The performance of Solana in 2021 has been astonishing. Unless you’ve been living under a rock there’s no way that Solana’s rapid growth has gone unnoticed to you. Not only has the price of Solana risen, the whole ecosystem has seen massive developments. I have to say looking into it has been a thrill and there are so many projects that I could have included in this list. The speed and low-cost offered by Solana have made it a great place for many projects to build and this is just the beginning. In this article I’ll take a look at some of them.
Then before getting into this list if you aren’t familiar with Solana, I suggest watching Coin Bureau’s videos where Guy explains why some even call Solana the Ethereum killer. Also, as said there were so many good projects, I could have picked many more but since this is not meant to become a 200-page book I had to narrow it down to these 9. I tried to pick projects with a different use case to show how broad the ecosystem is and provide you with a few things for everyday use.
If Solana is dubbed the Ethereum killer, then here you have the Spotify killer. Audius is a decentralized streaming platform for musicians. Audius has incorporated a social media style approach and allows anyone to post music to start gaining an audience and interact with them. Audius is powered by the AUDIO token that has a market cap of almost $900 million at the time of writing. According to the Audius dashboard they have over 6 million unique users this month, up from just 1.8 million a year ago.
I’m not going to go too much into detail since the team at Coin Bureau has done that and you can find an amazing video about Audius there. However, what’s interesting is that Audius started on Ethereum but has since migrated to Solana. This is because when Audius needed scaling Solana was reportedly the only one that could support this due to Solana’s low gas fees and speed. This shows the strength of the whole Solana blockchain when big name projects like Audius choose them. Audius even conducted extensive research on over 20 layer-1 and layer-2 scaling solutions before concluding that Solana is the best.
What makes Audius unique from anything we’ve ever seen is its creator friendliness. You might have read about how poorly artists on Spotify get compensated for their work. This isn’t a problem on Audius since artists can set their own payment model. It can be a subscription, one-time fee, or a combination of both. You can soon even set restrictions that your music can only be heard at a certain altitude or location, anything is possible. Then we’ve got the whole NFT side which makes up more opportunities to further engage the fanbase through Audius.
There’s so much to say about Audius and I really suggest you watch the CB video I told you about since I can in no way include everything in this short section. However, as a last piece of information, Audius earlier this fall made a partnership with the popular mobile application TikTok which further proves legitimacy and demand. So before continuing with this article maybe you want to go download the Audius app and put on some background beats.
Next up we have a project which I’m sure many have heard of. Raydium is an AMM (Automated market maker, that provides many use cases. This is also the DeFi project with highest Total value locked (TVL) – currently $1.65 billion according to DeFi Llama ($1.8 billion according to Raydium). On Raydium you can access four different services, Trade, Yield, Pool, and AcceleRaytor. Many of these are self-explanatory but let’s go through them along with some benefits of Raydium.
Since Raydium is built on Solana it allows for much faster and cheaper transactions when compared to its Ethereum based competitors. However, what Raydium hasn’t managed to build is the best DEX for Solana which is why trades occur on Serum when using Radium’s swap and trade features. What’s great about trading on Raydium is that it has all the nice features of a centralized exchange while still remaining decentralized. These features include order books, charting, and even limit orders. The fees here depend on whether your order is filled through Raydium’s own liquidity pools or Serum’s order books, but they are from 0.22-0.25 %.
If you prefer passive income instead of trading, then you could try yield farming or liquidity providing. Yield farming opportunities on Raydium are great and there are many pools with high TVL while still offering yields of over 65%, not too shabby. When it comes to liquidity providing it’s extremely easy to do and you’ll be able to withdraw your funds at any time. Liquidity providers will earn a cut from the trading fees.
Lastly there’s the Raydium launchpad. I’m not going to cover this in depth since there aren’t any upcoming projects and not that many which have been done. Second of all I’ll be covering a few launchpad projects later. However, if you use Raydium’s other services then I would keep an eye out for any interesting IDOs, they have hosted one for the much-anticipated metaverse project Star Atlas.
Since I mentioned Serum in the previous section it’s only fair to cover it next. Serum is a DEX and provides the back end for multiple products on Solana. Serum enables projects to build applications using the Serum on-chain central liquidity pools. Using Serum’s order book guarantees great liquidity, low-costs, and speed. On top of that it allows developers to share middleware, which is extremely helpful.
Serum isn’t anything you’re going to use directly. Instead it’s the ecosystem powering many of the projects you’ll use. These include the afore mentioned Raydium as well as Mango Markets, Oxygen, Star Atlas, Solrise Finance and many more. Why Serum has managed to become so successful might have something to do with its creator. The person behind the project is FTX exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried. Serum also has investments from many big names including Alameda Research, and Multicoin Capital. Nowadays Serum is governed by its own token SRM and a DAO.
