April 29, 2023
Issue No. 52
Welcome to this week's AtherXplorer, covering the latest in gaming, blockchain, and everything in between.
This week’s top picks include:
- AI: What Is Auto-GPT and Why Does It Matter?; Top AI Announcements
- Blockchain: Google Cloud x Polygon; Robinhood’s 'Connect' Links to DeFi Apps
- Gaming: Honkai: Star Rail’s Release; Dead Island 2 Sells 1M Copies
- Web3 & Metaverse: Aptos x Google Web3 Startup Program; Deloitte’s Crypto Hiring Spree
- NFTs: Doodles 2’s Adidas x Pharrell Drop; ‘Napoleon Dynamite’ Star to Lead NFT Animated Series
- Legal Landscape: Hong Kong's Crypto Licensing Regime; Coinbase Responds to Wells Notice
AtherX Launches AtherXpress and AtherXboard to Enhance Gaming and Digital Asset Ownership
AtherX, the one-stop-shop for immersive entertainment, gaming, and digital asset ownership, is thrilled to announce the launch of its latest marketing campaign, AtherXpress, and the AtherXboard leaderboard.
AtherXpress is designed to spread the word about the many benefits of AtherX and provide both new and existing users with an opportunity to earn exciting rewards. The campaign features daily quests and limited-time bonuses for new sign-ups, offering the perfect way to maximize the AtherX experience while earning extra XP and NC. AtherX's referral program also enables users to invite their friends to join the fun and earn even more rewards. Stay tuned and watch out on our next articles to get more information!
AtherXboard, the ultimate leaderboard for AtherX champions, has also been launched. Users can now compete with each other for the top spots on the hall of fame and earn exclusive rewards. Whether they're seasoned gamers or newcomers to the AtherX community, there's a place for everyone on the leaderboard.
The more you earn, the higher you'll climb! Mark your name on the AtherXboard & aim for the top for the exclusive rewards.
🏆 1st Place: 300 XP & 500 NC 🏆 2nd Place: 200 XP & 400 NC 🏆 3rdPlace: 100 XP & 300 NC
“These initiatives demonstrate our unwavering commitment to providing our users with the ultimate gaming and entertainment experience. We believe that the AtherXpress campaign and AtherXboard leaderboard will not only engage our existing community but also attract newcomers to our AtherX ecosystem. Our aim is to guide both of web2 & web3 users step-by-step on how to use our platform and provide them with an enjoyable and rewarding experience”. said Susan Pham, Product Director of Ather Labs.
Join the AtherX community today and start your journey to gaming greatness with AtherXpress and AtherXboard. The sky's the limit!
👉🏻 Create Ather Account: LINK
👉🏻 Join Ather Club: LINK
👉🏻 Related guidelines for your reference: LINK
Yellow AI Launches Dynamic Automation Platform Powered by Generative AI for Enterprises
Yellow AI has launched the Dynamic Automation Platform (DAP), a platform powered by generative AI that can automate customer and employee experiences across channels, reducing operational costs. The platform's multi-LLM architecture is continually trained on billions of conversations, ensuring scalability, speed, and accuracy. According to Yellow AI CEO Raghu Ravinutala, businesses using DAP can achieve 90% automation within the first 30 days, a 40% increase in CSAT ratings, and save up to 60% in operational costs.
With a 4 times growth rate in North America and a presence in Asia-Pacific and Middle East markets, Yellow AI is committed to using technology, particularly generative AI, to enhance its product suites, such as Conversational Service Cloud, Conversational Commerce Cloud, and Conversational EX Cloud. The company recently launched the Dynamic Conversation Designer, a chatbot conversation design tool that leverages generative AI to help teams design conversations quickly and easily, without coding.
Yellow AI intends to use LLMs as a robust intelligence layer to deliver solutions for complex end-user facing use cases that require real-time decision-making. The company aims to enhance end-user facing features like goal-oriented conversations, making it easier to define and execute a more extensive and complex range of goals. Additionally, Yellow AI plans to introduce a feature that allows users to describe the kind of Dynamic AI agent they need, and the platform will automatically build it for them.
What Is Auto-GPT and Why Does It Matter?
Auto-GPT is an open-source app that uses OpenAI's latest AI models, mainly GPT-3.5 and GPT-4, to interact with software and services online, allowing it to perform tasks autonomously, which has been blowing up on social media recently. Auto-GPT automates multi-step projects that would have required back-and-forth prompting with a chatbot-oriented AI model like OpenAI's ChatGPT. Auto-GPT relies on features like memory management to execute tasks, along with GPT-4 and GPT-3.5 for text generation, file storage, and summarization.
