In a move that has sent shockwaves through the blockchain industry, the Near Foundation, a prominent player in the development of the Near Protocol, has announced a drastic reduction of its workforce by 40%. This decision, revealed in a recent announcement, comes as a surprise given the foundation's strong financial standing, with a treasury boasting over $285 million in fiat currencies and 305 million NEAR tokens. The move raises questions about the strategic direction of the foundation and its implications for the future of blockchain technology and decentralized applications.
Meanwhile, 2023 has marked a year of unprecedented growth in the Web3 sector, with a staggering 124% increase in the number of unique active wallets engaging with decentralized applications (DApps). This surge, as detailed in a comprehensive report by DappRadar, highlights the expanding influence and adoption of blockchain technology across various industries. Leading this remarkable growth are platforms such as Near, Klaytn, and Arbitrum, which have outpaced others in user engagement and application development, setting new benchmarks in the rapidly evolving landscape of Web3 applications.
Near Foundation's Strategic Shift: Layoffs Amid Financial Prosperity
In a move that has sent ripples through the blockchain industry, the Near Foundation, a key player in the development of the Near Protocol, has announced a significant reduction of its workforce by 40%. This decision comes at a time when the foundation is in a financially strong position, making the layoffs a topic of intense discussion and speculation within the crypto community.
A Closer Look at the Layoffs
The Near Foundation's decision to lay off a substantial portion of its staff is part of a strategic realignment. The foundation is aiming to streamline its operations, focusing on a more concentrated set of activities that promise higher impact. This move is a response to critiques about the foundation's effectiveness, particularly regarding its pace and tendency to spread its resources across too many projects.
Financial Strength Contrasts with Staff Reductions
Despite the reduction in workforce, the Near Foundation's financial health is notably robust. The foundation's treasury is well-funded, with over $285 million in fiat currencies, 305 million NEAR tokens (with a market value exceeding $1 billion), and $70 million in various investments and loans. This financial stability is a critical factor in the foundation's ability to continue supporting the Near Protocol's growth and the broader ecosystem's development.
Support Measures for Affected Employees
In the wake of the layoffs, the Near Foundation has pledged to support the affected employees. This support includes assistance in finding new opportunities within the NEAR ecosystem, as well as in the wider Web3 industry and other sectors. This gesture reflects the foundation's commitment to its workforce and the broader community.
Growth Under Previous Leadership
The announcement of the layoffs follows the resignation of former CEO Marieke Flament in September 2023. Under Flament's leadership, the Near Foundation experienced significant growth. The treasury's value increased substantially, and the Near Protocol's daily active users skyrocketed from 50,000 to 3 million. The foundation also saw a dramatic increase in its social media following and media coverage.
Strategic Focus and Industry Impact
The Near Foundation's decision to reduce its workforce, despite its strong financial standing, marks a pivotal moment in its strategy. The foundation is now poised to focus on a smaller set of high-impact activities, potentially leading to more efficient and effective operations. However, the long-term effects of this workforce reduction on the foundation's projects and its competitive position in the blockchain sector are yet to be fully understood.
Broader Implications for the Blockchain Industry
The Near Foundation's move could have broader implications for the blockchain industry. It highlights the challenges faced by organizations in balancing growth, financial health, and operational efficiency. The foundation's approach to streamlining operations while maintaining financial strength may serve as a case study for other organizations in the sector.
Web3 Applications Experience Remarkable 124% Growth in 2023, Led by Near, Klaytn, and Arbitrum
In a groundbreaking development for the blockchain industry, Web3 applications have witnessed an astonishing 124% growth in 2023. This surge, as reported by DappRadar on Jan. 11, is primarily driven by significant advancements in the Near, Klaytn, and Arbitrum networks. The increase in unique active wallets (UAW) interacting with decentralized applications (DApps) underscores a rapidly expanding interest and engagement in the Web3 space.
Unprecedented Growth in User Engagement
The number of unique active wallets engaging with Web3 apps more than doubled in 2023. On average, 4.2 million UAWs interacted with these applications daily, a substantial increase from the previous year. This growth is not just a numerical increase but signifies a deeper penetration of blockchain technology into various sectors.
Leading Sectors in Web3
The growth was not uniform across all sectors within the Web3 ecosystem. Nonfungible token (NFT) products led the charge with a 166% increase over 2022. Decentralized finance (DeFi) followed closely with a 112% increase. Social media applications also saw a significant rise, posting a 29% gain, thanks to new and emerging platforms like Friend.tech, Lens Protocol, and Galxe.
The Front-Runners: Near, Klaytn, and Arbitrum
Among the various blockchain networks, Near, Klaytn, and Arbitrum stood out with the highest growth rates. Near recorded a staggering 1,902% increase, Klaytn followed with a 1,099% increase, and Arbitrum experienced a 624% growth. Popular DApps contributing to this growth include Kai-Ching, a loyalty rewards platform, SuperWalk, a fitness app, and Uniswap v3, a decentralized exchange.
The Decline of Some Networks
While some networks flourished, others like Harmony, Solana, and Hive faced declines. Harmony's UAW fell by 96%, primarily due to a bridge exploit in June 2022 and its subsequent inability to recover. Solana, affected by its association with FTX, saw a 76% decrease but managed an impressive recovery in the latter months of 2023. Hive network experienced a 68% drop, possibly due to missing financial targets and reporting significant losses.
The Broader Impact on the Blockchain Industry
This report from DappRadar is a strong indication of the growing activity and interest in blockchain networks. For instance, the social media app Stars Arena significantly drove UAW to the Arbitrum network in October. Similarly, the Ethereum network witnessed a surge in transactions, collecting over $54.3 million in fees in a single week in November.
The year 2023 marks a pivotal moment in the evolution of Web3 applications, with a remarkable 124% growth driven by platforms like Near, Klaytn, and Arbitrum. While some networks have struggled, the overall trend indicates a robust and growing interest in blockchain technology and its applications. This growth trajectory suggests a bright future for Web3 applications, with potential for further innovation and expansion in the coming years.
4-hour chart for NEAR/USDT (Source: TradingView)
NEAR was up 0.56% at press time and was changing hands at $3.577 as a result. Despite the slight gain, a negative trendline has emerged on the altcoin’s 4-hour chart over the past 3 weeks. Technical indicators also suggested that the crypto’s price may drop heading into the weekend.
The Moving Average Convergence Divergence (MACD) and the Relative Strength Index (RSI) indicators were flagging bearish. The RSI was about to cross its Simple Moving Average (SMA), which could trigger a significant bearish technical flag. This could signal that sellers have gained the upper hand against buyers, and may drag NEAR’s price down in the short term. In addition to this, NEAR’s trend may turn bearish as the MACD line was closing in on the MACD Signal line.