Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, Cathie Wood, Fred Wilson, Mike Arrington all weighed in on the future of the planet this week. Some must-read stuff.
By Keith Teare • Issue #266 (2021 #29) • View online
- This Week’s Video
- Our Blockchain Future
- Venture Capital — It’s getting serious out there
- Feed The World
- Shrink The World?
- Twitter’s Transformation
- Attack of the Killer Democrats
- Surviving the Office
- Startup of the Week
- Tweet of the Week
This was definitely a cryptocurrency and blockchain week. Headlines boomed out that Bitcoin had fallen below $30,000. CNBC reported real-time as Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, Cathie Wood debated (but actually not too much) the future of the world as it pertains to Bitcoin and other crypto-assets. Fred Wilson responded to SEC Commissioner Hester Pierce suggesting that stablecoins are preferable to Central Bank Digital Currencies by agreeing with him, and by so doing implying nation-states were not best placed to “print” money, and directly saying that competition over who prints money would be a good thing for the future of money. And in the same week, my old friend Mike Arrington revealed his next act – having moved to Miami – will be to double down on the crypto industry and invest Arrington Capital’s new fund(s) in the sector.
By far the most interesting thing I read however was the research put out by Arrington Capital explaining its investment into the Algorand blockchain and its $100m fund focused on innovation on that chain.
The short version (I encourage you to read the longer one) is that innovation in the blockchain has moved to what is called “level 2” applications. Basically, things are built on top of “level 1” blockchains. The reason for this is that many have deemed level 1 blockchains to be inherently unscalable from the point of view of the speed of transactions even though they scale in terms of size. That has led innovation to happen in the layer above. But, the paper argues, that comes at a price. The price is a re-centralization of the technology, creating the need to trust third parties when the entire point of the blockchain is to remove trust as a necessity.
Enter Algorand. it is a new level 1 blockchain, as is Bitcoin for example, and Ethereum. It claims to solve much of the speed problem without compromising a fully decentralized and trustless architecture. It also does so with a model that rewards holders of its token by issuing regular rewards for holding.
So why is the research paper interesting. Because I think it is 100% correct in pointing to the centralizing tendencies of blockchain innovation, recreating the architecture of the current generation of the internet where we end up with large powerful corporations that “own” key pieces of infrastructure. Central Government if you will.
The idea that technology can become fully decentralized, with no need to trust participants is also central to Fred Wilson’s reaction to the SEC Commissioner favoring private stablecoins to central government-issued digital currencies. A stable currency is really important in a fully digital money system. Volatility in this or that token can be avoided if there is a stable alternative to swap into at key moments. Tether (USDT) and USDC are both private stablecoins. Tether is valued at $70 billion and USDC at $26 billion. Both are global and readily available to all digital wallets. They can be cashed out for government currency in most of the world. By allowing the global network to use these underlying assets as stable intermediaries between other assets, the ability to store and move value is guaranteed. There is no government role needed.
So when Jack Dorsey says that Bitcoin can bring world peace (actually he didn’t really say that, but he thinks the potential is there) he was really saying that humans can make the world work without governance or the need to trust those who govern. We can simply get on with life because the underlying network simply works.
And the underlying network now brings together a global ability to earn, spend, transact, move or store value, without ever needing to deal with governance.
So Mr. Arrington. I think you and your team are right. The future is decentralized and governed without governments. It will not happen overnight, or without governments of all kinds resisting, but it will happen
For my regular readers…this may be a little in the weeds. But it is very important you out collective futures. By comparison Elon Musk’s rantings this week are pretty insignificant.
Our Blockchain Future
Ethereum price rises after Elon Musk confirms he owns the cryptocurrency
- The price of cryptocurrency ethereum rose Wednesday after Elon Musk confirmed he owns it.
- Ethereum was last up 12% on Wednesday before Musk’s comments.
- Musk also expressed his support for cryptocurrency in general, despite environmental concerns related to mining.
The price of ethereum rose Wednesday afternoon after Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said he owns the cryptocurrency at The B Word conference, an event hosted by the Crypto Council for Innovation.
