Web3 & Crypto
6 days ago
Failures of DCG and Genesis
Don't sleep with your own sister.
70% of lottery winners go broke within five years. You've heard the last one. People who got rich quickly without setbacks and hard work often lose it all. My father said, "Easy money is easily lost," and a wealthy friend who owns a family office said, "The first generation makes it, the second generation spends it, and the third generation blows it."
This is evident. Corrupt politicians in developing countries live lavishly, buying their third wives' fifth Hermès bag and celebrating New Year's at The Brando Resort. A successful businessperson from humble beginnings is more conservative with money. More so if they're atom-based, not bit-based. They value money.
Crypto can "feel" easy. I have nothing against capital market investing. The global financial system is shady, but that's another topic. The problem started when those who took advantage of easy money started affecting other businesses. VCs did minimal due diligence on FTX because they needed deal flow and returns for their LPs. Lenders did minimum diligence and underwrote ludicrous loans to 3AC because they needed revenue.
Alameda (hence FTX) and 3AC made "easy money" Genesis and DCG aren't. Their businesses are more conventional, but they underestimated how "easy money" can hurt them.
Genesis has been the victim of easy money hubris and insolvency, losing $1 billion+ to 3AC and $200M to FTX. We discuss the implications for the broader crypto market.
Here are the quick takeaways:
Genesis is one of the largest and most notable crypto lenders and prime brokerage firms.
DCG and Genesis have done related party transactions, which can be done right but is a bad practice.
Genesis owes DCG $1.5 billion+.
If DCG unwinds Grayscale's GBTC, $9-10 billion in BTC will hit the market.
DCG will survive Genesis.
Let's recap the FTX shenanigan from two weeks ago. Shenanigans! Delphi's tweet sums up the craziness. Genesis has $175M in FTX.
Cred's timeline: I hate bad crisis management. Yes, admitting their balance sheet hole right away might've sparked more panic, and there's no easy way to convey your trouble, but no one ever learns.
By November 23, rumors circulated online that the problem could affect Genesis' parent company, DCG. To address this, Barry Silbert, Founder, and CEO of DCG released a statement to shareholders.
A few things are confirmed thanks to this statement.
DCG owes $1.5 billion+ to Genesis.
$500M is due in 6 months, and the rest is due in 2032 (yes, that’s not a typo).
Unless Barry raises new cash, his last-ditch efforts to repay the money will likely push the crypto market lower.
Half a year of GBTC fees is approximately $100M.
They can pay $500M with GBTC.
With profits, sell another port.
Genesis has hired a restructuring adviser, indicating it is in trouble.
Every crypto problem in the past year seems to be rehypothecation between related parties, excessive leverage, hubris, and the removal of the money printer. The Bankless guys provided a chart showing 2021 crypto yield.
In June 2022, @DataFinnovation published a great investigation about 3AC and DCG. Here's a summary.
3AC borrowed BTC from Genesis and pledged it to create Grayscale's GBTC shares.
3AC uses GBTC to borrow more money from Genesis.
This lets 3AC leverage their capital.
3AC's strategy made sense because GBTC had a premium, creating "free money."
GBTC's discount and LUNA's implosion caused problems.
3AC lost its loan money in LUNA.
Margin called on 3ACs' GBTC collateral.
DCG bought GBTC to avoid a systemic collapse and a larger discount.
Genesis lost too much money because 3AC can't pay back its loan. DCG "saved" Genesis, but the FTX collapse hurt Genesis further, forcing DCG and Genesis to seek external funding.
Co-borrowing. Unnecessary rehypothecation. Extra space. Governance disaster. Greed, hubris. Crypto has repeatedly shown it can recreate traditional financial system disasters quickly. Working in crypto is one of the best ways to learn crazy financial tricks people will do for a quick buck much faster than if you dabble in traditional finance.
