MIT Professor: Blockchain Can Allow for More Inclusive Borderless EconomyICOs Raised 160 Million in First Half of January Report Says

MIT Professor: Blockchain Can Allow for More Inclusive, Borderless Economy


Blockchain can allow for the creation of a borderless economy,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor Silvio Micali claimed in a interview on Bloomberg’s Daybreak Asia, Jan. 21. Speaking on the show, Micali outlined three major properties of blockchain systems that must function simultaneously to enable a more inclusive and borderless economy — security, decentralization and scalability. According to MIT’s Ford Professor of Engineering, until recently, only two of those three basic properties could have been achieved simultaneously at any time.

When asked about scalability in particular, Micali stressed that a decentralized system really needs superior technology to provide the same level of participation and confidence that is enjoyed by centralized systems. When asked about security breaches in blockchain systems, Micali stated that centralized systems are far more vulnerable to hacking attempts, pointing to the frequency of security and privacy breaches that repeatedly take place among centralized institution of various sorts. The professor expressed optimism about blockchain in terms of security, noting the level of security built into the concept of

a trustless system:

“Only a true decentralized system, where the power is really so spread that is going to be essentially practically impossible to attack them all and when you don’t need to trust this or that particular node, is going to bring actually the security we really need and deserve.”

Recently, a group of major United States universities, including MIT, Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, announced the launch of Unit-e, a cryptocurrency project touted as a “globally scalable decentralized payments network.” Earlier in January, MIT Technology Review issued an article claiming that 2019 will become the year when blockchain technology finally becomes normalized.

Article Produced By
Helen Partz

Helen is passionate about learning languages, cultures and the Internet. She has years of experience working at international online advertising projects. Growing interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in late 2017, she joined Cointelegraph as a writer.


ICOs Raised $160 Million in First Half of January, Report Says


Initial coin offerings (ICOs) completed

in the first half of January have raised around $160 million. The figure was provided in a report by ICO rating service ICObench shared with Cointelegraph on Jan. 18. ICOs completed by Jan. 15 have managed to raise about 33 percent of the combined amount raised in the previous month of December. Half of that sum was secured by just one project, the report notes. According to ICObench, the number of fundraisers that are set to take place in January is more than 150, a figure similar to the past seven months, excluding December.

In January, the combined hard cap — the maximum amount of money that a project can secure from investors during an ICO — amounts to more than $4 billion. As per the report, three fundraisers out of the five largest this month have reached or almost reached their hard caps. ICObench also reported that the number of ICO listings has continued to decline in January, suggesting that the phenomenon is losing its popularity. In terms of amount of funds raised, Canada has been leading during the first half of the month, with a combined figure of $80 million. However, when it comes to the actual number of projects, the United States ranked first.

ICO statistics by country in the first half of January 2019.

On Jan. 16, major crypto exchange BitMEX released a report claiming that ICO teams have lost 54 percent of value of the initial $24 billion worth of tokens allocated to themselves due to the decline in coin prices.

Article Produced By
Helen Partz

Helen is passionate about learning languages, cultures and the Internet. She has years of experience working at international online advertising projects. Growing interested in Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies in late 2017, she joined Cointelegraph as a writer.

Forget Skype hang up on Hangouts Beam your 3D avatar into AR space instead

Forget Skype, hang up on Hangouts. Beam your 3D avatar into AR space instead

Step into Spatial, a new 3D augmented-reality technology that promises to unleash remote collaboration from the screen and bring it into the room.

Imagine you’re in an office with colleagues,

brainstorming about the next conference you’re hosting. “How about Vancouver?” you ask. Your voice activates, as if by magic, a transparent browser window on a wall, listing the results of a search on “Vancouver.” “I don’t think so,” says your colleague from across the table. She calls up another search and more windows appear in the air, this time with information on London venues. She reaches out and picks one with a pinching motion, then flicks it down onto the table in front of you. Your 3D holographic avatars?—?because you’re working from different cities?—?look at each other and nod in agreement.

This is Spatial?—?a software platform that lets collaborators beam in from anywhere in the world to collaborate in a single 3D augmented reality space. Think Hangouts with all participants physically free to move around, while playing with the cool Minority Report gesture-based interface?—?except it, too, has escaped the 2D screen.

Created by TED Fellow and interface designer Jinha Lee and his colleague (and TED speaker) Anand Agarawala, Spatial runs on AR headsets to let users collaborate, search, brainstorm and share content in a virtual AR space. While the technology is now being piloted as an enterprise tool by the likes of Ford Motor Company, Lee reckons that the rest of us will be hanging out together in virtual 3D spaces within a few years. We asked him to tell us more.

What does Spatial do?

Spatial transforms any space you have into a 3D collaborative virtual workspace, allowing people who are to join from anywhere. Participants put on AR glasses like Microsoft HoloLens, then run Spatial to invite remote participants. Everyone is represented to each other in the AR space as a 3D avatar, and works together as if they’re sitting with each other, face to face.

Once participants have teleported into Spatial, they can use the entire 3D space around them to visualize and immerse themselves in any topic. You can pull up objects and, grabbing them with a pinching gesture, throw them out anywhere into the “room”?—?whether they’re documents, photos, browser windows, 3D models. You can write a sticky note, for example, and send it out from your phone onto a wall or a desk. It can even just hang in the air. Participants can move freely around these virtual objects, which stay put in the virtual space. Everyone in the session can see the process as it happens, and can then interact with your objects as they wish. All this lets you brainstorm in a group setting very quickly. The content is saved so that it can be reloaded later. Some might call it Slack for 3D space.

Can you give an example of how it might work?

Spatial allows people working in any industry or creative endeavor to quickly externalize thoughts, making them into objects that other people can see and interact with. Let’s say I want to host a discussion of a new office design. My collaborator, who’s joining me as a 3D avatar, shares his sketches from his laptop, and organizes them on the wall we’ve mapped out in our virtual space?—?a common point of reference. I can lift up my fingers and say, “Boutique design.” As the words pop out of my mouth, inspirational images and 3D models of boutique interior designs appear before our eyes. Other participants can leave sticky notes on selected images, or grab those images and move them into piles, or even toss them across the room to you. Biomedical companies can invite experts from all around the globe to a room filled with patients’ medical charts and X-rays, for example. Artists can mock up an exhibition; filmmakers can storyboard. Engineers can review and simulate their data models together, and so on.

