Before co-founding one of the most popular collections of the NFT boom, Azuki developer Zagabond created — and left behind — three NFT projects: Two CryptoPunks derivatives and a r/wallstreetbets-inspired NFT project called “Tendies.”
Zagabond fondly detailed his experiences with those projects (CryptoPhunks, CryptoZunks and Tendies) in a May 9 article on Mirror.xyz tilted "A Builder’s Journey," saying he used lessons from each one to help build Azuki.
“Azuki wouldn’t be what it is today without the learnings from our previous projects,” said Zagabond in the self-published article.
Zagabond confirmed in the article that he is no longer associated with any of the projects – leading critics to label him as a “serial rugger.”
So does Web 3.0 = rugging three projects in less than a year ? https://t.co/CzoPiz1Z6G— ZachXBT (@zachxbt) May 9, 2022
In a reply to Zachxbt, Zagabond disputed the characterization of “rug” – short for rug pull, where a project absconds with funds intentionally and maliciously sometime after a mint. Zagabond said the communities took over control of the Phunks and the Zunks and the Tendies never minted out.
“We delivered everything that was promised for these collections. Do I wish they were more successful? Of course,” said Zagabond. “There was no product-market fit at the end of the day, but that doesn’t mean it’s a rug.”
The market first responded negatively to the article. BEANZ, the Azuki companion collection which recently revealed, went from around 2.5 ETH to as low as 1.35 ETH. Azuki, which started the day with a floor price of around 17 ETH, fell to 12 ETH.
The Case of the Phunks
On July 20, 2021, the team behind the Phunks put out an open letter to Larva Labs, the project whose IP they co-opted in the name of “true decentralization.”
“It’s time for an awakening in the NFT community. It’s time to stand up to censorship resistance, for change beyond our pervasive web2 systems,” the letter said.
Around the same time the letter was published, Zagabond said there was a “handover" of the Phunks project to "community leaders.”
Chopper, a member of the new Phunks team and a developer on the post-Zagabond Not Larva Labs website, said there was no handover. The Discord and Twitter log-ins and most importantly, the Phunks contract, stayed with Zagabond, according to Chopper.
“We asked for this information several times from them and got nothing but radio silence,” said Chopper in a Discord call Tuesday.
Phunks were also a royalty-free collection until January, when the wallet that created the contract — the wallet Chopper said Zagabond refused to hand over — changed the royalty fee to 5 percent. The change coincided with the rise of trading rewards associated with the new LooksRare marketplace. Phunks were being traded heavily due to the collection's low fees.
Chopper said he’s been trying since August to spread the message about the former Phunks team to no avail. Chopper also claims the Phunks team pretended to be women when launching its CryptoZunks project later in the year — a claim also alleged by this developer.
“This is crypto man — there are scammers here,” Chopper said. “And the scammers keep building.”
0xMandy Lands in Web3
The Twitter account 0xMandy launched in July, with Amanda doing her own "Hello world!" message telling everyone she was working on her own project inspired by the CryptoPunks.
Hi #cryptopunks community! I don’t own a real punk yet, but I am an experienced developer and working on a few fun projects to get more familiar with NFTs. I absolutely love CryptoPunks and it’s what drew me in. Hope to learn from all of you 😊— Amanda (@0xMandy) July 25, 2021
Amanda later announced she was making the CryptoZunks, a 10,000-edition collection of “generated on-chain” CryptoPunks derivatives that were “guaranteed to be unique from existing Punks.” She goes on to thank some names in the NFT space who helped her including @clairesilver12, @richerd, @CapitalHobo, and @ElectionDayMad1.
In Zagabond’s Mirror article, he says the Zunks were part of his experiment with “randomization and trait rarity.” He doesn’t mention Amanda.
“Intrigued by how iconic Punk avatars had become, I had a product thesis that I wanted to explore around on-chain composition and rerollable traits,” said Zagabond.
Attempts to contact Zagabond about Amanda’s role with the CryptoZunks project were not successful. In the Azuki Discord he posted this comment, saying OxMandy and all social accounts (such as this one which portrayed the Zunks as "female-founded") were run by Azuki team member @whizwang.
But some of those credited with helping Amanda initially were questioning her role – and existence.
Little did I know that I was supporting supporting the development of CryptoZunks. 0xMandy asked me a whole bunch of questions about NFT dev and smart contracts and then out of no where dropped Zunks...— richerd.eth (マ,マ) (@richerd) May 10, 2022
Who was I really talking to? https://t.co/HXZMsrmnIe pic.twitter.com/nSCW3RBj6M
Get Them ‘Tendies’
Of all the projects remembered by Zagabond in his article, Tendies, a collection of anthropomorphic chicken tenders inspired by a subreddit, was the least revered. The project which “looked too much like turds” and followed “in the footsteps of the My Fucking Pickle meta” was supposed to be a collection of 10,000 but only 1,478 were minted.
“Throughout the process, I couldn’t help but reflect on the ridiculousness of what we were doing,” said Zagabond in his article.
Zagabond shut down the project shortly after, saying “we did everything we could to gain traction” for it. He said they paid raffle winners in the project some ETH and a Gutter Cat Gang NFT.
The collection still has not fully revealed.
Azuki, BEANZ Recovery
Despite the negative sentiment toward Zagabond, the Azuki and Beanz collections have bounced back despite the struggles of the wider NFT and cryptocurrency market. Azuki’s floor price is at 15.5 ETH as of 9:15 a.m. ET on May 10. BEANZ floor price is 2.15 ETH. In the past 24 hours, there has been more than 10,000 ETH in volume on the Azuki collection.
To follow the price action, refer to our project rankings page where we track all the latest NFT market data.
Every startup entrepreneur deeply resonates with @ZAGABONDost recent blog post. Nobodies first project gains serious traction. How could you FUD someone for doing their best and being transparent about past losses???— Elvin Ng |🍀 (@ElvinNg7) May 9, 2022
Zagabond will reach out to community members of CryptoPhunks and CryptoZunks to start a process to hand off those contracts to the respective communities, he said Tuesday.
“We delivered everything we said we would deliver for these projects,” he said. “I think it goes back to just having clear expectations on both sides — which going back, I think we could have done a better job and I totally acknowledge that.”