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Stocks ended Friday higher, booking sharp gains for the week and for the month of May, prompting some market participants to wonder, when the disconnect (whether perceived or real) between Wall Street and Main Street will end.
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U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Thursday, seeking to amend Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. Section 230 prevents social media companies from civil liability for the content posted on them. The order targets Twitter and Facebook after Twitter fact-checked two of the PresidentÃ¢ÂÂs tweets.Ã
The text emphasizes TrumpÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂcommitment to free and open debate on the internet.Ã¢ÂÂ Trump said that Ã¢ÂÂwe are here today to defend free speech against one of the gravest dangers it has faced in American historyÃ¢ÂÂ before going on to identify that threat as a Ã¢ÂÂsmall handful of social media monopolies.Ã¢ÂÂÃ
Lawyers who reviewed the order say itÃ¢ÂÂs unlikely to accomplish TrumpÃ¢ÂÂs goals. Trump was misunderstanding the law, they said, and had little chance of achieving genuine reform of Section 230 without Congressional help.
Campaigners for a repeal of Section 230 said TrumpÃ¢ÂÂs intervention might derail their cause. But it also might offer an opening for decentralized technology, allowing innovation to substitute for government action on issues around misinformation, censorship and the power of social media (see below).Ã
Ã¢ÂÂTrump neither understands nor cares about the law, whether itÃ¢ÂÂs the First Amendment or Section 230,Ã¢ÂÂ said Mary Anne Franks, a law professor at Miami Law School, author of Ã¢ÂÂThe Cult of the ConstitutionÃ¢ÂÂ and who has written about Section 230 extensively. Ã¢ÂÂAll he cares about is power, and he knows that the only way to disguise this is to pretend he is being persecuted.Ã¢ÂÂ
Robert Corn-Revere, partner at Davis Wright and Tremaine LLP, who focuses on first amendment issues, said the executive order is not well informed about how Section 230 works Ã¢ÂÂ or even what it says Ã¢ÂÂ much less how it has been interpreted by courts over the past two decades.
Ã¢ÂÂIt is a novel concept, to say the least, to suggest that the President, by executive order, can amend or modify an act of Congress, override hundreds of judicial rulings and instruct independent federal agencies to take actions that exceed their jurisdictional mandates,Ã¢ÂÂ said Corn-Revere in an email.
Ã¢ÂÂAnd these problems arise even before getting to the obvious First Amendment issues raised by seeking to punish or regulate social media platforms for their editorial decisions.Ã¢ÂÂ [Disclosure: Davis Wright and Tremaine carries out legal work for CoinDesk.]
Twitterresponded to the order, saying the executive order was a reactionary and politicized approach to a landmark law.Ã Ã¢ÂÂ#Section230 protects American innovation and freedom of expression, and itÃ¢ÂÂs underpinned by democratic values. Attempts to unilaterally erode it threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms,Ã¢ÂÂ it said.
Friday morning, the company flagged another of TrumpÃ¢ÂÂs tweets for Ã¢ÂÂglorifying violenceÃ¢ÂÂ after he suggested protesters in Minneapolis, Minn., could be shot.Ã
Public debate around 230 centers around whether these platforms are publishers. To some, a decision to add a fact-check counts as editorializing, making such a platform a publisher.Ã But this is a misreading of the powerful and unilateral immunity Section 230 offers, says Preston Byrne, a prominent crypto law partner (and CoinDesk columnist).
In a blog he said Section 230 does two things only: 1) ensures platforms and users are not liable for content and 2) that, if you complain about a platform moderating your content, donÃ¢ÂÂt expect much legal recourse.
TrumpÃ¢ÂÂs order goes after the Ã¢ÂÂgood faithÃ¢ÂÂ requirement for removing Ã¢ÂÂobjectionable contentÃ¢ÂÂ which could encompass whatever the platform chooses to amend.Ã
ThereÃ¢ÂÂs no Ã¢ÂÂgood faithÃ¢ÂÂ requirement the platform (termed interactive computer service in the section) or user of that platform be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another user. If someone says something defamatory about you, you canÃ¢ÂÂt sue me or Twitter over it, you sue the person that said it.Ã
Ã¢ÂÂYou canÃ¢ÂÂt treat an online intermediary like a publisher,Ã¢ÂÂ said Franks, even if it acts like a publisher.
SheÃ¢ÂÂs critical of latitude to exercise Ã¢ÂÂgood faithÃ¢ÂÂ in taking down any content the intermediary finds Ã¢ÂÂobjectionableÃ¢ÂÂ and makes pretty much any parsing of Ã¢ÂÂgood faithÃ¢ÂÂ a moot point. ItÃ¢ÂÂs all up to the company. In any event, Twitter didnÃ¢ÂÂt take down any content in relation to Trump, she said, they merely added to it.Ã
The order calls on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to re-evaluate the Ã¢ÂÂgood faithÃ¢ÂÂ requirement. In a statement Thursday Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel (one of two Democrats on the committee) said turning the FCC into the PresidentÃ¢ÂÂs Ã¢ÂÂfree speech policeÃ¢ÂÂ was not the answer.Ã
The process of putting the order together was hastily conducted, and included adapting an old order that had been floating around the White House for years, according to Protocol.Ã
Ã¢ÂÂOne casualty of this tantrum is any serious consideration of longstanding and legitimate critiques of Section 230,Ã¢ÂÂ said Franks. Ã¢ÂÂItÃ¢ÂÂs an intentional hijacking of the principled calls for reform.Ã¢ÂÂ
However, Gigi Sohn, a former counselor at the FCC, said Section 230 is not Ã¢ÂÂinviolable,Ã¢ÂÂ meaning Congress could choose to address criticisms of the law. Amending this rule could improve online accountability, she argues, but also put upstart networks at a disadvantage. If moderation is now required, Twitter and Facebook are more likely to have the resources to do it properly.
Ã¢ÂÂThe little guys are already behind, and they will be even further behind if you keep carving out protections granted by Section 230,Ã¢ÂÂ Sohn said. Ã¢ÂÂThis points out the incredible power of a handful of companies. The power to determine what people see, what people think and what people believe. That should not be.Ã¢ÂÂ
Whatever the fate of Section 230, technology offers a potential way forward without the need for new laws.Ã
Sohn supports major internet platforms Ã¢ÂÂopeningÃ¢ÂÂ their services to competitors and making themselves interoperable.Ã
Denouncing ongoing efforts to break up big tech platforms, which are toothless due to decades of antitrust law attrition, Sohn said. Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂd rather see something like making them interoperable.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂThatÃ¢ÂÂs the way you quote-unquote break up Twitter and Facebook. You make them open up their APIs [application programming interface] and policies to competitors to make use of,Ã¢ÂÂ she said. Ã¢ÂÂIÃ¢ÂÂd like to see it become mandatory.Ã¢ÂÂÃ
Forcing companies to decentralize or move to open standards would spur the creation of new businesses. Ã¢ÂÂThe way you handle the power of a company like Twitter is by making sure it can be competed against,Ã¢ÂÂ she said.Ã
A mandate to decentralize has some historic precedence, too. ItÃ¢ÂÂs akin to what the Telecommunications Act of 1996 did for telephone companies, Sohn said, referring to a bill that required communications operators to open their networks for competitive use.Ã
Ã¢ÂÂUnbundlingÃ¢ÂÂ online networks, and distributing the influence that one microblogging platform holds over the public conversation, would likely Ã¢ÂÂget them out of this constant criticism,Ã¢ÂÂ she said.