Say I’m here in Cambridge, and you’re in New York. If I host the call, does that mean you will see my space in Cambridge?

I won’t actually see your real-life space. You’d scan a big wall or table as a point of reference, and then when I teleport into your AR room, I’d see your virtual wall, and it’d be matched to mine, so we’d be looking at the same “wall.” It doesn’t have to be wall-centric, though. Tables or even the full 3D VR space can be used as a point of reference. We envision that in the future, we will be able to see each other’s real-life spaces, too, as the hardware evolves.Above, a demonstration of how Spatial works and what it looks like from within the augmented reality program.

We already meet virtually using video chat apps like Hangouts, Skype and even Facebook Messenger. Why not just keep using these tools for long-distance communication?

Those applications are fine for one-to-one exchange of information, but they’re still not great for creating information interactively, especially in groups. For instance, two people can get on a Skype chat and simultaneously work on a Google doc in another window, but this breaks down when there are more people, or if there’s more complex work to do than taking notes or editing a document.

Meanwhile, a larger group can meet virtually using Hangouts, but those conversations only allow one person at a time to dominate the conversation, while the others sit passively. Real interactivity is very limited in either scenario. Spatial creates a virtual environment that allows for more active group interaction.Participants who don’t have AR headsets can still participate in Spatial meetings, represented in the AR space as a floating webcam window.

How does Spatial generate such realistic-looking 3D avatars?

Spatial automatically generates a holographic version of you. You just connect and link your Facebook, where Spatial picks up a photograph of your face, and generates a static 3D shape from the 2D image using machine-learning APIs. Then it animates the avatar with realistic movement based on your gestures, eye blinks and voice. Combined with Spatial Audio, this gives a compelling presence of each user.

Does Spatial work if you don’t have AR goggles?

Yes. We have a web app, so even if you don’t have a headset, you can still join in with your computer or phone browser. What you get is kind of like a first-person-shooter, 3D-game style scene on your browser, with little people walking and talking in your window. From the perspective of the other participants, you’ll be represented as a floating webcam. You can still navigate and upload content. We believe that in the near future, the majority of people will work with AR goggles, but until we get there, we’d like to allow people without headsets to participate in Spatial meetings, too.

Before Spatial, Jinha Lee developed SpaceTop, a 3D computing interface that allowed users to virtually reach inside the screen to type, draw and directly manipulate interfaces that appeared to float in 3D space above the keyboard. Growing up as a child in love with arts and crafts, I enjoyed building and expressing my ideas using my hands. When I first learned to use the computer, I remember feeling extremely frustrated that 2D screens and mouse cursors?—?essentially a small dot?—?were all I could use to navigate. I thought there was a far more potential in human-computer symbiosis, which can only be realized by increasing the communication bandwidth between the two.

During my time at MIT and Microsoft, I began to develop 3D interfaces like SpaceTop using transparent screens and Kinect cameras. Then, at Samsung, I created MediaSquare, a user interface that allows multiple people to easily toss content onto big screens with their individual devices, turning TVs into a social hub for the living room. Throughout these projects, I was essentially trying to address the question “What would people would do when computing is liberated from screens and lives in 3D space surrounding us?” However, I emulated such immersive environments using the screen-based technologies that happened to be available at the time.

One of Jinha Lee’s former projects, MediaSquare, allowed multiple users to share and manipulate content simultaneously on a single big screen via their personal devices. This represented a step towards his vision of collective screen-free computing but was still confined to a screen.Then, when I saw the HoloLens in 2015, which was then still very new, I realized that fully immersive 3D computing environments might not be so far away after all. Along the way, I met Spatial’s co-founder Anand Agarawala. Anand has been a pioneer in the user-interface space, having created BumpTop?—?a multitouch and physics-based 3D user interface. We shared our vision that computing should live in 3D space, decided that now would be a good time to bring this vision into reality. We founded Spatial at the end of 2016.

Do you think this is the future of computing?

Yes. I believe that phones and computers will be replaced with 3D AR user interfaces in the near future. Eventually this will happen on the street, but we’ll see this transition first at the workplace. That’s why we’re focusing on enterprise applications to start with. Companies in a variety of industries?—?manufacturing, biomedical, design, e-commerce?—?are currently piloting Spatial as a solution for connecting their global workforce.

It will be interesting to see what happens when AR computing becomes the norm, freeing technology from screens. In the past ten years, computing has evolved to become increasingly personal and intimate: we actually carry individual worlds in our pockets. It’s been very successful, but I think there’s big potential for connecting multiple minds from different spaces and allowing them to collaborate seamlessly and fluently. Essentially, Spatial is designing a transition from the era of personal computing to collective computing.

Article Produced By
Karen Frances

organic unidirectional time machine

What’s Difference Between ICO Tokens and Cryptocurrency Coins?

What’s Difference Between ICO Tokens and Cryptocurrency Coins?

Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin are becoming

increasingly more mainstream every day, but the terminology that surrounds them can be confusing even to seasoned crypto veterans, let alone newcomers.Interested in investing in Bitcoins or other Altcoins? Here’s how we buy Bitcoin and Ethers. You will receive $10 of FREE BITCOIN when you buy or sell over $100 worth of any digital currency.

A lot has changed since an unknown person or group of people under the name Satoshi Nakamoto released Bitcoin, the first decentralized cryptocurrency in the world, in 2009. According to CoinMarketCap, there are now almost 1,500 cryptocurrencies, the total market capitalization of the entire crypto market is over $700 billion, and the daily trading volume exceeds $30 billion on a regular basis. To understand how we got to where we are today, and what the difference between ICO tokens and cryptocurrency coins is, we need to start with the basics.

What Is a Cryptocurrency?