Auto-GPT can interact with apps, software, and services both online and local, like web browsers and word processors. For example, given a prompt like "help me grow my flower business," Auto-GPT can develop a plausible advertising strategy and build a basic website. Auto-GPT can also be hooked up to speech synthesizers, like ElevenLabs', so that it can "place" phone calls, for example. It can field items like debugging code and writing an email, or more advanced things, like creating a business plan for a new startup.
Auto-GPT is publicly available on GitHub, but it does require some setup and know-how to get up and running. To use it, Auto-GPT has to be installed in a development environment like Docker, and it must be registered with an API key from OpenAI, which requires a paid OpenAI account. Early adopters have used Auto-GPT to take on mundane tasks better delegated to a bot.
Like any powerful tool, Auto-GPT has its limitations and risks. Depending on what objective the tool is provided, Auto-GPT can behave in unexpected ways. After successfully completing a task, Auto-GPT usually doesn't recall how to perform it for later use, and it often struggles to break complex tasks into simpler sub-tasks and has trouble understanding how different goals overlap. Auto-GPT illustrates the power and unknown risks of generative AI, and it is especially important to include a human in the loop approach when developing and using generative AI technologies like Auto-GPT.
Auto-GPT is not a magic tool; it simply handles follow-ups to an initial prompt of OpenAI's models, both asking and answering them until a task is complete. As Joe Koen, a software developer who's experimented with Auto-GPT, explains, Auto-GPT defines an agent that communicates with OpenAI's API. This agent's objective is to carry out a variety of commands that the AI generates in response to the agent's requests. The user is prompted for input to specify the AI's role and objectives before the agent starts to carry out commands.
New apps have emerged to make Auto-GPT even easier to use, like AgentGPT and GodMode, which provide a simple interface where users can input what they want to accomplish directly on a browser page. Note that, like Auto-GPT, both require an API key from OpenAI to unlock their full capabilities. Auto-GPT has its limitations, but it demonstrates the power and potential of generative AI, which is something that enterprises will need to harness while also including a human in the loop approach to ensure it is used safely and ethically.
This Week’s Top AI Announcements
Twitter users Rowan Cheung (@rowancheung) and Aakash Gupta (@aakashg0) shared a few of this week’s top AI announcements, including:
- TikTok’s AI-generated Avatars (Profile Pictures)
- Boston Dynamics’ Robot with ChatGPT Integration
- Replit’s ‘Replit-code-v1-3b’
- Apple’s Entry to AI with ‘Quartz’, AI-powered Health Coaching Service
- Mobile AutoGPT via Telegram
- Yelp AI-powered Search Highlights
- ChatGPT’s Incognito — Prevent queries from training the ChatGPT models
- Hugging Face’s ChatGPT Alternative
Other AI News
- Mark Zuckerberg says Meta wants to ‘introduce AI agents to billions’
- Runway launches app to bring users video-to-video generative AI
- AirOps is helping companies build AI-enabled applications on top of LLMs
- AI app Petey uses ChatGPT to make Apple Music playlists for you
- Executives want generative AI, but are taking it slow. An army of providers has lined up to help
- Developers embrace AI Tools but face ‘Big Code’ challenges, survey finds
- Solana Labs Preps ChatGPT Plugin for Real-Time Blockchain Analysis
Blockchain and DeFi Developments
Google Cloud to Become the Strategic Cloud Provider for Polygon Protocols & Optimizing zkEVM Performance
Google Cloud and Polygon Labs have announced a strategic alliance aimed at accelerating the adoption of core Polygon protocols with Google Cloud infrastructure and developer tools. The partnership is intended to make it easier for developers to build, launch, and grow their Web3 products and decentralized applications on Polygon protocols. Polygon's core protocols, including Polygon PoS, Polygon Supernets, and Polygon zkEVM, will benefit from Google Cloud's framework and developer tools.
Google Cloud will become the strategic cloud provider for Polygon protocols, bringing its fully managed node hosting service, Blockchain Node Engine, to the Polygon ecosystem to help developers overcome the time-intensive processes and costly overhead associated with provisioning, maintaining, and operating their blockchain nodes. The integration will remove the need for Polygon developers to configure and run Polygon PoS nodes, enabling them to focus on growth while retaining complete control over where nodes are deployed.
Polygon Supernets, a dedicated app-chain providing enterprises and other developers of specific applications the ability to customize and extend blockspace based on their needs, will enable one-click developer net (DevNet) deployments on Google Cloud by the end of Q3. Meanwhile, the Google Cloud Marketplace already offers developers one-click deployment of a Polygon PoS node to power their dApps quickly and easily.
To optimize Polygon zkEVM scaling performance, Google Cloud and Searce will facilitate technical implementation to advance Polygon's zero-knowledge innovation strategy and enable Web3 developers to avoid trade-offs between decentralization, scalability, and security. Polygon zkEVM is an Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) equivalent scaling solution that integrates seamlessly with existing Ethereum functions, smart contracts, developer tools, and wallets by leveraging zero-knowledge proofs, an advanced form of cryptography.
