Yuga Labs, the Web3 company that operates the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and CryptoPunks non-fungible token (NFT) collections, has announced the appointment of Daniel Alegre as its new CEO. Alegre has a wealth of experience in leadership positions in the gaming, entertainment, and technology industries, having previously held senior roles at Activision Blizzard, Google, and Bertelsmann.
He joins Yuga Labs from Activision Blizzard, where he was President and Chief Operating Officer, and played a key role in overseeing the international delivery of popular gaming franchises, including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, and Candy Crush.
Yuga Labs’ announcement of Alegre’s arrival in December 2022 signals the company’s ambition to expand its gamified metaverse platform, Otherside. Otherside, which was developed in collaboration with Animoca Brands and incorporates Improbable’s MSquared platform, enables users to turn their NFTs into playable avatars in the digital space.
The company has made no secret of its intention to build out and lower the barrier of entry to the world of blockchain-integrated gaming in the metaverse. Yuga Labs has already expanded massively and is valued at $4 billion after raising $450 million in a funding round led by a16z in March 2022.
Alegre’s arrival has been considered a bold move in the NFT industry. It is a signal that Yuga is seriously invested in growing its Web3 empire, absorbing the biggest names and best talent in the process. Bringing on the former President and COO of a major gaming competitor adds much-needed wisdom and expertise to Yuga Labs as it ramps up its expansion efforts.
Yuga Labs Co-Founder Wylie Aronow noted that outgoing CEO Nicole Muniz has been a “trusted leader” who helped set the company up for success and that she won’t be “going far,” staying on as a partner and strategic advisor to help with the administrative transition and beyond.
The transfer of power from Muniz to Alegre makes perfect sense. The former has done an excellent job at scaling the company to what it is today, but navigating the metaverse gaming sphere demands serious industry know-how. Alegre’s pedigree will add much-needed wisdom and expertise to Yuga Labs as it expands its operations.
Yuga Labs has been growing rapidly since it launched the most successful NFT project of all time in April 2021 with the Bored Ape Yacht Club. The company has since gone on to acquire and release IP licenses to holders of top NFT collections like CryptoPunks and Meebits.
With the beta version of Otherside scheduled to launch sometime in 2023, Alegre’s influence couldn’t have come at a better time. Adding a name like Alegre to its roster only increases the company’s gravitational pull, showing Web3 and Web2 players just how committed the company is to getting its gaming universe right.
However, Alegre will have to contend with public skepticism of NFTs and the onset of crypto winter in the last eight months, which has led to a precipitous drop in value for many NFTs, including collections that Yuga owns. He will also have to handle corporate controversies, including a class-action lawsuit filed in December 2022 that accuses BAYC creators of misleading investors about the financial benefits of Yuga securities and using celebrity promoters to lure in more investors.
Alegre is no stranger to handling corporate controversies. During his time at Google, he oversaw retail and shopping, strategic partnerships, and the company’s Asia-Pacific and Japan business, which faced some of Google’s biggest controversies in recent years, including how it handled censorship laws.