[Short #21] From Project to Company

They're growing up right before our eyes 😢

I’ve been curious over the past few months about how the wheat would separated from the chaff with the thousands of NFT projects out there. There’s plenty of ways to analyze this: the founding team, floor price, art quality, technical capabilities, ability to conduct IRL events, the list goes on.

Over the past 24 hours I believe there is another factor: The ability to hire and bring on leadership and advisory talent.

There is a distinction between the strength of a founding team and bringing on leadership and advisory talent for NFTs projects. Almost all founding teams in the NFT space are not accomplished from a traditional business POV. They might be talented artists or experienced operators, but they haven’t been CEOs of unicorn tech companies or multi-billion dollar consumer brands. A couple of exceptions to this would be Kevin Rose with Moonbirds or Chris Cantino of CPG Club. And there will be more joining those ranks.

In the next 12 months, major consumer brands are going to come in and suck the air out of the NFT room, for better (more mass market awareness and acceptance of NFTs and blockchain tech) and worse (Web3 native projects will fizzle en masse). This is already happening.

And the top projects know this. So what do they do? They proactively prepare for this.

How are they going to do that? By bringing on heavyweights of their own.


Yesterday, Azuki revealed their BEANZ project. These cute little things will become part of the Azuki-verse. How? Who knows.

Azuki @AzukiOfficial


7:08 PM ∙ May 5, 2022


Sentiment was still mixed with the art and how much it contrasted with the core Azuki collection’s art style, but IMO the more significant announcement in this thread was this:

Twitter avatar for @AzukiOfficial

Azuki @AzukiOfficial

We are excited to welcome Rehito Hatoyama as an advisor to @ChiruLabs. As former CEO of Sanrio US/EU, Ray helped build iconic global brands like Hello Kitty. Ray is Chief Strategic Officer for Human Made, a fashion label by NIGO®. He also serves on the board of LINE Corp. 6/x


7:08 PM ∙ May 5, 2022


I had no idea who Rehito Hatoyama was before this announcement. And frankly, I don’t think it matters. The 3 names Human Made, Sanrio, and LINE told me all I needed to know. Quick hits on these companies:

Human Made: Clothing and Lifestyle brand from Nigo (creator of Bape). If you’re into streetwear, you know Nigo and his legendary status. Human Made also has collaborations with Adidas.


A post shared by adidas Originals (@adidasoriginals)

LINE: Japanese based messaging juggernaut now operated by Z Holdings (Softbank Group x Naver subsidiary). So what? Well…Asia. And this

On top of that, they know how to create characters and brands from the ground up. You might not be familiar with these characters if you’re reading this in the US. In Asia, they’re famous.

Sanrio: If you asked someone in Asia to define ‘cute’ in one picture, a character from Sanrio would probably be in the top 5. A brand 70 years in the making, they’ve cemented themselves as a group of characters that have and will continue to grow up with children all over the world.

Will the BEANZ (and Azuki) become a globally recognized brand? I think their chances increased significantly with this new Advisor joining the team.


This morning, Doodles had a big personnel announcement. And they did not disappoint.

Twitter avatar for @doodles

doodles @doodles

We’re thrilled to announce Julian Holguin, @jholguin, as the new @doodles CEO. Julian will work alongside the founders to expand Doodles IP throughout music, gaming, and entertainment, while deeply integrating culture into the product.

3:47 PM ∙ May 6, 2022


Who’s Julian Holguin? I had to look him up as well. I literally got the chills when I read his LinkedIn experience.

Julian is leaving his position at Billboard to be the CEO of a project company that’s less than a year old?!

Without meeting Julian before, I have to imagine he’s a pretty smart guy. In his position at Billboard and being in the entertainment, media, and music industries he’s seen culture, trends, and brands ebb and flow. He likely has a very strong understanding of what people want.

He knows that NFTs are here to stay. And he knows what NFT brands are here to stay, one of them being Doodles. And he’s making the ultimate conviction bet by joining the team and leading it.

What does he bring to the table? Everything, especially with his background, experience, and connections.

Unlike the former Cool Cats CEO Chris Hassett, Julian has been an active holder and community member of the Doodles. In other words, he gets it. He gets how NFTs work. He understands how important community is and how they typically respond to news. He has a good feel of Doodles’ SWOT analysis.

If Doodles has aspirations to become a globally loved brand, Julian has likely 10x’ed their chances to make them come true.

All in all

This makes be excited about the space and for the continued flow of top tier talent joining the ranks of Web3.

And Web3’s message to the Fortune 500 companies licking their chops at the juicy opportunity that is Web3 and NFTs? Let’s ball.

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