The Pied Piper Effect

I’ve said many times on this blog that I like to give away bitcoin. I have my Coinbase wallet on my phone (yet another great reason to use a phone that allows you to do what you want with it). I’ll be out at dinner with friends or wherever, and I will take out my phone and send some bitcoin to a friend. It is amazing to see the effect of owning bitcoin on people. They go from being dismissive to being fans pretty fast when they own some bitcoin.

So it was with great joy that I read that every MIT student (all 4,528 of them) is going to get $100 in bitcoin to use however they wish. This is like giving every MIT student a laptop thirty years ago. That didn’t happen, but I had to make some kind of comparison. I can’t imagine a better group of students to infect with bitcoin religion than the MIT students. This will encourage them to get into bitcoin, understand it, and build stuff on top of it.

I don’t know the two MIT students who are doing this, but I do know their largest funder. I have reached out to him this morning in hopes that I can join the funding group behind this bitcoin giveaway. It is awesome. I love it.

#entrepreneurship#hacking finance

Comments (Archived):

  1. jason wright

    it’s a good place to start a network. someone did something similar at Harvard a few years back.and in a similar way to fb i expect it to spread to other universities, but how? well, paying in bitcoin for another student to write your paper is so frictionless that it must have a great chance of succeeding.

  2. awaldstein

    I love this idea.Anyone doing this as a wrapper platform around charity?I wonder if you took some truly massive donor program like Animal Rescue (it’s huge!) and layered this in whether participation as the key to self education would crack the geek gap around this?

    1. LE

      What’s a “wrapper platform”?How would something like this be beneficial and be used in the example you are giving above?

      1. awaldstein

        If there was a way for the hundreds of thousands, including myself to use bitcoins for a mass market charity donation this could change things as the problem with bitcoins is that is exclusive and change happens with inclusion.It is not hard to conceptualize how Support a rescue cat with Bitcoins would operate. If simple enough and in an area where the massive amount of transactions are small, it could really help.Not impossible to accomplish with a possible big band to it.

  3. Otis Funkmeyer

    I think this combined with yelps announcement yesterday to include BTC merchants are the best news I’ve heard for crypto in a month or two. :)Slowly, surely, it mainstreams, and now we have thousands of the smartest kids in the world building things we can’t even imagine.I was laughing to myself at how crazily disruptive it’s going to be when bitpay and coinbase get disintermediated for b2b and businesses are just transferring BTC around with no transfer to fiat and .001 BTC txn fees no matter how large the xfer. It’s almost comical how big a change this will be.

    1. fredwilson

      that will take some time. but i can assure you that coinbase would love to see that happen. because it means that the other businesses they are building are worth a lot.

      1. Otis Funkmeyer

        Oh absolutely. When I discovered the meaning of “Coinbase” it was like discovering the meaning of “Y Combinator” and made me realize these are smart guys who are way way ahead of me in terms of the depth of their thinking on BTC. I imagine what they’re doing now with consumer wallets is just very early phase 1 of their plans…Agreed, some time ahead. But the path to that direction gets clearer and clearer esp. for early startups who are less attached to the idea of fiat than more established companiesEdit: and for those who don’t know,The Y combinator implements simple recursion. In the Lambda calculus it is not possible to refer to the definition of a function in a function body. Recursion may only be achieved by passing in a function as a parameter. The Y combinator demonstrates this style of programming.The term “coinbase” is used to mean many different things. But the two you’re probably asking about are:The “coinbase transaction” is the transaction inside a block that pays the miner his block reward.Inside the coinbase transaction is a field that is called the “coinbase”. It’s the generation transaction’s equivalent of a scriptsig. Since it doesn’t claim any existing outputs, it needs no normal scriptsig. It’s basically just a random value that the miner can use as an additional nonce.

  4. jason wright

    i want to see how this announcement influences the price chart.this is gong to create a ripple effect in the economy of Cambridge. Paying rent in BTC, buying food, buying drugs, et.c., et.c…

  5. bfeld

    Yes – absolutely phenomenal. I’m so proud to be part of the MIT community when I see things like this.

    1. LE

      And so recently MIT was pha-mished because of the Swartz thing. Shows that nothing heals like cold steel ($$ or financial incentives).That said, it’s not a MIT program but basically the work of MIT students.Legally I also wonder if there is some potential liability (even if close to 0) of giving something, anything to so many people, even if it is free. Free doesn’t remove liability. [1][1] For example if I decide to give a free scooter to every student and that student gets hit by a bus there is liability created almost certainly. Or some free food.

  6. William Mougayar

    I think every Btcoin owner and believer has a responsibility to “give” some of it to friends, as a way to spread adoption around.There’s an even easier way to give or receive Bitcoin without needing to have a wallet, via Twitter. Just go to (they have a nice integration with Coinbase btw), and you can send a tweet to another person e.g.:”@fredwilson, Hi Fred, here is a tip for 0.0001 BTC via @changetip”

    1. Abdallah Al-Hakim

      What Bitcoin wallet do you recommend for Canadians? Is coinbase still a good option?

