Will Bitcoin Pump Past 10500 or Dump below 8600

This probably sounded brilliant in OP's own head.

But it's full of pure comedy godl:
General rant about Bitcoin... I am an observer of Bitcoin (OK, digital currencies) from before there was Bitcoin (full disclosure: I do not own any Bitcoin). The only cryptos that existed in those days were in academic papers by David Chaum, or centralized schemes like e-gold, GoldMoney, or Liberty Dollar. That was the state of the Universe circa 2006 when interest in developing a new, distributed, digital currency was starting to bubble up from many corners of the Interwebz.
I see a lot of posts on Bitcoin along the lines that, "we (the Bitcoin community) need to do a better job popularizing Bitcoin"... the implication being that if Bitcoin doesn't get popular, it will fail. This could not be further from the truth. The "big idea" behind Bitcoin is that people will naturally migrate to using higher quality money because it is higher quality. Fads come and go. Bitcoin is not another Cabbage Patch doll. It's not another Beanie Babies. It's a digital asset that can be instantly and (almost) trustlessly exchanged anywhere in the world, an asset that is not beholden to the policies of any government agency, nor any private entity.
In this way, Bitcoin really is the digital analogue of gold. Of course, it is not literally gold because a solar EMP could break the Bitcoin network but not gold. There are some important differences but the analogy is a good one. The importance of monetary gold & silver is that they are monies that rely on laws that cannot be fiddled by governments nor manipulated by private sharks. The laws of physics are immune to the fads of political movements and the schemes of con-men. Bitcoin is built on a different set of laws -- the mathematics of cryptography, the laws of distributed networks and the laws of human action (self-interested actors involved in peaceful exchange) -- but these laws share the property of the laws of physics that make gold & silver such important monetary goods: they cannot be fiddled by government agencies nor by well-resourced private actors.
I am posting this rant because I feel like venting, not because it can change anything. Some people will go on characterizing Bitcoin as just the latest pump & dump scheme. So be it. But those who are using or HODLing Bitcoin because they believe it is possible for a sub-economy to emerge that is based on sound money should understand that the long-run success of Bitcoin has nothing to do with what is popular, any more than the laws of physics have anything to do with what is popular. Short of a solar EMP powerful enough to take down the majority of satellites and all other digital electronics, Bitcoin is going to go on being Bitcoin no matter what anybody thinks about it. That is why you should hold Bitcoin. The rest of the BS is just line noise.
submitted by OliveTBeagle to Buttcoin [link] [comments]

Thanks for the fishes

What a fucking journey.
I post up here under another user & this is by far my fav Butt sub (and where I send any n00bs who contact me wanting to get involved).
I paid my dues harshly in the last bear market. (Any mistake anyone has made - I've made at LEAST once.) Haircuts, hacks, dumps, ASIC scams
I’ve like 30Xd my fiat this time around (not near as much as I probably should’ve in this market) started when butts were $2,400 and put like $4,700 into the slot machine.
I’m leaving the casino with most of it to buy another rental property.
If anyone deserves my thanks - it’s you guys. For keeping me interested enough in crypto to give a shit by finding all of the hilarious drama. (I mean let’s face it - a bunch of fedora wearing circlejerking millennials all marketing their own funbux. The worst part is they ACTUALLY think it’s cool to sit in front of computers all day and fight about who’s monopoly money is the best. This has got to be one of the most cringeworthy inventions on planet earth to date.)
Besides for the comedy gold - I have hated every second of this market. Knowing I was dumping on poor Koreans who were getting pumped and dumped by their own exchange. Watching poor degenerates getting rekt on BitMex. Seeing the AlphaBay guy getting hung by Thai prison guards for his butts. The butters proud of never having to work again with an absolute vanella personality who sit around shitposting to each other. Doing cringy youtube videos. Because they’re allergic to living now that they don’t have to. My cousin thinking he's cool because he has a few K in it - always wanting to talk about it.
I mean this whole fucking market is a rekt, waste of human potential.
I made literally every mistake there is possible to make in crypto last time around. This time around I bounced off a leveraged long with Segwit, bought Monero at .014 & sold at .04 to the Koreans. Made some more good trades I can’t remember.
Just want you to know that I’m dead set on doing more good in this world than bad & this dirty fiat made from degenerate gamblers is going to help me. I feel guilty for taking it from them.
I want freedom & if I make more I'm giving it to a charity in India who has orphanages. Fuck lambos.
I’ll still be around … but seriously. You guys helped me keep my sanity and I think likely the most honest sub around about cryptobutts.
I'm adding this to the op from POGtastic. This is - in my opinion the best way to cash out.
  1. Convert other funbux to Bitcoin.
  2. If you are pulling it out of shitty exchanges (anything but Gemeni, Coinbase, Bitmex or Kraken) do it in smaller amounts. Make a few small trades while doing it (you want to convince them you aren't leaving the scene - still want to gamble)
  3. The Bitcoin needs to be in a Bitpay-compatible wallet. According to their website, they're compatible with BitPay, CoPay, Mycelium, Airbitz, Electrum, and Bitcoin Core.
    (Blockchain.info won't work. I am not familiar enough with any of the other web wallets to know if they will work.)
  4. If you have a hardware wallet (you should - at this point I'd be terrified to have it on a computer I used for anything but butts), you need Electrum, as it's the only wallet that is both a) compatible with HW wallets and b) supported by Bitpay.
  5. If you have a Segwit address, you need yet another step to send your Bitcoin to a non-Segwit address in order to be compatible with Electrum.
  6. Finally, you can use BitPay to buy bullion from a bullion company that works with Bitpay. Both J.M. Bullion & Apmex advertise as working. I purchased from Apmex & sold to J.M. Bullion. I would avoid reselling to the same vendor as this seems like something someone would do to clean cash. Your likely loss on the transaction is somewhere between 3% & 5%
(I would avoid localbitcoins. I looked at the market and got a really bad vibe from all high volume dealers.)
submitted by JoeBob95561 to Buttcoin [link] [comments]

What if cryptocurrency was originally a Federal Reserve experiment?

