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🏠 A Brain Chip A Day Keeps The Paralysis Away

It's a science miracle

Gm. Happy Memorial Day Weekend, aka, the kick-off party for tech boy summer. Let’s get it.

Together With:

🏠 CRYPTO

Apple Eases Up On Crypto

It’s well-known that if you have a mobile app, the ultimate sign you made it is getting into the App Store. That’s where the coveted Gen Z demographic hangs out, and thus, that’s where the money is.

Apple knows the power of the App Store, and like the Freys in Game of Thrones, they flex their control of it to their advantage. And flex they do with their 30% cut of all in-app purchases, a toll that has netted them tens of billions in revenue and drives app developers absolutely insane.

Unfortunately for the crypto bros, Apple has also used their sovereignty over the App Store to largely keep the magic internet money out. This was confirmed by former App Store director Phillip Shoemaker, who stated that “Apple had a problem with crypto from day one. They thought it was a Ponzi scheme”.

But, if recent moves are any indication, it appears they’ve lightened their stance.

Mobile Crypto SZN

Apple made two major crypto App Store moves in the last week:

  • First, they let Axie Infinity launch their crypto card game in a select number of countries across Latin America and Asia in anticipation of an eventual global release.

  • Next, they allowed users of the crypto fitness app Stepn to trade their Stepn NFTs without having to leave the app or use an external marketplace.

Although both apps are still subject to Apple’s 30% tax, Stepn COO Shiti Manghani is so excited that she is saying this is the biggest thing currently happening in crypto.

Why? Take a gander at the big picture, and I’ll tell ya.

The Big Picture: Crypto is the (supposed) currency of the internet, but up to now, it has been locked out of the App Store and by extensions people’s phones. That’s a problem, as phones account for the majority of web traffic. If Apple is truly loosening the shackles around crypto, then that will provide a strong tailwind toward the ever-elusive mainstream adoption.

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🏠 SCIENCE

Paralyzed No More

Back in February, we wrote about brain chips. In that article we came to the conclusion that despite the fact that brain chips sound like a billionaire Black Mirror plot to control the world, it’s actually super cool and useful technology:

  • There’s a host of medical applications, including giving people with paralysis to regain some independence through the mind control of technology.

  • It can also turn you into a cyborg able to stream music directly into your brain.

Well, it turns out we might’ve been shortchanging the medical impact of brain chips.

And Now, Walk

40-year-old Gert Jan was paralyzed by a biking accident a decade ago, and although he regained some ability to walk with the help of a front-wheel walker, his progress plateaued three years ago.

So, researchers tried something out on him. They implanted one chip in his brain and one chip in the part of his spinal cord responsible for moving his legs. Through these chips, a digital bridge was formed over the injured part of his spine. Suddenly, his brain could talk to his legs again.

And, like magic, he began walking better. So much better than he can now walk with crutches even with the chips turned off.

It’s early days still, and this is just one patient, but perhaps this brain chip thing actually has even more merit than we initially thought.

Why should I care? There are ~5 million paralyzed people in the US. If brain chips are able to cure them, that would be an absolutely amazing medical achievement.

🏃‍♀️ QUICKIES

What else is going on?

Stat: 2.0: The FTX 2.0 reboot is well underway, but nobody knows if it’s viable, or whether it should happen at all.

Rabbit hole: The Strange Story Of The Mirai Botnet (IEEE Spectrum)

🤑 FUNDING FRIDAY

If you want a full list of startup raises including all the boring ones, you can go check Crunchbase. If you want the 2 coolest raises of the week, then check here every Friday.

🤖 Anthropic

Anthropic, the AI startup co-founded by OpenAI alumni, raised a massive $450 million Series C round, putting its valuation in the ballpark of $4 billion. The investors included big names like Google, Zoom, and Salesforce.

With the money, Anthropic plans to build a “next-gen algorithm for AI self-teaching”, which could then be used to build an AI that can answer emails, perform research, generate art, write books, and more. Pretty exciting stuff.

🧬 ReNAgade Therapeutics

Biotech has taken a bit of a public backseat to AI this year, but perhaps that is changing with ReNAgade’s $300 million Series A. As you can probably guess by the name, ReNAgade is a developer of RNA medicine, and is helmed by former Moderna executives and scientists.

The goal for ReNAgade is to fuse a myriad of technologies under one platform to significantly grow where RNA therapies could be delivered, particularly by adding gene editing capabilities. Judging by this raise investors are quite excited by the idea, and we are too.

🎁 FINAL JEOPARDY!

These Final Jeopardy! questions stumped every contestant. Can you get it right?

Category: Asian Geography

Clue: It’s the only country that borders both the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf.

🛠️ FOUNDERS CORNER

The best resources we came across this weekend that will help you become a better founder, builder, or investor.

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FINAL JEOPARDY! ANSWER

Iran.