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A History of Mad Lads

How Coral created Solana's number one NFT collection

This blog post was written by a human, thoughtcrimeboss, in it's entirety. Support human writers by subscribing! Not financial advice, I have no idea what I'm doing.

Mad Lads is a blue chip PFP (profile picture) NFT(Non Fungible Token) collection on Solana, with 10,000 unique NFTs featuring well drawn anime style humanoids with a wide variety of different outfits and accessories. Some are normal humans and some have either celestial, undead, or robotic qualities. You might be thinking, "Another 10,000 NFT PFP collection eh? There's only like, 3,690,420 of those already, whoop-de-effin-do". If so, I'd encourage you to look closer, because Mad Lads, right from the launch, has stood out as something special in a crowded field. The art is very high quality, and every single Mad Lad actually looks unique from each other in contrast to many other collections that kind of just blend together into a morass of mediocrity. This is one of the reasons Mad Lads feel so collectable in contrast to a bunch of NFTs that look almost exactly the same except for minor details. The Mad Lads team also has an intense focus on community building, combining excellent communication with a unique xNFT standard that make each Mad Lad more than just a regular NFT, it was more like an NFT app. You see there was a catch to minting a Mad Lad, you had to use Coral's Backpack wallet for the mint. The Mad Lads and Backpack were both created by a Solana development company called Coral, led by Armani Ferrante and Tristan Yver. By requiring people to use Backpack to mint a Mad Lad, they were able to showcase the unique tech behind Backpack and xNFTs. These executable NFTs are NFTs that contain executable code, making them containers for Web 3 applications. So now you can actually do something with your NFT instead of just stare at it longingly, such as access exclusive content for holders. You can do this within the Backpack wallet itself, without having to connect your wallet to a web site or another application. This eliminates some major attack vectors, such as you accidentally connecting to a malicious website while trying to do something with your NFT, and instead getting your whole wallet drained.

Some Mad Lads on Magic Eden

The intial mint of an NFT project is very important in determining the trajectory of the collection, if you set your mint price too high you might not even mint out all of the NFTs which looks horrible. If you set it too low, the NFTs feel cheap and may be valued by the secondary market as such. If you don't make sure your mint website is ready for a large volume of traffic, it will probably crash, and that's a good way to piss off your community. Bots are another problem that must be dealt with or you probably won't even have much of a community.

The Mad Lads mint was priced at 6.9 SOL (obviously the best possible pricing for an NFT) and initially scheduled for 4/20/23 (tied with 6/9 as the best day to do a mint on), but was delayed for a day when Bots overwhelmed the initial drop. Ferrante said that some unknown person on Telegram was messaging him before the mint, threatening to mess up the drop with a DDOS (distributed denial of service) attack if he didn't pay up. Coral didn't have the money at the time to pay, even if they had wanted to, so the public mint was attacked. Everything that could of gone wrong, did go wrong, as the mint was literally overwhelmed with billions of requests. The RPCs weren't working, Cloudflare's UI wasn't working, even the Twitter space and Coingecko's pricing API wasn't working. The one thing that did work was the Solana network, it stayed online even though bot attacks on other NFT mints had brought down the entire network in the past. The team tried delaying the mint briefly several times, adjusting the code with different anti bot techniques. The attackers would then just adapt their attacks to the changes, and since nothing was working, they were forced to delay the mint again for 24 hours. They had to come up with a better solution and fast, or the attackers would win. The Backpack devs went into crunch mode and quickly pushed updates to the minting app that made two different minting portals. This was done in an attempt to separate bots from humans. Legitimate users were sent to the real minting page, while bad actors were sent to a fake minting page that functioned as a honeypot. A honey pot is just something online that is designed to lure people in for various reasons, it's a trap. This particular honeypot lured bad actors in and tricked them into spending their SOL on a fake mint. The regular users were able to mint their Mad Lads without being forced to compete with bots, and the honeypot ended up accumulating $250,000 worth of SOL. All of the honey pot SOL was returned after the mint was over. If the team hadn't of diverted all that SOL, the bad actors most likely would of just immediately dumped their Mad Lads for a quick flip, taking whatever profit they could get at the expense of the plebs. This would of crashed the price and hurt the people who actually believed in the project. I have a feeling nobody at Coral got much sleep during the mint, but they managed to defeat the bots and pull off a slightly delayed but still successful mint. It's hard to overstate the absolute badassery of this. I have personally missed out on life changing gainz because of bots stealing my chance at a mint before, and it is not a good feeling.

Instead of getting a Mad Lad, minters were initially given a tile object that resembled a rug. For those of you who are new, a "rug" in crypto is a project that pulls the rug out from under you by stealing your money in what is called a "rug pull". Luckily, this was just a joke and Mad Lad minters hadn't actually been rugged. The team had taken the grail of the Mad Lads collection, which they called the Mad King, and turned it into a mosaic with 10,000 rug pieces. In order to free your Mad Lad from the rug, you clicked on your xNFT, which launched this real time multiplayer game where everyone had to click on the Mad King until his HP bar was depleted. Once the Mad King was defeated, there was an explosion of confetti. You could then zoom in and find your individual piece of the mosaic to transform your xNFT into the actual Mad Lad. One lucky player got to mint the actual Mad King himself!

