January 11, 2023

Today's Topics

Hello! If you're at an airport still caught up in delays after the nationwide computer glitch, we've got a few charts to help pass the time. Today we explore:

  • Crypto Winter: Coinbase is laying off another 20% of its workforce.
  • Whole Again: The ozone layer is healing.
  • The Bronze Globes: Interest in award shows continues to wane.

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Winter is here

Coinbase’s CEO, Brian Armstrong, announced yesterday that the crypto-exchange would be cutting 20% of its workforce. As a bellwether for the sector, Coinbase’s second round of cuts — following an 18% reduction in headcount back in June 2022 — suggests the “crypto winter” is yet to show any signs of thawing.

Self-help

These recent layoffs, along with other restructuring measures, aim to bring Coinbase’s operating expenses down 25% this quarter to offset falling revenues that have tumbled alongside digital asset prices and activities.

The measures may help reverse some of the 82% slide in Coinbase's share price over the last 12 months, but the biggest driver of Coinbase’s fortune is simply still the prices of digital assets. The weekly returns of both Coinbase’s shares and Bitcoin, show that they move almost in lockstep. It seems nearly impossible for the company to get back to where it was without an uptick in crypto trading, prices or both.

Armstrong admits the impact that external factors have had, saying that thanks to “unscrupulous actors in the industry” the crypto world now has a “black eye”, presumably a reference to disgraced FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried. Additionally, the extra scrutiny the sector is now receiving from regulators will likely add to expenses, with Coinbase receiving a $50m fine this year from New York regulators and having to commit another $50m towards the company’s compliance.

The healing process

In somewhat rare positive climate news, the Earth’s ozone layer looks on track to recover in the coming decades, according to a new report from the UN.

The healing progress is a direct result of human efforts, per the report, largely due to an international agreement known as the Montreal Protocol which was established in the late 1980s to target and regulate nearly 100 man-made chemicals that were harming the protective layer.

Fixing a hole

A hole in the ozone layer — a thin part of our atmosphere that absorbs most of the sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation — was discovered by three scientists from the British Atlantic Survey in 1985. Subsequently, it came to light that substances such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), which could be found in spray cans and air conditioners at the time, were wearing away the layer, prompting the Montreal Protocol just a few years later.

The landmark environmental agreement certainly seems to have been working, cutting down emissions and consumption. Ozone-depleting substance emissions, like those from CFCs, peaked at nearly 1.5m tonnes in 1988, a figure which had fallen nearly 80% by 2014.

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Gold getters

The 80th Golden Globe Awards ceremony last night saw big wins for Spielberg’s Fabelmans, which won best drama and scooped the legendary filmmaker best director for the third time at the Globes, as well as dark comedy The Banshees of Inisherin.

In recent years, however, the TV and film award ceremonies themselves haven’t exactly been a roaring success, having been marred by controversy, lockdowns, and low viewing figures.

Comeback special

NBC, which has been broadcasting the awards nationally for nearly 6 decades, ditched last year’s ceremony in a mass boycott against Globe organizers, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The group faced accusations of bribery and racial discrimination — a fact this year’s host, comedian Jerrod Carmichael, didn’t shy away from.

But even before last year’s controversy, the Globes' ability to pull a crowd had been waning. 2021’s Zoom-reliant awards were seen by 6.9m viewers — the lowest figure for over 20 years (except 2008 when there was a writers’ strike).

Waning interest is also apparent online, with Google searches for the Globes trending downwards over the last few years, and always lower when compared to rival award-givers, the Oscars.

Whilst viewership data for this year’s Globes has not yet been published, the wide gap between fan favorites and winners suggests that — even if they did tune in — Globeheads might not be happy.

More Data

10 breakthrough technologies that MIT Technology Review are looking at for 2023.

• Interesting exploration of the new trend of "sped-up songs" on music streaming platforms.

• The data science team at Facebook confirm what we've probably all felt for a long time — users get annoyed with too many notifications.

• The Wordle spin-offs just keep coming — the latest is Housle, which tests your ability to guess property prices.

Hi-Viz

• Do more heavy metal bands make a country happier... or do happier countries just listen to more heavy metal bands? Interesting correlation being discussed on reddit.

• Our friends at The Pudding have delved into university syllabi to identify the true modern classics in literature.

Quick Cut: Sales of electric vehicles jumped more than 60% last year in the US, but what market share are EVs at as a percent of new vehicles sold? [Answer below].

Answer here.

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