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Chain Reaction

Author: TechCrunch, Yashad Kulkarni, Maggie Stamets, Kell Keller, Jacquelyn Melinek

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There are constantly new tokens, DeFi projects, NFTs collections and DAOs being launched – but how can you make sense of everything going on in the crypto space? From the hype to the scams, TechCrunch senior crypto reporter Jacquelyn Melinek explores the impact of crypto on finance, art, web3, and society as a whole. Whether you’re a fan or a skeptic, every Thursday, Jacquelyn chats with a crypto expert, learning alongside you to break down the nuance behind the wild world of crypto. Chain Reaction is produced by Maggie Stamets with editing by Kell Keller.

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113 Episodes
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For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Scott Dykstra, CTO and co-founder of Space and Time. Before diving into web3, Scott spent almost 8 years at the cloud analytics and data platform Teradata and throughout the years he held roles of senior architect, director of cloud solutions and worked his way up to VP of the firm’s global cloud.As for Space and Time, the company aims to be a verifiable compute layer for web3 that scales zero-knowledge proofs, or ZK proofs, on a decentralized data warehouse. Zero-knowledge proofs are a cryptographic action used to prove something about a piece of data, without revealing the origin data itself. Space and Time has indexed data both off-chain and on-chain from Ethereum, Bitcoin, Polygon, Sui, Avalanche, Sei and Aptos and is adding support for more chains to power the future of AI x blockchain. This episode is wrapping up Chain Reaction’s monthly series diving into different topics and themes in crypto. This month’s focused on blockchain and AI integrations.Jacquelyn and Scott discuss Space and Time’s origin story, how data warehouses work in Web2.0 vs web3 and the importance of data transparency.They also dive into: Blockchain and AI potentialIts OpenAI and blockchain data developments Future use cases for data and on-chain AIAdvice throughout the bull and bear markets Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Tegan Kline, the CEO and co-founder of Edge & Node. The company is focused on creating and supporting decentralized applications, or dApps, and protocols. It was also the initial team behind The Graph, an indexing and query protocol, or what some have referred to as the Google of Web3, which aims to organize open blockchain data and make open data a public good.Tegan began her career in investment banking before shifting to work as an executive VP of a patent marketplace powered by blockchain and analyzed by AI. This kickstarted her career in web3, data and AI solutions. Before co-founding Edge & Node, Tegan worked as an international business development manager for Orchid, an a16z and Sequoia VC-backed VPN.This episode is a part of Chain Reaction’s monthly series diving into different topics and themes in crypto. This month’s focused on blockchain and AI integrations.Jacquelyn and Tegan talk about The Graph network, indexing data and its broader use case for the internet as well as its “New Era roadmap” that came out in November 2023. They also discuss: The Graph implementing AI solutions What dApps will unlock in the long term for AI Why AI doesn’t care about cryptoTaking a career jump into web3  Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Melody Hildebrandt, CTO of Fox Corporation and Mike Blank, COO at Polygon Labs.Why these two companies? Well, Polygon Labs, the layer-2 blockchain focused on scaling Ethereum, and Fox Corporation, the well-known media conglomerate, joined forces in January to tackle deepfakes as artificial intelligence becomes more prevalent. Fox released Verify, an open source technical protocol for media companies to register content and grant usage rights to AI platforms, while also allowing consumers to verify content through Polygon’s tech. This episode is a part of Chain Reaction’s monthly series diving into different topics and themes in crypto. This month we’re focusing on blockchain and AI integrations.They discuss: The Fox and Polygon partnershipProtecting content from misuseWhat role blockchain technology can play with verifying newsHow deepfakes can affect the U.S. 2024 election(0:00) Introduction(1:58) Safeguards against AI-created content(3:33) Blockchain could protect content creators(9:13) Improving AI trust and transparency(12:42) Validating and protecting intellectual property(16:03) Verifying content authenticity on the blockchain(25:21) Combatting misinformation(31:25) How blockchain could help larg companies verify their content Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Dee Goens, the co-founder of Zora.Zora is a platform and protocol that helps developers and creators