Posted In:

Blockchain, Square, Crypto

Jack(y) From The Block


Dec 04, 2021


Posted In:

Blockchain, Square, Crypto


Dec 04, 2021



In December 2017, at the height of the initial crypto craze (remember when $20k was a big deal for BTC?), a small New York based beverage maker called Long Island Iced Tea managed to top tick the market in spectacular fashion. To capitalize on anything with even a remotely tangential relationship to bitcoin or the blockchain being seen as a can’t miss investment opportunity, the company rebranded to Long Blockchain Corp. This stroke of marketing genius worked initially, with the stock soaring 200%. But soon thereafter, the infamous crypto winter started to rear its head, and then it didn’t seem quite so smart.

In what seems like history repeating itself, Square recently announced that it is changing its name to Block, although it will still trade under the ticker SQ. However, there are countless reasons why this move isn’t quite so crazy, starting with the fact that the company has actually invested a significant amount of time and energy into the crypto space ahead of the move (e.g. Cash App, where you can directly buy and sell BTC). But perhaps even more importantly, Square founder and CEO Jack Dorsey stepped down from his equivalent role at Twitter just days before the announcement, in what is likely a sign of his increased desire to focus on crypto.

Similarly, Facebook recently changed its name to Meta to better reflect its metaverse ambitions (or divert attention away from all the negative press...), but lost David Marcus, one of the company’s top executives and co-creator of Diem, the digital currency formerly known as Libra. Unfortunately for Meta and Marcus, getting Diem up and running has been a struggle and is now being run independently -- putting Marcus in a position where his interests and ambitions are better spent elsewhere.

With technology moving as quickly as it is, it will be interesting to see who comes next, and what they are trying to signal. And while Mr. Dorsey may have vacated one CEO seat, the move wasn’t entirely unexpected -- so it is probably safe to say that he is still (still) Jack, but now only from the Block.

Portfolio News

1inch Network closes $175m Series B funding round - 1inch Network is the crypto project behind the popular decentralized exchange (DEX) aggregator 1inch app, and is looking to serve institutional customers, including banks and hedge funds. Amber Group led the Series B, which was a token funding round. Other participants include Jane Street, VanEck, Alameda Research, Celsius, Nexo, Gemini Frontier Fund, and FinTech Collective. Read more

Flutterwave launches new e-commerce service to scale SME growth - Flutterwave Market brings e-commerce a step closer to the brand’s merchants and their customers. The aim of the new Flutterwave Market is to help merchants reach new customers and ultimately increase sales and revenue. This will not only make it easier for customers to shop from a range of Flutterwave Store merchants but will also enable customers to seamlessly shop across a variety of products from different businesses at their convenience. Read more

NFP and MoneyLion expand partnership, fully integrate NFP's WellCents financial wellness solution and investment portfolios - The integration extends the reach of MoneyLion's suite of financial solutions to NFP WellCents users. Through the MoneyLion platform, WellCents users now have access to seven different investment portfolios designed by the NFP retirement advisors investment team. This is the first time NFP's investment offering will be made available through a fully digital solution. Read more

MoneyLion — an American digital bank powered by Malaysians - In a recent interview with The Edge, MoneyLion co-founder Foong Chee Mun reveals that the group, which currently employs over 250 technologists in the areas of data science and machine learning, product management, product engineering and cybersecurity, is expecting to double the size of its Malaysian office. Read more

Jack(y) From The Block

Jack Dorsey’s Twitter departure sets the stage for expanding his crypto influence - Dorsey has repeatedly said he believes “bitcoin will be the native currency of the internet” — and on Wall Street, he is one of its most respected corporate boosters. He has incorporated bitcoin into Twitter, starting with its recent addition to the social media platform’s tip jar feature. Read more

Square changes name to Block, days after CEO Jack Dorsey leaves Twitter - Square said the new name encompasses its various businesses better than the current name, which is mostly associated with its merchant-payment services. However, the new name also happens to align with Mr. Dorsey’s interest in cryptocurrencies and the technology behind them, called blockchain. Read more

Diem was too meta for Marcus - David Marcus, the former PayPal president, who was in charge of launching Facebook’s digital currency project, has said he will leave Meta at the end of the year. He said his “entrepreneurial DNA” was nudging him towards “something new”. Read more

