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Crypto City: Guide to Austin

This Crypto City guide looks at Austins crypto culture, the citys most notable projects and people, its financial infrastructure, which retailers accept crypto and where you can find blockchain education courses and there are even the juicy details of…



This Crypto City guide looks at Austins crypto culture, the citys most notable projects and people, its financial infrastructure, which retailers accept crypto and where you can find blockchain education courses and there are even the juicy details of a famous controversy. Everything is bigger in Texas, including its enthusiasm for crypto.


Fast facts

City: Austin

Country: United States

Population: 974,000

Founded: 1839

Language: English


The capital of the largest state in the contiguous United States, Austin is known as a live music mecca, with festivals drawing in thousands of people from around the world each year, including Austin City Limits and South by Southwest. The Texas city is a unique blend of liberal and conservative values, yet in many ways, it still operates under the old motto keep Austin weird, with the University of Texas at Austin home to a diverse student body and the popular Texas Longhorns football team.

Long before becoming a hub of major tech companies earning it the nickname Silicon Hills Austin drew settlers from Mexico and the United States around the time Texas became an independent nation in 1836. Texas has stood under three flags with Austin as its capital: the Republic of Texas, the Confederacy and the United States of America. Though the city was largely centered around the capitol building completed in 1888, it later became known to many as a college town. For some years, the University of Texas at Austin was the largest university in the country by enrollment.

Austin and the surrounding area have also been the shooting location for a number of famous films, including Death Proof from director Quentin Tarantino, Dazed and Confused Matthew McConaugheys first movie role and many others. Though the city once drew, and still does draw, many starving artists pursuing their passions, interest from major corporations and their wealthy executives has begun to drive many natives and newbies alike out of the area due to rising rent and housing prices.

As the population of Austin grows, gentrification and commuting times remain a large problem for many residents. The main highway, Interstate 35 which separates the downtown area from the freshly redeveloped East Austin seems inadequately designed to accommodate the rising number of Austinites, with some traveling up to 30 miles between their homes and offices. The city faces challenges including a lack of publicly provided infrastructure for its homeless population, the way Austins land can be used, and other issues endemic to the rest of the United States.



Austin skyline. (Source: Pexels)



Crypto culture

Many Texans have a dont tread on me approach to local, state and federal governments telling them how to handle their business, their money and their personal life, despite the state showing only a lone star on its flag rather than a snake. In some ways, Austin residents response to digital assets since 2011 has been representative of this mindset, with many jumping into the crypto space more as an alternative to central banking rather than a fad from the tech industry.

According to Paul Snow, a self-described technologist who runs the Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Meetup group in Austin and organizes the Texas Bitcoin Conference, the Texans who attend gatherings most consistently seem to be concerned about the state of the nation, and the state of banking and finance. Snow says the group doesnt focus on the latest project getting pumped and dumped, with many holding Bitcoin, Ether and SOL, although some are also advocates of Dogecoin and Shiba Inu.

[Our discussion] is basically a real broad analysis of every issue that is either in the crypto space or heavily within the context of the crypto space. Because the crypto space is largely a challenge to central banks, at least in a lot of peoples minds, then anything that happens in banking and finance is interesting to us.

Snow arrived in Austin in 2000 and started the Meetup groups in 2013, long before the U.S. government and Texas regulators turned their attention to crypto firms operating in the city. In mid-2021, the Texas State Securities Board filed for hearings against crypto lending firm BlockFi in addition to Celsius Network for allegedly offering unlicensed securities. However, lawmakers in the state also passed legislation the same year recognizing cryptocurrencies under commercial law.

Crypto also has a supporter in the form of Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has hinted on social media that he wants the state to follow Wyomings example in passing more crypto-friendly legislation. When Texas supermarket chain H-E-B announced in June 2021 that it would be installing crypto ATMs, Abbott tweeted his approval, saying, Texas will be the crypto leader. Senator Ted Cruz has also recently come out as a vocal crypto proponent.





Austin has previously hosted the SXSW Crypto Summit, Digital Assets and Securities Conference, Texas Blockchain Summit, Texas Bitcoin Conferenceand Bear Arms N Bitcoin trade show. The city is also expected to be the home of the major crypto-and blockchain-focused Consensus conference in June 2022.



