Howey Test and Cryptocurrencies: 'Every ICO Is a Security'
What Is the Howey Test?
To determine whether a transaction qualifies as a "investment contract" and thus qualifies as a security, the Howey Test refers to the U.S. Supreme Court cass: the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. According to the Howey Test, an investment contract exists when "money is invested in a common enterprise with a reasonable expectation of profits from others' efforts."
The test applies to any contract, scheme, or transaction. The Howey Test helps investors and project backers understand blockchain and digital currency projects. ICOs and certain cryptocurrencies may be found to be "investment contracts" under the test.
Understanding the Howey Test
The Howey Test comes from the 1946 Supreme Court case SEC v. W.J. Howey Co. The Howey Company sold citrus groves to Florida buyers who leased them back to Howey. The company would maintain the groves and sell the fruit for the owners. Both parties benefited. Most buyers had no farming experience and were not required to farm the land.
The SEC intervened because Howey failed to register the transactions. The court ruled that the leaseback agreements were investment contracts.
This established four criteria for determining an investment contract. Investing contract:
- An investment of money
- n a common enterprise
- With the expectation of profit
- To be derived from the efforts of others
In the case of Howey, the buyers saw the transactions as valuable because others provided the labor and expertise. An income stream was obtained by only investing capital. As a result of the Howey Test, the transaction had to be registered with the SEC.
Howey Test and Cryptocurrencies
Bitcoin is notoriously difficult to categorize. Decentralized, they evade regulation in many ways. Regardless, the SEC is looking into digital assets and determining when their sale qualifies as an investment contract.
The SEC claims that selling digital assets meets the "investment of money" test because fiat money or other digital assets are being exchanged. Like the "common enterprise" test.
Whether a digital asset qualifies as an investment contract depends on whether there is a "expectation of profit from others' efforts."
For example, buyers of digital assets may be relying on others' efforts if they expect the project's backers to build and maintain the digital network, rather than a dispersed community of unaffiliated users. Also, if the project's backers create scarcity by burning tokens, the test is met. Another way the "efforts of others" test is met is if the project's backers continue to act in a managerial role.
These are just a few examples given by the SEC. If a project's success is dependent on ongoing support from backers, the buyer of the digital asset is likely relying on "others' efforts."
If the SEC determines a cryptocurrency token is a security, many issues arise. It means the SEC can decide whether a token can be sold to US investors and forces the project to register.
In 2017, the SEC ruled that selling DAO tokens for Ether violated federal securities laws. Instead of enforcing securities laws, the SEC issued a warning to the cryptocurrency industry.
Due to the Howey Test, most ICOs today are likely inaccessible to US investors. After a year of ICOs, then-SEC Chair Jay Clayton declared them all securities.
SEC Chairman Gensler Agrees With Predecessor: 'Every ICO Is a Security'
Howey Test FAQs
How Do You Determine If Something Is a Security?
The Howey Test determines whether certain transactions are "investment contracts." Securities are transactions that qualify as "investment contracts" under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.
The Howey Test looks for a "investment of money in a common enterprise with a reasonable expectation of profits from others' efforts." If so, the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 require disclosure and registration.
Why Is Bitcoin Not a Security?
Former SEC Chair Jay Clayton clarified in June 2018 that bitcoin is not a security: "Cryptocurrencies: Replace the dollar, euro, and yen with bitcoin. That type of currency is not a security," said Clayton.
Bitcoin, which has never sought public funding to develop its technology, fails the SEC's Howey Test. However, according to Clayton, ICO tokens are securities.
A Security Defined by the SEC
In the public and private markets, securities are fungible and tradeable financial instruments. The SEC regulates public securities sales.
The Supreme Court defined a security offering in SEC v. W.J. Howey Co. In its judgment, the court defines a security using four criteria:
- An investment contract's existence
- The formation of a common enterprise
- The issuer's profit promise
- Third-party promotion of the offering
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More on Web3 & Crypto
1 year ago
DAOs are legal entities in Marshall Islands.
The Pacific island state recognizes decentralized autonomous organizations.
The Republic of the Marshall Islands has recognized decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) as legal entities, giving collectively owned and managed blockchain projects global recognition.
The Marshall Islands' amended the Non-Profit Entities Act 2021 that now recognizes DAOs, which are blockchain-based entities governed by self-organizing communities. Incorporating Admiralty LLC, the island country's first DAO, was made possible thanks to the amendement. MIDAO Directory Services Inc., a domestic organization established to assist DAOs in the Marshall Islands, assisted in the incorporation.
The new law currently allows any DAO to register and operate in the Marshall Islands.
“This is a unique moment to lead,” said Bobby Muller, former Marshall Islands chief secretary and co-founder of MIDAO. He believes DAOs will help create “more efficient and less hierarchical” organizations.
A global hub for DAOs, the Marshall Islands hopes to become a global hub for DAO registration, domicile, use cases, and mass adoption. He added:
"This includes low-cost incorporation, a supportive government with internationally recognized courts, and a technologically open environment."
According to the World Bank, the Marshall Islands is an independent island state in the Pacific Ocean near the Equator. To create a blockchain-based cryptocurrency that would be legal tender alongside the US dollar, the island state has been actively exploring use cases for digital assets since at least 2018.
In February 2018, the Marshall Islands approved the creation of a new cryptocurrency, Sovereign (SOV). As expected, the IMF has criticized the plan, citing concerns that a digital sovereign currency would jeopardize the state's financial stability. They have also criticized El Salvador, the first country to recognize Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender.
