Autor Cointelegraph By Jesse Coghlan

Meta ‘powering through’ with Metaverse plans despite doubts — Zuckerberg

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is still hopeful about the company’s Metaverse plans regardless of the billions of dollars it’s sucking up from the company, claiming “someone has to build that.”Appearing remotely for an interview at the Nov. 30 DealBook Summit in New York, Zuckerberg was asked his thoughts on whether the tech giants’ Metaverse play was still viable given its cost and the doubts cast over the platform, answering:“I think things look very different on a ten-year time horizon than the zone that we’re in for the next few years […] I’m still completely optimistic about all the things that we’ve been optimistic about.”He added part of “seeing things through” in the longer term was “powering through” the doubts held about its ambitions.Meta’s latest earnings, released on Oct. 26, revealed the largest-ever quarterly loss in its metaverse-building arm Reality Labs dating back to the fourth quarter of 2020. Zuckerberg’s virtual reality has cost $9.44 billion in 2022, closing in on the over $10 billion in losses recorded for 2021.On the earnings call at the time Zuckerberg was unfazed by the cost, calling its metaverse the “next computing platform.” He doubled down on this claim at DealBook:“We’re not going to be here in the 2030s communicating and using computing devices that are exactly the same as what we have today, and someone has to build that and invest in it and believe in it.”However, Zuckerberg admitted that the plans have come at a cost, Meta had to lay off 11,000 employees on Nov. 9 and the CEO said it had “planned out massive investments,” including into hardware to support its metaverse.He said the company “thought that the economy and the business were going to go in in a certain direction” based on positive indicators relating to e-commerce businesses during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021. “Obviously it hasn’t turned out that way,” Zuckerberg added.“Our kind of operational focus over the next few years is going to be on efficiency and discipline and rigor and kind of just operating in a much tighter environment.”Despite the apparent focus from Meta to build its metaverse, Zuckerberg claimed 80% of company investments are funneled into its flagship social media platforms and will continue that way “for quite some time.”Investments in Reality Labs are “less than 20%” at least “until the Metaverse becomes a larger thing” he said. Related: The metaverse is happening without Meta’s permissionOf the 20% invested in Reality Labs, Zuckerberg said 40% of it goes toward its Virtual Reality (VR) headsets with the other “half or more” building what he considers “the long-term most important form factor […] Normal-looking glasses that can put holograms in the world.”Zuck takes bite at AppleZuckerberg also took a few jabs at its peer tech company Apple regarding its restrictive App Store policies, the likes of which have placed restrictions on crypto exchanges and nonfungible token (NFT) marketplaces, saying:“I do think Apple has sort of singled themselves out as the only company that is trying to control unilaterally what apps get on a device and I don’t think that’s a sustainable or good place to be.”He pointed to other computing platforms such as Windows and Android which are not as restrictive and even allow other app markets and sideloading — the use of third-party software or apps.He added its been Meta’s commitment to allow sideloading with its existing VR units and upcoming Augmented Reality (AR) units and hoped the future Metaverse platforms were also open in such a manner.“I do think it is it is problematic for one company to be able to control what kind of app experiences get on the device.”

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EmpiresX 'head trader' to face 4 years of prison over $100M crypto 'Ponzi'

