US spot bitcoin ETFs begin trading, Circle files for IPO and India continues crypto pullback

Chain Reaction
174 Episodes • Last Episode: March 29, 2024

Welcome back to Chain Reaction.

To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important crypto stories delivered to your inbox every Thursday at 12 p.m. PT, subscribe here.

This past week has been all about U.S. spot bitcoin ETFs in the crypto world. Rumors started swirling around last week that approvals were coming, which sources confirmed.

But the road to approval was not a smooth one. On Tuesday, The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s X account was hacked, a spokesperson confirmed with TechCrunch. This was a huge problem because the government’s account put out an “unauthorized” post that the agency granted approval for “bitcoin ETFs.”

The post was up for about 30 minutes, causing a number of news outlets and online personalities to report that the SEC granted approval for the highly anticipated spot bitcoin ETFs. The unauthorized post has since been deleted.

But all’s well that ends well. Fast-forward to Wednesday and the SEC approved the first spot bitcoin ETF applications for 11 issuers (TC+). I spoke with two executives from Grayscale and Valkyrie about what’s in store for their spot bitcoin ETFs.

Read about it here:

Thursday morning trading for the spot bitcoin ETFs began and brought in around $2 billion in total trading volume, VanEck’s head of digital assets research Matthew Sigel said. 

Prior to this, Valkyrie’s co-founder Steven McClurg told TechCrunch he expected about $2 billion to $3 billion in trading volume the first week, so this initial inflow may be signaling that the demand may become bigger than originally anticipated.

Note: Other than the regularly scheduled newsletter bits, I’ll be playing around with some recurring segments and features. Not only that, in the coming weeks, we’ll be retiring the “Chain Reaction” name for something a bit more on the nose: TechCrunch Crypto. So keep an eye out for that!

If there’s something you’d love to see, let me know at

Anyways, that’s enough housekeeping and spot bitcoin ETF news for today. Let’s move on, shall we?

This week in web3

  1. USDC stablecoin issuer Circle files confidentially for an IPO (TC+)
  2. Hestiia wants you to mine for crypto to heat your house
  3. X removes support for NFT profile pictures
  4. Apple pulls Binance, Kraken, other crypto apps from India App Store
  5. Is India done with crypto?
  6. Fox partners with Polygon Labs to tackle deepfake distrust
  7. Logan Paul promises CryptoZoo refunds, as long as you don’t sue him

The latest pod

For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Michael Sonnenshein, the CEO at Grayscale Investments.

Grayscale is a digital asset investment firm that aims to provide products and services to institutional and individual investors, it is well known for its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) and now, its new bitcoin spot ETF product. The company was founded in 2014 and is one of the world’s largest digital asset currency managers. The GBTC fund holds over 3% of the outstanding bitcoin supply, worth tens of billions of dollars.

The firm and its executives have made headlines in the past for their tenacious efforts to get their bitcoin spot ETF approved after it was originally denied by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in June 2022 and later the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of it. And now, Grayscale’s bitcoin spot ETF was approved.

We dive into what a spot bitcoin ETF approval means for GBTC and market demand. We also discussed competition between issuers, fee structures and why regulated bitcoin exposure matters, as well as what a spot bitcoin ETF could mean for the crypto space.

Subscribe to Chain Reaction on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the latest episodes, and please leave us a review if you like what you hear!

Follow the money

  1. Hedera-based web3 music startup Tune.FM raised $20 million in strategic round
  2. Liquidity solution startup Eesee raised $2.85 million in seed round
  3. DeFi developer NoahArk Tech Group received $2.4 million from EOS Network Ventures
  4. OORT raised $10 million to focus on its decentralized cloud for privacy and cost savings
  5. Altitude raised $6.1 million in seed round to improve DeFi loans

This list was compiled with information from Messari as well as TechCrunch’s own reporting.

What else we’re writing

Want to branch out from the world of web3? Here are some articles on TechCrunch that caught our attention this week.

  1. CES 2024: Everything revealed so far, from Nvidia and Sony to rabbit’s pocket AI and the weirdest reveals
  2. CES 2024: The weirdest tech, gadgets and AI claims from Las Vegas
  3. Funding for female founders remained consistent in 2023 (TC+)
  4. Explained in 5 charts: Venture capital in 2023 (TC+)
  5. Meta faces another EU privacy challenge over ‘pay for privacy’ consent choice

Follow me on Twitter @Jacqmelinek for breaking crypto news, memes and more.

Chain Reaction


Author Avatar
Jacquelyn Melinek

Senior Reporter, Crypto


Chain Reaction


As AI proliferates and things on the internet are easier to manipulate, there’s a need more than ever to make sure data and brands are…

The AI world needs more data transparency and web3 startup Space and Time says it can help

Welcome to TechCrunch Crypto, formerly known as Chain Reaction. This is the last edition of this newsletter. I want to personally thank each of you…

SBF sentenced, Worldcoin hit with another ban order and big web3 pre-seed rounds are back

Many of the people building web3 feel like the traditional web ecosystem has taken advantage of users and their data. While it benefits a number…

A new web3 network is being built right now that wants to end Big Tech’s control of your data

Welcome to TechCrunch Crypto. This week, Starbucks killed its Odyssey NFT program, Solana continued to see memecoin momentum and India faces more challenges with the…

Solana memecoin hype continues, Backpack’s beta phase was a success and Starbucks axes its NFT program

Starbucks launched Starbucks Odyssey in 2022 as its initial foray into the web3 world.

