Killing Innovation — Is Big Bad?

Killing Innovation — Is Big Bad?


Lina Khan’s rapid elevation from student paper writer to head of the US Government’s corporate regulation authority is a worrying signal that the Democratic Party has lost the plot on innovation and technology. Far from killing innovation, the US technology leaders are the heroes of it.

Content

Editorial

Lina Khan is 32 and her claim to fame is that she wrote a paper in 2017, while still a student, called Amazon’s Anti-Trust Paradox. According to reporting in NPR:

The paper went viral in some influential circles and led some to call her the leader of the progressive movement known as “hipster antitrust.” She argued that the unmatched dominance of tech titans like Amazon shows that U.S. antitrust laws are broken and that regulations need to be rewritten to curb abuses of power.”

She is of course wrong, and on a path that will certainly bring her into conflict with both history and common sense. Not only is Amazon, and for that matter Google, Apple and Facebook not a monopoly or even a duopoly or oligopoly. They are America’s leading examples of execution, innovation and technological leadership. Their market position has been earned and is not guaranteed to survive the next wave of innovation.

The absolute absurdity of the trends at work in the Democratic Party are brought to light this week by the story that some policy makers want to ban Apple from being able to put its own apps on its own iPhone.

This from Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. would be prohibited under antitrust reform legislation introduced last week from giving its own apps an advantage by preventing users from removing them on Apple devices, said Democratic Representative David Cicilline, who is leading a push to pass new regulations for U.S. technology companies.

Cicilline told reporters Wednesday that a proposal prohibiting tech platforms from giving an advantage to their own products over those of competitors would mean Apple must let consumers decide which apps to use or remove.

It would be equally easy to download the other five apps as the Apple one so they’re not using their market dominance to favor their own products and services,” the Rhode Island Democrat said.”

Now I suspect this proposal is sufficiently bizarre that it will never become law, but the very fact that it is proposed teaches us a lot about the times we are living in. Imagine if the state tried to stop The Beatles from singing their own songs to stop them dominating the charts. The Beatles occupied the top five slots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart simultaneously during 1964 with “Can’t Buy Me Love“ at No. 1, “Twist and Shout” at No. 2, “She Loves You” at No. 3, “I Want to Hold Your Hand” at No. 4, and “Please Please Me” at No. 5 (“I Want to Hold Your Hand” and “She Loves You” had already hit No. 1 in earlier weeks).

Anti-trust requires that a company monopolizes a market. Google and Facebook compete in the advertising market, as does Amazon. Apple competes with Android in smartphones. Amazon competes with Walmart and many others in retail and with Microsoft and Google in cloud infrastructure. The basic premise of anti-trust does not exist. Their only “crime” is being big and powerful. But consumers do not need protection from them except in the realm of privacy.

The two lead stories of the week are about China and the USA. An excellent history of China’s growth from the Visual Capitalist and a warning from the Financial Times Martin Wolf that protectionism both will not work to reverse the USA’s economic challenges, and that the lack of them is not the cause of those challenges.

Disengaging from world trade and seeking to break up the USA’s best technology companies are both symptoms of negativity and lack of confidence. These are themselves symptoms of a declining ruling class who cannot imagine a good future. Playing defence and attacking success are not a good look.

But Harry Stebbings is doing anything but be defensive. This week the young entrepreneur and publisher of the well regarded 20VC podcast announced two new venture funds. One to do seed investing and the other, larger fund, to do growth stage investing. Fortune covers the back story very well. Harry is one of the best marketers I have ever seen and he is only 24. He has yet to show the intuition and guile that a seed investor with multiple successes – like say, Elad Gil, Gary Tan, or Linden Lee- has, but he is well on the way and I wish him every success. The spirit of can do is much needed in these negative and gloomy times.

More in this week’s video


Nation States and Big Tech

China’s Economy: Visualizing 40 Years of Soaring Exports

In 2021, China’s trade recovery from the crisis has bested most other countries — in Q1 2021, its exports grew by almost 50% compared to the previous year’s quarter, to around $710 billion.

And the country is not slowing down any time soon. Further plans for economic development are well under way, like Made in China 2025, with the goal of becoming a dominant player in global high-tech manufacturing. Additionally, the famous One Belt, One Road initiative has been funding infrastructure projects globally over the past decade, and the country is also a founding member of the RCEP — which is soon to be the world’s biggest trading bloc.

