Momentum is building behind blockchain technology, and it is not limited to Bitcoin. This week we step back and survey the horizon
- The Blockchain Moment
- Apple’s Home Run
- The Next Big Thing — Stripe
- Join the Club [House]
- Big Ideas
- Startup of the Week
- Tweet of the Week
Everybody has heard about the blockchain by now. Although nobody really understands its significance or role in human history. Let’s try and put it into context.
Humanity, since forever, has evolved into larger, more integrated civilizations. From the cavemen to early settlements, to villages, then towns, then regions, and now nations with a world economy, we humans build larger and larger scale interdependencies.
The social and technical infrastructure underlying evolved civilization has also grown in scale. Travel was the first manifestation of infrastructure enabling interdependence. And now, we can fly halfway around the world relatively easily and somewhat affordably.
Since 1994 the communications and publishing infrastructure of the world has become fully global. It fails only when nation-states seek to block it. TCP/IP enabled it.
And since the invention of the blockchain and bitcoin a few years ago, the infrastructure for storing, measuring, and transacting has evolved to be government-free and global. Money no longer means only dollars or pounds. It can take many digital forms.
Suddenly our real interdependence has a foundation that is fully global and unlimited by borders. It also removes intermediaries from taking an unreasonable toll when we seek to transact.
Blockchain replaces the bank, the accountant, the debt-lender, the custodian of our wealth, and many other things. Each person can become their own bank, custodian, and trusted party.
It seems certain that some combination of blockchain technology and crypto or digital value is the foundation for the next step in our civilization.
At these moments, those with a stake in the old ways always resist change. So don’t expect a smooth transition from limited national frameworks into truly global ones. But like TCP/IP, blockchain and digital value are uncontainable and have now reached the moment of irreversible take-off. This new foundation for civilization grows in stealth through use and adoption. NFTs and personal tokens like those at Bitclout and rally.io are just the beginning.
Another old institution faced a threat this week — the English Premier League’s leading role in world football. The upstart European Super League attempted a palace coup and failed. But underneath the attempt was the same impulse driving blockchain. Sport is sold to TV cheaply ($2 billion a season for 722 games), and TV then sells ads to make a profit. That cheap sale is distributed to teams, while 90% of the value is captured in the ad revenues. Streaming gives clubs a way to deliver the game directly to fans and capture 100% of its value. But so corrupt are UEFA, FIFA, and the Leagues that they want to keep the existing system. The future was trying to be born. It was not the right future. But the urge to remove the past and move on is real and valid. I predict the change will come through streaming, sooner rather than later, with a very different economic structure. And the teams and fans and the sport, in general, will benefit. The 12 teams are only temporarily the bad guys. The current TV contracts, and the non-streamed broadcast model, should be the real enemy.
In that spirit, I have included a bottom section this week where you can donate bitcoin to That Was The Week, or buy the original and unique front cover from last week’s edition. Click here to jump there.
This Week’s New Style Video
The Blockchain Moment
In a white paper released today, financial services company Square outlines the opportunity that Bitcoin presents to facilitate a transition to a cleaner and more resilient electricity grid.
The research report, titled “Bitcoin Is Key To An Abundant, Clean Energy Future,” was released as part of Square’s Bitcoin Clean Energy Initiative, an ongoing effort to support companies working to integrate green energy technologies within bitcoin mining. Square also supports Bitcoin projects financially through its Square Crypto arm and offers BTC for sale through its payments app Cash App.
The research paper highlighted the opportunity that Bitcoin presents to accelerate a global transition to renewable energy sources, as Bitcoin miners are uniquely positioned to capitalize and make the most of these sources.
“Bitcoin miners are unique energy buyers in that they offer highly flexible and easily interruptible load, provide payout in a globally liquid cryptocurrency, and are completely location agnostic, requiring only an internet connection,” per the report.
The CEO and cofounder of cryptocurrency wallet and exchange service provider Blockchain.com, Peter Smith, has announced that investment management company Baillie Gifford contributed $100 million to its $300 million funding round held in March.
Per the announcement, the 110-year-old asset management firm became the largest single investor in the history of Blockchain.com. Additionally, Blockchain.com is one of the first cryptocurrency companies that Baillie Gifford has invested in.
According to Smith, the investment is “a validation that a balanced and diversified retail/institutional business has incredible growth potential in the coming years.” He added that “we’re honored to include [Baillie Gifford] on our journey to bring the next 1B people into crypto.”
RIT Capital Partners, a British investment trust managed by J. Rothschild Capital Management Limited, has acquired a stake in the cryptocurrency exchange Kraken.
Investors in the trust were told about the stake during a webinar hosted by Numis Securities in late March, according to a note published by the London-based broker and corporate adviser on April 12.
Ewan Lovett-Turner, a director at Numis, told The Block the note referred to “a secondary market purchase at what [RIT Capital] thought was attractive value.”
The post £3.8 billion investment trust acquires stake in crypto exchange Kraken appeared first on The Block.
NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, are becoming mainstream, and that means more people are looking for ways to build upon the interest in these digital assets.
