The World Wrestling Entertainment announced today it will create the corporation’s first-ever non-fungible tokens (NFTs) representing legendary moments from the career of one of the most iconic fighters – The Undertaker. The four-tier drop will be launched ahead of the company’s biggest event this Saturday, April 10th – WrestleMania.
The Deadman as an NFT
WWE announced it will release non-fungible tokens featuring Mark William Calaway, better know by his ring name, The Undertaker. The legendary ex-superstar NFTs, who retired from professional wrestling last year, will be one of the spotlights of this year’s Wrestlemania.
The auction will open this Saturday at 10:30 AM ET. The drop is supposed to be met with significant interest and will last for 37 hours. The end will be on Sunday, April 11th, at 11:30 PM ET.
The Undertaker NFTs will be offered in four tiers – Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The Platinum and Gold will have minimum open bids of respectively $10,000 and $5,000, while the other two will have fixed prices – $1,000 for the Silver and $100 for the Bronze.
The top option would also provide VIP access, hotel accommodations, a personalized video message from the superstar, as well as a unique WWE Championship Title Belt.
The Gold one – would get the winner two front-row-seat tickets at a Monday Night Raw or Friday Night SmackDown of their choice in 2021 or 2022, a personalized video message, and a signed Title Belt.
The Silver and Bronze tiers would provide more limited benefits to the winners.
World Wrestling Entertainment has partnered with Bitski for the project. With this being announced, it means participants will need to have a Bitski account, and winners will receive NFTs in their wallets.
The Expansion of NFT
Non-fungible tokens have been a hot topic recently as they have enjoyed mass acceptance and adoption from various celebrities and industries.
As CryptoPotato recently reported, the US Major League Baseball team Toronto Blue Jays explored options to take advantage of non-fungible tokens. The team’s President and CEO confirmed the move by indicating that it should enhance fan interest in the sport.
Another fresh example of the increased popularity of NFT is Lindsay Lohan’s plan to release an exclusive NFT collection. The famous American actress reaffirmed her support for non-fungible tokens by partnering with TRON to launch personalized digital art products.
In his turn, the founder of TRON and the CEO of BitTorrent, Justin Sun, went even further. Recently, he bought a painting by Picasso for $20 million, and he intended to tokenize it through the JUST NFT Fund.
Featured Image Courtesy of Wrestling Edge
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The office shut-down at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic last year spurred huge investment in digital transformation and a wave of tech companies helping with that, but there were some distinct losers in the shift, too — specifically those whose business models were predicated on serving the very offices that disappeared overnight. Today, one of the companies that had to make an immediate pivot to keep itself afloat is announcing a round of funding, after finding itself not just growing at a clip, but making a profit, as well.
SnackMagic, a build-your-own snack box service, has raised $15 million in a Series A round of funding led by Craft Ventures, with Luxor Capital also participating.
(Both investors have an interesting track record in the food-on-demand space: Most recently, Luxor co-led a $528 million round in Glovo in Spain, while Craft backs/has backed the likes of Cloud Kitchens, Postmates and many more).
The funding comes on the back of a strong year for the company, which hit a $20 million revenue run rate in eight months and turned profitable in December 2020.
Founder and CEO Shaunak Amin said in an interview that the plan will be to use the funding both to continue growing SnackMagic’s existing business, as well as extend into other kinds of gifting categories. Currently, you can ship snacks anywhere in the world, but the customizable boxes — recipients are gifted an amount that they can spend, and they choose what they want in the box themselves from SnackMagic’s menu, or one that a business has created and branded as a subset of that — are only available in locations in North America, serviced by SnackMagic’s primary warehouse. Other locations are given options of pre-packed boxes of snacks right now, but the plan is to slowly extend its pick-and-mix model to more geographies, starting with the U.K.
Alongside this, the company plans to continue widening the categories of items that people can gift each other beyond chocolates, chips, hot sauces and other fun food items, into areas like alcohol, meal kits, and non-food items. There’s also scope for expanding to more use cases into areas like corporate gifting, marketing and consumer services, and analytics coming out of its sales.
Amin calls the data that SnackMagic is amassing about customer interest in different brands and products “the hidden gem” of the platform.
“It’s one of the most interesting things,” he said. Brands that want to add their items to the wider pool of products — which today numbers between 700 and 800 items — also get access to a dashboard where they monitor what’s selling, how much stock is left of their own items, and so on. “One thing that is very opaque [in the CPG world] is good data.”
For many of the bigger companies that lack their own direct sales channels, it’s a significantly richer data set than what they typically get from selling items in the average brick and mortar store, or from a bigger online retailer like Amazon. “All these bigger brands like Pepsi and Kellogg not only want to know this about their own products more but also about the brands they are trying to buy,” Amin said. Several of them, he added, have approached his company to partner and invest, so I guess we should watch this space.
