🌸 It’s (gonna be) May! Looking back at April 🌸
The best crypto and blockchain research and journalism from April
gonna be May!
Happy May, intrepid journalists and researchers! Spring is here in full force and April did not disappoint as another wild month in cryptoland has come to an end.
Pictured: Cash App volcano at Bitcoin ‘22 in Miami. Photo cred: Sky News
Bitcoin 2022, the “World’s Largest Bitcoin Conference,” was arguably a focal point for the month, spawning an untold number of conference reports, reactionary articles and essays dissecting everything at the event, from the technical discussions to the attendees themselves.
One thing became clear amidst the flurry of articles: using the conference as a lens, the crypto industry today does not look like what many participants thought it would in the early days.
Many of the articles from April reflect this cultural introspection, with people from all corners of the industry wondering, “what is this all for?” But it’s not all doom and gloom — we’ve included our first piece of crypto-inspired poetry, exciting new research, and a primer on how to use $100 to understand crypto fundamentals.
We also have two recent pieces by ACJR board members to share this month: an op-ed on the future of Bitcoin and money by Pete Rizzo, and conversation with Three Arrows Capital's Su Zhu by Joanna Ossinger.
Reminder! Want to see your op-ed in the ACJR newsletter?
The ACJR newsletter has an open call for op-eds! Reach out to Molly Jane or Anthony on Telegram if you’d like to submit a piece for the newsletter.
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Top Crypto Research in April
"Gradual Dutch Auctions" by Frankie, Dan Robinson, Dave White, andy8052, Paradigm
The research team at Paradigm introduced the Gradual Dutch Auction, a methodology for fairly selling illiquid assets. The paper explains how GDA could be used for selling NFT collections or batches of fungible tokens over time. Includes a Python notebook and reference implementation in Solidity for those that really want to dive into the tech.
"Why Are Bitcoin Transaction Fees So Low?" by Alex Thorn, Galaxy Digital
In this piece of Galaxy Digital Research, Bitcoin transaction fees (and their relative “lowness”) are analyzed and key questions are answered. As one example, the report finds that BTC transaction fees are at an all-time low not because of a lack of usage in the network, but because of an efficient use of block space. Considering how contentious the Bitcoin “block wars” were several years, the report highlights Bitcoin’s relative success at scaling today.
PwC published a report on the current state of central bank digital currency (CBDCs) development around the world. The report explains where CBDCs might fit in the big picture along with the role stablecoins play in crypto. PwC’s CBDC Index is an attempt at quantifying how ready a financial institution is to take on a CBDC initiative.
"Understanding Crypto Primer - Axios Crypto Newsletter" by Brady Dale, Axios Crypto
If you’re a journalist new to crypto or know one who is, Brady put together this primer on how to understand crypto with only $100 and some time. As entertaining as it is informative, Brady does a great job of breaking down the fundamental steps of navigating crypto and web3, including setting up and funding a wallet and trading BTC and ETH for altcoins and stablecoins.
And now — on to some journalism!
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Top Crypto Journalism in April
"Jack Dorsey, Marc Andreessen and the Makings of a Crypto Holy War" by Joel Stein, The Information
Joel Stein dissects the Twitter beef between Jack Dorsey and Marc Andreessen, all sparked by a Cardi B tweet. The debate about the nature of money and its relevance to society serves to highlight some key differences between the Bitcoin maximalist camp (or maximalists at large) represented by Dorsey, and those who believe the future is multi-chain like Andreessen.
"Is Crypto Re-Creating the 2008 Financial Crisis?" by Charlie Warzel, The Atlantic
In this interview with American Law University professor Hillary J. Allen, Charlie Warzel and Professor Allen lay out how the often overly complicated world of crypto and Web3 products is potentially making dangerous mistakes akin to financial institutions in the early 2000’s. This kind of obfuscation through complexity, they maintain, has the potential to set the crypto industry on a similar path that brought about the 2008 financial crisis.
"Why DeFi Should Make Markets like Wall Street" by Tarun Chitra, The Defiant (op-ed)
Gauntlet Network CEO & cofounder Tarun Chitra penned this fascinating op-ed for The Defiant about one of decentralized finance’s greatest woes: liquidity. Though many are used to the rapid pace of the crypto industry, the market’s short attention span (among other factors) makes it difficult for liquidity providers like market makers to forecast necessary resources and provide long term, stable liquidity. Tarun argues a more “professional-grade” approach might solve the problem.
“Sex Workers Banned From Banks Turn to Crypto” by Samantha Cole, VICE
This piece by Samantha Cole, part of Motherboard’s CRYPTOLAND series, shares the experiences of two sex workers who now rely on crypto for their livelihood. Routinely, sex workers are deplatformed by centralized services like web hosting, domain registrars, and payments providers like Venmo and Stripe. OnlyFans even announced it was banning sexually explicit content as more and more banks refuse to process payments related to adult content.
