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The Ledger: Crypto from the Mountains to the Coast

We talked crypto in Colorado this week as part of Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech event, and one thing that struck me—along with Aspen’s stunning mountains—was how far the conversation has come. It wasn’t so long ago that a panel on cryptocurrency would turn on whether Bitcoin would still be around in another year.

Things are different now. At our breakfast roundtable, the discussion ranged from distributed applications to real estate tokens to the coming blockchain “platform wars”—topics that once lay at the outer edge of crypto geekdom, but are now part of the vocabulary of investors, bankers and tech entrepreneurs.

Yes, some of this stuff may be years from mainstream adoption, and your friends still don’t know or care what a dApp is. But the next phase of crypto is coming quickly and it’s probably coming to video games first. Several people in Aspen predicted gamers will soon use blockchain to register swords and other digital objects, and then transport them across different games.

Meanwhile, more industries are talking about tokens. Wall Street, of course, wants a piece of the crypto economy but so does Silicon Valley as well as media and manufacturing companies. Crypto is accelerating a convergence in tech and finance, though no one knows quite how it will all play out.

That’s why The Ledger team is so excited about something else that happened in Colorado: The announcement of Brainstorm Finance, a new Fortune franchise that will convene leading figures from crypto, banking and beyond. The first Brainstorm Finance will take place next June 19-20, and will bring the same sort of conversation that happened in the Aspen mountains to the shores on Montauk, Long Island. There will be high level crypto debates but also cycling, clam bakes and much more.

Brainstorm Finance will also seek to replicate another achievement from this year’s Aspen event, which featured an even mix of men and women on stage, and included prominent people from the military and government. This sort of diversity will be essential to understanding the future of finance, and we urge you to reach out to us with ideas to make sure everyone is heard.

We look forward to seeing many of you on the beach next June. In the meantime, read on for our usual round-up of this week’s crypto news and foibles.


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Jeff Roberts


IBM Is Testing a “Crypto Dollar” Stablecoin by Jen Wiecnzer

Oracle Blockchain Is Open for Business by Robert Hackett

BlackRock Has a CryptoCurrency Working Group by David Meyer

Former Secret Service Deputy Joins Blockchain by Polina Marinova

This Website Imagines Bitcoin as a Bus Stop by David Z. Morris


To the moon… Crypto becomes part of the CFA curriculum. SEC is drowning in bitcoin fan mail. Twitter CEO gets wind of scam bots. Bitcoin prices went up and stayed up. Commission-free Dogecoin on Robinhood. New crypto mag @BreakerMag is live and looks promising. Grayscale Investments report shows Bitcoin is still king. Tezos is giving out grants. A call for a new crypto vocabulary

.…Rekt: RIP sketchy Kodak KashMiners. Coinbase and Bloomberg make media confusion over FINRA/SEC rules. SIM hijackers steal Instagram accounts, sell them for bitcoin. Justice Department takes a hard look at crypto crime. Elon Musk ETH scammers run amok.


The Ledger team was in Aspen this weekend so, in lieu of Balancing the Ledger, check out this clip of Stripe COO Claire Hughes Johnson explaining her company’s break-up with Bitcoin. Hosted by Jen, the segment also features IBM’s blockchain maven, Bridget van Kralingen and Ripple’s product wizard Asheesh Birla.


“There are over a dozen teams experimenting at the consensus layer… This listing begs the question: Relative to the other layers of the core stack, why are there so many teams working on the consensus layer? The obvious answer is because that’s where the money is.”

The observation is courtesy of MultiCoin’s Kyle Samoni, who has published the best taxonomy to date of the “Web 3 Stack.” It provides a conceptual sketch of crypto architecture and shows the respective layers where companies and developers are working.


The Filter Bubble and cryptocurrency. A professor from Hebrew University has taken the familiar idea of filter bubbles, and applied it crypto conversations on Twitter. It shows clustered conversations among Bitcoin Core types (green), Bitcoin Cash (lavender), Ripple (pink), Litecoin (orange):

 Aviv Zohar

Alas, as with other filter bubbles, the Twitter accounts that give rise to the different color clusters rarely talk to each other.


Don’t miss out: Even if you’re not a legal eagle, you’ve probably heard about the famous “Howey test,” which SCOTUS set out in 1946 and is still used today to explain what is and isn’t a security that must be registered by the SEC. The Howey test came from a case about the sale of orange grove contracts, and some wonder if it is a good fit for today’s token economy.

Now, the prominent VC firm Andreesen Horowitz has published a very readable piece about the trouble with outdated analogies—specifically conceiving of tokens and smart contracts through the lens of service contracts for oranges. Take a deep breath and give it a read.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Ledger. Find past editions here, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters here. Question, suggestion, or feedback? Drop us a line.