The Crypto Compass: Coinbase’s Trials and Triumph, PayPal’s Gamble, and Huobi’s Crisis

Master Ventures
11 min readAug 10


Digital Asset Fund Flows: Navigating a Week of Outflows and Shifting Sentiments


The digital asset market this week was marked by significant outflows, a symptom of profit-taking that has been gathering pace in recent weeks. A total of US$107 million flowed out of digital assets, the largest weekly movement since March.

Bitcoin remained the primary focus, experiencing outflows of US$111 million. This trend reflects the largest weekly outflows since the escalation of US regulatory scrutiny earlier this year. Remarkably, for the first time in 14 weeks, outflows into short Bitcoin positions have stopped. Ethereum followed suit but on a smaller scale, with outflows totalling US$6 million.

While the leading cryptocurrencies faced outflows, altcoins displayed a more positive sentiment. Solana emerged as the star of the week, recording the largest inflows since March 2022, totaling US$9.5 million. Other noteworthy performers included XRP and Litecoin, with modest inflows, while Uniswap and Cardano faced minor outflows.


The geographical concentration of these outflows was pronounced in Germany and Canada, responsible for US$71 million and US$29 million in outflows, respectively. This regional focus underscores the evolving dynamics of digital asset investments across the globe.

The broader market landscape mirrored a summer slowdown, with weekly trading volumes in investment products falling 36% below the year-to-date average. On-exchange market volumes fared even worse, plummeting 62% relative to the YTD average.

This week’s fund flows paint a vivid picture of a market in transition. The significant outflows from Bitcoin and Ethereum, contrasted by the growing interest in selected altcoins, reflect the complex and ever-changing nature of the digital asset landscape. As we navigate the summer doldrums, investors and market participants must remain vigilant and attuned to the subtle shifts that continue to shape the crypto world. The coming weeks may offer fresh insights and opportunities, as the ecosystem adapts to regulatory pressures, market sentiment, and the relentless innovation that defines the crypto space.

Coinbase’s Robust Q2 2023 and the Base Chain Shenanigans: A Tale of Triumphs and Trials


Coinbase Announces Q2 2023 Result: Beating Expectations Amidst Industry Challenges

Coinbase, the popular cryptocurrency exchange platform, announced its Q2 2023 results on August 4, 2023, surpassing Wall Street’s expectations with net revenue of $663 million. Despite a global decline in trading volume, Coinbase managed to outperform the industry, showcasing a 37% quarterly decrease compared to the broader industry’s 48% drop.

Key highlights of the quarterly results include:

Increased Market Share: An increase in “simple trades” has helped Coinbase in gaining market share.

Monetising Retail Base: As always, Coinbase’s success in monetising its vast retail base( no pun intended) stood out.

Subscription Revenue Surpassing Transaction Revenue: For the first time in history, subscription and services revenue overtook transaction revenue.

Positive EBITDA: A consecutive quarter of positive adjusted-EBITDA reflects the resilience and strength of the company’s execution strategy.

Diversification from Trading Fees: The results display Coinbase’s effective transition away from relying solely on trading fees, positioning itself as a versatile player in the crypto industry.

This strong performance comes amidst new initiatives, like the launch of an international derivatives exchange, aligning with the company’s focus on building volume share from pro users.


A New ‘Haircut?: $Bald on Base

The tale of triumph in Coinbase’s Q2 results is contrasted by a fascinating episode in the world of decentralized finance (DeFi) — the launch and subsequent chaos of the Base Layer-2 mainnet by Coinbase.

On July 13th, Coinbase opened its Base mainnet to developers, deliberately restricting public access to create a controlled environment. However, what was meant to be a developer sandbox quickly morphed into a wild playground for crypto enthusiasts.

The $BALD Phenomenon

Within weeks, a meme coin named $BALD was created, referencing Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong’s bald head. The ensuing frenzy saw 40,000+ ETH bridged into the Base chain, inflating the market cap of the token to $80 million before a dramatic price crash. This incident exposed the one-way bridge design of Base, trapping early speculators within the ecosystem.

A Chain of Events: Hacks and Exploits

The unexpected success of $BALD led to a recycling of profits into other meme coins. Unfortunately, this speculative mania was halted when LeetSwap, the DEX supporting these coins, was hit by an exploit, draining various liquidity pools.

