Tag Archives: Bitcoin

Crypto VC’s to Crash: “YOLO”

Despite cratering crypto markets and a slowdown in venture funding, crypto VC’s are upping the ante. From a report out yesterday in Reuters:

Even as the crypto sector shivers in the bleak winter, venture capitalists are pouring money into digital currency and blockchain startups at a pace that’s set to outstrip last year’s record.

In the first half of the year, VCs bet $17.5 billion on such firms, according to data from PitchBook. That puts investment on course to top the record $26.9 billion raised last year, a warmer and happier time for bitcoin and co.


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Overall US venture funding fell in the first half of the year. But US crypto investments are on pace to increase almost 50% over 2021.

Why are crypto VC’s behaving so differently? Because they don’t have much choice.

Numerous venture firms recently raised huge crypto funds. Predictably, Andreessen Horowitz is at the front of the conga line, raking in $4.5 billion in May.

Electric Capital pulled in $1 billion, and Bain Capital launched a $560 million fund.

All that money has to go somewhere. But deploying giant crypto funds today could be a big mistake.

Giant funds have to focus on late stage deals. After all, there’s no way a16z is going to hand out 1,000 seed-stage checks of $4.5 million.

It’s simply more meetings, diligence, and oversight than any firm could handle.

So they’ll put a lot of that in late stage megarounds. Since the startups are close to going public, their valuations depend on public markets.

But markets in public tech stocks and crypto tokens are extremely unpredictable right now.

These firms may pay prices that public markets soon find laughable.

If that weren’t bad enough, the SEC could soon be breathing down the necks of VC firms.

Yesterday, the SEC announced that it’s investigating Coinbase for offering unregistered securities. Crypto VC’s have likely sold similar securities.

The crypto venture market looks seriously overheated. I see companies with no product or customers getting valuations of $100 million or more regularly.

You don’t often see that in non-crypto deals. And there’s no reason why the rules should be any different for crypto.

I think crypto could have some awesome applications. Cheap international money transfer may be the best use case.

But thus far, speculation has been rife and useful projects few.

Meanwhile, I’m going to keep investing in great early stage companies with awesome products and happy customers. And if a crypto company can deliver that, a salute!

More on tech:

Inside the Seed Funding Slowdown

Why Technical Founders Win

The Top 5 Things I’ve Learned from Angel Investing

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$1 Billion Still Missing from Bitfinex Hack

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Last week, the U.S. government made its largest asset seizure ever: $3.6 billion worth of bitcoin.

The money came from the 2016 hack of the Bitfinex exchange. The culprits: Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan, a young couple from New York City.

Perhaps the most interesting detail in this story is that approximately 24,000 bitcoins are still missing from this hack. They would be worth over $1.1 billion at current prices.

So where are they? Perhaps percolating around the same places where Lichtenstein and Morgan laundered theirs.

The criminal complaint alleges that the couple laundered some of their stolen coins using non-fungible tokens (NFT’s). This could explain why people will pay hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars for an image of an ape.

If two criminals work together, trading the NFT between various accounts they control at ever-increasing prices, all they need is one bagholder to come in and make the illusion real. They take his money, give him the little jpeg, and laugh all the way to the bank.

Another fascinating aspect of this story is how they were caught:

The authorities said they traced the flow of funds through the unhosted wallets and across exchanges, according to the complaint, finding transactions that landed in accounts on exchanges that the two alleged launderers had in their real names. In one instance, according to the complaint, two of these accounts shared a login from the same location in New York.

This is a common mistake: mixing anonymous and real identities. Ross Ulbricht, creator of the Silk Road, did this by logging into his private VPN and his personal Gmail account from the same cafe in San Francisco.

If authorities find a pattern that when an anonymous account is used, your account also tends to be used from the same IP address, you’re going down.

In all, I think this case is good for the crypto industry. The less it seems like a free-for-all, the more legitimate it becomes.

The more legitimate it becomes, the broader adoption will be.

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More on tech:

Tech Plunge Hits Early Stage Startups

How Solana Could Wipe Out Visa and MasterCard

Hedge Funds Pull Back from Tech Amid Big Losses

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Solana Is the Most Popular Crypto of 2022

In what’s begun as a tough year for cryptocurrencies, Solana has attracted more investors than any other coin. The high speed network landed $6 million in inflows so far this year.

Larger competitors like Bitcoin and Ethereum have seen outflows in the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars.

