Play-to-earn. If you haven't heard of it, let Grimes break it down for you.
Play-to-earn is more than a teenager's dream or a streamer's privilege. It is becoming a reality, as crypto allows gaming projects to redistribute the wealth they generate across the community. In play-to-earn gaming platforms, players earn tokens for their participation, therefore turning them into fiat to use at a grocery store. If you want to understand it quickly, albeit superficially, you can think of play-to-earn as a company like Fortnite distributing its marketing budget across the players, who in exchange are incentivized to build an extended community.
Botto is about to turn two months old. For those who haven't been following, Botto is the decentralized art project Carbono, along with the Eleven Yellow team, has been involved in for more than a year, and that officially launched on October 8th.
Long story short, Botto is a project with two main faces: it is an algorithmic, generative artist, that produces 350 fine art pieces weekly. But it also is a community of thousands of people, gathered around the $BOTTO token, who participate in governance mechanisms over the artist.
Today, we'd like to briefly overview the $BOTTO token, how we distributed it initially, and why.
The existence of the token was a necessary condition for Botto to happen. They create an incentive structure around a project that requires human implication. to put it bluntly, Botto the AI needs human labor for curation and training purposes. The community also does a job of awareness-raising, visibility, and education. That labor needs to be rewarded, and without crypto, this would have been next to impossible. At the launch, 100M units of the Botto token were created. Botto is an ERC-20 token built on Ethereum. Token holders were given voting rights and would participate in the proceeds of auctions. But how was Botto distributed, and why?
The team defined a distribution meant to serve several purposes:
Team. The team was allocated 20M BOTTO, with a vesting period recently extended to two years. This means the team cannot sell their tokens as proof of engagement and implication. We want Botto to thrive in the long term and not be a source for quick revenue, and this is the way to hard code this commitment.
Airdrop. First of all, the project needed visibility. So 20M tokens were airdropped to people who had interacted or owned some relevant related NFT projects, such as ArtBlocks or Bored Apes Yacht Club. This was meant to provide awareness across tight-knit communities that would inform their members about the initiative.
Liquidity mining program. Once you've launched a token, you want people to be able to purchase it. DeFi is the way to do this for a project with no access to centralized exchanges. We created a liquidity pool in Uniswap, ETH-BOTTO, where token owners from all categories (team, treasury, airdropped users) could lock their BOTTO for others to come and buy. Those who participated in the pool were eligible for the liquidity mining program rewards, which had 20M Bottos allocated. (The project recently modified its incentive structure and has partnered with OlympusDAO, but that's a pretty long and complex story)
Treasury keeps 30% of the $BOTTO issued. That money will be used for everyday purposes such as marketing and will become the community's budget once the project is fully decentralized.
We hope this peek into Botto helps you get closer to the workings of a project. Botto has DAO, DeFi, and NFT ingredients, and working on it is a mind-blowing adventure we are eager to share.
The metaverse: the interconnected, experiential, 3D virtual worlds where people located anywhere can socialize in real-time to form a persistent, user-owned internet economy spanning the digital and physical worlds.
The above is Grayscale's definition of the concept. Probably accurate, but a little convoluted, if you ask me. I'm finding that "virtual worlds" is often enough to explain what most people think of when they say metaverse. However, I usually follow it by explaining that, in many senses, the metaverse is already here insofar as we already play, socialize and, more and more, conduct our finances in the digital realms. Bulky glasses are optional.
Grayscale recently published a report claiming that the metaverse may represent an over $1 trillion annual revenue market opportunity, with $400B of it coming from gaming. Grayscale bases their prediction on current tangible trends, like the ongoing flow of venture capital into metaverse related ventures, including the $10B committed by Meta, the company formerly known as Facebook. Also, in just the past weeks, virtual real estate sales have broken records with purchases of a $2.43M plot in Decentraland and $2,48 in Axie Infinity.
NFT is the word of the year 2021, according to Collins dictionary. You don't get much bigger than this :)
2021 has been the year for NFTs. There's probably not one single reason for this, but a perfect storm of trends maturing simultaneously. Financial bonanza in crypto, Layers 1 and 2 providing the highways, artists finding an escape from more traditional forms of expression and marketing, an ecosystem of companies streamlining access... But how long would you say it took NFTs to get to this point?
