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Crypto Companies Join in Tech Layoffs
In January, tech giants Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Salesforce laid off almost 50,000 workers, and Meta is expected to add 11,000 to that toll in the coming months. Now, despite a strong rally by Bitcoin, crypto and NFT businesses are joining in the bloodbath with their own workforce reductions.
So far, almost 3000 employees from 14 crypto firms were given pink slips in 2023. Crypto exchange Coinbase laid off the most workers when it slashed 950 jobs, with Crypto.com, Digital Currency Group and Luno following with big reductions of 500, 485, and 330 employees.
Smaller companies, like Prime Trust, which provides crypto infrastructure, reportedly cut its 312 member staff by one-third and Gemini laid off another 100 or so.
With last year’s collapse of FTX and Terra, which tanked prices by 64%, many industry insiders are in retreat. But some bulls are predicting a sustained crypto rally in 2023, spurred by a belief that the Fed will slow or reverse intrest rate increases this year.
Amazon Rumored to Launch New NFT Effort Using Web3
Industry insiders are abuzz with news that Amazon is set to enter the NFT game this spring. The retail and cloud service giant is exploring layer-1 blockchains, digital asset exchanges and gaming startups, and considering partner developers. Sources say Amazon is focused on “blockchain-based gaming and related NFT applications,” that would allow customers to play cryptocurrency games to win free NFTs.
An announcement is expected in April and existing players in the space are bracing for stiff competition. Recently, AWS announced a partnership with Avalanche blockchain and posted jobs for Web3 developers.
After seeing the volume of NFTs minted in 2022 drop by 60%, Amazon’s entry into the Web3 market could provide renewed cache and interest into the fledgling industry. Amazon is joining Fidelity Investments, who recently filed for trademarks for its own NFT marketplace.
New Ordinals Bitcoin NFT Engine Creates Uproar
A project called Ordinals is testing a new way to store NFTs on the blockchain. Launched in the past few days, the effort was inadvertently made possible by the Taproot upgrade in November that expanded the size of Bitcoin transactions to just less than that of a whole block. The Bitcoin NFTs have been dubbed inscriptions.
Before the Taproot upgrade, transactions were limited to 80 bytes. But with the expanded length, NFTs can now be saved directly to the chain, with benefits of portability and decentralization that Bitcoin is known for.
The new feature has resurfaced an old controversy about the pure function of the blockchain and what presents a threat to the Bitcoin ecosystem.
Defenders of the Bitcoin only use case, including Blockstream CEO Adam Back – believed by many to be it’s creator, Satoshi Nakamoto – argues that bitcoin users can “educate and encourage developers who care about bitcoin’s use-case to either not do that, or do it in a prunable space-efficient eg time-stamp way.”
But Ordinals’ proponents claim greater use cases are a positive for the blockchain that will bring in more fees and that, in any case, the permissionless network allows anyone to build on it.
Sam Bankman-Fried Wants His Access to Alleged Ill-Gotten Gains
As part of his bail, conditions prohibited Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) from access to cryptocurrency held by FTX or his crypto trading firm Alameda Research. SBF is charged with illegal transfers from FTX to Alameda. The prohibition also includes any crypto purchased with FTX or Alameda funds.
SBF’s lawyers moved to vacate those restrictions, arguing in a letter that “Nearly three weeks have passed since the initial pretrial conference and we assume that the Government’s investigation has confirmed what Mr. Bankman-Fried has said all along; namely, that he did not access and transfer these assets.”
Additionally, the letter opposed a Department of Justice (DOJ) request to ban SBF from communicating with former FTX and Alameda officers and employees as an additional condition of bail. DOJ said that SBF had attempted to contact FTX General Counsel Ryne Miller – a likely witness in the case.
“Many of these individuals are Mr. Bankman-Fried’s friends. Imposing a blanket restriction on his contact with them would remove an important source of personal support,” said SBF’s lawyer, Mark Cohen.