Azuki ’s popularity and notoriety are unrivalled in the cryptosphere.
Azuki, a profile picture (PFP) project featuring 10,000 anime-inspired NFTs, has experienced unrivalled hype, detailed lore, and unexpected controversy as it made its way to prominence.
Azuki became one of the first NFTs to emerge on the NFT scene in January 2022, and he quickly gained the affection of NFT enthusiasts, who saw him as a new leader of the still-developing PFP-centric NFT market.
Because of the high mint price and complex roadmap, the many influencers who saw this undertaking as a hot commodity immediately amplified the feeling of exclusivity.
During the early stages of development, the Azuki team made the ambitious claim that they would build the biggest metaverse brand in the NFT space — a community-owned and operated initiative.
However, after Azuki experienced rapid growth and became one of the fastest-growing NFTs ever, it was unable to continue as a result of numerous failed and somewhat controversial NFT initiatives created by its creator.
Despite the founder scandal, Azuki hasn’t stopped yet—the project has regained momentum quickly, even finding a foothold among the crashing crypto and NFT markets.
What’s the secret? Let’s take a look at the rollercoaster ride of the NFT project Azuki to find out.
What is Azuki NFT?
On January 12, 2022, Azuki released 10,000 generative avatar NFTs. Similar to other PFP NFT projects, each token in the Azuki collection was created through a random combination of traits.
Azuki’s distinctive appearance, which has been likened to The World Ends with You, the popular skateboarding magazine Thrasher, and other anime-inspired visuals, includes anime-inspired artwork.
Azuki was set to be released via Dutch Auction — a NFT drop style in which the sale begins at a set amount and then declines over time to the final purchase price of 1 ETH. The Azuki initial mint price was 1 ETH, and it would have decreased by 0.05 ETH every 20 minutes until it reached 0.15 ETH. However, Azuki did not reach 0.15 ETH. In fact, the collection was sold out in about three minutes at the initial 1 ETH price.
The quick sell-out of the project was most likely due to hype and influencer backing. However, the huge project timeline (described in the subsequent section) was undoubtedly a major cause of its early success.
Since all roadmap promises must be viewed with caution, the community backing and the capital raised during the initial sale were likely the reasons why collectors believed that Azuki would be limitless.
On the day of their public sale, Azuki issued 8,700 NFTs. At 1 ETH ($3,400 at the time), this means the founders raked in around 8,700 ETH, worth around $29 million. On the day after the sale, the Azuki NFT private whitelist sale began, with an unknown number of tokens being minted at 0.5 ETH each, resulting in over $2 million in extra funding for the team.
The Azuki collection achieved around $300 million in secondary sales volume across many major NFT marketplaces in the weeks following its Azuki launch. Because we know that success breeds more success in the NFT space, the early achievements of the Azuki brand quickly led the project’s floor into the ETH double digits, sending its popularity soaring.
Who created Azuki?
Chiru Labs, a Los Angeles-based group of crypto, technology, and gaming experts, created Azuki.
The Azuki group consists of pseudonymous 2pm.flow, location tba, HoshiBoy, and Zagabond, an ex-big technology entrepreneur. Azuki aims to have a wide range of products in addition to being a PFP.
Why did Azuki gain popularity?
Since, as I said previously, NFTs flourish in this ecosystem, the value of Azuki is likely to increase as long as the hype surrounding it is sustained.
The phenomenon appears to have worked in Azuki’s favour, as Chiru has earned many more millions since the initial release thanks to the five percent royalty fee applied to every Azuki NFT resold.
Despite the fact that the Azuki universe is a monumental vision, what really inspired the NFT community to take notice is the sales volume. Even in the early days of the project, the Chiru team envisioned a future in which there would be immersive 3D experiences, merchandise, exhibitions, and a native currency called $BEAN, among other things.
Azuki NFT owners (known as The Garden) can look forward to even more exclusive Azuki drops, streetwear collaborations, live events, and more. These new aspects of the brand will be available to those in The Garden.
