Currently Relevant
August 31, 2023

Currently Relevant: Edition 11

This week: A predictable end for Friend.Tech; Grayscale wins key battle in crypto’s fightback against the SEC; Binance loses support of payment giants, but does it even matter?

Welcome to Currently Relevant, THE RELEVANCE HOUSE’s regular roundup curating the best of news, views, and stories from the blockchain, crypto, and Web3 space.  

This week: A predictable end for Friend.Tech; Grayscale wins key battle in crypto’s fightback against the SEC; Binance loses support of payment giants, but does it even matter?

What’s currently relevant in THE RELEVANCE HOUSE

Here at THE RELEVANCE HOUSE, we’ve been considering strategies for brands seeking to build bridges between themselves and their audiences. Defining where you want to be is one thing; working out how to get there is another. Our post, “How do you get there from here,” outlines what you need to consider, from how to position your brand offering to creating relevance for your audience.

Read: “How do you get there from here?”

Faced with a barrage of decisions each day, we humans have a tendency to fudge whenever possible. But when it comes to branding, crypto is the only industry where an inability to choose is prized as a feature rather than a bug.

Yet paradoxically, Web3 firms have an opportunity to differentiate from the competition by choosing what their brand stands for and sticking to it. Our Co-founder German Ramirez has once again been featured in Cointelegraph, where he offers up some musing on the science of choosing for Web3 brands, along with practical tips for finding the sweet spot for brand positioning – even if you’re already established on the market.

Read German’s article: “The secret to successful branding in Web3 – the science of choosing”

Last weekend, German also moderated the Swiss Association of MBAs Digital Leaders Conference in Zurich. At the event, there were many productive discussions centered around how technologies such as #AI have impacted organizations and how leaders manage the Digital #Transformation journey. German captured many relevant takeaways from the day, which he summarized over on LinkedIn.

See German’s LinkedIn post for more information about the Digital Leaders Conference.

Venturing into new technologies can be a daunting prospect for established firms without the expertise. But partnerships and collaborations are one way to ease the path into Web3 for companies seeking to make the leap. German, along with other Web3 leaders, provided a take on how to extract value from such partnerships in a recent article published on Cointelegraph.

Read: “10 ways traditional companies can benefit from partnering with blockchain projects”

The Big Picture

In each edition, THE RELEVANCE HOUSE founder German Ramirez brings his marketing and strategy insights to the biggest stories from the world of Web3, delivered with a pinch of spice.

Goodbye, not-so-old Friend.Tech

Friend.Tech: Now it can Rest In Branding.

I publish this newsletter every two weeks, and two weeks ago, Friend.Tech had only just landed on my radar, not yet significant enough to warrant writing about in detail.

Last week, it was the biggest story in crypto. So I decided to do some digging to see what all the fuss was about. Was Friend.Tech to be the sleeper summer hit that we didn’t see coming, or would it end up as yet another flash-in-the-pan, speculative, hype-driven bubble project?

You already know the answer. Friend.Tech nosedived before two weeks was out.

You’ll just have to trust me when I say that I would have been one of the many people who lined up to predict this project’s inevitable demise had it not been faster than my publication schedule.

It has no brand, or even a website to speak of. It launched seemingly from nowhere in early August, with an undisclosed amount of seed funding from a major investor that doesn’t appear to be confirmed or denied by said investor, developed by people associated with two failed projects, on the promise of an airdrop, which managed to gain some social proof from a small cabal of influencers.

Even if it was all entirely predictable, let’s try and learn something from it. I’m not here to pose questions about whether Friend.Tech had a sustainable business model, or whether all decentralized social networks are doomed to fail. All I can say is that when it comes to Friend.Tech, there was a notable yet painfully familiar absence of a brand.

Viral marketing success is an oxymoron. There is viral marketing, and there is successful marketing, but the two don’t meet. Success in branding and marketing might be attributed to a particular campaign, but it’s work that is never done. The idea that any newcomer project can simply enter the market, become a hit, and rest on its laurels is a huge gamble where the odds are about a gazillion to one against you.

