In a galaxy far, far away, there are crypto-kingdoms comprised of over 2,000 coins — but with the number of experts, regulators, and players, how can Bitcoin’s reputation be harmonized and preserved among them all?
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
A new digital asset class emerged. Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper on this new asset class was released in 2008, giving birth to Bitcoin, the world’s first cryptocurrency. The birth of Bitcoin took the world by storm as digital natives and nomads rushed to learn its origin and secrets.
But, in February 2011, a dark force arrived and joined forces with Bitcoin, operating as the internet’s “Wild West” and ultimate black market for drug dealers, gun runners, and document forges.
For three years, the Silk Road (TSR) was an unstoppable force, giving a new meaning to “entrepreneurship” on the dark web. It was designed to be a free market, whose very existence would be outside the scope of government control, thereby undermining the very fabric of the state.
As it operated as a TOR hidden service, communications and transactions on TSR were considered by its users to be almost entirely anonymous, where transactions could only be made using Bitcoin.
In October 2013, when TSR was eventually defeated and shutdown, it left Bitcoin behind with a dark legacy — was it a force for evil? Or, was it a tool that ultimately corrupted its holder?
Behind the scenes, another force was gaining power and support from kingdoms across the planet — Mt. Gox. A bitcoin exchange based in Tokyo, Japan, was already handling over 70% of all bitcoin transactions, operating as the largest bitcoin intermediary and exchange in the world.
But, it soon fell short when in 2014, the exchange was robbed of over 850,000 bitcoins, or $450 million USD at the time. Now recognized as the world’s biggest cryptocurrency hack, Mt. Gox has still left its mark on the cryptocurrency community, as the victims and creditors of the exchange have still not been compensated.
Yet, as the crypto community and regulators attempt to control the winds blowing through this volatile marketplace, there are some who believe that Bitcoin and its reputation can be saved from within…perhaps one man and his vision to redeem Mt. Gox may yet awaken the knowledge, skill, and expertise needed to forge a new digital financial future…
If you’re not a Game of Thrones or Star Wars fan, that is most unfortunate, but the message here is still plain:
“The powerful have always preyed upon the powerless. That’s how they became powerful in the first place.” –Tyrion Lannister, Game of Thrones, Season 5, Episode 1
“All those who gain power are afraid to lose it.” –Chancellor Palpatine, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith
Like Game of Thrones and Disney’s continuation of the Star Wars universe, the fate of cryptocurrency space has yet to be written.
The Shroud of the Dark Side Over Mt. Gox
Seven years after the Silk Road closed and shed light on how digital currency, particularly how Bitcoin could be used for legitimate (and illicit) purposes, there are still dark remnants left over that regularly impact the widespread adoption and utilization of Bitcoin and related currencies.
Unfortunately, threats have still continued to thwart the space, driving cryptocurrency market prices down and the fear of its survival up.
And, here we are, five (5) years after the largest black hat Bitcoin hack in the history of cryptocurrency, while the shroud of the dark side left over from Mt. Gox continued to linger over the world of Bitcoin.
Yet, there are still those still believe a new hope exists, willing to fight for the return of Mt. Gox, solely to make things right and prove to the world it can be a force for good.
George R.R. Martin and HBO have its white and dark knights, Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister.
George Lucas and Disney have Jedi Masters Yoda, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Luke Skywalker.
As for the crypto ecosystem, is it possible that we have our own Jedi of sorts? Brock Pierce, whose experience in venture capitalism and finance has allowed him to step into heavily controversial and highly debated topics.
I had a unique opportunity to speak in-depth with Pierce last week on why he believes the Tokyo-based exchange still stands a chance given the damage that has been done, and why he has decided to rebuild it from the ground up with his latest project, “Gox Rising.”
Before we jumped into any conversation, Pierce told me that when he decided to enter into the space, particularly in efforts to begin resurrecting Mt. Gox, he knew that his perspectives could and probably would make him a heavily targeted figure in the space.
While there are still lingering questions to be answered, it appears that Pierce’s vision seems to demonstrate his genuine concern and passion for the overall welfare of the space, particularly the harmed creditors of Mt. Gox.
From the Ashes, Mt. Gox Could Emerge as a New Hope
On February 7, Pierce announced in an exclusive interview with TechCrunch that he intended to revive the Tokyo-based exchange with the “Gox Rising” project.
