Hervé Larren on Bitcoin, Apes and the psychology of ‘blue-chip’ NFTs – Cointelegraph Magazine

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    During hyperinflation in 2013, “my Venezuelan mother asked me to send her money to Caracas, the capital,” Herve said. Laren remembers. However, bank transfers between the two countries were not possible.

    Busy with work in New York, he told friends he was going to fly to Caracas with cash for his mother and return the same day. “Would you like to send bitcoin?” his friend asked, leading to Laren making his first bitcoin transfer, which soon led to a change of plans.

    “My first cryptocurrency transaction in 2013 was a bitcoin wire transfer from the US to Venezuela. Due to the economic collapse there was no functioning banking system between the two countries.”

    Laren, who turned from a career at luxury goods company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, co-founded a large-scale cryptocurrency mining operation and worked with Grayscale to provide crypto to traditional investors. He later became a principal advisor to ApeCoin and was the first person to bid $1 million for a non-fungible token.

    from old to new

    “We were reporting to Nicolas Sarkozy, and Sarkozy was at our meeting,” said Laren, a high school student in Neuilly-sur-Seine, Paris’ most affluent old suburb where he grew up. I remember when I was president. Up.

    Sarkozy served as mayor of the city for 20 years before becoming president of France. Laren’s mother, originally from Venezuela, was a TV host and the first Latino model to be signed to the cosmetics brand L’Oreal. His French father imported wine to Canada, where one-third of his population speaks French.

    In the late 90s, Lahren began attending the Faculty of Business Administration at Concordia University in Montreal. 2019, Concordia labeled We dubbed him “The Blockchain Maven” as part of our “50 Under 50” alumni awards. After graduating, Moët took a job at Hennessy’s New York branch, where he worked on brand development for the company’s cognac brand “Hennessy” in the United States.

    Lahren earned an MBA from Columbia University while at LVMH, graduated in 2010, and entered the venture capital world with Peak Ventures, where he “worked for tech companies like Twitter.” This was Laren’s first experience in technology, which he said was very different from the cross-generational luxury goods industry of the old world.

    Laren quickly transitioned to accepting bitcoin in his e-commerce business, which had previously helped fundraise for charities by partnering with celebrities. In 2015, he founded the cryptocurrency mining company Global Crypto Ventures. The company has grown to operate about 3,000 machines, mostly consisting of his Bitmain Antminer S9 miners, in Las Vegas and Texas, where “infrastructure and power costs were cheap.”

    Mr. Laren at the mining facility. (Herve Laren)

    Grayscale Digital Large Cap Fund

    While speaking at the 2017 World Technology Forum in New York, Lahren met Digital Currency Group CEO Barry Silbert. He was right after him talking about the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, which allows retail investors to touch Bitcoin through an intermediary. He was also working on a new investment vehicle called the Grayscale Digital Large He Cap Fund (GDLC), which represents a weighted portfolio of cryptocurrencies including Ether, MATIC, ADA and SOL in addition to Bitcoin.

    As a listed investment product, approval from the Securities and Exchange Commission is required. One related issue is enabling funds to purchase digital assets from trusted sources, preferably within the United States. Laren’s mining company was an ideal source, and having an immediate buyer for the mine proceeds made the transaction smoother.

    The opportunity represented Lahren’s first foray into cryptocurrency beyond bitcoin and “pulled me into new territory.”

    Working with the SEC was no easy task, Laren recalls. “It was a nerve-wracking process. The company was very confident in getting approval, but there had been a lot of uncertainty as no such mutual fund had been approved before. ”

    However, the GDLC has been approved, expanding the potential pool of cryptocurrency investors. While many in the industry continue to preach the “not the key, not the coin” mantra, Lahren believes that like stocks, bitcoin and other crypto assets should be built through financial instruments rather than exchanges or cold storage. For most citizens who claim it is desirable to own.

    With less risk of being hacked or losing access to keys, regulated funds must meet strict security policies and are often insured. In particular, tax matters are easier to manage on a portfolio basis and easier for accountants to understand.

    Will BlackRock Bitcoin ETF Get Approved?

    With these advantages, it’s easy to see why financial industry heavyweights see the opportunity to provide retail investors with an accessible Bitcoin investment vehicle. One of them is BlackRock, which recently applied to launch a Bitcoin spot ETF in the US.

    “BlackRock provides the credibility to convince the SEC that the Bitcoin market is safe to operate and has a lot to offer investors,” said Laren optimistically. Based on BlackRock’s track record of 575 ETFs approved and 1 rejected, he expects similar products to emerge online soon and in other markets.

    “I think that will lead to an automatic increase in the Bitcoin price. I think a lot of people are sitting on the sidelines and waiting for clarity, but this is a step towards the institutional introduction of Bitcoin.”

    “For a very long time, there has been a premium in Grayscale’s stock price” compared to the price of Bitcoin, Lahren notes, adding that security, certainty and convenience have historically led to more conservative options. He explained that it means investors are willing to pay more money per bitcoin. BlackRock ETFs are unlikely to hold large premiums, leading to market efficiencies.

