The top crypto narratives and unreleased tokens to look out for in 2023
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Investing into potentially buzzy crypto narratives at the right time – i.e. before they get too frothy – has made many a crypto speculator filthy gains in past bull markets. We know, because we know one or two of them and they rub it in our faces from time to time.
(Said face-rubbers were smart, though, because they actually took profit when it counted and didn’t ride MOST of their stack all the way back down again.)
Quite often, it’s the newer, bright and shiny coins that lead the pumps – remember “Polkadot season” anyone? Or the stupendous rises of Cardano, Solana and Avalanche? We do, and we certainly didn’t take full advantage of any of these previous 100x tokens (see caveat above). Ah well, you live and learn.
Now, another “layer 1” smart-contract platform player has recently entered the fray – Aptos (APT) – and while conditions might not be right yet for classic crazy crypto climbs, it has shown some early signs of what it might do if/when a true bull market returns.
(Another caveat – macro/recession concerns and potential further centralised crypto firm implosions are still not quite off the table this year.)
This article, partly based on our own past forays into hyped sectors and also based on highly professional research (scouring Crypto Twitter and YouTube and whatnot) attempts to:
• identify some of the narratives, old and new, that we think have potential to produce future top performers, and
• list some as-yet-unreleased potential (that word again) token gems within these narratives.
We banged on about a few of them above, so we may as well start here.
We tend to think the idea of “Ethereum killers” – layer 1, smart-contract platform rivals that will crush Ethereum’s clear dominance – is close to being killed off itself. And that’s because Ethereum’s first-mover advantage and network effect is very likely unassailable in the blockchain space.
Yep, Ethereum’s great. Fact is, though, it’s so big now that it’s very unlikely to bag you 100X gains next bullish cycle. (And there are no guarantees any of this stuff will, of course.)
Despite its dominance, an interoperable ecosystem of top layer 1s can still exist, and that’s pretty much what the space is slowly building. So what’s the next Cardano, the next Aptos even? You might want to keep an eye on these following projects that, as yet, have not released their tokens into the trading wilderness:
Celestia is a project that describes itself as the “first modular blockchain network to power scalable, secure Web3 apps”. It explains somewhere on its website that it achieves this by “decoupling consensus from the execution layer”. You’ll need to dive into it a bit further here if you’d like a full explanation.
Essentially, though, the well-funded Celestia is aiming to enable anyone – yeah even you, even me – to “easily” deploy their own blockchain without the hassle of bootstrapping a new consensus network, or studying a cryptography degree to actually understand what these terms all mean.
The team? Impressive. For instance, the CEO, Mustafa Al-Bassam has a PhD in blockchain scaling at UCL and was the co-founder of Chainspace – a protocol acquired by Facebook/Meta. While the CRO is a bloke named John Adler, who is apparently the creator of optimistic rollups technology.
As we mentioned in our recent airdrops heads-up, it’s a good chance of going the airdropping initial public distribution route, so keep your ear to the ground on that score and maybe follow @OlimpioCrypto for tactics on how best to play it.
It’s a token that, by the way, might not drop until closer to the end of this year, but it’s definitely one to keep on your radar.
Here’s a great thread on Celestia and others like it from an unlikely named computer science studying boffin:
Mega-Thread🧵 The Modular Blockchain Thesis🪐
Want to be early to one of the biggest technological advancements of 2023?
Here's everything you need to know about the power of modularity👇 1/38 pic.twitter.com/DruBCI8DOC
— Thor Hartvigsen (@ThorHartvigsen) January 12, 2023
We first found out about the Sui Network from following the likes of Crypto Twitter gem/airdrop hunters Miles Deutscher and Lady of Crypto. (We’d like to point out that they are merely sources we used to find some information. Whether you follow them or not is up to you, and we’re not advising either way.)
Sui self describes as: “the first permissionless Layer 1 blockchain designed from the ground up to enable creators and developers to build experiences that cater to the next billion users in web3.”
Righto, a bit more about it – it’s developed by a company called Mysten Labs and founded by a team of former Facebook/Meta engineers. A bit like Aptos in that regard. Also like Aptos, it employs the Move smart-contract programming language and the whole thing is VC backed by big players including Andreessen & Horowitz (a16z).
Yep, sounds similar to the one above, but Sei is a bit different – a “sector-specific” layer 1 built on the Cosmos network. Wait, doesn’t that make it a Layer 2? Nope, Cosmos is a Layer 0 enabling interoperability between different networks. Confused? Don’t blame you.
