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Tech giants are pivoting to Web3

Tech giants are pivoting to Web3

This week saw some serious monkey business. We’re taking a closer look at ApeCoin and Bored Ape Yacht Club’s latest forays into the metaverse. [Image via ApeCoin DAO]

There’s never a dull moment on the blockchain. Here’s what you need to know this week:

Tech’s biggest names are investing in Web3. Airbnb, Spotify, and Instagram are among the Web2 giants making the leap.

The cryptoverse is buzzing about ApeCoin. But what is it? We’re taking a closer look at Bored Ape Yacht Club’s new token.

The week in numbers. The rising number of crypto tattoos and other key figures to know this week.

NET ESCAPE

Why tech giants are rushing toward Web3

The race to build the new, decentralized, crypto-powered internet — otherwise known as Web3 — is rapidly heating up. Just how hot is it getting? A good place to look is developer salaries. As tech giants compete with a host of DAOs and protocols for skilled engineers, salaries for “rank and file” developers have reportedly ballooned as high as $750,000. This week, we’re looking at some of the Web2 titans — from Meta and Twitter to Spotify — betting big on crypto and the decentralized future it makes possible. Let’s dig into what that means for tech’s biggest names.

  • Social media companies are leading the charge. Meta’s Mark Zuckerberg announced that Instagram will soon enable users to display — and “hopefully” mint — NFTs, while earlier this year Reddit began testing similar features. Meanwhile, Twitter has made significant investments in rolling out features like crypto tipping (using BTC and ETH) and NFT profile pics. (Notably, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey is critical of the Web3 concept, describing it as “a centralized entity” controlled by VCs.)

  • Spotify, Airbnb, and payments giant Stripe are also exploring Web3. While Spotify is reportedly recruiting for “early stage projects related to Web3” and considering ways to include musician NFT sales, Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky says the rental company is looking into enabling crypto payments — the most requested new feature for 2022 according to a recent Twitter poll. And Stripe announced a slew of crypto and Web3-focused features, including technology that could help NFT marketplaces reduce fraud. 

  • Microsoft made its first major foray into Web3 by joining a $450 million fundraise for Ethereum-development firm Consensys. Microsoft’s partners in the fundraise are the international investment giants Temasek and SoftBank — both of which are pursuing a range of other Web3 initiatives. Temasek, Singapore’s state-owned investment firm, led a $200 million round for Immutable X, the protocol that powers TikTok’s NFT platform and GameStop’s upcoming NFT marketplace. Japan-based SoftBank, one of the world’s largest multinational investing firms, has announced plans to build its own NFT marketplace via a subsidiary. 

Why it matters… CNBC reports that Silicon Valley executives are increasingly leaving traditional tech firms to join Web3 competitors. Take YouTube gaming exec Ryan Wyatt, who recently joined Ethereum competitor Polygon after it raised $450 million from SoftBank and Sequoia. Or Sherice Torres, the CMO of Meta’s Novi wallet, who left to join crypto company Circle in January. Even legendary former Disney CEO Bob Iger has recently joined the board of Genies, a metaverse firm that allows users to create virtual avatars and NFT accessories. For ambitious execs and developers alike, Web3, it seems, is the place to be.

PLANET OF THE APES

Inside Bored Apes’ massive metaverse ambitions

Yuga Labs, the developers behind top NFT collectible brand Bored Ape Yacht Club, has been on a tear recently. Days after acquiring the pioneering NFT collection CryptoPunks, a DAO affiliated with the company released a much-hyped token called ApeCoin, which Yuga Labs then followed with a teaser for their forthcoming metaverse game, Otherside. As the creators behind the leading NFT collection prime the public for their metaverse plans, we're breaking down the latest news around Yuga Labs' multibillion-dollar monkey … uh … business.