      1. William Mougayar

        You need a US bank account for Coinbase. If you do, then that’s easy.If not, try CA Virtex (exchange) first to deposit $$ into Btc. Their on-boarding process is a bit tedious, but it’s OK. Then you can use any wallet you’d like. I suggest you keep a minimum amount in your wallet, and transfer as needed from your Exchange account. Wallets are country-agnostic. Exchanges are not.

        1. awaldstein

          You should do a weekly, bi weekly tips and tricks post.These are great info bites.Get them out there!!!

          1. William Mougayar

            ha…then i couldn’t do my other jobs. eventually, this will be a piece of cake, instead of a pain in the neck now.

        2. Matt Zagaja

          I just setup a coinbase account since it was not clear how to use the site that Fred was recommending. Well designed website, but the terms of service should come with some BP meds considering all the warnings. Since my bank didn’t support instant authentication I’m now waiting for the traditional two bank deposits to verify my account.

          1. William Mougayar

            Congrats. Now you can fund a bunch of things out of that account, i.e. transfer to a mobile wallet, or ChangeTip, etc.

    2. Matt A. Myers

      Well, they want adoption because it makes their own Bitcoin value go up. I really can’t separate that bias has on people’s behaviour, and the incentive people have.

      1. William Mougayar

        Not sure about that as the main motivator. I want more adoption for the sake of spreading usage & bettering the ecosystem.

      2. Pete Griffiths

        I agree. There is a large and important category of bitcoin holders who are speculators pure and simple.

    3. Richard

      Can I gift bitcoin without knowing the recipients identity ?

      1. Guest

        Yes; you only need to know their bitcoin address. Anyone can generate as many addresses as they wish offline and publish an address to receive a payment pseudonymously.

        1. Richard

          How can i anonymously (without leaving my address) leave bitcoin for someone without an address?

          1. William Mougayar

            see my response above. I think the paper wallet is as anonymous as can be.

      2. William Mougayar

        Yup. Matt answered it well.

        1. Richard

          Chicken and Egg – is there a way to do this if they do not have a bitcoin address ?

          1. William Mougayar

            OK.If they don’t have one, then you could use that @changetip process I showed up there, and the recipient will automatically see the money deposited in their account when they just signup via Twitter. No need for any pre-amble to that.Another option which I haven’t tried yet is via Coinbase. Apparently you can send bitcoins to someone’s email, and Coinbase will prompt them to get an account and get it deposited it there. (but I haven’t tried it. I only heard you can do that).There’s a third way :). You can send the Bitcoins to a “paper wallet” which is really a QR code printed on a piece of paper, and you give it to them. If the recipient loses that paper, then it’s like losing paper money. It’s gone. Someone else who finds it can spend it.Does that help?

          2. Richard

            third option is what i was looking for. Thanks. Do you know who is doing this?

          3. William Mougayar

            Hi Rich, Sorry I missed this. Blame it on Disqus :)Most bitcoin wallets allow you to do that, e.g. is one with the largest # of users. Or Electrum or Armory.…Also see this:… and…

        2. Richard

          william, any thoughts on this?

  7. Jon Michael Miles

    I’d like to see the same thing but at an inner city magnet school.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s where i am headed right now. I wonder if there are any rules i need to be aware of 😉

      1. Greg Kieser

        Might be cool to use bitcoins as a form of micropayment incentive throughout a semester for a high school coding course of some sort – perhaps at AFSE.

        1. fredwilson

          that’s where i just was. i need to find out if giving bitcoin to students as a reward/incentive is against any rules. it may well be.

          1. Greg Kieser

            I recall that paying for kids for performance was tested in N.Y.C. before, maybe Bloomberg administration. Here is a brief article on the subject – not NYC specific:”But in D.C., where kids were rewarded for a variety of tasks, including earning good grades, attending class and completing homework, some kids did marginally better on reading comprehension tests. And in Dallas, where kids got $2 for each book they read – more books were read, and reading comprehension scores significantly improved.”…

          2. Dave W Baldwin

            Please report what you find out.

          3. Twain Twain

            Not sure Pied Piper is a positive analogy? It’s about the departure and death of a lot of children from the town of Hamelin.Maybe better call it the “Jobs for Bitcoins effect” and reference Apple’s strategy back in 1975 of giving 1 free PC to schools as a way of seeding the kids to later buy Apple products?

          4. LE

            Almost certainly a way to game that. If you give me the rules I might be able to figure out a work around to whatever they say you can’t do.

          5. Emily Merkle

            It flies in the face of educational motivation theory and end goals – achievement for achievement’s sake – learning/applying/innovating. And building a bridge to your academic future. Not filling your bit-piggybank.

