More on Web3 & Crypto
9 months ago
Web3 Terminology You Should Know
The easiest online explanation.
Web3 is growing. Crypto companies are growing.
Instagram, Adidas, and Stripe adopted cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies made web3 famous.
Most don't know where to start. Cryptocurrency, DeFi, etc. are investments.
Since we don't understand web3, I'll help you today.
It is the third generation of the web, and it is built on the decentralization idea which means no one can control it.
There are static webpages that we can only read on the first generation of the web (i.e. Web 1.0).
Web 2.0 websites are interactive. Twitter, Medium, and YouTube.
Each generation controlled the website owner. Simply put, the owner can block us. However, data breaches and selling user data to other companies are issues.
They can influence the audience's mind since they have control.
Assume Twitter's CEO endorses Donald Trump. Result? Twitter would have promoted Donald Trump with tweets and graphics, enhancing his chances of winning.
We need a decentralized, uncontrollable system.
And then there’s Web3.0 to consider. As Bitcoin and Ethereum values climb, so has its popularity. Web3.0 is uncontrolled web evolution. It's good and bad.
Dapps, DeFi, and DAOs are here. It'll all be explained afterwards.
No need to elaborate.
Bitcoin, Ethereum, Cardano, and Dogecoin are cryptocurrencies. It's digital money used for payments and other uses.
Programs must interact with cryptocurrencies.
Blockchain facilitates bitcoin transactions, investments, and earnings.
This technology governs Web3. It underpins the web3 environment.
Let us delve much deeper.
Blockchain is simple. However, the name expresses the meaning.
Blockchain is a chain of blocks.
Let's use an image if you don't understand.
The graphic above explains blockchain. Think Blockchain. The block stores related data.
4. Smart contracts
Programmers and developers must write programs. Smart contracts are these blockchain apps.
Decentralized web3.0 requires immutable smart contracts or programs.
Blockchain art is NFT. Non-Fungible Tokens.
Explaining Non-Fungible Token may help.
Two sorts of tokens:
These tokens are fungible, meaning they can be changed. Think of Bitcoin or cash. The token won't change if you sell one Bitcoin and acquire another.
Non-Fungible Token: Since these tokens cannot be exchanged, they are exclusive. For instance, music, painting, and so forth.
Right now, Companies and even individuals are currently developing worthless NFTs.
The concept of NFTs is much improved when properly handled.
Decentralized apps are Dapps. Instagram, Twitter, and Medium apps in the same way that there is a lot of decentralized blockchain app.
Curve, Yearn Finance, OpenSea, Axie Infinity, etc. are dapps.
DAOs are member-owned and governed.
Consider it a company with a core group of contributors.
We all utilize centrally regulated financial services. We fund these banks.
If you have $10,000 in your bank account, the bank can invest it and retain the majority of the profits.
We only get a penny back. Some banks offer poor returns. To secure a loan, we must trust the bank, divulge our information, and fill out lots of paperwork.
DeFi was built for such issues.
Decentralized banks are uncontrolled. Staking, liquidity, yield farming, and more can earn you money.
Web3 beginners should start with these resources.
11 months ago
Why Cryptocurrency Is Not Dead Despite the FTX Scam
A fraud, free-market, antifragility tale
Crypto's only rival is public opinion.
In less than a week, mainstream media, bloggers, and TikTokers turned on FTX's founder.
While some were surprised, almost everyone with a keyboard and a Twitter account predicted the FTX collapse. These financial oracles should have warned the 1.2 million people Sam Bankman-Fried duped.
After happening, unexpected events seem obvious to our brains. It's a bug and a feature because it helps us cope with disasters and makes our reasoning suck.
Nobody predicted the FTX debacle. Bloomberg? Politicians. Non-famous. No cryptologists. Who?
When FTX imploded, taking billions of dollars with it, an outrage bomb went off, and the resulting shockwave threatens the crypto market's existence.
As someone who lost more than $78,000 in a crypto scam in 2020, I can only understand people’s reactions. When the dust settles and rationality returns, we'll realize this is a natural occurrence in every free market.
What specifically occurred with FTX? (Skip if you are aware.)
FTX is a cryptocurrency exchange where customers can trade with cash. It reached #3 in less than two years as the fastest-growing platform of its kind.
FTX's performance helped make SBF the crypto poster boy. Other reasons include his altruistic public image, his support for the Democrats, and his company Alameda Research.
Alameda Research made a fortune arbitraging Bitcoin.