I think the crypto industry needs to consider its future. This is especially true for professionals. I'm not trying to scare you. In 2018 and 2020, I had doubts. No doubts now. Detailing the crypto industry's potential outcomes helped me gain certainty and confidence in its future. This includes VCs' benefits and talking points during the bull market, as well as what would happen if government regulations became hostile, etc. Even if that happens, I'm certain. This is permanent. I may write a post about that soon.
13 days ago
Is Web3 nonsense?
Crypto and blockchain have rebranded as web3. They probably thought it sounded better and didn't want the baggage of scam ICOs, STOs, and skirted securities laws.
It was like Facebook becoming Meta. Crypto's biggest players wanted to change public (and regulator) perception away from pump-and-dump schemes.
After the 2018 ICO gold rush, it's understandable. Every project that raised millions (or billions) never shipped a meaningful product.
Like many crazes, charlatans took the money and ran.
Despite its grifter past, web3 is THE hot topic today as more founders, venture firms, and larger institutions look to build the future decentralized internet.
How often have you heard: This will change the world, fix the internet, and give people power?
Why are most of web3's biggest proponents (and beneficiaries) the same rich, powerful players who built and invested in the modern internet? It's like they want to remake and own the internet.
Something seems off about that.
Why are insiders getting preferential presale terms before the public, allowing early investors and proponents to flip dirt cheap tokens and advisors shares almost immediately after the public sale?
It's a good gig with guaranteed markups, no risk or progress.
If it sounds like insider trading, it is, at least practically. This is clear when people talk about blockchain/web3 launches and tokens.
Fast money, quick flips, and guaranteed markups/returns are common.
Incentives-wise, it's hard to blame them. Who can blame someone for following the rules to win? Is it their fault or regulators' for not leveling the playing field?
It's similar to oil companies polluting for profit, Instagram depressing you into buying a new dress, or pharma pushing an unnecessary pill.
All of that is fair game, at least until we change the playbook, because people (and corporations) change for pain or love. Who doesn't love money?
belief based on money gain
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
Bitcoin, blockchain, and web3 analogies?
Most blockchain and web3 proponents are true believers, not cynical capitalists. They believe blockchain's inherent transparency and permissionless trust allow humanity to evolve beyond our reptilian ways and build a better decentralized and democratic world.
They highlight issues with the modern internet and monopoly players like Google, Facebook, and Apple. Decentralization fixes everything
If we could give power back to the people and get governments/corporations/individuals out of the way, we'd fix everything.
Blockchain solves supply chain and child labor issues in China.
To meet Paris climate goals, reduce emissions. Create a carbon token.
Fixing online hatred and polarization Web3 Twitter and Facebook replacement.
Web3 must just be the answer for everything… your “perfect” silver bullet.
Nothing fits everyone. Blockchain has pros and cons like everything else.
Blockchain's viral, ponzi-like nature has an MLM (mid level marketing) feel. If you bought Taylor Swift's NFT, your investment is tied to her popularity.
Probably makes you promote Swift more. Play music loudly.
Here's another example:
Imagine if Jehovah’s Witnesses (or evangelical preachers…) got paid for every single person they converted to their cause.
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy as their faith and wealth grow.
Which breeds extremism? Ultra-Orthodox Jews are an example. maximalists
Bitcoin and blockchain are causes, religions. It's a money-making movement and ideal.
We're good at convincing ourselves of things we want to believe, hence filter bubbles.
I ignore anything that doesn't fit my worldview and seek out like-minded people, which algorithms amplify.
Is web3 merely a new scam?
Blockchain has many crucial uses.
Sending money home/abroad without bank fees;
Like fleeing a war-torn country and converting savings to Bitcoin;
Like preventing Twitter from silencing dissidents.
Permissionless, trustless databases could benefit society and humanity. There are, however, many limitations.
What if you're cheated?
What if Trump/Putin/your favorite dictator incites a coup d'état?
What-ifs abound. Decentralization's openness brings good and bad.
No gatekeepers or firefighters to rescue you.
ISIS's fundraising is also frictionless.
Community-owned apps with bad interfaces and service.
So what compromises does web3 make?
