Acala Wins First Polkadot Parachain Auction, With $1.3B in DOT Committed

The first coveted Polkadot parachain slot was won by decentralized finance (DeFi) platform Acala after days of jockeying for first place with Moonbeam, an Ethereum compatibility layer.

The winner was decided by the candle auction process, which randomly selected a block from the past seven days, at which point Acala was in the lead.

It was hard to keep track of how many times the two projects swapped the first place position during the process, which saw the first 10 hopeful projects collect almost $3.5 billion in crowdloaned DOT.

When contributions to the auction ended, Thursday at noon European time, Moonbeam had gathered the most from its community, over $1.36 billion. However, Acala was in the lead for 63% of the time, giving it the best chance of securing the slot, even though it only took in $1.30 billion. Acala raised its funds from 81,000 wallets.

The high drama (and high volume of traffic) further validates the candle auction process, a type of sale designed to prevent last-minute auction sniping, said Polkadot creator Gavin Wood.

“There’s real competition and this is really what we want with the auction,” Wood told CoinDesk in an interview. “It’s something that wouldn’t really have happened in a traditional auction, where they would have kept very low, all the way until the end, and then they would have put everything that they had in as late as possible.”

Wood pointed out that while there is a “glamor factor” about being the first-ever auction winner, on a technical level, it makes no difference since all the parachains are going to be activated at the same time.

This opening batch of five Polkadot parachains will be auctioned off by mid-December and then all the projects will go live simultaneously on Dec. 17. This is notably different from Polkadot’s “canary network” Kusama’s parachain auctions earlier this year. In that case, the first parachain was won by Acala’s sister project Kurara, which meant that project could go live first.

The auction revealed some interesting data insights. For instance, one participant is responsible for around 40% of all Polkadot contributions, according to Polkadot data indexing service SubQuery. Project leads say major exchanges participating in the crowdloan process appear to have grouped individual users into a central wallet, perhaps accounting for the large contributors.

UPDATE (Nov. 18, 17:38 UTC): Adds clarifying language about the number of crowdloan participants.