The partnership will provide eligible early-stage startups backed by Polygon Ventures with up to US$200,000 in credits for their Google Cloud and Firebase usage for up to two years, early access to Google Cloud's Web3 products and roadmap, invitation to a gated Discord channel with Google Cloud's Web3 product and engineering teams, free access to hands-on learning labs focused on Web3, and more.
Robinhood Launches 'Connect' to Link Native Crypto Wallet to DeFi Apps
Robinhood has introduced Robinhood Connect, an update that allows users of its crypto wallet to access their credentials and funds directly from decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols and applications without having to open the Robinhood app itself. The new feature will allow users to access funds in their Robinhood wallets directly from DeFi applications, making accessing DeFi more seamless for Robinhood users. Developers can embed Robinhood Connect in their apps, according to a press release.
Robinhood also announced a collection of new features, including a crypto home tab, price alerts, and advanced charts, allowing users to manage their portfolio, track the price of crypto assets, and place stop and limit orders. Johann Kerbrat, Robinhood's Crypto General Manager, said he hopes that the introduction of new features will improve customers' interactions with crypto and enhance usability and accessibility. He aims to “position Robinhood as the lowest cost, easiest to use on-ramp to crypto.”
The update renews Robinhood's promise to democratize the financial system for everyone, and crypto presents an opportunity to help users diversify their finances and adapt to the world of Web3. The company said they hope Connect will make Robinhood Crypto "the most trusted, lowest cost and easiest to use crypto on-ramp." Robinhood rolled out its much-anticipated Wallet in January to a waitlist of 1 million users after letting in just 10,000 waitlisted customers to its beta in September.
However, a month later, Robinhood became one of many crypto firms investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission over its crypto listings and custody of assets. Robinhood's Crypto General Manager said, “Crypto and Web3 have the potential to change the future of the financial system for the better, but we recognize there are still significant hurdles preventing broader adoption. Our conviction in the future of Web3 remains strong.” The update is part of Robinhood's efforts to position itself as the lowest cost and easiest to use on-ramp to crypto.
Peer-to-Peer Marketplace Etherisc Launches Depeg Insurance for USDC Holders
Etherisc, a decentralized peer-to-peer insurance protocol, is offering coverage to protect holders of the stablecoin USDC if it falls between 5% to 20% from its pegged price for longer than 24 hours. In the event of a USDC depeg from $1, Etherisc will deposit automated pre-specified payouts into non-custodial wallets. However, Etherisc only covers 20% of a wallet's USDC as they see this as being the only capital at risk. To opt-in for this coverage, one must have a minimum of 2,000 USDC to protect. Customer payouts are calculated by an Ethereum smart contract that considers the amount of USDC covered, the customer's total USDC balance at the time of depeg, and the price of USDC 24 hours after the depeg event first occurred.
Etherisc has tapped Chainlink’s USDC-to-USD price feed to notify the protocol when the stablecoin's price drops below $0.995, at which point the protocol enters a "triggered state." If the price does not recover within 24 hours, the protocol enters a "depegged state" where customers can claim a USDT payout. The team is already planning to offer the insurance product for other stablecoins, with USDT being the next on their agenda.
Etherisc is a peer-to-peer protocol where investors put up their USDT at risk to provide cover for USDC. Those seeking insurance then enter the marketplace to hammer out a deal. The price of insurance will converge to a specific market price as capital providers and customers arrange the combination of both. The depeg protection service is a response to the sometimes dangerously volatile nature of the crypto market, with many people seeing a mass stablecoin depegging as the biggest threat to the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
Etherisc has had a trial run on a testnet using the data from USDC's depeg event in March. The company is aiming to insure big projects like DAI with its platform. "If USDC goes down, then they will also go down. And, DAI is a core element of many DeFi protocols. It's all interconnected. Stablecoins have made DeFi a success but if stablecoins get a problem, the whole DeFi industry gets a problem as well," said Christoph Mussenbrock, co-founder of Etherisc.
Gaming Updates and Insights
Honkai: Star Rail Brings It All! Limitless Content, Intoxicating Gameplay and Delightful Characters
Honkai: Star Rail is the latest game from Hoyoverse, the studio behind the hugely popular Genshin Impact and Honkai Impact 3rd. This game is currently available on mobile and Windows PC, with PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 versions planned for the future. Unlike Genshin Impact, Honkai: Star Rail takes a more linear approach to gameplay, combining turn-based combat with dungeon exploration.
In Star Rail, players explore space in a linear format, with teleportation between maps and waypoints guiding the way. Each map has its own unique setting, from underground mines to towering buildings and city centers. Some areas have enemies to battle, while others provide resources and quests.
