The Story: Is Bitcoin destined for failure?
If you got into Bitcoin early, it was probably because you saw the long-term potential of a platform that could disrupt the banking and central banking industries, holding governments accountable and limiting their power. You were probably a starry-eyed idealist who believed that real change was possible, by changing the systems that we all use, and hopefully, those stars have not yet left your eyes. If you got in more recently, you might hold the somewhat less principled position of “We’re all getting rich off this Internet nerd money!”
If you’re the second kind of speculator, you might fold as soon as times get tough, your position torn out easily like the shallow roots of a clover. If you’re the first kind, you might persist even when things are looking bad, because you knew that you had very good reasons to enter the market in the beginning.
Conditions have changed for Bitcoin, with high transaction fees from $1-$3, which rule out the microtransactions, small transactions and use for developing nations which idealists once believed made it unique. According to Mike Hearn, the Bitcoin developer who quit in January 2016, there are people on the team who don’t believe in the fanciful visions of its creator, and never saw it as anything more than a potential platform for large settlements. Hearn declared the experiment over, a statement that was easy to overlook for many, considering how often Bitcoin has been pronounced lost.
The team remains prudent and risk-averse, which makes sense for a multi-billion dollar project, but it also means the programmers on the team who are excellent are not free to innovate, which makes Hearn’s departure seem much more sensible in retrospect. With transactions that can take hours and fees 100x its competitors, the project is already years behind. In today’s world where invention and innovation are common, playing it safe can be a death sentence.
In this episode, Kurt presents the case that the Bitcoin experiment is on the path to ruin, likely being sustained by all the points in its favour, such as brand recognition and network effect, but eventually falling further into inutility, and likely causing misery for many. Join me on this value-investing tail of hope, disillusionment and suspense in the next episode of … The Paradise Paradox!
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