A subset of crypto projects are poised to make a lasting impression in the industry, after attracting a substantial proportion of mindshare during this market cycle, which, in the past year, has seen the price of bitcoin jump nearly 160% from around $26,000 to highs of $73,700. 

Projects haven’t only attracted attention, but also substantial amounts of capital, surging trading volumes and a growing number of active users. Take for example, Uniswap Labs acquiring Crypto: The Game, an online and onchain competition with similarities to Survivor and Squid Games. The acquisition —  comprising of cash, equity, and tokens —  is a sign of ongoing interest in using games as a vehicle for onboard consumer users. 

Here are the ten crypto projects driving this current market cycle. 

1. Farcaster: The Social Network Native on Optimism

Farcaster, which has ambitions to rival traditional social networks such as X, Facebook, and TikTok, rolled out its mainnet on layer 2 blockchain network Optimism in Oct. 2023. Since then, its daily active users and total revenue have grown. 

The number of daily active users on a seven-day trailing average currently stands at 53,000, while the protocol has generated over $1.7 million in total revenue from users paying the protocol storage fee costs, according to a Dune Analytics dashboard by Pixelhack. 

Farcaster’s growth trajectory climbed substantially in January, with the introduction of its Web3 primitive Frames, which enabled users to create small apps within a single post. Farcaster has also benefited from the launch of memecoin DEGEN, used to tip other creators for quality content.

“We are at the cusp of a 0-to-1 moment for crypto [user experience], and Frames have the potential to unlock bigger use cases that will leverage the composable, permissionless, and experimental nature of blockchains,” wrote Sandra Leow, in a February report by Nansen.

Read More: Farcaster Wants to Win Over Crypto. Here’s How It’s Different From ‘Crypto Twitter’

2. Jito: Infrastructure Heavyweight for Solana

Jito is known for its flagship cryptocurrency JitoSOL and its Solana validator client, making Jito a critical piece of infrastructure for the popular blockchain.

JitoSOL has propelled Jito to be Solana’s largest protocol with a total value locked of $1.74 billion, representing almost 38% of the total capital users have committed to Solana’s network, according to data from DefiLlama. JitoSOL’s popularity as a liquid staking token stems from how the token earns rewards from two sources, Jito staking SOL and exploiting maximal extractable value (MEV), which refers to the value derived from rearranging the order of transactions in a block.

Jito’s validator client, which was open-sourced in Oct. 2022, is a modified Solana client optimized to help validators earn more in MEV. Jito’s MEV-optimized validator client has gotten so popular that, as of press time, about 80% of Solana’s stake weight — referring to the percentage of SOL tokens securing Solana — are seated in validators that run the client. 

In Dec. 2023, Jito also carried out a widely prasied airdrop for its governance token JTO. “Jito’s best product was their airdrop; it was executed so well that they built a solid community around it,” said Suki Yang, a data scientist at Electric Capital, in a Telegram message with Unchained.

3. EigenLayer: Let’s Share Security

EigenLayer, a restaking protocol for Ethereum rolled out its mainnet in April and has allowed crypto users to commit roughly $18.7 billion into its smart contracts since June 2023, making it the second largest DeFi protocol, per DefiLlama.

The restaking services offered by EigenLayer, which aims to extend Ethereum’s security to other blockchain systems, have attracted substantial attention from developers, researchers, and DeFi users. 

Not only did EigenLayer conduct its airdrop for its much-anticipated EIGEN token, but 12 protocols known as “actively validated services” have also launched on it, according to EigenLayer’s webpage

Read More: Eigen Foundation to Allocate an Additional $1,000 in EIGEN Tokens to Over 280,000 Users

EigenLayer’s “genesis stemmed from the idea that Ethereum’s security capital and distributed validator set could be utilized by other networks to bootstrap security,” wrote ​​Messari senior research analyst Kunal Goel in a report published in May. “This design helps create a win-win situation between its two key players: networks gain access to high-quality decentralized security more affordably than if they spun up their own validators, and Ethereum node operators and stakers receive additional yield.”

4. Jupiter: Go-To Dex Aggregator for Solana

Jupiter is a Solana-based trading aggregator that scans decentralized exchanges, such as Raydium or Orca, to find the best token prices for crypto users. Since launching its mainnet in Oct. 2021 the aggregator has helped revive Solana from its depths following the collapse of FTX and is playing a key role in the current memecoin frenzy.

As of press time, Jupiter has generated $8.3 billion in trading volume from June 2-9, per self-reported statistics, making it the third-largest decentralized trading platform behind Uniswap and THORChain, per CoinGecko. Moreover, of Jupiter’s top ten tokens  by trading volume, memecoins such as MOTHER, GME, and WIF make up half demonstrating that it is central to the current Solana memecoin frenzy.

Read More: Jupiter’s Airdropped Token JUP Debuts at a $878 Million Market Cap

Part of Jupiter’s appeal also lies in how people can trade perpetual derivatives on the platform and use its LFG Launchpad, which facilitates token sales for crypto projects by bootstrapping liquidity and distributing tokens.