Marshall Islands senator David Paul said the DAO legislation does not pose the same issues as a government-backed cryptocurrency. “A sovereign digital currency is financial and raises concerns about money laundering,” . This is more about giving DAOs legal recognition to make their case to regulators, investors, and consumers.
3 months ago
Bitcoin's technical innovation: addressing the issue of the Byzantine generals
The 2008 Bitcoin white paper solves the classic computer science consensus problem.
The Byzantine Generals Problem (BGP) is called after an allegory in which several generals must collaborate and attack a city at the same time to win (figure 1-left). Any general who retreats at the last minute loses the fight (figure 1-right). Thus, precise messengers and no rogue generals are essential. This is difficult without a trusted central authority.
In their 1982 publication, Leslie Lamport, Robert Shostak, and Marshall Please termed this topic the Byzantine Generals Problem to simplify distributed computer systems.
Consensus in a distributed computer network is the issue. Reaching a consensus on which systems work (and stay in the network) and which don't makes maintaining a network tough (i.e., needs to be removed from network). Challenges include unreliable communication routes between systems and mis-reporting systems.
Solving BGP can let us construct machine learning solutions without single points of failure or trusted central entities. One server hosts model parameters while numerous workers train the model. This study describes fault-tolerant Distributed Byzantine Machine Learning.
Bitcoin invented a mechanism for a distributed network of nodes to agree on which transactions should go into the distributed ledger (blockchain) without a trusted central body. It solved BGP implementation. Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous bitcoin creator, solved the challenge by cleverly combining cryptography and consensus mechanisms.
This is not financial advice. It discusses a unique computer science solution.
Bitcoin's white paper begins:
“A purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution.” Source: https://www.ussc.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/training/annual-national-training-seminar/2018/Emerging_Tech_Bitcoin_Crypto.pdf
Bitcoin's main parts:
The open-source and versioned bitcoin software that governs how nodes, miners, and the bitcoin token operate.
The native kind of token, known as a bitcoin token, may be created by mining (up to 21 million can be created), and it can be transferred between wallet addresses in the bitcoin network.
Distributed Ledger, which contains exact copies of the database (or "blockchain") containing each transaction since the first one in January 2009.
distributed network of nodes (computers) running the distributed ledger replica together with the bitcoin software. They broadcast the transactions to other peer nodes after validating and accepting them.
Proof of work (PoW) is a cryptographic requirement that must be met in order for a miner to be granted permission to add a new block of transactions to the blockchain of the cryptocurrency bitcoin. It takes the form of a valid hash digest. In order to produce new blocks on average every 10 minutes, Bitcoin features a built-in difficulty adjustment function that modifies the valid hash requirement (length of nonce). PoW requires a lot of energy since it must continually generate new hashes at random until it satisfies the criteria.
The competing parties known as miners carry out continuous computing processing to address recurrent cryptography issues. Transaction fees and some freshly minted (mined) bitcoin are the rewards they receive. The amount of hashes produced each second—or hash rate—is a measure of mining capacity.
Cryptography, decentralization, and the proof-of-work consensus method are Bitcoin's most unique features.
Bitcoin uses encryption
Bitcoin employs this established cryptography.
digital signatures based on asymmetric encryption
Hashing (SHA-256) (SHA-256)
Hashing converts unique plaintext data into a digest. Creating the plaintext from the digest is impossible. Bitcoin miners generate new hashes using SHA-256 to win block rewards.
A new hash is created from the current block header and a variable value called nonce. To achieve the required hash, mining involves altering the nonce and re-hashing.
The block header contains the previous block hash and a Merkle root, which contains hashes of all transactions in the block. Thus, a chain of blocks with increasing hashes links back to the first block. Hashing protects new transactions and makes the bitcoin blockchain immutable. After a transaction block is mined, it becomes hard to fabricate even a little entry.
Asymmetric Cryptography Digital Signatures
Asymmetric cryptography (public-key encryption) requires each side to have a secret and public key. Public keys (wallet addresses) can be shared with the transaction party, but private keys should not. A message (e.g., bitcoin payment record) can only be signed by the owner (sender) with the private key, but any node or anybody with access to the public key (visible in the blockchain) can verify it. Alex will submit a digitally signed transaction with a desired amount of bitcoin addressed to Bob's wallet to a node to send bitcoin to Bob. Alex alone has the secret keys to authorize that amount. Alex's blockchain public key allows anyone to verify the transaction.
Now, apply bitcoin to BGP. BGP generals resemble bitcoin nodes. The generals' consensus is like bitcoin nodes' blockchain block selection. Bitcoin software on all nodes can:
Check transactions (i.e., validate digital signatures)
2. Accept and propagate just the first miner to receive the valid hash and verify it accomplished the task. The only way to guess the proper hash is to brute force it by repeatedly producing one with the fixed/current block header and a fresh nonce value.
Thus, PoW and a dispersed network of nodes that accept blocks from miners that solve the unfalsifiable cryptographic challenge solve consensus.
Bitcoin accepts the longest chain if rogue nodes cause divergence in accepted blocks. Thus, rogue nodes must outnumber honest nodes in accepting/forming the longer chain for invalid transactions to reach the blockchain. As of November 2022, 7000 coordinated rogue nodes are needed to takeover the bitcoin network.
Dishonest miners could also try to insert blocks with falsified transactions (double spend, reverse, censor, etc.) into the chain. This requires over 50% (51% attack) of miners (total computational power) to outguess the hash and attack the network. Mining hash rate exceeds 200 million (source). Rewards and transaction fees encourage miners to cooperate rather than attack. Quantum computers may become a threat.
