For the August/September 2021 issue, titled “Crypto vs. Wall Street,” pplpleasr depicted the down-the-rabbit-hole world of so-called DeFi in all its playful vitality. Mascots of popular projects—like Uniswap (the unicorn), Aave (ghost), and MetaMask (fox)—are partying on the cover alongside various crypto influencers. An Alice-in-Wonderland-like crypto-portal towers above the legacy financial system, dwarfing silhouettes of banks, skyscrapers, and the iconic stock market bull. It’s a stunning—and statement-making—piece.
The message? Crypto is here, whether or not Wall Street is prepared for it.
True to her nom de pixel, pplpleasr pleas’d the ppl. Based on the cover’s ecstatic reception, we decided to mint 256 limited editions of pplpleasr’s animated art as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs. The number is a nod to the 256 bits that make up the cryptographic keys associated with cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether. The NFTs will sell at a fixed price of 1 Ether (ETH) each, rather than auctioning off a single, one-of-a-kind NFT for a large sum, and thereby giving more people access to the series.
In addition to supporting democratization, we believe in the power of open markets, cutting edge tech, and fun—so, as an added perk, we worked with the tech wizards at Manifold on custom smart contracts to enhance the bidding experience for three additional, rarer NFTs. These bonus versions feature more in-depth graphics, and they are programmed to react to a certain list of “buyer” Ethereum addresses.
Here’s how it works. If a bid comes from one of the listed buyer’s addresses, the NFT will update to a special edition artwork designed specifically for the target buyer. If a non-targeted buyer out-bids a targeted one, then the NFT reverts to its original artwork. In case you find that confusing, pplpleasr has a lucid video explanation here.
Bottom line: This is a crazy experiment and even we don’t know what’s going to happen.
What is clear to us is, however, that decentralization and digitization are profound forces that are fundamentally reshaping the world of business—and beyond. We believe the technology behind NFTs could shift power away from an oligopoly of corporate giants and back into the hands of creators and fans alike. It has the potential to be a great equalizer.
If you want to join Fortune for the journey, we are dropping our first-ever NFTs on the marketplace OpenSea on Friday starting at 12 p.m. ET. The auction is set to last through Monday at 12 p.m. ET. You can place a bid, or watch the action, here. (Update: An earlier version of this article said the auction will end at 9 p.m. et. The auction will now end at noon ET on Monday due to the way the smart contracts were set.)
At Fortune, home of the Fortune 500 list, we don’t just chronicle big industrial transformations. We live them.
Vitalik Buterin says Ethereum's major software update Thursday proves the blockchain network will be able to slash its energy consumption by 99%... Ethereum's London hard fork prompted a major spike in the price of ether... Coinbase is acquiring crypto data aggregator Zabo... Binance is working to offer users the ability to pay with crypto on Shopify... Former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit and Hollywood giant Jeffrey Katzenberg have invested in Alchemy... Secretive quant shop and Pyth creator Jump Trading is buying blockchain company Certus One... Point72 Ventures, the VC leg of New York Mets owner Steve Cohen's hedge fund, has made its first crypto investment through Messari... Polygon users can now connect their wallets to Mark Cuban's Lazy.com... Investment giant Fidelity has bought a 7.4% stake in Bitcoin mining company Marathon Digital Holdings... Wealthy customers of JPMorgan Chase now have a chance to invest in a passively managed Bitcoin fund being offered in partnership with NYDIG... Wu Jihan's Matrixport has conducted a new fundraising round that carries a $1 billion valuation... Five million people a month are streaming music on Ethereum-based Audius... Grayscale Investments has added former indexing executive David LaValle to its ETF team... And U.S. senators appear to be open to clarifying a part of the bipartisan infrastructure bill related to taxing crypto investments.
SEC Chair Gary Gensler warned this week of an escalating crackdown in the crypto markets, while asking Congress for more direct authority over the ecosystem... Bitcoin subsequently tumbled after Gensler's remarks Tuesday... The price dropped below $38,000 before bouncing back up to above $40,000 more recently... CFTC Commissioner Brian Quintenz tweeted the day after Gensler's remarks that the SEC "has no authority over pure commodities or their trading venues," including, of course, "#crypto assets"... Robinhood shares fell more than 27% Thursday with a big investor sale now looming... Federal Reserve Governor Christopher Waller has questions about central bank digital currencies... Furniture chain Ethan Allen is changing its stock ticker to ETD from ETH over crypto confusion... One of Charles Barkley's "financial guys" wants the NBA legend to fire them, if they ever recommend crypto.
FOMO NO MO
Cryptocurrency gifts to universities and charities remain rare but are growing in popularity, as The New York Times chronicled over this past weekend. For example, Fidelity Charitable, the biggest donor-advised fund in the country, has received $150 million of cryptocurrency in 2021, up 436% from last year.
In the instances where a donor does give Bitcoin or any other crypto asset, the value is clear for both sides, though there are obvious risks, as the Times explains:
Cryptocurrency, as an asset to donate to charity, is as complicated as the asset itself and the reasons for owning it. Bitcoin, Ether and other cryptocurrencies have many of the qualities of publicly traded securities: For the recipient, the value is easy to know, and for the donor, any gains that would have been subject to tax are erased when the asset goes to charity.
But cryptocurrencies have been a lot more volatile than almost any single stock. That increases the risk for the recipient, and it may make it more difficult for the donor to commit to a fixed amount. (Cryptocurrencies that are worth $5 million today may be worth $3 million or $7 million just next week.)
It is also true that a donation in cryptocurrency can be more convenient for an international aid organization. It simplifies the task of sending the money to a particular country, and the underlying blockchain technology can enable the organization to track exactly how the cryptocurrency is being used.
While active equity funds have broadly seen $800 billion in outflows, Bloomberg Intelligence's Eric Balchunas tweeted Thursday that Cathie Wood's ARK ETFs, with their "hot sauce style of active" investing, have seen $35 billion in inflows.
THE LEDGER'S LATEST
SEC Chair Gary Gensler slams crypto as the 'Wild West' by Declan Harty
'Spirtual opium,' Facebook, and the metaverse: An alternate reality on the rise by Robert Hackett and Declan Harty
Copyright violations could crash the NFT party by Jonathan Schmalfeld
"Meet Visa": How Visa's rebrand strategy seeks to prove it's more than just a card company by Nicole Gull McElroy
Nasdaq CEO Adena Friedman talks SPACs, meme stocks, and the new generation of investors by Emma Hinchliffe
Goldman says S&P 500 will climb another 7% this year by Jessica Mathews
Robinhood shares jump more than 50% on first day of options trading as big and small investors pile in by Declan Harty
(Some of these stories require a subscription to access. Thank you for supporting our journalism.)
MEMES AND MUMBLES
Why do financial instruments rise in price?
Sometimes a company's earnings can cause a stock to pop. Supply-and-demand economics can play a role in commodity prices. And, in the case of Dogecoin, sometimes it's just easiest to admit that it's a "meme stock" as Andressen Horowitz General Partner Alex Rampell's son did on a recent homework assignment.
This issue of Fortune's The Ledger was assembled by Declan Harty, who you can follow here.
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