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Exclusive: His company makes millions producing toys. Now it's venturing into blockchain and the metaverse – TalkOfNews.com

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His company makes millions producing toys. Now it's venturing into blockchain and the metaverse

#company #millions #producing #toys #it039s #venturing #blockchain #metaverse

When Jackson Aw was introduced to blockchain technology in 2018, he “didn’t get it at all.”

“Can someone dumb it down even further for me? Like, can you just tell me what I can get as a consumer?” 

That was four years ago. Today, Aw, seems to have the answer to that question. 

The 32-year-old Singaporean, who runs Mighty Jaxx — a multi-million dollar toy company that produces collectibles and lifestyle products — has incorporated blockchain into his products. 

A blockchain is a decentralized digital ledger that records every transaction that has taken place. It also cannot be tampered with or changed retroactively.

CNBC Make It finds out why it “makes sense” for the collectibles empire to tap into blockchain capabilities, and bet on the metaverse.

Unique certificates 

Mighty Jaxx, which was founded in 2012, has partnered with some of the biggest global brands and visual artists, producing trendy collectibles that incorporate pop culture and design. 

Aw said the company has since sold millions of toy collectibles to people in more than 80 countries.

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Mighty Jaxx’s limited-edition collectibles can cost up to $1,200 on its website, but in the secondary marketplace they can fetch “five to ten times” more than its original value, said Aw.

Jackson Aw’s advice for young entrepreneurs? “Fear will always exist. But the question is, what do you make of that?”

Eli Lo

But there is one problem.

“When you want to sell the product, the number one question everywhere is ‘Is it authentic?’”

Aw added: “For collectibles, what [sellers] do is that they take photos of the figurine and post it on Facebook groups, asking people to do an authenticity check.”

However, Aw was not satisfied with this method of authentication. 

“Whose word is it on? Where’s the provenance of it? So we thought, okay, that’s what we need.”

Mighty Jaxx designed a Near-Field Communication chip, that is embedded into each toy. “With our app, you can [scan the chip], register your ownership of the item,” said the company’s founder Jackson Aw.

Eli Lo

Mighty Jaxx designed a near-field communication chip and embedded one into each toy. NFC technology enables short-range, wireless communication between two devices. 

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“With our app, you can [scan the chip], register your ownership of the item [to show] it’s an authentic Mighty Jaxx product,” Aw said.

Powered by blockchain, the platform issues and validates unique, tamperproof certificates for every product. It also provides a digital footprint when ownership of an item changes.

…content and intellectual property is key, because without any of this [visual] representation, that technology does nothing

Jackson Aw

Founder, Mighty Jaxx

“If Jay Chou or JJ Lin owned that figurine prior to you, that is definitely far more valuable than me owning it,” Aw jokes. Jay Chou and JJ Lin are popular Mandarin pop singers. 

Providing reliable authentication through blockchain technology is just “the beginning” for Mighty Jaxx.

A ‘phygital’ edge 

With the nonfungible token market seeing explosive growth in 2021, Aw said that was when there was “a change in culture as we knew it.” 

“[Being] artists and creators in general … has always been more of a service-based work. But now it flipped. Now, content and intellectual property is key, because without any of this [visual] representation, that technology does nothing,” Aw explained.

“Nothing speaks louder than visual form.”

NFTs are crypto-based digital assets that also function like collectibles — something that Mighty Jaxx is no stranger to.

Hence, it “makes sense” for Aw to venture into the space, by offering fans exclusive digital experiences with physical collectibles. 

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“When you buy our NFTs, you get access and the opportunity to purchase the physical manifestation of it in that design. So only this bunch of people would be able to purchase this figure,” said Aw. 

“Because only they could do it and they can combine both asset classes together, it generates even higher value for them.” 

Collectors who buy Mighty Jaxx’s NFTs get exclusive access to purchase physical manifestation of the same design, which “generate even more value for them,” said Jackson Aw.

Mighty Jaxx

Aw believes that is Mighty Jaxx’s “phygital” edge over its competitors — being able to offer both digital and physical assets. 

“The fact that we create digital assets before we produce the physical toys … means that we can go to market quicker as well,” he added. 

“I can’t think of, you know, 10 other companies doing that in the whole world, simply because the work that goes into creating a hardware or a [physical] collectible, it’s naturally just a steeper learning curve.” 

Metaverse expansion 

In 2021, Mighty Jaxx launched its first collection of NFT trading cards, featuring cats that look like the Chinese cuisine, dim sum.  

Mighty Jaxx’s first collection of NFT trading cards were sold out within “2 seconds,” said Jackson Aw.

