The $500 million bet on ETH 2.0 making waves! June 24-July 1

Whales can be bashful and clever creatures, but when you manage to catch one in action it’s a sight to behold — consider, for instance, the single entity responsible for depositing 100k ETH into the Eth 2.0 deposit contract from 133 different addresses last week.

Deposits into the ETH 2.0 staking contract have been picking up as of late, with 100k ETH pouring into the Eth 2 deposit contract on a single day last week. It caught the attention of the crypto space and, like most stories about on-chain activity, looking at the actual transactions and associated accounts can shed light on what went down. In this case, it seems the 100k ETH influx can be traced back to a single Ethereum address and a wallet that is responsible for funnelling upwards of 258k ETH ($541.8 million at 2100 per ETH) into the deposit contract.

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Searching for the mega whale who is mega bullish ETH and Eth 2.0

Given the relatively steady increase the deposit contract has seen since launching in December, it is likely a single entity was behind last week’s unexpected surge. But can we prove it? Can it be reasonably shown that a single entity was behind the 100k ETH worth of deposits?

Unfortunately, actually finding the transactions and addresses on-chain was not a quick “first page of Etherscan” find.

In hopes of getting a quick win, the first place we checked was the largest total deposits made by a single address to the deposit contact. While this strategy did find one address that had recently deposited some 12,800 ETH across 400 transactions to the deposit contract, unfortunately, it was not the address of interest, as the date of the transactions (June 20, 2021) is a couple days too early and the amount is only ~13% of the total 100k ETH, even though “only ~13%” in this case is still over $26.8 million (at $2100 per ETH). It is clear that if the 100k ETH had come from a single entity, they were more discreet than a straight 100k YOLO deposit from one address.

A deeper analysis was required, so we downloaded the transactions to the deposit contract from Etherscan for June 22, 2021 and uploaded them into Excel. The data was clear.

From the data pulled for June 22, 2021, there were 1163 addresses that deposited a total of 32 ETH into the deposit contract, 133 addresses that deposited 800 ETH into the deposit contract, and 11 other addresses that deposited other various multiples of 32 ETH.

For those unfamiliar, ETH 2.0 is the protocol change Ethereum has been planning since launch that will transition Ethereum from a proof of work to a proof of stake network. Proof of stake validators will secure the network and receive ETH for doing so. One validator starts off as 32 ETH and is currently acquired by sending 32 ETH to a deposit contract on Ethereum mainnet, the current proof of work chain.

Depositing is a one way bridge since the full amount of ETH including any interest earned is not accessible until the network merge, which is currently unlikely to happen until late 2022.

With the same total deposit amount of 800 ETH on the same day from 133 addresses, our confidence grew that the 100k ETH had in fact come from a single address. To confirm this, there had to be some similarity between the addresses. Sure enough, a quick look revealed that each address was funded by a common address.

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Eureka! A whale sighting.

The picture of our whale was starting to become more clear. Let’s take a high level look at how they executed their operation:

  • In each of the new addresses, 800 ETH was deposited into the deposit contract – 25 deposits of 32 ETH. The remaining 10 ETH was sent to cover gas costs and once the deposits had finished the leftover ~9.86 ETH in each address was sent to a common address. These funds were eventually sent to the deposit contract.
  • They laid the foundation for their plan with a casual 100k ETH transaction ($210 million at $2100 per ETH) on June 16th. In a juxtaposition for such a large amount, the transaction was in no rush to go through, taking 1 minute and 41 seconds to confirm. The ‘somewhere between standard and fast’ gas price channels some serious, “Well, I don’t want to over pay for this transaction” vibes that, while understandable for most plankton using Ethereum, is more surprising coming from such a behemoth of a whale.
  • Using the 100k ETH in the new wallet they funded 133 fresh wallets over an 8-minute span, each with 810 ETH for a total of 107,730 ETH.