OGs on Why This One’s Different


Think back to 2017. Crypto was everywhere. The celebrities hawking ICOs included DJ Khaled, “Floyd Crypto Mayweather” and longtime blockchain enthusiast Paris Hilton. The most watched comedy on television, “Big Bang Theory,” named an episode “The Bitcoin Entanglement.” Long Island Iced Tea made the world’s most natural pivot, rebranding itself as Long Blockchain Corp. (The stock jumped 200%.) 

And now? Crickets. Even though the price of bitcoin seems to break a new record every five minutes, erupting from $4K to $40K in less than a year, for some reason this bull run feels different – not as mainstream, not as talked about, not as Paris Hilton-y.  

So is it really different? There are many ways to measure a bull cycle. The most obvious is by looking at the price, another is to look at things like the frequency of “bitcoin” in Google searches and a third is to evaluate the technical and fundamental metrics – smart analyses from the Nic Carters and Willy Woos of the world. 

Related: Eye-Popping Projection for $3T Crypto Market Underpins Bakkt Deal

But then there’s the qualitative side. I wanted to find out how the bull run looks – how it feels – from the perspective of OG bitcoin hodlers. And if this cycle is different, why? And where are we headed?

Let’s start with the kid.

i. ‘An excellent year!’

When Erik Finman was 12 years old, his older brother took him to a “very chill protest” in Washington, D.C. This was in 2011. Finman happened to notice a guy wearing an orange shirt that had a big B in the middle.

“What’s that?” the 12-year-old asked.

Related: Bitcoin’s Active Addresses, Trading Volumes Now at All-Time Highs

“It’s bitcoin, man. It’s going to end Wall Street, bro.”

So the 12-year-old looked into this bitcoin thing. He grew curious, and so did his older brother. His grandmother had just given him $1,000. (She thought she didn’t have much longer to live, so she gave checks to all of her grandchildren.) He tried to give it back. His grandma wouldn’t take it. The check was supposed to go for a scholarship fund but instead the kid used it to buy bitcoin. The price of each coin was around $10, so he bought 100 bitcoin. Thanks, Grandma. (Happily, her health improved. “She’s actually my only living grandparent now,” says Finman.) 

See also: Jeff Wilser – Cathie Wood: Ahead of the Curve

“Bitcoin became an obsession,” Finman remembers. While the rest of his friends were into Call of Duty or Pokemon, the 12-year-old hustled to get more BTC, texting with strangers to buy and sell. “I felt like a Wall Street broker.” He would eventually cobble together over 400 bitcoin.

You know those dot-com wunderkinds who drop out of college? That’s nothing. When Finman was 15 he dropped out of high school. Since then he helped start the crypto payments company Metal Pay, built a real-life Dr. Octopus suit (inspired by Spider-Man), and launched a satellite with Taylor Swift. (It’s easy to connect with T Swift, says Finman. “IMDBPro lists everyone’s agent; it’s only $30 per month, and the agents check their email.”) 

During the frenzied 2017 bull run, the media couldn’t get enough of the Teenage Bitcoin Millionaire. The Guardian photographed him sprawled over a pile of cash, wearing sunglasses, a hundred-dollar bill sticking out of his mouth. GQ covered his streetware. But guess who also consumes the media? Hackers. They spotted a rich target and came for his digital gold. “I was sick to my stomach,” says Finman. “I got emails that threatened to kill me if I didn’t give them bitcoin.” They also threatened his parents, even mentioning them by name along with their work addresses.  

“I was terrified to walk on the sidewalk,” Finman remembers. He had insomnia for days. The worst of it came on Aug. 21, 2017 – the day of the eclipse. Hackers knew that everyone would be staring at the sun and away from their computers, so they…

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