#Web3 Weekly: March 7–13, 2021

Photo by Pierre Borthiry 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.

Record bitcoin prices are back. But for once that may not even be the biggest story happening in blockchain.

Two other industry trends are also exploding right now, stealing some of ol’ BTC’s thunder: One is the sudden popularity of digital collectibles known as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and the other, somewhat longer-running phenomenon is the rise of Ethereum-based decentralized finance (DeFi) tools aimed at supplanting conventional forms of borrowing and lending.

The rise of these use cases for blockchain helps explain why bitcoin’s share of the global crypto market has barely budged from about 60% since late January, despite its new all-time above $61,000 set on Saturday. Due to the twin NFT and DeFi tsunamis, ether and other altcoins have kept pace with bitcoin the whole way through the rally — and in some cases even beaten bitcoin handily.

The rapid gains have also pushed the global crypto market’s total valuation within reach of $2 trillion for the first time.

The latest headlines:

  • The Ethereum community voted to overhaul its fee structure. Users and developers lauded a new proposal designed to make transaction costs more predictable. But miners are livid as the plan will cut their revenue. (CoinDesk)
  • NFT auctions galore. A piece of digital artwork rendered as an NFT sold for $69 million at auction, in the first such sale ever conducted by the venerable Christie’s. Separately, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is selling the first tweet in the network’s history, posted by himself in 2006, as an NFT. The bidding closes on March 21 and has garnered a top offer of $2.5 million so far. Proceeds from the sale have been earmarked by @jack to go toward COVID relief in Africa. Bravo!
  • Meanwhile, downsides to NFT mainia are emerging as well. Some hackers have been offering cybersecurity exploits as NFTs. And DC Comics’ chief counsel warned artists not to offer unlicensed artwork of its characters in token form after one freelancer pocketed $1.85 million selling NFTs of Wonder Woman and other heroes. DC said it is exploring official token offerings of its own that will likely share revenue with artists.
  • Blockstream announced a partnership with the newly-launched Seetee to accelerate renewable energy use among bitcoin miners. The effort aims to address a problem that the electricity-intensive industry is frequently criticized for. (Bitcoin Magazine)
  • Artificial intelligence is quickly maturing as an industry unto itself. That was the jist of the fourth annual AI Index Report, published by Stanford’s Institute for Human-Centered AI. Among this year’s findings: About two-thirds of North American recipients of doctorates in AI now go to work at companies, up from 44% in 2010. Separately, a group of AI researchers has started a database of mishaps in the growing discipline, to better avoid future incidents.
  • SUSE is going public. The enterprise Linux provider could raise up to $9.5 billion in an initial stock offering in Europe later this spring. (Reuters)
  • National Basketball Association team owners created a committee to study potential uses of blockchain. Two obvious possibilities offhand are ticketing and collectibles. (Cointelegraph)

That’s it for now. 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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Peter A. McKay

Peter A. McKay

I publish the newsletter #Web3Weekly. Former Head of Content & Writer Development at Capsule Social. Other priors: WSJ, Washington Post, and Vice News.