This is a project that I’m not going to go too much into detail on since we’ve already covered it in depth in our great article on blockchain gaming gems. However, since I’m someone who prefers to play some video games when taking a break from crypto rather than watching Netflix, I got really excited when reading about this project. Long story short, Star Atlas will be a game incorporating all the benefits of crypto and NFTs to create a full digital ecosystem where you’ll be able to choose your path and play like it’s your real life.
Why I said “going to be” is because currently it looks like the full game launch is years away. However, to make the waiting more pleasant they will be launching the game in small pieces which will enable you to play some parts of the game and maybe get a head start on others. Also, you can already trade both the Star Atlas token as well as Polis which is going the be the governance token, and even some in-game items as NFTs.
Hopefully, this project will live up to expectations since a game like this would not only revolutionize blockchain gaming but gaming in general. There’re even rumors that when battling in the game you can lose your battle ships or other loot as they will be NFTs. Also, if you look at the trailer I linked to you’ll see that the graphics and the feel of the game is honestly one of the best I’ve ever seen. So, if you’re a fan of games I suggest you keep an eye on this project and try to get gaming early since I believe Star Atlas has some insane potential if they can live up to expectations.
Besides Star Atlas there are many other great games on Solana. A few more popular titles include Aliens VS People and the upcoming Genopets. It’s no coincidence that many upcoming games are based on Solana. To my understanding, as with Audius, the devs at Star Atlas did extensive research on where to build the project only to conclude that Solana is the only one capable of meeting the demanding needs of Star Atlas.
5. Tulip Protocol
After losing all your battleships in the Star Atlas universe it might be wise to come back to the ground and look for some income possibilities. For this yield aggregators might come in handy. Tulip Protocol is the yield aggregator on Solana with the highest TVL at just over $800 million according to DeFi Llama. Tulip has partnered with Solana Foundation, Raydium and Serum.
Tulip offers vaults and pools from three different protocols that are from Raydium, Orca, and Saber. The yields here are good and astronomical if you go for leveraged yield farming. BUT, as always when you hear the word leverage you need to be careful although it says that the highest APY is 8000% you can’t be entering without knowing what you’re doing. So, this introduction to Tulip was quite short but those that are into yield farming I would suggest Tulip as the go to place on Solana.
This is a project that’s downloading on my phone as I’m writing this. Maps.me provides both online and offline maps, and after an update and a $50 million funding round led my none other than Sam Bankman-Fried they now support DeFi. Maps.me isn’t a new project but after integrating DeFi by building on Solana and Serum it has enhanced the user experience. They have over 140 million downloads and 60 million users.
Currently the Maps.me wallet is in restricted beta mode which means not everyone can start using it. However, the plans are to create a full travel service where you can easily book hotels, restaurants, museum visits, and even pay for your coffee. For merchants this is great since their fees are lower than what is traditionally charged, and the wallet will support over 35 different currencies. For consumers it will make traveling a lot easier since you’ll be able to use the app for everything you need. On top of that there will be a way to directly lend your funds to earn yield as well as earning cash back on purchases made. Maps.me will be governed by the Maps token and 100% of earnings will go to token holders. These earnings will not only include transaction fees but also advertising earnings, meaning merchants can advertise on the platform and you as a holder will benefit from that.
On top of the cut holders earn from earnings there will be additional rewards levels you can access by holding a certain amount of the token. These rewards will include higher cash back and discounts to selected merchants and partners. So next time you go traveling make sure to check out Maps.me and not only to find your way around the city in offline mode but also to get some sweet cashbacks and make your traveling seamless.
Here’s another project built using the Serum DEX. Bonfida advertises itself as the graphical user interface of Serum. Bonfida allows trading using Serum, trading bots, perpetual swaps, name service, and an API to get access to data from Serum. This project is backed by some heavy names including Alameda Research and Three Arrows Capital. They have a daily transaction volume of about $70 million and an all-time volume of $12 billion.
I picked this project because I think some of you might be interested in the trading bots and also the naming service. When entering the trading bot site, you can find a few existing strategies and also see their performance. For those who like to create their own bots that should be easy since Bonfida supports TradingView. The naming service might be interesting, especially after the ENS airdrop. However, don’t expect a similar since Bonfida already has its native token which I’ll talk about in the next section. If you like the Solana ecosystem and want a custom domain, then to my understanding Bonfida is the go-to place.
As mentioned, Bonfida has its native toke called Fida. Fida is used for governance as well as staking. Staking rewards will come when Fida fees are collected and then burned. More clearly explained, all fees gathered will go to a pool which can only do two things, buy Fida and burn Fida. I’m not completely aware how this works but essentially anyone can choose to burn Fida when there’s available Fida in the pool and of that burnt Fida 10% will go to stakers. When staking Fida you’ll also gain access to the API as well as advanced analytics.
If the projects so far have sounded good and have gotten you to trust the Solana ecosystem even more perhaps you’d like to know how you can get in on the next hot project early? For this we have launchpads and perhaps the best one currently on Solana is Solanium. Solanium has so far completed multiple IDOs where the smallest return (measured from ATH) is currently 1.43x while many projects have returns of 100x and even 200x. Now these returns might make your mouth water so let’s go over how the platform works.
