ApeSwap — Year 1 in Review
5 Apes & their Baby…
I wasn’t early to ApeSwap. The first time I heard about it was a tweet on it’s legendary meme culture and huge focus on community engagement. I kind of remembered I joined the Telegram group sometime in March 2021 and officially aped in sometime later after some assessment. (Honestly not much assessment, being the degen farmer I was then 🤫)
I began to participate more in the daily happenings at ApeSwap and was honored when I was made a community moderator to “kill” the never ending shillers and unwanted messages. As I learned more about the folks that run the DEX, I started to write short articles that helped the community to understand it’s features better. At the same time, I made friends with the regular folks in Telegram and joined the many sub-groups that were created to further engage and learn from the many experts that lurk in the jungle.
Time really flies when you are in crypto and now at the cusp of the first anniversary of ApeSwap, here’s my little look back on the year gone past as well as some of the future expectations of ApeSwap.
You see them everywhere these days. The ubiquitous Decentralised Exchanges (DEX) on every respectable blockchain. They provide much needed financial services to anyone, anonymously, on the planet.
Each of them has a theme usually and there is no scientific or tangible way to measure which is better. Though most would just gauge based on price/yield performance, sometimes it isn’t so straightforward.
It’s like explaining to you why my favourite colour is white. It just is and there is no particular reason why. I felt the same way about ApeSwap having spent almost a year as a user here. Other protocols have come and gone but somehow I stayed. After much thought, the reasons that kept me using ApeSwap’s services as well as investing in the $BANANA/$GNANA token were the relationships that have been built up over the past year. There is a fantastic mix of young and old, guys and gals, full and part-time crypto enthusiasts that at any time, you would be able to strike up a conversation with and find someone to befriend.
Many of these conversations led to online friendships that offered advice, support and generally a great way to spend some of my free time. Inadvertently, you get first hand news on what’s happening in the crypto world together with a dash of world news. The ApeSwap community is by itself a by-product of the protocol’s success and in some ways, a main contributor to it’s success as well. Both will not do well without the other and that is what I feel will be the driving force of the upcoming successes for the protocol.
In early 2021, I started this Medium to write about my DeFi journey and dabbled a bit on NFTs but ApeSwap was a topic that I loved and felt very compelled to write about. I am also very humbled with the fact that I have a free rein in penning down my own thoughts without the need for articles to be vetted prior by the ApeSwap team before publication.
But enough rambling. Let’s take a short trip down memory lane to reminisce those days that some of us may not have had a chance to live in.
ApeSwap started off as a fork of PancakeSwap and launched on 13th February 2021, one day before Valentine’s Day. I suppose if I was a developer, it would be a great day to launch a DEX to avoid any responsibility to take my other half out to celebrate Valentine’s. 😂
As far as I can tell from going back all the way on the messages in Telegram, it was a fair launch. No private sale or presale. ApeSwap just came online and trading/staking began.
Investors had ample time to trade for $BANANAs and stake them into the pools or farms and once the developers turned on emissions, it was a point of no return! I have to admit, seeing some of the initial numbers kind of reminds me of a full-on degen farming mode on some nefarious protocols. However, we all know that ApeSwap has evolved into a DEX that is anything but.
Needless to say, it wasn’t long before news about ApeSwap caught on and more people started to ape in. This was also a time where the huge exodus from Ethereum to Binance Smart Chain happened. On BSC, fees were negligible compared to those one had to pay on the Ethereum network.
Within a short period of time, the Total Value Locked (TVL) on ApeSwap grew. Coupled with some other matrices that the founders decided ahead of time, ApeSwap started to see the first burns of the native token — $BANANA.
The aggressive control of the supply didn’t end there. After the first Burnmap was completed, a V2 came up and the fires continued raging as ApeSwap continued to meet all these milestones, one after another.
As ApeSwap grew, some other unique features started to become prevalent and distinguishable from other Decentralised Exchanges on the Binance Smart Chain which set ApeSwap apart from the other offerings.
One of the defining traits that I really found different in the social channels of ApeSwap is the amount of core developer engagement with ApeSwap users. In the early days, one of the founders, Obie Dobo will always be around in Telegram to provide support to users with issues or simply to chat about anything under the sun. Periodically, the other founders would come in too but I think to the rest of the community, Obie was the face of ApeSwap.