Visit my Quantum Computing post.
Quantum computers—what are they? Quantum computers will have a big influence. towardsdatascience.com
Nodes have more power than miners since they can validate transactions and reject fake blocks. Thus, the network is secure if honest nodes are the majority.
Table 1 compares three Byzantine Generals Problem implementations.
Bitcoin white paper and implementation solved the consensus challenge of distributed systems without central governance. It solved the illusive Byzantine Generals Problem.
Source-code for Bitcoin Core Software — https://github.com/bitcoin/bitcoin
Bitcoin white paper — https://bitcoin.org/bitcoin.pdf
Genuinely Distributed Byzantine Machine Learning, El-Mahdi El-Mhamdi et al., 2020. ACM, New York, NY, https://doi.org/10.1145/3382734.3405695
8 months ago
How to Become a Crypto Broker [Complying and Making Money]
Three options exist. The third one is the quickest and most fruitful.
You've mastered crypto trading and want to become a broker.
So you may wonder: Where to begin?
If so, keep reading.
Today I'll compare three different approaches to becoming a cryptocurrency trader.
What are cryptocurrency brokers, and how do they vary from stockbrokers?
A stockbroker implements clients' market orders (retail or institutional ones).
Brokerage firms are regulated, insured, and subject to regulatory monitoring.
Stockbrokers are required between buyers and sellers. They can't trade without a broker. To trade, a trader must open a broker account and deposit money. When a trader shops, he tells his broker what orders to place.
Crypto brokerage is trade intermediation with cryptocurrency.
In crypto trading, however, brokers are optional.
Crypto exchanges offer direct transactions. Open an exchange account (no broker needed) and make a deposit.
Since crypto allows DIY trading, why use a broker?
Let's compare cryptocurrency exchanges vs. brokers.
Broker versus cryptocurrency exchange
Most existing crypto exchanges are basically brokers.
Examine their primary services:
connecting purchasers and suppliers
having custody of clients' money (with the exception of decentralized cryptocurrency exchanges),
clearance of transactions.
Brokerage is comparable, don't you think?
There are exceptions. I mean a few large crypto exchanges that follow the stock exchange paradigm. They outsource brokerage, custody, and clearing operations. Classic exchange setups are rare in today's bitcoin industry.
Back to our favorite “standard” crypto exchanges. All-in-one exchanges and brokers. And usually, they operate under a broker or a broker-dealer license, save for the exchanges registered somewhere in a free-trade offshore paradise. Those don’t bother with any licensing.
What’s the sense of having two brokers at a time?
Better liquidity and trading convenience.
The crypto business is compartmentalized.
We have CEXs, DEXs, hybrid exchanges, and semi-exchanges (those that aggregate liquidity but do not execute orders on their sides). All have unique regulations and act as sovereign states.
There are about 18k coins and hundreds of blockchain protocols, most of which are heterogeneous (i.e., different in design and not interoperable).
A trader must register many accounts on different exchanges, deposit funds, and manage them all concurrently to access global crypto liquidity.
It’s extremely inconvenient.
Crypto liquidity fragmentation is the largest obstacle and bottleneck blocking crypto from mass adoption.
Crypto brokers help clients solve this challenge by providing one-gate access to deep and diverse crypto liquidity from numerous exchanges and suppliers. Professionals and institutions need it.
Another killer feature of a brokerage may be allowing clients to trade crypto with fiat funds exclusively, without fiat/crypto conversion. It is essential for professional and institutional traders.
Who may work as a cryptocurrency broker?
Apparently, not anyone. Brokerage requires high-powered specialists because it involves other people's money.
Here's the essentials:
excellent knowledge, skills, and years of trading experience
high-quality, quick, and secure infrastructure
highly developed team
outstanding trading capital
High-ROI network: long-standing, trustworthy connections with customers, exchanges, liquidity providers, payment gates, and similar entities
outstanding marketing and commercial development skills.
What about a license for a cryptocurrency broker? Is it necessary?
If you plan to play in white-glove jurisdictions, you may need a license. For example, in the US, as a “money transmitter” or as a CASSP (crypto asset secondary services provider) in Australia.
Even in these jurisdictions, there are no clear, holistic crypto brokerage and licensing policies.
Your lawyer will help you decide if your crypto brokerage needs a license.
Getting a license isn't quick. Two years of patience are needed.
How can you turn into a cryptocurrency broker?
Finally, we got there! 🎉
Three actionable ways exist:
To kickstart a regulated stand-alone crypto broker
To get a crypto broker franchise, and
To become a liquidity network broker.
Let's examine each.
1. Opening a regulated cryptocurrency broker
It's difficult. Especially If you're targeting first-world users.
You must comply with many regulatory, technical, financial, HR, and reporting obligations to keep your organization running. Some are mentioned above.
The licensing process depends on the products you want to offer (spots or derivatives) and the geographic areas you plan to service. There are no general rules for that.
In an overgeneralized way, here are the boxes you will have to check:
capital availability (usually a large amount of capital c is required)
You will have to move some of your team members to the nation providing the license in order to establish an office presence there.
the core team with the necessary professional training (especially applies to CEO, Head of Trading, Assistant to Head of Trading, etc.)
infrastructure that is trustworthy and secure
adopted proper AML/KYC/financial monitoring policies, etc.
Assuming you passed, what's next?
I bet it won’t be mind-blowing for you that the license is just a part of the deal. It won't attract clients or revenue.
