December 12, 2022

Metaverse Highlights: Week of December 12, 2022

In many ways, this week continues trends from previous weeks. The FTX collapse is still having repercussions, and commentators are still presenting post-mortem analyses. Chaos still reigns supreme at Meta, where employees are publishing devastating attacks on Mark Zuckerberg on anonymous fora. Mainstream newspapers are still publishing critiques of crypto, and true believers are still making a case for the value of the underlying technology. 

Still, this week brings some major news items. First, as NFTs minted on FTX break and exposed the flaws of web2 storage technologies, the global platform for digital assets Ledger is unveiling new NFT products. Second, celebrities are being sued for their promotion of the Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, and the Federal Trade Commission announced that it is investigating various crypto companies for their digital asset advertising. Third, according to a new survey by Capgemini, more than 90% of consumers are curious about the metaverse. 

Together, these news items could give metaverse enthusiasts hope: as regulators and the market punish unserious actors, underlying consumer demand and more serious players continue to be there.


  • Unlike other innovation waves, blockchain technology disrupted heavily regulated industries. The invention of email didn’t make FedEx or UPS obsolete. But blockchain technologies such as peer-to-peer payments and the tokenization of traditional assets are changing corporations, from how they raise money to how investors trade stocks. 

  • Blockchain developers who understand those implications have an advantage. Suppose you are going to upend the industry that moves capital around the world and face scrutiny from dozens of regulators. In that case, inventing a popular app or raising tons of venture-capital money isn't enough. You need to know how to mitigate risk and build proper controls. You need to build strong relationships with government and policy stakeholders.

  • According to a recent report by Bloomberg News, the Federal Trade Commission indicated that it is investigating various crypto companies for their digital asset advertising. 

  • The FTC has not said what the exact focus of the inquiry is -- and, as expected, the FTC has not revealed who the targets of the investigation are.  

  • This announcement comes on the heels of the widely-publicized collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange, FTX, and subsequent class actions brought over the company's and its endorsers' participation in large-scale crypto ad campaigns.

  • In a tweet, Solana engineer jac0xb.sol pointed out how the metadata of FTX-hosted NFTs now points to a restructuring website that gives out information about bankruptcy proceedings. 
  • According to jac0xb.sol, the NFTs minted on FTX were hosted using a Web2 application programming interface (API), resulting in images not showing.
  • With this, jac0xb.sol also called out to collections still hosting metadata on Amazon Web Services, suggesting that there is a “lesson to be learned” with how FTX hosted their NFTs using a Web2 API service.

  • In the NFT space, maintaining integration capabilities at scale is a must. In response to this envelope-pushing convention, even the most established brands have taken it upon themselves to transform, iterate, and expand.
  • This is precisely what’s happening within Ledger, the global platform for digital assets security. Well-known throughout the blockchain as a provider of secure hardware wallets, Ledger is now making a deeper commitment to the cultural shift happening in the NFT space. 
  • These include a corporate NFT art collection, an internal NFT product development team, and an NFT art endowment fund. Through these projects, the company hopes to better support creators and become a more robust steward of burgeoning blockchain technology.

  • FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried should be in custody by now, as far as Brian Armstrong is concerned. The Coinbase CEO said this week it’s “baffling to me why he’s not in custody already.”
  • “The DOJ or somebody should be able to make—just based on his public statements, I think there’s a very open and shut case for fraud,” Armstrong said at the a16z crypto Founder Summit on Tuesday. He added, “I’m not an expert on this, but the people I talk to seem to agree on that.”
  • Armstrong also questioned why the media has refrained from calling Bankman-Fried a criminal. “I think we were all pretty shocked to see the scope of the fraud at FTX. And let’s call it a fraud. We have to call it what it actually is. It’s been pretty bizarre that mainstream media hasn’t come out and said, ‘This guy’s a criminal.’”

  • A class action filed Thursday alleges that Madonna, Jimmy Fallon and Paris Hilton, among other celebrities who promoted Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, were compensated for those promotions and did not disclose such deals.

  • Plaintiffs Adonis Real and Adam Titcher said they purchased NFTs made by Yuga Labs, the parent company of Bored Ape Yacht Club, among other NFT collections, after seeing the endorsement of influential celebrities, who they claim was part of a “vast scheme” to inflate the value of the NFTs.

  • The complaint further alleges that Yuga Labs executives conspired with Hollywood talent manager Guy Oseary, who represents Bored Apes, and the crypto-trading app MoonPay to get celebrities to promote BAYC NFTs while hiding that they were compensating those celebrities for promotion.

  • When Miami Mayor Francis Suarez unveiled an 11-foot, 300-pound black fiberglass reproduction of the Wall Street bull last spring, he hailed it as a symbol of the city’s arrival as the “capital of crypto.”

  • But eight months later, the Republican mayor’s dream of turning Miami into a hub for the digital currency industry has hit a speed bump. The value of bitcoin has plummeted, a blow to Miami residents who bought into Suarez’s call to invest in digital currencies. MiamiCoin — the city’s own cryptocurrency — is now essentially worthless.

  • But throughout Miami, a city built around risky financial deals and boom-bust economic cycles, there is little sign that government officials and local crypto investors are rethinking their embrace of digital currencies and blockchain technologies.

  • Meta employees are taking aim at Mark Zuckerberg in employee reviews on Blind, the anonymous forum. 

  • Some reviews, posted on Wednesday – the day Meta laid off 13% of its workforce – are negative, although others are more positive. One user likened the layoffs to the "hunger games," and another said the Facebook owner had an "uncertain future." 

  • "The Metaverse will be our slow death," one user, who called themselves a senior software developer, posted on Wednesday. They added: "Mark Zuckerberg will single-handedly kill a company with the metaverse."

  • Considering that crypto was supposed to be a world-shaking innovation, it’s surprising how little the industry’s ongoing meltdown has mattered.
  • Of course, it matters greatly to people who invested in cryptocurrencies that later shed most of their value or the various crypto companies halting withdrawals and defaulting on debt. But so far, their suffering hasn’t proved contagious.
  • By and large, stock markets have been completely unfazed by the cryptocurrency gyrations and serial business failures.
  • Crypto markets aren’t acting like financial markets, which is to say, like integral parts of a global system for moving capital from savers to investors and back again.

  • Despite turbulent market conditions over the last year, the metaverse and its potential utility remain steady in the minds of consumers.
  • According to data from a new survey by Capgemini, a business and technology strategy adviser, over three-quarters of consumers expect their interactions with brands and individuals to be impacted by the metaverse
  • This also goes for organizations, as 7 out of 10 believe that the metaverse and immersive experiences will be market differentiators in terms of customer experience.
  • The report surveyed 8,000 consumers, along with 1,000 organizations in 12 countries across different sectors, to understand metaverse competency, interest and impact.

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