May 30, 2024
Crypto

The Biggest Crypto Airdrops of 2023


It was a big year in crypto for free money. Across blockchain networks, many projects and protocols attempted to weather the enduring bear market by handing out bags upon bags of free, native tokens to loyal users via airdrops.

All in all, this year’s 50 biggest airdrops distributed some $4.56 billion worth of free tokens to crypto and decentralized finance (DeFi) users, according to analysis by CoinGecko

Here’s a look at the 2023 airdrops that clocked in at the top of the list, based on the peak value of each token over the course of this year.

Arbitrum: $1.969 billion

Handily taking gold this year was Ethereum scaler Arbitrum’s massive launch of its native governance token, ARB. 

In March, Arbitrum rolled out ARB with airdrops that initially infused projects and DAOs built on the layer-2 network with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of free tokens. Projects that benefited from those first airdrops included Treasure DAO, SushiSwap, Dopex, Radiant, Balancer, and Uniswap.

Those airdrops handed out almost $2 billion worth of ARB tokens to Arbitrum projects and community members—a whopping sum. And the gambit appeared to pay off: total value locked (TVL) on the network has almost doubled since the airdrops began, to $2.5 billion at writing, according to DeFi Llama.

Further boosting that value has been ARB’s recent price gains. After debuting at $1.35 in March, ARB dropped to under a dollar, before riding a recent wave of increasing prices for Ethereum layer-2 tokens. ARB currently stands at $1.48, per CoinGecko.

Blur: $818 million

Many airdrops generated excitement across the crypto sector this year. Only one reshaped the NFT industry overnight. 

Blur, the upstart Ethereum NFT marketplace, rocked the NFT ecosystem late last year by promising users gamified benefits based on transaction volume and eliminating creator fees—a once-mandatory tax that guaranteed NFT creators a slice of all secondary sales.

When Blur’s hotly anticipated first airdrop to traders launched in February, some users—mostly those who traded the same NFTs over and over and over again, to boost their stats—claimed over $1 million worth of tokens apiece. A second airdrop in November gifted users as much as $8.4 million worth of BLUR. 

All told, the project doled out $818 million worth of tokens to users in 2023. And while much of the activity those airdrops rewarded appear to be due to what some would call wash trading, or trades made simply to boost their rewards, the seismic impact of Blur’s airdrop can hardly be understated.

By February, Blur rode momentum from its airdrops to overtake OpenSea—the reigning, once-untouchable leader for NFT trades, which has since faced brutal downsizing. Now, creator fees—once a bedrock of the NFT ecosystem—are an endangered species.

Celestia: $728 million

Despite a rather lackluster start for Celestia’s airdrop in late October—during which the modular blockchain’s native token, TIA, went unclaimed by the majority of potential recipients, and the network lagged in activity—TIA has since enjoyed an incredible rally in value. 

The token launched on October 31 at a price of $2.18, according to CoinGecko. Over the following weeks, TIA’s price doubled to $4.00, then sprinted past $6.00, $8.00, and $10.00—to its current, remarkable price of $12.83. It even popped past $15 on Christmas Eve.

Those compounding gains have shot TIA’s market cap up to $1.88 billion in less than two months, and gifted Celestia airdrop recipients one of the best returns of the year—despite the fact that the Celestia network’s actual usership still remains fairly anemic.

Jito: $312 million

The top Solana airdrop of the year came earlier this month, courtesy of DeFi platform Jito. Weeks prior, the project announced its plans to debut a native governance token, JTO, sparking a frenzy of anticipation in the momentumgaining Solana ecosystem.

When the airdrop finally launched on December 7, users rushed to claim the 90 million JTO tokens up for grabs—grabbing $225 million worth in the first day. That collective value has jumped as high as $312 million to date at peak price. The Solana DeFi token has remained fairly consistent in price since launching at $2.49—sitting at $2.46 at writing.

Edited by Andrew Hayward



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