Infamy or not, the Azuki NFT collection is still one of the most popular NFT collections there is. The collection, less than a year old, rose to prominence due to a unique proposition that captured the market. For sure, the Los Angeles-based brand is just starting, and this guide aims to explore its short history.
What is Azuki?
Conceivably one of the fastest-growing NFT projects this year, Azuki is an anime-based PFP collection that boasts 10,000 NFTs to act as an avatar for the metaverse. Each avatar grants access to The Garden. Azuki is a brand that aims to plant its feet at the intersection of art, community, and culture. The Azuki brand wants to rewrite the rules of the physical and digital worlds as written in its manifesto.
Who created Azuki?
On January 12, 2022, members of Churi Labs founded the Azuki NFT project. Churi Labs is a startup collective based in Los Angeles with several members with varying experience in crypto, art, and gaming. However, members of the group have chosen to remain anonymous. Most of the members are known online through their online personalities.
The leading man, Zagabond, is the founder of the project. In his accolades, he lists working under industry leaders such as Google and other decentralized projects as his background. Hoshiboy and Location TBA details their previous Meta (Facebook) work alongside their current roles as Lead Design and Engineer for Azuki.
The team has mentioned that they intend to dox themselves in the future fully. The anonymous nature of their identities is done on purpose to focus attention on their work rather than their personal lives.
How much is an Azuki NFT?
A common practice with hyped releases, Azuki followed suit by releasing via Dutch Auction on January 13, 2022. Their starting price was set at 1 ETH with a decline of 0.05 ETH every 20 minutes until it dropped to 0.15 ETH. However, the Dutch auction immediately sold out after 3 minutes, barely even hitting the price reduction, netting the team approximately $29 million. Allowlisted people were able to mint their NFTs at 0.5 ETH each.
The Azuki sale begins tomorrow, Jan 12 at 10am PST. Be careful of scam links and DMs leading up to the sale. The team will never DM you on Discord.
— Azuki (@AzukiOfficial) January 12, 2022
Currently, the Azuki NFT collection floor stands at 6.9ETH ($12,052.92). The collection has traded over 260,000 ETH worth in the secondary marketplace OpenSea. The highest sold Azuki NFT was Azuki #9605, which sold for 420.7 ETH. The collection is available on Opensea, Looksrare, and other major secondary market platforms. Due to its astronomic rise, the collection reached a floor price of 34 ETH at one point.
How popular is Azuki?
The early success of the sold-out launch made quite an impression on the market. As soon as it hit the secondary market, the Azuki was already selling for a premium of about 2 ETH. In a week, the project had a 7 ETH floor and was at 15 ETH by month’s end. It was an unprecedented success in a day. Even popular projects such as Bored Ape Yacht Club did not have that kind of triumph in the early stages.
The Azuki NFT collection’s popularity can be attributed to the time of its launch and its theme. Previous projects that have dabbled in the anime theme, such as ON1 Force, Mekaverse, have entered but consequently failed to sustain their early success. Despite its mainstream popularity, the space still lacks anime-themed projects. With Azuki, Chiru Labs could fill the void and maintain the goodwill they got early on.
In the eyes of the NFT market, Chiru Labs was executing everything properly. Their lore and art are first-rate. The community believed that the founders would be able to accomplish everything in the roadmap. They were even talking about them flipping Bored Ape Yacht Club, though it never materialized.
Following the Garden Party concert on NFT LA, the Azuki team decided to airdrop something the NFT named “Something Official”. All Azuki owners were able to receive two boxes per Azuki NFT held. Airdrops are commonly given to provide value to their holders though not all projects have them. It still depends on the roadmap promises of a team.
Something is coming.
— Azuki (@AzukiOfficial) March 31, 2022
With Azuki hovering around 26.8 ETH floor at the time, the something official NFT was initially a box, but owners woke up to piles of dirt a day after.
