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The Super Bowl, fortune cookies, and Law & Order: Crypto is everywhere

March 3, 2022, 7:58 PM UTC

And we’re back.

Following six joyous weeks with my new son, Mac, and my soon-to-be 2-year-old daughter, Maeve, The Ledger is returning to its regular weekly schedule. Truth be told, I couldn’t help but think about crypto during my leave.

There was the stream of Super Bowl crypto ads. And there were the recent episodes of Law & Order: Organized Crime, in which crypto served as a major plot point. I mean, the day after my son was born, while eating Chinese takeout, I cracked open a cookie that turned out to have a FTX-branded fortune inside telling me to “Start a revolution.” My point being that the crypto industry has sprawled into everyday life—just as it has across Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and corporate America more broadly.

It’s meant a lot of change for the crypto world. So, as I restart writing The Ledger, I want to check in with you about what you’re interested in now:

  • The increasingly blurred lines between traditional finance and crypto companies?
  • Are you still watching SEC chair Gary Gensler for any regulatory developments?
  • Can’t keep your eyes off the latest in Web3?
  • Do you think crypto and NFTs are all a scam?
  • Concerned about the environmental footprint of Bitcoin?
  • What about Ethereum’s big move to become more environmentally friendly?

We’ve created a survey that lets you share with me what’s important to you, the results of which will help me figure out what to focus on in The Ledger and maybe even provide me with a few story ideas. It should only take a few minutes of your time. And, of course, tips, scoops, news, and feedback are all always welcome, too.

Until next week.

Actually wait, there’s more… Want to make sure you’re in the know on all things crypto, finance, tech, and everything else Fortune covers? Then I hope you’ll consider becoming a Fortune subscriber—not only to make sure you have all the access you need, but also to support our journalism. From breaking news on the war in Ukraine to the latest data around the housing market to deeply investigated and reported stories on companies like Activision Blizzard and Nielsen, Fortune’s coverage is broad and always exceptional. You can use my promo code “HARTY22” for 50% off any subscription.

Declan Harty
@declanharty
Declan.harty@fortune.com

DECENTRALIZED NEWS

Credits 🚀 

Wall Street investors are trading crypto at volumes never before seen… Ken Griffin expects his trading giant Citadel Securities to begin making markets in crypto in the “months to come”…CME Group is preparing to launch micro-sized Bitcoin and Ether options…Pantera Capital led a $10 million Series A funding round for NFT infrastructure company Rarify…The bond king Bill Gross is “dabbling” in crypto…Brown University CIO Jane Dietze has joined Galaxy Digital’s board ahead of its expected listing on Nasdaq…Charles Schwab is working to launch a “Crypto Economy ETF”…Dolly Parton is heading to the metaverse, er sorry, “Dollyverse,” for an upcoming performance at South by Southwest.

Debits 🐻 

Officials at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are taking a close look at the NFT market…A new set of NFTs featuring former President Donald Trump from Parler have gone up for sale. The catch? You have to use a credit card to buy one…President Joe Biden’s latest picks to join the Commodity Futures Trading Commission want the derivatives regulator to take more responsibility in policing the crypto markets…Don’t expect to see any more ads for meme coin Floki Inu in the London tube…Former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is “disappointed” in crypto exchanges for not cutting off Russian users from their platforms…A group of former employees of ConsenSys want a Swiss court to audit a recent deal for what they say are “serious irregularities” in the transfer of certain intellectual property and subsidiaries to a new entity.

FOMO NO MO

“I feel like a dork Liam Neeson in Taken.” Actor Ben McKenzie of The O.C., Gotham, and Southland fame isn’t sold on your crypto pitch, Bridget Read writes for New York Magazine’The Cut. At a time when seemingly every celebrity is doing some sort of crypto push, the veteran actor is worried. (Seriously, did anyone have Larry David doing a commercial for FTX on their 2022 bingo cards?) The University of Virginia graduate—McKenzie studied economics and foreign affairs—sees, in Read’s words, “a brazenly shady, operating largely without regulation” marketplace that is drawing in young and new investors. So much so that McKenzie’s now writing a book about his concerns with New Republic journalist Jacob Silverman. The title to be? Easy Money.

From the article:

McKenzie has aligned with other “no-coiners,” who believe the whole scheme is a bubble on its way to bursting. The value of major coins has been dropping, and the crypto whales need to be fed by a new surge of participants—that’s where celebrities come in. Crypto is “a boring thing,” McKenzie says. “You’re trading on your phone. So the main thing you gotta do is elicit an emotional response. It’s Damon telling you, ‘You’re a wimp, come on, you can do this,’ ” a reference to Matt Damon’s crypto.com spot. “Or it’s Larry David”—in his Super Bowl ad—“saying, ‘I’m an idiot, but you, you can make a bunch of money.’” McKenzie thinks celebrities are going to help ensnare regular people desperate to get in on what appears to be, from the outside, a boom so big there is room for everyone. (Young people, he believes, are most vulnerable.) “Don’t worry about my buddy Dave because he’s fine,” he says. “All I really care about is that people who can’t afford to lose the money don’t lose it.”

BUBBLE-O-METER

$54 million

Ukraine has taken in a flood of cryptocurrency donations since the beginning of its war against the Russian invasion. So far, the government and private aid groups have raised about $54 million worth of crypto through 102,000 donations, according to Elliptic, an analytics firm. That includes a CryptoPunk NFT worth more than $200,000, and a $5.8 million donation from Polkadot’s Gavin Wood. 

THE LEDGER’S LATEST

Putin’s war in Ukraine is being fueled by the world’s addiction to oil by Nicole Goodkind

Despite fears, crypto is no viable alternative to SWIFT for sanctioned Russian banks by Christiaan Hetzner

Crypto exchanges choose ‘financial freedom’ and refuse to block Russian users by Chris Morris

VCs and investors are giving billions to crypto founders, sometimes without any idea of who they actually are by Amiah Taylor

American Express Ventures is doubling down on Web3 by Jessica Mathews

It’s time for women to take control of their finances—and tame crypto by Lauren Anastasio

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

MEMES AND MUMBLES

Ken Griffin plays Call of Duty. Few names have come to carry more weight in investing and Reddit’s crypto chatrooms than Ken Griffin of Citadel and Citadel Securities. Now, we know how the Chicago billionaire spends his downtime, or at least part of it: Griffin is a gamer. And not just any gamer. Griffin plays Call of Duty…while exercising on an elliptical, he recently told David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group

This is the web version of The Ledger, Fortune’s weekly newsletter covering financial technology and cryptocurrency. Sign up here to receive future editions.