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New York Times Seeks Blockchain Talent

Leading US news outlet the New York Times (NYT) has posted a job advertisement seeking blockchain talent for an internal proof-of-concept (PoC).

Several hours after the original postings were made, however, they were delisted or made unavailable, although details of the post can still be seen on Indeed. It remains unclear as to why they were taken down.

The role is listed as “Lead, Blockchain Exploration” and requires candidates to have a diverse skill set in at least three of the following areas: journalism, product, design, software development, hardware engineering, user research. Professional experience with ”real-world application” of blockchain or other emerging technologies is also a must.

The listing notes that the expected term of the position is just 12 months, in which time they are expected to recruit stakeholders for the project as well as advisors from academia, other news agencies and social media corporates.

The job listing may come as a surprise to readers of the news outlet as NYT has frequently published editorials from blockchain and cryptocurrency skeptics, although it also keeps up to date with major industry events and has recently produced several insightful reports such as its investigation of Facebook’s alleged cryptocurrency project.

 

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Facebook Crypto Could Pull $19 Billion Additional Revenue

Facebook Crypto Could Pull  Billion Additional Revenue

The as yet unconfirmed move by Facebook to develop a cryptocurrency for global payments has been cited by multinational banking group Barclays as a USD 19 billion opportunity for the social networking giant.

The company’s WhatsApp-driven crypto global payments system reported by The New York Times has still received no comments from Facebook but Barclays is already speculating on where this move, if it happens, could take the company’s profits by 2021.

Barclay’s internet analyst on Wall Street, Ross Sandler, has been happy to project figures on to what is still an unconfirmed report, also suggesting base-case of an incremental USD 3 billion in revenue from a successful cryptocurrency implementation if the crypto P2P system tied to fiat currencies goes ahead, adding:

“Merely establishing this revenue stream starts to change the story for Facebook shares in our view… Any attempt to build out revenue streams outside of advertising, especially those that don’t abuse user privacy are likely to be well-received by Facebook’s shareholders.”

Due to the huge user base of Facebook, numbering over 1 billion, a Facebook cryptocurrency would become extremely popular and has the potential to become one of the top cryptocurrencies quickly. The first hints that Facebook may be considering a move on cryptocurrency emerged last year when the company created a blockchain research team led by David Marcus, with a goal of leveraging blockchain technology, and possibly cryptocurrency, across its social network platform. Sandler predicts:

“Based on our checks, the first version of Facebook Coin may be a single purpose coin for micro-payments and domestic p2p money transfer (in-country), very similar to the original credits from 2010 and Venmo today.”

 

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Hiring Report Suggests High Interest in Blockchain Industry

Hiring Report Suggests High Interest in Blockchain Industry

The hype surrounding blockchain industry, as well as the cryptocurrency sector, may have waned a little, but a report published by TheNextWeb suggests hiring expertise in the sector still grows, courtesy of a few ‘old-school’ tech companies.

It’s a given that prominent fintech startups had it rough in the past year, having to lay off some of their staff. Still, blockchain-related job vacancies seem to pop up every now and then, with a little spot available for cryptocurrency industry. More so, the technology appears to be fascinating enough to attract veterans in the tech space. IBM tops the chart in this regard.

IBM frequented the news with developments from its enterprise-grade blockchain project, but it’s not the only one on a blockchain hiring spree. Other legacy companies, Ernst & Young (EY), Oracle, Accenture, Deloitte, PwC, and Facebook make the list of employers looking into blockchain expertise.

Vacancies include areas in tech development and marketing, with blockchain engineer, senior software engineer, and blockchain development having more prominence. An earlier report concluded that demand in blockchain engineering expertise had increased by as much as 517 percent year-over-year.

Current estimates place the job offers at around 5,711 globally. According to information obtained from Glassdoor, the US, UK, and India seem to be largely interested in blockchain expertise and have quite a sizeable share in blockchain-related job adverts. Although China has also been know as an active blockchain hub, still more prospects are envisioned for 2023 for the nation to lead the industry.

Sentiments surrounding blockchain development centers around its premature state and while many may be optimistic about the industry, it may still be early for large scale implementation of enterprise-grade blockchain solutions. However, it is possible that most legacy players are finding their way into the ecosystem to hold a stake in the future of the emerging markets of decentralized technology.

 

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How Blockchain is Transforming Personal Data Security

How Blockchain is Transforming Personal Data Security

The amount of personal data managed by third parties expands at a nearly incomprehensible rate every day. With the vast majority of these corporations relying on centralized servers to protect client information, 2018 perhaps unsurprisingly saw the personal information of millions of people compromised on an international scale.

