FC Barcelona Cancels Ownix NFT Deal Two Weeks After Announcement

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FC Barcelona, one of the biggest football clubs in the world by revenue, has decided to cancel a deal penned earlier this month with non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace Ownix after the arrest of Israeli crypto mogul Moshe Hogeg — a consultant for the NFT marketplace. The termination came in the form of a short statement from the club through its website, just days before the club's first NFT collection auction was scheduled on the platform. FC Barcelona claims that the termination of ties with Ownix is in place with immediate effect.

The police arrested Moshe Hogeg, who reportedly has ties to Ownix, on suspicion of involvement in an alleged massive fraud related to cryptocurrencies. He was arrested along with seven other people. Hogeg happens to be the co-founder of Sirin Labs — the same company that had launched the much-hyped blockchain smartphone in 2019, and also the owner of Israeli football club Beitar Jerusalem.

FC Barcelona's cancellation statement read, “In light of information received that goes against the club's values, FC Barcelona hereby communicates the cancellation of the contract to create and market NFT digital assets with Ownix with immediate effect.”

In response to the cancellation, Ownix issued a statement distancing the company from Hogeg and stating the ‘incidents' happened years ago. It claims that it has terminated its consulting agreement with Hogeg, apparently at Hogeg's request. While sources within FC Barcelona claim that Hogeg was only an “external advisor” for Ownix, the NFT marketplace refrains from stating if Hogeg held ICO (initial coin offering) tokens named ONX which was created in late July.

​FC Barcelona's deal with Ownix involved the launch of NFTs focused on improving its financial footing while improving connections with its global fanbase. The series was set to feature digital trinkets of historic moments from the club's 122-year history, which includes an illustrious trophy cabinet that features 95 domestic and international laurels, including 26 domestic league titles and five UEFA Champions League titles.

Although the club and those over at Ownix hasn't penned down a proper plan, the club wanted to allow fans to bid on clips of highlights in online auctions enabled through Ownix's own marketplace. Fans were then supposed to bid on the club's most iconic events over the year caught on camera to have a piece of footage for themselves. Ownix, meanwhile, had stated that the Barcelona NFTs would be selected by a “special joint committee” and then minted, first as unique one-off auctions and later as a broader collection.

Football brands and clubs with massive global fanbases have been exploring NFTs as a way of generating income and increasing fan engagement. In September, Spain's La Liga became the first of Europe's top football leagues to offer NFTs of all its players through French digital soccer collectables platform Sorare. Other European clubs in Porto, AS Roma, and Liverpool have previously announced NFT deals too.

Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.


Crypto.com Expands Investment Arm to $500 Million to Back More Web3 Startups and Founders

Hong Kong-based crypto wallet provider and trading platform crypto.com has decided to expand the size of its investment arm, called Crypto.com Capital, to $500 million (roughly Rs. 3,722 crore) to help fund web3 startups. The expansion arrives just days after cryptocurrency firm FTX announced the launch of a $2 billion (roughly Rs. 14,888.6 crore) venture capital fund called FTX Ventures to focus on advancing blockchain and Web3 technology alongside investments in “social, gaming, fintech, software, and healthcare.” Similar expansions have also been made by rival companies like Binance and Coinbase.

Crypto.com Capital was launched in March 2021 as a $200 million (roughly Rs. 1,489.63 crore) fund to invest in early-stage startups that can help grow the crypto ecosystem to one billion users. Crypto.com Capital attempts to create a blend of a lean entrepreneurial fund team with the resources and experience of Crypto.com, which reaches over 10 million users through products including a Visa debit card, trading exchange, and a non-fungible token (NFT) platform.

As per a TechCrunch report, the fund is helmed by Crypto.com co-founder Bobby Bao and targets seed and Series A deals in categories including the metaverse, blockchain gaming, NFTs, and DeFi. To date, the investment arm has completed over 20 deals and its portfolio of companies includes Efinity, Genies, DeBank, Alethea AI, YGG SEA, and Matter Labs.

Crypto.com Capital has also added Jon Russel, a technology journalist with over 10 years of experience to its list of partners. “Crypto.com Capital is not even one year old, but already we work hand-in-hand with dozens of world-class founders and we want to find more. Adding Jon to the team is a statement of intent to double down and grow the web3 ecosystem,” said Bobby Bao, Crypto.com co-founder in a blog post.

“I've had offers to move into crypto full-time before but Crypto.com is the most ambitious company in web3,” said Russell. “The Crypto.com Capital fund brings a very unique advantage to help the world's best web3 founders and startups to realise their potential and I can't wait to play my part.”

The announcement from the Hong Kong-based crypto company also shows that crypto exchanges are increasingly involved in being a rainmaker and beneficiary of the ecosystem, including the industries in which they operate.

FTX, which has helped more than 15 startups, last week announced a $2 billion crypto fund. Its founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, also owns Alameda Research, a venture company that has helped nearly 100 web3 startups.

Coinbase Ventures, the investment arm of the only publicly traded cryptocurrency exchange, and Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange in terms of trading volume, are also among the buggest investors in the web3 space.

Interested in cryptocurrency? We discuss all things crypto with WazirX CEO Nischal Shetty and WeekendInvesting founder Alok Jain on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.