Decentralized finance (DeFi) exchange Uniswap’s native token uni (UNI) broke $15 per token on Coinbase Wednesday morning. It’s up more than 92% in one week and up 1,300% since the token debuted in September 2020, according to CoinGecko at press time.
Valued at $4.2 billion, Uniswap’s UNI has the highest market cap of any DeFi token on the market, according to research firm Messari.
The governance token has been caught up in bitcoin’s 2020-21 bull run along with other DeFi tokens. At $25.1 billion, DeFi Pulse’s Total Value Locked (TVL) metric – similar to assets under management (AUM) – is up nearly $10 billion from Jan. 1. TokenSets’ DeFi Pulse Index, which measures a suite of DeFi token prices, is also up 136% on the year.
A governance token, UNI holders can vote on the direction of Uniswap version 2 such as how the Uniswap treasury will be spent. The exchange’s weekly volume has also surpassed its impressive initial run during “DeFi summer.” During the first three weeks of January, volume averaged some $5.6 billion while available liquidity on the exchange consistently sat above $3 billion, according to info.uniswap.
At the time, Uniswap conducted what’s called a token “airdrop” to anyone who had ever used the exchange before. The token drop was in response to rival exchange SushiSwap forking Uniswap’s codebase and trying to draw away users with a new token, SUSHI, in what is now called “vampire mining.” Each nominal user was given 400 UNI tokens amounting to 60% of the 1 billion UNI minted. Each airdrop is now worth about $6,000; it was jokingly referred to at the time as crypto’s own stimulus check. SUSHI is also up 177% over the last 30 days, according to Messari.
Uniswap investors, advisers and team members are also up big after an initial allocation of the tokens, although a four-year vesting schedule remains in place. According to a Uniswap blog post, 21% or 212,660,000 UNI (at press time: $3.2 billion), were allocated for current and future team members. An additional 18% or 180,440,000 UNI ($2.7 billion) were set aside for investors plus 0.69% or 6,900,000 UNI ($103.5 million) for advisers.
Uniswap, whose core team is based in Brooklyn, N.Y., raised $11 million in a Series A backed by Andreeson Horowitz, Paradigm, Union Square Ventures and VersionOne.
Uniswap founder Hayden Adams declined to comment.
Disclosure: This reporter holds a small UNI allocation from the initial airdrop.