5. Ethena: Dollar Protocol Dependent on its Basis Trading Strategies

Another protocol taking off this cycle is synthetic dollar protocol Ethena, which rolled out on Ethereum mainnet in February. Known for its USDe token, a yield-bearing cryptocurrency pegged to the US dollar, Ethena has skyrocketed as USDe has become the fastest dollar-pegged token to reach a market cap of $3 billion, ahead of Tether’s USDT, Circle’s USDC, and Terraform Labs’ UST, which infamously dropped to zero. 

Ethena has attracted many within the crypto ecosystem, because of its governance token airdrop in April, its high yields for those who stake USDe, and its basis trading strategies to keep USDe relatively stable at $1. In short, Ethena takes long positions in staking ETH and shorts futures positions on exchanges to maintain the $1 value. 

While some see echoes of UST when looking at Ethena’s high yield, UST had a different structure and never utilized basis trading strategies. 

6. Polymarket: Polygon Platform for Betting on the US Election

The current crypto cycle has overlapped with the U.S.’s 2024 presidential election with many speculating who will be the next president on Polymarket, a predictions platform that launched on Polygon in 2020, despite geo-fencing people in the US.

In June, Polymarket users generated nearly $26.5 million in trading volume—on pace to break its all-time monthly record set in May when volume for the month surpassed $63 million, according to Dune Analytics. Moreover, the number of monthly active traders in June stands at 14,100— breaking May’s record of almost 13,600 total traders.

Polymarket has also seen its largest market – who will become the next US president following November’s election – increase 76% in three months, from roughly $93 million in mid-March to over $164 million at the time of writing. Other bets include who will be the Democratic nominee and what the electoral college margin of victory will be.

7. Hyperliquid: Perpetuals Order Book Exchange

Hyperliquid, a layer 1 blockchain network for trading perpetual derivatives, is now number one among perpetual platforms by trading volume.

Despite having only launched one year ago, Hyperliquid makes up around 22% of total trading volume for perpetual future products, according to blockchain analytics firm Artemis. Meanwhile, competitors  dYdX and GMX have existed for several years.

Open interest on the platform, defined as the number of outstanding positions, reached an all-time high of $723.3 million on Wednesday. On May 29, Hyperliquid started its “L1 season of points” in which people earn points based on how much they use the platform in hopes of receiving an airdrop allocation. 

8. Pendle Finance: Yield Tokenization Protocol 

Initially launched in the summer of 2021 on Ethereum and since expanded to other blockchain networks such as Arbitrum and BNB Chain, Pendle aims to bring the interest derivatives market from traditional finance into DeFi by allowing people to tokenize and sell future yields as tokens.

Pendle Finance has helped change DeFi by introducing its token standard for yield-generating mechanisms. It creates a yield market for crypto users by separating yield-bearing cryptocurrencies such as ETH liquid staking derivatives into principal and yield tokens.

Read More: DeFi Protocol Pendle Reaches All-Time High as Total Value Locked Tops $5.78 Billion

Despite Pendle’s total value locked (TVL) having never crossed above $40 million in 2022, Pendle is now the sixth-largest DeFi protocol behind Lido, EigenLayer, Aave, Maker, and JustLend, after growing nearly 2,700% in 2024 to $6.5 billion. Similarly, per CoinGecko, Pendle’s native token PENDLE has jumped from $1.26 in January to $5.10 million at presstime, a more than 300% increase.

Traders view the protocol as a popular parking spot to separate their yield-bearing tokens. Pendle holds the most amount of wrapped eETH, a liquid restaking token from EtherFi and is also the third-largest holder for Ethena’s synthetic dollar USDe, data from Nansen shows.

9. Crypto: The Game

Crypto: The Game (CTG), an online and onchain interactive game that has had two seasons, was recently acquired by Uniswap Labs, the firm behind prominent decentralized exchange Uniswap, a move highlighting the rising interest in crypto gaming experiences. 

Read More: Day 9 – Cutthroat Contestants Put an End to My Time in “Crypto: The Game”

The last season of Crypto: The Game not only included partnerships with Adidas, Lens, Uniswap Labs, and Wormhole, among others, but also reached its maximum capacity of 800 total players in less than 15 minutes when tickets to play became available. 

10. Pump.Fun: The Platform to Create Memecoins 

Pump.Fun rolled out its mainnet in February and in a few short months has generated over $37 million in revenue. Despite an exploit that resulted in the team pausing trading for two days, the project is on pace to make $230 million in annualized fees, according to DefiLlama

The platform acts as a memecoin deployer for people to create and gamble on memecoins — cryptocurrencies typically based on jokes and internet memes. Pump.Fun has attracted a number of celebrities such as Australian rapper Iggy Azalea who created her MOTHER token on the platform. MOTHER now has a market cap of roughly $140 million.