To bring in high-dollar clientele, you must be a killer marketer and seller. It's not easy to convince people to give you money.
You'll need to be a great business developer to form successful, long-term agreements with exchanges (ideally for no fees), liquidity providers, banks, payment gates, etc. Persuade clients.
It's a tough job, isn't it?
I expect a Quora-type question here:
Can I start an unlicensed crypto broker?
Well, there is always a workaround with crypto!
You can register your broker in a free-trade zone like Seychelles to avoid US and other markets with strong watchdogs.
This is neither wise nor sustainable.
First, such experiments are illegal.
Second, you'll have trouble attracting clients and strategic partners.
A license equals trust. That’s it.
Even a pseudo-license from Mauritius matters.
Here are this method's benefits and downsides.
As you navigate this difficult and expensive legal process, you run the risk of missing out on business prospects. It's quite simple to become excellent compliance yet unable to work. Because your competitors are already courting potential customers while you are focusing all of your effort on paperwork.
Only God knows how long it will take you to pass the break-even point when everything with the license has been completed.
It is a money-burning business, especially in the beginning when the majority of your expenses will go toward marketing, sales, and maintaining license requirements. Make sure you have the fortitude and resources necessary to face such a difficult challenge.
It may eventually develop into a tool for making money. Because big guys who are professionals at trading require a white-glove regulated brokerage. You have every possibility if you work hard in the areas of sales, marketing, business development, and wealth. Simply put, everything must align.
Launching a regulated crypto broker is analogous to launching a crypto exchange. It's ROUGH. Sure you can take it?
2. Franchise for Crypto Broker (Crypto Sub-Brokerage)
A broker franchise is easier and faster than becoming a regulated crypto broker. Not a traditional brokerage.
A broker franchisee, often termed a sub-broker, joins with a broker (a franchisor) to bring them new clients. Sub-brokers market a broker's products and services to clients.
Sub-brokers are the middlemen between a broker and an investor.
Why is sub-brokering easier?
less demanding qualifications and legal complexity. All you need to do is keep a few certificates on hand (each time depends on the jurisdiction).
No significant investment is required
there is no demand that you be a trading member of an exchange, etc.
As a sub-broker, you can do identical duties without as many rights and certifications.
What about the crypto broker franchise?
Sub-brokers aren't common in crypto.
In most existing examples (PayBito, PCEX, etc.), franchises are offered by crypto exchanges, not brokers. Though we remember that crypto exchanges are, in fact, brokers, do we?
For a commission, a franchiser crypto broker receives new leads from a crypto sub-broker.
See above for why enrolling is easy.
Finding clients is difficult. Most crypto traders prefer to buy-sell on their own or through brokers over sub-broker franchises.
3. Broker of the Crypto Trading Network (or a Network Broker)
It's the greatest approach to execute crypto brokerage, based on effort/return.
Network broker isn't an established word. I wrote it for clarity.
Remember how we called crypto liquidity fragmentation the current crypto finance paradigm's main bottleneck?
Where there's a challenge, there's progress.
Several well-funded projects are aiming to fix crypto liquidity fragmentation. Instead of launching another crypto exchange with siloed trading, the greatest minds create trading networks that aggregate crypto liquidity from desynchronized sources and enable quick, safe, and affordable cross-blockchain transactions. Each project offers a distinct option for users.
Crypto liquidity implies:
One-account access to cryptocurrency liquidity pooled from network participants' exchanges and other liquidity sources
compiled price feeds
Cross-chain transactions that are quick and inexpensive, even for HFTs
link between participants of all kinds, and
interoperability among diverse blockchains
Fast, diversified, and cheap global crypto trading from one account.
How does a trading network help cryptocurrency brokers?
I’ll explain it, taking Yellow Network as an example.
Yellow provides decentralized Layer-3 peer-to-peer trading.
trade across chains globally with real-time settlement and
Between cryptocurrency exchanges, brokers, trading companies, and other sorts of network members, there is communication and the exchange of financial information.
Have you ever heard about ECN (electronic communication network)? If not, it's an automated system that automatically matches buy and sell orders. Yellow is a decentralized digital asset ECN.
Start trading right now without having to meet stringent requirements; all you need to do is integrate with Yellow Protocol and successfully complete some KYC verification.
Access global aggregated crypto liquidity through a single point.
B2B (Broker to Broker) liquidity channels that provide peer liquidity from other brokers. Orders from the other broker will appear in the order book of a broker who is peering with another broker on the market. It will enable a broker to broaden his offer and raise the total amount of liquidity that is available to his clients.
Select a custodian or use non-custodial practices.
Comparing network crypto brokerage to other types:
A licensed stand-alone brokerage business is much more difficult and time-consuming to launch than network brokerage, and
Network brokerage, in contrast to crypto sub-brokerage, is scalable, independent, and offers limitless possibilities for revenue generation.
Yellow Network Whitepaper. has more details on how to start a brokerage business and what rewards you'll obtain.
There are three ways to become a cryptocurrency broker, including the non-conventional liquidity network brokerage. The last option appears time/cost-effective.
Crypto brokerage isn't crowded yet. Act quickly to find your right place in this market.
Choose the way that works for you best and see you in crypto trading.
Discover Web3 & DeFi with Yellow Network!
Yellow, powered by Openware, is developing a cross-chain P2P liquidity aggregator to unite the crypto sector and provide global remittance services that aid people.
Join the Yellow Community and plunge into this decade's biggest product-oriented crypto project.
Observe Yellow Twitter
Enroll in Yellow Telegram
Visit Yellow Discord.