Mighty Jaxx

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Exclusive: Mystery rocket makes moonfall – TalkOfNews.com

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Mystery rocket makes moonfall

#Mystery #rocket #moonfall

Hello and welcome back to Week in Review, where we recap the biggest stories from the week. If you want this in your inbox every Saturday, sign up here.

Greg Kumparak is still on vacation, but not to worry! He’ll be back at the helm next week to bring you our biggest stories. Until then, I’ve got you covered.

First for some quick business. TechCrunch+ is having an Independence Day sale, which gets you 50% off on an annual subscription. Need more? TC+ Editor-in-Chief Alex Wilhelm gives you all the reasons to take the plunge here.

Okay let’s go to the moon! Yes, the moon. Some space junk crashed to the lunar surface this week, causing some enthusiastic observers to scratch their heads. Was it from SpaceX? Was it from a rocket launched in 2014 by the China National Space Administration? We still don’t know, but Devin Coldewey had a chat with Darren McKnight from LeoLabs, which has built a network of debris-tracking radar, to get some more insight.

Image Credits: NASA/Goddard/Arizona State University

other stuff

Speaking of space: Ever want to stare longingly into the depths of the universe and actually have something stare back? This is supposed to happen in two weeks when the James Webb Space Telescope will release its first images. “This is farther than humanity has ever looked before,” NASA administrator Bill Nelson said during a media briefing this week. Maybe the truth is out there.

Tesla Autopilot layoffs: The automaker this week laid off 195 employees across two offices in its Autopilot division. Those who were laid off filled supervisor, labeler and data analyst roles. Questions persist about what impact the layoffs will have on Tesla’s wider advanced driver assistance system. The remaining 81 staffers on the Autopilot team will be relocated to another office, as the San Mateo office will be shuttered.

SPAC subpoenas: A New York-based federal grand jury sent subpoenas to the board of Digital World, which is preparing to acquire Trump Media & Technology Group, Donald Trump’s media group responsible for Truth Social. According to an SEC filing, the subpoenas are an effort to gather more information about “Digital World’s S-1 filings, communications with or about multiple individuals, and information regarding Rocket One Capital.”

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Deepfake job apps: The FBI this week issued a warning that deepfakes are being used along with stolen information to apply for jobs. A part of this even involves video interviews. “In these interviews, the actions and lip movement of the person seen interviewed on-camera do not completely coordinate with the audio of the person speaking. At times, actions such as coughing, sneezing, or other auditory actions are not aligned with what is presented visually,” the FBI said in a statement announcing the disturbing news.

Party pooper: Welp, that 2020-era indefinite ban on unauthorized parties at Airbnbs is now permanent. This means no open-invitation parties and no parties whose attendance exceeds 16. The company said in a blog post that since they instituted the ban 2 years ago, there was a 44% year-over-year decrease in the rate of party reports. There will be no partying on, Garth.

Human And Artificial Intelligence Cooperating Concept

Image Credits: DrAfter123 / Getty Images

audio stuff

Over on the TechCrunch Podcast Network, Christine Tao, founder of Sounding Board, joined Darrell and Jordan on Found to talk about difficulties she and her co-founder faced while fundraising and how they established the customer type that made scaling possible.

And on the Wednesday episode of Equity, Natasha Mascarenhas asked a question inspired by a recent post penned by TC’s own Rebecca Szkutak: What’s in the fine print for term sheets these days, and what does that tell us about who is going to be in control during the downturn?

Check out our full roundup.

added stuff

Want even more TechCrunch? Head on over to the aptly named TechCrunch+, where we get to go a bit deeper on the topics our subscribers tell us they care about. Some of the good stuff from this week includes:

The SEC rejected bitcoin spot ETFs again. Now what?
The SEC’s decisions aren’t a first for the industry; the government agency has denied over a dozen bitcoin spot ETFs in the past year alone while approving several bitcoin future-based ETFs, Jacquelyn Melinek reports.

Disclose your Scope 3 emissions, you cowards
Tim De Chant takes on the companies that claim they’re serious about carbon emissions. In short, if they’re serious, then they’ll estimate their Scope 3 emissions and not undermine attempts to make Scope 3 disclosures standard.

Pitch Deck Teardown: Wilco’s $7 million seed deck
Haje’s back with another pitch deck teardown, this week from Wilco, a company whose funding he covered last week. He is pretty excited about Wilco’s deck, as, he says, it’s 19 slides that tick all of the boxes.

Image Credits: Wilco (opens in a new window)

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Exclusive: Kohl's says a real estate sale is on the table after scrapping deal talks – TalkOfNews.com

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Kohl's says a real estate sale is on the table after scrapping deal talks

#Kohl039s #real #estate #sale #table #scrapping #deal #talks

People walk near a Kohl’s department store entranceway on June 07, 2022 in Doral, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Kohl’s might not be selling its business after all. But it’s now looking to sell some of its real estate, reversing its prior stance.

