The Fall of Terra: A Timeline of the Meteoric Rise and Crash of UST and LUNA

A detailed timeline of Terra's journey from its underdog start as a payments app in South Korea to a $60 billion crypto ecosystem to one of the biggest failures in crypto.
Updated Aug 19, 2022 at 5:20 p.m. UTC
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Krisztian Sandor is a reporter on the U.S. markets team focusing on stablecoins and institutional investment. He holds BTC and ETH.

Ekin Genç has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, EUobserver, Motherboard, and Decrypt.

The Terra network and its leader, Do Kwon, rose to the highest tier of the crypto world thanks to big-shot investors, only to fall apart within a few days in May 2022.

On May 7, the price of the then-$18-billion algorithmic stablecoin terraUSD (UST), which is supposed to maintain a $1 peg, started to wobble and fell to 35 cents on May 9. Its companion token, LUNA, which was meant to stabilize UST's price, fell from $80 to a few cents by May 12.

CoinDesk followed and reported on the rise and the ultimate demise of the Terra ecosystem. What follows is a detailed timeline of the Terra blockchain's history, including Do Kwon's vision to create a price-stable crypto payment system to take on the biggest e-commerce platforms, Terra becoming one of the biggest red-hot crypto projects, Do Kwon's growing antics on social media and how it all crashed down in the end, evaporating the life savings of desperate everyday investors.

We will update this timeline as the story continues to unfold.

2018

  • January 2018: Do Kwon and Daniel Shin launch the Terra network with plans to develop Chai, an e-commerce payments application, and to create a price-stable cryptocurrency against major fiat currencies to facilitate transactions. It is supported by the Terra Alliance, 15 large e-commerce companies in Asia. (link)
  • April 20: Cyrus Younessi, head of risk at MakerDAO and a former research analyst at Scaler, tells Scaler why he believes Terra/LUNA would not work, describing a scenario that later unfolded in mid-2022. (link)
  • April 23: Terraform Labs, the firm that develops the Terra blockchain, is incorporated in Singapore.

2019

  • Jan. 30: LUNA is sold via an initial coin offering to investors. Terraform labs charged 18 cents per token during a seed round, and 80 cents per token during a private sale. (link)
  • April: Do Kwon and several co-authors publish the Terra Money white paper. (link)

2020

  • Feb. 24: A South Korean crypto exchange launches the first LUNA staking product. (link)
  • July 6: Nicholas Platt, the head of research at Terra, introduces the Anchor protocol, a platform built on Terra that lets investors earn a high yield on their deposits and also borrow against their crypto holdings. (link)
  • Sept. 21: UST, the Terra blockchain’s stablecoin, is publicly announced, with plans to launch on Ethereum and Solana. (link)
  • Dec. 3: Terra’s synthetic stock protocol, Mirror, launches. (link)

2021

  • Sept. 21: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenas Terraform Labs founder Do Kwon with concerns that Mirror may violate federal securities law. (link)
  • Nov. 28: Do Kwon rules out the possibility of a George Soros-style attack on UST/LUNA that could send it into a death spiral. Some would later, in mid-2022, claim this is the type of scenario that actually spurred Terra's demise. (link)
  • Dec. 22: LUNA’s price nearly doubles to record highs above $90, and is up 58% this month. (link)

Early 2022

  • Jan. 19: Do Kwon announces the launch of Luna Foundation Guard, an organization “mandated to build reserves supporting the $UST peg amid volatile market conditions” and also “allocate resources supporting the growth and development of the Terra ecosystem” through grants. (link)
  • Feb. 22: Singapore-based Luna Foundation Guard (LFG) raises $1 billion through the sale of LUNA tokens to buy bitcoin for UST’s reserve system, with Jump Crypto and Three Arrows Capital being the lead investors. (link)

March 2022

  • March 13: Crypto trader Algod, who likens UST/LUNA to a Ponzi scheme, bets $1 million against Do Kwon that the price of LUNA will be below $88 by March of next year. Another crypto trader, GiganticRebirth, bets $10 million against Kwon that LUNA will be below $88 by next year. (link and link)
  • March 23: Do Kwon tweets “By my hand DAI will die” as he begins in earnest plans to starve off decentralized stablecoin DAI’s liquidity on Curve. (link)
  • March 23: Jump Trading, one of the investors behind LFG, proposes a mechanism for how to deploy the bitcoin (BTC) reserves to prop up UST’s price in a crisis. (link)
  • March 25: Rumors emerge that LFG purchased bitcoin worth $125 million (2,840 BTC at the time). (link)
  • March 28: Over the past six days, the Luna Foundation Guard’s bitcoin wallet address purchases more than 27,000 BTC worth roughly $1.3 billion. (link)
  • March 29: Terra’s LUNA tokens rise 10% in the past 24 hours to set new all-time highs of over $106. (link)
  • March 29: Kyle Davies, co-founder of influential trading firm Three Arrows Capital, tweets, “Grandpa, what was the world like when $LUNA was less than three digits?” (link)
  • March 30: LFG purchases 5,773 BTC, worth $272 million, this week. (link)

