A glaring disagreement over crypto

Photo by Jeremy Zero via Unsplash

Re-sharing below the latest edition of #Web3 Weekly, my regular newsletter about decentralization. If you’d like to get it in your inbox every Sunday, subscribe here.

The disconnect between the masses and pro investors in their attitude toward crypto right now continues to amaze me.

According to CoinShares data, the period through July 12 was the quietest week of trading in the crypto markets since October 2020, with exchange volume down to a relatively paltry $1.6 billion. To boot, global market cap of crypto tokens has slipped 6% over the past week, including a 6.2% weekly decline in bitcoin through Saturday evening.

Numbers like that aren’t exactly crisis-level stuff. But they do clearly suggest a broad swath of the public has diminished appetite for crypto at the moment.

At the same time, venture funding in crypto startups is soaring. According to The Block Research, such deals leapt 90% in the second quarter to $6.2 billion industrywide. There were 497 venture investments in crypto during the period — a sign of strong interest from some of the most sophisticated investors on the planet.

So who’s right? It would be easy to say the VCs, since they’re presumably the “smart money” in the market. But, hey, sometimes even they get things wrong. Perhaps better to let it suffice that time will tell.

On to some other headlines:

  • Bitcoin mining is evolving in fascinating ways. China’s recent regulatory crackdown on mining and increasing environmental concerns in the West have prompted a lot of change lately. In the U.S., hosting provider Standard Power is planning a new project to launch in December that will convert an abandoned paper mill in Ohio into a mining facility that runs on nuclear energy. (Not a bad way to one-up El Salvador’s recent announcement of volcano-powered bitcoin mining, I guess.) Meanwhile, Kazakhstan has emerged as a destination for some of the miners leaving China.
  • Optimism, a startup focused on Ethereum scalability, launched a new Uniswap-based finance platform. In its announcement, Optimism says its implementation of the Uniswap v3 software is up to 50 times cheaper for users to run than the standard version.
  • American Express is now offering non-fungible tokens (NFTs) as a credit-card perk.
  • FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried openly speculated in an interview with the Financial Times about possibly buying Goldman Sachs or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange someday. Seems unlikely for now, to be honest. But hey… Great to aim high, dude.
  • What ever happened to Watson? A decade ago, IBM’s first foray into artificial intelligence famously trounced Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings. But parlaying the Watson supercomputer’s gameshow success into success in other industries has been an elusive goal for IBM since, writes Steve Lohr in the New York Times.
  • On a happier note for AI fans, GitHub launched a new AI-powered programming assistant dubbed GitHub Co-Pilot.
  • Fast Company published a handy rundown of privacy-positive alternatives to popular Google apps.
  • The New York Times ran a great explainer as to why users should care about maintaining a legal “right to repair” their gadgets. Some tech hardware makers in recent years have been lobbying to prohibit the practice, citing intellectual property rights over gadget designs. An expansive reading of those IP rights by lawmakers and courts would in turn effectively give the companies greater control over who gets to fix malfunctioning devices, and at what cost.
  • Streaming services got more 2021 Emmy nominations than broadcast networks and cable combined. This is truly a milestone for the media business, summarized nicely here by Quartz’s Adam Epstein.
  • The true economic cost of America’s food system is about triple the sticker price of the items consumed, according to a new study by the Rockefeller Foundation. The report’s methodology factored in health costs, climate impact, loss of biodiversity, and other variables in addition to what consumers pay at the supermarket.
  • Jeff Bezos is headed to space. Amazon’s founder and three other crew member will take off on Tuesday, the 52nd anniversary of NASA’s first moon landing. They’ll be making a suborbital flight on a craft operated by Bezos’s startup Blue Origin, following on the heels of competitor Virgin Galactic’s recent spaceflight with founder Richard Branson abroad. The companies are in a race to offer private space tourism to consumers for the first time.

That’s it for now. As ever, a quick disclaimer: This newsletter is intended for informational purposes only, not as investment advice. For the latter, please DYOR and consult appropriate financial professionals to make the most suitable choices for your particular needs.

Thanks for spending some time with the newsletter today! A full revision history of it, including earlier drafts, is available here if you’re interested. If you’d like to get updates like this in your inbox every Sunday, please join our email list here.

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