New opportunities arise during each Bitcoin bull run. The current ebullience has been driven by an influx of institutional investors, along with major payment providers like PayPal and Mastercard.
But why are they here to begin with? Much of the recent enthusiasm can be attributed to the vast and vociferous audience that’s been developed by a few organizations on the front-line: The crypto media companies that have spent the last few years educating millions of early adopters on the trillion-dollar crypto market as a whole.
Joon Ian Wong, co-president of The Association of Cryptocurrency Journalists and Researchers — a non-profit organization that advocates for quality journalism and research on cryptocurrencies and blockchains — told Cointelegraph that bull runs build new audiences:
“CoinDesk was started during the 2013 bull run, when Bitcoin went up from $10 to $100 dollars. I was writing for CoinDesk then and we were a big beneficiary of Bitcoin’s rising price. I remember BBC News and CNN would call us asking for the ‘CEO of Bitcoin’ since CoinDesk would come up as the main result for a news source. People had no idea of what Bitcoin was back then.”
He further noted that existing crypto media outlets have doubled down and grown, as each bull run creates a stronger, more robust ecosystem. According to independent analytics, Cointelegraph’s audience alone has more than doubled to over 20 million views per month since the end of 2020.
Newly-formed media outlets
A number of new crypto media outlets have been created during the 2020-2021 Bitcoin bull run. Blockworks — the financial media brand behind the successful “Pomp Podcast” — recently launched a crypto-focused news site to help professional investors understand Bitcoin and digital currencies.
Jason Yanowitz, co-founder of Blockworks, told Cointelegraph that in March 2020 the company’s month-over-month revenue dropped 80%. Yanowitz noted that this was a “frightening time” for the Brooklyn-based firm which was launched in 2018:
“We went back to basics and spoke with our core audience – the hedge funds, financial advisors, and more traditional capital markets professionals who are interested in digital assets. Our main takeaway was that there still wasn’t a single source of information for these investors.”
Yanowitz explained that he and his team worked daily from April-December 2020 to build out the new Blockworks media site to solve this ongoing problem. “Bitcoin has become more relevant than ever. It’s time we had a media site that ties Bitcoin and crypto into the global macro conversation — that’s Blockworks,” he remarked.
In contrast to Blockworks, Ran Neuner, host of CNBC’s Crypto Trader show, told Cointelegraph that he recently launched the world’s first livestreaming crypto station — a platform clearly oriented more to the growing retail and semi-pro audience. According to Neuner, a livestreaming crypto information platform hadn’t existed until now. He found this to be problematic, stating:
“If you want livestreaming information on stocks, you can get that on CNBC or other mainstream stations. But there was no such thing as livestreaming information for crypto. You would have to be on Twitter or Telegram to get this information, but these platforms are so full of noise they are unusable.”
As a result, Neuner launched Crypto Banter on YouTube, which he describes as a “combination of Bloomberg and CNBC” — a credible, yet fun source for crypto information. In addition, Neuner mentioned there is a Friday show called “Big Banter,” which allows listeners to call in and chat directly with Neuner and his guests. “This is the future of media and certainly the future of crypto media,” Neuner remarked.
Neuner makes an important point regarding interactivit. Deloitte’s 2021 media and entertainment industry outlook report notes that streaming platforms today should focus on customers’ needs first, stating, “To improve retention, they should address customers’ challenges and preferences through content windowing, tiered pricing, tailored services, and social experiences.”
“Social experiences” resonated with Nuener. He explained that he previously tried a CNBC show on YouTube, but the audience did not respond well to a television show on a non-TV platform. “Our audience wants short, hard hitting, interactive content where they can comment and discuss topics with us on the show.”
Neuner suggested that in launching “CoinDesk TV” the venerable brand made a mistake by trying to develop a serious television feel for a crypto audience. CoinDesk TV, which is rumored to have cost the company over $5M to launch, incorporates “TV-inspired programming, with 24 straight hours of live streamed shows with guests and hosts in locales ranging from New York to South Korea to the U.K. and Spain” according to a recent article.
While it’s hard to predict the success of a newly-launched platform, Neuner noted that the crypto target market is different. “They don’t respond well to untelevised mediums. Our approach is much more informal and fun, yet credible and curated.”
Established crypto publications restructure for growth
In addition to new publications and platforms, established crypto media publications have taken new measures to prepare for future growth.
Crypto Briefing, a news and research publication formed during the 2017-18 bull run that also spawned Decrypt and The Block, recently appointed Mitchell Moos, the former editor-in-chief, as the company’s chief executive officer. Moos told Cointelegraph that this transition is similar to Cointelegraph’s decision to appoint former editor-in-chief Jay Cassano to CEO. “We’re following the lead of Cointelegraph on this one. Jay Cassano started out in the newsroom and now he’s heading up the publication.”
According to Moos, distrust towards media companies appears to be at an all-time high. A recent yearlong study from Pew Research Center reaffirms this, showing that 75% of U.S. adults say it’s possible to improve the level of confidence Americans have in news media. Moos explained:
“Part of that is the conflict of interest between advertisers, owners, and readers. Putting journalists at the head of these businesses is a good way to realign publications with the interests of the public.”
