Many developers are over Ethereum. It’s too expensive. It’s too slow. Alternatives are popping up. Some have been there for a while, like Cardano. Others are new, like Solana. It’s everybody’s favorite this year.
For the past several months I have been looking for new blockchain projects to sink some money into. I already own Polkadot (DOT) and Cardano (ADA). Solana was pitched to me months ago. I should have listened. It’s up 12,000% this year. That’s right, twelve thousand percent. If you put $1 into Solana last December, you’d have $12,000 today.
I totally missed the Solana Summer. I hate when that happens. I want to know if I should prepare for the Solana Winter.
In short, Solana is a blockchain platform that allows for developers to make new apps – whether it is for decentralized finance or the creation of non-fungible tokens. It now has 1.3 million active accounts and has processed 38 billion transactions, according to the company. As of November 7, they have $15.23 billion in decentralized finance projects locked in on Solana. Metaplex is the centerpiece of Solana’s NFT market place, now with around $32 million traded in NFTs on average over a 7-day period.
Solana’s gift to the crypto “dapps” creating universe is that it is more scalable than Ethereum and the “gas price” is cheaper. Because of this cost basis, the ecosystem is exploding. If Ethereum was a real gasoline station, inflation at the pump would be higher than the presid – oh, never mind.
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I reached out to Solana a few months ago, but failed to convince them to talk about what’s next. They were too busy planning for their Breakpoint conference in Lisbon, which ended on November 10.
I spoke to some investors who know them well, as well as some users in order to gauge whether or not I need to fork over $233 to buy at least one SOL seeing how I already missed out on buying one for a buck and change last December. You’ve got to hate when that happens.
“As asset managers, we like Solana both as an investment as well as a development platform,” says Ben McMillan, founder & CIO of IDX Digital Assets. Their podcast “Off the Block” is for crypto investors who want to understand the new language of blockchain businesses, interviewing people like Anatoly Yakovenko, Co-Founder of Solana. Yakovenko’s parents were born in Ukraine. He’s 100% Americano; a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
“We are building our own decentralized apps for investment management functions, and we’re going to move from developing solely on Ethereum to start developing on Solana as well,” says McMillan, citing cheaper transaction fees and scalability.
First mover advantage is huge and others have drawn parallels to Betamax, which was a superior technology to VHS tapes but never got enough adoption to matter. IDX Digital Assets got into Solana early-on because of the technology but, “for us, the critical metric was when we saw a large volume of users migrating from Ethereum,” McMillan says.
Like any other product, “the customer is always right”, and in this case, it was measured by user sentiment by those fleeing Ethereum for Solana. Developer chitchat on Github, the de facto “meeting” place online for developers, was all about Solana these last several months.
The key question right now is, how well does Solana really scale? The network went down on September 15 for almost a day due to congestion. Could this become a more persistent problem as developers migrate from Ethereum?
Also, the type of projects going up on Solana is important, says McMillan. “NFTs caused the early growth, but for durable long-term growth we’d want to see continued growth in the non-NFT decentralized apps as well as new projects,” he says.
Nigel Green, founder and CEO of the $12 billion traditional asset manager deVere Group – now heavily into crypto and fintech – says Solana “is certainly a rising star of crypto. Its potential is becoming impossible to ignore.”
The bullishness on Solana is everywhere, quite honestly. If you want to know what to do with a 12,000% gain, you throw a banger in Lisbon and while I didn’t go — from what I heard — it was packed.
“I believe Solana is the next big thing after Bitcoin and Ethereum. That’s why I am currently buying it after the recent price drop,” says Vladimir Kardapoltsev, CEO of PointPay in Estonia, a blockchain serving finance both as a crypto wallet and exchange and as a payment system. “Scaling advances, such as Layer 2 rollups, can bring more speed to the currently slow world of blockchain. Right now, Solana is the fastest blockchain and the fastest-growing ecosystem.”
Blockchain projects like Solana need to grow their user base. They need developer support to do so, meaning they need computer programmers to choose their system to operate on as opposed to, or perhaps in addition to, another blockchain.
“Solana has clear leadership, and there is proper funding behind it,” says Andrey Belyakov, founder of the Opium Protocol, decentralized derivatives network.
“All the boxes are checked at Solana. Ethereum is still the main blockchain for development Dapps, backed by the most outstanding community, but there is a place for more than one. I’m following Solana with great interest,” says Belyakov, a professional financial derivatives trader and portfolio manager that’s run roughly $30 billion in funds.
From Breakpoint in Lisbon, Solana COO Raj Gokal said that Solana’s goal was to get to 1 million developers on its ecosystem. “There’s no timeline. But how fast do we want to see it? As fast as possible,” he said at the event opener, sitting in a baseball cap beside Yakovenko, dressed almost identically.
No one should expect another 100 percentage point gain in Solana. Is it worth the chase? I keep remembering when Ethereum was priced at around $200 and now it’s over $4,000. So I’m going to say yes. I’ll have to think about this one.
“Dapps are much more useful than Bitcoin because they potentially can reinvent banking, insurance services and other parts of the financial system,” says Belyakov.
Don’t have Solana yet, but own Ethereum? You’re still in good shape. “Ethereum is the perfect showcase, and I believe that Ether will also become the number one cryptocurrency soon,” Belyakov says.
Green from deVere Group says the market has legs. Maybe we will have a Solana Winter, then.
“I believe Solana’s bull market run will continue for the rest of this quarter,” he says. “It’ll hit new all-time highs again this year.”
Disclaimer: The author of this article owns Bitcoin, Polkadot and Cardano.