I’ve been mulling for a while if I should write this up. I initially didn’t plan on posting so much behind the scenes information, but it is clear that the team abandoned the project after I left, which infuriates me. They had the resources to make it work, and decided to slam the brakes.
Since they are putting no effort into making the project work, after collecting over 16k AVAX (≈225,000$ at time of mint) + an Avalanche grant, I think it’s fair for people to understand why I left. I also think my experience here isn’t unique, and might help people understand what working on an NFT project can look like.
I want to start by giving a shoutout to Belac, their CM, who has been a beacon in the fog. He’s been the one keeping the project alive for the past few months, being the only one actually communicating with people and trying to make things happen. Unfortunately, he can’t do it all on his own.
And I want to pre-empt this by saying that, despite what this article may lead you to believe, I enjoyed my time at OOPA. It was a stressful and often frustrating year, during which I worked 20–40h/week on top of my IRL job, but it introduced me to the world of building in web3. The most enjoyable parts were easily the regular interactions with a really supportive community, as well as connecting with tons of builders on Avalanche, most of whom I find impressive in their achievements or in how incredibly intelligent they are.
Anyway, here we go, I guess…
How I was hired
During my on-chain analysis days, PartyChad supported me. We chatted occasionally, and he shared the draft for Smol APA’s game vision. After providing feedback on it, he mentioned their main challenge: a lack of organizational structure. They had no methods for planning tasks, milestones, deliverables,…
As a Director of Operations in real life, I suggested ways I might assist. At the time, the community had mixed feelings about me due to my brash style, so I agreed to make efforts to be less confrontational, though there were some hiccups.
My role on the team
I was first recruited to assist with developing planning tools, implementing good work habits, and ensuring accountability. Hired in late August, I agreed to work without pay for the initial month or two to gauge our compatibility.
I was initially not supposed to be active in operations; I was supposed to basically just help them organize and develop tools. But it quickly became clear that I needed to be more hands-on, which I did. After the two months were up, I gradually took on more responsibilities — In addition to acting as Project Manager, I eventually became responsible for Marketing and BD.
First month on the team (September)
When I joined, community opinion on me was divided, leading some mods to quit; Some did it respectfully, and others, like Cryptobella, made a scene, insulted several people before saying she was leaving to go to the zoo with her kids
At that time, OOPA (then just referred to as APA V2) was in early development with a targeted mint date in December. Despite the wildly successful mints of Hoppers and APA, they tell me they are out of money. I was shocked, but did my best to help them through it. They were seeking funding from Ava Labs and others.
In my initial month, Locrian, who played a role in my onboarding, left over what I believe were disagreements with the team, but to this day I’m still not aware of the details. Midas had been onboarded on the team to manage social media for Hoppers and to develop the idea behind OOPA — PartyChad couldn’t stop raving about how essential he was to the new direction.
My immediate focus was determining their priorities — They were currently juggling Smol APA, APA, APA Gals, Hoppers, and were working on OOPA. It was clear they were spread too thin.
Upon my arrival, the team was implementing a media player on the Hoppers website — this was one of Midas’ big ideas to bring people in. Other than that, they often discussed the tadpole merge (which, I’ll be honest, I forget what it involved). They also were inconsistent with the Golden Hoppers — In part due to bad follow-ups from Midas, and in part due to difficulties with artists.
The team aimed to mint Lilypads by October end. I convinced them to drop the Lilypads mint — They had done nothing with the money from 6 months ago, and now they wanted to charge people again for another mint. I told them to either close down the game, or work on it without another mint.
I outlined several paths for them for Hoppers, the main ones being, 1) keep the game going, work on it, 2) hand it over to someone else, 3) shut it down. I advocated for the third, urging them to prioritize APA/OOPA and Smol APA, doubting Hoppers’ revenue potential without significant investment. When we talked about it in September, they refused to shut it down.
