In Crypto ‘Arms Race’ For Mass Adoption, Companies Ink Sports Deals Worth Hundreds Of Millions

As cryptocurrency companies seek to reach mainstream audiences, some platforms are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to sponsor sports teams, stadiums and even leagues in a bid to woo new fans.

On Sept. 22, Crypto.com struck an eight-figure deal with the Philadelphia 76ers to sponsor the jersey patch and have visibility in the arena. The crypto trading app will also work with team management to develop non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and create a way for fans to use cryptocurrency to pay for tickets and other products. The Hong Kong-based company will also show up elsewhere alongside the NBA franchise—including on TV broadcasts and various other digital platforms.

Crypto.com Chief Marketing Officer Steven Kalifowitz recognizes that in order to build the brand, he has to also educate consumers about this new asset class.

“Crypto is not just another shoe,” he says. “It’s not a commodity thing or a suitcase or something. Getting into crypto is very much a cultural thing.”

Flush with money from eager investors, a growing number of crypto brands are spending big to reach a mass audience through sports sponsorships and mainstream events. Other deals this month include the cryptofinance company XBTO sponsoring the Major League Soccer team Inter Miami, the cryptocurrency exchange FTX sponsoring Mercedes-AMG’s Formula 1 team and the nonprofit Learncrypto.com sponsoring the English Premier League team, Southampton F.C.

Perhaps sports arenas are not a bad way to go when it comes to finding new fans for a new—and still largely unregulated—asset class that some critics dismiss as gambling and proponents say is the future of the internet as well as the economy. And in a fast-growing and cluttered market, the fight is to get not just recognition but market share.

“To me it looks like an arms race for user acquisition,” says Keith Soljacich, VP/GD of Experiential Tech at Digitas, a leading digital advertising agency. “It’s kind of like if you have a crypto wallet on a platform, it’s a lot like holding a Visa card, too.”

The 76ers deal is just one of many that Crypto.com has landed in the past year while it’s on an aggressive sponsorship spree totaling more than $400 million in deals. Earlier this month, the company became the first official crypto platform partner for the famous French soccer team Paris Saint-Germain. Crypto.com is also a sponsor of a wide range of teams including the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, Fox Sports’ college football midday coverage, UFC, and Aston Martin’s Formula One team—just to name a few. Each of these also includes various other integrations far beyond a logo.

Chris Heck, president of business operations for the 76ers, says the team had been looking for a new jersey patch partner for a couple of years and spoken with hundreds of companies. And because the jersey patch is the most important partnership a team has, it requires brands and teams to be “completely aligned.”

“As the world woke up to the crypto space a little over a year ago, we got a chance to venture down that road,” Heck says. “Think about it this way: Sports are entering into the crypto era world, and we get to the at the front of the line with Crypto.com. These are folks that are partnering with gold-standard brands like UFC, F1, PSG, and we get to be their brand and their of choice in the United States with major sports teams and that’s pretty cool.”

All this to go beyond the current crypto user base to reach the masses: A study Crypto.com conducted in July found that total global crypto users have doubled year-over-year from 106 million to 221 million. However, just a fraction of those are currently the company’s customers.

Earlier in September, FTX—a two-year-old startup that just moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to The Bahamas—announced a $20 million ad campaign starring football legend Tom Brady and his wife, the model and businesswoman Gisele Bündchen. And like Crypto.com, FTX is sponsoring a wide range of teams and leagues in rapid succession including a five-year deal with the Major League Baseball announced this summer.

“If we just stop at one deal and we’ll wait and see how it does and wait to see how that does before doing another one, the best opportunities might be gone,” says FTX.US President Brett Harrison.

According to Harrison, FTX founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried asked for ideas of how do something “that’s big.” Someone then came up with the idea to buy the naming rights for a stadium, and a few months later they won the rights to rename the Miami Heat’s arena FTX Arena in a $135 million deal approved in March.

