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Can Co-founder's Comeback As CEO Make Yuga Labs Great Again?

The once undisputed top dog of NFT profile pic collections is hoping that Greg Solano's return will prevent Yuga Labs from losing further ground to competitors?

Greg Solano Garga Yuga

Greg Solano is returning as chief executive officer at Yuga Labs. The co-founder of the NFT startup, also known by the nickname "Gargamel" or "Garga", stepped down in late 2022, with now-former CEO Daniel Alegre taking his place.

In an announcement yesterday, Solano admitted that the NFT studio he created has seen better days and revealed his plans to make Yuga great again.

"We want to unshackle the BAYC team at Yuga as much as possible to execute against its vision. More focus, more agility. So it can do the above, and create the space for the magic and crazy s**t we used to get up to more often."

Gargamel's return is rather timely. Yuga Labs collections have dominated the NFT ecosystem since the crypto bull market in 2021, but its prominence has recently been challenged.

Last weekend, the floor price of the Pudgy Penguins was, for a brief moment, higher than that of Bored Apes. The strategy of the team behind the 'cute' animal tokens, to sell real-life toy versions in retail stores, was a game changer in the NFT ecosystem and has sent prices for the collection through the roof.

Gargamel doesn't seem interested in following in the competition's footsteps and has let the Bored Apes community know that Yuga will be executing a "more crypto native focus across the entire company." The co-founder also announced that Yuga's subsidiary company, "BAYC LLC," was created to focus exclusively on maintaining the NFT market's best-selling collection, emphasising the need to nurture its community.

"To sum up our thinking around BAYC in the briefest possible terms, the utility of BAYC comes from the network. From everybody who is in the club."

Sharper competition is not the only issue facing the NFT studio. Some of the startup's initiatives during the past year, such as the HV-MTL forge game on Yuga's metaverse platform Otherside, have underwhelmed users. Meanwhile, attempts to give back to the community have backfired and made users deeply unsatisfied. 

Last week, the startup revealed that it acquired direct competitor Proof, which is behind collections such as Moonbirds and Oddities. Rather than excited, the Bored Apes community was mostly discontented with the decision, with multiple users accusing the company of spreading too thin and neglecting ongoing projects.

Solano didn't share the exact reason for his return, opting to share his enthusiasm at being back. "I'm reinvigorated to be taking the reins for our next chapter," he wrote. But his job will be challenging. From being one of the strongest communities in Web3, the Bored Apes community is now less hopeful about the future and less trusting in the decisions made by Yuga Labs than it was when the co-founder left.