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Yuga Labs, the creator of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, has appointed Activision Blizzard president Daniel Alegre as its new CEO.

The new hire will start in the first half of 2023 (perhaps the timing is vague since Activision Blizzard is in the midst of being acquired by Microsoft for $68.7 billion). Alegre will succeed Nicole Muniz, who will stay on as a partner and strategic adviser to the company.

Alegre’s job will be to help the Miami company expedite its ambitious vision for blockchain gaming, metaverse development and community building. Alegre announced he was leaving his job on Friday in an 8K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

It’s a big endorsement of blockchain gaming and Web3 technology, as Alegre is leaving a role as the president and COO of the biggest stand-alone (for now) company in the game industry to join a startup that is less than two years old. The young company put itself on the map when it launched the Bored Ape Yacht Club in April 2021, during the height of the craze for non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Yuga Labs hopes to parlay the notoriety and capital into a lead role in the emerging business of the metaverse.

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Daniel Alegre is the No. 2 exec at Activision Blizzard.
Daniel Alegre was appointed the No. 2 exec at Activision Blizzard in 2020.

Yuga Labs managed sell $1 billion worth of NFTs to virtual land prospectors, known as Voyagers, who have purchased tokenized land plots in the Otherside virtual world. It also raised $450 million in March at a $4 billion valuation.

Alegre will work closely with Yuga Labs founders Wylie Aronow and Greg Solano in continuing to grow the business.

In just two years, Yuga Labs has convinced Web3 fans that it can be both a mainstream success and a creative force leading the charge on NFT technology. Yuga made clear its ambitious metaverse plans earlier this year when it announced Otherside, a gamified metaverse inspired by massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs).

After proving it could raise a lot of money from backers, the company now has to live up to its promise.

The Bored Ape Yacht Club has had a zany ride in NFT gaming.

Alegre has 25-plus years of experience. He has been president and chief operating officer at Activision Blizzard, the No. 2 position behind longtime CEO Bobby Kotick. In that role, he oversaw international delivery and commercialization of franchises such as Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Overwatch and Candy Crush Saga. He took on that role in early 2020.

Before that, he spent over 16 years at Google where he was the company’s president of global and strategic partnerships, president of shopping and payments as well as president of Asia Pacific and
Latin America.

“Nicole, Greg, and I have been on the hunt for someone with Daniel’s skill set for some time,” said Aronow, in a statement. “The business, our ambitions and the complexity of the work have grown beyond our wildest expectations. We are thrilled to have him join the team to help with our vision of a truly interoperable metaverse.”

He added, “Daniel has held one of the highest-level roles at one of the largest gaming companies in the world. He brings valuable experience across entertainment, ecommerce and global strategic partnerships – all of which are critical aspects of an immersive Web3 world built by creators and for creators.”

Alegre said in a statement that Yuga Labs has quickly made a name for itself through storytelling and community building.

“The company’s pipeline of products, partnerships and intellectual property 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,” he said. “I look forward to working with the passionate,
creative team at Yuga to innovate, inspire and shape the future of the internet together.”

Muniz joined the company as an adviser in its early days. She became a partner and took on the role as the first CEO, Solano said in a statement.

“Nicole has been a trusted leader who helped set the company up with the infrastructure we needed to scale quickly,” Solano said. “She’s not going far, as she’ll remain a Yuga Labs partner and strategic advisor helping with the transition and beyond.”

Through a spokesperson, Alegre declined an interview request from GamesBeat.

“When I was first asked to advise Yuga Labs, I could tell right away that they had a fresh and exciting
approach to building communities,” said Muniz in a statement. “I’ve always had a passion for helping set early-stage companies up for success and the growth we’ve achieved at Yuga over the last year has been incredible. I look forward to continuing to help from the sidelines as a partner and advisor. I am thrilled that we found Daniel to keep up the momentum and bring his gaming expertise to hugely ambitious projects like Otherside.”

It will be interesting to see if Alegre can bring his big company cred to NFTs, which Western gamers seem to hate. (The comedy show Mythic Quest skewered the NFT craze in its third season in a hilarious way). But many in the industry believe it can disrupt the status quo, bring true digital asset ownership to players and herald decentralization in the game industry.

A big Bored Ape played host to 4,500 Voyagers in Otherside.
A big Bored Ape played host to 4,500 Voyagers in Otherside.

In a post, Solano and Aronow said, “We have a clear vision of how Yuga can continue to lead in Web3, and we’re unshakeable in our conviction of how NFTs will reinvigorate the gaming, entertainment, and lifestyle industries while opening up a space of possibility we can’t conceive of yet (though we are starting to).”

They added, “When it comes to the metaverse we’re competing with giants. In order to catapult Otherside and our other ambitious projects to new heights, we’ve known for a long time we wanted to bring in someone with a proven track record of building at the highest possible level. Knowing this, Nicole, Wylie and I have been on the hunt for the right candidate. Our search led us to Daniel Alegre who will become Yuga Labs’s new CEO in the first half of the year.”

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