Twitter is working on a decentralized standard called Blue Sky, though not much has been revealed about the project since announced in late 2019. Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.Ã
Other networks, sometimes appended to a blockchain, already exist and are thriving. Ã¢ÂÂ[W]ith the recent politicization of [F]acebook, [G]oogle, and other bigtech social media giants, the web3 thesis for crypto has never been as underrated as it is now,Ã¢ÂÂ Su Zhu, CEO of hedge fund and cryptocurrency investor Three Arrows Capital, tweeted.
LBRY, for one, cites the wanton power to censor and deplatform that centralized platforms like Twitter wield as one of its motivations for existing.Ã LBRYÃ¢ÂÂs neutral protocol enables anyone to post content without reprisal, and stores this information on an immutable blockchain. The companyÃ¢ÂÂs CEO, Jeremy Kauffman, said LBRY has seen three million active users in May, nearly doubling the count from preceding months. It also receives a number of new users anytime a crypto personality is banished from a big tech platform.Ã
Ã¢ÂÂThe President is right to be concerned about the neutrality of companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube,Ã¢ÂÂ Kauffman said. But he doesnÃ¢ÂÂt agree with making the government Ã¢ÂÂ as Trump just attempted Ã¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂthe arbiter of truth.Ã¢ÂÂÃ
Ã¢ÂÂIf platforms want to make the error of enforcing their political biases on their users, let the free market provide competitors like LBRY that make this problem obsolete. Innovations like LBRY make it so that the interference of Twitter and YouTube is technologically impossible,Ã¢ÂÂ he said.Ã
To be sure, there are issues with decentralization. Crypto Beadles, a prominent crypto YouTuber, tried the platform and found it wanting.Ã
Ã¢ÂÂThere are currently no fully decentralized social media platforms I know of that work even remotely as well as the first version of YouTube,Ã¢ÂÂ he said. He painted the picture of a platform with the network effects of Twitter, guided by the principles of LBRY.Ã
For his part, Kauffman said if Twitter were to decentralize, Ã¢ÂÂthe biggest effect this would have on LBRY is the potential to slow our growthÃ¢ÂÂ¦if it forces these companies to behave more responsibly. But they misbehave in so many other ways, I doubt this will happen.Ã¢ÂÂ
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A new series about blockchain project Dragonchain is premiering on Discovery, and itâs been fully financed with $1 million in crypto.
Production house Vision Tree Media said Friday its new âOpen Source Moneyâ documentary series, which will track crypto project Dragonchain, would debut on Discovery Science, a U.S. TV channel run by Discovery Inc., which also owns the Discovery Channel.
While the five-part series, scheduled to start July 4, will center around Dragonchain, Vision Tree added it will do so against the backdrop of the broader cryptocurrency industry. The firm name-dropped former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne, crypto entrepreneur Brock Pierce and companies including Facebook and Disney as the big names interviewed for the series.
On its website, Vision Tree says the âsuccessful launch of the Open Source Money series is critical because it will help put cryptocurrency and blockchain technology on the map, as well as in the hands of more people passionate to make a change in the world.â
When CoinDesk asked how the series was funded, Vision Tree said the million-dollar budget came from its own âCoiinâ cryptocurrency.
The DRGN token has been languishing not far above record lows for over a year, following an early post-ICO spike to nearly $5 in 2018. Prices at press time were just below 10 cents per token.
âThe limited documentary series features the untold, heroic story of Dragonchain,â gushes the press release. A spinout from Disney, Dragonchain allows enterprise users to securely store data on a blockchain. It raised more than $13.7 million in a sale of its DRGN token in late 2017.
A trailer for the new series shows one of the documentaryâs main themes is the darkening regulatory environment toward crypto projects in the U.S. Back in 2018, Dragonchain forced one of its affiliate projects to return investor funds â but didnât say why.
A Vision Tree spokesperson didnât say why the series focused specifically on Dragonchain.
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A new series about blockchain project Dragonchain is premiering on Discovery, and itâs been fully financed with $1 million in crypto.
Production house Vision Tree Media said Friday that its new âOpen Source Moneyâ documentary series, which will track crypto project Dragonchain, would debut on Discovery Science, a U.S. TV channel run by Discovery Inc., who also owns the Discovery Channel.
While the five-part series, scheduled to start July 4, will center around Dragonchain, Vision Tree added that it will do so against the backdrop of the broader cryptocurrency industry. The firm namedropped Patrick Byrne, Brock Pierce, as well as companies like Facebook and Disney, as the big names interviewed for the series.
On its website, the company says âthe successful launch of the Open Source Money series is critical because it will help put cryptocurrency and blockchain technology on the map, as well as in the hands of more people passionate to make a change in the world.â
âThe limited documentary series features the untold, heroic story of Dragonchain,â gushes the press release. A spin-out from Disney, Dragonchain allows enterprise users to securely store data on a blockchain. It raised more than $13.7 million in a sale of its DRGN token in late 2017.
A trailer for the new series shows one of the documentaryâs main themes is the darkening regulatory environment toward crypto projects in the U.S. Back in 2018, Dragonchain forced one of its affiliate projects to return investor funds â but didnât say why.
A Vision Tree spokesperson didnât say when asked why the series focused specifically on Dragonchain.
When CoinDesk asked how the series was funded, Vision Tree said the million-dollar budget came from its own âCoiinâ cryptocurrency.
The DRGN token has been languishing not far above record lows for over a year, following an early post-ICO spike to nearly $5 in 2018. Prices at press time were just below 1 cent per token.
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The Digital Dollar Project is proposing a framework for the creation of a U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC).
The group published its first white paper Friday, detailing the need for a tokenized version of the U.S. dollar and some potential avenues for building this system. A digital dollar could help the U.S. maintain the dollarâs status as the worldâs reserve currency while serving a broader array of individuals and entities than the current financial system, the paper says.
The group is helmed by former U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Chairman Chris Giancarlo, Gattaca Horizons CEO and former CFTC Chief Innovation Officer Daniel Gorfine, Accenture Senior Managing Director David Treat and Pure Storage CEO Charles Giancarlo, with contributions from a number of Accenture analysts and directors. The Digital Dollar Foundation, which is working with Accenture on the project, was launched earlier this year.
âWhat weâre hoping to be is a catalyst for a discussion here in the United States about what role the U.S. will play in this ongoing and accelerating global debate over the future of money in a new digital age,â Chris Giancarlo, now senior counsel at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, told CoinDesk.
