Crypto believers vs. bankers
Good morning! As the World Economic Forum unfolds in Davos, the hot topic of conversation is cryptocurrency. Even as coin values plunge, the promise of crypto looms large — though perhaps not for skeptical bankers. I’m Owen Thomas, and my Davos dream is to be at a piano bar scream-singing rock anthems with Randi Zuckerberg.
Crypto believers vs. bankers
For something worthless, considerable fortunes are being spent to tout cryptocurrencies to the world’s elite right now. The World Economic Forum annual meeting, which ends tomorrow, has been dominated by two camps: central bankers, the classic Davos Man types, grumbling that crypto can’t possibly be worth anything; and the new arrivals from cryptoland, venturing into the belly of the beast to make the argument for digital assets. The cryptopians are certainly outmarketing the traditionalists: You can’t stumble out of a panel to buy a döner kebab in Davos Platz without seeing a “wen lambo” billboard with a rocket ship emoji.
It feels like a strange time to make the case for crypto. And yet there’s the crypto smart set, mingling with bankers in the Swiss Shangri-La.
- Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire, a Davos regular, has been making the rounds. Ads touting Circle’s USDC stablecoin are everywhere, too, from the Zurich airport to the Davos rail station. Allaire spoke on a panel with Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse about remittances — a segment of finance where the lower fees and faster transactions promised by crypto could make a real difference for the underbanked.
- Polkadot, Filecoin, Securrency and others are also advertising heavily at Davos.
- Tether, which saw its USDT stablecoin briefly lose its peg last week, was giving away pizza.
- And Andreessen Horowitz announced a new $4.5 billion crypto fund today, more than double the size of its third crypto fund, which it raised just last June. That will fund the Davos marketing budgets of startups for years to come.
If this is crypto winter, why the thaw? Maybe this is the Saint Martin’s summer of crypto.
- After falling by more than half from its peak in November, bitcoin has been hanging around $29,000.
- Some think it could fall further: Guggenheim Chief Investment Officer Scott Minerd forecasts a 70% drop to $8,000. But even Minerd thinks bitcoin, along with ether, will survive the crypto crash and prove valuable over the long run, comparing them to tech stocks after the dot-com crash. Back then, he told CNBC, “we couldn’t tell you if Amazon or Pets.com was going to be the winner.”
- Remember, the Nasdaq crashed in March 2000 and then bounced back that fall, only to start a long, punishing slide.
Obsessing about crypto prices is the wrong way to think about things, anyway. “Ordinary riches can be stolen, real riches cannot,” Oscar Wilde said. (Bet he never had his parachain bridge hacked!)
The crypto entrepreneurs parading around Davos have one thing over the central bankers, which is a dream. Why should crypto be different from any other tech sector? The whole point is to feel good about changing the world and get mad stacks of dollars trying. A cynical banker negging crypto may be someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.
—Owen Thomas (email | twitter)
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A stolen Bored Ape scandal
A Bored Ape NFT was set to star in a high-profile animated series, but the show’s protagonist may have gone MIA. Actor and producer Seth Green’s NFTs, including a Bored Ape named Fred Simian, were stolen in a phishing scam. Fred was to be the star of Green’s new series.
Now, the fate of the show is up in the air: The NFT went back on the market, where it was sold to a Twitter user for more than $200,000, stripping Green of his rights to the IP. Green has said he wants to resolve the situation with the buyer outside of court, but the bizarre situation highlights a legal issue that could truly only happen in 2022: If someone buys a stolen NFT, who owns the intellectual property?Green is still hopeful, tweeting Tuesday: “We can prove the promise of ape community.”
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