📌 An opinionated recap of the most interesting news in crypto
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OOO: in Berlin 🇩🇪
We left about a foot of fresh snow to head over to Berlin, where we'll be stationed for most of the week. Aracon is the main stage, but with 500+ attendees the conference has quickly turned into a mini 'blockchain week', with plenty of awesome side events too. We're looking forward to expanding our thoughts on decentralized governance and DAOs. Will report back.
Hit us up if you are in town and want to give us a sneak peak into what you're building or investing in!
In the meantime enjoy this week's edition that shows three emerging trends for the year:
- the the fundraising market appears alive and kicking despite the bear market. Polkadot is out for another monster raise and the BitTorrent token sale sold out in minutes. With the SEC now re-open for business again, we should see the backlog of no-action letters getting cleared and more projects coming to market with their tokens; - more consumer-grade front ends are coming to market, with Augur, Maker and 0x showing the combinatorial power of open protocols; - more mainstream media are starting to pick up on the personal data/privacy as human right theme.
Featured on Token Economy - Dan Held elaborates on the evolution of narratives over time, claiming that the bear market has contributed to the collapse of the narrative wave function from critical observations to common knowledge.
Insightful essay by Denis from A16Z Crypto on how accumulation of 'state' in centralized companies has prevented "combinatorial innovation" and how crypto networks based on open source software can instead power a new generation of developers.
The Block got their hands on Multicoin latest Annual Report addressed to their LPs. It contains loads of performance data, analysis of the market and outlook for the year. Great insights for anyone in the business, and an ode to watermarks...those on docs that is.
PS: make sure you read it to the very last sentence :)
Nothing that you wouldn't know already, but when will.i.am talks about the growing mistrust in Big Tech companies on The Economist, it really feels like we are hitting an inflection point in terms of awareness.
"Personal data needs to be regarded as a human right, just as access to water is a human right. The ability for people to own and control their data should be considered a central human value"
We don't particularly care about Ripple, but we do care about transparency. So if you haven't already, take a look at this in-depth analysis by the Messari team that provides strong evidence for XRP liquid supply (and hence market cap) being over-inflated by over $6B. (disclaimer: we are investors in Messari).
A bit of a technical read, but a great explainer of how Taproot would expand on Bitcoin’s smart contract flexibility, while offering more privacy in doing so (and a follow-up proposal for Graftroot that makes slightly different tradeoffs).
We've been playing around with Instadapp/Makerscan lately and it really works like a charm. They are sleek interfaces on top of a smart contract that interact with the MakerDAO protocol in an intuitive and friction-less way, making it super simple to open a CDP, top it up, get some DAI out and repay it back (e.g. no need to hold MKR to pay for the stability fee, your ETH gets internally swapped for MKR via Kyber), or even to contribute to someone else's CDP with ETH or paying back DAI (an emerging use case that is worth keeping an eye on eg team Instadapp has been funding itself via this CDP). The ultimate vision is to build a "decentralized bank" on top of the protocol, with the whole suite of lending, leverage, margin and saving products.
So far the organic demand for something like this seems to be purely speculative (eg recursive leverage) or simply exploratory, but as the ecosystem evolves and UX improves, it will be interesting to see other use cases materialize.
More generally, it's really exciting to enter 2019 with the emergence of consumer-grade applications like Veil, Cent, Makerscan and several others (many more to come) making this whole space a lot less intimidating to the mass market.
Congrats to Julien and team Unlock for unveiling the first version of their decentralized paywall protocol, which is now live on mainnet! You can see what it looks like here (you'll need to have Metamask installed).
There's never been a better time for an alternative business model for online publishing.
Someone built a bridge to convert r/ethereum community points ('donuts') into ERC20 tokens, tradable on Uniswap.
Despite the fact that it quickly turned into a heated controversy and the bridge was turned off, this is a very interesting experiment in monetization of online content and reputation, coincidentally relevant to Unlock.
Nick Tomaino shared some insightful thoughts about it in a thread.
Anchorage (pka Anchor Labs) comes out of the woods with a big $17M Series A round and more details on the product and roadmap. The round was led by A16Z, with participation from Khosla Ventures and Max Levchin’s SciFi VC.
The founders are of rare pedigree, early employees at Square and Docker, and the rumors were that when they started Anchorage they quickly received M&A interest from Coinbase, which they obviously turned down.
Their focus is on building 'usable' institutional custody products with top notch security without compromising the accessibility required by investors to participate in decentralized networks.
Rumors hit the press that Polkadot is in the market to raise another $60M at $1.2B network valuation, after raising $144M just over a year ago (and then losing access to about 2/3 of that due to the Parity bug).
Launch is scheduled for Q3 and many are starting to get excited.
Not quite a funding round, but Placeholder have published their investment thesis behind MakerDAO (MKR), as well as some interesting data on it from a deck they have recently presented (e.g. it took MakerDAO 1 year to issue a similar value of loans as Lending Club did in 5 years from launch).
More money to fund permissioned blockchain networks in the financial industry, with the aim of moving "financial instruments and information completely on the blockchain, and making physical paper trails redundant."
Galaxy and Raptor group also participated in the round.