So I saw a FOIA request to the NSA about bitcoin the other day. Perhaps a more appropriate recipient would have been the Fed. Here's my story on how it would have gone down.
Back in 2009, some bright spark at the Fed went to then Chairman Ben Bernanke and told him about the wonders of Austrian economics and how terrible it was that the US left the gold standard - that Austrian economics would fix the country's economic woes. Ben, a dyed-in-the-wool Keynesian, scoffed at the lad and told him that currency backed by a deflationary asset, or even a deflationary currency itself, would invariable fail. It would lead to even more of the inequality that the Occupy Wall Streeters, audible due to some protest outside, were protesting. Forget the 1% - it would be more like the 0.001% and the rest would be serfs.
The young central banker - still with his newly minted MBA - still didn't get it, and secretly, even Ben thought that it would be interesting to see an Austrian economic experiment in action. And the root would be to start with a currency that would be finite in supply, like the barbarous relic those Austrians praised so much. But how to do it? To make any public attribution to the Fed for dabbling in such fringe economic theory would be a disaster, and make him an even worse joke amongst his buddies at the next BIS meeting - they were already calling him "helicopter Ben", after all.
No, it would need to be secret. The Fed, as a non-government entity, didn't really operate classification systems in the same way as the federal government. So Ben told his protégé to adopt a fictitious identity instead, and put together a whitepaper outlining the functions of a new digital currency. The founder's name would be Satoshi Nakamoto - after all, wasn't everything futuristic out of Japan nowadays? - and the currency's name would be Bitcoin.
It would have everything Mises would have dreamed of. It would be decentralised, it would have limited supply, and anyone could be their own bank instead of relying on those wicked banks that made up the Fed. It would also be highly anonymous, because Austrian economists and liberatarianism were pretty much entwined and besides, if it failed in a public way, he didn't want it leading back to him.
"Let use see", thought Bernanke, "if such a things takes off, and if the public accepts it."
Uptake was slow initially, and predictably, the new coin was primarily used for drug trafficking, sex crimes, and other detestable behaviour on the dark web. Reminded of the arguments he was using to eliminate cash, Bernanke was pleased.
Around two years into the project, Satoshi, working from the bowels of the Federal Building at 20th Street and Constitutional Avenue, alerted his boss that one of the fellow developers in the Bitcoin project - Gavin Andreson - was going to give a talk at the CIA. "Shit," thought Bernanke. Whilst the project itself had cost the Fed virtually nothing, and so wouldn't appear on any public balance sheets he had to present to either the public or Congress, having the CIA, or worse, the NSA, get wind of the project and being able to finger the Fed for conducting economic games with public cash - or even selling unregistered securities - would risk either public exposure, potentially costing him the chairmanship, or blackmail material, perhaps for some off-the-book funds they needed for their operations.
"Shut it down." Ben instructed.
Satoshi explained that allow he could withdraw from the project, he could not "shut down" Bitcoin itself. It was running on too many nodes now, and the price was rising on specialist exchanges that had been set up. Some website that apparently was previously used for trading Magic the Gathering cards, could you believe it. What a joke.
The Fed chairman sighed, and then glanced at the Bitcoin wallet Satoshi had brought up on the computer for him. One million BTC, just shy of 5% of the total supply. He could just sell it all and kill the market dead, but he decided to leave it. After all, the experiment wasn't necessarily over. What would happen if we did surrender everything to market forces? he wondered - though he anticipated the outcome - a massive pump and dump similar to dotcom stocks, beanie babies, tulips, the South Sea bubble, junk bonds, and many more besides.
He decided to bury the seed key on a golden plate amongst the gold bullion below the NY Fed. After all, Bitcoin was deflationary. If it was digital gold, as a new breed of anarcho-capitalists were telling everyone on the internet, surely it deserved to be stored here?
And that was the end of the Fed's involvement. They still wait, they still watch, mining comedy GODL along with buttcoin from underneath a portrait of John Maynard Keynes.
submitted by Modja to Buttcoin [link] [comments]

Subreddit Stats: Buttcoin top posts from 2014-02-28 to 2019-01-15 01:31 PDT

Period: 1781.72 days
Submissions Comments
Total 1000 66504
Rate (per day) 0.56 37.31
Unique Redditors 546 7216
Combined Score 190256 613696