          6. sigmaalgebra

            > learning/applying/innovatingHmm. My dad knew a lot about education but never encouraged me to make good grades, do homework, etc. At most he said a few times that if I was learning the material, that was enough.But at various times in various ways, I was awash in curiosity and/or interest in various subjects. Maybe that is what he wanted.Strange: My high school French tried to teach me writing first, reading second, and speaking not at all, and the stuff stuck less well than water on Teflon. In college the guy taught German speaking first, reading second, and, still, some writing third, and it stuck quite well right away. But Dad was good in French and still didn’t help me in my high school struggles with French even for 10 minutes. I needed help. Curious.But, I will say that in the end what actually helped was learning/applying/innovating mostly out of interest, not making grades. There were two downsides: First, I got enough bad grades to be afraid of getting bad grades so stayed with subjects where mathematical proof could make me immune from criticism. A bit narrowing. Second, when a course got sloppy with proofs, I faced either (a) teaching myself the material at 1-2 levels higher, tough due to limited time, or (b) being afraid my armor of mathematical proof would be lost. E.g., once I was in a statistics course, and they got to sufficient statistics, an cute topic but needing a treatment at the level of a graduate course and difficult enough that a lot of Ph.D. holders in statistics do not know the topic. So, I dug into the real stuff, especially a famous paper by Halmos and Savage in about 1947. I thought that the paper had an error, to save time asked the prof for a clarification, discovered that he didn’t know the material either, and, then, just walked out of the class. Eventually I filled in the topic, out of curiosity.But some people didn’t like that I walked out of the class. So, lesson: In some cases, working for grades, to please others, or for some such external motivations, can be important, educational theory aside.Still for research and good progress in new applications, your learning/applying/innovating out of curiosity, etc. remains important and better than just trying to please others.

        2. Matt A. Myers

          Bullies will now be demanding your Bitcoin?

      2. Jon Michael Miles

        This reminds me of the Princeton / Northwestern Oligarchy study that went viral last week which pointed out that voters and mass interest groups have little to no effect on policy and that economic elites (their words) basically have all the impact on US policy. In short they determined what we all already know – money talks and all else walks.Given that bit of research, putting more resources and energy and PR heat into young talented MIT hands is all well and good but it does perhaps little to build the economic power in places where its not – which to my gut is a bit what cryptocurrency is about to begin with.It does feels like a piece of the puzzle is missing, and that talent that can contribute is being left out and we’re trumpeting that fact with over the moon coverage of nerds as egalitarian demi-gods building the new world.This said, I wish them the best and hope they all make a billion dollars.Then donate it.To a magnet school.Best coverage of the Princeton / Northwestern study:…Link to study – a great read in itself…

      3. Emily Merkle

        You think?

    2. jason wright

      what’s a magnet school?

      1. Elia Freedman

        It’s a school built around a specific topic rather than a geographic area. For instance, we have a science and tech magnet school and arts magnet school here in Beaverton School District, west of Portland, OR.

        1. jason wright


      2. Stephen Bateman

        I went to one, they can be really great.

    3. phoneranger

      I agree. There are more people with smartphones than bank accounts in lots of places besides Kenya.

    4. Kirsten Lambertsen

      Have to admit, that was my first thought, too.

  8. Tom Labus

    They were just on Bloomberg with Tom Keene. I would imagine video up soon.

  9. rimalovski

    This is a fascinating idea. I’m sure something interesting will come of this but so will a lot of waste. Fred, do you know anyone who would be awesome to teach a class at NYU about bitcoin using a similar funding principle? Or perhaps even just to lead a bitcoin workshop or hackathon at the Leslie eLab next fall?

    1. fredwilson

      YesssssssssEmail me Frank

  10. pointsnfigures

    MIT should keep some data on what students did with the Bitcoin. Would be really interesting to see who spent it (and on what), who invested it (and in what) and who innovated around it.

    1. NickNYC242

      methinks you might have misunderstood one of the basic tenets of Bitcoin…. Surely the new innovation paths will come to light through both academic papers, and (hopefully) new businesses.

    2. LE

      “MIT should keep some data”It’s not MIT doing this. It’s students (from my quick read) at or affiliated with MIT.My guess is that they would have to get this info from the merchants. Then they could see what percentage of the money was actually spent on campus of the total 500k. And what % not spent or spent elsewhere (which would be harder to track down).

    3. Emily Merkle

      Why would MIT get their hands on that data?

  11. Eric Friedman

    I love this. It’s hard to grok something sometimes until you use it and this accomplishes that. I think an analogy of Internet access works as well – give connectivity and see what flourishes. In this case, give the currency and see what happens.It also appears they are going to track the spending/lending/other habits with each in a thesis type project. It will be amazing to see this at the end of the year (and obviously years after as well )PS – I thought this was going to be a post about the HBO show silicon valley:)

    1. kenberger

      yep, not sure if Fred realizes that Pied Piper is the name of the startup company in that show.Just watched first episode and was cracking up– you might need to have lived/worked in the Valley to get the endless inside jokes and references.

      1. fredwilson

        i would never watch a TV show about silicon valley. i can’t imagine a fate worse than having to do that

        1. kenberger

          yes. it does have elements of “The Truman Show” (re watching yourself), and the movie.I recall walking out of the latter.

        2. LE

          I’d like to see a blog post on that.I haven’t watched the show since I don’t have HBO. So I can’t weigh in on whether I’d like it.Actually I think the first episode is for free over the web. In any case I’d love to hear the reason behind “a fate worse than having to do that”.I have a theory of course on why you don’t want to watch it.

        3. ShanaC

          its funny and worth watching. Sometimes our own ridiculousness has to be recognized.

        4. leigh

          I felt that way about Curb Your Enthusiasm. I could watch the show or just go to my Mom’s house for a family dinner 🙂

          1. Robert Holtz

            ROFL. I happen to love that show but nevertheless you are so right on so many levels. I just have to laugh.

