Go Figure! Dick and Jane Discover The Internet!
igure Technologies is a startup offering home equity lines of credit and other lending services to… well, people who want to remortgage their most valuable asset.
Figure Technologies is also responsible for Blockchain.
That’s Blockchain, the imaginatively-named sock-puppet (or block-puppet?) — an advertising copywriter’s Idea-Of-Last-Resort, who introduced himself to a horrified world this week. And who, in doing so, proved that yes — 2020 can actually get worse.
Oh, The Humanity! How Did This Happen?
We can’t say for sure. But we imagine it went something like this:
Copywriter: “I don’t understand. What’s this blockchain thing?”
Client: “It’s what we’re powered by.”
Copywriter: “But what is it?”
Client: “Internet. But better.”
Copywriter: “How about a gecko?”
Client: “Sorry, I have another call.”
(Copywriter sighs, reaches into 1980s, plucks clichés from pile of discarded financial advertising concepts.)
– Insufferable middle-aged, middle-class couple? Check.
– Bumbling oaf who represents a bygone era? Check.
– Amazing things you can do with money you don’t have? Check.
But don’t be fooled. Blockchain (the drawling puppet) doesn’t actually work at the bank! Why would he, when there’s inexplicable blockchain (the technology) around to replace paperwork, long lineups, and stuffy procedures?
To be fair to our enlightened friend, I doubt many of us could explain blockchain in 30 seconds either. He’s just four fluffy dice and some bad animation representing steampunk rather than cypherpunk — and therefore guilty primarily of the crime of being really, really, really literal (speaking Figure-atively, of course).
Goldfish Abuse Is Never Okay
Only one thing is more disturbing than the fact that Blockchain promotes blockchain as a solution to a problem that was solved about a decade ago. And that’s the frantic 30-second struggle of the 4-inch goldfish stuffed inside a 5-inch glass jar.
Anyone who gets to the end of the ad may wish to see a notification that “no animals were harmed in the production of this commercial”. And physically, sure – but the damage to that goldfish’s acting career should not be underestimated. Robert Downey Jr. made a better decision accepting the ‘opportunity’ to play Dr. Dolittle. At least the animals in that monstrosity were mostly CGI.
Luckily for the tormented goldfish, its memory bank runs shy of the ad slot’s duration. So we can hope that it spent production day forgetting that it was living in solitary confinement while being taunted by the tap-tap-tapping of Blockchain the smart-mouthed sock puppet.
Truth to be told, we’d all be better off had we never seen the ad in the first place. Financial services ads lean toward the unwatchable, but this one will occupy a special place in advertising hell for serving as the introduction to blockchain (the technology) for a few normies. And if this is the best marketing $120 million can buy, we’re all in trouble.
Figure founder Mike Cagney apparently told American Banker that his company has a “very clear adherence to a no-asshole policy.”
Guess nobody told Blockchain. (The puppet.)
Ethereum Gets The Cred it Deserves
Established in 2015, the Ethereum network has endured a tumultuous start to its life. It was plagued by a congestion crisis caused by the massive popularity of CryptoKitties at the height of crypto hype in 2017-18. Its decentralization credentials have been criticised, with at one point somewhere between 60 to 70 percent of its hash rate being controlled by a handful of large mining pools.
It has endured criticism for relatively slow transaction speeds, which average between 15 seconds to 5 minutes. It also suffered during the crypto winter of 2018. ConsenSys, a company founded to help Ethereum continue its mission to expand the use case of blockchain beyond digital money, was forced to downsize at the end of that same year (and then again, recently).
But if we thought that job losses at ConsenSys were the canary in the coal mine predicting Ethereum’s overall health, we might pause to reconsider.
Ethereum deserves a hat tip this week. Its price has hit seven-month highs and JPMorgan is reported to be discussing merging its enterprise blockchain, Quorum, with ConsenSys.
The surging value of the DeFi subsector of cryptocurrency recently surpassed the milestone of $1 billion in funds locked up in DeFi smart contracts. 70% of those funds are locked up in Ether.
As things stand, DeFi has proven to be the use case that finally proves the value of the Ethereum blockchain. The network has fended off a number of so-called Ethereum killers, yet it remains not only alive and well, but thriving with the growing significance of the DeFi movement.
Ethereum has enjoyed a week many thought it may never see again. As it looks to pivot to a Proof of Stake consensus model and gets set to unveil its Version 2.0 upgrade, Ethereum itself may end up being the Ethereum killer; cannibalizing the sluggish blockchain ground down by games and becoming the game-changing platform hosting the brave new world of decentralized finance.
Ethereum set out to be the leading smart contract-capable digital currency platform. Over $1 billion worth of staked funds in DeFi applications suggests it has become just that.
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