This is where the story gets really spicy. The year 2021 was a major turning point for Solana, and it's when people really began rallying around the network en masse.
Of course, the most talked-about event in Solana's recent past could be how hard SOL rallied up the price charts. So, let’s get that highlight, SOL’s price action, out of the way, right away.
The Price of SOL Went Absolutely Parabolic
Solana started 2021 with a native token priced more than 50% down from its previous all-time high (ATH) of $4.89. CoinMamba tweeted that SOL was overvalued and ended up slam dunked on by Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) with a tweet for the ages:
It would be an understatement to say that SOL's price began to rise throughout the year. By November, SOL hit a new ATH at $259.96, and at one point it became the fourth-biggest cryptocurrency by market cap.
And now for something completely different.
Solana Attracted Tons of Developers and New Projects
Looking at Solana's ecosystem page in January 2021, there were just 55 projects listed. Not saying anyone was juking the stats, but Binance, Crypto.com, and a few other head-scratchers are mentioned as part of the Solana ecosystem at that time.
By mid-April, the number of projects listed jumped to 127. By mid-August, Solana's ecosystem census tallied 302 projects. A few days after Christmas, in late December, there were 1,002 projects in the Solana ecosystem.
At the time of writing, there are now over 1,500 projects listed on the Solana ecosystem page.
These projects must be wearing down their gums fast on all that glass they're chewing, because Solana developers have posted the most Github commits out of any Layer 1 blockchain for the last three months.
Where Did All These Projects and People Come From?
One easy but short-sighted answer is money.
During the summer of 2021, Solana reportedly raised $314 million for development. A lot of VCs began funding Solana projects, and Hubble Protocol managed to raise $10 million from a solid team of backers.
Another answer to why the Solana ecosystem has grown so quickly could be the number of hackathons and hacker houses that have been running non-stop, it seems.
There have been four hackathons held since the start of 2021, and hacker houses have been consistently set up all over the world since the scourge of Covid-19 has relatively subsided.
These events have drawn thousands of people together to work on developing the Solana ecosystem, and quite a few projects have emerged from the process. Case in point, if it weren't for the Solana Season hackathon held in the spring of 2021, there probably wouldn't be a Hubble Protocol.
The latest Solana hackathon, Riptide, upped the ante and offered over $5 million in prizes and seed funding, and huge names like Visa and Google joined as sponsors.
Along with an influx of developers and projects, Solana has also seen tons of new users. From September 2021 to March 2022, the number of daily active Solana accounts rose by 300%. According to Anatoly in an interview in March:
“Solana has about two million monthly active users, and we’re seeing daily active users sometimes break what Polygon and Ethereum are seeing, like 300,000 or so daily active signers.
That, to me, is a really important metric because it signals that there’s more real human activity, more people doing something on this chain that’s valuable to them. That’s really exciting.”
Additionally, when Solana kicked off the Tour de SOL in July of 2020, there were around 250 validators on the network. Currently, according to Solana Beach, there are 1,687 active validators participating in the network over the last 24 hours.
DeFi TVL Blew Up in September But So Did the Network
During that April when Marius, Hubble's Project Lead, participated in the Solana Season hackathon, there was only around $200 million in total value locked (TVL) in Solana DeFi smart contracts.
According to DeFi Llama, until August of 2021, the DeFi TVL on Solana steadily hovered at or below $1.5 billion, but something started trending by the end of summer.
In September, Solana's DeFi TVL shot up dramatically.
It looked like Solana had started gaining serious traction with the DeFi community. The amount of USDC on Solana doubled in one week.
Then, the network collapsed under the strain of bot traffic sniping the Grape IDO. In December 2020, Solana went down for six hours, but this time it took 17 hours to bring the network back online.
The reason for the outage: resource exhaustion. The good news: Solana hit 300,000 transactions per second (TPS) before the network began to fork.
The bad news: Solana gained a reputation for going down.
Growing Pains for a Growing Network
In early January of this year, Solana experienced a DDoS attack that was claimed to be the third time the network went out. Despite those claims, the network remained online, though providing a less than desirable TPS.
In late January of this year, Solana experienced degraded performance when bots again spammed the network trying to liquidate accounts during a market crash.
According to the Solana Status page, the network has been up for 99.14% of the last 90 days. Also, according to this page at the time of writing, the network is experiencing degraded performance.
It's a good reminder that Solana is still in its very early days, and a lot of people are working on fixing issues that every new network will eventually face.
Implementations are currently on the way to help alleviate some of the problems plaguing the network. They include a way to reduce duplicate transactions (QUIC) and the introduction of a fee market.
Watch History Happening Right Now
We wanted to look at the most recent history of Solana without focusing on token price, shilling NFT projects from a growing list of celebrities, or hailing the revolution in payments processing that is Solana Pay.
Instead, we wanted to focus on hard data. Unfortunately, that means recognizing there's a problem right now with Solana's performance.
What's crazy is Solana in "slow mode" still processes the highest TPS of any blockchain on the market by a wide margin. What's also crazy about this situation is that you can follow a lot of the current problem-solving process in real-time on the Solana Tech Discord server.
With this kind of dedication from a development team, it looks like Solana's history has a lot more waiting to be written! Stay tuned.
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