        5. Robert Holtz

          That’s how I felt about the show Betas, an original on Amazon this time last year. It started out with all the cliches and hyperbole that were my worst nightmare.For some reason or another, I kept on watching and I glad because it turned out to be a great show. The characters that seemed like caricatures in the first episode had real heart to them as the events unfolded and ultimately I got hooked.I haven’t watched any of Silicon Valley because I kind of feel like I’ve “been there, done that” with Betas. Am I wrong to be thinking that? Anyone seen both?Fred, it might make you chuckle if just to see how Hollywood romanticizes the tech industry.My feeling is, if they do a good job then the settings and the circumstances become less important and it just becomes a good story with characters you start to really care about. That can be said of all the best shows.

  12. jason wright

    i wonder if an Ara module could become an actual way to pay with virtual currency? the end of conventional bank cards and physical money.

  13. Donna Brewington White

    It worked for Facebook.

    1. awaldstein

      Facebook in Europe was the most focused, most tactically smart outreach I’ve seen.Early on in Turkey they simply went and hired a women (name escapes me) who was the most socially connected networker in the country. It was marketing as epidemiology and it spread that fast.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        I thought so too, from an outside perspective, but I don’t know much of the inner-workings of how the expansion went down. Do you have any readings on that?

        1. awaldstein

          I posted on it years ago as I worked with a couple of Facebook platformed video chat and conferencing companies.I’ll look or ping my networks.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Cool. That’d be great, thank you.

      2. Donna Brewington White

        “marketing as epidemiology”That’s an interesting thought. Is that a Waldstein original?

        1. awaldstein

          Sorry–after ready “And the band plays on’ and tracing the spread of aids I’m too steeped in this kind of thinking.What a horrid and powerful story so painstakingly told but a great journalist who finished the book–then died of aids.

    2. Fitzgerald

      Facebook started at Harvard, not MIT, and FB worked the exclusivity angle, which was smart IMO.. bitcoin is not exclusive.. you can get a bitcoin wallet and get bitcoin.. so, yeah, not really the same at all.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        Thanks for the observation, Fitzgerald.Of course, FB wasn’t started at MIT. I watched “The Social Network”! ;)I wonder if history would have been written much differently if it had been?And, yes, my comment was incomplete and there are many differences between the introduction of FB at Harvard and to BTC to MIT. In fact, the differences are probably far greater than the similarities — some of which you aptly pointed out.But the idea of something being ignited at a university campus as a channel for expansion into broader society — which has happened often more by accident — well, it makes sense to also use this as a strategy.

        1. Fitzgerald

          Your last statement is very true… I contend the popularity of the Java programing language for instance is the result of Sun being very smart in getting it into as many universities as possible. You load up the forthcoming generations with certain knowledge or habits and they will propagate it through their lifetime.

          1. Donna Brewington White


          2. awaldstein

            And the massive seed program by Apple to middle schools when the classic came out.

  14. Matt A. Myers

    There’s still a fundamental flaw inherent in the current structure of Bitcoin. People should inherently gain monetary value because of being early adopters of a currency. In the natural world, if you did work a year ago that was worth $10, that work now doesn’t magically become worth $300 – not at least because of more people using the same payment method.The currency that fixed this will win.

    1. Coinspring

      a)Its not a currency. (Its a payment network)b)Its not an investment.c)Its not for speculators.Your comments seem to assume all three.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        a) People use it like a currency.b) People use it for investing, gambling, much like the stock market.c) Speculators are using it whether you want them to or not.To think otherwise is delusional IMHO, dishonest at minimal.

        1. Coinspring

          a) Can you hand me a bitcoin….? (lol!)b) Or like cash, or sea shells?c) We are talking about what it is intended for, remember? I have not a care who uses it, or for what.My point is – your claim that bitcoin is flawed because of an initial spike in value, when people like you found out about it a few months ago does not speak to a “fundamental flaw inherent in the current structure of Bitcoin”.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Oh, sorry, I totally forgot about wiring money and other ways to digitally transfer currency. *facepalm*

          2. Coinspring

            You fell for that one….;)Now we just opened up the discussion of what, in fact a “wire-transfer”, and “other” ways to “digitally” transfer currency didn’t we?This is at the center of my comments to you.All of those methods are more-or-less is a promise to send funds, NOT the actual funds. BITCOIN SENDS THE ACTUAL FUNDS.See the difference?It is as good as handing someone cash. Your wire transfer is NOT.

          3. Emily Merkle

            No, a wire transfer is/can also be cash, collected by intended party at the banking institution to which the wire was received.

          4. Coinspring

            Yikes: “a wire transfer is/can also be cash”Those must be some thick wires.

          5. Emily Merkle

            You send me a wire to my bank account at Chase. i withdraw the funds that have been allocated to my account and debited from yours. Cash.

          6. Coinspring

            a) How many days does that take?b) I live in Taiwan. Now what?c) If you send me $100 USD, what percentage goes to fees?Again, a bank wire is NOT equal to sending money. It is a request to pay someone, and it takes time and costs money!NEEDLESSLEY I would add.

