What Tokens Did Best in 2023?

The Ghosts of the Bull Market Past

It’s been almost exactly one year since the FTX blowup, which ultimately marked a pretty profound bottom in crypto. If you’re curious on what those days looked like, let me give you a sampling of prices:

  • Bitcoin: $15,880

  • Ethereum: $1100

  • Solana: $13.94

  • Lido: $0.92

  • Chainlink: $6.22

Yup, it’s easy to forget but I imagine those prices coming today and feel a shiver down my spine thinking about the possibility (and yes, there is one) of coins returning to those levels. Perhaps the bear market dies with a whimper, perhaps not. But that’s not why we’re here today.

Today, we’re here to look at what has happened since the collapse: what has underperformed, outperformed, not performed, disappeared, exploded, or come onto the scene. But first, a few benchmarks:

Did you stick around during the entire bear market or did you take a break?

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Since crypto isn’t the only thing that exists in the world, let’s look at some other benchmarks. Here are some popular indexes and assets that are worth looking at:

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average: +1.59%

  • Total Stock Market: +8.64%

  • S&P 500: +10.58%

  • Nasdaq Composite: +21.86%

  • Gold: +10.99%

  • Silver +1.4%

So, overall a good year for a lot of popular assets. But what about crypto?

Before we get into it, a couple disclaimers: these are the top 100 assets as reported by total market cap. I didn’t take out wrapped assets, stablecoins, or adjust for staking or yield.

New Tokens

There are five new tokens that have entered the top 100. Here’s how they’ve performed since launch:

  • Arbitrum (-15%)

  • Pepe (up unquantifiably)

  • Sui (-55%)

  • Cheelee (+193.33%)

  • Celestia (+121%)

New meme coin on the block Pepe is obviously an outstanding performer, ridiculously so. Frankly I haven’t even heard of Cheelee, a Binance-based GameFi project. Sui and Arbitrum prove that L1s and L2s alike can underperform, while Celestia is brand new and up a lot a week-ish since launch.

Interestingly, if you would’ve bought the other 95 coins a year ago and then each of these coins the day that they came out, Arbitrum and Sui would be both in the bottom 15. That’s kind of crazy. It also, in Arbitrum’s case, says something about hype and why it’s better to be unknown (Pepe) than to be well known.

The Underperformers

The worst 10 performers are the following:

A lot of hype-gone-awry here. Layer 1s that have failed to cultivate robust ecosystems account for 60% of the bottom 10 (Tezos, Eos, Near, Flow, Chiliz, and Algo). Kucoin has struggled, likely around rumors of their own insolvency. APE and SAND both explored visions around the metaverse, which has been largely ignored as a narrative in the last year (the other top-100 metaverse project, MANA, is the thirteenth-worst performer).

Then we have Richard Heart’s HEX, largely derided as a Ponzi. With ultra-high-yields, it’s not surprising that the notional token price has been crushed.

Notable Coins

Here’s a personal list of some coins that I think are particularly of-interest, and I’ll get into them one by one:

Bitcoin has outperformed Ethereum by about 40%, a meaningful margin. Solana has outperformed both of them despite being derided as a dead ecosystem. We’ll see if they can maintain the pump.

FTX’s token FTT is somehow barely down, still kicking around on second tier exchanges despite the fact that liquidity is quite thin. BNB is down as well, but not by much even though Binance has suffered through regulatory issues and rumors alike. Doge is about flat, Avalanche is as well.

For DeFi, Uniswap has held static while Maker DAO, largely memed by Crypto Twitter is up more than Ethereum! Stacks, Bitcoin’s DeFi ecosystem is up alongside the best performing L1 and L2 ecosystems…the Ordinals and build-on-Bitcoin narrative is alive!

OKX proves that not all exchange tokens are dead--OKB is a great performer. 

The Best Performers

Rollbit has crushed the competition if we exclude Pepe. Maybe it’s due to token buybacks, fake demand, or influencer partnerships, but at #69 on the list, it’s still got room to run. 

Kaspa and Injective come next, up over 20x and nearly 10x respectively--the viral ecosystem coin playbook is alive--these coins remind me a bit of Hex and Cardano, if I had to say. I don‘t know much about Conflux (CFX), and Render has done well on the AI and decentralized computing narrative.

Rune also proves that resurrection is indeed possible.

Wrapping Up

If anything, this all makes me think about what horses I want to back in the coming years. If we are indeed in the start of a bull market, there are plenty of lessons to be taken from past years and cycles.

Looking at this data to understand what does well and what doesn’t is a key to profits in the future.

Do you believe this is the start of the next bull market?

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