What are your trade-offs? Decentralization has many strengths and flaws. Like Bitcoin's wasteful proof-of-work or Ethereum's political/wealth-based proof-of-stake.
To ensure the survival and veracity of the network/blockchain and to safeguard its nodes, extreme measures have been designed/put in place to prevent hostile takeovers aimed at altering the blockchain, i.e., adding money to your own wallet (account), etc.
These protective measures require significant resources and pose challenges. Reduced speed and throughput, high gas fees (cost to submit/write a transaction to the blockchain), and delayed development times, not to mention forked blockchain chains oops, web3 projects.
Protecting dissidents or rogue regimes makes sense. You need safety, privacy, and calm.
What if you assumed EVERYONE you saw was out to rob/attack you? You'd never travel, trust anyone, accomplish much, or live fully. The economy would collapse.
It's like an ant colony where half the ants do nothing but wait to be attacked.
Waste of time and money.
11% of the US budget goes to the military. Imagine what we could do with the $766B+ we spend on what-ifs annually.
Is so much hypothetical security needed?
Blockchain and web3 are similar.
Does your app need permissionless decentralization? Does your scooter-sharing company really need a proof-of-stake system and 1000s of nodes to avoid Russian hackers? Why?
Worst-case scenario? It's not life or death, unless you overstate the what-ifs. Web3 proponents find improbable scenarios to justify decentralization and tokenization.
Do I need a token to prove ownership of my painting? Unless I'm a master thief, I probably bought it.
despite losing the receipt.
I do, however, love Web 3.
Enough Web3 bashing for now. Understand? Decentralization isn't perfect, but it has huge potential when applied to the right problems.
I see many of the right problems as disrupting big tech's ruthless monopolies. I wrote several years ago about how tokenized blockchains could be used to break big tech's stranglehold on platforms, marketplaces, and social media.
Tokenomics schemes can be used for good and are powerful. Here’s how.
Before the ICO boom, I made a series of predictions about blockchain/crypto's future. It's still true.
Here's where I was then and where I see web3 going:
My 11 Big & Bold Predictions for Blockchain
In the near future, people may wear crypto cash rings or bracelets.
While some governments repress cryptocurrency, others will start to embrace it.
Blockchain will fundamentally alter voting and governance, resulting in a more open election process.
Money freedom will lead to a more geographically open world where people will be more able to leave when there is unrest.
Blockchain will make record keeping significantly easier, eliminating the need for a significant portion of government workers whose sole responsibility is paperwork.
Overrated are smart contracts.
6. Tokens will replace company stocks.
7. Blockchain increases real estate's liquidity, value, and volatility.
8. Healthcare may be most affected.
9. Crypto could end privacy and lead to Minority Report.
10. New companies with network effects will displace incumbents.
11. Soon, people will wear rings or bracelets with crypto cash.
Some have already happened, while others are still possible.
Time will tell if they happen.
What will web3 be?
Who will be in charge?
Hope you enjoyed this web3 dive. There's much more to say, but that's for another day.
We're writing history as we go.
Tech regulation, mergers, Bitcoin surge How will history remember us?
What about web3 and blockchain?
Is this a revolution or a tulip craze?
Remember, actions speak louder than words (share them in the comments).
14 days ago
This person is probably Satoshi Nakamoto.
Who founded bitcoin is the biggest mystery in technology today, not how it works.
On October 31, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto posted a whitepaper to a cryptography email list. Still confused by the mastermind who changed monetary history.
Journalists and bloggers have tried in vain to uncover bitcoin's creator. Some candidates self-nominated. We're still looking for the mystery's perpetrator because none of them have provided proof.
One person. I'm confident he invented bitcoin. Let's assess Satoshi Nakamoto before I reveal my pick. Or what he wants us to know.
Satoshi's P2P Foundation biography says he was born in 1975. He doesn't sound or look Japanese. First, he wrote the whitepaper and subsequent articles in flawless English. His sleeping habits are unusual for a Japanese person.