The term “cryptocurrency” consists of two words: crypto and currency. Even though you may not be able to define it, you already know what a currency is because you use it almost every day as a medium of exchange for goods and services. Investopedia defines a currency as “a generally accepted form of money, including coins and paper notes, which is issued by a government and circulated within an economy.”

The word “crypto” is short for “cryptography,” which is the practice of using various protocols to secure communication in the presence of third parties. Modern cryptography is synonymous with encryption, the process of encoding information in such a way that only authorized parties can access it. Put together, a cryptocurrency can be defined as a medium of exchange that uses cryptography to secure its transactions.

Cryptocurrency Coins and Tokens

While there were other media of exchange that used cryptography to secure transactions before 2009, Bitcoin was the first one to also be decentralized, meaning that it’s not controlled by any single central authority. The decentralized nature of Bitcoin comes from its use of the blockchain technology, which is a distributed public ledger that records bitcoin transactions in a growing list of records, called blocks. Each block of transactions is cryptographically linked to the previous block, making blockchains resistant to data modification.

Because the blockchain technology was such a novel concept when Satoshi Nakamoto implemented it as a core Bitcoin component in 2009, many other cryptocurrencies were soon derived from Bitcoin, including Litecoin, Darkcoin, Quark, Yacoin, Novacoin, or BitBlock, just to name a few. Collectively, these Bitcoin derivatives are sometimes called Bitcoin clones. What they have in common is the fact that they are all derived from Bitcoin and are meant to be used as media of exchange. Apart from cryptocurrency coins that have been derived directly from Bitcoin, there are also so-called altcoins. An altcoin is an alternative blockchain project that exists in addition to Bitcoin and its blockchain.

By far the best-known altcoin is Ethereum, which is an open-source, public, blockchain-based distributed computing platform featuring smart contract functionality. Because Ethereum’s purpose isn’t to serve as a means of exchange, it doesn’t issue any cryptocurrency coins. Instead, Ethereum issues value tokens called “ether.” Compared to cryptocurrency coins, tokens offer wider functionality, often being used to access various features of the platform that provides them. In the case of Ethereum, ether is used to pay for transaction fees and computational services on the Ethereum network. But because tokens hold value, they can also be used the same way as single-purpose cryptocurrency coins can: to purchase goods and services.

ICO Tokens

An ICO is “an unregulated means by which funds are raised for a new cryptocurrency venture. An Initial Coin Offering (ICO) is used by startups to bypass the rigorous and regulated capital-raising process required by venture capitalists or banks,” as explained by Investopedia. During an ICO, tokens are sold to early backers of the project in exchange for legal tender or other cryptocurrencies, usually Ethereum or Bitcoin.

For example, during its September 2017 token offering, the Filecoin ICO raised over $257 million by selling its FIL tokens in exchange for ether to fund the development of its decentralized network for digital storage through which users can effectively rent out their spare capacity. Most ICO tokens don’t exist on a separate blockchain. Instead, startups take advantage of the blockchain technology to build their own projects and DAPPS (decentralized applications) through smart contracts on Ethereum’s blockchain.

“Think of Ethereum like the Internet and all the DAPPS as websites that run in it. There is something really interesting about these DAPPS, they are all decentralized and not owned by an individual, they are owned by people. The way that happens is usually by a crowd-sale called the ‘ICO.’ Basically, you buy certain tokens of that DAPP in exchange for your ether,” explains Ameer Rosic. The main difference between cryptocurrency coins/tokens and ICO tokens is that disruption on the network that hosts ICO tokens doesn’t affect just the network itself, but also the ICO tokens hosted on it. Bitcoin clones and all other altcoins, on the other hand, are completely independent.


Cryptocurrency coins are media of exchange that use cryptography to secure transactions. Value tokens are used by blockchain-based projects that don’t strive to serve as digital currency for a multitude of different purposes. For example, the blockchain-based distributed computing platform Ethereum uses its value token, called ether, to compensate participant nodes for computations performed. ICO tokens are issued during a crowd-sale, and they depend on another platform, such as Ethereum. In practice, the terms described in this article are often used haphazardly and interchangeably. So, even if you don’t use the most appropriate term, the chances are that you will be understood without any problems.

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From Tim Cook to Yuval Harari Disrupting Data Protecting Privacy Building Blockchains and Hacking Humans

From Tim Cook to Yuval Harari – Disrupting Data, Protecting Privacy, Building Blockchains and Hacking Humans

In a recent Time article,

Apple CEO Tim Cook calls for legislation to prevent data breaches and irresponsible collection of user profiles. “I and others are calling on the U.S. Congress to pass comprehensive federal privacy legislation—a landmark package of reforms that protect and empower the consumer.”

In 2018, Cook laid out four principles to guide legislation. The principles presented to a global body of regulators included the right to have data minimized, the right to knowledge of data collected, the right to access data, and the right to collect and delete personal data.Still, he believes that laws alone will not ensure privacy rights are observed. He wants tools that can help protect consumers from the shadow economy where data is sold to data brokers without users’ consent.

Cook explains,

“Meaningful, comprehensive federal privacy legislation should not only aim to put consumers in control of their data, it should also shine a light on actors trafficking in your data behind the scenes. Some state laws are looking to accomplish just that, but right now there is no federal standard protecting Americans from these practices.”

“That’s why we believe the Federal Trade Commission should establish a data-broker clearinghouse, requiring all data brokers to register, enabling consumers to track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place, and giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and online, once and for all.”  In 2018 Cook championed the same principles blockchain developers are prioritizing: efforts to build transparent, decentralized systems that give users greater control over their digital identities.

While Cook proposes the creation of a centralized body to tackle privacy issues on the internet, blockchain developers are working on decentralized projects to solve many of the same issues. But the approach is fundamentally different. Cook trusts that a new group of people can sort out privacy issues; blockchain developers put more faith in math and machines. They’re building automated systems that can operate in cryptographically secure environments to monitor and enforce agreements and data-access privileges.

Different blockchain technologies, both public and private, offer different solutions for various privacy issues.

You can check "Have I Been Pwned" to see if your data has ever been breached.

