Exclusive: The Truth Behind the Bitcoin “Cult” Trying to Buy a Church in Brooklyn

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Word has it that a cryptocurrency “cult” is trying to buy a church in Brooklyn. Here’s what we know.

Last week, these fliers started popping up around Williamsburg, Brooklyn:

The Facebook page for the protest, run by a Judy Gunderson, linked to an actual Facebook page:

And the “cult” that Ms. Gunderson was linking to was, yes, The First Church of Crypto:

People on Twitter, of course, went nuts (look for yourself).

There was a (very excited) Reddit thread on it:

And some people started a Telegram group to talk about it:

Yes, there was even an Overheard In New York post about it:

Before this goes any further, and any reporters sink their teeth into it, let’s take a glimpse at the source code of the First Church of Crypto site:

 

Yeah. April Fool’s, dummies. That was us.

With good reason.

But before we get there! A brief making-of:

  1. Yes, we actually hung flyers last week around Williamsburg.
  2. We spun up the “Church” site. Which, true story, at one point included a rewritten version of the Serenity Prayer (“Satoshi, grant me the wisdom…“).
  3. We took out a bunch of targeted Facebook ads.
  4. The entire thing took a few hours.
  5. And over the weekend, a bunch of people not only bought the idea hook, line, and sinker, but to our surprise, propagated it and actually wanted it to happen.

Let’s linger on that last point for a moment:

A bunch of crypto bulls thought it’d be a good idea to spin up a church in praise of cryptocurrency to replace a real church in Brooklyn.

Out of the hundreds of people who bought this reality sight-unseen, there was just one, dumb, random Pepe on Twitter who had our number. That’s it.

And that, right there, might explain much of the cultural problem around cryptocurrency:

The fervor around crypto, perpetrated by its loudest, most absurd, unilateral boosters is comically, blindingly obtuse to its own dumbassery.

The ideas behind decentralized currencies and blockchain are fascinating, and hold tremendous amounts of potential, blah blah whatever. Look: If you’re reading this, you already know how important and great blockchain could be. And if you’re a cogent, thinking, sentient human being who hasn’t caught the crypto vapors past the point of common sense, you also know it could be even greater if the, uh, culture and literacy around it weren’t such an absolute, utter shitshow (to say nothing of the bad actors, charlatans, and snake-oil slingers exploiting this uncharted territory).

It’s really too bad that there’s not a single must-read publication for breaking news, gossip, commentary, and analysis about cryptocurrency and its culture — its highs and lows, the most brilliant iterations and the most idiotic pratfalls, the big-time titans, the low-grade conmen, the shitcoins, the Lambos, the fortunes, the face-falls — that isn’t just a mash note, or a dumping ground for press releases, or yet another site for hot takes and explainers where someone tries to craft a shitty blockchain metaphor around a deck of cards for the umpteenth time. A site where no token is sacred, no moon hangs too high, and no bag is too rekt.

Which is why we’re launching one. Hodl on to your bags, coins, and asses:

Blocknik, a new site about cryptocurrency from Futurism Media, is coming. Summer 2018.

Sign up here to be first in the door.

*Oh, and if you know anyone: We’re putting a premium on talent, and looking for funny, sharp, brilliant writers who can rise above the current Rainman-esque standard of dialogue about crypto, and who would like to do it for what’s gonna be the most fun, hysterical gig in the space. It’ll also pay well, and in fiat currencies. If you’re interested — or know anyone who is — give us a shout.

The post Exclusive: The Truth Behind the Bitcoin “Cult” Trying to Buy a Church in Brooklyn appeared first on Futurism.

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Is automation leaving women and minorities behind?

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By 2030, 14 percent of the global workforce — 375 million individuals — may need to switch occupations as a result of increased automation. This phenomenon, what economists term ‘labor switching’ has been lauded by technologists as the simple solution to the looming problem of mass displacement from automation. But as innovations such as autonomous vehicles, cashierless checkout, algorithmic stock trading, and drone delivery become increasingly tangible, not only is there a notable lack of any institutionalized retraining to address the issue, but there’s very little attention being given to how this switch will affect the most disenfranchised members of our society.…

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Meet Barry McCarthy, the man behind Spotify’s daring public offering

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Spotify’s CFO pushed for this week’s direct listing, which could change life for Wall Street and for big tech startups.