However, China still faces a series of challenges, such as:

  • Population decline
  • The onset of labor-saving technology
  • Trade wars with U.S. and sanctions from other trade partners, like Europe
  • The emergence of ASEAN trade powers, like Vietnam

A declining population has many implications like a shrinking workforce and domestic market. Additionally, many companies are setting up shop in less costly manufacturing hubs like Vietnam.

Furthermore, inexpensive innovations in labor-saving technologies, such as robotics and automation, have already begun to undermine the cheap manual labor that has made China the world’s manufacturer.

All of these elements and more could potentially spell a slowing of growth in China’s export dominance. However, while the future for China may not be certain, currently, global trade and production could not function without it.

www.visualcapitalist.comShare

The US should spurn the false promise of protectionism

Protectionism is back, above all, in the US. The driving forces behind it are xenophobia and nostalgia. Arguments can be made for a degree of self-sufficiency, for reasons of national security. But those arguments need meticulous assessment. This is not what has been happening, certainly not under Donald Trump. But though the tone is different under Joe Biden, the reality is not, alas. On the contrary, protection has become one of the few issues on which there is bipartisan consensus.

The communiqué issued by the leaders of the G7 stated that, “We have agreed . . . to . . . secure our future prosperity by championing freer, fairer trade within a reformed trading system”. This papers over cracks between the US, increasingly doubtful about trade and, say, Germany, dependent upon trade for its prosperity, as is true of all the smaller high-income countries. (See charts.)

It is not surprising that a large country with a sophisticated economy and diverse resources, such as the US, tends to trade less intensively than smaller ones and so cares less about it. It gains many of the benefits of trade through internal specialisation. But, as Anne Krueger argues in her book, International Trade, trade has been the handmaid of economic growth, across the world, since the second world war.

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Lina Khan’s Pogrom

Lina Khan, Prominent Big Tech Critic, Will Lead The FTC : NPR

President Joe Biden has named Lina Khan as the chairwoman of the Federal Trade Commission, giving the regulatory authority’s top spot to one of Silicon Valley’s most prominent critics.

The surprise move elevating Khan to one of the most powerful regulatory positions in Washington was announced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., at the start of a hearing on Tuesday. It came shortly after the Senate confirmed Khan as a commissioner in a 69–28 vote.

Democrats will now have a majority on the five-member commission, which Khan likely will steer toward more aggressive examination of tech companies’ alleged abuse of monopoly power.

Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., said Khan leading the FTC is “tremendous news,” saying in a statement that “giant tech companies like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon deserve the growing scrutiny they are facing and consolidation is choking off competition across American industries.”

Despite the bipartisan vote, Khan has drawn the ire of some Republicans, including Sen. Mike Lee of Utah. He has said Khan “lacks the experience necessary” for the FTC and her views on U.S. antitrust laws are “wildly out of step with a prudent approach to the law.”

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House takes aim at Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google with five antitrust bills — Vox

These days, it’s hard to get Democrats and Republicans in Congress to agree on anything.

So it’s notable that Democrats on the Antitrust Subcommittee announced a slew of antitrust legislation today aimed at limiting the power of the tech giants — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google, specifically — with some bipartisan support from their Republican colleagues. Collectively called “A Stronger Online Economy: Opportunity, Innovation, and Choice,” each of the five bills introduced has multiple co-sponsors, including at least one from either side of the aisle.

Broadly, the bills aim at curbing Big Tech’s power by limiting their roles as gatekeepers and their domination of digital markets. The bills also represent the culmination of an 16-month investigation into antitrust issues involving tech companies. If these bills became law, they could significantly contract — or even break up — the key business lines of several major tech companies. They could also change how anti-competitive practices are enforced, whether tech companies can sell or promote their own product on their platforms, and whether they can merge or acquire competing companies at all.

www.vox.com • Share

The One Big Tech Bill That Could Backfire Spectacularly — Big Technology

When writing antitrust legislation, you want to be precise. The key is to fire a well-guided missile to flatten the competitive landscape, not a dumb rocket that causes collateral damage.

Well, in its ambitious package of Big Tech antitrust legislation, Congress may have shot a dumb rocket. The Platform Competition and Opportunity Act, one of the five bills introduced last week, would effectively put an end to the tech giants’ ability to make acquisitions. Big Tech has acquired plenty of competitors over the years and either captured their growth or shut them down, so the act might seem logical. But such a broad ban could have serious unintended consequences and lead to less competition, not more.