Top Submitters' Top Submissions

  1. 4165 points, 23 submissions: Tomatoshi
    1. Cryptocurrency Euthanasia Coaster (489 points, 127 comments)
    2. Mark Karpeles states Bitcoin has failed and is useless. (273 points, 95 comments)
    3. Vergin comedy gold leaks ahead of announcement (241 points, 159 comments)
    4. Incredibly "organic" pump minutes before Tether prints $300 million (237 points, 82 comments)
    5. In today's Creepto News : McAfee's Underground King of ICO analysts apparently a pedo (230 points, 99 comments)
    6. Dying Butter attempts to dox imaginary assassin. Gives him an imaginary name and non-existent address. (215 points, 70 comments)
    7. Back under 8K. Shall I get rid of my fiat? (210 points, 86 comments)
    8. President Maduro's computer hacked. Exit scam image discovered. (205 points, 12 comments)
    9. Come all ye faithful and get rekt margin trading (185 points, 59 comments)
    10. Lightning Network upgraded - super efficient diagram of super efficient payment channels running on top of super efficient blockchain (183 points, 73 comments)
  2. 2691 points, 10 submissions: Orbalisks
    1. Debating Bitcoin (747 points, 114 comments)
    2. 1 Bitcoin transaction uses over four times as much energy as 100,000 VISA transactions (492 points, 150 comments)
    3. Remember that model that the Bitcoin crowd constantly mocked? Turns out it was pretty much spot on... (346 points, 90 comments)
    4. MRW I see butters describing how they lost 40% on Verge so they went all in on Tron but lost another 30% so they went back to Bitcoin but are down 25% (216 points, 38 comments)
    5. The Parable of the Bagholder (201 points, 14 comments)
    6. Then they came for me (161 points, 18 comments)
    7. First. Global. Currency. (148 points, 55 comments)
    8. Verge creator desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to cash out into USD on Coinbase; notes that "taxes are due"--an observation that conspicuously coincides with Verge's enigmatic crowdfunding campaign (143 points, 34 comments)
    9. Butter shares comical chart suggesting that Bitcoin is destined for 100% adoption, despite the fact that the chart both misrepresents how long Bitcoin has been around for and already shows that it is not being adopted as quickly as other technologies (120 points, 76 comments)
    10. First you pump, then you dump (117 points, 25 comments)
  3. 2556 points, 15 submissions: dgerard
    1. The OKEx margin trading disaster — how crypto margin trading goes wrong, and how the eye-watering margin leverage on crypto exchanges works in practice (306 points, 212 comments)
    2. "Attack of the 50 Foot Blockchain" is OUT NOW! (284 points, 98 comments)
    3. Reuters on OTC markets: "Less romantically, traders sometimes say 'butt' to mean bitcoin." we did it lads, be proud (268 points, 17 comments)
    4. How does Brave's "Basic Attention Token" work? By blatant fraud, of course! Twitter thread from one creator whose name and photo Brave is misusing (192 points, 173 comments)
    5. bullish on USD. it is clear USD is increasingly popular with past hodlers of the deprecated bit-Coin. USD has gone up hugely in just the past day against the b.t.C!! in the future it is posible with enough imagination that the US economy could run on USD ! in conclusion you should get into currency (186 points, 26 comments)
    6. Twitter thread of Bitcoin price predictions (164 points, 30 comments)
    7. "Kodak board members conveniently grant themselves shares the day before the announcement, a stock promoter with a checkered past is engaged for PR, and a group of German copyright trolls reinvent themselves as blockchain-enabled image platform managers." A scathing hedge-fund report on KodakCoin. (157 points, 44 comments)
    8. MERL Tech: Blockchain for International Development. "We documented 43 blockchain use-cases ... no documentation or evidence of the results blockchain was purported to have achieved in these claims ... Not one was willing to share data on program results." (143 points, 44 comments)
    9. Bitcoin’s stupendous power waste is green, apparently — bad excuses for Proof-of-Work [by me] (133 points, 112 comments)
    10. Bitcoin continues to be awesome for renewable energy! - "Bitcoin backlash as ‘miners’ suck up electricity, stress power grids in Central Washington" (130 points, 39 comments)
  4. 2541 points, 10 submissions: borderpatrol
    1. Buttcoin Foundation ROCKED as founder exposed to be PAID SHILL for Butterfly Labs (1269 points, 553 comments)
    2. Stop with the political and racist garbage (177 points, 119 comments)
    3. To the person who reports every single chart posted in this sub as "not a fucking log chart" (167 points, 40 comments)
    4. WE DID IT REDDIT! (166 points, 55 comments)
    5. Someone finally said "Buttcoin". And it's William Shatner (156 points, 39 comments)
    6. My new Bitcoin commercial idea. (140 points, 21 comments)
    7. Let's welcome /Buttcoin's newest honorary member of the mod/shill team, Peter Todd! (125 points, 54 comments)
    8. Satoshi Nakamoto is an anagram of "So a man took a shit." (118 points, 16 comments)
    9. Guess which convicted felon just fucked over another Bitcoin business? (112 points, 31 comments)
    10. You guys are the best (111 points, 81 comments)
  5. 2509 points, 12 submissions: JihanButt
    1. Hot (404 points, 19 comments)
    2. Made me check (and kek) (398 points, 49 comments)
    3. Mass adoption is here (257 points, 60 comments)
    4. New record for the fastest exit scam in human history (245 points, 23 comments)
    5. Meanwhile on 4chan bizbutt (210 points, 88 comments)
    6. TIL: Binance can exit scam at any given time and no one would be able to locate CZ or the Binance offices. Not even MtGOX was this shady. (200 points, 65 comments)
    7. Quality (172 points, 53 comments)
    8. Normies are shorting (137 points, 44 comments)
    9. CEO (lol) of shitcoin Titanium BUTT, high on cocaine during AMA (136 points, 16 comments)
    10. It begins... The biggest transfer of comedy gold in human history (122 points, 17 comments)
  6. 2470 points, 12 submissions: unitedstatian
    1. I can't tell why but this ICO doesn't look trustworthy to me (369 points, 47 comments)
    2. Cryptocurrency (332 points, 26 comments)
    3. Has crypto become a giant joke? (311 points, 60 comments)
    4. A Buttcoiner going shopping (248 points, 37 comments)
    5. There is only a 1% chance of successfully routing a $67 payment on the lightning network (229 points, 71 comments)
    6. Comedy gold over at bitcoin (179 points, 54 comments)
    7. The Four Commandments (148 points, 65 comments)
    8. Behold LN in it's full glory as two users fail to send a meager 100 Sats through a high liquidity hub (Bitrefill) due to poor route computation. (146 points, 76 comments)
    9. Jimmy Song giving advice on how to use Bitcoin as a method of payment lol! (143 points, 57 comments)
    10. This is my new favorite ICO. (130 points, 94 comments)
  7. 2037 points, 11 submissions: dyzo-blue
    1. Butter informs his tribe that he has decided to leave. Tribe kindly wishes him good luck and a happy new year. (510 points, 81 comments)
    2. STORE OF VALUE. (184 points, 32 comments)
    3. TIL: Apparently butters are mostly models who have meet-ups on boats. (167 points, 43 comments)
    4. Bitcoiner asked me if I was in the "crypto game" (165 points, 140 comments)
    5. Bitcoin’s energy consumption is growing at 20% per month and is effectively erasing decades of progress on renewable energy (160 points, 93 comments)
    6. Steve Bannon is creating a cryptocurrency to fund global fascist movements (155 points, 175 comments)
    7. Firesale! Firesale! All I see are CHEAP COINZ. (154 points, 130 comments)
    8. The electricity required for a single Bitcoin trade could power a house for a whole month (147 points, 81 comments)
    9. Who sees this pop-up and thinks, "Hmm, seems legit"? (146 points, 40 comments)
    10. From California's Governor Primary Ballot (126 points, 28 comments)
  8. 2035 points, 13 submissions: 18_points
    1. BitGrail insolvency due to people editing client-side javascript and withdrawing free NANO! (279 points, 115 comments)
    2. Butter rushes to exchange his iMac for a MacBook hours before return policy expires, doesn't copy his wallet seed. $170K SFYL, mass adoption imminent. (205 points, 102 comments)
    3. LA Times: The only currency worse than bitcoin is Venezuela’s (176 points, 78 comments)
    4. Butter makes $1.2mm, quits his job, proceeds to lose 80% (175 points, 76 comments)
    5. Bitcoin.com openly admits Tethers are backed by nothing (158 points, 99 comments)
    6. Tether CFO: "Tether may no longer continue to use the US dollar anchor in the future." (152 points, 80 comments)
    7. Aaaand it's gone.... Stablecoin basis closes shup after raising $133 million (151 points, 61 comments)
    8. Guy travels abroad paying with bitcoin. Just kidding, he couldn't pay with bitcoin - best he could do after 2 days trying was trade bitcoin for cash 20% below spot. (138 points, 62 comments)
    9. Because this chart never gets old ... (126 points, 46 comments)
    10. Tether crashing on Kraken, down to $0.98 (125 points, 69 comments)
  9. 1985 points, 6 submissions: cool_playa
    1. a shitcoin startup called Prodeum just exitscammed with millions of investor dollars and left them the following message on their site (1111 points, 170 comments)
    2. Cryptocurrencies: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) (256 points, 72 comments)
    3. Charlie Lee gets put in his place (185 points, 29 comments)
    4. Vitalik rethinks his stance as a Libertarian due to the current cryptocurrency ecosystem. Regulations are actually good he says. LMAO. (180 points, 86 comments)
    5. Twitter CEO says Bitcoin is the future / Twitter bans cryptocurrencies from advertising on their platform. (129 points, 11 comments)
    6. Bubble, Bubble, Fraud and Trouble - New York Times article (124 points, 81 comments)
  10. 1916 points, 10 submissions: Cthulhooo
    1. Ladies and Gentlemen I have an innovative idea that will change the landscape of cryptospace forever. I present you the infinite reverse Ponzi scheme. (355 points, 237 comments)
    2. ETH is now officially a 2 digit shitcoin! (258 points, 110 comments)
    3. So this is how blood in the streets looks like... (215 points, 91 comments)
    4. Missed us? (211 points, 44 comments)
    5. The new paradigm (of spam) has arrived. (171 points, 45 comments)
    6. Attention all personnel. (168 points, 62 comments)
    7. Not only bloomberg or CNBC. Even national media all over the world are screaming about tether manipulation. This is good for buttcoin. (168 points, 42 comments)
    8. The biggest bagholders on the planet are actually institutions. Bought bitcoin for $40k (142 points, 44 comments)
    9. Millions of dollars stuck forever in a buttchain thanks to an international community effort to establish the largest comedy gold black hole up to date. (116 points, 28 comments)
    10. Smart ponzi FOMO3D round 1 ends way too early with a creative twist (112 points, 98 comments)

