Feb 15, 2022 - Economy

No crypto champs crowned during Super Bowl

A football player with a TV set for a head with a black and white spiral in the picture

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Crypto went mainstream on Sunday, via a series of hyped Super Bowl ads that featured everything from LeBron to Larry David to a bouncing, technicolor QR code.

Be smart: This was a new customer land-grab, with crypto companies reaching to the edges of TAM. But new tech has a very mixed track record when it comes to this particular sort of spend, particularly if bankrolled by venture capitalists.

  • Fourteen dotcom companies advertised during the 2000 Super Bowl, most of which are now defunct. Not just Pets.com, but also OnMoney.com and a marketing startup called Epidemic.com (whose URL is somehow unused).
  • Cash4Gold had an MC Hammer-led ad in 2009. It was bankrupt three years later, and the subject of legal headaches for its VC backers.
  • Quibi shelled out for a Super Bowl ad in 2020, during which it made the bold choice to not really explain what the company did. It didn't even last the year.
  • Oh, and then there are Mexico-grown avocados, whose ad just this past Sunday was followed by the U.S. suspending the import of ... wait for it ... Mexico-grown avocados.

I'm not suggesting this is a Madden-style curse. After all, that personal computer upstart in 1984 seems to have made a go of it. And it's always important to differentiate between the future success of an industry and of any individual companies (see com, dot).

  • When it comes to tech, however, champions aren't crowned on Super Bowl Sunday.
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