Issue #41
Week 25 2021

the Variant

This week, Spanish international news agency EFE reported that tech entrepreneur and crypto enthusiast John McAfee was found dead in a Spanish jail cell from an apparent suicide.

His death comes after a Spanish court ruled he would be extradited to the U.S. on tax-evasion charges. The U.S. government wanted McAfee for failing to submit tax returns from 2014 to 2018 and allegedly not reporting income related to pushing crypto projects and consulting work.

One interesting note is that people close to McAfee have said that he was not suicidal, and two years ago, he tweeted out, โ€œIf I suicide myself, I didnโ€™t. I was whackd.โ€

Who was
John McAfee

John McAfee was 75 years old when he died. In 1987 he founded McAfee Associates, Inc., which sold the first antivirus software on the market. He has since gone on and founded other technology companies such as Tribal Voice and QuorumEx. He also ran for president of the United States as a libertarian candidate.

McAfee had his fair bit of controversy. In 2012 he was named as the lead suspect in the murder of Gregory Faull. Faull allegedly was murdered in the nation of Belize at the direction of McAfee. McAfee later faked a heart attack to flee Belize and return to the U.S. He was never criminally charged for the murder. 

McAfee has also been an outspoken supporter of Bitcoin. In 2017 he predicted that Bitcoin would reach $500,000 by the end of 2020. He later doubled down on his prediction and said Bitcoin would reach $1 million by 2021. He made this prediction while betting that if Bitcoin didnโ€™t hit the $500,000 price, he would โ€œeat [his] dick on national television.โ€

The crypto community has been greatly saddened by the news of McAfeeโ€™s death. May he rest in peace. 

RIP crazy gringo


x Flow

The NFT platform Rarible recently announced theyโ€™ve completed Series A funding, raising $14 Million to put towards expanding beyond itโ€™s Ethereum-native NFT service platform and launching an additional marketplace on the FLOW blockchain.

Over the past year the Rarible platform has grown in popularity at a rapid pace. A still somewhat young digital marketplace to mint, buy, and sell NFTs, only launched in 2020, yet theyโ€™ve already facilitated over $150 million in sales of digital collectibles! The recent Series A round of funding led by venture capital funds Venrock and CoinFund, paired with Rarible managementโ€™s long-stated goals, speak to just how bright Raribleโ€™s future looks to be. The funding will be put towards new team hires focussed on continual development of its existing marketplace, as well as a massive shift to expand its operations onto FLOW, The โ€˜gaslessโ€™ blockchain specifically built for NFTs. Itโ€™s probably worth noting that FLOW is already host to two of the most popular NFT projects around, CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot...

โ€œFlow has a fantastic track record of bringing NFTs mainstream by creating native experiences for non-crypto audiences. As a blockchain, Flow enables easier access and lowers the entry barrier for consumers and brands via gasless minting, low-cost transactions, and scalability. As we enter the next stage, pursuing to further pioneer the mass adoption of NFTs, we see Flow as a perfect partner for this journey.โ€

-Alexander Salnikov, Rarible co-founder


Great bounce on the news. One of the top performing coins on the day of the announcement in fact.

In a nice kickoff to the relationship, the Rarible governance token price spiked significantly on news of the Dapper Labs โ€“ FLOW Blockchain partnership. Weโ€™ve covered the RARI token and their DAOโ€™s aspirations in previous issues, now even greater efforts are being made to more fully decentralize the Rarible protocol, creating a community which is effectively completely governed by itself.

Dapper Labs arenโ€™t the only party likely to be excited by the recent price action. Venrock venture capital has had their eye on the NFT space for some time now, and though they havenโ€™t declared total validation of their prediction, they seem as sure as ever they were correct then, and still are now. They're obviously incredibly excited and optimistic about their new investment with Rarible, as well as the future of Crypto as a whole.

There are well more than 100 million crypto wallets in the world. According to the Gemini 2021 State of Crypto report, there are about 21 million US adults who own crypto. The first major wave of crypto, the creation and purchase of cryptotoken assets, has created about $1.5 trillion of value for these >100 million people. In the second wave of crypto, those cryptoasset holders have โ€œlockedโ€ more than $60 billion of those assets into DeFi (decentralized finance) contracts to borrow against them or gain yield, etc.


