Blast Mainnet Launch Unlocks Billions in Crypto Assets

The Ethereum layer-2 scaling network Blast, initiated by the founder of the prominent NFT marketplace Blur, has officially launched its mainnet, liberating billions of dollars in crypto assets that users had previously locked up to pursue staking and airdrop rewards. The mainnet went live on Thursday afternoon, marking a significant milestone for the platform. Prior to the launch, over $2.3 billion had been staked into the bridge connecting the Ethereum mainnet to Blast, as reported on the Blast website.

The accumulation of funds had been steadily increasing in recent days, partly driven by traders seeking to capitalize on upcoming projects launching on the network, along with incentives such as airdropped tokens and rewards for early adopters. Additionally, the recent surge in the price of Ethereum has further augmented the value of the staked assets. Ethereum's price has witnessed a 12% increase over the past week, fueled by a broader market uptrend led by Bitcoin, which soared to nearly $64,000 on Wednesday.

While some users of Blast intend to retain their funds within the network to participate in newly launched applications and protocols, as well as to continue earning staking rewards and airdrop benefits, others are opting to withdraw their funds amidst the significant gains observed across the cryptocurrency market since late last year.

According to on-chain data provided by analytics firm Arkham Intelligence, the total funds on Blast have currently dipped below $1.9 billion. Blast is set to distribute "airdrop points" to users in May, which will be relevant to an upcoming token launch associated with the scaling network. Despite competition from other Ethereum scaling solutions like Arbitrum, Optimism, Base, and Polygon, Blast aims to replicate the success of Blur in the NFT space through its incentivization model.

However, the launch of Blast has not been devoid of controversy. Criticism has been directed towards Blast's approach of launching a bridge that restricts users from withdrawing funds for several months, as well as concerns regarding the framing of the incentives model. Dan Robinson, Head of Research and General Partner at Paradigm, a VC firm that co-led Blast's $20 million seed round, expressed reservations about the messaging and execution of the launch. He particularly questioned the decision to lock up funds for an extended period and criticized aspects of the marketing strategy, stating that it undermined the credibility of the project.

Blast founder Tieshun "Pacman" Roquerre acknowledged that Paradigm had suggested modifications to the launch plan but emphasized that the final decision rested with Blast.