“There is a group of tech companies that know it in their bones that if they don’t become brands quickly, there is a time in the future where there will be just a few left,” says Jamie Shuttlesworth, chief strategy officer of Dentsu Americas, which became FTX’s agency of record in June.

Traditional advertising methods are important for building trust in crypto brands, according to Harrison—especially since it deals with something like taking care of people’s money.

“When’s the last time you saw an ad for maybe a bank pop up on the top of your Google search and said, ‘Time to move all my money from my Chase account or Citi account?’”

Major stadium and team sponsorships are often held by brands that are already well known, but the crypto sector’s aggressive land-grab feels in some ways like strategies in games like “Risk” or “Monopoly”—where people can either wait for the right properties or buy everything they can as fast as possible.

When asked about the Monopoly metaphor, Harrison joked that “we’re trying plant our pieces on as many Park Places as possible.”

There’s plenty incentive for sports organizations to team up with crypto companies. Mike Proulx, a Forester analyst and marketing expert, said many sports leagues want—and need—to attract the next generation of fans.

“These kinds of deals look to tap into crypto companies’ young skewing userbase with NFTs that are, in a way, a modern/virtual take on old school baseball cards,” he says. “And the benefit to crypto companies is, of course, getting to leverage the league IP that legitimizes their platform with trusted brands while also growing their users.”

The crypto industry has exhausted its original market, says to R.A. Farrokhnia, a professor at Columbia Business School professor and Executive Director of the Columbia Fintech Initiative. However, blockchain technology isn’t something that’s easily explained to the average person—it involves cryptography, complex networks, and other concepts—and also still aren’t to a point where users can easily navigate.

According to Farrokhnia, there are still questions about whether the foundations and interfaces are advanced enough to warrant the aggressive push toward mass adoption. Or, he asks, “are we putting the proverbial cart before the horse?”

“These are all the moving parts in this ecosystem and it seems the pace for innovation has accelerated,” he said. “But are we doing things in the right sequence?”

Farrokhnia also points out the irony that despite all of cryptocurrency’s new innovations, the companies are still using classic marketing models. However, he adds that little for athletes to market unregulated digital economies than to pitch things like CPG products or other brand categories.

“What kind of reputation risk could this have for teams or sports figures or influencers or actors who are engaging in this kind of marketing campaign or activity? Most likely they have good lawyers that would protect them against such things, but you never know.”

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I’m a Forbes staff writer and editor of the Forbes CMO Network, leading coverage of marketing, advertising and technology with a specific focus on chief marketing

Source: In Crypto ‘Arms Race’ For Mass Adoption, Companies Ink Sports Deals Worth Hundreds Of Millions

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Consistency of Proof-of-Stake Blockchains with Concurrent Honest Slot Leaders

Gridcoin: Crypto-Currency using Berkeley Open Infrastructure Network Computing Grid as a Proof Of Work

Vertcoin: The Soaring Cryptocurrency Set to Surpass Bitcoin

Out in the Open: Teenage Hacker Transforms Web Into One Giant Bitcoin Network

Exclusive: Grayscale launches digital-currency fund backed by Silver Lake’s co-founder Hutchins

Crypto social network BitClout arrives with a bevy of high-profile investors — and skeptics

Kodak CEO: Blockchain Significant, Though Not a Doubling in Stock Price

Zcoin Moves Against ASIC Monopoly With Merkle Tree Proof”. Finance Magnates

Big-name investors back effort to build a better Bitcoin

Clearview AI Ordered To Delete All Facial Recognition Data Belonging To Australians

Controversial facial recognition firm Clearview AI has been ordered to destroy all images and facial templates belonging to individuals living in Australia by the country’s national privacy regulator.

Clearview, which claims to have scraped 10 billion images of people from social media sites in order to identify them in other photos, sells its technology to law enforcement agencies. It was trialled by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) between October 2019 and March 2020.

