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Can Base Challenge Solana’s Memecoin Dominance?

Solana rules the memecoin arena... for now.
David C David C May 27, 20245 min read
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Can Base Challenge Solana’s Memecoin Dominance?

Solana’s comeback has been the story of this cycle so far, with the network rising on the backs of tech improvements, lucrative airdrops, and, most notably, memecoins

Memecoins have gone from an unserious, short-lived asset class to a forward-looking alternative to low float, high FDV tokens that aren’t leaving enough upside for retail.

Today, most memecoin activity happens on Solana, though activity is continuing to migrate to ETH L2s like Arbitrum and Base. Base has been particularly buzzy as of late. While the Coinbase-incubated L2 does show promise to become a meme hub, activity on Solana continues to dominate and stay within its ecosystem. Can Base compete with Solana in the memecoin arena? 

In this article, we’ll examine the current state of these platforms, their capital flows, and leading projects to assess what makes Solana the memecoin capital and how Base compares to it.


🐕 The Solana Memecoin Scene

A critical element of Solana becoming this cycle’s darling L1 has been its memecoin activity. 

Fueled by an internal capital surge from airdrops like Jito, Jupiter, Kamino, Parcl, and Tensor, memecoins have dropped and reached $1B market caps within a week, a spectacular achievement and excellent marketing campaign for a chain that's now pushing a TVL above $4.8B.

Solana can owe a sizable amount of its narrative momentum to memecoin fever, evident in the activity on pump.fun, a popular memecoin launcher, which on some days has accounted for 83% of all tokens launched and even flipped Solana in 24hr revenue. This success, though, wouldn’t have been possible if the network hadn’t already had such a strong memecoin arena featuring main character tokens like WIF, BONK, and BODEN, to name a few. 

  • Dogwifhat (Ticker: WIF; Market Cap: $3.3B) is a cute Shiba Inu with a knitted hat that’s become Solana’s mascot thanks to its memeability, extensive promotion by Crypto Twitter personalities and the allegiance generated from having your token climb from a $10K market cap to multi-billion dollar status.
  • Jeo Boden (Ticker: BODEN; Market Cap: $194M), a derpy take on US President Joe Biden that ignited the PolitiFi meta, also calls Solana home. In its first week, it brought many 1000x returns, a performance that has definitely wed some to the SOL memecoin scene.
  • Bonk (Ticker: BONK; Market Cap: $2.65B) is Solana’s OG memecoin. It is a Shiba Inu from Dec. 2022 that saw incredible price action last fall and kicked off memecoins for the chain.

Broadly, Solana not only boasts the most prominent memecoins of the cycle but also a thematic range of tokens, from dogs and cats to politicians. 

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🧑🏻‍🦲 The Base Memecoin Scene

Base has quickly risen to find its footing as one of Ethereum’s top L2s with its memecoin ecosystem helping it achieve a consumer-friendly reputation.

Projects like DEGEN and friend.tech have brought the network consistent activity and established a culture for Base as a social hub. That said, while March saw an epic rally in the network’s TVL, it looks to have plateaued in recent weeks. While Base's TVL is still a far cry from Solana's, its daily volumes are impressive. Last week, the network hit a record $854M in one-day volumes.

TVL in Blue. Volumes in Green.

While the BALD rug of 2023 may have left an initial sour taste in the mouths of memecoin gamblers, the ecosystem has developed more momentum in more recent memecoin cycles, though it's still the Wild West.

  • Brett (Ticker: BRETT; Market Cap: $440M) is a token inspired by a character from Pepe creator Matt Furie's "Boy's Club” comic. While niche can be good, it can also reduce the audience and, thus, the demand for a token. 
  • Toshi the Cat (Ticker: TOSHI; Market Cap: $146M), named after Brian Armstrong’s cat and Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto, is Base’s leading pet-inspired memecoin.

Traders show allegiance to the chains that helped them accrue wealth. While SOL traders were able to buy into the token at a minute fraction of its current market cap, Base still doesn't have a native token due to regulatory scrutiny, and if/when it does, it can be assumed that there will be relatively lighter available upside for retail traders. All the while there have been few landmark ecosystem airdrops on Base, unlike in the Solana community.

While Base has unique memecoin communities, they do not have the broader appeal of tokens in other ecosystems like Solana; rather, they cater to a more crypto-native audience. This uniqueness makes the chain stand out, but the tight thematic scope could limit the chain’s success as a major meme hub.

While Base has been able to leverage its cheaper and faster transactions to build out an early class of memes, the strongest memecoin communities on Ethereum still primarily exist on mainnet. Solana has momentum and a more palpable narrative in this cycle, and while Base continues to be one of the more buzzy L2 ecosystems, there's a lot of ground for Base to make up in the memecoin arena.


Closing Thoughts

Solana and Base exist on different levels when it comes to memecoins. 

Solana has solidified its position with a diverse and thriving memecoin ecosystem supported by significant airdrops and a robust community. In contrast, despite its impressive growth and support from Coinbase, Base has yet to achieve the same level of mainstream appeal and capital creation that lends itself to the degenerate environment needed for memecoins.

Solana's continued growth, evident in its TVL increase and daily volumes, highlights its place on center stage this cycle. As the memecoin landscape evolves, it will be interesting to see if Base can foster a standout memecoin that can differentiate Base within the Ethereum ecosystem and outside of it.

David C

Written by David C

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David is a writer/analyst at Bankless. Prior to joining Bankless, he worked for a series of early-stage crypto startups and on grants from the Ethereum, Solana, and Urbit Foundations. He graduated from Skidmore College in New York. He currently lives in the Midwest and enjoys NFTs, but no longer participates in them.

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