The extreme success of Moonbirds is the NFT story of the year so far. The collection opened up so strongly that it archived instant blue chip status and a place at the top of the charts. The market for NFTs is bearish at the moment, how did the pixeled owls accomplish such a feat? It certainly wasn’t just the art, even though the Moonbirds have a distinctive look and probably make excellent profile pictures AKA PFPs.
Let’s uncover the story. This one has it all; a nascent but powerful organization, crazy numbers, internet legends, an ambitious roadmap, light controversy, and, of course, metaverse plans.
Moonbirds: Formal Characteristics
There are a total of 10K Moonbirds, they were issued under the ERC-721 standard on the Ethereum blockchain. The mint price for each one was a whopping 2.5 ETH. That means that, at current prices, the Proof Collective made over $70M on that first day. The madness doesn’t end there, according to CryptoSlam, the Moonbirds have generated $481M in sales so far. That’s 160K ETH from almost 12K buyers. And for every sale on the secondary market, Proof received a 5% cut.
According to the Moonbirds official site, the organization distributed those original 10K owls as follows:
7,875: Public sale to allowlist winners
2,000: PROOF Collective Members (1,000 passes) each receive two free mints
125: PROOF wallet for future collaborations, marketing, and advisors
All interested parties, including Proof Collective members, were able to enter a raffle to be whitelisted for that public sale. Of course, there was controversy, which we will cover. The Moonbird NFT collection promised the usual, membership to a private group and a Discord server, and future yet-to-be-revealed utilities. A staking mechanism, cleverly named “nesting” and a future metaverse codenamed “Project Highrise.”
According to the Moonbird’s site, their “unique take on the Metaverse” will be “a dramatic departure from the existing ‘never-ending’ worlds that feel like a digital ghost town. Ours is uniquely different, and you’ll have first access as a nested Moonbirds holder.”
It’s also worth noting that, “owners of Moonbirds have full commercial art rights for the Moonbird they own.”
ETH price chart for 04/30/2022 on Oanda | Source: ETH/USD on TradingView.com
What Is “Nesting” And What Can It Do For You?
Staking is a DeFi staple. It locks assets and takes them off the market, which benefits all other holders and the project in general. In Moonbirds, the process is called “nesting,” and “the longer you nest your Moonbird, the more rewards you’ll accumulate.” What rewards exactly? That’s not yet clear. And the nesting process is not yet available.
However, the Moonbirds site already lists certain characteristics. Nesting will be “non-custodial (no need to transfer it to another contract) and the holder numbers displayed on OpenSea etc will not be impacted.” Those stats are very important for NFT projects. Holders can’t sell their NFTs while nesting, but they can transfer them. “The intent is to allow holders to move their Moonbirds between their own accounts, e.g. if they compromise their wallet via a rogue signature.”
There’s also this vague promise, “as soon as your Moonbird is nested, they’ll begin to accrue additional benefits. As total nested time accumulates, you’ll see your Moonbird achieve new tier levels, upgrading their nest.”
Controversy. Of Course.
For the level of success that the Moonbirds accomplished, the controversy around them is pretty mild. One could argue that the first two aren’t the Proof Collective’s fault, and the third one is pretty standard practice. Let’s go through them:
- Their raffle got hit with a Sybil Attack. That means, a person or organization created more than 400 wallets to get as many tickets, or chances to win a whitelist. They earned more than 50 spots. This Twitter user unveiled the whole thing:
Looks like someone created 400+ accounts to Sybil Attack the @moonbirds_xyz raffle:https://t.co/HeWT5d8DCP
They’ve already sold the majority it looks like. Just at a quick glance they won 20+
One example:https://t.co/UTqYWRkgsG pic.twitter.com/szgJGT5JXO
— zachxbt (@zachxbt) April 16, 2022
- According to The Next Web, they found “at least 10 hacked Twitter accounts across countries ranging from athletes to politicians posting scammy links that lead you to a fake Moonbirds website. ”Their aim was to get the unsuspecting audience to send them ETH in hopes of getting a non-existent Moonbird. When pressed, one of the Proof Collective founders said, “Oh the spam is terrible! We’re doing everything we can to contain it. Lots of bad actors doing their play.”
Oh the spam is terrible! We’re doing everything we can to contain it. Lots of bad actors doing their play. This wasn’t project criticism (which is of course valid) so much as gatekeeping which projects deserve recognition or success.
— Justin Mezzell (,) (@JustinMezzell) April 19, 2022
- The NFT Ethics account did its best to attack the Moonbirds project, but all they could do was accuse the Proof Collective of wash trading to pump up the price for their other NFT project and of gifting those memberships to influencers. “GaryVee (Gennady), his brother AJ, Beeple and some old friends received the Proof collective for free.”
1/ Some people contacted us to ask our opinion on @moonbirds_xyz that is minting tomorrow for 2.5 ETH, which would take out more than 75 million USD out of the ecosystem. As usual, many are afraid to speak out because they don't want to offend "powerful" Web3/NFT influencers/VCs. pic.twitter.com/YXvAqs8mwn
— NFT Ethics (@NFTethics) April 15, 2022
All in all, the controversy is hardly anything to write home about. On the next “Blue Chip NFTs 101” we’ll take a look at the organization behind the Moonbirds, the Proof Collective, and their other NFT project. A membership to the influential group. It might be the NFT with the most valuable utility to date.
Feature Image Moonbirds sample from the official website | Charts by TradingView