Breakpoint: Back From The Dead

Last year, Breakpoint ran from November 4-7.  Four days later, FTX declared bankruptcy. Today marks the (almost) one-year anniversary of FTX’s collapse. At the risk of stating the obvious, FTX blowing up in the way it did was a massive deal, especially for Solana. Post-FTX, many people simply left crypto altogether. They were disgusted by what they saw. The greed, cynicism, and outright fraud cast a dark shadow across the entire space.

No community felt this more viscerally than Solana. As SBF’s preferred ecosystem, Solana disproportionally benefitted from the meteoric rise of the FTX empire. Alameda provided seemingly endless venture dollars to startups and bottomless liquidity to DeFi protocols. Solana came out of nowhere in 2021 in large part because of FTX.

But then everything changed. FTX collapsed. SBF was arrested. And the sweet sweet Bahamian bucks stopped flowing to Solana. For many, this was the end. “It’s so over.” With Solana’s most prominent backer behind bars, the ecosystem was destined for zero, they said…

Yet, something remarkable happened. People stayed. Devs kept building. Toly kept tweeting technical gibberish. And Solana rebuilt from the ashes. Yes, 99% of retail left. Yes, 99% of value/TVL/trading evaporated. But the community — the ones in the arena — held the line.

Breakpoint 2023 serves as a shining example of Solana’s resilience. While Solana has been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage (h/t eminem), its devs kept devving. Today, Solana boasts a vibrant ecosystem of payment solutions, DePIN projects, pre-token DeFi protocols and some fascinating consumer applications like DRiP. Today’s Solana is much stronger than last year’s Solana, even pre-FTX collapse.

If you’ve followed the Solana ecosystem over the past year, much of the above is probably self-evident. Like yea, obviously, Solana has cool stuff like Helium and Phoenix that are quite literally “Only Possible On Solana” (OPOS). But most people did not follow Solana over the past year. And that’s okay! Price went down like -95% and there wasn’t much to do onchain. So, it’s understandable that many simply ignored the ecosystem. But over the past week, the yawing gap between perception and reality aka price and tech has narrowed dramatically.

OPOS is the overarching narrative here at Breakpoint 2023. Solana devs and the broader manlet community seem to have really rallied around it. At its core, OPOS speaks to Solana’s relentless focus on the end user. It forces people to ask themselves: is my product truly better than the incumbent, or am I just larping and hiding behind the “decentralization” force field?

Solana believes crypto has for too long expected users to adopt the tech because of decentralization. To date, this has proven to be a losing strategy. Time and time again, people have shown they simply don’t care about decentralization. See: FTX. No amount of blog posts, thought leadership or ponzi schemes will change that. The only way crypto will see adoption is by building fundamentally better products. OPOS poses the question: what’s possible on blockchain that’s impossible without?

Our November Markets report will cover several of the more promising Solana projects that embody the OPOS narrative. But for now, check out a few of these Breakpoint talks for some early alpha:

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