SnackMagic’s success comes from a somewhat unintended, unlikely beginning, and it’s a testament to the power of compelling, yet extensible technology that can be scaled and repurposed if necessary. In its case, there is personalization technology, logistics management, product inventory and accounting, and lots of data analytics involved.
The company started out as Stadium, a lunch delivery service in New York City that was leveraging the fact that when co-workers ordered lunch or dinner together for the office — say around a team-building event or a late-night working session, or just for a regular work day — oftentimes they found that people all hankered for different things to eat.
In many cases, people typically make separate orders for the different items, but that also means if you are ordering to all eat together, things would not arrive at the same time; if it’s being expensed, it’s more complicated on that front too; and if you’re thinking about carbon footprints, it might also mean a lot less efficiency on that front too.
Stadium’s solution was a platform that provided access to multiple restaurants’ menus, and people could pick from all of them for a single order. The business had been operating for six years and was really starting to take off.
“We were quite well known in the city, and we had plans to expand, and we were on track for March 2020 being our best month ever,” Amin said. Then, Covid-19 hit. “There was no one left in the office,” he said. Revenue disappeared overnight, since the idea of delivering many items to one place instantly stopped being a need.
Amin said that they took a look at the platform they had built to pick many options (and many different costs, and the accounting that came with that) and thought about how to use that for a different end. It turned out that even with people working remotely, companies wanted to give props to their workers, either just to say hello and thanks, or around a specific team event, in the form of food and treats — all the more so since the supply of snacks you typically come across in so many office canteens and kitchens were no longer there for workers to tap.
It’s interesting, but perhaps also unsurprising, that one of the by-products of our new way of working has been the rise of more services that cater (no pun intended) to people working in more decentralised ways, and that companies exploring how to improve rewarding people in those environments are also seeing a bump.
Just yesterday, we wrote about a company called Alyce raising $30 million for its corporate gifting platform that is also based on personalization — using AI to help understand the interests of the recipient to make better choices of items that a person might want to receive.
Alyce is taking a somewhat different approach to SnackMagic: it’s not holding any products itself, and there is no warehouse but rather a platform that links up buyers with those providing products. And Alyce’s initial audience is different, too: instead of internal employees (the first, but not final, focus for SnackMagic) it is targeting corporate gifting, or presents that sales and marketing people might send to prospects or current clients as a please and thank you gesture.
But you can also see how and where the two might meet in the middle — and compete not just with each other, but the many other online retailers, Amazon and otherwise, plus the consumer goods companies themselves looking for ways of diversifying business by extending beyond the B2C channel.
“We don’t worry about Amazon. We just get better,” Amin said when I asked him about whether he worried that SnackMagic was too easy to replicate. “It might be tough anyway,” he added, since “others might have the snacks but picking and packing and doing individual customization is very different from regular e-commerce. It’s really more like scalable gifting.”
Investors are impressed with the quick turnaround and identification of a market opportunity, and how it quickly retooled its tech to make it fit for purpose.
“SnackMagic’s immediate success was due to an excellent combination of timing, innovative thinking and world-class execution,” said Bryan Rosenblatt, principal investor at Craft Ventures, in a statement. “As companies embrace the future of a flexible workplace, SnackMagic is not just a snack box delivery platform but a company culture builder.”
Jack Dorsey’s NFT tweet will help the poor in East Africa through an upcoming bitcoin donation. To learn more about this developing story and other news, keep reading.
Jack Dorsey’s NFT Tweet to Help the Poor in East Africa
As the non-fungible token (NFT) craze continues, Jack Dorsey is auctioning his first tweet on Twitter as an NFT. Dorsey posted this tweet on May 6, 2006. The auction is taking place on Valuables and will end on March 21, 2021.
Dorsey has tweeted he will convert the proceeds of this auction to bitcoin and donate them to GiveDirectly. This is a non-profit organization that seeks to end extreme poverty in East Africa. Donations sent to GiveDirectly benefit people in Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.
Currently, the highest bidder of this NFT tweet was a Twitter user with the handle @sinaEstavi. He outbid Tron CEO Justin Sun, who had bid $1 million. Estavi bid $2.5 million.
Valuables wrote: “The tweet itself will continue to live on Twitter. What you are purchasing is a digital certificate of the tweet, unique because it has been signed and verified by the creator. Owning any digital content can be a financial investment, hold sentimental value, and create a relationship between collector and creator. Like an autograph on a baseball card, the NFT itself is the creator’s autograph on the content, making it scarce, unique, and valuable.”
Uncertain Regulatory Environment Pushes Crypto Firms Out of South Africa
The uncertain regulatory environment is pushing crypto firms out of South Africa. According to an article on Business Tech, the MTI scam gave regulators in South Africa a jolt and some firms will not wait to see how the matter pans out from a regulatory standpoint.
