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The Australian Open swings into the Metaverse on Decentraland

A virtual recreation of Melbourne Park including the Rod Laver Arena and Grand Slam Park will be open for the duration of the AO tournament.
Tennis Australia has partnered with Decentraland to host the Australian Open (AO), which will.

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A virtual recreation of Melbourne Park including the Rod Laver Arena and Grand Slam Park will be open for the duration of the AO tournament.

Tennis Australia has partnered with Decentraland to host the Australian Open (AO), which will be the first official tennis grand slam in the Metaverse.

A virtual recreation of key areas in Melbourne Park, including the Rod Laver Arena and Grand Slam Park, will be open for the duration of the Australian Open tournament, which will run for a fortnight beginning on Jan. 17.

The event will include exclusive content for virtual visitors, including behind-the-scenes footage from over 300 cameras around Melbourne Park, including the exclusive player arrivals area and the practice village.

As well as broadcasting live footage and AO radio, it will also feature archival footage from tennis matches dating back to the 70s and virtual meet-ups with tennis players including Mark Philippoussis, with other players yet to be confirmed.

Tennis Australia NFT & Metaverse Project Manager Ridley Plummer said in a virtual welcome address on Decentraland that he hopes for the AO to become the “world’s most accessible and inclusive sports and entertainment event.”

“With the unique challenges fans have faced getting to Melbourne, we’ve fast-tracked our launch into the Metaverse,” he said.

“Taking the AO into the Metaverse is an important step to provide truly global access to our great event.”

This is especially pertinent given travel restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it very difficult for many fans to reach Melbourne to view the event in real life. The 2021 AO faced a range of challenges, including a historically low number of on-site spectators and lockdown restrictions.

Despite the timely introduction of the partnership given the pandemic, Plummer says that the AO plans to continue to collaborate with Decentraland in the future. “We’re in it for the long term,” he said.

“The Metaverse is not going anywhere, and as a company, we’re invested in continuing to grow our online presence and push the boundaries of innovation.”

He also added that Tennis Australia is exploring the possibility of a year-round property in the Metaverse.

“We definitely think of ourselves more as an entertainment event rather than just a tennis event. Whether we're providing entertainment via the metaverse twelve months of the year or only a few months of the year, that's definitely a decision to be made in our roadmap going forward.”

Australian Open lands a sweet NFT partnership

Meanwhile, on Jan. 17, the AO also announced it would be teaming up with NFT platform Sweet to release six NFT collections commemorating the last five decades of the AO.

The collections will be released intermittently between Jan. 17 and 27 to coincide with the tournament.

Tom Mizzone, CEO of Sweet said that the NFT release demonstrates a “truly new level of access” for fans to get a glimpse into the world of their idols.

“We love this idea of turning IP into digital memorabilia and tying that memorabilia back to an experience,” he added.

“The idea that the AO designed an umpire chair that had never been seen before and now tennis fans can own and display that umpire chair as an NFT is just amazing.”

Separately, the AO launched a collection of 6,776 algorithmically created “Art Ball” NFTs on Opensea on Jan 12.

According to Plummer, the collection sold out in three minutes following the public drop with a price floor of 0.26 ETH (around $875) and a trading volume of 223 ETH ($751,287).

Related: Australia's largest crypto exchange will sponsor tennis star Ajla Tomljanovic

This isn’t the Open’s first rodeo in the Metaverse. In 2020, the AO hosted the Fortnite Summer Smash, an esports event with a $100,000 prize pool.

Tennis Australia has leased the virtual land from Vegas City, a company that owns large areas of the metaverse.

The AO has already had its share of drama, with an Australian court dismissing Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic’s appeal against a deportation order.

Djokovic is a vocal critic of the COVID-19 vaccination and claims he was given an exemption from the Australian government to enter the country despite being unvaccinated.

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Crypto

Sam Bankman-Fried could spend up to $1B in 2024 to thwart Trump comeback

The FTX founder said he’d spend “north of $100 million” with a “soft ceiling” of $1 billion and added “who knows what’s going to happen between…

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The FTX founder said he’d spend “north of $100 million” with a “soft ceiling” of $1 billion and added “who knows what’s going to happen between now and then.”

