Bitcoin Bits

Bitcoin has been stable for the past few months after its big spike and fall in early April:

Bitcoin chart

Meanwhile Gold (yesterday's Bitcoin) is falling and has been for a few months:

Gold chart

That was a bit of a joke about "yesterday's bitcoin" and probably wishful thinking on my part but I can't help but think there is a bit of a sea change going on in investors minds out there.

On Monday afternoon, I attended the weekly Bitcoin meetup in "Satoshi Square" which is next to the Abe Lincoln statue in the north side of NYC's Union Square Park. Here's a photo of Charlie Shrem coming to greet me as I arrived.

Charlie at satoshi square

It is truly an "open air market". Folks were buying and selling Bitcoin for cash. You'd hand someone the cash and they would take out their phone and send you the Bitcoin in a mobile wallet to mobile wallet transaction. I also bought a Bitcoin t-shirt using Bitcoin sent from my mobile wallet.

I left the t-shirt draped over a chair in my office and Brian captured the moment on Instagram

Bitcoin tshirt

There is something real and tangible about an open air market where the only currency allowed is Bitcoin. I would encourage anyone who wants to learn more about Bitcoin to attend this meetup. It's every Monday from 5-7 pm at Abe Lincoln statue at the north end of Union Square Park.

It is still very early days for Bitcoin and digital currency in general but I like what I am seeing. I think this could be very real.

#hacking finance

Comments (Archived):

  1. Carl Rahn Griffith


  2. William Mougayar

    Many years ago, folks would also arrive in that same park location in open air, but trade marijuana.Bitcoin is the new hash too 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      they still do

    2. Cam MacRae

      Bitcoin for pot; sounds like a fair swap.

      1. fredwilson

        I am sure it is done frequently

      2. Paul Williams

        You’ll be wanting to visit “the silk road” on Tor then 🙂 but watch out for the ATF lurking there.

        1. Cam MacRae

          Ha! For pot? It’s harder to buy cigarettes than pot.

      3. ShanaC


  3. reece

    love that it’s a legit open-air market… let’s see if that sticks through the winter months!

  4. jason wright

    is that a GOV in the white tee?

    1. fredwilson

      yeah, he’s been stalking me since occupy wall street

      1. William Mougayar

        LOL. Like this?

      2. jason wright

        but not the grey tee? they’re so underhand these days.

      3. JamesHRH

        this is a joke, right?

        1. jason wright

          when there’s doubt there is no doubti recommend the silent circle app when arranging to meet bit dealers

          1. Kirsten Lambertsen

            I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if the feds were watching the meetup, actually.In fact, one of the participants is probably a fed.

        2. fredwilson

          I hope so

  5. William Mougayar

    I just joined Toronto’s Bitcoin Meetup. Cool, they had 125 members. It will be my chance to buy a couple of Bitcoins and maybe get a t-shirt.…But I’m still thick-headed re: Bitcoin. Is it a currency or a commodity or both?

    1. fredwilson

      maybe its neither. maybe it is something new.

      1. kidmercury

        bitcoin is just a digital version of the tally stick monetary system.”nothing is new and fun, everything is old and boring.” – kidmercury

    2. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      Did u read my cigarette box comment….is empty cigarette box is a currency or commodity?It is a waste for everyone … but as a kid it worth my life at that time (hell number of fights for a single box…who found it first…see vs take)…it is all in the mind.So to answer your question….it is neither currency nor commodity….it is a mindset.

      1. ShanaC

        reminds me of beany babies – worth is what you assign to thing

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          Beany Babies! My first dotcom job made a lot of money on those…

      2. Chris Ellis

        Well said. Bitcoin belongs in a asset class of its own.

    3. Simon Edhouse

      its a currency… (also just to put that word in perspective, in Thailand detergent is often used as a currency) – but its actually very very simple. Its a really simple fast, almost frictionless and very secure way to transmit money. and its rapidly becoming global plus is inherently deflationary. (by the way, all that = ‘good’)

      1. ShanaC

        the us is also starting to use Tide as a form of currency depending on where you are

        1. Simon Edhouse

          I’ve heard king tides can be a nuisance… especially good at filling subways, but we’ve drifted off track me thinks

      2. Kevin

        This sounds like money “laundering” to me!

    4. Pete Griffiths

      It is a protocol that enables a currency – a medium of exchange. It’s key characteristic is that it is distributed. The idea of ‘banning’ bitcoin is silly, you can’t ban a protocol. You can however try to regulate the infrastructure that grows up on its back e.g. exchanges.

      1. William Mougayar

        ‘protocol’. I like that. There’s something “meta” about Bitcoin.

  6. John Revay

    Fred Wilson disruptor with the occupy hash tag & the Bitcoin shirt.

    1. fredwilson

      and gilliganmy patron saint.

      1. Kirsten Lambertsen

        Would love to get the full story on that some time. I found your comment about him representing web 1.0, but would love to know just how that is 🙂

      2. Simon Edhouse

        yes, spotted Gilligan… the indefatigable accidental hero of the late baby boomer gen.

  7. jason wright

    i read California has issued a cease and desist order against the Bitcoin Foundation.

    1. fredwilson

      and everyone in the bitcoin business in the UStime to get compliant

      1. jason wright

        everyone?the tectonic plates are moving

      2. kidmercury

        aka, time for the opportunity to be regulated out of existence

        1. fredwilson

          I don’t think so. Regulated into normalcy and acceptance and ascendance

          1. kidmercury

            another thing we should bet on for charity!what happened to liberty reserve will happen to bitcoin businesses if they get to big for their britches and start to challenge the banking industry or (gasp) the almighty US dollar

          2. jason wright

            Liberty’s mistake was to incorporate in a country that wilts to US heat.

          3. kidmercury

            any country that doesn’t like virtual currencies, which is most of them, will work to block them. organizations that live in cognizance of this and strategize accordingly are best prepared to succeed. those that act like it can’t happen are deluding themselves and will be embarrassed accordingly.

          4. Simon Edhouse

            neither is bitcoin a ‘virtual currency’…

          5. kidmercury

            a meaningless distinction. whatever you want to call it, cryptocurrency, digital money thing, etc.