Texas State Capitol building in Austin. Source: Pexels



Projects and companies

Before cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology existed, Austin and the surrounding area had the conditions to make it ripe for opportunity for the right tech firms. Computer manufacturerDell is located in nearby Round Rock, and in October, Elon Musk announced he would be moving car manufacturer Teslas headquarters close to the citys international airport. Major tech companies including Facebook, Google, IBM, Oracleand Hewlett Packard also have regional offices in Austin.

There are just so many different levels where crypto ought to be adopted and I think that the municipalities that jump on early are going to do so much better than those that drag their feet, says Snow.

I dont know if I have a lot of hope for that at a governmental level, but at a personnel level and development team level, I think Austin is pretty exciting and theyll do well.

Once officials in China began cracking down on Bitcoin miners, many firms relocated to Texas for its cheap electricity and seemingly crypto friendly regulations. Austin is home to crypto mining firm Blockcap, but other mining companies, including Riot Blockchain and Bitdeer Group an offshoot of Bitmain have set up shop in nearby Rockdale. Layer1 Technologies and Argo Blockchain also built mining facilities in West Texas.

Though many crypto exchanges and companies offering financial products potentially falling under the regulatory umbrella of the Securities and Exchange Commission or the Commodity Futures Trading Commission have headquarters in the United States, the city of Austin itself seems to attract more startups dealing with security and blockchain technology that with buying and trading tokens. Companies such as Pinata, Titanand Talos have employees based in the city, while Inveniam, Factom, Multicoin Capital, Horizen Labsand others have local offices.





Financial infrastructure

In February 2014, the first Robocoin Bitcoin ATM in Austin was installed at HandleBar, a bar located downtown. The launch of the machine was one of the first in the United States and preceded companies like Coinsource and Bitcoin Depot placing crypto ATMs in a variety of locations around the capital city in addition to the gradual acceptance ofcrypto payments for goods and services.



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Where can I spend crypto?

Though credit cards, Apple Pay and cash payments are still largely king in the United States, there are many businesses around Austin that accept BTC, including restaurants, grocery stores and photography studios. The supermarket chain H-E-Bs locations in Austin do not host crypto ATMs or accept payments in Bitcoin or Ether yet, but according to Coinmap, there are roughly 90 retail outlets in the area that do accept digital assets.





In Austin, Starbucks, Home Depot, Whole Foods and others accept crypto payments through third-party apps. Aside from the major retail chain stores, a few restaurants in the downtown area and Rainey Street Historic District, including Mai Thai, allow Austinites to pay for their food using crypto. However, many of these businesses have shuttered in the last year, likely due to the pandemic.

Like Miami and New York City, Austin currently has its own CityCoin built on Stacks, an open-source network of decentralized applications and smart contracts that use the Bitcoin blockchain as a programmable base layer. The initiative from CityCoins has received public support from both the mayors of Miami and NYC for their respective tokens, but Austin Mayor Steve Adler has not yet endorsed a digital coin for the Texas capital city.






The University of Texas at Austin currently offers courses on blockchain through the McCombs School of Business and on the use of technology in a decentralized economy through its School of Information. Students at both UT Austin and St. Edwards University had active cryptocurrency clubs prior to the pandemic, and Austin Community College partnered with IBM in 2019 as part of an apprenticeship program aimed at training students considering careers in blockchain and more. However, likely because so many crypto and blockchain firms have found a home in Texas, there are also additional classes hosted by private companies from time to time.



The University of Texas at Austin football game. Source: Pexels

Controversies and collapses

Austin was once the home of Ross Ulbricht, creator of the infamous darknet marketplace Silk Road. Operating under the pseudonym Dread Pirate Roberts an homage to the movie The Princess Bride Ulbricht started developing the site in 2010 after returning to Austin following his graduation from Penn State. He avoided the authorities until his arrest in San Francisco in 2013.

Silk Road allowed users to buy and sell illicit goods such as weapons and stolen credit card information, but many of the listings were for illegal drugs, all of which drew the attention of the FBI. Since his arrest and conviction, Ulbricht is currently serving two life sentences without the possibility of parole. He was found guilty of money laundering, computer hacking and conspiracy to traffic narcotics, but he still provides periodic analyses on the crypto market from prison.

Notable figures in Austin and former residents

Tesla CEO and Dogecoin proponent Elon Musk; Jimmy Song, a Bitcoin developer and crypto influencer known for wearing a cowboy hat; Nathan Nichols, a board member of the Texas Blockchain Council; Jim Breyer, the venture capitalist behind Breyer Capital; Bitcoin Frankie, a crypto influencer and owner of Brand Besties; and Ross Ulbricht, creator of the now-defunct Silk Road darknet marketplace. Cointelegraph team members based in Texas: Turner Wright, Rachel Wolfson andRay Salmond

If you have any suggestions for additions to this guide, please contact





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Spotify Drops Customer Service, Keeps Joe Rogan

Customers upset with the Rogan decision are reportedly receiving an automated message when the company used to offer live customer support.



