Azuki is a collection of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) designed by Chiru Labs, a start-up launched by artists and technologists in Los Angeles. Each one is a digital avatar that gives the holder membership access to an online club called The Garden.
The art style of Azuki made it an immediate success. Within four months of launching, it was already ranking among the top NFT collections in terms of sales volume, along with mainstays such as Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks. However, Azuki also has raised some red flags, including the founder's track record of abandoned projects. Here's everything you need to know about this collection.
What makes Azuki unique?
Azuki NFTs are all unique, hand-drawn digital avatars. They come in a variety of different character styles, including samurais and skateboarders. NFT owners can use their Azukis as their digital identities in the metaverse.
There are plenty of digital avatar collections out there. The reason Azukis in particular took off is the designs. They're drawn in an anime style that you'll recognize right away if you grew up watching Dragon Ball Z, the many Gundam series, or any other animated shows from Japan.
Buying an Azuki NFT also gets you access to The Garden. According to the Azuki website, this will include exclusive streetwear collabs, NFT drops, live events, and more. One of the first benefits offered to Azuki NFT holders was an airdrop of two free NFTs on April 1, 2022. The NFTs started out as images of a crate. After NFT holders refreshed metadata, the images turned into images of piles of dirt. The images changed again in May to become part of the company's new NFT collection, BEANZ.
Azuki followed Bored Ape Yacht Club's approach by giving NFT owners a non-exclusive right to commercial use for their specific Azukis; for example, you could put your Azuki on merchandise you sell through an online store.
Where Azuki came from
Four anonymous creators based in Los Angeles founded Chiru Labs, the start-up behind the Azuki NFT collection. They released Azuki on Jan. 12, 2022. The founder was Zagabond, and its three main members were:
- location tba
Artist Arnold Tsang was given credit as a co-creator, but there isn't much information available about the other creators or their backgrounds. However, in a blog post, Zagabond revealed that he founded three other NFT projects before Azuki: CryptoPhunks, Tendies, and Zunks. This admission led to quite a bit of backlash as people pointed out that Zagabond had started and abandoned three projects in less than a year.
How Azuki works
The Azuki NFT collection consists of 10,000 avatars. There are a total of 13 trait categories and 469 traits that determine the appearance of each Azuki. Some traits are rarer than others, and Azukis with rarer traits are generally more valuable.
For example, there are four different types of Azukis: Human, Blue, Red, and Spirit. More than 9,000 Azukis are Humans, so that type tends to cost less. There are only 97 Spirits, less than 1% of the total collection, so they command much higher prices.
Azuki has multiple notable connections that are helping it build its brand. Epik High, a South Korean alternative hip-hop group, partnered with Azuki out of a desire to showcase Asian and Asian-American artists. The group displayed Azuki NFTs as part of their performance at Coachella 2022.
RTFKT, the company that launched Clone X NFTs, has announced a streetwear collaboration with Azuki. Through its BEANZ collection, Azuki is also going to be working with Ledger, a hardware wallet manufacturer.
It didn't take long for Azuki to attract controversy, in particular the news of one founder’s abandoning past projects and allegations of insider trading.
The fact that Azuki founder Zagabond launched and then left three NFT projects in just months is definitely an issue. The founder framed the projects as learning experiences that helped make Azuki what it is today. The people who invested in the failed experiments, however, probably don't have the same warm, fuzzy feeling about them.
The day after the blog post, Zagabond apologized on Twitter. That didn't stop the price of Azuki NFTs from plummeting by more than 50%, although it did rebound.
The NFT market is rife with allegations of insider trading. Several major projects, including Azuki, have been accused of it by members of the NFT community. One such case was before the reveal of the Azuki BEANZ NFTs when a buyer sold four common BEANZ NFTs and bought multiple rare ones. Azuki co-founder location.tba denied that insider trading occurred but stated that there would be more security added before future collection reveals.
Is Azuki a good investment?
You should steer clear of investing in Azuki NFTs because their value is far too volatile and speculative. Like other NFT projects, they lack real-world utility, and the only purpose they serve is as digital collectibles.
The argument for buying an Azuki NFT is that the collection could grow in popularity and that it will get you exclusive benefits. For example, the Azuki team may do another airdrop that gets you one or more free NFTs from a new collection.
Those are both possibilities, but they're far from a sure thing. Azuki could get more popular -- or people could move on to the next collection with cool designs. You might score free NFTs from an airdrop, but just because the Azuki team has launched one successful collection doesn't mean subsequent ones will be a hit.
You're rolling the dice as a buyer, and luck isn't a good investing strategy. To get an idea of how risky Azuki NFTs are, take a look at the sales history for a few of them and see how much people are spending to buy and sell NFTs from this collection. You'll see some sellers who came out ahead, and others who sold at a big loss.
Related investing topics
9 Blockchain Stocks to Invest In
This form of ledger technology is what's behind cryptocurrencies and other tech trends.
Investing in Top FinTech Companies
Combine finance and technology and you get companies in this space.
What Are Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)?
Tokens based on a blockchain, NFTs are used to guarantee ownership of an asset.
How to buy Azuki NFTs
If you like the style of the Azuki NFT collection and you want to buy one, you can find it on several major NFT marketplaces. Options include:
To buy NFTs from the collection, you'll need a blockchain wallet and Ethereum. Since Ethereum is one of the biggest cryptocurrencies, it's available for purchase on most top crypto exchanges. After you buy it, transfer it to your blockchain wallet and connect that wallet to your NFT marketplace of choice.
While the Azuki brand quickly became popular with NFT collectors, that's also the only group who should consider buying in. These hyped-up collections don't make for sound long-term investments. It's impossible to predict which specific NFTs will be winners, and the allegations of insider trading among major collections are a concerning issue that likely won't be resolved any time soon.