I was also exploring more of ApeSwap at this time and had so many questions with the inner workings of Smart Contracts. Being very interested in the creation of Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs), the founders were very willing to share more information when I sent messages to them privately. There was no condescending attitude to myself and I did feel some of the questions I asked probably might have been stupid and not well thought out but they were still very helpful on answering my queries.
With the passion of the developers, their humility and treatment of ApeSwap users, it is no wonder many stayed and friendships began to foster amongst the community.
Till this day, though Obie and the founders have moved on to slightly more backend roles and ApeSwap has more than 70 staff and volunteers providing help and support to all official chat channels, they still drop by often to share a meme or two or generally greet those who are online and help us community moderators answer some of the more challenging questions that pop up every now and then
The (Meme) Culture
With a bevy of like-minded Defi apes congregating into ApeSwap, the beginnings of a special jungle culture began to emerge, which is still present today. It is also what non-ApeSwap users identify with when asked about ApeSwap.
The legendary ApeSwap meme culture was the main narrative when crypto news outlets wrote about it. At that time, “Metaverses” didn’t exist but ApeSwap’s Telegram “jungle” already had the makings of one. The rules were simple, everyone is free to express themselves however small restrictions apply to ensure that apes do not go overboard. This openness and easy moderation of the channels led to an explosion of memes and creative community creations. I still remember some moments where the community just chatted with each other using gifs, videos and pictures. No words. Those periods were hilarious and sometimes I would catch myself laughing in public as I watched those GIFS fly by in chat.
The same meme-inspired culture still exists today. Just take a look at the Telegram and Discord channels and you will find people still sharing crypto memes from 2017, popular culture GIFs as well as their own creations. It spices up the channels a lot and also one of the reasons that I have and still continue to love the folks that I interact with on an almost daily basis.
One of the strengths of ApeSwap as well as the main focus of the DEX for 2021 was to nurture and grow an ecosystem of quality partner projects. This led to an increase in the number of Business Development apes who sought out great projects to negotiate and ultimately list on ApeSwap itself.
The types of projects partnered with ApeSwap are varied, however it is good to also know that there was kind of a pivot (or maybe a coincidence) to Metaverse/NFT based projects in the later half of 2021.
Sometime in March 2021, ApeSwap launched the premier collection of NFTs called Non-Fungible Apes (NFA). At a time where utility NFTs, much more just NFTs, weren’t even popular, the NFAs provided owners with airdrops from token launches and the occasional giveaways. They were also a commitment from users to the protocol in the early days. Owning one and switching our profile pictures to an NFA we own was a huge flex on it’s own.
As time went by, the benefits of NFAs expanded to $BANANA staking pools and even an auction house on the website was built to allow owners to participate in auctions to buy or sell NFAs. Due to the scarcity of only 1000 pieces, they are still heavily desired today, mainly for the amount of airdrops from IAOs. I have known several collectors who have bought their NFAs since launch and they have already essentially paid for themselves over time.
The Golden Banana token ($GNANA) was introduced in April 2021, just before BitFresh.win IAO. It was also a first time a BSC DEX introduced a governance token with additional features such reflections and exclusive staking pools. Till date, ApeSwap still remains the only notable DEX with such a feature.
The $GNANA token wasn’t warmly received at first but I dived straight in (remember my degen mode?) on the first day after reviewing it’s tokenomics. One of my first few articles were also dedicated to $GNANA itself, having felt the need to explain how it works to the masses to ensure that everyone has a fair playing field as well as to counter some misconceptions of the token itself.
I wish I would say that I contributed to the success of the $GNANA token with just one article but it was a different event that blew it’s utilisation out of the water! Sometime in August 2021, one of the $GNANA pools that rewarded in the CryptoBlades $SKILL token, started to see a parabolic rise in APR due to the $SKILL price increase. As the APRs grew exponentially, I noticed huge uptakes in $GNANA staked in the same pool. Normally, the more $GNANA that entered, the end result will be a lowered APR but the defying price action of CryptoBlades kept APRs climbing nonetheless. That few weeks were glorious for those who had staked way earlier but was also very rewarding for those who came in later.