Having been in the works for the past five (5) years, Gox Rising is designed to compensate the 20,000 Mt. Gox creditors who were victimized in the 2014 attack, hoping to create a broad consensus and reunite the community. Additionally, it aims to bring the bankruptcy process, in both the U.S. and Japan, to an optimal and timely conclusion.
Under the project, Pierce would be considered the full, outright owner of the company. However, subject to heavy debate between Pierce and former Mt. Gox CEO, Mark Karpelès across social media, the question of ownership still remains unanswered.
When I asked Pierce his latest thoughts on Karpelès’ rejection that Pierce did in fact acquire the company in a letter of intent in 2014, he told me that documents will prove his claim, but in the end, ownership really isn’t his concern:
“First of all, the ownership doesn’t even matter. All we care about is the creditors getting everything. I don’t care who owns it, as long as Mark Karpelès gets nothing. The only reason I mentioned it historically, is because it matters in terms of continuity — why now. I’ve been working on this for over five years, so the only reason it matters is because I filed the first Civil Rehabilitation plan and did all these things. But, I don’t personally care if I own anything or not. The only thing I care about is why does Karpelès care so much. The only thing that should matter, is whether relaunching Mt. Gox is a good idea, or not.”
The ultimate vision of ‘Gox Rising’, according to Pierce, is that creditors will be offered a stake in the future of the company, which he hopes will eventually become a competitive, modern exchange that actively pursues non-custodial trading models.
He Invests and He Knows Things
Peter Dinklage has many attributable moments in the Game of Thrones series, but the popularity of his “I drink and I know things,” montage in Season 6, Episode 2, has led to a momentous use of motivational posters and inspirational fireside chats.
As for Pierce, he’s no rookie. He certainly invests and he definitely knows things. As for those younger investors who are either just entering the space, or legal practitioners whom are just immersing their practices in it, Pierce shared some tips with me on what individuals should consider when taking on the world of digital monies, regardless of what kingdom they work in or galaxy they reside in:
#1 –Bull Markets are Bullshit, and Bear Markets Bear Fruit
In bull markets, everyone starts making lots of money, and people begin to forget about why we are here, and burning happens. With greed kicking in, a lot of money is made and a lot of the wrong people show up for the wrong reasons. It is right here where we stop being an industry that operates with integrity, here to change the world. […] I am very happy we are in a bear market right now, because it purges and cleans out the bullshit. […] Bull markets are bullshit, and bear markets bear fruit. I just came up with that last week in Japan.
#2 –Investors and Practitioners: Invest in Your Education, Not the Coin
I don’t encourage anyone to invest in any of this. I encourage people to invest in themselves. What I mean by that, is to invest in your education and become informed — be conscious and aware of what’s happening in the world and what might unfold.
[…] The only thing I encourage people to do is to come and learn. One of the best ways to do that is by playing a game. Games are a great way to learn, and the game I recommend is this —
(1) Take the Top 10 tokens/coins,
(2) Out of those ten (10), pick five (5) of your favorites, but have reasons for doing so, and
(3) Keep track of how they perform. If you want to play with money, play with $100 USD, and put $20.00 USD on each and watch what happens.
[…] Don’t play around with real money and certainly don’t play around with something you can’t afford to lose. But, the exercise of going through and understanding what the Top 10 tokens are, how did they get their value, what are they, how are they different, and what are their value propositions — that process alone is one of the greatest investments in the area you can make yourself.
[…] For attorneys, my first suggestion would be to go and research what a “smart contract” is.
As law has stopped being written onto pieces of paper with a very specific language, the language of law is going to begin to morph and begin to change, and begin to become programmable. A lawyer who understands law and language, while understanding how that language becomes encoded — that is the most important thing you can do for yourself. Try and write one that you can put on your resume. Five or ten years from now, that may be the greatest investment you have made in yourself.
#3 –We Are Recreating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for the 21st Century
Most importantly, this space provides an ability to positively impact the world and the lives of others:
One simple example that is easy for people to understand — 2/3 of the world’s population (66%) do not have access to financial services in the sense they are “on-bent” or “under-bent,” and if you are recreating Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs today, consistent access to the internet and financial services are essential to live a prosperous life.
[…] One of the things we are doing through the world of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency, is democratizing the global financial system in a way where every human being can have equal access, and the least fortunate billions of people who don’t have access, will become the biggest beneficiaries.
“A billionaire isn’t someone with a billion dollars, it’s someone that is positively impacting the lives of a billion people, and that can be all of us.”