NFTs are the third wave of crypto, and thus far, more than $1 billion has been spent by more than one million people. Dapper Labsโ€™ NBA TopShot has more than 1.2 million users, of which at least 500,000 have spent more than $600 million on the leading NFT collectibles.

-David Pakman, Venrock VC

Rarible and Dapper Labs are both major contributors to the NFT space and their continued efforts to make the NFT user experience evermore seamless appear very well aligned. This could prove to be a marked turning point for both of these projects individually, not to mention the NFT sector as a whole. The future looks incredibly bright for the NFT industry, with inevitable mass adoption still only just beginning to take place, more and more major participants of this revolution appear to be digging in!


Beeple Moments

Beeple just announced a new project that he is a part of that will bring iconic moments to the Ethereum blockchain. Like all things Beeple, it is forecasted to be big and exciting. 


Along with Pitchfork's founder, Ryan Schreiber, Beeple created WENEW, a new platform that will sell iconic moments on the Ethereum blockchain. They are trying to revolutionize the NFT moment market by bringing moments in sports and moments in music, comedy, politics, and history. Maybe we can get a Beeple Champagne moment?

Along with the NFT, some of the moments will come with physical items. An example of this is WENEW's physical artifact. A physical artifact is a looping video of the moment on a screen encased in glass. Premium moments may include access to a once-in-a-lifetime item. This can range from one-on-one experiences to collectible memorabilia.


Building off the success of NBA Top Shot would make sense for Beeple to get into the NFT moment space. According to Crypto Slam, NBA Top Shot currently has the highest all-time sales volume out of any NFT project by a large margin.


Although it seems that WENEW is primarily focused on exclusive moments, TS has shown there is a market for this kind of NFT. 

For WENEW's first auction, they will be auctioning off a collection of different moments from Andy Murray's 2013 Wimbledon victory. The auction will start on July 2 and will last until July 5.


What Moments are up for auction: 

Winning moment

This is the most exclusive moment up for auction. It will be a one of one and includes the following:

  • Play tennis with Andy for 30 mins at the All England Club
  • 2 VIP tour experiences and Centre Court tickets to Wimbledon Gentlemen's Final 2022
  • All 5 NFTs in the Andy Murray x Wimbledon series
    Physical Artifacts of all 5 NFTs in this series
  • Wimbledon 2013 program signed by Andy
    Wimbledon 2021 poster signed by Andy
  • The Challenge Cup Trophy Replica
  • Autograph card signed by Andy

The Trophy Ceremony

This is the second most exclusive moment and will have 20 editions up for auctions. Winning bids will receive the following:

  • 2 Centre Court tickets to The Championships 2022 during the first 10 days of the Fortnight
  • Physical Artifact
  • Wimbledon 2021 poster signed by Andy

The Victory Speech

This moment will have 50 editions and includes a replica trophy of the Challenge Cup.

  • 2021 Runner-up speech
    This moment will have 100 editions and includes an autograph card signed by Andy Murray. 
  • 2013 highlights
    These will be a collection of different moments and will have 500 editions. Bidders can receive any of the following moments:

Andy Murray shows his exquisite feel with an inch-perfect drop shot in the opening set of his 2013 campaign at Wimbledon. Comfortable straights set win.

6-3, 6-3, 7-5
Murray's famed retrieval skills are on full display as he digs out a forehand-down-the-line winner at full stretch. Comfortable straight sets win.

Comfortable win for Murray against then-world No.29 Robredo. This cross-court backhand passing winner is one of Murray's trademark shots.

The experienced Youzhny posed the sternest test of Murray's Wimbledon 2013 run to that point, particularly in a tight second set, but Murray ran away with the third, his dominance showcased by this massive down-the-line forehand winner which set up match point.

One of the most memorable points of Murray's career, in a match where he came from two sets down to win for just the second time at Wimbledon. This point was perhaps the whole match in microcosm, as Murray withstood a barrage of Verdasco forehands to ultimately come out on top in a 28-shot rally with a topspin forehand passing winner.