Solanium has a native token called Slim and in order to participate in IDOs you need to be staking these tokens. When you stake Slim, you’ll be receiving xSlim and the amount you receive depends on how long you lock up your staked tokens. The default is to lock up for 365 days which will get you the same amount of xSlim as you have Slim. If you choose to opt for a shorter lock up period you will receive less xSlim. The system has 5 different tiers depending on the amount of xSlim you have, the two highest tiers provide you guaranteed participation in IDOs while the three lowest tiers only get you certain amounts of lottery tickets. The tiers require the following amounts of xSlim:
Tier 1 – 100 – 1 lottery ticket
Tier 2 – 1000 – 12 lottery tickets
Tier 3 – 5000 – 100 lottery tickets
Tier 4 – 10000 – Guaranteed allocation
Tier 5 – 50000 – Guaranteed allocation
The price of Slim at the time of writing is $2.65 so you can do the math on how much each tier will cost. Naturally, getting a higher tier will help you since there are lots of demand for these projects. Of the current active projects three out of four have over 100,000 people interested. The price action of Slim has been quite good with a 5x increase since it began trading in June 2021.
Another launchpad project worth looking into once it launches is Solstarter. It’s backed by Alameda Research (as apparently is every project on my list) and a few more institutions. Solstarter will be launching in Q1 of 2022 and be fully in operation in Q3 of 2022. What differentiates Solstarter is that it’ll be completely lottery based.
9. Media Network
This is a project which I hadn’t heard about earlier and it actually came across my radar by accident when I was looking at Solanart which is the biggest NFT marketplace on Solana. But as it turns out, they are powered by Media Network. So, what is it?
Media network is a decentralized content delivery network (CDN). As the name implies CDNs deliver content from databases to the users to make it faster and better quality (I’ll leave a picture and explain it down below). This can be done from all storages and all of you reading this know that we have decentralized storage services like Arweave, IPFS (Filecoin), and BTFS (BitTorrent). However, although projects like Audius use these (Audius uses IPFS) they need a centralized CDN in order to distribute their content fast and in good quality. Currently Audius uses Cloudflare which is controlled by Amazon. That means that using IPFS doesn’t solve the problem of centralization and that’s what Media Network is trying to solve by being the first of its kind.
On Media Network itself anyone can start streaming which means it’s both a consumer platform as well as a protocol that can be integrated to an existing project. Currently Media Network has integrations with a few projects including Livepeer which I’m sure many are familiar with, and Handshake that provides a naming service. Also, as mentioned Media Network powers Solanart. For those interested in NFTs I’ll tell you a bit more about Solanart.
Solanart is the biggest NFT platform on Solana and given the recent growth of the sector it wouldn’t be fair not to talk about this. Currently most of the famous NFT projects are minted using Ethereum but the growth of other blockchains hosting NFTs can’t be ignored. The Ethereum gas fees can get so high that many are reluctant to participate in launches. That’s why projects are looking for other blockchains and Solana has proved to be a great alternative. We have already seen many projects on Solana like Degenerate Ape Academy which can be traded on Solanart. I’m sure that as time passes more and more projects will deploy on Solana to avoid paying expensive fees. Solanart’s daily volume is already over 7000 Sol, that’s a lot. The whole site and marketplace is also great and I really like the feel to it.
Lastly, to wrap up Media Network I thought I’d mentioned that it’s governed by the Media token holders. The Media token is also used for transactions on the network and that means projects wanting to use Media Network will need to purchase the token. When it comes to who’s backing the project I think you can already guess, yes you guessed it, Alameda Research.
There’s no doubt that Solana is a real competitor to Ethereum. When doing research for this article I came across so many interesting projects that could have been mentioned in this piece. As I mentioned in the beginning, what I tried to do was pick projects from different sectors and with different use cases. That’s why I can’t guarantee you that these are the “best” projects but they are good projects. Some projects left out of this list which if you’re interested in the Solana ecosystem are worth checking out are: Oxygen, Orca, Solrise Finance, Mango Markets, and to be real, many more.
Furthermore, I must remind not to confuse a good project with a good investment. Being on this list doesn’t mean they would be on my list for best projects to invest in. That’s because there are many things that determine whether a project is a good investment or not, one of them being valuation. Is a market cap of over $200 million correct for a game which is years away from launch. I can’t answer that since it’s for you to decide but for me the risk/reward ratio doesn’t seem attractive. However, that doesn’t mean that the project isn’t amazing and that I wouldn’t want to play the game the second it’s released.
Lastly, I feel the need to tell that while I’m not currently holding any of the projects on this list, I do hold the Sol token which might make be a bit biased when talking about the whole ecosystem. Still, I hold other layer 1 projects too and feel that Solana is a great project that will grow fast in the coming years. That’s already seen just look at the number of projects (good projects) out there.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.