Crypto.com spent its way to the top. Then the market crashed. Now what?

When I followed up with Cuban after the Luna debacle, his optimism did not wane. “The cryptocurrency market is highly correlated with the NASDAQ,” he said. “Three of the most heavily invested stocks (Apple, Amazon and Facebook) have lost more market capitalization than the total value of the crypto market. Nobody wonders if Apple would be a good partner after losing around $400 billion in market capitalization. That’s how markets work.”

Maybe… But Apple has real products. The crypto space, after more than ten years of development, has little to offer other than database entries, ugly avatars, risky transactions, and a vaporware wallet. Also, and here I must editorialize again, the DeFi sector seems like a ticking time bomb to me. Last Thursday, Tether, another widely used stablecoin that attracts yield-seeking users, briefly broke its peg to the US dollar. It bounced back quickly, but many observers agree that a run on stablecoins could lead to a cascading chain of failures. “If things start to fall apart, it could be potentially catastrophic for the industry,” an analyst told CNBC. So are the markets not works.


I must admit, Before the crash, I enjoyed seeing my altcoin portfolio appreciate. I also racked up a good amount of interest, got a few kickbacks from Cronos, and got a month of Spotify. I still didn’t really understand why cryptocurrencies were so expensive or complicated, but it felt good to join. In that sense, Matt Damon was right.

Seeking to connect with the tribe, I visited the long-running CryptoMondays gathering in Venice Beach about a month before the crash. We gathered under patio lights in the parking lot of an upscale Mexican restaurant, which had been converted, during the pandemic, into an outdoor bar. He’d been to a similar event, years before: an all-out sword fight, where feverish fools lectured each other on distributed ledgers. Since then, crypto has enjoyed a social upswing: At Venice, the attendees were diverse, fun, smart, beautiful, and cool. I felt like I was in a vodka commercial.

No one I spoke to could remember who first organized the event; one attendee told me it was spontaneous or “decentralized”. Some of the participants had been surfing for years with the profits from their bloated Bitcoin wallets; others, like me, were just beginning. I spoke with a recent college graduate and former javelin thrower. Jacked and broadly adjacent, he belonged to the demographic Crypto.com refuses to admit he targets, but when I asked him about the company, he scoffed. “Nobody I know uses it.”

Similarly, Jackie Peters, a stylish entrepreneur who is building a blockchain-enabled dating app called “Trust!” (The app will use “Web3 technology” to restore the authenticity of online dating.) Peters was still in the process of selecting which blockchain he would use, but Cronos was not a competitor. “Technically there’s nothing there that appeals to me,” he said. “I’m thinking of using a blockchain called Avalanche.”

Of the dozen attendees I spoke to, only Apu Gomes, a Brazilian photographer, had direct investment experience with Crypto.com. Gomes, seeking to trade NFTs from the photographs of him, was also a petty speculator. In the weeks after Damon’s commercial aired, Chronos’ value had increased fivefold. The company’s next commercial, featuring LeBron James, aired during the Super Bowl. “He fell over,” Gomes said. “I sold it to buy Solana.”

Many of the attendees seemed to have hangovers. That was thanks, in part, to Audrey Pichy, an organizer for NFT/LA, which had wrapped up earlier that week and billed itself as “an epic IRL conference fused with immersive metaverse integrations and the rock-solid life Los Angeles night. Pichy, who was born on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, wore a leather jacket and jumped around excitedly as she spoke. “Until a month ago, we weren’t even sure how many people were going to show up. But 4,000 people came!”

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