A recent incident in the world of NFTs has shaken Yuga Labs, the creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Shpend Salihu, the company’s Social Lead, has stepped down following the resurfacing of racist and antisemitic tweets from his past.
The controversy surrounding his departure has cast a shadow on the trading success and ongoing controversies involving Yuga Labs.
Shpend Salihu, also known as NGBxShpend, who was identified as the company’s Social Lead in a LinkedIn post from June, made the announcement of his resignation via Twitter.
His decision came in response to the widespread attention garnered by his previous tweets, which denigrated individuals from different racial and ethnoreligious backgrounds.
Salihu expressed remorse and clarified that these tweets did not represent his true beliefs. He acknowledged the harm they caused to the reputation of the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
However, there are also concerns raised by the public, questioning his decision to not delete the previous tweets earlier.
Yuga Labs acknowledged Salihu’s association with the company and confirmed his resignation but refrained from making any further comments on the matter.
The Bored Ape Yacht Club, a well-known NFT project, comprises 10,000 unique Ethereum profile pictures that function as exclusive access passes to a private club. The club offers various benefits, including event access, unique perks, prior NFT drops, and ApeCoin tokens.
Since its launch in early 2021, the Bored Ape Yacht Club has generated substantial trading volume, nearing $3 billion, as per data from CryptoSlam.
Follow-up projects like the Mutant Ape Yacht Club and Otherside have contributed billions to this overall trading tally. Additionally, Yuga Labs solidified its position in the NFT space by acquiring the CryptoPunks and Meebits IP from Larva Labs.
Salihu’s resignation coincided with ApeFest, an annual real-world gathering for Bored Ape Yacht Club members.
During ApeFest, Yuga Labs announced a collaboration on an Ethereum NFT marketplace with Magic Eden.
However, there were reports of attendees experiencing eye discomfort, possibly due to overexposure to UV light. Some Bored Ape NFT owners and prominent collectors expressed their dissatisfaction with Salihu’s tweets, both before and after his resignation.
The incident led to discussions on the need for background screenings to prevent such occurrences, with differing opinions on the idea of “cancel culture.”
Yuga Labs and its co-founders have faced previous accusations of incorporating antisemitic and racist imagery in the creation of the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
Despite denying these claims and highlighting the diverse heritage of its co-founders, the company has faced allegations regarding racial imagery and references. Notably, artist Ryder Ripps accused Yuga Labs of such imagery.
In response, Yuga Labs filed a lawsuit against Ripps and collaborator Jeremy Cahen over a similar Bored Ape collection. Yuga Labs emerged victorious in court, with a U.S. district judge ruling in their favor, ordering the payment of damages and the transfer of the knockoff collection’s smart contract to Yuga Labs.
These events have intensified scrutiny of Yuga Labs and their practices within the NFT space.