At Carbono, we started playing NFT archaeologists recently and ended up falling down a rabbit hole. We discovered a whole new world of NFT ancestors and went a little obsessed about it.
Meet the culprit.
Pepe, the frog, was a character in an indie comic book from a 2005 series called Boy's Club by Matt Furie. For some reason, 4chan ended up adopting this frog as their favorite resource for meme-making, and it became an internet sensation.
This silly-looking frog might ring a bell to you. At some point in its strange little life, the American alt-right Pepe and its image was used to deliver right-wing propaganda. But Pepe survived the misuse and moved on. So let's forget this happened and instead let THIS define Pepe: Pepe was the leitmotif of the first real NFT collection.
In 2014, some developers built Counterparty: a sort of Layer 2 built on top of the Bitcoin blockchain that allowed for some very basic initial DeFi and NFT functionalities. It allowed its users to mint and trade with unique assets, sometimes decentralized.
Counterparty feels a little bit like steampunk. For those who don't know, steampunk is that genre of science fiction where writers create worlds where technology has advanced dramatically but where science hasn't moved beyond steam-powered technology and learned about electricity.
In steampunk fiction, machines do their job, but it all looks noisy and clunky. If you browse through XChain, the most popular Counterparty block explorer, you'll probably see what I mean.
Thanks to the new features Counterparty added to Bitcoin, users could create the first authentic NFT collections. Spells of Genesis and Force of Will were the two first experiments: card games translated into crypto. But in 2016, Pepe the frog made its appearance, and it became the first NFT sensation.
Born from Telegram groups, RarePepes became a collection on Counterparty starting in late 2016. They began by mocking the ICO fever and honoring Satoshi Nakamoto but went on to become a collection of pop and underground culture, political satire, and plain weirdness in general.
The last accepted submission of a Pepe happened in 2018. By that time, 1774 different cards had been issued along 36 series. Some of them are 1/1 supplies (like ONLYONEPEPE) or in the millions (like GIVEKUDOS, with 100 million). There are references to art (Picasso, Kandinsky, Dalí...), politics (there are at least 6 Putin-themed cards), popular culture (PEPEKACHU currently sells for $35k), and then randomness galore.
Pepes have become the equivalent of classic cars in the NFTs space. They are feats of olden day engineering, you wouldn't want to drive them for your daily commute because the UX is painful, and they look weird by modern-day standards. But, boy, are they cool. They are a piece of crypto history. Born from indie memes, sometimes beautiful, often tasteless, many of them inspired by shady references, full of crypto's F-U ethos, and loved by a faithful and cohesive community.
We fell in love with the frog and decided to do something about it. So we built a site: pepe.wtf
Pepe.wtf is the brainchild of @pepe himself and Carbono. Our humble contribution to the exciting universe of Rare Pepes. With this platform, we have tried to gather all the primary sources of information about this fantastic collection under the same roof and digest it to provide clarity in the exploration process. Users can now find all the relevant information on any card in one place before buying one for their collection. We have built some sort of Coingecko for RarePepes.
Our goal was to provide collectors with a new, streamlined browsing experience for their favorite collection. But we also wanted to onboard new people who might want to approach this collection but were deterred by the complex user experience.
What does all this say about the general crypto space?
Rare Pepes are a crucial part of the general NFT space. A primordial manifestation of the digital version of the human impulse toward collecting. You're probably astounded by the looks of the cards and their price but bear in mind that we are talking about culture here and a community celebrating it. If (or when) NFTs become art's new home, Pepes will be its cave paintings.
Let's say you want to take a picture from your holidays and crop it, add some filters, whatever. You download the picture, you open it on Photoshop, you proceed, you save the image. Your machine is using computing power for all those processes.
