The Ethereum layer-2 scaling solution, Blast, launched its mainnet on February 29th, 2024, unlocking a staggering $2.3 billion in previously staked crypto on the network. This milestone marks the culmination of a period where users were unable to withdraw their funds, as they were locked up before the mainnet launch.

This release comes with mixed reactions. Initially, around $280 million was withdrawn, indicating user interest in accessing their holdings. However, Blast’s total value locked (TVL) has also dipped from its pre-launch peak of $2.27 billion, suggesting some users opted to leave the platform.

Blast operates as an optimistic rollup, aiming to decrease transaction fees and improve transaction speed on the Ethereum blockchain. It offers users up to 5% annual percentage yield (APY) on their holdings of Ether (ETH) and certain stablecoins. This yield is generated from a combination of staked ETH and United States Treasury Bills (T-Bills) managed by the MakerDAO protocol.

Dan Robinson, research head at Blast seed investor Paradigm, stated in a November X post that the investment firm disagreed with Blast’s choice to “launch the bridge before the L2, or not to allow withdrawals for three months,” feeling it “sets a bad precedent for other projects.”

The launch has also been met with controversy. Critics point out that a significant portion of the TVL came from “airdrop hunters” who participated in the network in hopes of receiving the Blast token, which is slated for release in May 2024. These individuals are not necessarily long-term users committed to the Blast ecosystem.

Overall, Blast’s mainnet launch represents a significant step forward for the platform, unlocking a large amount of staked crypto and offering users new avenues for earning yield. However, questions remain about the long-term sustainability of the network and the motivations of its user base. As the platform evolves, it will be interesting to see if Blast can attract a dedicated community and establish itself as a viable alternative in the competitive Ethereum scaling space.