What I find particularly striking is that Solana’s market cap is only a fraction the size of its larger peers. Bitcoin has a total value around $800 billion, and Ethereum nearly $400 billion.

Meanwhile, Solana is worth just $44 billion. Nonetheless, it managed to beat these much larger protocols in attracting investors.

This is a pattern I expect to continue long term. Solana can process tens of thousands of transactions per second for virtually nothing.

Compare that to Ethereum, where completing a single transaction costs about $46!

Would merchants accept a credit card that cost them $46 in transaction fees every time someone used it? Of course not.

Ethereum’s high fees will severely limit its use cases until the fees come down.

Bitcoin looks better at about $2 a transaction. But Solana charges mere fractions of a cent.

A new technology that’s dramatically faster and cheaper will win, regardless of the market. I expect Solana to continue to gain value relative to the older protocols.

At least until a swifter competitor enters the ring!

More on tech:

How Solana Could Wipe Out Visa and MasterCard

A Day in the Life of an Angel Investor

Is Fathom the Future of Blockchain?

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This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

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Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

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GameStop Now Accepting Dozens of Cryptocurrencies

GameStop Corp. is now accepting dozens of cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin and Dogecoin, per a report from Investor Place yesterday.

These cryptocurrencies can be used at any one of GameStop’s locations or online. GameStop is using the Flexa network, which supports a wide variety of cryptocurrencies.

This comes shortly after AMC Entertainment Holdings, Inc. began accepting crypto payments, including Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Meme stocks trying to draw in the adjacent crypto community is a wise move. All marketing costs money, but accepting crypto provides a bunch of press attention for the minimal cost of joining the Flexa network.

Flexa appears quite robust, with tens of thousands of retail locations on its platform. It reminds me of a Square for crypto; easy payment acceptance for merchants.

If GameStop ever delivers streaming games on its own platform, crypto payments could be particularly useful. Unlike with credit cards, customers from all over the world could purchase access with no foreign exchange fees.

Will accepting crypto payments make or break GameStop or AMC’s business? Of course not.

But for businesses that rely on foot traffic, anything that builds buzz at low cost is a huge win!

What do you think of GameStop and AMC accepting crypto payments? And who do you think will be next?

Let me know in the comments below.

This is the last blog for this week. I’ll see you again on Monday.

Merry Christmas!

More on markets:

Hedge Fund Paid Researcher to Write Misleading Reports on Seeking Alpha

Parody Site Sues Citadel to Stop Shutdown

How Did High Dividend Stocks Perform In the Last Crash?

Photo: Photo: “Retail GameStop” by ccPixs.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

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The Hamster Crypto Trader That’s Outperforming Me

I’ve got a fun one for you today: a German hamster is trading cryptocurrencies. And he’s blowing away the S&P 500:

The livestreamed hamster, named Mr. Goxx, has been independently trading a portfolio of various cryptocurrencies since June 12, and so far its* performance has been impressive. As of Friday, the portfolio was up nearly 24%, according to the @mrgoxx twitter feed that documents daily performance, along with every trade made by the hamster. Mr. Goxx’s performance outpaces bitcoin and the S&P 500 over the same time period.

Here’s a short video of this financial titan at Goxx Capital headquarters:

First, Goxx runs on the “intention wheel” to pick which one of about 30 cryptocurrencies to trade. Once the crypto is chosen, the hamster runs through one of two “decision tunnels” that trigger either a buy or sell trade of the chosen cryptocurrency.

As someone who invests for a living, I’m okay with being outperformed by a rodent. He earned it, and he’s also much cuter.

Whimsical as this example is, we attribute skill to fund managers who have a good run, only to forget them when they underperform. Bill Miller of Legg Mason was lionized for beating the S&P 500 15 years in a row. Shortly thereafter, his fund lost two thirds of its value in the financial crisis and he was out of a job.

I, for one, will be a supporter of Mr. Goxx even if his hot streak runs out.

Follow Mr. Goxx on Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, or Twitch!

Note: I object to the term “it” for this adorable little man!

More on markets:

How Solana Could Wipe Out Visa and MasterCard

China’s Crypto Ban and the Road to Total Control

Where Can We Hide in a Financial Crisis?

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

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Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order.

China’s Crypto Ban and the Road to Total Control

You just went to a protest marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. You were scared, but you went. You wore a mask and took a winding route home. No one could have seen you.

You arrive home to your Hong Kong apartment and decide to check your bank account. Did the rent get deducted yet?

But when you log in, you see the balance has gone from 21,000 yuan to zero.

A notice appears to contact your local Party office.

