JUP Token Soars After Massive $700M Jupiter Airdrop to Solana Wallets

Validators called the airdrop a success. "Surprisingly, nothing notable" broke, one operator said.

AccessTimeIconJan 31, 2024 at 5:16 p.m. UTC
Updated Mar 8, 2024 at 8:49 p.m. UTC

One of the biggest token airdrops ever on the Solana (SOL) blockchain appeared to execute largely without major issues Wednesday with the chain staying upright as Jupiter started distributing roughly $700 million worth of its JUP token to nearly a million wallets.

The token itself began climbing in price immediately after its debut at 10 a.m. ET (15:00 UTC). Early bids came in around $0.41 and by press time they'd climbed to $0.72, giving JUP a fully diluted market cap north of $6 billion.

Perhaps more important than the token's value was the performance of the blockchain it trades on: Solana. The network held up to the barrage of activity around JUP, observers told CoinDesk, processing the masses who attempted to claim it and also quickly trade it on decentralized exchanges, or DEXs, without much incident.

"Surprisingly, nothing notable" went wrong during the early moments of the airdrop, said 7Layer, the pseudonymous operator of the Overclock validator, part of the network of computers that process transactions for the Solana blockchain. "The server has looked pretty close to normal."

However, the launch was not entirely without hiccups. Some RPC nodes – the go-betweens for wallets and the network – struggled to keep up with user demands, especially in the first 30 minutes of the airdrop, according to validators discussing the airdrop in Solana's Discord server.

"The average end user had a lot of trouble in the first 30-45 minutes doing anything at all," one validator wrote on the server. "Glad the consensus layer held up great but let’s be real – the user experience wasn’t great."

One hour into the launch over 20% of the 1 billion JUP reserved for Wednesday's airdrop had been claimed, per a Flipside dashboard created by Marqu. Jupiter has earmarked an unusually large portion of its token for distribution to people who traded through its routing service, which has a hand in the vast majority of on-chain swaps on Solana.

Because of its size, Jupiter's own developers feared the airdrop would wreak havoc on their systems as well as Solana's. One of its pseudonymous founders – he goes by Weremeow and insists he is a cat – declared "Jupuary" (January) to be a month of systems testing to make sure the worst would not come to pass.

Jupiter oversaw two other airdrops this month, mockJUP and WEN, that tested its designs for on-chain liquidity pools as well as the new "Launchpad" infrastructure Jupiter created for launching tokens, called LFG. Both rollouts informed Jupiter on Wednesday's launch.

That turned into a bit of a free money parade for most plugged-in airdrop hunters. Even small-time traders received tens, and possibly hundreds, of dollars worth of tokens from Jupiter in January. The minimum payout on Wednesday was 200 JUP worth around $140 at press time.

"But the real winners are the validators earning the MEV priority fees," said George Harrap, co-founder of Solana data service Step Finance. He was referring to the "few hundred validators" who run the Jito-Solana client, which enables MEV – short for maximal extractable value – bots to "tip" validators that include their arbitrage trades.

Right at the beginning of the airdrop, when the launch pool on Meteora was just finding its footing, an trading bot known as roobot.sol paid validators a $50,000 tip to process its monster $625,000 trade: 1.56 million JUP at around $0.42 apiece, said Andrew Thurman, a contributor to the Jito Foundation.

At press time, that trade was up about 69%.

Edited by Nick Baker.


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Danny Nelson

Danny is CoinDesk's Managing Editor for Data & Tokens. He owns BTC, ETH and SOL.

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