Azuki Creator Hires Former Media Executive as First COO

Chiru Labs, the creator of NFT collections Azuki and BEANZ, announced yesterday that it has hired Steve Chung as its first Chief Operating Officer (COO). According to a press release, Chung will expand Azuki’s presence in both the anime and entertainment industries, while helping bridge the gap between Web2 and Web3 media.

Chung is a former media executive at Fox, where he helped incubate strategic projects and launch new products for direct-to-consumer streaming services. He also is a former Chief Global Officer for CJ ENM, one of the largest South Korean mass media companies. There, he helped drive the wave of Korean entertainment throughout North America.

In a statement, Chung said that Azuki has a “proven track record of building a passionate community.” It also has a clear vision of how to build IP and experiences designed for anime fans, while working alongside some of the industry’s best creators. He is excited to join this “world-class team to develop the next generation powerhouse in the industry.”

Chung will sign up separately to become a contributor for AnimeChain, a blockchain designed for and by anime fans. The goal for AnimeChain is to redefine anime community engagement.

On the day of the announcement, Azuki’s floor price rose from 3 ETH to 3.5 ETH. It has since settled to around 3.2 ETH ($11,200) at this time of writing. Under Azuki’s X post revealing the news, some Azuki holders welcomed Chung “into the Garden.”

Chiru Labs Follows Other Top NFT Companies

The hiring of Steve Chung is likely exciting news for Azuki community members, who have watched the floor price of their digital assets struggle since 2022. But it also marks a trend in the NFT space: top companies hiring people outside of Web3 to shepherd their businesses to new revenue streams.

The first to do so was Doodles, which hired former Billboard President Julian Holguin to run the ship as CEO. Under his leadership, the company made a slew of hires with the objective to become Web3’s top media company. So far, it seems to have paid off.

After Doodles came Yuga Labs. The preeminent contender for the most successful NFT company hired Daniel Alegre in December of 2022 as CEO. Alegre tried to pivot Yuga Labs into a gaming company, releasing microgames, the beginnings of a metaverse, and gaming-oriented NFT collections. Greg Solano replaced Alegre in February of this year.

NFT companies often thread a delicate balance between appealing to their core holders and expanding their audience. And when creator royalties dried up during the bear market, the companies were left without a primary revenue source. That led to attempts to find others; some have worked while others have fallen flat.

Rarity Sniper will keep an eye on Chiru Labs to see what changes, if any, they make now that Chung will act as COO. If they do, we’ll update this article if needed.