What does Jack Dorsey have against Ethereum?

August 13, 2021, 8:54 PM UTC

Jack Dorsey isn’t a fan of the cryptocurrency Ethereum.

In a recent tweet extolling the virtues of a tool called Vicariously, which lets people build customizable Twitter lists, the cofounder and chief executive of Twitter and Square included a not-so subtle dig at the Bitcoin rival. Displaying a screenshot of his own feed, Dorsey showcased a post—from a Bitcoin “maximalist,” a person who favors Bitcoin above any monetary alternatives—that excoriated the non-profit behind Ethereum as a “scam.”

In case you’re wondering whether Dorsey’s RT equals endorsement, he cast off doubts an hour later. After a commenter joked that Dorsey’s spotlighted tweet was a “Total coincidence I’m sure lmao,” Dorsey chimed in, “There are no coincidences.”

For years, Dorsey has said he hopes Bitcoin will become the native currency of the Internet, while maintaining that he will not invest in Ethereum. Earlier this year, Ethereum-lovers felt burned when Twitter used the hashtag #ETH to display the flag of Ethiopia during the Olympics instead of as an abbreviation for Ethereum. When someone recently suggested that Twitter should integrate Ethereum digital wallets, Dorsey countered with another proposal: “being able to link to a Lightning wallet however,” a reference to technology that supports Bitcoin payments.

Despite Dorsey’s insistence that he is “Not trolling” ETH-heads, he appears, at every turn, to ding the alt-coin crowd. The repeated, perceived slights prompted Gary Tan, an early investor in Coinbase, America’s biggest crypto exchange, recently to ponder, “Jack being only super into Bitcoin only is the biggest mystery to me. Any explanations?”

I recently spoke to Diogo Mónica, cofounder and president of Anchorage, one of the newest federally chartered banks, who proffered a view. For four years, starting in 2011, Mónica helped lead a security team as an early employee of Square. “Having been on the inside, I know Jack. I know how he thinks,” Mónica told me.

Mónica praised his former boss’s general support for cryptocurrency. Square funds open-source software developers to work on Bitcoin projects, it holds Bitcoin on its balance sheet, and it is planning to build a “decentralized finance” business related to Bitcoin. Dorsey does more than just about any other big business leader to advance the crypto cause.

Sticking to Bitcoin “is a very good, winning move,” Mónica continued. “If you had the ability of helping something that you have high confidence will succeed, 80%-plus, it makes sense for you to invest all of your effort and time into that.”

Mónica doesn’t subscribe to the same mentality personally, however. “I am not partial to his view that it is a Bitcoin-only world. In fact, the data just points otherwise. Bitcoin dominance is decreasing, very few of Anchorage clients only have Bitcoin,” Mónica said, referring to the bank’s roster of institutional investor clients, predominately venture capital firms and hedge funds.

Mónica’s point can be confirmed elsewhere. Coinbase, which reported a stupendously profitable quarter this week, earning $1.6 billion, indicated for the first time that the volume of Ethereum trading beat out Bitcoin on its exchanges in its most recent quarter. Ethereum accounted for 26% of all trading during the period, up from 21% in the preceding quarter, compared to Bitcoin’s 24% share of the volume, down from 39% over the same period. (The remaining share: “Other crypto assets,” like Dogecoin.)

Recent trends have leant an edge to Ethereum. “The exciting stuff—all of these decentralized apps, all of ‘DeFi’—is happening somewhere else outside of Bitcoin. That much is a fact,” Mónica said. (You can read all about it in Fortune’s most recent cover story.) Meanwhile, a collecting craze centered on non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, has provided another boost. Fortune’s own NFT sale this week brought in 429 Ether, or $1.3 million. (We’re planning to donate 50% to nonprofits, and split the rest with pplpleasr, the digital artist who designed the cover art.)

In another online exchange, someone asked Dorsey what it would take for him to see value in Ethereum. Dorsey responded, diplomatically, “It has value to lots of people. Just not what I’m focused on.”

Narrowing one’s focus is essential for getting work done. The danger is focusing on the wrong thing.

P.S. — Fortune is offering discounted subscriptions to our newsletter readers. If you’re interested in joining the club, enter the discount code “DATASHEET” here

Robert Hackett


A "jumbled" message. In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Apple's Craig Federighi, senior vice president of software engineering, admitted that the rollout of two new offerings last week—one of which is focused on flagging images of child sexual abuse stored in the company's cloud service while the other helps parents better monitors pictures coming in and out of their kids' phone via text messages—had not gone as planned. Federighi pushed back on critics' privacy concerns, saying that Apple views its new tools as "an advancement of the state of the art in privacy."