For the next few months, I was constantly pushing them on Hoppers — They wanted to keep it open, fine, but I expected them to deliver. However, Midas never interacted with the community on Discord and Twitter, despite the organization making it clear it was expected of him, and development deliverables were constantly being pushed back.
In December, they finally agreed to shut down Hoppers. PartyChad was worried about backlash, so I offered to take the heat and be the one to announce the decision, and to say I was the one who pushed for it (which, to be fair, was true).
I led a group to oversee the shutdown transition. However, after PartyChad made multiple decisions without my input, I handed over the task to PartyChad.
Upon joining the organization, they were actively seeking funding. During my initial weeks, I attended a funding pitch to Fish, led by Midas and PartyChad. I was new, so didn’t say anything — But it was embarassing.
They told me that funding talks with Ava Labs were stagnating, so I offered to look at the documents and help. The budget document they made was atrocious. It was a Google Doc that had a table with a few columns and some numbers that were supposed to be expenses, but it made no sense. When I asked how they determined what the spendings in that table were, I was told they basically made up numbers. The pitch deck just echoed strategies from BAYC, emphasizing branded physical goods for OOPA and hinting at a game-changing marketing affiliate platform.
I re-did all of their docs and made a proper budget. I don’t remember exactly how the pre-grant meetings with Ava Labs went, to be honest. I know that I gradually took on more and more the lead in talks with Ava Labs (pre and post-grant).
Eventually, we got approved for a grant — 45,000$ before mint, and 45,000$ post-mint, on condition of a successful mint. The specifics of the contract were handled by PartyChad and Kontrol. By the time I departed, the second grant payment was pending. This came with semi-regular meetings with Ava Labs, as they, understandably, wanted to make sure things were going well.
We had set our sights on minting Smol Estates at the end of October. However, in a seemingly spontaneous move, the team decided to introduce Smol Chests for Smol APA holders mid-month. I voiced concerns because at the time (and i’m pretty sure still to this day, tbh), they had no idea what would be in the chest. My opinion was that we already had enough NFTs that we’re not sure how to use, maybe we should hold off on this. But they insisted.
Mid-October, after the Ava Labs grant was approved, we had a meeting with several Ava Labs members. I don’t remember each meeting with Ava Labs, since they were usually pretty normal — standard follow-ups. But one particular meeting stood out. During this discussion, an Ava Labs member who Ihad not spoken to yet floated several weird ideas. One that I actually had to push back on was when he kept saying we needed to “grow the pie” mint on OpenSea, which had just gone live on Avalanche. When I asked if OpenSea had a launchpad, it was clear he had no idea.
Midas had previously informed me of a grand vision for the APA Anniversary on November 13th. He painted a picture of an event bustling with sponsors, special guests, live music, and the much-anticipated reveal of a new collection. Yet, as the date drew closer, my requests for a concrete plan were continually sidestepped.
Whenever I told PartyChad that Midas was not doing his job (because he also never did what he was supposed to do regarding social media and marketing), I was told to trust him and stop being too hard on him. This is around when I started getting into semi-regular arguments with PartyChad. The arguments were usually over one of two things, 1) me wanting to hold people accountable, and him saying I was being too hard, and 2) him wanting to introduce a last-minute change to something.
Frustrated with the lack of direction and preparation for the anniversary, I took the initiative to collaborate with artists to craft a special anniversary collection. These would be given out for free leading up to the anniversary. It was very last minute, and I was very fortunate that about two dozen artists agreed to help me and create something within a few days. Side-note: initially, I was told the artists couldn’t be compensated. This left me uncomfortable, as I don’t like asking artists to work for free. I got some pushback from some artists, who said it wasn’t okay to ask for free art. I agreed, and ended up managing to get the team to pay 3 AVAX per artist. Which is still really low, imo.