When Spotify goes public Tuesday, the spotlight will shine on 35-year-old CEO Daniel Ek, who has built a $ 20 billion company and helped revive the music industry along the way.

But if Spotify’s unusual “direct listing” offering — done without the traditional assistance from investment banks — is successful, credit will go to a Spotify executive thirty years Ek’s senior, who doesn’t want any attention: Barry McCarthy, the company’s chief financial officer, who is acknowledged as the architect of the unorthodox, and to some, controversial public offering.

If the direct listing works, it could pave the way for other tech startups to follow suit. That could potentially cut out Wall Street banks and their clients from a lucrative revenue stream, and would roil the financial services industry.

But people who know McCarthy say he does not care about the broader implications of his plan — he isn’t motivated by some ideological crusade to stick it to Wall Street, nor by some high-minded attempt to chart a new future for the technology sector.

“I don’t think it’s a middle finger to Wall Street because he comes from Wall Street,” says Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix, where McCarthy was its CFO for eight years. “He’s as Wall Street as it gets.”

In a traditional offering, a startup hires bankers to find investors to buy its stock, a pre-qualified group willing to take the risk of taking on shares in a company that hasn’t trade openly. The bankers sort out the right price for these shares by wrangling and haggling with these investors, who then sell those shares the following day on an open exchange like the NASDAQ or the NYSE.

In the direct listing that Spotify is attempting, there will be no bankers to find qualified pre-buyers and set a price for the initial stock sale. The shares of SPOT will just open on the NYSE exchange on Tuesday.

Some spurned bankers are quietly rooting for Spotify and McCarthy to fail. Their argument: The strategy has real risk, because they haven’t been able to help the company guarantee an appetite for its shares, and they won’t step in to stabilize the stock if something goes wrong. Its stock value could swing frantically.

So if Spotify stock trades wildly in its opening days, or tanks in its opening months, McCarthy could end up as the poster child for Silicon Valley arrogance. Some bankers will see it as comeuppance for an executive who tried to fix a system that in their eyes wasn’t broken.

McCarthy first joined Spotify in 2014 as a member of its board, and moved to the CFO role a year later. As the company started edging toward a long-awaited IPO, he started selling Ek on the direct listing.

McCarthy presented the entrepreneur and his board with a clinical, “brutally logical” diagnosis of why Spotify shouldn’t sell shares to institutional investors right before trading begins.

Spotify, he argued, could avoid the regulations, fees and distractions since it didn’t need to raise money, already had a well-known consumer brand and had a good idea of how much it was worth from all the private trades done for years by existing investors.

“It’s not like Barry’s wanted to do this forever and this was the opportunity,” said one person close to the company. “Barry does not care about how history remembers him or doesn’t remember him.”

McCarthy is an unlikely iconoclast. He started his career at Credit Suisse First Boston in the 1980s, trading mortgage-backed securities when that industry first took off. He headed to his first CFO role at a different music company, Music Choice. And then at Netflix, he executed a traditional IPO under Hastings.

McCarthy helped Hastings create a fast-growing DVD-by-mail business, with a high-flying stock price — and then helped Hastings pull the company back from the abyss in 2011, when a bungled price hike, a disastrous plan to split the company into two, and the loss of crucial content from two Hollywood studios pushed the company’s stock down 77 percent in four months.

But as Hastings recalled, McCarthy wanted to be a CEO or a COO. It took him three years after leaving Netflix to find it, but he did — at Clinkle, a much-hyped payments company that raised money from A-list backers and then flamed out in spectacular fashion.

McCarthy lasted six months as COO, but avoided career disaster.

“It’s the classic tension: You can get the bigger job at the smaller company, like a Clinkle kind of thing,” Hastings said, adding with some understatement: “I’m sure he’s found Spotify much more satisfying than Clinkle.”

