The Business of Blockchain: Nov 20, 2018

Gil Amran
Gil Amran


5 years ago


The latest blockchain business news and analysis: Civil’s raise  crashes(kind of), US elections came and impacted the blockchain (obviously) and what some top industry minds think about the state of Ethereum. Read on for the details.

Hot or Not: Blockchain Use Case Edition

ConsenSys announced that it acquired asteroid mining startup Planetary Resources. While the reasoning behind the purchase has not been made clear yet, Orbs' Gedalyah Reback provided  a solid breakdown of the likely reason for the purchase as well as an educated guess for the acquisition price. TL;DR space-based commercial activity is expected to reach $558 billion by 2026 and ConsenSys is probably betting big that blockchain will be the way to allow players from around the world to transact with each other. Definitely worth a read if you like thinking about the interplanetary potential of blockchain technology.

One use case that hasn't panned out yet is decentralized journalism. And as it turns out, not too many people are excited about fixing journalism since Civil, the project attempting to do just that, ended their token sale $6 million shy of their goal (80% of sold tokens were purchased by ConsenSys). The New York Times provided a great analysis of Civil and what has gone wrong - such as Civil's decision to be a media company, collection of newsrooms and a decentralized social network run by Civil's token owners, all wrapped up into one project. Lesson learned: if people don't understand what you're doing after using your product, reading your whitepaper and scanning your website, you might have a problem. But Civil hasn't given up yet, and there is a real problem in journalism, so here's hoping they pull it off.

Good news! People are using crypto for real

Who says crypto is useless for payments (outside of Nouriel Roubini :) )?

Square recently announced that third quarter Bitcoin revenues from its mobile payments app, Cash App, totalled $43 million. Crypto payments is a hot sector: Square, Coinbase and several other startups are vying to become the leading crypto payments platform. With a quarter of wealthy millennials owning crypto, expect to see more startups and established names offering payment solutions. On a related note - does this create an intriguing opportunity to create a crypto-focused payments anti-fraud solution?

Blockchain had a great midterm elections

The US midterm elections are over and it looks like blockchain did better than both the Democrats and the Republicans. Colorado elected Jared Polis, a backer of blockchain, as its new governor. Polis campaigned on making Colorado the most blockchain-friendly state in the country. Blockchain supporter Gavin Newsom was re-elected as governor of California and even had a BitPay campaign donations page. Eleven of the twelve members of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus running for re-election were victorious as well, making these elections a great step forward towards a better environment for blockchain-based businesses.

As per usual, there were calls for moving voting online and on blockchain. Alex Tapscott of the Blockchain Research Institute decried voter suppression and a lack of voter confidence in the US balloting system in his New York Times Op Ed. His solution: allow online voting via smartphone or computer. According to Tapscott, online voting would have to contend with its version of double spending - ensuring a vote is counted once, for one candidate and remains anonymous. He proposes using blockchain with private-key enabled digital IDs to create a safe and reliable system. Take a look at Followmyvote and Voatz to see this in action.

On the flipside of the argument, Timothy B. Lee writes for Ars Technica, in a direct response to Tapscott, that blockchain-based voting would actually be a disaster. Lee points out issues such as hackers hacking into the systems that generate the voter credentials, hacking into voters' devices or using phishing scams to gain access to credentials.There would also be public confidence issues connected to using a technology few understand. But everything goes digital in the end, so I'm betting that Tapscott will eventually win this argument.

Devcon4 just finished, this is what everyone is working on

ConsenSys' Ethereum-focused developer conference just finished. We sent a delegation to the show and reported back on our experience. Check out the post to find out more about what was said about Ethereum's scaling efforts in 2019, the state of the dApp market and user experience.

Speaking of Ethereum, former Google chairman, Eric Schmidt, is a big fan. At a Village Global event, Schmidt called Ethereum "revolutionary" and "underrated" as a technology. You can read the transcript of the discussion here.

Movers and shakers

Some of the latest dealmaking in the world of blockchain.

  • Dapper Labs, makers of CryptoKitties, raised $15 million from the likes of GV (formerly Google Ventures) and SamsungNext, among others.

  • Mythical Games raised $16 million in a Series A round to develop blockchain-based games. The company is run by industry vets from Activision, Yahoo! and Blizzard.

  • Minds raised $6 million in a Series A round to help expand its blockchain-based social network.

  • Blockfolio raised $11.5 million in a round led by Pantera Capital, to support the expansion of its Blockfolio Signals product.

  • Coinbase raised a Series E round of $300 million, valuing the company at over $8 billion.

  • Starkware raised $30 million from Intel, Sequoia, ConsenSys, Paradigm, Coinbase Ventures and others to expand its STARK zero-knowledge proof system.

  • Spring Labs added former Trump economic advisor and Goldman Sachs COO, Gary Cohn to its advisory board. Spring Labs is building a more secure way for financial institutions to share information, so adding someone as experienced and connected as Cohn makes a lot of sense.

  • Sweetgreen, the fast-growing restaurant chain with 90 US locations, announced it completed a $200 million dollar funding round at a valuation above $1 billion. The funds will be used, in part,  to apply blockchain to Sweetgreen's supply chain tracking "to enable radical transparency at a systematic level."

  • Hyperproof, which aims to automate compliance by using blockchain technology and machine learning, raised close to $2 million.

  • Duality Technologies, founded by zero-knowledge proofs co-inventor, Shafi Goldwasser, raised a $4 million round for its homomorphic encryption technology.

If you enjoyed this newsletter (or not) or want to send some news our way, hit me up on Twitter or LinkedIn or at

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