Top Commenters

  1. SnapshillBot (15642 points, 683 comments)
  2. Cthulhooo (11080 points, 1057 comments)
  3. Tomatoshi (10485 points, 577 comments)
  4. newprofile15 (7365 points, 477 comments)
  5. jstolfi (7325 points, 766 comments)
  6. JeanneDOrc (6318 points, 827 comments)
  7. friosc (5326 points, 244 comments)
  8. Woolbrick (5088 points, 318 comments)
  9. Crypto_To_The_Core (4838 points, 678 comments)
  10. HopeFox (4673 points, 331 comments)

Top Submissions

  1. I'm having an orgasm watching the prices dropping - upvote if you're a sick a degenerate like me by deleted (1456 points, 340 comments)
  2. Buttcoin Foundation ROCKED as founder exposed to be PAID SHILL for Butterfly Labs by borderpatrol (1269 points, 553 comments)
  3. a shitcoin startup called Prodeum just exitscammed with millions of investor dollars and left them the following message on their site by cool_playa (1111 points, 170 comments)
  4. And the returns have already begun. One person and a known reseller we get regularly. by cloud3514 (907 points, 278 comments)
  5. c o m p u t e r s c i e n c e by brokenAmmonite (856 points, 125 comments)
  6. U.S. Launches Criminal Probe into Bitcoin Price Manipulation by BitcoinTrolling101 (761 points, 218 comments)
  7. Debating Bitcoin by Orbalisks (747 points, 114 comments)
  8. TIL bitcoin is called the currency of the future because all currency transactions are confirmed in the distant future. by Thief_1 (720 points, 37 comments)
  9. M A T H E M A T I C A L L Y I M P O S S I B LE by NORATHEDESTROYER (693 points, 86 comments)
  10. This is the best take of crypto-currency that I've ever seen. by deleted (689 points, 137 comments)

Top Comments

  1. 1874 points: AlbertRammstein's comment in The OKEx margin trading disaster — how crypto margin trading goes wrong, and how the eye-watering margin leverage on crypto exchanges works in practice
  2. 1263 points: Mike_Prowe's comment in Buttcoin Foundation ROCKED as founder exposed to be PAID SHILL for Butterfly Labs
  3. 820 points: Slayer706's comment in Buttcoin Foundation ROCKED as founder exposed to be PAID SHILL for Butterfly Labs
  4. 577 points: deleted's comment in The OKEx margin trading disaster — how crypto margin trading goes wrong, and how the eye-watering margin leverage on crypto exchanges works in practice
  5. 571 points: cloud3514's comment in And the returns have already begun. One person and a known reseller we get regularly.
  6. 496 points: SnapshillBot's comment in a shitcoin startup called Prodeum just exitscammed with millions of investor dollars and left them the following message on their site
  7. 382 points: vytah's comment in Holy Satoshi! Butter pays 85Btc transaction fees for a 16Btc transaction. Is this the largest fee ever paid?
  8. 380 points: Tomatoshi's comment in It's already happening. GPU market is about to get really hot.
  9. 361 points: ShiteFlaps's comment in Why are you guys such salty fks?
  10. 331 points: -charlie-kelly-'s comment in a shitcoin startup called Prodeum just exitscammed with millions of investor dollars and left them the following message on their site
Generated with BBoe's Subreddit Stats (Donate)
submitted by subreddit_stats to subreddit_stats [link] [comments]