But his time at Netflix made him well-suited to serve as Ek’s de facto Sheryl Sandberg or Eric Schmidt — a voice of experience that carries a lot of weight for the young chief executive. Though in this case, it is the older wise man pushing the more radical idea.

His Netflix pedigree, coupled with Spotify’s Netflix-like grow-fast-now, worry-about-profits later strategy, conveys an implicit promise to would-be Spotify investors: This is another consumer growth rocket ship.

McCarthy made that connection explicit at Spotify’s Investor Day last month.

“This reminds me of my first ten years of Netflix,” he told investors, in what he said was his first public speaking event in eight years.

McCarthy isn’t cutting out banks entirely from Spotify’s public offering. The company will spend up to $ 50 million in advisory and other fees — an out-of-pocket expense it will pay for immediately. (If Spotify had done a traditional IPO, its bankers would have made most of their money by reselling an allotment of Spotify equity.)

That’s real money, even for banks the size of Goldman Sachs. David Solomon, Goldman’s CEO heir apparent, made a personal plea in Goldman’s pitch to Spotify, playing up his now well-publicized side-job as DJ D-Sol, according to two people with knowledge of the pitch. It worked.

Spotify has considered other alternative paths to going public. Ek and venture capitalist Chamath Palihapitiya had some very early conversations about using Social Capital Hedosophia, Palihapitiya’s planned special purpose acquisition vehicle, to acquire Spotify and “back in” to public status that way, according to multiple people with knowledge of the conversations. Social Capital declined to comment.

And even once a direct listing was chosen as the play, the company confronted hiccups.

Spotify had to spend months walking regulators at the Securities and Exchange Commission through the details of the plan. And late last year, Spotify had to hammer out a way to mollify a pair of investors who had issued debt to Spotify that would only convert to equity when the company officially IPO’d. McCarthy and Ek found a way to soothe what at one point appeared to be a sticking point in the negotiations.

That has all led to to Tuesday, when Spotify shares will trade freely for the first time. It will be a big deal for Spotify, and it may be a big deal for future startups and the bankers who want to work with them.

Good luck getting McCarthy to say it’s a big deal to him. “I don’t think he’s trying to be the hero,” said one person close to the process. “He’s not an evangelist. He’s not really trying to change the world.”

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6 reasons why Latin American valuations are lagging behind Silicon Valley

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Latin American startups haven’t had the same valuations as Silicon Valley startups. This frustrates many Latin American entrepreneurs seeking investment, as they don’t understand why Latin American VCs aren’t doing deals at Silicon Valley valuations. There are important reasons why Latin American early-stage investment valuations are lower. For one, there are few acquisitions in Latin America, and when acquisitions do happen, they tend to be at lower valuations than their counterparts in other parts of the world. VCs need to make returns, or they’ll be out of business. Therefore, if exits are lower, the initial price that venture capitalists pay…

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Blockchain isn’t the only tech behind Bitcoin

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At the Blockchain Africa Conference held in Johannesburg, South Africa, prominent bitcoin and security expert Andreas Antonopoulos criticized banks and technology firms for treating the term “blockchain” as interchangeable with public blockchain networks – bitcoin in particular. This is highly erroneous because the blockchain is just one of many technologies that supplement the bitcoin network and allow it to function as a decentralized, distributed, and peer-to-peer financial network. The Bitcoin network consists of various solutions and cryptographic technologies, including Schnorr signatures, advanced elliptic curve applications, and ring signatures. The blockchain merely operates as a database within the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchain networks;…

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[Update: More details] OnePlus confirms the OnePlus 6 will have a notch, explains the reasoning behind it

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As evidenced by the comments on yesterday’s post about the OnePlus 6 leak, you guys don’t like notches at all. Unfortunately, leaked photos had already revealed that OnePlus was at least seriously considering adding one to the OnePlus 6, and the company itself has now confirmed it.

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[Update: More details] OnePlus confirms the OnePlus 6 will have a notch, explains the reasoning behind it was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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OnePlus confirms the OnePlus 6 will have a notch, explains the reasoning behind it

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

As evidenced by the comments on yesterday’s post about the OnePlus 6 leak, you guys don’t like notches at all. Unfortunately, leaked photos had already revealed that OnePlus was at least seriously considering adding one to the OnePlus 6, and the company itself has now confirmed it. Carl Pei, OnePlus’s cofounder, spoke with The Verge to explain why the decision was made to add one.

