Welcome back to Next in Tech, I hope everyone had a great week!
Before we dive into this wild week, I wanted to quickly highlight my digital garden that I just covered yesterday. It has all of my articles, tweets, and casts from Farcaster. I’m happy it’s finally out and have really appreciated everyone’s comments. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
On Thursday, news broke that the SEC was shutting down Kraken’s staking program in a $30M settlement. In their press release, the SEC alleged that Kraken had been “failing to register the offer and sale of their crypto asset staking-as-a-service program”. Just a day beforehand, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong tweeted a warning that the SEC wanted to get rid of staking for American retail investors.
For reference, staking is the act of locking up 32 ETH to help in the blockchain’s validation process, which will then give those who stake rewards for participating in the validation process. It is something that can be done at larger scales(locking 32 ETH) or at smaller scales(retail investors staking smaller amounts to earn rewards).
This decision by the SEC has been highly criticized by many, especially in the crypto community. In a statement on Thursday, Blockchain Association CEO Kristen Smith said the SEC “continues its attack on U.S. crypto companies and retail investors, regulating by enforcement and undercutting the potential of public blockchain networks in the United States”. In addition, SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce shared an article expressing her dissent for the crackdown on Kraken.
The AI battle has truly begun. Fresh off of announcing GPT integrations in the Office Suite, Microsoft launched their new age, AI-powered Bing and Edge. Bing now offers a chatbot within their search, with up-to-date information and even citations. In addition, Edge now has a right-side panel to use the chatbot or compose content, such as writing an email. This is a long anticipated launch that brings Bing back into the conversation — so much so that it has risen to #14 in the App Store.
One of Microsoft’s counterparts, Google, launched two big AI tools this week: its Bard chatbot and more Google Maps features such as expanding their Immersive View feature. These products were announced Wednesday at their “Live from Paris” event. It seems as though the AI battles between Google and Microsoft has only begun. In an interview with The Verge, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said “I want people to know that we made them [Google] dance”.
FWB, a social DAO, has launched a mobile app for their community. The app lets members view a community feed, find others, and RSVP to events. In a post introducing the app, the FWB team defines their vision of a “cozier web”, with a friendlier feel and sophisticated mechanisms for finance and governance. They say that they want the app, and the DAO, to have “group chat energy”.
For context, FWB started in 2021 as an informal chat to connect likeminded people in web3. Members have come together to build various projects and host events. FWB has often been praised for how they run their DAO and are able to incubate many projects, as well as their sharp brand design. In October of 2021, FWB raised a $10M round led by Andreessen Horowitz.
Uniswap’s governance was a big topic of discussion this week as Andreessen Horowitz used their 15M UNI to vote against a proposal that ultimately went through, which will deploy Uniswap to Binance’s BNB chain. a16z voted against the proposal in part because they preferred that Uniswap would be deployed to LayerZero, which happens to be a portfolio company of theirs. Because of this, many were questioning if their vote was for the betterment of Uniswap or for their own interests.
While explaining the rationale behind their decision, a16z’s Porter Smith said “As Uniswap token holders, we are ultimately interested in the long-term success of the Uniswap protocol”. In addition, a16z CTO Eddy Lazarin said “To be totally unambiguous, we at a16z would have voted 15 million tokens toward LayerZero if we were technically able to”. a16z 1.5% of all UNI supply and the firm has voted on 11 proposals.