The retailer on Friday announced it terminated deal talks with The Vitamin Shoppe owner Franchise Group, confirming CNBC’s reporting from Thursday evening. Instead, Kohl’s said, it will continue to operate as a standalone public company.

Kohl’s for months has been pressured by activist firms including Macellum Advisors to consider a sale of the company, in large part to unlock the value tied up in Kohl’s real estate.

Macellum has argued that Kohl’s should sell some of its real estate and lease it back as a way to unlock capital, particularly during tough times. Kohl’s, however, has been resistant to so-called sale leaseback transactions, at least at such a large scale.

The company did complete a small sale-leaseback deal earlier on in the Covid pandemic, according to Peter Boneparth, chair of Kohl’s board. It recognized a gain of $127 million by selling and leasing back its San Bernardino e-commerce fulfillment and distribution centers.

On Friday, though, Kohl’s explicitly noted in its press release that its board is currently reevaluating ways that the retailer can monetize its real estate. Franchise Group had been planning to finance a portion of its Kohl’s acquisition by selling a chunk of Kohl’s real estate to another party and then leasing it back. This likely gave Kohl’s an idea of what sort of value it could fetch for its owned bricks-and-mortar stores and distribution centers.

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“Now you’ve got an environment where financing has changed so much that it may in fact be more attractive to use real estate as a monetization vehicle,” Boneparth told CNBC in a phone interview.

“When you combine that with what we think the levels of the stock are, it becomes a much different exercise than it was in a previous financing environment,” he explained. “It’s no secret that Kohl’s has a very big asset on the balance sheet: Real estate.”

As of Jan. 29, Kohl’s owned 410 locations, leased another 517 and operated ground leases on 238 of its shops. All of its owned real estate was valued at a little more than $8 billion at that time, an annual filing shows.

Pros and cons

Proponents of sale-leaseback deals argue it’s a convenient way for companies to come up with funds to put toward future growth, so long as there is a buyer for the real estate. But it also leaves the seller with having to meet lease obligations since they would be renting the property they just sold.

Those leases could become much more difficult to break and rents can fluctuate across markets. Kohl’s said in its annual filing that a typical store lease has an initial term of 20 to 25 years, with four to eight five-year renewal options.

In 2020, Big Lots reached a deal with private-equity real estate firm Oak Street to raise $725 million from selling four company-owned distribution centers and leasing them back. It gave the big-box retailer additional liquidity during near the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Also in 2020, Bed Bath & Beyond completed a sale-leaseback transaction with Oak Street, in which it sold about 2.1 million square feet of commercial real estate and netted $250 million in proceeds. Mark Tritton, the Bed Bath CEO at the time, touted the deal as a move to raise capital to invest back in the business. Now, though, Bed Bath is facing another cash crunch as its sales slump and Tritton was ousted from his role earlier this week.

Oak Street had been planning to offer financing to Franchise Group in a Kohl’s deal, CNBC previously reported, according to a person familiar with the discussions. A representative from Oak Street didn’t respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

Kohl’s on Friday reaffirmed its plan to conduct a $500 million accelerated stock buyback later this year. It reduced its revenue guidance for the fiscal second quarter, citing a recent softening in consumer demand amid decades-high inflation.

“Clearly the the consumer is under even more pressure today,” Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass told CNBC in a phone interview. “We’re not immune to that … but Kohl’s stands for value. And at times like this it’s more important than ever to amplify that message.”

She added that Kohl’s partnerships with Amazon and Sephora remain in place and part of the company’s longer-term strategy to win over new customers.

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“The conclusion of the board process was absolutely the right answer,” she said.

Kohl’s shares ended Friday trading down nearly 20% and at one point touched a new 52-week low of $27.65. Shares of Franchise Group ended the day down 7.5% and also touched a new 52-week low of $31.67 during trading.

Macellum didn’t respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

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Exclusive: Travel Smarter This Summer with This Rosetta Stone-Highlighted Bundle – TalkOfNews.com

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Travel Smarter This Summer with This Rosetta Stone-Highlighted Bundle

#Travel #Smarter #Summer #Rosetta #StoneHighlighted #Bundle

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.

Summer is here, and you may be gearing up for all sorts of leisure or business travel. But unless you’re the type of person to spend millions to eat lunch with Warren Buffett, you have some concerns about globe-trotting. It’s not cheap to see the world, so you owe it to yourself to find ways to save money and make sure you get the absolute most out of every travel experience.



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See the world better than ever. Get The World Traveler Bundle ft. Rosetta Stone Lifetime Subscription for $159.20 from now until July 18 with code ROSETTA20.

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