In similar fashion, the triumvirate $GNANA pools of $CEEK, $STARS and $NFTY caught my attention, but only after their prices soared. This happened soon after Facebook’s rename to Meta and where the Metaverse narrative began in earnest instead of being whispered quietly in the dark alleys of the crypto world. At this time, I coined the #ApeSwapProvides hashtag, reminding myself and others that it’s not about the price of the token you are farming today but the possibility of the moonshot at a future date.
Summer 2021, it was very hot. So hot that ApeSwap had events running throughout the season and called it, you guessed it, #HotDeFiSummer.
The season saw a whole slew of activities and protocol enhancements. There are so many to list in detail but we had trading competitions, new partnerships announced “almost” every 2 days, AMAs, meme competitions and so much more. It was a season that kept me on my toes everyday, checking for news, participating where I was most interested in and just basically having a whole lot of fun, which I think was the actual objective after all.
The team knew how to keep the community engaged for sure and I look forward to the next rendition of this year’s crypto summer at ApeSwap!
In June 2021, ApeSwap made it’s first foray and expansion into the Polygon/MATIC network, bringing together some close partners from BSC to continue the momentum.
One of the highlights of the move was the plan to keep $BANANA emissions native to BSC while bridging what was needed over instead. In other words, the ApeSwap team had to decide to dilute value by introducing a new token on the new chain or find ways to retain investors’ holdings. I am glad they chose the latter, and the harder, way out.
Although the amount of action on Polygon is still a small fraction of what is happening on BSC today, ApeSwap still manages to be one of the top DEXes on Polygon, alongside behemoths like 1Inch and SushiSwap. Honestly, I would prefer further growth there but personally I feel that Polygon is becoming more of a crypto-gaming hub instead of a chain offering cutting edge financial services.
July 2021, Binance held the second edition of it’s Most Valuable Builder (MVB II) awards. To everyone’s excitement, we followed ApeSwap as a candidate during the early stages into the final 10, where it edged out extremely strong candidates to win as part of the last 10 projects awarded. Winning alongside CryptoBlades, which was also an ApeSwap partner as well as the project using the $SKILL token mentioned above was especially heartwarming for everyone engaged in the jungle.
The MVB II awards certainly gave the ApeSwap team as well as the community the endorsement that persistent hard work and passion will ultimately be recognised. Regardless of MVB, the ApeSwap team still trudges on as before, building new features and securing partnerships just like any other day in the life of the jungle.
Speaking on partnerships, one of the major wins in 2021 for ApeSwap in terms of partnerships is the extraordinary relationship with Animoca and it’s associated brands. Wish I had still some of that PC/Console gaming left in me but these days I am relegated to mobile gaming and have found that games that are part of the Animoca family are quite impressive to say the least.
Some of the projects under the Animoca umbrella choose to list on ApeSwap and some have chosen to launch as an Initial Ape Offering (IAO). All in all, there has been a constant flow of Animoca backed projects choosing to list and/or launch on ApeSwap. Will these be #ApeSwapProvides candidates in future? Only time will tell.
There are so much more highlights to mention such as charity drives to help disadvantaged apes, the now defunct BUIDL program where ApeSwap assisted in helping other projects go-live on the blockchain, leveraged trading on ApeMex and the recent release of the Non-Fungible Bananas to name a few. However, to keep this article easy to read in a reasonable amount of time, I have decided to exclude elaborating on some of these events.
It’s also hard to do justice to just list down all the achievements on ApeSwap without mentioning the force of nature behind most of all of it. Though ApeSwap started with only the 5 founders — Apeguru, Apetastic, Harambe Nakamoto, DKDonkeyKong & Obie Dobo, DEX operations and business development is no less than that of a similarly sized financial service provider of the same size in the real world.
The current amount of core team, staff and community volunteers already exceed 60 at the time of this writing. Most of it is focused on user support, chat moderation, marketing and business development. Imagine having 24/7/365 coverage in all the main and regional channels, discord and the side channels such as the NFA & price chats and you will realise how much effort has been put in to keep ApeSwap running day after day.
The next time you drop by in any of the official chats and see an ape with an admin/core tag, please give him/her a pat on the back. That’s all we need to keep going. Oh, sometimes we maybe doing some checks while addressing queries, so be patient too ok?
For this article, I reached out to the founders to see if I could pry some of the future secrets that they are holding for ApeSwap in 2022 as well as some of their thoughts on the year past. I purposely created the questions in a way where innocent questions would be asked first and once their guard was down, latter questions might make them might drop a leak or two. Did I succeed?