Customers upset with the Rogan decision are reportedly receiving an automated message when the company used to offer live customer support.

If you were thinking of contacting Spotify  (SPOT) - Get Spotify Technology SA Report to complain about their Joe Rogan decision, you may want to reconsider. Instead of responding to the complaints, the music streaming platform has reportedly replaced live people with an automated response system.

At the start of the week, well-known rock and roll musician Neil Young took Spotify to task over its $100 million contract with podcaster, comedian and former Ultimate Fighting commentator Joe Rogan — while the "Joe Rogan Experience" podcast attracts huge audiences, it has also been the forum he used to discourage young people from taking vaccines and promote the unproven ivermectin drug as a treatment for COVID-19. 


What Happened With Young And Rogan?

Even prior to Young's request to Spotify to either drop Rogan or remove all his music from the platform, over 270 scientists and doctors signed an open letter calling for Spotify to prevent the spread of misinformation through the podcast.

"Spotify has a responsibility to mitigate the spread of misinformation on its platform, though the company presently has no misinformation policy," Young, who caught polio as a child three years before a vaccine was made available, wrote in a Jan. 25 letter to Spotify. "[...] They can have Rogan or Young. Not both."

By Wednesday, Spotify chose to remove Young's music instead of Rogan. With over 11 million listeners, the podcast is by far its most popular and the platform had previously signed a multiyear, $100 million contract with Rogan in 2020.

The situation caused outrage not just among rock-and-roll fans (songs like "Heart Of Gold" and "Like A Hurricane" have made Young a beloved figure) but also average listeners who felt that Spotify was enabling misinformation during a deadly pandemic. 

So What Is Spotify Doing About It?

Many took to both social media and customer service to complain and, as Newsweek first reported, the support chat -- which previously used live people -- started getting back to customers with an automated response.

"We're currently getting a lot of contacts so may be slow to respond," a message that some received around 2 p.m. on Thursday reportedly read. Prior to this situation, they would be able to chat with a real customer service staff member (albeit sometimes after a lengthy wait).

The uproar shows no sign of winding down and, at the moment, thousands of posts about either having quit or how to quit Spotify are circulating on Twitter  (TWTR) - Get Twitter, Inc. Report, and Facebook (FB) - Get Meta Platforms Inc. Class A Report.

"The only easy way to leave @Spotify is to remove your credit card payments in profile settings," California guitarist Brian Ray wrote on Twitter. "They are getting swarmed and they will not help you cancel."

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Apple Music, Tidal Roast Spotify After Neil Young’s Removal

The controversy highlights that podcasts are likely more important to the streaming giant than music.



The controversy highlights that podcasts are likely more important to the streaming giant than music.

Rust never sleeps, and apparently neither does social media or controversy.

Earlier this week, rock and roll legend Neil Young called for his music to be removed from the streaming giant Spotify  (SPOT) - Get Spotify Technology SA Report, citing the misinformation about COVID-19, and its attendant vaccines, that are regularly offered by podcaster Joe Rogan. “They can have [Joe] Rogan or Young. Not both,” said Young, a survivor of childhood polio, in a statement.

Rogan’s popular podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience,” is one of the most popular in the medium. It's also a Spotify exclusive that the streaming service paid a rumored $100 million to acquire in 2020.

Spotify didn’t acquiesce to Young’s demands to get rid of Rogan, and the songwriter had his catalog removed. In wake of the controversy, #CancelSpotify began trending, Spotify’s streaming competitors are using the flare up to get some free publicity, while critics of the service are using it to make a point about the service’s priorities. 


Joe Rogan Brings In Both Listeners And Headaches

You can love Joe Rogan or you can hate him, but there’s one thing that can’t be denied about him: the former sitcom actor turned reality show host and mixed martial arts commentator is one of the most popular podcasters in the world. In fact, he's arguably the most popular podcaster, period.

Though some observers thought that signing an exclusive deal with Spotify would limit his audience, he nonetheless had the most popular podcast on Spotify last year.

By signing an exclusive deal with Rogan, Spotify gains access to his loyal fanbase but is also quite often in the awkward position of seeming like they are condoning his controversial statements. 

