Video Of The Week: Dieter Shirley and Non Fungible Tokens

Non Fungible Tokens (or NFTs) are one of the most interesting things to emerge in the blockchain sector in the last year. Dieter Shirley came up with the ERC721 spec and the name and I talked to him about both and a lot more on stage at Token Summit last week.

If it seems like I am shouting every time I talk into the mic, I was. It was very loud in the room and I wanted to make sure people heard us. The video is about 30mins long and we covered a number of interesting topics.

Blockchain Phones? Really!

It seems a whole new slew of phones that are optimized for blockchain applications are currently under development.   Sirin Labs is going to debut its Finney phone in October 2018 which runs a custom Android OS.  The phone will have built-in crypto wallets and will allow seamless behind-the-scenes conversions between different types of tokens. Blacture is also working on the Motif phone, which is supposed to launch in Fall 2018.

These are exciting developments, for sure. And while they might not make sense now, but don’t be surprised to see phone makers such as Apple start to incorporate chips and OS level integration for seamless behind the scenes conversions. For me, this is a trend to watch.

CryptoTwitter

Last week, I was asked this question on Twitter:

But if you want to read CryptoTwitter, what is the best way to do that?

I have curated a bunch of people to follow in my timeline over the last seven years so CryptoTwitter is part of my personal Twitter.

But for those where that is not the case, what is the best way to get CryptoTwitter?

Twitter Lists are a great way to do that.

I believe Twitter Lists are still organized in reverse chronological order and are not filtered in any way. So that is a good thing in and of itself.

I like this Twitter List, called Crypto Thought Leaders, made by richardx.

If there are other CryptoTwitter lists that people in the AVC community like to use, please recommend them in the comments.

What’s Going On?

A lot, to be honest. It’s Crypto Week in NYC this week.

The last two weeks have been a blur, with so many things happening that I can’t keep up or write about all of them.

But, here are a few

1/ The Rockets ended the sweep nonsense talk going on in the bay area with a trompsing of the Ws last night in Houston. Thank God.

2/ The Celtics are showing how great a job Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens are doing running that team.

3/ Our portfolio company Blockstack launched a Dapp Store yesterday, featuring Dapps across all of the competing chains. When I saw that on Twitter, I said this:

4/ I will spend the day at William and Nick’s Token Summit and

Continue reading "What’s Going On?"

The Maturation Of A Market

Yesterday’s announcement that our portfolio company Coinbase is launching a suite of institutional products for the crypto market made me step back and think about the evolution of their institutional business.

Coinbase started out as a place for individuals to buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin. They launched that in 2012.

In 2015, Coinbase added the GDAX exchange where institutions, other exchanges, and large traders could trade Bitcoin.

By the middle of last year, it became clear that many big institutions were entering the market and needed a lot more. And so Coinbase went back to the drawing board and developed a plan for a comprehensive suite of institutional products. And that is what they announced yesterday:

  • Coinbase Custody
  • Coinbase Markets
  • Coinbase Prime
  • Coinbase Institutional Coverage Group

What started out as a simple web and mobile app for buying, selling, and holding Bitcoin has evolved into a full-fledged financial services company, serving

Continue reading "The Maturation Of A Market"

Off Grid Crypto Transactions

One of the benefits of decentralization is that you can build “censorship-resistant” applications.

The best example of that is Bitcoin, a store and transfer of value system that governments can’t interfere with.

Censorship resistant money, as it were.

But if these transactions are going across a wire that is controlled by the government or some other censor (Apple, Google, Facebook, etc), then you haven’t really accomplished your goal.

Enter mesh networks.

Yesterday, our portfolio company GoTenna, which makes a popular and inexpensive mesh networking device, announced something pretty interesting, a mobile app called TxTenna that will allow off grid Bitcoin transactions.

From that blog post:

Today we are pleased to announce that the Samourai team took our suggestion, and went well beyond our expectations! The result is the TxTenna app.

A transaction using the TxTenna app works as follows: Using the Samourai Wallet app the user creates a standard

Continue reading "Off Grid Crypto Transactions"

Is Buying Crypto Assets “Investing”

There are few investors I have more respect for than Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. So much of what I believe as an investor has come from watching them conduct themselves over the last thirty-five years (that’s as long as I have been paying attention to investing as a discipline). I believe in fundamental value, I believe in buying when others are selling, I believe in holding positions you find attractive over very long periods of time, and I believe in a lot more that they have espoused and done.

So when I read the two of them disparaging the purchase of crypto assets, it bothers me. Obviously I don’t agree with them, but I am trying to see what they are seeing and disliking.

This interview that Buffett did with Yahoo! Finance is instructive.

Buffet says:

“If you buy something like a farm, an apartment house, or an

Continue reading "Is Buying Crypto Assets “Investing”"

Token Summit III In NYC

On  May 17th, AVC regulars William Mougayar and Nick Tomaino will be hosting the 3rd Token Summit in New York at Pier 36 (aka Basketball City).

There are still a few tickets left but I think it will sell out soon.

The agenda was released a few days ago.

There are some interesting topics on the agenda:

Security Tokens
Token Regulation in the US
Non-Fungible Tokens
The Asian Crypto Landscape
Token Regulation in Switzerland

I will be there and will talk to the CTO of CryptoKitties Dieter Shirley about digital collectibles. My partner Brad Burnham will be on a panel discussing token regulations. And some of our companies will also be speaking, such as Blockstack and Coinbase.

