Companies Behind Azuki NFTs and Line Friends Characters Join Forces for Web3 Expansion

Chiru Labs, the Web3 startup behind NFT projects Azuki and Beanz, is partnering with IPX, the firm known for the colorful Line Friends characters that originally began as stickers for the LINE messaging app.

AccessTimeIconApr 12, 2023 at 2:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 12, 2023 at 3:16 p.m. UTC

Chiru Labs, the Web3 company behind non-fungible token (NFT) collections Azuki and Beanz, and IPX, the parent company of the popular character collection Line Friends, said Wednesday they've begun working together.

The two companies intend to collaborate on content, merchandise, retail distribution, real-life activations and immersive metaverse experiences, initially focusing on the Beanz NFTs and Line Friends characters.

IPX has grown from Line Friends, which originated as stickers within the LINE messaging app, into an innovative intellectual property (IP) brand and has partnered with companies such as Starbucks, Netflix and McDonald's as well as K-Pop band BTS. To celebrate the partnership, a billboard above the Line Friends store in New York's Times Square will show an animation of some of the NFT characters during NFT.NYC this week.

"We are excited to collaborate with IPX, who is a global leader in building innovative character IP brands beloved by millions of fans around the world," Zagabond, the pseudonymous founder and CEO of Chiru Labs, said in a press release. "IP is evolving, and we see the web3 community as an integral part of this next wave."

Chiru Labs is best known for its anime-inspired NFT collection Azuki, which has netted 470,994 ETH (roughly $887,824,000 as of writing) in trading volume since its launch in January 2022, according to OpenSea. The company also made headlines for pioneering “physical backed tokens” (PBT) as part of a sale of eight NFT-backed golden skateboards which raised $2.5 million.

“We plan to complement Chiru Labs’ IP with our multi-faceted character IP business strategy,” Logan Cho, the head of the metaverse business at IPX, said in the press release. “We are eager to unveil an expanded IP business that encompasses Web3, offering collaborative opportunities for both NFT holders and character IP enthusiasts alike.”

The Azuki brand has faced some bumps in the road, notably when Zagabond admitted in May 2022 that he had abandoned previous NFT projects. While he credited Azuki’s success to learning from the other project’s failures, the floor price for the NFTs fell after the news. More recently in January 2023, the main Twitter account for Azuki was hacked to try to entice users to click on malicious links. The team alerted their Discord community quickly while they fixed the issues.


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Toby Bochan

Toby Leah Bochan was the Managing Editor of Web3 and Learn at CoinDesk. Toby holds BTC.

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