These crypto firms are planning on moving to Singapore and the UK. That is because Singapore is redrawing legislation to attract crypto firms while the UK is getting requests to embrace cryptocurrencies.
Revix, a crypto investment platform that allows customers to invest in a bundle of cryptocurrencies, is moving its headquarters from Cape Town to the UK. The company is also considering setting up in Germany to scale its operations.
Luno is another crypto company with headquarters in the UK despite being owned by South Africans. The exchange also operates in Singapore.
South African regulators “have been incredibly slow in terms of regulation in the industry and that leads to businesses looking internationally. In an unregulated environment, a customer arrives at our platform with skepticism, and rightfully so,” said Revix CEO Sean Sanders in an interview.
According to Sanders, the uncertainty regarding potential regulation is also making it difficult for crypto firms to market their services on social media platforms thereby limiting growth.
Binance CEO CZ Among the Top Blockchain Billionaires in 2021
Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao (CZ), is among the top blockchain billionaires in 2021 according to the latest Hurun global list. CZ and 16 other billionaires have cumulative wealth of US$ 77 billion. These billionaires have generated their wealth from running crypto exchanges, investing in cryptocurrencies, and mining crypto.
After facing a price correction in 2018, crypto billionaires are enjoying a boost in their wealth thanks to the recent bull run.
The top five billionaires are Brian Armstrong of Coinbase, Sam Bankman-Fried of FTX, Changpeng Zhao, Chris Larsen, and Jed McCaleb of Ripple. Their net worth is $11.5 billion, $10 billion, $8 billion, $5.1 billion, and $3.2 billion, in that order.
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Oracles are commonly thought of as blockchain middleware that enable smart contracts to access external data—yet oracle networks, as they exist within Chainlink’s model, are much more than data delivery mechanisms. Through a wide-range of off-chain computational abilities, Chainlink’s decentralized oracle networks are providing blockchains with decentralized services that go far beyond securely fetching external data.
From Chainlink’s widely adopted Data Feeds, an extensive collection of on-chain price oracles for DeFi smart contracts, to Chainlink VRF, which generates a verifiable source of randomness for dynamic NFTs, to Chainlink’s highly customizable external adapters, the Chainlink Network is supporting a rapidly-expanding array of key oracle functions that are enhancing the capabilities of smart contracts across numerous blockchains and layer-2 networks.
In his recent presentation at the 2021 ETHDenver Hackathon, Chainlink Co-founder Sergey Nazarov emphasized the expansive functionality of decentralized oracle networks and how Chainlink-powered off-chain computations service a wide variety of smart contract use cases, from DeFi to parametric insurance to blockchain-based gaming. The following is an excerpt of Sergey’s talk highlighting a key takeaway that the Chainlink Network goes far beyond data delivery to power new features and applications for the fast-growing blockchain economy.
Chainlink is not just about data—it is about an oracle network—and oracle networks are responsible for everything that blockchains are not responsible for. An oracle network is not just about delivering data. It is about providing all the tools and services needed by a contract. Smart contracts run on blockchain platforms are hyper-secure and hyper-reliable, but they are low on feature-richness for security reasons. Oracles extend the capabilities of blockchains by offering decentralized services like off-chain computation.
Centralized systems have completely lost people’s trust in many cases and will continue to lose people’s trust in almost all cases. Centralized services from social media to communications to the financial system are being viewed even by the average person as unreliable. People no longer want to create long-term relationships with these institutions.
I think the middle ground between highly centralized, feature-rich systems and highly trust-minimized but low-feature blockchain systems is an oracle network. An oracle network sits between every use case and all of the blockchains that those use cases run on, providing blockchains with all the other services they need. All of the other services a blockchain needs are a huge universe of inputs that may start at providing different types of data but quickly moves on to trust-minimized computations that, generally speaking, blockchains usually don’t do and probably won’t do at scale. Oracle networks will expand to do trust-minimized computation, in addition to providing data, and the combination of these will enable a much wider realm of products to be built.
The middle ground between highly centralized, feature-rich systems and highly trust-minimized but low-feature blockchain systems is an oracle network.
The first thing that is becoming very popular in the blockchain gaming community is Chainlink’s Verifiable Random Function (VRF). VRF is working for many different blockchain games that already use it in production, and it’s going live on multiple blockchains. Anyone can easily use it on Ethereum to provide random inputs to games. Beyond that, we are finalizing some of our plans around Chainlink Keepers and the ability to maintain a smart contract’s proper operation through a Chainlink Network. This is important, once again, because even DevOps and maintenance of contracts are responsibilities of oracle networks, as these operations need to be trust-minimized. Even beyond that, I think developers can think about, “How do I use the expanded computational capabilities of Chainlink’s adapters to compute more and more advanced things in a trust minimized-way that doesn’t require me to disclose things to blockchains?”