April 2022

  • April 5: LUNA token’s price reaches an all-time high of $119.2, according to crypto research firm Messari. (link)
  • April 6: LFG purchases 5,040 BTC, boosting its stash to 35,768 BTC valued at $1.6 billion at the time. (link)
  • April 7: LFG buys $100 million in AVAX with UST stablecoins. (link)
  • April 11: LFG adds $173 million in bitcoin to its wallet over the weekend via a series of buys. It now has 39,897.98 bitcoin in its wallet. (link)
  • April 14: Terraform Labs gives 10 million LUNA tokens worth $820 million to LFG. (link)
  • April 19, 2022: LUNA outperforms the wider crypto market with a 17% bump over a day, pushing prices to over $90. UST becomes the third-largest stablecoin. (link)
  • April 27: Circulating supply of LUNA hits an all-time low of 346 million tokens as LUNA tokens are burned to keep up with the rising demand for UST. (link)

May 2022

  • May 7: Signs of capital flight from UST: Curve Whale Watching, a bot that monitors and tweets large amounts of swaps, shows an 85 million UST swap for 84.5 million USDC (link)
  • May 8: UST dropped to a low of $0.985 on Saturday after a series of large dumps of UST on Terra’s lending protocol Anchor and stablecoin exchange protocol Curve. (link)
  • May 8: LFG commits to loaning $750 million of BTC to market makers to defend the peg of UST and another $750 million of UST to be used to buy back BTC after volatility subsides. (link)
  • May 8: Do Kwon jokes his way out of UST’s depegging risk. (link)
  • May 9: Deposits on the Anchor protocol plunge below $9 billion from $14 billion after UST struggles to recover to $1. ANC, the protocol’s token, fell 35% during the day. (link)
  • May 9: UST loses its $1 peg for the second time and falls to as low as 35 cents. (link)
  • May 9: Do Kwon tweets, “Deploying more capital – steady lads.” (link)
  • May 10: Claims that UST’s depeg is due to a Soros-esque attack begin to emerge. (link and link)
  • May 11: More than half, 58%, of traders place futures bets on higher LUNA prices despite Tuesday’s drop, leading to $63 million in liquidations. (link)
  • May 11: LUNA reaches price levels previously seen in August 2021. Value locked on Anchor, Terra’s largest decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol, drops $11 billion over two days. (link)
  • May 11: Do Kwon is revealed to be one of the pseudonymous co-founders behind the failed algorithmic stablecoin Basis Cash, CoinDesk reports. (link)
  • May 12: The LUNA price falls 96% in a day, pushing it to less than 10 cents. (link)
  • May 12: The Terra blockchain is officially halted – for the first time, at block height 7603700 – after LUNA falls sharply in price, threatening the network’s security. (link)
  • May 12: The Terra blockchain is halted for the second time at block 7607789 but resumes activity after around nine hours. (link)
  • May 13: The Okx and Binance exchanges end trading of Terra tokens after UST loses its dollar peg and LUNA slumps by more than 99%. Binance later resumes trading in LUNA. (link)
  • May 13: Do Kwon submits a “Revival Plan” that would see the network ownership distributed to UST and LUNA holders through 1 billion new tokens. (link)
  • May 14: Data analytics firm Elliptic follows LFG’s $3.5 billion BTC reserve to major exchanges Gemini and Binance. (link)
  • May 16: LFG confirms it depleted its BTC reserves from around 80,000 bitcoins to 313 bitcoins during the attempt to save UST’s peg. (link)
  • May 16: Do Kwon proposes to fork Terra without UST, calling the current chain “Terra Classic.” (link)
  • May 19: Hashed, a prominent Terra-backer venture fund based in Seoul, South Korea, appears to have lost over $3.5 billion on the Terra collapse. (link)
  • May 20: Terra’s decentralized finance applications have hemorrhaged $28 billion as investors have largely left the Terra ecosystem. (link)
  • May 24: South Korean authorities are reportedly looking to more closely scrutinize crypto exchanges, as around 280,000 citizens are believed to fall victim of the abrupt plunge in UST and LUNA. (link)
  • May 25: Terra validators vote to approve Do Kwon's plan to launch a new blockchain tagged "Terra 2.0" without a stablecoin. Previous LUNA and UST holders will receive the new blochchain's native token, luna (LUNA), based on their holdings. The old Terra blockchain remains functional, and its token will be renamed to luna classic (LUNC). (link)
  • May 27: Blockchain data analytics firm Nansen releases its research about what happened during UST's death spiral. The report debunks the myth that a single attacker caused the depeg. (link)
  • May 28. Terra 2.0 launches, with LUNA airdrop to follow. (link)
This article was originally published on Jun 1, 2022 at 3:37 p.m. UTC

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CoinDesk - Unknown

Krisztian Sandor is a reporter on the U.S. markets team focusing on stablecoins and institutional investment. He holds BTC and ETH.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Ekin Genç has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, EUobserver, Motherboard, and Decrypt.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Krisztian Sandor is a reporter on the U.S. markets team focusing on stablecoins and institutional investment. He holds BTC and ETH.

CoinDesk - Unknown

Ekin Genç has written for Bloomberg Businessweek, EUobserver, Motherboard, and Decrypt.


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