Now, following an investigation, Australia privacy regulator, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), has found that the company breached citizens’ privacy. “The covert collection of this kind of sensitive information is unreasonably intrusive and unfair,” said OAIC privacy commissioner Angelene Falk in a press statement. “It carries significant risk of harm to individuals, including vulnerable groups such as children and victims of crime, whose images can be searched on Clearview AI’s database.”

Said Falk: “When Australians use social media or professional networking sites, they don’t expect their facial images to be collected without their consent by a commercial entity to create biometric templates for completely unrelated identification purposes. The indiscriminate scraping of people’s facial images, only a fraction of whom would ever be connected with law enforcement investigations, may adversely impact the personal freedoms of all Australians who perceive themselves to be under surveillance.”

The investigation into Clearview’s practices by the OAIC was carried out in conjunction with the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). However, the ICO has yet to make a decision about the legality of Clearview’s work in the UK. The agency says it is “considering its next steps and any formal regulatory action that may be appropriate under the UK data protection laws.”

As reported by The Guardian, Clearview itself intends to appeal the decision. “Clearview AI operates legitimately according to the laws of its places of business,” Mark Love, a lawyer for the firm BAL Lawyers representing Clearview, told the publication. “Not only has the commissioner’s decision missed the mark on the manner of Clearview AI’s manner of operation, the commissioner lacks jurisdiction.”

Clearview argues that the images it collected were publicly available, so no breach of privacy occurred, and that they were published in the US, so Australian law does not apply.

Around the world, though, there is growing discontent with the spread of facial recognition systems, which threaten to eliminate anonymity in public spaces. Yesterday, Facebook parent company Meta announced it was shutting down the social platform’s facial recognition feature and deleting the facial templates it created for the system. The company cited “growing concerns about the use of this technology as a whole.” Meta also recently paid a $650 million settlement after the tech was found to have breached privacy laws in Illinois in the US.

Source: Clearview AI ordered to delete all facial recognition data belonging to Australians – The Verge

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More Contents:

Facebook Will Shut Down Facial Recognition System

Facebook Inc (FB.O) announced on Tuesday it is shutting down its facial recognition system, which automatically identifies users in photos and videos, citing growing societal concerns about the use of such technology.

“Regulators are still in the process of providing a clear set of rules governing its use,” Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence at Facebook, wrote in a blog post. “Amid this ongoing uncertainty, we believe that limiting the use of facial recognition to a narrow set of use cases is appropriate.”

The removal of face recognition by the world’s largest social media platform comes as the tech industry has faced a reckoning over the past few years over the ethics of using the technology.

Critics say facial recognition technology – which is popular among retailers, hospitals and other businesses for security purposes – could compromise privacy, target marginalized groups and normalize intrusive surveillance. IBM has permanently ended facial recognition product sales, and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) and Amazon.com Inc (AMZN.O) have suspended sales to police indefinitely.

The news also comes as Facebook has been under intense scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers over user safety and a wide range of abuses on its platforms.

The company, which last week renamed itself Meta Platforms Inc, said more than one-third of Facebook’s daily active users have opted into the face recognition setting on the social media site, and the change will now delete the “facial recognition templates” of more than 1 billion people.

The removal will roll out globally and is expected to be complete by December, a Facebook spokesperson said. Privacy advocacy and digital rights groups welcomed the move.

Alan Butler, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, said, “For far too long Internet users have suffered personal data abuses at the whims of Facebook and other platforms. EPIC first called for an end to this program in 2011,” though he said comprehensive data protection regulations were still needed in the United States.

Adam Schwartz, senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said that although Facebook’s action comes after moves from other tech companies, it could mark a “notable moment in the national turning-away from face recognition.”

Facebook added that its automatic alt text tool, which creates image descriptions for visually impaired people, will no longer include the names of people recognized in photos after the removal of face recognition, but will otherwise function normally.Facebook did not rule out using facial recognition technology in other products, saying it still sees it as a “powerful tool” for identity verification for example.