Anyway, this one also made our airdrops list the other day, so you can check out how to possibly take advantage of some free tokens down the line here.
Sei is a layer 1 chain that focuses on DeFi and apparently on giving decentralised exchanges “an unfair advantage”. It’s been dubbed the “Decentralized NASDAQ” for its focus on enabling a CeFi trading experience with DeFi tools.
This sector, which is essentially blockchains built upon layer 1s to help scale and grow the original’s network and ecosystem, as well as its own, has already produced some past winners.
Polygon (MATIC) is a standout that achieved stupendous 500X gains last bull cycle. Optimism (OP) is a layer 2 with some buzz, too, as is the Web3-gaming-focused ImmutableX (IMX).
There are plenty with hype, though, yet to introduce tokens. Here are some that’ve already gained plenty of attention late last year and so far in 2023…
Another likely airdropper is Arbitrum and it’s a direct competitor to Optimism as it uses similar Optimistic rollups scaling tech.
The Arbitrum chain has been up and running for some time and has seen huge growth in recent months with a current TVL (total value locked – the health barometer of a DeFi protocol) of more than US$1.2 billion, indicating a lot of users.
According to Lady of Crypto, this’ll be “possibly the top L2 next cycle”, while Miles Deutscher said it’s “one of the most anticipated token releases in crypto”.
ZKSYNC and STARKNET
ZK rollup-based layer 2 scaling is pretty much a narrative unto itself.
They’re shorthand for what is known in the cryptography world as “zero-knowledge proofs”, designed to scale up blockchain networks such as Ethereum.
Ethereum has had notorious scaling issues in its past, highly evident when too many transactions hit its chain at the same time and congestion ensues, causing delayed transaction times and higher network fees. Remember the CryptoKitties network bottleneck? No? You must be new around here.
It’s pretty hard for non-cryptographic boffins to determine which scaling technology is better – optimistic rollups or the ZK variety. This Chaindebrief article delves into it, if interested.
Both seem to have their advantages, but this, from Chaindebrief seems significant:
“A ZK Rollup has the advantage of being significantly quicker than an Optimistic Rollup since it is considerably lighter on Layer 2 because the validation occurs on the mainchain rather than on the sidechain.”
Meanwhile, Deutscher, who we’re pretty sure is an Aussie-based crypto analyst and investor by the way, has posted an excellent Twitter thread today on ZK L2s, in which he calls 2023 “the year of ZK-rollups”.
2023 is the year of ZK-rollups.
🧵: Here are the best released (and unreleased) ZK projects to keep your eye on. 👀👇
— Miles Deutscher (@milesdeutscher) February 1, 2023
It’s highly recommended reading, but in short, two of his favourite ZK projects with as-yet-unreleased tokens are zkSYNC and StarkNet by StarkWare.
Again, both of these protocols have airdrop potential.
Aside from their hyped technology, the two ZK protocols have very heavy backing in the VC crypto world. zkSync has raised more than US$450m from the likes of a16z, Dragonfly, Lightspeed and more.
And “Starkware is also heavily backed, raising $285m+ from the likes of Paradigm, Pantera, Sequoia, the Ethereum Foundation and more,” notes Deutscher.
Lady of Crypto is also suitably impressed with both, but particularly StarkNet, nominating it “the most impressive L2 tech”.
One other special mention in this category is zkEVM. This is the ZK-rollup solution that the Polygon L2 blockchain is set to launch this year after it merged with a company focused on the ZK tech, called Hermez.
Polygon’s MATIC will be the token that benefits from this integration and roll-out. Just something else to keep an eye on.
Now this one, we covered in part in another recent article leveraging a study from Trading Browser, which focused on AI and big-data cryptos that have garnered the most Google searches over the past 12 months. (TLDR? Those included The Graph (GRT), Aion (AION), Fetch AI (FET), Cortex (CTXC) and Covalent (CQT).)
Artificial Intelligence (AI) tech has very much been on people’s minds ever since ChatGPT popped up its botty head and sucked in something like 100 million active users in just two months. Um, slightly higher than Coinhead’s readership, then.
While it’s already shaping to be one crypto’s frothiest narratives (if we are indeed heading into some sort of bullishness for a while this year), it’s a little harder to find as-yet-unreleased-token-gems.
