📝 #67: Big Stakes

Starbucks ends Odyssey. Forbes goes Web3. Hugo Boss goes Roblox. Gucci on Apple Vision Pro. Grab Singapore goes crypto. BlackRock's tokenized fund. Big AI news from Apple. Fundings & more.

Hey, it’s Marc. ✌️

This week, the talk of the town is Starbucks who ended their loyalty Web3 activation “Odyssey”. We’ve also saw big Web3 moves by Forbes and Hugo Boss. We also saw some big fundings rounds.

Be inspired✨

“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”― Confucius

📚 Top 5 Reads

  • Blockchains will upend economies of scale. By Paul Brody. Link

  • Monetizing attention through consumer apps. By Shayon Sengupta. Link

  • What is crypto good for, anyway? By Brian Armstrong. Link

  • Understanding EIP-4844: How it Greatly Reduces Transaction Fees for Ethereum Layer 2's. By Luke Nolan. Link

  • Crypto megafunds strike a comeback following low deal flow. By Bloomberg. Link

✨ Web3 & Brands

What’s going on with big brands? 🤔

  • Starbucks announced the end of its Web3 loyalty program “Odyssey” by March 31. Link

  • Odyssey launched in December 2022 and never made it out of “beta". 

  • It let users collect stamps by completing gamified, branded journeys [full case study].

Why this is important: Odyssey was seen as a benchmark of a Web3 loyalty play.

By the numbers: 

  • 35K members: 0.04% of 75M Rewards members

  • Starbucks made at least $1M in year one. As a comparison: Starbucks made over $900K of revenue / store in 2022, with approx. 38,000 stores globally.

But, Odyssey barely broke even. Even if they scaled it to 10% of Reward members, they would make $240M /year, which is about 0.7% of Starbucks' 2023 revenue

Did Starbucks actually think this is a good business? What’s missing?

A beneficial and easy to use loyalty program, that unlocks additional profit for a brand and its customer. Read more here. 

What’s next: Starbucks left it open if and how they continue the program.

The big picture: 50% of Interbrand’s Top 100 Global Brands have entered Web3. Many brands have seen:

  • Low and unsustained engagement

  • Little or no value for users

  • Little ROI

  • No actual business problems solved

Now, we are entering a new era of hyper-personalisation and individual automation.

This is driven by a variety of fintech tools, blockchain, disintermediation and decentralization.  

Punchline: The next frontier of consumer and brand engagement combines: 

  • Data & insights

  • Tokenisation

  • Loyalty & rewards

  • Community-led brands & immersive commerce

… extracting individual data, enabled by blockchain and machine learning. 

… and transforming brand-consumer interaction from top-down to bottom-up and from social to economically beneficial relationships.

Brands need to think bigger than NFTs and “collectibles”.  The opportunities for brands are immense.

A new business model for media

  • Forbes announced its flagship Legacy Pass “for the creators, entrepreneurs, and change-makers shaping the web3 world”. Link

  • In January, Forbes launched a wallet-based Web3 community with Magic. Link

  • RugRadio introduced a similar model this week, NFTNow launched a similar initiative last year.

By the numbers: Forbes has thousands of connected wallets by now, and over 90k people on the waiting list for the Legacy Pass.

The big picture: We’re heading towards new media models with community-led content creation and expert input:

  • Creators are fairly reimbursed for the IP they create, all on-chain with programmatic attribution.

  • Data analytics to learn more about their readers and what they’re interested in.

More on Web3:

  • Hugo Boss launched the PLANET HUGO, its biggest Roblox activation yet. They’ve generated over 100k organic visitors in less than 24hours. Link

  • Mastercard hosted a Web3 enabled golf event as part of the priceless experience. Link

  • Gucci announces Apple Vision Pro experience. Link

  • Rumours broke that Nike shuts down RTFKT this year. Unconfirmed. Link

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🌎 Crypto & Macro

Asia picking up 🌏

All signs are pointing to a big ramp-up in crypto adoption and usage throughout Asia:

  • Consumer: Asian super app Grab, which lets users do everything from hail rides, get food deliveries, and make cashless payments - just announced it will allow Singapore users to use crypto to make payments. Link

  • Institutional Investment: 

    • The world’s largest pension fund (Japan’s state pension fund) is exploring Bitcoin for portfolio diversification. Link

    • Hong Kong is also eyeing a Bitcoin ETF on the heels of the US ETF approvals. Link

  • Gaming: Crypto-earning video games are growing in popularity in the Philippines. Link

  • Retail Crypto Growth: Indonesia’s crypto market is booming. Link

Zooming in: Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong and South Korea have all taken steps toward clarifying rules around security token offerings.

By the numbers:

  • In Singapore, 75% of institutional investors say they plan to increase allocations to digital assets in 2024.

  • (DeFi) in Asia accounted for 55.8% of transaction volume in CSAO from July 2022 through June 2022 as compared to 35.3% the previous year.

Punchline: Asia’s size and scale make it a burgeoning crypto market and they could pave the way to mass adoption and help drive the next crypto bull market.

More on Crypto:

  • BlackRock filed docs to launch a tokenized asset fund. Link

  • Arbitrum seeks $400M from community to accelerate gaming ecosystem. Link 

  • Fidelity’s Bitcoin fund becomes fifth most popular of all ETFs this year. Link

🧠AI + Metaverse

  • Apple and Google are in active talks to use Gemini to power some new iPhone features in 2024; Apple also held talks with OpenAI to use its models. Link

  • Apple launches first multimodal AI model, MM1, that could revolutionize Siri and iMessage. Link

  • Anthropic just announced the release of its next-generation Claude 3 model family. Link

  • Two new AI-powered tools will simplify creation on Roblox. Link

  • Threedium (3D / AR co) joins NVIDIA Inception Program. Link

🏗️ Start-ups & Tools to watch

  • Certhis: The all-in-one Web3 Infrastructure to democratize brands' Web3 adoption to create new interaction, communication, with their community. Link*

  • Outlier Ventures & peaq launch DePIN Base Camp accelerator for web3 founders. Link

*partner of Dematerialzd.

💰 Money Moves

  • Immutable and Polygon partner with VC firm King River Capital to launch $100M ‘Inevitable Games Fund’. Link

  • Succinct: Raises $55M in seed and series A rounds led by Paradigm.

  • Morph: Dragonfly leads $20M seed round for consumer-focused blockchain.

  • Polyhedra Network: Polychain Capital leads $20M round for zero-knowledge start-up at $1B valuation.

  • Espresso: Privacy-focused blockchain systems secures $28M series B led by A16z.

  • Keyring: Crypto compliance firm raises $6M to expand its onchain compliance platform.

  • Figure Technologies: Fintech company raises $60M to build large, novel decentralized exchange.

  • MANTRA: Blockchain raises $11M to build a network for swapping tokenized real estate and other assets.

  • mmERCH: web3 fashion startup raises $6.4M seed round at $25.7M valuation.

That’s all for now, folks. Thank you for being part of the journey.Talk soon,

– Marc

PS: Follow me on LinkedIn and X for shorter insights.

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