Arbitrage trading uses small price differences between two markets to make money. Bitcoin costs $20k in Japan and $21k in the US. Alameda Research did that for months, making $1 million per day.
Later, as its capital grew, Alameda expanded its trading activities and began investing in other companies.
Let's now discuss FTX.
SBF's diabolic master plan began when he used FTX-created FTT coins to inflate his trading company's balance sheets. He used inflated Alameda numbers to secure bank loans.
SBF used money he printed himself as collateral to borrow billions for capital. Coindesk exposed him in a report.
One of FTX's early investors tweeted that he planned to sell his FTT coins over the next few months. This would be a minor event if the investor wasn't Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ).
The crypto space saw a red WARNING sign when CZ cut ties with FTX. Everyone with an FTX account and a brain withdrew money. Two events followed. FTT fell from $20 to $4 in less than 72 hours, and FTX couldn't meet withdrawal requests, spreading panic.
SBF reassured FTX users on Twitter. Good assets.
SBF falsely claimed FTX had a liquidity crunch. At the time of his initial claims, FTX owed about $8 billion to its customers. Liquidity shortages are usually minor. To get cash, sell assets. In the case of FTX, the main asset was printed FTT coins.
Sam wouldn't get out of trouble even if he slashed the discount (from $20 to $4) and sold every FTT. He'd flood the crypto market with his homemade coins, causing the price to crash.
SBF was trapped. He approached Binance about a buyout, which seemed good until Binance looked at FTX's books.
Binance's tweet ended SBF, and he had to apologize, resign as CEO, and file for bankruptcy.
Bloomberg estimated Sam's net worth to be zero by the end of that week. 0!
But that's not all. Twitter investigations exposed fraud at FTX and Alameda Research. SBF used customer funds to trade and invest in other companies.
Thanks to the Twitter indie reporters who made the mainstream press look amateurish. Some Twitter detectives didn't sleep for 30 hours to find answers. Others added to existing threads. Memes were hilarious.
One question kept repeating in my bald head as I watched the Blue Bird. Sam, WTF?
Then I understood.
SBF wanted that FTX becomes a bank.
Think about this. FTX seems healthy a few weeks ago. You buy 2 bitcoins using FTX. You'd expect the platform to take your dollars and debit your wallet, right?
No. They give I-Owe-Yous.
FTX records owing you 2 bitcoins in its internal ledger but doesn't credit your account. Given SBF's tricks, I'd bet on nothing.
What happens if they don't credit my account with 2 bitcoins? Your money goes into FTX's capital, where SBF and his friends invest in marketing, political endorsements, and buying other companies.
Over its two-year existence, FTX invested in 130 companies. Once they make a profit on their purchases, they'll pay you and keep the rest.
One detail makes their strategy dumb. If all FTX customers withdraw at once, everything collapses.
Financially savvy people think FTX's collapse resembles a bank run, and they're right. SBF designed FTX to operate like a bank.
You expect your bank to open a drawer with your name and put $1,000 in it when you deposit $1,000. They deposit $100 in your drawer and create an I-Owe-You for $900. What happens to $900?
Let's sum it up: It's boring and headache-inducing.
When you deposit money in a bank, they can keep 10% and lend the rest. Fractional Reserve Banking is a popular method. Fractional reserves operate within and across banks.
Fractional reserve banking generates $10,000 for every $1,000 deposited. People will pay off their debt plus interest.
As long as banks work together and the economy grows, their model works well.
SBF tried to replicate the system but forgot two details. First, traditional banks need verifiable collateral like real estate, jewelry, art, stocks, and bonds, not digital coupons. Traditional banks developed a liquidity buffer. The Federal Reserve (or Central Bank) injects massive cash into troubled banks.
Massive cash injections come from taxpayers. You and I pay for bankers' mistakes and annual bonuses. Yes, you may think banking is rigged. It's rigged, but it's the best financial game in 150 years. We accept its flaws, including bailouts for too-big-to-fail companies.
SBF wanted Binance's bailout. Binance said no, which was good for the crypto market.
Free markets are resilient.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb coined the term antifragility.
“Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors and love adventure, risk, and uncertainty. Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile. Let us call it antifragile. Antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness. The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the antifragile gets better.”
The easiest way to understand how antifragile systems behave is to compare them with other types of systems.
Glass is like a fragile system. It snaps when shocked.
Similar to rubber, a resilient system. After a stressful episode, it bounces back.
A system that is antifragile is similar to a muscle. As it is torn in the gym, it gets stronger.