          6. Simon Edhouse

            actually its a very pertinent distinction. ‘virtual currencies’ are typically used in gaming (virtual) worlds to buy virtual goods. BTC is by definition not a virtual currency, it is being used as a real currency to buy real goods in the real world.

          7. kidmercury

            meaingless distinction. virtual goods can have real value; the delineation is subjective and arbitrary.

          8. Simon Edhouse

            Gee, you’re cranky today… and not making any sense.

          9. kidmercury

            lol i’m not cranky, annoyed at meaningless distinctions that obfuscate the heart of the matter.

          10. Simon Edhouse

            you’ll end up just having a conversation with yourself, though… (i’m out)

          11. kidmercury

            sorry you were intimidated by the conversation. i welcome you’re return if at any point you are no longer intimidated.

          12. Simon Edhouse

            you most certainly were not “intimidating”, it was after 2.00am my time, (where I currently am) and I lost patience. Also, you are basically pontificating, not discussing, which quickly becomes rather boring.

          13. kidmercury

            lol i’m just joking with you no worries 🙂

          14. Simon Edhouse

            Bitcoin is not a ‘business’ its a protocol

          15. kidmercury

            yes, my comments pertain to businesses built on top of this protocol

          16. Simon Edhouse

            this protocol does not have binding causal effects in the way that many ‘platforms’ do. yes, many BTC businesses will fail, but not because of the protocol. IMO

          17. Pete Griffiths

            Simon is right it is not a ‘virtual currency’ as the terms has been used. One can stretch the term to refer to any currency as ‘virtual’ – dollars after all are in some senses virtual – but I think this is unhelpful. The fact that bitcoin is used in the real world directly is relevant. For one thing, it will engender more regulation.

          18. fredwilson

            Exactly. What people build on top of it may be businesses

          19. Simon Edhouse

            indeed, and eminently honorable and legitimate ones at that, that are suddenly enabled by the protocol, see:

          20. robertdesideri

            having trouble climbing beyond the b’s similarities with google wave, from a user standpoint. it’s clever and all, but does everyone need it. learn from google wave.

          21. fredwilson

            was google wave an open protocol that was not controlled by any company and available to all to innovate on top of?

          22. Pete Griffiths

            It was. And funnily enough it had another similarity. Its user interface sucked as does Bitcoin’s. Such usability problems may not matter to nerd early adopters but they throttle growth.

          23. robertdesideri

            (typos, grammar flubs and humor attempts ahead — read with lightness)i’m optimistic. the bitcoin experiment taught good lessons. the coolest revelation, the big takeaway, is one no longer has to be a famous economist, or for that matter be invited by the leader of a country with a failed economy, to experiment ‘in vivo’. the internets enabled economic experiments to bypass the petrie dish and screw around in the real thing. really big deal, this is. theories on a whiteboard are fun, but absent behavioral data whiteboard economics is pocket pool.overheard on the L train:q: what was google wave to geeks? a: google wave was a clever embodiment of technology invented at google, its nuances appealed to rigorous-thinking geeks capable of grokking it’s potential. wave was an awesome idea.q: what was google wave to the average bear?a: all i remember is people saying: “huh, i don’t get it. email is much easier, why do i need this? complexity sucks, i want my aol.”…snip…q: so you’re saying wave could’ve been built on open source code – and / or- by a walled gardener for that matter, financed with VC and flipped to a big player for billions? beat goog at their own game, right?a: sure, why not, there’s nothing special about messaging code, there’s tonnes of it out there, much of it open. and it’s legend one of the old school internets behemoths loves flambé. get ready to party like a rock star.q: so you mean anyone could’ve cloned wave’s good aspects, binned the stinkers and walked away with the prize?a: no doubt, dude. open source / open protocols totally pull. can you say money magnet? a wave clone would’ve been even easier today to fund with all the angels at the dance, have you seen valuations lately? thanks be to gilligan for the 2 and 20 invention, so many would never have access to all that pension and endowment money if it were’t for the amazing financial engineers who invented it. you know that 2 and 20 is an open protocol, right?q: so the world really needs google wave, you’re saying it’s a sure thing, right, i should clone it and build on it.a: absolutely a sure thing. and remember, include an aspect money launderers and smugglers can use, make sure you test with them first, get traction to show on angel list and to VCs your strategy really sings. never forget, it was porn that got the web started and porn publishers are still gobbled for dessert no matter how bloated the diner. stay on message, repeat until they get it that you are built on an open protocol, doing something good for the world -like ‘open’ did government. listen, one more thing before i hop, don’t forget to not deny the enabling-nefarious-actors aspect, the feds can help you get free reportage, you know what they say “there’s no such thing as bad publicity”. in the pando interview let drop you have a proprietary AML algo riding high atop the bitcoin protocol that’s better than anything goog engineers could conjure.fred, the optimist in me sees _huge_ opportunity in currency domain. further internet experiments will reveal further data. bitcoin was essentially a ‘free’ experiment, unless of course you didn’t realize it was an experiment and bought a boat load with ‘real’ money. and like finding a cure for cancer further experiments and data collection will be expensive. wreckage along the runway will not be dissimilar to that of biotech. the expertise + luck model holds here as it does just about everywhere. regulatory rip tides are a bitch, possibly more bad luck lurking there. currency is an area where few have true expertise. a very nice complex challenge currency is. love reading your posts and everyones comments here, you’ve built one of the best venues for learning – thank you. more currency experiments now, please.

          24. Simon Edhouse

            quite significant (if geeky) news today: “a full implementation of micropayment channels has been mergedonto bitcoinj’s master branch” via @gavinandresen (

          25. fredwilson

            oh hell yes

          26. William Mougayar

            aka Regulated 2.0

        2. Matt A. Myers

          Regulated to make sure you have the money and people resources to do everything necessary – just adding barrier to entry I imagine.They could however regulate it out of existence or much greatly reduced value to it (anonymity being a large one) – that’s a risk I guess investors in this area are willing to take.

          1. Cam MacRae

            It is a common misconception that Bitcoin is anonymous — pseudonymous perhaps, but not inherently anonymous.

          2. Matt A. Myers

            Well, Fred giving cash to someone in person, to then get Bitcoin from someone – then Fred would use that to purchase whatever. Am I missing something?

          3. Cam MacRae

            I don’t really understand the question.

