Update: As of Oct 2021, it looks like the main dev of SolBears / Soltopia, Yogi, has abandoned the project. A community led thebearDAO is trying to keep the project alive.
It certainly feels like NFT Summer in 2021 right now. The NFT market as a whole is hitting all-time high transaction volumes and users, and sentiment has never been more exuberant.
NFTs on the Solana blockchain are also at record levels. Much like how DeFi summer in 2020 elevated ETH gas fees to ridiculous prices, the same has happened this year due to NFTs. As a result, many new NFT projects have launched on Solana instead, where gas prices are minimal.
One of the more hyped up projects to launch out of this was SolBears. Like SolPunks or Degen Ape Academy, these NFTs were PFPs or profile pictures. The collection featured cute bears that came in a random assortment of shapes, colors, items, and accessories of varying rarities.
SolBears Initial Mint
The cuteness of the bears reminded many people of Pudgy Penguins, which took Twitter by storm and eventually grew to a 2 ETH+ (~$7,000+) floor. Word of mouth spread that SolBears might be the next Penguins, and they quickly grew a massive following with tens of thousands of followers on Twitter and Discord ahead of their launch.
On launch day, it cost 3 SOL or ~$300 USD to mint one of the 10,000 algorithmically generated bears. With all the hype, minting was completed in under a minute. In fact, it was actually oversubscribed, and the team had to refund those that minted late.
Over the next couple days, the SolBear floor price on secondary markets like Solanart.io grew to 20-30 SOL per bear.
Everything seemed to be going great. But things in crypto happen fast and things soon turned for the worse.
SolBears Controversy – Did SolBears Rugpull?
Just a day or two after the initial SolBears mint, the devs then announced a second launch would be coming: SolCats. They also rebranded from SolBears to Soltopia, creating an entire world with potentially more animals.
The announcement was initially met with a lot of hype, given the success of the SolBears launch. However, some people were skeptical of the move, as launching a second NFT immediately after the first one felt like a money grab. Overall though, sentiment was still very much positive.
Once details about the launch were revealed, though, that sentiment quickly turned negative.
Yogi, Soltopia’s lead dev, announced SolCats would be a mint costing 10 SOL. SolBears’ mint was only 3 SOL, and SOL’s price all the while had been increasing. This meant the mint price would be far higher in USD.
The community was also unhappy to hear SolCats would be another mint instead of an airdrop to SolBear holders. What was the point in owning a bear if it didn’t come with any benefits?
The community tried to voice their concerns. Yogi, though, proceeded to add fuel to the fire with the comment below.
The backlash was immediate. Many influencers who initially shilled SolBears tried to distance themselves from the project. Secondary NFT market, Solanart, also said in a now-deleted tweet they would not be listing SolCats.
“Following recent events, we will not be listing @TheBearGangNFT next collection,’ said Solanart before issuing an even more chilling warning: ‘We also recommend everyone to avoid minting any [SolCats] as there is a high risk of rug associated with it.“
What was once one of the most promising Solana NFT projects all of a sudden became one of the most hated.
Some in the community considered the project dead, saying it was just a cash grab and they’d been rug pulled. The floor price of SolBears quickly crashed all the way from 30 SOL to 1 SOL at one point, falling below the mint price.
Realizing their mistake, the Soltopia team then set out to do damage control. Yogi reversed course, saying the mint price for SolCats would actually be 0 and not 10. Bear owners would also have a 30 second headstart to mint.
Soon after that, they decided to drop the mint altogether and airdrop the SolCats to any Bear holders.
The erratic nature of it all left a lot of people confused. Some thought it was all planned as a marketing stunt. Others were unhappy about the airdrop because it meant they would receive fewer SolCats.
In the end, though, the SolCats were successfully airdropped to any Bear holders. This marked the first NFT airdrop in Solana’s history. They are currently selling on DigitalEyes at a 2 SOL floor price.
Yogi left off by saying you’ll need a SolBear AND a SolCat to qualify for the next drop.
SolBears and Soltopia have certainly been one of the more interesting NFT projects to come out recently. It’s been a rollercoaster ride for everyone involved, and we’re sure there will be more developments in the future.
Was SolBears a scam / rugpull? Not at first. The team refunded millions of dollars worth of SOL after the initial mint was oversold. If they wanted to scam, that would have been the best opportunity to do so.
And while the team definitely said some inflammatory things and confused people with their second launch, in the end they’ve remained active and have tried to do right with their community.
The answer to all the controversy may simply be that the team was inexperienced. The NFT space is still very early. As such there will be plenty of growing pains with any new project.
Some people have written off the project already, but the Soltopia community remains one of the largest in the NFT space. Solanart also deleted their tweet about not working with the team, which suggests they’ve retracted that statement.