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Most Influential 2021: Trung Nguyen

Before he founded Axie Infinity, Sky Mavis CEO Trung Nguyễn was first intrigued by CryptoKitties, because it combined something he loved — games — with something he hated – blockchain. It was in late 2017 when the initial coin offering boom was in full swing, and all Nguyễn saw were bad actors scooping up money from people who did not know any better.

But Nguyễn couldn’t help but feel curious about CryptoKitties. When he purchased his first Kitty, he found the game very simple and underwhelming, especially when compared to games like DotA, Red Alert and Age of Empires, which required lots of strategy. However, he was completely enamored by its complex breeding mechanics that allowed for no two Kitties to be the same.

His mixed experience pushed him to create Axie Infinity, a game that requires more strategy and wit than CryptoKitties, but integrates its breakthrough breeding elements.

Trung Nguyễn’s journey with Axie Infinity soon led him to meet Jeffrey “Jihoz” Zirlin, who would eventually become the product manager, then co-founder, of the studio behind the hit game. Leading the charge for the Sky Mavis team, Nguyễn would establish a work ethic and culture like no other.

He’s definitely a driving force for perfection, and sometimes you need that kind of leader. He’s kicked my ass several times. And if he’s failing, I can kick his ass too. That’s the level of competency and execution that we expect from each other.

— Aleksander Larsen, co-founder and COO, Sky Mavis

Nguyễn can be described as a reclusive genius who avoids distractions and values division of labor, leaving outward-facing matters to Zirlin and others. Nguyễn used to handle everything in the early days but now focuses on internal operations. Sky Mavis almost didn’t make it in 2018, but a pre-sale and land sale, as well as a seed round, helped fund development. With Nguyễn emphasizing fairness and requiring colleagues to develop a mental model for decision-making, the team has a growth mindset, aiming to learn from failures and challenges.

Nguyễn and his team persevered through hard times, and finally, in 2021, the team raised US$7.5 million in Series A funding and US$152 million in Series B funding. Their global strategy has garnered over 2.6 million daily active users from around the world. Their success has spurred job creation in Vietnam and a wave of new indie game studios, including CyBall, Sipher and Thetan Arena. 

Read the full article here: 
Most Influential 2021: Trung Nguyen” by Leah Callon-Butler
Published December 9, 2021 on CoinDesk

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