Wow, 2022 was a hell of a year in crypto. In fact, it was empirically the worst year ever in terms of blow ups, price action and general carnage. Yet here we are, still standing…LFG! As I look back on the year that was I am reminded where we were this time last year and the mountain of things that have been done since then. Lets do a quick recap on where we have come from, how things have evolved and we have pivoted in some ways and where we are going now.
Take me back to the summertime
One year ago, Step as a product was coming off the massive bull run on Solana. We had no time to focus on anything other than integrations for the Dashboard which was the only and core product at the time. There were still a few yield farms, lenders, collateralised stablecoins etc which are launching and in order to stay relevant we needed to spend a lot of time and resources on integrating them on the dash (many of which are now dead btw, RIP).
With the tempo winding down on new launches in the ecosystem we were faced with the question of ‘what next?’. I remember having many team meetings where we discussed for hours some of the 10–15 or so ideas on which we could work on. Things which we thought would add value to the platform and token in some way. Aaron0v and Dana pivotal in a lot of these discussions as it often involved Rust work. You’ll note in one of our earliest blogs in 2022 we were investigating things like Tribeca (a Curve like staking program on Solana) for usage in our farms, there was also discussions for a stablecoin by Step, referrals, yield vaults etc. All of these ideas were massive tasks, something which entire teams undertook and could take months (not to mention custodial risks, contract security etc).
It took months of investigations but eventually we made the call that this was too far away from our core product direction and too time consuming for little (and shrinking) payoff in a prolonged bear market and we would be better off sticking to our strengths. What were our strengths? Well, people came to the dashboard everyday to find out information about their wallet. Data was our strength. Data makes sense for Step to be involved in. At the time there were no real data providers on Solana, a few scattered things here and there but nothing professional. I remember it was like an epiphany when we finally agreed on the pathway forward, it was unanimous and we all agreed this was so logical why didn’t we consider before- a Data Analytics platform leveraging our existing deep integrations with Solana programs presented for individuals as a subscription service.
While this is going on keep in mind we are rolling out: Refresh of entire app design and mobile responsiveness, 20+ DeFi integrations, Referrals Rust work, New features (opportunities pages, NFT gallery, 3 perp markets data display), Staking functions and much more. The team got to work on laying the foundations of the indexing infrastructure in between putting out fires everywhere else (and there’s always a lot). It was at this time middle of the year that the bear market was in full swing and yet the NFT world was going from strength to strength. We knew we didn’t have the expertise to understand what on earth is going on and we needed to put a lot of effort into this area to stay relevant.
We had been getting NFT pricing info from Solanafloor for a few months and really enjoyed working with Wazza and the team there. Long story short, which you probably know by now is we ended up concluding an acquisition of Solanafloor and the team and now they’re fully part of Step. Wazz and Rez brought a wealth of knowledge to the team on the NFT world as well as a killer product that’s #1 in the Solana NFT Data Analytics world.
With Solanafloor now onboard there were discussions on how we fit this into the infra that’s being built. Over time it would happen slowly however at the same time the existing infra for SF was getting slower and more difficult to maintain and needed a revamp to keep up with all the new things happening in NFT land. We now had to divert a fair bit of attention to patching things where we could and getting everything in order before getting back to a ton of Analytics work. This concluded only really toward the end of 2022 but it was all a great learning curve and necessary.
Toward the end of 2022 we were racing to complete the work required for the analytics app and onboarding many new faces to the team. Breakpoint was also an important milestone as it was the first time for many of us to meet in person. Our growth team now is like a well oiled machine and with the launch of the Step Data Insights newsletter and Twitter account it was time to start going hard on the Data angle. At the end of 2022 we finally found our data guru with gumshoe joining the team. Despite the crypto ecosystem blowing up around us: 3AC, Luna, FTX, Celsius, Blockfi etc we kept going and on christmas eve were able to deliver an alpha version of the analytics app for Stepmasters to provide feedback.
2023 and beyond
As we head into 2023 there are so many exciting things ahead of us:
-Analytics live and iterated on
-Solana Crossroads Conference (not just a one off, going be an ongoing thing in different cities now likely)
-Step podcast The Next Billion
-Solanafloor more features and slowly merge data to Step
-Solanafloor news desk launch
-Ongoing Step enhancements/integrations, multi wallet, tx history etc.
The work on the product side will be complemented by work on the marketing and growth side nicely. We are reminded of our mission at Step to be “the front page of Solana”. From my point of view we are executing that vision in a clear and open way and playing to our strengths. We don’t want to get caught up and side tracked in financial game things, we just need to deliver a solid product, that adds value which people will pay for and to onboard the next billion people into crypto.