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 Yashad Kulkarni and Maggie Stamets with editing by Kell Keller.
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Are you a Worldcoin skeptic? This one’s for you (w/ Tiago Sada)
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Tiago Sada, head of product for Tools for Humanity and core contributor to Worldcoin, at TechCrunch’s Disrupt 2023 in San Francisco.
Tools for Humanity, which is the team building Worldcoin, raised $115 million in a Series C round back in May with investors like Blockchain Capital, a16z, Bain Capital Crypto and Distributed Global. In March 2022, Worldcoin raised $100 million at a $3 billion valuation.
The project was co-founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman with a three part mission to create a global ID, a global currency and an app that enables payments, purchases and transfers with its token.
Worldcoin has been on a world tour since April, hitting major cities like Tokyo, Miami, New York City and San Francisco. It has also set up shop in major cities in countries like Kenya, India and China.
Staying strategic during regulatory uncertainty (w/ Chris Lehane)
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn did a live interview with Chris Lehane, chief strategy officer at Haun Ventures, at TechCrunch’s Disrupt 2023 in San Francisco.
Prior to joining the firm, Chris was an executive at Airbnb. He also co-founded a strategic consultancy firm, Fabiani & Lehane, that advised political, corporate, technology, entertainment and professional sports clients. In the 1990s, Chris held various government roles like press secretary to Vice President Al Gore and was special assistant counsel to President Bill Clinton.
After a number of decades working across different industries, Chris landed in the world of crypto at Haun Ventures, a web3-focused venture capital firm that has two investment vehicles: a $500 million early stage fund and a $1 billion acceleration fund. Aside from Haun, he is also a member of Coinbase's Global Advisory Council.
So you want more web3 enterprise adoption? ( w/ Google Cloud, Circle, Chainlink and Xangle panelists)
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn is sharing a panel she moderated live at Avalanche House, while she was in Seoul, South Korea for Korea Blockchain Week.
The panel focused on the biggest opportunities and challenges facing web3 enterprise and included the following speakers:
- Dan Sun, startup success manager for web3 APAC lead at Google Cloud
- Gagan Mac, head of product and senior director of web3 services at Circle
- Johann Eid, chief business officer at Chainlink Labs
- Lihan Lee, co-CEO and founder of Xangle
OG Bitcoiner on the blockchain’s evolution, investing and need for regulatory clarity (w/ Charlie Shrem)
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Charlie Shrem, founder of the Bitcoin Foundation, general partner at Druid Ventures and host of the Charlie Shrem show.
Before all that, he was the co-founder and CEO of BitInstant which was a bitcoin payment processor that started in 2011. Shortly after founding the company, he was charged with operating an unlicensed money-transmitting business, and for allegedly attempting to launder over $1 million through the now defunct dark web marketplace Silk Road. He spent a little over a year in a low-security prison as a result.
Now, Charlie is a vocal advocate for clearer crypto regulation, he’s a crypto investor, podcaster, and even a movie producer.
Americans may get a bitcoin spot ETF soon (w/ Craig Salm)
For this week’s news episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Craig Salm, chief legal officer at Grayscale Investments.
Grayscale is a digital asset investment firm that aims to provide products and services, like its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), to institutional and individual investors. The company was founded in 2014 and is one of the world’s largest digital asset currency managers. It currently owns 3.4% of outstanding bitcoin, “worth tens of billions of dollars,” according to a recent legal filing.
The firm was making headlines this week after the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Grayscale in a lawsuit against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on the matter of a bitcoin ETF. This ruling is in response to the SEC denying Grayscale’s application to convert its GBTC product into a bitcoin spot ETF in June 2022.
Blockstream is still betting on Bitcoin and mining it (w/Erik Svenson)
For this week’s episode, Jacquelyn interviewed Erik Svenson, co-founder, president and chief financial officer at Blockstream, a bitcoin and blockchain-focused infrastructure firm.
The company was founded in 2014 and has its own sidechain technology, Liquid Network, as well as bitcoin mining operations and hardware wallets for Bitcoin and other assets. It most recently raised $125 million in January and has raised over $400 million to date.
Erik previously worked on Wall Street as a former VP for AIG investments and was a co-founder and consultant of other startups. His last startup he co-founded before Blockstream was Dan’s Plan, a health tech company.
So good now
I’ve been a listener from the start and the conversations and production quality has only ever improved. Jacquelyn is such a researched host and has provided a lot of clarity for me in the current state of the industry. I’m always most intrigued by episodes with guests I haven’t heard of especially because it feels like an insider’s perspective on an already niche market where you need to know to ‘know.’ Chain Reaction breaks that down and keeps my finger on the pulse. Big recommend
Has become a fave!
Jacquie has a way of asking every question I want to know. This podcasts definitely isn’t just for people obsessed with crypto and web3. It’s a great way to dip your toe in if you’re crypto-curious as they say!
Excellent first episode! Looking forward to many more. Keep it up!