          4. Simon Edhouse

            perhaps that BTC is effectively analogous to cash, that is the major point

          5. LE

            “Am I missing something?”You’re not missing anything. It’s a concept that, on it’s face, doesn’t resonate with the vast majority of people. Unless they are looking for a quick easy buck with little friction and effort. Gambling.If people are buying it because they think it’s going to increase in value (as an investment or a hedge or as stability or whatever) they are just kidding themselves. They are gambling. While there may be people who will do this and make out the vast majority of people will lose.

          6. Aaron Klein

            I am not a Bitcoin expert, but it seems like it would be relatively easy to deanonymize Bitcoin. For example, if you were a merchant, couldn’t you match date and time transaction patterns to the public wallet transactions and figure out which user is who?In theory, a merchant could thus figure out how much money you have in your account. Am I wrong?

          7. Cam MacRae

            There are a number of papers in which the authors de-anonymise parts of the network with varying degrees of success. Here is a good summary that skips the impenetrable academic dross:

          8. Sean Moore

            The anonymity is not the point – the anonymity is just a stage of bitcoins evolution. If bitcoin ever becomes widely used the anonymity is really a means to a greater end. The anonymity is useful just at the moment because it makes it harder for the incumbents to foil bitcoins attempt to gain a foothold. Everyone who complains about anonymity or lack thereof is failing to understand the intrinsic value of bitcoin.I humbly even suggest that the name ‘bitcoin’ is a bit of a misnomer but the average person needs something quick and easy to understand and I see the philosophical comparison.

        3. Simon Edhouse

          I think your predictions on BTC are not correct, (and we usually agree) a central BTC Bank is anomalous to how the BTC protocol is configured.

          1. kidmercury

            yes i know BTC is not configured that way, which is why i am not bullish on BTC’s prospects

          2. Simon Edhouse

            actually its clear that you just don’t understand it… sorry to be blunt.

          3. kidmercury

            lol i’m confident i understand the economics and monetary science of bitcoin far more than its proponents. i’ve been thinking and working on this stuff for a long time. your bluntness is most appreciated as i always enjoy a good beef, especially about this topic!

          4. Simon Edhouse

            sounds like ‘experts disease’ to me… seriously, you of all people I thought would have embraced bitcoin for what it is: a P2P open source digital currency. But you seem determined to wrap it up in old logic. Its actually a very simple and pure idea.

          5. kidmercury

            i don’t embrace bitcoin because i’ve spent a significant amount of time studying economics, monetary history, and financial markets. the great promise of bitcoin is that it will stabilize “eventually.” i simply believe, with great conviction, that “eventually” is going to take far too long to come, and that a central bank is what is really needed.i’m not an anarchists like bitcoin supporters invariably are. i admire the ideals but consider it impractical.

          6. Sean Moore

            I think you keep missing the fundamental essence of what a bitcoin is. It’s basically a networked decentralized ledger of who owns how much. It’s not merely an ideal it’s math pure and simple. The big flaw in regulatory bodies is that sooner or later the cost of regulation just becomes a cost of doing business then foisted onto the unsuspecting consumer.Human nature is capricious and not to be trusted. Bitcoin is FAR from perfect but the core concept is trust based systems are an accident waiting to happen as we are now witnessing. If bitcoin is not revolutionary it is evolutionary. If we can ensure the integrity of the network we can get past this adolescent bickering over corrupted or failing relic institutions. We are not saying those institutions have no value at all but there are superior alternatives that we seriously need to look at.Once someone gets their head around this the next logical step is an evolutionary currency whether it is bitcoin or something else. So far it is currently bitcoin. All the current imitators either use the same method or are centralised garbage junk prone to fail.

          7. Chris Ellis

            Bitcoin is divisive. It tends to favour people who consider their knowledge incomplete and are happy to replace old knowledge with new. People with an open ended curiosity to the world rather than Daddy knows best. Sophos vs Demos.

          8. kidmercury

            Lol….just to be clear, I have been talking about virtual currencies as being the ultimate game changer, something that ushers in a renaissance and is the solution to the economic crisis,since 2006. Even working on a business in this space. Im very open minded, but I may seem close minded because the conversations occurring now regarding bitcoin are already things ive though through. I see no evidence to warrant a change in my stance.The bitcoin fans also ignore that a new monetary agreement at the supranational level is in the works.this will change everything regarding the dollar, othrr currencies, and gold. The politicians may be a big problem, though they will drive asset values and how speculators and investors think.

          9. Pete Griffiths


      3. LE

        Lack of framework, control and structure creates worries. Makes total sense of course. If I was a legislator I’d be all over this.I mean it was fine for the Internet to have no control it was necessary for it to grow. (You’d be surprised though at how many people don’t realize that there is no “internet police” and it’s every man for himself. “Who do I complain to?”) Bitcoin is another thing though. At the end of the day I’m very glad there is a system in place to protect the money that I have. I’m not interested in the wild west managed by people with different agendas and interests.

    2. Pete Griffiths

      A ludicrous order when you review the activities of the Fundation. This is a misguided lashing out. They don’t understand what they are trying to regulate.

  8. Robert Hacker

    Bitcoin is all part of a trend slowly emerging to reduce the role and interference of government. Founders at Google talking about starting a new country is another data point. Proposal for new city state (country) from property sold by Central American government supports the trend. Even crowd sourcing may be evidence.

    1. Sean Hull

      Interestingly it was with the “gold standard” where we had less interference of government.It was with the introduction of fiat currency that the US made a law that citizens couldn’t hold more than a certain amount of real gold. Strange truth.

    2. jason wright

      Liberia for the 21st century

  9. takingpitches

    Bitcoin’s version of the buttonwood tree.