Half a million thanks. In what is maybe the last update to this story (but at this rate who knows), Poly Network, the decentralized finance platform that was recently robbed for $610 million, wants to thank its thieves, with $500,000. The reason? "Mr. White Hat," as Poly Network called the hacker(s) in a statement, helped identify a fault in its security and stole the millions of dollars worth of crypto assets to protect them. So far, $340 million worth of crypto assets has been returned to Poly Network, with much of the rest sitting in a jointly held digital wallet. About $33 million worth of Tether that had been stolen has been frozen for now. 

Disney+ is a plus. Walt Disney's namesake company posted strong fiscal third-quarter results across the board, even in its pandemic-decimated parks business. But the biggest story comes by way of Disney's streaming service, which added 116 million paid subscribers (versus Wall Street expectations of 114.5 million). How sustainable and profitable that growth will be is to be determined, though. While subscribers grew, average monthly revenue per user fell—thanks to an uptick in subscribers to Disney+ Hotstar in India. The service currently costs a fraction of what a U.S. subscription does. 

Not the first time. A week after news broke that Facebook had suspended the accounts of members of the New York University Ad Observatory—who were researching political advertising on the social network—for allegedly violating its terms of service, a Berlin-based research project said it rang eerily familiar. Designed to study how Instagram ranks pictures and videos, AlgorithmWatch suspended its work in mid-July after receiving the "thinly veiled threat" of litigation from Facebook because it claimed the group's work had violated its terms and the GDPR. Facebook denied ever threatening to sue AlgorithmWatch.

RediTok. With a hefty $10 billion valuation at its back, Reddit, a social media company built on the written word, is wading into the video world with a TikTok-esque offering to its iOS users. How and when Reddit will roll the service out more broadly remains to be seen, but it did seem to forecast something like this was coming down the way when it bought Dubsmash last year, as TechCrunch points out

This edition of Data Sheet comes courtesy of Declan Harty.


Pudgy Penguins. We've been talking about non-fungible tokens, NFTs for short, a lot. And we probably should. Volumes on Opensea, the NFT marketplace, ballooned from $3.6 million in June to $71.3 million last week, The Block's Frank Chaparro recently pointed out. But a lot of confusion still exists. So, The New York Times' Kevin Roose decided to get involved. The tech columnist became a member of the Pudgy Penguin club, an NFT collective like the Bored Ape Yacht Club that has seen a swell of interest as of late. And yes, as Roose explains, there are reasons to be concerned with people buying and selling digital collectibles that have sizable environmental footprints for "many multiples of the median annual U.S. income" (it was $34,248.45 as of 2019). But that doesn't mean NFTs are necessarily worthless. 

From the article:

To the uninitiated, Pudgy Penguins may seem fundamentally pointless, and in some ways, they are. But I wouldn't bet against them for the same reason I wouldn't bet against the continued appeal of blue check marks on Twitter or O.G. Instagram user names. Humans are status-seeking creatures, always looking for new ways to elevate ourselves above the pack. The first iteration of the internet tended to flatten status distinctions, or at least make them harder to pin down—"on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog" went the proverb—but newer technologies, including NFTs, have allowed for more obvious kinds of signaling.


The daunting challenge ahead for Disney CEO Bob Chapek by Geoff Colvin

What are stablecoins? Your guide to the fast-rising alternative to Bitcoin and Ethereum by Rey Mashayekhi

Fortune raised 429 Ether—about $1.3 million—in its first-ever NFT sale by Robert Hackett and Declan Harty

Delayed again: Are we ever returning to the office? by Lance Lambert

As climate worries spike, green bonds are having a moment. Should you invest? by Jessica Mathews

Party like it's 1999—investors send these stocks into record territory by Bernhard Warner

When will Reddit go public already? by Jessica Mathews and Anne Sraders

Some of these stories require a subscription to access. Thank you for supporting our journalism.


Subway symphony. Earlier this week, we talked about what makes a hit song: surprise.

So it's only fitting that we end the week featuring this fantastic piece from The New York Times on the different sounds of subways around the world. In Vancouver, when the subway doors close, three notes play that were recorded on a device that was described by a British Columbia Rapid Transit Company official in the story as the "hallmark of any mid-80s pop song." Berlin's U-Bahn features a sound that resembles a steady electrocardiogram reading. And then there's of course the "marimba" that comes after the "Stand clear of the closing doors" in New York City. 

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