🍾Top DeFi Stories 2021: Crypto Politics, El Salvador, Worst Rug Pulls, Best Memes, Plus Top Defiers!

Hello Defiers! Happy New Year! Welcome to our special edition newsletters chronicling the best, worst, and strangest events in DeFi in 2021. This week, we’ve been counting down to New Year’s Day with a load of special content. We have Big Stories of 2021,...


Hello Defiers! Happy New Year! Welcome to our special edition newsletters chronicling the best, worst, and strangest events in DeFi in 2021.

This week, we’ve been counting down to New Year’s Day with a load of special content. We have Big Stories of 2021, Top Defiers of 2021, Worst Rug Pulls, Best Airdrops, and much more.

Today we feature two more of our 10 Top Stories of 2021, three more Defiers of the Year, and a pair of bonus features: Memes of the Year, and DeFi Debacles of 2021. On Monday we’ll look ahead on what to expect in 2022.

DeFi 2021, Top Stories:

DeFi 2021 Lists:

Defiers of the Year:

  • pplpleasr, NFT Maestro
  • Samczsun, DeFi Hero
  • Nayib Bukele, Crypto Prez

DeFi 2021, Video

Previously in the DeFi 2021 Series:

Top Stories

Defiers of the Year:

DeFi Lists:


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DeFi 2021


The Defiant has compiled the top stories that defined the year for DeFi and web3 — we’ll be dropping them here throughout the week!

🏛 Crypto Mobilizes in Washington for the Political Fight to Come

NATION STATES The battle was lost, and the war began. Members of the cryptocurrency industry have been so busy reading and re-reading 1997’s The Sovereign Individual that they convinced themselves they could get away with waiting until nation-states were just some sort of contract on the internet — or whatever that book is trying to say.

DELUSION That idle delusion hit the wall this July when the U.S. House of Representatives began arrangements to squeeze the industry for $28B in revenue to help ease the passage of President Joe Biden’s $1T infrastructure bill. How do we put this? The industry flipped out.

ILL EQUIPPED Crypto leaders believed the language reflected a poor understanding of the technology, requiring miners, developers, and other participants not directly involved in the markets to collect and report client information they were ill-equipped to handle (or didn’t, on any level, even have).


🇸🇻 El Salvador, Bitcoin, and the Boundaries of Crypto Economics

LEGAL TENDER At the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami last summer, President Nayib Bukele of El Salvador, made crypto history when he declared Bitcoin would become legal tender in the Central American nation. The move made news around the world and inspired other Latin American leaders to eye similar allocations.

CHAMPIONS The world’s “coolest dictator” might not have been the crypto world’s first choice for a head-of-state advocate, but history doesn’t always let movements pick their champions. Keep in mind, in February 2020, Bukele ordered 40 soldiers to go stand in the legislative assembly as he sought approval for a massive loan from the United States.

LIBERTY Bitcoin might be the money of freedom, but Bukele is no standard-bearer for liberty. Yet here we are: crypto works at McDonald’s in San Salvador, the nation’s capital. Plus the government distributed $30 of free bitcoin to residents. Universal Basic Income it’s not, but it does expand crypto adoption. Don’t get too excited. The centralized product the state built for locals to hold and spend BTC hasn’t exactly worked swimmingly, according to Decrypt.



🤯 Oh &#%!@… Seriously!? Top DeFi Debacles of 2021

OPEN ECONOMY In 2021, DeFi blossomed from being a niche within the crypto space to a full-fledged industry as investors recognized the potential of the open economy.

RETURNS Total Value Locked, a measure that quantifies the crypto assets locked in DeFi protocols, soared over 12x to $250B from $18.7B at the beginning of the year. DeFi investors enjoyed astronomical returns this year, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing.

BLACK-HATS The juiciest yields in DeFi can generally be found in degen territory, where hundreds of millions in assets are entrusted to unaudited smart contracts run by anonymous developers. And with that sort of money at stake, the space naturally attracts scammers and black-hats. From rug-pulls and flashloans to frontend exploits, we’re going to look at nine DeFi protocols where things went awry in 2021.


