Marathon Digital Holdings achieved a groundbreaking milestone in December 2023, breaking its record by mining an impressive 1,853 Bitcoin during the month. This marked a substantial 56% increase from November and an extraordinary 290% surge compared to December 2022. The company's chairman and CEO, Fried Thiel, attributed this record-setting production to an 18.4% monthly boost in hash rate, reaching an impressive 22.4 exahashes per second.
Additionally, Marathon revealed plans to acquire two mining centres for $179 million on December 19, adding 390 megawatts of mining capacity to its existing 584-megawatt output. Thiel expressed ambitious growth targets, aiming for a 30% increase in energized hash rate in 2024 and anticipating a reach of 50 exahashes within the next 18 to 24 months. The company's significant presence was further underscored when, on December 28, it briefly became the most-traded public company among mid and large-cap firms on the U.S. stock market, witnessing a remarkable $3.3 billion daily trading volume, surpassing industry giants like Tesla, Apple, and Amazon. This robust performance aligns with a broader trend among Bitcoin mining firms to expand operations in anticipation of an upcoming spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund approval and the Bitcoin halving in April.
Social media is buzzing with speculation about the potential approval of a spot Bitcoin ETF by the SEC on Friday. Tweets, including one from Grayscale's legal chief mentioning filling out forms, have ignited hopes for imminent approval. TechCrunch reporter Jacquelyn Melinek, citing close sources, even suggested that multiple ETFs could be approved, with expectations for an announcement as early as the next day. The hashtag #BTCETF is trending on Twitter, and Bitcoin's price has risen by 3.4% in the last 24 hours amid the fervour.
Despite the excitement, some analysts are cautious, viewing the current speculation as noise. Bloomberg's James Seyffart expects approval between January 8 and 10, while attorney Joe Carlasare points out that the public comment period for several ETF applications extends until midnight on January 5, making it unlikely for approval to happen before the following week. Eric Balchunas, a senior Bloomberg ETF analyst, explains that final comments and approved forms are required from issuers before an ETF can start trading, emphasizing the complexity of the regulatory process. Overall, scepticism lingers among experts, with some expressing doubt that an ETF approval will materialize before the upcoming week.
Polychain Capital, a well-known crypto venture capital firm, has confirmed that the X account of its founder and CEO, Olaf Carlson-Wee, has been compromised. The hacker exploited this breach to post phishing links, promoting a fictitious "$PCHAIN" token airdrop and encouraging followers to click on a provided link. In response to the security incident, Polychain stated on January 4, cautioning X users against interacting with Carlson-Wee's account until further notice.
Phishing scams, which often involve the dissemination of malicious links, aim to deceive users into authorizing transactions that can lead to the unauthorized draining of their crypto wallets. The imposter posing as Carlson-Wee persisted with additional posts, reaching approximately 41,000 X users. This occurrence adds to the rising prevalence of crypto-related phishing scams, highlighted by a report from Scam Sniffer, indicating that such scams victimized 324,000 individuals, resulting in nearly $300 million in losses throughout 2023. Prominent figures like Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and entities including Blockchain Capital and Compound Finance have also experienced similar compromises in recent months.