So what Mad Lads was able to do here was assemble all the ingredients needed for a successful blue chip PFP NFT project. You got a strong community, great art and style, brilliant developers, a good launch, and unique interactive elements. The drama of the launch itself definitely helped bring attention to the project. People were proud of their Mad Lads, which ensured a strong floor price because when you are proud of owning something, you are less likely to want to sell it. A NFT's floor price is the lowest price you can buy one of the collection for, many are worth much more than the floor price because of rare attributes. This ownership pride gave the project a base of hodlers who weren't going to sell for a measly 2 or 3x because they valued the NFT more than then the gainz. This has the effect of decreasing the available supply significantly, leading to a massive price increase. Mad Lads minted for only 6.9 SOL in April 2023, which was around $150 at the time, and then immediately broke $2,000 within the first seven days. Mad Lads would grow from there to become the most valuable NFT collection on Solana. As of this writing, Mad Lads has a floor price of approximately 120 SOL which is around $21,800. So if you minted one and held it for less than a year, you are sitting on a minimum of a 145x return on your money. You could of outperformed the stock market, bitcoin, and many other investments if you had invested in Mad Lads. Owning a Mad Lad has brought other benefits as well, they developed a staking system to reward loyalty with each Mad Lad having it's own soul bound inventory system storing items such as the coins you earn for staking. Owning a Mad Lad qualified you for the recent Wormhole airdrop as well, and I would not be surprised if more airdrops in the future include Mad Lad hodlers.

After the initial post mint spike in price, Mad Lads continued to remain valuable, never trading below their mint price again. They experienced a massive run up in price in the last quarter of 2023 corresponding to Solana's resurgence from it's bear market doldrums. In December the floor price hit an all time high in SOL of 229.425 SOL according to Coingecko which was around $17,000 at the time. Although the price in SOL terms has decreased significantly since then, SOL has gone up so much since December that the Mad Lads floor price is still higher in dollars. The median price is significantly higher than the floor right now, sitting at 200 SOL or $36,172. While the price has been highly volatile since the launch last year, Mad Lads has remained a high value asset throughout it's lifespan. The NFTs themselves are widely distributed in terms of owners, with there being 5,905 different owners. Only 2% of the Mad Lads are actually listed for sale, showing that most owners are not interested in selling right now. Considering the price performance so far in addition to the other benefits to hodling, I don't blame Mad Lad owners for not being willing to part with their NFTs. For comparison, another blue chip Solana NFT project, Solana Monkey Business, has 7% of their total supply listed for sale, more than three times what Mad Lads has listed. In the chart below you will see the price, represented by the blue line, is in a strong uptrend after breaking out in Q3 2023, a trend that corresponds with a downtrend in the number of Mad Lads listed for sale, represented by the red line. This actually looks like a good possible dip buying opportunity to me, as although price has retreated somewhat, the uptrend remains intact.

A chart of Mad Lads priced in USDC, the line on the bottom is the total listings

Who is the pair behind Mad Lads, Armani Ferrante and Tristan Yver? Yver was born in Hawaii but moved to his parent's home country of Chile when he was 12. He returned to Hawaii at age 18 and hustled up enough cash doing various jobs to attend college, but his plans were derailed when he caught leptospirosis, a serious blood infection that put him into a coma for 12 days. He survived but was unable to walk for 8 months. In a way, this immobility ended up being a good thing for Yver, because he stayed with his godparents during his recovery. It was his Godmother who introduced him to cryptocurrency in 2017, setting him down a path to success. He would go on to graduate and get a job, and every night after work he would dive into the crypto rabbit hole for hours. He made some money on shitcoins, and then lost it just like most people in their first cycle. He took a job at FTX and moved to Hong Kong in March 2021, where he would work until the Spring of 2022 when he left to start his own company with Ferrante, whom he had just met in February. Overcoming adversity in life is a great predictor of success, and I think fighting and winning against a challenging illness gave Yver the drive he needed to succeed later on, and overcome new challenges like the ones he faced at Coral.

Tristan Yver (From jimthereaper youtube channel)

Ferrante studied computer science at UC Berkeley, where he discovered crypto which grabbed his attention immediately. After school, he ended up as an engineer at Apple where he worked on some popular iOS apps like Calendar and Reminders. Some of his co workers showed him Ethereum, which captivated him enough to quit his job at Apple (You have to be very passionate about something to quit a job at Apple!), and join Alameda Research, yes THAT Alameda Research. Luckily he left there after only 6 months in 2018 and began to focus on Ethereum development, while also working at Counterfactual and Oasis Labs. He eventually discovered Solana and started coding for them in 2020. After the pair met and started Coral, they initially raised 20 million dollars only to lose 14.5 million of it on FTX during the collapse, which happened just 6 weeks after their raise! Instead of giving up they were able to bounce back and created Solana's number 1 NFT collection.

Armani Ferrante announcing the Backpack wallet at Solana SMS Saga Event (Photo from Mad Lads Youtube Channel)

I am not a big NFT person, I have dabbled here and there, but I spend more of my time in other areas of crypto. I have still seen quite a few NFT collections over the past few years. The first NFT I actually minted was a 3 SOL ($600 at the time) gaming NFT that went to zero as the game failed to ever launch. That was a whole lot of money for me but I was continuously seeing people mint NFTs and making hefty profits off of them, and I wanted a piece of that pie. This bad experience pretty much scared me away from ever spending more than 20 bucks on a mint again, and I have never found a NFT project appealing enough to invest in. They all seemed really repetitive, derivative, or just plain stupid to me. Mad Lads stood out to me right away as something different, something I would actually not be embarrassed to display as my PFP. I will probably never be able to actually afford one, but maybe one day there will be a project of a similar high caliber that I can afford, or I will be so rich I can finally buy my own Mad Lad. I think it's obvious that Mad Lads will continue to be valuable for a long time and that the history of the project has only just begun....

Is it wrong for me to hope Mad Lads flash crashes so I can afford this guy? He's my favorite.

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