Some of the biggest data breaches last year came from household names such as Facebook, Google, and T-Mobile, Facebook alone suffering consecutive major security incidents that affected over 100 million users of the popular social media platform. The Cambridge Analytica scandal also brought to light uncomfortable truths about the business model of such platforms, as many people chose to delete their accounts upon seeing how their data had been cataloged and sold without their consent.

Even traditional industries were affected: popular UK-based airline company British Airways fell victim to a ”malicious criminal” hack last year too that saw customers’ personal and financial details compromised.

The case for blockchain

There are several reasons why blockchain immediately appears compatible with protecting personal data. For one, the system is immutable and does not allow access from unwanted actors and secondly, various levels of access can be administered to users, which means personal data can be shared on the distributed ledger only to those who have directly been allowed access.

Ryan Faber, co-founder of cryptographic identification startup Bloom, has said security breaches against major corporations are now happening on a weekly basis. He believes that blockchain technology can provide a more secure solution to handle sensitive data, while also giving people more control over the usage of their own information.

Noting the number of users on BloomIDs has exploded; over 120,000 were created just last year, Faber told Forbes earlier this year:

“The demand for secure identity and better data management practices has been huge.”

Protecting data through a blockchain protocol means that instead of relying on the traditional central server, data is stored locally on users devices, managed through private keys that allow access and giving the user control over who accesses what and where their data goes.

Data as currency in 2019

As the model of social media has increasingly revealed, personal data has become a tradeable commodity that allows corporations to profit from private individuals, very often without such individuals even being aware their information is being sold. People looking to take back personal control have been migrating to decentralized alternatives to Facebook such as Minds, Memo and Steem. One report from the Guardian suggests that teenage Facebook users in the US fell by 20% last year.

On top of the benefits of securing data via the blockchain, users on platforms such as Minds can earn tokens as rewards for posting content that other users enjoy.

But it is fair to say there has yet to be any blockchain social media app that has seen its popularity explode, and people understandably want to use sites where they can find members from their social groups. While it will undoubtedly take time for one of these platforms to emerge dominant, the trends certainly suggest people are looking for better solutions to ensure the privacy of their own data.

 

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Zuckerberg Suggests Facebook Blockchain Use for Data Authorization

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Mark Zuckerberg has recently discussed the consequences of using blockchain technology for authorization of user data on Facebook. He expressed his views during an interview with Jonathan Zittrain, a prominent Harvard Law professor.

The discussion revolved around topics such as the future of society and technology. Zuckerberg maintained that Facebook itself is a decentralizing force despite its over-centralization of data and authority. He added that people of his generation invested their time and efforts in technology because it imparts power to individuals and is massively decentralized.

He did admit that Facebook is looking to integrate blockchain technology into its system to give users additional control over their data. He explained that in future, information could be stored on some decentralized platform and retrieved “without going through an intermediary”.

However, he maintained that the main issue related to the use of blockchain is not its computational intensity rather its moral implications. Although users can get more control by using a decentralized system, it can also lead to unforeseen problems. It will be difficult to rescue users in such a situation, much more than a centralized system, he added.

Zuckerberg said that one way to move towards a decentralized structure was to offer more encryption capabilities as the company was doing in its messaging services. Various benefits offered by using encryption such as privacy and security were also outlined by the Facebook CEO.

Zuckerberg said:

“People rightfully have an expectation of us [Facebook], that we are going to do everything we can to stop terrorists from recruiting people or people from exploiting children.”

Nevertheless, he stressed that people should feel confident that Facebook will not allow any terrorist group to exploit children or recruit adults for terrorist activities.

Earlier in February, Facebook acquired a blockchain startup, Chainspace, in order to train its staff in crypto-related skills and expertise.

 

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Facebook “Acquihires” Blockchain Startup Chainspace

Facebook _Acquihires_ Blockchain Startup Chainspace

Despite the prolonged bear market, interest in blockchain technology continues to soar. Acquisitions are growing and now, a common practice called “acquihire” sees companies targeting blockchain startups for either both tech and expertise or to simply recycle their expertise. The latest finds social media giant Facebook in a move to acquihire a small blockchain-startup Chainspace, reports news outlet Cheddar yesterday.

Facebook’s serious endeavors towards developing its own blockchain from scratch have made a new stride. This move is apparently the first scaled interest beyond the research exercise it was into for the most part of 2018.

The Chainspace team are reported to be researchers from the University College London and have been specializing in the sharding techniques with blockchain technology to scale transactions through decentralized smart contract systems. They were also exploring applications of decentralization in polling systems.

No figure has been disclosed as of yet, and it remains unknown what price tag the multi-billion-dollar company placed on the startup’s team. However, the team was in the process of crowdfunding USD 4 million to execute their project. The figures may have been worthwhile as they have announced that the project will be “moving on to something new”, according to its website.

Last year, Facebook had shown interest in making its own cryptocurrency but said it would explore blockchain first. Its idea of a cryptocurrency appears to have taken the form of a stablecoin that will be used on its mobile messaging app WhatsApp.