Rogan has been widely accused of both transphobia and Islamophobia, and Spotify staff members have reportedly pushed Spotify CEO Daniel Elk to remove episodes they deemed transphobic, which he declined to do after an all-hands staff meeting. However, the company has been known to remove some episodes of Rogan’s podcast, including an interview with Proud Boys founder Gavin McInnes.

While Apple Podcasts’ have restriction on content “that may lead to harmful or dangerous outcomes,” Spotify “like other tech companies that distribute media, is fundamentally uncomfortable making decisions about what kind of media it does and doesn’t want to distribute,” as noted by Vox.

Rogan has a history of making statements about COVID-19 and the effectiveness of the vaccines that that have drawn criticism from the medical community, such as a statement that younger people don’t need to get vaccinated, stating “if you're like 21 years old, and you say to me, should I get vaccinated? I'll go no.” In response to the outcry from the statement, he later clarified “I'm not an anti-vax person,” Rogan said. "I believe they're safe and encourage many people to take them."

The latest flashpoint occurred in December, when Rogan interviewed Robert Malone, a scientist and mRNA vaccine skeptic who has been banned from Twitter for spreading misinformation, and stated at a recent anti-vaccine rally in Washington, D.C. that “the science is settled. They’re not working.” (Scientists have repeatedly pointed out that this is incorrect.) 

Spotify’s Competitors Jump Into The Fray

Some commentators believe this ongoing scuttlebutt paints Spotify in a bad light by making them look indifferent in the face of a public health crisis, while others have applauded the company for not capitulating to public pressure and defending Rogan’s right to free speech. 

But either way, in the long run, the dust-up between Young and Spotify isn’t likely to do much to hurt the streaming service’s bottom line, as it remains the most popular audio streaming service, with 381 million Monthly Active Users and 172 million Premium Subscribers according to its most recent earnings report. 

When you’re the number one, there’s always going to be competitors looking to take your spot, and many of the streaming giant’s competitors took to social media to take advantage of the controversy, and to point out that there’s plenty of places to stream classic young albums like "Rust Never Sleeps" and "After the Gold Rush." 

Spotify has become so synonymous with streaming music that companies like Tidal, Deezer, and SiriusXM (SIRI) - Get Sirius XM Holdings, Inc. Report no doubt welcome the opportunity to remind people that there are other options out there. 

Why Spotify Backed Joe Rogan 

One Tweet that has gained traction online was from Damon Krukowski, a musician who played in the influential indie rock band Galaxie 500 who had become a leading critic and commentator on the digital music sphere.

Depending on your point of view, this statement is either a withering diss of Spotify, or a clear-headed assessment of the company’s business model. 

It’s objectively true that Spotify’s main interest is getting people to spend as much time on its platform as possible, which is why its growth strategy has been heavily focused on podcasts for the past few years. 

Amidst competition from Amazon and Apple, the company has been looking to become less dependent on music and has been on a content buying spree lately, acquiring podcast companies such as Gimlet Media, Anchor FM Inc. (a company that helps people make their own podcasts), Parcast, and the sports/entertainment website and podcast network The Ringer. 

Spotify has struggled to make money largely because streaming music carries a low profit margin. The company noted that it has improved its margins due to its investments outside of streaming music.

"Gross margin finished at 26.7% in Q3, above the top end of our guidance range and reflecting nearly 200 bps of Y/Y expansion. The gross margin improvement reflected a favorable revenue mix shift towards podcasts, marketplace activity, improved music advertising operating leverage, and other cost of revenue efficiencies (e.g. payment fees, streaming delivery costs), which were partially offset by higher non-music and other content costs and publishing rate increases," the company wrote in its Q3 earnings report.

Spotify lost $0.41 per share in its most recent quarter and expects losses to continue into Q4. The company does have roughly $3.6 billion in cash on hand to fund continued losses and acquisitions.

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Trading Penny Stocks? Top Stock Market News for January 28th, 2022

Trading penny stocks today? Here’s what you need to know
The post Trading Penny Stocks? Top Stock Market News for January 28th, 2022 appeared first on Penny Stocks to Buy, Picks, News and Information |



Buying Penny Stocks Today? Here’s What You Need to Know 

As we enter another day of trading penny stocks and blue chips, stock futures are showing mixed results on January 28th. While some are glad to see this week end, others are anxious about what the future could hold. 