The timing of Azuki’s launch might also be why it was so popular. A few anime-themed NFT projects were beginning to rise up the ranks on the NFT market at the beginning of 2022.
A few months before Azuki was released, 0N1 Force had taken the NFT market by storm, but it seemed that it took more than it could chew and subsequently fell in popularity, leaving a void in the PFP market.
Zagabond, who was working on his fourth NFT at the same time, published a post on May 1, 2022, which detailed how his last three NFTs had failed. These NFTs were once important parts of the NFT ecosystem, but the original, anonymous teams that founded them abandoned them after a while. In Azuki’s case, the momentum that it had gained was in serious jeopardy of being terminated.
Why are Azuki NFTs generating controversy.
Zagabond, the creator of the now-defunct NFT collection Tendies, CryptoZunks, and CryptoPhunks, was revealed in May 2022 to be behind them.
Because of the controversy surrounding CryptoPhunks in particular, many collectors and NFT enthusiasts regarded Azuki’s concealment of this information from his community as one of the greatest mistakes in NFTs.
Despite the fact that the allegations didn’t stop there, some wondered why Zagabond had shared information about his “failed ventures” in the first place, leading some to speculate whether the creator of CryptoPhunks had engaged in a wash trade based on on-chain data. Because community sentiment surrounding Azuki was turning against him, the Azuki floor price fell as well.
On May 10, Zagabond took to a Twitter space hosted by prominent NFT community figure Andrew Wang to further respond to the allegations. During the space, Zagabond defended himself in several different ways, first claiming that he had delegated some of the projects to their collector communities, then noting that there was no set rulebook for creators to follow.
However, Zagabond’s prior projects were reportedly viewed as scams by some of the developers who worked on them, rather than failures. In a Twitter thread, former CryptoZunks team leader dxv accused Zagabond of being dishonest about his work, failing to properly communicate what was happening with the project, and abandoning the project despite having several roadmap events already in the pipeline.
Despite the fact that the NFT community was thoroughly unsatisfied with how Zagabond handled the allegations, he apologised officially via Twitter and has continued to play an important role in Azuki’s development.
What do you think about Azuki’s future?
Azuki Beanz was released in April 2022 as the company’s largest expansion to date. Azuki Beanz was a sidekick to the Azuki journey, and holders of original Azuki NFTs received these NFTs for free via an airdrop.
Azuki took advantage of the desire to expand their brand without diluting the original Azuki NFT collection of 10,000 supplies by introducing Azuki Beanz. Just as Bored Apes created Mutant Apes and Doodles created Space Doodles, Azuki capitalized on the desire to expand their brand without diluting the original Azuki NFT collection.
With a collection of nearly 20,000 NFTs, Beanz helped reduce the barrier to entry into the Azuki ecosystem by providing future utility to Azuki collectors as the brand’s narrative progresses.
In addition, holders of Beanz were given access to a holders-only Discord channel in the Azuki server, and they will receive future Azuki merchandise as the narrative progresses.
Azuki appears to be demonstrating its intention to become a significant player both on and off the Azuki network by including Beanz in the ecosystem. The Azuki community has long used the “red bean” as a reference to the “red pill” from The Matrix.
Azuki intends to create its own unique metaverse on the chain.
Within this metaverse will live multiplayer multimedia experiences, games, community incentives, and perhaps even comics and animation. However, the ‘bridge between’ the metaverse and real-life activation seems to be the most crucial initiative to Chiru.
Azuki’s large-scale satellite event at the 2022 NFT. NYC convention gave us our first look at what the bridge might appear like. The Azuki event, which was held at the conference, requested The Garden members to help bring it to life, depicted Japanese culture. In addition to art displays, live music, food stalls, tattoo outlets, and physical Beanz NFT replicas, the Azuki brand was portrayed as all-inclusive in “Enter the Alley.”
Companies such as Yuga Labs and Doodles are creating the foundation for Web3 brand presence in the physical world. Azuki appears to be close behind, as one of the most successful and prominent NFT entities. We may expect Azuki and the Chiru team to invest capital in the coming years to help connect their PFP NFT community presence to a comprehensive consumer brand.
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