Moos further noted that Crypto Briefing was planning to make this transition regardless of the current Bitcoin bull market. “At a certain point, the founder is not necessarily the best person to take a business from its startup phase to maturity,” he remarked.
While Crypto Briefing restructured, other publications introduced new features to further engage with readers. For example, Decrypt recently launched its own token for readers. According to a Decrypt article, the concept behind the Decrypt token is simple: “You earn DCPT for reading Decrypt articles, sharing them with a friend, and reacting to them, all inside our mobile app. Soon, readers who’ve amassed enough tokens can redeem them for digital rewards.”
As Decrypt has taken a rewards-for-engagement approach, Cointelegraph has moved toward an additional revenue stream with “Cointelegraph Markets Pro,” a platform designed in conjunction with The TIE, a leading quantitative and social data firm, to bring professional crypto market intelligence to every investor. Over 1,400 subscribers signed up on the platform to enhance their market research in the first month of operation.
It’s also notable that one of the world’s most referenced price-tracking sites for crypto, CoinMarketCap — which was launched in 2013 — now includes a full-fledged content platform. Known as “Alexandria,” this outlet was created in the fall of 2020, right before the current bull run began.
Molly Jane Zuckerman, content manager for CoinMarketCap, told Cointelegraph that Alexandria’s target audience are newcomers to the crypto space:
“Because CoinMarketCap acts as this giant funnel — whenever anyone Googles ‘Bitcoin’ they usually find themselves on CoinMarketCap — we attract a lot of first time users to the crypto space.”
Zuckerman explained that Alexandria was created to retain beginners to get them interested in cryptocurrencies, beyond just the prices. “Our Bitcoin price page has a huge amount of information, but we wanted to add that extra layer — knowing Bitcoin’s price is cool, but it’s infinitely cooler if you also know who Satoshi Nakamoto is,” she remarked.
Challenges to overcome
Although new crypto media platforms have formed and growth for established publications is underway, a number of challenges exist.
Wong explained that crypto media faces the same challenges as any vertical, with one exception — it’s more difficult to maintain independence and editorial integrity. Wong stated:
“This is a very liquid space, fortunes are being made overnight. Maintaining editorial integrity will prove the value of independent press and journalism. The challenge with crypto is that it’s a small space where you can make much more money compared to other sectors.”
Editor-in-chief of Cointelegraph Jon Rice disagrees with Wong’s assessment. “The narrative that crypto media journalists are greedy, self-serving shills is lazy and antiquated, and it’s really only advanced by people outside the industry.”
“I’ve worked with over 150 reporters in this field over the last four years, and the truth is that the vast majority have a deeply ethical commitment to their work. Those few who don’t, get found out quickly — and fired.”
“The opacity of the sector is more a function of its complexity, particularly for mainstream journalists who don’t spend their lives ingesting the intricacies of DeFi and NFTs, and who instead are forced to write in generalizations about innovations they — quite understandably — don’t entirely comprehend,” continued Rice. “As Arthur C. Clarke noted, ‘Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic,’ and as a species we’re generally skeptical of wizardry and witchcraft.”
For sites like CoinMarketCap, which are known for price-tracking, the challenge has been getting readers to move from the site’s homepage to Alexandria. “One of our biggest problems is actually how powerful CoinMarketCap is — nobody wants to get off our homepage,” Zuckerman remarked.
Zuckerman explained that the site is experimenting with different distribution strategies to make sure the content is seen and getting traction. One of the strategies to ensure this is getting prominent people in the crypto space to author works on Alexandria. “It’s a cliche, but the crypto space moves so quickly that we have to be on our toes to make sure we have the educational content to cover everything as it happens, and working with authors that are the ones making it happen is a good way to do so.”
Finally, a major concern facing every media outlet is retaining customers. This can especially be challenging for new, livestreaming platforms, like Neuner’s Crypto Banter. Neuner, however, explained that the show hasn’t had a problem retaining customers, claiming that he’s seen 30% to 50% growth per month in terms of subscribers. “If you have the right format and a product that doesn’t exist yet… then the audience will come.”
Yet despite these challenges, Wong believes that the future of cryptocurrency-focused publications looks bright. “There are very few verticals in media today that are as lucrative, with such high potential, as crypto media,” said Wong.
Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong Urges for Fair Crypto Regulations
Ahead of the long-anticipated public listing for his company, Coinbase’s CEO Brian Armstrong asserted that US regulators are wrong in believing cryptocurrencies are primarily used for illicit transactions. He added that the industry wants to be treated on the same playing field as traditional finance when it comes down to legislative frameworks.
Armstrong on Crypto Misconceptions
The belief that digital assets are mainly used for illegal transactions has been going on for years, perhaps since bitcoin’s usage in some dark web marketplaces starting almost a decade ago. Regulators have used it as a good bashing point, and US-based watchdogs have been at the forefront of those attacks.
US Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, has repeatedly outlined the alleged massive usage of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for terrorist financing, Ponzi schemes, buying illegal goods, and everything in between. Naturally, the Treasury’s FinCEN department proposed quite restrictive legislation, which, however, has been indefinitely postponed.