The company’s facial recognition software has long been the subject of scrutiny. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission included it among the concerns when it fined Facebook $5 billion to settle privacy complaints in 2019. A judge this year approved Facebook’s $650 million settlement of a class action in Illinois over allegations it collected and stored biometric data of users without proper consent.

By:  and

Source: Facebook will shut down facial recognition system | Reuters

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Related Contents:

Staff, By GCN; Jun 10, 2020. “IBM bows out of facial recognition market -“. GCN. Retrieved October 7, 2021.“Mugspot Can Find A Face In The Crowd – Face-Recognition Software Prepares To Go To Work In The Streets

Bonsor, K. (September 4, 2001). “How Facial Recognition Systems Work”ford, Mark. “Facial recognition progress report

  • October 6, 2011.

Kimmel, Ron. “Three-dimensional face reco

Riggan, Benjamin; Short, Nathaniel; Hu, Shuowen (March 2018). “Thermal to Visible Synthesis of Face Images using Multiple Regions”

“Galaxy S8 face recognition already defeated with a simple picture”. Ars Technica. Retrieved November 2, 2017.

“Facial recognition technology is coming to Canadian airports this spring”. CBC News. Retrieved March 3, 2017.

“TSA had expressed its intention to adopt a similar program for domestic air travel”. USA Today. August 16, 2019.“Police use facial recognition technology to detect wanted criminals during beer festival in Chinese city of Qingdao”. opengovasia.com. OpenGovAsia. Archived from the original on N

Dai, Sarah (June 5, 2019). “AI unicorn Megvii not behind app used for surveillance in Xinjiang, says human rights group”. South China Morning Post.

The Thriving Business of ‘Ikea Hacking’

Last August, Alex Hernandez found herself in the market for a new piece of furniture. Holed up in her Miami studio apartment, the 31-year-old executive assistant had grown weary of her “cheap and basic-looking” Ikea couch. She shopped around online and found a new one she liked — but it was a designer brand that was out of her price range.

So she opted for a makeover instead. She spiced things up with a set of mid-century modern legs ($70) and a new cover ($120) from an Ikea customization website. The project cost Hernandez about one-tenth of the designer version she’d had her eye on and it saved an old piece of furniture from the landfill.

This type of upcycling, called Ikea hacking, has been on the rise during the pandemic. And for companies that sell custom Ikea-friendly fixtures — legs, couch covers, knobs, and cabinet doors — business is booming.

What the heck is Ikea hacking?

Ikea has achieved the kind of scale and brand recognition that most companies can only dream of. With ~$44B in annual revenue, 445 retail stores, and 217k employees, the Sweden-based company is the world’s largest home furnishings retailer, enjoying a stranglehold on the ready-to-assemble furniture market.

In many countries, 50%+ of the population owns at least one Ikea product. In a way, Ikea is kind of like the Bitcoin of furniture: the company uses universal designs, meaning its hardware and measurements are uniform across most of the developed world.

And folks who want to add some pizzazz to their mass-produced Billy bookcases and Kallax shelf units have no shortage of customization options to choose from online. Broadly, Ikea hacking is any form of upgrading, customizing, repurposing, or personalizing a piece of stock Ikea furniture.

The movement gained steam in the mid-2000s, when popular DIY blogs like Ikea Hackers and Instructables began offering up easy, affordable tweaks to popular items like Billy bookcases and Kallax shelf units. At first, Ikea wasn’t a fan of people customizing its furniture and even sent Ikea Hackers a cease and desist. But since then, the company has embraced its hackers.