As many other manufacturers with notches have said, OnePlus justifies the notch as adding more screen real estate, not taking anything away.

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OnePlus confirms the OnePlus 6 will have a notch, explains the reasoning behind it was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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Former Apple Sound Designer Discusses History Behind ‘Sosumi’, Mac Startup Tone, and Camera Click

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In the late 1980s Jim Reekes began working as a sound designer for Apple, creating some of the Mac’s most iconic sounds like the “Sosumi” beep, startup chord, and camera/screenshot click. In a new interview with CNBC, Reekes discussed the origins behind each of these sound creations, and what he thinks about the current audio design of Apple devices. Reekes has touched upon these topics before, but they remain interesting for anyone who might not have heard about this part of Apple’s history.

Reekes explained that the reason for the name “Sosumi” began with a lawsuit from The Beatles’ record label, also named Apple. At the time, Steve Jobs promised that his company would stay focused on computers and not get involved with music, so that the two similarly named companies could coexist.


After Macs added support for audio recording and MIDI (a standard that connects musical instruments to computers), The Beatles sued and forced Reekes to rename any sound effect that had a “musical-sounding name.”

Reekes’ frustration with the lawsuit eventually led him to the name “Sosumi,” because it sounded like “so sue me.” Today, Sosumi is still available as an alert sound in the Mac System Preferences.

One of his beeps, originally called “Xylophone,” needed a new name. “I actually said I’m gonna call it ‘let it beep’ and of course you can’t do anything like that, but I thought yeah, ‘so sue me.’ And then I thought that’s actually the right name,” Reekes said. “I’ll just have to spell it funny, so I spelled it Sosumi.”

He told the lawyers it was a Japanese word that didn’t mean anything musical. “That’s how that Sosumi beep came around,” Reekes explained. “It was really me making fun of lawyers.”

Reekes also looked back on the Mac’s original startup tone, which annoyed him “immensely” because the Mac crashed so many times that it was easy to equate the tone with a frustrating situation. Although he didn’t have permission to change it, he recorded a new c-major chord in his living room and used The Beatles song “A Day in the Life” as inspiration.

Jim Reekes and the keyboard he used to record the original Mac startup sound via CNBC

Eventually, Reekes managed to sneak the sound into the original Macintosh Quadra computer.

Some engineers at Apple were not happy with the change. “Our excuse was it’s too risky to take it back out at this point because something could crash,” he said. “We just made up some bulls—.”

It stuck, and years later Apple even trademarked the start-up sound. It’s one of the few sounds that’s trademarked, along with the NBC chimes and the Intel signature sound. “Kind of silly right?” Reekes smirked. “I’m playing a c-major chord and it’s famous and it’s a copyright.”

On the topic of startup sounds, Reekes voiced his disappointment in the lack of any startup chimes on most Macs today, and gave his opinion on the company’s current overall sound design. “I haven’t really seen much interesting audio coming out of Apple for a while,” he said. Reekes left Apple in the late 1990s and is now a consultant and “out of the sound design business.”


There are plenty of other tidbits from Apple’s sound design history in the interview, including the origins of the camera click heard on Mac screenshots and in the iPhone’s camera app, taken from Reekes’ old 1970s Canon AE-1. To read more from the interview, visit CNBC‘s website.

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Bitcoin Cash still trails behind SegWit when it comes to transaction volume

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The war on Bitcoin is far from over. In spite of attracting wide adoption when it first launched back in August last year, it appears that Bitcoin Cash still lags behind Bitcoin’s SegWit soft fork when it comes to overall transactions processed. The research arm of cryptocurrency exchange desk BitMEX found that SegWit has 31.5 percent more cumulative transaction volume than Bitcoin Cash. SegWit (a portmanteau for ‘Segregated Witness’) was introduced in August 2017 as an improvement protocol designed to solve the blockchain size limitation. After this update, users had the option of using SegWit and upgrading their wallets, which provides the…

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