The prospect of an acquisition — regardless of whether it takes place — tends to encourage productive behavior. Potential acquirers often hold off on copying startups’ products, understanding there’s a chance they’ll one day join forces. And startups typically press forward even when it’s clear they won’t reach IPO scale, anticipating they’ll sell to a bigger company and deliver a decent “exit” to investors and employees. With Big Tech companies off the table as possible acquirers, these incentives would dissipate, and the productive behavior could vanish in a hurry.

bigtechnology.substack.com

Apple Pre-Installed Apps Would Be Banned Under Antitrust Package — Bloomberg

Apple Inc. would be prohibited under antitrust reform legislation introduced last week from giving its own apps an advantage by preventing users from removing them on Apple devices, said Democratic Representative David Cicilline, who is leading a push to pass new regulations for U.S. technology companies.

Cicilline told reporters Wednesday that a proposal prohibiting tech platforms from giving an advantage to their own products over those of competitors would mean Apple must let consumers decide which apps to use or remove.

“It would be equally easy to download the other five apps as the Apple one so they’re not using their market dominance to favor their own products and services,” the Rhode Island Democrat said.

The proposal is part of a package of bipartisan bills that would impose significant new constraints on how tech companies operate, restricting acquisitions and forcing them to exit some businesses. The House Judiciary Committee will mark up the five bills in a hearing next week, Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York, the committee’s chairman, said.

www.bloomberg.comShare

Does Tech Need a New Narrative? — The New Yorker

This week, Andreessen Horowitz launched its new media property, Future. The site, which has a minimalist design scheme, is billed as being “by and for the people building the future” and offers a newsletter, a small podcast network, and essays by analysts, investors, and entrepreneurs on topics ranging from supply-chain logistics to blockchain-based fan communities. Many of the contributors to Future have received venture funding from Andreessen Horowitz; these financial relationships are not secret, but they are also not disclosed alongside their pieces. The first batch of essays includes an argument for scaling legal expertise through software, written by the C.E.O. of a startup making “the world’s first robot lawyer”; an explainer of interactive educational platforms for “cohort-based courses,” by the founder of a startup making “the first platform for cohort-based courses”; an argument for restoring domestic computer-chip manufacturing; an optimistic treatment of economic bubbles titled “Well-Behaved Bubbles Often Make History”; and a meditation on the relationships among remote work, migration out of cities, and housing prices, written by a partner at Andreessen Horowitz who specializes in financial services and real estate.

www.newyorker.comShare


Digital ID — Same as Analogue ID

Apple Says It’s Time to Digitize Your ID, Ready or Not

IF YOU’VE EVER scanned a digital boarding pass directly from your phone at airport security, you can imagine how doing the same with your driver’s license would make life a little easier. Beginning in iOS 15 this fall, Apple will enable just that, letting you store your state ID alongside your credit cards, loyalty programs, transit passes, and even door and car keys in Apple Wallet. By doing so, the company won’t just introduce convenience; it may well be the tipping point that forces more states, the US government, and even Android to make digital driver’s licenses the norm.

Apple itself isn’t launching a universal digital identification scheme; plenty of others have embarked on technically and geopolitically fraught efforts to create a new type of private and secure ID for everyone. And digital driver’s licenses aren’t entirely novel. States like Oklahoma, Delaware, and Arizona have recently worked with a company called IDEMIA to develop both the infrastructure and a companion app to support digital driver’s licenses. And Colorado and Louisiana introduced digital IDs more than two years ago.

It’s still very much early days, though. Every state that allows for digital driver’s licenses still requires you to carry the physical version, and some mobile licenses currently can’t be used outside the state that issued them. That’s partly because the federal government is in the process of introducing new design requirements to make driver’s licenses harder to forge or manipulate, part of the REAL ID Act. Apple didn’t speak to the issue directly, but will presumably build in the ability to use Wallet IDs out of state for flying.

In April, TSA and the Department of Homeland Security Office of Strategy and Policy opened a public comment period for digital ID security standards and platforms. Apple’s also in direct contact with the TSA to get Wallet-based driver’s licenses approved for airport use.

“The TSA is working to enable airport security checkpoints as the first place you can use your digital ID,” Jennifer Bailey, vice president of Wallet and Apple Pay, said during last week’s iOS 15 launch. “When you present your ID you’ll know what specific information is requested and securely presented.”

www.wired.comShare


Rapid Change in Venture Capital

Anatomy of a Seed Round During COVID-19

We raised our seed during the height of the pandemic. In addition to the $150k in funding we received from Y Combinator, we set out to raise $1m after YC W20 Demo Day.