Time-changed things are antifragile. Culture, tech innovation, restaurants, revolutions, book sales, cuisine, economic success, and even muscle shape. These systems benefit from shocks and randomness in different ways, but they all pay a price for antifragility.
Same goes for the free market and financial institutions. Taleb's book uses restaurants as an example and ends with a reference to the 2008 crash.
“Restaurants are fragile. They compete with each other. But the collective of local restaurants is antifragile for that very reason. Had restaurants been individually robust, hence immortal, the overall business would be either stagnant or weak and would deliver nothing better than cafeteria food — and I mean Soviet-style cafeteria food. Further, it [the overall business] would be marred with systemic shortages, with once in a while a complete crisis and government bailout.”
Imagine the same thing with banks.
Independent banks would compete to offer the best services. If one of these banks fails, it will disappear. Customers and investors will suffer, but the market will recover from the dead banks' mistakes.
This idea underpins a free market. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies say this when criticizing traditional banking.
The traditional banking system's components never die. When a bank fails, the Federal Reserve steps in with a big taxpayer-funded check. This hinders bank evolution. If you don't let banking cells die and be replaced, your financial system won't be antifragile.
The interdependence of banks (centralization) means that one bank's mistake can sink the entire fleet, which brings us to SBF's ultimate travesty with FTX.
FTX has left the cryptocurrency gene pool.
FTX should be decentralized and independent. The super-star scammer invested in more than 130 crypto companies and linked them, creating a fragile banking-like structure. FTX seemed to say, "We exist because centralized banks are bad." But we'll be good, unlike the centralized banking system.
FTX saved several companies, including BlockFi and Voyager Digital.
FTX wanted to be a crypto bank conglomerate and Federal Reserve. SBF wanted to monopolize crypto markets. FTX wanted to be in bed with as many powerful people as possible, so SBF seduced politicians and celebrities.
Worst? People who saw SBF's plan flaws praised him. Experts, newspapers, and crypto fans praised FTX. When billions pour in, it's hard to realize FTX was acting against its nature.
Then, they act shocked when they realize FTX's fall triggered a domino effect. Some say the damage could wipe out the crypto market, but that's wrong.
Cell death is different from body death.
FTX is out of the game despite its size. Unfit, it fell victim to market natural selection.
The challengers keep coming. The crypto economy will improve with each failure.
Free markets are antifragile because their fragile parts compete, fostering evolution. With constructive feedback, evolution benefits customers and investors.
FTX shows that customers don't like being scammed, so the crypto market's health depends on them. Charlatans and con artists are eliminated quickly or slowly.
Crypto isn't immune to collapse. Cryptocurrencies can go extinct like biological species. Antifragility isn't immortality. A few more decades of evolution may be enough for humans to figure out how to best handle money, whether it's bitcoin, traditional banking, gold, or something else.
Keep your BS detector on. Start by being skeptical of this article's finance-related claims. Even if you think you understand finance, join the conversation.
We build a better future through dialogue. So listen, ask, and share. When you think you can't find common ground with the opposing view, remember:
Sam Bankman-Fried lied.
1 year ago
What is Terra? Your guide to the hot cryptocurrency
With cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Dogecoin gyrating in value over the past few months, many people are looking at so-called stablecoins like Terra to invest in because of their more predictable prices.
Terraform Labs, which oversees the Terra cryptocurrency project, has benefited from its rising popularity. The company said recently that investors like Arrington Capital, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Pantera Capital have pledged $150 million to help it incubate various crypto projects that are connected to Terra.
Terraform Labs and its partners have built apps that operate on the company’s blockchain technology that helps keep a permanent and shared record of the firm’s crypto-related financial transactions.
Here’s what you need to know about Terra and the company behind it.
What is Terra?
Terra is a blockchain project developed by Terraform Labs that powers the startup’s cryptocurrencies and financial apps. These cryptocurrencies include the Terra U.S. Dollar, or UST, that is pegged to the U.S. dollar through an algorithm.
Terra is a stablecoin that is intended to reduce the volatility endemic to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Some stablecoins, like Tether, are pegged to more conventional currencies, like the U.S. dollar, through cash and cash equivalents as opposed to an algorithm and associated reserve token.
To mint new UST tokens, a percentage of another digital token and reserve asset, Luna, is “burned.” If the demand for UST rises with more people using the currency, more Luna will be automatically burned and diverted to a community pool. That balancing act is supposed to help stabilize the price, to a degree.
“Luna directly benefits from the economic growth of the Terra economy, and it suffers from contractions of the Terra coin,” Terraform Labs CEO Do Kwon said.
