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Welcome back to Chain Reaction.
For the first time in a long time, there was less talk circulating about a certain three-letter crypto exchange, ahem, FTX. But of course, that didn’t last long as the former FTX CEO (who also goes by three letters — SBF) created a Substack and shared his perspective on Thursday — in a 2,300-word overview — detailing what FTX and Alameda were “pre-mortem.”
Over the past seven days, there have also been a handful of cuts announced across the crypto space, from the second-largest exchange Coinbase cutting 20% of its workforce to NFT marketplace SuperRare axing 30% of its staff.
This is Coinbase’s second round of major layoffs, after eliminating 18% of its employees, or about 1,100 jobs last June, but there was “no way to reduce our expenses significantly enough, without considering changes to headcount,” Coinbase co-founder and chief executive Brian Armstrong wrote in a post Tuesday.
Amid the doomy and gloomy sentiment from these layoffs, a number of market players were trying to help those affected by the cuts, including Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko, who tweeted, “If you are a departing Coinbase employee, reach out! I would love to find you a home in the ecosystem.”
See, not all hope in humanity has to be lost.
It was also a big week for partnerships as more crypto companies joined forces with mainstream Web 2.0 and financial companies like AWS and Mastercard. But instead of saying more here, I’ll let the stories speak for themselves. Read more about them below.
This week in web3
Amazon Web Services (AWS) has partnered with Ava Labs, the company building out layer-1 blockchain Avalanche, to help scale blockchain adoption across enterprises, institutions and governments, the two firms exclusively told TechCrunch. “Looking forward, web3 and blockchain is inevitable,” Howard Wright, VP and global head of startups at AWS, said to TechCrunch. “No one can call the time or date or quarter that it’s going to happen and it’ll be mainstream, but we’ve seen the cycles of growth before. The velocity of this one seems like it’s accelerating and we’re just excited to be a part of this.”
The crypto venture capital industry has become more selective thanks to the general market downturn and wavering trust caused by a slew of scandals and market disruptions, but investors at major firms are still writing checks in the space. As the market looks toward the future, some venture capitalists are revamping their investing strategies, while others are holding to their current plans, with perhaps a small tweak or two. Read on to find out how active investors are thinking about DeFi, how they’re advising their portfolio companies amid the lack of funding, the best way to approach them and more.
Mastercard, one of the biggest financial payments providers in the world, is launching a web3-focused incubator to help artists connect with fans through a new medium, the company shared. Mastercard partnered with Polygon, a scaling blockchain built on top of Ethereum, which has been making huge strides in the Web 2.0 ecosystem lately. After joining the incubator, participating artists should know how to mint NFTs, represent themselves in virtual worlds and establish a community, Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing and communications officer at Mastercard, said to TechCrunch.
We’re only in the second week of 2023, but demo days have already begun as founders try to keep momentum alive in the ever-changing crypto market. Beacon, a web3-focused early-stage accelerator program, launched last year, and its flagship cohort just graduated. The teams in the first cohort, known as Cohort 0, presented their ideas on Tuesday during a demo day, exclusively covered by TechCrunch.
Hyped or not, web3 companies seem like they’re here to stay, and investors seem more than willing to keep backing them. To get a better idea of how the people writing the checks are thinking about web3, TechCrunch surveyed more than 35 investors, and it turns out the majority are not only actively investing in the category, they also harbor hopes of a shining future for what they feel is a potentially transformative technology.
The latest pod
Chain Reaction is back in action with the launch of Season 2!
For this week’s episode, I talked to Ryan Wyatt, president of Polygon Labs, one of the biggest market shakers and layer-2 blockchains in the crypto space that’s building on top of the Ethereum ecosystem.
The past year has been huge for Polygon as it partnered with big-brand names like Starbucks, Disney and Mastercard to launch loyalty rewards and accelerator programs. Now, Polygon is looking to 2023 and new opportunities, and Wyatt shares what’s in store for it and how the space still has room to grow.
We also discussed:
- Polygon’s big themes and product vision for 2023
- Mass adoption of crypto and what it takes to get there
- Wyatt’s outlook for the gaming and NFT market
Follow the money
- Venom Ventures Fund announced a $1 billion venture fund and made its first investment in Nümi Metaverse’s $20 million funding round
- The Easy Company, a “social” crypto wallet, raised $14.2 million in a seed round
- Cosmo blockchain-based DeFi protocol Quasar raised $5.4 million at a $70 million valuation
- Open Forest Protocol raised $4.1 million to scale nature-based solutions
- C14 raised $2.5 million to help build crypto payment flows
This list was compiled with information from Messari as well as TechCrunch’s own reporting.