          7. Emily Merkle

            It takes less than a day, depending on the time of day it is initiated. It is secure. Wires are transmitted internationally. I have sent and received far more than I can count – in business and personal settings. Forgive me, I am not a banker, so I cannot provide you with granular detail on banking fees. A wire is not a request to be paid, it is initiated by the payer. And wired funds are deposited into the recipient’s account of choice, funds which may be withdrawn as cash if so desired.

          8. Coinspring

            Unless we both happen to have the same bank in different parts of the world – much of what you describe is hopeful optimism. At best, you will achieve a next-day transfer and of the $100 you sent, I would be likely to receive less than half. That is insanity.”A wire is not a request to be paid, it is initiated by the payer.”So you agree it is simply a request? Your argument merely points out that the payor is “requesting” payment be sent. Not actually sending anything.

          9. Emily Merkle

            Hmm. Not my experience at all. Perhaps fees in Taiwan are astronomical. Or maybe you should change banks. 🙂 My statement was, a wire is initiated by the payer – the person or company sending the funds as payment for whatever transaction the parties had agreed to. For instance, I own my own agency. My client pays me on a schedule and a fee we have agreed upon. The client logs into his company’s bank account and initiates the wire to me – tells his bank to remove x-dollars from his account and transfer that amount to my bank account.

          10. Coinspring

            You really are missing the big picture, but now I understand your confusion.Your experience is just to receive the money. You incur no fees or delays – the sender does, so it seems you are missing one half of the equation.If you want a payment tomorrow, rest assured those arrangements are made prior to your expected delivery date…perhaps by several days. You would not know after all since all you do is run to the bank or check your balance online to confirm.If you expect $100, they are probably paying closer to $150 (guessing…but $50 in fees to next-day wire funds internationally is not a reach).Does that make sense? Bitcoin solves all of these problems. Your experience as the person receiving funds is EXACTLY the same however, painless as always.

          11. Emily Merkle

            no, arrangements are made in a tighter time frame…I have sent wires…no one in their right mind would pay 33% in fees 🙂 … not arguing against Bitcoin – just trying to help you see that electronic funds transfers are not as cumbersome as I perceived you believe them to be.

          12. Coinspring

            My only argument here is that wire transfers are not real fund transfers at all, no more than milk comes from the grocery store.Bitcoin literally is sending an asset over a wire. Keep digging girl. You are open minded and a bright one I think. Stick with what works for you but keep an eye on the horizon, things are changing…

          13. Emily Merkle

            Thank you – you are kind. I am a digital entrepreneur – but not a reckless early adopter. I have my onename account. I am doing my due diligence 🙂 Thank you for the sparring.

          14. Coinspring

            In the old days – Telco companies had switch board operators who would literally plug a line into a port on a switch board to connect callers. This is basically what the banks are doing for us today with online banking, wire-transfers, etc.It is grossly inefficient but incredibly profitable for the banks to do it this way.Bitcoin simply fixes this problem. Now it is up to the banks to retool, leveraging these new developments. While this is going on, vendors are also retooling. Its not if – it’s when…

          15. Emily Merkle

            No 🙂 that is not how banks transfer funds. My bank transmits a wire same-day internationally if initiated before 4pm EST. The fee is a flat $25 – for a plebian banking client (lower for larger clients), paid by the payer. It’s an electronic transaction. Wikipedia explains it far better than i 🙂

          16. Coinspring

            25% fee is ok with you?Please read that wiki too btw. I think it will help you.

          17. Emily Merkle

            you assume a wire is $100 🙂

          18. Coinspring

            That has been the number I have been discussing since before you joined the conversation. I understand that it doesn’t fit your argument.You also assume that is not a lot of money to some people. When you send a portion of your paycheck to a family member who needs it in another country, these fees can be huge.Regardless of the amount, guess how much of a fee you pay to send via Bitcoin, Litecoin, or any other alt-coin?

          19. Emily Merkle

            I do see your point. Agreed.

          20. Coinspring

            From your wiki post. Please educate yourself.*Noteworthy: This describes a MESSAGING SYSTEM.**”The actual transfer is not instantaneous: funds may take several hours or even days to move from the sender’s account to the receiver’s account.”////FROM WIKI///….The entity wishing to do a transfer approaches a bank and gives the bank the order to transfer a certain amount of money.IBAN and BIC codes are given as well so the bank knows where the money needs to be sent.The sending bank transmits a message, via a secure system (such as SWIFT or Fedwire), to the receiving bank, requesting that it effect payment according to the instructions given.The message also includes settlement instructions. The actual transfer is not instantaneous: funds may take several hours or even days to move from the sender’s account to the receiver’s account.Either the banks involved must hold a reciprocal account with each other, or the payment must be sent to a bank with such an account, a correspondent bank, for further benefit to the ultimate recipient.

          21. Emily Merkle

            The reciprocal account in this country is the FDIC. International relations are formed in another manner. “approaching a bank” doe snot mean walking to a teller’s window; you can send a wire from your home office in your pajamas. Yes – funds take hours (here, domestically). Not perfect! But the best we have….so far.

          22. Coinspring

            You just hit the anti-thesis on the head.It is no longer “The best we have”. You know where I am going with this….