The wilkelvoss are trying to make bitcoin legit according to esquire magazine

Every idea needs a face, even if the faces are illusory simplifications. The country you get is the president you get. The Yankees you get is the shortstop you get. Apple needed Jobs. ISIS needs al-Baghdadi. The moon shot belongs to Bezos. There's nothing under the Facebook sun that doesn't come back to Zuckerberg.
But there is, as yet, no face behind the bitcoin curtain. It's the currency you've heard about but haven't been able to understand. Still to this day nobody knows who created it. For most people, it has something to do with programmable cash and algorithms and the deep space of mathematics, but it also has something to do with heroin and barbiturates and the sex trade and bankruptcies, too. It has no face because it doesn't seem tangible or real. We might align it with an anarchist's riot mask or a highly conceptualized question mark, but those images truncate its reality. Certain economists say it's as important as the birth of the Internet, that it's like discovering ice. Others are sure that it's doomed to melt. In the political sphere, it is the darling of the cypherpunks and libertarians. When they're not busy ignoring it, it scares the living shit out of the big banks and credit-card companies.
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It sparked to life in 2008—when all the financial world prepared for itself the articulate noose—and it knocked on the door like some inconvenient relative arriving at the dinner party in muddy shoes and a knit hat. Fierce ideological battles are currently being waged among the people who own and shepherd the currency. Some shout, Ponzi scheme. Some shout, Gold dust. Bitcoin alone is worth billions of dollars, but the computational structure behind it—its blockchain and its sidechains—could become the absolute underpinning of the world's financial structure for decades to come.
What bitcoin has needed for years is a face to legitimize it, sanitize it, make it palpable to all the naysayers. But it has no Larry Ellison, no Elon Musk, no noticeable visionaries either with or without the truth. There's a lot of ideology at stake. A lot of principle and dogma and creed. And an awful lot of cash, too.
At 6:00 on a Wednesday winter morning, three months after launching Gemini, their bitcoin exchange, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss step out onto Broadway in New York, wearing the same make of sneakers, the same type of shorts, their baseball caps turned backward. They don't quite fall into the absolute caricature of twindom: They wear different-colored tops. Still, it's difficult to tell them apart, where Tyler ends and Cameron begins. Their faces are sculpted from another era, as if they had stepped from the ruin of one of Gatsby's parties. Their eyes are quick and seldom land on anything for long. Now thirty-four, there is something boyishly earnest about them as they jog down Prince Street, braiding in and out of each other, taking turns talking, as if they were working in shifts, drafting off each other.
Forget, for a moment, the four things the Winklevosses are most known for: suing Mark Zuckerberg, their portrayal in The Social Network, rowing in the Beijing Olympics, and their overwhelming public twinness. Because the Winklevoss brothers are betting just about everything—including their past—on a fifth thing: They want to shake the soul of money out.
At the deep end of their lives, they are athletes. Rowers. Full stop. And the thing about rowing—which might also be the thing about bitcoin—is that it's just about impossible to get your brain around its complexity. Everyone thinks you're going to a picnic. They have this notion you're out catching butterflies. They might ask you if you've got your little boater's hat ready. But it's not like that at all. You're fifteen years old. You rise in the dark. You drag your carcass along the railroad tracks before dawn. The boathouse keys are cold to the touch. You undo the ropes. You carry a shell down to the river. The carbon fiber rips at your hands. You place the boat in the water. You slip the oars in the locks. You wait for your coach. Nothing more than a thumb of light in the sky. It's still cold and the river stinks. That heron hasn't moved since yesterday. You hear Coach's voice before you see him. On you go, lads. You start at a dead sprint. The left rib's a little sore, but you don't say a thing. You are all power and no weight. The first push-to-pull in the water is a ripping surprise. From the legs first. Through the whole body. The arc. Atomic balance. A calm waiting for the burst. Your chest burns, your thighs scald, your brain blanks. It feels as if your rib cage might shatter. You are stillness exploding. You catch the water almost without breaking the surface. Coach says something about the pole vault. You like him. You really do. That brogue of his. Lads this, lads that. Fire. Stamina. Pain. After two dozen strokes, it already feels like you're hitting the wall. All that glycogen gone. Nobody knows. Nobody. They can't even pronounce it. Rowing. Ro-wing. Roh-ing. You push again, then pull. You feel as if you are breaking branch after branch off the bottom of your feet. You don't rock. You don't jolt. Keep it steady. Left, right, left, right. The heron stays still. This river. You see it every day. Nothing behind you. Everything in front. You cross the line. You know the exact tree. Your chest explodes. Your knees are trembling. This is the way the world will end, not with a whimper but a bang. You lean over the side of the boat. Up it comes, the breakfast you almost didn't have. A sign of respect to the river. You lay back. Ah, blue sky. Some cloud. Some gray. Do it again, lads. Yes, sir. You row so hard you puke it up once more. And here comes the heron, it's moving now, over the water, here it comes, look at that thing glide.
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The Winklevoss twins in the men's pair final during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. GETTY There's plenty of gin and beer and whiskey in the Harrison Room in downtown Manhattan, but the Winklevoss brothers sip Coca-Cola. The room, one of many in the newly renovated Pier A restaurant, is all mahogany and lamplight. It is, in essence, a floating bar, jutting four hundred feet out into the Hudson River. From the window you can see the Statue of Liberty. It feels entirely like their sort of room, a Jazz Age expectation hovering around their initial appearance—tall, imposing, the hair mannered, the collars of their shirts slightly tilted—but then they just slide into their seats, tentative, polite, even introverted.
They came here by subway early on a Friday evening, and they lean back in their seats, a little wary, their eyes busy—as if they want to look beyond the rehearsal of their words.
They had the curse of privilege, but, as they're keen to note, a curse that was earned. Their father worked to pay his way at a tiny college in backwoods Pennsylvania coal country. He escaped the small mining town and made it all the way to a professorship at Wharton. He founded his own company and eventually created the comfortable upper-middle-class family that came with it. They were raised in Greenwich, Connecticut, the most housebroken town on the planet. They might have looked like the others in their ZIP code, and dressed like them, spoke like them, but they didn't quite feel like them. Some nagging feeling—close to anger, close to fear—lodged itself beneath their shoulders, not quite a chip but an ache. They wanted Harvard but weren't quite sure what could get them there. "You have to be basically the best in the world at something if you're coming from Greenwich," says Tyler. "Otherwise it's like, great, you have a 1600 SAT, you and ten thousand others, so what?"
The rowing was a means to an end, but there was also something about the boat that they felt allowed another balance between them. They pulled their way through high school, Cameron on the port-side oar, Tyler on the starboard. They got to Harvard. The Square was theirs. They rowed their way to the national championships—twice. They went to Oxford. They competed in the Beijing Olympics. They sucked up the smog. They came in sixth place. The cameras loved them. Girls, too. They were so American, sandy-haired, blue-eyed, they could have been cast in a John Cougar Mellencamp song.
It might all have been so clean-cut and whitebread except for the fact that—at one of the turns in the river—they got involved in the most public brawl in the whole of the Internet's nascent history.
They don't talk about it much anymore, but they know that it still defines them, not so much in their own minds but in the minds of others. The story seems simple on one level, but nothing is ever simple, not even simplification. Theirs was the original idea for the first social network, Harvard Connection. They hired Mark Zuckerberg to build it. Instead he went off and created Facebook. They sued him. They settled for $65 million. It was a world of public spats and private anguish. Rumors and recriminations. A few years later, dusty old pre-Facebook text messages were leaked online by Silicon Alley Insider: "Yeah, I'm going to fuck them," wrote Zuckerberg to a friend. "Probably in the ear." The twins got their money, but then they believed they were duped again by an unfairly low evaluation of their stock. They began a second round of lawsuits for $180 million. There was even talk about the Supreme Court. It reeked of opportunism. But they wouldn't let it go. In interviews, they came across as insolent and splenetic, tossing their rattles out of the pram. It wasn't about the money, they said at the time, it was about fairness, reality, justice. Most people thought it was about some further agile fuckery, this time in Zuckerberg's ear.
