Superbowl Ad Overloads Coinbase, a ‘Space Diamond’ and Other Top Crypto Stories

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Welcome to Nonfungible Tidbits, a weekly roundup of what’s happening in crypto, NFTs and their related realms.

Our lead story is the Super Bowl ad from Coinbase that worked so well that the crypto exchange’s website experienced technical issues trying keeping up with demand. We’ll also cover a Sotheby’s auction where $4.28 million in cryptocurrency was the winning bid for a billion-year-old diamond, which may be from outer space.

This week’s roundup also features the hostile takeover of a decentralized autonomous organization, crypto exchange FTX US opening a new stock trading program and the UK authorities seizing NFTs for the first time.

In other news, Intel will begin selling a chip customized for bitcoin mining later this year, despite environmental problems with bitcoin mining operations. Read CNET’s story on the Intel and the environmental cost of cryptocurrency mining here.

Here’s what caught our eyes this week. Stay tuned for more next week.


Coinbase Super Bowl ad puts crypto exchange in second place in App Store

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Maybe the weirdest Super Bowl ad contained a bouncing QR code.

Coinbase

Coinbase’s 60-second Super Bowl ad was a QR code floating around the screen in front of a plain background while video game music played. The idea was people could use the QR code to get $15 in free cryptocurrency when signing up for an account on Coinbase, and existing customers could win millions in crypto, as well.

The ad was so successful that the Coinbase app shot up in the App Store rankings from the 168th most downloaded app to second place for iPhone users. However, Coinbase’s infrastructure had trouble handling the steep uptick in web traffic. Coinbase’s chief product officer tweeted that Coinbase experienced the largest surge of traffic in its history and had to throttle web traffic for a few minutes. Analysis from The Block shows that app rankings for FTX US, which also bought a Super Bowl ad, also increased after its ad aired.


Billion-year-old diamond purchased at auction for $4.28M in crypto

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Dirk Essl

A 555.55-carat black diamond known as “the Enigma” was sold at a Sotheby’s auction for 3.2 million pounds’ worth (about $4.4 million) of cryptocurrency earlier this month. The carbonado diamond has a “unique combination of physical and chemical features unlike any other known diamonds,” according to National Geographic. Carbonado diamonds were formed in a mysterious event between 3.8 billion and 2.6 billion years ago, and some scientists believe the diamonds have extraterrestrial origins from interstellar space.


DAO’s funds looted after hostile takeover

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Bill Hinton

DAOs, or decentralized autonomous organizations, have inched into the mainstream over the last few months. DAOs are online groups that mint virtual tokens on a blockchain, and use the tokens to vote on what the DAO should do. Mostly, DAOs have been used for fundraising ventures. The Washington Nationals partnered with a DAO recently for a sponsorship deal, and last year a DAO tried unsuccessfully to buy a copy of the US Constitution at a Sotheby’s auction.

The DAO in question here is called Build Finance DAO. It’s a governing organization for funding new projects and ventures. On Feb. 9, a Build Finance DAO spokesperson tweeted that a malicious actor had taken control of the DAO’s token contract, which allows the DAO to mint tokens. This takeover led to the DAO’s funds getting ransacked. Essentially, someone was able to mint new tokens, which impart voting power, and used that voting power to take $470,000 in cryptocurrency.


FTX US plans to offer a stock trading service

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Bryan R. Smith/AFP/Getty Images

The US branch of FTX, a cryptocurrency exchange, has opened a waiting list for a stock trading platform. The FTX president announced the waiting list via Twitter on Feb. 11. FTX recently bought airtime during the Super Bowl for an ad featuring comedy legend Larry David, and inked a deal last year to be the official cryptocurrency exchange of the MLB, the first deal of its kind between an American pro sports league and a cryptocurrency exchange.


Authorities in the UK seize an NFT as evidence

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UK Police

Charlie Osborne/CNET

For the first time in history, UK authorities have seized an NFT as evidence in a fraud case, BBC News reports. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs, the British tax authorities, arrested three suspects in connection with a case of an alleged 1.4 million pounds ($1.9 million) in tax fraud. Along with about 5,000 pounds of crypto assets, authorities seized three NFTs, which have yet to be valued.


Thanks for reading. We’ll be back with plenty more next week. In the meantime, check out this story on how to avoid QR code scams by CNET’s Bree Fowler.

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