bring their ideas on chain and on Ethereum through an open and shared environment. The platform has minted over 4 million NFTs, has over $300 million in secondary sales and about 1 million unique collectors, according to its website. Dee previously worked at Coinbase for 2.5 years doing risk management, operations and brand partnerships. Before that, he analyzed emerging technologies’ risk with a focus in blockchains at KPMG.Chain Reaction is doing monthly series diving into different topics and themes in crypto. This month we’re focusing on blockchain and AI integrations.As we just wrapped up our NFT series for February, Dee is the perfect guest to transition from that topic to AI and blockchains given Zora’s focus on bringing AI on-chain. In a first for Chain Reaction, we also minted this podcast on Zora’s platform, which you can check out here. Jacquelyn and Dee discuss how Zora envisions blockchains and AI working together, the roles they can play for NFT creators and what the platform’s developers and community members want more of. Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, we’re resharing a conversation I had in June 2023 with Jack Lu, CEO and co-founder of Magic Eden. When we recorded this episode, NFT sales were down around $640 million at the beginning of the month, compared to today where February 2023 NFT sales volume hit $1 billion, for the first time since February 2023.Looking back on this conversation, we decided this episode was a great addition to the NFT series to add some context for what a crazy year it has been, how much things have changed (and some things stayed the same) especially for people building in the NFT space.Magic Eden originally began as a Solana-based NFT trading platform, but has expanded its support to other blockchain networks like Polygon, Ethereum and Bitcoin. In June 2022, Magic Eden raised $130 million in a Series B round that granted it unicorn status.We discussed why the NFT marketplace expanded its support to other blockchains, its BRC-20 token support and how the company plans on staying competitive in the constantly changing market.We also talked about: NFT market volatilityRoyalty feesWeb3 gaming expansionAdvice for NFT community(0:00) Introduction(2:46) Bitcoin ecosystems and new technology standards(7:30) Magic Eden’s place within NFT marketplaces(19:05) Royalties and creator monetization(24:42) NFT’s staying power Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Steve Kaczynski, co-author of the book “The Everything Token,” and co-host of a web3 morning show Coffee with Captain.He also co-authored the first Harvard Business Review article about NFTs and outside of that, he consults with agencies and brands about building their web3 strategies including his role with Starbucks where he is a community lead for its NFT-focused loyalty program, Starbucks Odyssey. Before getting into the web3 world, Steve worked in communications and marketing roles at places for over 15 years.  Jacquelyn and Steve discuss what got him interested in NFTs, how important it is to build understanding for the sector and why communities matter more than floor prices. They also dive into: Future adoption for Bored Ape Yacht ClubGrowing Starbucks’s NFT-based loyalty programWhat agencies and brands need to know about web3How to get started in the NFT space(0:00) Introduction(4:23) NFT value creation(11:41) NFT and community building(18:14) Bored Ape community building(20:42) Web3 gaming and community(23:13) Starbucks Odyssey program and its engagement with web3(31:30) What's next for NFTs Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands. Yat co-founded Animoca in 2014 and since then it has invested in over 400 web3 projects across a range of sectors like DeFi, education, infrastructure, blockchain gaming and the metaverse.Animoca also has its own NFT collections, blockchain products and games like its web3 NFT-based community Mocaverse, the blockchain game and NFT collection REVV Racing, and The Sandbox, a decentralized virtual world with over 40 million mobile installs. The company has also worked with other well known brands and personalities like Disney, WWE, Power Rangers, The Walking Dead, Formula E and Snoop Dogg.Jacquelyn and Yat discuss the importance of digital property rights, growing NFT communities and what makes a project stand out from others. They also dive into: Evolution of NFT’s IP Building brand familiarity Asia embracing web3 and NFTsThe global race for adoption  Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