Combat in Honkai: Star Rail is turn-based, but the fast-paced & flashy battles keep the action moving quickly! Players can also choose to speed up gameplay or use the auto-battle feature. The game has a more lighthearted feel than Genshin Impact, with characters using modern-day slang and humorous item descriptions.
At launch, Star Rail boasts an array of engaging game modes. The Simulated Universe mode offers a nearly rogue-lite experience where players can choose from randomized blessings to aid them on their journey. As they progress, players accumulate resources to purchase passive upgrades to make the gameplay more manageable. Meanwhile, The Forgotten Hall mode challenges players to defeat waves of enemies as quickly as possible. Alongside these modes, players can immerse themselves in a host of story quests, daily quests, weekly missions, farming areas, and mini-dungeons. With so many options available, Star Rail can potentially offer players with long hours of captivating gameplay.
Honkai: Star Rail is a departure from Genshin Impact's open world gameplay, but the combination of turn-based combat and dungeon exploration provides a unique experience for players. The linear space exploration adds a level of focus to the game, and the bite-sized adventures in different settings keep things interesting. The fast-paced battles are a highlight, with the option to speed up gameplay or use auto-battle making combat feel fluid and exciting.
The game's lighthearted tone and modern-day slang may not be for everyone, but for those who appreciate a more playful approach, Honkai: Star Rail delivers. With versions planned for PlayStation consoles in the future, it's clear that Hoyoverse is committed to providing a quality gaming experience across platforms. Fans of turn-based combat and dungeon exploration should definitely give Honkai: Star Rail a try!
One Championship Partners with Animoca for Web3 Mobile Game
Notre Game, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands that specializes in Web3 games, has partnered with combat sports promotion One Championship for a new Web3 mobile game, One Fight Arena. The game will allow players to collect and trade digital collectibles of notable real-life fighters from the One Championship promotion. The game is expected to launch in Q1 2024, with player testing in Q4 2023.
Co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, Yat siu, said that the partnership with ONE to create ONE Fight Arena will enable the fans of the world's largest martial arts organization to access a novel gaming experience with true digital ownership at its core. Co-Founder and Group President of ONE, Hua Fung Teh, said that the partnership will give them an opportunity to engage with their global fan base at a deeper level through a unique gaming experience.
Dead Island 2 Slays Its Way to 1 Million Copies in One Weekend
Dead Island 2 has sold 1 million copies in just three days since its release, according to developer Dambuster Studios. This is impressive, especially considering how long the game has been in development since it was first announced in 2014 for a release the following year. Along with the sales milestone, Dambuster revealed some fun in-game statistics. To date, players have spent 11 million hours in Dead Island 2, and in that time, the game has seen 28 million player deaths, 45 million zombies get sliced in half, and 1.1 billion total undead have been made dead again on the island of LA.
It is not clear how Dead Island 2 sold so many copies, but it appears that the fondness for the first game in the series may have played a big part in the sequel's sales boom. The Dead Island series appears to have something that's resonated with players even a decade later. The lesson may just be that killing zombies never loses its appeal with audiences, particularly if it can be done in a memorable, first-person way.
Dead Island 2's success is impressive, considering that video games are often a crap shoot when it comes to success, and there's no real way to figure out what'll succeed and what won't. The game's development period and how it jumped up a week to get out of the way of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor could have also played a part in its success.
Star Wars Jedi: Survivor’s Disappointing Launch
The release of the highly anticipated game Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has been marred by performance issues on PC. Despite promised pre-release patches, players have reported unacceptable performance, with many complaining about the game's stuttering and low FPS rates. Steam reviews and social media have been flooded with complaints, with players voicing their disappointment and frustration. Some have even claimed that the game is the worst PC port they have ever seen!
While it is likely that future patches will fix the issues, the fact that such high-budget games continue to be released in this state is a source of frustration for many players. There have been several high-profile releases in recent years that have suffered from similar issues, including The Last of Us and Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Despite the complaints and negative reviews, these games have still been released at full price, leaving players feeling let down and disappointed.
One player expressed their disappointment, stating that publishers need to stop releasing games that are clearly not finished yet. The sentiment was echoed by many others, who feel that the industry needs to be more transparent about the state of their games at release. First impressions are important, and the negative reviews and social media posts surrounding the release of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor are likely to have a significant impact on sales.
In conclusion, the release of Star Wars Jedi: Survivor has been plagued by performance issues, with many players reporting unacceptable levels of stuttering and low FPS rates. While future patches are likely to fix these issues, the fact that such high-budget games continue to be released in this state is a source of frustration for many players. The negative reviews and social media posts surrounding the release of the game are likely to have a significant impact on sales, highlighting the importance of delivering a high-quality product at launch. Publishers need to be more transparent about the state of their games at release and take steps to ensure that their products meet the expectations of their customers.
