The cryptocurrency markets, and the blockchains on which these slippery assets operate, are a gold mine for data analysts. The industry is a world of data, and those who can read it can tell its stories, mark its trends, and even—albeit unreliably—make an attempt to predict where it might go. 

A number of companies have made a name for themselves collating such data and working hard to present a coherent picture of the industry. None, of course, is exhaustive and the data they list often contradict that on other sites. As such, it makes sense to have a handful of sites in your Rolodex whenever you need to find out information on cryptocurrencies or blockchains. This guide is an entry into that world.

1. DeFi Llama

A few years ago, just as DeFi was fast becoming a thing, the most dominant data platform for decentralized services was DeFi Pulse, run by the entrepreneur Scott Lewis. DeFi Pulse attracted attention for its use of the novel “Total Value Locked” (TVL) metric, which represents how much cryptocurrency is locked into smart contracts on a given platform. 

In the years since, however, Lewis’s site has been almost entirely usurped by a collective called DeFi Llama, whose strange name belies its usefulness as the premier place to collect free, open-source data on DeFi protocols. DeFi Llama is where you might find the most up-to-date metrics on DeFi protocols’ TVL, plus information about a protocol’s revenue, hacks, and so on. It is also free to use, though that is arguably becoming a problem; in March 2023, one of its creators attempted a coup and tried to issue a token for the platform. It was quashed, but monetizing the site is still an issue, despite the recent addition of a DeFi Llama newsroom.

2. Messari 

Messari likes to present itself as a Bloomberg Terminal for crypto. Its premium subscription lists metrics for tokens somewhat haphazardly, but it is still one of the best places to find information about a smart contract protocol or blockchain. Messari also offers a “pro” offering with more data points, such as a fairly comprehensive list of fundraises in the industry, plus an “enterprise” subscription that comprises market analysis and quarterly protocol reports of some of the more major DeFi protocols. Its analysts have at times used the platform to dig into industry malfeasance, and in 2019 a Messari report famously claimed that the market capitalization of the once-gargantuan XRP coin had been drastically overstated.

3. Nansen

Nansen is a data analytics site that specializes in DeFi and non-fungible token (NFT) data. While most of Nansen’s data is hidden behind paywalls, it supports a whole lot of data across several chains, including Polygon, Solana, and Ethereum. Among notable features are “NFT God Mode,” which allows customers to access a comprehensive snapshot of the entire NFT market; and “NFT Paradise,” which lets customers track successful traders. Much of its success comes from its artificial intelligence algorithms, which automatically label millions of wallets to work out how money flows across the crypto markets. (See Nansen’s elaborate wash trading filter.)

4. Dune Analytics

Dune Analytics is a free resource that allows anyone to submit dashboards for Ethereum projects. These community-driven dashboards rely on SQL queries to generate complex, (fairly) real-time, and open-source dashboards of anything their authors conjure up. For instance, Hildobby’s NFT wash trading dashboard tracks all Ethereum NFT collections, then applies an open-source filter that disqualifies suspicious trades. Other communities, for instance dYdX and MakerDAO, use the site to list popular statistics about their projects.

5. Blockchain Explorers

Blockchain explorers like Etherscan are among the most popular analytics sites, functioning as registries of blockchain transactions that make it easy to track the flow of crypto assets. They also enable users to interact with smart contracts directly from their sites, though their primitive user interfaces make this somewhat tricky. Sister sites like BSCScan and Polygonscan offer the same service for other blockchains. 

Honorable Mentions

The data analytics market is broad yet comprehensive, and there’s a site for almost any data need. Here are some of the more popular ones:

  • Price aggregators: Nomics, CoinMarketCap, CoinGecko
  • Market data: Coin Metrics, Kaiko
  • Blockchain forensics: Chainalysis, Elliptic
  • DAO: DeepDao, Snapshot
  • Decentralized data services: The Graph, Chainlink