6-7(2), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
Janowicz won the first set of this semi-final on a tie-break, but Murray ultimately prevailed in four sets. This pinball rally, finished up with an improvised overhead winner from Murray, came in the final throes of the fourth set, with Murray holding serve in this game before breaking to reach a second straight Wimbledon Final.

This new project by Beeple and Ryan Schreiber could be significant for the NFT space. It shows there's a growing community around moments, and if they can bring big-name celebrities into the moment's space, it will surely get bigger.



Enter The Dark Forest

Itโ€™s no secret that the Ethereum blockchain is a highly adversarial environment. If a smart contract can be exploited for profit, it eventually will be. The frequency of new hacks indicates that some very smart people spend a lot of time examining contracts for vulnerabilities.

But this unforgiving environment pales in comparison to the mempool (the set of pending, unconfirmed transactions). If the chain itself is a battleground, the mempool is something worse: a dark forest.

MEV creates systemic consensus-layer vulnerabilitiesโ€ฆ


Over $750 Million worth of MEV extracted over the past 18 months.

You could know a good bit about Ethereum and still not know much at all about Maximum Extractable Value, (MEV). Well, now is as good a time as any to study up! Simply put, Maximum Extractable Value (MEV), formerly referred to as Miner Extractable Value, is a measure of the total value that can be extracted permissionlessly (without any special rights) from transaction ordering. It first appeared in Flash Boys 2.0, an extensive smart contract research paper focussing on inherent weaknesses of mempool functionality, and their exploitation by bad actors using sophisticated arbitrage bots to execute transaction attacks like โ€˜front-runningโ€™ or โ€˜back-runningโ€™ or a combination of both โ€˜sandwichingโ€™.


Enter Flashbots and the MEV Explorer!

MEV-Explore v0 presents empirical evidence of the MEV activities occurring on the Ethereum blockchain. It is a public dashboard created and managed by the Flashbots team that tracks in near real-time, aggregate metrics on MEV, and the latest MEV transactions on Ethereum.

Flashbots is a research and development organization formed to mitigate the negative externalities and existential risks posed by miner-extractable value (MEV) to smart-contract blockchains. We propose a permissionless, transparent, and fair ecosystem for MEV extraction to reinforce the Ethereum ideals.

MEV-Explore is meant to help the community understand and quantify the significance of these activities and their impact on the Ethereum network. We aim to preserve Ethereumโ€™s transparency by providing data that is accessible and comprehensible to every user.

Our efforts are currently centered around providing open-source example implementations and toolings for third-party MEV searchers within the Flashbots community.

Our approach to mitigating the MEV crisis can be broken down into three parts: Illuminate the Dark Forest, Democratize Extraction, and Distribute Benefits. We believe each part is necessary for Flashbots to succeed.


MEV arbitrage opportunities have become so prevalent on the Ethereum blockchain that inefficiencies like network and blockspace congestion are taking a heavier and heavier toll. One of the primary causes of this blockspace congestion is the large number of failed MEV transactions. This is due to the multiple MEV extractors competing against each other to get their transaction included, but in the end only one will โ€˜winโ€™ while all the others will fail. A massive amount of useless, failed transaction data, now being stored on the Ethereum blockchain forever. Consequently, major financial impacts are currently being passed on to participants of the Ethereum blockchain. Users are basically being priced out, at least in part, because they are either unwilling or unable to pay the high gas fees that are being caused more and more by MEV exploitation.


Over $12.5 Million in fees spent on Failed MEV Transactions in the past 18 Months. Without Flashbots we might not be nearly as aware of this matter...

While Flashbots understands what is happening here as well as anybody they have chosen not to participate in MEV extraction. Instead, their unselfish, community-first initiative is really something to be applauded. MEV-Explore is selflessly providing us essential light in this dark forest. In fact, these tools are already being utilized by the amazing Alchemist community developers to create the mistX DEX!


With the help of mistX, you can continue to take full advantage of Uniswap & Sushiswap liquidity pools without being exposed to the risk of frontrunning.


#1: Flashbots!