Privacy focused internet browser Brave, for example, is designed to protect consumer data. Brave works closely with blockchain identity startup Civic, using its verification services to protect users’ identities. Brave reports that it currently has 5.5 million monthly users that avoid data-harvesting intermediaries.

Projects such as Enigma, Dfinity, Ethereum and Tron are building scalable blockchain solutions to create a decentralized internet. The idea is to rethink how data is moving in and out of vast silos that are controlled by corporations and governments. By giving users control of their data, and not clearinghouses, blockchain developers are potentially averting what author and historian Yuval Harari believes is the most challenging dilemma of our lifetime.

Says Harari,

“There is a lot of talk about hacking computers and emails and bank accounts, but actually we are entering into the era of hacking humans. And I would say, the most important fact anybody who is alive today needs to know about in the 21st century, is that we are becoming hackable animals. This is the most important thing….

“It starts on the surface. And this is what we already see today. It starts by having corporations and governments amass enormous amounts of data about where we go and what we search online and what we buy, and things like that. But this is all surface, and outside: how I behave in the world. The big watershed, the big change will come once it starts penetrating inside, inside your body. Once you can start monitoring and surveilling what’s happening inside your body, inside your brain, then you can really hack human beings. And this – we’re very close to it.”

Harari says an external system can eventually learn to know people better than they know themselves. “It will never know you perfectly. There is nothing perfect in the world. There is no such thing as perfect knowledge. Amazon or the government will never know you 100%. But it doesn’t need to. It just needs to know you better than you know yourself. And this is not very difficult, because most people don’t know themselves very well.”

It could take decades before the first human being is potentially hacked. Until then, the focus remains on securing data and eliminating abuses by profit-driven business models. As people try different methods to solve a common problem, from the creation of more centralized bodies or clearing houses, to the proliferation of decentralized blockchains that are both public and private, several outcomes could emerge. And there is no certain way to predict the future. But one question is becoming strikingly clear and increasingly critical as engineers and entrepreneurs move forward to advance various technologies. Which one should we trust more – man or machine?

Article Produced By
The Daily Hodl Staff

WordPress Partners with Google News to Launch Open Source Platform for Newsrooms

WordPress Partners with Google News to Launch Open Source Platform for Newsrooms

On January 14, 2019, WordPress announced the launch of Newspack by WordPress,

an Open Source Platform for Newsrooms which will begin operations in mid-2019 with backing from ConsenSys, Civil media and others.

Financial Backing

This new solution is in partnership with Google and the Google News Initiative who contributed $1.2 million to the cause. It is also being backed with financial contributions from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism ($400,000), ConsenSys, the venture studio backing Civil Media ($350,000), and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation ($250,000). According to the statement, another $200,000 from an unnamed fifth source is expected to be given by the end of the month.

Economic Models

The main goal of Newspack is to create source publishing and revenue-platform for news publications. It is widely known in the publishing industry that maintaining an economically viable financial structure for newsrooms isn’t always easy and this new platform helps to bypass that problem. The new platform will also incorporate the best editorial practices from the industry. When Civil first launched their own platform, they spoke about how journalistic integrity is better preserved when the newsrooms are not at a loss for how to sustain themselves financially, and this comes into play here as well.

This sentiment was echoed by Kinsey Wilson, the president of, who said, “Local news organizations are struggling to find sustainable models for journalism — a crisis that has very real implications for democracy. We’re joining with industry leaders to bring technology, publishing and business expertise together in a single platform that can be shared by news organizations across the globe.” The platform will be launched formally in the middle of 2019 and will accept about a dozen news organizations, though there are plans to accept more by 2020.

More Details

Applications from potential charter newsrooms have already opened and close by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time. For the developmental period, which will last till 2020, Automattic will fund the project, after which there will be “operating fee’s” of between $1,000 to $2,000 charged per month to participating newsrooms. Requirements for potential participants include a demonstration of either editorial and financial success in the past or a strong business plan, original content being produced and the meeting of the needs of a distinct geographic region or distinct subject area.

Article Produced By
Tokoni Uti

Tokoni Uti is a writer with several years of experience whose work has appeared in the Huffington Post, The Los Angele Free Press, The San Diego Free Press, Genvieve magazine and Blockchain Reporter. She holds a degree in accounting from Bowen University and lives in Lagos, Nigeria.

The Endgame for LinkedIn Is Coming

The Endgame for LinkedIn Is Coming

After two years, Microsoft still hasn’t delivered on its grand vision for LinkedIn. And it may never do so.


Every time this LinkedIn commercial pops up on YouTube

I am reminded of how low the company has fallen to. High school standard slides, accompanied by stock music purchased from Shutterstock.How did a company like this managed to sell itself for US$27 billion?—?at a 50% premium over its last traded share price!Dumb-ass buyer? Nope, it was Microsoft, under Satya Nadella’s leadership as CEO.

Nadella is credited with turning around Microsoft, after Steve Ballmer’s US$7.9 billion mistake buying Nokia back in September 2013. (The money was pretty much written off by Microsoft in July 2015.) But did Nadella make the same mistake with LinkedIn, except it would be 3.4x bigger?A classic case of turning a loser into a winner… for one person.

The only clear winner in the whole deal is Reid Hoffman, the founder and Chairman of LinkedIn. Just four months before the acquisition, LinkedIn’s share price plunged 44% in one day after the company announced a bad quarter and lowered forecasts. Hoffman lost over a billion dollars in his net worth, which was about one third of his wealth then. Fast forward to June 13, 2016, LinkedIn announced a merger deal with Microsoft. The stock price shot up by nearly 50%. Hoffman’s net worth went back up by US$800 million. Four months after the merger was completed Hoffman also joined Microsoft’s Board.

‘Inconsistency’ would be the word

By all measures LinkedIn wasn’t a great company; even though it kept boasting about its user growth. Having hundreds of millions of users is pointless if you can’t effectively monetize it. In fact, it becomes a huge cost to keep the platform running and prevent bad user experience due to capacity issues at scale. LinkedIn’s historical ability to make money for its investors is as choppy as its stock price.