A few days before the anniversary, y00ts revealed their artwork. This led to a lot of heated discussions internally, as we had not yet revealed ours and it was admittedly similar. Contrary to what some still say, we did not copy the artwork, but timing was absolutely horrible, and yeah, there were glaring similarities. Ava Labs weighed in, suggesting we go back to the drawing board — Looking back, maybe it was the right thing to do, maybe not, I don’t know. Instead, we opted to make minor tweaks to our original design.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t attend the Anniversary Spaces due to a personal commitment. But listening back to it, it’s clearly an event that lacked preparation, culminating in a lackluster reveal. As we moved into the latter half of November, our focus shifted to the upcoming burn process scheduled for mid-December. This decision was to avoid ending up with too many NFTs.
On the OOPA building process
I realized that they had no idea what the NFT landscape was in crypto — as in, no idea what other projects existed on Avalanche (other than like the 3–4 biggest ones) and other chains, and what they were doing different. I believe in knowing the landscape you work in, so to try and help them, I made a comprehensive research document with relevant projects from every chain. They never looked into it.
I asked what the model was going to be to eventually bring in revenue. Midas’ idea (which the team backed) was a Marketing Affiliate platform along with partnering with real-life professionals in various fields for an ambassador program (IRL professionals, such as doctors, businessmen,…). I was curious about the mechanics of this ambassador program: the recruitment strategy, the value proposition for potential ambassadors, and the benefits it would bring to our project. However, the answers I received were frustratingly vague. My interactions with Midas made me realize that he had a penchant for using buzzwords without any substantive plan behind them. Despite my persistent questions about the Marketing Affiliate platform over the subsequent two months, I was met with constant delays from Midas and eventually, an admission that it had been abandoned, with nothing to replace it in terms of bringing in revenue.
The ambassador program was equally nebulous. Initially, Midas introduced E4Echelon as a potential ambassador. Let me say this again — He proudly announced to the team that E4Echelon was going to be an OOPA ambassador. Obviously, I pushed back and it didn’t happen. Despite his insistence that the ambassador program was central to our success, he never worked on making it happen. No plan or structure was put into place, and no other ambassadors materialized.
Midas attempted to weave a complex lore about the APAs, painting a narrative of memory loss and survival on an island. This was poorly executed, leaving many in anticipation confused. He also frequently insisted on the importance of hosting events, such as drinking parties, but never took the initiative to organize any.
There was a proposal to collaborate with Holograph to enable the bridging of OOPAs to other chains. While I was skeptical, the team was eager. This idea was eventually scrapped, much to my relief, following input from Ava Labs, who weren’t comfortable with it.
Post-reveal, the feedback was a mixed bag. We made adjustments to certain features like ears, fur, and eyes. However, the most significant criticism centered on the mouths. PartyChad was initially resistant to making changes despite the overwhelming feedback — He spent months insisting that they were okay, because he liked them. I can still hear TacticalRetreat throw unrepeatable comments about the mouths. It was only after persistent urging from Giraffe and myself that he relented.
Our decision to introduce dynamic NFTs came in December. Also in December, we started the burn campaign, which had a lackluster start because it had been poorly explained and advertised to holders. Again, I had warned Midas about this, but he insisted that I needed to trust him, and PartyChad insisted that I stop being hard on Midas.
The choice to give people a free mint by burning an APA was a risk for us. It meant there were less rare NFTs to mint. For example, of the 20 legendary APAs, 12 were burned and replaced with a 1/1 OOPA. This left only 8 available to be minted. One of the reasons people mint is for a chance at a rare NFT, and our offer wasn’t as strong in that regard, considering we had also given a ton of other rare tokens to burners.
When i took over lead on marketing, I made tons of content explaining the process, added traits for people who burned, and added a reduced mint price for people who burned. We eventually managed to meet our goal of 4,000 burned APAs. I was adamant that we need to be fair to APA holders. It’s why we did not charge for the upgrade — On the contrary, we were rewarding people who burned NFTs with discounted mints and additional traits.