One of the leading figures convicted of being behind the $100 million crypto “Ponzi” scheme, EmpiresX, has just been handed an over four-year jail sentence by a United States court.The sentencing was handed to Joshua David Nicholas, the “head trader” of purported crypto platform EmpiresX, who is nowset to serve a 51-month prison sentence along with three years of supervised release for his role in the fraudulent scheme. It follows a Sept. 8 guilty plea from Nicholas for conspiracy to commit securities fraud.According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), over a two-year period, Nicholas made claims the platform would make daily “guaranteed” returns using a trading bot that utilized “artificial and human intelligence” to maximize returns. In reality, the “bot” was fake, and Nicolas and his associates, Emerson Pires and Flavio Goncalves, operated a “Ponzi” scheme that paid earlier investors with money from later investors. The DOJ alleges blockchain analytics shows Pires and Goncalves, both Brazilian nationals, laundered investors’ funds through a “foreign-based” crypto exchange.Only around $1 million of investor funds were sent to a futures trading account for EmpiresX with the majority of funds either lost or misappropriated according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) which filed civil actions against the three in June.At the same time, fraud charges were leveled against the trio by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which said investor money was used to “lease a Lamborghini, shop at Tiffany & Co., make a payment on a second home, and more.”Related: HashFlare founders arrested in ‘astounding’ $575M crypto fraud schemeInvestors were also told EmpiresX was registered with the SEC as a hedge fund and that Nicholas was a licensed trader.The SEC said the platform was never registered with the Commission and Nicholas’ was suspended from trading by the National Futures Association for misappropriating customer funds.The scheme ran for two years, from around September 2020 until early 2022 when it fell apart as the platform refused to honor customer withdrawals who were likely wanting to leave the crypto market due to significant price drawdowns that began at the time.Pires and Goncalves, who were residing in Florida, allegedly began winding down the operations of EmpiresX in early 2022 and left the U.S., they are now believed to be in Brazil.

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Nifty News: China’s lockdown protest NFTs emerge, Candy Digital cuts staff, and more

China’s COVID-19 protests cemented as NFTsNonfungible tokens (NFTs) depicting the ongoing protests in China against the country’s tough zero-tolerance COVID-19 policy have found their way to the NFT marketplace OpenSea.At least two collections have been created in November, the first is a Polygon (MATIC)-based collection called “Silent Speech” featuring 135 NFTs depicting images of protesters, signage, graffiti and even social media screenshots related to the ongoing protests up for auction starting at 0.01 Ether (ETH), or just under $11.50.A Silent Speech NFT titled “Beihang University” (translated) shows an image of multiple tealight candles within surgical masks. Candles are an often used symbol of remembrance.Another collection titled “Blank Paper Movement” of 36 Ethereum-based NFTs with a floor price of 10 ETH, or nearly $11,800, features a more artistic take as the images of the protests appears to be painted.Holding a blank sheet of paper has emerged as a symbol representing the suppression of speech in the rare and widespread protests which have flared up across China since Nov. 14, starting with residents of Guangzhou, one of China’s biggest cities, tearing down police barricades in response to COVID-19 related measures.Demonstrators in Beijing hold blank pieces of paper in a rally against the communist government.This idea developed during a student movement by a group of high school students in HK.— 鄉港 (@sabaocean) November 28, 2022The protests intensified on Nov. 24 as a fire that day in a high-rise building in the northeastern city of Urumqi killed 10 people. Some Chinese internet users believe residents weren’t able to escape due to extreme lockdown measures which have included authorities wiring or welding doors shut.Candy Digital lays off 100 staff NFT company Candy Digital has reportedly laid off a sizeable portion of its workforce amid turbulent crypto market conditions and a massive dip in NFT trading volumes this year.More than one-third of the company’s roughly 100 employees were cut according to a Nov. 28 report from the sports industry outlet Sportico.It’s unclear the reason for the layoffs and if any particular departments were affected as Candy Digital has not publicly addressed the layoffs. The former community content manager at Candy Digital, Matthew Muntner, in a Nov. 28 Twitter post publicly confirmed he was part of the staff cuts:I hate that I have to share this as much as I loved my job at @CandyDigital but I was part of the layoffs that occurred earlier today.I am quickly looking for a new role in Community Management, Graphic Design, or related Marketing.Thanks, Candy Fam for one hell of a ride ❤️— Muntner (@muntnerdesigns) November 28, 2022

