News: Civil ripped off its journalists, Bitfinex untethers Tether, working at Trezor, Amazon Managed Blockchain

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  • “i’d like to think that someone thought journalists weren’t reporting crypto news accurately and decided to teach them what it’s all about first hand” — Chalks on Civil

Any company that tries to pay your wages in company scrip — rather than actual money — should be treated as fraudulent trash. This applies to any ICO that says they’ll fix an industry’s problems by using their token as a “private currency.” Today’s worked example is the Civil ICO to “fix journalism” — which spent five months paying people in promises of tokens that would totally be worth 75c to $3. Of course they didn’t even give them the tokens. Coindesk has the first report, and NeimanLab follows up at length. “One source with direct knowledge told me Civil failed to make payroll at one point earlier this fall, something I have internal correspondence to confirm.”

I first called Civil out in March. I’ve spoken to a lot of journalists about Civil, and particularly for journalism-about-journalism. Nobody could work out what on earth Civil was supposed to be for, or how this thing was supposed to work. Jemima Kelly’s FT piece from October remains the best summary of this multilayered fractal lasagna of bad ideas that couldn’t possibly work — and, as we see now, didn’t work.

(I found myself freshly amazed today that some publications, which I won’t name, think journalists in a given area don’t all know each other and talk to each other — particularly about subjects of overriding common interest, like contract terms, what the publisher and editor are like to work with, and whether they pay on time.)

Breaker somehow runs a publicity push for Imogen Heap‘s blockchain ambitions … without, at any point, mentioning the magic number: one hundred and thirty three, twenty.

It should be no news to anyone in crypto that coverage is something you basically buy. Reuters writes it up for the general public. And don’t forget where ICO advisors come from.



The CFTC has issued A Primer on Smart Contracts — and how to avoid breaking regulations in the process.

SEC chairman Jay Clayton on ICO tokens: “If people are going to raise money using Initial Coin Offerings, they either have to do so in a private placement, or they have to register with the SEC … To the extent that you’ve conducted a public offering in an ICO, it’s not compliant.”

Jay Clayton on a Bitcoin ETF: “concern over a lack of investor protections makes it unlikely that his agency will approve a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund anytime soon.”

The Bitcoin price does a “dead cat bounce” — if dead cats are in the habit of pumping in about $20 million of actual US dollars, to try to keep number from going down. The diagram below (Coindesk BTC-USD) shows the two massive and blatant artificial pumps at 0430 UTC and 1245 UTC today. You should very much judge journalists writing about this price rise on whether they bother noting this.



Tether is now redeeming tethers for dollars! Sort of. There’s a 1% to 3% fee, that increases with the size of the withdrawal — so your “dollar” is worth 97 to 99 cents. Where the Tether website used to say “frequent professional audits,” it went to saying “professional verifications” … and now doesn’t say either.


As it happens, Bitfinex has unpegged the USDT from the USD — it’s now a free-floating traded pair. I wonder what happened to all the genuine US dollars that tethers were backed with.


An ex-employee of hardware wallet company Trezor posts to /r/buttcoin what it was like to work at Trezor. Apart from the fabulously slipshod development practices — move-fast-and-break-things may not be a great idea when you’re dealing with people’s money — the “last straw” for the poster was:

when they organised a two week long mandatory unpaid “team building” in a foreign country and didn’t book enough beds for everyone. A female coworker was supposed to sleep in the same bed with unrelated male employee until she excused herself. Some other colleagues and I ended up having to sleep on a stinking living room couch with no privacy while people partied around us until 5 AM.

The CEO of Trezor responds in fine and frothing fashion (archive) — including an accusation that the original poster was “blackmailing us by sending governmental controls to our company.” Now, the obvious way to cope with compliance inspections would be to … stay compliant with regulations. But, this is crypto.

Amazon Web Services offers Amazon Managed Blockchain! This eliminates “the need for a trusted, central authority”! Of course, it’s a “fully managed service” with all nodes on AWS, because centralisation is vastly more efficient.  They currently offer Hyperledger, with private Ethereum “coming soon.” There’s also Amazon Quantum Ledger Database, which keeps the word “blockchain” to the fine print, and looks like a reasonably sane Merkle-tree ledger.

This is not a crypto scam — but the story feels very like when I trace a weird ICO to its roots. Also, our ex-Bitfinex friend Ronn Torossian shows up.

A new way to explain blockchain, by Torsten Kleinz — Die Blockchain ist ein Stempel (The Blockchain is a Stamp).

Crypto BS Clickbait Generator. “H. E. the King of Botswana announces real estate quantum resistant prediction market.”



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