Consolidation and Collaboration: The Changing Landscape of Blockchain Gaming
The global economic downturn has forced many companies to take measures to minimize its negative impact. Some have opted for restructuring and laying off employees, while others have joined forces to face the challenges together. The gaming industry is no exception, with companies shifting their priorities and consolidating their resources to stay afloat.
Blockchain gaming has also been affected by the economic downturn and the crises that have plagued the crypto market. In the past, most blockchain gaming teams focused on decentralization and becoming independent from larger organizations. However, as the industry has evolved, many companies have shifted to a more consolidated approach. Gala Games is one such example. They started as a publisher focusing on bringing a pure blockchain experience, but they have since partnered with the Epic Games Store to reach a larger market.
Another example of consolidation in the blockchain industry is the partnership between Polygon and IMX. Polygon has a huge ecosystem of games, art collections, and big retail brands like Starbucks. IMX, on the other hand, has been a game-focused ecosystem working on games internally as well as with external developers. Together, they aim to become even stronger in the blockchain industry.
Four companies, Magic Eden, YGG, Game7, and Fenix Games, have also announced a new initiative to create a wave of breakout blockchain games. They are partnering to provide a well-rounded service covering different areas of blockchain gaming. This partnership is a signal that many companies have realized they cannot pull off what they initially thought they could and that cooperation is better than competition.
Blockchain gaming teams need to start working together as the days of riding a 50,000 people Discord community through decentralization are over. Investors are looking for products and services with the least amount of flaws, which is challenging for a single team to ensure. As a result, teaming up with larger corporations from traditional gaming or with other blockchain gaming teams can provide the security that investors seek.
In conclusion, the blockchain gaming industry has a long way to go, and consolidation is the way forward. It may lead to a more centralized ecosystem, but having a few high-quality options is better than many mediocre ones. Companies need to adapt to the changing economic conditions and work together to ensure a more secure and stable future for blockchain gaming.
Diablo IV is Having an Open Server Test in May
Blizzard has announced that Diablo IV is having a “server slam” from May 12 to May 14, giving the game a chance to test its online servers and allowing players to check out some changes made since the beta. The server slam will be available to everyone before Diablo IV's official release on June 6 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC.
Web3 & Metaverse News
NHL Launches Dynamic Metaverse Experience on Roblox
The National Hockey League (NHL) has launched NHL Blast on Roblox, a global immersive platform that will serve as a central metaverse hub for the global hockey community to connect around their love for the sport, express their fandom and draw new fans in with ongoing content updates. NHL Blast matches up teams of five to compete in games and score as many points as possible across fantastical, obstacle-filled environments. The experience introduces creative skating and innovative puck shooting mechanics on Roblox to mimic movements of actual NHL Players. Users can show off their fandom and express themselves via a number of fun personalization options.
Within the experience, users can choose to wear any NHL Club jersey, complete with their Roblox username and custom number. NHL Blast users can also customize their own goalie masks and check real-time NHL game scores on a hanging jumbotron. NHL Blast's immersive virtual environment will allow hockey fans and the Roblox community to hang out and play in a new online space that features many elements of NHL fandom, including engaging activations from Upper Deck.
NHL Blast will be an evolutionary experience and updates will sync with marquee NHL events, starting with three-dimensional goal re-creations created from NHL EDGE data (puck and player tracking) that will be featured during the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. Starting today, fans can visit the NHL Blast Roblox experience on computers and mobile devices.
Roblox is reimagining the way people come together to connect, create, and express themselves through immersive, interactive shared experiences. Every day, millions of people around the world play, learn, communicate, and expand their friendships as they explore millions of user-generated digital experiences, all built by creators on the platform. Roblox's mission is to connect billions of users with civility and optimism and support a safe and diverse community—one that inspires and fosters creativity and positive relationships among people around the world.
NHL Executive Vice President, Business Development and Innovation, David Lehanski said that Roblox is a hypersocial platform and fits seamlessly with the NHL's commitment to grow the game by introducing new audiences around the globe to hockey in a unique and captivating way. The Gang, a leading metaverse development studio, built NHL Blast. The company's CEO, Marcus Holmstrom, said that they are very happy to have been chosen by the NHL for the creation of NHL Blast on Roblox.
Aptos Commits to Google Cloud’s Web3 Startup Program
Google Cloud and Aptos have embarked on a shared journey to provide the Aptos community with support and tooling to develop infrastructure, bridging platforms connecting people and fostering the future of web3. The Web3 startup program, which builds upon the existing Google for Startups Cloud Program, gives Web3 startups the technology, community, and resources that they need to focus on innovation over infrastructure as they build dApps, Web3 tooling, services, and more. The partnership between traditional tech companies like Google and chains like Aptos is crucial for collaboration and providing resources that startups and indie devs need to build, then scale projects with interoperability, performance, and upgradability.