May 14-18 is “Blockchain Week” in NYC and also features the Consensus Conference where I will be doing a fireside chat mid-morning on Wednesday May 16th. If you are in the blockchain/crypto sector,

Continue reading "Token Summit III In NYC"

The Brave Browser

A number of USV folks are using the Brave browser on their phones and thinking about using it on desktop too.

We are not the average internet users at USV. We tend toward early adopter.

So I polled my twitter followers (which also skews early adopter) to see how many of them are using the Brave browser:

I don’t want to bias anyone who wants to complete the poll, so if you want to see the current results, pls complete it and you will see the results after you do that.

It’s interesting. I will say that much.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — April 27, 2018
Trump, Irrationality and Game Theory

Headed to Wall Street

Today I am flying to New York City.  If you are attending Howard Lindzon‘s Stocktoberfest East, hopefully I will see you there.  I am looking forward to it.

As a person who is not of Wall Street I have always looked at it differently than a lot of people.  I grew up in the pits of Chicago.  We traded our own dough and didn’t use OPM.  We had a lot more in common with Roman gladiators than the suits in NY.  The markets were different, cleaner in my opinion, with less conflicts.  I never understood the whole market maker system.  We prohibited order fillers from even trading, much less taking the opposite side and “adding liquidity” to the market when they felt the need.

At the same time, NYC is one big gigantic capital market.  Only a couple of other cities on earth might rival it, London and Continue reading "Headed to Wall Street"

Slideshare Of The Week: State of Tokens

AVC regular William Mougayar posted a slide deck he calls State Of Tokens this week.

I like the deck a lot, particularly slide 34 (it’s a 36 slide deck), where he posits a timeline for the development of the blockchain ecosystem and where we are right now.

Here it is:



USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — April 27, 2018
Trump, Irrationality and Game Theory

Are We Decentralized Yet?

My friend Chris Burniske told me about this site last week and then tweeted about it last night:

So the answer to the question posed by the name of the website is “not really.”

But that doesn’t mean we won’t be someday.

This chart also shows the issues with highly valued chains like Ripple, Stellar, and NEO.

These chains offer some things, but certainly not decentralized consensus.

It is still very early days in the development of decentralized consensus systems and there is a lot more work to do.

Video Of The Week: Filecoin

One of the crypto projects I am most excited about is Filecoin, which comes from USV portfolio company Protocol Labs, which also produced the popular hypermedia protocol IPFS.

In this talk, from the Blockstack Berlin conference last month, Protocol Labs founder/CEO Juan Benet talks about Filecoin, why they are building it, and how it will work.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — April 13, 2018
Whither Facebook Regulation?

Nick Grossman — April 12, 2018
Focus

Dapps

A friend asked me at breakfast this week “what gets you excited in crypto these days?”

I answered “Dapps.”

If the second half of 2016 and all of 2017 was about raising capital to fund development efforts (and speculating on all of that), then it sure feels like 2018 is the year we start getting decentralized applications (Dapps) we can use.

Our portfolio company Blockstack offers a decentralized platform that developers can build Dapps on.

I have Blockstack’s web client running in Safari on my home desktop and here is a screenshot of some of the Dapps I can run in that environment:

A cool thing about Blockstack is that identity is built into the platform so I am already a user and have a profile in every one of these Dapps because I have a Blockstack identity/profile.

Another ecosystem that is really taking off right now are Ethereum

Continue reading "Dapps"

Plenty of Non-Believers

There are still plenty of non-believers in cryptocurrency out there.   The recent data are giving them ammunition and lots of reasons to keep their opinions that crypto is a fraud.  I don’t know if you saw this post by Satis, but it sure is not helpful if you are a crypto bull.  92% of all ICO’s are either scams, dead, or they failed to raise enough money to follow through.

In case you didn’t know, Satis is a boutique investment advisor that specializes in crypto.

Here is a graphic from their piece.

With the price of Bitcoin and Ethereum under pressure, the bull case for crypto is harder to make.
Ethereum Close Price Chart

Ethereum Close Price data by YCharts

Bitcoin down 44% since Jan 1.
Bitcoin Close Price Chart

Bitcoin Close Price data by YCharts

If you are going to engage in doing an ICO, it’s going to be a challenge.

The business that needs Continue reading "Plenty of Non-Believers"

Audio Of The Week:

If you are curious what the state of play is in the US regulatory stance towards crypto and blockchain, the best place to turn is Coin Center, the crypto industry’s voice in DC.

And in this podcast, Coin Center’s Director of Research Peter Van Valkenburgh gives a fairly clear and concise view of where things are and where they are going.



USV TEAM POSTS:

Albert Wenger — March 23, 2018
FOSTA Must Be Challenged in Court

Nick Grossman — March 22, 2018
Zombies eating kitties

CryptoKitties

AVC readers may have noticed that I didn’t blog here yesterday.

That’s because I blogged on USV.com instead, about our most recent investment.

You can read that post here.

Your Data Is My Data

This piece in Recode explains that Cambridge Analytica built an app that 270,000 people used to amass profiles on 50 million people.

That’s not very surprising because we are talking about networks here.

This is a network graph that my colleague Jacqueline made of my twitter network a few years ago:

In our online life, we are connected to a huge number of people.

If I get access to your email inbox, I am going to see emails with thousands of people.

Which is what makes this privacy/data sovereignty stuff so important.

When your data is taken without your knowledge/permission, it is not just your data that is taken.

It is the data of thousands of other people, often the people closest to you.

That sucks.

This is one of the many reasons I am hopeful about an Internet 3.0, a decentralized system with data security and integrity at

Continue reading "Your Data Is My Data"