    1. Dave Pinsen

      I think that was the idea. There was an FT article about this meetup a couple of weeks ago:

  10. kidmercury

    yay! my favorite subject. a few points:1. is the price of gold really falling? taking delivery of gold has premium of $217 over spot in vietnam.2. what is happening in gold is the most bullish of all scenarios. gold is going to go to unspeakably high prices. if you research the concept known as “free gold” it will become clear. the caveat is that only gold you can touch is going to go to those heights, other forms of gold may evaporate like mf global. the price of gold on US futures exchanges is probably going to continue to fall. how much longer you will be able to pick up physical gold while the futures prices are falling remains to be seen.3. has bitcoin really stabilized? yesterday it fluctuated from $100 to $110. about 10% range. the volatilty is a transaction cost. would you rather have 10% uncertainty or a 3% fixed payment? i don’t think bitcoin will stabilize ever, but at its current market cap of 1bn or so, it is far from stablizing. apple was once worth over $500 bn before its embarrassing price collapse and back then it would have 7%+ ranges on days of on earnings announcements. bitcoin is one tiny dislocation away from a return to enormous volatility. such dislocations are only a matter of time — and probably not much.anyway, bitcoin is facing a classic crossing the chasm problem, it will appeal to the nerds but the mainstream needs a different solution. it is just like open/integrated, the mainstream needs an integrated solution — which in the case of currency means a currency regulated by a central bank. bitcoin is getting things going forward and helping society acclimate to the mentality of revolution and life beyond the nation-state, which is quite valuable and will be greatly appreciated by future businesses that properly capitalize upon this cultural shift.

    1. jason wright

      i would have more faith in a peer-to-peer global currency than a fiat currency…long term. it’s the obvious next step in globalization.

      1. kidmercury

        i think the next step is for the volatility to get out of control, for people to get burned in the process, and for the market to introduce ways to minimize volatility (i.e. have a central bank manage the currency)

        1. jason wright

          bitcoin and a central bank? fundamentally contradictory.greater adoption = greater stability. chicken and egg.

          1. kidmercury

            bitcoin won’t have a central bank, which is why it will fail. that and that it will be regulated out of existence. but those that learn from the mistakes of bitcoin will utilize a model with a central bank.greater adoption = greater incentive to manipulate. wait until derivatives and high frequency trading are unleashed on bitcoin. apple couldn’t be stable at 500bn market cap, bitcoin will have an even tougher time as it already is — 10% daily trading range on a non-volatile day is huge.

          2. pointsnfigures

            I don’t think you need a central bank. Markets that are efficient are self monitoring, and self correcting.

          3. ShanaC

            i think you need regulators though – otherwise you have a constant search for insiderism which happens because humans are not efficient 🙂

          4. christopolis

            because all the regulation we have now and I mean literally millions of pages are doing such a splendid job. And if regulation is so important who regulates the regulators?

          5. kidmercury

            the voters, but they’re even worse at regulating than the regulators! 🙂

          6. christopolis

            4 years is a long time to wait. And I how do I vote out the EPA? Please let me know.

          7. christopolis

            4 years is a long time to wait. And I how do I vote out the EPA? Please let me know.

          8. ShanaC

            why do you want to get rid of the EPA

          9. kidmercury

            elections occur annually. moreover, people who voted for the president and congress should not be surprised at the kind of foolish appointments that are made. i do favor non-violent revolution as the true solution, though i think voting is worthwhile and a responsibility in the mean time.

          10. ShanaC

            i don’t think that, but I also don’t think markets are ipso facto efficient If they were there would be no such thing as bubbles

          11. Sean Moore

            Shana the problem with this theory is someone eventually needs to regulate the regulators. History is replete with examples of this. At the moment the regulators impose penalty fees for non compliance. This is another form of a bribe and does not really induce compliance – just another cost of doing ‘business’ This cost then gets passed onto the customer. It’s really quite a racket to be fair.

          12. SubstrateUndertow

            What markets would those be ?

          13. Erl

            To me, the attraction of Bitcoin as an investment is that there is no political interfernece – no central bank to manipulate it. Just a fixed, known number of coins in existence at every point in time.

          14. kidmercury

            there is political interference — bitcoin’s value is determined by whoever has the might and will to determine it. just like hedge funds and high frequency trading.

          15. Simon Edhouse

            pure market forces are affecting BTCs value, plus the principle of its scarcity, which helps to maintain its value

          16. kidmercury

            its value has not been maintained thus far, as the asset enjoys 10% swings on days that deemed non-volatile.

          17. Simon Edhouse

            Its hardly budged from US$100 for weeks, but Gold is going all over the place. (being manipulated) Please watch (all of) Erik’s video, (with an open mind)

          18. kidmercury

            how you are defining “hardly budged”? percentages are what count. it’s been near 10% on these days that are allegedly stable. 10% is a lot. here’s a chart:…i’m familiar with all the arguments for bitcoin. if anyone can tell me how it is going to stabilize, aside from magical theories that the market will stabilize eventually, i’d love to hear it.

          19. Pete Griffiths

            There are several sources of such instability. Some are exogenous eg government intervention whilst others are endogenous. A bit source of instability arises from the size of the market with (a) a high concentration of ownership and (b) its limited liquidity.

          20. kidmercury

            yes, and high concentration and limited liquidity are both significant problems that make it an unlikely stable store of value.

          21. Pete Griffiths

            Bitcoin is by no means an assured success. But it is perfectly possible to see you concentration of ownership can be more distributed and with it greater liquidity. This should be gradual because otherwise early adopters dumping large positions will crash the market – but gradual disbursements should be fine.

          22. Pete Griffiths

            For the present – absolutely.

          23. Pete Griffiths

            It’s a thin market.

          24. SubstrateUndertow

            Except the distributive politics of self-interest and greed.Which works in BitCoins favour as long as it turns out to be the perfectly designed market-base monetary Mexican-Stand-Off.But that is tall order yet to be demonstrated ?

          25. Pete Griffiths

            Politically inspired interference can create volitility in bitcoin as in other markets

          26. Sebastian Wain

            I think killing Bitcoin with regulation is a bad idea because bitcoins can provide additional information to the economy, the way that future markets, or nowadays keyword trends do.

          27. kidmercury

            agreed, though governments are fond of killing good ideas with regulations, when the good ideas threaten the businesses that own government.

          28. LE

            Central bank is a way to have a “nothing to see here, move along” strategy. You get out in front of the issues, provide some framework, and it prevents worse regulation. If I understand what you are saying that is.

          29. kidmercury

            usually central banks suck, which is why there is such aversion to it, and is part of why bitcoin was created in the first place. i don’t dispute that they usually suck, though i dont think we can return to a world without them. people think the market will magically find an equilibrium without a central bank which i think is false. in today’s environment, speculators will wreak havoc upon any market they can once there is sufficient incentive to do so. the rise in the digitization of money has also come with a rise in speculative activity.