Google Cloud was announced as one of Aptos's inaugural cloud partners in April 2022 while still in testnet. Key components of the initial partnership include providing scalable, secure, and sustainable infrastructure for developers within the Aptos network to build and scale their applications. Aptos Labs began using Google Cloud Platform (GCP) for its internal development operations and collaborated with Google Cloud to make GCP the best place to run Aptos nodes for the developer community.
In November 2022, Google Cloud and Aptos announced several milestones, including Google Cloud's validation and participation on the Aptos mainnet with a staked block-producing node. Google Cloud also supported Aptos in BigQuery to expand access to Aptos data. The companies co-hosted hackathons where internal teams hacked on Aptos and deployed projects with the potential to scale swiftly and globally. Additionally, Google Cloud and Aptos launched a multi-million dollar fund to support Web3 entrepreneurs and builders.
As Aptos continues to bring Web3 to the masses in 2023, the company is participating in Google's Web3 startup program, building upon the existing Google for Startups Cloud Program. This program provides Web3 startups with the technology, community, and resources to focus on innovation over infrastructure as they build dApps, Web3 tooling, services, and more. The collaboration with Google Cloud is essential to bridging the gap between Web2 and Web3 and successfully guiding the mass adoption of blockchain for users and builders.
The buy-in from a Web2 giant like Google Cloud is a significant milestone for Aptos and the broader blockchain community. The partnership between Google Cloud and Aptos is expected to drive innovation and progress in blockchain technology for years to come, and the companies are excited about the next phase of this vibrant partnership. The collaboration between traditional tech companies and chains like Aptos is crucial for providing the resources needed to build and scale projects with interoperability, performance, and upgradability.
Deloitte on a Crypto Hiring Spree, Reveals LinkedIn Job Postings
Deloitte, the Big Four accounting firm, is seeking individuals with expertise in cryptocurrency to join their team. A search for cryptocurrency job opportunities in the United States on LinkedIn shows that there are currently over 300 available positions at Deloitte, with almost all of them posted just a week ago. Deloitte has several job titles related to cryptocurrency, such as Blockchain & Digital Assets Manager and Tax Manager, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency, with openings in various locations across the United States.
The role of Blockchain & Digital Assets Manager lists responsibilities to include providing various services such as financial statement audit, internal controls specific to blockchain and digital assets, audit readiness for blockchain and digital asset transactions, IPO readiness and SEC reporting services, SPAC transactions, and accounting advisory services for digital asset transactions. Applicants for the role of Tax Manager will manage teams providing tax advisory and compliance services to a diverse range of clients, including those in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries.
This move signals Deloitte's continued support and interest in Web3 and crypto. In late February, Deloitte announced a partnership with Vatom, a Web3 platform, to provide immersive experiences to different industries. This collaboration offers various opportunities for companies looking to enhance culture using virtual reality, as well as for brands aiming to improve community engagement. Circle reportedly hired Deloitte to audit its proof-of-reserves in January.
As of now, LinkedIn has received applications from multiple locations for the different job roles, totaling over 1,000. There are several crossover listings on Deloitte’s website, and it is unclear if these positions that it seeks to fill were advertised previously. This move by Deloitte shows that traditional financial institutions are looking to hire talent with expertise in cryptocurrency and blockchain as the industry continues to grow and evolve.
Inside the NFT Space
Doodles 2 Character Builder — Adidas x Pharrell Digital Clothing for Doodles NFT Holders
Doodles, known for its Ethereum profile picture (PFP) NFTs, is expanding to fully customizable avatars with the Doodles 2 Character Builder. The Character Builder allows Doodles NFT holders to change their apparel and attributes for a full-body avatar.
Doodles has also announced an upcoming airdrop for a "Pharrell Pack," which includes digital apparel from musician Pharrell Williams and the fashion brands he created or collaborates with, including Adidas, Human Made, Billionaire Boys Club (BBC), and Ice Cream. Only 300 packs are being produced, and they will be free to Doodles holders who meet certain criteria.
Doodles CEO Julian Holguin described Williams as "integral" to the project and a "day-to-day influence" on the growing brand. Williams was named Doodles' Chief Brand Officer in June 2022, and Doodles plans to release an NFT-inspired album (executive produced by Williams) on Columbia Records, though it has not yet surfaced.
Joe Ranzenbach, Doodles' Head of Product Management, said that Doodles has a "pipeline of brand partners" lined up for future drops, but he did not confirm whether the brands in the Pharrell Pack will release standalone digital apparel for Doodles or hold other collaborations.