Well, when you operate on Ethereum (sending a transaction, minting an NFT...), you are consuming power too, only you're consuming it from a swarm of computers around the world. That's what the EVM is. The Ethereum Virtual Machine is like an operative system running simultaneously on thousands of machines that anybody can access to execute the programs available on Ethereum, like using a DeFi protocol or buying an NTF. Only, instead of speaking of programs, we talk of smart contracts. And when you execute a smart contract on the Ethereum Virtual Machine, you are consuming computer power for that, just like you do with your computer at home. And just like you do with your computer at home, you pay for that. That is the reason behind gas fees.
If you've done (or attempted) a transaction on Ethereum lately, you've probably had to stop for a moment to decide whether the transaction was worth the fee you were going to pay. So for those of you who still don't understand where these fees come from and why and how they vary so much, here's our explanation. And, as always, we will be using a metaphor.
In a beautiful mountain location, travelers use a cable car to go from point A to Point B. The cable car is operated by a machinist, who stands in front of the entrance. And, in front of that entrance, people form a queue.
Now, cable cars are, well, cars suspended on a cable. They can't carry an infinite amount of weight. There is a limit, and the machinist knows this. For each car, he needs to decide how many people will fit, depending on whether they travel alone or in groups, they carry heavy luggage or nothing at all. In this peculiar mountain place, passengers will pay depending on that weight. Let's say it's $1 per kg (weird combination of dollars and kilograms, but this is crypto, we're global). The petite old lady with the bird will pay less than the backpacker carrying all his belongings.
Also, the old lady with the bird, or any other traveler for that matter, will pay more now than what they would've spent a few hours before when the queue was less crowded. As the line gets longer and the demand for a place in the car increases, the machinist might decide to increase the amount he charges per kilogram.
There's one more thing to take into account. Not all people are in the same hurry. For example, Old-lady-with-bird is going to visit her granddaughter. And it's ok if she catches the next cable car, but it's ok if she hops on the next one too. She doesn't mind. But for Executive-with-suitcase, getting on this car is vital because he's late for a meeting. So he will wave some dollar bills in the air offering a tip.
Both the ticket fees per weight and the tips end up in the machinist's pocket. And that is why he will try to optimize the space in the car to increase his revenue. He will try to fit as many people with as much luggage as possible. The heavier, the better. And if you have a tip for him, you skip the line.
Some things in this story probably feel weird. Queues don't work like this. In queues, the order is sacrosanct. It's first-come, first-serve. And the tip the executive is paying to move ahead of the old lady sounds unfair. But remember, this was a metaphor, and what's behind is a blockchain. The machinist, you've probably guessed it, is the miner. Miners are the actors in the blockchain game who manage and validate transactions and secure the network. Cashing in the fees and tips is the way users pay for their invaluable contribution.*
Each cable car in our story was a block in a blockchain. And the weight is the computing power every block can manage. That computing power in the Ethereum blockchain is called gas, and the amount of gas a block can handle is limited. So that is why people have to pay for it.
Also, not all operations on the Ethereum EVM involve the same amount of gas. For example, checking your balance costs a certain amount, sending a transaction costs some more, minting and NFT costs even more... The weight and luggage of passengers represent that. Each of them pays differently because they require a different amount of resources from the block.
The tip offered by the executive is precisely the same thing on Ethereum; a tip. Any user can add an extra to the amount they are willing to pay a miner to add their transaction earlier if they are in a hurry and want to make sure their operation gets on a block.
*Bear in mind that this is a generic description of how gas fees work and is not factoring in EIP-1559. I wish I'd had this metaphor handy when I wrote about EIP-1559 because it would've probably made my life easier... But, long story short, our dear machinist, after EIP-1559, stopped bagging the ticket fee and now mainly makes money from tips.
The Ethereum blockchain is currently going through a peak in block space demand. The queue is long and crowded. The price in $/kg is high now, and tips are flying. And last but not least, fees on the Ethereum blockchain are not paid in dollars but ETH. Therefore, if ETH increases its price relative to the dollar, an identical transaction can be more expensive in two different moments in time.
Hopefully, you now understand a little better how gas fees work. Whenever you see your wallet suggesting three different possible fees, their software factored in all these variables. They know about the block usage (=length of the queue), they know about the gas cost of your transaction (=weight), and they suggest fee prices with increasing amounts in tips.
