#Web3 Weekly: Dec. 27, 2020 — Jan. 2, 2021
Updates on bitcoin’s bull run, Miami exploring blockchain governance, and more
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.
Happy New Year! So much for year-end being a slow stretch for news. To the contrary, tech stories have been breaking fast and furious:
- The Carolina Panthers’ Russell Okung became the first player from a major U.S. sports league to receive a salary in bitcoin. The offensive tackle confirmed Tuesday he will receive half his 2020 salary of $13 million in bitcoin. The payment will be transferred by the Panthers via Strike, a payroll app from the payments startup Zap. (Sports Illustrated) Link: https://tinyurl.com/y8kw5hyh
- In a year-end update, the crypto-focused firm Grayscale Investments announced its assets under management had topped $20 billion. The surge appears to be fueled both by inflows of new client money and bitcoin’s rally to new records above $34,000 per token. Grayscale is one of the ultimate “whales” in the bitcoin market, with $17.5 billion of it now in hand. That figure is almost 3% of bitcoin’s total market capitalization. Link: https://tinyurl.com/y82b4qwh
- VanEck Associates is trying to revive the idea of an exchange-traded bitcoin fund, a longtime wishlist item for Wall Street. The firm has filed a new proposal with the Securities and Exchange Commission to create a vehicle called the VanEck Bitcoin Trust, which would allow individual investors with traditional stock brokerage accounts to invest in bitcoin indirectly. The SEC has previously quashed several such efforts, but VanEck is hoping the agency’s stance will change following recent adoption of bitcoin elsewhere in the financial industry. (Bloomberg) Link: https://tinyurl.com/y9eazdzz
- Miami’s mayor is exploring blockchain-based governance. Francis Suarez, who has recently been pushing to attract tech workers and companies departing California, embraced crypto in particular in a recent public Twitter exchange. (CoinDesk) Link: https://tinyurl.com/yd52k2fv
- Silicon Valley is likely to survive rising competition for talent in the U.S. But competing with the rest of the world may be a bigger problem in the years ahead, writes University of Washington history professor Margaret O’Mara. (The New York Times) Link: https://tinyurl.com/y94ml6py
- Concern is growing over the slow pace of COVID vaccinations in the U.S. Several major news organizations ran stories on the trend, which is fueled by both supply-chain bottlenecks and public wariness of vaccines that have in fact been proven safe by scientific testing. Dr. Leana Wen, a medical analyst for CNN, estimated it will take 10 years for America to get to “herd immunity” against COVID at the current pace of vaccinations. Link: https://tinyurl.com/yapm8jmq
- New York became the first state to ban facial recognition in its schools. The American Civil Liberties Union hailed the move as a pro-privacy victory, especially for students of color who are often misidentified by facial recognition software. Link: https://tinyurl.com/y7la7man
- A second top Black female Google employee says she was recently ousted. April Christina Curley, a diversity recruiter at the search giant, announced on Twitter that she had been fired in September and alleged a pattern of managers purposefully excluding minority candidates from Google’s hiring process. The dispute echoes claims by prominent artificial-intelligence researcher Timnit Gebru, who announced early last month she was abruptly fired. (CNBC) Link: https://tinyurl.com/ycgt79uh
- GoDaddy sent employees a fake Christmas bonus email as a “phishing test.” There’s a word for stuff like this: psychotic. (KPNX) Link: https://tinyurl.com/ycgdf9j4
- Japan’s Sumitomo Forestry and Kyoto University are partnering to test wood’s potential as a component in satellite construction. The idea is being considered as a potential environment-friendly solution to the rising problem of metal “space junk.” (Tech Xplore) Link: https://tinyurl.com/y8ous3rx
That’s it for now. Thanks for spending some time with the newsletter today! If you’d like to get updates like this in your inbox every Sunday, please join our email list here.
— Peter A. McKay