The man who gave the Metaverse its name is launching a blockchain project to realise its potential.

Neal Stephenson’s book Snow Crash originally described the Metaverse. Thirty years later, he is supporting Lamina1’s vision for a blockchain protocol equal to the Metaverse’s original promise.

Described as a base-level blockchain protocol equal to the technical, economic and philosophical origins of the Metaverse idea itself – an open and expansive virtual universe – Lamina1 is a Layer-1 blockchain technology designed for the Metaverse with Web3 principles in mind.

Renowned futurist Stephenson and cryptocurrency pioneer Peter Vessenes, co-founders of the project, are chairman and CEO respectively. 

Later this year, the company will launch a testnet and a subsequent betanet. Beyond 2022, the co-founders plan to seed a new immersive environment inspired by Stephenson’s million-selling novel Snow Crash, building infrastructure and releasing tools to support the work of third-party creators who want to build Open Metaverse experiences at scale.

Lamina1 says it is working to ensure the missteps of Web2 are not made. It says the internet perpetuated existing structures of centralised ownership and inequality.

Its alternative, integrated Web3 community and ecosystem is seen as the first building block for a truly open Metaverse. It says the provably carbon negative Lamina1 chain will offer high transaction volume and an economic design with new incentive mechanisms to help create thriving, vibrant economies for creators and entrepreneurs.

“The 30th anniversary of Snow Crash, and recent interest in actually building the Metaverse, has got me thinking about how to do it in a way that’s true to the original concept,” said Stephenson. 

“That means creative ferment rooted in a strong base layer of open source tech that provides key services to creators while making sure that they get paid. The purpose of Lamina1 is to provide that, using the best and most up-to-date ideas from the industry. 

“We’ll build first-and second-party experiences just to make sure it all works. But we’ll know we’ve succeeded when Lamina1 is adopted by third-party creators.”

Vessenes is known in the cryptocurrency industry for a series of firsts, namely launching the first VC-backed Bitcoin company (2011) and forming the Bitcoin Foundation (2012) – today a blueprint for the way the now $1 trillion+ blockchain industry engages communities and manages and creates cryptocurrencies.

Joining the team is Metaverse pioneer Tony Parisi, former head of AR/VR at Unity. He was also an early leader in Web3D and virtual reality, the inventor of VRML (the original standard for 3D graphics on the web) and co-creator of glTF, the open file format that today powers millions of 3D objects. Rounding out the Lamina1 leadership team is advisor Rony Abovitz, founder of Sun and Thunder, Magic Leap and MAKO Surgical.

Initial Investors in Lamina1 include Rony Abovitz, Geoff Entress, Jeremy Giffon, Bing Gordon, James Haft, Reid Hoffman, David Johnston, Joseph Lubin, Patrick Murck, Matthew Roszak, Tihan Seale, Peter Vessenes and Wu Ying.

Steam founder joins Web3 games platform Flame

The founder of PC gaming platform Steam has joined Ryu Games as chief product officer.

The company is launching Flame, a new Web3 games store and marketplace, to better serve the PC gaming market with easily usable NFTs and cryptocurrencies.

Flame is a multi-chain wallet, store and launcher of games that users onboard through a simple social login. 

Rick Ellis will leverage his decades long experience in console, PC and mobile gaming development to drive the growth of Web3 adoption in gaming.

In October 2021, Valve announced bans on blockchain games and NFTs on its Steam platform.

“Games that use NFTs and crypto are in their infancy, but their potential has already drawn millions of gamers to play these sometimes very simple games,” said Ellis. 

“The past few years have seen incredible advances in reducing blockchain’s negative environmental impact and lowering the cost of transactions. Meanwhile, serious game developers are heads down building the first generation of AAA titles built around open economies. 

“The last missing piece before mass adoption is a user experience to launch these games. The technical and UX challenges Flame is solving are going to bridge the gap between gamers everywhere and the next internet – one that is owned by the users and not central authorities.”

Before founding Sharkbite Games, Ellis started his gaming career building the dev kits for Xbox and GameCube. He went on to build the digital distribution service and marketplace for video games that eventually became Steam and was hired by Valve Software.