But would it be fair to conclude this without taking into account market conditions? Well, the best comparison to LinkedIn would be Facebook, which was listed almost exactly a year after LinkedIn. Since then its earnings and stock price has steadily trended up, whereas LinkedIn was a constant whip-saw.Was LinkedIn’s turbulent performance bad luck, bad times or bad management?

Where were the problems?

In the aftermath of that 44% stock price plunge, much was written about what LinkedIn’s problems were. History is history, but let’s look at four which are pertinent to our discussion later.

?Jack of all trades.
LinkedIn had?—?and still has?—?multiple branded apps: Job Search, SlideShare, Learning, Recruiter, Sales Navigator and something call ‘Elevate”, which purports to “build your reputation by sharing smart content”. A news and publishing app called Pulse was integrated into the main app in May 2017. The idea of selling relevant services to your user base is good, but not if you can’t do it well.

?Bad at integration and scaling.
LinkedIn acquired many companies to introduce various services, but wasn’t so good at making them work. In July 2014 it acquired Bizo for US$175 million to build a B2B lead generation product. That product was scrapped less than a year later. CEO Jeff Weiner said it took “more resources than anticipated to scale”. In April 2015 LinkedIn made its largest ever acquisition?—?US$1.5 billion for, an online video training provider. In Q1 2016 Weiner again “acknowledged that integrating and scaling Lynda will require greater investments than previously anticipated”.

?Ads were expensive and user-unfriendly.
Natalie Halimi, a marketer with 10 years of experience, wrote about LinkedIn ads back in July 2014. She used the headers “high CPC, poor dashboard, poor analysis” and concluded “ LinkedIn need to reassess their pricing strategy to provide better ROI for advertisers”. I too have tried using LinkedIn Ads and compared them to Facebook, Twitter and Google. I have to say I completely agree with Halimi.

?Overvalued, full stop.
Just before the plunge, LinkedIn shares were trading at 50x forward earnings. Twitter was at 30x, Facebook 34x and Google 21x. It was one of the most expensive stocks in tech. Even after the plunge, analysts felt that LinkedIn should be trading at 30% lower to reflect fair value. But despite knowing all these, Microsoft decided to acquire LinkedIn… at a 50% premium.

Why?Microsoft’s prescription: remedy or mistake? In an internal email to employees after the acquisition was announced, Nadella claimed he wants to create “a vibrant network that brings together a professional’s information in LinkedIn’s public network with the information in Office 365 and Dynamics”. By doing this, he said Microsoft would then be able to detect the project the user was working on and help them connect with “experts” via LinkedIn to assist them with the task or serve them relevant articles in their LinkedIn news feed.

This begs two very important questions.

One, anyone who uses LinkedIn frequently will know profiles are hard to trust these days. Many are fluffy or even completely fake. How would the experts be qualified? Two, digging into users’ projects provokes personal privacy and corporate secrecy issues. Microsoft tracking what their users do in Office 365? Sounds like a class action legal suit to me.

Nobody I know in big corporates or government organizations has gushed to me yet about how LinkedIn has served up great articles or experts for whatever they are working on in Office 365. I doubt that vision is going according to plan.

The irony is more than thick

Irony 1: If Nadella’s strategy to attract even more Office 365 users via integrating LinkedIn works, it may face monopoly lawsuits yet again. When Microsoft introduced Office 365, it was to battle Google’s G Suite which appealed to smaller businesses with its cheaper pricing and cloud-based subscription model.

It is succeeding. According to a 2018 Bitglass survey, Office 365’s global market share has gone up to 56.3% from 7.7% in just four years. G Suite has stayed at about 25% since 2016.


Success in this strategy will just create the same old legal issue Microsoft had always battled?—?MONOPOLY. Irony 2: Why wasn’t it Google that bought LinkedIn instead? Here’s an interesting tidbit: LinkedIn’s employees were actually using G suite?—?the whole bag: Gmail, Calendar, Drive, Hangouts, Docs, Sheets…?—?before the Microsoft acquisition.


Irony 3: Two years after the integration begun, the Microsoft team was still in the process of moving the LinkedIn team over to Office 365. How could Microsoft possibly convert its worldwide enterprise users to a sophisticated combination of Office 365, Dynamics and LinkedIn when it is struggling itself to move the LinkedIn folks over to Office 365?

And so LinkedIn is facing integration problems yet again with big acquisitions, except now the financial burden is on Microsoft…Could Microsoft succeed as the (super generous) white knight? The acquisition was completed in December 2016. It’s been more than two years. How has it been? According to Microsoft the acquisition is a big success. It has managed to grow LinkedIn’s revenue quarter after quarter since. But revenue is all Microsoft ever talks about in its press releases.


LinkedIn is still operating at a loss for Microsoft due to the large amount of intangible assets it has to write off on the purchase?—?US$7.89 billion to be exact. In FY 2017, LinkedIn brought in US$2.3 billion of revenue for Microsoft. But after amortizing US$866 of intangible assets, Microsoft made an operating loss of US$924 million on LinkedIn. In FY 2018, the situation was the same. Despite LinkedIn’s revenue more than doubling to US$5.3 billion, after amortization of US$1.5 billion Microsoft recorded an operating loss of US$987 million.

The amortization will continue for another 20 years based on Microsoft’s FY 2018 report. Most of the impact will be felt in the first seven years, after which the amount tapers off to about US$107 million per year. But here’s the REAL kicker. Remember the part earlier where Microsoft paid a 50% premium for a company that was hardly making any profits before the acquisition? Well, that means it pretty much bought a company based on conceptual ‘Goodwill’ and not actual value?—?US$16.8 billion worth to be exact.

In layman terms, what this means for Microsoft is, even after the US$7.89 billion has been completely amortized, it is still making a loss of US$16.8 billion on the acquisition. It doesn’t take any more number crunching to realize that Microsoft has a huge task ahead of it to prove the price it paid for LinkedIn was worth it. And I think Microsoft’s shareholders have came to the same conclusion.

