The start-up behind Bored Ape Yacht Club non-fungible tokens has named a new chief executive as it ramps up plans to build a “metaverse” despite the crypto slump biting sales of digital assets.
Daniel Alegre, who announced on Friday he was stepping down as president and chief operating officer of video games giant Activision Blizzard, will join Yuga Labs in the first half of 2023. He replaces Nicole Muniz, who will become a partner and adviser.
The US-based company has been at the forefront of the frothy but lucrative market for digital art, having launched the BAYC collection last year, with some items selling for millions of dollars apiece. Since then, the broader meltdown in the value of crypto-related products has led to a fall in the value of NFTs.
Alegre’s appointment comes as Yuga plans to launch a virtual world called “Otherside” next year. The plan aims to rival tech groups such as Meta and Microsoft in a race to build the so-called metaverse, where people can interact and play games in interactive online spaces.
“When it comes to the metaverse, we’re competing with giants. In order to catapult Otherside and our other ambitious projects to new heights, we’ve known for a long time we wanted to bring in someone with a proven track record of building at the highest possible level,” Yuga Labs co-founders Greg Solano and Wylie Aronow said in a blog post announcing the news.
Yuga Labs raised $450mn in a fundraising round led by Andreessen Horowitz in March this year, which valued it at $4bn. Its Bored Ape NFTs are some of the most highly valued in the sector, with several celebrities, including Justin Bieber, Snoop Dogg and Madonna, investing in the cartoon apes.
Yuga, less than two years old, has also acquired other popular NFT brands, including CryptoPunks and Meebits, for undisclosed amounts.
When sales for land in the Otherside, dubbed “Otherdeeds”, went on sale in April, the 55,000 plots represented by NFTs sold out in a record-making launch, generating around $300mn for Yuga. Since then, the average price for a deed has fallen 70 per cent to about 2.6 ETH ($1,200).
Yuga is currently being investigated by the US Securities and Exchange Commission over securities disclosure and is separately facing a class-action lawsuit that accuses Yuga of partnering with celebrities to “artificially inflate and distort prices” of the NFTs. The company has denied any wrongdoing.
Alegre joined Activision Blizzard in 2020, overseeing the company’s leading titles, including Call of Duty and World of Warcraft.
During his tenure, the games publisher has faced allegations of workplace sexual harassment and poor working conditions and a $69bn takeover by Microsoft, which is in progress. Alegre’s employment ends on March 31.
Before that, he held several executive titles at Google over 16 years, including president of global retail and shopping and president of global and strategic partnerships.
Alegre said he was looking forward to working to “shape the future of the internet” at Yuga.
“The company’s pipeline of products, partnerships, and IP represents a massive opportunity to define the metaverse in a way that empowers creators and provides users with true ownership of their identity and digital assets,” he added.
Bored Ape NFT-maker announces Daniel Alegre as new chief Republished from Source https://www.ft.com/content/c2c8e9a1-e58a-4299-a6f2-7e1243f66048 via https://www.ft.com/companies/technology?format=rss