Read her entire post — actually, her entire series of posts — on the fallout from the bitcoin crash.
Ehrsam says that the price decline did not affect investor interest, and optimistically suggests that it will ultimately improve the Bitcoin ecosystem by teaching important lessons about cyclicality and expense management to cryptocurrency miners.
11/Bitcoin was specifically designed to use speculation early on to overcome the normal chicken/egg boostrapping problem for new networks.
“Price volatility isn’t good for certain uses of Bitcoin but, in that same time period, we went from 600,000 users to 2.1 million users, so it hasn’t caused the number of people signing up on our site to go down,” Ehrsam says.
Jeff Hudson poses in front of the first bitcoin ATM, according to cofounders of Vancouver Bitcoiniacs Trading Company, Vancouver, Oct. 28, 2013. REUTERS/Andy Clark
So what's with the continued faith in the cryptocurrency?
Coinbase, the popular bitcoin-wallet site, just raised $75 million in Series C funding. It is the largest funding round ever for a bitcoin-related company, according to Dan Primack, who reported the news.
Marc Andreessen recently tweetstormed about why bitcoin is still a great idea, despite the volatility:
... unless a massive amount of new capital is transferred into bitcoin market sharpish — which is not impossible, since there are still a number of deep pocketed believers out there — it’s hard to imagine the asset class going any other way but south. Furthermore, it’s unlikely at this stage that either price rigging, mining cartels or lower energy costs will be able to reverse that trend.
Primack spoke to Coinbase's founder, Fred Ehrsam, who had this to say:
12/Attacking Bitcoin for having speculative levels of volatility is missing the point of how the system was designed for this point in time.
For this more cynical view of bitcoin, there's no one better than Izabella Kaminska:
A report from last week from Re/code suggests that the company's valuation is $400 million.
For Coinbase, it doesn't really matter what the price of bitcoin is, only how many people are using it. That number continues to grow, according to them.
14/In the short run, Bitcoin is still highly useful as a transaction and trust network in many uses cases even with high volatility.
Current investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, Y Combinator, Funders Club, IDG Ventures, and others. The new round, according to Primack, is being led by DFJ Growth, and also includes the New York Stock Exchange, USAA, and former Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit (the full list of investors is here).
On the other hand, the fact that there's been a massive bitcoin crash in the last few months is not a good thing, and no amount of arguing for the value of the blockchain as a technology is going to change that. A lot of people got burned in the currency's nearly $1,000 price drop in the last 14 months, and as the price falls, so does the incentive to mine more bitcoin.
The only hope the system has: increasing transaction fees (in a way that ironically limits its competitive advantage in the payment market), getting a big fat capital bailout or convincing miners that processing bitcoin transactions is a wonderful non-profit hobby to have.
13/Now, yes, in the long run, BTC does need to stabilize -- which I think will happen with a combo of scale + use of derivatives (hedging).
Meanwhile, bitcoin has lost 75% of its value in the last year, and at a price of about $209 per BTC, is down to a little over 18% of its all-time high, $1,145, which it hit in November 2013. Here's the all-time price chart:
The smart use of bitcoin isn't speculating in the price; it's briefly converting whatever currency you have into BTC in order make a transaction that you can be sure gets to the person you want it to reach. In that case, it doesn't really matter what the price of bitcoin is that day (except, of course, when the price moves so much that you no longer have enough to cover your payment).
20/Two particular areas of focus today are A use outside the US where currencies + banks are often awful, and B machine-to-machine payments.
The idea seems to be that right now, investors aren't really seeing bitcoin as a useful currency but rather as a good method for making secure transactions. That's helpful in explaining interest from places like the New York Stock Exchange. In that case, focusing on the currency's volatility is missing the point.
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