As such, the paper explores the current U.S. financial system and advocates for a digital dollar that utilizes a âtwo-tiered distribution architecture,â with commercial banks and other regulated entities acting as intermediaries between the Federal Reserve (the U.S. central bank) and end users.Â
These commercial banks would distribute the funds much the way ATMs distribute cash to customers, the paper said.Â
The digital dollar envisioned by the paper could even operate alongside private stablecoins, the paper said.
âWhen we do big things in the United States as we did with the space program, as we did with the internet, itâs almost always a very healthy partnership with the private sector and the public sector, with each learning from each other, with the private sector â¦ bringing innovation to bear and the government looking out for core principles of privacy and individual rights and liberties and getting that balance,â Giancarlo said.Â
Any U.S. CBDC should maintain the existing two-tier banking system, the paper said.Â
âA two-tiered banking system preserves the current distribution architecture and its related economic and legal advantages, while inviting innovation and accessibility,â it explained.Â
Under this model, the Fed would issue digital dollars to banks, while users could either store funds in their accounts or hold onto these tokenized dollars in their own digital wallets.Â
The bank would be able to lend against the funds held in accounts, the paper said.
âUnless the digital dollar is put into a safe deposit-like storage or custodial solution, once exchanged for balances in a bank account it is fungible with other monies as it is on a banksâ balance sheet,â the paper said.
This type of system will ensure that individuals and entities store funds at commercial banks, the paper said.Â
âThese deposits underpin the U.S. entire economy by enabling banks to lend funds to borrowers for activities such as buying a home, building a new factory and everything in between,â the paper said.Â
Treat told CoinDesk that part of the Digital Dollar Projectâs work would be helping stakeholders understand this proposed system â basically understanding where the tokens are moving within the ecosystem.Â
The two-tiered system would also need to be able to satisfy both individual privacy concerns and regulations around financial transactions, including anti-money laundering and know-your-customer (AML/KYC) rules, he said.
âTo have the end points of where the tokens can move be a regulated wallet infrastructure we think is likely the best answer, and part of what weâll test,â he said.Â
Accounts vs. tokens
The paper also contrasted the concept of a token-based digital dollar with an account-based digital dollar, with a preference for a tokenized system.Â
A tokenized dollar would be more broadly applicable, Giancarlo said. In reference to a series of bills introduced earlier this year by U.S. lawmakers that proposed account-based digital dollars, he said a tokenized version would be more broadly applicable.Â
While the digital dollar proposals laid out before Congress refer specifically to stimulus payments meant to benefit American taxpayers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the groupâs view is the digital dollar should be more broadly applicable.
âWe think a true U.S. CBDC addresses that problem but then so much more, including building a new architecture for money for generations to come that will serve not just under-banked populations here in the United States during a crisis â¦ abroad and [spur] financial inclusion globally,â Giancarlo said.
The tokenized dollar should be faster, more efficient, less costly and able to extend the dollarâs utility, he said.
Here, too, itâs important to firmly define whatâs being discussed, Treat said.Â
âOne thing that weâre trying to do with the paper and in our talks is introduce a set of language to just be crystal clear or make the conversation more clear,â he said. âPart of what the paper is doing is working on definitions and that lexicon for everyone. The basic notion of the interplay [of] an accounts-based system and a token and a token-based system, I think, is incredibly important.â
The next step for the project is to develop a series of pilot programs and tests for a number of potential use cases outlined in the paper. The use cases are broadly categorized as being either part of domestic payments, international payments or government benefits, and range from direct peer-to-peer payments to issuing government aid in response to disasters.Â
Giancarlo said the pilot programs may be evaluated based on a number of factors including the proposed tokenâs impact on the money supply, technological choices, privacy from both government intrusion and commercial exploitation, impact or use in sanctions and compliance with AML/KYC laws, among other concerns.
âWhat about the ledger itself? How permissioned or permissionless, or is it a distributed ledger at all?â Giancarlo said. âAll of these issues need to be worked out so that we can come to the table with a lot of events.âÂ
Even after all of the theoretical planning, the proposed tokens would still need to be tested in real-world scenarios, he added.Â
Past the planning stage, itâll require lawmakers and policymakers to actually execute any potential digital dollar solution, Treat said.Â
âWeâre here to get the conversation going, to provide thinking, experience and expertise, and we will leave it to the policymakers to set the pace,â he said. âSo our ability to comment on whatâs possible, the value of it, where itâs headed and the importance in the long term is the most important part.â
This process will all take time, Giancarlo said. He projected that the process of building a digital dollar could take five to 10 years, but added, âweâve got to start now.âÂ
âWe very much say the dollar is way too important to try to be done overnight or something over the weekend,â Giancarlo said.
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The blockchain industry desperately needs password solutions that arenât such a royal pain in the neck.
Thatâs why the San Francisco-based startup Magic just raised a $4 million seed round from investors like Naval Ravikant, SV Angel, Placeholder, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Volt Capital, just to name a few. SV Angel in particular has a complementary portfolio, including Coinbase, Stripe, Airbnb and Doordash.Â
âMagic points the way towards a world in which user identity and authentication is decentralized and not subject to control by the tech giants,â Ravikant said in a press statement.Â
Plus, Magic CEO Sean Li said his startup already works with some decentralized exchanges (DEXs) like Uniswap and RadarRelay. As such, Chicago DeFi Alliance member Volt Capital also represents a strategic pairing. After all, DeFiâs biggest onboarding challenge is the user experience, not any lack of demand for low-barrier loans and global currencies.Â
Volt Capital partner Imran Khan said Magicâs delegated key management service lets app developers create custom sign-on experiences without touching the userâs private keys.Â Â Â
âI think the recession will increase their business,â Khan said. âStartups are going to look to be more efficient. Theyâll use platforms like Magic to cut costs.â
Most importantly, Khan added, Magic serves clientele beyond the crypto industry because it can authenticate based on whatever protocol the platform is using. Placeholder Capital co-founder Joel Monegro agreed, adding that enterprises are also looking for secure ways to grant employees remote access to permissioned networks.Â
âThat might be a way we see more adoption in an enterprise context,â Monegro said. âItâs bridging the gap between the traditional web authentication paradigms and the crypto authentication paradigms.â
Any company with a login and a website could use Magic as a door without needing to rebuild a customized onboarding solution in front of the house, so to speak. Monegro said, at the end of the day, authentication is all about making âkey managementâ approachable.Â
âThis is a way for users to not have to give up their data,â Khan added. âMagic is using blockchain as a backend infrastructure, in a way that any platform can easily integrate.âÂ Â
Stepping back, private keys are basically really long and complicated passwords that users canât reset.
