Nukes, NFTs and Meta’s income tax

Hello, and welcome to Chain Reaction, where we’ll get you up to speed with what’s going on in the weird world of crypto every week so you don’t have to join 1,000 Discord chats or follow every hexagonal-profile-picture influencer on Twitter yourself — at least, not if you don’t want to. Don’t take it from us, take it from our colleague Amanda, who said:

This week, we dropped our very first episode, in which we talked about three juicy news topics, one of them being Coinbase’s launch of an NFT marketplace. A lot of crypto exchanges besides the household name OpenSea are trying to make NFTs a thing, and they’re each putting their own spin on the concept to try and attract users. We talked about a few of the companies in this space and gave our thoughts on which of their bold strategies are likely to pay off.

In other, more terrifying news, apparently a North Korean hacker group was behind the ~$625 million Axie Infinity hack — the largest one in DeFi history — and they’re likely to use the funds to help the country build up its nuclear weapons program. Small crypto startups with underdeveloped security measures versus nation-states with major resources is not a battle we want to see play out.

On a lighter note, we also spent some time roasting Meta for its plans to charge exorbitant transaction fees on the sale of digital goods in its Horizon Worlds metaverse.

Our Guest: 3LAU

Our guest this week, 3LAU (known off-stage as Justin Blau), is an electronic music DJ who sold an NFT of one of his albums last March before NFTs were routinely commanding huge sums of money. The sale brought in $11.6 million in 24 hours (!!!), so it’s safe to say 3LAU has a good idea of what generates hype for a project.

If you’re new to web3, this episode will be fun for you. 3LAU can switch between the world of cool entertainers and tech nerds seamlessly (he famously first got into crypto when he was on spring break with the Winklevoss twins).

In our conversation on the pod, he taught us about different types of NFTs beyond just JPEGs of monkeys, how the blockchain can help independent musicians and which aspects of the NFT world can make even a big NFT stan like himself raise an eyebrow.

We already spend way too much time on Twitter, so please help us justify our hobby in the name of work and give us a follow. For hot takes, startup money moves, spicy tweets and more, don’t forget to check out this week’s Chain Reaction newsletter. You can sign up to get it in your inbox weekly here.

Chain Reaction podcast episodes will come out every Thursday at 6:30 a.m. PDT. Subscribe to us on AppleSpotify or your alternative podcast platform of choice to keep up with us every week.

Amazon launches a ‘live radio’ app, Amp, which lets you play DJ with the Amazon Music catalog

Amazon’s Clubhouse competitor has arrived. The retail giant on Tuesday launched a new mobile app called Amp, which allows people to create live “radio shows” where they can act as a DJ, by taking callers and playing tracks from Amazon Music’s tens of millions of licensed songs, ranging from classic titles to today’s music. The app is not yet available to the wider public, as it requires an access code to use.

“It’s easy to share your voice and favorite songs with the world on Amp,” reads the app’s description on the App Store. “Decide on a show title, create a playlist, and you’re just seconds away from streaming your own radio show,” the page says.

Image Credits: Amazon

The new app, which was previously reported by The Verge when in development under the name Project Mic, represents Amazon’s somewhat belated entry into the live audio market. While the app Clubhouse led the way by establishing a new format for live audio social interactions, the idea has since been spun out into numerous competitors — each with their own angle, including Twitter’s Spaces, Facebook’s Live Audio Rooms, Spotify’s Greenroom, and those from smaller startups, like the Mark Cuban-backed Fireside or David Sacks-backed Callin.

However, for the most part, these Clubhouse rivals have focused on talk — like live podcasts. Amazon’s Amp differentiates itself by providing access out of the gate to the broader Amazon Music catalog. That means Amp users can play DJ, streaming and chatting about their favorite songs and artists to establish themselves as a creator. Or they can use the app to talk about anything else — like sports or pop culture, for example — but do so while also curating a selection of music for their listeners and talking live callers.

According to Amp’s App Store description, creators will also be able to pre-plan and schedule their shows, alert listeners to their upcoming shows, control who speaks when taking live callers, and more. Notably, creators do not have to pay the labels when accessing the music for their show, the app’s listing notes — that’s being covered, it seems.

Users will sign in using their Amazon credentials or can create a new Amazon account to use Amp, the app’s sign-in page says.

Prior reports indicated Amazon will use the platform to bring in celebrities and influencers to host shows, which you’ll be able to search for by name, topic, or music, but the company isn’t yet touting any big names attached via its App Store listing.

The Amp website is also currently password-protected and the app itself requires an access code to get in — indications that the app isn’t quite ready for prime time, but is rather launching for limited testing ahead of a wider public debut.

Amazon was not immediately available for comment.