Put your money where your mouth is

In October 2018, Microsoft said in a regulatory filing that activity on LinkedIn will be one of six factors which will be used to determine how much performance stocks Nadella and four other top company executives get. Performance stocks accounted for one-third of Nadella’s compensation in FY 2018. The tracking will take place over a 3-year period and the payout will only be given in 2020. At first glance binding Microsoft’s key leadership to the performance of LinkedIn made perfect sense. After all, it was the largest acquisition the company had ever made.

But consider this:

When the acquisition was first announced, Weiner said that Nadella promised him LinkedIn would be operated as a “fully independent entity”. Well, Weiner reports directly to Nadella under the terms of the deal. How independent can your decisions be when your boss’s bonus depends on you now? So it is indeed strange that this compensation scheme was not imposed on Hoffman and Weiner but Nadella and his C-suite instead. Even more strange is why Microsoft’s compensation board weren’t concerned about user activity not translating into actual profits for LinkedIn.

The metric being used is bizarre. Microsoft will count the “number of times logged-in members visit LinkedIn, separated by 30 minutes of inactivity”. So that’s basically how often me and other LinkedIn members open our LinkedIn mobile app or visit its website. How does that translate into LinkedIn being able to make more money? Other than perhaps create the chance to deliver more ad impressions?

But Cost Per Impression (CPM) is already pretty competitive compared to rival platforms according to one study for 2019. It is Cost Per Click (CPC) that is still stubbornly high for LinkedIn.Indeed, there is no transparency as to how LinkedIn’s revenue has grown quarter after quarter since the acquisition. LinkedIn is now reported as a product under Microsoft’s ‘Productivity and Business Processes’ segment with few financial details given. In any case, the pressure is on for Nadella and his team. 2020 is coming soon, and it could be either pay day, or pain day.

Article Produced By
Lance Ng

I write about business, technology, society and people around the world… Investor | Entrepreneur | Thinker…

Binance Is Still the Top Exchange and Trans-Fee Mining Exchanges Are Gaining Market Share

Binance Is Still the Top Exchange and Trans-Fee Mining Exchanges Are Gaining Market Share


 Binance, a pure crypto-to-crypto exchange,
has been found to still be on top of the cryptocurrency exchange market, at a time in which exchanges using the controversial trans-fee mining model have been gaining a bigger piece of the pie. According to CryptoCompare’s December 2018 Exchange Review, Binance has managed to maintain its status as the number one crypto exchange in the ecosystem last month. The document shows that, on average, $664 million worth of cryptocurrencies changed hands on the exchange per day, for a total of $20.5 billion traded in December.

Binance was seemingly also the most visited exchange, after receiving 2.2 million visitors. Its users are currently able to trade 166 cryptos on the platform, on a total of 427 trading pairs. Behind Binance came OKEx, which traded $19.2 billion in December. While Binance, by itself, represented little over 10% of the cryptocurrency exchange market, CryptoCompare also found that exchanges using the controversial trans-fee mining model, which has been described as a “disguised ICO” revenue model, as it reimburses users’ trading fees with tokens.

Trans-Fee Mining Exchanges Gain Market Share

According to the report CoinBene, the number one cryptocurrency exchange using the controversial revenue model, traded $10.4 billion in December, followed by ZBG and EXX, which traded $5.13 billion, and $4.58 billion respectively. In total, trans-fee mining exchanges traded $23.2 billion, equivalent to 12% of the global spot trading volume, up from 7% in October. It has in the past been found that these exchanges have unusually thin order books, and a relatively low amount of traffic, taking into account the total trading volume they have. Thin order books mean these exchanges can see large price swings if their order books face large orders.

Order Book Depth Drops on Top Exchanges

Per CryptoCompare’s report, top cryptocurrency exchanges would have to, on average, face a $2.56 million sell order to see bitcoin’s price crash 10%, a figure that has dropped since November, and is lower on trans-fee mining exchanges.

The report reads:

Bitfinex, Kraken and Bitstamp maintained the most stable markets in December, while exchanges CoinBene, Bitforex, IDAX showed thin markets combined with high volumes.

It adds that on Bitfinex, where an average of $68.5 million were traded in December among its top 5 trading pairs, it would take a $9.5 million order to crash the price 10%, while on CoinBene it would take only a $13,600 order. An analysis of the crypto exchanges’ web traffic showed that these exchanges attracted “significantly lower daily visitors than similarly-sized exchanges.” CoinBene, for example, received 48,000 visitors per day, and traded $10.4 billion in December, while exchanges like Bitfinex and HitBTC with “similar high volumes” attracted over 360,000 visitors.

Article Produced By
Francisco Memoria

News Reporter

Francisco is a cryptocurrency writer who's in love with technology and focuses on helping people see the value digital currencies have. His work has been published in numerous reputable industry publications. Francisco holds various cryptocurrencies

Ex-Soviet State Uzbekistan Considers New Crypto Move

Ex-Soviet State Uzbekistan Considers New Crypto Move

Uzbekistan cash.
The country’s new Digital Trust fund is studying raising funds via security token offerings.

The former Soviet state of Uzbekistan, finally under new leadership after decades of Islam Karimov running the show, has discovered cryptocurrency at a time when no one seems to want it. No, they are not launching a cryptocurrency like Venezuela’s Petro coin or the breakaway province of Abkhazia’s coin plans over in the nation of Georgia. New president Shavkat Mirziyoyev says crypto is legitimate tender, at least for cryptocurrency traders. He legalized exchanges in the Central Asian nation in September and created a fund that same month to invest in blockchain-related startups and research and development called Digital Trust. Other than being an investment vehicle for new technology, Digital Trust is stepping on the crypto bandwagon in trying to bring security token offerings (STO) to a country few in the crypto world have even heard of.