          30. Pete Griffiths

            All assets have always been subject to speculation.The whole point about markets is that they do find dynamic equilibrium. The point of policy instruments is to shift that equlibrium, not to create it.

          31. kidmercury

            i don’t think markets find equilibrium, especially today’s markets. what asset has displayed the kind of stability we’d like to see out of money? the only asset that comes close is cash, whose value is highly controlled by government.

          32. howardlindzon

            good stuff. on point and I like it

          33. Pete Griffiths

            There are crypto currencies that are centralized and hence in this sense have a central bank.Peer to peer brings something valuable and different.

          34. Sean Moore

            Oh goodness me are you in for the shock of your life.

          35. kidmercury

            that’s all you guys do, say things like that. do you have an idea on how bitcoin’s value is going to stabilize? or will that simply occur magically? for your sake, let’s make the outrageous assumption that the feds will tolerate something that challenges the dollar and the banking system.peter thiel’s original vision of paypal involved creating a cyber-currency. regulation stopped him.

          36. Sean Moore

            I think you don’t understand the concept of decentralised network. All they can do is target the exit nodes which only fortifies bitcoins position. When people start using INSTEAD of fiat currency (wait till the bond market goes tits up – and it will) you will see what I mean.Why haven’t they shut down TOR yet? Because it’s not cost-effective no matter how many billions they throw at it it only makes it stronger. I don’t know you and I’d rather not go into the specifics of it for a number of reasons but if you are somewhat intelligent you will be able to work it out for yourself. Otherwise I’m just wasting my breath because no matter what I say you will disagree with it by using out of date, out of context information.

          37. kidmercury

            Agreed they cannot shut down bitcoin, but they can shut down bitcoin companies, which are centralized and assist greatly in widespread adoption of the currency.Gold will benefit more than any other asset from thr coming bond market collapse. Bitcoin cannot absorb the exodus from the bond market, it is too small of a market.

          38. m. hameed

            May I ask why you suppose are think they can shut down companies using bitcoin. Especially if they began to operate as groups independent much like the Diaspora* social media/software model.

          39. Chris Ellis

            A government wants to maintain the status quo, it wants to be re-elected. If enough jobs depend on Bitcoin it will be very hard for them to shut down those companies. Problem is people tend to think linearly and not exponentially, the future is about to come crashing in to the present for a lot of people that weren’t paying attention.As Andreas Antonopoulos said on Let’s Talk Bitcoin:”It’s like dinosaurs braying at the meteor.”

          40. kidmercury

            Any virtual currency is a threat to the status quo in politics and thus will be banned or regulated to an extent that it no longer threatens the big banks. Bitcoin the protocol cannot be banned, but any big company is an easy target. The only real strategy for a virtual currency company is to find a way to rebel against regulation.

          41. Sean Moore

            Gold and Bitcoin both have their own unique properties. Gold however is largely out of reach of the average person. A safer bet would be to leverage your bitcoin position with Silver. If you can afford to hedge with gold then it’s very debatable still whether you need bitcoin at all however bitcoin does have many properties gold cannot offer. There is an element of perception which has a role but much remains yet to be seen.

          42. kidmercury

            Gold wins because that’s what the mega rich play with. They buy it and hold it which gives it both market capitalization and stability. Bitcoin has neither and thus is too susceptible to manipulation nd volatility regardless of its alleged benefits.

          43. Sean Moore

            You are right to be skeptical but the way you speak your skepticism does not appear 100% genuine. You clearly omit many useful features of bitcoin that gold cannot do.

          44. kidmercury

            Sure, lets say there is some stuff bitcoin can do that gold cannot. The opposite is also true, though — gold.csn do stuff bitcoin cannot. The most importsnt issue, though, is stability of price. Neither has that but it will be much easier to obtain with a strategy that works with gold than with bitcoin.

          45. Chris Ellis

            The US is just one country among many. We have already seen China and Russia sieze the opportunity with Bitcoin by taking a lof the hashing power. I believe at the time of writing it is now cheaper for a Chinese citizen to buy Bitcoin than a US citizen.When volatility hits strong hands enter the market. People are fed up with being pushed in to the barter economy as wealth gets hoarded at the top, so now they are forming independent strategies to get around it. I am enjoying the return of price signals and I am happy to take risks in the volatile market if others are too scared or don’t understand the asset.

          46. kidmercury

            When volatility hits, speculative activity increases. It is debateable how strong the bitcoin hands actually are.

          47. Pete Griffiths

            Correct. Bigger market is key. And less concentrations.

        2. Chris Ellis

          Volatility will decrease as more money is introduced in to system. Right now it isn’t even a penny stock which is why it fluctuates so much. In a way you could think of Bitcoin as a fear index, it reflects us back at ourselves.I like Gold and Silver too, the physical stuff, but I am lucky enough to live in a country where the prospect of me having to cross a border with my assets is unlikely. For many people in the world that is a reality and it’s hard to do when one central authority controls the borders money supply. Simply sell your assets one side of the border for Bitcoin then buy them back the other side. Gold is just too heavy and doesn’t transfer well over IP.The real story here though is not Bitcoin, it’s the crypto currency movement as a whole. There are more and more of these coming out every day, all innovating on the original concept. The governments could try banning it but all that will do is smash it in to tiny pieces just like other P2P networks.

          1. kidmercury

            Sell and buy back involves exchange rate risk, which as we have discussed is huge. It is the dealbreaker for bitcoin and any cryptocurrency that fails to address it.

    2. pointsnfigures

      Sold to you. I have both palms out on gold at $2300/oz. Won’t bust through there.

      1. kidmercury

        maybe add a zero and i think there may be resistance there. 🙂 although honestly i think it will go even higher than that……in the 1930s the feds revalued gold by over 75% overnight……this orchestrated takedown is allowing insiders to accumulate as much as possible before the big revaluation.

        1. pointsnfigures

          Before you were born ; ), the high tick in gold was in 1979. Adjusted for inflation, that number is right around $2300.

          1. kidmercury

            yes, i think we will go way beyond the 1979 bull market. i think the only solution this time is a political reorganization involving a new monetary agreement that will officially restore gold to the international monetary system.

          2. Girish Mehta

            Clarification – in your characterization of the role of gold above, when do you think the international monetary system last operated to it ? 1971 ? 1914 ? I dont think it is never, since you said “restore”. Thanks.

