Square’s evolution to Block signals Jack Dorsey’s grand designs on decentralization
Where else to start but with the company soon to be known as Block?
Jack Dorsey’s belief in blockchain, cryptocurrency, and all manners of decentralization is well-documented at this point. He was one of the stars of “The B Word”—this past summer’s bewildering virtual conference about all things Bitcoin, during which he argued that the token could bring about “world peace.” Even as he resigned this week, in high-profile fashion, as CEO of Twitter, Dorsey’s fingerprints were all over last month’s launch of Twitter Crypto, a new division within the social media giant dedicated to “all things blockchain.”
Dorsey has been able to pursue his passion even further at Square, the other Silicon Valley tech giant that he founded and leads—and a more natural fit for his interest, given its sprawling fintech-enabled reach into payments and commerce. As the Wall Street establishment scoffed, Square plowed hundreds of millions of dollars into Bitcoin (a move parroted at Tesla by Dorsey’s buddy Elon Musk). Square’s forays into digital assets have been guided by Dorsey’s belief that Bitcoin can become the Internet’s “native currency.” That may sound far-fetched to detractors—but of course, so did the notion of paying for things or transferring money with a tap of one’s cell phone not so long ago.
Which brings us to Wednesday’s announcement, just two days after Dorsey abdicated the Twitter throne, that Square will rebrand itself as Block. The move is a clear signal of intent by Dorsey; while a statement by the company cited an array of inspirations—including “building blocks, neighborhood blocks and their local businesses, [and] communities coming together at block parties full of music”—it also snuck in “a blockchain” as another guiding motif. And it’s hard to look past the new name as Dorsey firmly hitching the company’s wagon to decentralization’s myriad possibilities.
None of this should come as a surprise in the least. In addition to Dorsey’s well-known reputation as a crypto enthusiast, he’s directed Square increasingly toward blockchain-related projects. In October, he tweeted that the company was considering building a Bitcoin mining system that would be “open source for individuals and businesses worldwide.” And just two weeks ago, Square unveiled a white paper outlining its designs for a decentralized crypto exchange.
Like the best corporate rebrands, Square’s evolution into Block is meant to reflect a renewed focus and inherent virtues—in this case, its leader’s steadfast belief in decentralization as a vehicle to revolutionize the financial system. It’s lofty, ambitious stuff, as it usually is with Dorsey. As he closes one chapter with Twitter, he’s signaling the start of a new one with Block—and it promises to be fascinating.
Ether is up more than 500% in the last year and outpacing Bitcoin’s gains at its highest-ever rate... The company formerly known as Facebook has lifted its ban on crypto ads... Venture capitalists have poured $27 billion into crypto startups globally this year—more than the last 10 years combined... VCs are also backing more crypto and blockchain startups in the U.S. than in Asia for the first time in four years... Goldman Sachs is among the Wall Street banks exploring Bitcoin-backed loans... Goldman’s head of crypto trading says options markets are the “next big step” for the sector... Morgan Stanley analysts say crypto-banking regulations will arrive sooner than expected... South American e-commerce giant Mercado Libre has tapped Paxos to power its crypto services... Crypto.com is acquiring stakes in two exchanges from IG Group... Luna is the hottest token of the moment... Defiance ETFs has launched a new publicly-traded fund tracking blockchain- and NFT-related companies... Former Citi banker Matt Zhang has launched a $1.5 billion crypto venture fund.... Binance Smart Chain and gaming software firm Animoca Brands have teamed up on a $200 million fund targeting crypto gaming startups... Asset manager WisdomTree has listed a crypto ETF on Europe’s Euronext exchange... Okcoin has committed $1 million toward bringing more women into crypto... Regal Cinemas is now accepting crypto... “NFT” is Collins Dictionary’s word of the year.
The crypto sector is still recovering from the beating it took amid Omicron variant fears... The SEC has rejected WisdomTree’s application for a Bitcoin ETF... Top crypto execs including FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried and Circle’s Jeremy Allaire have been summoned to testify before the House Financial Services Committee next week... Meanwhile, Senate Banking Committee chair Sherrod Brown is probing stablecoin issuers like Tether and exchanges including Coinbase and Binance.US... David Marcus, the Meta executive who led the company’s mixed forays into digital currencies, will leave the company at year-end... Google warned crypto miners that they may have been using compromised Google Cloud accounts... India may be following China’s lead in clamping down on the crypto sector... SEC regulators charged a Latvian citizen with defrauding investors out of at least $7 million through fraudulent digital asset securities offerings... Mr. Goxx, the crypto-trading hamster who was beating Warren Buffett in the market, has died.
FOMO NO MO
If you’re reading this newsletter, you probably fancy yourself as fairly well-informed on the crypto sphere. (And who could blame you? You are a Ledger subscriber, after all.) But perhaps you’re just getting into the crypto game—or maybe there’s someone in your life who’s interested in following suit, but intimidated by all the seemingly impenetrable nuances and jargon involved.
If so, the folks at New York magazine have you covered with their new how-to, “A Normie’s Guide to Becoming a Crypto Person.” From a glossary of must-know terms to a compilation of must-follow Twitter accounts, it’s a fine crash course on “tumbling down the crypto rabbit hole,” as they put it.
That’s how much the unfortunately named (or fortunately, depending on how you see it) Omicron (OMIC) crypto token surged last week—from a low of under $65 on Thanksgiving, to a high of more than $711 four days later, on November 29. The catalyst, apparently, was the emergence of the COVID-19 variant of the same name.
Does any of this make sense? It’s hard to know. In any case, OMIC was valued at around $309 on Thursday afternoon.
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Bad news for Bitcoin: Sweden wants the EU to ban mining by Shawn Tully
(Some of these stories require a Fortune subscription to access. Thank you for supporting our journalism.)
MEMES AND MUMBLES
What is it with crypto and yachts? New York reporter (and former Fortune contributor) Kevin T. Dugan delivered this fascinating dispatch from Art Basel Miami, where the 280-foot boat Bold was being bandied about for the cool price of $115 million in cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, the owners of the 170-foot, Italian-built Vianne are reportedly seeking $10 million—and, of course, are also accepting crypto.
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