There are many ways to tell the story, but perhaps the most penetrating version is that they weren't screwed so much by Zuckerberg as they were by their eventual portrayal in the film version of their lives. They appeared querulous and sulky, exactly the type of characters that America, peeling off the third-degree burns of the great recession, needed to hate. While the rest of the country worried about mounting debt and vanishing jobs, they were out there drinking champagne from, at the very least, Manolo stilettos. The truth would never get in the way of a good story. In Aaron Sorkin's world, and on just about every Web site, the blueblood trust-fund boys got what was coming to them. And the best thing now was for them to take their Facebook money and turn the corner, quickly, away, down toward whatever river would whisk them away.
Armie Hammer brilliantly portrayed them as the bluest of bloods in The Social Network. When the twins are questioned about those times now, they lean back a little in their seats, as if they've just lost a long race, a little perplexed that they came off as the victims of Hollywood's ability to throw an image, while the whole rip-roaring regatta still goes on behind them. "They put us in a box," says Cameron, "caricatured to a point where we didn't really exist." He glances around the bar, drums his finger against the glass. "That's fair enough. I understand that impulse." They smart a little when they hear Zuckerberg's name. "I don't think Mark liked being called an asshole," says Tyler, with a flick of bluster in his eyes, but then he catches himself. "You know, maybe Mark doesn't care. He's a bit of a statesman now, out there connecting the world. I have nothing against him. He's a smart guy."
These are men who've been taught, or have finally taught themselves, to tell their story rather than be told by it. But underneath the calm—just like underneath the boat—one can sense the churn.
They say the word—ath-letes—as if it were a country where pain is the passport. One of the things the brothers mention over and over again is that you can spontaneously crack a rib while rowing, just from the sheer exertion of the muscles hauling on the rib cage.
Along came bitcoin.
At its most elemental, bitcoin is a virtual currency. It's the sort of thing a five-year-old can understand—It's just e-cash, Mom—until he reaches eighteen and he begins to question the deep future of what money really means. It is a currency without government. It doesn't need a banker. It doesn't need a bank. It doesn't even need a brick to be built upon. Its supporters say that it bypasses the Man. It is less than a decade old and it has already come through its own Wild West, a story rooted in uncharted digital territory, up from the dust, an evening redness in the arithmetical West.
These are men who've been taught, or have finally taught themselves, to tell their story rather than be told by it. Bitcoin appeared in 2008—westward ho!—a little dot on the horizon of the Internet. It was the brainchild of a computer scientist named Satoshi Nakamoto. The first sting in the tale is that—to this very day—nobody knows who Nakamoto is, where he lives, or how much of his own invention he actually owns. He could be Californian, he could be Australian, he could even be a European conglomerate, but it doesn't really matter, since what he created was a cryptographic system that is borderless and supposedly unbreakable.
In the beginning the currency was ridiculed and scorned. It was money created from ones and zeros. You either bought it or you had to "mine" for it. If you were mining, your computer was your shovel. Any nerd could do it. You keyed your way in. By using your computer to help check and confirm the bitcoin transactions of others, you made coin. Everyone in this together. The computer heated up and mined, down down down, into the mathematical ground, lifting up numbers, making and breaking camp every hour or so until you had your saddlebags full of virtual coin. It all seemed a bit of a lark at first. No sheriff, no deputy, no central bank. The only saloon was a geeky chat room where a few dozen bitcoiners gathered to chew data.
Lest we forget, money was filthy in 2008.
The collapse was coming. The banks were shorting out. The real estate market was a confederacy of dunces. Bernie Madoff's shadow loomed. Occupy was on the horizon. And all those Wall Street yahoos were beginning to squirm.
Along came bitcoin like some Jesse James of the financial imagination. It was the biggest disruption of money since coins. Here was an idea that could revolutionize the financial world. A communal articulation of a new era. Fuck American Express. Fuck Western Union. Fuck Visa. Fuck the Fed. Fuck the Treasury. Fuck the deregulated thievery of the twenty-first century.
To the earliest settlers, bitcoin suggested a moral way out. It was a money created from the ground up, a currency of the people, by the people, for the people, with all government control extinguished. It was built on a solid base of blockchain technology where everyone participated in the protection of the code. It attracted anarchists, libertarians, whistle-blowers, cypherpunks, economists, extropians, geeks, upstairs, downstairs, left-wing, right-wing. Sure, it could be used by businesses and corporations, but it could also be used by poor people and immigrants to send money home, instantly, honestly, anonymously, without charge, with a click of the keyboard. Everyone in the world had access to your transaction, but nobody had to know your name. It bypassed the suits. All you needed to move money was a phone or a computer. It was freedom of economic action, a sort of anarchy at its democratic best, no rulers, just rules.
Bitcoin, to the original explorers, was a safe pass through the government-occupied valleys: Those assholes were up there in the hills, but they didn't have any scopes on their rifles, and besides, bitcoin went through in communal wagons at night.
Ordinary punters took a shot. Businesses, too. You could buy silk ties in Paris without any extra bank charges. You could protect your money in Buenos Aires without fear of a government grab.
The Winklevoss twins leave the U.S. Court of Appeals in 2011, after appearing in court to ask that the previous settlement case against Facebook be voided. GETTY But freedom can corrupt as surely as power. It was soon the currency that paid for everything illegal under the sun, the go-to money of the darknet. The westward ho! became the outlaw territory of Silk Road and beyond. Heroin through the mail. Cocaine at your doorstep. Child porn at a click. What better way for terrorists to ship money across the world than through a network of anonymous computers? Hezbollah, the Taliban, the Mexican cartels. In Central America, kidnappers began demanding ransom in bitcoin—there was no need for the cash to be stashed under a park bench anymore. Now everything could travel down the wire. Grab, gag, and collect. Uranium could be paid for in bitcoin. People, too. The sex trade was turned on: It was a perfect currency for Madame X. For the online gambling sites, bitcoin was pure jackpot.
For a while, things got very shady indeed. Over a couple years, the rate pinballed between $10 and $1,200 per bitcoin, causing massive waves and troughs of online panic and greed. (In recent times, it has begun to stabilize between $350 and $450.) In 2014, it was revealed that hackers had gotten into the hot wallet of Mt. Gox, a bitcoin exchange based in Tokyo. A total of 850,000 coins were "lost," at an estimated value of almost half a billion dollars. The founder of Silk Road, Ross William Ulbricht (known as "Dread Pirate Roberts"), got himself a four-by-six room in a federal penitentiary for life, not to mention pending charges for murder-for-hire in Maryland.
Everyone thought that bitcoin was the problem. The fact of the matter was, as it so often is, human nature was the problem. Money means desire. Desire means temptation. Temptation means that people get hurt.
During the first Gold Rush in the late 1840s, the belief was that all you needed was a pan and a decent pair of boots and a good dose of nerve and you could go out and make yourself a riverbed millionaire. Even Jack London later fell for the lure of it alongside thousands of others: the western test of manhood and the promise of wealth. What they soon found out was that a single egg could cost twenty-five of today's dollars, a pound of coffee went for a hundred, and a night in a whorehouse could set you back $6,000.
A few miners hit pay dirt, but what most ended up with for their troubles was a busted body and a nasty dose of syphilis.
The gold was discovered on the property of John Sutter in Sacramento, but the one who made the real cash was a neighboring merchant, Samuel Brannan. When Brannan heard the news of the gold nuggets, he bought up all the pickaxes and shovels he could find, filled a quinine bottle with gold dust, and went to San Francisco. Word went around like a prayer in a flash flood: gold gold gold. Brannan didn't wildcat for gold himself, but at the peak of the rush he was flogging $5,000 worth of shovels a day—that's $155,000 today—and went on to become the wealthiest man in California, alongside the Wells Fargo crew, Levi Strauss, and the Studebaker family, who sold wheelbarrows.
If you comb back through the Winklevoss family, you will find a great-grandfather and a great-great-grandfather who knew a thing or two about digging: They worked side by side in the coal mines of Pennsylvania. They didn't go west and they didn't get rich, but maybe the lesson became part of their DNA: Sometimes it's the man who sells the shovels who ends up hitting gold.
Like it or not—and many people don't like it—the Winklevoss brothers are shaping up to be the Samuel Brannans of the bitcoin world.