Did you like the cable car metaphor? It can be a good starting point for further explanations about other concepts such as scalability, sidechains. I might come back to it later.
Crypto protocols are meant to be governed by decentralized communities of stakeholders. Not because it’s more efficient, or important for ideological reasons, but because it’s necessary to unlock their core value proposition: that the underlying protocols will continue to run as designed, and will remain open to anyone who wants to use or build on them, without having the rules shift under their feet.
As an early VC investor in crypto startups, A16Z is knee deep in decentralized governance. They are constantly exposed to it as investors and token holders in some of the leading decentralized protocols in the space. Their experience tells them than decentralization of governance is another of the key features that are building crypto's identity. To them it is a matter of trust: decentralization is the guarantee that projects will be transparent and remain faithful to their foundations.
The ultimate goal is to replace intermediaries like global banks and tech platforms with software built on top of networks that direct the value they generate back to the users who own and run them.
Again, not our words: this comes from The Economist.
Today we will be talking about yet another acronym in crypto space. One that is likely to become as important as DeFi and NFTs and join the club of the most important applications of blockchain to date. We're talking about DAOs.
The acronym DAO stands for Decentralized Autonomous Organization, and the concept refers to groups who are organized around transparent, somehow democratic, binding and self executing mechanisms. Blockchain technology built a bridge between digital decision making and the movement of funds that opened the door to a new way of remote, global, digital, way of working together. Blockchains can host programs where the conditions for how people can cooperate are written in stone and open for anyone to read. DAOs are a new way of cooperating that is, like many other tools
This is what a home owner's association would look like if they were deciding on whether to fix a fence or not, while behaving like a DAO. This is a very modern group of neighbors who communicate frequently via an app where decisions are discussed and voted. And the fence around their building is broken.
Their app shows them the proposal to paint the fence with three different possible outcomes expressed in detail. What the problem is and what the possible solutions are
a) Simple fix: just solve the problem with the hole and get on with life. The fix would cost $500, it would be repaired by Contractor X in a matter of three days. The contractor would charge 50% in advance and the other 50% once the community votes to agree the job is satisfactorily finished.
b) Full fix. For those who think the hole is just a symptom of general deterioration, there is also the option to spend $5000 in changing the whole fence. Contractor Y would do the job in two weeks once an initial 20% payment is done. The community would unlock the rest of the payment through a vote 15 days after the job kicks off.
c) Just pass. Holes give fences their unique flavor.
💡 A fully decentralized and autonomous organization would require all the details to be written in stone. Or, in better terms, written in code. What are the payment details for the association, Contractor X and Contractor Y; when would payments be made, when would the final consultation about the results be launched and for how long it would be open for voting. What are the voting thresholds to consider a vote approved or rejected, how is communication managed with the chosen contractor, what happens in case the job is not appropriately finished... Every single detail would need to be laid out so that a machine could perform the approved task without bringing up any questions.
In a DAO, once the neighbors voted on their favorite opinion, the decision would be automatically executed, for example, sending the initial payment and starting a counter before the final consultation is launched in the community's app.
A decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) is a group organized around a mission that coordinates through a shared set of rules enforced on a blockchain.
Or in other, more down to earth, words from Cooper Turley, they are internet communities with a shared cap table and a bank account.
DAOs are a new way of making decisions.
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations are the iteration of online communities spun from crypto. They share features with previous manifestations of digital ways of associating, such as good old mailing lists, forums or Facebook groups, to which they add the component of decision making and financial allocation.
Financial incentives are not just another ingredient. They are the fairy dust that makes communities fly. Web 2.0 brought unparalleled borderless cooperation between peers thanks to digital platforms. Now the communities formed by those people have a budget. This makes motivation and drive different.
There are many use cases for DAOs. Turley mentions some possible categories, and one single DAO can belong to one or more of them. Some of them are:
Grant DAOs, where participants pick projects to fund among a list of requests. Grant DAOs are frequent in the DeFi space, where the community of token holders are constantly seeking ways of making the community grow.
