Down bad – TechCrunch

Welcome back to Chain Reaction.

Last week, we discussed layoffs and the Winklevoss rock gods. This week, we’re looking at a new layer of crypto doom and gloom.

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crash redux

We’ve discussed crypto crashes a few times already in this newsletter but the sell off this week has spooked crypto insiders in a very different way. Things are happening so quickly right now that even seasoned crypto investors seem to be feeling uneasy about this one.

While crypto winters have come before, they’ve never aligned with warning signs of a prolonged recession. Things have already plunged so quickly at the signal of a recession that insiders have a lot of potential for the market bull run.

This means rough things for tokens, but also more brutal realities for the entire ecosystem.

This week, we have seen the interconnectedness of major institutions as crypto lending protocol Celsius stuttered and brought down Despite the decentralization ethos of crypto, the potential for cascading failures seems to be almost impossible for the crypto world.

If you do not want to move, then the question is how to start shifting fortunes. Few companies have to deal with crypto and public markets like Coinbase which has more than 1,100 people this week, but the start of the future is theoretically raised mega-rounds. For DAOs and protocols with treasuries sitting in ETH, many have seen their budgets for community efforts and stretch projects decimated, threatening their survival.

Blockchain-based exclusivity, where will consumer demand go? Will governing communities grow more self-motivated and more concerned about short-term goals when their groups have gone from being filled with millionaires to seeing their profits disappear into thin air? How much worse will things get?


the latest pod

Somebody call 911. Crypto lending protocol Celsius isn’t fire burning, but it did freeze all customer withdrawals this past weekend, citing concerns about its own liquidity amid “extreme market conditions.” Since then, the firm, which claimed 1.7 million users before the pause, has seen its own token plummet (and then recover, and plummet again), and sent the already-struggling crypto markets into a tailspin. We discussed through the Celsius network and how it’s surprisingly intertwined with the rest of crypto.

Regulators are seizing this moment in the downturn, while web3 is already looking shady and investors are pissed about losing money, to crack down on certain firms in space. From BlockFi to Binance.US, some of the largest names in crypto are facing lawsuits and / or fines for their practices.

The tech billionaire bros are still alright, though, for better or for worse. Block’s Jack Dorsey announced this week that he’s ready to cancel web3 and move on to his vision of the internet, who’s calling it “web5.” Elon Musk weighed in with a particularly creative proposal too, which we discussed in this week’s episode.

Our guest, Aaron Levie, built a successful SaaS business in Box, and now he’s on a mission to beef – respectfully – with web3 stans all over Twitter. Levie explained to us how he manages to walk the fine line of being a crypto critic without landing in the bulls’ bad books.

Subscribe to Chain Reaction on Apple, Spotify or your alternative podcast platform of choice to keep up with us every week.


follow the money

Where startup money is moving in the crypto world:

  1. Indonesian fintech platform Flip raised a $ 55 million Series B extension by Tencent with participation from Block (formerly known as Square) and existing backer Insight Partners.
  2. NFT infrastructure startup NFTPort raised a $ 26 million Series A round led by Atomico.
  3. ScienceMagic.Studiosa digital asset-focused brand studio, bagged $ 10.3 million in pre-seed investment from investors including Liberty City Ventures, Digital Currency Group and Coinbase Ventures.
  4. A co-founder of Words With Friends raised $ 46 million in a Series A round led by Paradigm for their web3 gaming startup, The WildCard Alliance.
  5. Moleculea platform where DAOs can back medical research projects, secured $ 13 million in seed funding by Northpond Ventures.
  6. Metaverse play-and-earn company Atmos Labs brought in $ 11 million in a seed round led by Sfermion.
  7. Creator-focused web3 sitebuilder Tellie nabbed $ 10 million in Series A funding from investors including Malibu Point Capital, Galaxy Digital and Dapper Labs.
  8. Crypto payment platform Nume raised $ 2 million in a pre-seed round led by Sequoia India.
  9. Dutch fintech Bits of Stockwhich offers crypto rewards, raised € 4.2 million in its seed round from Keen Venture Partners, Yellow Accelerator and others.
  10. Decentralized trading infrastructure startup Orderly Network raised $ 20 million in Series A funding from investors including Three Arrows Capital, Pantera Capital and Dragonfly Capital.

the week in web3

Crypto markets were down pretty bad last week (though admittedly, it’s only been downhill since then). But temperatures were up in Austin, Texas, out of 20,000 people in the crypto community came together to discuss how to navigate their industry looking like it might be up in flames. Anita had the chance to attend the conference, so she’s back with some thoughts from the field:

I have a lot of friends and acquaintances who are not as deep in crypto as I am, and one question I’ve heard over the past few weeks in the digital asset markets web3. In other worlds, now that the music has stopped, is the party actually over?

I shared my two cents / two Satoshis on the matter on Los Angeles public radio this week (check it out), but I want to use this space to highlight some thoughts I have heard from folks in the industry at Consensus. In short, I don’t think this is the end of crypto by any means, but it’s definitely going to be a tough time for space.

On a panel about how to invest in a turbulent market, Arca’s Chief Investment Officer Jeff Dorman

“I don’t even think digital assets [are] the asset class. I think it’s a technology that is now wrapping all asset classes, ”Dorman said. In tradfi, investors can specialize based on products (eg debt, equity, derivatives) or sectors (eg, industrials, retail, real estate). But in web3, those categories have been clearly defined, because blockchain technology has been used in so many different ways, from file storage, to digital selling art, to tracking peer-to-peer money transfers.

That’s part of why I can’t group “crypto” or “web3” or “blockchain technology” in the same bucket – even those three terms may have slightly different meanings. Perhaps that’s why the vibe at Consensus felt puzzlingly positive despite the market turmoil. Each project is so different, and each builder has a conviction in the case of the blockchain that makes sense and does not look like scams. At this time of great uncertainty, the most important thing reporters and analysts can do is look at this industry with nuance, and evaluate each project project case-by-case. It’s going to be a wild ride, but I believe it is my job not to shed light on what applications of this technology are working and not working but also to try and make sense of why.


TC + analysis

Here’s some of this week’s crypto analysis you can read on our subscription service TC + (written by TC’s Jacquelyn Melinek):

Of Celsius accelerates the crypto sell-off, who pays the price?
This week, the global crypto market capitalization falls below $ 1 trillion for the first time since January 2021 after one of the largest centralized crypto lenders, Celsius, landed in hot water after all used withdrawals, swaps and transfers for users. The driver behind its freeze is not quite clear yet, but it happens in another bank-run scenario like the UST and LUNA situation – and it’s causing another drop in the crypto market.

Hedge funds plan to buy more crypto amid a down market and potential regulatory clarity
According to PwC’s Global Crypto Hedge Fund report. These funds are on “the search for alpha” to beat the benchmarks and John Garvey, global financial services leader at PwC, said to TechCrunch. Even though markets are extremely volatile, two-thirds of all hedge funds are currently investing in the space plan to deploy more capital into the market by the end of 2022, it said.

From DAOs continue to blossom, here’s how to keep yours from wilting
This has been a major growth spurt for DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations), but it is not guaranteed that they are properly formed or in a way that ensures success. But what happens when the hype fades? People stop voting, treasuries can wither and leave, dead communities turn into “DAO graveyards.” To prevent that from happening, some say there needs to be a restructuring of the way DAOs are formed.


Thanks for reading and you can get this newsletter in your inbox every Thursday by subscribing on TechCrunch’s newsletter page.

Lucas and Anita

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