The Solana blockchain has recently earned a glowing reputation for its ability to serve the NFT industry better than Ethereum. But only a few people understand how it leveraged SolPunks, its fifth-largest NFT collection, to plot its path to success.
What is now known as “punksonsolana” actually refers to SolPunks, a ten-thousand collection of Solana's pixelated NFTs, which were discovered by Nicholas Sakalauskas, aka Tractor, in May 2021 before the NFT boom. By July, Solpunks had completed its minting on Solana and had become the first NFT to ever do so.
To this day, the ability to mint out in record time has continued to prove the legendary status of SolPunks in relation to Kreechures, which is often dubbed as the first NFT on the Solana blockchain.
The second quarter of 2021 was the early days of Solana's NFT experiment, and while there was a handful of NFTs with little or no significance, there was a SolPunks community that had already begun to take shape in Tractor's Telegram channel where SolPunks was first traded.
Although it’s most likely a moot point to ascertain which one of the early NFTs is the first on the chain, we can go as far as to establish the fact that the SolPunks collection indubitably built the first Solana NFT community, which paved the way for others.
Once the SolPunks holders had organized themselves into a promising NFT community on Telegram, the Solana developers then turned to SolPunks and helped to chart the course of its development up to the time that they had realized enough gas fee to build Solanart, Solana’s first NFT marketplace. Before Solanart was built, SolPunks were obtained on solpunks.com for 3 SOL and traded over the counter on Tractor’s Telegram.
However hard the lack of an NFT marketplace tried to extinguish the SolPunks’ potential to launch the NFT revolution on the Solana blockchain, the speed at which Solanart was developed through the accumulated mint fees made SolPunks the precursor to the NFT craze that began shortly after it was created.
The impact of Solana’s NFT Marketplaces on the Solana blockchain is immeasurably greater than that of any trend in its current ecosystem. In other words, NFTs on Solana has continued to shine a spotlight on SOL, its crypto, as well as on its low gas fee, which has accounted for the influx of small-scale NFT traders and institutional investors who found the benefits conferred by its POS algorithm irresistible.
Of its Marketplaces, Solanart remains the largest, with sales raking in millions of dollars monthly. Its humble beginning can be traced back to when SolPunks were trading at 3SOL simply and squarely because the Solana developers had a pecuniary interest in the capacity of SolPunks to generate the funds they desperately needed to build a marketplace before the NFT bubble collapsed.
For the developers, SolPunks were a technical demonstration of how Solana could become a major player in the NFT industry. No sooner had they begun to experiment with it than it paved the way for what would later come to be known as the first generation of Solana NFTs.
According to Endeavor(not real name), there would never have been the NFT craze on Solana without the SolPunks, which at the time were ridiculed as a parody of the 10,000 Cryptopunks living on the Ethereum blockchain.
Nonetheless, for much of the time that the developers were actively involved, it was immaterial that SolPunks cheaply parodied Cryptopunks. What was, however, all the more important to them was that SolPunks 10,000 parodies offered them an opportunity to raise funds for creating a tier 1 NFT marketplace.
By Q1 of 2021, the stage was set for what would later become a turning point for SolPunks after the Solana developers announced a partnership with the Satoshi Streets Bet(SSB), the essence of which was to make 4 types of SSB-themed punks consisting of 1 human, 1 ape, 1 alien, and 1 zombie. Not only was this collaboration good news, but it was also the trigger for the FOMO that subsequently followed it.
Before long, what was initially a FUD had become a frenzy, and the SolPunks community was beginning to garner a lot of attention from potential investors. From the Solana developers who were raking in thousands of dollars in minting fees to Solpunks HODLers who were unloading a vast mingling of Solpunks, everyone was literally winning at the rush hour.
The Solana developers were by now operating at an elite level and were finally able to solve the problem of a slow-paced minting that the SolPunks community had to contend with up to the time of the partnership.
In three days, two thousand SolPunks were minted, and the next five thousand were minted in a day. Leveraging the FOMO at a time when SOL was around 35-40 USD, some SolPunks HODLers sold their SolPunks for 4-5 times its value, while others sold theirs for 6 times its value.
For the Solana team, the SolPunks collection was the cash cow that could help to build what would later become a more developed ecosystem. And once their first NFT marketplace became functional, a tremendous amount of effort was poured into growing the brand and onboarding new NFT projects.
However, as it grew, the Solana developers began to pay less attention to SolPunks citing a possible infringement of LarvaLabs cryptopunks by the SolPunks community.
By the end of 2021, the massive NFT sales it recorded had upped the total transactions processed on its blockchain to about $50 billion, and at the same time, SolPunks, which had forged ahead on its own, ranked as the fifth-largest NFT collection by sales volume on Solanart which gave the Solpunks community a huge chunk of Solana's history