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Increasingly, marketplaces to buy and sell NFTs and companies to mint the digital assets are popping up. That includes NFT marketplaces like New York-based OpenSea, which last month raised $23 million in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz, NBA Top Shot, where users can buy NBA highlight collectibles, and Rarible, a seed-stage startup that allows users to sell or collect digital items and has raised $1.8 million in funding, per Crunchbase.
“It does feel a bit to me like the very early web, and I can say that because I was there, in the sense it takes an extra step of imagination to grasp how big the economics of it is,” said Anthony Citrano, CEO of NFT marketplace Acquicent, a pre-seed startup based in Los Angeles.
Eminem, one of the biggest rappers in the current generation is all set to join the NFT mania just weeks after his song was used in the Saturday Night Live (SNL) sketch to explain NFTs, as per a report by Billboard. The report cited the tweet of Nifty Gateway, a popular auction marketplace for NFT sales, which didn’t reveal many details about the aspect of the Eminem NFT.
Coinbase is taking a new approach to innovation, according to an announcement from its chief product officer Surojit Chatterjee. In a Medium post published today, Chatterjee said the exchange would dedicate 10% of its resources to supporting “disruptive innovation bets.”
The plan is titled “Project 10 Percent” and refers to Coinbase’s work philosophy, according to Chatterjee. “The ’10 Percent’ refers to the amount of resources we’re dedicating to supporting these big bets in line with our philosophy that 70% of our time should be focused on core work, 20% on strategic bets, and 10% on innovative experimentation.”
Coinbase is aiming for projects that create “step-function change” in users, metrics or capabilities of the platform.
The post Coinbase commits to devoting 10 percent of its resources to ‘innovation bets’ appeared first on The Block.
By Surojit Chatterjee, Chief Product Officer
Innovation is a lot like exercise. You have to approach it with discipline, or you can easily fall out of habit.
Managing innovation is easier when a company is starting out, as there are fewer products, people and processes to manage. But, as a company grows, it becomes much more difficult. Creating sustainable, repeatable innovation at scale is one of the greatest challenges for technology companies today.
Introducing Project 10 Percent: Building a culture of repeatable innovation at Coinbase was originally published in The Coinbase Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
- Dogecoin is a joke coin.
- That doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.
The Shiba Inu-adorned Dogecoin is back up near its record high of $0.40. And users of the made-up coin are attaching themselves to a made-up holiday to push their beloved DOGE over $1.00 — or, failing that, $0.69 (because you know why).
Unlike Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin was designed in 2013 as a joke. Its primary use case over the years has been to deliver LOLs, if not returns, to its ragtag community members. (However, its low value has made it somewhat popular as a tipping token, like pennies in a jar — only enough to make a difference in the aggregate.)
Apple’s Home Run
Several things stand out about Apple’s ‘Spring Loaded’ event today. But the first remains a meta point. Apple has gotten very, very good at producing these presentations. So much so that I think it’s fair to call them a “show” at this point. The Apple Show.
The first such show, created nearly a year ago for WWDC as the world was first grappling and coming to terms with the reality of COVID, was already good. I mean, it’s Apple. But I honestly thought Snap’s first attempt at such a show was better. More “native” as it were. More focused. Now, a few shows in, I think Apple has these nailed. Right down to the run time. Today’s event was almost exactly one hour. Again, it’s like a TV show.
And it’s especially impressive when you consider what Apple announced today. It was sort of all over the place. Apple Card stuff. Podcasts+. Purple iPhones. AirTags. Apple TV updates. Colorful iMacs. New iPads Pro. Aside from the continued migration to the M1 chip for the latter two, there was nothing really tying everything together today. And yet the event still flowed and felt nice and light and fun. Some of our favorite recurring characters were there, and some new faces. A solid sitcom.
The Next Big Think — Stripe
Under The Hood: A Closer Look At Stripe, The Most Highly Valued Venture-backed Private Company In The US
Payments processing startup Stripe earlier this year became the most highly valued venture-backed private company in the U.S. and the third most valuable in the world when it was valued at $95 billion in its Series H funding round.
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Its №3 placement on the Crunchbase Unicorn board is just behind Chinese financial services giant Ant Group, valued at $150 billion, and ByteDance, the world’s most highly valued unicorn with a reported valuation of $180 billion in a financing round in late 2020 led by Sequoia Capital and KKR.
Given Stripe’s status as the U.S.’ most highly valued venture-backed private company, and its pivotal role in e-commerce, we decided to take a peek under its hood and use Crunchbase data to understand the business a bit better. That includes taking a closer look at the competitive landscape Stripe faces, its status as the most active private company investor, and its prospects for a public-market debut in the near future.
Join the Club [House]
Storytelling helps people build meaningful bonds: we all have stories to share with our friends, our communities, and the world at large. Speech, sound, and language are the building blocks for how we connect with each other. That’s why good audio experiences can feel immersive and intimate at the same time. They make you feel like you’re right there in the room with your friends and family, sitting around at the dining table, even if you’re miles apart. Audio seamlessly fits within our busy lives, allows us to be inspired by new ideas, and talk with other like-minded people without pressure. You can share your personal story or join in on a global conversation in any way, anytime, anywhere — even on a bad hair day without any makeup — or in your car or on a run!