Uzbekistan may not be on anybody’s radar, but its foray into STOs are another testament to crypto being akin to a potential godsend for raising capital in emerging and frontier nations like Uzbekistan. “We are looking very carefully at STO and just starting to build the framework for it,” says Bobir Akilkhanov, investment director at Digital Trust. “We understand that ICOs were a hype tool for investors, with no assets to back up those coins. STOs are more of a legitimate investment because you can tokenize your assets. We are working on the laws to build the market. We don’t want to hurry through it and make all these mistakes and have something that is not useful.”Uzbekistan’s President Shavkat Mirziyoyev launched a blockchain fund in September, two years into his presidency. Crypto exchanges and trading is legal in Uzbekistan. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko) photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

He did not disclose the funds assets under management. And they have no STOs or cryptocurrencies in the portfolio. Right now, this is just Uzbekistan testing the blockchain waters, which is separate from the muddy crypto waters, of course. Neighboring country Kazakhstan is doing the same with blockchain so as not to miss anything. One of their core holdings in the fund is Delta City, a large scale real estate project in Tashkent with all the smart-city bells and whistles … and no tokens.

Uzbekistan traditionally attracts investors from South Korea, China and Russia. For crypto and blockchain, the ones showing interest are from China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Singapore. STOs are sort of like the grown-up, Wall Street-ish version of the initial coin offering, the cryptocurrency market that ushered in the euphoria for crypto between 2016 and 2017 until that bubble burst in 2018. Coindesk, one of the premier publishers of crypto/blockchain news, hasn’t published a story about an ICO since December 5, and before that … November 14. If cryptocurrency investing is ever to professionalize, it needs traditional investors, and traditional investors seem to prefer the STO.

Digital Trust says it ideally wants to see if they can raise money for Uzbekistan assets in STO offerings, either belonging to private or public companies. The fund is currently looking to establish partnerships with leading blockchain service providers where they can test drive a homegrown STO market.Workers operate sewing machines at the Platinum Moynaq Cotton Cleaning Factory in Uzbekistan in March 2018. Proponents of cryptocurrency say that poor countries will have an easier time raising money from foreign investors via cryptocurrency. Photographer: Taylor Weidman/Bloomberg photo credit: © 2018 Bloomberg Finance LP© 2018 Bloomberg Finance LP

“Companies can raise money the old-fashioned way too, through bond offerings. But STOs are an interesting avenue because it makes some of your state assets more readily accessible to foreign investors,” says Igor Khmel, CEO and founder of BankEx in New York, a fintech company providing STO services. “For the same reason you are using a smartphone instead of a rotary phone, STOs are faster, cheaper and more efficient because of the blockchain-based securitization of assets. They are easier than an initial public offering, easier than venture funding and more accessible than the bond market."

Some are suggesting that STOs could help $1 trillion of assets migrate onto various blockchain platforms before the end of the decade. Like the dying ICO market, STOs have true believers. “If it plays out the way I think … it is likely to be the greatest investment opportunity humanity has seen in this era,” CEO of Polychain Capital in San Francisco, said during a panel discussion at the Web3 Summit in Berlin in October.Olaf Carlson-Wee, founder and chief executive officer of Polychain Capital. STOs are “the greatest investment opportunity” in crypto. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg photo credit: © 2017 Bloomberg Finance LP© 2017 Bloomberg Finance LP

According to a report in Longhash, a blockchain news and information portal with offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong, OpenFinance Network and tZERO are STO-focused exchanges set to offer a flood of listings in 2019. Coinbase recently acquired a broker-dealer license and an alternative trading system license, along with a registered investment advisor license, out of the expectation that cryptocurrency investing and fundraising is far from dead. Binance plans to launch an STO trading platform with the Malta Stock Exchange. And in Uzbekistan, BankEx is the early entrant in an otherwise tiny crypto market. Digital Trust brought them there.

“The main thing about these markets is you have to have open networks, which makes it kind of borderless, so it doesn’t matter where you are anyway,” says Diego Gutierrez Zaldivar, founder of RSK Labs in Argentina and a well-known bitcoin guru throughout Latin America. “Blockchain is just the combustion engine to all these things related to cryptocurrency, but you need the full car. You need an internet of value for all of these investment plans to come to fruition,” he says, adding that countries where economies are volatile are more apt to see crypto thrive over time, so long as the infrastructure exists to make it happen.

The Uzbek currency, the som, is relatively stable. It was allowed to free-float under the new government and lost over half of its value in the process. But since September 2017, it’s been relatively steady between 8,000 and 8,300 to the dollar. Their GDP growth rate has been over 5% since 2004, according to the World Bank. It’s poorer than India, with a GDP per capita of less than $1,600. It would take the average Uzbek a year to buy half a Bitcoin.

“Our goal is to starting our STO platform in niche markets, or niche regions like Uzbekistan,” says Khmel. BankEx is also present in the crypto havens of South Korea and Japan. They are moving into Thailand mainly for digital-asset custody. “Uzbekistan is different. We will be doing STOs there. The government wants to become a blockchain-centric government,” he says. “Each country has something unique to offer, I think. They can become one of the main markets in the region for companies considering STOs. We are taking the first steps with them to make it happen.”

Article Produced By
Kenneth Rapoza

Kenneth Rapoza

All About Security Tokens Landscape With The Founder Of Polymath

All About Security Tokens Landscape, With The Founder Of Polymath

Security tokens are an intriguing development,

that function as a bridge between blockchain networks and legacy financial assets. Following the rapid and blessed decline of the ICO, security tokens – particularly the security token offering (STO) – have started gathering momentum among financial institutions, service providers and regulators.

To understand STO's betters, I recently sat with Trevor Koverko, founder of Polymath who offers a look at the current state, and future, of security tokens. In 2017, Trevor wanted to tokenize a private equity fund he was running, but found it hard to do for an existing financial security, especially on the technical and legal side. This drove him to launch a security token launchpad for himself and other STO projects. He grew to raise around 60 million USD in funding.

YV: Can you provide some context on the ST-20 security token standard, for the audience that may be unfamiliar with what exactly a security token is and how they function?

TK: If you look at how important the standardisation of ERC-20 was for Ethereum, it's clear that security tokens similarly need a common set of functions that we all agree upon. Even the NYSE had to standardize its tech stack before it could truly scale. Built into the ST20 standard are transfer restrictions such that only authorized individuals can buy, sell, and hold the token. There are features that restrict trading for a defined period of time, or that limit the number of shares any one individual can hold.

