Welcome back to Chain reaction.
Last week we looked at web3 without the winners of web2. This week we look at a meme investment crossover episode.
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power to the pumpers
A weekly dispatch from TechCrunch crypto editor’s desk Lucas Matney:
What happens when a meme stock and a meme asset class collide? Well, at least investors hope the result is a tidal wave of very real money.
This week, GameStop launched an NFT marketplace. The reception wasn’t particularly overwhelming, with the market reportedly bringing in about $2 million in sales volume, which equates to less than $50,000 in transaction fees on day one. Daily volumes have fallen in the following days, but it’s far from an embarrassing launch, especially when you consider the failures of competing startup marketplaces like Coinbase NFT.
GameStop hopes to find a revenue-generating industry that reduces reliance on physical sales. The timing could be better for the company as NFT dollar volumes have plummeted as crypto prices took a hit, but this is clearly still a view registered to the company’s very unique investor profile. GameStop is down more than 40% from its November highs, but things have turned a lot less gloomy in recent months as the company’s stock is up some 50%.
Taking out OpenSea – the current market leader – will be no small task, but it doesn’t seem like GameStop is targeting a direct feature-for-feature copycat and contributing something else to the ecosystem instead.
Most secondary NFT sales take place on the Ethereum or Solana blockchains, GameStop launches their marketplace on what is called a layer-2 of Ethereum, it’s a secondary network that handles most of the computation but still relies on is from the mainnet Ethereum when it comes to storing data on a blockchain.
This is a vision of modular blockchains that Ethereum creator Vitalkik Buterin is very much behind, but it complicates things as it forces crypto investors to rally behind a new network as there are many layer 2 options. GameStop currently uses a rollup network called Loopring to bundle transactions, the complication is that you can only transact on GameStop with NFTs minted on Loopring, meaning you can’t buy popular collections like CryptoPunks or Bored Apes in the storefront from GameStop.
This remains a risky choice for GameStop, which will likely support other chains in the future, but for now it’s left on a different set of rails that spent the bulk of NFT dollars today. This seems to indicate that the option is a bit more forward looking than you might expect, if this was pure money making they could have grabbed the existing money more effectively by playing it straight.
Having pure intentions only gets you so far in the crypto world and Realizing GameStop success here continues to be a vertical climb, but meme stock buyers have realized more challenging opportunities over the years, so their appetite for risk remains hard to satiate.
the latest pod
Lucas and Anita are back in action this week and they wasted no time getting into the headlines. In this week’s news line, they were chatting about everyone’s favorite meme stock, GameStop, and its daring foray into the NFT market, even after posting a $381 million loss last fiscal year. They also talked about yet another vanishing act by the founders of a crypto company that lost billions of dollars in other people’s money (yikes) and went through some of the many crypto venture fund launches they’ve seen in the past week.
Naveen Jain, founder and CEO of Yat, the company behind those emoji IDs you’ve seen celebrities like Ke$ha use in their Twitter bios, was with them on the show. Jain spoke to them about the concept of identity in both web2 and web3, and Anita took the opportunity to get him on board to lobby Unicode for a highly anticipated biriyani emoji. You are all welcome.
Subscribe to Chain Reaction at Apple, Spotify or your alternative podcast platform of choice to join us each week.
Follow the money
Where seed money moves in the crypto world:
- Launch crypto-focused donation API Change has raised a $5 million seed round led by Freestyle and NEA.
- Farcaster has raised $30 million under the leadership of a16z for Merkle Manufactory, the decentralized protocol for social networking.
- Animoca brands raised more than $75 million from investors, including Liberty City Ventures and Kingsway Capital, to build the open metaverse in an extension of a funding round raised in January.
- Digital asset management platform Safe has raised a strategic round of $100 million led by 1kx with participation from investors including Tiger Global and Digital Currency Group.
- DeFi lending platform Morpho Labs caught $18 million in a seed round co-led by a16z and Variant Fund.
- DEX aggregation protocol LI.FIA has raised a strategic round of $5.5 million from investors including 1kx and Dragonfly Capital.
- Trading platform for crypto derivatives Thalex closed a €7.5 million Series A from Bitfinex, Bitstamp and others.
- tenderizea liquid betting platform, has raised $3 million for its seed round led by Eden Block Ventures.
- Bravo Royale has secured $3 million in seed funding from the likes of Solana Ventures, 6th Man Ventures and others for its NFT-based Battle Royale video game.
- MetaOasis DAOa metaverse real estate developer, scored $1.5 million in seed funding led by KuCoin Ventures.
the week in web3
A weekly look into the thoughts of web3 reporter Anita Ramaswamy:
Most crypto investors do not often use their digital currencies for transactions. They tend to rather stick with their crypto in the hope that it will appreciate over time. But there is one notable exception that has motivated countless US crypto holders to part with their tokens: charitable giving.
Research shows that crypto donors are actually more generous in their donations than those who donate cash. The optimist in me says this could be influenced by web3’s strong sense of community. The cynic in me knows it’s also a smart financial move for these donors because of the significant tax benefits of donating crypto, as it is treated as an asset rather than cash under US tax law. Regardless of the motivation behind it, crypto donations can be a useful tool for charities looking for new ways to raise money.
The 2021 bull market has been a boon for startups helping charities to facilitate these crypto donations, including The Giving Block and Endaoment, both of which saw donation volume on their platforms rise over the year. But startup Change takes a different approach, developing APIs to help businesses and charities process donations. I spoke to the founders, Sonia Nigam and Amar Shah, this week to talk about the $5 million starting round they just closed to double the crypto space (you can read more about that here). They have traditionally focused on online fiat donations, but see strong potential for crypto donations as they believe the blockchain can provide the transparency donors desire, but is not always guaranteed.
We already know it’s going to get ugly during this crypto winter, so it’s especially interesting to see a startup using this time to invest more deeply into its web3 capabilities rather than hit the brakes or head for the hills. to run. Giving charity on the blockchain has a lot of potential, but can be a difficult undertaking, so only time will tell whether startups like Change are able to bring transparency to the opaque world of nonprofits or whether, despite their good intentions, such as many of web3-native regenerative finance (ReFi) projects that rely on inefficient, easily misused carbon offsets to achieve their environmental goals. The latter is a topic for another day, but I think it’s always worth thinking about how crypto could evolve for good, even if the reality of implementation is much more difficult.
Here’s some of this week’s crypto analysis available on our senior reporter’s subscription service TC+ Jacquelyn Melinek:
US government examines the impact of NFTs on intellectual property
After NFTs exploded over the past year, the US Patent and Trademark Office and US Copyright Office are launching a joint investigation to examine the impact of digital assets on intellectual property rights. The investigation comes about a month after Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, a Democrat, and Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina, a Republican, wrote to the offices asking them to investigate NFTs, given their exponential growth in a short space of time.
Despite declining NFT sales volume, there is more underlying strength in the market than you might think
Bearish sentiment in crypto markets has trickled down to the NFT subsector. In the past 30 days, NFT sales volume in the top 10 blockchains has fallen, according to data from NFT aggregator CryptoSlam. “The NFT market hasn’t been great, but there’s still great momentum,” Nick O’Neill, CEO and co-founder of The Nifty, told TechCrunch. Even with that said, it’s hard to ignore bearish macro headwinds, O’Neill noted.
Have a nice weekend and remember to subscribe to the TechCrunch newsletter page to get this in your inbox every week,
Lucas & Anita