TVL PancakeBunny, a yield aggregator on Binance Smart Chain, once had over $10B in Total Value Locked. In May 2021, the project was hit with an exploit that utilized flashloans to manipulate its price oracles and drain $45M worth of crypto assets. TVL has fallen to $215M and $BUNNY is down 99.8% from its peak.




😁 GM! The DeFi Dictionary Brimmed With Memes in 2021


SCHEMES Are WAGMI? Am I GMI or NGMI? Questions like these are deeply important to web3 participants as they navigate the terrain of rug pulls, psyops, anonymous shills, and pump and dump schemes in their efforts to “make it.”

What “making it” means is a subjective matter making the rallying cry of WAGMI all the more effective as the meme can be used to get anyone involved in almost any project.


GAME THEORY The (3,3) meme emerged from OlympusDAO as the project strives to become a global unit-of-account and medium-of-exchange currency. The meme originally comes from a table to represent a situation in game theory; (3,3) is placed at the top left corner of the table signaling the most beneficial scenario for all parties involved. It’s a situation where both participants stand to equally win together and lose together.



The Defiant has compiled a list of the personalities that defined the year for DeFi and web3 — we’ll be dropping the names here throughout the week!


pplpleasr, NFT Maestro

It was a big year for Pplpleasr (Emily Yang). She was already well-known in DeFi circles last year as she worked closely with projects in the space during DeFi Summer, but in March her fame exploded with the video she created for the launch of Uniswap V3. The clip was sold as an NFT, going for over $500,000, which she donated to the Stand With Asians movement. PleasrDAO, a collective of NFT investors, formed to bid for the piece, and has become one of the most prominent NFT collectors.

Later in the year, Emily created the art for The Infinite Garden, a documentary about Ethereum, and designed the cover for Fortune’s August/September 2021 issue, which was sold as a limited series of NFTs for $1.3M. She also collaborated with DJ Steve Aoki to create a piece which was auctioned off in Sotheby’s. This was the year of NFTs, and within NFTs, few artists shone more than Emily.


Samczsun, DeFi Hero

“U up?”

Those two words, coming from samczsun are the most feared by any DeFi project’s founder as he has been known to alert teams to potentially catastrophic errors in their code. But rather than exploiting them for personal gain, he has chosen to help fix those bugs to keep DeFi degens safe. He does get compensated, but as he told The Defiant in an interview back in March, 2020, he mostly does it for the challenge – and for fun.

The anonymous white hat hacker in October, 2020, joined venture capital firm Paradigm as a research partner, but that hasn’t stopped him fighting DeFi crime. Earlier this year he found a flaw in SushiSwap, one of the space’s biggest projects. Other projects where he has found bugs or potential exploits include Curve Finance, Ethereum Name Service, Synthetix, Kyber Network, Nexus Mutual, Hegic Options, Aragon, and Yearn Finance.


Nayib Bukele, Crypto Prez

No head of state shook up crypto more in 2021 than Nayib Bukele, the 40-year-old president of El Salvador. When Bukele embraced Bitcoin and made it the legal tender of the Central American nation, Satoshi Nakamoto’s grand plan for a digital monetary alternative took a step forward. Now the real test begins as Salvadorans adapt to using Bitcoin in their daily lives, and there’s already been pushback. Bukele is sticking to his guns — on Dec. 21 he tweeted that El Salvador had purchased 21 BTC.

DeFi 2021, Video

📺 Defiant Weekly - the biggest, the weirdest, the most creative of 2021

🧑‍💻 ✍️ Stories in The Defiant are written by Brady Dale, Owen Fernau, Samuel Haig, DeFiDad, and yyctrader, and edited by Edward Robinson, yyctrader, and Camila Russo. Videos are produced by Robin Schmidt, Alp Gasimov and Daniel Flynn. Podcast is led by Camila, edited by Alp.

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The Defiant is a daily newsletter focusing on decentralized finance, a new financial system that’s being built on top of open blockchains. The space is evolving at breakneck speed and revolutionizing tech and money. Sign up to learn more and keep up on the latest, most interesting developments. Subscribers get full access, while free signups get only part of the content. Click here to pay with DAI (for $100/yr) or sub with fiat by clicking on the button above ($15/mo, $150/yr)