EigenLayer users can claim tokens now, but won’t be able to cash in for months

EigenLayer users can claim tokens now, but won’t be able to cash in for months
Speculators are valuing the EigenLayer token at $9 on Aevo. Credit: Andrés Tapia
  • EigenLayer users began claiming a share of the protocol’s 1.6 billion tokens Friday.
  • But the tokens won’t be transferable for several more months, making immediate their valuation difficult.

EigenLayer users who began claiming a slice of the protocol’s 1.6 billion tokens on Friday will have to wait several months before they can cash out.

“EIGEN will be unlockable after new features are live and further decentralisation is achieved,” the Eigen Foundation said in a blog post. “These features are targeted for mainnet by September 30th, 2024.”

Friday’s airdrop was among the most anticipated of the year. Since EigenLayer began its phased rollout last June, the protocol has attracted $15 billion in user deposits, making it the second-largest project in the world of decentralised finance.

EigenLayer pioneered the concept of “restaking,” in which the capital and hardware used to run Ethereum is simultaneously used to run other protocols.

While critics have faulted the project for introducing new risk to the Ethereum ecosystem, Eigen Labs has moved to address their concerns and has the potential to make it far easier to launch new protocols. Earlier this year, the company announced it had raised $100 million from venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Just over 6% of EIGEN supply was available to claim Friday. In total, 15% of the token’s supply will be claimable by EigenLayer users in a series of events that parent company Eigen Labs has called “stakedrops.”

The remainder of the token supply has been set aside for company employees, investors, and the Eigen Foundation, a new, “shareholder-less entity dedicated to accelerating the growth of the EigenLayer ecosystem.”

For months, Eigen Labs skirted questions about a potential airdrop, telling users, “there is no token.”

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Users weren’t buying it, however. Eigen Labs had all but hinted at a forthcoming token when it began distributing “points” to depositors, and crypto worth billions of dollars flowed into the protocol.

But some were incensed when the company detailed plans for the EIGEN token. Among other things, they took issue with the decision to bar users from the US, China, and other countries from claiming EIGEN they had earned.

EigenLayer responded to the criticism by awarding most users 100 additional EIGEN tokens.

EigenLayer points were recently trading at $0.20 on Whales Market. On Aevo, EIGEN-based perpetuals were trading at just under $9. If all 1.6 billion tokens circulated at that price, it would place the EIGEN market capitalisation at roughly $15 billion.

While trading the tokens outright is barred for the next couple months, users can stake, or lock up, their tokens immediately, according to the Eigen Foundation.

As with Ethereum staking, locking up EIGEN is part of a process in which users effectively loan capital to secure a blockchain-based protocol in exchange for a modest reward.

Users could stake to only one EigenLayer-based protocol on Friday: Eigen Labs-built EigenDA. People who opt to stake their EIGEN will be eligible for future stakedrops, according to the Eigen Foundation.

The second phase of the initial airdrop will begin in mid-June, and allow users who had accumulated points through protocols like Pendle to claim EIGEN.

The claim window for EigenLayer’s first airdrop will close September 7.

Aleks Gilbert is DL News’ New York-based DeFi correspondent. You can contact him at aleks@dlnews.com.