It was a grind. COVID-19 hit the United States in full force about 2 weeks after we started fundraising, and threw our entire plan out the window.

We ended up over 50% oversubscribed, and were able to raise $1.65m in total. I wanted to share our story, how we turned it around when things were not looking good, and tactical tips for any founders raising money during COVID-19.

Keep in mind all startups are different, and all fundraises are different. To be transparent of some of our advantages and disadvantages going into our first financing:

  • First time founders. No big wins or notable failures under our belts.
  • We are a Y Combinator company.
  • Strong founder backgrounds (founder-market fit).
  • Big market.
  • Very early — Freshpaint was less than 6 months old going into our fundraise.
  • Modest amount of traction when we started fundraising. Not explosive, not zero.
  • Medium-well connected. We’ve worked in Silicon Valley for a few years prior. We had a decent network from that. Again — not great, not zero.
  • Never raised money before.

www.freshpaint.ioShare

Is It Now “Triple, Triple, Triple, Double, Double, Double” — T3D3 — For Top Tier SaaS Startups? Probably.

A few years back, as SaaS was exploding but hadn’t yet revved into true hyperdrive, Neeraj Agarwal of Battery Ventures summarized a lot of what VCs were talking about with “T2D3”. That if you tripled the first year after you past the first $1m-$2m in ARR, and tripled the next year, and then doubled after that, you’d have a pretty good shot as growing into a unicorn. And mathematically, that’s still true today. That sort of growth compounds into a $100m+ ARR pretty frequently. In fact, you don’t even quite have to hit “T2D3” to get to unicorn status in the end if you’re just a bit patient. More on that math here.

But fast forward to today, and there are 300+ SaaS and Cloud unicorns. They’re being minted every week. What’s the bar now to be a decacorn-in-waiting? To merit those crazy high valuations we seem to be seeing almost every day?

The biggest change is that growth investors, the folks that invest at $10m+ ARR, are often now looking for SaaS startups to be tripling at this stage — not doubling. Or at least growing 150% or so.

Is that fair? Isn’t doubling at $10m+ a year plenty good enough? It certainly was for a long time for mid-stage and growth-stage VCs. But the explosion of valuations and market caps in SaaS isn’t “free”. There’s a cost. And the cost is an expectation of even higher growth than before. Growth stage VCs aren’t hunting unicorns anymore, they’re hunting decacorns.

The post Is It Now “Triple, Triple, Triple, Double, Double, Double” — T3D3 — For Top Tier SaaS Startups? Probably. appeared first on SaaStr.

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https://twitter.com/eladgil/status/1405148679728627718?s=20

Twenty Minute VC podcaster gets $140 million from MIT, Spotify backer to invest | Fortune

Harry Stebbings, who while still a teenager made a name for himself in Silicon Valley with his popular The Twenty Minute VC podcast, has cemented his transformation from venture capital fanboy to full-fledged investor.

The London-based 24-year-old said his new venture capital firm, called 20VC, has raised two funds totaling $140 million from a list of top-tier investors, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s endowment; RIT Capital Partners, the publicly traded investment vehicle founded by one branch of the Rothschild family; and Shakil Khan, an early investor in Spotify and cofounder, along with Spotify’s Daniel Ek, of the investment fund Prima Materia.

Also investing in the fund are several founders of successful startups, including Johnny Boufarhat, the CEO and founder of virtual events software platform Hopin, and Alex Will, cofounder and chief strategy officer at mental health app Calm.

Stebbings said that a $33 million fund will be dedicated to pre-seed and seed investments, each totaling between $250,000 to $500,000, and a larger, $107 million fund will target “growth stage” startups, with investments of $3 million to $5 million each.

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Andreessen Horowitz’s ‘Future’ is a media machine

Andreessen Horowitz wants to invest in the future, so the venture capital firm has launched its own standalone media property, Future, to tell you exactly what that is.

Its new media venture is taking the fundamentals of a corporate blog, but supersizing its ambitions to fold in outside voices and articles written by experts. What it’s not doing is writing about tech news, picking favorite companies, or hosting takedown articles about the industry, said Andreessen Horowitz’s Margit Wennmachers. Instead, Future will have a defined voice of techno-optimism and, if all goes to plan, become a way to win deals by convincing founders to work with the firm.

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Celebrating 9 Unicorns

A few weeks ago, P9 Family member Loom announced that it has raised $130 million at a valuation of $1.5 billion, making it the latest addition to the P9 Unicorn Club. In the last couple of months this club has gotten almost a little crowded: Mambu, Chainalysis, Clio, Westwing, and now Loom, have all entered this exquisite sub-group of the P9 Family.