YV: What do you view as the current stage of the security token market?

TK: I believed STO's would overtake ICO's, but didn't expect adoption to happen so fast. 

The infrastructure needed to support things like institutional-grade custody, licensed security token exchanges, and regulatory clarity is progressing faster than I could have imagined. Many players are creating tools for this ecosystem. 2019 is on pace to be a pivotal year for security tokens.

YV: What can security tokens add to financial assets?

TK: One of several things that security tokens bring to the table, is that they unlock liquidity. LP shares, startup equity and even fine art are all typically illiquid assets. STO's have the potential to unlock this value. They can make small, private non-liquid securities more accessible for everyone.

The technology is open and transparent, so international trading becomes trivial. It’s open 24/7. It’s the concept of a global, national agnostic market that never closes. It’s faster and cheaper to make trades. It’s the idea that security tokens are programmable, whereas many legacy stocks are not. You can command security tokens to do things like automating corporate governance, proxy voting and dividends — all perfectly documented on the immutable blockchain

YV: What regulatory progress is being made with security tokens?

TK: STO's are simply securities. They live in an upgraded format than a traditional security, but they are still a security.  

We are fortunate that financial securities have very clear definitions, with enormous bodies of case law and precedents behind them, that tell us what the SEC considers a security. So, you have to follow all the registration forms, secondary trading rules, and for most offering types, investors need to be accredited. The beauty of the blockchain is that code can automate a lot of those rules.

YV: Is there a specific financial asset that you think will initially emerge from the rest with STO's?

TK: We are very bullish on the ownership of funds tokenizing – think LP shares, REIT units and so on. I’m seeing many people choose real estate as a first mover, and I tend to agree.

However, I like to take inspiration from other decentralized projects that have reached scale -for example with Ethereum. I noticed the team didn’t choose which vertices to attack first – instead they opened it up for the world, and let the market decide how to use it. It was community driven. Like Ethereum, we are going to see a lot of small companies that need the money, or struggle to raise capital traditionally turn to STO. But once bigger, well-funded projects see the possible benefits of tokenization, they won’t be far behind.

YV: Ethereum is also very developer-driven. How can more developers be drawn into the STO market?

TK: An active and engaged community of developers isn't just important for decentralized projects, it literally is the project.  

That is what made Ethereum an unstoppable force, the 30k plus of volunteer crypto engineers that self-organized within dozens of meetups globally. Without an army of talented, open-source developers, it hard to make consistent progress in this rapidly evolving ecosystem. It's important to incentivize for-profit developers to build products on top of your platform.

They are expensive and elusive compared to other professions, and the 2017 bull market certainly did cause some dislocation in terms of scarcity of talent and salary expectations. However, 2018 caused the crypto labor market to clear and now is a great time to be aggressive building a deep technical bench of senior engineers.

YV: How do you view the role of broker-dealers, and other service providers, evolving in the STO market?

TK: The thing about security tokens is that it’s not necessarily anything new. Securities laws have an enormous amount of precedents and established case law to guide issuers. Security tokens aren’t looking to skirt regulations; they are looking to embrace and follow regulations in this new environment.

KYC, AML, accreditation attestations, secondary trading restrictions, broker-dealers – these are all things we had to think about during the architecture phase of our company. While security tokens offer hope for the crypto market, is it important to do your own consideration before investing or participating in any type of funding, especially in the crypto market.

Article Produced By
Yoav Vilner Contributor

Crypto & Blockchain.. A serial startup mentor and CEO. Veteran blockchain advisor.

How Ex-Facebook And Google Employees Are Uniting To Battle The Monsters They Created

How Ex-Facebook And Google Employees Are Uniting To Battle The Monsters They Created

The fightback has begun, at the new Centre For Humane Technology

In December 2017, Facebook's former vice-president of user growth Chamath Palihapitiya confessed to his "tremendous guilt" over creating "tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works." 

His comments followed former Facebook president Sean Parker, who the previous month criticised the site's lack of social responsibility, arguing that from the beginning it exploited "a vulnerability in human psychology" adding "God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains."

They're part of a broader trend of former Silicon Valley big shots turning their back on the behemoths they helped create, as the debate around social media ethics and the societal cost of addictive technology continues to grow.

Now, a cohort of such rebels have united to form an action group with the specific aims of holding tech-giants like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and YouTube to account.

The Centre for Humane Technology wants to reverse the 'digital attention crisis' and 'realign technology with humanity's best interests'. Their team includes former Google Design Ethicist Tristan Harris, former Mark Zuckerberg advisor Roger McNamee and former head of user experience at Mozilla Aza Raskin, to name a few.

"What began as a race to monetise our attention is now eroding the pillars of our society: mental health, democracy, social relationships, and our children," the group argue, as they take aim at everything from Snapchat supposedly redefining how children measure friendship to Instagram glorifying a non-existent 'perfect life' to Facebook's much-reported tendency to segregate us into political echo chambers.

But how? The Centre for Humane Technology aims to lobby governments and try to persuade technology companies like Apple, Samsung and Microsoft to pursue 'humane design practices'. They will also launch an anti-tech addiction campaign at 55,000 schools across America called 'The Truth About Tech'.

The emergence of the group is the latest blow to tech companies who have been facing continued criticism over their lack of corporate social responsibility. Facebook has recently been forced to admit they sold $100,000 worth of adverts to fake Russian accounts in order to influence the 2016 US election, and last year both Facebook and Twitter agreed to hand over information to the Commons watchdog committee in order to aid an enquiry into Russian-sponsored pro-Brexit accounts, which may have aided the Leave vote during the referendum.

Add to that the criticism Facebook faced over their controversial live function, which not only hosted streams of suicides, rapes and the murder of an 11-month-old girl, but raised ethical concerns about welfare of employees bought on to monitor this content.

"Facebook appeals to your lizard brain — primarily fear and anger," said early Facebook investor and advisor to the Centre, Roger McNamee. "And with smartphones, they've got you for every waking moment."

Could a resistance be on the horizon? 

More like a replacement with something for the people, buy the people and of the people, something exactly what Markethive is and about time.