September 22, 2023

TGIF: Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong puts his money where his mouth is. Plus, Maker rising.

Today's newsletter is 668 words, a 2.5-minute read.

📣 1 big thing: Coinbase CEO donates $1 million to super PAC

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong is interviewed by Messari CEO Ryan Selkis at Mainnet in New York. Photo: Crystal Kim/Axios

Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase Global, is trying to rally crypto supporters to fight back against those who have made it their mission to snuff out the industry, Crystal writes.

The big picture: The U.S.'s largest centralized exchange is waging a multifront war, matching the SEC's energy in prosecuting crypto by speaking out against the agency's crackdown, starting a non-profit political campaign and fighting back in courts.

Driving the news: "We need to make sure the SEC does not get weaponized with a political agenda," Armstrong said in an interview with Messari CEO Ryan Selkis at the Mainnet conference last night.

  • "To do that, the crypto industry is going to have to get a bit more sophisticated and powerful in terms of our lobbying efforts and our political power that we can bring to bear for the 2024 election."

Details: Coinbase and its CEO are now putting money to work.

  • Armstrong said he personally put in $1 million to the Fair Shake PAC and that Coinbase will also be donating in the future.
  • He also said other crypto firms are coming together to donate in a bid to get the PAC to $50 million plus.

What he's saying: The risk of not doing anything is too great: "I worry about that," Armstrong said. "Getting the wrong kind of regulation is worse than none at all."

Zoom out: Armstrong pointed to other industries' efforts to shape regulation that would impact them: "If you look at like the oil and gas lobby or the banking lobby — I mean they're spending, I don't know, in the order of $100 million a year."

  • "Money moves the needle," he said. "For better or worse, that's how our system works.

Between the lines: If crypto money talks, it asks: Are you with us or against us?

ğŸŽˆ 2. Charted: Maker rising

Maker coin price
Data: CoinGecko; Chart: Tory Lysik/Axios Visuals

It's hard to say for sure, but it looks like the MakerDAO community's decision to go into U.S. Treasuries has been viewed positively by investors — at least judging by the health of its governance token, maker (MKR), Brady writes.

  • Things are weird in MakerDAO right now. For example, its founder is pushing a plan to change everything about how it works, including launching on a new blockchain.
  • Vitalik does not approve.

Be smart: MakerDAO is a collateral-backed stablecoin steward.

💡 3. What's this? Chronicle, an on-chain data startup

The Chronicle logo from its booth at Messari Mainnet. Photo: Brady Dale/Axios

MakerDAO has spun out its oracle system into a stand-alone startup called Chronicle, Brady writes.

  • Axios spoke with Jennifer Senhaji from the Chronicle team at Messari Mainnet on Wednesday.

Context: Oracles are data systems for blockchains. Particularly for off-chain data.

  • Decentralized applications running financial services obviously need real time information about, for example, the value of a dollar, or what bitcoins are trading for.
  • Oracles collect that data around the world and post it on blockchains in ways other applications can use.

What they're saying: "It's good to have a redundant oracle system," Senhaji tells Axios.

  • The market leader has been fairly clearly Chainlink, a multichain, multi-asset oracle system.
  • Chronicle is one of a handful of other options out there today. It's now available to any app on an Ethereum Virtual Machine compatible chain.

In the weeds: Senhaji says that Chronicle has a few things going for it.

  • First, it's a time-tested system, one that has worked without a hitch for the largest DeFi stablecoin out there, dai (DAI), for several years.
  • Chronicle argues it wins on gas efficiency, saving money for dApps that use it.
  • Finally, Chronicle has a high level of transparency. Users can go on the website and see all the data it pulls in to deliver the prices it posts on chain.

The bottom line: "You know who is behind the scenes; that's not the case with other oracles," Senhaji said.

🏃 4. Catch up quick

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

🪙 Coinbase's chief legal officer says Base token could be "viable" in the future. (The Block)

👾 Crypto analytics firm Nansen said some users' blockchain addresses, password hashes and email addresses were exposed in a security breach. (Decrypt)

🏛️ Sam Bankman-Fried will stay in jail for the start of his trial. (CoinDesk)

This newsletter was edited by Pete Gannon and copy edited by Chris Speckhard.

What a week! FWIW we get the feeling next week will be even busier. —B & C.