Most internet users opt to trust platforms like Facebook in exchange for the convenience of a simplified username and password, plus the option of recourse if the password is forgotten, rather than retain full control over the asset or profile information.Â
âThe key represents the singular piece of identity. You can use it in conjunction with 3Box to manage the data associated with that identity,â Li said, referring to the ConsenSys-backed startup 3Box. âWeâre going to be working together on this authentication product.â
Magic is also aiming to serve developers, especially decentralized application (dapp) makers from the ethereum community. Li estimated 5,000 developers and teams are currently using the tool, including Democracy Earth and TokenSets.Â
âWe can manage keys within the browser without having to rely on Chrome extensions,â Li said, offering the example of a shopper. âThe private key never passes through the Magic backend and goes straight to Amazon.â
He said this early-stage startup is still on track to make more than $500,000 in revenue this year, despite the recession. And with the customer-facing sector of the industry saturated in wallets, service providers and apps, Li is betting instead on selling to the businesses that already have users rather than needing to attract a massive audience to turn a profit.Â
âI think only a few niche things will eventually explode,â Li said. âThe majority of [crypto] adoption will happen with mainstream companies gaining access to crypto applications.â
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Cryptocurrency traders donât seem to care that Goldman Sachs is such a bitcoin hater.Â
At least, thatâs the signal markets are sending.Â
Bitcoin prices have surged since the Wall Street heavyweightâs money-management division declared in aÂ presentationÂ this week that the cryptocurrency is ânot a suitable investment for our clients,â merely a beneficiary of a âmaniaâ worse than the infamous run on Dutch tulips in the 1600s.Â
Youâre readingÂ First Mover, CoinDeskâs daily markets newsletter. Assembled by the CoinDesk Markets Team, First Mover starts your day with the most up-to-date sentiment around crypto markets, which of course never close, putting in context every wild swing in bitcoin and more. We follow the money so you donât have to.Â You canÂ subscribe here.
The bullish market reaction shows crypto traders largely shrugged off Goldmanâs bearish commentary, doubling down on bitcoin while spewingÂ vile condemnationsÂ and ridicule of the analysis on Twitter.
On Thursday, bitcoin rose more than 2% to about $9,400. The price is now up 33% in 2020, versus a 6.2% decline on the year for the Standard & Poorâs 500 Index of large U.S. stocks. Goldmanâs own shares are down 12%.
One cryptocurrency trader even speculated Goldman may have weighed in on bitcoin because the Wall Street firmâs clients were begging to know whether they should jump in â or put another way, if they were at risk of missing out on future rallies.Â
The global backdrop is that investors are desperately seeking ways to make money these days, with interest rates on U.S. Treasury bonds close to historic lows. Buoyant stock-market valuationsÂ donât seem to reflect the economic devastationÂ from the coronavirus. (A report Thursday showed more than 40 million jobless claimsÂ have been filed since early March.)Â Â Â Â
Bitcoin might be getting a closer look from big money managers and rich families following reports earlier this month that the legendary hedge-fund manager Paul Tudor Jones II is nowÂ betting on the asset. Investors also might be looking at the year-to-date returns and wondering why Goldman didnât steer them toward bitcoin sooner.Â
âGoldman Sachs would not have put together this fancy presentation without demand or questions about crypto from the clients,â said Denis Vinokourov, head of research at the London-based digital-asset firm Bequant.
Patrick Lenihan, a Goldman spokesman, said the presentation âspeaks for itself,â declining to comment further.
Invented just 11 years ago, bitcoin has already smeared egg on a lot of prominent naysayersâ faces. Past performance, of course, is no guarantee of future success. But theÂ list of casualties includes the billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who in February described the cryptocurrency as having âno value,â only to see the shares of his own conglomerate, Berkshire Hathaway, tumble 18% this year as bitcoin rose.Â Â
It goes without saying, as Goldmanâs investment analysts pointed out, that bitcoin prices can be extremely volatile.
That might just be the nature of new technologies: Volatility isnât uncommon among many small-cap tech companies whose stocks were taken public by investment bankers working for Goldman and its Wall Street competitors.
Amazon.comÂ shares tumbled 80% amid the dot-com crash of 2000 â long before the internet-commerce giant eclipsed department stores including Sears, whichÂ filed for bankruptcy in 2018. Another U.S. department store chain,Â J.C. Penney, filed for bankruptcy protection earlier this month, as sales diminished because of coronavirus-related lockdowns.
But many big, sophisticated investors are comfortable with risk, as long as the potential rewards look attractive enough; long-term growth is the goal.
On that count, bitcoinâs market capitalization has grown 11-fold since the end of 2016 to $173.7 billion. Over the same period, Goldmanâs own market cap has fallen to $69 billion from about $95 billion.
Jill Carlson, co-founder of the Open Money Initiative and an investor in early-stage startups with Slow Ventures, wrote Thursday in anÂ op-ed for CoinDeskÂ that Goldmanâs report contained so many flaws that âitâs not worth detailing every misconception or failed bit of logic.â According to her LinkedIn profile, she worked as a credit trader at Goldman in the early 2010s.
That representatives have not adequately articulated the âdefining attributes and uses of this paradigm-shifting technologyâÂ might be a fault of the crypto industry, Carlson added.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, addressing questions about the proposed libra stablecoin at an annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, noted how slow the traditional financial system had been to upgrade the plumbing behind payments.
The infrastructure around payments âhasnât been updated in a very long time,â Zuckerberg said.
The broader question might be whether Goldman risks falling behind a fast-evolving digital-asset industry that, by some accounts, aims to disrupt Wall Street and potentially displace it.
Or if the firmâs clients risk missing out on a big rally, with quick-to-pivot Wall Street eventuallyÂ embracing cryptocurrencies as a promising asset class.Â
Those clients have certainly missed out on the rally so far this year.Â
Tweet of the day
BTC: Price: $9,394 (BPI) | 24-Hr High: $9,621 | 24-Hr Low: $9,008
Trend:Â While bitcoin has gained over 8% so far this week, itâs still lacking clear directional bias.Â
Prices are yet to move out of a symmetrical triangle pattern on theÂ daily chart represented by trendlines connecting the May 10 and 25 lows, and May 7 and 18 highs.
A break above the upper end of the contracting triangle, currently at $9,780 would imply a continuation of the rally from the March low of $3,867 and could lead to a convincing move to the February high of $10,500.Â
On the other hand, a UTC close below the lower end of triangle at $8,782 would confirm a bullish-to-bearish trend change. That could cause more sellers to join the market, leading to a deeper price decline toward $8,000.Â
Both the falling wedge breakout and invalidation of a lower-highs setup confirmed earlier this week on the four-hour chart indicate scope for a rise to the triangle resistance at $9,780. Further, demand for bearish bets or put optionsÂ is weakening, as evidenced by a recent decline in the one-month put-call skew from 22% to 6%.Â
On-chain activity suggests the big playersÂ are accumulating. The number of addresses holding at leastÂ 100 BTC rose as prices dipped from $10,000 to $8,630 in the seven days to May 25, according to data provided Â byÂ Glassnode. That may be a sign many investors are long-term bullish.Â
At press time, bitcoin is trading near $9,400, having risen from $8,800 to $9,620 in the last two days.Â
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All week long, we’ve been watching tension between the US and China escalate. As markets look to close out the month of May today, they are bracing for President Trump’s expected press conference on the US response to China's controversial national security bill for Hong Kong.
