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Hello and welcome back to the third edition of the new and improved TechCrunch Crypto newsletter. As previously mentioned, alongside our regularly scheduled news bits, I’ll be adding some fresh recurring segments and features -- so if you like what you see (or don’t), let me know at email@example.com.
Happy February, friends! We’ve made it through one-twelfth of the year; that wasn't so hard was it? Only have to do it 11 more times to make it to 2025.
As January came to an end, hackers got busy and stole a lot of XRP tokens, Polygon did layoffs, new reports show demand for AI and blockchain to work together, Ethereum developer interest hit new highs last year and Tether reported record profit from the fourth quarter of 2023. More details below.
This week in web3
This week the crypto market was pretty bullish as the two biggest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, bitcoin and ether, rose 7% and 4.4%, respectively, on the week, according to CoinMarketCap data. The global crypto market cap increased 5.2% over a seven-day period to $1.62 trillion.
Separately, Tether reported that in the fourth quarter of 2023 it brought in a “record-breaking” net profit of $2.85 billion, making up 46% of the total $6.2 billion in net profits last year. Tether is the world’s largest stablecoin by market capitalization and volume and third largest cryptocurrency behind bitcoin and ethereum. Its total assets (which back its stablecoins) are at $97 billion, as of December 31, 2023. Its liabilities were about $91.6 billion and it has about $5.4 billion of excess reserves, which are “fully covering” its outstanding $4.8 billion in secured loans, the report added.
If you’re thinking, “these are big numbers,” you’re right. See below.
Our favorite ‘Crypto Twitter’ post
Following all the talk about Tether…
This post on X by Bitwise Asset Management’s CIO Matt Hougan speaks for itself. Sorry Goldman Sachs, better luck next quarter:
Tether made more money last quarter than Goldman Sachs. Tether: $2.85 billion Goldman: $2.01 billion
The latest pod
For this week’s episode, I interviewed Chris Dixon, general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).
Chris has been at the firm since 2012 and founded and leads a16z’s crypto team, which invests in the web3 world through four mega-funds with over $7 billion under management. He’s also the author of the recently released book "Read Write Own: Building the Next Era of the Internet."
Prior to a16z, Chris co-founded two startups, SiteAdvisor and Hunch, acquired by McAfee in 2006 and eBay in 2011, respectively. He also attended Columbia University for his bachelor of arts degree and masters in philosophy and has an MBA from Harvard University.
In this episode, we discuss the new book, how crypto’s perception has changed and what purpose blockchains can ultimately bring to the world.
We also dove into:
Big Tech vs. crypto
Importance of decentralization
a16z web3 investments
Embracing the future
Follow the money
Squid raised $4 million in a strategic round to help support cross-chain interoperability
Velar raised $3.5 million to build a perpetual decentralized exchange on Bitcoin
Web3 gaming startup Yooldo raised $1.5 million, raising its valuation to $13 million
Options-focused protocol Ithaca Finance raised $2.5 million in pre-seed funding
Portal raised $34 million in a seed round to develop its decentralized bitcoin ecosystem
This list was compiled with information from Messari as well as TechCrunch’s own reporting.
What else we’re writing
Want to branch out from the world of web3? Here are some articles on TechCrunch that caught our attention this week.