Each time someone buys something—like an ice cream—using UST, that transaction generates a fee, similar to a credit card transaction. That fee is then distributed to people who own Luna tokens, similar to a stock dividend.
Who leads Terra?
The South Korean firm Terraform Labs was founded in 2018 by Daniel Shin and Kwon, who is now the company’s CEO. Kwon is a 29-year-old former Microsoft employee; Shin now heads the Chai online payment service, a Terra partner. Kwon said many Koreans have used the Chai service to buy goods like movie tickets using Terra cryptocurrency.
Terraform Labs does not make money from transactions using its crypto and instead relies on outside funding to operate, Kwon said. It has raised $57 million in funding from investors like HashKey Digital Asset Group, Divergence Digital Currency Fund, and Huobi Capital, according to deal-tracking service PitchBook. The amount raised is in addition to the latest $150 million funding commitment announced on July 16.
What are Terra’s plans?
Terraform Labs plans to use Terra’s blockchain and its associated cryptocurrencies—including one pegged to the Korean won—to create a digital financial system independent of major banks and fintech-app makers. So far, its main source of growth has been in Korea, where people have bought goods at stores, like coffee, using the Chai payment app that’s built on Terra’s blockchain. Kwon said the company’s associated Mirror trading app is experiencing growth in China and Thailand.
Meanwhile, Kwon said Terraform Labs would use its latest $150 million in funding to invest in groups that build financial apps on Terra’s blockchain. He likened the scouting and investing in other groups as akin to a “Y Combinator demo day type of situation,” a reference to the popular startup pitch event organized by early-stage investor Y Combinator.
The combination of all these Terra-specific financial apps shows that Terraform Labs is “almost creating a kind of bank,” said Ryan Watkins, a senior research analyst at cryptocurrency consultancy Messari.
In addition to cryptocurrencies, Terraform Labs has a number of other projects including the Anchor app, a high-yield savings account for holders of the group’s digital coins. Meanwhile, people can use the firm’s associated Mirror app to create synthetic financial assets that mimic more conventional ones, like “tokenized” representations of corporate stocks. These synthetic assets are supposed to be helpful to people like “a small retail trader in Thailand” who can more easily buy shares and “get some exposure to the upside” of stocks that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to obtain, Kwon said. But some critics have said the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission may eventually crack down on synthetic stocks, which are currently unregulated.
What do critics say?
Terra still has a long way to go to catch up to bigger cryptocurrency projects like Ethereum.
Most financial transactions involving Terra-related cryptocurrencies have originated in Korea, where its founders are based. Although Terra is becoming more popular in Korea thanks to rising interest in its partner Chai, it’s too early to say whether Terra-related currencies will gain traction in other countries.
Terra’s blockchain runs on a “limited number of nodes,” said Messari’s Watkins, referring to the computers that help keep the system running. That helps reduce latency that may otherwise slow processing of financial transactions, he said.
But the tradeoff is that Terra is less “decentralized” than other blockchain platforms like Ethereum, which is powered by thousands of interconnected computing nodes worldwide. That could make Terra less appealing to some blockchain purists.
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1 year ago
Trading Volume on OpenSea Drops by 99% as the NFT Boom Comes to an End
Wasn't that a get-rich-quick scheme?
OpenSea processed $2.7 billion in NFT transactions in May 2021.
Fueled by a crypto bull run, rumors of unfathomable riches, and FOMO, Bored Apes, Crypto Punks, and other JPEG-format trash projects flew off the virtual shelves, snatched up by retail investors and celebrities alike.
Over a year later, those shelves are overflowing and warehouses are backlogged. Since March, I've been writing less. In May and June, the bubble was close to bursting.
Apparently, the boom has finally peaked.
This bubble has punctured, and deflation has begun. On Aug. 28, OpenSea processed $9.34 million.
From that euphoric high of $2.7 billion, $9.34 million represents a spectacular decline of 99%.
OpenSea contradicts the data. A trading platform spokeswoman stated the comparison is unfair because it compares the site's highest and lowest trading days. They're the perfect two data points to assess the drop. OpenSea chooses to use ETH volume measures, which ignore crypto's shifting price. Since January 2022, monthly ETH volume has dropped 140%, according to Dune.
Further OpenSea indicators point to declining NFT demand:
Since January 2022, daily user visits have decreased by 50%.
Daily transactions have decreased by 50% since the beginning of the year in the same manner.
Off-platform, the floor price of Bored Apes has dropped from 145 ETH to 77 ETH. (At $4,800, a reduction from $700,000 to $370,000). Google search data shows waning popular interest.