This year, Chain Reaction is doing monthly series diving into different topics and themes in crypto. To start things off, this month we’re focusing on NFTs. For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Devin Finzer, the CEO of NFT marketplace OpenSea.He co-founded OpenSea in 2017 and it quickly climbed to become one of the most well known – and well funded – NFT marketplaces. Two years ago, it raised $300 million in a Series C round at a $13.3 billion post-money valuation, bringing its total capital raised to over $400 million. Some of its investors include firms Andreessen Horowitz and Paradigm as well as celebrities like Kevin Durant and Ashton Kutcher. Despite the NFT market’s trading volume falling from all time highs in late 2021 early 2022, OpenSea is still pushing forward even though other NFT marketplaces have popped up and challenged their dominance.Jacquelyn and Devin discuss the importance of web3 games integrating NFTs, Web2.0 firms launching their own digital collectibles and challenges the marketplace faces.They also dive into: Big use cases for NFTsCompany’s future mission Retaining community membersGaining market share and trading volume(0:00) Welcome to Chain Reaction(3:36) Launching OpenSea before NFTs took off(7:55) Expanding NFTs core product categories(9:44) NFT games to drive adoption(11:39) Post NFT-boom industry atmosphere(14:37) Keeping Retail investors engaged in NFTs (19:30) Staying competitive in the NFT marketplace space(20:24) Rapid Fire(27:01) NFT use cases in 2024(28:20) OpenSea’s core mission(30:15) Advice for people in the crypto industry  Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
This week we have a bonus episode with Hester Peirce, commissioner of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Jacquelyn moderated a fireside chat with Commissioner Peirce at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business alongside Eddie Cullen, a former candidate for New York City Mayor in 2021 and co-founder and CEO of Crescite Innovation Corporation.They discussed a number of timely topics including the SEC’s spot bitcoin ETF approval, policy making to keep crypto innovation alive in the U.S. and the commissioner’s Token Safe Harbor Proposal 2.0 and whether she’s considering a new one. Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Chris Dixon, general partner at venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).Chris has been at the firm since 2012 and founded and leads a16z’s crypto team, which invests in the web3 world through four mega-funds with over $7 billion under management. He’s also an author of the recently released book Read Write Own: Building the Next Era of the Internet. Prior to a16z, Chris co-founded two startups, SiteAdvisor and Hunch, both were acquired by McAfee in 2006 and eBay in 2011, respectively. He also attended Columbia University for his bachelor of arts degree and masters in philosophy and has an MBA from Harvard University. In this episode, they discuss the new book, how crypto’s perception has changed and what purpose blockchains can ultimately bring to the world. They also dove into: Big Tech vs. cryptoImportance of decentralizationa16z web3 investmentsBlockchain gamingEmbracing the future(0:00) intro(0:50) Founders are the most interesting people in crypto(2:02) Why write Read, Write Own(4:50) the technical side of crypto(11:46) Big Tech vs Crypto(14:50) Crypto’s value to the world(19:20) Digital ownership and take rates(25:19) Crypto’s adoption phase(30:30) Rapid fire(37:57) What’s next for crypto(40:50) The path to mainstream adoption(42:07) Advice for people starting out in crypto Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
This is a bonus episode, where Jacquelyn interviewed Alex Blania, CEO and co-founder of Tools for Humanity, in a fireside chat at a StrictlyVC event in San Francisco. The startup was co-founded by Alex, OpenAI’s Sam Altman and Max Novendstern. To date, it has raised about $250 million from investors like a16z, Bain Capital Crypto and others. It is also the entity that created a crypto-focused project called Worldcoin. The startup is well-known across the venture capital, AI and crypto spaces for its futuristic-looking Orb device, which scans peoples’ irises then assigns them a “World ID” that lets users access Worldcoin’s application and a digital passport. The verification process aims to prove individuals’ identities and stop anyone from making multiple accounts.They discussed how Alex got involved in Tools for Humanity over four years ago, how World ID could help improve digital verification during the rise of AI and more. Jacquelyn and Alex also talked about: Worldcoin’s plans to generate revenue How World ID could help with elections A new “more friendly” Orb model AI’s effect on society When Worldcoin will have a “ChatGPT moment” Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Anatoly Yakovenko, co-founder of Solana Labs, the technology company that aims to help grow the ecosystem for the layer-1 blockchain Solana.The conversation focused on Solana Mobile and its flagship web3 Android smartphone, Saga, which sold out in mid-December, as well as its new phone, Chapter 2 – which was announced last week. Within its first 30 hours Chapter 2 had over 30,000 preorders – signaling a lot of demand for the next generation