On Hacker Noon, look us up.
Yellow Network will expose development, technology, developer tools, crypto brokerage nodes software, and community liquidity mining.
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7 months ago
Trends from the Winter 2022 Demo Day at Y Combinators
Y Combinators Winter 2022 Demo Day continues the trend of more startups engaging in accelerator Demo Days. Our team evaluated almost 400 projects in Y Combinator's ninth year.
After Winter 2021 Demo Day, we noticed a hurry pushing shorter rounds, inflated valuations, and larger batches.
Despite the batch size, this event's behavior showed a return to normalcy. Our observations show that investors evaluate and fund businesses more carefully. Unlike previous years, more YC businesses gave investors with data rooms and thorough pitch decks in addition to valuation data before Demo Day.
Demo Day pitches were virtual and fast-paced, limiting unplanned meetings. Investors had more time and information to do their due research before meeting founders. Our staff has more time to study diverse areas and engage with interesting entrepreneurs and founders.
This was one of the most regionally diversified YC cohorts to date. This year's Winter Demo Day startups showed some interesting tendencies.
Trends and Industries to Watch Before Demo Day
Demo day events at any accelerator show how investment competition is influencing startups. As startups swiftly become scale-ups and big success stories in fintech, e-commerce, healthcare, and other competitive industries, entrepreneurs and early-stage investors feel pressure to scale quickly and turn a notion into actual innovation.
Too much eagerness can lead founders to focus on market growth and team experience instead of solid concepts, technical expertise, and market validation. Last year, YC Winter Demo Day funding cycles ended too quickly and valuations were unrealistically high.
Scrum Ventures observed a longer funding cycle this year compared to last year's Demo Day. While that seems promising, many factors could be contributing to change, including:
Market patterns are changing and the economy is becoming worse.
the industries that investors are thinking about.
Individual differences between each event batch and the particular businesses and entrepreneurs taking part
The Winter 2022 Batch's Trends
Each year, we also wish to examine trends among early-stage firms and YC event participants. More international startups than ever were anticipated to present at Demo Day.
Less than 50% of demo day startups were from the U.S. For the S21 batch, firms from outside the US were most likely in Latin America or Europe, however this year's batch saw a large surge in startups situated in Asia and Africa.
YC Startup Directory
163 out of 399 startups were B2B software and services companies. Financial, healthcare, and consumer startups were common.
Our team doesn't plan to attend every pitch or speak with every startup's founders or team members. Let's look at cleantech, Web3, and health and wellness startup trends.
Our Opinions Following Conversations with 87 Startups at Demo Day
In the lead-up to Demo Day, we spoke with 87 of the 125 startups going. Compared to B2C enterprises, B2B startups had higher average valuations. A few outliers with high valuations pushed B2B and B2C means above the YC-wide mean and median.
Many of these startups develop business and technology solutions we've previously covered. We've seen API, EdTech, creative platforms, and cybersecurity remain strong and increase each year.
While these persistent tendencies influenced the startups Scrum Ventures looked at and the founders we interacted with on Demo Day, new trends required more research and preparation. Let's examine cleantech, Web3, and health and wellness startups.
Hardware and software that is green
Cleantech enterprises demand varying amounts of funding for hardware and software. Although the same overarching trend is fueling the growth of firms in this category, each subgroup has its own strategy and technique for investigation and identifying successful investments.
Many cleantech startups we spoke to during the YC event are focused on helping industrial operations decrease or recycle carbon emissions.
Carbon Crusher: Creating carbon negative roads
Phase Biolabs: Turning carbon emissions into carbon negative products and carbon neutral e-fuels
Seabound: Capturing carbon dioxide emissions from ships
Fleetzero: Creating electric cargo ships
Impossible Mining: Sustainable seabed mining
Beyond Aero: Creating zero-emission private aircraft
Verdn: Helping businesses automatically embed environmental pledges for product and service offerings, boost customer engagement
AeonCharge: Allowing electric vehicle (EV) drivers to more easily locate and pay for EV charging stations
Phoenix Hydrogen: Offering a hydrogen marketplace and a connected hydrogen hub platform to connect supply and demand for hydrogen fuel and simplify hub planning and partner program expansion
Aklimate: Allowing businesses to measure and reduce their supply chain’s environmental impact
Pina Earth: Certifying and tracking the progress of businesses’ forestry projects
AirMyne: Developing machines that can reverse emissions by removing carbon dioxide from the air
Unravel Carbon: Software for enterprises to track and reduce their carbon emissions
Web3: NFTs, the metaverse, and cryptocurrency
Web3 technologies handle a wide range of business issues. This category includes companies employing blockchain technology to disrupt entertainment, finance, cybersecurity, and software development.