Loom has brought the P9 Family unicorn count to nine, which is a̵n̵ ̵e̵x̵c̵e̵l̵l̵e̵n̵t̵ ̵e̵x̵c̵u̵s̵e̵ ̵t̵o̵ ̵b̵r̵a̵g̵ a good occasion for some reflection and celebration.

When Pawel and I started investing we would have never in our wildest dreams expected to invest in so many companies that would eventually reach a valuation of $1 billion or more. Seriously. This isn’t some kind of humblebrag, we-feel-so-humbled, fishing-for-compliments type of smart-ass VC BS. If a founder had told us “I want to build a billion-dollar company” back in 2008, we probably would have thought to ourselves “yeah, dream on”.

Celebrating 9 Unicorns was originally published in Point Nine Land on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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WSJ News Exclusive | Investors Clamor for a Bigger Piece of Payments Company Stripe

Stripe Inc. has yet to go public, but investors are still craving a piece of it.

The company, which processes payments for e-commerce businesses, recently offered investors the chance to acquire sizable stakes in the company from existing shareholders, including current and former Stripe employees, according to people familiar with the transaction. Bids from those investors exceeded $4 billion, some of the people said.

But only about $1 billion of those bids were filled, one of the people said, suggesting that many current Stripe shareholders believe their stock has a long way to climb. Among the largest buyers were mutual-fund giant Capital Group Cos., venture-capital firm Sequoia Capital, e-commerce company Shopify Inc. SHOP 6.07% and buyout firm Silver Lake, some of the people said.

Silicon Valley is awash with investors looking for new places to park their money, partly because low interest rates have made some traditional investments unappealing. Stripe, in particular, has garnered interest because it has been turbocharged by the coronavirus-fueled boom in online shopping. After a fundraising round in March, it became the most valuable private company in Silicon Valley, valued at $95 billion.

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Draper Esprit to Raise GBP111 Mln to Accelerate Investment Strategy — MarketWatch

Draper Esprit PLC said Monday that it plans to raise 111 million pounds ($156.6 million) via an equity issue, which will provide it with additional financial firepower to accelerate its investment strategy.

The London-listed, Europe-focused venture-capital investor said it plans to issue 13.9 million new shares through a share placing and retail offer on the PrimaryBid platform at 800 pence each, which represents a 4.6% discount to its closing price on Friday. The company said the total number of shares to be issued represent around 10% of its existing share capital.

The company said it believes there is a significant opportunity to deploy further capital in a growing European venture-capital market, thanks to a post-pandemic shift toward technology and digitization.

Draper Esprit said it anticipates increasing its investment pace to more than GBP150 million a year from GBP128 million invested in the year to March 31.

The investor said it has an identified pipeline for the near and medium term of around GBP150 million which, combined with potential new opportunities, could support an annual investment cadence of up to GBP200 million.

www.marketwatch.comShare


Crypto and Blockchain — Unstoppable

CNN selling historic news ‘moments’ as NFTs

CNN will drop NFTs depicting historic moments such as space travel, technological advancements, and presidential elections.

CNN has followed Fox and Time Magazine into the NFT market, announcing the launch of collectible historic moments from the news.

CNN’s NFT project is dubbed “Vault by CNN: Moments That Changed Us” and includes a series of tokenized iconic moments from its 41-year history, along with a vault to purchase, store and display the NFTs.

NVault by CNN: Moments That Changed Us

The news organization has not revealed which specific historic moments will be tokenized, however, it noted that themes including CNN exclusives, notable firsts, world history, and presidential elections, will be covered.

The initial launch will include six weekly drops starting from late June, with CNN teasing the first drops may depict space travel and election results. The NFTs will be sold in a combination of open and limited editions.

The NFTs will be minted on the Flow blockchain, which CNN chose for its energy-efficient proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. Flow is also home to NBA Top Shot, which has had huge success selling iconic sporting ‘moments’.

