DeLabs details the motivations behind the Ethereum and Polygon moves and exclusively explains the bridging process.
DeGods, the most valuable NFT project on Solana, has a history of announcing unexpected twists—from upgrading its artwork to buying majority control of a BIG3 basketball team, and even recently putting some of its previously-burned NFTs on Bitcoin.
But the project’s creators delivered one hell of a Christmas surprise: DeGods will leave Solana.
On December 25, DeLabs founder Rohun “Frank” Vora revealed his latest “social experiment,” announcing that DeGods NFTs would be “bridged” over to Ethereum—the largest and most valuable NFT market, with projects like the Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks.
Meanwhile, y00ts will be moved over to Polygon, an Ethereum scaling network that’s recently gained traction with brands like Starbucks, Meta, and Nike. The DUST ecosystem token tied to both projects will also be bridged to both Ethereum and Polygon.
Few concrete details about the migration have been announced since then, but for the first time, Frank and Dust Labs CEO Kevin Henrikson exclusively discussed the motivations behind the move with Decrypt and explained the upcoming process.
Not ‘if,’ but ‘when’
When DeGods launched in late 2021, Solana was near its all-time high price and its NFT scene was rapidly expanding. By the time it became Solana’s most valuable large-scale NFT project last summer, SOL had lost considerable value and the wider NFT market was in freefall.
In late December, soon after the move was announced, SOL had fallen about 97% from its peak price. Frank had previously tweeted about a potential migration amid Solana’s late-year struggles and faced considerable backlash from the community. Even so, rumors persisted as DeLabs continued fleshing out its actual plans.
Henrikson told Decrypt that Solana was “a great place” to begin life, given the tooling on the network and the fact that its NFT community wasn’t as established as Ethereum’s. But he said that DeLabs had larger-scale ambitions that the team knew would likely someday lead the 10,000 NFT profile picture (PFP) project to the Ethereum ecosyst
DeGods, which has generated nearly $150 million worth of trading volume on Solana, will soon enter the largest market for high-value NFT collections. Frank reaffirmed his goal of making DeGods the “number-one luxury NFT in the world.”
Currently, a DeGods NFT on Solana starts at about $11,500 worth of SOL on the Magic Eden marketplace, but Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape Yacht Club PFPs on Ethereum start at 10 times that amount. It’ll be a new challenge to try and outshine ETH’s heavyweights, but that’s a big part of the appeal for DeLabs.
As follow-up project y00ts started making waves last summer, DeLabs received outreach from various blockchain networks about launching the NFT collection elsewhere.
It ultimately rolled out on Solana, but DeLabs sought an eventual destination that could help that collection reach a broader audience and collaborate with sizable brands. Henrikson cited last year’s litany of brand announcements around Polygon, including NFT initiatives from Reddit, Meta, Starbucks, DraftKings, Disney, and beyond, and described it as an opportunity.
He told Decrypt that moving to Polygon is “the fastest way to get connected to these companies because they’ll be on the same chain.” Frank added that in addition to consumer brand deals, Polygon offers access to a growing slate of metaverse game platforms. Many y00ts visual traits were even left blank “so brands can imprint their logos on there,” Frank said.
The project’s artwork was also designed to be broadly appealing—or “clean enough that I can sell pacifiers and diapers,” Henrikson explained of potential partnerships or licensing deals, but also “men’s cologne and things that are more degen-centric.”
Ultimately, DeLabs accepted a $3 million non-equity grant from Polygon Labs as part of the agreement to move y00ts to the network. Frank said that Polygon was “nowhere near the largest bidder in that regard” and that DeLabs chose the network for other reasons, but admitted that “it felt dumb to not take” the grant when so many networks were offering funds.
DeLabs will use the funds to help grow its team and take some of the public-facing emphasis off of Frank, he said. Furthermore, DeLabs and Dust Labs will develop a Polygon NFT launchpad and help incubate new projects, as Polygon Labs President Ryan Wyatt recently discussed on Decrypt’s gm podcast. It’s a move to grow the network’s NFT scene beyond brand apps.
“The most powerful thing in crypto is aligned incentives,” Frank said. “I personally want to see y00ts succeed, but part of seeing y00ts succeed is seeing the rest of the ecosystem succeed.”
How it works
DeLabs has set a March 15 launch target for both the DeGods and y00ts bridges, but Henrikson told Decrypt that late March is more realistic. Up until now, it wasn’t exactly clear how the team planned to have users move NFTs between chains—particularly on the point of whether the NFTs could be moved back and forth between the supported chains.
The bridging process via Wormhole will be an optional “one-way migration” from Solana to the new chain in both cases, Henrikson said, through a “burn and mint” process. Essentially, the Solana version of the PFP will be destroyed, and an identical version will be minted on the new chain and sent to the holder’s designated wallet. There’s no option to undo the migration.