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Blockchain Business News 15-21 March

This is the weekly wrap of Blockchain Business News for 15-21 March. Subscribe to get the blockchain news you need for your business!

Bitcoin holds around $60K; will it get to $100K?

Over the past three months, the main cryptocurrency gained 3x in price.

Bitcoin began to actively grow in price after it had broken the $20K mark in December last year. On the night of March 18, 2021, Bitcoin price again approached the $60K mark.

Will it get to $100K this year? Experts say it’s highly likely because the conditions under which Bitcoin would grow twice more this year are already present.

One of the main reasons is the high demand for the first cryptocurrency from institutional players.

The second reason is the policy of the US Federal Reserve and the economic instability.

If the Stock-to-Flow scenario would continue to be realized, then the price of $100K per BTC is projected in late summer — early autumn 2021.

Crypto companies are booming

It’s been a good week for crypto companies.

BlockFi, a financial services startup for crypto, raised $350 million at a $3 billion valuation. Today, the startup has 265k+ retail and 200+ institutional clients, while monthly revenue has hit $50 million (vs. $1.5 million a year ago).

BlockFi also offers interest on crypto savings (6%+) and lends money against crypto holdings so people looking for liquidity don’t have to sell their assets (it has lent $10 billion + so far). The company also provides trade execution services to help organizations secure large blocks of crypto.

FalconX, another crypto trading platform that aims at institutions, raised $50 million. As Bitcoin surged over the past year, the platform saw its revenue increase 46x.

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase has reached an implied $68 billion valuation ahead of its highly anticipated direct listing on the Nasdaq. Coinbase’s first filing in February showed the company reported a profit of $322 million last year on net revenue that more than doubled to $1.1 billion (source).

India still undecided whether or not to ban cryptocurrency

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Earlier this year, The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the central bank of India whose primary function is to manage and govern the financial system of the country, had instructed banks to stop providing services to crypto trading platforms.

This move has led to uncertainty about the status of virtual currencies in India. Add to this the fact that existing laws are inadequate to deal with the subject and many rushed to the conclusion that India will ban crypto transactions.

Last week, finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has made it clear that there will not be a complete ban on cryptocurrencies or at least the technology part of it. As per statement, the Indian government will soon take a decision on cryptocurrencies.

RubiX Blockchain Green Initiative to solve Bitcoin’s carbon emission problem

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Bitcoin’s price has skyrocketed in the last year and so have its carbon emissions.

According to experts, Bitcoin has a carbon footprint comparable to that of New Zealand, producing 36.95 megatons of CO2 annually. And it consumes as much power as Chile. It’s a problem Bitcoin needs to address as soon as possible.

RubiX, a full-scale Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) and security solutions company, announced last week that it is now providing a solution.

RubiX’s Blockchain Green Initiative provides an enterprise level Zero Carbon Footprint blockchain alternative.

This alternative is cryptographically 1,000,000 times more secure than the encryption used by Bitcoin or Ethereum.

“Our goal was to cut down the Carbon Emissions caused by Bitcoin and other Proof of work (PoW) based blockchain mining activities, using a secure proof-of-harvest alternative that’s cryptographically superior to the current blockchain platforms,” says Chakradhar Kommera, Chief Technology Officer at RubiX.

Does your brand cater to the needs of GenZ? Reach out to them through Yeay!

Yeay is a video platform providing teens with a space to share and shop styles.

The platform also provides brands with a marketplace to reach 13-18 year old.

Yeay launched in 2016 and a year later raised $4.9 million.

In 2018, the platform partnered with WOM Protocol to monetize peer-to-peer recommendations. WOM is a blockchain-powered advertising system that leverages the most effective form of marketing: honest word-of-mouth recommendations.

Yeay users get rewarded with WOM tokens for authentic and honest recommendations that are valuable to the community. They can use WOM Tokens to get cool stuff or turn them into cash.

Last week, the platform launched the YEAY House to give lifestyle influencers and their GenZ audiences a new way to monetize content while driving consumer blockchain adoption.

For the next month, a collective of lifestyle and crypto influencers with a combined reach of more than 40 million followers will be living, working and creating content together in the latest Los Angeles collaboration house. The influencers will be sharing their lifestyle by recommending the brands and products they love on the app and monetizing their content based on engagement after it has passed authentication.

Jack Ma’s Ant Group leads the way in blockchain patents

Ant Group, founded by Jack Ma in 2014 is an affiliate company of the Chinese Alibaba Group. The group owns Alipay, China’s largest digital payment platform which serves over one billion users and 80 million merchants.

AntChain is Ant Group’s self-developed financial-grade consortium blockchain platform.

The platform provides users with a high level of performance, reliability, and security. Specifically, it boasts 1 billion transactions for up to 1 billion accounts per day. The platform ranks first in the world by the numbers of patent applications and licenses. IBM, the only non-Chinese company in the top 10, ranked at #4.

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How Slack Grew To 8 Million Subscribers In 5 Years

As of 2018, Slack has grown to 8 million subscribers in just five years.

Despite its huge success, this collaboration tool for teams has humble beginnings. In fact, it was a by-product called Tiny Speck that Stewart Butterfield’s team had built when they were working to develop an online game. The game didn’t fly; Slack is the Phoenix that rose from its ashes.

Slack’s 2019 rebranded logo

This article gives you insight into how Slack managed to become an 8 million subscriber app in such a short timeframe.

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Slack is an enterprise messaging tool which is aimed at assisting team members to chat, work on projects together, and share links and more in real time.

Read our previous Growth Stories: Spotify, Canva.

Slack was developed using the following 6 growth strategies:

1. Word-of-mouth marketing

Stewart Butterfield (CEO and co-founder) and his team began working on Slack in 2012.