          23. Emily Merkle

            qualification: It is the best that is available en masse at this time.Holy shit I just might become a Bitcoin evangelist 😉

          24. Coinspring

            BTW – the banks settle on the side, long after your account has been settled. That process takes longer than the hours of a delay you might experience. It takes days or hours for the bank to adjust your ledger – it has nothing to do with money transfer. Imagine that!

          25. Emily Merkle

            Interesting, but not really – obviously it works for them financially on some level. Paperwork/documentation, i would guess. Banks have a lot of i’s to dot and t’s to cross.

          26. Coinspring

            Or you can take 2 minutes and download a bitcoin wallet and I can send you the same $100 for free. It will arrive 10 mins from now at max.

          27. Emily Merkle

            Same can be said for PayPal. The drawback – at this time of course – is that the portability of Bitcoin, regardless of the lack of transmission fee and speed of delivery – simply does not compete with the fiduciary system as we now know it. I am not anti-Bitcoin; I would be beyond pleased to see it reach its utopian fruition. But now? It’s a worthy secondary payment exchange, but I am not going to dump Chase for a Bitcoin wallet full of sunshine I can’t utilize in the manner i wish to.

          28. Coinspring

            No one is suggesting you should. I think we are slowly drifting off topic. My point is that next to the bitcoin protocol, there is NO other way to literally wire someone else funds.

          29. Emily Merkle

            Actually, if you read my explanation of how wire transfers work – payer’s bank moves payer’s funds to payee’s account in same – or different – bank; once I am receipt of the wire (once it “hits”) – I can go down to my local bodega and buy a gallon of milk with my debit card – which is backed by the wired funds attached to my account.

          30. Coinspring

            Who is arguing? My point is that money from a bank is not sent over a wire today (but this will soon change). Its an illusion to make you think it is, based on agreements between banking institutions.Bitcoin doesn’t need an illusion or anyone’s agreement to LITERALLY send funds. See the difference?

          31. Emily Merkle

            i do not disagree; yes wires are agreements between banks, just as buying something with a credit card is, or a debit card, or a check. The point is not HOW it is transferred; the point is how do you REDEEM the transferred funds?

          32. Coinspring

            If I were to ask you were Milk comes from – would you say the grocery store? It is a similar illusion to a wire-transfer, and you would be naive to assume it just magically shows up.

          33. Emily Merkle

            I know very well where milk comes from, and the process behind transferring funds via wire. And they are not quite the same “illusion”.

          34. Coinspring

            By this time next year you will have a bitcoin card in that wallet, so you will have choices!

          35. Cam MacRae

            Eh? Can you tell me how to magic bitcoin into $100 for free?

          36. kidmercury

            damn. i’ll call the checkmate in this beef. cam mcrae 1, coinspring 0

          37. Coinspring

            Get back to work at the bank Matt.

          38. Coinspring

            “digitally transfer currency”. ROFL-copter

          39. Matt A. Myers

            And yes in fact I could copy the keys to a USB and give that USB to you.

          40. Coinspring

            *the keys….You don’t know what your are talking about do you?

          41. Coinspring

            A USB as currency. Nice one.

        2. kidmercury

          siding with matt in this “what is bitcoin” beef. its most common use case is as a currency/investment/speculation, so that pretty much settles that whether or not people want to actually acknowledge this.

  15. Matt A. Myers

    I wonder who gave the $500,000 to re-distribute via Bitcoin to MIT students? I can only imagine it’s someone with vested interest, who own a lot of Bitcoin already – or make money from the marketplace, who stand to make $100s of millions if not billions if Bitcoin in its current form take off – where simply being an early adopter brings you massive unreasonable, unearned gains.

    1. Coinspring

      Why unreasonable? How unearned?You seem to forget someone is putting their own money at risk in any case. You seem mad you were late to the party. I’m sorry.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        You’re going to lower yourself to that kind of argument style, puts-downs, etc? Nice. (from this comment… )You just flip-flopped on your position, too, by the way. They’re risking their money, it’s a gamble – most are wanting to make money from it OR they become incentivized to help drive the price back up to what they paid for in, to either sell then or hope it goes up – become gamblers again.

        1. Coinspring

          At least there is no *face-palming* here. Come on…

        2. Coinspring

          So confused…where have I offered you put downs? Didn’t you start all that? Misdirection….nice tactic.

        3. Coinspring

          Are you not going to answer?”Why unreasonable? How unearned?”

        4. Coinspring

          All Venture Capitalists are gamblers?What about banks then? Don’t they loan money to startups?You are killin me this morning! ;)Keep the hits coming!

    2. Emily Merkle

      This talk of “incentivized to spread Bitcoin” to “grow the network” sounds mighty akin to the heroin epidemic in San Francisco, or the crack crisis in NYC – “spread the good smack” – take the hit up front, dealers, because the long game is in “growing the junkie base”.Just a little analogy.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        That’s interesting. I suppose that is similarly how all bubbles are formed. Whether it’s a bubble or turns into part of culture will be determined if it naturally fits within all existing structures, without control or force (bias and selfish-incentivize based action could perhaps land under forced). Bitcoin’s current incarnation doesn’t fit with reality of natural systems and patterns, so I don’t see it as the end solution.