At Facebook, we’ve seen the continuing rise of audio on our platforms, from audio calls to audio messages on WhatsApp and Messenger. We’re working to make audio messages easier to record, and more fun — including the ability for people to send familiar sound clips to their friends that range from sound effects like crickets chirping to quotes from popular songs. But we know there are more social experiences to create to help people say what they want to say, discover new voices they haven’t heard before, or exchange ideas at the speed of sound.
Reddit unveiled its take on a Clubhouse-like social audio product on Monday, called Reddit Talk. The company is billing Monday’s announcement as a “sneak preview,” since the feature isn’t widely available yet. Moderators that want to try the feature out in their subreddit can add themselves to a waitlist for access.
Based on Reddit’s description and images shared by the company, Reddit Talk appears to look a lot like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces, and other social audio products. Talks will “live” within subreddits, according to Reddit.
In the words of co-founder and CEO Jonathan Shambroom, Creator+ is a new startup that will “finance, produce and distribute feature-length films from today’s top creators and emerging storytellers.” The company is coming out of stealth today and also announcing that it has raised $12 million in funding led by Petra Group and Freestyle Capital, […]
YouTube has deleted a video in which Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and a handful of medical experts questioned the effectiveness of having children wear masks to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The video, which was removed on Wednesday, was of a recent roundtable discussion DeSantis moderated on the global response to the pandemic. DeSantis was joined by Oxford epidemiologist Dr. Sunetra Gupta, Harvard professor Dr. Martin Kulldorff, and Dr. Scott Atlas and Dr. Jay Bhattacharya from Stanford University. The clip was posted by the American Institute for Economic Research, and a transcript of the discussion can be found on the group’s website by clicking here.
A YouTube rep confirmed to TheWrap on Thursday the video was removed due to multiple instances where the doctors said children didn’t need to wear masks. This position, a YouTube rep said, violated the Google-owned video site’s “COVID-19 medical misinformation” policies, which you can find here.
Apple has approved Parler’s return to the iOS app store following improvements the social media company made to better detect and moderate hate speech and incitement, according to a letter the iPhone maker sent to Congress on Monday.
WordPress announced today that they plan on treating Google’s new FLoC tracking technology as a security concern and plans to block it by default on WordPress sites.
A well-known entrepreneur turned VC, who will go unnamed because I am not sure he would want me to share this conversation publicly, once told me “if you remove a founder, you must sell the company within a couple of years or it will start to decline in value.” I don’t entirely agree with that […]
After the past several years of rapid company growth, the hundreds of thousands of workers who have been freed up to focus on mission-critical tasks rather than repetitive “digital manual labor,” and now the milestone of today’s IPO, it might seem like UiPath’s success — and the success of the robotic process automation (RPA) market it leads — was inevitable. But the truth is more interesting: Daniel Dines, Marius Tîrca and their team just never gave up.
When Daniel started UiPath, then called DeskOver, in a Bucharest apartment in 2005, the company was focused on building and outsourcing automation libraries and software development kits. For close to a decade, they struggled to grow. Then, after a customer started using the products to mimic rote labor like data entry, Daniel and the team realized the computer vision technology they’d built could potentially transform the then-nascent field of robotic process automation..
Africa-focused VC Atlantica Ventures raises $50m fund for seed-onwards tech investments — Disrupt Africa
Africa-focused venture capital (VC) firm Atlantica Ventures is raising a US$50 million fund that will invest in tech and tech-enabled businesses from seed stage onwards.
Founded in 2019 by Aniko Szigetvari and Ik Kanu, who have previously worked for the likes of IFC, Helios and Convergence and have extensive angel investing experience, Atlantica Ventures counts among its portfolio the likes of Paystack, recently acquired by Stripe, and Sendy.
Its new US$50 million pan-African VC fund, through which it has already invested in Nigerian startups Curacel and OnePipe, is financed by development financial institutions, a US fund of funds, and various high net worth individuals, and will invest in tech and tech-enabled businesses at seed stage.
Primary target markets are Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Tanzania, which between them represent 60 per cent of Africa’s GDP, while it is focused on fintech, logistics, agri-tech, digital security, IoT, and B2B marketplaces.
Startup of the Week
The past year has changed the way we work, on so many levels — a fact from which podcasters certainly weren’t immune. I can say, anecdotally, that as a long-time podcaster, I had thrown in the towel on my long-standing insistence that I do all of my interviews in-person — for what should probably be obvious reasons.
2020 saw many shows shifting to a remote format and experimenting with different remote recording tools, from broad teleconferencing software like Zoom to more bespoke solutions like Zencastr. Tel Aviv-based Riverside.fm (originally from Amsterdam) launched right on time to ride the remote podcasting wave, and today the service is announcing a $9.5 million Series A.
The round is led by Seven Seven Six and features Zeev-ventures.com, Casey Neistat, Marques Brownlee, Guy Raz, Elad Gil and Alexander Klöpping. The company says it plans to use the money to increase headcount and build out more features for the service. […]
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