Many of these startups overlap with YC's FinTech trend. Despite this, B2C and B2B enterprises were evenly represented in Web3. We examined:
Stablegains: Offering consistent interest on cash balance from the decentralized finance (DeFi) market
LiquiFi: Simplifying token management with automated vesting contracts, tax reporting, and scheduling. For companies, investors, and finance & accounting
NFTScoring: An NFT trading platform
CypherD Wallet: A multichain wallet for crypto and NFTs with a non-custodial crypto debit card that instantly converts coins to USD
Remi Labs: Allowing businesses to more easily create NFT collections that serve as access to products, memberships, events, and more
Cashmere: A crypto wallet for Web3 startups to collaboratively manage funds
Chaingrep: An API that makes blockchain data human-readable and tokens searchable
Courtyard: A platform for securely storing physical assets and creating 3D representations as NFTs
Arda: “Banking as a Service for DeFi,” an API that FinTech companies can use to embed DeFi products into their platforms
earnJARVIS: A premium cryptocurrency management platform, allowing users to create long-term portfolios
Mysterious: Creating community-specific experiences for Web3 Discords
Winter: An embeddable widget that allows businesses to sell NFTs to users purchasing with a credit card or bank transaction
SimpleHash: An API for NFT data that provides compatibility across blockchains, standardized metadata, accurate transaction info, and simple integration
Lifecast: Tools that address motion sickness issues for 3D VR video
Gym Class: Virtual reality (VR) multiplayer basketball video game
WorldQL: An asset API that allows NFT creators to specify multiple in-game interpretations of their assets, increasing their value
Bonsai Desk: A software development kit (SDK) for 3D analytics
Campfire: Supporting virtual social experiences for remote teams
Unai: A virtual headset and Visual World experience
Vimmerse: Allowing creators to more easily create immersive 3D experiences
Fitness and health
Scrum Ventures encountered fewer health and wellness startup founders than Web3 and Cleantech. The types of challenges these organizations solve are still diverse. Several of these companies are part of a push toward customization in healthcare, an area of biotech set for growth for companies with strong portfolios and experienced leadership.
Here are several startups we considered:
Syrona Health: Personalized healthcare for women in the workplace
Anja Health: Personalized umbilical cord blood banking and stem cell preservation
Alfie: A weight loss program focused on men’s health that coordinates medical care, coaching, and “community-based competition” to help users lose an average of 15% body weight
Ankr Health: An artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled telehealth platform that provides personalized side effect education for cancer patients and data collection for their care teams
Koko — A personalized sleep program to improve at-home sleep analysis and training
Condition-specific telehealth platforms and programs:
Reviving Mind: Chronic care management covered by insurance and supporting holistic, community-oriented health care
Equipt Health: At-home delivery of prescription medical equipment to help manage chronic conditions like obstructive sleep apnea
LunaJoy: Holistic women’s healthcare management for mental health therapy, counseling, and medication
12 Startups from YC's Winter 2022 Demo Day to Watch
Bobidi: 10x faster AI model improvement
Artificial intelligence (AI) models have become a significant tool for firms to improve how well and rapidly they process data. Bobidi helps AI-reliant firms evaluate their models, boosting data insights in less time and reducing data analysis expenditures. The business has created a gamified community that offers a bug bounty for AI, incentivizing community members to test and find weaknesses in clients' AI models.
Magna: DeFi investment management and token vesting
Magna delivers rapid, secure token vesting so consumers may turn DeFi investments into primitives. Carta for Web3 allows enterprises to effortlessly distribute tokens to staff or investors. The Magna team hopes to allow corporations use locked tokens as collateral for loans, facilitate secondary liquidity so investors can sell shares on a public exchange, and power additional DeFi applications.
Perl Street: Funding for infrastructure
This Fintech firm intends to help hardware entrepreneurs get financing by [democratizing] structured finance, unleashing billions for sustainable infrastructure and next-generation hardware solutions. This network has helped hardware entrepreneurs achieve more than $140 million in finance, helping companies working on energy storage devices, EVs, and creating power infrastructure.
CypherD: Multichain cryptocurrency wallet
CypherD seeks to provide a multichain crypto wallet so general customers can explore Web3 products without knowledge hurdles. The startup's beta app lets consumers access crypto from EVM blockchains. The founders have crypto, financial, and startup experience.
Unravel Carbon: Enterprise carbon tracking and offsetting
Unravel Carbon's AI-powered decarbonization technology tracks companies' carbon emissions. Singapore-based startup focuses on Asia. The software can use any company's financial data to trace the supply chain and calculate carbon tracking, which is used to make regulatory disclosures and suggest carbon offsets.
LunaJoy: Precision mental health for women
LunaJoy helped women obtain mental health support throughout life. The platform combines data science to create a tailored experience, allowing women to access psychotherapy, medication management, genetic testing, and health coaching.
Posh: Automated EV battery recycling
Posh attempts to solve one of the EV industry's largest logistical difficulties. Millions of EV batteries will need to be decommissioned in the next decade, and their precious metals and residual capacity will go unused for some time. Posh offers automated, scalable lithium battery disassembly, making EV battery recycling more viable.
Unai: VR headset with 5x higher resolution
Unai stands apart from metaverse companies. Its VR headgear has five times the resolution of existing options and emphasizes human expression and interaction in a remote world. Maxim Perumal's method of latency reduction powers current VR headsets.
Palitronica: Physical infrastructure cybersecurity
Palitronica blends cutting-edge hardware and software to produce networked electronic systems that support crucial physical and supply chain infrastructure. The startup's objective is to build solutions that defend national security and key infrastructure from cybersecurity threats.
Reality Defender: Deepfake detection
Reality Defender alerts firms to bogus users and changed audio, video, and image files. Reality Deference's API and web app score material in real time to prevent fraud, improve content moderation, and detect deception.
Micro Meat: Infrastructure for the manufacture of cell-cultured meat
MicroMeat promotes sustainable meat production. The company has created technologies to scale up bioreactor-grown meat muscle tissue from animal cells. Their goal is to scale up cultured meat manufacturing so cultivated meat products can be brought to market feasibly and swiftly, boosting worldwide meat consumption.
Fleetzero: Electric cargo ships
This startup's battery technology will make cargo ships more sustainable and profitable. Fleetzero's electric cargo ships have five times larger profit margins than fossil fuel ships. Fleetzeros' founder has marine engineering, ship operations, and enterprise sales and business experience.
