Sui Mainnet Goes Live as Crypto Project Takes on Aptos and DeFi Giants

The much-awaited Aptos rival put its hundreds of million in VC funding to the test during its mainnet launch, and struggled with speed and decentralization.

AccessTimeIconMay 3, 2023 at 1:05 p.m. UTC
Updated May 9, 2023 at 4:13 a.m. UTC

Sui, the buzzy layer 1 blockchain boasting a $2 billion valuation, launched its mainnet on Wednesday as it jockeyed to edge out rival Aptos and other decentralized finance (DeFi) heavyweights.

The token trades at $1.33 at press time, a significant rise from the pre-sale price of 3 cents and the public sale price of 10 cents. The market capitalization currently stands at $687 million, according to CoinGecko.

The blockchain, founded by ex-Meta Platforms (META) employees, has more than 200 projects in its directory and another 100-odd projects vying to build on its network.

Sui developers promised fast transaction speeds, which gradually increased as the network gained its footing on launchday. Speeds averaged around four transactions per second (4tps) minutes after the launch on Wednesday, data from Sui’s blockchain explorer shows. But, those speeds increased throughout the day, hovering around 18tps six hours after the launch. Aptos, by comparison, is pushing out at speeds of 9tps.

Sui faced several stumbling blocks on the decentralization front, however.

The network has more than 2,100 nodes operating across 43 countries. But those nodes are primarily concentrated in Germany and the U.S., with a smattering of nodes running across Asia and eastern Europe. It’s worth noting that the network is still in its infancy, and that over time the distribution of validators will likely become more distributed.

The distribution of token holders also remains unclear at press time.

Mysten Labs, the blockchain’s core contributor, topped up its coffers with $300 million through a series of raises last year to support construction of the network’s central infrastructure and fast-track the Sui ecosystem’s adoption.

Its success in securing VC funding pre-launch has invited comparisons to Aptos, another relatively young blockchain with a large VC backing. Both blockchains were designed by teams from Diem, Meta’s failed stablecoin project gamble, formerly known as Libra, that was shelved by the tech giant in 2022. And Move, a Rust-based programming language that was developed at Meta, undergirds both networks.

Tokenomics tussle

Critics have blasted Sui for its tokenomics in recent weeks.

In April, Sui disappointed some of its community members by announcing it would forgo an airdrop. Instead, SUI, the platform's native token for governance and gas, became available to community members for 3 cents per token in an early sale on three exchanges — OKX, KuCoin and ByBit. There was a later token sale for 10 cents per token capped at 10,000 tokens per person.

Meanwhile, Binance added support for SUI to BNB and TUSD holders through its bootstrapping portal, Launchpad, earlier this week. Users in the U.S. were not eligible for the early sale program.

UPDATE: Provides information about transactions per second on Sui six hours after the mainnet's launch.

Edited by Oliver Knight.


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Elizabeth Napolitano

Elizabeth Napolitano was a news reporter at CoinDesk.