Newsletter: "Memeable" Season
Welcome to issue 139: This week we cover our latest collaborative report: Economic Models for Tokenized Communities, Balaji Srinivasan $1m bet and his thesis on Fiat <> Crypto, Meme coins and BRC20s, Seed Club latest accelerator on consumer crypto, Stripe and ThirdWeb crypto onramp tools plus latest mainstream news and many more...
By Forefront - May 8, 2023
Welcome to edition 139:
▹ Forefront latest report on TC economic models
▹ Balaji $1m bet & the fiat crisis
▹ Meme coins season
▹ Seed Club consumer crypto accelerator
▹ Stripe & ThirdWeb crypto onramp tools
▹ Mainstream latest and more...
--- This edition is brought to you by Purple.
Collaborative Report: Economic Models for Tokenized Communities
Last week, Forefront dropped a soft report outlining economic models for tokenized communities. One of the essays in this report was "The Opportunities and Limitations of Nounish DAOs," written by Chris Carella of Charmverse and Purple. It is one of the first essays that not only clearly articulates what a Nounish DAO is, but also explains why they are valuable and in which contexts they are not.
The piece was very timely, as the Nouns DAO community saw heated debate around a variety of proposals that were active last week. One of which was for funding the completion of a childrens' book. The proposal narrowly won, and highlighted an internal debate throughout the DAO of what "proliferation" really looks like and whether great projects or distribution is more important.
Wilson, a Nouns DAO member, wrote a fantastic piece discussing the value of proposals in Nouns DAO beyond their literal purpose. Proposals bring attention to the DAO and can become memes, impacting how the DAO is perceived. The meta-story around the DAO's vote is just as important as the outcome. The process around each proposal is an artifact of who cares about the DAO, how it works, and what it values. The value a proposal brings goes beyond its intended purpose and includes the attention and perception it generates.
In a way, the governance process of Nouns DAO is itself a primary mechanism for proliferation -- a large percentage of the public conversation that will ever happen about Nouns happens because of governance.
Nouns is simply where some of the most exciting governance activity in the space is happening, but it is not alone. Governance is theater, and we will need to be better at playing the game of theater to achieve the purpose of the DAO, not let it stand in its own way.
The Fiat Crisis. For those of you who missed it, Balaji bet a million dollars that the price of BTC would reach $1M in 90 days. Now, halfway through the bet's lifespan, Balaji has forfeited the bet and paid out the $1M. He released a video this past week explaining why he "burned $1M to tell you they're printing trillions." He argues that there is a fiat crisis, a debt ceiling crisis, and competition from other nations for alternate global reserve currencies, amongst other potential crises. Some (most?) folks think that Balaji is way off base here -- while the economy might not be healthy, that doesn't quite mean catastrophe is near. Others have chosen to give Balaji the benefit of the doubt given his predictive acumen in the past -- plus, the evidence isn't exactly made up. While the economy would certainly take a hit, Balaji believes that "de-dollarization is decentralization," and that the world would be better for it.
"Memeable" Season. Even in the depths of a bear market, meme coin mania is back. Instead of Dogecoin or Shiba Inu, though, we're looking at $PEPE, $TURBO, and some other new meme coins that are absolutely dominating the market. The risks are high, rug pulls are likely, but that doesn't mean that people aren't getting in on the action -- even Soulja Boy claims to have gotten rich off of $PEPE. One whale even bought $PEPE near the top, and after the token price fell over ~40%, the trader is sitting on a $500k paper loss. Ethereum gas prices are through the roof, in part due to the high-speed trading of these meme coins. All in all, it's an interesting phenomenon to keep an eye on, especially in a bear market where overall market activity would not indicate fertile ground for this sort of behavior.
Tokenizing Our Desires. The rise of crypto has enabled the monetization of every aspect of culture, with anything imaginable able to exist as a tokenized form of tradable money on the blockchain. However, this has led to concerns about crass commercialization in an era of rising anti-consumerism. Economic anthropologist Karl Polanyi argued against the idea of attaching market prices to land, labor, and capital, which he believed was responsible for the destruction of pre-modern social norms. While there is evidence of consumerism pre-dating the Industrial Revolution, the boom of NFTs in 2021 has led to a mark of social prestige in digital culture, similar to the conspicuous materialism of the elite in the past. While concerns remain about the commercialization of everything, allowing experimentation is necessary to discover what will work and lead to sustainable equilibrium.
