Planned NFT-Based Private Club in San Francisco Stalled by Uncompleted Permitting Steps

Remember that entrepreneur planning an ostentatious NFT-based restaurant/members-only club in San Francisco? Seven months later it’s still “an empty husk of a building, hindered by construction delays and unfulfilled crypto dreams,” reports SFGate:

Last August, Joshua Sigel held a “groundbreaking” event at what he said would be the future home of Sho Restaurant, located atop Salesforce Park in San Francisco. He told the gathered media that construction of the proposed Japanese fine dining restaurant would begin in less than two months, once some permitting issues were resolved, with a targeted opening date of September or October of 2023.

Sigel maintained that he’d soon be offering 3,275 Sho Club NFT (non-fungible token) memberships — first via a private sale, then a larger public sale in late September — which would serve as the backbone of Sho Restaurant’s clientele. (Sigel is the CEO of Sho Group, which encapsulates Sho Restaurant and Sho Club.) There were to be 2,878 “Earth” NFT memberships, priced at $7,500 each; 377 “Water” NFT memberships, priced at $15,000 each; and 20 “Fire” NFT memberships; priced at $300,000 each. The NFTs are basically membership cards for the restaurant, spruced up with Web3 jargon…. Each membership tier comes with increasingly luxurious benefits, though restaurant reservations would also be available for nonmembers.

Seven months later, things don’t seem to be going very well for Sho Club or for Sho Restaurant. I recently walked over to Salesforce Park and peered inside the shell of the building that’s supposed to become a restaurant; I saw an empty space that looks almost exactly the same as it did in August. The mock-up design photos that journalists looked at during the “groundbreaking” in August remain strewn about on the floor. Permits for Sho Restaurant haven’t been issued, the result of Sho Restaurant designers not yet responding to a number of San Francisco Department of Building Inspection notes, among a host of permitting steps that haven’t been completed. Sho Club social media accounts have been radio silent since late September….

Sho Club appears to have sold around 100 NFT memberships, rather than 3,275, as Sigel originally projected. I repeatedly reached out to Sigel, to Sho Club, and its public relations representatives. No one replied to my questions.

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Bad News for 500K Crypto Investors: They Don’t Own Their Accounts

“More than half a million people who deposited money with collapsed crypto lender Celsius Network have been dealt a major blow to their hopes of recovering their funds,” reports the Washington Post, “with the judge in the company’s bankruptcy case ruling that the money belongs to Celsius and not to the depositors.”

The judge, Martin Glenn, found that Celsius’s terms of use — the lengthy contracts that many websites publish but few consumers read — meant “the cryptocurrency assets became Celsius’s property.”

The ruling underscores the Wild West nature of the unregulated crypto industry. On Thursday, New York Attorney General Letitia James moved to impose a kind of order, or at least legal repercussions, on Celsius founder Alex Mashinsky, whom she accused in a lawsuit of defrauding hundreds of thousands of consumers…. And while Glenn’s ruling won’t affect FTX, whose terms of use were different, some analysts saw the ruling as spreading beyond Celsius.

“There are many other platforms that feature terms of use that are similar to Celsius’s,” said Aaron Kaplan, a lawyer with the financial-focused firm of Gusrae Kaplan Nusbaum and co-founder of his own crypto company. Customers need to “understand the risks that they are taking when depositing their assets onto insufficiently regulated platforms,” he said.

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FTX Owes Nearly $3.1 Billion to Top 50 of Its 1M Creditors. Celebrity Endorsers Sued

ABC News reports:

The cryptocurrency exchange FTX owes creditors $3.1 billion, according to court documents filed late Saturday night….

Creditors’ names were not listed on the court filing, but the largest is owed $226,280,579, .

As part of its bankruptcy proceedings, FTX was required to list to the court its 50 largest creditors — either individuals or corporations — who are owed money. The second largest entity is owed $203,292,504, the court filing shows.

A video at the top of the article from ABC News adds that several celebrities “are being sued by a man who invested in the now-bankrupt crypto exchange… The lawyer behind the class claims that FTX was a massive ponzi scheme, only successful because it had a boost from celebrities.”

Meanwhile CNN adds that FTX “owes about $1.45 billion to its top ten creditors, it said in a court filing on Saturday, without naming them.”

The crypto exchange said on Saturday it has launched a strategic review of its global assets and is preparing for the sale or reorganization of some businesses. A hearing on FTX’s so-called first-day motions is set for Tuesday morning before a US bankruptcy judge, according to a separate court filing….

There could be more than 1 million creditors in the US cases that are already filed, FTX Group said, adding that it has been in touch with “dozens” of US and international regulatory agencies including the US Attorney’s Office, the US Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Meanwhile, authorities in the Bahamas — where FTX is based — are investigating whether any criminal misconduct occurred related to the company’s implosion, the Royal Bahamas Police Force said in a statement last Sunday. The Bahamian authorities have also taken control of cryptocurrency assets held by FTX Digital Markets, The Bahamas-based FTX unit that filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy protection Tuesday.