Ethereum, which was already rallying on the day, touched its high of the session after Musk’s mention. It was last up more than 12% and near the highs of the day.
Musk also repeated his support for cryptocurrency in general, despite potential environmental risks, saying, “One thing you do need to watch out for with crypto, especially bitcoin, using proof of work, using energy that’s a bit too much and not necessarily good for the environment.”
As bitcoin mining is increasingly powered by renewable energy, Musk said, Tesla will likely move to accept bitcoin for transactions once again.
How did Bitcoin get hijacked? CoinGeek’s Kurt Wuckert Jr explains Bitcoin history on CJTV
On CJTV, CoinGeek’s Chief Bitcoin Historian Kurt Wuckert Jr. gives the audience an in-depth look at how Bitcoin got hijacked and how outside influences derailed BTC from what the whitepaper set Bitcoin out to be. […]
The post How did Bitcoin get hijacked? CoinGeek’s Kurt Wuckert Jr explains Bitcoin history on CJTV appeared first on CoinGeek.
Stablecoins vs CBDCs — AVC
I have written about stablecoins in the past. I think they are a very important part of the crypto asset landscape. Two of thetop ten crypto assets by market cap are stablecoins, Tether ($62bn) and USDC ($27bn). You don’t buy these assets to generate gains because they are price stabilized. You hold them like cash, to be able to move in and out of trades, purchase things, etc.
Countries around the world are looking at stablecoins and thinking “we should issue these assets via our central banks.” That is called a “central bank digital currency” or CBDC for short. China is the farthest along on a CBDC but many other countries around the world are thinking about CBDCs or building them.
Yesterday, SEC Commissioner Hester Pierce suggested that stablecoins are preferable to CBDCs.
Jack Dorsey Is Hopeful Bitcoin Can Create ‘World Peace’ — Decrypt
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey today said at a conference that he hopes Bitcoin can fix things at a “foundational level” to create world peace.
Michael Arrington’s next act — TechCrunch
As longtime TechCrunch readers know well, Michael Arrington co-founded TechCrunch and Crunchbase, as well as the venture fund CrunchFund, which was later renamed Tuesday Capital. But In 2017, Arrington announced that he was shifting gears and becoming a full-time crypto investor, and despite a volatile ride since, he isn’t looking back, seemingly. As he said […]
Venture Capital — It’s getting serious out there
Index Ventures’ trio of new funds leads to $3 billion, and more TikTok — TechCrunch
Index Ventures has closed a trio of new funds: a $900 million early-stage fund, a $2 billion growth-stage fund and a previously announced $200 million seed-stage fund. The close gives Index $3 billion in new capital, its largest tranche yet, to deploy into emerging startups and existing portfolio companies, which include the likes of Plaid, […]
Silver Lake to Lead New Carta Funding at $7.4 Billion Valuation — The Information
Carta is finalizing a round of funding led by new investor Silver Lake Partners that would value the financial software startup at $7.4 billion including the new capital, roughly where secondary market investors valued it in February, two people familiar with the matter said. The funding, …
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Venture Capital Investment in Startups Booms in 2021 says PitchBook | Grit Daily News
A report from the National Venture Capital Association and PitchBook, a financial data company headquartered in Seattle, explains a rise in late-stage investment and deals is on track to set records this year.
The report, released this week, states venture capital investment is continuing to increase in the US and specifically, the Pacific Northwest.
One of those who contributed to the report, senior analyst at PitchBook, Kyle Stanford, said there was more capital being deployed as investors are increasingly attracted to tech startups.
Startup investments are growing markedly in the US. Startups raised $150 billion in the first half of 2021, which exceeds the $164 billion raised in all of 2020 and the $142 billion raised in 2019.
France — Venture Capital Trends: 17 Unicorns
France, not always at the top of mind when it comes to innovative tech firms, is gaining traction when it comes to VC funding of innovative young firms. According to research by Avolta Partners, a boutique investment bank, there are now 17 unicorns in France.