Cryptocurrency shorts

Edinburgh-based crypto platform Zumo has successfully completed a Zero Hero pilot project, a live trial to buy Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs, where 1 REC equals 1 MWh of green electricity) to compensate for the electricity usage of bitcoin bought via the Zumo app. Bitcoin to the value of £1.5 million was covered by Zero Hero REC purchases, with a total of 850 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity compensated via the programme – enough energy to drive an electric vehicle for over three million miles. Zumo and its partner, Zero Labs, have now been awarded a grant by Innovate UK to further fund research into the decarbonisation of crypto. 

Request Finance has raised $5.5 million from Animoca Brands, Balderton, XAnge and Web3 Founders to simplify enterprise crypto payments.It has processed over $200m to date from over 1,900 companies including DeFi platforms like Aave, DAOs like Maker, and metaverse platforms like The Sandbox. 

Skolem Technologies, a company which provides data and trade execution services for decentralised financial markets, has raised $20m in Series A funding led by Galaxy Digital. Additional investors in the round included Point72 Ventures, Jump Crypto, Fenwick & West, Morpheus Ventures, and Dragonfly Capital.

Crypto investment firm Arrington Capital, which has more than $1.6 billion in assets under management, has partnered with the Moonbeam Foundation on a new $100m ecosystem fund for Polkadot’s Moonbeam parachain.

Global FinTech Finder has launched its first charitable NFT collection of ‘Peace Koalas’ to raise money for Ukraine. The 1,000-strong collection, unique generative artworks created by Finder’s designer Lemon Mingyue, are worth 0.03 ETH – approx $55 – each. All the minting proceeds and secondary sale royalties from the Peace Koala collection will go directly to the official crypto wallet of Ukraine, published by the Ministry of Digital Transformation.

Three-quarters of United States retailers plan to accept crypto or stablecoin payments within the next two years, according to a new survey from Deloitte. Around 85% of the surveyed merchants said they anticipate that cryptocurrency payments will be ubiquitous in their respective industries in five years.

American cloud CRM company Salesforce is piloting a new non-fungible token cloud service for minting, managing and selling NFTs – NFT Cloud.

Crypto prices

The overall market cap of the more than 19,700 coins is at $1.24 trillion at the time of writing (7am UK), a 0.5% decrease in the last 24 hours.

Market leader Bitcoin – the original cryptocurrency created by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto – fell almost 1% towards $30,300. BTC is 2% up in a week.

Ethereum, the second most valuable crypto coin – created as a decentralised network for smart contracts on the blockchain – also dropped almost 1% to below $1,800. ETH is 1% down over the course of a week.

Binance Coin is a cryptocurrency created by popular crypto exchange Binance to assist its aim in becoming the infrastructure services provider for the entire blockchain ecosystem. Its BNB token fell almost 1% to $288, leaving it 5% down over seven days.

Cardano is an open source network facilitating dApps which considers itself to be an updated version of Ethereum. Its ADA token, designed to allow owners to participate in the operation of the network, remained at 64 cents and is 14% up over the course of a week.

The XRP token of Ripple, a payment settlement asset exchange and remittance system, acts as a bridge for transfers between other currencies. XRP grew 0.5% from 40 cents and is 2% up on its price seven days ago.

Solana is a blockchain built to make decentralised finance accessible on a larger scale – and capable of processing 50,000 transactions per second. Its SOL token dropped slightly towards $39 and is also slightly down compared with a week ago.

Meme coin DOGE was created as a satire on the hype surrounding cryptocurrencies but is now a major player in the space. DOGE remained around 8c, leaving it 1% down in a week.

Polkadot was founded by the Swiss-based Web3 Foundation as an open-source project to develop a decentralised web. Its DOT token, which aims to securely connect blockchains, climbed slightly to $9.17 and is 3% lower than its price a week ago.

Avalanche is a lightning-quick verifiable platform for institutions, enterprises and governments. Its AVAX token shed 1% to $24.20 and is 4% up in a week.

To see how the valuations of the main coins have changed in recent times – and for round-ups of recent cryptocurrency news developments – click here.

For valuations of the top 100 coins by market cap in US dollars, plus 24-hour price change, see below.