Android-based phone. At the time of recording, Anatoly shared there were over 40,000 preorders.Anatoly and Jacquelyn discussed the long road to selling out Saga, how important rewards and developers are and the nitty gritty details for Chapter 2. They also dove into the company’s strategy and long-term mission of going up against Google and Apple app stores and how long it may take for Solana Mobile to breakeven.If you need a refresher on Solana Mobile’s Saga phone, we’ve got you covered:Buying frenzy for Solana Mobile’s second phone drives preorders sky-highRing ring, Solana’s web3-focused Saga phone is callingSolana’s web3 phone is an ‘opportunity’ against Google and Apple, co-founder says(0:00) Solana mobile background information(1:51) Launching Solana Mobile(6:17) Benefits of building on the DApp sotre(8:14) Saga phone and developer revenue(12:46) Reward models for adoption(15:07) Launching Chapter 2(23:28) Solana's Mobile Strategy(24:35) Crypto and digital self custody25:52) What's next for Solana Mobile   Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Monica Long, the president of Ripple, a blockchain-based digital payment network and protocol. Monica has spent the last 10 years at Ripple, working her way up from the director of communications to now, president. Ripple has been around since 2012 and is one of the oldest crypto entities. In recent years, it was in a legal battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission from December 2020 until summer of 2023, over whether or not its token, XRP, should be registered as a security. Then, this past July, Ripple scored a victory against the SEC after a US federal judge ruled that secondary XRP sales, or sales to retail investors, aren’t investment contracts or securities. But when it comes to sales with institutional clients, it could be treated as one. In the meantime, Ripple had been doubling down on global transactions and payments, among other elements. We talked about Monica’s career growth, cross-border payments, traditional finance and the need for regulatory clarity.We also dove into: Ripple’s suit with the SECThe XRP LedgerIts focus for 2024Advice for the community Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s bonus episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Michael Sonnenshein, the CEO at Grayscale Investments.Grayscale is a digital asset investment firm that aims to provide products and services to institutional and individual investors, it is well known for its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) and now, its new bitcoin spot ETF product. The company was founded in 2014 and is one of the world’s largest digital asset currency managers. The GBTC fund holds over 3% of the outstanding bitcoin supply, worth tens of billions of dollars.The firm and its executives have made headlines in the past for their tenacious efforts to get their bitcoin spot ETF approved after it was originally denied by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in June 2022 and later the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of it. And now, Grayscale’s bitcoin spot ETF was approved. We dive into what a spot bitcoin ETF approval means for GBTC and market demand. We also discussed competition between issuers, fee structures and why regulated bitcoin exposure matters as well as what a spot bitcoin ETF could mean for the crypto space. Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s news episode, Jacquelyn dove back into the latest developments on spot bitcoin ETF applications in the U.S. as anticipation builds. Fred Thiel, the CEO of Marathon Digital Holdings, a digital asset technology company and largest publicly traded bitcoin mining firm, joined to help break down the latest developments on spot bitcoin ETFs. As it stands, there’s 14 asset management firms including BlackRock, Fidelity, Grayscale and VanEck, hoping to individually win approval from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for their spot bitcoin ETFs. And some reports are now saying it might happen soon given the frequent meetings and updated filings in recent weeks. We also discussed what a spot bitcoin ETF could mean for investors, institutions and miners, as well as bitcoin’s price.  Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