Cointelegraph contacted Candy Digital for comment but did not receive an immediate response.Candy Digital was launched in June 2021, backed by sports e-commerce store Fanatics, crypto-friendly entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk and Galaxy Digital CEO Mike Novogratz.The company quickly gained partnerships with sports leagues including Major League Baseball, NASCAR’s collaborative Race Team Alliance, and several college athletes. It was valued at $1.5 billion in Oct. 2021 following a $100 million funding round.Candy Digital’s layoffs follow others across technology firms such as NFT protocol Metaplex’s Nov. 17 cuts of “several members” of its team, Meta’s Nov. 9 layoff of 11,000 employees, and Flow blockchain developer Dapper Labs’ Nov. 2 layoffs of roughly 130 employees.Bored & Hungry restaurant runs pop-up at Phillippine blockchain weekThe Long Beach-based NFT-themed burger restaurant Bored & Hungry has set up a pop-up shop at the Philippine Blockchain Week which kicked off on Nov. 28 local time.It’s the first time the restaurant has operated in South East Asia, the brand also operated a pop-up french fry stand at NFT.London in early November.Grilling in Manila for 3 days only!Home of the Trill Burger, America’s best burger of 2022: @BorednHungry is bringing their apes and burgers to Manila!— Philippine Blockchain week (@philblockchain) November 27, 2022

The restaurant first opened in April and is themed using the owner’s intellectual property of his owned Bored Ape Yacht Club and Mutant Ape Yacht club NFTs and accepted ETH and ApeCoin (APE) as payment.Around two months after its opening, in June, the store inexplicably stopped accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment, likely due to the drop in crypto prices. Ripple’s XRP Ledger hits new record NFT saleRipple’s XRP Ledger blockchain has recorded a new record NFT sale, with an XPUNK NFT — a clone of the popular Ethereum-native CryptoPunk NFTs — selling for 108,900 XRP (XRP), about $44,000 at the time of sale on Nov. 25.The #XRPL has a new record! An @XRPLPUNKS NFT just got sold for 108900 $XRP (44000 USD). This is just the beginning for #NFTonXRP.— (@onXRPdotcom) November 25, 2022

The sale was a result of an open auction with over 20 people in a Discord voice chat according to the XPUNKS official Twitter account. It refused to disclose the purchaser but said “the community knows who it is.” Related: The metaverse is a new frontier for earning passive incomeThe XRP Ledger introduced NFTs on Oct. 31 with the introduction of the XLS-20 standard that was first proposed on May 25, 2021, the NFTs feature “automatic royalties” for creators.More Nifty NewsThe community-led decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) made up of ApeCoin holders launched its own NFT marketplace on Nov. 24 featuring only Yuga Labs-backed collections.Following the surprise win of the Saudi Arabian soccer team at the FIFA World Cup over Argentina on Nov. 22, the floor price of a Saudi Arabian-themed NFT collection unrelated to the team jumped by 52.6% with some appearing to view the tokens as an indirect way to bet on the success of soccer teams.

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BlockFi sues FTX's Bankman-Fried over shares in Robinhood

Newly-bankrupt crypto lending platform BlockFi has filed a lawsuit against Sam Bankman-Fried’s holding company Emergent Fidelity Technologies seeking his shares in Robinhood that were pledged as collateral earlier in November.The suit was filed on Nov. 28 in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey just hours after BlockFi filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the same court.As per the filing, BlockFi is demanding Emergent turnover collateral as part of a Nov. 9 pledge agreement that saw Emergent agree to a payment schedule with BlockFi that it has allegedly failed to pay.BlockFi names the collateral as “including certain shares of common stock.”In May, Bankman-Fried acquired a 7.6% stake in the online brokerage firm Robinhood, buying a total of $648 million in Robinhood shares through his Emergent investment company.Related: FTX collapse drives curiosity around Sam Bankman-Fried, Google data showsBlockFi is one of the latest firms to file for bankruptcy as a result of the collapse of FTX crypto exchange. The crypto firm initially previously denied that a majority of its assets were held on FTX earlier in the month, but also acknowledged “significant exposure” to FTX.In its bankruptcy filing, BlockFi stated that it has assets between $1 billion and $10 billion with liabilities in the same range, along with over 100,000 creditors.