But, what we do know is that there is a sizable amount of hope for penny stocks to perform well in the coming weeks. To understand how to trade penny stocks today, let’s take a look at what is going on in the stock market right now.

What to Know About Trading Penny Stocks Today 

The biggest news in the market right now is the major earnings that were reported this week. This includes Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL), which reported record quarterly sales and profits that were better than expected. 

In addition to this, news surrounding the GDP during the fourth quarter showed higher growth than investors had anticipated as well as lower jobless claims. But, as traders continue to digest the hawkish news from the Fed and Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s comments on future interest rates, markets remain in flux. 

[Read More] Why Stocks Were Down Today: What To Know Now As Markets Sell-Off

As we all know, stocks do not like uncertainty. And, they is something that we are seeing quite a bit of across the market right now. So, as the Fed continues to work on improving inflation, we are likely to see more volatility in the near future. With that in mind, let’s take a look at three penny stocks that are climbing during premarket trading right now. 

3 Penny Stocks Climbing During Premarket Right Now 

  1. NovaBay Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NYSE: NBY
  2. Imperial Petroleum Inc. (NASDAQ: IMPP
  3. Vaccinex Inc. (NASDAQ: VCNX

NovaBay Pharmaceuticals Inc. (NYSE: NBY) 

During premarket, shares of NBY stock jumped by around 8%. While many stocks can jump with no news, NovaBay made an exciting announcement during early morning. The company stated that it has appointed Audrey Kunin, M.D., and Julie Garlikov to its Board of Directors. The two represent decals of experience in the skincare and pharmaceutical industry, and for that reason, they could be major assets to the company moving forward. 

“This is an exciting, transformational time at NovaBay with the recent addition of DERMAdoctor and our planned further expansion into the large, lucrative OTC eyecare and skincare markets. We are delighted to welcome professionals to our Board who bring highly relevant experience and records of success.” 

The Chairman of the Board at NovaBay, Paul E. Freiman

With this big news in mind, will NBY be on your list of penny stocks to watch?

Imperial Petroleum Inc. (NASDAQ: IMPP) 

The largest gainer of the day during premarket trading is IMPP stock. By early morning, shares of IMPP stock had surged by a staggering 77% to over $2.05 per share. The main reason behind this gain is IMPP stock erasing some of its losses from the previous few days of trading.

[Read More] Hot Penny Stocks to Add to Your Watchlist Right Now

While this may not be enough to justify an over 70% gain, we did see exciting quarterly results from the company last month. In December, it posted revenue of $4.1 million for Q3 2021. 

“We are happy to have successfully concluded the spin-off of STEALTHGAS’s four tankers into a separate listed entity. This year has been tough for tanker owners as the market was hit by COVID-19 uncertainty resulting in reduced oil demand and reduced crude exports.” 

The CEO of Imperial Petroleum, Harry Vafias

Although it is tough to say if IMPP stock deserves a spot on your penny stocks watchlist, today’s move is an interesting one. With that considered, do you think IMPP stock is worth buying or not?


Vaccinex Inc. (NASDAQ: VCNX) 

During premarket, VCNX stock shot up by a very sizable 19%. Despite a one year loss of around 60%, we are seeing a slight bullish turnaround with Vaccinex. So, why did shares of VCNX stock move today? Well, the company announced during early morning trading that it has received two complete responses for the first three patients enrolled in its Phase 1b/2 Keynote B84 study of pepinemab in combination with Keytruda. This study is testing the combination of these compounds for those with either recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer. 

“We believe there is a strong rationale for continued development of pepinemab in combination with KEYTRUDA in HNSCC…We look forward to sharing further results at a medical conference as the study progresses, with interim analysis around the midpoint of enrollment (2H 2022).” 

The President and CEO of Vaccinex, Maurice Zauderer, Ph.D.

In the biotech industry, announcements like these are always exciting for investors to consider. With that in mind, will VCNX be on your penny stocks watchlist?


Are Penny Stocks Worth Buying?

The short answer to this question is that it is up to you and your trading strategy. With so many factors impacting the stock market right now, understanding how to buy penny stocks and why, will help you to make money with small caps.

[Read More] 4 ‘Must Watch’ Penny Stocks Making Big Moves After Latest News

But, investors should also understand that penny stocks are highly speculative and can gain or lose quickly and by large amounts. So, with all of that in mind, do you think that penny stocks are worth buying or not?

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The post Trading Penny Stocks? Top Stock Market News for January 28th, 2022 appeared first on Penny Stocks to Buy, Picks, News and Information |

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