A new Ethereum layer-2 rollup, announced Monday, has already attracted $27 million in total value locked (TVL), but there’s a twist: It doesn’t yet exist.
The promised network, Blast, would launch as an optimistic rollup in February 2024, but its backers immediately began soliciting deposits into a smart contract “bridge.”
In the span of half a day, the contract has amassed enough ether (ETH) and dai (DAI) to put it at number 16 in L2Beat’s TVL rankings, ahead of established names such as derivatives DEX Aevo and Arbitrum Nova.
The announcement touts Blast as “the only Ethereum L2 with native yield for ETH and stablecoins,” meaning it taps into Ethereum staking yield by directing all ETH to Lido and uses DAI to tap MakerDAO’s growing US Treasury bill yield through its Dai Savings Rate (DSR), currently at 5%.
Blast’s development team, led by pseudonymous Blur co-founder Pacman, raised $20 million from venture capital firms Paradigm and Standard Crypto, joined by a motley crew of angel investors and crypto influencers.
Early reaction has focused on the one-way nature of the “bridge” — once you cross you can’t exit until after Blast actually launches and withdrawals are enabled.
Normally, a bridge allows assets to flow both ways. This contract is apparently controlled by a five-key multi-signature wallet. However, of the five addresses, one contains no ether and has no transaction history, and the other four were recently funded by a single address.
That calls into question the independence of the signing cohort.
Blockworks has contacted Pacman, Paradigm and Standard Crypto for clarification.
Blast is just a multisig over a vault that deposits your assets into Lido and Maker for yield and “points” for an L2 that hasn’t launched yet, and that you can’t yet exit.
And you can more points for inviting people to join the one way deposit…
Is that right?
— Adam Cochran (adamscochran.eth) (@adamscochran) November 21, 2023
The use of Lido has drawn the ire of Ethereum community members concerned with centralization risk in staking providers, including Dankrad Feist, who called it “a very bad idea” on X.
“ETH and liquid staking derivatives are different assets with different risk profiles (and rewards), and users should have a choice about which one they want to use,” he said.
It should come as no surprise, given that Paradigm is an investor in both Lido and Blur.
Critics also question the use of a multi-level-marketing style referral campaign, which doles out points, of unknown value, to incentivize sending invitations to prospective new users.
Sounds like a textbook ponzi. I’m in. pic.twitter.com/aDzWD5zrDO
— NoSleepJon 💤⏩ (@nosleepjon) November 21, 2023
The site explicitly promises an airdrop based on early access participation. Points earned are expected to be redeemable in May 2024.
Points systems have increasingly been used as a growth bootstrapping mechanism by protocol developers — including Pacman’s prior marketing of Blur — and are widely seen as a precursor to an airdrop or something else of value.
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