The billionaire founder and CEO of theFTX cryptocurrency exchange Sam Bankman-Fried has revealed he intends to spend anywhere between $100 million and $1 billion to help influence the 2024 United States presidential election campaigns.

In a podcast interview on May 24 Bankman-Fried was asked how much money he might donate during the next presidential election cycle, answering he’d give “north of $100 million” with a “soft ceiling” of $1 billion if he were to bankroll the person running against former president Donald Trump.

“I would hate to say hard ceiling because who knows what’s going to happen between now and then.”

According to the government watchdog OpenSecrets, which tracks data on campaign finance and lobbying, a $1 billion donation would break existing records multiple times over.

The largest individual political donors are currently the Republican business owners Sheldon and Miriam Adelson who spent $218 million in 2020.

Bankman-Fried continued by saying the amount he donates is “super contingent” and “really dependent on exactly who's running where and for why,” adding it’s likely he would spread the money across multiple organizations.

“I think that I'm going to be looking a lot less at political parties from that perspective and a lot more about sane governance and ads for the things that I care the most about.”

He said one of the most important issues to him is preventing the next pandemic which he thinks would cost “tens of billions of dollars.”

“The United States has both a big opportunity and big responsibility to the world to shepherd the West in a powerful but responsible manner,” and added that everything the country does has “massive ripple effects on what the future looks like.”

Bankman-Fried has donated millions to politicians in the past contributing $5.2 million in donations to now-President Joe Biden’s 2020 election campaign.

Related: Sam Bankman-Fried: The crypto whale who wants to give billions away

He also backs the political action committee (PAC) “Protect Our Future” set up in January 2022 which to April spent $9 million supporting Democratic candidates.

Earlier in May the PAC spent in the range of $8 to $10 million backing Carrick Flynn who failed to win the Democratic primary election for the newly created Oregon 6th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.

However, there may be a scenario where Bankman-Fried decides not to donate any money at all, although he thinks the possibility of that is “very low”:

“There's a world which ends up being close to zero if things just work out such that there isn't much I'm excited about.”

The FTX CEO didn’t state in the interviews which crypto related policies he would push for. Over at rival exchange Coinbase, efforts are ramping up in terms of lobbying for crypto favorable policies with last week’s announcement of a “crypto native” think tank, the Coinbase Institute.

It will publish research on crypto and Web3 to bolster the exchange's lobbying efforts. In 2021 the firm was the biggest spending blockchain company in terms of lobbying with over $1.3 million spent.

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Questions arise on Y Combinator’s role in startup correction

Some are pointing the finger not just at late-stage capital pools that poured too much liquidity into the startup market — some startup players are irked…

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A chill has descended onto the global startup market, albeit not evenly. Venture capital totals are sagging in most geographies, and falling share prices for tech companies large and small have soured sentiment on the future value of high-growth and often cash-hungry startups.

The end of the lengthy startup boom that first formed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and largely powered through until the final months of 2021 is shaking out, changing how the market views certain entities.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

Read it every morning on TechCrunch+ or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


Every business cycle has winners and losers, heroes and villains. Some earlier winners turned out to be losers. Tiger, the mega-crossover fund, has evolved from a market-dominating change agent in technology financing to a bag holder. SoftBank’s various Vision Fund efforts are suffering. And some crypto investments that looked to be massive wins have sputtered.

Torben Friehe, CEO of Wingback (YC W22), told TechCrunch earlier this year that many founders that he has spoken to have decided to hold off on fundraising in the current climate, adding that other founders from “across the ecosystem” are saying “that if you have to fundraise right now, you basically have to cut whatever you’d planned to raise back in January in half.”

The winners and losers scorebook isn’t that hard to draw up. But the heroes and villains ledger is a bit more difficult. But with the startup market so changed, so quickly, whiplash is setting in among the investing class. And some are pointing the finger not just at late-stage capital pools that poured too much liquidity into the startup market — some startup players are irked at accelerators, Y Combinator in particular. Let’s talk about it.