This is the future China wants to bring about. Its tools:

1) The social credit score
2) The digital yuan
3) The banning of cryptocurrencies other than the digital yuan

Today, China banned bitcoin and all other cryptocurrencies. All, that is, except its own digital yuan, which debuted this spring.

It wasn’t hard to see this coming. China banned cryptocurrency mining earlier this year. This is part of a long term trend toward total control under Xi Jinping.

China’s government has cracked down hard on tech companies, Hong Kong dissidents, and even seemingly random targets like celebrities.

What’s next? About five years ago, China’s government created a social credit score. Any action that upsets the government, from farebeating to protesting, can have dire consequences. One may be unable to get a loan, a job, or access the internet.

After the crypto ban, the next logical step for China’s dictatorship is to ban cash and all non-digital yuan. Then, all money is electronic, traceable, and centrally controlled.

Step out of line, and your life savings could be gone.

It’s a dark, dystopian future. But I strongly suspect it’s coming.

We in the United States and the rest of the free world should guard against any such thing being done here. I will be wary of attempts to ban cryptocurrencies or cash as paving the way for similar control. Control that has no place in a democratic society.

More on China tech:

China’s Real Goal in Tech Crackdown: A Regimented, Obedient Society

How China’s Tech Industry Dies

China Is Crushing One of Its Most Innovative Companies

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Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! 

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

Why is the SEC Threatening Coinbase?

The SEC has threatened to sue Coinbase Global, Inc. over its plans to introduce a crypto lending product called Coinbase Lend :

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has told Coinbase Global Inc (COIN.O) that it plans to sue the cryptocurrency exchange if it goes ahead with plans to launch a programme allowing users to earn interest by lending digital assets, Coinbase said.

Coinbase was working with the SEC prior to the surprise lawsuit threat, per CEO Brian Armstrong:

Why is the SEC Doing This?

It’s not every day that the SEC privately threatens a lawsuit against a major American corporation. What is the SEC’s motivation here? From Cointelegraph:

The Commission could have a reason for not being forthcoming with information related to cryptocurrency lending products and this stance could be related to upcoming enforcement actions against the interests of BlockFi.

If the SEC is preparing to go after BlockFi and other players in the crypto lending scene then perhaps responding to Coinbase’s request for guidance might have constituted revealing its enforcement playbook prematurely.

Behind the Crypto Lending Boom

Behind the rush into crypto lending: incredibly low interest rates. Whether you look at bank deposits or treasury bonds, returns on safe assets are well below the rate of inflation.

Coinbase planned to offer 4% interest in its Lend product.

Is the SEC Right?

It seems likely to me that Armstrong is wrong in saying his Coinbase Lend program isn’t a security, and thus need not comply with typical securities laws. Banks have an exception from these laws when they pay interest on an account.

But Coinbase is not a bank. So it’s hard to see how this product isn’t a security.

SEC Shenanigans

That said, I think the SEC’s behavior here is extreme and bad for American business. If the SEC has determined that Lend is illegal, they should tell Coinbase that. At least Coinbase could move on to other projects.

Instead, they’ve left Coinbase in regulatory limbo. They don’t know if their product is legal or not, they don’t know what the SEC’s standard is, and they can’t launch anything without being sued.

This is a recipe for stagnation, not innovation. How can American businesses compete in the global economy when regulators won’t work with them?

As part of its threats to Coinbase, the SEC is even digging into private citizens:

Apart from the threat of legal action, a move seemingly out of left field from the Commission’s usual approach to enforcement, the SEC also asked Coinbase to provide customer details from its Lend waitlist.

On what authority are they doing this? And what are they planning to do to those prospective customers?

Keeping investors safe has its place, but bringing business to a standstill and snooping on average Americans isn’t part of it.

The SEC needs to clean up its act.

More on tech:

How Solana Could Wipe Out Visa and MasterCard

What if Everyone on Earth Had Super Fast Internet for $1?

China’s Real Goal in Tech Crackdown: A Regimented, Obedient Society

Photo: “775208327GB00106_TechCrunch” by TechCrunchis licensed under CC BY 2.0

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Best of all: No fee!

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! 

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. 

Can Bitcoin Protect You From Inflation?

Bitcoin is often referred to as digital gold. Unlike fiat money such as the US dollar, its supply expands at a slow, steady rate.

The Federal Reserve has printed so much money during the COVID crisis that money supply is up over 25%. This has led to fears of inflation. The consumer price index (CPI) jumped by 4.2% in the first quarter of this year, the highest since 2008.

