☕ Breaking down blockchain
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A close look at the tech that powered the crypto craze.
September 18, 2023

Tech Brew


It’s Monday. As the trial of FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried looms, we were wondering: What happened to Web3? Crypto and NFTs might be gone from the headlines, but the technology that powered last year’s tech hype wave—blockchain—still has legs. Tech Brew took a look at how the technology is being used beyond Bored Apes.

In today’s edition:

Maeve Allsup, Tom McKay, Annie Saunders


Not just NFTs

Image of blocks against a pale orange background. Amelia Kinsinger

If the word “blockchain” brings to mind college dropouts mining Bitcoin in their parents’ basements, mind-blowingly expensive cartoon apes, or 30-year-old billionaires living large in the Bahamas, you’re not alone. Even at the peak of its hype, blockchain is a technology that has garnered immense skepticism, and it remains mired in confusion and stereotypes.

But many in the tech industry who believe in the power of blockchain are still building and say that the technology’s time in the spotlight will come again, fueled by its potential value to industries across the spectrum.

So—what exactly is blockchain? What can it be used for? What is the state of this technology today? Let’s get into it.

Keep reading here.—MA


Watch out, carbon emissions


You’ve probably noticed that carbon offsetting has gotten pretty popular as more companies look to achieve net-zero emissions.

But here’s a look at just how big it is: The voluntary carbon-offset market is expected to grow from $2b in 2020 to around $250b by 2050, according to Morgan Stanley research. Talk about putting your money where your emissions are.

However, even though carbon markets are dripping with potential, they need regulation and scale to become a global standard in emissions reduction.

That’s where Nasdaq is helping in a big way. They’re leveraging their position as a leading global technology company at the intersection of the capital markets and economy to bring carbon markets to scale, providing much-needed liquidity to a new asset class and innovating the future of carbon removal.

Learn more about how Nasdaq is investing in the power of carbon markets.


Refurb ramifications

A hand holding a screwdriver above a trash can full of smartphones. Frank Scialabba

Minnesota recently signed one of the most expansive right-to-repair bills yet, marking a major win for activists.

The new law, signed by Governor Tim Walsh in May, goes into effect July 2024, and covers most categories of electronics. It requires manufacturers to provide third-party repair shops the same parts, tools, and documentation—the last for free—that they use in-house or at official repair providers for all devices manufactured after July 2021. Unlike a law in New York passed earlier this year, it covers electronics sold via business-to-business and business-to-government contracts.

According to the Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit that backs right-to-repair legislation across the country, Minnesota is the fourth state to do so. While proponents say the law will make it much easier for individual consumers to repair their devices at reasonable prices, the impact for enterprises and other organizations that tend to purchase equipment in bulk and under service contracts is less clear.

Keep reading here.—TM



Coworking with Benjamin Döpfner

Graphic featuring a headshot of Vesto founder and CEO Benjamin Döpfner Benjamin Döpfner

Coworking is a weekly segment where we spotlight Tech Brew readers who work with emerging technologies. Click here if you’d like a chance to be featured.

How would you describe your job to someone who doesn’t work in tech?

Most people are familiar with robo-advisors like Wealthfront and Betterment. I’m building something like that, but for businesses instead of individuals. Too many companies have their idle cash just sitting in a bank account—not working for them or gaining interest—and I want to change that.

What’s the most compelling tech project you’ve worked on, and why?

My current work at Vesto, for sure. My long-term vision is to create one powerful financial operating system for companies. I believe that Vesto could be the world’s most valuable financial software company in a decade. As the sole founder of the business, this is what keeps me motivated and excited each day.

What technologies are you most optimistic about? Least? And why?

The answer to both of these questions is AI. Steve Jobs once said that a computer is a bicycle of the mind. If a computer is a bicycle, then AI is a race car. It’s going to change everything. While this is exciting, the unimaginable possibilities are also frightening. It isn’t hard to imagine how artificial general intelligence could have a destructive outcome, which keeps me up at night.

Keep reading here.



Stat: 10x. That’s how much faster Upside Foods may produce plastic waste than lab-grown meat via its current production method, according to reporting from Wired about “major problems” at the startup.

Quote: “This is a grift…This is just an extension of practices that have existed for a long time. Previously it might have been people stealing other people’s artwork and putting it on T-shirts, plagiarizing a book. This is very much the same model with people using AI.”—Henry Ajder, a generative AI researcher and expert, to the Washington Post regarding AI-generated products

Read: “One of the most hated people in the world”: Sam Bankman-Fried’s 250 pages of justifications (the New York Times)

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Next stop, EVolution: If you’ve got questions about the EVs and AVs hitting our roads, register for Tech Brew’s free virtual event exploring the topic with industry experts. Sponsored by NI.*

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Written by Maeve Allsup, Tom McKay, and Annie Saunders

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