The Doodles 2 Character Builder marks a big step forward for the project, as it allows for more customization and personalization beyond just PFPs. Doodles is one of many NFT projects that have gained popularity in the past year, with some PFPs selling for millions of dollars. The expansion into avatars with customizable digital apparel could help Doodles stay relevant and continue to attract and retain NFT collectors.
‘Napoleon Dynamite’ Star Jon Heder to Lead NFT Animated Series ‘Space Junk’
Toonstar, a Web3 animation studio, is releasing another animated web series called "Space Junk" which uses NFTs to enable creative collaboration and participation. The show is a workplace comedy about people responsible for cleaning up debris from spacecraft. The idea for the show came from the co-creator's "light obsession" with creating a funny cartoon about real-world space hazards. The show features voices from "Napoleon Dynamite" star Jon Heder, Tony Cavalero from "The Righteous Gemstones" and "School of Rock," and more.
"Space Junk" will be launched on May 19th, and will not be token-gated, meaning that anyone can watch it for free. Toonstar will release biweekly episodes, with the season spanning eight episodes at about 10-14 minutes apiece. The show will have an NFT mint on Theta Network on May 15th, which allows viewers to vote on narrative decisions, interact with creators and other fans, and develop their own storylines for characters that live on an official wiki.
The creators of "Space Junk" describe space as blue-collar workers fixing things and not as sexy as depicted in sci-fi. The show is built around Web3 distribution methods, and Heder, who co-founded Web3 agency and studio Verified Labs, has worked on other projects in the space, including the upcoming NFT-driven animated series "Cyko KO," as well as his own Order of the Tigons NFT art project that also recently launched an experience in the metaverse game The Sandbox.
Toonstar previously launched "The Gimmicks" in collaboration with Mila Kunis' production studio, which debuted early last year. It was a pro wrestling-themed show that utilized NFTs that viewers could use to vote on narrative decisions, interact with creators and other fans, and develop their own storylines for characters that live on an official wiki.
While "Space Junk" will not be token-gated, there will be an NFT mint on Theta Network on May 15th, with each NFT selling for $20. Viewers can use the NFTs to vote on narrative decisions and interact with the creators and other fans. Toonstar plans to release biweekly episodes, with each episode lasting 10-14 minutes.
Marvel Studios Founder David Maisel Launches Ekos Genesis Art Collection
Mythos Studios, founded by David Maisel, the founding chairman of Marvel Studios, has launched the Ekos Genesis Art Collection, a non-fungible token (NFT) collection featuring original art from the late comic book artist Michael Turner and his frequent collaborator Peter Steigerwald. The collection centers around characters from series such as Fathom and the eponymous Ekos, Turner’s final project that was not released at the time he died. Each NFT is built on the original line art of Michael Turner and adds color inspired by different elements, such as the Pop Art movement, black light posters, or neon lights.
On May 2 at 10 a.m. PT, the Ekos Genesis Art Collection will kick off a Dutch auction of 995 1/1 NFTs. The Dutch auction will last 88 minutes and bidding will start at 10 ether (ETH), then drop by 0.5 ETH every four minutes until the price hits 0.5 ETH. Finally, it will drop to 0.2 ETH for the final eight minutes of the auction, provided the collection has not already sold out. Prior to the Dutch auction, interested buyers can place a deposit for the NFTs starting on April 24th at 10 a.m. PT.
Mythos Studios owns a 50% stake in Aspen Comics, as well as the underlying intellectual property. Maisel has been a longtime fan of Turner’s work and began collecting it in 2003. In 2021, a two-piece digital collection of Turner’s work that featured the original line art and published colored cover of the first issue of Fathom sold for $100,000.
The first 100 early deposits will also receive an Early Collector Bonus of an additional NFT, from a separate collection of "Ekos Genesis Art Portraits." The collectors who qualify for one or more bonus NFTs will be able to select their specific pieces of art in an order that prioritizes the earliest deposits. Finally, the top six collectors overall at the end of the auction period will be rewarded with one of six unique NFTs featuring art generated from the same Fathom cover art from the 2021 sale.
Maisel said the Ekos Genesis Art Collection wouldn't be possible without Web3. The launch holds special significance for Maisel, as it marks the 15th anniversary of the theatrical release of "Iron Man," the movie that kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Legal Landscape, Policies, and Regulation
Hong Kong's Crypto Licensing Regime Expected to Launch Next Month
Hong Kong plans to launch its long-awaited cryptocurrency licensing regime next month, vying to become a crypto hub. The final guidelines for crypto exchanges looking to launch in Hong Kong will be released in May, according to Hong Kong's Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) CEO Julia Leung. The regulatory framework for crypto exchanges received over 150 responses during the public consultation process. The new rules are also expected to let retail investors trade major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) on June 1. While crypto exchanges are currently permitted to operate in Hong Kong, investors with portfolios under HK$8 million, or roughly $1 million, are subject to certain restrictions under existing legislation.