7 months ago
A visual exploration of the REAL use cases for NFTs in the Future
In this essay, I studied REAL NFT use examples and their potential uses.
Knowledge of the Hype Cycle
Gartner's Hype Cycle.
It proposes 5 phases for disruptive technology.
1. Technology Trigger: the emergence of potentially disruptive technology.
2. Peak of Inflated Expectations: Early publicity creates hype. (Ex: 2021 Bubble)
3. Trough of Disillusionment: Early projects fail to deliver on promises and the public loses interest. I suspect NFTs are somewhere around this trough of disillusionment now.
4. Enlightenment slope: The tech shows successful use cases.
5. Plateau of Productivity: Mainstream adoption has arrived and broader market applications have proven themselves. Here’s a more detailed visual of the Gartner Hype Cycle from Wikipedia.
In the speculative NFT bubble of 2021, @beeple sold Everydays: the First 5000 Days for $69 MILLION in 2021's NFT bubble.
@nbatopshot sold millions in video collectibles.
This is when expectations peaked.
Let's examine NFTs' real-world applications.
Watch this video if you're unfamiliar with NFTs.
Most people think NFTs are rich people buying worthless JPEGs and MP4s.
Digital artwork and collectibles are revolutionary for creators and enthusiasts.
NFT Profile Pictures
You might also have seen NFT profile pictures on Twitter.
My profile picture is an NFT I coined with @skogards factoria app, which helps me avoid bogus accounts.
Profile pictures are a good beginning point because they're unique and clearly yours.
NFTs are a way to represent proof-of-ownership. It’s easier to prove ownership of digital assets than physical assets, which is why artwork and pfps are the first use cases.
They can do much more.
NFTs can represent anything with a unique owner and digital ownership certificate. Domains and usernames.
Usernames & Domains
@unstoppableweb, @ensdomains, @rarible sell NFT domains.
NFT domains are transferable, which is a benefit.
Godaddy and other web2 providers have difficult-to-transfer domains. Domains are often leased instead of purchased.
NFTs can also represent concert tickets and event passes.
There's a limited number, and entry requires proof.
NFTs can eliminate the problem of forgery and make it easy to verify authenticity and ownership.
NFT tickets can be traded on the secondary market, which allows for:
marketplaces that are uniform and offer the seller and buyer security (currently, tickets are traded on inefficient markets like FB & craigslist)
Payment of royalties to the creator
4. Historical ticket ownership data implies performers can airdrop future passes, discounts, etc.
5. NFT passes can be a fandom badge.
The $30B+ online tickets business is increasing fast.
NFT-based ticketing projects:
NFTs also help in-game assets.
Imagine someone spending five years collecting a rare in-game blade, then outgrowing or quitting the game. Gamers value that collectible.
The gaming industry is expected to make $200 BILLION in revenue this year, a significant portion of which comes from in-game purchases.
Royalties on secondary market trading of gaming assets encourage gaming businesses to develop NFT-based ecosystems.
Digital assets are the start. On-chain NFTs can represent real-world assets effectively.
Real estate has a unique owner and requires ownership confirmation.
Tokenizing property has many benefits.
1. Can be fractionalized to increase access, liquidity
2. Can be collateralized to increase capital efficiency and access to loans backed by an on-chain asset
3. Allows investors to diversify or make bets on specific neighborhoods, towns or cities +++
I've written about this thought exercise before.
I made an animated video explaining this.
We've just explored NFTs for transferable assets. But what about non-transferrable NFTs?
SBTs are Soul-Bound Tokens. Vitalik Buterin (Ethereum co-founder) blogged about this.
NFTs are basically verifiable digital certificates.
Diplomas & Degrees
That fits Degrees & Diplomas. These shouldn't be marketable, thus they can be non-transferable SBTs.
Anyone can verify the legitimacy of on-chain credentials, degrees, abilities, and achievements.
The same goes for other awards.
For example, LinkedIn could give you a verified checkmark for your degree or skills.
NFTs can also safeguard against counterfeiting.
Counterfeiting is the largest criminal enterprise in the world, estimated to be $2 TRILLION a year and growing.
Anti-counterfeit tech is valuable.
This is one of @ORIGYNTech's projects.
Identity theft/verification is another real-world problem NFTs can handle.
In the US, 15 million+ citizens face identity theft every year, suffering damages of over $50 billion a year.
This isn't surprising considering all you need for US identity theft is a 9-digit number handed around in emails, documents, on the phone, etc.
Identity NFTs can fix this.
NFTs are one-of-a-kind and unforgeable.
NFTs offer a universal standard.
NFTs are simple to verify.
SBTs, or non-transferrable NFTs, are tied to a particular wallet.
In the event of wallet loss or theft, NFTs may be revoked.
This could be one of the biggest use cases for NFTs.
Imagine a global identity standard that is standardized across countries, cannot be forged or stolen, is digital, easy to verify, and protects your private details.
Since your identity is more than your government ID, you may have many NFTs.
@0xPolygon and @civickey are developing on-chain identity.
NFTs can authenticate digital and physical memberships.
NFT IDs can verify votes.
If you remember 2020, you'll know why this is an issue.
Online voting's ease can boost turnout.
NFTs can protect IP.
This can earn creators royalties.
NFTs have 2 important properties:
Verifiability IP ownership is unambiguously stated and publicly verified.
Platforms that enable authors to receive royalties on their IP can enter the market thanks to standardization.
Monetization without copyrighting = more opportunities for everyone.