Protocol DAOs, frequent in DeFi: users can decide how the protocol should work and vote for changes in the code. For example, when a liquidity pool wants to add a new liquidity pair.
Service DAOs, where human resources and talent are allocated.
Collector DAOs, where participants with a common interest meet, debate and decide. They are frequent in the NFT space, where a DAO can be made of the owners of a certain collection, and can decide on measures beneficial for the project, like purchasing more items or even burning some to make the rest more valuable (#truestory).
DAOs obviously have many downsides. They are still an immature way of decision making, often prone to inequality and unfairness. Sometimes they are plain unnecessary, and just an empty mannerism from over enthusiastic players. But if value is to be retained within the confines of crypto, instead of shared with big institutions and corporations, governance in general will have to play a very important role coordinating a huge variety of wills.
DeFi protocol Cream finance was hacked for more than $130M. The incident pushed their token to the ground and sent shockwaves across DeFi, with other relevant tokens suffering the consequences of the inflicted fear.
Security in crypto is one of the main concerns institutional investors indicate when they are considering entering DeFi, and rightfully so. The industry is evolving fast, and loopholes are discovered in the most painful way possible.
But there is one positive thing to point out: crypto’s transparency and resilience prevails in these cases. There is one literary genre worth noting: the post-mortem.
Post mortems are in-depth analyses of the details of a hack. They are usually written by the organization, which expands on all the factors involved in the mishap. The team provides code snippets, links to transactions, wallets, blocks, etc., where all the traces of the hack remain and can be checked by the community, alongside apologies, conclusions, warnings, and future measures.
Hacks happen, and that is a shame. But there is not one incident in crypto without public, transparent, shared learnings.
Facebook officially changed the name of the company to Meta. The last page of the chapter that Mark Zuckerberg started writing when he said Facebook would become a “metaverse first” company. The first line of a new chapter where Facebook/Meta will invest $10B in developing the new digital world.
First, the facts: Facebook, the company, not the app, changes its name to Meta and now has this squiggly blue M as a logo. They want to move from being linked to a social media product to being perceived as a metaverse builder.
Then the concept: the metaverse is a broad, blurry concept that is being defined as we speak. Below there’s a great way to frame it:
The metaverse is a moment, not a place. 🤯
Our lives have been going digital for 20 years already, and this has just been the beginning. Social lives, very digital. Work, made more digital by a virus. Leisure, education, economy...you get it.
Finally, the debate: crypto has been developing the building blocks for some of the most essential facets of the digitalization of life: identity (who we are online), ownership (how do we possess and trade digital assets), or finance (how do we exchange value). And they’ve been doing so in a decentralized manner, precisely to avoid the extractive mannerisms of corporate giants like Facebook, who have built platforms where users create value without receiving the rewards proportionally.
For those of you who haven’t been following, Botto is our generative art / NFT / governance project we have been working on for over a year that finally saw the light on October 8th. Read this recap to get up to speed, or this chart below to get a glimpse.
There are many things to say about Botto (it’s been quite a hectic month), but let’s go over the fun part for starters: the auctions.
We’ve been through three auctions already, and here are some fun and exciting insights about them, in no particular order.
But we are even prouder of Rarest2012: the genesis piece buyer received two heart-stopping offers for Asymmetrical Liberation a few days later. The highest went up to 250ETH. This was his response.
The second auction was the sale of Scene Precede. Surprisingly enough, the price of artwork number two went higher than the genesis piece. Scene Precede was sold for Ξ100 ≈ $430,230
The buyer was some @lorenzom. Just some anonymous buyer until you start sniffing around. Sometime before placing the winning 100ETH bid on SuperRare, @lorenzom had received a 100ETH transfer from CozomoMedici, Snoop Dogg’s NFT hoarding alter ego.
Before our third auction, the team incorporated two relevant changes in the selection process, following recommendations from Mario Klingemann and the Discord community: the number of voting points available for users was too small. It was making users conservative in the number of votes, and therefore the feedback was not enough. Neither were the number of artworks open for voting. Botto was meant to produce 50 new pieces every week, but Mario suggested we pumped the number up for training purposes. So for auction number three, users got to see 350 new works, alongside the initial 200.