          3. kidmercury

            i believe gold was last attached to the monetary system in 1971, though when it returns this time, i think it will do so in a different format — not a fixed gold standard. i think gold will be allowed to float in a range that is periodically re-evaluated.

          4. christopolis

            which is not a gold standard, there would be no value in that. the whole point of a gold standard is to separate the power from government,a central bank by its very definition has to be a part of government. a floating gold rate with the rate set by the central government is hardly different from what we have, when they get themselves in a pickle you dont think they will pull a revaluation just like they did in the 30’s?

        2. Richard

          The issue is how much do they buy, how much do they own and when will they reveal it. Who are they? Chinese Central Bank.

    3. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

      So in your opinion bitcoin will layout the platform (common people mindset) for the next player and not survive.

      1. kidmercury

        yes, basically

        1. m. hameed

          That is a very rational prediction. Bitcom the Napster of digital currency…..

    4. CJ

      If a new currency is regulated by a central bank, why would we need it or want it?

      1. kidmercury

        you’d want it if the new central bank was better than the old one

        1. christopolis

          and why would a new central bank be better than the old one? Or are you going with the old communist idealogy of getting the “right” people in there. Good luck

          1. kidmercury

            when central banks have to compete for end users to use their currency, they will end up creating good governments.

          2. m. hameed

            Ummm that is extremely optimistic…..

    5. Evan

      Maybe it isn’t bitcoin (as a stable store of value) but why must it be gold, going forward. All value of gold above its utility value is based on the same trust that national fiat currency is based on. With one very key distinction – you can pay taxes with your country’s fiat currency. That’s a real, fundamental value.

      1. kidmercury

        it doesn’t have to be gold, but it has been historically, and seems to be on that path now.

      2. christopolis

        why gold? because gold is perfect money, not consumed, commodity, stable increase in qty (2% a year) its got a high unit value and its divisible.bitcoin meets two of those criteria but fails because it is not a commodity.

  11. jason wright

    this is how George Soros got going. illegal money trading on the mean streets of Budapest in 1945,… allegedly.

  12. Tom Labus

    Early 1800’s stocks literally traded outside at the “curb” and that name still is in use.Bitcoin will probably survive in some form after the initial pounding by regs and maybe have some legs too

  13. pointsnfigures

    Plant a Buttonwood Tree there. Gold is losing flavor for now. The trade got way too crowded and people were panic buying. There is a reason to own gold, jewelry. As the middle class keeps growing worldwide, demand for gold will continue to grow. But, the supply curve for gold can move as well. How many people took their jewelry to a gold dealer and sold it? It’s not just mining activities that move the curve.Bitcoin is interesting. There might be something there. Markets show that there is some perceived value in holding it. Regulators are aware of it. You made a bet, now you have to wait for the horse to run the race.

  14. wollit

    We’re deep in the Bitcoin Trenches.The tech/adoption learning curve is complex enough.Opaque govt regulation doesn’t help.

    1. jason wright

      when are you opening?

  15. Laura Paglione

    Fun! Last time I was in Berlin I hung out in a restaurant that only accepted cash or Bitcoin, and the street it was on had a bunch of other brick and mortar stores that exchanged primarily in bitcoin. Pretty fun.

  16. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    I still remember exchanging money (rupee and paise) for cigarette boxes in my early childhood .We play with cigarette boxes like ‘playing cards’…some of the foreign cigarette boxes would worth 100’s of local boxes or about a cent.Return-to-innocence (enigma).

  17. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Bitcoin may play bigger role in places where gambling, betting….where ever actual currency is banned….and as long as it stays nerdy and cult….if they try to become the mainstream they will seize to exist…let us wait and see..

  18. Druce

    cool tech and community… needs a socially beneficial and/or legal use case where it’s cheaper/more convenient than cash for mainstream adoption… otherwise same is going to happen to it as happened to Napster/Pokerstars … then maybe a more regulated/taxed version will crop up.I salute the boldness, but fear anyone associated with it is going to get tarred and feathered.

  19. Josh Rossi

    Yes, I was inspired by the buttonwood story when I founded this:…I think this is the only paradigm that makes sense for a consumer/retail level bitcoin investor.I had a long talk with Patrick Murck the legal counsel for the Bitcoin Foundation, and he was overall very enthusiastic about this model.We are also working on an open source software project to facilitate these types of exchanges. We launched in LA, and are launching in Berlin on Saturday.I have posted some of my musings at, and I am very happy that it has taken off, I hope to see a lot more people there next monday. 🙂

  20. Patrick Lefler

    Fred,Not sure I understand the reasoning behind your comparison between gold’s price decline and Bitcoin’s recent price stability in determining whether Bitcoin can become the game-changing alternate currency that many hope for. The price spread (or volatility spread, for that matter) between the two has absolutely no bearing on Bitcoin’s long-term prospects. Perhaps a better comparison would be to track Bitcoin transaction volumes against current industry players. In the end, user acceptance as an alternative currency (along with those pesky regulators) is what’s going to determine Bitcoin’s future. Would appreciate your thoughts…Pat Lefler

    1. fredwilson

      I agree. I said that was an attempt at levity

      1. Pete Griffiths

        Dear Fredto avoid future misunderstandings please take the trouble to flag your jokes in future. This isn’t the first time excessive dryness has led to problems. A simple hashtag would probably suffice.

        1. fredwilson

          I flagged it as such in the post

          1. Pete Griffiths

            Mine too, was an attempt at levity. 🙂

  21. JimHirshfield

    LIke in ancient times, bring your wares to the market, literally. Set up your stall and sell your crops or livestock. Union Square continues this tradition with it’s green markets and vendors that line it’s west side.

    1. ShanaC

      the green market vendors don’t take bitcoin though as far as I know

      1. JimHirshfield

        Have you tried?

  22. JimHirshfield

    Odd that a 100% digital thing wants to be traded in person. Why is that? Trust? Do the meetup attendees not trust the various Bitcoin exchanges?

    1. Josh Rossi

      Every trade has two sides…bitcoin is easy, cash isn’tWe meet in person due to the limitations of fiat currencies, not because of any limitation in bitcoin.That being said, we are building community, critical mass that results in enclaves like they have in Berlin.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Cool. Thanks.