Industry News

Goldman Sachs unveils Amazon-backed cloud service for Wall Street trading firms - The bank is opening up access to its trove of market data and software tools to hedge funds and asset managers in an offering designed with Amazon’s cloud division. The move, the result of a two-year collaboration with AWS, puts Goldman in the unusual position of being a provider of cloud services for Wall Street. Read more

Covid-19 made Americans into super savers. Now they’re hoarding cash - Americans are hoarding cash because of fatigue and uncertainty, with little chance the trend will reverse soon. Over the past two years, households have socked away close to $1.6t in “excess savings,” according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The funds are well beyond the three to six months of emergency savings generally recommended by financial advisers. Read more

Metaverse real estate piles up record sales in sandbox and other virtual realms - A growing number of investment firms are acquiring digital land in worlds such as the Sandbox and Decentraland, where players simulate real-life pursuits, from shopping to attending a concert. They are betting that individuals and companies will spend money to use virtual homes and retail space and that the value of properties will increase as more people join the worlds. Read more

Art-world insiders turn $13m Banksy into 10000 NFTs - Christie's co-chair Loïc Gouzer said he spent $12.9m at Sotheby's in May to buy a Banksy painting estimated at $3m to $5m. He's now showing the work at Art Basel Miami Beach under the aegis of Particle, a company that intends to turn the work into 10,000 NFTs "within the overarching structure of collective ownership." Read more

Money managers who got blindsided by market manias like GameStop and Bitcoin are turning to ‘econophysics’ to help them avoid the next crash - The work of a Nobel Prize-winning physicist is helping investing pros understand the science behind "stonks", and how the actions of individuals or small groups trigger the manias, crashes, and crises that ultimately take down markets and harm the global economy. Read more

TikTok adds creator monetization features, including tips and video gifts - While already, the short-form video platform allowed creators to accept virtual gifts from fans during TikTok LIVE videos, a set of new features will allow creators to accept payments and gifts when they’re not livestreaming through the addition of Tips and Video Gifts. These features are rolling out alongside a new “Creator Next” portal, which organizes all TikTok’s monetization opportunities in one place. Read more

Goldman Sachs, other Wall Street banks exploring bitcoin-backed loans - Banks such as Goldman will not touch cryptocurrency spot markets but lean towards synthetic crypto products such as futures. Emulating tri-party repo type arrangements (a way of borrowing funds by selling securities with an agreement to repurchase them, involving a third-party agent), banks are exploring ways to follow the same path of not touching bitcoin, like other synthetic products. Read more

BIS Innovation Hub partners with Fed to support analysis of digital assets - Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell said the partnership would support the agency’s analysis of digital currencies, including the rollout of a central bank digital currency, or CBDC. The center plans to support analyses aimed at improving cross-border payment systems. Read more

Seedrs bought by US group after merger of UK rivals was blocked - US start-up investing platform Republic announced this week that it has bought Seedrs in a $100m deal as part of a push into European markets. The merged companies will aim to take advantage of new EU legislation this month that has harmonized rules for crowdfunding across the bloc, opening the market for larger-scale operations. Read more

Emerging markets ‘leapfrog’ the west in digital payments race - Western financial companies that have long dominated payment markets are now facing competition from technologically innovative start-ups in fast-growing emerging markets. Some are “leapfrogging” the payment infrastructure of those in the developed world, having adapted to the internet age more quickly. Read more

Facebook retreats from crypto ad ban - Facebook announced its decision to reverse long-standing policy that prevented most cryptocurrency companies from running ads on its services. While the move comes after the company tried and failed to launch a cryptocurrency that was intended to send money easily across the world via the company’s services, the new policy is huge for the crypto industry and will allow more retail investors to access cryptocurrencies than ever before. Read more

Bolt makes first acquisition with Tipser, launches ‘Remote Checkout' - The ability to purchase something at the point of discovery from digital content exists, but checkout technology company Bolt has the opportunity to give that its “one-click” treatment. It announced this week that it made its first acquisition in Tipser, a Swedish-based technology company enabling direct checkout on any digital surface. Read more