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Legend Biotech, a clinical stage CAR-T immuno-oncology biotech being spun out of GenScript, announced terms for its IPO on Friday. The Somerset, NJ-based company plans to raise $350 million by offering 18.4 million ADSs at a price range of $18 to $20. At the midpoint of the propo
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Bitcoinâs bulls are taking a breather amid jitters in the traditional markets over rising tensions between the U.S. and China.Â
The worldâs biggest cryptocurrency is trading near $9,400 at press time, having posted an eight-day high of $9,620 on Thursday. Prices have gained 8% so far this week, according to CoinDeskâs Bitcoin Price Index.Â
While bitcoin looks to be consolidating on recent gains, major European stock markets are flashing red for the first time this week. Leading the way lower is Germanyâs DAX, down 1.5% on the day, followed by Franceâs CAC, which is reporting a 1% decline. Across the pond, futures tied to Wall Streetâs equity index S&P 500 are down 0.5%, as per Investing.com.
Markets look to have become cautious ahead of President Trumpâs response to Chinaâs decision to implement a national security law in Hong Kong, putting the jurisdictionâs autonomy in doubt.Â
âWeâll be announcing what weâre doing tomorrow (Friday) with respect to China. And we are not happy with China. We are not happy with whatâs happened,â Trump told reporters on Thursday. Washington warned earlier this week that it would impose sanctions on China if the law is introduced.Â
The expectation is that Trump will announce some symbolic sanctions against individuals and companies. That said, with the presidential elections due in November, a bigger action cannot be ruled out. The resulting geopolitical tensions could bode well for bitcoin as many analysts and investors consider it a safe haven asset.Â
âI expect serious anti-Chinese rhetoric in the coming days/weeks/months as Trump tries to use nationalism/protectionism and anger towards China/COVID as a major catalyst for support,â Phillip Gillespie, CEO of B2C2 Japan, told CoinDesk in an email. âI am personally bullish [on bitcoin] due to a combination of excess stimulus from all the major central banks (ample liquidity in the system) and pick-up in geopolitical risks.â
Meanwhile, analysts at Stack, a provider of cryptocurrency trackers and index funds, believe the geopolitical tensions have created a âperfect stormâ for the cryptocurrency.Â
In fact, they suggested in a weekly report on Thursday that the cryptocurrencyâs week-to-date gains are the result of increased haven demand fueled by the U.S.-China tensions and the slide in the yuan.Â
âPreviously back in 2019, similar fears have driven Chinese investors to move their onshore RMB (Chinaâs yuan) out of the country, where speculators reckon a part of that has trickled into Bitcoin given the increased demand over the same period,â according to the report. âWe are observing similar price action currently as Bitcoin has rallied 6.2% since, from $8,700 to $9,250 level, once again breaking out from its 2019-2020 daily trendline.â
It remains to be seen if the geopolitical tensions escalate and lead increased haven flows into bitcoin. The cryptocurrency did rise by over 30% in the first half of January when Iran and the U.S. conducted airstrikes on their respective bases in Iraq, injecting geopolitical uncertainty into the financial markets.
Some might argue that bitcoin failed to perform as a haven asset during the height of the coronavirus crisis in March. While that is true, almost every asset, including classic safe haven asset gold, took a beating back then as investors fled for cash.Â
Aside from President Trumpâs China speech, bitcoin analysts are also keeping an eye on the May expiry of cash-settled futures and options contracts listed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME).Â
â23k bitcoin equivalent futures and 10k bitcoin options are set to expire this Friday on CME. Approx 50% of open interest for each product,â crypto derivatives research firm Skew tweeted earlier this week.
Price volatility tends to pick up around the time of expiry of futures and options activity due to increased trading activity.
However, CMEâs contribution to total futures open interest listed across the globe is only 11%, according to Skew data. Similarly, the Chicago exchangeâs contribution to total options open interest is also quite low, so the expiry â due Friday at 15:00 UTC â may not have a major influence on prices.Â
Disclosure:Â The author holds no cryptocurrency at the time of writing.
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Gibraltar Stock Exchange (GSX) Groupâs digital securities platform has tokenized the shares of a client for the first time.
The recently launched blockchain-based venue, GRID, allows for the tokenization of securities using GSX Groupâs native STACS network. In this inaugural issuance, shares for adtech firm tribeOS were created and distributed digitally.
STACS is a scalable digital ledger network layer that âstacks on top of existing financial institutionsâ and facilitates tokenization of the financial services industry, GSX Group said in a press release Wednesday.
âWe are excited to have completed the successful digitalization of tribeOSâ shares,â said Nick Cowan, GSX Group CEO. âTribeOS is the first issuer to utilize our GRID venue, and we look forward to welcoming further pioneering companies who wish to push the boundaries of innovation and accelerate the adoption of blockchain within the capital markets.â
With blockchain initiatives like GRID and STACS, GSX Group said itâs working to help move the capital markets away from âthe cumbersome and costly legacy infrastructureâ and make traditional financial structures more interoperable.
âOur ambition is to deliver dynamic cost-saving solutions, broaden the accessibility of capital, and help issuers in terms of speed-to-market,â Cowan said.
Last year, the Gibraltar Stock Exchange began allowing financial firms to list blockchain-based securities on its GSX Global Market platform. It said then that its existing regulatory permissions from the Gibraltar Financial Services Commission (GFSC) cover the use of blockchain or distributed ledger technology.
âUsing the GRID to create and deploy our shares in digital form allows for a quick and cost-effective route into the digital space,â tribeOS CEO Matt Gallant said.
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One of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world is working with VeChain to develop a new blockchain-based traceability platform.
Bayer China revealed in an interview Thursday that it had chosen VeChain as tech provider for a new blockchain-powered solution that will allow the firm â a branch of Bayer â to track clinical drugs across the supply chain.
Known as âCSecure,â the system loads a batch number relating to a specific drug onto the blockchain. Each drug can then be tracked as it moves across the supply chain, using timestamps and user-identification information at different waypoints. Because of the immutable nature of the blockchain, the data canât be changed by a non-permissioned third party.
VeChain won the right to work with Bayer China in a competition back in 2019, after it proposed that the company consider implementing a blockchain-based supply chain solution. The proposal subsequently went on to become CSecure.
The system is based on ToolChain, a proprietary blockchain-as-a-service (BaaS) system that allows VeChain to design and build full distributed ledger technology solutions to a clientâs specific requirements.
Bayer China is the latest in a series of high-profile partnerships for the blockchain project. Last June, the Chinese arm of supermarket chain Walmart, as well as Big Four accountancy firm PwC teamed up with VeChain to work on a new food tracking solution for China.
However, VeChain isnât saying much about the latest deal. A spokesperson told CoinDesk that the firm is bound by a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and canât divulge further information about how CSecure would actually work âunder the hood.â
A statement from CEO and co-founder Sunny Lu did say he was grateful Bayer put VeChain through its paces in testing CSecureâs product design.