To purchase NFTs, users will need to sign up to CNN’s vault, where they will store their moments. Cryptocurrency is not be required to purchase, with the platform accepting credit cards via third-party payment platform Stripe. The vault’s description reads:

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The Dark, Democratizing Power of the Social-Media Stock Market | The New Yorker

In early March, about fifty investors received links to an anonymously created, password-protected Web site. On the site was a seven-page white paper, which opened with the question “What Is BitClout?” BitClout, the paper explained, is a social network that runs on blockchain technology, allowing users to “speculate on people and posts with real money.” Every user is given a public price, which is the amount of money that it costs to buy his or her “creator coin.” With the platform’s native cryptocurrency (also called bitclout), users could buy the coin of any other user on the site. Purchasing a creator coin is a way to invest in someone’s reputation. According to the white paper, the coin is meant to be “correlated to that person’s standing in society.” If Elon Musk launches a rocket to Mars, his value should go up. If he uses a racial slur during a press conference, then, as the paper explained, “his coin price should theoretically go down.”

The investors were encouraged to explore the site, and to send the link to two to three other “trusted contacts” who might be interested. Soon enough, the link began making the rounds on social media. Within weeks, users were spending millions of dollars a day on the platform.

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Banks won’t exist in ten years unless they change their business model

The issues plaguing the financial world―whether centralized finance, insurance, lending or other assets — all come back to human error. For instance, why can’t a dispensary put cash in a bank? Because of bad human judgment. These rules and regulations make zero practical sense.

The blockchain ecosystem takes the human element out of the equation. Now the technology governs because Satoshi Nakamoto was smart enough to realize that someone has to remove people from the decision process.

In decentralized finance, I don’t need approval from a bank if I want to borrow or lend money.

I just need to meet certain, automated criteria. There’s no prejudice. There’s no judgment against somebody because of age or some fictitious scoring system that can be gamed. It doesn’t matter what race, gender, or sexual persuasion you are. If you meet the criteria in DeFi, the transaction will be completed. If not, it won’t.

Satoshi was smart enough to see the need to remove people from the equation. Big banks will reject your account application upfront or wait for their compliance department to deny it, which then causes your money to be placed on hold, beginning a long process of getting out your money. People smartened up. They realized you need to take people out of the equation, because, generally, they make asinine decisions.

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Why Nigeria Could Be The Next Nation To Embrace Bitcoin

There has been a high level of speculation on the next country that could massively adopt Bitcoin. El Salvador’s new law granting BTC legal tender status has caused excitement, after its approval many politicians and government officials around the globe have shown support for pro-BTC legislation.

In parallel, some high-profile citizens have been asking their governments to adopt a Bitcoin Standard. NFL’s professional football player, Russel Okung, send a letter to the Nigerian government to follow in El Salvador’s footsteps.

His argument is based on the idea that every country will eventually adopt BTC and the ones to do so first will be the most beneficial. Okung claims that Nigeria has suffered from central banking, inflation, and the consequences of the Fiat Standard.

As a recent report by Arcane Research suggest, there is an ongoing rise in BTC adoption in Nigeria. As seen in the chart below, the number of Nigerian users on the wallet Luno has increased exponentially since January 2017.

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Startup of the Week

Payment Firm Wise Plans Direct Listing in Tech Win for U.K. — Bloomberg

Digital-payments provider Wise wants to go public on the London Stock Exchange via a direct listing, the first major technology company to choose that alternative route to the market in the U.K.

The company is also giving its founders and employees extra voting rights for their shares for a limited time, allowing them to retain control after going public, Wise said in a statement Thursday. The deal could value the company at more than 5 billion pounds ($7 billion), Sky News reported, citing unidentified people familiar with the matter.

“The whole reason we are doing a direct listing is to avoid speculation around our valuation,” Kristo Kaarmann, Wise’s co-founder and chief executive officer, said in an interview. “The artificial price-setting in an IPO is necessary for those that have to raise capital, but we fortunately don’t have to.”

“We can wait for the market to tell us how much the company is worth, rather than setting a valuation target,” he said.

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Tweet of the Week

Lina Khan: The 32-year-old taking on Big Tech — BBC News

On Tuesday, 32-year-old Lina Khan was sworn in as chair of the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

The role is a hugely powerful one, which protects consumers from bad business practices and companies from unfair competition.

And when it comes to unfair competition, there is one sector that has been singled out by Democrats and Republicans alike: Big Tech.

Worryingly for technology giants, Ms Khan has been one of their most vocal critics.

Ms Khan was born in the UK and moved to the US as a child.

In an interview with BBC Hardtalk in January, she talked about how she started getting interested in competition law as a policy researcher after graduating.

“What became clear is there had been a systemic trend across the US… markets had come to be controlled by a very small number of companies,” she said.

Gradually her focus began to shift to competition — or rather a perceived lack of competition — in Silicon Valley.

Her general criticism is that Big Tech is simply too big — that a handful of large US tech firms dominate the sector, at the expense of competition.

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