Hey wassup hello, it's me, Taylor! The specific Taylor I am is the CEO of Hedgehog, your fav all-in-one crypto investment platform. No more tabs open to six different services — you should be able to get it down to two or three 😉 Then when our upgrade launches, hopefully just a single tab.
It's been a couple of years, but it still feels surreal to me that I'm the CEO of a whole entire company. What doesn't feel surreal is how amazing the team is — that is 100% reality because I experience it every day. It's my newsletter, I can be sappy if I want to!
Point being, I'm delighted to share that Hedgehog Data Architect Jacek, one of our resident code superheroes, won a hackathon run by crypto analytics company Dune 🤩 Fellow hedgie Jon interviewed Jacek for the blog; naturally Jon included the 411 on Dune and why crypto people are excited about this product suite.
You can tell that I'm excited because I didn't even remind you about the giveaway first. Yep, there's a giveaway in every newsletter — answer my question at the end of the email for a chance to win some sweet Hedgehog swag! Last week I inquired about scary movies. Answers ran from classic to eclectic: Halloween, Vampire in Brooklyn, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, even Game of Thrones (which isn't a movie, but I'll take it).
As you probably recall, the "crypto" in cryptocurrency stands for cryptography — the mathematical art of encoding and concealing secrets. The current hotness in cryptography, and thus also crypto writ large, is zero-knowledge proofs. I like how the concept behind zk-proofs was explained to Sonya when she worked at the Zcash Foundation before joining Hedgehog…
Imagine a Where's Waldo map. How do you prove that you know where Waldo is, without revealing his location to everybody else? You need a big piece of cardboard, much bigger than the original map, with a little Waldo-sized hole cut into the middle. Now, put that cardboard shield on top of the map with the cutout spotlighting Waldo — the shield is so big that no one can see where Waldo is located with respect to the rest of the map, because the whole territory is blocked out. The only visible part is Waldo himself. If you repeat this process several times and perfectly outline Waldo each time, you can prove that you know his location without revealing it to the people watching you.
The actual cryptography involves a lot of complicated math, which I encourage you to explore if you love complicated math. For the rest of us, science magazine Quanta published a relatively accessible explanation of how this clever technology works (keyword relatively… it's hard to boil down this topic).
Even more accessible, zk-proofs keep showing up in the news. Most recently: "Polygon's launch of a public zkEVM testnet means there will be a live zk-rollup soon. With Polygon being the No. 5 chain by TVL and with many protocols already deployed on their side-net, we can expect to see the testnet gain traction quickly and developg into a mainnet launch soon."
Tldr: There you have it. Crypto is just a giant game of Where's Waldo, and yet again both Carmen Sandiego and Boots the Monkey have managed to go undetected in the network.
Another mainstream financial partnership hits the crypto scene — truly, bear markets are for building. Or at least for announcing stuff. Not to be outdone by Visa…
Mastercard will help financial institutions offer cryptocurrency trading, the company told CNBC. Mastercard will act as a "bridge" between Paxos, a crypto trading platform already used by PayPal to offer a similar service, and banks, according to the company. Mastercard and Paxos will handle regulatory compliance and security — two core reasons banks cite for avoiding the asset class.
Alright, cool. Personally I tend to prefer crypto-native products, but I continue to think huge brands clamoring to get into crypto is a good sign. My general enthusiasm is shared by Bradley Duke, one of the leaders of European crypto firm ETC Group: "In a single week, we have seen Mastercard announce their crypto trading offering and BNY Mellon launching crypto custody. At ETC Group we see these moves from such large corporations as a big vote of confidence in the future of crypto as an asset class." I gotta agree!
I also want to share a comment from Hugo Feiler, who heads up the decentralization-first blockchain Minima. "Cryptocurrencies are often thought of as stores of value and methods for market speculation," he pointed out, "and until recently were seen as wholly disruptive and antagonistic for the traditional banking and payments industry. Now, integrating them with mainstream payment mechanisms will make it easier for those holding crypto to utilize it and break down the barriers between the crypto and tradfi systems."
The slow death of cypherpunk dreams for a wholly separate financial system is bittersweet, but in retrospect pretty inevitable. Discussing this topic last week, I quoted Byrne Hobart, and his conclusion is so apropos that I must include it again: "Crypto mostly started as an effort to build a new financial system, but as it turns out most financial systems have some level of integration — and since money has powerful network effects, the best way to expand a new kind of it is to plug into existing ones."
Tldr: You thought "Money Lego" was a joke, but Money Lego is serious business. However, questions remain:
- Are we building the Death Star or A New Hope?
- Follow-up: Wasn't the Death Star built in A New Hope?
- Follow-up to the follow-up: Wasn't the Death Star also built in Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, and is the Death Star eternal?
NFT Showcase: Sunderlands
Tldr: Artist Shelby Alexandra was deceived by a pretend partnership, but instead of giving up on crypto opportunities, she decided to create her NFT project the right way on her own.
VIDEO: Sad Milestone - More than Half of Ethereum is Being Censored
Tldr: Bummer. Rooting for the cypherpunks on this one!
Semi-related: Former FBI Director Said Blockchain Is Easier To Trace Than Paper Money
Tldr: An important reminder that most of crypto is not private — in fact, it's less private than tradfi. In many cases, this is a feature, not a bug.
Stablecoin Mechanics 2: Tether-Celsius
Tldr: Tether continues to sound super sketch for a project that has not imploded in flames. I never know who to believe on this topic.
One wallet, two wallets, red wallet, blue wallet… announcing multi-wallet support
Tldr: Dynamic launches an SDK allowing developers to "easily associate multiple wallets with the same user account." Neat! Expect lots more of this in DeFi — the need to level up UX is dire and everyone is busy trying to figure it out.
You know what time it is, here at the end of the newsletter: Giveaway time! For the chance to win a Hedgehog hoodie, water bottle, and other swag, hit reply and respond to my question:
What's your favorite Halloween decoration? Ghosts? Ghouls? House-sized skeletons? Friggin' bats?
I see dead people,