Crypto Biz: Google bullish on blockchain, UK’s $125M AI pledge, Voyager and Binance

At the intersection of tech and cryptocurrency news, the Google for Startups Cloud Program has expanded to include 11 blockchain firms. Together, the entities will provide grants, expertise and services to emerging Web3 entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, the United Kingdom government has allocated $125 million in funding for a task force aimed at accelerating the country’s artificial intelligence (AI) readiness. The task force will focus on ensuring sovereign capabilities, such as public services, and fostering the adoption of safe and reliable AI foundation models.

In other headlines, troubled cryptocurrency exchange FTX is set to sell its LedgerX futures and options exchange and clearinghouse for around $50 million to private equity investment office M7 Holdings, subject to court approval. Meanwhile, Binance.US has backed out of its agreement to purchase Voyager Digital’s assets, worth $1 billion, citing a “hostile and uncertain regulatory climate in the United States.”

This week’s Crypto Biz: Google expanding its Web3 program, U.K. pledging $125 million for an AI task force, FTX selling LedgerX for $50 million and Binance.US backs out of $1 billion Voyager asset purchase.

Google Cloud broadens Web3 startup program with 11 blockchain firms

Google for Startups Cloud Program has expanded to include 11 Web3 blockchain partners, such as Alchemy, Polygon, Celo and Hedera. Blockchain analytics company Nansen also announced that it has partnered with Google Cloud to provide real-time blockchain data for startups as part of the program. As part of the new Cloud Program, pre-seed Web3 startups can receive up to $2,000 in Google Cloud credits valid for two years, while seeded startups can access $200,000 over two years for Google Cloud and Firebase usage. Additionally, blockchain partners are offering grants of up to $3 million to seeded companies in the Google for Startups Cloud Program. Nansen will also use its database of over 250 million wallet labels to provide startups with real-time intelligence.

UK pledges nearly $125M to create ‘safe AI’ taskforce

The U.K. government has announced that it is providing 100 million pounds ($125 million) in initial funding to support a task force aimed at accelerating the country’s readiness for AI. The task force is aimed at ensuring “sovereign capabilities,” which include public services, and fostering the adoption of “safe and reliable foundation models.” This coincides with the U.K.’s commitment to becoming a science and technology superpower by 2030. The task force is expected to launch its first pilots of AI usage and integration targeting public services in the next six months. The U.K. is also pushing for “safe AI,” which aims to regulate technology to “keep people safe” without limiting innovation.

FTX sells LedgerX for $50M to affiliate of Miami-based exchange holding company

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX has agreed to sell its LedgerX futures and options exchange and clearinghouse to M7 Holdings, an affiliate of Miami International Holdings, for around $50 million. The deal, which is subject to approval from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, is scheduled to be heard in court on May 4. The purchase of LedgerX is part of FTX’s ongoing efforts to monetize assets and deliver recoveries to stakeholders. FTX purchased LedgerX in August 2021 to expand its spot trading services. The FTX exchange is currently undergoing bankruptcy proceedings. 

Binance.US backs out of $1B Voyager asset purchase, blames regulatory environment

Binance.US has backed out of its agreement to purchase bankrupt cryptocurrency brokerage Voyager Digital’s assets for $1 billion. The exchange blamed the move on the “hostile and uncertain regulatory climate in the United States.” The Voyager Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors tweeted its disappointment at the news and said it was investigating potential claims against Binance.US. Voyager and the creditors’ committee have said they would now work on distributing cash and crypto to customers directly via the Voyager platform. Voyager declared bankruptcy in July 2021.

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