Bolt Financial, a major player in one-click check out, is acquiring the payments-focused crypto company Wyre. The $1.5b deal is set to be the largest merger in the crypto space that doesn’t involve an SPAC.
"Bitcoin Struggles to Find Its Star Power in Miami" by Ryan Broderick, Fast Company
This is a fascinating conference report from internet culture aficionado Ryan Broderick covering Bitcoin 2022 in Miami. Ryan makes the convincing case that — in the wake of an exciting 2021 for Ethereum and meme coins — the Bitcoin community attempted to match the energy of the rest of the crypto industry. From seemingly random celebrity guests to the disparity between conference topics ranging from economic theory to Twitter drama, from Ryan’s point of view, the attempt fell flat. Worth a read for a thoughtful explanation of the perception of Bitcoin 2022 and crypto at large outside of the industry.
"Tesla, Block and Blockstream Team Up to Mine Bitcoin Off Solar Power in Texas" by MacKenzie Sigalos, CNBC
Among other crypto topics, Bitcoin mining has been seeing plenty of time in the spotlight recently. After China’s ban in late ‘21, significant hashpower migrated to North America, specifically the U.S. Texas has been a beacon of hope for the nascent U.S. Bitcoin mining sector, with favorable regulations and a power grid that could potentially benefit from more mining facilities coming online. Tesla, Block and Blockstream are teaming up to build this facility as a proof of concept for Bitcoin mining at scale powered 100% by renewables, according to Adam Back.
"Crypto Industry Helps Write and Pass Its Own Agenda in State Capitols" by Eric Lipton and David Yaffe-Bellany, New York Times
Despite new crypto-focused reports and legislation seemingly being discussed on Capitol Hill every other week, there’s very little by way of federal regulations or guidance pertaining directly (or clearly) to the crypto industry. Without these regulations coming from the top, crypto organizations and the political action groups who support the technology are turning to state lawmakers to pave the way for the industry.
"US Officials Tie North Korea’s ‘Lazarus’ Hackers to $625M Crypto Theft" by Nikhilesh De, Danny Nelson, Coin Desk
An Ethereum address singled out by data firm Nansen and investigative firm Chainalysis as involved with March’s $600M Ronin Bridge hack has been tied to Lazarus, a state-sponsored hacker group from North Korea. The address was recently added to the U.S. Treasury Department’s sanctions list, a move designed to clearly state that anyone interacting with the address runs the risk of facing U.S. sanctions. This move is “the first time the Treasury's sanctions office has blacklisted an alleged Lazarus-held crypto wallet,” according to a source in the tracing industry.
"Black Pilled at Bitcoin 2022: Do We Know What All This Is For?" by Bailey Reutzel, The Defiant
In this piece, Bailey eloquently describes what so many conference reports from Bitcoin ‘22 have touched on — the apparent shift away from the values that got this industry started in favor of materialism, chasing profits, and flexing your gains on others in the space. Not limited to just the conference or the Bitcoin community, the article is a somber reflection on the state of many corners of the crypto industry.
"The Crypto Industry Can't Hire Enough Lawyers" by Mengqi Sun, WSJ
Despite the crypto industry’s anti-regulation roots, companies industry-wide are racing to fill legal positions in a concerted effort to fit in with mainstream industries and remain above board. The hope is that in-house counsel will make companies more attractive to mainstream investors, while demonstrating to legislative bodies in the US and international governments that these companies seek regulatory clarity and are ready and well equipped to play by the rules once they’re in place.
"TikTok-Famous Doctors Are Getting Into NFTs And It's A Mess" by Emily Baker-White & Sarah Emerson, Buzzfeed News
MetaDocs — an NFT collection launched by a group of physicians who gained notoriety through TikTok videos — is hitting some walls as the medical community rails against the project for not actually being able to deliver what it promised. An attempt at a telehealth-style subscription service for people who hold the NFTs, licensing issues currently prevent any of the MetaDocs medical staff from diagnosing patients, prescribing medication, or even offering personalized medical advice — cornerstone features of the platform that was supposed to “revolutionize medicine.”
"The Real Crypto Movement" by Denis "Jaromil" Roio, Makery
This fourth installment in Makery’s series of NFT-focused essays, this piece is a tour de force on Bitcoin and crypto’s origins and events that define the mix of cultures in the space. Jaromil’s essay looks critically at crypto history and the events that influenced the industry’s philosophies as the technology evolved.
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Crypto Poetry in April
"Black Pilled" by Bailey Reutzel
Don’t forget to pick up your very own Vitalik Buterin for your desk or shelf!
Meme courtesy of David Canellis
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