Should Web3 billionaires be able to avoid public scrutiny under the guise of a pseudonym? With no clear answer, the community has lashed out at Buzzfeed for publishing the true identity of the pair behind the BAYC NFT collection.
American Internet media and entertainment company Buzzfeed has revealed the identities of two of the four original Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection founders “Gordon Goner” and “Gargamel” as being Greg Solano and Wylie Aronow in real life.
Journalist Kate Notopoulos authored the Feb. 4 article, which was entitled “We Found The Real Names Of Bored Ape Yacht Club’s Pseudonymous Founders.”
Notopoulos was able to uncover the pair’s identities by search the publicly available records of Yuga Labs, the company behind the collection. Yuga was incorporated in Delaware with an address associated with Greg Solano, and other records pointing to Wylie Aronow.
Got doxxed against my will. Oh well.
Web2 me vs. Web3 me pic.twitter.com/uLkpsJ5LvN
— GordonGoner.eth (@GordonGoner) February 5, 2022
The tech reporter argued that “there are reasons why in the traditional business world, the CEO or founder of a company uses their real name and not a pseudonym,” adding that “the people behind BAYC are courting investors and running a business that is potentially worth billions.”
“How do you hold them accountable if you don’t know who they are?”
Executives of public-traded companies must be named in Securities and Exchange Commission disclosures and reports. As for smaller private companies, banking regulations and “know your customer” laws require executives to use their real names in many cases.
“These laws are in part to prevent terrorists, criminals, or sanctioned nations from doing business in the US,” wrote Notopoulos.
However, the non-consensual exposure of Aronow and Solano’s identities has raised impassioned criticism from members of the Web3 community, who are describing the article as “doxxing” rather than appropriate journalistic practice.
Got doxed so why not. Web2 me vs Web3 me. pic.twitter.com/jfmzo5NtrH
— Garga.eth (@CryptoGarga) February 5, 2022
In a Feb. 5 tweet, crypto podcaster “Cobie” called the article “typical Buzzfeed trash,” saying that it was “doxxing people for clicks and ad revenue.” Meanwhile, venture capitalist Mike Solana wrote “there was absolutely no reason to dox these guys,” adding “they’re literally cartoon apes.”
Messari founder Ryan Selkis was also clearly unhappy with the story, sharing a 2009 tweet by Notopoulos which used a homophobic slur.
As for Notopoulos, she seemed relatively unfazed by the backlash. She posted a screenshot of messages sent by someone threatening to make her personal information public, including her “location, place of work, parents’ home, and siblings’ addresses.”
Responding to the threat, she asked the person whether they were a “big strong guy,” to which they replied, “no, I’m a degen.” She replied: “Ah bummer. They have a heavy dresser they need help moving to the garage.”
On Feb. 4 (the same day as the article’s publication), Yuga Labs indicated that the NFT collection was in funding talks with one of Silicon Valley’s top VC firms, A16z, who had valued the collection at $5 billion.
Solano and Aronow aren’t the first big names in the crypto space who have been publicly outed this year. On Jan. 27, Cointelegraph published allegations that the true identity of DeFi protocol “Wonderland” co-founder, ‘@0xSifu’, also co-founded the now-defunct Canadian exchange, QuadrigaCX.