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Coinbase's newest team members helped authoritarian regimes worldwide to monitor journalists and dissidents
Last week Coinbase, America's biggest cryptocurrency exchange, proudly announced that it was acquiring Neutrino, a startup focused on blockchain analysis'using public blockchain data to trace cryptocurrency transactions. In its announcement, Coinbase wrote that Neutrino's technology will help make cryptocurrency safer and more accessible for people all over the world by helping track thieves and terrorists. In turn, robust blockchain analytics will help crypto exchanges maintain stable fiat banking relationships and, generally, integrate with mainstream finance. No wonder, then, that Coinbase says it is excited to welcome [Neutrino] to the Coinbase family! But observers on Twitter, including analyst Arjun Balaji, quickly noticed a major problem with Coinbase's new family members: many of them are former leaders of Hacking Team, an Italian spyware vendor. Though ostensibly a creator of tools to monitor and fight crime and terrorism, Hacking Team also sold those tools to repressive regimes, possibly in violation of international controls on such tools. Those regimes, in turn, used the tools to monitor and endanger journalists, activists, and political dissidents.

At XBIZ, SpankChain CEO Says Porn Industry Will Drive Crypto Use
The cryptocurrency panel at this year's XBIZ event (the adult-industry Golden Globes to AVN's Oscars) in West Hollywood is smaller than past years crypto panels. Blame the bear market, blame the fact that concurrent panels feature name performers, or blame the fact that one of the panelists failed to show up. Either way, that doesn't stop the 20 or so attendees from laughing at SpankChain CEO Ameen Soleimani's booty puns and porn jokes. The great thing about adult is they'll try anything, he says about blockchain adoption in the adult industry, to the audience's amusement. It's a play on the perception that adult performers are willing to experiment on camera, but it also acknowledges the industry's readiness to test out new technologies, often before more mainstream industries catch up.

Vitalik Buterin Says Ethereum's 1000x Capacity Upgrade Is Coming Soon
Ethereum 2.0 is coming soon, and it could increase by a thousandfold the Ethereum network's capacity to process transactions. That was the message Vitalik Buterin, the cofounder of Ethereum who more than anyone else represents in the mind of the public the world's second-largest blockchain, shared with an audience in Prague this week. Now called Serenity, the upgrade formerly known as Ethereum 2.0 promises to make the network faster, more secure, less energy-intensive, and capable of handling thousands of transactions per second. Serenity, said Buterin, is the world computer as it's really meant to be, and not a smartphone from 1999 that can process only 20 transactions a second.

Forbes Middle East finally pulls profile of fake Monero founder
Forbes Middle East has retracted'or, more precisely, deleted'a lengthy cover profile of Ezekiel Osborne, a.k.a. Zeke de Jong, a.k.a. Zeke Echelon. The profile had credulously repeated Osborne's claims to be a cofounder of Monero, the privacy-focused cryptocurrency. Many of those claims appear to have been entirely invented by Osborne, as we reported in late October after the Forbes ME article's initial publication. That's right'October. A Forbes ME representative claims that our writers had no intention for . . . our platform to be a part of any unclear profile or a platform that would support scammers. Yet the publication took nearly three months to investigate and correct a mistake that could likely have been prevented entirely by a five minute phone call with almost any warm body other than Osborne himself. Our own initial investigation, though admittedly partial, took only two days from start to finish.

Former BitTorrent Exec Says There's No Way Its Token Can Run on Tron
Last week, the blockchain platform Tron announced it would launch BitTorrent Token, a cryptocurrency that would link to the BitTorrent file-sharing client and, in the words of the BitTorrent Token white paper, create a token-based economy around the usage of networking, bandwidth and storage on the roughly 100 million computers that currently run BitTorrent. Tron supporters and investors have been exuberant since the announcement. Tron CEO Justin Sun has described BTT as the token that will enable #blockchain mass adoption. Sun has continued his longstanding habit of commenting frequently on the price of Tron[TRX] tokens, which were up as much as 50 percent in the week after BTT's unveiling. Tron holders will receive a share of BTT through an airdrop, so the TRX price rally implies that the market believes in Sun's plans for BTT.

