Our things:

Did you hear the one about the SEC approving a bitcoin ETF—by doing nothing?

It’s actually not a joke. Our inestimable Guillermo Jimenez has a great piece today about how the U.S. Government shutdown means that some of rulings on SEC’s desk face deadlines—and could be approved by default, if the regulatory body fails to act. A proposal to permit bitcoin ETFs is facing a February deadline—and with no end in sight to the standoff over the Trump Wall, could well win approval through inaction. Jimenez’s story has wide-ranging implications for other projects too and you’re crazy is you don’t read it.

In defense of decentralization


Likewise today, “Iron Man” Jimenez, who, unlike me, appears to be single-handedly carrying Decrypt on his muscled, sinewy back, pitted two great thinkers—Arvind Narayanan, an associate professor of computer science at Princeton University, and Ethereum co-founder Joseph Lubin —against each other for a verbal smackdown. It’ll have your rafters shuddering. Narayanan argues that Web3, at least in the near term, is a bunch of hooey and that centralization” is an inevitable part of capitalism.

“If [centralization] were a conspiracy,” Narayanan said, “then blockchains might be a good answer.” But that isn’t the case. “What we’ve got is what people want,” Narayanan wrote to his followers, and any significant move towards decentralization will take decades of slowly and organically fostering “an ecosystem of services that build on each other and gradually improve in functionality and quality.”

Lubin agrees that decentralization will take a bit of time, but sees it as an inevitability: “Centralization/decentralization is a cyclical dance,” he says. “The Internet and the web decentralized things for much good, and inevitably, smart people figured out ways to capture value and control. It’s time for the next, better foundational iteration.”

Read our story here, if you dare.

Russia won’t be bailing out crypto, we hope


My brilliant associate, Tim Copeland, put up an article today decrying the Mainstream (Crypto) Media’s penchant for jumping on morally dubious media trends. In this case, he’s referring to a pro-Bitcoin argument pushed by a prominent Russian economist that led to such tyrant-venerating headlines as, “Russia Will Buy $10 Billion in Bitcoin, Ditch US Dollar and Become Huge Crypto Whale: Russian Economist.” Read it and feel the wrath of the Motherland (and Tim’s.)

Other things


Previously anonymous crypto exchange ShapeShift has announced, with a heavy heart, its decision to reduce its workforce by a third—some 37 employees—citing overexpansion into unprofitable areas and the negative effects of its switch to know-your-customer requirements in October 2018, which galled many of its anarchist acolytes. CEO Erik Voorhees took to Twitter in a blog post, candidly calling the move “a deep and painful reduction, mirrored across many crypto companies in this latest bear market cycle.”


Citing about a billion anonymous sources, CoinDesk published a report on the current status of mega-Ethereum incubator ConsenSys (and, obligatory disclosure, Decrypt’s funder.) It’s not going well, apparently—investors are reportedly put off by employees’ supposed dependence on CEO Joseph Lubin, some predict further layoffs of up to 80 percent, and the company holds excessive proportions of its subsidiaries’ equity.

You will be relieved to know that Decrypt is still funded. God knows, I am relieved to know that since I do not want to return to my old job, selling shoes. (Though I do miss the firm and bulbous feel of a softly rounded Mary Jane from time to time!)

—Ben Munster

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