The report states:
“If anyone still had lingering doubts about the French Tech’s ongoing success, Q2–21 is convincing proof of this. French startups have raised 2x more in Q2–21 (€3.2bn) than in Q1–21. In the first 6 months of 2021, they raised €4.6bn, which is almost identical to the 2020 full year figure (€5.4bn).”
Avolta notes that startup-friendly legislation is helping and France has become “more attractive for high profile investors.” Additionally, building a €1 billion startup in France “is no longer a delusional dream.”
Overall, during the first 6 months of 2021, €4.6 billion in venture capital was raised for French tech firms. Fintechs are helping drive interest and economic activity like Ledger, the digital wallet provider, or Shift and Alan — both Insurtechs.
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The Top 100 Companies of the World: The U.S. vs Everyone Else
Where are the top 100 companies of the world located? We highlight the U.S. share of the top companies by market capitalization .
The post The Top 100 Companies of the World: The U.S. vs Everyone Elseappeared first on Visual Capitalist.
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Tech Earnings Kick Off Next Week — and Growth Numbers Will Be Big — The Information
Fasten your seat belt. Next week kicks off the tech earnings season. And we’re in for some extraordinary numbers as companies report second-quarter results that compare with the pandemic-depressed period from a year ago. That will make for somewhat artificially inflated growth rates this time …
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Slack is now officially part of Salesforce | Engadget
Salesforce has completed its $27.7 billion acquisition — its biggest one to date — of business messaging app Slack. When the companies first announced the purchase back in December 2020, they said Slack founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield will continue to lead the messaging service as a unit within its new parent organization. They also said that Slack will become the new interface of Customer 360, which is a Salesforce tool where you can add and access the company’s apps.
In Salesforce’s announcement about the acquisition’s completion, it confirmed both points and said the purchase will allow them to deliver a “Slack-first Customer 360.” It will give clients “a single source of truth for their business, and a single platform for connecting employees, customers, and partners with each other and the apps they use every day.”
Feed The World
InFarm Bets on Modular for the Future of CEA Growing
Much of the recent news (and investment dollars) in vertical farming has centered on massive, stationary plant factories that produce pounds of leafy greens in the millions.
Bucking this norm — and possibly building a new one for indoor agriculture in the process — is a company called InFarm. Those that follow indoor ag developments closely will be familiar with the name, and may even have purchased greens at one of the stores where the company keeps its farms.
The Berlin, Germany-based company, founded in 2013, has long been known for its small, pod-like hydroponic farms it installs in grocery stores in restaurants. Greens can be harvested onsite — a major advantage when it comes to leafy greens, which are delicate and often get harmed during shipping and distribution. These mini-farms are currently in a few hundred locations around the world.
Earlier this year, the company also launched the first of a planned 15InFarm Growing Center facilities. Each of these will produce the equivalent of 10,000 square meters of farmland, which is 1 hectare or about 2.47 acres in traditional farmland.
Shrink The World?
Has China closed the door to tech firms raising funds in New York? — South China Morning Post
Has China closed the door to tech firms raising funds in New York? South China Morning Post
- Some Chinese tech firms have postponed or dropped plans for a New York IPO following Beijing’s probe into ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing
- In the first half of 2021, there were 37 Chinese IPOs in the US, raising a combined US$13.8 billion, more than all of 2020
China’s requirement for a cybersecurity review of virtually all foreign initial public offerings (IPOs) could drastically accelerate the decoupling between American capital and Chinese technology, as the proven path for venture capitalists and private equity investors to cash out is now uncertain, analysts said.
While China is not shutting the door completely on its tech firms going public in New York, as IPO candidates can still proceed if they pass Beijing’s cybersecurity review, the proposed introduction of a new gatekeeper is set to add cost and uncertainty to foreign listing plans.
Some Chinese tech firms, including e-commerce platform Meicai, health care service provider LinkDoc Technology and podcast platform Ximalaya, have postponed or dropped their planned New York IPOs following Beijing’s investigation into ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing and proposed regulations to vet foreign listings, fanning speculation whether the road to US listings will be blocked for good.
Twitter starts testing Reddit-like downvote button on iOS | Engadget
Twitter is testing upvote and downvote buttons to find out what kind of replies users find relevant in a conversation..