Before their preview release in August 2013, Stewart and his team had begun asking friends and acquaintances working at other companies to give Slack a go and see what they make of it.

This helped the team discover how the product fitted the market and catered to customers’ needs. It also helped them work on core features and basic functionality.

The word-of-mouth approach worked brilliantly because on the release day 8,000 people signed-up to Slack. Two weeks later, that number had grown to 15,000. By February 2015, when the tool was publicly available, Slack had acquired 500,000 daily active users. Within four months, this number had doubled to 1.1 million active users.

Today Slack has 8 million daily active users with 3 million paid users and counting. If you are an SEO enthusiast, here is another benefit which will make you feel warm inside: 100.000.000 organic traffic/month of which 90% is driven by word-of-mouth.

Our mission at Slack is simple: to make people’s working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive. The experience our users have working in Slack is core to our culture and to our business success.

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2. Integration with other providers

We’re selling a reduction in information overload, relief from stress, and a new ability to extract the enormous value of hitherto useless corporate archives. We’re selling better organizations, better teams. That’s a good thing for people to buy and it is a much better thing for us to sell in the long run. We will be successful to the extent that we create better teams.

Stewart Butterfield, CEO and founder

Slack is not just a messaging app, it’s a collaboration hub that brings the right people together with the right conversations, information, and tools they use at work. And to be productive and efficient, teams need to make the most of their time. So integrating with other tools that teams use on a regular basis was paramount to Slack’s success.

There are more than 1500 apps in the Slack App Directory. Slack’s website attracts 100.000.000 visitors/month.

Chris von Wilpert has analyzed how the integrations are contributing to Slack’s website organic traffic. Here are his conclusions:

  • Slack ranks on the first-page search results whenever anyone searches a product with which Slack integrates;
  • Slack managed to achieve this by creating an individual landing page for each of its integrations;
  • The integrations bring in high-quality referral traffic.

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3. Content marketing

Content marketing didn’t become part of Slack’s growth strategy until 2014.

Unlike other companies, the team growing Slack made an interesting and bold choice: to host their company blog outside slack.com.

Slack’s blog is called SlackHQ.com and it was first a publication on Medium.com, the online blogging platform. It was bold and risky at the same time, and it worked out great for Slack. The content published here took full advantage of Medium’s features and was often featured on Medium’s homepage in the ‘Popular On Medium’ section.

The blog managed to acquire over 125.000 followers, but in 2018 it was moved to slack.com.

4. Twitter

We bet heavily on Twitter. Even if someone is incredibly enthusiastic about a product, literal word-of-mouth will only get to a handful of people – but if someone tweets about us, it can be seen by hundreds, even thousands.

Stewart Butterfield, CEO and founder

Twitter is Slack’s most important social media platform.

Here is how Slack used the 180-character (now 240) social media network:

  • Build brand awareness;
  • Define its tone of voice;
  • Keep their users up-to-date on changes, improvements, company life;
  • Get customer feedback;
  • Communicate with customers;
  • Prevent the Slack support team from scaling up massively: Slack’s customer support team is made up of just 18 people, with a group of 6 manning Twitter 24/7.

Slack’s Twitter account has 374K followers, but it is most known for being home for the Slack Wall of Love where Slack subscribers come to express their love under @SlackLoveTweets.

Read Stewart Butterfield’s success story

5. Dear Microsoft

On November 2016, Microsoft announced it was launching their own competing product.

Slack took this opportunity to gain media attention by publishing a letter addressed to Microsoft as a full-page ad in the New York Times.

Here is the letter’s first paragraph:

Dear Microsoft,

Wow. Big news! Congratulations on today’s announcements. We’re genuinely excited to have some competition.
We realized a few years ago that the value of switching to Slack was so obvious and the advantages so overwhelming that every business would be using Slack, or “something just like it,” within the decade. It’s validating to see you’ve come around to the same way of thinking. And even though — being honest here — it’s a little scary, we know it will bring a better future forward faster.

While the letter sets out to give Microsoft “some friendly advice”, it does so by highlighting the principles and values which Slack was built upon and taking a few jabs at Microsoft at the same time:

  • It’s not about features, it’s about “a degree of thoughtfulness and craftsmanship that is not common in the development of enterprise software”;
  • Thousands of hours talking to customers;
  • Internal transparency and a sense of shared purpose;
  • The necessity of working with an open platform and integrations: “We know that playing nice with others isn’t exactly your MO, but if you can’t offer people an open platform that brings everything together into one place and makes their lives dramatically simpler, it’s just not going to work.”
  • And ultimately love: “We love our work, and when we say our mission is to make people’s working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive, we’re not simply mouthing the words.”

Here’s the final paragraph:

So welcome, Microsoft, to the revolution. We’re glad you’re going to be helping us define this new product category. We admire many of your achievements and know you’ll be a worthy competitor. We’re sure you’re going to come up with a couple of new ideas on your own too. And we’ll be right there, ready.

— Your friends at Slack

6. Fair Billing Policy

Like many other service apps and tools, Slack uses the freemium business model: free, standard and plus subscriptions.

Out of the thousands of hours of talking to early adopters and customers, the team behind Slack found one particular paint point and came up with a solution.

What is preventing the customer on free subscription from upgrading to a paid one?

One reason is that companies are charged for a number of seats regardless of how many employees are actively using the software. A second reason is that sometimes employees become inactive so the company loses money because it paid in advance.

To this problem, Slack found the following solution: Fair Billing Policy.

Here it is:

 

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Big companies like Airbnb, IBM, Oracle, Target, BBC, Workday and E-Trade count among Slack’s customers with approximately 70,000 businesses paying for the company’s services.

According to finance experts, Slack is currently valued at $8.3B and it doesn’t look like it is slowing down.

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