Okay @AzukiOfficial theory. The “something” airdrop metadata updated and inside the box appeared to be… dirt. April Fools Day prank? Not convinced. I think it’s soil. Perhaps a Bean was planted? My theory is the metadata will refresh and a plant will sprout. Thoughts? 🤔🌱 pic.twitter.com/uxuRZneYrR
— Cole (@ColeThereum) April 1, 2022
The piles of dirt traded for around 3-4 ETH, even touching 6-7 ETH at one point. About two weeks afterward, the contents of the box were revealed to be sidekicks to their current Azuki avatars named Beanz. Holders of the original Azuki collection can pair the Beanz, which would work as an extension.
What is Beanz?
Beanz are cute little companions to the original Azuki collection. Unlike their counterparts, Beanz looks a lot more playful in aesthetics. There is a total of 20,000 Beanz in the collection. There are two banners Beanz named Toshi; the red Beanz is described as a rule breaker and headstrong. He is conflict-averse, but not when it comes to where he can and can’t skate. The next Beanz named Gus/Les, the blue Beanz, is described as a troublemaker. It has been said that “If you hear an Azuki yell out in anger, you will soon see this guy scurrying away.”
Introducing BEANZ: a small species that sprout from dirt in the garden. Being a sidekick is in their DNA, although some like to kick it alone.
They’re earnestly driven by the desire to help. However, certain BEANZ feel a calling to pave their own path…🧵 pic.twitter.com/jMaFF8XwgC
— Azuki (@AzukiOfficial) April 18, 2022
Additionally, it has been teased that these Beanz is the perfect vehicle for future collaborations with other artists as they may be a collectible toy. Lastly, Beanz holders are granted access to the token-gated Discord channels alongside future drops in the Azuki ecosystem.
Currently, Beanz is trading at a floor price of 0.587 ETH ($1,024.17). The highest-sold Beanz NFT was Bean #4096, which sold for 90 ETH. The collection is available on Opensea, Looksrare, and other major secondary market platforms.
The bigger they are, the harder they fall
Unquestionably, the meteoric rise of the Azuki is one for the books. For a project to reach the heights it came to in such a short period is tremendous. But as the adage goes, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall”, everything came crashing down eventually.
On May 10, Zagabond posted a blog admitting to his past mistakes as a project founder. However, the public quickly pointed out that most of what Zagabond revealed were rug pulls. A rug pull is described as knowingly defrauding investors by taking their money without ever providing a product or abandoning a project altogether. Given that Zagabond was anonymous to most of his followers, they felt deceived.
In the wake of the ruckus caused by Zagabond’s confession of his past actions, the Azuki project dipped hard. He tried to remedy the situation by going on Twitter Spaces with Andrew Wang, a prominent NFT figure. By that point, the damage had already been done. From a floor price of 20 ETH floating around to a sudden 50% drop to about 10 ETH in the collection price.
It was clear that members of the community were not happy. Vagabond’s recklessness and lack of accountability displayed themselves when answering queries on Twitter Spaces. Nevertheless, Zagabond issued a formal apology via Twitter and promised to work on an agreement that is amendable to those involved.
I fucked up.
After the spaces today, I realized my shortcomings in how I handled the prior projects which I started. To the communities I walked away from, to Azuki holders, and to those who believed in me — I’m truly sorry.
— ZAGABOND.ETH (@ZAGABOND) May 11, 2022
The future of Azuki
Compared to when the Azuki collection was released, the NFT market has experienced a significant decline in sales volume. Along with the lull in the market, the Azuki collection has also experienced a decrease in sales. Considering how the team has weathered the storm with earlier troubles on their creditability, Chiru Labs showed that they can and will work no matter the circumstances. Fulfilling their roadmap promises is not a question of whether they can do it but rather a matter of when. With their core fans still expressing considerable support, the Azuki NFT is here to stay.
This article is written by Jan Jeric Santos. This article is not financial advice.