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6 Questions for Wes Levitt of Theta Labs

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We ask the buidlers in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sector for their thoughts on the industry… and we throw in a few random zingers to keep them on their toes!


This week, our 6 Questions go to Wes Levitt, head of strategy at Theta Labs.

At Theta Labs, Wes works on corporate strategy, marketing and press relations, and analytics. He has been a speaker on blockchain topics at conferences including the New York Media Festival, Blockchain Connect and NAB Streaming Summit, among others. Prior to joining Theta Labs, Wes spent eight years in investment roles at Mosser Capital, a real estate private equity firm; and Redwood Trust, a mortgage real estate investment trust focused on securitized debt. Wes is a CFA charterholder and holds a BS in economics from the University of Oregon and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley.

 


1 — If the world is getting a new currency, will it be led by central bank digital currencies, a permissionless blockchain like Bitcoin or a permissioned chain such as Diem?

If it’s only one, I would say CBDCs are more likely since governments are unlikely to give up the power of issuing their own currencies. But Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies can exist alongside CBDCs and serve a different purpose. Even if Bitcoin never replaces the major fiat currencies (or their CBDC successors), it is hugely valuable by providing an alternative to them. The mere existence of Bitcoin, with its fixed supply and pseudonymous transactions, should force central banks to think twice about inflating their currency values away or forcing widespread surveillance on consumers.

It’s true that we aren’t seeing that yet with rampant money creation in the U.S. dollar, euro, Japanese yen, etc. in the past year — but that’s partly a function of Bitcoin and other crypto markets just being too small to be a workable alternative yet. But that’s changing quickly — you are seeing companies like MicroStrategy, Tesla and Meitu add Bitcoin to their corporate treasury, which becomes more and more feasible as Bitcoin’s market cap grows. Eventually, Bitcoin should grow large enough to be investable even at the scale of central banks, as an alternative or supplement to their gold holdings.
 

2 — Does it matter if we ever figure out who Satoshi really is, or was? Why, or why not?

I do think it matters, but that it’s best for Bitcoin if we never find out who Satoshi is/was. A real person will have a backstory, profession, country of origin, etc., which could only lead to division and bias in the crypto community. It’s better that Satoshi remain more of a legendary figure that people can interpret as they choose to. I think Satoshi himself realized this, and it’s why he chose to remain anonymous.

3 — What’s the silliest conspiracy theory out there… and which one makes you pause for a moment?

For silliest, I’ll go with a tie between QAnon and “Bill Gates putting tracking chips in the COVID vaccines.” Both are so stupid that they’ve become useful as a signaling device. If someone believes in one of those things, I can safely ignore anything else they say and save myself the time.

The one conspiracy theory I 100% believe is that David Stern regularly rigged the number-one pick in the NBA draft. Ewing to the Knicks in ’85, New Orleans getting Anthony Davis after Stern traded Chris Paul away, Lebron and Rose go to their hometown teams, the Cavs get three number-one picks in four years after Lebron leaves… way too many examples to have happened by accident!

 

4 — Other than the present day, in what time and in what country would you like to have lived?

I would have enjoyed mid-70s England, mostly for the music. You had the punk scene emerging with the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and The Damned, and many others. Iron Maiden and Motorhead are just getting started along with the whole NWOBHM [new wave of British heavy metal] scene. Plus, if you stick around until the late 70s/early 80s, you’ve got XTC and Depeche Mode and the Police just around the corner. One of the best five or so years in music you can find for a single country.

5 — Have you ever bought a nonfungible token? What was it? And if not, what do you think will be your first?

My first-ever NFT was purchased for just the price of some ETH for gas — I created it myself with Enjin back in 2018. This limited edition “Wes-branded” sword didn’t make it into any crypto games, sadly, but it was obviously a very cool concept, even if it was still a few years before the mainstream use of NFTs. The entertainment space is getting the most attention for NFTs right now, but the idea of taking legendary items with me between RPGs is still the use case that resonates with me the most. I’m not much of an art collector myself, but I could absolutely see myself ponying up for rare items that are interoperable between games — now, I can justify that this NFT purchase is an investment I could use across many different games in the future.

6 — What’s the unlikeliest-to-happen thing on your bucket list?

I’d like to live long enough to see humanity establish settlements on the Moon or Mars or other potentially habitable moons like Europa, and to travel there myself once that becomes feasible at a commercial level (i.e., without having to go through astronaut training just to go!) This still feels like too far away for my lifetime — we are 52 years post-Moon landing and barely any closer to permanent settlement. But the pace of technological discovery is always increasing, so I hold out hope that it will be in my plans for 2050 or so!

 

Stay positive, and keep building! Crypto goes through breakneck cycles of euphoria and despair — you have to take a step back and look at the big picture sometimes to keep your head on straight in this wild space.

 


Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://cointelegraph.com/magazine/2021/04/03/6-questions-for-wes-levitt-of-theta

Blockchain

SWFT Blockchain (SWFTC) is now available on Binance Smart Chain and Huobi ECO Chain

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SWFT Blockchain, a cross-chain cryptocurrency transfer protocol, announced today that the ecosystem’s native token SWFTC is now not only available as an ERC-20 token, but also as a BEP-20 token on Binance Smart Chain (BSC) and as an HRC-20 token on Huobi ECO Chain (HECO).

