- Shpend Salihu resigns from Yuga Labs after his historical racist and antisemitic tweets resurface and cause public outrage.
- Yuga Labs, creators of Bored Ape Yacht Club, maintain silence post-resignation, with no further comment on the incident.
- Salihu’s controversial tweets disrupt Yuga Labs’ significant period of growth, including ApeFest and a new Ethereum NFT marketplace launch.
Amidst a storm of social media controversy, Yuga Labs has confirmed the resignation of Shpend Salihu, their former Social Lead, after his past tweets of a racist and antisemitic nature resurfaced and sparked public outcry. Salihu, known by his handle NGBxShpend, was scrutinized as the objectionable content of his personal Twitter account went viral, leading to his departure from the company known for spearheading the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC).
Salihu expressed regret over the situation via a tweet on Sunday, acknowledging that his previous statements had become a source of distraction and conflict. He asserted that his past tweets do not represent his beliefs or values. While confirming Salihu’s resignation, Yuga Labs opted not to comment further on the events. Attempts to reach Salihu for a statement have so far been unsuccessful.
Hey everyone, tough day today. I am stepping down from my position at Yuga Labs. Some tweets have resurfaced from my past and it’s become a distraction from the Club and what we’re all about. These tweets do not reflect who I am or what I believe in. It has been an amazing…
— ngbshpend.eth (@NGBxShpend) November 5, 2023
The ripple effects of this incident coincided with ApeFest, an annual event celebrating BAYC members, which unfolded in Hong Kong this year. Yuga Labs also announced its collaboration with Magic Eden on a new Ethereum NFT marketplace. Additionally, some attendees felt discomfort, potentially attributed to UV light overexposure at the venue.
This upheaval comes at a critical juncture for Yuga Labs, a company that, since its inception in early 2021, has seen its projects like the Mutant Ape Yacht Club and Otherside contribute significantly to its trading volume, elevating the firm’s stature in the NFT space. Moreover, the company’s previous acquisition of intellectual property from CryptoPunks and Meebits has solidified its market position.
The departure of Salihu has incited reactions from the NFT community, with collectors and owners raising concerns about the vetting process for company representatives. The issue casts a new light on the importance of thorough background checks, especially in roles linked directly to public engagement and brand image.
Furthermore, this isn’t the first time Yuga Labs has faced accusations related to insensitive imagery. They have consistently refuted such allegations, focusing on the diverse backgrounds of their co-founders and addressing the claims with legal action when necessary, as evidenced by their lawsuit against Ryder Ripps and Jeremy Cahen.
Yuga Labs has navigated through this storm with a quick response, ensuring the focus remains on their creative endeavors and community engagement. Salihu’s exit is a stark reminder of the impact of social media history on professional trajectories and corporate reputations in the digital age.