Listing down the questions and the responses below. Can you guess who is answering?
Q1.) How did the 5 founders come about and decided to create ApeSwap?
Founder 1.) Our origination story actually is rooted in a bit of BSC DeFi history. The 5 of us were part of a degen group for apeing into various protocols. After countless rugs, terrible farms, and other issues we figured we could do it better ourselves! We launched it as an experiment one weekend & it turned out to be an incredible success. We quit our jobs nearly immediately and have been true Apes ever since!
Founder 2.) Honestly it was a series of degen events haha. A lot of us ended up in a degen discord, experienced a few exploits and rugs together and realized we had a large surface area covered with our combined skillsets. We joked at first at doing it better, but then everyone was actually pretty serious and thus ApeSwap was born.
Founder 3.) We met in a degen chat and got tired of new projects at the time rugging users on BSC. We saw the value in building a long term project and decided.
Q2.) When did the founders discover ApeSwap grew too big and too fast and had to start hiring staff to keep things running smoothly?
Founder 1.) We started building a community from the very start of ApeSwap. As we started to grow, the first thing we did was find supportive community members to help with social channels to help moderate things and allow us to focus on development of the platform. As we expanded further we evaluated areas of the team which would be beneficial to grow. Marketing, business development, analytics, infrastructure, front-end/back-end development, solidity development are examples of where we have needed to expand our team since the start. My favorite part about bringing on members to the ApeSwap team is that we sourced a large majority directly from motivated community members.
Founder 2.) There were two instances when this happened. The first instance was our initial launch. As mentioned, we pushed the protocol in an experimental fashion, so we were a bit underprepared for what came immediately next. It took about a month to get our bearings, but scaled up the organization to an appropriate size shortly after. The second was more recently, at the beginning of Q4. We realized our community, marketing, and biz dev teams were operating much more quickly and efficiently than our product could evolve. So we scaled up our development side with 3 immediate new hires!
Founder 3.) In my opinion it was almost immediate. Our BANANA frenzy launch blew up and we quickly realized this platform was going to experience some exponential growth we would need help to foster and support. For biz dev specifically, Apegineer and Julian both were essentially day zero contributors :)
Founder 4.) We knew we needed to get more help on the ApeSwap team when the community started to grow faster everyday. To be able to scale with the protocol and our ideas we knew we needed to grow our team to be able to complete our goals!
Q3.) Was there any vision for 2021 for ApeSwap and would you say it was achieved or was there anything that was missed?
Founder 1.) Continued growth and reaching some levels of sustainability were two big things top of mind for me during 2021. Also continuing to decentralize our organization. Personally I dont think we will “achieve” those for a while as there is always more work we can do to grow, sustain and decentralize!
Founder 2.) The most important vision for me was to provide secure DeFi products to our users. I’m happy to say that we made it through 2021 in a safe and secure way. We have also made great relationships with auditing/bug bounty partners to make providing secure services even easier.
Founder 3.) We actually didn’t have a fixed vision for 2021, and I’m quite happy with how things have shaken out. Very much looking forward to 2022 🚀
Q4.) Greatest challenge for ApeSwap 2021.
Founder 1.) I would say the greatest challenge for ApeSwap in 2021 was to stay on course with our original goals in mind. We saw a lot of trends in the defi space throughout 2021 that blew up every other month. It could have been tempting for us to try to pivot ApeSwap to one of these popular trends instead of staying on course for our longterm idea of ApeSwap.
Founder 2.) Our greatest challenge is retaining users I would say. In the world of farming & free yield, people tend to have no loyalty to the native protocol token and will extract value out of the system at their discretion. Building an accommodating environment to keep people faithful and interested has certainly presented challenges in 2021.
Founder 3.) Bootstrapping our platform and laying a sound foundation as a project that didnt come from venture capitalists, Binance or anywhere else. ApeSwap was built from the ground up vastly by the apes that are a part of the community. Which is one of my favorite things about ApeSwap. It’s so much more than any one ape.
Founder 4.) Keeping up with the latest DeFi trends while improving the ApeSwap experience. There are so many great products being created in the DeFi space and we are constantly evaluating all of them to ensure they fit with our offering. We want to take the right steps to make our ecosystem sustainable.
