Is Lens Protocols' Self-Limiting Growth?

Lens is one of a handful of protocols building an on-chain social graph. Incubated and developed by the team at Aave, Lens has found considerable usage after launching on Polygon PoS.

Over 2023, Lens has seen daily users grow from one plateau to a higher one with a short burst in early February. For reference, dark green is is the daily user count; light green is NFTs minted per day; and the purple line is the cumulative total users over the period of the graph (anchored to right hand Y axis). The rate of growth in daily users has been pretty steady over 2023.

Monthly active users found a new all-time in February. I’m not dialed in enough to know whether there was a specific catalyst at play here, but I think it’s fair to say that there is demand to use Lens. Coupled with cheap settlement costs on Polygon, UX hurdles don’t seem like they would be a major issue. All rosy so far.

But if you look at new profiles per month, there’s a clear drop off. After averaging 13,990 monthly sign ups from July to November 2022, there was a sharp drop off in Dec to Feb (discount March given we’re only one week into the month).

Now, this is a bit unusual. Lens monthly active user data looks extremely strong; over a shorter period, daily user growth looks quite healthy. Yet, the invite-only nature of the platform seems to be limiting true growth. Or maybe they’ve already on-boarded all 10 people that actually use blockchains.

So, question 1: is Lens’ invite-only mandate holding back their growth? Question 2: is this intentional to induce Sybil resistance?

The answer to both is probably yes. Building up hype and getting people excited to use your product is one thing. Limiting access to it for a rather sustained period of time is another. If the risk of Sybil attacks are behind the invite-only regime, it begs the question of whether on-chain social graphs are even ready yet.

It’s reassuring to see this kind of demand for an on-chain social network. But for Lens to get to the next stage of growth, they’re going to have to open up access to a wider audience some point soon or risk irrelevance.

(Credit to @rustamov on Dune Analytics for the charts)






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