This works well with the music.
Spotify and Apple Music pay creators very little.
Creators can crowdfund with NFTs.
NFTs can represent future royalties for investors.
This is particularly useful for fields where people who are not in the top 1% can’t make money. (Example: Professional sports players)
Mirror.xyz allows blog-based crowdfunding.
This introduces Financial NFTs (fNFTs). Unique financial contracts abound.
a person's collection of assets (unique portfolio)
A loan contract that has been partially repaid with a lender
temporal tokens (ex: veCRV)
Not just financial contracts.
NFT can represent any legal contract or document.
Messages & Emails
What about other agreements? Verbal agreements through emails and messages are likewise unique, but they're easily lost and fabricated.
Medical records or prescriptions are another types of documentation that has to be verified but isn't.
Medical NFT examples:
Covid test outcomes
health issues that may affect one's identity
Observations made via health sensors
Existing systems of proof by paper / PDF have photoshop-risk.
I tried to include most use scenarios, but this is just the beginning.
NFTs have many innovative uses.
For example: @ShaanVP minted an NFT called “5 Minutes of Fame” 👇
Here are 2 Twitter threads about NFTs:
This piece of gold by @chriscantino
2. This conversation between @punk6529 and @RaoulGMI on @RealVision“The World According to @punk6529”
If you're wondering why NFTs are better than web2 databases for these use scenarios, see this Twitter thread I wrote:
If you liked this, please share it.
6 months ago
DWTS: How to Organize Your To-Do List Quickly
Don't overcomplicate to-do lists. DWTS (Done, Waiting, Top 3, Soon) organizes your to-dos.
How Are You Going to Manage Everything?
Modern America is busy. Work involves meetings. Anytime, Slack communications arrive. Many software solutions offer a @-mention notification capability. Emails.
Work obligations continue. At home, there are friends, family, bills, chores, and fun things.
How are you going to keep track of it all? Enter the todo list. It’s been around forever. It’s likely to stay forever in some way, shape, or form.
Everybody has their own system. You probably modified something from middle school. Post-its? Maybe it’s an app? Maybe both, another system, or none.
I suggest a format that has worked for me in 15 years of professional and personal life.
Try it out and see if it works for you. If not, no worries. You do you! Hopefully though you can learn a thing or two, and I from you too.
It is merely a Google Doc, yes.
It's a giant list. One task per line. Indent subtasks on a new line. Add or move new tasks as needed.
I recommend using Google Docs. It's easy to use and flexible for structuring.
Prioritizing these tasks is key. I organize them using DWTS (Done, Waiting, Top 3, Soon). Chronologically is good because it implicitly provides both a priority (high, medium, low) and an ETA (now, soon, later).
Yes, I recognize the similarities to DWTS (Dancing With The Stars) TV Show. Although I'm not a fan, it's entertaining. The acronym is easy to remember and adds fun to something dull.
What each section contains
All tasks' endpoint. Finish here. Don't worry about it again.
You're blocked and can't continue. Blocked tasks usually need someone. Write Person Task so you know who's waiting.
Blocking tasks shouldn't last long. After a while, remind them kindly. If people don't help you out of kindness, they will if you're persistent.
Mental focus areas. These can be short- to mid-term goals or recent accomplishments. 2 to 5 is a good number to stay focused.
Top 3 reminds us to prioritize. If they don't fit your Top 3 goals, delay them.
Every 1:1 at work is a project update. Another chance to list your top 3. You should know your Top 3 well and be able to discuss them confidently.
Here's your short-term to-do list. Rank them from highest to lowest.
I usually subdivide it with empty lines. First is what I have to do today, then week, then month. Subsections can be arranged however you like.
Inventories by Concept
Tasks that aren’t in your short or medium future go into the backlog.
Eventually you’ll complete these tasks, assign them to someone else, or mark them as “wont’ do” (like done but in another sense).
Backlog tasks don't need to be organized chronologically because their timing and priority may change. Theme-organize them. When planning/strategic, you can choose themes to focus on, so future top 3 topics.
More Tips on Todos
Decide Upon a Morning Goal
Morning routines are universal. Coffee and Wordle. My to-do list is next. Two things:
As needed, update the to-do list: based on the events of yesterday and any fresh priorities.
Pick a few jobs to complete today: Pick a few goals that you know you can complete today. Push the remainder below and move them to the top of the Soon section. I typically select a few tasks I am confident I can complete along with one stretch task that might extend into tomorrow.
Finally. By setting and achieving small goals every day, you feel accomplished and make steady progress on medium and long-term goals.
Tech companies call this a daily standup. Everyone shares what they did yesterday, what they're doing today, and any blockers. The name comes from a tradition of holding meetings while standing up to keep them short. Even though it's virtual, everyone still wants a quick meeting.
Your team may or may not need daily standups. Make a daily review a habit with your coffee.
Review Backwards & Forwards on a regular basis
While you're updating your to-do list daily, take time to review it.
Review your Done list. Remember things you're proud of and things that could have gone better. Your Done list can be long. Archive it so your main to-do list isn't overwhelming.
Future-gaze. What you considered important may no longer be. Reorder tasks. Backlog grooming is a workplace term.
Backwards-and-forwards reviews aren't required often. Every 3-6 months is fine. They help you see the forest as often as the trees.
Keep your list simple. Done, Waiting, Top 3, Soon. These are the necessary sections. If you like, add more subsections; otherwise, keep it simple.
I recommend a morning review. By having clear goals and an action-oriented attitude, you'll be successful.