Starbucks ditches its Odyssey NFT program

Two months ago, media giant Fox Corp. partnered with Polygon Labs, the team behind the Ethereum-focused layer-2 blockchain, to tackle deepfake distrust. Fox and Polygon…

Blockchain tech could be the answer to uncovering deepfakes and validating content

Welcome to TechCrunch Crypto, formerly known as Chain Reaction — it was an eventful week in the crypto world.

Bitcoin hits new high, Solana price jumps as memecoins mania rises and Worldcoin faces heat in Spain

Zora, an NFT-based social network platform, is continuing its expansion beyond the crypto-sphere into the hot artificial intelligence market, Dee Goens, the startups’ co-founder, said…

NFT platform Zora is offering a novel way for AI model makers to earn money

Welcome back to TechCrunch Crypto. It was an eventful week: bitcoin’s price hit a new high, Spain’s data protection authority banned Worldcoin and Binance raised…

Bitcoin hits highs, Binance launches a crypto perfume and Coachella partners with OpenSea

Welcome to TechCrunch Crypto. Here’s the biggest news this week: bitcoin’s price jumped and Coinbase’s app crashed, Telegram rolled out a plan to pay out…

Bitcoin jumped and Coinbase’s app crashed, while Aptos eyes Hong Kong and Telegram rolls out rewards with TON

NFTs don’t always get taken very seriously, particularly now that AI and content creators are hogging the spotlight, but not everyone is so quick to…

Animoca Brands’ Yat Siu sees NFTs as a way to protect ownership in the age of AI

Welcome to TechCrunch Crypto, formerly known as Chain Reaction. This is our fifth edition with of course, regularly scheduled news bits, but also some recurring…

Crypto VC exits were low in Q4 2023, Phantom MAU’s reach new highs and spot bitcoin ETF volumes are still rising

Hello and welcome back to the fourth edition of the new and improved TechCrunch Crypto newsletter. Let’s get into the big headlines.

Farcaster hype grows, Bluesky opens to the public and SEC’s Hester Peirce is open to new token proposals

a16z’s Chris Dixon thinks it’s time to focus on blockchains’ use cases, not speculation

“I’m not anti-speculation, but I think it’s a question of priorities… It’s putting the cart before the horse.”

a16z’s Chris Dixon thinks it’s time to focus on blockchains’ use cases, not speculation

Hello and welcome back to the third edition of the new and improved TechCrunch Crypto newsletter.

Tether had ‘record-breaking’ net profits in Q4, Polygon Labs does layoffs and hackers steal $112M of XRP

Welcome to TechCrunch Crypto, formerly known as Chain Reaction. To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important crypto stories delivered to your inbox…

Bitcoin and Ethereum decline on the week, Worldcoin to launch a new Orb and Terraform Labs files for bankruptcy

Distinct from the Ripple network and protocol, the XRP Ledger is a decentralized public ledger with an open-source code base that anyone can contribute to…

After 12 years, Ripple’s president sees its payment and enterprise businesses evolving further

Welcome to TechCrunch Crypto, formerly known as Chain Reaction. Alongside our regularly scheduled news bits, I’ll be testing out some recurring segments and features —…

Bitcoin spot ETF volume rose, Coinbase went to court, Solana Mobile announces new device and Google cuts crypto apps in India

It’s been a long road for spot bitcoin ETF filers — and today the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission finally approved all 11 standing applications from…

Grayscale CEO sees spot bitcoin ETF as first step toward ‘normalizing’ crypto

Welcome back to Chain Reaction. Wouldn’t a bitcoin spot ETF approval be nice?

Talks of bitcoin spot ETF approval circulate as India blocks exchange sites and crypto is seeing more optimism

Welcome back to Chain Reaction. To get a roundup of TechCrunch’s biggest and most important crypto stories delivered to your inbox every Thursday at 12…

Dog-themed memecoins are pawing their way back into investors’ hearts

Warden thinks one of the biggest avenues for real world use cases is tokenization of assets and areas that aren’t even tradable yet.

Why tokenization of assets can be a key driver of growth in crypto

Robinhood is on a quest to dive deeper into crypto

The platform might not be as highly technical as one that’s crypto-focused, but Robinhood is doing research to understand what customers want and are missing.

Robinhood is on a quest to dive deeper into crypto

Welcome back to Chain Reaction. Even though it’s the season to feel jolly, that’s not stopping hackers from acting out.

Crypto hacks and chaos aren’t halting this holiday season

Welcome back to Chain Reaction. In general, the total crypto market cap steadily rose 14% in the past week as more capital enters the crypto…

Bitcoin continues climbing, Block releases hardware wallet, Robinhood expands to EU and VCs may see some relief soon

The crypto industry is facing the same macroeconomic headwinds as others, with the added bonus of regulatory uncertainty.

The venture landscape may be on the ‘cusp’ of explosive growth after years of macro strain

We didn’t publish a Chain Reaction newsletter last week because of Thanksgiving. But we’re back — and saying goodbye to November after a month filled…

Crypto saw lots of chaos, charges and price changes in November

The goal is to help users forget which chain developers are building on, because it ultimately won’t matter.

Optimism execs are optimistic for Ethereum’s future amid its ongoing scaling battle

Welcome back to Chain Reaction. The crypto market and overall ecosystem may be showing signs of recovery after a prolonged bear market.

Crypto market showing signs of recovery as prices, NFT sales rise on the month

Web3-focused software technology company Aave Companies is rebranding to Avara, its founder Stani Kulechov told TechCrunch exclusively. The crypto parent entity is best known for…

Aave Companies rebrands to Avara and acquires crypto wallet Family to expand its web3 reach