Mikerah Quintyne-Collins, who was given 1000 ETH by Vitalik this week, has officially dropped out of college
Few people will ever have the kind of Twitter interaction developer Mikera Quintyne-Collins had this week. A conversation was taking place among Ethereum developers about the transition to Ethereum 2.0, a significant upgrade to the Ethereum network that will provide scaling solutions and a transition to a proof-of-stake mining system. SpankChain CEO Ameen Soleimani asked what the bottlenecks to development were. Working other full-time jobs, replied Prysmatic Labs Preston Van Loon. In swept Vitalik Buterin, a tousle-haired deus ex machina, with a tweet out of the blue: Just sent 1000 eth. yolo.

Bram Cohen gives update on Chia math problems mostly solved, code base still to build out in 2019
Bram Cohen has already made an enormous contribution to the decentralized web. As the creator of the BitTorrent protocol, he brought about the golden era of peer-to-peer file-sharing in the early 2000s. Within a year of starting the project in 2003, files shared on BitTorrent made up more than a third of all traffic on the internet. When a figure of this pedigree announces a move into cryptocurrency, people take notice. Driven by his love for solving hard problems, and affronted by bitcoins enormous energy usage, Cohen decided to work on designing a cryptocurrency that would maintain the decentralized properties of bitcoin without requiring the power input of a small nation.

'The Bitcoiners Who Want to Defeat Death' - a look at the overlap between the bitcoin and cryonic preservation communities
The SENS Research Foundation is located in Suite J of an unremarkable office park, in an unremarkable part of Mountain View, next to the unremarkable facade of the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witness. I know this because, one day in October, I drive right past the office park without realizing, then wander around the building on foot, looking for its equally unremarkable entrance. It's worth it though, because behind a plain glass door is a man who wants to defeat death. Aubrey de Grey, chief science officer of SENS (short for the very catchy Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence), is waiting for me when I arrive, in jeans and a navy sweater, with a thicket of a beard so long it would make Gandalf jealous. His desk is piled high with papers and books, leaving the room's two bookcases partially empty. A bike leans against one wall. There are no foosball tables, no nap pods, no open-office concept'no indication that we are located in the heart of Silicon Valley, just a short drive from the offices of Google and Mozilla.

Square's Bitcoin-Friendly Cash App Hits #1 in the Play Store - Breaker magazine
In a landmark moment, the Cash app from Square has now passed PayPal to become the #1 free app in the finance category in the Google Play store based on downloads. Cash in many ways resembles competitors PayPal and Venmo (currently ranked #3) in that it facilitates simple money transfers between individuals or to product vendors. One crucial difference, though, is that since August, Cash'a general-purpose payment app that mostly targets dollar transactions'has integrated bitcoin, too, making it easy to buy.  Once Cash users have linked the app to a debit account, they can buy and sell bitcoin from their U.S. dollar balance with just a few swipes and clicks. There are no fixed fees, but Cash's support page for bitcoin notes:

A 51% Attack Exposes Vertcoin's Greatest Strength as a Fatal Flaw | BREAKER Magazine
Vertcoin is a project with a laudable mission. It's described as a decentralized peer-to-peer cryptocurrency, which you might think already exists in the form of bitcoin and, well, just about every other cryptocurrency out there. But while bitcoin is peer-to-peer, and supports decentralization in principle, in practice the vast majority of the mining power that maintains the network is concentrated among a small group of giant mining pools. To maximize returns, these pools invest their profits into custom-built hardware'application-specific integrated circuits, or ASICs'which are optimized to do nothing other than mine bitcoin.