Brian Armstrong, the CEO of the largest US-based crypto exchange preparing for its direct listing today, touched upon these concerns during a CNBC interview. However, he asserted that cash and even the highly-regulated banking sector are more frequently utilized in illegal transactions than crypto.
He referred to a report published today by the recently launched Crypto Council for Innovation indicating that “less than 1%” of all digital asset transactions have illicit roots. Simultaneously, PwC estimations showed that the percentage is more than 4x higher with the traditional economy, and more specifically cash.
“The data we have just indicates that crypto is really not uniquely crime written. In fact, the data suggests it’s better than cash in that regard.”
Treat us Equally
Armstrong further outlined the significance of adequate regulation for his company, especially now that it will become public, but also for the entire industry. He suggested that the US should treat the crypto space as other financial sectors.
“We want to be treated on the level playing field with traditional financial services at the very least and not have any kind of punishment for being in the crypto space.”
He also joined Kraken’s CEO, Jesse Powell, saying that the world’s largest country by nominal GDP risks falling further behind other nations, such as China, in terms of crypto and blockchain adoption.
“China has really embraced cryptocurrency and blockchain in a big way – starting from about six years ago. They are substantially far ahead.” – Armstrong added.
MakiSwap Raises $1.4M to Build AMM Platform on Huobi Eco Chain
[Press Release – St, John’s Antigua, Barbuda, 14th April, 2021]
MakiSwap, the number one decentralized exchange on Huobi Eco Chain (Heco), has raised $1.4 million in seed and private funding to build the most robust and feature-rich automated market maker exchange and yield farming platform on Huobi Eco Chain.
The oversubscribed round was led by Inclusion Capital, which incubated and supported MakiSwap in its development efforts. Other participants include Kenetic Capital, LD Capital, NGC Ventures, Polygon Network, DAO Maker, Momentum 6, AU21 Capital, Xend Finance and others. Jawad Ashraf, Founder of Terra Virtua, also joined the round as an individual investor.
MakiSwap is the leading AMM on Huobi Eco Chain, a high-performance blockchain supporting the Ethereum Virtual Machine. Heco was launched by the Huobi Global exchange and was met with formidable community support in China and the Asia-Pacific region. Heco projects are now shifting their focus to the global market, looking to bring in DeFi users from other regions and other blockchains.
MakiSwap was developed by Unilayer, a cross-chain DEX aggregator and DeFi ecosystem. The exchange offers unique features for an AMM designed with the professional trader in mind, including limit orders, advanced charting tools, analytics, and more. MakiSwap also features lucrative yield farming opportunities designed to incentivize users to make the jump into the new protocol and blockchain.
“We’re extremely excited to launch MakiSwap on Huobi Eco Chain and to the public, we do see a big potential for HECO to capture a lot of market share compared to other blockchains in the near future,” said Geo, Founder of Unilayer and MakiSwap.
“Makiswap is leading a new wave of Defi by empowering Huobi’s ECO chain community with key tools and infrastructure. We are excited to support Makiswap in helping to transform global finance through Defi.” Jehan Chu, Founder and Managing Partner, Kenetic
MakiSwap is powered by the MAKI governance token, which will be airdropped to holders of Unilayer’s LAYER token on Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain.
MakiSwap is the leading AMM exchange on Huobi Eco Chain, developed and launched by Unilayer, a cross-chain liquidity aggregator and unified interface for decentralized exchanges. MakiSwap’s governance token is MAKI, distributed fairly to all holders of Unilayer’s LAYER token. MakiSwap includes an advanced set of features like limit orders and advance charting to offer the best experience for professional DeFi traders.
The Message Coinbase Embedded in Bitcoin’s Blockchain on Listing Day
Paying homage to Satoshi Nakamoto and his message embedded in the Bitcoin Genesis Block in 2009, Coinbase has done the same today. On the day they’re set to become a publicly traded company, the exchange asked a large Bitcoin mining pool to embed a note in the Bitcoin blockchain in regards to the latest stimulus bill.
- When launching the Genesis Block of the first-ever cryptocurrency in January 2009, the anonymous creator(s) embedded the following message referring to the financial crisis at the time:
“The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”
- More than twelve years later, Coinbase has followed the example set by Bitcoin’s creator. The exchange announced they had asked the mining pool F2pool to code the following text:
“TNYTimes 10/Mar/2021 House Gives Final Approval to Biden’s $1.9T Pandemic Relief Bill.”
- The commonalities between the two messages spread more than being embedded on the Bitcoin blockchain. Both have referred to the economic struggles in 2009 and 2021 led by the aforementioned banking crisis and the COVID-19-induced crisis.
- More specifically, both messages have touched upon the governments’ somewhat controversial measures in trying to fight the consequences of the fallouts. Coinbase’s note cites this article published by the New York Times, which outlined the latest stimulus package aimed to alleviate some of the financial pain from the pandemic.
- The largest US-based crypto exchange has chosen today to pay homage to Nakamoto because of the significance of this day. As previously reported, Coinbase is set to become a publicly traded company on August 14th, 2021, through a direct listing.
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