It is a trend that will soon vanish, just like laser eyes.
NFTs haven't moved since the new year. Eminem and Snoop Dogg can utilize their apes in music videos or as 3D visuals to perform at the VMAs, but the reality is that NFTs have lost their public appeal and the market is trying to regain its footing.
They've lost popularity because?
Breaking records. The technology still lacks genuine use cases a year and a half after being popular.
They're pricey prestige symbols that have made a few people rich through cunning timing or less-than-savory scams or rug pulling. Over $10.5 billion has been taken through frauds, most of which are NFT enterprises promising to be the next Bored Apes, according to Web3 is going wonderfully. As the market falls, many ordinary investors realize they purchased into a self-fulfilling ecosystem that's halted. Many NFTs are sold between owner-held accounts to boost their price, data suggests. Most projects rely on social media excitement to debut with a high price before the first owners sell and chuckle to the bank. When they don't, the initiative fails, leaving investors high and dry.
NFTs are fading like laser eyes. Most people pushing the technology don't believe in it or the future it may bring. No, they just need a Kool-Aid-drunk buyer.
Everybody wins. When your JPEGs are worth 99% less than when you bought them, you've lost.
When demand reaches zero, many will lose.
10 months ago
The survival and demise of Y Combinator startups
I've written a lot about Y Combinator's success, but as any startup founder or investor knows, many startups fail.
Rebel Fund invests in the top 5-10% of new Y Combinator startups each year, so we focus on identifying and supporting the most promising technology startups in our ecosystem. Given the power law dynamic and asymmetric risk/return profile of venture capital, we worry more about our successes than our failures. Since the latter still counts, this essay will focus on the proportion of YC startups that fail.
Since YC's launch in 2005, the figure below shows the percentage of active, inactive, and public/acquired YC startups by batch.
As more startups finish, the blue bars (active) decrease significantly. By 12 years, 88% of startups have closed or exited. Only 7% of startups reach resolution each year.
YC startups by status after 12 years:
Half the startups have failed, over one-third have exited, and the rest are still operating.
In venture investing, it's said that failed investments show up before successful ones. This is true for YC startups, but only in their early years.
Below, we only present resolved companies from the first chart. Some companies fail soon after establishment, but after a few years, the inactive vs. public/acquired ratio stabilizes around 55:45. After a few years, a YC firm is roughly as likely to quit as fail, which is better than I imagined.
I prepared this post because Rebel investors regularly question me about YC startup failure rates and how long it takes for them to exit or shut down.
Early-stage venture investors can overlook it because 100x investments matter more than 0x investments.
YC founders can ignore it because it shouldn't matter if many of their peers succeed or fail ;)
1 year ago
Yuga Labs (BAYC and MAYC) buys CryptoPunks and Meebits and gives them commercial rights
We set out to create in the NFT space because we admired CryptoPunks and the founders' visionary work. A lot of their work influenced how we built BAYC and NFTs. We're proud to lead CryptoPunks and Meebits into the future as part of our broader ecosystem.
"Yuga Labs invented the modern profile picture project and are the best in the world at operating these projects. They are ideal CrytoPunk and Meebit stewards. We are confident that in their hands, these projects will thrive in the emerging decentralized web.”
–The founders of Larva Labs, CryptoPunks, and Meebits
This deal grew out of discussions between our partner Guy Oseary and the Larva Labs founders. One call led to another, and now we're here. This does not mean Matt and John will join Yuga. They'll keep running Larva Labs and creating awesome projects that help shape the future of web3.
Here's what we plan to do with CryptoPunks and Meebits now that we own the IP. Owners of CryptoPunks and Meebits will soon receive commercial rights equal to those of BAYC and MAYC holders. Our legal teams are working on new terms and conditions for both collections, which we hope to share with the community soon. We expect a wide range of third-party developers and community creators to incorporate CryptoPunks and Meebits into their web3 projects. We'll build the brand alongside them.
We don't intend to cram these NFT collections into the BAYC club model. We see BAYC as the hub of the Yuga universe, and CryptoPunks as a historical collection. We will work to improve the CryptoPunks and Meebits collections as good stewards. We're not in a hurry. We'll consult the community before deciding what to do next.
For us, NFTs are about culture. We're deeply invested in the BAYC community, and it's inspiring to see them grow, collaborate, and innovate. We're excited to see what CryptoPunks and Meebits do with IP rights. Our goal has always been to create a community-owned brand that goes beyond NFTs, and now we can include CryptoPunks and Meebits.