Crypto is dead. Or is it?
Good morning! This weekend, Coinbase celebrated its 10th birthday with a snarky ad that took aim at crypto skeptics, reminding us all that crypto has been on life support before. Still, this time feels different … or does it? I’m Caitlin McGarry, and I have Harry Styles’ “Music for a Sushi Restaurant” on repeat.
Crypto's death knell
A 30-second Coinbase ad, which aired during the Golden State Warriors game against the Mavericks on Friday, pointed out that people have been naysaying crypto in exactly the same way for the last 10 years: by declaring it dead.
Coinbase makes a good point. As far as ads go, this was successful. It might not encourage anyone to use Coinbase to buy the dip, but the historical context is useful as people contemplate crypto’s future.
- It was “effective if the objective is to let the market know Coinbase isn’t heading for the life rafts quite yet,” Jef Loeb, creative director at Brainchild Creative, told my Protocol colleague Ben Pimentel.
- “It drives home the message that just like so many other emerging technologies and emerging markets, blockchain and crypto will have their ups and downs — but they are here to stay,” Michael Fasanello, chief compliance officer of LVL, told Ben.
- But the commercial is also a complete 180 from crypto companies’ hype-fueling Super Bowl ad blitz. Coinbase’s own Super Bowl ad, a mysterious commercial featuring a floating QR code, brought 20 million people to the company’s website in the span of a single minute.
But crypto really isn’t doing so hot right now. Neither is Coinbase. Two weeks ago, Coinbase executives used the company’s earnings call to double down on crypto hype in what appeared to be a total rejection of reality. It almost immediately pivoted from that optimism, announcing plans to freeze hiring, put new projects on hold and slash spending.
- Coinbase’s stock has dropped by more than 50% in the last month, and the overall crypto market has lost more than $1 trillion in the same period.
- It’s rough out there, which makes the company’s new commercial feel a little tone-deaf. The ad isn’t exactly telling customers to HODL, but it’s not not saying that.
Crypto obviously isn’t dead quite yet. But the folks Coinbase featured in its commercial, who’ve been tweeting about crypto's coming demise, have a decade of evidence to point to. And right now, it’s not looking great.
- Digital currencies are under the microscope as some retail investors have gotten completely screwed by dumping their life savings into what is still an unregulated, speculative asset class.
- Lawmakers in the U.S. are taking a closer look at crypto, and while it’s unclear exactly how or when regulations will come down the pipeline stateside, that possibility seems more real in Europe.
- Over the weekend, European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde told Dutch television that crypto needs to be regulated. “My very humble assessment is that it is worth nothing, it is based on nothing, there is no underlying asset to act as an anchor of safety,” she said.
With the recent collapse of algorithmic stablecoin UST, which was supposed to peg crypto to the dollar and make it less of a wildcard, Lagarde and other crypto skeptics have an increasingly solid case. Still, it’s hard to criticize Coinbase for running the ad. Who can deny it a little optimism on its birthday, after all.
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People are talking
President Biden celebrated American and South Korean chip collaboration:
- "Our two nations work together to make the best, most advanced technology in the world."
The Integrity Institute had some suggestions for Elon Musk on how to run Twitter:
- “A forum for ‘free expression’ requires more than giving everyone the mic. It also requires clear processes, a culture of transparency, and a product that guides people toward best practices and behavior.”
Coming this week
It's Davos week! Climate change and tech are big themes of the World Economic Forum's annual meeting this year. Protocol is attending, so we might bump into you if you're there.
Didi is holding a shareholder meeting today. The company will vote on voluntarily delisting shares from the New York Stock Exchange.
The Lightship Summit, Niantic Lightship’s inaugural developer conference, kicks off tomorrow in San Francisco. The two-day event will include product debuts, exclusive demos and one-on-ones with the team.
Microsoft’s Build conference starts tomorrow and runs until Thursday. The event will be virtual for the third year in a row.
In other news
Broadcom is in talks to acquire VMware, according to Bloomberg. The deal could be worth as much as $50 billion.
Zuck Bucks have a lot to answer for. Our Issie Lapowsky has the true story of how Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s $419 million 2020 election donation became an enduring conspiracy theory.
Critical clean energy minerals are getting way too expensive. Prices for lithium are up more than 700% this year.
How much angst is there to soothe inside Twitter? Well, so far it's required 15 large or company-wide meetings, according to The Wall Street Journal.
What's stopping Grindr from going public? A history checkered with data privacy issues and harassment certainly isn't helping.
The 911 emergency system is outdated. But updating it to the cloud is a risky proposition.
Netflix will pay $59 million to settle a tax evasion dispute with Italy, Reuters reported. Italian prosecutors claimed Netflix owed taxes for using the nation's digital infrastructure.
How to be more productive
Fadeke Adegbuyi, former marketing manager with Doist, knows a thing or two about productivity. Protocol’s Lizzy Lawrence spoke with Adegbuyi on the best ways to get things done. Here are a few tips:
- Separate your day into blocks, and assign each block a specific task. That way, “work will fill the time you set for it.”
- Asynchronous communication works the best, freeing up the time that people take in meetings to instead deeply focus on work. If your workplace is remote and global, synchronous communication simply doesn’t work.
- Allocate time for your life as well as your work. Yes, that means blocking out time for things like working out, meal prepping and binging that Netflix series that’s been on your list for months.
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