The regulator is also conducting several pilot projects to assess the advantages of digital assets and their applications in financial markets, including the tokenization of green bonds and the development of Hong Kong's own central bank digital currency (CBDC). Despite Hong Kong's efforts to adopt a more relaxed approach towards cryptocurrencies, questions remain over the impact it may have on the industry's relationship with mainland China, where cryptocurrency trading and Bitcoin mining were first banned in 2017.
BitMEX founder and former CEO Arthur Hayes also chimes in on the matter last year, stating that access to Chinese customers will be essential to Hong Kong's appeal to crypto companies. According to Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui, Hong Kong had received interest from over 80 companies seeking to establish a business there. These included exchanges, blockchain infrastructure firms, security companies, wallets, and payment providers.
Several Chinese crypto companies, including securities companies and banks that are interested in allowing clients to trade Bitcoin and Ethereum on licensed exchanges, are eying Hong Kong. Cryptocurrency exchange Bitget has announced the launch of a new trading platform for its Hong Kong users. According to last week’s statement, BitgetX Hong Kong intends to apply for the license under the Hong Kong Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) regime.
Coinbase Responds to Wells Notice: SEC Risks Reputational Harm With Enforcement Action
Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has responded to a Wells Notice received from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), urging the agency not to pursue enforcement action against the company for the SEC's own sake. The company argued that by allowing it to be listed on Nasdaq, the SEC implied that it did not think Coinbase's business was unlawful. Coinbase has warned the financial watchdog that it will likely sustain reputational harm from its "abrupt about-face" if it tries to go after Coinbase because of the company's efforts to comply with regulations.
Coinbase said its platform does not list securities, its Coinbase Wallet product does not constitute a broker, and the exchange's staking services do not constitute a securities offering. Now that Coinbase has responded to the Wells Notice, the SEC has up to six months to decide if it wants to bring charges.
The exchange is also suing the SEC over Coinbase's "petition for rulemaking," sent to the regulator last July. The legal action aims to get the agency to respond to Coinbase's plea for clearer crypto regulations. Coinbase has signaled it is willing to butt heads with the likes of the SEC. The exchange has increasingly set its sights abroad as the regulatory environment in the US continues heating up, in line with concerns that some politicians have raised in terms of pushing innovation offshore.
Coinbase has disclosed it had received a Wells Notice from the SEC just over a month later related to the exchange's staking products, which Coinbase described as "vague and broad." When it reported earnings in February, the company said it expects to be a "net beneficiary" amid a "year of regulatory focus" in a letter to shareholders. The claim came weeks after the crypto exchange Kraken was fined over its staking business.
Chief Legal Officer Paul Grewal said in a press release, "We do not relish litigation against the SEC, but we will vigorously defend ourselves. In the meantime, the financial system still needs updating, so we'll continue building." Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong drew attention to his participation in the "Stand with Crypto" campaign in April. Coinbase said, "The community is clearly fired up about sensible crypto policy."
Binance US Walks Away From Voyager Deal, Cites Regulatory Uncertainty
Binance US has walked away from its deal to acquire Voyager Digital’s assets, following a decision by regulators to object to the deal. Voyager was among numerous crypto firms to collapse last year after the swift implosion of Terra’s LUNA and UST tokens. The crypto broker entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy last July. Direct disbursements were an alternative method of offering Voyager’s creditors some form of reprieve, and the contingency was approved in March by Judge Michael Wiles, alongside an attempt on behalf of Voyager to sell its asset to the American affiliate of Binance. However, a slew of regulators objected to the deal.
Binance US axed its deal to acquire Voyager’s assets due to what it described as a hostile regulatory climate, as opposed to any qualms regarding the agreement’s financial viability, a spokesperson told Decrypt. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams was also against the deal. He called it “blatantly illegal” for those facilitating the acquisition to seek legal protection from the possibility of civil and criminal charges. And last month, a separate judge put the deal on pause until U.S. Justice Department’s appeal against Judge Wiles’ ruling could be addressed.
The retreat of Binance US comes after its international affiliate landed in hot water with regulators. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) unveiled a lawsuit against Binance last month, accusing the leading cryptocurrency exchange by volume of violating derivatives rules.
Some who followed Voyager's bankruptcy case, such as Cherokee Acquisition Manager Vladimir Jelisavcic, believed the deal likely to fall through prior to the CFTC lawsuit because it was subject to various regulatory approvals. Voyager described the roughly $1.3 billion restructuring deal’s termination as “disappointing,” signaling it would “swiftly [...] return value to customers via direct distributions” instead. Binance US’s about-face parallels a deal that fell through between the exchange’s international affiliate and the cryptocurrency exchange FTX last November.
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