    All Roads in Decentraland Lead to Beeple

    Laren first learned about the Metaverse in August 2017 through Decentraland’s initial coin offering. “They were selling 90,000 NFT lands in the Metaverse,” he recalled, adding that he felt a kinship with the project’s Argentinian founders because of South America’s common currency problem. “My first NFT purchase of him was actually buying my name in the Metaverse,” he says, recalling that he spent 100 MANA to name his avatar.

    He was also given land to build the Airbay Art Gallery, where Lahren sold various NFTs. When Christie’s announced it would be auctioning Beeple’s “Everydays” piece in its first-ever NFT auction in March 2021 (a story previously covered in Magazine), the auction house contacted Airbay Galleries to solicit bids. .

    “I wanted to be the first person in the world to bid a seven-figure amount on an NFT.”

    Beeple’s only comment when Lahren’s $1 million bid went through was that Vignesh Sundaresan, also known as Metakoban, had defeated Tron founder Justin Sun on the following terms, with a later anonymous buyer: It was the first salvo of the bidding war to be revealed. It was a record bid of $69 million.

    Beeple posted a reaction to the $1 million bid on Instagram.

    Boring monkey design ApeCoin

    With a newfound passion for NFTs, Lahren joined Horizen Labs in 2021. A few months before that, the company began talks with Yuga Labs, a small company whose four founders were working on an NFT project involving monkeys.

    Yuga has contracted with Horizen Labs to create ApeCoin, a large allocation of which, through a massive airdrop, owns Yuga’s NFT collection, including the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Mutant Ape Yacht Club, and Bored Ape Kennel Club. distributed to persons.

    “We did everything from whitepapers to tokennomics to listing on exchanges. In less than 20 minutes, it was an $8 billion project,” Laren said, currently about He mentioned the undiluted market cap of the token, which stands at $2 billion. In addition to the launch, Lahren said that Horizen Labs designed his mechanism for staking the tokens and that “in three years he will have 100 million tokens distributed to the community.”

    When Gucci and TAG Heuer began accepting Apecoin as a payment method, Laren’s high-end contacts called back.

    “I spent a week with the Chanel team in a castle in the English countryside, educating them on all aspects of Web3, including MetaMask and NFT drops.” The thought process was the same when I moved from LVMH, a company, to Yugalab, the most successful digital goods company.”

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    He explains that Metaverse real estate and PFPs, including Yuga’s famous monkey photo, fit the broad category of “consumer NFTs” purchased by individuals in a manner no different from luxury goods. In fact, many of the children of LVMH founder Bernard Arnault (the heirs to the world’s second richest man) are active, he points out. hang out in them.

    Laren overlooking the Horizon Labs office floor in Milan. (Elias Ahonen)

    “People want to feel like they’re part of a special community of like-minded people,” he explains, relating the concept to being sold in luxury boutiques and special events around the world. . In the case of Yuga’s NFT, he argued, “There is value to many people in being a member of a group that shares similar cultural references, whether digitally or in concert,” which will be held next. We are referring to events like ApeFest. Held in Hong Kong in November.

    Can monkey JPGs really be good NFTs?

    NFTs that gain mass appeal as recognizable status symbols are often labeled as “blue chips” among the NFT community. This usually refers to trustworthy stocks and pays tribute to a term originally derived from poker where blue chips are traditionally the most valuable.

    “This is a brand-building element as perceived by the industry and by buyers. Supply is far less than demand, so there is a strong following and collectors. In traditional art, Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat excel. He’s a great person,” he explained, noting that Bored Apes and CryptoPunks hold such a position within the PFP hierarchy.

    “Price is the result of value created. If you go to a Louis Vuitton store, there is no price anywhere.”

    “Holding BAYC makes sense because you can stake it to earn tokens, and you can borrow against it so it can act as a financial instrument,” his company said. It makes sense, he notes, given that he designed the staking mechanism.

    Laren poses in Milan with images of NFTs such as Bored Ape and Otherside land parcels. (Elias Ahonen)

    “Other categories, such as Metaverse land, also have prime properties,” he added, warning that their value “depends on the income generated from them, just like traditional real estate.”

    This is because, in his opinion, people remain interested in constructed and useful spaces, such as his art galleries, rather than the vast spaces of the empty metaverse land. “Traditional real estate includes buildings. The same applies to land in the metaverse.”

    Where will the next best company be?

    “I am now passionate about building on top of Bitcoin with BRC-20 and Ordinals,” explained Laren, hinting that something big is on the way. . For him, the coming metaverse is a place and time when “digital life is more important than physical life, and digital images are more important than physical images.” In this new environment, he believes the Bitcoin chain, with its new ability to host NFTs, will become a central pillar.

    “At Web3, we need to anticipate how consumer preferences will evolve and what the market wants in the next six months.”

    Elias Ahonen Author of Cointelegraph Magazine

    Elias Ahonen

    Elias Ahonen is a Finnish-Canadian author based in Dubai who has worked all over the world since buying his first bitcoin in 2013, running a small blockchain consultancy. His book “Blockland” (link below) tells the story of the industry. He holds a Master’s Degree in International and Comparative Law, whose dissertation deals with his NFT and Metaverse regulations.


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