Welcome to a re-released episode of of Chain Reaction, a podcast that unpacks and dives deep into the latest trends, drama and news in crypto with some of the biggest names in the industry to break things down block by block for the crypto curious. For this week’s episode,  we're remixing an episode from earlier this year. Jacquelyn interviewed Deana Burke and Natasha Hoskins, the co-founders of Boys Club.Boys Club is a social decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) for the “crypto curious,” originally designed to get women and non-binary people into the web3 world, it now aims to be an open space for anyone looking to get into the space. Although it’s a social DAO, Boys Club has a handful of other ventures like their newsletter and podcast, which I was a guest on, as well as events like crypto conference parties and trivia nights. Before Boys Club, Deana and Natasha were co-founders of a recently acquired travel platform Allcall. Deana was also a communications partner for the blockchain-based Celo Foundation and Natasha previously worked at Fora Travel as a general manager. We discussed the origin story for Boys Club, what trends Deana and Natasha are following and how they’ve seen the industry evolve since launching their group. We also talked about: EthCC 2023 vibe checkInclusivity in web3Diversifying the industryAdvice for the crypto newbies Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Staci Warden, the CEO of the Algorand Foundation, the organization behind the layer-1 blockchain Algorand. Previously, Warden worked at the Milken Institute and oversaw initiatives relating to capital market development, FinTech financial inclusion, cryptocurrencies and blockchain.Before that she was at JPMorgan, where she was an executive director leading public sector coverage. She also worked at Nasdaq and the U.S. Treasury. Warden sits on the advisory boards for the United Nations Capital Development Fund, the European Parliament's Science and Technology Options Assessment, and the U.S. Financial Technology Association. As for Algorand, it's a Singapore-based blockchain that aims to be fast, secure, decentralized and “the greenest” with its carbon-negative network. It had about 615,000 active addresses at the time of recording. We discussed Algorand’s ecosystem, decentralization and real use cases being built during the bear market. We also talked about: Tokenization of assets Foundations behind blockchainsChallenges of expanding in the U.S.Algorand’s plans for 2024  Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Johann Kerbrat, the general manager of crypto at Robinhood. Johann is leading the application's effort to expand its crypto exchange business and make digital assets more accessible to retail investors. Before joining Robinhood, Johann was an engineer at Airbnb and was the head of engineering at Uber and VP of engineering at Iron Fish, a privacy-focused cryptocurrency startup. We discussed Robinhood’s expansion outside of the U.S., how the platform restricted holding and trading of certain crypto assets in June and where it stands today. We also talked about: Appealing to mainstream audiencesGrowing crypto on its platform    Regulatory concerns Robinhood’s 2024 objectivesChain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action. Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed David Pakman, managing partner and head of venture investments at CoinFund.Before CoinFund, David spent 14 years at the venture capital firm Venrock. He also led the Series A and B rounds at Dollar Shave Club which was acquired by Unilever for $1 billion. And in 1991, David co-created Apple Music when he was a part of Apple’s system software product marketing groupWe discussed the state of the crypto VC environment, areas he’s focusing on for investments and what he thinks investors are missing. We also talked about: AI compared to crypto Future of NFTs Regulatory impact on investors 2024 outlookAdvice for startupsChain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify  or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.Connect with us:TwitterTikTokNewsletter Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Optimism’s CEO and co-founder Jing Wang and chief growth officer Ryan Wyatt.Optimism is an Ethereum-focused layer-2 blockchain that focuses on scaling and speed, while also lowering costs for users. It helps users interact with Ethereum for about 10x cheaper through its blockchain and provides developers the ability to build decentralized applications (dApps) in a faster, scalable way. Before taking on this new role at Optimism, Ryan had a little bit of a break but was the president of Polygon Labs (he came on the podcast at the beginning of the year to talk about it) and before that, he was Youtube’s Head of Gaming.Jing co-founded Optimism in 2018 and before that she founded Plasma Group, a research firm focused on addressing challenges related to scaling Ethereum. She also previously managed blockchain projects at companies like Zcash and Nasdaq.  We discussed how layer-2 blockchains like Optimism are trying to solve scalability issues on Ethereum and where Jing and Ryan see growth opportunities right now.We also talked about: Base building with Optimism’s tech Competition between Ethereum and other blockchains Long term adoption Web3 gaming Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action. Chain Reaction comes out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite pod platform to keep up with the action.
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