Chain Runners look like the next big thing in NFTs
Image: Chain Runners

Chain Runners look like the next big thing in NFTs

Source Code

Good morning! This Tuesday, everybody in tech wants a Chain Runner, Elizabeth Holmes continues her defense, Twitter's getting into social shopping, and Elon Musk is a Yelp troll.

Welcome to Mega City

If you didn't buy a Chain Runner over the weekend, it's like, are you even really in tech? You couldn't be on Twitter over the last 72 hours without running into someone else tweeting excitedly about the pixelated art they'd just purchased.

Chain Runners seem to be the next big thing in NFTs. It's a relatively new project, but it took off in a big way over the last few days, and looks headed to join Bored Ape Yacht Club and the CryptoPunks on NFT Mount Rushmore. (Which will surely be created and sold as an NFT at some point.)

  • A few of the big tech names to buy Runners over the last few days: Josh Buckley, the investor and former Product Hunt CEO, who appears to own 135 Runners; Away founder Jen Rubio; Nothing's Carl Pei; 20VC's Harry Stebbings; Worklife's Bri Kimmel; Figma's Dylan Field; Gary Vaynerchuk; and Alex Pall, of the Chainsmokers, who absolutely counts as a tech mogul.
  • There's also some speculation that Coinbase's Brian Armstrong may have bought a Runner, which supporters are very excited about but is so far hard to know for sure.
  • Things are still volatile, though: Prices dropped in a big way on Monday, only to quickly recover as more people bought in.

There are 10,000 32x32-pixel Chain Runners available, and their prices are currently going through the roof. The going rate seems to be about 3 ETH, or about $12,500, though as with any NFT there's huge variance across the collection. The overall vibe is like "Blade Runner" meets the Sega Genesis, and the project includes a rich backstory that involves a home base called Mega City and a group of renegades called The Runners fighting back against authority. It's all a little on the nose, sure, but it's fun nonetheless.

This collection is pushing the whole idea of NFTs forward. For one thing, they're actually on-chain and decentralized, unlike so many projects that seem Web3-ish but structurally still look like Web 2.0.

  • They were created by a few of the developers behind Blitmap, another super-ambitious NFT project that exists in an entire sci-fi universe. Evan Dennington, who goes by "mid" and started the project, compared it to buying a lightsaber at Disney World: "you're ultimately buying a piece of plastic," he said on Clubhouse, "but it's imbued with so much energy and emotion and you're creating this memorable experience around this asset."
  • All the code is open source, and the developers offer Runners through a surprisingly permissive license. It's about the most internet-utopian NFT project we've seen yet, so it's no wonder tech people love it. (People also love the experience of actually minting the art.)
  • Usually, buying an NFT is like getting entry into a special club. With Chain Runners, the idea is flipped on its head: You buy an NFT to become part of the group that builds the club. Or does something else entirely. There's already a huge amount of derivative art and new
  • "While it's still early days," Greylock's Sarah Guo wrote, "a project like Chain Runners is an incredible experiment in IP creation with a community, and is capturing the imagination of crypto and tech leaders and first time NFT buyers alike."
  • There is, as always, a Discord, and the developers are also building a Runnerhub, which offers lots of information about your Runner and the world they live in.

What will become of Chain Runners? Nobody knows, including the people who made it and own Runners. Dennington described wanting to build "a narrative-driven universe," but right now it's mostly just a really expensive way to change your Twitter profile picture. But that's kind of the point. This is a new way to collaboratively explore genuinely new tech, whether that's in service of sick new Twitter profile pictures or a way to buy the U.S. Constitution. And collect some art in the process.

— David Pierce (email | twitter)

A MESSAGE FROM WORKHUMAN

Workhuman®️® Live is the outlier of HR conferences; it's the kind of positive environment where transformative ideas can have far-reaching influence. It's amazing lineup of speakers – including Malcolm Gladwell and Priya Parker - will address the most crucial issues facing workplaces today, including the Great Resignation talent exodus, navigating hybrid workforces, DE&I, and so many more. Interested in attending?