âWeâve experienced the rigorousness of the medical industry by working with Bayer China,â he said. âI feel Bayerâs professionalism and superb work ethic towards medicine and healthcare causes as a whole.â
Last year, Ugandaâs president backed a similar tracking project from MediConnect that was to use blockchain tech to fight the issue of counterfeit medicines.
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Russiaâs central bank is considering putting mortgage records on Masterchain â a government-backed distribute ledger project now in testing with leading banks.
Speaking during an online meeting with the countryâs parliament, the State Duma, the Bank of Russiaâs first deputy chief, Olga Skorobogatove, said a previously launched trial on a decentralized depository system for digital mortgage bonds proved successful.
âWe suggested to the government that we refine the project to the point when all kinds of transactions needed for the digital mortgage issuance can be done on Masterchain,â Skorobogatova said. âThis platform is working and, without further ado, we can complete this development.â
The official further said six Russian banks have been testing Masterchain for exchanging digital letters of credit, âand some other are ready to join.â Skorobogatova didnât specify the names of any the banks in that effort, or entities that might participate in the digital mortgage pilot.Â
CoinDesk confirmed Skorobogatovaâs statements via an audio recording of the meeting.Â The Bank of Russia did not respond to a request for additional information by press time.Â
Masterchain was launched in 2017 by the Fintech Association, which is supervised by the Bank of Russia. The project includes participants like Sberbank, Alfa Bank, VTB, Raiffeisenbank Russia and Otkritie, as well as the National Settlement Depository and the federal land registry service, Skorobogatova said.
The project was previously criticized as âdisappointingâ by the blockchain expert of Sberbank, Russiaâs largest retail bank.
More projects coming
Skorobogatova said the Bank of Russiaâs regulatory sandbox for distributed ledger projects has applications from 50 projects in the pipeline, some of which have already completed pilots.Â Â
âWe tested two digital assets projects, one for hybrid tokens representing digital rights and goods, and another for tokenization of services,â she said. âBoth projects got a green light from us, and the companies are now waiting for regulation to be passed so they can launch in Russia.âÂ
Again, the projects were not named. However, one might be the metal tokenization project by Nornickel, Russiaâs mining and smelting giant, which was reported as successfully trialed in the regulatorâs sandbox in February.Â
In the meantime, the Duma is preparing to hear a bill for the first regulation of digital assets in Russia. The draft passed the first hearing (out of the three required) last May and has been left untouched until last week, when the second draft was introduced together with a package of other laws.Â
The new package is proposing a procedure for issuing registered digital securities on the blockchain in Russia, while banning any operations with cryptocurrencies using Russia-based servers and web domains.
Cryptocurrencies are considered commodities in the draft and should be reported for tax purposes. However, they wonât be allowed to be legally sold for fiat. The draft fully reflects the stance of the Bank of Russia, which is in favor of blockchain securities, but does not believe crypto should be legal in the country.Â
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Seamless login for the decentralized apps (dapps) of any blockchain. Thatâs the vision for Torus Labsâ new identity solution, DirectAuth.
The Singapore-based firm released a software development kit (SDK) Thursday for blockchain-agnostic dapp logins. Torus launched its blockchain network and one-click login protocol in February counting eight initial members for its key management system âÂ including Binance, the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) and Skale.
The key innovation with DirectAuth compared to the previous Torus offering is blockchain neutrality, Torus Labs CEO and co-founder Zhen Yu Yong said in a phone interview with CoinDesk.
âWeâve abstracted all of the core security features out of the Torus wallet and put it into an SDK so that any application can plug it into the application and interact with trust whilst maintaining their own permissioned structure,â said Yong.
Torusâ newest product makes dapp logins as easy as accessing your Gmail â a tangible bridge between Web 2.0 and Web 3.0. DirectAuth commits a blockchain transaction on the userâs behalf while maintaining a similar experience to traditional logins, eliminating the need for digging up the private keys or mnemonic passwords common in todayâs Web 3.0 products.
Yong said DirectAuth has already integrated with multiple networks including digital card game SkyWeaver, universal basic income project GoodDollar and social platform Sapien.Â
Arweave CEO Sam Williams told CoinDesk that âsimplifying login and key managementâ for Web 3.0 products was âcriticalâ for mainstream adoption. His storage protocol was one of the first to integrate DirectAuth before the product launched publicly.
Yong also said the productâs user interface (UI) was overhauled to put native developers in the driverâs seat. Kyle Samani, managing partner of Multicoin Capital, which led the projectâs 2019 $2 million seed round, said the UIâs flexibility is the âmost powerful aspectâ of DirectAuth as it gives âdevelopers control over the user experience in ways theyâve never had before.â
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Digital currency giant Genesis Global Trading has launched a derivatives trading desk to be led by former Galaxy Digital staffer Joshua Lim.
The desk will provide liquidity across crypto derivatives markets and trade cleared and bilateral over-the-counter (OTC) options and forwards. Last week, the New York based-trading firm, which is a subsidiary of CoinDesk parent firm Digital Currency Group, announced it wasentering into prime brokerage with its acquisition of crypto custodian Vo1t.Â
The new derivatives desk will expand the companyâs suite of products as it aims to attract more institutional clients to the newly branded Genesis Prime, said Genesis CEO Michael Moro.
Lim, a former employee of both Galaxy Digital and Circle, will lead the new derivatives trading desk. At payments startup Circle, Lim helped develop an OTC trading desk. At crypto merchant bank Galaxy Digital, he built customized products for institutional clients. According to a report last month by The Block, Lim departed Galaxy following a round of layoffs in February.
âWe want to be present on Deribit and CME as a liquidity provider,â Lim said of his new remit. âFor those traders that donât have enough size on their order books, they can reach out to us and we can be present on the other side of the trade.â
Over the coming months, Genesis will seek to prove to the market that it can do derivative trading, Moro added. Later this year, Genesis will be introducing capital introduction for family offices seeking crypto hedge funds that have the strategies, fee structure and asset exposure to fit their investing needs.
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Minecraft, one of the worldâs most popular video games, has a new plug-in enabling players to place blockchain assets directly into their servers.
Built by gaming startup Enjin, EnjinCraft is an open-source blockchain plugin that enables players to spawn assets in the Minecraft Java Edition without the need to write any code.
The tool works by dropping the EnjinCraft file into a playerâs server âplug-insâ folder, where they can then begin integrating and distributing blockchain assets in the form of tokens.
The plug-in marks the second release by Enjin for Minecraft after it initially released DonationCraft in 2013 in collaboration with Bukkit. Now downloaded 5.1 million times, DonationCraft allows players to grow their Minecraft servers by creating a server websiteÂ andÂ donation store.
The new offering allows server hosts to create their own localized Minecraft economies by providing their players with tangible ownership over in-game items and currencies. It also allows for players to securely trade their assets in peer-to-peer (P2P) fashion through the server or via external chat rooms and digital trading platforms like the Enjin Marketplace.
âEnjinCraft is the beginning of a new era for sandbox games. Players now have a tangible stake in their gaming worlds, and server owners can create new kinds of addictive experiences by using branded collectibles and items with scarcity and value in the digital universe,â said Enjinâs co-founder and CTO, Witek Radomski..