  16. baba12

    Where does one send Fred their crypto-currency wallet address to? Fred wants to give away bitcoins… I am guessing as AVC readers maybe we shall be offered 0.00000001 bitcoin each possibly.

    1. fredwilson

      they should set up one of these

          1. Matt Zagaja

            It seems like some of these are taking a long time to verify with the blockchain. Yours still has a message about being verified.

      1. Matt Zagaja

        So I just setup and it appears that this means I now have a bitcoin wallet? How do I use it? Do I need to link it to coinbase?

  17. Salt Shaker

    No doubt you’re going to see a large influx of merchants start accepting Bitcoin this fall in Cambridge—from fast food to strip clubs.$500K is a fair amount of coin to spread around in a relatively small market. Free sampling is an effective (and expensive) strat to drive conversion and acceptance, assuming, of course, there are ample places to use.

    1. markslater

      no strip clubs in the peoples republic sadly

    2. Richard


  18. markslater

    pockets of liquidity being established……price stable…….

  19. cypherdoc

    May I suggest you reach out to the students themselves.You will get more political bang for your buck and lots of goodwill.

  20. Kirsten Lambertsen

    Someone should offer this as a benefit to the Global Accelerator Network.

  21. RyanMJones

    I’d like to try this theory out. Please send me some bitcoin and we’ll see how it changes my thoughts 🙂

      1. leapy

        Trying to get my head around this.I realise I may be a bit late to your offer but would love to understand this more now.My onename ‘thing’ (identity?) Is I will return whatever is received when I work out how to! 🙂

      2. jason wright

        this is interesting, so i just signed up. please send me one satoshi so i can see this service in action. go on, humour me, but not for a few hours as my new account has to be “confirmed by the blockchain” first. i’ll then pass it on to Albert Wenger and he can give it back to you when you see him next.

      3. jason wright

        i do dislike that fact that Onename has reserved the user name ‘jason’ for Jason Calacanis;”This OneName username is reserved for Jason Calacanis. If this is you, please email [email protected] to claim it for free.”not quite ‘open’.have they reserved ‘fred’? seems not, but;”This OneName username was parked to evade name squatting, but can be made available upon reasonable request at no charge. If you are interested in this name, please email [email protected] with your twitter handle and why you would like this particular name.”

  22. Guest

    Why call it the Pied Piper effect?

    1. Coinspring

      Authors bias.

  23. kenberger

    I’d be happy to be a recipient of some of that bitcoin sending, friend !:)

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Bitcoin for the entire AVC community! Now that would do the trick.

      1. kenberger

        exactly!! Hey Fred, MIT does it for their crowd, howzabout watering the plants in your own garden??:))

      2. kidmercury


      1. kenberger

        you know i was at front of the line on that one :)…

  24. jonathan hegranes

    When I saw the title of this post, I thought it was going to be about that new show on HBO about silicon valley…Pleasantly surprised it wasn’t.

    1. awaldstein

      Haven’t felt any indication to watch it as yet.After Game of Thrones and Mad Men on Sunday eve, a parody of my life will probably not draw me in.

      1. jonathan hegranes

        You had me at Game of Thrones…

      2. Dave Pinsen

        It’s actually pretty good.

        1. awaldstein

          I’ll take your word for it Dave.Since i lived it I”ll probably be more critical.No buzz in my head to draw me in now though.

          1. LE

            Whenever there is a show that someone knows about they can normally find many things that are different from their own experiences doing the same thing. Which can be fun sometimes.Every time I see a boat in a movie or show (only one example) on the water with the cushions still deployed (and not pulled into the boat) I think it’s moronic because it’s one of the first things that I was taught. I’ve watched shows with violinists and have had them cringe at the way the violin is held. Because it differs from their training. And they yell “that’s wrong!”Each of us has a unique experience at something and can pick apart someone else’s portrayal very easily depending on what we know or have learned.The reasons movies and TV shows (in our opinion!) don’t get it right is because they have either writers who have one particular experience or rely on a consultant who has only one particular point of view or training in a subject. Or maybe there are 2 or 3 consultants. But those perspectives are biased according to what they have learned or observed. Hence others come into play and say “oh that isn’t the way it is done” many times. [1][1] I’ve see this with medical shows. A going joke (that is actually true) is that they xrays are shown when they are not even needed and further purposely flipflopped on the viewing box just to tweak knowledgeable viewers. In other words backwards or sideways.

          2. Matt Zagaja

            Going to law school certainly made watching lawyer shows more difficult.

  25. Brandon Burns

    “infect with bitcoin religion”interesting choice of words. underscores just how powerful the minority powers that be in the tech world are when it comes to pushing what they want vs. what the majority is calling for. a lot of times for better, sometimes for worse.

  26. Salt Shaker

    Open a Bitcoin pop up store in Cambridge in time for the fall semester….BC is the only currency accepted.”The Bitcoin Co-Op”–built to satiate student needs—plenty of beer, Ramen noodles, Red Bull, etc. MIT is a finite market that’s ready to spend.Who’s investing? (Only accepting BC).

  27. Vít Tuček

    It would make much more sense to give bitcoins to technical students in a developing country. First of all, for them the hundred bucks is more valuable, and second of all “their world” may very well lack the features we take for granted — such as on-line banking on our phones or ATMs at every corner — and hence in that case they would be extra motivated to start changing the world with bitcoins.