And over the past decade, this once small and wacky community has burgeoned into a full-fledged industry. Nearly every social media platform abounds with Ikea hacking content:

  • TikTok: 64m views on #ikeahacks videos
  • Instagram: 500k posts tagged with #Ikeahack
  • Facebook: hundreds of Ikea hacking groups with more than 1m collective members
  • YouTube: thousands of Ikea hack videos with 100m+ views
  • Pinterest: an endless scroll of DIY Ikea projects
  • Reddit: r/Ikeahacks boasts 76k subscribers and has grown 400% in the past 5 years

Within this broader ecosystem, certain Ikea products have earned a cult following in niche communities. Plant enthusiasts use Fabrikör cabinets to make their own indoor greenhouses. Photographers convert Schottis shades into DIY lightboxes. Parents transform Flisat tables into sensory stations for toddlers. Some have even crafted sex toys out of Ikea shoe trees and milk frothers.

In a survey of 1,206 readers of The Hustle, half of all respondents said they had heard of the concept of Ikea hacking — and 43% said they’d engaged in the practice at some point. In our survey, readers had no shortage of their own creative new uses for old Ikea furniture:

  • Jordan Elgie (musician, Ontario) turned an Ikea shelf into an electric guitar pedalboard.
  • Peter Sanderson (sales director, Rhode Island) converted an Ikea headboard into a dog gate for his Rottweiler puppy.
  • Randy Hees (museum director, Colorado) built a floor-to-ceiling library using 26 Ikea bookcases.
  • Rick Moore (film technician, Vancouver) transformed an Ikea butcher block cart into a wine rack.
  • Laurel Choate (literary agent, New York) made a kitchen island out of Ikea shelves, legs, and a countertop.

During the pandemic, an increase in remote work and time spent at home has led to a DIY remodel boom — and a surge in Ikea hacks. Among our respondents, 69% said they had bought new furniture during the pandemic, and 38% said they had updated an existing piece of furniture.

“We disassembled a cheap Ikea table, painted it a new color, and bought new legs to make it more mid-century modern,” says Zoë Kronovet, a digital marketing manager in North Carolina. “We also bought a $300 velvet midnight-blue cover for a basic Ikea couch to give it a new life.”

Like Kronovet, the majority of Ikea hackers stick to simple aesthetic changes: new knobs on a dresser, a new set of legs on a table, or new cabinet doors — little touches to shake things up. And they have no shortage of options to choose from.

The Ikea hacking industry

When on the hunt to revamp old Ikea wares, prospective customers often turn to a cottage industry of e-commerce startups — mostly female-owned — that specialize in Ikea customization:

  • Semihandmade, Reform: customization options for Ikea kitchens
  • Superfront, Norse Interiors: legs, hardware, and cabinet doors for an array of best-selling Ikea products
  • Prettypegs: legs for Ikea sofas, tables, and consoles
  • Kokeena: doors and casework for Ikea cabinets
  • Panyl: vinyl wraps for Ikea furniture
  • Bemz: covers for Ikea couches and chairs

On Etsy, you’ll find dozens of smaller companies hawking handmade legs, brass knobs, shelf inserts, and sofa covers specifically crafted to fit Ikea furniture lines.

Monica Born quit her copywriting gig 10 years ago to found Superfront with her husband Mick, after noticing that many of her friends in Sweden were commissioning their own pricey Ikea replacement doors from local carpenters.

In Sweden, where 90% of residents own Ikea furniture, she sensed an opportunity to streamline and normalize the customization process.Today, the business offers cabinet doors, handles, and legs compatible with Ikea’s 4 best-selling furniture lines.

Born says the company is on track to hit ~$8m in annual sales this year — a 50% bump from last year. “It’s becoming more and more [common] to tell your dinner guests that you repurposed something,” she says. “It’s cool to say, ‘We thought it was crazy to throw away that piece of Ikea furniture so we redesigned it instead.’”

Jana Kagin left a career in psychology to launch the Stockholm-based Ikea customizer Prettypegs in 2012. “Ikea is such a huge part of Sweden’s DNA — it’s in our breast milk,” she says. “But a lot of people want to differentiate from the mass-produced. We offer a more affordable option by pairing DIY with high-end design.”