Nine months after being portrayed in The Social Network, the Winklevoss twins were back out on the water at the World Rowing Cup. CHRISTOPHER LEE/GETTY They heard about it first poolside in Ibiza, Spain. Later it would play into the idea of ease and privilege: umbrella drinks and girls in bikinis. But if the creation myth was going to be flippant, the talk was serious. "I'd say we were cautious, but we were definitely intrigued," says Cameron. They went back home to New York and began to read. There was something about it that got under their skin. "We knew that money had been so broken and inefficient for years," says Tyler, "so bitcoin appealed to us right away."
They speak in braided sentences, catching each other, reassuring themselves, tightening each other's ideas. They don't quite want to say that bitcoin looked like something that might be redemptive—after all, they, like everyone else, were looking to make money, lots of it, Olympic-sized amounts—but they say that it did strike an idealistic chord inside them. They certainly wouldn't be cozying up to the anarchists anytime soon, but this was a global currency that, despite its uncertainties, seemed to present a solution to some of the world's more pressing problems. "It was borderless, instantaneous, irreversible, decentralized, with virtually no transaction costs," says Tyler. It could possibly cut the banks out, and it might even take the knees out from under the credit-card companies. Not only that, but the price, at just under ten dollars per coin, was in their estimation low, very low. They began to snap it up.
They were aware, even at the beginning, that they might, once again, be called Johnny-come-latelys, just hopping blithely on the bandwagon—it was 2012, already four years into the birth of the currency—but they went ahead anyway, power ten. Within a short time they'd spent $11 million buying up a whopping 1 percent of the world's bitcoin, a position they kept up as more bitcoins were mined, making their 1 percent holding today worth about $66 million.
But bitcoin was flammable. The brothers felt the burn quickly. Their next significant investment came later that year, when they gave $1.5 million in venture funding to a nascent exchange called BitInstant. Within a year the CEO was arrested for laundering drug money through the exchange.
So what were a pair of smart, clean-cut Olympic rowers doing hanging around the edges of something so apparently shady, and what, if anything, were they going to do about it?
They mightn't have thought of it this way, but there was something of the sheriff striding into town, the one with the swagger and the scar, glancing up at the balconies as he comes down Main Street, all tumbleweeds and broken pianos. This place was a dump in most people's eyes, but the sheriff glimpsed his last best shot at finally getting the respect he thinks he deserves.
The money shot: A good stroke will catch the water almost without breaking its seal. You stir without rippling. Your silence is sinewy. There's muscle in that calm. The violence catches underneath, thrusts the boat along. Stroke after stroke. Just keep going. Today's truth dies tomorrow. What you have to do is elemental enough. You row without looking behind you. You keep the others in front of you. As long as you can see what they're doing, it's all in your hands. You are there to out-pain them. Doesn't matter who they are, where they come from, how they got here. Know your enemy through yourself. Push through toward pull. Find the still point of this pain. Cut a melody in the disk of your flesh. The only terror comes when they pass you—if they ever pass you.
There are no suits or ties, but there is a white hum in the offices of Gemini in the Flatiron District. The air feels as if it has been brushed clean. There is something so everywhereabout the place. Ergonomic chairs. iPhone portals. Rows of flickering computers. Not so much a hush around the room as a quiet expectation. Eight, nine people. Programmers, analysts, assistants. Other employees—teammates, they call them—dialing in from Portland, Oregon, and beyond.
The brothers fire up the room when they walk inside. A fist-pump here, a shoulder touch there. At the same time, there is something almost shy about them. Apart, they seem like casual visitors to the space they inhabit. It is when they're together that they feel fully shaped. One can't imagine them being apart from each other for very long.
The Winklevoss twins speak onstage at Bitcoin! Let's Cut Through the Noise Already at SXSW in 2016. GETTY They move from desk to desk. The price goes up, the price goes down. The phones ring. The e-mails beep. Customer-service calls. Questions about fees. Inquiries about tax structures.
Gemini was started in late 2015 as a next-generation bitcoin exchange. It is not the first such exchange in the world by any means, but it is one of the most watched. The company is designed with ordinary investors in mind, maybe a hedge fund, maybe a bank: all those people who used to be confused or even terrified by the word bitcoin. It is insured. It is clean. What's so fascinating about this venture is that the brothers are risking themselves by trying to eliminate risk: keeping the boat steady and exploding through it at the same time.
It is when they're together that they feel fully shaped. One can't imagine them being apart from each other for very long. For the past couple years, the Winklevosses have worked closely with just about every compliance agency imaginable. They ticked off all the regulatory boxes. Essentially they wanted to ease all the Debting Thomases. They put regulatory frameworks in place. Security and bankability and insurance were their highest objectives. Nobody was going to be able to blow open the safe. They wanted to soothe all the appetites for risk. They told Bitcoin Magazine they were asking for "permission, not forgiveness."
This is where bitcoin can become normal—that is, if you want bitcoin to be normal.
Just a mile or two down the road, in Soho, a half dozen bitcoiners gather at a meetup. The room is scruffy, small, boxy. A half mannequin is propped on a table, a scarf draped around it. It's the sort of place that twenty years ago would have been full of cigarette smoke. There's a bit of Allen Ginsberg here, a touch of Emma Goldman, a lot of Zuccotti Park. The wine is free and the talk is loose. These are the true believers. They see bitcoin in its clearest possible philosophical terms—the frictionless currency of the people, changing the way people move money around the world, bypassing the banks, disrupting the status quo.
A comedy show is being run out in the backyard. A scruffy young man wanders in and out, announcing over and over again that he is half-baked. A well-dressed Asian girl sidles up to the bar. She looks like she's just stepped out of an NYU business class. She's interested in discovering what bitcoin is. She is regaled by a series of convivial answers. The bartender tells her that bitcoin is a remaking of the prevailing power structures. The girl asks for another glass of wine. The bartender adds that bitcoin is democracy, pure and straight. She nods and tells him that the wine tastes like cooking oil. He laughs and says it wasn't bought with bitcoin. "I don't get it," she says. And so the evening goes, presided over by Margaux Avedisian, who describes herself as the queen of bitcoin. Avedisian, a digital-currency consultant of Armenian descent, is involved in several high-level bitcoin projects. She has appeared in documentaries and on numerous panels. She is smart, sassy, articulate.
When the talk turns to the Winklevoss brothers, the bar turns dark. Someone, somewhere, reaches up to take all the oxygen out of the air. Avedisian leans forward on the counter, her eyes shining, delightful, raged.
"The Winklevii are not the face of bitcoin," she says. "They're jokes. They don't know what they're saying. Nobody in our community respects them. They're so one-note. If you look at their exchange, they have no real volume, they never will. They keep throwing money at different things. Nobody cares. They're not part of us. They're just hangers-on."
"Ah, they're just assholes," the bartender chimes in.
"What they want to do," says Avedisian, "is lobotomize bitcoin, make it into something entirely vapid. They have no clue."
The Asian girl leaves without drinking her third glass of free wine. She's got a totter in her step. She doesn't quite get the future of money, but then again maybe very few in the world do.
Giving testimony on bitcoin licensing before the New York State Department of Financial Services in 2014. LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS The future of money might look like this: You're standing on Oxford Street in London in winter. You think about how you want to get to Charing Cross Road. The thought triggers itself through electrical signals into the chip embedded in your wrist. Within a moment, a driverless car pulls up on the sensor-equipped road. The door opens. You hop in. The car says hello. You tell it to shut up. It does. It already knows where you want to go. It turns onto Regent Street. You think,A little more air-conditioning, please. The vents blow. You think, Go a little faster, please. The pace picks up. You think, This traffic is too heavy, use Quick(TM). The car swings down Glasshouse Street. You think, Pay the car in front to get out of my way. It does. You think, Unlock access to a shortcut. The car turns down Sherwood Street to Shaftsbury Avenue. You pull in to Charing Cross. You hop out. The car says goodbye. You tell it to shut up again. You run for the train and the computer chip in your wrist pays for the quiet-car ticket for the way home.
