Following the recent news that the Solana-based NFT wallet app Backpack will launch a cryptocurrency exchange based in Dubai, the company has added former FTX general counsel Can Sun to lead the exchange. And now Backpack’s associated NFT project, Solana’s Mad Lads, has soared to an all-time high price.
Sun will lead Trek Labs, according to The Wall Street Journal, the Dubai-based startup tied to Backpack and its maker Coral. The news comes just weeks after Sun testified against ex-boss Sam Bankman-Fried in the U.S. government’s fraud trial against the FTX co-founder and former CEO. Sun cooperated with prosecutors and signed a non-prosecution agreement.
According to the report, Trek Labs aims to sell a 10% stake of the company to investors at a valuation above $100 million.
Coral co-founder and CEO Armani Ferrante is listed as a minority shareholder in Trek Labs, per the report, while his wife Claire Zhang also holds a stake. Zhang was previously Sun’s deputy at FTX, while Ferrante himself worked at both Alameda and FTX before founding Coral.
Trek Labs announced in October that it obtained a Virtual Asset Service Provider license from the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) to launch a regulated exchange in the country. Sun disclosed his history with FTX during the regulatory application process, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Amid rising prices and demand for NFTs in recent weeks, Coral’s Mad Lads profile picture (PFP) project on Solana has surged to an all-time high price as measured in U.S. dollars.
Mad Lads NFTs currently start at a price of 82.37 SOL on secondary marketplaces, which equates to $4,480 based on the current price of Solana. That’s about twice as much as the previous all-time USD high for Mad Lads before November, as Solana has surged in recent weeks—it’s up 148% over the past 30 days alone, to a current price above $54.
Trek Labs opened up beta signups for the Backpack exchange on Sunday, and it’s exclusively for Mad Lads NFT holders in the first wave. That early access benefit may also be spurring purchases of the Solana NFTs.