What a crazy blessing. Ending in absolute fireworks, 2023 was a year of cleansing and rebirth. After the calamities of 2022, the year started off shaky and uncertain, full of political intrigue, regulatory contortions, institutional backflips, and Gary Gensler. In spite of the ravaging negative headlines, waning retail spirits, and eerie price action throughout the year, so much fundamental progress was made that market forces couldn't resist the alluring call of a maturing giga-industry, and crypto came back to life. New projects were launched, new technologies were discovered, regulators were challenged, companies held layoffs, hackathons took place, and life-changing money was made. It would be foolish (if not impossible) to cover everything that took place in a single attempt, but ultimately, the most important takeaway is that sentiments have shifted. We have begun to thaw from a prolonged bear winter and transitioned into colloquial "Crypto Spring." To celebrate our transition and prepare ourselves for the upcoming year, let's recap some of the most notable events that took place: * These are in no specific order. Political Progress Due to its boardless, digital nature, when talking politics in crypto, the conversations must always turn global. Traditionally, countries tend to structure their legislation following the example set by America. However, the constant ambivalent, opaque, monotonous attitude of the US has pushed innovation offshore and given an opportunity for other countries, including the likes of Singapore, the UK, and the UAE, among other, to take matters into their own hands and become leaders on the regulatory front. SEC gets Humbled Losing almost (if not every) major battle of the year, most notably Ripple, the Securities and Exchange Commission has become a laughing stock, largely considered incapable of conducting its duties at protecting anything (besides the interests of insiders). Now synonymous with the sneaky, sleazy, two-faced persona of Gary Gensler, it seems that in order to regain its reputation moving forward, the agency will have to rethink its policies and pivot into a more friendly, embracing position. Tornado Cash Sanctioned by the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and its founders were arrested. The privacy-preserving mixer has been deemed a threat to national security because it violates KYC/AML policies. Thus the technology has been blacklisted and banned from the US, and any crypto address interacting with it becomes an enemy of the state. LBRY Decides not to Appeal Losing its case against the SEC in 2022, in which the ruling claimed that LBC digital tokens were, in fact, securities and that the entity behind LBRY failed to register the assets as such, the project has decided not to appeal the decision. The company has gone into receivership, but the network continues to operate. It is very possible that the company's assets are acquired by another crypto company, and the infrastructure that was built out, alongside its active community, merge into something greater than ever before. NFT Projects are Met with Regulatory Enforcement NFTs continue to be an asset archetype that has not been formally defined by the legal system. Nevertheless, 2023 saw the first round of action against NFT projects, including Cool Cats and Impact Theory. Both cases have been resolved without prison time and with multi-million dollar settlements, things that will set the precedent moving forward as to what the industry can expect. Purging the Demons and Serving up Justice The froth of the last cycle brought about lasting economic impacts; scar tissue in the form of fraud, manipulation, and poor protocol design lingers in the not-to-distant memories of the market. FTX, Sam Bankman Fried, Alameda, Genesis, Gemini, BlockFi, Terra Luna, Celcius, 3AC, and the gaggle of crooks have become a sore for the industry. The exhausting mental resources allocated to discussing the issues that transpired, finding who to blame, and pointing fingers has begun to subside. A lot of cleansing has taken place, but there are still a few loose ends that need to be squared off. Crypto is much more exciting than the processes taking place in courtrooms; hopefully, we can move past this sooner than later. Binance and the SEC After settling with the SEC for over $2 Billion USD for its slew of legal infractions, Binance was forced to change its leadership and mark the end of the CZ era. From humble beginnings as a crypto-to-crypto exchange to the single largest entity for payments, trading, investments, NFTs, and everything else, Binance has become the most recognized brand around the world. Countless millions of users, hundreds of billions of dollars, and hundreds of countries; the amount of positive value that this single company brought is impossible to quantify. Introducing Generation 5 Technologies 2023 marked a year of incredible technological innovation manifesting itself in horizontal expansion (new project launches). Scalability, Interoperability, and Privacy continued to be the core tenets of new discoveries. Arriving in many form factors, including alt L1s, Optimistic rollups, ZeroKnowledge Rollups, mult-sigs, and DEFI applications, the list of new projects powered by new technological primitives, with new go-to-market mechanisms and glorious airdrop campaigns have given rise to the next generation of blockchains. (Depending on how you count or who you ask, this would be the 5th generation of public blockchain tech). Alternative Networks and Rollups SUI, SEI, Aptos, Manta Pacific, Stargaze, Kujira, Astar, Blast, the list of new blockchain-based networks is ever-expanding. Each of these networks