    2. Simon Edhouse

      the person-to-person thing just makes it more obvious and straight forward, don’t forget this is ‘new’, so the face to face exchanges assist in building confidence. Also, as Erik Voorhees made the point a few weeks ago in San Jose, even if all the ‘digital exchanges’ like MtGox stuff up, ‘exchanges’ work just fine on the street level informal exchange level, another significant point.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Agreed, person to person is better in so many cases. Thanks.

  23. JamesHRH

    I think Bitcoin will be legit, over time.That being said, it is will only be as legit as gold.And here is what the Oracle of Omaha thinks of gold –

    1. Pete Griffiths

      Why will it only be as legit as gold?

  24. ShanaC

    I didn’t beleive you when I saw this – went to visit myself.While there (for the last five minutes) I noticed the following -a) they need this – people actually exchangving it in person gives it more standing as a fungable way of buying/selling thingsb) I still don’t know which greenmarket vendor would allow them to then go buy vegetables. Would help if you get that to line up as wellc) they are missing a future market, and have no current way of guaranteeing delivery (had a conversation there about it)d) they are working in a funny historical way which gives me slight optimism (hehehe dutch east india company was traded the same way at one point)

  25. Billy Polcha

    Currency or dollars, are created by Governments. Bitcoin is really a “Virtual Commodity.”

    1. Simon Edhouse

      commodities are bought with currencies… bitcoin is a new type of currency, (and not created by Gov’t) that is the key fact to get used to.

  26. ZekeV

    Bitcoin crowdfundings have recently raised multiple million $ worth of BTC for a few Eastern European startups. No one here is talking about that, still focused on “can I use BTC to buy stuff at the store?” Missing the action, and the point. In other news, the folks at bitcoinx project are making significant advances in developing colored coin protocol and implementing it in client software. This will allow the issuance of arbitrary assets using the BTC blockchain. This stuff is very exciting, though preliminary stages yet. Much more exciting than simple buying and selling of goods and services, or exchange of BTC for fiat currencies.

    1. Simon Edhouse

      yes, quite true… its inherently new, that is why there is so much cognitive dissonance whirling around this subject. (i.e. the Earth is not flat, its round!, OMG!)

    2. fredwilson

      I agree

    3. Pete Griffiths

      Help me here. My observation is that whilst there is a burning need for more user friendly and more sophisticated client software the security of this software is a huge deal. Chinks in this software can enable huge theft that will prove to be incredibly hard to remedy.Thoughts?

      1. ZekeV

        The answer is, don’t run software that is non-open source and/or has not been security-tested. As an aside, I would point out that cryptocurrency is not very good as a store of value due to possibility of loss or theft. If you want to use it that way, then either you have to know what you’re doing and take appropriate security measures; or, you have to trust a third-party to carry an account balance for you that is denominated in cryptocurrency (just like you trust a bank to hold dollar-denominated balances, rather than putting cash under your mattress). But this is pedestrian stuff. What’s really cool about this technology is that it can be used to prove that a transaction has occurred between two parties, without the use of an intermediary. In the future, I expect that only big business will deal in any significant sum of cryptocurrency, which they will use as a sort of bandwidth for transmitting payments info. Ordinary users will not touch the stuff directly.

        1. Pete Griffiths

          Re ‘The answer – – yes obviously, but no software is perfect and the stakes are very high with bitcoin not just because it can be lost of stolen (that is true of any other store of value) but because of its mutability.Completely agree re the peer to peer.Why do you think only big businesses will use it? The are other cryptocurrencies designed to be more suitable for that purpose e.g. Ripple?

          1. ZekeV

            Cryptocurrency is not really suited to being used as a store of value by the average Joe. Better is an account balance stored by a trusted third-party and fully guaranteed by very deep pockets…oh, like a bank account, say. This is b/c the risk of default by a bank or bank-like entity is much lower than the risk of average Joe forgetting to back up his hard drive and/or giving out his login creds to a Nigerian prince. The reason that bitcoin is for big business is that the transaction costs of sending information over the btc network are going to go up astronomically, and are not going to come back down anytime soon. Off-network technologies such as Open Transactions / Monetas, or private P2P networks between trusted parties in an ecosystem, is where most activity will take place. Btc will only be used for clearing and very high-value transactions. At the same time, colored coin technology will allow transmitting payment info over btc and other crypto networks using the smallest atomic denomination allowed by the applicable protocol, thus further increasing value per unit of btc and other crypto “currencies”.

          2. FAKE GRIMLOCK


  27. Alex Calic

    This article from last week speaks to what you’re saying here Fred as it relates to the correlation of BTC to Gold (as well as USD): http://www.thegenesisblock….

  28. Stan Bokov

    Bitcoin is very real, and it very well can be the future (as the Internet once was). Here’s one possible Bitcoin prediction (click Play to see how it goes) –

    1. Sebastian Wain

      I think financial predictions must be inline with Bitcoin security risks, like Bitcoin eternal choice for the dark side attack: “The idea is that, with 15% of the hashing power, the attacker has approximately a 1:1000 chance of creating a branch of 8 blocks in a row himself faster than the main branch.”

      1. howardlindzon

        Smart to get involved here Stan…great use of tradingview

  29. jacopogio

    What will happen when all 21 mln Bitcoins will be mined ? #FIxedBitcoinMoneySupply

    1. Simon Edhouse

      Have a look at the talk Erik Voorhees gave at the Future of payments conference in San Jose a few weeks ago. He explains many crucial aspects about bitcoin brilliantly:

      1. ZekeV

        E.V. is one of three or four people in BTC right now who really get it.

      2. Pete Griffiths

        There are some very very clever people looking into Bitcoin.

      3. jacopogio

        thanks (a bit late) 😉

  30. Simon Edhouse

    Highly recommend anyone interested in bitcoin to watch this video of a talk by Erik Voorhees, seriously…

    1. LIAD

      yup. this is must-watch viewing.bitcoin explained in context. without understanding this. hard to understand what the fuss is about.