In May of 2018, Facebook formed a blockchain exploration group led by David Marcus who was a former board member of Coinbase. The group was tasked with seeking applicability of blockchain in the company’s business and later that year, blockchain-related job listings appeared on its career page.

Now, more than 40 people are reportedly working in Facebook’s blockchain division, and the company continues to talent hunt for experts in the fields of engineering, product and business development, blockchain, cryptocurrency, and legal.

In yet another acquisition spree, San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange Kraken has revealed that it has made a 9-figure move (while undergoing a seed funding round of USD 100 million) to acquire Crypto Facilities, a British trading firm that specializes in derivatives.

This deal for Kraken ranks it first to offer both spot and futures trading in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple, in an attempt to attract institutional investors.

Both acquisitions, as well as many others, demonstrate a healthy crypto and blockchain ecosystem and affirms that blockchain isn’t going away anytime soon.

 

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Apple Loses Near Equivalent of Bitcoin’s Entire Market Cap in One Day

Apple Loses Near Equivalent of Bitcoin's Entire Market Cap in One Day

Apple’s recent hit in valuation due to the recent slowdown in China’s juggernaut economy illustrated to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency followers just how far the industry needs to develop to become a household name itself.

Falling revenues at the company are unprecedented in recent times with shares trading at their lowest since July 2017, and the hit it took last week was one of the worst since January 2013.

Given that Apple is just one company, albeit, one with total global recognition, it was nonetheless able to wipe $65 billion of its evaluation last week, roughly Bitcoin’s total market cap, and continue in business. At the time of writing Bitcoin’s market cap stands at $66,903,300,377 with its value at USD3,830.48 according to CoinMarketCap.

The cryptocurrency environment is still attempting to recover from its hammering of December 2017, with 2018 showing a $700 billion loss from its market cap and cryptocurrencies shedding 85% of their worth. However, tech giants appear to be having their own unique problems too as the world’s 5 household names in tech, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google, may have lost over $1 trillion from their all-time high.

Market Analyst, eToro guru Mati Greenspan comments that this slump could well be in Bitcoin’s favor suggesting that “A correlation of <0.1 is considered weak. If the stocks keep sliding and bitcoin rising, that grey line could plummet. Then Bitcoin might be seen as a safe haven.”

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook suggested that China, Hong Kong and Taiwan account for almost 20 percent of the company’s revenue, so that any slump in those regions is sure to impact company profits as a whole, adding, “While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China.”

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Bitcoin Mining Latest in Paraguayan Mega Dams’ Checkered History

A remote area of Paraguay close to the borders of Brazil and Argentina is developing its own crypto mining sub- culture thanks to the world’s largest dam.

Itapúa Hydroelectric Dam is the largest operational hydroelectric energy producer in the world, with an installed generation capacity of 14GW. Its guarded by armed patrols and situated on the outskirts of Ciudad del Este, a Paraguayan border town which has become a hotbed for smuggling, cartels and drugs. The town of 300,000 has gained a reputation as being part of Paraguay’s lawless wild west.

However, it has a new community and it is growing rapidly. The CPUs have come to town.

Where there’s a dam, there’s sure to be power and a growing group of crypto miners isn’t wasting the opportunity. In an industry which has virtually sprung up overnight, an estimated 20,000 units are now generating Bitcoin and Ether.

Neighboring Brazil sells its energy at five times the price of its poorer cousin, which makes Paraguay an attractive proposition for would-be miners. A fact that hasn’t been wasted on many, according to Gregorio Bareiro, who has seen his air conditioning business rocket since the CPUs came to town. “Some people have become multimillionaires,” he says.

Bariero now provides miners with cooling systems and rents out 750 computers of his own, mainly to Brazilians, Europeans and North Americans. He now hires a dozen staff and has his own plans for installing mines in portable trailers. He sees the potential in Ciudad del Este for lifting the struggling economy, if it were approached on a grand scale. “Paraguay today is the only place where there’s abundant energy,” he pointed out. “We can become the center of global Bitcoin mining.”

The newly-established entrepreneur-cum-air-conditioning-salesman feels that if Itaipú’s power were used to reduce energy prices, the Chinese owners of the 150,000 units might be lured to Paraguay. “In ten years, it would generate enough money to pay Paraguay’s external debt,” he suggested. “With our resources, we ought to have electric helicopters, drones for transporting goods…”

Cristine Folch of Duke University sees data centers powered by clean energy enticing the likes of like Google, Apple and Facebook putting “Paraguay on the edge of the technological frontier”.

The dam certainly has the potential to change lives for the better, one that has already been missed due to politics and corruption. Miguel Carter, a Paraguayan development expert explains that by negotiating a fairer price for its energy, Paraguay could fund its hospitals, schools and railways – all in dire need of upgrading.

