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Top Headlines for 8 March, 2022

Stanford Researchers Raise $32M for Privacy-Centric Blockchain

Researchers at Stanford University have raised $32 million for a new blockchain focused on privacy and decentralization called Espresso.

Greylock Partners and Electric Capital led the funding round with participation from Sequoia Capital, Blockchain Capital, and Slow Ventures. The company behind Espresso, called Espresso Systems, is led by four co-founders who use zero-knowledge (ZK) proofs to lower transaction costs.

ZK proofs allow a user to prove a statement is true without directly submitting evidence. The technology also provides greater efficiency by collecting many transactions into a single proof. For privacy, the platform uses an open-source smart contract called a Configurable Asset Privacy for Ethereum (CAPE), which helps the user customize visible information about the ownership and history of a digital asset.

Immutable Hits $2.5B Valuation

Immutable, the Australian company behind an Ethereum scaling solution created for burgeoning blockchain niches like non-fungible tokens (NFT) and crypto games, received a $2.2 billion valuation after raising $200 million.

The platform has now joined the widely coveted crypto unicorns list, of organizations worth at least $1 billion. Institutional investor Temasek led the Series C funding round for Immutable. Chinese mega-corp Tencent and crypto VC firm Animoca also invested in the scaling solution firm. New investors that joined the latest round include Mirae Asset, Arrington Capital, and Liberty Global.

Immutable’s flagship product is Immutable X, an Ethereum layer-2 scaling solution. The technology makes transactions faster and cheaper and requires significantly less energy compared to those on the Ethereum mainnet.

The platform has carved a separate niche as a pioneer of blockchain gaming and NFTs, distinguishing itself from other competing scaling layers like Polygon, Arbitrum, and Optimism. It also powers video game retailer GameStop’s gaming-centric NFT marketplace, which aims to be a one-stop shop for gaming fans to buy exclusive items such as weapons, apparel, and characters.

Immutable and GameStop had earlier announced a $100 million developer fund for crypto game creators to build on the retailer’s marketplace. Popular social media app Tiktok has also used Immutable to release a creator-focused NFT collection.

Retail Bitcoin Accumulation Hits ATH

Crypto exchange platform IntoTheBlock (ITB) reported that retail investors held an all-time high (ATH) of $29,730,000,000 in Bitcoin (BTC) as of March 2022.

ITB calculated that the number of Bitcoin in non-zero retail addresses had also touched an all-time high of over 780,000. The exchange also said that the investors’ group holding between $4,000 – $40,000 worth of BTC saw exponential growth in February 2023.

On 8 March 2022 Bitcoin traded for approximately $38,000, meaning that the BTC held by retail investors would worth $29 billion. Investors with holdings in the range of 0.1 to 1 BTC reportedly increased their investment in the cryptocurrency by 1.72%. Large investors who held between $10,000 and $100,000 worth of bitcoin sold 1.49% of their holdings.

IntotheBlock claimed the strengthening positions to be a sign of renewed interest for BTC within the retail investor community. Blockchain analyst Willy Woo said that the accumulation of retail investors is highly bullish for Bitcoin’s long-term health. He added, “Humpback whales exiting over time is not a good sign. It is hell yes a good sign… You want them to distribute for the sake of decentralization.”