📝 #70: The Next NFTs

Culture coins. Token2049's big themes. Bitcoin Runes. Adidas X STEPN. Nike releases new digital sneakers. Christie's & Ordinals. EigenLayer launches on mainnet. a16z 7.2B fundraise. Top charts & more.

Hey, it’s Marc. ✌️

Reporting from a rainy but packed Token2049 in Dubai this week, still buzzing from Paris Blockchain Week. My hectic travel schedule made me skip the last field notes, so this edition is packed with value.

While Paris focused on Western crypto enthusiasts, Dubai has a bigger, more global vibe. Here, Bitcoin L2s, runes, ordinals, L3s, DeFi 2.0, and Memecoins dominate the conversations. Right now, this is the place to be for crypto.

Let’s dive in. 🌊

Be inspired✨

“Respond from the center of the hurricane, rather than reacting from the chaos of the storm.” ― George Mumford

📚 Top 5 Reads

  • The future of culture is tokenized. By Luca Netz. Link

  • When the creative class makes their own currencies. By James Beck. Link

  • A VC’s thesis on Web3. By Noah Williams. Link

  • The 2024 MAD (Machine Learning, AI & Data) Landscape. By Matt Truck. Link

  • Nike and AI. By Vogue Business. Link

✨ Web3 & Brands

The Next Phase of Web3🖼️

This week, crypto world is meeting in Dubai for Token2049. Here’s the talk of the town:

  • Bitcoin: Bitcoin layer 2s (more scalable chains on top of Bitcoin, e.g. Stacks), Ordinals (Bitcoin NFTs), and Runes (a fungible token standard for Bitcoin, like ERC-20 for Ethereum).

  • DeFi 2.0: The convergence of AI x Crypto that will enable a “computable economy”; i.e. autonomous AI agents, trained on blockchain data, executing “intents” (multi-step, onchain actions) by users. Most of today’s UX and interoperability challenges will be abstracted away.

Zooming out: In a “computable economy”, almost everything we own or do will be tokenized. Our behavior will become tradeable, trackable, measurable and tied to onchain digital identities.

Be smart: This opens two big opportunities for consumer brands.

  1. To leverage that data to create hyper-personalized consumer experiences and become more efficient. 

  2. “Tokenization of brand culture”, i.e. instrumentalizing community with ownership and financial incentives into powerful brand advocates and champions of their “culture”.

Be smarter: While NFTs were a first inning of “tokenized culture”, most of these NFTs weren’t “currencies”, i.e. much less liquid.

Now, we’re entering “memecoins”, cryptocurrencies based on cultural references or internet jokes. The more they circulate, the more value they have.

The bigger picture: To outsiders, memecoins might appear as a fad or just pure gambling. But that’s just half of the truth. They’re part of a bigger trend of shifting power back to consumers.

Maja Vujionovic saw this coming many months ago and she's on point:

"Memecoins should not be seen at their face value. They are a larger signal of a new type of organized groups collaborating in investment and profit sharing that is going to transform capital allocation, business and society at large.

Brands should pay attention to the fact that group culture can be empowered by peer-to-peer technology, and not the speculative side of memecoins."

Punchline: We’re at the beginning of a new supercycle of hyper-personalisation and individual automation driven by the tokenization of culture.

More on Web3:

  • Adidas is partnering with STEPN on an NFT collection on Solana. Link

  • Nike’s launching its second physical shoe collection, ‘Are You a Bot?’ for members of its digital platform .Swoosh. Link

  • Magic Eden to launch Runes marketplace. Link

  • Memeland1 announced their premier launch partner for Stakeland, Runecoin. This bridges the gap between ETH NFTs and the new BTC Runes protocol. Link

  • Christies announced their first Ordinals auction. Link

  • Both Lens and Farcaster surpassed 300k profiles.

  • Animoca Brands Japan is building an NFT launchpad. Link

🌎 Crypto & Macro

Bitcoin Runes 🗿

  • BRC-20 pre-Runes2 tokens posted hefty gains, as Magic Eden launches a Runes marketplace.

  • Runes is set to launch on the same day as Bitcoin halving.

Zooming in: This is a new protocol designed to launch on the Bitcoin blockchain in April 2024, coinciding with the Bitcoin halving.

Be smart: Runes aims to enable the creation of fungible tokens (tokens where each unit is identical) directly on the Bitcoin blockchain. This could potentially expand the functionality of Bitcoin and allow for new DeFi applications built on top of it.

Ordinals focus on inscribing unique data (like NFTs) directly onto individual satoshis (the smallest unit of Bitcoin), making each inscription one-of-a-kind (NFT).

Punchline: Many expect an upcoming “Bitcoin Summer” with ordinals, runes, and Bitcoin layer 2 protocols taking off.

More on Crypto:

  • PayPal announced it will enable its stablecoin, PYUSD, for US customers sending money across borders. Link

  • EigenLayer launches on Ethereum mainnet; Google Cloud launches a node operator on the protocol. Link

🧠AI + Metaverse

  • Nike unveiled A.I.R sneakers that leverage AI in the design process. Link

  • Amazon says it will spend $150bn on datacenter capex over the next 15 years to support generative AI. Link

  • The US and UK made a joint agreement on testing AI safety. Link

  • Elon Musk's xAI previews Grok-1.5 Vision, its first multimodal model. Link

  • Meta says it is testing its Meta AI chatbot with WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger users in India and parts of Africa. Link

💰 Money Moves

  • Monad Labs: The blockchain developer raises $225M led by Paradigm.

  • Kiki World: The next-gen beauty brand secures $7M from beauty giant Estée Lauder.

  • Berachain: Layer 1 blockchain raises $100M Series B funding with Framework Ventures & Abu Dhabi’s Brevan Howard Digital co-leading.

  • Mezo: Bitcoin-native chain announces $21M raise from leading funds, including Pantera Capital, Multicoin, and Hack VC

  • Puffer: Liquid restaking protocol raises $18M led by Brevan Howard & Electric Capital

  • BOB: Bitcoin hybrid L2 raises $10M seed round with strategic investment from Coinbase Ventures.

New funds:

  • A16z just announced a giant $7.2B fundraise across several funds, none of which is crypto.

  • Galaxy Digital unveils $100M fund to support crypto startups.

  • Blockchain-focused VC firm P2 Ventures commits $50M to support startups in the Polygon ecosystem.

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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