Are you willing to bet your entire vision on a lucky viral punch?

Web3 founders, like every other business ever, need to do the legwork. Establish the offering and the target audience. Create the messaging and the story – make sure there is a clear and consistent answer to the “why” question when it comes to the offering. Make it relevant.

Only then is the offering ready to take to the market and begin engaging.

What’s the alternative?

Another boom-and-bust project, which reflects badly on a newly established blockchain, on an industry struggling financially (and existentially in some cases), cementing the impression that we are incapable of building anything sustainable or focusing on anything beyond the here and now.

Let’s do better.

Funding news

A new fund, Vessel Capital, has announced it has secured $55 million for investment in Web3 infrastructure, according to TechCrunch. The fund has been founded by DeFi entrepreneurs, including Injective Labs CEO Eric Chen, and will focus on application-specific infrastructure.

In other news, Web3 marketing platform DeForm raised $4.6 million in seed funding, while BlockTower and Tioga Capital co-led a strategic funding round, raising $5 million for lending protocol Maple Finance.

What’s new in Web3?

  • This week, the cryptosphere has been celebrating as Grayscale Investments won a key appeal case, overturning a previous decision by the SEC to reject its application to list a spot Bitcoin ETF. While there are still hurdles to clear on the path to a listing, the ruling is a critical win in a year where the agency has made strides in its bid to shut down the US crypto industry.
  • Demonstrating that clear regulation can support innovation, Coinbase is seeking to promote its Canadian business among the country’s five banking giants. The firm confirmed the development to Coindesk following the receipt of its pre-registration undertaking for providing regulated digital asset services to Canadian users.
  • Donald Trump made his Twitter/X comeback with a post featuring that Fulton County mugshot, which caused the price of Trump NFTs to spike due to reasons that nobody can really explain.
  • Enterprise blockchain VeChain and AI platform SingularityNET have teamed up, using SingularityNET algorithms to scan VeChain data for opportunities to reduce carbon emissions.

Focus on fintech and digital assets

  • Visa and Mastercard have both withdrawn support for payment cards issued with Binance, following the exchange’s ongoing disputes with the SEC over its US business. However, analysts believe that the losses won’t impact market share for the world’s biggest exchange.

    Our Co-founder German challenges Binance to embrace its individualistic, innovative brand narratives in his latest bi-weekly newsletter, which you can read now on LinkedIn.
  • Circle has announced a partnership with Latin American payment giant Mercado Libre to bring the USDC stablecoin to Mercado Pago in Chile. The move will make USDC available as a payment option to over 2 million new users.
  • X, the social network formerly known as Twitter, has obtained money transmitter licenses in seven US states, including Maryland, New Hampshire, and now Rhode Island, according to Coindesk. The licenses will allow for payments in fiat and cryptocurrencies.

Inside the infrastructure

  • Developers behind Coinbase’s new Base blockchain and Optimism have rolled out a governance and revenue-sharing agreement that aims to enshrine “principles of neutrality” to the Base platform so it cannot become centralized.
  • Shibarium, a scaling solution for the Shiba Inu blockchain, officially relaunched on August 28 and attracted 35,000 new wallets within 24 hours. Shibarium is an Ethereum layer-2 network with a focus on gaming and metaverse applications.

Weird crypto story of the week

Bitboy Crypto is a longtime staple of the crypto influencer scene, which has never been renowned for strong principles when it comes to recommending token investments. Bitboy, aka Ben Armstrong, had managed to establish a controversial reputation that went a step further, including facing class action lawsuits from investors who claimed he had shilled FTX's FTT tokens before its collapse, along with a string of other incidents.

This week’s “it could only happen in crypto story” is that the Bitboy Crypto channel, which is now apparently owned by a firm called Hit, announced it was cutting ties with Ben Armstrong.

So long, Bitboy? No, as the channel itself will continue, just without its main anchor. Meanwhile, Ben Armstrong will have to build himself a new brand independently of the Bitboy name.

In crypto, it’s not only blockchains that can fork and part ways – apparently, the same now applies to brands.

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