That said, keep an eye on AIPad, which is a “launchpad” crypto yet to launch its token.
Launchpads are crypto projects that generally focus on one sector or ecosystem with the aim of funding new blockchain projects and essentially helping early investors qualify for whitelists and the like on about-to-release tokens. In AIPad’s case, it obviously focuses on unreleased AI crypto projects.
Back in the wilder wild west of crypto, circa 2016-18, funding for new projects was often raised through Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) and Initial Exchange Offerings (IEOs).
In the past couple of years or so, however, Initial DEX offerings (IDOs) have come to the fore, and launchpads (such as DAOMaker, ETHPad, BSCPad) are often the vehicles through which they’re facilitated.
Listen to hear about👇
📍- Update on our social channels
📍- New mechanics and innovation
📍- Coingecko & CMC
📍- #Ai chat bot
— AIPAD.TECH (@AIPADTECH) February 1, 2023
Here are two leading AI tokens that performed stupendously well in January and have potential to keep the ball rolling if the market gets unreasonably sudsy in the first half of this year.
• Fetch AI (FET)
Fetch AI is an open blockchain network and machine-learning platform based on the Cosmos-SDK network, which connects and secures data networks through the use of autonomous AI.
The FET token is now up 200% over the past 30 days, down 75% from its all-time high posted over a year ago.
As 2022 slowly comes to a close, let us sit back and take a moment to reflect on all that we have achieved this year.
— Fetch.ai (@Fetch_ai) December 27, 2022
• SingularityNET (AGIX)
This was the best-performing of the better-known crypto AI projects in terms of token price in January. And it’s kicked on, currently up a whopping 341% over 30 days.
SingularityNET self describes as “the world’s leading decentralised AI marketplace, running on blockchain”.
Its core mission is the development of Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), not dependent on any centralised entity, for a beneficial technological “Singularity”.
And Singularity is the rather-scary-sounding hypothetical concept and point in time when technology growth becomes uncontained, unconstrained and irreversible.
And that’s probably not quite as iRobot sinister as it sounds in this instance, but here’s a video that explains the mission.
SingularityNET was founded by Dr Ben Goertzel, who certainly looks like a mad genius, and its brainiac team consists of “seasoned engineers, scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs, and marketers”.
We couldn’t complete this list without a nod to crypto/Web3/NFT gaming – a sector that has been touted as the frothiest of them all, and the most likely conduit for onboarding into the crypto sphere millions, if not billions, of users from the mainstream.
“Traditional” gaming is one of the fastest-growing industries in the world. And, if you believe the most bullish of crypto gaming’s builders, then Web3 gaming is set to do the same thing, with more and more trad-game developers making the move acrosss.
We’ve spoken to some of them about all this – for instance Alex Connolly, a co-founder of the fast-growing ImmutableX platform, and Kieran Warwick of Illuvium, as well as covering stories for the likes of huge gaming-focused VCs and incubators, such as Animoca Brands.
For crypto investors looking to allocate some speculative funds, this sector, which ties in with two other perennially hot ones – metaverse and NFTs – is well worth considering.
A very quickfire list of some of the most reputable existing Web3 gaming tokens and projects with big backing, strong development and solid teams?
You could do a lot worse than Illuvium (ILV); Gala (GALA); ImmutableX (IMX); Enjin Coin (ENJ); The Sandbox (SAND); and ApeCoin (APE).
There are many other potentially excellent projects, but we tend to think these six are among the more solid plays at this point in time.
In terms of unreleased tokens and/or NFTs related to top projects? You could also do worse than follow these two Twitter accounts: @CryptoStache and the very popular @brycent_, who was the winner of the GAM3 Awards Content Creator of the Year last year.
Our own picks for building Web3 gaming projects with unreleased in-game currency/ecosystem tokens, however, are modular, first-person-shooter sci-fi Shrapnel and the lush-looking city-builder Civitas.
Both have been rolling out NFTs for use in their games over time, with plenty more of those set to come.
We’ve covered them both before in Coinhead (here and here), and both struck us for the quality of current development, their AAA-experienced teams, and their commitment to putting in the time to making seriously great-looking titles. Great games, after all, are not built in a month, or even just one year.
Note: Approach crypto investing with caution and at your own risk. Absolutely none of the contents of this article should be construed as the financial advice. This author has no qualification sitting on his office wall that reads: Certified Financial Adviser. Or Advisor, for that matter. In fact, he doesn’t even have his own office.