Q5.) What is the vision for ApeSwap for 2022 and foreseeable challenges?
Founder 1.) BANANA being a yield farm incentive definitely faces challenges regarding inflation. Now that we have established ourselves in 2021 in the BSC space, our main priority for 2022 is adding products which allow the project to grow protocol owned liquidity (DeFi 2.0) and analyzing the best possible uses for BANANA to ensure project sustainability.
Founder 2.) ApeSwap really values our community and one of our biggest goals for 2022 is to get the community more involved on the development of ApeSwap. We are setting up contribution guidelines, plans, and rewards to really get ApeSwap fully community driven.
Founder 3.) We want to provide financial opportunities for the crypto masses through transparency, security, and user-care. The challenge is, we need to do this through a sustainable community-driven DAO.
Founder 4.) We will be releasing a lot more information on this in the coming weeks 😉
Q6.) Any shout out to any events that the founders feel worthy of mention? Maybe reaching a certain milestone or equivalent?
Founder 1.) Oh man, there are too many to count in my opinion. If you look at where we started and where we are now the entire journey is pretty incredible. We started with 5 trading pairs and a 0 market cap when we launched. Now we have one of the most robust DeFi ecosystems on BSC and some of the best tokenomics compared to our competitors. We are working with top projects like FRAX, Animoca, Chain Link and have the most partnerships in all of BSC. And I barely listed anything out, there’s so much more.
Founder 2.) When CZ mentioned ApeSwap along side PancakeSwap in an interview was an amazing feeling. To be seen by CZ, and even acknowledged by him, was proof that we were doing something right.
Founder 3.) Having all of our major GitHub repositories open source. This is a big step forward in our longterm vision of a fully community driven protocol!
Founder 4.) I want to see BANANA become a $500M marketcap project.
Q7.) First word that comes to mind from each founder for ApeSwap. Explanation optional but would be nice. :)
Founder 1.) Sustainable. More than anything, I want to put the proper constructs, mechanics, incentives, and organizational practices in place so ApeSwap can be truly sustainable over the long term.
Founder 2.) BURN — BANANA burning is my favorite.
Founder 3.) Family
Before I sign off this article, I’d thought I’ll share some of last thoughts on my own ApeSwap journey thus far. I’m close to being one year old with the protocol and spent most of my time as a volunteer moderator in Telegram. The amount of passionate effort put in by everyone, including the staff, the other volunteers and the community members have been humbling to say the least.
ApeSwap doesn’t have “moonboi” mentality. There is a huge amount of mature feedback received from the regular folks and I can tell there is a lot of thought put in from the team on how to move forward. Most decisions made aren’t done in a whimsical fashion to mitigate silly, spur of the moment mistakes. Just like the age old adage — Don’t take one step forward to take two steps back at a later date. That’s the kind of development plan ApeSwap adheres to.
Casting volatile price movements aside, what ApeSwap has is an openness to the community, transparency in decisions adopted, an extremely committed user base and a simple desire to continue growing in the crypto space. If you look at the process of constructing a skyscraper, foundations have to be laid, followed with the installation of the steel frames and external cladding and finally finished off with the interiors. On top of that, work will never be done as the maintenance team steps in to keep things in perfect order.
In the crypto world, things aren’t as simple as that. Building is a constant to keep things in line with the latest in features that can be offered to users. Lesser utilised features may eventually need to be torn down and replaced with better ones and support always begins at day 1 of the build, not just after the build. But one factor between building a skyscraper and building a DEX remains the same — It takes time and a whole lot of effort.
Lastly, with regards to price movements, there is only so much the team can do to affect prices. In reality, I believe every project team will always want to have their token take a one-way trip straight up on the charts but it is almost never the case. Prices fluctuate all the time and do not necessarily represent the value of the token. But looking at ApeSwap fundamentals — the growth, community support and the long term plan of the core team to always keep up with the competition and technology, it solidifies my decision to invest and hold for the long term. There aren’t many crypto projects that survive as long and even lesser that remain viable and used by many even if they do. Keep these facts in mind the next time you drop by in Telegram to say, “Hi!”
Apes being social creatures, here’s the small project I embarked with the help of many others to create a community collage to wish ApeSwap and everyone within it a very “HAPPY ONE YEAR APESWAP ANNIVERSARY!”
JPMoreGain — Aped In 2021, Never Left.