Fintech

Don’t think of it as leaving Twitter. Jack Dorsey’s going all in on crypto.

Bitcoin unleashed a huge wave, and Dorsey — no longer doing double duty at Twitter and Square — wants to ride it.

Jack Dorsey at the Bitcoin 2021 Convention

There’s still time for Square to expand its crypto footprint, though, which makes the timing of Dorsey’s move significant.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Jack Dorsey’s sudden exit from Twitter underlines the tech pioneer’s growing fixation with crypto — a passion that has forced a sudden resolution of the odd situation of a single individual leading two large tech companies.

It’s now clear that Square is Dorsey’s favorite child and needs all of his attention to advance the role it could play in popularizing bitcoin, the best-known cryptocurrency.

"If I were not at Square or Twitter I'd be working on bitcoin," Dorsey said at a cryptocurrency conference in Miami in June. At the time, he said “both companies have a role to play.”

But Twitter’s presence in the crypto world has proven minimal, despite efforts like letting users accept tips in bitcoin and hiring Tess Rinearson to lead a crypto team. Twitter’s CFO recently dissed the idea of holding bitcoin in its corporate treasury.

Square, meanwhile, has been riding the crypto wave since its Cash App added bitcoin trading almost four years ago. By 2021, 1 million Square users were buying bitcoin for the first time on Cash App. Square announced in February that 5% of Square’s total cash was in bitcoin.

In June, Blockstream, the bitcoin mining company, announced that Square was investing $5 million in a solar-powered mining operation. In July, Dorsey said Square was building “a new business” that would operate alongside divisions like Cash App and Tidal to build tools for developers, focused on bitcoin.

Square also helped set up the Cryptocurrency Open Patent Alliance, which aims to defend the industry against patent trolls.

Recently, Square also announced that it was developing its own hardware crypto wallet “to make bitcoin custody more mainstream.”

“Bitcoin is for everyone,” Dorsey said in a tweet. “It’s important to us to build an inclusive product.”

Despite those moves, Square remains a relative newbie in crypto. Bitcoin trading has juiced its revenue lately, but it’s going up against nimbler, faster-moving competitors like Coinbase and Robinhood.

“Jack wants all in on crypto,” Constellation Research analyst Ray Wang told Protocol. “He doesn’t want to miss the next big thing.”

One challenge for Dorsey and Square is his well-known allegiance to bitcoin, which is increasingly just one cryptocurrency among many, and not the most technically sophisticated one. Wang says Square needs “to be in the middle of smart contracts,” a technology most firmly established on the Ethereum blockchain. A coming upgrade to bitcoin called Taproot promises to facilitate smart contracts using bitcoin, but it would seem smarter to spread one’s bets.

There’s still time for Square to expand its crypto footprint, though, which makes the timing of Dorsey’s move significant. “It’s early in the marketplace,” Wang said. “This space will be won by a few players. We are in 1997 for the internet.”

Entertainment

Google TV will gain fitness tracker support, wireless audio features

A closer integration with fitness trackers is part of the company’s goal to make TVs a key pillar of the Android ecosystem.

Making TVs more capable comes with increasing hardware and software requirements, leading Google to advise its partners to build more-capable devices.

Photo: Google

Google wants TV viewers to get off the couch: The company is working on plans to closely integrate its Android TV platform with fitness trackers, which will allow developers to build interactive workout services for the living room.

Google representatives shared those plans at a closed-door partner event last month, where they painted them as part of the company’s “Better Together” efforts to build an ecosystem of closely integrated Android devices. As part of those efforts, Google is also looking to improve the way Android TV and Google TV devices work with third-party audio hardware. (Google launched Android TV as an Android-based smart TV platform in 2014; in 2020, it introduced Google TV as a more content-centric smart TV experience based on Android TV.)

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Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Sponsored Content

How Global ecommerce benefits American workers and the U.S. economy

New research shows Alibaba’s ecommerce platforms positively impact U.S. employment.

The U.S. business community and Chinese consumers are a powerful combination when it comes to American job creation. In addition to more jobs, the economic connection also delivers enhanced wages and a growing GDP contribution on U.S. soil, according to a recent study produced by NDP Analytics.

Alibaba — a leading global ecommerce company — is a particularly powerful engine in helping American businesses of every size sell goods to more than 1 billion consumers on its digital marketplaces in China. In 2020, U.S. companies completed more than $54 billion of sales to consumers in China through Alibaba’s online platforms.

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James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Fintech

What the fate of 9 small tokens means for the crypto industry

The SEC says nine tokens in the Coinbase insider trading case are securities, but they are similar to many other tokens that are already trading on exchanges.

While a number of pieces of crypto legislation have been introduced in Congress, the SEC’s moves in court could become precedent until any legislation is passed or broader executive actions are made.

Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

When the SEC accused a former Coinbase employee of insider trading last month, it specifically named nine cryptocurrencies as securities, potentially opening the door to regulation for the rest of the industry.

If a judge agrees with the SEC’s argument, many other similar tokens could be deemed securities — and the companies that trade them could be forced to be regulated as securities exchanges. When Ripple was sued by the SEC in late 2020, for example, Coinbase chose to suspend trading the token rather than risk drawing scrutiny from federal regulators. In this case, however, Coinbase says the nine tokens – seven of which trade on Coinbase — aren’t securities.

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Tomio Geron

Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com.

Enterprise

Werner Vogels: Enterprises are more daring than you might think

The longtime chief technology officer talked with Protocol about the AWS customers that first flocked to serverless, how AI and ML are making life easier for developers and his “primitives, not frameworks” stance.

"We knew that if cloud would really be effective, development would change radically."

Photo: Amazon

When AWS unveiled Lambda in 2014, Werner Vogels thought the serverless compute service would be the domain of young, more tech-savvy businesses.

But it was enterprises that flocked to serverless first, Amazon’s longtime chief technology officer told Protocol in an interview last week.

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Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Climate

Dark money is trying to kill the Inflation Reduction Act from the left

A new campaign is using social media to target voters in progressive districts to ask their representatives to vote against the Inflation Reduction Act. But it appears to be linked to GOP operatives.

United for Clean Power's campaign is a symptom of how quickly and easily social media allows interest groups to reach a targeted audience.

Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The social media feeds of progressive voters have been bombarded by a series of ads this past week telling them to urge their Democratic representatives to vote against the Inflation Reduction Act.

The ads aren’t from the Sunrise Movement or other progressive climate stalwarts, though. Instead, they’re being pushed by United for Clean Power, a murky dark money operation that appears to have connections with Republican operatives.

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Lisa Martine Jenkins

Lisa Martine Jenkins is a senior reporter at Protocol covering climate. Lisa previously wrote for Morning Consult, Chemical Watch and the Associated Press. Lisa is currently based in Brooklyn, and is originally from the Bay Area. Find her on Twitter ( @l_m_j_) or reach out via email (ljenkins@protocol.com).

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