Capital One is the latest bank to ditch overdraft fees - The fees, which are charged when customers don’t have enough money in their accounts to cover payments, are a source of income—and criticism—for banks. Read more

India to regulate crypto, avoids outright ban - A cabinet note seen by NDTV shows the Indian government will regulate cryptocurrencies in the country, rather than imposing a ban on their use. Read more

Tribal expands financing, payment services to SMBs in Peru, Chile, Colombia - The expansion comes at a moment of significant development and momentum for Tribal Credit, which has seen more than 50x growth in LatAm since early 2021, serving many of the fastest-growing small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in Mexico. Read more

Dispersion launches DeFi platform for crypto investors - Dispersion, an incubator specializing in decentralized finance ("DeFi"), is pleased to announce today’s launch of AQRU, an innovative platform which enables simple access to the competitive crypto yields available in DeFi. Read more

Select Financings

24 Exchange - Bermuda based trading platform which aims for round-the-clock stock trading raised $14.25m in funding led by Point72 Ventures. Read more

2TM Group - São Paulo based holding company of crypto exchange Mercado Bitcoin raised $50.3m in additional Series B funding from investors including 10T and Tribe Capital, Traders Club, Pipo Capital and Endeavor. Read more

Abacum - New York based provider of FP&A software for tech finance teams raised $25m in new funding led by Atomico. Read more

Algofi - New York based decentralized finance lending market and stablecoin protocol raised $2.8m in Seed funding led by Union Square Ventures, Arrington Capital, and Pillar VC. Read more

Anchor - New York based B2B autonomous billing startup raised $15m in Seed funding led by Rapyd Ventures and Entrée Capital. Read more

Azos - Brazil based life insurance startup raised $10m in Series A funding led by Prosus Ventures. Read more

Bunq - Amsterdam based challenger bank raised €193m in Series A funding led by Pollen Street Capital. Read more

CertiK - New York based blockchain security startup raised $80m in Series B2 funding led by Sequoia Capital. Read more

Endowus - Singapore based digital wealth app raised $27m in Series B funding led by Prosus Ventures, EDBI and Z Holdings. Read more

Fireblocks - New York based digital asset custody firm raised $400m in Series E funding led by Sequoia Capital. Read more

Fundbox - San Francisco based provider of loans and financial products to SMBs raised $100m in Series D funding led by Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP). Read more

GajiGesa - Indonesia based earned wage access startup raised $6.6m in pre-Series A funding led by MassMutual Ventures. Read more

Goalsetter - New York based platform that helps parents teach their kids financial literacy raised $15m in Series A funding led by Seae Ventures. Read more

Iron Fish - San Francisco based privacy focused cryptocurrency startup raised $27.6m in Series A funding led by a16z. Read more

Kueski - Mexico City based BNPL startup raised $102m in new funding led by StepStone Group. Read more

Lessen - Scottsdale based property services platform raised $170m in Series B funding led by Fifth Wall. Read more

Mr Yum - Melbourne based payments platform for hospitality and entertainment companies raised $65m in Series A funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

PeopleFund - South Korea based P2P lending platform raised $63.4m in Series C funding led by Bain Capital. Read more

Plum - London based money management app raised $24m in Series A funding from investors including Dmg Ventures, Ventura Capital, Global Brain, Venture Friends and 500 Startups. Read more

Simpl - India based BNPL startup raised $40m in Series B funding led by Valar Ventures and IA Ventures. Read more

Slice - India based digital credit card provider raised $220m in Series B funding led by Insight Partners and Tiger Global. Read more

Structure - Globally distributed crypto and DeFi investment startup, raised $2m in Seed funding led by Polychain Capital. Read more

TabTrader - Amsterdam based crypto exchange data aggregation app raised $5.8m in Series A funding from 100X Ventures, Hashkey Capital, Spartan Capital, SGH Capital, SOSV and Artesian Venture Partners. Read more

Thought Machine - UK based cloud native core banking technology company raised $200m in Series C funding led by Nyca Partners. Read more

ThreeFlow - Chicago based provider of software to insurance brokers selling employee benefits products raised $45m in Series B funding led by Accel. Read more

YouTrip - Singapore based challenger bank raised $30m in Series A funding from an unidentified family office. Read more


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