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MyFitnessPal Paywalls Barcode Scanner That Made Counting Calories Easy

The popular nutrition and weight loss app MyFitnessPal is moving its free barcode scanning feature behind the paywall. The Verge reports: For years, users with free accounts have been able to use this tool to scan food barcodes for easy logging and tracking of daily calorie intake, but the company recently announced that beginning October 1st, a premium account will be required. MyFitnessPal’s daily calorie counting is a key component of the app, with the barcode scanner offering a shortcut to finding nutritional value for a specific food item in the app’s vast database of food. Much of that database is user-generated, with both free and premium users able to add any food by entering the nutrition facts and barcode off a label. Once October 1st rolls around, free users will still be able to search the database for their food entries, but the barcode scanner will cost $19.99 per month or $79.99 for an annual plan, along with other premium features. And any new users that create a free account on or after September 1st will be shut out from scanning barcodes even earlier unless they pay. “By losing the barcode scanner, MyFitnessPal is doing its users an egregious disservice,” writes The Verge’s Antonio G. Di Benedetto. “Losing weight and being cognizant of what you eat is hard enough.”

“MyFitnessPal is obviously looking to maximize profits, but if the popular r/loseit subreddit is any indication, many users may consider switching to competing apps like Cronometer, Loseit, or Macros over this loss.”

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Saudi Arabia Plans IPO of $500 Billion For Its Megacity ‘Neom’

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said they are planning an initial public offering of the Kingdom’s $500 billion megaproject Neom as soon as 2024. Arabian Business reports: Talking to reporters in Jeddah, the crown prince said the Kingdom is setting aside $80 billion for Neom Investment Fund, where it would invest in companies that agree to operate in the futuristic city, Bloomberg has reported. The announcement was witnessed by global investors including Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio, Tim Collins of Ripplewood, Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal and Kuwaiti retail billionaire Mohammed Alshaya.

The Saudi crown prince also unveiled funding details of Neom. First phase, which runs until 2030, will cost 1.2 trillion riyals, with about half of that covered by the Public Investment Fund. Officials will then seek to raise another 600 billion riyals from other sovereign wealth funds in the region, private investors in Saudi Arabia and abroad, and the planned IPO on Tadawul. The IPO, which could happen by 2024, will add more than 1 trillion riyals to the Kingdom’s stock market, the crown prince noted. In addition to the news about the IPO, a teaser video was released, revealing the design for The Line: a “vertical city” some 500 meters tall, 170 kilometers in length, and covered in mirrors.

“Although it looks like a wall, The Line is actually supposed to be comprised of two huge parallel buildings, connected via walkways and divided into neighborhoods that are supposed to offer all the amenities of city life within a five-minute walking distance,” reports The Verge.

“Vegetables will be ‘autonomously harvested and bundled’ from community farms; ‘a high-speed train will run under the mirrored buildings’; the Line will include a stadium ‘up to 1,000 feet above the ground,’ and there’ll be a marina for yachts under an arch between the buildings.” A report from the Wall Street Journal in 2019 also noted robots will outnumber humans and hologram teachers will education genetically-enhanced students.

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DRAM Prices To Drop 3-8% Due To Ukraine War, Inflation

Taiwanese research firm TrendForce said Monday that DRAM pricing for commercial buyers is forecast to drop around three to eight percent across those markets in the third quarter compared to the previous three months. Even prices for DDR5 modules in the PC market could drop as much as five percent from July to September. The Register reports: This could result in DRAM buyers, such as system vendors and distributors, reducing prices for end users if they hope to stimulate demand in markets like PC and smartphones where sales have waned. We suppose they could try to profit on the decreased memory prices, but with many people tightening their budgets, we hope this won’t be the case. The culprit for the DRAM price drop is one that we’ve been hearing a great deal about in the past few months: weaker demand for consumer electronics, including PCs and smartphones, as a result of high inflation and Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, according to TrendForce.

The weaker consumer demand means DRAM inventories are building up at system vendors and distributors, which means they don’t need to buy as much in the near future. This, in turn, is why memory prices are dropping, the research firm said. On the PC side, DDR4 memory pricing is expected to drop three to eight percent in the third quarter of 2022 after only seeing a zero to five percent decline in the second quarter. DDR5 pricing, on the other hand, is set to drop by only zero to five percent in Q3 after seeing a three to eight percent plummet in the previous quarter. For certain DRAM products, prices could see a steeper decline of more than eight percent, according to TrendForce, though the firm didn’t say which products this would include. TrendForce said PC makers are focused on getting rid of their existing DRAM inventories, and a continuously “sluggish” market means they’ll be reticent to buy much more memory.

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