The return of fear

The latest missives from venture players are once again downturn letters. We last saw a round of these notes when COVID-19 first hit the world outside of China, leading to economic calamity and lockdowns. Investors warned startups to buckle up for bad times. But, as we now know, the bad times never came for most of them.

Instead, ironically, the pandemic became an accelerant of sorts, pushing more business toward tech companies that helped other concerns operate remotely; an accelerating digital transformation was another tailwind bolstering the tech sector, giving startups a shot in the arm.

The most recent round of warnings from venture capitalists appears more frequent than we saw in 2020, leading our own Natasha Mascarenhas to note over the weekend that “everyone is drafting their own startup Black Swan memo.” Among the various firms that sent advice to their portfolios was Y Combinator.

Y Combinator, or YC for short, is the world’s best-known accelerator. Its expanding cohort sizes, twice-yearly cadence and “standard deal” made it a trendsetting startup program; one that has sufficient heft to influence the overall direction of the early-stage market for funding upstart technology companies. And, after starting life offering “about $20,000 for 6% of a company,” YC raised its terms in 2020 to “$125,000 for 7% equity on a post-money SAFE,” along with reduced pro-rata rights “to 4% of subsequent rounds.”

That changed again in early 2022, when YC added a $375,000 note to its deal, offered on an uncapped basis but with most-favored-nation status. In essence, YC conserved its ability to collect 7% of startup equity early, with extra capital provided to its portfolio companies to put to work.

Over the last few years, YC has raised the valuation bar for its startups, from around $333,333 (6% of a company for $20,000) to $1.79 million (7% of a company for $125,000). Even more, the additional capital it now offers on an uncapped basis likely worked to cement early-stage startup expectations that their accelerator valuation was market valid.

Abhinaya Konduru, an investor at Midwest-focused venture fund M25, told TechCrunch that her firm has “been skeptical of a couple of national accelerators’ valuation practices from an investing standpoint even before the last couple of years,” adding that changes to early-stage valuations from select accelerators — she did not call any program out by name — “made it even harder to consider those companies for an investment to the point where [M25] stopped looking at them.”

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Bitcoin, Gold and Bonds could dominate 2022 – Bloomberg Intelligence

Inflation is arguably out of control globally, with rates hitting as high as 9% in the United Kingdom while the M1 money supply grows.
The post Bitcoin,…

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Inflation is arguably out of control globally, with rates hitting as high as 9% in the U.K. while the M1 money supply grows. The stock markets have taken a massive hit, with over $7 trillion wiped off the Nasdaq in the last four months.

A senior analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence, Mike McGlone, said:

“If stocks are going limp, Bitcoin, Gold, and Bonds could rule.”

McGlone shared the chart below to support his claim.

Source: Twitter

This spread chart shows the U.S. Treasury 10-year bond yield in orange and the price of Bitcoin against the NASDAQ 100 over the past four years. At the bottom of the Bitcoin bear market, around 2018, the chart shows a double bottom ratio of 0.5 before rising to 2.0 in early 2021.

The ability of Bitcoin to hold the 2.0 ratio since January 2021 indicates that it is performing well amid its first potential recession. The last extended global recession occurred due to the 2008 financial crisis, which was a year before the birth of Bitcoin.

Since its inception, Bitcoin has flourished in a thriving global economy. The COVID-19 hurdle of early 2020 was surpassed due to trillions of dollars flooding into circulation, much of which made its way into cryptocurrency. As the world deals with the impact of the rapid increase in money supply, Bitcoin appears to be holding firm compared to other risk-on investments.

McGlone states that “Greater Risk in About a Year May Be #Deflation.” However, his overall sentiment continues to focus on the ability of Bitcoin and Gold to outperform the market in the near future. 

“Following an extended period of outperformance, an underperformance period may be overdue for the #stockmarket, which may shine on #gold and #Bitcoin. The BOLD1 Index (gold, bitcoin combo) has kept pace with the Nasdaq 100 Stock Index in a bull market and with lower volatility.”

The supporting chart shows the declining volatility of BOLD1 against the NASDAQ 100 index since 2019.

BOLD1 chart
Source: Twitter

 

The post Bitcoin, Gold and Bonds could dominate 2022 – Bloomberg Intelligence appeared first on CryptoSlate.

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