Solana Heats Up at $200 as Bitcoin’s Rally Stalls

Meme coin mania had its moment, yet again

By: André Beganski

March 18, 2024

GM! This week: JP Morgan questions MicroStrategy’s strategy, spot Ethereum ETF approval odds plummet, Meme coins buzz on Solana, Starbucks’ Odyssey meets its end, and SBF’s sentencing looms.

JP Morgan’s Scrutiny

JP Morgan issued a warning on Friday that MicroStrategy could be sewing stronger potential downturns in the Bitcoin market, effectively “transform[ing] itself to a leveraged bet on Bitcoin” with its recent debt offerings. Announcing that the offering was completed last week, MicroStrategy sold $800 million of convertible senior notes, so that the firm can buy Bitcoin.

Convertible senior notes are essentially bonds that can be converted into company shares at a later date. And with 205,000 Bitcoin in its corporate coffers, MicroStrategy’s stock has surged 123% in the past month to $1,575, per share, as of this writing.

While JP Morgan believes that the software firm is amplifying Bitcoin’s recent rally from a market perspective, Michael Saylor’s recent media appearances have borne fruit as well. This remix of his recent comments has racked up over 900,000 views on X, so far.

Ethereum’s ETF Odds

Odds on whether the Securities and Exchange Commission will approve a spot Ethereum ETF by the end of May have plummeted to just 28% on the prediction market Polymarket. When a similar batch of Bitcoin-specific ETFs was approved in January, approval odds stood at 74%.

While the SEC has delayed spot Ethereum ETF applications from staid financial institutions like BlackRock and Fidelity, some firms are still holding out hope. For example, the asset manager Grayscale filed an updated S-1 on Friday for its Ethereum Grayscale Trust, a fund with nearly $11 billion worth of assets under management.

Grayscale’s CEO Craig Salm described the development as “​​an important step in our effort to uplist $ETHE to NYSE Arca” on X, and he said the “case is just as strong” for a spot Ethereum ETF as it was for a spot Bitcoin ETF, in terms of the SEC’s approval.

However, it seems like some left-leaning Senators would disagree. In a letter published Friday, Senators Laphonza Butler of California and Jack Reed of Rhode Island urged the SEC not to approve any more crypto ETFs, arguing that it would be a massive risk for investors.

Starbucks’ Odyssey

The multinational chain of coffeehouses announced last week that it was shutting down its Starbucks Odyssey rewards program, which tapped NFTs on the Ethereum scaling solution Polygon to the benefit of its loyal customers.

“The Starbucks Odyssey Beta must come to an end to prepare for what comes next as we continue to evolve the program,” Starbucks stated in an official FAQ page, adding that so-called quests in Odyssey will function until March 25.

While Starbucks’ Odyssey was never fully released — it was always in Beta — the rewards program’s shuttering represents another common brand retreating from the crypto space. The project’s community lead, @NFTbark on X, said he no longer has a job too, further casting the reward program’s future into doubt.

Solana’s Fever

A bout of meme coin mania on the Ethereum competitor has lifted Solana’s onchain volumes to record highs — as coins like dogwifhat, Book of Meme, and Slerf attract new users like newly-opened, permissionless roller coasters.

On Thursday, Solana’s onchain volume totaled $3.8 billion, barely behind Ethereum’s onchain volumes of $3.9 billion. At the same time, Solana’s seven-day moving average of active addresses reached an all-time high too — suggesting Solana is as hot as ever. Additionally, the market capitalizations of some new Solana meme coins are rivaling established NFT collections on Ethereum, according to data shared by @punk9059 on X.

Over the past week, Solana has led among major coins, rising 36% to above $200 for the first time since December 2021. And, as Web3 users continue to send massive amounts of Solana to strangers in hopes of not-yet-launched meme coins, the trend shows little signs of stopping soon.

SBF’s Sentence

Federal prosecutors suggested on Friday that the former CEO and founder of FTX should serve a prison term of 40 to 50 years. The recommendation “underscores the remarkably serious nature of the harm to thousands of victims,” prosecutors wrote in a filing on Friday.

Sam Bankman-Fried is scheduled to be sentenced on March 28, and he technically faces up to 110 years in prison. Even though prosecutors said a term of that length isn’t necessary, their suggestion extends far beyond the 6.5-year term floated by Bankman-Fried’s lawyers.

Alongside its 116-page filing, the government submitted exhibits to further bolster its suggestion, including a document where Bankman-Fried explores “random probably bad ideas that aren’t vetted” on how to restore his public image after FTX's collapse, such as going on Tucker Carlson’s show to “come out as a Republican.”

Other Headlines Around Crypto

  • Shiba Inu That Sparked Solana Memecoin Mania Earns Owners $4.3m in Ethereum (DL News)

  • Standard Chartered Raises Year-End BTC Forecast to $150K, Sees 2025 High of $250K (CoinDesk)

  • OKX to pull USDT trading pairs in Europe (The Block)

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