Stefan Thomas, a Bitcoin Forum member, displayed Satoshi's posting timestamps. Satoshi Nakamoto didn't publish between 2 and 8 p.m., Japanese time. Satoshi's identity may not be real.
Why would he disguise himself?
There is a legitimate explanation for this
Phil Zimmermann created PGP to give dissidents an open channel of communication, like Pretty Good Privacy. US government seized this technology after realizing its potential. Police investigate PGP and Zimmermann.
This technology let only two people speak privately. Bitcoin technology makes it possible to send money for free without a bank or other intermediary, removing it from government control.
How much do we know about the person who invented bitcoin?
Here's what we know about Satoshi Nakamoto now that I've covered my doubts about his personality.
Satoshi Nakamoto first appeared with a whitepaper on metzdowd.com. On Halloween 2008, he presented a nine-page paper on a new peer-to-peer electronic monetary system.
Using the nickname satoshi, he created the bitcointalk forum. He kept developing bitcoin and created bitcoin.org. Satoshi mined the genesis block on January 3, 2009.
Satoshi Nakamoto worked with programmers in 2010 to change bitcoin's protocol. He engaged with the bitcoin community. Then he gave Gavin Andresen the keys and codes and transferred community domains. By 2010, he'd abandoned the project.
The bitcoin creator posted his goodbye on April 23, 2011. Mike Hearn asked Satoshi if he planned to rejoin the group.
“I’ve moved on to other things. It’s in good hands with Gavin and everyone.”
The man who broke the banking system vanished. Why?
Satoshi's wallets held 1,000,000 BTC. In December 2017, when the price peaked, he had over US$19 billion. Nakamoto had the 44th-highest net worth then. He's never cashed a bitcoin.
This data suggests something happened to bitcoin's creator. I think Hal Finney is Satoshi Nakamoto .
Hal Finney had ALS and died in 2014. I suppose he created the future of money, then he died, leaving us with only rumors about his identity.
Hal Finney, who was he?
Hal Finney graduated from Caltech in 1979. Student peers voted him the smartest. He took a doctoral-level gravitational field theory course as a freshman. Finney's intelligence meets the first requirement for becoming Satoshi Nakamoto.
Students remember Finney holding an Ayn Rand book. If he'd read this, he may have developed libertarian views.
His beliefs led him to a small group of freethinking programmers. In the 1990s, he joined Cypherpunks. This action promoted the use of strong cryptography and privacy-enhancing technologies for social and political change. Finney helped them achieve a crypto-anarchist perspective as self-proclaimed privacy defenders.
Zimmermann knew Finney well.
Hal replied to a Cypherpunk message about Phil Zimmermann and PGP. He contacted Phil and became PGP Corporation's first member, retiring in 2011. Satoshi Nakamoto quit bitcoin in 2011.
Finney improved the new PGP protocol, but he had to do so secretly. He knew about Phil's PGP issues. I understand why he wanted to hide his identity while creating bitcoin.
Why did he pretend to be from Japan?
His envisioned persona was spot-on. He resided near scientist Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto. Finney could've assumed Nakamoto's identity to hide his. Temple City has 36,000 people, so what are the chances they both lived there? A cryptographic genius with the same name as Bitcoin's creator: coincidence?
Things went differently, I think.
I think Hal Finney sent himself Satoshis messages. I know it's odd. If you want to conceal your involvement, do as follows. He faked messages and transferred the first bitcoins to himself to test the transaction mechanism, so he never returned their money.
Hal Finney created the first reusable proof-of-work system. The bitcoin protocol. In the 1990s, Finney was intrigued by digital money. He invented CRypto cASH in 1993.
Hal Finney's contributions should not be forgotten. Even if I'm wrong and he's not Satoshi Nakamoto, we shouldn't forget his bitcoin contribution. He helped us achieve a better future.
JEFF JOHN ROBERTS
22 days ago
What just happened in cryptocurrency? A plain-English Q&A about Binance's FTX takedown.
Crypto people have witnessed things. They've seen big hacks, mind-boggling swindles, and amazing successes. They've never seen a day like Tuesday, when the world's largest crypto exchange murdered its closest competition.