As minting approached, PartyChad expressed a desire to craft a unique minting experience on our website. Despite my reservations, the outcome was impressive, showcasing PartyChad’s strengths in UI/UX. This proficiency was further evident in the OOPA website, which stands out in the AVAX NFT space.
Price point discussions for minting were contentious. While PartyChad and Kontrol advocated for 5 AVAX, I felt 4 AVAX was more appropriate — I was afraid that 5 AVAX was overreaching and we risked not minting out, which would be a horrible result. I didn’t want us to start the new project with bad news, which would inevitably affect community sentiment. We ended up going with 5 AVAX, and I was proven wrong, since we managed to mint out.
In the days leading up to the reveal, there was a scramble to finalize the 1/1s for the collection. I proposed delaying the reveal for Yacht tokens to ensure quality. PartyChad, however, was adamant about proceeding with what we had. In my opinion, many of the OOPA 1/1s are weak. Yet, in a surprising turn of events, a single wallet (lets pretend we don’t know its owner) acquired a significant number of the 1/1s soon after the mint (45k$ worth), effectively removing them from the market.
A few weeks prior to my joining the team, Midas was brought on board. His inclusion, as I understood, was due to his persuasive skills in convincing PartyChad to adopt his Marketing Affiliate/Ambassador program and launch a new NFT collection. However, it didn’t take me long to recognize that Midas was more talk than action. Publicly, he portrayed himself as the mastermind behind everything, but in reality, he did none of the legwork. Even OOPA’s Twitter content could be mostly attributed to MidnightRider.
Whenever I attempted to address Midas’ lack of contribution, PartyChad accused me of being overly critical. Meanwhile, Midas was by far the highest paid person on the team — to this day, I don’t understand how it was okay to pay him that much for so long. At one point, PartyChad told me he would have a talk with Midas about his performance. He lied to me, I learned a few weeks later he never had the talk.
By the end of November, Kontrol began echoing my sentiments about Midas. Consequently, PartyChad gave Midas until the end of December to demonstrate his worth. However, as December concluded, Midas’ shortcomings were evident. He failed to improve social media engagement, continued to post cringe motivational quotes from the OOPA account despite warnings, and struggled to drive the burning of APAs effectively. He was fired.
On Smol APA
I was initially informed, along with the community, that the game would launch in December 2022. However, obtaining updates on Smol APA became a constant challenge. Every time I sought information, there was either a delay or a vague explanation. Only PartyChad and Kontrol were privy to the game’s development status. I was told on many occasions that Smol APA would bring in more revenue than OOPA, but they were never able to explain how.
Honestly, I’d love to give more details on Smol APA, but I can’t — I was never kept in the loop, despite constantly asking for updates.
I realized that they had no idea what the game landscape was in crypto — as in, no idea what other games existed on Avalanche and other chains, what was trending, what was in development. To try and help them, I made a comprehensive research document with relevant (similar) games from other chains. They never looked into it.
My frustrations peaked in late December when I discovered a planned Smol Firat mint for early January. This new collection would grant access to the Smol APA game, effectively undermining the exclusivity promised to our Smol APA holders. What upset me further was the secretive manner in which this decision was made, in collaboration with the Firat team, leaving the rest of us in the dark.
December to Mint (Early March)
In early December, we confronted Midas about his habit of sharing cringe motivational quotes. We also sought feedback about our marketing from a group of builders (respecting their anonimity here). They unanimously criticized the quality of Midas’s content. Undeterred, Midas persisted with his style andlaunched Zealy-like platform, which got no participation. By month’s end, the decision was made to terminate Midas.
Subsequently, in consultation with PartyChad and Kontrol, I assumed the marketing responsibilities. Given the time constraints, hiring a proficient replacement seemed improbable. My collaboration began with Rex, previously an intern under Midas. He’s a super hardworking guy who I enjoyed working closely with.
The week leading up to the mint was tense. I barely slept —it is several months of work which may or may not come down crashing, whether it be due to a bug or just poor market reception.
