Ava Labs Accelerates Push in Asia with Senior Hires in Japan, Korea

Ava Labs is accelerating its expansion into Asia Pacific with new hires in Japan and Korea. Justin Kim, the Firm’s first Head of Korea, and Roi Hirata, the Firm’s first Head of Japan, will focus on growing adoption of the Avalanche public blockchain (AVAX) within their regions with a particular focus on business and community development.

Hirata and Kim join at a period of rapid momentum for Avalanche across Asia. In just the last five months, Avalanche has welcomed leading APAC companies including Alibaba Cloud, Tencent Cloud, and GREE to its ecosystem as enterprises building on-chain in areas including gaming, entertainment, and infrastructure. Many of these companies will also run Avalanche validators, reflecting a deep, long-term commitment to securing and building on the Avalanche network.

This flurry of recent APAC partnerships dovetails with the Avalanche brand’s explosive growth in the region. According to research by Ava Labs, Avalanche brand recognition in APAC countries grew by 44% in Q4 2022 versus Q3 2022, with exceptionally strong growth in Japan (93%) and South Korea (139%).

Ava Labs conducted an exhaustive search for each position, as Japan and Korea have been, and will continue to be, critical countries for the growth of Avalanche.

“We’re thrilled to have Justin and Roi join the Ava Labs team and couldn’t be more excited for the positive impact they will have,” said John Nahas, VP of Business Development at Ava Labs. “With their extensive experience and the support of Ava Labs and the Avalanche community behind them, they are positioned to establish Avalanche as the premier blockchain platform for both individuals and enterprises in South Korea and Japan, which are priority markets for Avalanche. Hiring for these two markets illustrates their importance to our ecosystem.”

South Korea has long been a tech-savvy market home to multinational conglomerates, AAA gaming trailblazers, and a key financial hub of Asia. Today, Korea is one of the world’s biggest blockchain markets and is the home to many teams building on Avalanche. Ava Labs has been active in this critical Web3 market for years, including hosting a hackathon at Korea Blockchain Week 2022 in Seoul.

Before becoming Head of Korea, Kim was an investment banker at Korea Development Bank for 13+ years. More recently, he spent time in Silicon Valley at a VC firm and at an NFT startup building in-game marketplaces for Korean gaming companies.

“Joining Ava Labs is an exciting new chapter, and I am grateful for the opportunity to be part of such a great team,” said Justin Kim. “As Korea is home to multinational conglomerates, leading gaming companies, and highly crypto-native demographics, we have so many opportunities on the horizon. Avalanche is ready to seize them and lead the way forward.”

Japan’s blockchain market is one of Asia’s fastest-growing. The country’s number of on-chain transactions doubled from July 2021 to June 2022 relative to the previous year, and Japan has seen a comparatively high adoption of DeFi, both according to Chainalysis. Avalanche is already leading blockchain growth in the Japanese market, highlighted by the recent partnership with GREE.

Before joining Ava Labs, Hirata founded two startups and worked as a semi-professional esports player. He has been an active member of the Avalanche ecosystem since mainnet launch and is a self-described DeFi power user who has explored many of the broader Avalanche ecosystem’s 500+ dApps.

“I am honored to join Ava Labs and look forward to expanding Avalanche’s presence in Japan,” said Roi Hirata. “Avalanche is the blockchain network with all of the attributes needed for Japan to forge ahead in all areas of Web3. I strongly believe that Japan will be a key market for real world assets, sustainable blockchain applications, and countless other use cases, making the future for Avalanche here extremely promising.”

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About Ava Labs

Ava Labs makes it simple to launch decentralized applications on Avalanche, the fast and secure smart contracts platform. We are empowering people to easily and freely digitize all the world’s assets on one open, programmable blockchain platform.

Ava Labs was founded by Cornell computer scientists who brought on talent from Wall Street to execute their vision. The company has received funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Initialized Capital, and Polychain Capital, with angel investments from Balaji Srinivasan and Naval Ravikant.

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