Carter saw the potential for a better world lost when Brazil beat Paraguay to the signing of the 1973 Itaipú treaty which lost Paraguay a potential USD 57.7 billion in income. Also in October of this year, it was confirmed that Brazil’s military regime murdered its ambassador to Paraguay in 1979 to prevent the revelation of billions of dollars in kickbacks during the construction of the dam.

“When I saw the numbers I burst into tears,” Carter said. “I know of so many stories of Paraguayans going to hospital and losing their loved ones… there would have been lives saved, kids with a decent education. You could have had a different country.”

Similarly, another study group is calling for energy created from the dam currently sold overseas to be redirected back into the Paraguayan economy with the potential to create 2 million jobs, quadrupling GDP.

It appears that the new spate of crypto mining is the latest in Itapúa’s colorful history. It remains to be seen in whose hands this wealth of resources finally ends and if it contributes to simply creating more wealthy individuals or a wealthy national economy.

 

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Leaving Silicon Valley for Blockchain

In a recent duo of interviews conducted by Forbes, two ex-Silicon Valley engineers shared why they left their ‘dream jobs’ to pursue a future in blockchain as a growing number of workers do the same.

Startups are eager to hook employees from the big-name Silicon Valley tech companies to boost their industry standing and tempt investors. This, combined with a growing amount of interest in the blockchain space since the 2017 Bitcoin boom, will only increase the trend towards blockchain companies.

Maximilian Wang, an ex-Facebook engineer turned blockchain CEO

It was in 2017 when Wang first heard about blockchain. As an engineer with Facebook Inc., he tried telling his colleagues about the technology but most of them apparently dismissed it as a scam. It became a passion for him to studiously examine blockchain whitepapers in his own time. He learned whatever he could teach himself, so when the right project came along, he would be prepared for it.

”The hardest part was not when you saw an opportunity to make money and you needed to figure out how to get that opportunity… What made it hard was that after seeing everything happened in the world outside, at the end of the day, you still had to come back to reality and try your best to focus on your work [at Facebook],” Wang told Forbes.

Eventually, the right project did come along for him: Bgogo, a digital asset exchange that claims to be the first of its kind with a supernode listing authority. Wang wants to take it right to the top, with ambitions to make it the JPMorgan Chase of the blockchain world.

Qi Zhou left Facebook and Google to develop his own blockchain

Zhou was inspired by Google’s own Bigtable data storage system and saw a way that the underlying technology of sharding could also be done with blockchain.

”When I see an opportunity there, why can’t I go after it,” he told Forbes. Zhou’s project QuarkChain is a  high-capacity peer-to-peer transactional system.

Will blockchain meet Silicon Valley?

As blockchain becomes more far-reaching, it becomes inevitable that its share of the space in the valley will increase. However, it is likely that Google and Facebook will continue to lose engineers such as Zhou and Wang because the foundations of their corporations are so far opposed to the decentralized ideology behind blockchain.

 

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Fake News Site Promotes Crypto Startup with New Zealand PM’s Images

The image of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has been used as a tool for promoting a crypto start-up via a fake news site.

A local media source reported that sponsored stories had been posted on Facebook using the New Zealand PM’s image with article titles such as “This is where the future lies”, and “New Investment plan for Kiwis”. The former title related to a fake article claiming that the NZ treasury had purchased Bitcoin Revolution, a supposed Bitcoin firm.

It is not an unusual occurrence to have fake news sites use Ardern for promotions, according to a government spokeswoman at the Prime Minister’s office, claiming that the numbers of such occurrences are so frequent they’ve become almost impossible to track. She said:

“We aren’t able to manually or digitally monitor the increasing volume of fake news that fraudulently uses images of the Prime Minister.”

In August, an MP attacked the Prime Minister using a well-known fake news website to make her point, Tweeting an article challenging Ardern to denounce French child abuse laws. The PM showed her dismay at the time that politicians in positions of responsibility were using such sites to air their concerns publicly, arguing:

“We need politicians to make sure that we maintain a standard, that we don’t disseminate misinformation.”

This kind of fake media spin, which uses celebrities to supposedly endorse startups or investment opportunities has also been used to promote a number of cryptocurrency scams in the UK in 2018. British Billionaire and TV personality Alan Sugar recently joined an ever-expanding list of wealthy entrepreneurs whose names have been used in the promotion of cryptocurrency scams.

The New Zealand PM joins a growing list of those being targeted including Bill Gates, Richard Branston, Deborah Meaden and money saving expert Martin Lewis, who is currently pursuing his battle with Facebook in the High Court.

Ardern’s office has reportedly contacted Facebook and asked for the posts removed. The PM said earlier this year that she would expect any of her ministers using fake news sites to post stories to take them down.

 

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