Things are moving fast in the Metaverse – and in the wider world of Web3 as a whole. Depending on who you ask, this futuristic, blockchain-based space is either the next big thing for marketing (and almost everything else) or an over-the-top fad. Here’s what you need to know from last week…
11 indicted by SEC with $300 million “crypto pyramid and Ponzi scheme”.
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged 11 people with sponsoring an international “fraudulent crypto pyramid and Ponzi scheme,” according to a statement released Monday by the agency. The agency says the program, called Forsage, “has raised more than $300 million from millions of retail investors worldwide, including in the United States.” Among the defendants are the four founders of Forsage, who the SEC says last resided in Russia, the Republic of Georgia and Indonesia. Three US-based Forsage promoters “and several members of the so-called Crypto Crusaders, the largest advertising group for the program operating in the United States from at least five different states,” were also charged.
Forsage.io was reportedly launched in January 2020 as a platform that allowed retail investors to complete smart contract transactions. The SEC says that “Forsage has reportedly been operating as a pyramid scheme for more than two years,” allowing investors to make profits by recruiting others. Forsage also employed “a typical Ponzi scheme structure” to pay early investors with assets from new investors, the SEC alleges.
The latest marketing news and insights straight to your inbox.
Get the most of The Drum by choosing from a range of great email briefings, whether they’re daily news, weekly recaps, or deep dives into media or creativity.
Joaquin Oliver’s avatar poses in front of a virtual portrait of Oliver. (Image credit: Rock Paper Scissors, Inc.)
The news follows an investigation launched by the SEC into popular crypto exchange firm Coinbase, aimed at determining whether the company has illegally allowed US clients to trade unregistered securities in the form of digital assets.
Ethereum founder rains on Meta’s parade
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin believes that despite all his efforts to develop the Metaverse, Meta will fall short. “We don’t really know the definition of ‘metaverse’ yet, it’s way too early to know what people actually want,” wrote the 28-year-old entrepreneur – whom Time magazine dubbed the “prince of cryptography” – in a tweet on July 30th. “So anything Facebook builds now will fail.” Also on July 30, Buterin clarified his views on the metaverse corporate efforts by tweeting, “The ‘metaverse’ will happen, but I don’t think any of the existing corporate attempts , to intentionally create the metaverse, lead somewhere. ”
The virtual Guacathon party celebrates the life of Joaquin ‘Guac’ Oliver
“Guacathon” — an annual birthday celebration for Joaquin “Guac” Oliver, who was killed in the 2018 Parkland, Fla. shooting, — is throwing a party at the Metaverse.
As of 2020, Guacathon was organized by Change the Ref, an organization founded by Oliver’s parents, which, according to its website, aims to “raise awareness of mass shootings through strategic interventions that will reduce the influence of the NRA at the federal level.”
Hosted on Roblox, this year’s virtual Guacathon party will include a performance by rapper Denzel Curry and a portrait of Oliver designed by acclaimed artist Shepard Fairey, who is also behind the Obey brand’s iconic artwork and the Obama -Poster “Hope” stood. A virtual avatar of Oliver will also be present. “We don’t have a moment of silence… We’re having a party,” Oliver’s mother, Patricia, said in a statement. “I’m grateful for the Metaverse, for having a place where my son can help people connect and share his life. I want his co-workers to throw a party in his honor and befriend his Metaverse self.”
The Roblox event – developed in collaboration with Metaverse design studio Melon – was conceived as “a virtual urban festival filled with people listening to music, interacting with art and shooting baskets,” according to a press release. It takes place today – Oliver’s 22nd birthday – as part of an exclusive, personal celebration in New York City.
FC Barcelona launches its web3 presence
Socios.com – which bills itself as a “blockchain-powered fan engagement and rewards platform” – has announced a new partnership with FC Barcelona. Widely regarded as one of the most popular football clubs in the world, the goal is to establish the club’s presence in the Web3 space. As the club’s “strategic technology partner,” Socios.com will be responsible for “accelerating the club’s blockchain, NFT and Web3 strategies,” according to a press release. Chiliz, the company that owns Socios.com, has also invested $100 million as part of the new deal, earning a 24.5 percent stake in Barça Studios – the club’s digital content production and distribution arm.
Hackers steal millions of crypto assets from Solana
The Solana blockchain ecosystem was hacked on Wednesday, resulting in the breaching of thousands of users’ wallets and the theft of millions of dollars worth of crypto.
The hack came just a day after hackers broke into the Nomad token bridge and stole nearly $200 million in crypto assets. The attack was still ongoing as of Wednesday afternoon. It’s not yet clear how much was stolen in total, although estimates are as high as $8 million, according to The Verge. Solana tweeted Wednesday that engineers are working with audit and security professionals “to investigate the root cause of an incident that resulted in approximately 8,000 wallets being emptied.”
News of the Solana hack comes less than a week after the company announced it had opened the doors of a brick-and-mortar store in Manhattan called Solana Spaces.
To learn more, sign up for The Drum’s Inside the Metaverse weekly newsletter here.