Here's a primer on Binance and FTX's lunacy and why it matters if you're new to crypto.
CZ, a shrewd Chinese-Canadian billionaire, runs Binance. FTX, a newcomer, has challenged Binance in recent years. SBF (Sam Bankman-Fried)—a young American with wild hair—founded FTX (initials are a thing in crypto).
Last weekend, CZ complained about SBF's lobbying and then exploited Binance's market power to attack his competition.
How did CZ do that?
CZ invested in SBF's new cryptocurrency exchange when they were friends. CZ sold his investment in FTX for FTT when he no longer wanted it. FTX clients utilize those tokens to get trade discounts, although they are less liquid than Bitcoin.
SBF made a mistake by providing CZ just too many FTT tokens, giving him control over FTX. It's like Pepsi handing Coca-Cola a lot of stock it could sell at any time. CZ got upset with SBF and flooded the market with FTT tokens.
SBF owns a trading fund with many FTT tokens, therefore this was catastrophic. SBF sought to defend FTT's worth by selling other assets to buy up the FTT tokens flooding the market, but it didn't succeed, and as FTT's value plummeted, his liabilities exceeded his assets. By Tuesday, his companies were insolvent, so he sold them to his competition.
Crazy. How could CZ do that?
CZ likely did this to crush a rising competition. It was also personal. In recent months, regulators have been tough toward the crypto business, and Binance and FTX have been trying to stay on their good side. CZ believed SBF was poisoning U.S. authorities by saying CZ was linked to China, so CZ took retribution.
“We supported previously, but we won't pretend to make love after divorce. We're neutral. But we won't assist people that push against other industry players behind their backs," CZ stated in a tragic tweet on Sunday. He crushed his rival's company two days later.
So does Binance now own FTX?
No. Not yet. CZ has only stated that Binance signed a "letter of intent" to acquire FTX. CZ and SBF say Binance will protect FTX consumers' funds.
Who’s to blame?
You could blame CZ for using his control over FTX to destroy it. SBF is also being criticized for not disclosing the full overlap between FTX and his trading company, which controlled plenty of FTT. If he had been upfront, someone might have warned FTX about this vulnerability earlier, preventing this mess.
Others have alleged that SBF utilized customer monies to patch flaws in his enterprises' balance accounts. That happened to multiple crypto startups that collapsed this spring, which is unfortunate. These are allegations, not proof.
Why does this matter? Isn't this common in crypto?
Crypto is notorious for shady executives and pranks. FTX is the second-largest crypto business, and SBF was largely considered as the industry's golden boy who would help it get on authorities' good side. Thus far.
Does this affect cryptocurrency prices?
Short-term, it's bad. Prices fell on suspicions that FTX was in peril, then rallied when Binance rescued it, only to fall again later on Tuesday.
These occurrences have hurt FTT and SBF's Solana token. It appears like a huge token selloff is affecting the rest of the market. Bitcoin fell 10% and Ethereum 15%, which is bad but not catastrophic for the two largest coins by market cap.
24 days ago
Developed an automated cryptocurrency trading tool for nearly a year before unveiling it this month.
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Views on algorithmic trading
First, let me clarify. Anyone who claims algorithmic trading platforms are money-printing plug-and-play devices is a liar. Algorithmic trading platforms are a collection of tools.
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To celebrate, we're giving you free Aesir Viking NFTs and we cover gas fees.
Why use a trading Algorithm?
Automating a successful manual approach
experimenting with and developing solutions that are impossible to execute manually
One AESIR strategy lets you buy any cryptocurrency that rose by more than x% in y seconds.
AESIR can scan an exchange for coins that have gained more than 3% in 5 minutes. It's impossible to manually analyze over 1000 trading pairings every 5 minutes. Auto buy dips or DCA around a Dip
Here's the Leaderboard, where you can clone the best public settings.
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If this sounds like a project that you might want to learn more about, you can sign up to our newsletter and be notified when AESIR launches.