Don’t call him 'Crypto Joe.' Yet.
Good morning! The administration’s executive order on crypto was celebrated by some as validation that the currency is legit. Others aren’t so sure it’s the “welcome mat” people want it to be. I’m Ben Pimentel, and I think “The People’s Front of Judea” is one of the funniest Monty Python sketches ever.
Also, we want to know if you own any NFTs. Read to the end for more info, but if you’re a longtime NFT collector or new to the hobby, tell us all about it. What was your first NFT? Which one cost the most? Let us know by replying to this email!
More like ‘Regulatory Process Joe’
President Biden’s executive order on crypto got rave reviews from key players in the digital assets industry. But calling him Crypto Joe may be premature.
Crypto execs and leaders called the order a milestone for a set of companies that have long complained that the federal government doesn’t take them seriously — or worse, is just plain out to get them. Meanwhile, administration officials, including key regulators, said they’re prepared to follow Biden’s lead in defending against the dark side of crypto: risks to financial stability, investor safety, national security and law and order.
There’s something for everyone in Biden’s crypto order, and what you see in it largely depends on where you stand.
Crypto thinks this means the White House finally gets it. Biden gave the industry the head-pat it has long been waiting for.
- “First and foremost, this is an affirmation that crypto is here to stay,” Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tweeted.
- Coinbase Chief Policy Officer Faryar Shirzad said “digital assets are now widely embraced by millions and there's growing interest in it from officials across government. Today, the White House has confirmed they know this too.”
- Garlinghouse echoed that point, saying the White House “finally” said “what we and the industry have been saying for years — if the U.S. wants to maintain its status as a responsible tech leader, it needs to provide a clear regulatory framework for an industry that’s exploding in growth.”
Will crypto and regulators finally get along? Peace breaking out between Silicon Valley and D.C. wasn’t immediately evident from key regulators’ reactions.
- The regulators made it clear they’re prepared to work … with other regulators. Gary Gensler said he looked forward to “collaborating with colleagues across the government” to focus on “protecting investors and consumers, guarding against illicit activity and helping ensure financial stability.”
- Rohit Chopra said the CFPB will work “with partners across the government” to take on a technology that has “created profound implications for financial stability, consumer protection, national security and energy demand.”
- Gensler is not exactly a popular figure in the crypto world. Garlinghouse, whose company is locked in a legal battle with the SEC, also hit back at “years of damage done by the SEC’s siloed regulation by enforcement approach.”
So what’s the order really about? There’s a strong status quo element of working with the existing architecture of government and policy to bring crypto into the fold.
- The Biden order didn’t address a key request from the crypto industry: rationalizing the multiple agencies weighing in on crypto regulations. Rep. Don Beyer, who introduced a crypto regulation bill last year, called this out in a statement: “The order does not clearly delineate regulatory responsibility between the SEC and the CFTC.” He also noted that the order didn’t specifically address stablecoins.
- “It would have been good to acknowledge the big elephant in the room … which is the presence of competing definitions and competing jurisdictions for regulatory oversight,” Gartner Vice President Avivah Litan told me.
- The order is best thought of as “directing agencies to study the crypto industry in a more methodical and coordinated approach” instead of relying on “a patchwork of rules,” Kristin Smith, executive director of the Blockchain Association, said. In other words, it will take time, and a lot of process.
- One concern: The Biden order might give regulators too much leeway. The mandate to protect U.S. and global financial stability could be a “catch-all for regulators” and “a very broad tool” to slow down crypto’s growth while avoiding “political pushback,” said Bradley Tusk, co-founder and managing partner at Tusk Ventures.
Hoping for an era of good feelings in crypto may be wishful thinking. Still, Biden’s crypto order could help reset the raging debates over crypto by reminding everyone of what’s at stake. But the heated debates over how to regulate crypto will likely continue. “I am confident this announcement is not the welcome mat that crypto thinks it is,” Santa Clara University law professor Stephen Diamond told me.
This story is also in today’s Protocol Fintech newsletter. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every morning.
A MESSAGE FROM 4-H
Gen Z is poised to help everyone - from a rural small business to a tech giant - rethink how their business operations can help alleviate the digital divide. It’s time to give Gen Z a seat at the table for the generation that sees how tech can be a benefit but often is the barrier for advancement.
People are talking
Brian Fishman thinks decisions like Facebook blocking Russia will get more intentional over time:
- “Sometimes, intentionally, you want to go all in. Other times, maybe you want to see what you can do before you elicit a response. My instinct is that this was not intentional by any of the companies in this case.”
- "Overly broad restrictions on the access of the Russian people to the internet would further isolate the embattled pro-democracy and anti-war activists, and impede the ability ... to provide critical information to citizens about the current state of affairs and their rights."
Hootsuite’s Tara Ataya said company-wide weeks off can work if you plan for them:
- “It’s a really important piece to consider if companies are thinking about doing this: just making sure you give everybody enough time in advance.”
Juan Perez is joining Salesforce as CIO. Perez spent over 30 years working in tech leadership roles at UPS.
Pavni Diwanji is leaving Meta. She had been running the company's initiatives aimed at protecting and attracting young users.
Yannis Simaiakis is the new chief strategy and insights officer at Waze. He most recently worked on paratransit at Via.
Jim Brinksma is Megaport’s new CTO. Brinksma most recently served in the same role at InnovoEdge, which Megaport bought last year.
Jennifer Lawrence joined NEXT Insurance as its first general counsel. Lawrence last worked at Noblr as chief legal officer and general counsel.
In other news
Two Meta stories you should read: A Financial Times deep dive into how Libra fell apart and why it could never survive being a Facebook product, and a Wired profile of Joel Kaplan, the most prominent Republican — and one of the most powerful voices, period — at the company.
Facebook is trying to address misinformation in Groups. Admins can now block posts marked as false by third-party fact-checkers before they’re even shared to a group and take other actions against group members.
Amazon announced a stock split, which could make shares of the company accessible to more people. The company is also buying back up to $10 billion worth of shares.
Bumble stopped operations in Russia and Belarus and removed its apps from the app stores.
Tesla will support its Ukrainian workers who are asked to fight. The company will continue paying for up to three months, according to an internal email that was sent to employees in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
SXSW doesn’t want Activision Blizzard to speak anymore. The festival disinvited Activision’s CMO from talking at a panel this weekend.
Tesla swears its self-driving and autopilot features are safe. But senators aren’t convinced.
Lyft employees can continue working from wherever they want. The company had been planning on making everyone work from the office at least part of the time in 2023.
TikTok wants to help musicians make money. The platform introduced SoundOn, a music marketing and distribution service that lets musicians upload songs and earn royalties.
Do you own any NFTs?
People spent nearly $27 billion on NFTs last year, with a majority of sales ranging between $10,000 and $100,000. But aside from all the people updating their social media profiles with pictures of their treasured digital art, who are all these people buying NFTs?
We want to know if you own an NFT. Did you recently get into it, or are you a longtime NFT supporter? If you own one (or many), what was your first? If you don’t own one, why not? Respond to this email and let us know, and we’ll round up our favorites in the Sunday edition of Source Code.
A MESSAGE FROM 4-H
People often think of the digital divide as being just about broadband access, but it is also about understanding the needs and tech literacy levels across roughly six generations. Gen Z could help companies develop products and apps that better serve the needs of our communities, our country and our world.
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