Pudgy Penguins: A Tale of Two Fortunes

How they went from skating on thin ice, to emperors of the cute revolution.

Pudgy Penguins

To brandish terms such as revival, recovery or redemption in any sincere assessment of an NFT project’s lifespan may seem like a wild exhaustion of hyperbole. 

The NFT space is firmly nestled in nascency, situated at the dawn of opportunity with little more than speculative theories to definitively determine its potential impact. 

2022 was a year of humbled pragmatism for founders and collectors alike as the industry contends with inaugural bearish winter. 

And yet, despite all that, for a collection known as Pudgy Penguins, such cyclical terminology is entirely appropriate if one is to fully comprehend its tumultuous tale of two fortunes. 

First Chapter - Cole World

Just over a month after the launch of Bored Ape Yacht Club in July 2021 – during a fever-pitch period of activity in which every degen and his dog were minting collections of cartoon animals – another project called Pudgy Penguins set sail on the Ethereum blockchain. 

Founded by Cole Villemain, the collection captivated the space and rose to prominence, but just one month later when sleuth investigator ZachXBT published a damning expose on the popular influencer, the future of the project looked in serious jeopardy. 

ZachXBT claimed that Villemain’s previous business roles such as operating a clothing business that didn’t fulfill orders and endorsing collections without disclosing his role as a paid spokesperson, showcased that couldn’t be trusted to operate the Pudgy brand. 

As a result, Villemain faced a wrath of backlash from the NFT community. One user tweeted that he should be presented with the ‘rug of the year award’

Founder of The OpenDAO, 9x9x9x berated Villemain for accumulating debts over two funding rounds, as well as not delivering on roadmap promises for gaming and character development. 

Second Chapter - Community World

Pudgy Penguins were minted on July 22 2021, several months before popular contemporaries such as Doodles, RTFKT’s CloneX, Azuki, and in the week prior to World of Women. 

Therefore, in terms of historical provenance on the blockchain, the Pengus are primely situated within the pantheon of PFP collectables. 

Amid the uncertainty of leadership, Pudgy Penguins still had a loyal collector base and strong social following, many of whom were empathetic towards the project due to the pernicious actions of one individual. 

Luca Netz, a 23-year-old self-proclaimed serial entrepreneur from California, recognized the brand's potential, and offered Villemain a 750 ETH ($2.5 million) offer to become the new CEO. The offer was accepted, and the new era of Pudgy’s was underway.

ONE37PM sat down with Netz, one year after his appointment as the CEO of Pudgy Penguins, to discuss his team's progress and the stunning revival of the brand. 

From the offset, Netz endeavored to express that the holders of the aquatic flightless birds jpegs are regarded as co-owners of the brand, despite his name being on the deeds of the igloo. 

“Community is everything”, he remarked, “it’s their company just as much as it is mine. We’ve built this together collectively.” 

Pudgy Penguins currently sits at a floor price of 7.4 ETH, equivalent to $9,260, just shy of its all-time high achieved last week. The collection has a market capitalization of over $73 million, and the euphoria surrounding the brand is eminently palpable. 

Even legendary NFT artist Beeple joined in on the action!

Netz attributes the recent success of the Pudgy’s down to the team’s hard work and commitment to invest funds back into the project. 

I think when you look at what we’ve done over the last 9 months and compare it to everyone else with 20-100x more money than us you’ll find that we’ve shipped / done more [...] the recent surge is people just seeing 9 months of relentless hard work come to a culmination.

- Luca Netz

Netz shared his belief that in order for NFT projects to find success in the ever-changing marketplace, they must strive to “build a real company that impacts people outside of Web3”, a strategy that he claims Pudgy is “doing better than everyone else.”

Pudgy x NFF

Speaking to ONE37PM in August last year, the Founder of NonFungible Films, Cameron Moulène revealed that they had “formed a partnership deal with Pudgy Penguins to develop lore and universe narratives.”

The first installment of a short film series titled The Great Blizzard was released in September. “Our focus at NFF is to help Web3 brands discover what their core story is”, shared Moulène in a recent discussion.

“Storytelling is such a powerful and universally understood tool. It's incredible to help young companies to grow their markets, and that's precisely what Web3’s focus should be as we enter into 2023”, he said.

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