Serena Williams Invests in Bitcoin Rewards Startup Lolli

Blockchain startup Lolli has reportedly raised the sum of $5 million from a suite of investors led by Serena Williams, her husband (Alexis Ohanian), and other YouTubers. 

As announced on Wednesday, Lolli’s pre-Series A round features Serena Williams’ Serena Ventures, her husband Alexis Ohanian’s Seven Seven Six, and Night Media, the management company that represents YouTuber MrBeast. Other investors from the influencer ranks include Casey Neistat, Phil DeFranco, Cody Ko, Noel Miller, Ian Borthwick, and Gabriel Leydon.

This is not the first time the Bitcoin rewards company, Lolli, has successfully raised funds from investors. Last year, Lolli raised a $3 million seed round led by PathFinder, with participation from Digital Currency Group (CoinDesk’s owner), Michelle Phan, and Ashton Kutcher.

Major Blockchain Investment for the Tennis Star

Bitcoin is on a bull run and crypto is booming, so firms with strong use-cases are utilizing this opportunity. Lolli, which incentivizes shoppers to go to its partner stores with bitcoin rewards sent to a wallet, now boasts of over 1,000 merchants and 250,000 users. 

The co-founder of Lolli, Alex Adelman, says the company currently offers an average of 7% bitcoin-back rewards at retailers such as Microsoft, and Ulta. He added that Lolli users have also earned more than $3 million in bitcoin rewards to date.

“We started out with the idea of educating people about bitcoin. So we just attached it to something that everybody does: shop. People think about investing when they think about bitcoin, but there’s probably less than 1% of the world that would consider themselves investors. Everybody would consider themselves a shopper. The ultimate goal is financial empowerment and financial inclusion, which are also key reasons Serena Williams and her team support Lolli,” he stated.

Serena is also positive about the investment, as Lolli makes Bitcoin more accessible beyond just institutional investments, to the average crypto enthusiast. In her words: “I’m excited to announce my investment in Lolli, a company on a mission to make bitcoin more accessible. Earning and owning bitcoin is a step towards financial inclusivity for all people,” she added.

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Obama ‘Hope’ Poster Artist Shepard Fairey Selling NFT

In brief

  • Shepard Fairey, the artist behind Former President Barack Obama’s iconic “Hope” campaign poster, is selling an NFT.
  • It’s up for auction next week, and some of the proceeds are going to Amnesty International.

Shepard Fairey, the artist behind Former President Barack Obama’s iconic “Hope” campaign poster, is selling an NFT.

It’s attached to a digital image called “Obey Ideal Power,” and is set to be auctioned off on the NFT marketplace SuperRare.

As blockchain utopians and art-world grifters have shoveled coal into the engine of NFT Hype, creators of all kinds have been jumping aboard, auctioning off GIFs and audio files for huge amounts of money.

And with the frenzy has come a multi-pronged backlash. What about NFTs’ ecological footprint? Aren’t there copyright issues involved here? What about the exclusivity problem—isn’t this stuff only accessible to crypto nerds with built-in audiences? How do we know NFTs aren’t just a vehicle for money laundering? And wait: the JPEG I just bought for $69 million doesn’t actually live forever on the blockchain?

As skepticism mounts, artists have been packaging new NFT announcements with climate offsets and other charitable components. Aphex Twin said he’d use the money from his recent NFT sale to plant trees, and the NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway plans to put money toward forest conservation efforts in Peru.

For his part, Fairey has said he’ll donate “a portion of the proceeds” from the sale to Amnesty International.

“Obey Ideal Power” is part of a collaboration between SuperRare and a company called Verisart, which provides ownership certificates for blockchain-based assets. The piece is up for auction on March 29.


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Theta’s Mainnet 3.0 launch date pushed to June

Crypto-powered esports streaming app Theta’s mainnet 3.0 launch has been delayed until June.

In an announcement from Theta Labs, the company stated that its development team is still working “to incorporate some building blocks” for a non-fungible token, or NFT, marketplace for the Theta Mainnet 3.0. They are also working to ensure that the network functions when scaled to more than 100,000 Elite Edge Nodes. As a result, Theta needs more time “to conduct a more thorough code review and testing” and will be pushing the expected launch date from April 21 to June 30.

“While delays are never ideal, we think this change is the prudent way forward to ensuring a successful Mainnet 3.0 launch,” said Theta.

The network said it would be focusing on building out its NFT marketplace, purportedly due to the sudden boom in the space. Theta aims for its Elite Edge Nodes, which tokenize internet bandwidth, to become a decentralized storage space for NFTs by establishing cross-chain bridges between its own network, the Ethereum network, and others. This would address the cost of minting NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain.

Last year, Theta announced a similar postponement of its Mainnet 2.0 from March to May in order to allow for “more testing.” The launch ultimately went forward on May 27 without additional delays.

In the lead up to the mainnet 3.0 launch, the protocol’s native token, THETA, has surged significantly, rising by more than 450% from $2.14 to $11.86 between Jan. 1 and the time of publication. The token has even outperformed Bitcoin (BTC) during its current bull run.