Daniel Alegre, chief operating officer and president of video game giant Activision Blizzard, will join NFT leader Yuga Labs as its new CEO, according to a blog post.
Effective sometime in the first half of 2023, Alegre will replace the company’s current CEO Nicole Muniz, who will stay on as a partner and strategic advisor to the company.
“Daniel has held one of the highest level roles at one of the largest gaming companies in the world,” Wylie Aronow, Yuga Labs co-founder, said in a statement. “He brings valuable experience across entertainment, e-commerce, and global strategic partnerships — all of which are critical aspects of an immersive web3 world built by creators and for creators.”
Alegre’s departure from Activision, disclosed in a filing last Friday, comes less than two weeks after the FTC filed a lawsuit to block Microsoft’s $69 billion acquisition of the “Call of Duty” publisher.
Formed in April 2021 with the release of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) non-fungible token (NFT) collection, Yuga Labs is one of the most well known players to have emerged from the NFT boom.
By the end of 2021, investors spent close to $41 billion on NFTs, with one of the most popular segments being collectible tokens that serve as social media profile pictures such as those created or acquired by Yuga. NFTs, which act as certificates of authenticity and are preserved on a blockchain, serve as the receipt for digital goods including media, fine art, and real estate in the metaverse.
In March of this year, Yuga acquired two other popular NFT collections, Crypto Punks and Meebits while a separate foundation launched a connected crypto token, ApeCoin (APE). From its peak in late April, ApeCoin is down over 80%.
The same month, it closed a $450 million funding round led by a16z and joined by others such as the now-bankrupt exchange, FTX, which contributed $50 million to help Yuga Labs reach a valuation of $4 billion.
With the raise, the company also announced plans for a “gamified metaverse” project called Otherside.
“The company’s pipeline of products, partnerships, and IP represents a massive opportunity to define the metaverse in a way that empowers creators and provides users with true ownership of their identity and digital assets,” Alegre stated in the blog post.
An October report by Bloomberg found that Yuga Labs is facing a probe by the SEC over whether its sales of digital assets violate securities laws.
After ticking up through the first quarter of 2022, weekly NFT sales peaked in the first week of May at around $1.5 billion, or 561,501 ETH, according to blockchain analytics platform Nansen.
Following the plunge in cryptocurrencies this spring sparked by three massive de-leveraging events in the crypto market, including Terra Luna’s blow-up and the collapse of hedge fund Three Arrows, NFT sales fell sharply in July and have continued to dwindle through the second half of the year.
Sales for Ethereum-based NFTs reached their nadir for 2022 in the first week of December with $68 million worth sent to smart contracts, a 95% drop from the May peak.
Last week, however, the launch of former President Donald Trump’s Trump Collect Cards brought NFTs into the mainstream conversation for the first time in months. The collection of 45,000 different images of the former President, which quickly sold out, may have returned some life to the market.
As one NFT collector told Yahoo Finance: “As much as I dislike Donald Trump… the sole reason I bought 45 was the guaranteed dinner with Trump. Having dinner with the ex-president of the United States is one the best utilities I could have get from an NFT collection.”
Correction: Yuga Labs did not launch ApeCoin.
David Hollerith is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance covering the cryptocurrency and stock markets. Follow him on Twitter at @DsHollers