Is it another Solana Solstice already? 2023 seemed to fly by — an eventful year marked by challenges and opportunities. And as the community looks back at another year, it’s important to remember how far we’ve come.
The beginning of 2023 was the depths of the coldest winters, a difficult time for people across the Solana ecosystem and the greater blockchain community. The Solana community not only stuck around, but doubled down.
An organic rallying cry, “only possible of Solana,” encapsulated the attitude of those who kept building. The Solana ecosystem may be the place where low fees and high throughput unlocks new use cases, sure, but it’s also the place where an engaged, vibrant, organic community leads above all. The highlights and victories from 2023 aren’t the work of any one team or any individual, but belong to the greater collective of builders, artists, leaders, and users that makes Solana Solana.
Solana belongs to you. From those of us at the Solana Foundation, thank you.
Here’s how you made 2023 the year of the Solana community.
A community-led resurgence
In December 2022, people started receiving something strange in their wallets: a token with a shiba inu logo. They got them for using Solana dApps and projects, for joining events, and being active participants in the Solana community.
One year later, Bonk mania has swept the web3 world.
The story of Bonk is the story of the Solana ecosystem’s renaissance in 2023 — and how it was led by the community. Plans that were laid months or years earlier began to bear fruit, and the people who stuck around and built during uncertain times became the new community leaders. After a year of building momentum, the Solana ecosystem took off once again.
For example, 2023 was the year Solana Mobile’s Saga came to market. Despite excitement around the initial announcement and launch, it wasn’t until excitement from the community exploded that the flagship web3-native mobile device sold out in December 2023.
In February, the Helium community voted to migrate from their own layer-1 blockchain to Solana. The migration happened at the end of March… and happened without a hitch, proving that Solana has a home for decentralized infrastructure projects and laying the path for future teams to make the leap themselves.
This was the year of Solana DeFi 2.0 — new sets of tools and projects, led by the decentralized community, that enable the next generation of finance: Maple Finance returned to Solana with tokenized t-bills; Pyth moved to community governance of its Solana Permissioned Environment; TBTC brought BTC to Solana; Armada launched open source token infrastructure; the launch of multiple new stablecoins; and much more. A few days ago, Solana 24 hour DEX volume exceeded Ethereum’s for the first time in history.
And community-led validator infrastructure continued to move forward. As one of the most decentralized chains in web3 by Nakamoto coefficient, alternative validator clients like Jump Crypto’s Firedancer, the Jito Labs client, and Tinydancer continued to diversify and secure the Solana tech stack
Innovations within the Solana ecosystem moved at a breakneck pace in 2023, as teams collaborated to introduce new standards and tools for the entire community. Perhaps nothing epitomizes this more than the cross-ecosystem team working to implement state compression, an innovation that uses Merkle trees to significantly reduce the cost of rent on the Solana network.
Similarly, Solana Labs introduced a plugin that let AI interact with the Solana blockchain, allowing developers to create useful tools that brought the power of the blockchain and artificial intelligence together.
It wasn’t just big teams working — the Solana developer community continued to grow. Two Solana hackathons, Grizzlython and Hyperdrive, saw a record number of applications and submissions. Hyperdrive had over 900 projects submitted, the largest number of submissions to date – despite the rough market conditions.
It’s all because the developer experience of building on Solana continues to improve — instead of the old meme of building on the Solana blockchain being like chewing glass, today it’s more like surfing glass. New developer resources and tooling has enabled thousands of developers to build the decentralized app of their dreams. (Learn more at the developer portal on Solana.com)
Institutions build on Solana
As the vibrant Solana community continued its work, institutions began to take notice. In 2023, a number of large enterprises and traditional firms began to explore the Solana ecosystem.
In April, Mastercard, in collaboration with the Solana Foundation, worked on tools to help secure transactions between web2 and web3 institutions.
Visa expanded its USDC stablecoin pilot program to the Solana network, following months of extensive research into the Solana blockchain’s tech stack and advantages.
Solana Pay, a decentralized, open-source, peer-to-peer payments protocol built on the Solana blockchain by Solana Labs, integrated with Shopify — unlocking USDC payments to millions of businesses as an approved app integration.
Boba Guys, a popular tea shop, ran a pilot of their Solana-powered loyalty program in a San Francisco shop. The results? A 67% increase in monthly visits among loyalty program participants, and a 65% increase in spending. The program rolled out nationwide in November.
Beyond consumer and business-facing products, large infrastructure institutions also began to integrate support for the Solana blockchain. Google Cloud integrated Solana onchain data into BigQuery, unlocking new use cases.
Amazon Web Services also announced that support for Solana network nodes were available for deployment.
Coming together IRL
Despite the chilly conditions of the industry, in 2023 the Solana community took charge. Nowhere was this more apparent than the real-life gatherings for Solana ecosystem builders, users, and fans that occurred around the world.
Breakpoint, the annual conference for the Solana community organized by the Solana Foundation, saw more than 3,000 attendees come to the Solana Campus outside Amsterdam for a week of building and networking. But it was the community-run events that proliferated the campus and beyond, from conferences like Block Zero, DRiP Haus, and The Network State to side events from Superteam and other ecosystem projects, that embodied the true community spirit.
Solana Hacker Houses, which showcase the work of the Solana ecosystem in cities around the world, saw more than 6,000 developers collectively ship and learn.
AthensDAOx, an event run by the team at DeansListDAO, made waves with a weekend focused on governance.
Meanwhile, Solana Crossroads — an independent conference in Istanbul, organized by Step Finance — showcased the growing community of builders in Turkey.
mtnDAO, the community-run hacker house event in Salt Lake City, was host to a week of Solana ecosystem workshops, learning, and more.
The Solana ecosystem creator community made its debut at Art Basel Miami Beach, with artists holding studios and creating pieces live and experiences hosted by teams supporting creators across the Solana ecosystem.
These events were not alone. With festivals like PlayGG to casual community meetups from Vancouver to Tokyo, the Solana community showed its strength all over the world.
By all indications, the Solana community is just getting started. If 2023 was the year that the Solana ecosystem had a renaissance, 2024 will be Solana Summer once again.
But for that to happen, the community needs to lead, build, and keep moving forward. It’s an exciting time for the Solana ecosystem, with new projects and news coming out on a daily basis. But it all depends on you.
The forward momentum the Solana community is experiencing right now can continue, but it requires relentless focus and prioritization. Keep writing groundbreaking code, keep making the next generation of art, keep striving to find the next real-world use case, and keep showing the world the power of a blockchain that moves at the speed of light.
The best time to take the plunge and start your Solana project is now. What will you build?
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