  • ApeCoin’s March 16 debut was volatile, with prices zooming from highs around $40 to lows around $6.48 before slowly climbing above $11. The token was initially released via airdrop to holders of Bored Ape Yacht Club and Mutant Ape Yacht Club NFTs, with holders of the flagship collection getting 10,000 APE for each BAYC NFT they owned — a reward worth a healthy six figures even at the $11 valuation. For some, the token has potentially much greater long-term value, as it will be central to Yuga Labs’ future plans, which include games, merch, and IRL events.

  • ApeCoin is “owned and operated” by ApeCoin DAO, which will allow holders to vote on proposals around the future of the cryptocurrency. The DAO will also have a “board” which includes Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian; FTX Ventures leader Amy Wu; and Yat Siu, co-founder of blockchain gaming company Animoca Brands. All ApeCoin holders are members of the DAO, and 62% of the total supply is allocated to the ApeCoin community, with the remaining portion going to Yuga Labs (15%), its founders (8%), “launch contributors” (14%), and primatologist Jane Goodall’s foundation (1%). 

  • One of the first ApeCoin-powered initiatives that Yuga Labs has revealed is a new metaverse game called Otherside, which was teased in a video over the weekend. The trailer, set to the Doors’ “Break on Through (To the Other Side),” features a BAYC NFT who goes on a psychedelic journey and meets avatars from other leading NFT collections. Notably, the Ape encounters both NFTs controlled by Yuga — Mutant Ape Yacht Club, CryptoPunks, and Meebits — and those from other popular collections like Cool Cats, World of Women, and CrypToadz. (The idea of “interoperability” — being able to bring your favorite avatar into a wide range of worlds — is something of a holy grail for many NFT proponents.)

Why it matters… On Tuesday, Yuga Labs had one more big announcement: a vast fundraising round that values the company at $4 billion — with $450 million in new capital coming from Andreesen Horowitz. Funding secured, Yuga is ramping up plans to become a dominant media brand in the metaverse. Speaking to the Verge, BAYC co-founder Wylie Aronow (who goes by the pseudonym Gordon Goner), described Otherside as “an interoperable world” that is “gamified” and “completely decentralized.” Putting it another way, he added: “We think the real Ready Player One experience will be player run.”

NUMBERS TO KNOW

$150 billion

Value of assets managed by Connecticut-based Bridgewater, the world’s largest hedge fund — which is reportedly planning its first crypto investment. In January, a paper issued by the Ray Dalio-managed fund noted that "crypto markets are now large enough to allow for positions in sizes relevant to institutional investors." 

$9.5 billion

Amount stored in DAO treasuries across 4,832 decentralized organizations, according to analytics site DeepDAO. DAOs on the Ethereum network hold $8.2 billion with the remaining $1.3 billion held by groups on Solana, which DeepDAO began measuring last week. Made famous in part by ConstitutionDAO, DAOs are smart-contract enabled organizations that allow strangers to pool resources toward a common goal.

222%

Percent increase of Google and Instagram searches for crypto-related tattoos in the last year, according to a (very important) study published by Australian crypto-education site Crypto Head. Digging into the data of potential body-art trends: “Bitcoin tattoo” saw 1,700 searches, while “dogecoin tattoo” netted 700. 

1

Number of Time magazine covers devoted to Vitalik Buterin. In this week’s issue, the Ethereum co-founder discusses crypto’s powerful role in Ukraine, expresses concerns over NFT speculation, and reveals that he had never heard of seven-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Tom Brady. They’re Twitter friends now, though.

TUNE IN

Why Ethereum might be the New York City of blockchains

Ethereum and New York are kind of similar: congested, expensive, easy to complain about. Yet, both are home to nonstop innovation and are epicenters for, respectively, DeFi and traditional finance. At least, that’s how Dragonfly Capital’s Haseeb Qureshi sees things. But how else are blockchains like cities? In the latest episode of Around the Block, host Justin Mart chats with Qureshi about why thinking about blockchains like cities is a powerful analogy.

TOKEN TRIVIA

The Ethereum Foundation’s new name for ETH2 is

A

Consensus Layer

B

ETH3

C

Execution Layer

D

2ETH 2Furious

Find the answer below.

Trivia Answer

A

Consensus Layer