Chiru Labs it's a Los Angeles-based tech startup which has introduced a captivating NFT project called Azuki. Chiru Labs it’s known for its innovative approach which has made significant strides in the NFT space. Led by a talented team, including former Overwatch Art Director Arnold Tsang, the company has effectively merged the worlds of anime art, blockchain technology, and streetwear. Azuki, their flagship project, has quickly gained recognition as one of the most popular NFT collections of 2022.
The project initially released a limited collection of 10,000 tokens featuring unique anime-style designs. Building upon their success, Chiru Labs is now venturing into uncharted territory by exploring the convergence of digital and physical experiences with their latest creation, the "Twin Tigers Jackets."
Since its launch in January 2022, Azuki, a collection that seamlessly combines elements of streetwear, skateboard culture, and anime-inspired artwork has garnered a global following, captivating a diverse community of collectors, creatives, and visionaries. Chiru Labs has placed great emphasis on cultivating this community and enhancing the utility value for its token holders. With a forward-thinking approach, Azuki aims to establish itself as a pioneering decentralized brand, where community members possess ownership stakes and actively contribute to its growth and prosperity.
With estimated revenues surpassing $90 million, Chiru Labs has demonstrated its commitment to delivering on its promises, creating valuable digital and physical assets for the community. Notable collaborations with renowned brands like Red Bull Racing and Bilibili further underscore their position in the industry. However, it is worth mentioning that the founders' backgrounds have not been thoroughly verified, and the team has yet to provide a specific roadmap for the foreseeable future.
While Chiru Labs has achieved remarkable success, there have been some concerns raised. The company's business model heavily relies on trading royalties, which may not be adequately enforced by emerging marketplaces. Additionally, there have been reports of a high percentage of fake followers on their social media platforms, indicating the presence of potential fraudulent activities. It is not a minor fact that one of the founders, Zagabond, has previously abandoned other NFT projects. Despite these concerns, Chiru Labs' ongoing efforts to innovate and their commitment to community engagement have positioned Azuki as a remarkable NFT project at the forefront of the industry.
Chiru Labs it is the creative force behind the Azuki collection, which has introduced a captivating series of 10,000 avatar NFTs inspired by anime artwork. Embracing the concept of profile picture NFTs, Azuki employs a randomized selection of traits to craft each distinct character, offering a unique and personalized experience to collectors.
Azuki has achieved extraordinary success since its launch in January 2022, captivating the entire NFT market. The collection swiftly sold out on prominent NFT platforms, generating an estimated revenue of $29 million in a mere three minutes. This remarkable achievement not only solidified Azuki's position as a sought-after NFT project but also propelled it into the spotlight, drawing the attention of the NFT ecosystem.
Azuki's popularity continued to soar post-launch, with its transaction volume surpassing $300 million across renowned NFT marketplaces. The collection's value skyrocketed, with NFTs trading at various price points, ranging from around $36,000 for lower-tier options to over half a million USD for rare pieces. Azuki swiftly climbed the ranks, securing its place as the eighth-most traded NFT collection globally, alongside industry giants like Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks, within just a month of its inception.
Azuki's meteoric rise has not only garnered significant revenue, but has also allowed Chiru Labs to allocate resources for further development, marketing initiatives, and strategic partnerships. With a total mint revenue of approximately 90 million, Chiru Labs possesses a small portion of the 10,000 collections, which will enhance intellectual property, promote the brand, and forge valuable collaborations in the future.
Chiru Labs has faced controversies that impacted its reputation within the NFT community. One major issue involved Zagabond, its founder, whose past involvement in abandoned NFT projects like CryptoPhunks, Tendies, and CryptoZunks raised concerns among collectors and web3 enthusiasts. These projects were considered "rug pulls" as they were abruptly abandoned after the initial mint, leaving communities without clear communication.
Zagabond's failure to disclose this information, coupled with his multiple identity changes, drew criticism and led to a significant drop in Azuki's floor price. However, Zagabond attempted to rectify the situation by issuing an official apology, redistributing funds to the affected communities, and stabilizing the sentiment and floor price of Azuki.
Another controversy that marred Chiru Labs' journey was a Twitter security breach. Exploiting the hype surrounding Azuki's metaverse city, Hilumia, hackers gained control of Azuki's Twitter account and deceived community members through a malicious smart contract shared via a tweet. The fraudulent contract baited victims into claiming land through a fake minting website. Although the Azuki team regained control of their account within four hours, the hackers had already stolen approximately $758,576.68 worth of assets, including 18 NFTs from 10 victims, in less than an hour.
The stolen assets were distributed to wallets involved in previous hacks and TORNADO CASH. The hackers proceeded to exchange ETH via UNISWAP and sell the pilfered NFTs through X2Y2. This incident underscores the importance of exercising caution and remaining vigilant when engaging with the blockchain space, particularly in the face of social engineering tactics like phishing.
While these controversies challenged Chiru Labs' credibility, their efforts to address the issues and enhance security measures demonstrate a commitment to overcoming setbacks and fostering a safer environment for their community. Additionally, as we are going to see in the next section, Chiru Labs continue to deliver successful NFTs.
The Azuki Beanz, a hand-drawn collection of 19,950 PFP NFTs, was launched in April 2022 and has achieved tremendous success. This collection features 16 types of Beanz, each with a unique combination of attributes, including clothing, headgear, shoes, hand props, and more, resulting in a total of 568 distinct attributes. Among the notable Beanz members are Toshi, the red bean, and Gus, the blue bean. Other charming characters in the collection include Link, the black bean, Tao, the lentil, Johny C, the coffee bean, and many others.
This collection has been born from a Chiru Labs collaboration with Line Friends, a popular media and merchandise franchise, facilitated through their parent company IPX. Line Friends originated as a delightful collection of animal characters inspired by stickers from the renowned Japanese messaging app Line and the South Korean internet giant Naver. Line Friends has expanded its presence through various avenues, such as themed merchandise stores, amusement parks, a Netflix series called "Brown and Friends," and partnerships with renowned K-Pop band BTS.
Through the partnership between Chiru Labs and IPX, exciting opportunities arise for content creation, merchandise development, and events. The initial collaboration showcased a fusion of Line Friends characters with the Beanz NFT collection derived from Azuki. Chiru Labs has created a lot of hype by providing a glimpse of this collaboration, before it came out, through artwork introducing a Beanz character named Jay, who was previously introduced alongside another character named Jelly in a Twitter animation earlier this year.
To commemorate this significant alliance, an animated short was showcased on the video billboard above the Line Friends store in Times Square, New York City, coinciding with the annual NFT NYC conference, sending the hype around this collection ever higher. IPX, known for its previous partnerships with esteemed brands like Samsung, Starbucks, Meta, and Vans, continues to expand its presence in the Web3 space.
This partnership holds exciting potential for future content and products. While specific details of the collaboration are yet to be revealed, Chiru Labs has hinted at the possibility of introducing toys in a tweet. Chiru Labs' innovation extends beyond NFTs, as the company has developed a physically backed token (PBT) standard on the Ethereum blockchain, combining digital tokens with physical products to ensure authenticity.
Adding to Chiru Labs' list of notable Asian collaborations, which includes a partnership with Bilibili, a widely popular video platform considered China's equivalent to YouTube, this alliance with Line Friends aims to bring the captivating culture and influence of anime to a global audience, transcending geographical boundaries. With the shared goal of pushing boundaries and fostering innovative partnerships, Chiru Labs and IPX embark on an exciting journey, combining their expertise to create new and engaging experiences.