In part three of our eye-opening, nostalgia-rific year-end review, we’re looking back on our sad COVID summer, from July through September, when we were just grateful to get to leave our houses.
Meanwhile, decentralized finance took the world of crypto by storm, Dogecoin angled for world domination (with a little help from Elon Musk) and hackers took over Twitter, and displayed a lamentable lack of ambition in attempting to scam people out of.
The Summer of DeFi
protocols such as Aave, Compound, and Maker picked up steam this summer, in what became one of 2020’s biggest crypto crazes.
They take the form of non-custodial money management platforms that allow users to lend and borrow crypto. Part of the reason they blew up this past summer has to do with the governance tokens they awarded as a way to incentivize usership; if you lent crypto on Compound, for example, you could earn $COMP, which would give you a certain amount of power to vote on proposals to upgrade the network (like traditional shares).
But traders were more interested in tokens such as $COMP for their potential value than their ability to “govern” DeFi platforms. Yield farming was born when traders began exploiting protocols to amass valuable governance tokens, rather than lending or borrowing in earnest.
By late July, DeFi had grown into a $3 billion industry, thanks to the contributions of developers such as Andre Cronje, the creator of Yearn Finance. Yearn’s governance token, YFI, was at one point trading for $43,000—for reference, Cronje has said that the token was designed to be "completely valueless."
"Don’t buy it," he wrote, plainly. No one paid attention.
Invasion of the NFTs
July, and Year-Round
NFTs—non-fungible tokens—are a kind of blockchain-based collectible that became increasingly popular this past year with the rise of marketplaces such as Nifty Gateway and the virtual collection space Decentraland, which is a little like Second Life, but with NFTs as stand-ins for real-world objects.
Unlike cryptocurrencies, which tend to be fungible (any one coin can be exchanged with another coin of equal value, as with cash), NFTs are one-of-one, which gives them unique value. NFT sales hit $100 million in July, and have been increasing steadily ever since.
As the year went on, devs found ever more innovative uses for NFTs, from fractionalized digital art sales to collateral for DeFi loans or derivatives.
Twitter Gets Hacked
Think about everything you could do if you had complete control over the world’s most influential Twitter accounts. “The best movie of the 2010s was actually A Serious Man,” you might tweet from Donald Trump’s account, in an effort to set the record straight.
Needless to say, you probably would’ve done something more ambitious than operate a low-grade Bitcoin scam. When hackers breached some of Twitter’s biggest accounts in July, they simply asked people to send them Bitcoin on the promise that they’d double it.
They walked away with around $120,000, and Twitter was forced to shut down all posting privileges for verified accounts, which made us sad for about ten minutes.
Dogecoin World Domination
In July, billionaire SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk tweeted a meme about how —a popular-ish meme coin—was going to take over the world. Curiously, the tweet pumped the price. Such is the power of Musk's whimsical musings.
MicroStrategy Kicks Off Bitcoin Buying Binge
Before this summer, MicroStrategy was just another tech company. But CEO Michael Saylor’s bet on Bitcoin in August (to the tune of $250 million) raised its profile significantly, and marked a watershed moment for institutional investment in crypto.
The company went on to pour another $225 million into the asset, later in the year, with Saylor making breathless statements like “God’s name is Satoshi.”
Analysts at Citi actually downgraded MicroStrategy’s stock in December, citing the company’s disproportionate focus on Bitcoin.