So can bitcoin, with its steady supply, provide protection from inflation? Bitcoin hasn’t existed long enough to provide a good test, but the evidence we have indicates that it doesn’t really correlate with the price index and thus is unlikely to provide a good inflation hedge.

Take a look at the Fed’s preferred measure of inflation, the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index excluding volatile food and energy prices. It’s been pretty consistent in the last decade, bouncing around the 2% level:

At the end of 2020, prices plummeted, pushing the US economy into deflation for the first time since this data series began in the 1950’s. If bitcoin is to provide an inflation hedge, it would need to drop when prices do and increase when prices rise. But we saw the opposite behavior, with bitcoin going vertical:

If you look at CPI as an inflation measure, you see the same pattern, with a noticeable decline in 2020 that wasn’t reflected in bitcoin:

Bitcoin doesn’t seem to perform well as an inflation hedge, although it could be useful for other purposes. If you’re worried about inflation, I’d suggest Treasury Inflation Protected Securities, which pay you a fixed rate plus the rate of inflation, protecting your interest payments from erosion by rising prices.

Dig into these posts for more on Bitcoin:

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Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Bitcoin Is Worth More than the GDP of Switzerland

Ah, Switzerland. Home of fine chocolate, discreet bankers and pharma giants. It’s one of the richest countries on earth per capita, and home to world-leading companies like Nestle and Novartis.

But this entire nation of nearly 9 million people with a history going back to the year 1300 has a GDP smaller than the total value of bitcoin, which has existed for just 13 years. The IMF pegs Swiss GDP at $824 billion, versus $921 billion for bitcoin.

The total value of all cryptocurrencies is over $2 trillion, comparable to the GDP of Italy, the number 8 economy worldwide.

These stats show just how accepted cryptocurrencies have become. They’ve gone from a fringe technology to a size comparable to the entire economy of major countries.

Will they someday pass the biggest GDP heavyweight, the United States?

Dig into these posts for more on bitcoin:

Photo: “Switzerland” by T@H!R – طاھر is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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Save Money on Stuff I Use:

Fundrise

This platform lets me diversify my real estate investments so I’m not too exposed to any one market. I’ve invested since 2018 and returns have been good so far. More on Fundrise in this post.

If you decide to invest in Fundrise, you can use this link to get your management fees waived for 90 days. With their 1% management fee, this could save you $250 on a $100,000 account. I will also get a fee waiver for 90-365 days, depending on what type of account you open.

iHerb

The only place I buy vitamins and supplements. I recently placed an order and received it in less than 48 hours with free shipping! I compared the prices and they were lower than Amazon. I also love how they test a lot of the vitamins so that you know you’re getting what the label says. This isn’t always the case with supplements.

Use this link to save 5%! I’ll also get 5% of however much you spend, at no cost to you.

Misfits Market

My wife and I have gotten organic produce shipped to our house by Misfits for over a year. It’s never once disappointed me. Every fruit and vegetable is super fresh and packed with flavor. I thought radishes were cold, tasteless little lumps at salad bars until I tried theirs! They’re peppery, colorful and crunchy! I wrote a detailed review of Misfits here.

Use this link to sign up and you’ll save $10 on your first order. I’ll also get $10.

Bitcoin Is Now Bigger Than Facebook

As you cruise down the tree-lined road, the first thing you see is a giant thumbs up. You pull into the winding driveway and an endless panorama of multicolor buildings appears. This is the headquarters of the one of the most powerful companies on earth: Facebook, Inc.

1.8 billion people use Facebook every day, and its profits last year totaled nearly $30 billion. It controls news and social relations across the globe.

But all this is worth over $100 billion less than bitcoin. The total value of all bitcoin is $1 trillion. The total value of all Facebook stock trails far behind at $892 billion.

Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook, but no one really knows who invented bitcoin. Its creator called himself Satoshi Nakamoto, but he has never appeared in public and may not exist. “He” could even be several people working together.

I find it interesting that despite all his entrepreneurial genius, what Zuckerberg has built is worth less than what was built by an extremely obscure man who may not even exist. There is no monument like the palatial Facebook headquarters to mark bitcoin’s ascendance, but ascended it has.

I don’t invest in cryptocurrencies. Still, I can’t help but be impressed at what bitcoin has achieved. It reminds me of a quote from Godfather II:

“Michael, we’re bigger than US Steel.”

Hyman Roth

Dig into these posts for more on bitcoin:

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