Feminist journalist goes on a cruise with crypto bros, has a predictably terrible time
Draw me your map of utopia and I'll tell you your tragic flaw. In 10 years of political reporting I've met a lot of intense, oddly dressed people with very specific ideas about what the perfect world would look like, some of them in elected office'but none quite so strange as the ideological soup of starry-eyed techno-utopians and sketchy-ass crypto-grifters on the 2018 CoinsBank Blockchain Cruise. Two months ago, an editor from BREAKER called and asked if I wanted to go on a four-day Mediterranean cruise with hundreds of crypto-crazed investors and evangelists. We'll cover the travel, he said. Write something long about whatever you find, he said. It was 2 a.m. and I was over-caffeinated. I remember explaining that I know almost nothing about either cruises or blockchain, in the way that Sir Ian McKellen, in the criminally underrated series Extras, explains that he is not actually a wizard. Five days later I was at the port of Barcelona, boarding a ship. By which point it was way too late to wonder for the umpteenth time about my life choices.

Exclusive: ConsenSys Letter to Staff Details Major Strategy Shift
ConsenSys is reorganizing. The sprawling company, which is working to build an internet of decentralized applications on the Ethereum blockchain, has entered a new phase called ConsenSys 2.0, which its leadership says will be marked by greater efficiency, accountability, and attention to revenue. Underperforming projects will get the axe, and the arm of ConsenSys that oversees venture investment will become more like a traditional startup accelerator. Although these changes are already underway, most employees learned of the initiative last Friday night. At nearly 7:45 p.m., after the work week had drawn to a close in the company's Brooklyn headquarters, they received a company-wide letter from Joseph Lubin, ConsenSys's globe-trotting founder and CEO. In the letter, a copy of which has been reviewed by BREAKER, Lubin lays out a sweeping plan to make ConsenSys more focused and competitive in an increasingly crowded field.

ASUS's Crypto Mining Partnership Is Perfect for Gamers Who Live With Their Parents
Computer hardware and electronics company ASUS has launched a new partnership that allows gamers to mine cryptocurrency with their idle graphics cards, as reported last week by CoinDesk, Cointelegraph, CCN, and all of the usual suspects. To bring in these sweet crypto returns, gamers install an application which runs in the background of their PC, where it uses the GPU to perform crypto mining calculations when it is not being otherwise occupied. It seems like a great example of using spare capacity'you bought the graphics card anyway, so why not make money with it but none of these articles mention that these gamers would probably make less money through mining than they'd spend on electricity.

How the Airbnb of Data Storage Plans to Take on Amazon S3
Music. Videos. Pictures. Games. Snaps. Tweets. Statuses. As a civilization, the amount of data we create each year is increasing at an exponential rate, driven by the proliferation of new apps, new formats, and ubiquitous recording devices. The data may come from almost innumerable sources, but today, a small number of companies handle the majority of its storage. Among these, Amazon's S3 cloud storage dominates, with more than one third of the market share for cloud infrastructure services globally. That's why for the growing movement in favor of web decentralization, data storage is a critical area to address, a challenge that a handful of startups is currently trying to tackle.

Joseph Lubin interview with Breakermag
Joe Lubin was once less interested in changing the world than escaping it. Half a decade ago, he was living in Kingston, helping a Jamaican model break into the music business. Having worked on Wall Street, he thought the 2008 financial crisis was only the beginning of a system-wide global collapse to which he foresaw no solution and no alternative. He had considered battening down the hatches in South America or starting up an urban farm in Brooklyn before settling on Jamaica as the place to ride out the coming storm. In those recession years, his present life'as a co-founder of Ethereum, as the globe-trotting CEO of blockchain venture studio ConsenSys, as a cryptocurrency billionaire'was literally unfathomable.

