ZKsync Era Announces Major ZK Token Airdrop

Matter Labs, the primary developer behind the layer-2 network ZKsync Era, has revealed the criteria for its highly anticipated ZK token airdrop. Starting next week, 17.5% of ZK’s total 21 billion tokens will be distributed to users. ZKsync Era, like other layer-2 networks, aims to provide a faster and cheaper way to conduct transactions on Ethereum. The airdrop will be significant, with nearly 3.7 billion tokens distributed, making it the largest token distribution among major layer-2 networks. The pre-market valuation from Aevo, a crypto exchange, estimates the fully diluted value (FDV) of the airdrop at over $2.5 billion, far surpassing ZKsync Era’s current total value locked (TVL) of $815 million.

Under the distribution plan, 89% of the airdrop tokens will go to ZKsync users who meet certain activity thresholds. The remaining 11% will be allocated to ecosystem contributors, including native projects (5.8%), on-chain communities (2.8%), and builders (2.4%). The announcement follows controversy over Matter Labs’ attempt to trademark “ZK,” short for “zero-knowledge” cryptography, which led to criticism from the crypto community. Matter Labs has since withdrawn the trademark application, originally intended to protect users from similar project names and token tickers.

To ensure fairness, the airdrop will cap the amount any single address can receive at 100,000 tokens, preventing “whales” or large traders from dominating the distribution. Additionally, Matter Labs employees will receive 16.1% of the tokens, and investors will get 17.2%, both locked for a year and then gradually unlocked over three years. The remaining tokens will be allocated to ZKsync’s new “Token Assembly” (29.3%) for governance purposes and various ecosystem initiatives (19.9%).

Matter Labs emphasized the community’s importance in its distribution strategy, aiming to award more tokens to the community than to the team and investors. The governance system, set to launch soon, will allow the community to direct protocol upgrades. The airdrop comes in the wake of other contentious airdrops from projects like StarkNet and EigenLayer, which faced backlash for restrictive distribution criteria. Matter Labs CEO Alex Gluchowski highlighted the challenges in designing a fair airdrop and the need to comply with legal restrictions, which might exclude certain jurisdictions.

The disclosure of the airdrop criteria follows a dispute with competitors like Polygon and Starkware over Matter Labs’ trademark application for “ZK.” Gluchowski defended the application, noting that competitors had also trademarked terms. However, Matter Labs ultimately chose to withdraw the application to avoid any perception of manipulating the system.

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