All of these transactions—the air-conditioning, the pace, the shortcut, the bribe to get out of the way, the quick lanes, the ride itself, the train, maybe even the "shut up"—will cost money. As far as crypto-currency enthusiasts think, it will be paid for without coins, without phones, without glass screens, just the money coming in and going out of your preprogrammed wallet embedded beneath your skin.
The Winklevosses are betting that the money will be bitcoin. And that those coins will flow through high-end, corporate-run exchanges like Gemini rather than smoky SoHo dives.
Cameron leans across a table in a New York diner, the sort of place where you might want to polish your fork just in case, and says: "The future is here, it's just not evenly distributed yet." He can't remember whom the quote belongs to, but he freely acknowledges that it's not his own. Theirs is a truculent but generous intelligence, capable of surprise and turn at the oddest of moments. They talk meditation, they talk economics, they talk Van Halen, they talk, yes, William Gibson, but everything comes around again to bitcoin.
"The key to all this is that people aren't even going to know that they're using bitcoin," says Tyler. "It's going to be there, but it's not going to be exposed to the end user. Bitcoin is going to be the rails that underpin our payment systems. It's just like an IP address. We don't log on to a series of numbers, 115.425.5 or whatever. No, we log on to Google.com. In the same way, bitcoin is going to be disguised. There will be a body kit that makes it user-friendly. That's what makes bitcoin a kick-ass currency."
Any fool can send a billion dollars across the world—as long as they have it, of course—but it's virtually impossible to send a quarter unless you stick it in an envelope and pay forty-nine cents for a stamp. It's one of the great ironies of our antiquated money system. And yet the quark of the financial world is essentially the small denomination. What bitcoin promises is that it will enable people and businesses to send money in just about any denomination to one another, anywhere in the world, for next to nothing. A public address, a private key, a click of the mouse, and the money is gone.
A Bitcoin conference in New York City in 2014. GETTY This matters. This matters a lot. Credit-card companies can't do this. Neither can the big banks under their current systems. But Marie-Louise on the corner of Libertador Avenue can. And so can Pat Murphy in his Limerick housing estate. So can Mark Andreessen and Bill Gates and Laurene Powell Jobs. Anyone can do it, anywhere in the world, at virtually no charge.
You can do it, in fact, from your phone in a diner in New York. But the whole time they are there—over identical California omelettes that they order with an ironic shrug—they never once open their phones. They come across more like the talkative guys who might buy you a drink at the sports bar than the petulants ordering bottle service in the VIP corner. The older they get, the more comfortable they seem in their contradictions: the competition, the ease; the fame, the quiet; the gamble, the sure thing.
Bitcoin is what might eventually make them among the richest men in America. And yet. There is always a yet. What seems indisputable about the future of money, to the Winklevosses and other bitcoin adherents, is that the technology that underpins bitcoin—the blockchain—will become one of the fundamental tenets of how we deal with the world of finance. Blockchain is the core computer code. It's open source and peer to peer—in other words, it's free and open to you and me. Every single bitcoin transaction ever made goes to an open public ledger. It would take an unprecedented 51 percent attack—where one entity would come to control more than half of the computing power used to mine bitcoin—for hackers to undo it. The blockchain is maintained by computers all around the world, and its future sidechains will create systems that deal with contracts and stock and other payments. These sidechains could very well be the foundation of the new global economy for the big banks, the credit-card companies, and even government itself.
"It's boundless," says Cameron.
This is what the brothers are counting on—and what might eventually make them among the richest men in America.
And yet. There is always a yet.
When you delve into the world of bitcoin, it gets deeper, darker, more mysterious all the time. Why has its creator remained anonymous? Why did he drop off the face of the earth? How much of it does he own himself? Will banks and corporations try to bring the currency down? Why are there really only five developers with full "commit access" to the code (not the Winklevosses, by the way)? Who is really in charge of the currency's governance?
Perhaps the most pressing issue at hand is that of scaling, which has caused what amounts to a civil war among followers. A maximum block size of one megabyte has been imposed on the chain, sort of like a built-in artificial dampener to keep bitcoin punk rock. That's not nearly enough capacity for the number of transactions that would take place in future visions. In years to come, there could be massive backlogs and outages that could create instant financial panic. Bitcoin's most influential leaders are haggling over what will happen. Will bitcoin maintain its decentralized status, or will it go legit and open up to infinite transactions? And if it goes legit, where's the punk?
The issues are ongoing—and they might very well take bitcoin down, but the Winklevosses don't think so. They have seen internal disputes before. They've refrained from taking a public stance mostly because they know that there are a lot of other very smart people in bitcoin who are aware that crisis often builds consensus. "We're in this for the long haul," says Tyler. "We're the first batter in the first inning."
GILLIAN LAUB The waiter comes across and asks them, bizarrely, if they're twins. They nod politely. Who was born first? They've heard it a million times and their answer is always the same: Neither of them—they were born cesarean. Cameron looks older, says the waiter. Tyler grins. Normally it's the other way around, says Cameron, grinning back. Do you ever fight? asks the waiter. Every now and then, they say. But not over this, not over the future.
Heraclitus was wrong. You can, in fact, step in the same river twice. In the beginning you went to the shed. No electricity there, no heat, just a giant tub where you simulated the river. You could only do eleven strokes. But there was something about the repetition, the difference, even the monotony, that hooked you. After a while it wasn't an abandoned shed anymore. College gyms, national training centers. Bigger buildings. High ceilings. AC. Doctors and trainers. Monitors hooked up to your heart, your head, your blood. Six foot five, but even then you were not as tall as the other guys. You liked the notion of underdog. Everyone called you the opposite. The rich kids. The privileged ones. To hell with that. They don't know us, who we are, where we came from. Some of the biggest chips rest on the shoulders of those with the least to lose. Six foot five times two makes just about thirteen feet. You sit in the erg and you stare ahead. Day in, day out. One thousand strokes, two thousand. You work with the very best. You even train with the Navy SEALs. It touches that American part of you. The sentiment, the false optimism. When the oil fields are burning, you even think, I'll go there with them. But you stay in the boat. You want that other flag rising. That's what you aim for. You don't win but you get close. Afterward there are planes, galas, regattas, magazine spreads, but you always come back to that early river. The cold. The fierceness. The heron. Like it or not, you're never going to get off the water—that's just the fact of the matter, it's always going to be there. Hard to admit it, but once you were wrong. You got out of the boat and you haggled over who made it. You lost that one, hard. You might lose this one, too, but then again it just might be the original arc that you're stepping toward. So you return, then. You rise before dark. You drag your carcass along Broadway before dawn.
All the rich men in the world want to get shot into outer space. Richard Branson. Jeff Bezos. Elon Musk. The new explorers. To get the hell out of here and see if they—and maybe we—can exist somewhere else for a while. It's the story of the century. We want to know if the pocket of the universe can be turned inside out. We're either going to bring all the detritus of the world upward with us or we're going to find a brand-new way to exist. The cynical say that it's just another form of colonization—they're probably right, but then again maybe it's our only way out.
The Winklevosses have booked their tickets—numbers 700 and 701—on Branson's Virgin Galactic. Although they go virtually everywhere together, the twins want to go on different flights because of the risk involved: Now that they're in their mid-thirties, they can finally see death, or at least its rumor. It's a boy's adventure, but it's also the outer edge of possibility. It cost a quarter of a million dollars per seat, and they paid for it, yes, in bitcoin.
Of course, up until recently, the original space flights all splashed down into the sea. One of the ships that hauled the Gemini space capsule out of the water in 1965 was the Intrepid aircraft carrier.
The Winklevosses no longer pull their boat up the river. Instead they often run five miles along the Hudson to the Intrepid and back. The destroyer has been parked along Manhattan's West Side for almost as long as they have been alive. It's now a museum. The brothers like the boat, its presence, its symbolism: Intrepid, Gemini, the space shot.
They ease into the run.
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WARNING!!!!! BITCOIN 50% DUMP IN 10 DAYS!!!??? + A Secret 40% Altcoin Trade

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