Virtual Billions: The Genius, the Drug Lord, and the Ivy League Twins behind the Rise of Bitcoin
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Bitcoin, the digital currency, was introduced in 2009 with little fanfare; five years later, shocking the world, it was worth $14 billion. This book explores the cyber currency by focusing on the remarkable stories and intriguing personalities of those responsible for its sudden success: Satoshi Nakamoto, the reclusive and anonymous genius who created Bitcoin; Ross Ulbricht, aka the Dread Pirate Roberts, administrator of the largest and most successful Dark Web drug superstore, using Bitcoin to fuel online sale of drugs, hacking services, counterfeit money, and assassinations; and Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, Harvard graduates, successful litigants vs. Facebook, world-class Olympic rowers, and Bitcoin entrepreneurs who own 1 percent of all bitcoins in existence.
Equal parts The Social Network, Sherlock Holmes, and Breaking Bad, this absorbing narrative tells the stories of the reclusive genius who waged a one-man war against the global banking system (and he's winning); the quiet and affable computer geek who, until his arrest, profited handsomely from Silk Road, his online drug superstore; and the multitalented Harvard twins, who made a fortune from an intellectual-property suit against Mark Zuckerberg, and now are the chief promoters of Bitcoin as "the next big thing."
Bitcoin has introduced us to coke-fueled coding gurus, anger-crazed hitmen-hiring millionaires, and canny "Bitcoin miners" avidly adding processing power to their chilly Icelandic server farms to generate millions of dollars every month. Absurd and almost unbelievable stories abound, and sweep the reader along through the living and breathing, passionate and paranoid insiders who made it all happen.
transaction is precisely mapped to a specific customer, a data miner's dream and a privacy proponent's nightmare. No, the other side was arguing for moderate regulation, of the sort that already exists for other currencies. It was hard for the Bitcoin traditionalists to hear this message, much less accept it. As Alex explained it: It might have been an overreaction, because we very publicly and maybe mistakenly said Hey, we want to operate a regulated Bitcoin business, which at the time was
entertained more lavishly and slowly ingratiated himself with those in power. He wrote books, lectured, and proposed an “outlandish” scheme to create a national Bank of Scotland, which the Scottish parliament politely considered but, ultimately, rejected. Law was rich and successful and had what many would consider a luxurious and enviable life. But he never stopped pushing for new economic schemes, petitioning governments and writing pamphlets and attempting to change what he viewed as calcified
fundamental faith. Imagine that instead of using a credit card you walked into a used car dealership with a suitcase of hundred-dollar bills. Contrary to standard economic logic, the sales force will be significantly less happy to see you compared to a credit card user, and might refuse to sell you any car at all, the presence of hard cash implying all sorts of nasty possibilities: drug deals, robberies, money laundering, etc. If the cash is drug money, it's possible (although unlikely) that
regional economy; a Belgian e-wallet, E-portemonnee, rewarded environmentally friendly behavior (waste reduction) with credits able to be spent on sustainable products or services.51 All the alternative currency experiments achieved sustained local use, with generally favorable results for everyone involved. Ithaca is home not just to Paul Glover's Ithaca Hours but a new combination paper/digital currency alternative: Ithacash.52 Ithacash is a “social currency” created by alternative-currency
little crude, but it worked!26 Silk Road vs. “The Biggest Force Wielding Organization on the Planet” Ross was no longer an amateur programmer. He had written a reasonably stable site using the correct tools, hosted on a Tor server under his control. All that was left was to switch the old site with the new; to point customers to the new server, leaving a link where the previous had lived. It wasn't easy: The weekend of the switch was the peak of stress for me. Updating a live site to a whole