Jupiter ($JUP) went from struggling AMM to Solana's most beloved protocol. Here is the story of how they did it.

Jupiter wasn't always Jupiter. In early 2021 the team was building Mercurial Finance, a now-defunct AMM. AMMs were an incredibly competitive space, and Mercurial was losing the war. They could not compete with Ian Macalinao and the one-two punch of Saber and Sunny tokens -- financial alchemy of the highest order. Nobody believed in them. Saber and Orca looked unstoppable. $MER was down only.

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But Mercurial was a good product! It often had the best prices despite its lack of liquidity. Their 3-Pools allowed more capital efficient swaps between stables. It just couldn't attract users.

What do you do when you have the best prices, but nobody swaps with you?

You build an aggregator.

This was a masterstroke. It's not just that Jupiter was a good product; it was also a genius strategic play.

First, Jupiter drove mindshare-agnostic volume to Mercurial. Mercurial had good prices but zero mindshare -- a perfect fit for Jupiter, which cares only about price. While Mercurial was sunsetted, it lives on in Meteora, which recently became the fourth-largest DEX by trading volume.

Second, Jupiter commoditised a key competitor. At the time Orca prided themselves on their strong UI/UX, but that disappeared when Jupiter provided an excellent UI with guaranteed best price. Jupiter correctly predicted that whatever user loyalty AMMs had built would vanish in the face of Jupiter's best-price algorithm. Orca's new UI has capitulated: it now gives you a link to buy from Jupiter.

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Lastly, building Jupiter leveraged the team's comparative advantage of being very strong builders. It's not that hard to spin up a DEX, but it is significantly harder to build a good aggregator.

This wasn't easy. It required courage for Jupiter to commoditise their own business. It required insight and conviction to execute with a long time horizon, taking no fees for two years. But the results speak for themselves.

It's hard to overstate the UX difference before and after Jupiter -- it was a 100x. Over the next two years Jupiter integrated hundreds of new AMMs, including my own Sanctum, and continued to get better, faster and cheaper.

And the rest, as they say, is history.