Enjin has also released an open-source software development kit (SDK) for Java, allowing developers to implement blockchain in Java-based mobile, desktop or web apps.
The gaming-focused project has been active this year, having launched its development platform on Ethereum in February. The launch enables potentially millions of developers to integrate crypto assets into games and apps without prior knowledge of coding for blockchain.
In April, Enjin announced it would be opening its crypto wallet to Chinese users ahead of a planned expansion into the Asian nation after it sought approval from Chinaâs Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.
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Bitcoin is so speculative and volatile that it doesnât deserve to be considered an asset class,Â according to Goldman Sachs.
Diving deeper into the realm of theÂ more than 5,000 cryptocurrencies in existence,Â things get even more speculative â with traders often jumping on fast-moving and thinly traded tokens for a quick profit and then quickly moving on to the next hot trade.Â
Thatâs why itâs so notable that holders of one token, Chainlink (LINK), appear to be in it for the long term.Â
Youâre readingÂ First Mover, CoinDeskâs daily markets newsletter. Assembled by the CoinDesk Markets Team, First Mover starts your day with the most up-to-date sentiment around crypto markets, which of course never close, putting in context every wild swing in bitcoin and more. We follow the money so you donât have to. You canÂ subscribe here.
Data extracted from the underlying blockchain and cryptocurrency markets reveal declining balances of the token held at exchanges. In the logic of digital-asset traders, thatâs seen as a sign that holders of the token have no near-term intention of selling their LINK tokens: After withdrawing the tokens from exchanges, holders are likely either hoard them or send them to be used in smart contracts on the Chainlink blockchain.Â
High market capitalization and real users is a rare combination for blockchain networks. But with Chainlink, backers of the project are so devoted that they refer to themselves on social media as âLINK Marinesâ â a sly reference to the community known as the âXRP Armyâ that supports the eponymously named token from Ripple.Â The idea is that LINK investors are âHODLing,â an expression that dates back to early cryptocurrency chat forums and refers to long-term, often ideologically motivated investors.
âChainlink is the most successful blockchain network over the last two years and we still feel like the underdog,â said Michael Anderson, co-founder of Framework Ventures, which published a Chainlink investment thesis in late 2017.Â
During a year when traditional assets like U.S. stocks are floundering, and bitcoin is up 27%, Chainlink more than doubled, making it the top-performing digital asset among the top 10 ranked by market capitalization, according toÂ OnChainFX. The coinâs market value is now almost $3.8 billion.Â
Chainlink is a tokenized decentralized network that provides blockchain networks with price feed data collected from sources both on and off blockchains. The protocol offers a potential solution to what is known as the âoracle problem,â or the ability to get the off-chain data needed in many smart contracts. Given that blockchains are intended to operate as âtrustlessâ networks, using outside data requires integrating with a trusted source â an âoracle.âÂ
âAs time goes by, there are definitely some questionable projects that break the top-10 market capitalization ranking for crypto,â said Anil Lulla, analyst at cryptocurrency research firm Delphi Digital who recently authored aÂ reportÂ on blockchain-based oracles. âItâs very easy to point to a lot of names on that list and see very little to no usage.âÂ
However, the Delphi Digital team was âimpressed at some of the early trends weâve been seeing in usage for Chainlink,â Lulla said.Â
So is it bullish that LINK Marines are HODLing? Itâs tough to say, according to Lulla.Â
âI just donât see the connection with the token economics,â Lulla wrote in a Telegram message. âBut theyâre dominating the oracles space so I think the LINK memers can keep this narrative going for a while.âÂ
A Chainlink spokesperson declined to comment on the data.Â
In May 2019, the total amount of LINK held on exchanges began to steadily decrease, a trend that would continue for the next 12 consecutive months, according toÂ Glassnode.Â
Exchange withdrawals coincided with the first significant LINK price inflation when the token traded above $1.00 for the first time. And as more tokens left cryptocurrency exchanges, trading volume steadily grew, according toÂ Nomics.Â
So where where did the LINK tokens taken off exchanges go?Â
The data suggest that the Marines are sending their tokens to either their own wallets or Chainlink smart contracts. The percentage of LINK supply held by the top 1% of addresses has grown by almost 25% in the past year, according to Glassnode.Â
Median transfer value fell by 77% over the same period, suggesting that when LINK Marines decide to actually transfer tokens, their transactions are increasingly small.Â
LINK is also being sent to smart contracts designed to utilize the protocolâs oracle services. According to Glassnode, the year-to-date supply of LINK in smart contracts grew by 1.3% percent.Â
The strong price performance has foiled traders who have taken short positions on LINK, betting on a decline in the tokenâs price.Â
Such challengers have been âgetting their faces ripped offâ in markets for over a year, Rob Paone, a popular YouTube crypto personality and startup founder,Â notedÂ in a March 18 tweet.Â
At the time of Frameworkâs investment, according to Anderson, âmany of the âindustry expertsâ either said Chainlink was over-engineered,â or that two rival oracle projects, Augur or Uniswap, would ultimately win out.Â Â
And the LINK Marines are staying faithful.Â
Tweet of the day
Trend:Â Bitcoin is struggling to maintain momentum after Wednesdayâs convincing break above the psychological hurdle of $9,000.
At press time, the number one cryptocurrency by market value is trading near $9,190, having faced rejection at $9,300 during the Asian trading hours.Â
The pullback has neutralizedÂ the immediate bullish view put forward by a falling wedge breakout on the four-hour chart Wednesday. Further, it has established $9,310 â a lower high created May 24 â as strong resistance.Â
If buyers can push prices past that threshold, a price rally to Â $9,850 may be seen. That level is currently housing the upper end of the contracting triangle represented by trendlines connecting May 7 and 18 highs, and May 10 and 25 highs.Â
The overall bias will stay neutral while the cryptocurrency is held withing the three-week-long narrowing price range on the daily chart. A breakout would imply a continuation of the rally from lows below $4,000 seen on March 13 and open the doors for a test of February high of $10,500.
Alternatively, a move below $8,760 would confirm a range breakdown and shift risk in favor of a deeper decline to support at $8,109 (May 10 low) and $7,900 (100-day average).Â
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The coronavirus crisis may have given one censorship-resistance project a small boost.
