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Top Headlines for 10 March, 2022

DAO Startup Upstream Raises $12.5M

Upstream, a project developing management tools for decentralized autonomous organizations (DAO), has raised $12.5 million in its Series A funding round.

BoldStart Ventures led the funding round for the project with participation from prominent institutional investors such as Tiger Global, Blumberg Capital, Vayner Fund, and the Medici Group. The project’s flagship product, Upstream Collective, provides tools to help founders launch and manage DAOs. It claims that their products will allow users to create a full-fledged decentralized organization with just a few clicks.

DAOs are distributed organizations whose members pool their resources to accomplish a predetermined objective. They generally use cryptocurrencies to represent voting rights. While these teams are a relatively novel form of collaboration, few practical management tools are available, making launching and managing them challenging.

The project and its investors are banking big on the possibility of DAO becoming a popular model for human collaboration. Upstream CEO Alex Taub says, “The issue with DAOs is that they are complicated to start. Think of websites in the 1980s; we think DAOs will be the next LLCs”. According to tracker DeepDAO, the total value of all the functioning decentralized organizations currently sits at $8 billion.

Baidu to Open NFT Marketplace

In March 2022, Chinese tech giant Baidu airdropped 20,000 non-fungible tokens (NFTs) featuring nostalgic Chinese cartoon characters.

The move seems to be a marketing ploy to hype up Baidu’s forthcoming NFT marketplace launch. The tokens are reportedly inspired by popular Chinese characters like Talking Tom Cat and Ahri.

Baidu created 8,888 unique NFT badges depicting Talking Tom available for free on 10 March 2022. Then, on 16 March the firm released 3,160 special NFTs for free to celebrate the 16th anniversary of the famous cartoon character Ahri.

Interested NFT collectors were allowed to register for the public airdrop by searching for Baidu Digital collections and Baidu Super chain collections on the company’s official mobile app. Although the Chinese government has placed a blanket ban on cryptocurrency activities such as mining and trading, NFTs are still legal and thriving on the Chinese market.

Alibaba, another Chinese tech giant, unveiled its NFT marketplace last August 2021. Chinese behemoth Tencent released its own NFT trading platform Huanhe in August 2020.

Biden Signs Executive Order on Crypto

On 9 March 2022, President Biden signed an executive order on digital assets that could be the basis of a comprehensive regulatory framework for the cryptocurrency sector.

The presidential directive sought to minimize risks to individual investors and the global financial system, limit the use of cryptocurrency for criminal purposes, and position the U.S. as a leader in technological innovation. The order gave three to seven months for various government agencies to submit reports to the President on several related issues. The State Department, Intelligence agency, and the Treasury were each allotted 90 days to develop a strategy to restrict the use of cryptocurrency for financial crimes. Regulatory agencies like the SEC, FTC, and CFTC were each given 180 days to create a report on consumer protection issues.

An optimistic view of the executive order is that it could lead to clearer regulations and a more transparent approach toward assets. However, a more critical perspective is that Biden’s approach has lacked substance and has been too focused on digital currencies that would be issued by the Central Bank.

Adobe Uses Polygon for NFTs on Behance

Software giant Adobe will integrate Ethereum scaling solution Polygon into its Behance social media app.

The Polygon integration will allow creators on the platform to showcase their work as non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The published NFTs will serve as authenticated digital artifacts on the blockchain, providing definitive proof of ownership of an asset.

Adobe bought Behance in December 2012. In October 2021, the platform began integrating tools to allow its creators to mint their own NFTs. Simultaneously, Polygon was integrated with OpenSea, the biggest non-fungible token marketplace by trading volume. Polygon, previously known as MATIC is a proof of stake-based network that was launched as an Ethereum scaling solution in 2017. Its native cryptocurrency, MATIC, is currently the 16th biggest cryptocurrency, with a market capitalization of $11.2 billion.

Adobe’s Vice President of Product, Will Allen, said, “Polygon can give our creators the best of both worlds, the security of Ethereum’s settlement layer while providing a lower gas fee and negligible carbon footprint.” Digital artists will be able to mint NFTs directly on the platform or by using OpenSea. Behance previously used NFTs to release its Content Credentials initiative, allowing creators to prove ownership of their own artwork.

Pantera Commits $1B for New Fund

Pantera Capital announced $1 billion in commitments for its new blockchain fund and will close the vehicle to new investors in April 2022.

In 2021, the firm announced that it would raise $600 million for a new blockchain fund, and it will only be open to accredited investors: 40% of the fund’s resources will go to venture equity, 30% will be allocated to early-stage tokens, and the remaining 30% will be used to back liquid tokens. The minimum investment for Pantera’s new fund will be $1 million. Dan Morehead, Pantera’s CEO, said, “We’re going to invest twice as much in the market than we anticipated.” Pantera will not increase its investments in the three crypto venture funds it has previously released.

Investments from the new blockchain fund will range from $1 million up to $40 million, backing emerging startups in tier seed – Series A, B funding rounds. The asset manager could take between 10 – 20% in its portfolio companies. The company’s blockchain fund has invested in 44 early-stage token projects, including Aurora, a bridge protocol between Ethereum and the Near blockchain, which raised $12 million in Oct 2021, and the cryptocurrency exchange VALR, which raised $50 million. The company is also exploring opportunities in emerging crypto gaming, NFT and metaverse segments. It has already made a seed investment of $6 million in Guidfi, a Web 3.0 gaming startup.