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Yuga Labs ‘Lost Its Way’ Says CEO as Bored Ape NFT Maker Reveals Layoffs

Bored Ape Yacht Club creator Yuga Labs continued its recent shake-up by announcing a restructuring initiative on Friday, which will include a new round of layoffs following a previous wave last October.

Yuga Labs co-founder Greg “Garga” Solano, who returned as CEO in February, announced the news via Twitter on Friday, sharing screenshots of a Slack message sent to the team.

“I owe everyone a frank and honest explanation of what led to this decision. To put it simply: Yuga lost its way,” he wrote. “Getting ourselves centered and on the right path means being a smaller, more agile, and crypto-native team. A team that does fewer things but does them brilliantly.”

It’s unclear how many positions are affected by the restructuring. Decrypt reached out to Yuga Labs for clarification, but did not immediately hear back.

Yuga Labs was founded in early 2021 and launched the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT project on Ethereum three years ago this week. In a matter of months, the collection of 10,000 unique profile pictures (PFPs) became the biggest brand in the space, with the NFTs starting at a price of nearly $430,000 worth of ETH in April 2022 on secondary marketplaces.

The startup expanded quickly. It raised $450 million in March 2022 at a $4 billion valuation and acquired the influential CryptoPunks NFT project IP from creator Larva Labs. The ApeCoin (APE) crypto token of the Bored Ape ecosystem, officially said to have been created by an independent foundation, launched and rewarded NFT holders (and Yuga Labs itself) with a massive windfall.

Yuga Labs then pivoted hard into gaming with the announcement of Otherside, a metaverse game underpinned by NFT land plots that generated hundreds of millions of dollars in sales in late April 2022. But following that sale, which was criticized for its design and the sizable network fees that ensued, the Bored Ape ecosystem has faced various challenges.

The NFTs recently fell to a price that’s 90% less than at the peak, Yuga Labs has yet to launch Otherside despite multiple brief test events, and the company sold off some of its created gaming IP earlier this month in an effort to refocus and streamline. Solano wrote that since coming back as CEO, he’s seen an organization that’s grown too big and isn’t accomplishing enough.

“The creative-first spirit that drove this company from inception has been getting muddied by labyrinthine corporate processes,” he wrote. “We work hard and we care but somehow end up with groups and committees. We plan more than we ship.”

“Yuga was about a dozen people when someone knocked on the door with a massive valuation. The ethos back then was just: ship only stuff that delights you, but also do it like your butt’s on fire,” he continued. “We had our share of luck and moments of brilliance, but in a lot of ways we were playing the game on easy mode: Creator royalties were thriving and made our whole ecosystem electric.”

He cited the recent sale of HV-MTL and Legends of the Mara gaming IP, and said that due to marketplaces shifting away from honoring creator royalties over the last couple years, they’re playing in “hard mode” now and have to go “from zero to one again.”

But Solano said he has a plan that will be revealed before long, and it appears to focus on staying lean and taking fewer, but quicker swings.

“In the history of Yuga, our biggest home runs are things that went from a glimmer in our eye to shipped in under three months,” he wrote.

Edited by Ryan Ozawa.

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