There are several startups trying to decentralize the internetâs domain-name infrastructure, including Ethereum Name Service (ENS), Unstoppable Domains and UniLogin. So far the ENS token ecosystem has garnered 9,813 addresses and roughly 270,000 unique web names. Unstoppable Domains co-founder Brad Kam said his project has 220,000 registered domains since January 2019, with 8,000 live websites.Â
Kam said Unstoppable domains generally sold to companies like MyCrypto and the Kyber Network for between $40 and $10,000 each, which even modest estimates indicate as income worth more than $8.8 million. This startupâs business model bets that crypto exchanges and wallets will need censorship-resistant domain options for regulatory arbitrage. Kam said he is passionate about freedom of speech and businesses being able to resist dictators.Â
Meanwhile, the comparable and highly anticipated web domain project Handshake, which airdropped an estimated $100 million worth of HNS tokens to developers with active GitHub pages, has attracted thousands of participants since it launched in February 2020.Â
Tieshun Roquerre, CEO of the Handshake-centric Namebase exchange, said users spent $10 million worth of airdropped HNS tokens so far, claiming web domains through 20,000 auctions in four months. This range already compares to estimated revenues for the 14-month-old Unstoppable, which raised a $4 million Series A in 2019.Â
With regards to Handshake, Roquerre estimated 4,373 people claimed their tokens out of roughly 150,000 eligible recipients, and âsome of our users have reached out about coronavirus-related names.â
Although this represents a small portion of the airdropped tokens, the domain name service (DNS) provider NextDNS also offers support for Handshake name resolution.Â
âMore people are using it than we thought, and from what weâve seen, a few cool handshake-only mini-sites are starting to pop up,â NextDNS CEO Romain Cointepas said.
This year the plan is for NextDNS to run its own HNS nodes, Cointepas said, comparable to running a Simplified Payment Verification bitcoin node. This would let customers use Handshake for top-level domains (TLDs) like .com and .net, âeffectively replacing the root servers completely,â Cointepas said.
So far, this primarily appeals to developers with hobby projects who like the idea of completely owning their own website without trusting service providers. Beyond hobbyists, some crypto companies like Brave have claimed their corresponding Handshake web domains as well.Â
âWith Handshake you own it directly with a private key, the way you own bitcoin with a private key,â said HNS user Matthew Zipkin, who built the reference site easyhandshake.com. âAs long as you keep that key secure, no one is taking that name from you. â¦ Thereâs a lot of money and corruption and centralization. The namespace is dominated by ICANN.â
Many believe the current system is relatively public and well-managed. The central body that governs domain space, ICANN, recently rejected an attempt to sell .org domains to the private firm Ethos Capital. Yet Zipkin said ICANNâs dominance is still problematic because the organization is based in the United States and other tech organizations, like the Microsoft-owned GitHub, stopped offering full services in 2019 to some jurisdictions for fear of American sanctions.
âHandshake doesnât replace DNS, it extends it,â Zipkin said. âWhen Iâm using a Handshake resolver, that means my internet service provider (ISP) doesnât know where Iâm browsing, because Iâm not asking them. â¦ Anyone can run a resolver on their computer. They can verify Handshake names trustlessly with minimal data downloads and bandwidth.â
Zipkin said Handshake can also be used with a privacy-enhancing Tor browser, in addition to regular VPN services. Yet some DNS veterans remain skeptical about the prospect that Handshake could achieve commercial traction, beyond hobbyists and crypto startups.
Farsight CEO Paul Vixie, who helped scale DNS and build the system we use today, said âno one wants to splinter the namespace because that will fragment the market.âÂ
He added at least a dozen startups have tried to achieve Handshakeâs same goal â to decentralize DNS infrastructure options â but none have achieved both significant and sustainable traction. Plus, the Handshake community is already being faced with its first legal conundrum over whether it can offer â.music,â another version of which is run by ICANN.Â
âThe commercial community, outside of that [tech bubble] â¦ they are happy with the namespace as is,â Vixie said. âThere is no end game for multiple namespaces. â¦ You can certainly waste a lot of investor money but in the end thereâs got to be one that works.âÂ
Speaking to that point, Namebaseâs Roquerre said he expects it will take a long time for developers to buy or trade TLDs for business, not pleasure.âIn the long term thereâs going to be more commercial activity,âÂ Roquerre agreed. âI think the main theme of censorship resistance is generally why people are interested in Handshake, itâs been like that for a long time and itâs continuing.â
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Zscaler (ZS) 3rd Quarter Earnings: What to Expect
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The nation’s largest warehouse retailer will report third-quarter fiscal 2020 earnings results after the closing bell Thursday. Despite the weak consumer data, expectations are high for Costco.
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With increased worker productivity amid the coronavirus-induced shift towards work-from-home, Salesforce could be a major beneficiary over the next several quarters. But is there a downside?
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Google is teaming up with Theta Labs in a move meant to help the video delivery network onboard users through Google Cloud.
As part of the partnership, the tech giant is assisting Theta with its Mainnet 2.0 launch, a hard fork happening around noon Pacific time on Wednesday, said Theta Labs CEO Mitch Liu.
âTheta is unique in that their video delivery network needs both a reliable, high-performance networkâwhich we provide via our premium network tierâas well as reputable node operators to ensure protocol security,â said Google Cloud developer advocate Allen Day
Google will become the protocolâs fifth external validator node. Theta Labs is staking 5 million THETA tokens (worth about $2.4 million at a press-time price of$0.48 each) for Google on the network.
Theta rewards network participants for relaying video content to other users using their spare bandwidth and computing resources. The end result should be a âmassive decentralized mesh network of relayers,â Liu said.
Google joins the likes of Binance, Blockchain Ventures and gumi Cryptos as external enterprise validators that propose and validate new blocks on the Theta blockchain. Eventually, Theta aims to have 31 external enterprise validators.Â Google Cloud is also becoming Thetaâs preferred cloud provider with todayâs announcement.
âI canât speculate on what will happen in the future, but weâre looking forward to working with users who want to join the Theta network,â Day said. âUsers can launch a Theta Guardian node from the GCP marketplace. With a few clicks, they can deploy a Guardian and be peering with the Theta network.â
Google will be Thetaâs first European enterprise validator since the tech giant will be hosting the node at its office in Ireland, further geographically decentralizing the network. In February, Hedera Hashgraph announced that Google Cloud would run a node on the blockchain-like network and make hashgraph analytics available for users.
The hard fork will inflate Theta Fuel (TFUEL) â a second token that powers on-chain operations â by 5%, creating a bigger reward for stakers.Â
In addition, hundreds of Guardian nodes (available to the public) will act as an extra layer of consensus with the Mainnet 2.0 launch by finalizing blocks and checking for bad-actor validator nodes. Liu said he could see Google help Theta scale the number Guardian nodes on the network to the thousands or tens of thousands.Â
Theta also plans to further collaborate with Googleâs artificial intelligence, machine-learning and big-data initiatives. Google also owns YouTube, a key target for Thetaâs partnership aspirations.
âYouTube is particularly interesting because they utilize mostly internally-developed technology for video delivery and streaming, which makes experimentation a lot easier without having to rely on external platforms like Akamai or AWS,â Liu said.
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ZoomInfo Technologies, which provides a data platform for sales, marketing, and recruiting professionals, announced terms for its IPO on Wednesday. The Vancouver, WA-based company plans to raise $757 million by offering 44.5 million shares at a price range of $16 to $18. At the m
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Foley Trasimene Acquisition, the second blank check company formed by financial services veteran Bill Foley, raised $900 million by offering 90 million units at $10, making it the second largest SPAC of 2020 and tying for the second largest SPAC of all time. The company originall
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