He’s making a list and checking it twice—and thankfully, we've come up with some key examples of people and projects in the crypto industry that have been very nice, indeed.
Whether it’s donating funds to charity, preventing hacks, or rewarding early adopters with community ownership, these folks made Santa's crypto nice list for 2021.
Ethereum had a banner year in 2021, more than quintupling in value at its peak as the NFT market swelled and DeFi activity expanded. But that’s not why Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin is on this list. No, the truth is much stranger, but also pretty delightful. See, when the Ethereum-based meme token Shiba Inu launched, the creators sent about half of the total supply to Buterin’s wallet as a stunt. In response, he donated $1 billion of it to a COVID-19 relief fund in India (although that created some challenges), and then burned the rest. Buterin pleaded with projects not to send him any more tokens, but given what he did with the unsolicited SHIB, he ended up looking like a pretty ideal steward for a stash of meme tokens.
Things could have gone very wrong on SushiSwap’s MISO token launch platform in August. But they didn’t, thanks to the keen eye and quick actions of samczsun, a white hat hacker and research partner at crypto VC firm Paradigm. Ahead of a token launch for BitDAO in August, samczsun began examining the smart contract for the sale—and a flaw he noticed quickly proved to be a much bigger vulnerability, one that could’ve led to a $350 million hack. As he described in a detailed blog post, samczsun tapped his colleagues and rapidly worked with SushiSwap and other security researchers to ensure the sale went off without a hitch. Ultimately, samczsun was paid a $1 million bounty, so it wasn’t purely altruistic in the end—but better $1 million to a helper than $350 million to potential attackers.
This one’s technically crypto-adjacent, but we still think it’s worth shouting out. Former Facebook product manager Frances Haugen recently became a whistleblower, turning over tens of thousands of documents on the social media giant’s handling of things like vaccine misinformation, illicit activities, and the impact of its services on young people. Haugen may have given up her career to speak the truth, but she says she’ll be fine. Why? Well, her crypto investments have paid off handsomely, apparently—and she’s moved to Puerto Rico to be closer to her community of crypto pals. (Note: it’s also a crypto tax haven.)
Lobby Lobsters community
After crypto lobbyists and advocates banded together to try to clarify language in the United States infrastructure bill in August—albeit unsuccessfully—some members of the community wondered how they might help aid the next regulatory skirmish. Enter Lobby Lobsters. Born out of Crypto Twitter chatter and brought to life by Universe.XYZ, an Ethereum NFT marketplace project, the collection of 10,000 NFT lobster avatars raised $3 million worth of ETH to support Coin Center, a leading U.S. lobbying group. “Call it crypto-native fundraising,” Coin Center’s Neeraj Agrawal told Decrypt.
Ethereum Name Service
Unlike traditional tech startups, crypto-native projects can “exit to community”—that is, turn over ownership to early users and supporters via a token drop. That’s exactly what Ethereum Name Service did in November, airdropping hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of ENS tokens to people who had used the service. It was a generous airdrop, no doubt, plus it allows users to have a say in the service’s future. And for ENS, wider token distribution is potentially a good thing in terms of boosting its value and ensuring broader decentralization. And consider the service itself, which provides a simpler way to transact with Ethereum wallets by using a real world name, rather than a long string of letters and numbers. It’s a feel-good story all around… well, unless you registered your .eth ENS name after the airdrop snapshot cutoff.
Emily Yang, the artist known as pplpleasr, rapidly became a star of this year’s NFT market boom, transitioning from early work for DeFi protocols to increasingly experimental drops. She’s even the namesake inspiration of PleasrDAO, a DAO that has been collecting distinctive NFTs (the original Doge meme) and more (Martin Skrkreli’s… Wu-Tang album). In any case, what you should know is that pplpleasr has continually donated a large chunk of her NFT sales to charitable causes. For her shape-shifting Fortune magazine cover NFTs, pplpleasr and the magazine donated more than $650,000 worth of ETH between four journalistic organizations focused on free speech, while her recent Animal Crossing-inspired Solana drop yielded about $127,000 for as-yet-unannounced causes.
Edward Snowden/Filecoin Foundation
Journalists face a seemingly ever-increasing array of challenges and resistance, and while some have it worse than others (we’re fine, usually), we’re grateful for those raising funds for our colleagues in need of help and resources. Edward Snowden’s Freedom of the Press Foundation works to protect and assist journalists around the world, and it received $5.4 million worth of Ethereum from Snowden’s own “Stay Free” NFT sale in April. On top of that, the foundation received $5.8 million in a donation from the Filecoin Foundation for the Decentralized Web to enhance its SecureDrop open-source software. Good work, all.