Learn more

People are talking

Elizabeth Holmes said Theranos wasn't a scam, it was just hugely ambitious:

  • "We thought this was a really big idea."

MoonPay just raised $500 million for its crypto payments business, and CEO Ivan Soto-Wright wants to spend it in Miami:

  • "There haven't really been really powerful technology companies based here. So we see we have an opportunity to represent the tech scene here."

JPMorgan Chase thinks Tesla owes it $162 million, and Elon Musk is … exactly as concerned as you'd expect:

  • "If JPM doesn't withdraw their lawsuit, I will give them a one star review on Yelp. This is my final warning!"

Making moves

Samsung is investing bigger in Texas. The company is set to announce a $17 billion chip factory in Taylor, The Wall Street Journal reported, and got some spectacular tax breaks to do so.

Life360 acquired Tile for $205 million. The company will keep selling its trackers, but this is a strong indication that it's tough to compete with AirTags.

Niantic raised another $300 million, valuing the company at $9 billion and giving it a huge war chest with which to try and win the race to the metaverse.

David Misler is Tesla's new managing counsel. He was formerly an attorney at the SEC.

Jeff Bezos gave $100 million to the Obama Foundation. The money will help fund a new plaza at the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago, and support the organization's other projects, too.

The FCC allowed Verizon to buy Tracfone. The $6 billion deal has been in the works for more than a year, and critics have said it will make things more expensive and complex for low-income users.

In other news

Bong rips and fries to dip? People in Canada can now order marijuana through Uber Eats — but only for pickup. And Dara Khosrowshahi wants to bring the service to the U.S. when regulations allow.

Qualcomm's deal with Microsoft is ending. It had an exclusivity agreement with Microsoft for Windows on Arm, but XDA Developers reports that deal is ending. Qualcomm's also re-branding its Snapdragon processors with a single-digit series number.

Twitter's getting into social shopping. Its new Live Shopping feature, which is so far a test in collaboration with Walmart, turns every livestream into QVC and puts shopping next to chat under every stream.

Roku's streaming ambitions are growing. It plans to launch more than 50 originals in the next two years, which is the equivalent of like two days of Netflix releases but still a huge investment for a relatively new player.

GoDaddy was hit by a data breach, it reported in an SEC filing. Up to 1.2 million customers might have had their information exposed.

ConstitutionDAO has a new plan. It didn't win the Constitution, of course, but now it's offering donors a token called We The People that gives owners governance power over … something. It's not clear if anyone knows exactly what yet.

Today in great green-bubble news: Google seems to be rolling out a Messages update that does away with that horrific "So and so Loved a message" notification from Apple users that every Android user has come to hate.

Crypto by any other name

When is the word crypto not about cryptocurrency? When it's about cryptography, for one. And cryptographers aren't very happy when people use the shorthand crypto for anything but that, not least because cryptography came first. You can't spell cryptocurrency without cryptography, or something.

"There is a need to distinguish between those two areas to avoid absolutely foreseeable confusion," Amie Stepanovich, the executive director of Silicon Flatirons Center at the University of Colorado Law School, told The Guardian. So next time you want to call cryptocurrency "crypto," please think of the cryptographers. And if you feel extremely passionate about the subject, maybe add this T-shirt to your holiday wishlist.

A MESSAGE FROM WORKHUMAN

Workhuman®️® Live is the outlier of HR conferences; it's the kind of positive environment where transformative ideas can have far-reaching influence. It's amazing lineup of speakers – including Malcolm Gladwell and Priya Parker - will address the most crucial issues facing workplaces today, including the Great Resignation talent exodus, navigating hybrid workforces, DE&I, and so many more. Interested in attending?

Learn more

Thoughts, questions, tips? Send them to sourcecode@protocol.com, or our tips line, tips@protocol.com. Enjoy your day, see you tomorrow.

Update: This story has been updated to reflect how many Chain Runners Josh Buckley actually owns. Updated 11/23/2021.

Recent Issues

AWS is all grown up

Why Jack really left