    2. James Ferguson @kWIQly

      Great – really clear well articulated explanation of underlying concepts without at an accessible level

  31. Miranda W

    The Economist posted an interesting article back in March, pointing out a few interesting perspectives about bitcoin like lacking users and the price trend is more like bubbles. (…I did a simple research with google trend and in my opinion, there’s not so much speculating interest in bitcoin. (

  32. awaldstein

    Been on a social sabbatical for almost a week but this brought me back (momentarily).Bitcoin has not touched me as real till it hits the streets at a marketplace level. Now I’m interested.Good buddy of mine runs the platforms for the Brixton Pound (@brixtonpound ) in Europe. Different but with similar social goals.Where’s the map of merchants and markets in NYC where this currency is usable? Useful thing to publish I would think.

  33. Talton

    Love seeing community Bitcoin events like these pop-up. A similar community is continuing to grow in SF, which is working to legitimize Bitcoin as a currency.This interview with Constance Choi is interesting and outlines a lot of the legal and political steps being taken.

  34. David Terwilliger

    “That was a bit of a joke about ‘yesterday’s bitcoin’ and probably wishful thinking on my part “Could you elaborate on this? Wishful thinking because you hope that bitcoin goes down? or that bitcoin is a logical extension to gold as a flight from fiat?

    1. fredwilson

      wishful thinking because we have invested in a bitcoin company and if bitcoin continues to do well, it may as well

      1. Pete Griffiths

        I suspect there is something very big here. But it is of course possible to be too early. A very tricky area to invest in as opposed to speculate in. Good luck. 🙂

  35. LE

    “It is still very early days for Bitcoin and digital currency in general but I like what I am seeing. I think this could be very real.”Maybe, maybe not. I think you are experiencing the same psychological concept (name anyone?) that deals with how you all the sudden see a car model that you have, or are considering buying, “all over the place” whereas you previous “never saw them anywhere”.Perhaps what you are seeing is the case in NYC, SF or a few other places. And maybe that is a canary in the coal mine. But I can assure you the the vast majority of the country has no clue, no interest and no need for bitcoin.

    1. Simon Edhouse

      …just like no one needed PCs in the 1980’s and early 90’s right? and no one ‘needed’ the internet. i.e. Wide public perception of ‘need’ is not always a good indicator of how and why disruptive innovations diffuse through communities. But being initially seen as ‘not good enough’ for the majority, and being an item that is largely not being ‘consumed’, are both key hallmarks of disruptive innovations.



        1. Simon Edhouse

          yeh, right… and without them, you wouldn’t be able to share such pearls of wisdom with us all. 😉

    2. Pete Griffiths

      Bitcoin isn’t a US only phenomena. There are countries that have currency regimes that make bitcoin very attractive.


    “There is something real and tangible about an open air market where the only currency allowed is Bitcoin.”.More genius! Gee Gadgeteer, it’s becoming a weekly thing.

  37. Trevor McKendrick

    There’s a (barely) funded Kickstarter campaign for a newly wed couple that plans to live the first 90 days after their wedding 100% off bitcoin. Fuel, food, rent, everything.…Funds go towards making a documentary about the experience.

  38. Pete Griffiths

    Crypto-currencies are indeed a very very interesting development.The joke about Bitcoin being today’s Gold is apposite precisely because that is exactly what it isn’t. Gold was seen as having intrinsic value over and above it’s value as a medium of exchange. It was faith in this intrinsic value that was leveraged for use it to back currencies.Many of those interested in Bitcoin don’t have a classic economics training but it does help. And works on the history of money help ut it into perspective e.g.The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World [Paperback]Niall Ferguson (Author)

  39. vruz

    Key things:1) Actual flesh and bone people trading.2) Maths-backed. The universe is the ultimate arbiter, you can’t fake maths.Whilst it’s true that obfuscation and botched implementations are still possible, if we compare the transparency of the Bitcoin system to anything that existed before it (including King-issued gold coins, you could never tell how much gold any lord owned until it was too late) it’s still a remarkable accomplishment of the human mind.3) Little or no barriers to entry. Free software, no central private entity to control, censor, prohibit or sanction transactions and people engaged in trade.4) Krugman’s argument on the regressive nature of Bitcoin (when compared to gold) is flat-out wrong. The regressiveness is only apparent because economists of all stripes are keen on forgetting hidden costs when that suits their argument. In the case of gold, it’s convenient to forget the administrative cost, storage, transportation, energy, machinery, land exploitation rights, ecological cost, and human cost of slavery in the mines, to name a few. Similarly, you can think of others for government-issued currency. Just a not well thought-out or outright disingenuous critique.

  40. jer979

    Thanks to you, I’ve got a Coinbase account, purchased some bitcoin, downloaded the mobile app and b/c I’ll be in NYC on Monday, plan to go to USQ for the meet-up.Next up: tackling mining. Recommendations welcome.Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. fredwilson

      Mining is for pros now. If you don’t have a serious rig you can’t compete

      1. jer979

        Even the mining pools don’t deliver?I wonder if we will start seeing bit coin denominated assets put out by companies or municipalities…

        1. ZekeV

          There are already bitcoin-denominated assets, but you will get into trouble if you think of them in the same way that you’d think of a corporate bond or stock. Think of it as a conceptual proof-of-concept, not an “investment”. More likely in the future I think is that you will see the bitcoin blockchain and other decentralized ledgers used to record trades in other real assets, for example cell phone minutes or game currency…

          1. jer979

            Good advice and much appreciated. Thank you.

  41. Rimbit.Com

    Just wait till Rimbit comes along to shake things up 🙂 Nice t-shirt… Do you have a spare 😛

  42. jason wright

    more and more i think that bitcoin may be work of GOV.

  43. Anthony

    Isn’t it weird to say, “There is something real and tangible about an open air market where the only currency allowed is Bitcoin” when there is cash being exchanged.

  44. JayCoin

    “I think this could be very real.” Then, 1BTC=~$100. Now, 1BTC=~$70. Now-Then=~10days.

    1. fredwilson

      Real and volatile don’t need to be mutually exclusive

      1. JayCoin

        OK, I’ll use this quote, then, “Bitcoin has been stable for the past few months.” Now is the time to blog about Bitcoin, when it’s tanking, or was that the “sea of change” you were talking about?

        1. fredwilson

          That’s a good idea. I should blog about Bitcoin when its tanking. I did that a few years ago after it crashed and said I thought it would rebound and it did. But I don’t really care too much about the price of BTC. I care about how much activity there is around it.

  45. ShanaC

    why is this off topic? this is a legitimate concern, especially with an open air market