Lessons Learned

These events highlight the unpredictable nature of the crypto space:

Consequences of Testing in Production: The events show that real-world testing can have unexpected results, such as unforeseen hacks and exploitations.

The Power of Incentive: The Base mainnet episode serves as a reminder that in crypto, capital will quickly rush to take advantage of opportunities, even if it means bootstrapping a new ecosystem through meme coins.

Conclusion: A Tale of Two Fronts

Coinbase’s Q2 2023 results reflect a company thriving through strategic planning and execution, while the Base Layer-2 saga paints a picture of the wild and unpredictable landscape of crypto. Together, these stories represent the dual nature of the industry — one of calculated growth and wild innovation.

The company’s continued success in a centralised exchange environment and its foray into Layer-2 solutions like Base shows the multifaceted nature of Coinbase’s operations. The Base mainnet story, filled with intrigue, humour, and lessons, is a fitting reminder that in the rapidly evolving world of crypto, there are always new frontiers to explore and challenges to overcome. It also marks a significant milestone for Coinbase, demonstrating its willingness to innovate and adapt, even in the face of regulatory pressure and uncertainty.

PayPal’s Foray into Stablecoins: A Calculated Move Amidst a Complex Landscape

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In the ever-evolving world of cryptocurrencies, the past year has witnessed numerous high-profile developments, especially concerning stablecoins. These digital assets, pegged to stable fiat currencies like the U.S. dollar, have long been used as a means to trade other cryptocurrencies but have yet to make significant inroads into mainstream consumer payments.

PayPal Pauses, then Proceeds

In February, amidst increasing crypto regulatory scrutiny, PayPal paused its work on stablecoins. Just days later, Paxos, a regulated financial institution and technology provider, was ordered to stop minting a Binance stablecoin amidst SEC charges.

Fast forward to August 7, 2023, PayPal boldly announced the launch of a U.S. dollar stablecoin, issued by Paxos, in a significant move that makes it the first major financial technology firm to embrace digital currencies for payments and transfers. The stablecoin, dubbed PayPal USD (PYUSD), is backed by U.S. dollar deposits and short-term U.S. Treasuries, signifying a substantial vote of confidence in the cryptocurrency industry, even as it grapples with regulatory challenges and high-profile collapses.


Regulatory Landscape

Stablecoins have faced opposition from regulators and policymakers, with previous attempts by major companies like Meta (formerly Facebook) being thwarted by regulatory fears. The European Union and other major economies have laid out rules to govern stablecoins, with the EU’s policies coming into force by June 2024. In the U.S., the House Financial Services Committee has advanced a bill to create a federal regulatory framework for stablecoins.

Ian Katz, managing director of Capital Alpha Partners, emphasised that PayPal’s high-profile move would attract attention from Capitol Hill, the Federal Reserve, and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Representative Patrick McHenry, the committee’s Republican chair, hailed PayPal’s announcement as a sign that stablecoins “hold promise as a pillar of our 21st-century payments system.”

Strategic Partnership with Paxos

PayPal’s partnership with Paxos represents a key milestone, with Paxos declaring that PYUSD “is the first of its kind, representing the next phase of U.S. dollars on the blockchain.” The token can be redeemed for U.S. dollars and used to buy and sell other cryptocurrencies on PayPal’s platform.

Conclusion: All Part of the Plan?

PayPal’s journey from pausing stablecoin work to launching PYUSD, with Paxos as the issuer, showcases a strategic and calculated approach to navigating the complex landscape of digital assets. The collaboration between PayPal and Paxos, along with the careful consideration of regulatory dynamics, appears to be a well-orchestrated plan that aligns with global efforts to legitimise and regulate stablecoins.

As the crypto industry continues to mature, PayPal’s entrance into the stablecoin space is a significant marker of progression and innovation. It not only reinforces the potential of stablecoins in the global financial system but also highlights the importance of strategic planning and adaptability in the face of regulatory shifts and market uncertainties.

Huobi’s Turbulent Times: Outflows, Rumours, and Investigations


The cryptocurrency world is no stranger to volatility, but recent events surrounding the Huobi exchange have caused a stir that transcends mere market fluctuations. Over the past weekend, Huobi faced staggering outflows totalling $64 million, continuing a trend that has seen its total value locked (TVL) decline to $2.5 billion from $3 billion just a month ago.

