Live from Bitcoin 2022 in Miami + All the Web3 news you missed this week
The first Bitcoin conference I went to was about 9 years ago, Bitcoin 2013 in San Jose with about 1,000 attendees. This week, I spent a few days at Bitcoin 2022 in Miami with over 35,000 attendees. Besides the size difference, both conferences have much of the same vibe - lots of enthusiasm and energy for building in the crypto ecosystem. The biggest difference is the amount of crypto infrastructure and tools that have been built over the past decade, which is enabling new startups to thrive. In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting some of the conversations I’ve had throughout the week.
Here’s the Web3 news from the past week
Now Is The Time to Think Beyond Crypto and Focus on DeFi and Web3 (Morning Consult)
Consumers are moving toward financial portfolios that span traditional finance and DeFi, with 19% of US consumers already owning cryptocurrency. Lest they lose out to more forward-thinking players, financial services leaders need to pay attention to developments in DeFi and Web3, argues analyst Charlotte Principato. To a certain extent, they’re already behind: 40% of adults agree that there’s a lack of innovation in financial services today.
Podcaster and NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway doesn’t buy the notion that Web3 will redistribute power back to the people, noting that the top 2% of account addresses own 95% of the $800 billion-plus supply of Bitcoin. “Web3 has different colored hair, but the same DNA as… earlier web paradigms, which decentralized services at an unprecedented scale in order to turn around and centralize wealth again at an unprecedented scale to a select few,” writes Galloway.
Brian Solis offers a more optimistic take on Web3’s early challenges. Despite the concentration of crypto wealth among a select few, sustainability issues related to crypto mining, and the prevalence of scams, Solis believes Web3 can progress past its current imperfect state and arrive at something better. “The opportunity for innovation lies in what my colleague Henry King and I define as relationship transformation: it's the “why” of technology, reimagining web3’s trajectory to design concepts, inventions, and businesses around user relationships, those between companies and assets and people, and also between people and communities,” writes Solis.
On April 26, DC Comics will start selling a Bat Cowl Collection of NFTs, pricing each token at $300 for a potential $60 million payout. Buyers will also gain access to “a private DC Universe fan forum featuring behind-the-scenes content, select fan events, physical collectibles, merch and more.”
NFT sales on OpenSea dropped to $2.5 billion in March after peaking at $5 billion in January. Is the overall NFT market in decline? Not necessarily, according to some analysts, describing the state of the market as a “consolidation period” that may have been further impacted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Jimmy McNelis, CEO of NFT42, shared his thoughts on the many news items streaming out of Yuga Labs, the company behind the high-profile NFT project Bored Ape Yacht Club, and the NFT space more broadly. “[NFT] skepticism comes from ignorance,” said McNelis. “What all of us are probably trying to do is create that aha moment for people and figure out what’s that thing that’s gonna cross that chasm and get people to understand there’s a benefit here for them as well… Once we can convey that clearly to everyone, then that’s when this thing just goes all the way.”
Current use cases for DAOs, like charitable fundraising or pooling resources to make a big-ticket purchase, are merely early examples of how such organizations will be used in the future. Imran Khan, a core contributor to the Web3 accelerator Alliance, told TechCrunch that he expects to see “more experiments to get people across the globe to follow a mission or theme.” Khan views DAOs as the off-platform “third phase of online coordination,” which began with communication via email and chat rooms and evolved into networking on social media sites.
Citi put out a new report estimating that the metaverse could represent a $8 trillion to $13 trillion market by 2030, with 5 billion users across mobile and VR/AR devices. Despite that bullish outlook, the investment bank cautioned that current internet infrastructure won’t get us there: “To make the vision of Metaverse a reality, we expect significant investment in a confluence of technology.”
A deal between the crypto exchange FTX US and IEX, expected to close in May, aims to establish a platform for trading digital asset securities. “We’re looking to tackle problems in new ways and sometimes that means charting new territory in terms of market structure,” said Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder and COO of FTX US.
For game developers, GDC 2022 was a battle for reality (Digital Trends)
At this year’s Game Developers Conference, lofty talks about the role that the metaverse, NFTs, and Web3 can play in the gaming world were met with full-throated skepticism from many attendees. “It felt like two conferences in competition with one another,” writes Giovanni Colantonio. “On one side, it was a space for traditional game makers to advocate for change and connect with one another after years of physical distance. On the other, it was a summit for tech idealists eager to chart a new course in a digital world.”
The Axie Infinity aftermath
In what may be the largest exploit in crypto history, the Ronin network announced that $625 million in USDC and ETH was stolen in a hack targeting the publisher of the Axie Infinity game and the Axie DAO. It was bad news for a game that was already going through a slump: Axie Infinity’s number of daily active users (DAU) had declined even before the hack, having fallen from a high of 8 million to 1.48 million DAU. Following the hack, Axie Infinity publisher Sky Mavis announced that it had raised $150 million that, combined with funds from its own coffers, would go to users who lost money in the attack. As for the fallout from this event, it’s not investors who are hurting most, reports Fortune — it’s the low-income players who use earnings from Axie Infinity to cover their groceries and bills.
Off topic stories I found interesting
In his newsletter, Eric Newcomer put out a call for donations to “$1k Project Ukraine,” a fundraiser started by Alex Iskold, a managing partner at 2048 Ventures who immigrated to the US from Ukraine as a teenager. The project, which has so far raised more than $3.5 million, enables donors to send $1,000 directly to mothers in Ukraine who need financial support.
NYC Web3 Meetups
I’ve been hosting a regular series of Web3 in person get togethers in NYC. They range from small table breakfasts to larger happy hours. If you’re interested in attending or sponsoring one of these events sign up here:
Hi, I’m Andrew Chang - I created the Web3 Roundup to share what I’m learning in this space. I’ve spent my career at the forefront of the technology industry in areas such as crypto/blockchain (Former COO @ Paxos, co-founding partner of Liberty City Ventures), video and adtech. I learn by meeting with founders, investors and other thought leaders and approach Web3 with the same enthusiasm – and skepticism – I had about crypto/blockchain technologies 10 years ago.