BreakerMag - Mark Jeffrey On Building An Emergency 911 For the World (NEO Project GUARD)
Mark Jeffrey traces the origins of Guardian Circlethe 911-type emergency service he's building'to the day he received some garbled text messages from his girlfriend. He went to her house and found her on the floor of her garage, experiencing what appeared to be a stroke. She could barely talk, half her body had shut down, and she was blind in one eye, Jeffrey recalls. He rushed her to the hospital, where doctors determined that she was experiencing a type of migraine that often presents as a stroke. She's fine'I always feel like I need to add that when I tell the story, Jeffrey says. But what if it had been a stroke Timing would've been everything. If she hadn't gotten to the hospital, she would've died. I later found out that help was all around her. There were, like, eight people she knew within a thousand yards. I figured there was an app for this. There were a lot of panic-button apps, but nothing that put together a map and an alert system, and organized a response.

Vitalik Buterin On the Hard Lessons of Ethereum's First Five Years [BreakerMag]
It may be that no one can truly understand what Vitalik Buterin has been through in the five years since writing, at age 19, the white paper describing the Ethereum protocol. As he worked with a group of collaborators to flesh out his design, he came to be seen as not only the inventor of Ethereum but something like its high priest, invested with no formal authority yet wielding tremendous soft power. Even critics say he has borne the responsibility with a maturity beyond his years. The first major attempt to go beyond bitcoin, the Ethereum network now boasts thousands of developers, and its cryptocurrency, ether, has a market capitalization of more than $21 billion, which almost certainly makes Buterin one of the wealthiest people in history to have no discernible ego. The New Yorker called him indifferently rich, and indeed it is difficult to imagine a humbler or more unprepossessing centimillionaire. In March, when the price of ether was about $377 (it's now hovering around $209), Forbes pegged Buterin's net worth at between $100 million and $200 million.

Real Estate Token Sales Are So Next Year [Breakermag]
The St Regis Aspen hotel boasts 179 rooms, a 15,000 square foot luxury spa, and terrific views of the Rocky Mountains on all sides. It's a prestige venue by any measure, and apparently an attractive investment as well. Recently, a New York asset management group closed an $18 million digital token offering for a small share of the property, working with investors recruited through Indiegogo, a platform that usually funds projects like this fitness robot for pets. The ICO gold rush has been dominated by utility tokens marketed as advance purchases of services and products from the sponsoring business. These sales were often labeled to avoid being treated as securities and thus regulated by the SEC (though the SEC is seeing through the spin and cracking down anyway). By contrast, security tokens are sold as equity or debt securities, and sometimes as rights to share in future profits or revenues. They are issued in compliance with securities laws and are more like traditional stocks. Compliant platforms have to satisfy know-your-customer and anti-money laundering rules. Issuers need to know whether buyers are qualified investors and may limit the number of investors involved.

Jeff Wilser interviews Galia Benartzi of Bancor: "I m starting to get the sense that what Bancor is doing replacing a real-time buyer-vs
After my first day in Israel, two things are immediately clear: 1) I'm too fat to live here. Or, more specifically, I don't have the body you need for the beaches of Tel Aviv, where the scene is more SoCal than SoCal. Men do push-ups. Models play beach volleyball. Two women jog by on a running path, and a guy on a Segway follows behind with a camera, apparently filming a commercial for sports bras. 2) I'm too poor to live here. Or, more specifically, I can't hang with the deep pockets of Israel's exploding tech and startup scene, Silicon Wadi, which includes players like Google, Facebook, Intel, SAP, and basically the entire opening credits of Silicon Valley.

Making Sense of Bitcoin's Insatiable Energy Appetite
This story is part of BREAKER's week-long celebration of the bitcoin white paper, which is ten years old this week. It was in 2013, midway through the decade inaugurated by Satoshi Nakamoto's paper, that Guy Lane began to suspect that bitcoin was eating the world. Lane, an environmental scientist in Australia, came upon two articles that described how the energy required to mine bitcoin was ballooning. The unit for measuring electrical power is the kilowatt-hour (kWh), the energy used by a 1000-watt appliance running for an hour. The data Lane found suggested that bitcoin's energy consumption was increasing by 70,000 kWh every week. That's equivalent of a medium-size town, he says. As a carbon auditor, I was intrigued. I wanted to understand what was going on.

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