labs, there is a reasonable chance that they will hold on to most of the unlocked tokens.”

There could be significant incentive for launch contributors to hold onto their tokens, however, given the apparent impending launch of ApeCoin staking.

In May, ApeCoin holders voted to pick Horizen Labs to build the staking system, which will provide token rewards for users who stake (or hold) APE or Bored Ape/Mutant Ape NFTs within the network. Horizen Labs has recently teased development progress, with plans to host a Twitter Spaces next week to discuss details around the initiative.

Delphi Digital NFT analyst Teng Yan described the initial ApeCoin staking rewards as being “pretty juicy,” and suggested that eligible NFT owners may buy up large quantities of APE to participate in staking. Demand could drive up the price of the token, while staking may also remove significant APE liquidity from the market.

However, Teng said that questions around ApeCoin’s eventual utility remain. The token was built to power Web3 applications like metaverse games, including Yuga’s own upcoming Otherside experience. Teng writes that expanding utility will be required to sustain long-term demand for the token.

“A big question is what happens to the price of APE as staking continues,” he wrote. “APE is inflationary, and the circulating supply will expand as rewards are emitted. New buyers will be needed to maintain its price.”

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