On the day of the mint, a catastrophic event occurred: USDC’s depeg. What a fucking nightmare. Good luck getting any attention. Despite this, mint goes relatively well, and a mint-out happens once reveal goes live.
On The Hunting Party
In December, I was approached by Steven Gates for a potential collaboration with OOPA. At that point, GoGoPool was relatively unknown to me and others. From our initial conversation, Steven struck me as exceptionally composed and intelligent. I pushed for collaborating with them, which eventually came to be The Hunting Party.
Preparing for the event was chaotic. I am comfortable admitting that I dropped the ball on it — I was overly focused on OOPA, and did not pay enough attention to properly working on the Hunting Party. Luckily, Kontrol and the GoGoPool team caught that ball and managed to create an positive experience.
The integration of a functional game, the application of a subnet, and contributions from Ripperz and Ferdy Fish resulted in a memorable event. Additionally, the prizes, totaling around $3,000, added to the event’s appeal. I still think it was one of the top NFT events of 2023.
I continue to talk with Steven occasionally. I recommend everyone monitor GoGoPool’s growth and any other ventures Steven is involved in — He’s an asset for Avalanche.
On APA Gals
I think we talked about APA Gals like twice in my time there. It was on nobody’s mind.
During a Spaces at one point, I remember PartyChad mentioning that he was working on having APA Gals breed and make baby APAs or something along those lines. This was never discussed internally before he threw that out, and I was once again frustrated that he created new expectations on us out of thin air, without reason — Something else people would bring up and I’d have to either dance around, or say we weren’t going to do.
On the Mods
I’ve often said it, and I’ll say it again — OOPA had (still has? I don’t know who is on the mod team still) the best group of mods. They were not only motivated, but they each had their own set of skills which contributed to the projects’ success. I am honest and confident when I say that OOPA would not have its level of success without them.
Post-Mint, up to my departure (March-April-May)
Shortly after mint, Ebsu is integrated into the team. He is a friend of PartyChad and Kontrol who has no knowledge or experience in web3 or NFTs. The plan is to make him one of the leads on the team and to gradually give him a bigger and bigger role.
His inexperience in NFTs and web3 is evident. I end up getting into arguments with him on several occasions because, despite his lack of knowledge and experience, he refuses to take the time to learn. I prepare a comprehensive research document to try to catch him up to speed on the ecosystem, but despite pushing him on it several times, he doesn’t complete it, and remains ignorant of the NFT space he works in.
After Giraffe left, I tried to hire Wrathtank as Community Manager. Despite me offering a very good salary, he turned me down, and I’ll never forgive him.
After mint, PartyChad and Kontrol were focused on the raffle and the DAO pages. I was working on a new approach to BD/marketing — developping traits for protocols/projects on Avalanche that do not have NFTs. The rationale was that these teams and their followers would appreciate customized OOPA PFP traits in their image. Our pilot with Avascan was successful, evidenced by Jaack’s continued use of it. Though other projects showed interest, the team did not continue down this road after I left, so no more were made.
We conceptualized the shopping bags with the intent of introducing new traits every month. However, PartyChad later decided (on his own, without taking our opinion into account) on a bimonthly release. In my opinion, producing only 6 sets of trait per year was not fully using our potential. As of right now, they’ve released two sets in six months.
My frustration peaked when PartyChad prematurely disclosed details about an upcoming reveal, despite me explicitly asking him not to (he had a bad habit of leaking things on Twitter or Discord, something we regularly told him to stop doing). When I confronted him about it, he simply said he disagreed with my approach, so he posted anyway.
Shortly after, I quit.
On Avalanche Summit
After mint, Ava Labs offered us tickets for Summit, and the team was kind enough to pay for me to fly out to Barcelona. It was an absolutely amazing experience — Ava Labs genuinely put on a solid event, which I hope I can attend again one day.