    1. fredwilson

      i guess one could do both

  28. scottythebody

    Fred Wilson: The Johnny Appleseed of Bitcoin

  29. Doug

    I do this all the time too! Hotel clerks, barristas,, everyone!

  30. Pete Griffiths

    It will be very interesting so see what happens to the distribution profile.When the USSR broke up and Yeltsin sold off state assets everyone in Russia was given a stake. What quickly happened was that the wealthy bought out the interests of the poorer members of society and the assets rapidly became highly concentrated – leading to the present wildly unequal distribution of wealth in Russia.This does have a parallel with bitcoin where ownership is still highly concentrated. And the pattern seems to be repeated with other altcoins. Indeed one of the biggest problems in launching a coin, no matter how innovative it may be, is how to distribute the coin and how to avoid whale speculators taking an interest that may pump the coin the short term but which does not encourage real use. Distribution strategies such as mining, for example, which also serves the network as work, long ago failed with the advent of dedicated miners. It’s very tricky.

  31. JonathanTBarker

    I know the guys and they are really excited to be kicking things off – it’ll be amazing to see what the students build in the next few months.

  32. ShanaC

    Well, that is one way to get more people to use bitcoin.

  33. Marissa_NYx

    Fred, why stop at MIT students ? it may be a crazy idea but why not give bit coins to k-12 students as a reward for them building a mini business or completing a financial challenge? If such a plan existed, would you look at it. Instead of issuing badges & places on leaderboards, create a place for real world incentives that matters.

    1. Emily Merkle

      Sure, reward the search for knowledge and understanding with coin. Pay them off. Money as motivation. Plenty of time for that later. The only time cash should enter the educational equation is as scholarship.

  34. rodomonte11

    Who is their largest funder?

  35. howardlindzon

    If they use Changetip it will make the spending and moving of them around a lot of fun and very interesting. We are experimenting with it on Stocktwits with early success

    1. fredwilson

      someone sent me BTC on changetip last nighti moved it into my coinbase account but i would have liked to be able to do that via coinbase API integrationone click moving of BTC is way better than having to go copy and paste your BTC address

  36. DigitalAndroid

    Bravo for seeking to join this wonderful initiative.

  37. fredwilson

    thanks for sending me BTC on changetip Nivi would like one click “move to coinbase” that could be built with the coinbase API

    1. Niv Dror

      You’re welcome Fred, I’m indebted to your blog.Nick Sullivan (founder of ChangeTip) replied to you’re tweet. Auto-withdrawal using the Coinbase API would be great.

  38. thomasknoll

    Not *quite* the same thing as giving it away, but definitely encouraging more development in the space:

  39. george

    Maybe expand the idea out west…Great promotion!

  40. someone

    one of them is a student in my MBA class. great guy, happy to intro if you like

  41. Donna

    Love this! We have thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, corporate leaders & policy wonks joining us for Challenge Festival May 9-17 (http://challengecup.1776dc…. Love to connect w/ you on something like this…

  42. jason wright

    i don’t know this story. do tell.

  43. William Mougayar

    Cool. I just sent you 1 mBTC (50 cents). You can buy chewing gum with that, no?

  44. awaldstein

    This is very cool. Thanks.But–the idea that the market or anyone has a responsibility to do anything is simply a non starter for community building.You win when people want to do things. You opine and loose when you rant at the very market you need to win.

  45. William Mougayar

    If you’re a fan of something, you do spread it around to your friends, no? That’s what I’m saying. I can’t hide my enthusiasm for Bitcoin, and I make sure I explain it to others and encourage them to try it.

  46. FlavioGomes

    There’s something to be said about seeding your land no?

  47. awaldstein

    Of course and you are a great booster.

  48. Dan Kahn

    Explaining is nice, but the beauty of the tip bots is that they encourage people to explore and discover on their own. Just look at what Reddit has been able to do with Doge. So much wow:

  49. awaldstein

    That is what marketing through community is all about.Marketers who demand or ask or tell their markets that they have a ‘responsibility’ to do anything loose.Marketers who figure out how to let communities decide to do something and succeed win.That subtlety is not subtle at all.

  50. awaldstein

    I agree completely.So the normal person, a business owner with a fashion popup and an online store gets one and is interested.Where do they go to get info that speaks to them in their language?

  51. Dan Kahn

    I’d argue that they shouldn’t get involved *until* there is a compelling use case. For the internet, two of the primary early boosters were email/messaging and porn.For crypto-currencies the two primary use cases so far have been speculation and grey market trading (setting aside memes/Dogecoin), but there are people building out smart contracts, micropayments, and entirely new platforms for decentralized transactions (like Ethereum). My guess is that in the next 2-3 years one of these use cases will break through to the mainstream (the early majority).

  52. awaldstein

    Yes, but…If you are giving out bitcoins to students in college and I bet in high school (if Fred can make it happen), that wait till ready paradigm is now over.I honestly think there is great thinking on the technical end and little on the market side.Everyone has heard of bitcoins as the mainstream median including broadcast has covered it.This is really easy to fix if someone wanted to.