Nice familiar swap interface. Whatโ€™s not to like?! enables users to directly see the impact that sandwich-attackers have on them, and thus the whole ecosystem. For users that are reading this and are asking โ€œbut what is a Sandwich attack?โ€; a sandwich-attack is when a transaction is both front- and back-run, with the user sandwiched in between (hence a โ€˜sandwichโ€™-attack). These actions occur at the cost of the userโ€™s position/price action.

Over the past weeks, weโ€™ve seen some very interesting sandwiches rolling through, with examples of users being victim of sandwich attacks worth 50+ ETH and up. Imagine going to swap or trade and โ€œlosingโ€ this amount. Ouch!

Now arenโ€™t you glad you took some time to study up on MEV? I sure am!



South Africa Heist

This week we might have witnessed the biggest crypto heist ever when $3.6 billion in Bitcoin vanished from a South African investment platform along with the two founding brothers. The company is claiming it is a result of a hack, but many are pointing out that this might have been an exit skem.

The two brothers, Ameer and Raees Cajee started up the investment platform, AfriCrypt, back in 2019. Africrypt described itself as โ€œan investment firm exclusively focused on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.โ€


Back on April 13, AfriCrypt reported being a victim of a hack, saying, โ€œOur system, client accounts, client wallets, and nodes were all compromised.โ€ They told investors not to pursue legal action as that would delay the recovery process. This comment raised flags among investors and led them to hire a law firm to look into the case.

The law firm has since found the coins were transferred from their clientsโ€™ wallets โ€œto various dark web tumblers and mixers, resulting in severe fragmentationโ€ to make the funds virtually untraceable.

Recently the Cajee brothers have been unable to be contacted, but lawyers representing them have recently denied any involvement in the loss of Bitcoin. 

South Africaโ€™s police force focusing on corruption and economic crime, the Hawks, have been investigating the situation. An interesting note about this heist is that South Africaโ€™s Financial Sector Conduct Authority says they cannot act on this case. This is because โ€œcrypto assets are not regulated in terms of any financial sector law in South Africa, and consequently the FSCA is not in a position to take any regulatory action.โ€

It will be interesting to see what happens as more of this story unfolds. This might lead to greater regulation of crypto assets in South Africa. Also, weโ€™ll be on the lookout for the brothers and the stolen Bitcoin.

On another Bitcoin note, El Salvador has announced that every adult will receive $30 in Bitcoin. They will receive it after downloading and registering on the governmentโ€™s cryptocurrency app. This comes after El Salvador made Bitcoin an official currency.


The Shameless Shilling

Lucky Maneki

Lucky Maneki NFT Collectibles takes place in the world of Luckeania, a world inhabited by Japanese lucky cat looking creatures.

They can take shape of cats, robots, zombies, prominent personalities, and many others. The artwork was created in multiple layers by a team of 21 artists from around the World. These layers were used to programmatically generate the resulting images in a random fashion. Each artwork is ensured to be unique and of varying rarity that is determined by a combination of some of the 412 possible traits. There is a total of 14,159 Manekis โ€“ all of them are derivative of the 40 Original artist creations also known as Epic Manekis.


The land of Luckeania, home to all Lucky Manekis

What makes Maneki so lucky? There are a whole host of rewards and challenges that come with them, including:

  • Hunt for clues to unlock the Lucky Chest. The treasure hunt will have you teaming up with our Maneki fans to search for hidden glyphs, symbols, letters and numbers to decipher the encoded phrase.
  • Names are like labels, they stick. Once you have named your Maneki, that name will be seen on the blockchain forever. No two Manekis can have the same name, so make sure you choose something totally unique to yourself! Names can be changed for free (except gas fees)
  • Fair pricing. Manekis will be mintable on June 30 at 0.075 ETH and the initial sale will be at a flat rate.
  • Collection also contains Legendary Manekis. If a collector is able to collect a specific set of Manekis by a specified date, they will receive an exclusive reward, minted in a very limited quantity.

48 of the possible Lucky Manekis

We have also committed to allocate 5% of all the sales for future community driven initiatives where the active collectors are able to determine and vote on how these funds will be used. We have an extensive roadmap displayed on our website and we canโ€™t wait to see what the sale and future of the project will look like.

Bitcoin Dragon

Want to learn more about Lucky Maneki NFTs?