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Three Arrow’s Su Zhu reveals latest attempts at a comeback post-FTX

Three Arrows Capital co-founder Su Zhu looks like he may be attempting a comeback amid the fallout over FTX and Sam Bankman-Fried — seen by some as the crypto industry’s newest supervillain. After months of radio silence, Su Zhu remerged on Twitter on Nov. 9, the day after FTX revealed it was suffering from a “liquidity crunch.” As the FTX saga has unfolded, Zhu has continued to post on Twitter, offering sage advice through poetic metaphors, while tweeting veiled criticism of Sam Bankman-Fried and his handling of FTX. That being a better swimmer led to her death felt bizarre yet obviousThe better she could swim the more she underestimated nature, how the difference between people is like the difference between grains of sand, just as theres no mighty grain there is also no mighty person— Zhu Su (@zhusu) November 10, 2022In his latest Nov. 27 Twitter thread Zhu revealed his next steps — the launch of a “long-form video podcast series” that discusses “life, belief systems, and mental health” which will be launched with a collaborator and friend named “Cliff.” In the tweet, Zhu also makes reference to Allah, a sign some believe means he had converted to Islam. Cliff and I will launch a longform video podcast series soon discussing life, belief systems, and mental health. Allah does not charge a soul except that which is within its capacity.— Zhu Su (@zhusu) November 27, 2022

Recently, Zhu also hinted at creating a new trading firm in a Nov. 22 interview with Bloomberg saying it could be an “all-weather fund” — made to perform reasonably through all market conditions — that invests in traditional financial assets and crypto.Zhu’s latest quasi-announcement has attracted more criticism than support, however, with many drawing a contrast between his actions at 3AC with the ideologies presented in Islam. Blogger and nonfungible token (NFT) project founder Foobar asked “what does Allah say about interest-bearing loans?”Another user pointed out that interest is “haram”, or forbidden under Islamic law.Su: “sorry brah can’t pay back the loan its not Sharia-compliant”— vechudnov (@chudnovglavniy) November 27, 2022

Over the last few weeks, the community has noticed a return of so-called “crypto villains” to Twitter following the collapse of FTX.Related: It’s time for crypto fans to stop supporting cults of personalityAnother Three Arrows Capital co-founder, Kyle Davies recently reappeared on Twitter after months of radio silence, posting on Nov. 13 on Twitter that he’d spent the last few months seemingly looking at grass and painting.He even appeared on CNBC’s Squawk Box program on Nov. 16 to allege Alameda “hunted” 3AC’s positions.My initial process was to spend my time searching and understanding. Less markets and screens, more grass and painting.I will look to share my understanding to the extent it contributes to good and to light.Yours Truly, Humbled and Gracious— Kyle Davies (@KyleLDavies) November 13, 2022

Alex Mashinsky, the founder of the bankrupt lending platform Celsius Network has also made a reappearance after FTX’s downfall, appearing in a series of Twitter Spaces over the last few weeks. In a Twitter Space on Nov. 27 Mashinsky said he “loves the idea” of getting FTX to “pay for the hole” and asked listeners to “make a lot of noise” and convince bankruptcy lawyers for Celsius and its Committee of Unsecured Creditors to sue FTX to pay for Celsius’ cash deficit.One of the more frustrating parts of the FTX collapse is that all of the previous villains are coming out of woodwork pretending like they are victims. Reminder: we are in this mess because of @KyleLDavies, @zhusu, @stablekwon, @SBF_FTX (others too but remember these 4).— Haym (@SalomonCrypto) November 24, 2022

It’s estimated that Mashinsky, Zhu, and Davies owe creditors around $6.3 billion.

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