Details about SWFTC on the respective chains:

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.cryptoninjas.net/2021/04/16/swft-blockchain-swftc-is-now-available-on-binance-smart-chain-and-huobi-eco-chain/

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Blockchain

Our Man in Shanghai: Coinbase listing scorned, graphics cards seized, nostalgia coins rule

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It was a relatively quiet week in China’s blockchain space as events were overshadowed by the surge in the BTC price and the Coinbase direct listing in the U.S. Many locals reacted with surprise to the news, showing that exposure to cryptocurrencies is still relatively isolated in the world’s most populous country.

Many netizens responded skeptically to the Coinbase story, with news aggregation account “Jiemian” on Weibo calling Bitcoin a scam, highlighting its connection to terrorists, and encouraging investors to stick to China’s A-shares. (For a quick comparison, the Shanghai composite index is down 2.13% this year, while Bitcoin has a YTD return of over 116%.) Jiemian has over 10 million followers on Weibo, but caters to a more traditional audience. The takeaway here is that despite China’s aggressive adoption of DCEP (Digital Currency Electronic Payment, also known as the digital yuan), other digital payments, and internet technology, cryptocurrency acceptance remains relatively isolated.

Some experts on China’s blockchain industry spoke to Cointelegraph regarding DCEP on April 10th, discussing how the digital yuan has affected the space. Kevin Shao, co-founder of Bitrise Capital, summed up the situation by stating that “overall, China’s digital currency still serves the central bank’s monetary policy and monetary functions.” It’s safe to say that the rapid DCEP advancement has little cross-over with the country’s active blockchain space, and probably will remain independent for the foreseeable future.

While all that was going on, volumes were spiking on cryptocurrency exchanges around the world. Huobi, China’s largest exchange by liquidity, experienced a wave of trading on more established tokens. The top seven most traded on Thursday were BTC, DOGE, ETH, XRP, FIL, TRX and BCH. All of these projects have roots in previous bull runs, showing that nostalgia is not lost on Chinese investors.

Graphics cards seized by Hong Kong Customs

Customs in Hong Kong have busted a smuggling operation involving nearly 300 graphics cards, which are suspected to be Nvidia CMP 30HX models and worth about 2 million RMB, or $300,000. There were no labels on the front of the graphics cards, and this particular model comes without a video output port, and is built exclusively for cryptocurrency mining. According to a source, this is the first time that Hong Kong Customs has seized graphics cards smuggled for the purpose of mining.

The state of media blockchain content

Finally, in policy news, The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued standards for blockchain-related media content. The standard system is intended to promote healthy and sustainable content pertaining to the use of blockchain in industries such as auditing systems, business processes, food safety and management. The State Administration is very proactive with its standards, detailing how technologies, trends, and other themes should be portrayed in the media.

This weekly roundup of news from Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong attempts to curate the industry’s most important news, including influential projects, changes in the regulatory landscape, and enterprise blockchain integrations.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/our-man-in-shanghai-coinbase-listing-scorned-graphics-cards-seized-nostalgia-coins-rule

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Blockchain

Rothschild Investment Corp snaps up quarter of a million shares in Grayscale ETH Trust

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Chicago-based financial institution Rothschild Investment Corp, has acquired 265,302 shares in Grayscale’s ETH trust, according to a filing on April 15 with the United States Securities Commission or SEC.

The firm also added more Grayscale Bitcoin trust shares to its holdings, with the latest SEC filing revealing that it increased its tally from 30,454 in January up to 38,346 this month.

Rothschild Investment has been accumulating GBTC since 2017, and the latest filing shows the firm’s appetite for crypto exposure is not slowing down. Ether proponent Ryan Adams, the founder of crypto investment firm Mythos Capital and Bankless, commented on the latest move noting that “BTC is the gateway drug to ETH.”

The brokerage firm’s history spans back to 1908, and it has been investing in crypto for a relatively long time when compared to the mass inflow of institutions who have swooped in during the past 12 months. An SEC filing showed that the firm owned $210,000 worth of GBTC in July 2017, when BTC was priced around $2000.

Founding members Monroe Rothschild and brother in-law Samuel Karger reportedly have no relation to the famed Rothschild family dynasty, much to the confusion of the crypto community despite the New York Times publishing an article that clarified the situation in 1995.

Grayscale is the leading U.S. digital asset manager that offers institutional exposure to crypto, the firm holds roughly 660,000 BTC, which accounts for 3.5% of BTC in circulation.

The firm revealed yesterday that its total assets under management has now reached $50.6 billion, its ETH trust, or ETHE, is now up to more than $7 billion worth of AUM, with its shares currently trading at around $24. GTBC has surpassed $41 billion in AUM, and shares are trading at around $59.

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://cointelegraph.com/news/rothschild-investment-corp-snaps-up-quarter-of-a-million-shares-in-grayscale-eth-trust

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