Pongo Points 11/23/23

Sam Altman's wild ride | SEC needs new writers | Crypto-bull writes bearish take | JPM and Apollo are cross-chainers | Binance pleads guilty in DOJ case

Happy Thanksgiving to the American members of the Pongo Pod!

1. Sam Altman’s Roundtrip at OpenAI

Why it’s interesting: After being ousted by the OpenAI board last Friday, Sam Altman plays the part of a magnanimous leader as he returns as CEO five days later - with an all new board to boot.

What stands out: Despite a hasty departure from the company, Altman was met with open arms at Microsoft - a major investor in OpenAI - to establish a new AI venture, while the OpenAI board ruminated on their mistake.

What’s next: Microsoft checkmated the OpenAI board by adopting the exiled CEO, as Altman’s strong public image and dedication to the technology have proven to be more potent than the board’s wishes.

2. SEC Sues (Another) Crypto Exchange

Why it’s interesting: Despite having settled with Kraken in February of this year, the SEC is pursuing an all-too-familiar lawsuit against the company with a pleading that reads practically identically to other three complaints.

What stands out: The SEC has pending actions against three other crypto exchanges (Bittrex, Binance, and Coinbase) that were all filed earlier this year, all of which reference to the same alleged unregistered securities - including Cardano (ADA), Solana (SOL), and Cosmos (ATOM).

What’s next: The SEC continues its diatribe against the crypto industry by seeking to establish case law instead of working hand-in-hand with companies to clearly define rules and guidelines.

3. Pseudonymous Ethereum Advocate Polynya Talks Hopium in Crypto

Why it’s interesting: Widely known in the industry as a voice of reason for crypto scaling and adoption, Polynya shares a frank and impassioned plea for companies to stop seeking novelty and instead focus on product-market fit for the real world.

What stands out: The crypto space often finds itself deep down the rabbit hole of pursuing more creative ways to create new connections within itself rather than creating connections to the real world (which is largely uninterested in blockchain after the rise in popularity of AI).

What’s next: Polynya received flack for this and a subsequent essay, highlighting the crypto industry’s cavalier attitude towards building for value rather than meaningless innovation.

Check out the latest Pongo’s Perspective!

In this month’s edition, Pongo explores how blockchains could be used for censorship. Quite ironic given the typical rhetoric of “censorship resistant ledgers!”

4. JP Morgan and Apollo Go Cross-Chain Compatible

Why it’s interesting: Under “Project Guardian,” a collaborative initiative in Singapore between policymakers and the finance industry, JP Morgan and Apollo successfully demonstrated how to automate portfolios across different blockchains through cross-chain transfers.

What stands out: The two financial behemoths leveraged the Axelar network, a relatively new cross-chain communication service, in order to purchase and rebalance positions in tokenized assets across multiple, interconnected blockchains.

  • Cross-chain transfers are one of the most difficult services to implement on public blockchains due to the “honeypot effect,” where users must pool funds in a centralized account to be able to move between chains.

What’s next: As the traditional finance world continues to adopt private blockchains, the need for interoperability will increase demand for products like Axelar and Chainlink, suggesting that the most valuable public crypto projects will be infrastructure-based.

5. Binance CEO Settles Criminal Case

Why it’s interesting: Binance and its CEO, Changpeng Zhao (CZ), were charged by the US Department of Justice for serving sanctioned countries and entities, money-laundering, and fraud - but agreed to settle the matter for over $4.3 billion in fines.

What stands out: Binance is the world’s largest crypto exchange, yet the market seemed largely unfazed by CZ’s guilty pleading with most crypto prices remaining stable (perhaps the crypto industry is immune to more bad news after the past 16 months of collapses).

What’s next: CZ stepped down as CEO of Binance and is barred from engaging with Binance for three years, but the broader crypto market have shown resilience to this news as compared to the FTX/SBF collapse.

Meme Digestif

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