In the last auction, Trickery Contagion was sold for 35ETH, bringing the total amount of Botto sales close to the million dollars.
Some say the sale was a little on the low end, although the outlier was more the 100ETH. One of the reasons discussed in the community was around the actual art piece: until the last minute, the race to the auction was between Trickery Contagion and Opinion Cover. The winner finally was, in many people’s opinion, the more conservative choice.
This week’s vote was pretty & safe (trickery contagion) over gritty & thought provoking. Discord user
What do you think?
FlamingoDAO announced they had been the ones taking the auction. DAOs are Decentralized Autonomous Organizations, or, in other words, communities with a checkbook. Flamingo is probably the most famous one devoted to NFTs.
This is all for now in the Bottosphere. We’ll keep you posted!
Investors are no longer asking why but how to enter crypto. Nearly 9 in 10 investors surveyed by Fidelity Digital Assets said they found digital assets appealing, while “only” 52% currently hold them in their portfolio. There are presently many gateways into crypto available for the remaining 48%. New ones pop out now and then—the latest, the brand new Bitcoin futures ETF available for US investors.
There are broadly three ways for institutional investors to approach crypto: direct purchase of cryptoassets investment in crypto-related funds or products, and last but not least, investing in crypto startup fundraising rounds.
Venture Capital is one of the strongest signals of optimism in the ecosystem. While other types of investment might seek fast returns, venture capital is, by definition long-term focused, and motivated by trust. VC investors hand money to builders who they believe can bring future profits.
In first three quarters of 2021, venture capitalists poured a record $21.4 billion into cryptocurrency and blockchain-related companies, in 1,196 deals, according to Pitchbook, a market data provider. That is more than five times as much money compared to last year.How Venture Capitalists Think Crypto Will Reshape Commerce (NYTimes)
5x. That’s how much more trust VCs have poured into the system.
According to Pitchbook, too...
...a larger and larger percentage of total global venture funding is finding its way into the blockchain/ cryptocurrency ecosystem, with that number rising from 1.6% in 1Q20 to 4.7% in 3Q21. Strong Crypto Fundraising Trends Set to Continue (GSR.io)
Fundraising monitoring company Dovemetrics recently published their Q3 report, where they break down the investments into categories:
CeFi. It stands for Centralized Finance and includes companies offering crypto-based financial services, such as exchanges, loans, etc. Coinbase or Binance are examples of CeFi companies.
DeFi is for organizations building Decentralized Finance protocols, like Uniswap, Curve, or Balancer, where users interact with the platform without an intermediary.
Web3 is currently a miscellaneous category that encompasses projects building blockchain or crypto versions of more traditional services. Decentralized social media, software frameworks, blockchain analytics fit within this category. Research firm Messari, which provides data dashboards, intelligence reports, and real-time coverage of assets, was one of the Web 3 funding round recipients lately.
The infrastructure category includes projects setting the technical foundations for other projects to work, such as Layer 1 and Layer 2 protocols or mining companies. For example, smart contracts platform Avalanche or mining company Genesis Digital Assets have raised rounds of over $200M this quarter.
NFTs include every company in the orbit of this new asset: marketplaces, gaming companies, or metaverse builders.
According to Dovemetrics, Q3 brought $8.2B to the ecosystem, a 47% increase over Q2. While the most significant slice of the pie belongs to Centralized Finance, which attracted half the funds ($4.1B), the most outstanding growth comes from the NFT sphere, with a 249% increase in funding and more than $1B. DeFi, on the other hand, was a little underwhelming.
Interestingly enough, while funding has significantly increased in capital raised, the number of rounds has not grown proportionally. Instead, Q3 has seen larger rounds, led by the likes of FTX’s $900m round in July, Revolut’s %800M, or Sorare’s $680M.
Maybe an even stronger signal of optimism comes from the fundraising activity of venture capital firms themselves. Andreessen Horowitz leads the way: after their $2.2B fund launched mid-year, the firm is putting together an even bigger fund, probably going up to $6.5B.