Crypto is drowning. FTX keeps swimming.
Illustration: Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Crypto is drowning. FTX keeps swimming.

Source Code

Good morning! FTX is on a spending spree and possibly looking to raise more funds. But how is it staying afloat amid the tidal wave of crashing crypto firms?

FTX FTW

Crypto might be drowning, but FTX is swimming just fine — or at least that’s how it appears. The crypto exchange is reportedly in talks to raise more funds following its string of acquisitions.

FTX is targeting a huge round, at roughly the same valuation it had in its January fundraising, according to Bloomberg.

  • At the start of the year, it raised $400 million at a valuation of $32 billion. Separately, FTX US raised its own $400 million at an $8 billion valuation.
  • FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was a shoulder to lean on for crypto broker Voyager: his trading firm Alameda gave it a $500 million line of credit shortly before — oops — it filed for bankruptcy. FTX also gave BlockFi a $400 million credit line and got a sweetheart deal to buy the part of the crypto lender it didn’t already own.
  • Taking advantage of down markets, FTX also scooped up Canadian exchange Bitvo and was reportedly eyeing Robinhood last month. Bankman-Fried already has a big personal stake in Robinhood.

One advantage FTX might have: operating offshore, Protocol Fintech editor Owen Thomas told me. It’s registered in Antigua and Barbuda and headquartered in the Bahamas. Binance and Kraken likewise rely on a complex web of global subsidiaries.

  • FTX’s business is broader than just swapping cryptocurrencies; it offers crypto derivatives, tokenized stocks and a host of other complex financial products.

But given that FTX is both a private company and based outside the U.S., next to nothing is publicly known about the company’s finances. “The irony is the blockchain is supposed to be this incredibly transparent way of doing business, but it’s not really,” Owen said.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

No climate emergency? Time to get creative.

With the Build Back Better Act being killed a second time, Joe Biden announced a host of climate policies yesterday. He still didn’t call climate change what it is, though: an emergency.

The Biden administration has the power to make sweeping changes to start a real transition to clean energy.

  • Though the Defense Production Act’s $545 million pot has already been tapped by previous endeavors, such as heat pumps, solar panels and critical minerals, as well as the baby formula shortage, Congress could appropriate more money to the act as it did during the early days of the pandemic.
  • Federal agencies could transfer some of their discretionary funding into the act’s coffers to invest in climate tech.
  • The administration could also fix the oversight with FEMA and the Stafford Act, which designates how federal funds are spent to rebuild after natural disasters.
  • Right now, FEMA has to build back what was once there, including fossil fuel infrastructure. But it could build back greener, including wind and solar farms, battery storage and rooftop and community solar.

But to actually make climate tech more ubiquitous, Protocol Climate editor Brian Kahn told me, the tech industry will have to partner with the government.

  • Though numerous tech companies have set individual net zero goals, “A single company working toward net zero in a vacuum is about as useful as one person trying to row a cruise ship across the ocean,” Brian said.
  • The DPA leaves the door open for tech companies to come up with climate action plans and provides financing to fill in the gaps.

Though there’s already some precedent for this, the Biden administration will have to move fast and think creatively to make progress with midterms looming.

— Nat Rubio-Licht

Apple, the health tech company

Apple wants you to know that it’s really, really good at health tech. In fact, that it’s better than everyone else at health tech.

The company published a 60-page report yesterday outlining its work on personal health and its work with researchers in the field. The report offers a deep look at Apple’s partnerships with health leaders and how it approaches health care.

  • The report focuses on health and wellness features on the Apple Watch and iPhone, as well as health data storage. The watch and phone offer 17 health-related features, and the Health app stores over 150 types of health data, according to the report.
  • “The health innovations we’ve pioneered have aimed to help break down barriers between users and their own everyday health data, between health care providers and patients and between researchers and study participants,” COO Jeff Williams said.

The report is Apple’s way of clapping back at critics. The company has gotten pushback (including from employees) in the past for struggling to make it big in the health care market.

  • Apple once tried out its own primary care service equipped with company-employed doctors, but it’s since shifted to focus on creating health and wellness features on devices like the Apple Watch. But even Apple’s health strides on devices met a rough patch as leaders left and the division itself struggled with direction.
  • The company is still pushing forward in the health market. It’s reportedly building a watch for extreme sports athletes and adding a body temperature sensor to its newest watch.

As Bloomberg pointed out, it’s hard for tech to make it in health care. But Apple’s report makes it clear that the company isn’t giving up.

— Sarah Roach

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Read more from DataStax

People are talking

In the early days of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian said he used to find the top poster every day and send them a PNG file of a "golden Snoo":

  • “The ONE thing I knew I could do better than anyone on the planet was give a damn about our community.”

Elon Musk called Tesla's prices increases "embarrassing," but it's inflation's fault:

  • "We've also had a lot of supply chain and production shocks and we've got crazy inflation."

Amazon Alexa's Marja Koopmans said she wants every smart home device to work together:

  • “We really believe in ambient intelligence.”

Making moves

Snap and AT&T report earnings today. You can find the dates for other earnings calls (as well as other upcoming events) on our tech calendar.

Linda Tong is Webflow’s new COO. Tong last worked at AppDynamics and serves on Prezi’s board.

Dan Freund joined Brightcove as CRO. Freund’s been a leader at Oracle, Quickbase and other enterprise software companies.

Dan Wright left DataRobot after less than a year and a half as CEO. COO Debanjan Saha will take Wright’s place.

Scott Keough is leaving Volkswagen US to lead Scout, the automaker’s EV brand. He’s been the company’s president and CEO since 2018.

In other news

Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg will testify in a lawsuit alleging that Facebook illegally shared user data with Cambridge Analytica.

Amazon spent a record $4.98 million on lobbying during the second quarter, and Big Tech's dropped $35.3 million on lobbying so far this year.

China fined DiDi $1.2 billion after a year investigating the company. The country's cybersecurity regulator found that DiDi illegally collected tons of personal information and broke data security rules.

Google is pausing hiring for two weeks, sources told The Information. Meanwhile, Microsoft eliminated several job listings, including some in its cloud and security software business units; neobank Varo laid off 75 employees, or about 10% of staff; and Lyft cut around 60 employees, or around 2% of its total staff.

Discord surpassed 500 million downloads, as well as $100 million of in-app purchases.

Minecraft says it doesn’t want NFTs. Parent company Mojang said they’re "inconsistent with the long-term joy and success of our players.”

The James Webb Space Telescope found the oldest galaxy we’ve seen so far, dating back to 300 million years after the big bang.

And in other space news, NASA said it's targeting Aug. 29, Sept. 2 and Sept. 5 for the first launch of the Space Launch System for Artemis 1, the agency’s human moon and Mars landing project.

An da weii, la ka da dae

The words above are not gibberish. It’s minion talk, and it’s so present on TikTok feeds that we can’t get the squeaky sing-song voice out of our heads. But that can’t just be blamed on the algorithm.

The marketing team behind the new movie “Minions: The Rise of Gru” has been playing into every TikTok trend and Gen Z joke to make the minions relevant again. Videos of people dressing up like minions and heading to the movie theater are going viral, and at one point everyone was tweeting about their love for the little yellow creatures. Once you figure out Gen Z humor, it apparently gets a lot easier to go viral.

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

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