As an example, she cites a customer who was able to reconstruct a $1.5k West Elm console for $288 using a set of Prettypegs legs ($60), knobs ($28), and a bit of DIY handiwork.

Demand is so high, she says, that it’s been hard to keep items in stock. “When we first started, we thought, ‘It’s just furniture legs, it’s not rocket science!’ But everything becomes rocket science as a business scales,” she says. “Logistics, hardware, packaging, lacquer, paint — there are so many moving parts that have strained supply chains right now.”

While many of these companies are based in Sweden, some entrepreneurs have found success focusing on the US market. Lotta Lundaas, the founder of Norse Interiors, based in New York City, says her company is on track to hit $1m in sales just 3 years after launching — a 3x increase year-over-year.

Lundaas leveraged her background as an online marketer to identify which Ikea products to offer custom cabinet doors for, reverse engineering the company’s best sellers by looking at search volume data.

The Copenhagen-based startup Reform has taken a different route. Launched in 2014 with the aim of customizing Ikea kitchen cabinets, the company has since moved into offering its own product lines. But it has trouble keeping its prices appealing to the Ikea demographic.

“It’s hard to match Ikea’s economies of scale,” says Scott Bird, the company’s managing director. “They sell some of their products at a price that’s lower than what we can even source them for.”

But these economies of scale come with a price.

An antidote to ‘fast furniture’

Beyond design, Ikea hacking aims to tackle a larger problem: the scourge of so-called “fast furniture.”

In the 1950s, furniture was seen as a generational investment that would last decades. Today, the average couch lasts just 6 years. Each year, Americans discard 20m tons of furniture — a figure that has doubled in the last decade.

Ikea — a company that uses 1% of the world’s entire wood supply and has encouraged customers to frequently replace furniture in the past  — is at the center of this problem.

Part of the stated mission of Ikea hacking, and the upcycling movement at large, is to extend the lifespan of furniture.

In its own independent research, Prettypegs found that a simple design change could result in a person keeping a piece of furniture 20% longer. The company estimates that it has helped customers hold on to 19k pieces of Ikea furniture, saving 179 tons of CO2 emissions.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental impact of their purchases: In our survey, 60% of respondents said eco-friendliness is an important consideration when buying home furnishings.

A report by the Retail Industry Leaders Association found that:

  • 93% of global consumers expect the brands they use to address and consider environmental issues
  • American consumers will spend up to 20% more on products that are environmentally friendly.

For its part, Ikea has announced buy-back programs and plans to be “climate positive” by 2030. But for consumers who already have a house full of Ikea furniture, a little redesigning and repurposing may be the greenest course of action.

“We’re all in the business of making Ikea products last longer,” says Cagin, of Prettypegs. “We want to turn fast furniture into slow furniture.”

 By: Zachary Crockett @zzcrockett

Source: The thriving business of ‘Ikea hacking’

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Critics:

IKEA is a conglomerate that designs and sells ready-to-assemble furniture, kitchen appliances and home accessories, among other goods and home services. Founded in Sweden in 1943 by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA has been the world’s largest furniture retailer since 2008. The brand used by the group is an acronym that consists of the founder’s initials, and those of Elmtaryd, the family farm where he was born, and the nearby village Agunnaryd (his hometown in Småland, southern Sweden).

The group is known for its modernist designs for various types of appliances and furniture, and its interior design work is often associated with an eco-friendly simplicity. In addition, the firm is known for its attention to cost control, operational details, and continuous product development that has allowed IKEA to annually lower its prices by an average of two to three percent.

INGKA Holding B.V., based in the Netherlands, owns the IKEA Group, which takes care of the centers, retails, customer fulfillment, and all the other services related to IKEA products. The IKEA brand is owned and managed by Inter IKEA Systems B.V., based in the Netherlands, owned by Inter IKEA Holding B.V. Inter IKEA Holding is also in charge of design, manufacturing and supply of IKEA products.

References

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