Twitter Spaces Will Soon Let You Manipulate the Sound of Your Voice — MacRumors
Twitter is currently working on a “Voice Transformer” — a voice manipulation feature for Spaces, its live audio conversations service that…
Attack of the Killer Democrats
Biden nominates Google critic Jonathan Kanter to lead DOJ antitrust division | AppleInsider
President Joe Biden has selected Jonathan Kanter, an attorney and critic of Google parent company Alphabet, to lead the U.S. Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.
Amy Klobuchar’s new bill would repeal some Section 230 protections for tech companies — Vox
Sen. Amy Klobuchar has proposed changing the internet law Section 230 in order to combat health misinformation.
Surviving the Office
4 Strategies for Building a Hybrid Workplace that Works
Focus on equity, engagement, and ease.
The global pandemic has created new challenges and opportunities in almost every industry, and as the economy reopens competition will be intense. Winners will be those who most clearly understand their customer’s needs, collaborate to identify multiple solutions, prototype, iterate and bring new ideas to market. Those behaviors will only happen when people come together in the new, modern workplace.
By all indications the future of work is hybrid: 52% of U.S. workers would prefer a mix of working from home and the office, saying it has a positive impact on their ability to be creative, solve problems and build relationships. Global research tells us 72% of corporate leaders plan to offer a hybrid model, and only 13% say they expect to decrease their real estate footprint in the next year, suggesting that organizations will continue to leverage their workplaces within a hybrid work future.
But getting hybrid right will be hard. Deciding who works from the office and how often is a complex issue, and it will be different for every organization. If not done well it could threaten culture, collaboration, and innovation. Conversely, a well-executed hybrid workplace can be a magnet that brings people together and helps us work better than ever before.
Startup of the Week
Zoom is buying a cloud call center company for $14.7 billion
After experiencing enormous growth during the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom has made its first major acquisition by purchasing cloud contact center company Five9 for $14.7 billion, it announced. The move will allow Zoom to expand into call center technology worth up to $24 billion, diversifying its products once employees start returning to the office after the pandemic.
Five9 will become an operating unit of Zoom when the deal is closed, likely in the first half of 2022. “We are continuously looking for ways to enhance our platform and the addition of Five9 is a natural fit that will deliver even more… value to our customers,” Zoom CEO Eric Yuan said in a statement.
Exciting news! ? We have signed an agreement to acquire @Five9. Together we will build the customer engagement platform of the future! Details: https://t.co/gBpDMIUQuD
— Zoom (@Zoom) July 19, 2021
Five9 is a 20-year-old firm with 2,000 customers worldwide, including SalesForce and Under Armour, and processes over 7 billion minutes of calls annually. Zoom notes that it was already a “long-term” customer of Five9 and said the partnership will give Five9’s business clients access to Zoom products like the multi-platform Zoom Phone app.
The Zoom-Five9 deal is a big bet for the video conferencing company
Zoom is betting a little less than a sixth of its value on a single wager.
Zoom, a well-known video conferencing company, will buy Five9, a company that sells software allowing users to reach customers across platforms and record notes on their interactions. As TechCrunch noted this morning, the deal is merely “Zoom’s latest attempt to expand its offerings,” having “added several office collaboration products, a cloud phone system, and an all-in-one home communications appliance” to its larger software stack in recent quarters. Both companies are publicly traded.
Why would Zoom buy slower growth for so very much money? One thing to consider is that Five9’s most recent quarterly growth rate is quicker than the growth rate that it posted over the last 12 months.
But the Five9 deal is in a different league than its previous purchases. Indeed, the $14.7 billion transaction represents a material percentage of Zoom’s own value. That tells us that the company is not simply making a purchase in Five9, but is instead making a large bet that the combination of its business and that of the smaller company will prove rather accretive.
Zoom is worth $101.8 billion as of the time of writing, with the company’s shares slipping just over 4% today; the stock market is largely off this morning, making Zoom’s share price movements less indicative of investor reaction to the deal that we might think. Still, it doesn’t appear that the street is excessively thrilled by news of Zoom’s purchase.