Outflows and Rumors of Insolvency

The situation became more concerning as Adam Cochran, a prominent fintech executive and crypto analyst, publicly commented on Huobi’s apparent financial instability. Cochran reported that Binance, a global crypto heavyweight, had commenced the bulk sale of Tether (USDT), leading him to speculate about Huobi’s insolvency.

Cochran’s observations also connected to recent rumors of Huobi executives and personnel from Tron being questioned by police, fuelling further speculation. Though he initially posted a list of detained individuals, the tweet was subsequently deleted.

Huobi’s Holdings and Missing Funds

Further intensifying the situation, Cochran broke down Huobi’s holdings, alleging that Huobi only holds $90 million of assets across USDT and USDC combined, despite users believing they have balances of $631 million in Huobi. He theorised that the missing funds were being used to prop up yields of Tron, Poloniex, and other DeFi apps operated by Justin Sun, Tron’s founder.

Huobi’s Response

In response to these alarming claims, Huobi’s head of social media asserted that the report of police involvement “has been pure rumours’’ and that operations at Huobi were “normal as usual.” Cochran, however, stood his ground, revealing that his information source was a senior executive at Tron with first-hand knowledge of the investigation.

A Year of Woes

Huobi’s challenges extend beyond these recent events. The exchange laid off 20% of its staff in January, faced an order to cease operations in Malaysia, and lost at least one C-level executive in recent weeks.

Conclusion: A Story Unfolding

The situation surrounding Huobi is both complex and unfolding. With significant outflows, rumours of insolvency, alleged police investigations, and contrasting statements from involved parties, the truth remains elusive.

What is clear is that the events at Huobi reflect broader themes in the crypto world, where transparency, regulation, and trust are paramount. As the industry continues to mature, the challenges faced by Huobi serve as a stark reminder of the importance of diligence, integrity, and accountability in an environment that thrives on innovation but is not immune to controversy.

As the crypto community watches closely, the resolution of Huobi’s turbulent times may offer lessons and insights that resonate far beyond the exchange itself.

Conclusion: Navigating the Dynamic Crypto Landscape

Despite the mixed currents of triumph and turbulence, the crypto landscape’s dynamic energy continues unabated. This week’s insights reveal a market thriving on innovation, resilience, and strategic adaptation, from Coinbase’s triumph over shifting revenue paradigms to PayPal’s calculated embrace of stablecoins, and Huobi’s complex dance with rumours and reality.

These developments are more than mere headlines; they are the building blocks shaping the future of blockchain technology. Each investment, each venture, each daring leap into the unknown propels us further into a new era of digital transformation.

In the midst of this evolution, the situation surrounding Huobi serves as a vivid reminder of the complexity and challenges that permeate the crypto industry. It underscores the importance of transparency, integrity, and due diligence in a world where innovation often walks hand in hand with controversy. The call for self-regulation and responsible conduct is not just a recommendation; it’s an essential part of building trust and stability in the crypto space.

At Master Ventures, we recognise the profound potential that lies within these twists and turns. Our commitment to investing and building the next generation of revolutionary blockchain businesses and products is fuelled by a vision that transcends the moment. We don’t just observe the changes; we are an integral part of them.

As we anticipate another week filled with opportunities, challenges, and endless possibilities, we invite you to join us on this exhilarating journey. Here at Master Ventures, we’ll continue to be your insightful guide, helping you navigate the ever-evolving crypto frontier with wisdom, foresight, and a pioneering spirit.

Stay tuned for more updates next week as we continue to chart the course of blockchain innovation together, driven by exceptional talent, visionary ideas, and a relentless pursuit of excellence. Welcome to the future as envisioned by Master Ventures.

Thank you for joining us, and stay tuned for more insights and analysis in our next edition.

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About Master Ventures

Master Ventures is a blockchain-focused venture studio helping to build the next generation of blockchain-based Web 3.0 system innovations within the crypto industry. Launched in 2018 by Founder and CEO Kyle Chassé, the company’s ethos can best be summarised in the acronym #BeBOLD: Benevolent, Open, Love, Decentralised.

Master Ventures co-creates with entrepreneurs and businesses worldwide to turn the best ideas into innovative and disruptive products. They do this by investing as strategic partners through offering advisory services to the projects they believe in. To date, Master Ventures has invested in over 40 crypto projects, including the likes of Kraken, Coinbase, Bitfinex, Reef, DAO Maker, Mantra DAO, Thorchain, and Elrond.

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