Starknet Faces Backlash Over Airdrop and Team Unlocks

StarkWare CEO says the team remains committed to making Starknet “the rails for the global economy.”

By: Owen Fernau Loading...

Starknet Faces Backlash Over Airdrop and Team Unlocks

Ethereum scaling solution Starknet is being widely panned on social media after releasing the airdrop allocations of STRK tokens on Feb. 14.

One possible reason for the backlash is a popular airdrop-checking tool called Wenser, which aims to help users qualify for airdrops by analyzing their on-chain activity. Based on previously ‘leaked’ criteria, many users thought they would be eligible to claim STRK, but that turned out not to be the case once the official portal went live.

“We went from literally everyone on the timeline getting 5 figure STRK airdrops to absolutely no one at all rip,” wrote prolific NFT collector dingaling.

Naturally, many took to X to vent their frustrations.

“Do you hear that? That’s the sound of thousands of Argent X wallets being removed from Chrome,” quipped laurence.

Indeed, Argent, a popular Starknet wallet, was forced to create a designated ‘airdrop-vent’ channel in its Discord to prevent the server from being overrun by disgruntled users.

Screenshot of Argent's Discord server
Screenshot of Argent's Discord server

Meanwhile, some users, like open-source developer rati.eth were simply happy to get tokens. The STRK distribution includes substantial allocations for web3 developers.

Jason Choi, the co-founder of venture firm Tangent, was one of the few to praise the airdrop mechanics.

“Unpopular opinion: this is a good airdrop design and everyone who’s mad just wanted free money for doing nothing,” he wrote.

Team Token Unlocks

Another focal point of the backlash was the revelation that 1.3 billion STRK tokens allocated to the Starkware team and investors will unlock on April 15 – less than two months after the token begins trading.

In a call with The Defiant, Eli Ben-Sasson, the co-founder and CEO of StarkWare, the primary company behind Starknet, said that the team has no intentions of abandoning the project once token unlocks hit.

“StarkWare, and many in the Starknet ecosystem, are going to be around, building, and committed to one thing only, which is making Starknet the rails to run the global economy,” he said.

Airdrops in crypto are often met with frustration — users perform tasks, like using an exchange or buying an NFT, in the hope of receiving a future retroactive reward. The criteria and allocations don’t become clear until later, at which point, if users don’t receive tokens, they take to the internet to vent their frustration.

Billion Dollar Airdrop

With the token yet to go live, it’s not clear what the average airdrop will be worth, but with many crypto users receiving over $10,000 from other Layer 2s like Arbitrum and Optimism, expectations are high.

Aevo, a perpetuals protocol, shows prelaunch futures for STRK trading at $1.64. At that price, the airdrop would be worth roughly $1.1B, potentially making it the third-largest in crypto history after Arbitrum ($1.7B) and ApeCoin ($1.3B).

STRK prelaunch price on Aevo
STRK prelaunch price on Aevo

Ben-Sasson emphasized that the project received its first investment of $6M over six years ago in January 2018.

“The early investors put their faith in the very first project on validity proofs way before anyone saw that this would be the end game of scaling blockchains,” Ben-Sasson said.

Validity proofs, also known as zero-knowledge proofs, are the cryptographic techniques which underpin scaling solutions like Starknet and zkSync.

[UPDATE on Feb. 15 to clarify Ben-Sasson's comment on the team's commitment to the project post token unlock]