Growing Pains

Solana's relentless pursuit of speed and scalability has transformed the blockchain landscape. But at what cost?

Solana has long touted itself as the blockchain network built for speed and scale. "Move fast and break things" has been the unofficial mantra guiding its breakneck development.

Unveiling the truth behind Solana's innovative facade, a closer examination exposes the underlying reality that lies beneath its cutting-edge veneer.

From pervasive security vulnerabilities to rampant scams and chronic network instability.

Solana's breakneck pace is like a race car barreling down a track without brakes, leaving a trail of wreckage in its wake.

Is Solana's need for speed a recipe for disaster, or can it learn to slow down and address the cracks in its foundation before they become chasms?

Credit: ZachXBT, Coindesk, Wu Blockchain, Unchained Crypto, Dex Screener

House of Cards

Is Solana a House of Cards ready to collapse?

In the ever-evolving landscape of blockchain networks, Solana has emerged as a contender for the title of Ethereum's successor.

Launched in 2020, Solana has marketed itself as the "most performant blockchain”, touting its ability to process over 50,000 transactions per second.

Solana has even gone as far as throwing down the gauntlet, inviting users to come and Break Solana, just to see just how fast it is.

Solana's TVL soared to over $10b in late 2021, only to plummet to under $300m a year later, before a brief resurgence to just under $5b in March.

Solana's sizzling growth masks a sordid underbelly of security lapses, rampant speculation, and an explosion of scam projects tainting its supposed innovation.

2022 saw Solana pummeled by a relentless barrage of exploits, leaving the network battered and staggering.

The year began with a $4.4m private key exploit on Raydium and reached a crescendo with the Wormhole bridge hack, which ranked #5 on the Rekt leaderboard after losing a staggering $325m.

March saw Cashio's infinite mint vulnerability cashing out $48m, while Nirvana Finance suffered a $3.5m flash loan attack, leading to the first conviction for hacking a smart contract.

The Slope wallet breach robbed over $5.3m in user funds and as the crypto market cooled, Solana saw a brief reprieve in exploits.

2024 ushered in meme coin mania for Solana, a speculative frenzy spawning a scammer's paradise of rug pulls and crypto cons.

One project that was not meant to be a scam or a rug, turned into a hot mess this March. While attempting to burn the liquidity pool and tokens set aside for an airdrop, the developer behind Slerf accidentally burned $10m worth of tokens.

Solana's bargain-basement fees and lightning speeds unleashed a wave of speculative projects and meme coins, such as the infamous dogwifhat.

Vapid meme coins devoid of any utility have ballooned to hundreds of millions in TVL, artificially inflating Solana's metrics while papering over the network's festering issues.

But degen behavior can be an addiction and Solana has turned into a bit of a crackhouse for users addicted to gains.

But we all know that not everybody can be a winner.


In the past, the main concern with Solana was the frequent network outages. Between 2021-2022, the network had 8 outages, with only 1 in 2023 and 1 so far in 2024.

Though Solana patched the crippling network outages of yesteryear, it now grapples with a fresh scourge - paralyzing congestion choking its pipes.

The influx of meme coin projects and speculative activity has led to a surge in transactions, causing delays and bottlenecks for users attempting to process their transactions.

The unrelenting barrage of scam tokens and presales on Solana has become a major red flag.

Researcher Zachxbt has documented numerous examples of presale projects on Solana, some of which managed to accrue hundreds of millions in TVL before abruptly disappearing with user funds.

The sheer volume of rug pulls and exit scams on Solana demonstrates the lack of proper risk assessment and due diligence within the network.

Could Solana be facing a Scamdemic?

Clogged Pipes

Solana's skyrocketing daily trade volumes hit a staggering $5 billion peak in mid-March, overwhelming the network with crippling congestion as usage soared.

The flood of transactions has overwhelmed Solana's validators, with spam and low-priority transactions clogging the network and causing regular user transactions to be delayed or dropped entirely.

Amid Solana's ongoing congestion struggles, the Ore protocol, a Bitcoin-like mining project built on Solana, has temporarily halted its operations.

Ore's rapid growth made it one of the most used projects on Solana by transaction count, inadvertently contributing to the network's performance woes.

The protocol's developer, Hardhat Chad, announced on X that mining would be paused to fast-track the development of Ore v2, aimed at addressing critical flaws and inefficiencies in the current version.

As the Solana community navigates these challenges, the Solana Foundation has identified the root cause of the congestion issue, attributing it to a bottleneck in the QUIC implementation used by the Agave validator client.

For specified details and differences of failed transactions and bot spam, Helius CEO Mert did a breakdown for non-tech people on X.

The TL;DR: Solana's "failed transactions" primarily represent bot spam and smart contract rejections due to bad requests, not network downtime or genuine user experience issues.

In a bid to unclog the pipes, Solana developers have rolled up their sleeves while working on updates and patches to alleviate the situation.

The recent release of the mainnet beta update v1.17.31 aims to address some of the congestion issues, with validators encouraged to upgrade as soon as possible.

However, it's important to note that this update is not a silver bullet solution and that ongoing work will be necessary to fully address the congestion issues.

Permissionless Intolerance

Adding insult to injury, Solana has been plagued by a festering scourge of vile racist meme coins spewing offensive vitriol, igniting a firestorm of outrage over the platform's lack of content policing.

Due to these developments, DEX Screener, a DeFi token analytics platform, announced plans to reassess its token profile moderation policy.

“We won’t be the gatekeepers of what happens on-chain, but we’re definitely not here to spread hate,” the platform added.

Solana CEO Anatoly Yakovenko has publicly condemned the trend, simply stating, “F’ these anti-Semitic racist incels.”

Will the world take the industry seriously with childish behavior like this?

Full Speed Ahead?

Solana's singular pursuit of speed and scalability has pushed blockchain tech to its limits, but its breakneck growth left a trail of shattered security, scammer playgrounds, centralization threats, and network constipation, slowly poisoning user trust and possibly strangling its grand ambitions.

To claw back credibility and resuscitate faith in its ecosystem, Solana must enact drastic surgery to exorcize these deep-seated demons.

While blistering speed and scaling might still tantalize, Solana's future depends on striking a delicate balance, fortifying its ramparts against security breaches, instituting rigorous vetting to filter out scamcoins, and innovating audacious solutions to unclog its constipated pipes.

Solana cannot sacrifice user experience on the altar of pure performance, speed means nothing without stability and security.

Failure to address these cracks in its foundation could lead to further erosion of trust and potentially jeopardize Solana's future as a leading blockchain platform.

Will Solana continue their rise to the top or will they prove to be too big to scale?

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