Tales from the crypto


February 5, 2019

Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange has accidentally locked its investors out of $190m because the founder died with the only password.
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Tales from the crypto: QuadrigaCX investors want their $190m back from the dead

Investors in QuadrigaCX, Canada’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, have been locked out of their funds since the exchange’s founder, Gerald Cotten, died last year. 

The reason: Gerald didn’t trust anyone else with the password. 

Now, according to CoinDesk, Cotten’s widow, Jennifer Robertson (who has no clue what the password is), said the exchange owes its customers roughly $190m in cash and crypto that’s tucked securely away in “cold storage.”

We’re talking so secure *no one* can access it

Cold storage “vaults” are a type of digital storage used by coiners to keep long-term investments safe from hackers. Cold storage companies are growing, but by the looks of it, they’re going to have to update their fine print with a clause about CEO power complexes.

Cybersecurity firm CipherTrace reports that crypto theft hit $1.7B in 2018 (up more than 400% from the year before), but $950m of that was stolen from exchanges and wallets — AKA “hot storage.”

But after months of transaction delays, QuadrigaCX has filed for creditor protection (a step to avoid bankruptcy) as it works with an expert to bypass encryption — so far, to no avail.

A crypto conspiracy? Nahhhhh

The company reportedly has some 115k clients with assets worth $70m, which Robertson estimates had grown to $250m by December 2018, and now, per the CBC, many people are calling conspiracy.

Despite a death certificate, some are even convinced Cotten’s still alive… living atop a mound of hard drives on an island somewhere (the truthers’ alternative theory is unclear)? 

Maybe trust SOME-one

When cryptocurrency blasted into popular culture around 2017, even the fanboys freaked out about security. So naturally, people went “expert level” on their passcodes.

The only problem is, when the time came, no one could friggin remember them — and, like Quadriga, these aren’t the kind of encryption layouts that let you name your childhood best friend to prove you are who you say you are.

Until Quadriga’s encryption ringer cracks the code, its investors are up crypto creek without a paddle… or a password. 

When Satoshis fly
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Goops I did it again: The world’s most manipulative marketers are coming to Netflix

Goop, the controversial wellness-whispering “lifestyle brand,” announced that it will expand its content empire by producing a docu-series of 30-minute episodes for Netflix.

Gwyneth Paltrow (known as “GP” to her followers) started Goop as a newsletter, but Goop’s grown into “a fully shoppable lifestyle brand” that sells everything from magic jade eggs to top echelon TV despite continued allegations of false advertising.

So, what’s the formula for Goop?

Goop’s first ingredient is content: It publishes online articles, physical books/magazines, podcasts, live events, and (soon) a docu-series. In the past 4 years, Goop’s newsletter grew from 700k to more than 8m subscribers.

But that’s just half of the recipe: Goop uses content (some of it wildly misleading) to promote its e-commerce biz, which sells skincare products, “supplements,” fashion accessories, fragrances, furniture, fitness programs, and conference tickets.

In 2017, Goop was accused of 50+ instances of false advertising. Yet, in 2018, Goop raised $50m — the same year it settled a lawsuit for $145k over a misleading $66 vaginal jade egg.

Pseudoscience sells

So, why aren’t consumers more upset about getting duped by Goop? Because its well-slimed, manipulative machine gives the people what they want.

Goop publishes wellness content about life’s anxieties, tracks engagement to see what readers are most anxious about, and then sells solutions — both real and made-up.

An example: In 2017, Goop paid a doctor to write a post about “postnatal depletion” (a term he invented). Based on the post’s popularity, Goop launched 4 lines of generic vitamins for new mothers — and sold $100k worth on the first day

   @ Me Anything
Conor Grant, News Writer at The Hustle
@conor_p_grant

Before you Netflix and Goop, remember: The most scientific thing about Goop is its formula for false advertising.
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» Goopsy Daisy

AI’s gettin’ spicy: McCormick partnered with IBM to use AI to analyze its ‘taste data’

What could possibly be a better arbiter of flavor than AI? The obvious answer is a human with actual taste buds.

But according to CNBC, the business behind French’s Yellow Mustard and a Lazy Susan full of other herbs and spices is working with IBM to analyze over more than 40 years of its flavor-data using AI and machine learning.

The new initiative will help launch a new platform the 2 companies are developing called “ONE” that will help create new flavor combinations.

Don’t challenge these bots to a taste test

Historically, flavor has been tough to savor: Our taste buds outnumber our senses 10k to 5, making the smell, taste, and appearance of a flavor arduous to pin down.

Human product developers traditionally spend years experimenting with samples until they decide on what to combine: But with IBM’s system all of that will be streamlined.

So far, its taste has been fairly… basic

The recipe-predicting AI draws on “hundreds of millions” of sensory data points and human flavor palettes and has already produced known flavors like Tuscan chicken, bourbon pork tenderloin, and New Orleans sausage.

But not everything has been as run of the mill: Last week McCormick released its yearly flavor forecast, in which its program predicted a Japanese sesame blend called gomasio to become the new spice to flavorize your pasta or roasted vegetables.

That’s a little something we like to call “insider-tasting.”

» Flaver flaaaaaavv

‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ biz turns the page on its printed past with Alexa

Last month, Chooseco sued Netflix for trademark infringement when the company included the phrase “Choose Your Own Adventure” in its interactive film, “Bandersnatch.”

Now, like all good stories, the drama continues to build, as the company that has been making printed Choose Your Own Adventure books for decades partnered with the audiobook company Audible to produce CYOA stories for Amazon’s Alexa.

It’s a format, but it’s also a brand 

Choose Your Own Adventure the brand began as a publisher of children’s books in 1979. Since then, the brand has printed more than 265m books in more than 40 languages.

Chooseco’s books became so popular in the ’80s and ’90s that the company trademarked the format.

When most American kids turned the page on printed books in favor of video games, it seemed that Chooseco’s story might finally be over. But after a recent resurgence of interactive storytelling, Chooseco seems to have decided its story is only beginning.

An Amazon-powered epilogue

Now, Chooseco has decided to enter the realm of content giants, and it will be narrated by Alexa. The company released 2 stories: “The Abominable Snowman” has 28 endings and “Journey Under the Sea” has 37 endings.

Listeners control the stories by verbally picking the next part of the narrative, and for now all the stories are free.

» Well-chosen, Chooseco
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