Azuki first minted in early January 2022 and took the NFT space by storm. Across OpenSea and LooksRare, the NFT collection has over $600 million in trading volume in just a few months.
Azuki has been hailed as an innovative and blue chip NFT project due to both its strong community and its development of the ERC721A implementation.
A Builder’s Journey
In a strange turn of events, Azuki’s anonymous founder, Zagabond, published an article in which he revealed that he is also the creator of 3 previous NFT projects, most notably CryptoPhunks and CryptoZunks. In the article, he states that “builders need to experiment and innovate for web3 to be able to challenge web2” and that “Azuki is built on learnings from CryptoPhunks and other projects.”
While Zagabond refers to these past projects as learning experiences, many believe those projects were made with malicious intent; allegedly Zagabond created and abandoned each project under a separate identity with the intent to profit.
CryptoPhunks and CryptoZunks
CryptoPhunks are a collection of 10,000 flipped versions of the CryptoPunks NFTs, seemingly created as a jab towards Larva Labs, the creator of CryptoPunks, for their lack of “web3 values” such as a lack of intellectual property ownership for their NFT holders.
However, less than a month after the creation of CryptoPhunks, Zagabond handed the project over to the community and left as seen in his announcement:
CryptoZunks is another collection of 10,000 NFTs, marketed as being the “last 10,000” in addition to the first 10,000 CryptoPunks NFTs. While it garnered a large initial following, the hype around Zunks died out and the promises made by Zagabond were left in the dust, only remembered by the tiny speck of community left.
For example, Zagabond promised to create a marketplace for Zunks, which he never delivered. Unlike the official CryptoPhunks announcement, Zagabond faded slowly from the Zunks scene and left the project to be run by the community.
Zagabond made millions of dollars from these two projects based on mint prices and marketplace royalties, yet he abandoned them quickly and moved on to other projects, which is the main reason many are calling his past projects “rugs” and “cash grabs.”
Zagabond’s article garnered a large amount of backlash from the NFT community, especially from those involved in the projects mentioned. To explain the situation, Zagabond jumped on a Twitter Spaces broadcast that can be replayed here until June 10.
In the Spaces, Zagabond claimed a great deal of ignorance surrounding the accusations aimed at him and that his intent never was to profit but simply to experiment and learn, which caused even further backlash as many believed it to be obvious that he simply was trying to save his reputation.
Following the Spaces, Zagabond released a Twitter thread to apologize for his actions, in which he states that he “will hand over full control of contracts to the communities of previous projects, as well as figure out the right setup for an equitable redistribution of funds.”
Effects and Future
Zagabond’s article caused Azuki’s floor prices to drop from ~30 ETH to ~10 ETH and tarnished its reputation, while it caused the floors and volumes of CryptoPhunks and CryptoZunks to increase drastically. The exact mindset that motivated Zagabond to publish the article remains unclear.
The situation has revived the debate around anonymity in web3 projects and the exact criteria of what constitutes a rug, all of which hopefully will lead to a healthier NFT space in which both buyers and creators are more mindful.
This content is for informational purposes only and is not investment advice. You should consult a qualified licensed advisor before engaging in any transaction.