The realm of services the Chainlink Network offers will continue to grow, so if you’re a developer and you want to build cutting-edge, truly world-changing applications, Chainlink is fundamentally here to help you. The Chainlink Network is here to help the world’s developers make trust-minimized decentralized applications that will be the new way that society interacts around various information. To me, it’s apparent that is where society is headed because of the systemic and continued failure of trust relationships with centralized institutions like social media, other communication systems, and financial systems. Fundamentally, our goal is to accelerate the transition to a truly decentralized and fair economic system.
It is reported that from April 12 to April 25, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) will expand the CBDC trial to Hainan province. This was the first event in an attempt to normalize cryptocurrencies across China. Now the People’s Bank of China has also conducted the test in other provinces.
Hainan Province announces its first-ever CBDC event in an attempt to normalize the digital currency across China
The Digital Currency Electronic Payment (DC/EP) is a fiat currency designed to replace a system of reserve money. Currently in the testing process, but CBDC is still gradually being adopted in China.
Members of the Sanya municipal government, including their employees, businesses, and permanent residents, will be the main participants of this trial. The trial will raise awareness for the digital yuan, foster secure transactions with wide accessibility. Additionally, participants in this trial will receive a 15% discount for every 100 yuan spent on the island.
While CBDC trials continued across China, cities like Chengdu and Beijing have shown promising success. The second batch of trials was announced in Shanghai, Trường Sa, Qingdao, Xi’an, and Dalian.
Currently, the digital yuan is in beta in China. It is being piloted as a retail CBDC. In the future, though, the central bank aims to be able to interact with other countries. The PBOC and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority are currently testing the digital yuan for cross-border use.
Besides, PBOC has included the affiliated banks of digital payments giants, AliPay and WePay, in their trials to increase adoption. Due to this partnership, users with WeBank and MyBank accounts can now access their money using PBOC apps running CBDC. AliPay and WePay together dominate more than 93% of the digital payments market in China.
There are currently 573.6 million users for digital payment platforms in China. This number is expected to increase to 618 million by 2025 showing huge potential for a shopping mall in this market.
According to the announcement today, the beauty application Meitu purchased another 175 BTC to reach the $100 million mark it set for itself in its Cryptocurrency Investment Plan.
Meitu buys another $10 million in Bitcoin
Therefore, the goal to invest $100 million in the cryptocurrency of Meitu has been achieved. The plan called for Meitu to add $100 million in BTC and ETH to its treasury, both as an investment and preparation for future initiatives. Meitu intends to use some of the ETH to launch decentralized apps in the future.
The publicly traded firm first acquired $40 million in BTC and ETH in early March of this year, when it unveiled its intention to make further purchases. A week later, it purchased another $49 million. Today’s announcement is the final $10 million of the acquisition.
In total, Meitu holds 31,000 ETH (valued at $50.5 million) and 940 BTC (valued at $49.5 million).
Coinbase disclosed in late March that its institutional business facilitated the past purchases, a service it has provided for other public companies such as Tesla. It’s unclear if the latest purchases were also handled by Coinbase.
Meitu is one of the first China-based publicly listed companies to add crypto to their treasury. Other tech firms like Square, Tesla, and MicroStrategy made headlines in the past year for making similar acquisitions.
The city of Jackson is shaping up to be Tennessee’s cryptocurrency hub. In the coming weeks, Mayor Scott Conger will form a blockchain task force to explore how to adapt the novel asset class.
Following Miami’s example, Jackson mayor Scott Conger plans to integrate cryptocurrencies into his city
Conger told that his plan is to encourage the use of cryptocurrency by incorporating it into the city:
“The plans are very simple right now. We want to encourage the use of cryptocurrency. I want to get people with a much greater knowledge of blockchain, than myself, in the room to discuss how we can incorporate cryptocurrency into our city.”
In 2020, Tennessee state representative Dennis Powers introduced a bill that calls for an in-depth study of blockchain technology, focusing on its use cases in banking, payments, lending, and other industries.
Jackson is the eighth largest city in Tennessee, but the rest of the state might be tempted to follow its lead due to exploding cryptocurrency adoption. Last week, the Bobby Hotel, one of the most popular hotels in Nashville, added cryptocurrency payments, a first for the state capital.
Conger says that he is taking pointers from Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who is determined to refashion the South Florida city as the world’s biggest Bitcoin hub.
In February, city commissioners voted to explore Suarez’s proposal to pay municipal employees in Bitcoin and invest a portion of the treasury into the cryptocurrency. Should they proceed with the audacious plan, Miami would easily become the most crypto-forward city in the U.S.
In a March interview, Suarez also mentioned that he wanted to turn Miami into a Bitcoin mining hub, offsetting China’s dominance in the industry. Meanwhile, crypto exchange FTX recently scored a deal to rename Miami Heat’s AmericanAirlines Arena to FTX Arena.