It was my first time meeting PartyChad and Kontrol, and I was glad to see they were fun to be with. I was also impressed at how deep their knowledge of crypto and AVAX was — seeing them talk with projects like Delta and Benqi reminded me how dumb I am. Some of you people are crazy smart.
I got to meet a ton of amazing people — Whether Ava Labs (John Naha, Emin, Justin Kim,…), Joe (Blue, Unsehrtain, Devilk,…) or community members and builders (XRPant, Wankidd, Alf, Don Wonton,…). I still have my framed picture with Emin on my bedside.
After coming back from Avalanche Summit, they wanted to start working on a new protocol, completely unrelated to OOPA. It was basically a re-hash of something we had seen at Summit. I imagine they gave up on it after I left. It was another of my frustrations coming back from Summit, because it would detract from the focus on OOPA.
Current State of OOPA/Smol APA
It’s disheartening to observe that Belac seems to be the only one making an effort. During my tenure, he consistently showcased dedication, support, and productivity. The community manager position could not have gone to a better person. However, managing the entire project single-handedly is an unrealistic expectation for him. Belac is, in my opinion, one of the nicest, most consistent people in Avalanche NFTs.
Before I left, I had meticulously planned raffles for the next two to three months, collaborating with various projects and artists to secure items for the events. Of all the non-OOPA raffles (Shopping bags and OOPA NFTs) that we heldon the Raffle Page, only onewas not organized by me (the recent Doggerinos raffle). Every single other one was scheduled by me before my departure.
The point I’m trying to make is, they clearly stop trying to keep the raffle page alive after I left. Consequently, people are amassing credits (or locked their OOPAs for credits), but with the scarcity of raffles, these credits are rendered almost pointless.
It is also apparent that they’ve stopped caring about new trait sets, considering they’ve released only a single one since I left (5 months ago).
Promised updates on Smol APA remain elusive, with its “Coming Soon” status unchanged for a year.
And their abandonnement of the project is made even clearer by PartyChad’s absence over the last two months.
On Kontrol and PartyChad
Regarding Kontrol, I’ve said it many times, but I feel like people don’t understand how important and amazing he is. He was doing most of the technical grunt-work, and he was the heart of the team — Everyone loved him and would refer back to him. He was often put into difficult situations when PartyChad (his IRL friend) and I were arguing, because he was forced to mediate or take sides. After meeting him at Summit, I can confirm he is also a funny and kind person. I barely have anything negative to say about him — he was OOPA’s rock. And like me, he did his OOAP work while also holding a full-time job, so I could understand him being exhausted at times.
Regarding PartyChad, it’s difficult. I absolutely love him as a person — he is kind, he makes me laugh, and he has empathy for those he works with. However — and I’ve told him this numerous times — he is incapable of working as a team. He constantly makes decisions on his own without taking into account how it affects his team. He also isn’t fit to be the face of an NFT project, considering his disdain for Twitter. Whenever I asked him to interact more with the community, he would basically say that Twitter was for losers. Considering that’s where most of our holders were, it didn’t feel right.
It’s too bad, because on the other side of things, he is amazing when it comes to product. When it comes to creating and delivering a good product, he is solid. There’s a reason that each of his collections did well — He is capable of developing collections, websites, experiences, in a way that few on AVAX are capable. But he doesn’t have follow-through, and doesn’t look at the big picture to see how to bring those product to the next level after mint.
Despite all this, I’m grateful I got to experience building an NFT projects. I learned a lot. If I were to ask them, I believe they’d say that the main issue with me was that I too often got frustrated and lashed out. And it’s true, I often did, because the decision-making was absolutely unbearable.
I was fortunate to get to talk with Ava Labs semi-regularly through this. As with any organization, there are ups and downs, people you get along with more than others, but I can honestly say that the experience was overall positive. They were there for us whenever I wanted a advice or a second opinion.
One day I’ll work on something again. It might be in a month, it might be in a year, but I love it too much to not do it again.