Empire Newsletter: Pump.fun is a big winner of the celeb memecoin craze

Plus, Ryan Salame’s got a classic case of the Twitter fingers and has been quite active on social media

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Pump.fun and Adobe Stock modified by Blockworks

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Pick-me coins

They say you should sell shovels during a gold rush. 

Pump.fun, the Solana memecoin generator, has certainly nailed that strategy. So much so that minting a personalized token on the platform is now, apparently, a rite of passage for celebs.

Over the past four days, Caitlyn Jenner’s X account has nonstop bullposted about her own token, $JENNER, which her team launched on Pump.fun earlier this week. 

The videos are strange and surreal, leading to some speculation that Jenner’s account had been compromised with deepfakes, all to pump and dump an unofficial memecoin. 

Iggy Azalea confused the matter by launching her own memecoin, MOTHER, amid the hype. She also outed an alleged scammer who had purportedly hustled the rapper, Jenner and other celebs with dodgy memecoin schemes.

Still, the general consensus is that Jenner’s videos are real and this whole thing is perhaps her publicist’s way of latching onto Trump’s recent endorsement for crypto. She launched an Ethereum version of $JENNER earlier this morning.

Combined with singer-songwriter Davido’s memecoin, as well as short-lived fake $IGGY memecoin from the alleged scammer, the tokens have seen about $400 million in trade volume over the past four days.

JENNER surged to as much as $43.6 million shortly after it first traded and has since sunk by more than 85%. Iggy’s is following a similar trend but the volatility could continue for some time.

It’s not easy to determine how much money Jenner or Azalea have made by trading their memecoins. But it’s really Pump.fun that has found product-market fit.

More than three-quarters of a million tokens have been deployed through Pump.fun, and the platform takes a 1% fee on trades and a small amount of SOL when memecoins make it to live trading on Raydium. 

Right now, that’s converting to seven-figure fee revenue per day, with yesterday setting a new record of $1.47 million SOL, compared to the previous top of $1.2 million earlier this month. 

Overall, Pump.fun has brought in nearly $28.9 million in SOL fees since it launched in January, based on a daily tally, which is more than the market cap of JENNER, MOTHER and DAVIDO combined. 

How much of that is real profit is unclear, but the Pump.fun wallet that collects trading fees has so far seen $18.2 million outflows. The purpose of those outflows isn’t known and they shouldn’t be considered irregular, although most occurred around the trading pause in response to a string of flash loan attacks two weeks ago, which resulted in $2 million in losses for the firm.

Ethereum raised only $18 million for its initial coin offering in 2014. Safe to say, Pump.fun has played its hand perfectly so far.

— David Canellis

Data Center

  • EigenLayer’s total ETH locked has stalled over the past month, now sitting below 4.9 million ETH ($18.4 billion), down from over 5 million ETH.
  • Chainlink has held onto market share over the past six months amid increasing competition, still securing about 45% of all value tied to oracles. In 2021, that figure was as high as 66%.
  • After falling with the broader market Wednesday, crypto stocks are looking to claw back slight gains ahead of the opening bell — COIN, MSTR and RIOT are all in the green.
  • Memecoins Bonk, FLOKI and dogwifhat are all down over 10% Thursday morning, per CoinGecko.
  • Bitcoin ETFs only saw $28 million of inflows, with Grayscale notching $30 million of outflows, according to data from Farside. 

Can’t stop, won’t stop

Have the floodgates opened? 

After nearly two years of silence, former FTX executive Ryan Salame seems to have just remembered his X account password. Or, maybe, he’s no longer worried about the consequences. 

Either way, Salame’s got a classic case of the Twitter fingers and has been quite active on social media. 

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His first post, while cryptic, seemed to imply that Salame’s ready to talk. 

And maybe he is since he only has a few months before he heads off to prison to serve a seven-and-a-half-year sentence. 

Earlier this week, Salame was the first of the FTX insiders (aside from Sam Bankman-Fried) to face sentencing, and Judge Lewis Kaplan — who also oversaw the trial and sentencing of SBF — didn’t go easy. Kaplan’s sentencing exceeded the prosecutor’s recommended five to seven years. 

Of all of the insiders to cut deals with prosecutors, Salame has been very quiet. His former colleagues Caroline Ellison, Gary Wang and Nishad Singh were all present at Bankman-Fried’s trial. While Salame wasn’t, prosecutors said he handed over some information ahead of the trial.

Bits and pieces of Salame’s side have trickled in through memos to the court from his team, prosecutors and through witness letters like the one I mentioned in a previous Morning Riff from his good friend, and former colleague, Sam Trabucco. 

Salame, in what seems to be an attempt to open his narrative, posted about a media interview and followed it up by saying he had no idea about the $55 million loan he received from Alameda. 

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While we’ve heard bits and pieces from Singh about the political donations, Salame could offer some more insight into them theoretically. In legal filings ahead of the sentencing, his team also said that he was the “first person” to tell Bahamian authorities about FX’s fraud.

Overnight, Salame seemed to point to possibly authoring a book — though not on the subject of FTX — when he asked X, “Can someone make a book of the best memes for the next few years and sell it on Amazon. Asking for a…”

He might not be the only crypto executive to take up writing either during or before a prison stint, as former Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao also teased a potential book earlier this month.

— Katherine Ross

The Works

  • BlackRock filed its revised ETH ETF registration statement, with potential final SEC approval still needed before the funds can launch. 
  • NFTs are susceptible to scams and fraud, the US Treasury Department said in a new report.
  • President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign is reaching out to people in the crypto industry, The Block reported.
  • Nope, Vanguard’s still not interested in crypto ETFs, the company confirmed to our own Ben Strack.
  • A “layer-2-centric ecosystem is inherently much more pluralistic,” Vitalik Buterin wrote Wednesday.

The Morning Riff

Vitalik mused that layer-2s are an extension of Ethereum’s culture. 

Ethereum mainnet — with the unicorns, Miladys and other lovable cringes — is just one subset of it. Layer-2s like Blast and Base are developing their own subcultures within the Ethereum space. 

All that puts Ethereum on the path to pluralism, culturally speaking, according to Vitalik.

For all its silliness, Ethereum is deeply rooted in cypherpunk ideals, as is Bitcoin. But the further you go out from the public good that is the layer-1, the more likely it is that the infrastructure is controlled by for-profit companies and other entities with vested interests.

Their intentions and missions may align with the spirit of a robust decentralized ecosystem charted by Ethereum, but I can’t help but worry that whatever culture it imbues gets watered down with every bridge hop. 

— David Canellis


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