SC Accelerator: All in on Consumer Crypto. Our friends at Seed Club are going all in on consumer crypto -- in a big way. If you're a founder creating novel experiences on the backs of digital ownership, blurring the lines between builders and users or creators and audiences, or generally building any consumer product that is uniquely possible onchain, the Consumer Crypto Accelerator is for you. The team is committing $2M to early-stage teams building "a more interesting internet." This is the first of their accelerator programs that will be investing funds in addition to the support of the SC core team, roster of advisors, & network over the 3 month program. Applications for the first cohort, starting early June, are now open through 11:59pm PST on May 15.
If AI Is An Unstoppable Force, Crypto Is An Immovable Object. The essay describes a hypothetical scenario set in 2026 where the protagonist uses various blockchain-based solutions to counter the potential downsides of AI, such as misinformation and power outages. Using Ledger of Record, onchain synthetics, and onchain attestations, the protagonist is able to verify information, track medical supplies, and detect power outages, all while maintaining their privacy and security. The essay highlights the potential of blockchain to provide objective and trustworthy institutions in cyberspace, offering a solution to the societal panic induction attempts that arise with rapid AI advancements. While the scenario is a dystopia, the essay argues that blockchain can be an immovable object to counter the unstoppable force of AI.
Former OpenSea employee on trial for insider trading of NFTs. Nathanial Chastain, a former product manager at OpenSea was found guilty of violating confidentiality procedures in order to sell NFTs at inflated profits, bringing the first-ever insider trading trial over digital assets to a close. Chastain was convicted of fraud and money laundering and awaits sentencing. His scheme netted over $57,000 in profit, and his use of anonymous accounts to make illegal trades proved that he knew what he was doing was wrong, according to the prosecution. "This case will send NFT marketplaces back to the drawing board in terms of their compliance policies and procedures---the foundation of the fraud theory is that Chastain was breaching a duty of trust or confidence to the source of his information," says Philip Moustakis, a lawyer and partner at Seward & Kissel. "NFT marketplaces are going to have to assess their risk in this regard and train their employees on the risk."
How To Do Lower-Case r Research in Crypto. Jon's Twitter and research work is some of the most insightful in the space. In this essay, he shares personal reflections and advice on how to succeed in the field of "lower-case r research." He emphasizes the importance of being obsessively curious and focusing on areas that lack real experts. He also stresses the importance of writing quality technical content, being approachable to a broad audience, and using the people around you to learn and collaborate. Jon credits his success to the brilliant people in the field who have helped them along the way. Finally, he concludes by expressing his gratitude for the past year and the amazing opportunities he has had in crypto.
Latest on Mainstream...
Coinbase and Gemini have both officially announced crypto derivatives platforms outside of the United States, with no intention of serving US customers. This comes as the SEC and other US regulatory and legislative bodies are cracking down on crypto from multiple angles. One of these angles is Biden's proposed 30% climate change tax on crypto mining.
Meanwhile, Kenya's government plans to introduce a 3% tax on digital assets for the coming budget year as other sources of funding prove expensive or inaccessible.
On the other hand, Argentina's central bank has officially banned payment providers from offering and accepting crypto. According to a statement from the monetary authority, payment service providers offering payment accounts cannot conduct or facilitate operations with digital assets, including crypto assets, that are not authorized by the Central Bank of Argentina.
▹ Read - Buying a car with DeFi
▹ Opinon - on Nouns DAO Proposal
▹ Report - NFT April Data
▹ Deep Dives - Autonomous Worlds
▹ NFT - Sotheby's NFT Marketplace
▹ Mainstream - Stripe Fiat-to-crypto
▹ Listen - Matthew Chaim on Club
▹ New - Zora Text NFTs
▹ Resources - How To Build In Web3
▹ Money - Fed New Rates
▹ Tooling - ThirdWeb Wallet SDK
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