is running some kind of action-based incentive program and attracting TVL into their ecosystems. Each chain demands its own applications, teams, communities, launch, and operational capital, but that hasn't seemed to slow anybody down. Rollups Becoming the de-facto scaling tech for EVM, Rollups have attracted the attention of some of the industry's most notable entities, including Coinbase and Binance. Proving their value by facilitating multiple times more transactions than legacy base layer ETH, it seems as though Rollups will become the interfaces for applications to conduct activity. Moreover, it seems as tho this is the tech that has caught the majority of mindshare. Interoperability A MultiChain future has only become all the more likely. Interchain operations with solutions from Cosmos's IBC, Polkadot's XCM, and, of course, LayerZero are facilitating more transfers than ever before. Bridges, including Wormhole, Orbiter, Stargate, Symbiosis, et al. are exploding in TVL. This is a trend that simply cannot, will not revert. Bitcoin Ecosystem and Inscriptions Being the oldest and largest crypto network of all, Bitcoin was for many years considered to be a somewhat stale technology that has long discovered its use case, and interest in it has peeked. Not so fast. With the introduction of smart contracts and inscriptions on Bitcoin, a new caliber of ultra-wealthy users that can now do something with the coins they have just been sitting on flooded the ecosystem. This has resulted in divisions amongst crypto maxis and brought massive transactional revenue bonuses to miners. Price action of Q4 If you like Bitcoin at $20,000; your going love it at $44,000. The apes, degens, and bulls are waking up and looking for somewhere to throw their capital in opposition to tradfi. The last quarter of 2023 brought mind-melting, eye-water gains to holders of crypto across the board. Memapaoloosa Reinvigorated internet culture is starting to do its thing. Obscure meme coins like WIF, PEPE, BONK, and COQ are posting gains north of 1000%. Even though memes do not carry inherent value and tend to enter pronounced death spirals, their presence highlights the early stages of a recovering market. If memes are popping off, then one of two things is likely: either there is excess capital in the system, or OGs are preparing for an influx of retail. Either way, even if you don't make money on the memecoins, the wealth effect will inevitably spill over into other cryptos. Solana's Rising From the Ashes Beatin into oblivion from the FTX saga, Solana has broken all mainstream beliefs and become the underdog and best performer of the year. Beyond just the token's meteoric bounce from lows around ~$8 to over $120, the ecosystem has seen an influx of new users, glorious new applications, and functional improvements to the tune of an order of magnitude. Hosting one of the tightest, most resilient communities, Solana has become a platform for realizing sophisticated real-world applications and emerging market segments such as DEPIN. After a world-class Aidrop from the Jito MEV/liquid staking protocol, a pipeline of projects primed to release their tokens through a powerful network of distribution (The Solana Mobile phone); there seems to be no more talk of its death, just questions on how to best take advantage of the technology. Spot Bitcoin ETF It would be remiss if this is not mentioned. Perhaps the single most talked about crypto event of the year, many of the world's largest institutions, including the megalodon BlackRock, have filled for a spot in Bitcoin ETF. Unlocking the gates to institutions, a Spot Bitcoin ETF is in the cards for approval in 2024. However, as it stands, these ETFs will likely still be forced to settle in cash, which is a net positive but not as fundamentally impactful as having to settle in BTC. The industry has mixed opinions on what is to be expected from this; on the one hand, there are those who want to buy into the happening, while others approach with more caution, implying it is a "sell the news" event. After the rumors began circulating and people started to front-running one another, the price responded with tremendous strength. Given the cash settlements, pent-up demand, confluence of macro events, and pre-committed capital that is already penned for inflows greater than $200,000,000 USD; the only thing that seems guaranteed is that no matter what, it is a matter of time before the instrument is live. The Narrative Cycle During the re-stabilization period, crypto was looking for narratives that would supercharge it. Throughout the year, narratives have been shuffled around from AI to RWA, to Alt L1s, Rollups, DEPIN, ETFs, and so on. Stablecoins continued to blossom; DEFI took a beating in TVL but has become much more secure, being the year with the least total amount of hacks. NFTs are starting to make waves again, arguably led by Pudgy Penguins and new Trump Card mints. An influx of new major market participants and an increase in participation from existing ones, including Google, Franklin Templeton, VanEck, and others further confirm the growth of crypto. In short, 2023 was the best time to accumulate. Those brave enough to shut out the noise and lead by investment have already been rewarded for their diamond hands. Many people are getting disappointed, thinking they have missed their chance; friends, the entire market cap of our industry is ~1.6 Trillion… The game has just begun. History may not always repeat, but damn… It sure does tend to rhyme. Excited to be on this journey with you all; I hope you have reaped the rewards of Crypto's past & that your bags are ready to grow to the future. See you all in 2024.