Bitcoin dump

on 9 December 2017

It’s 17:43, according to the clock on the oven. I’m going to write for exactly 17 minutes about Bitcoin and then I’m going to publish. It will be disorganized, and completely unresearched.

The last few days have been insane in the markets. On Thursday evening I sat in a hotel room and watch the price of BTC jump from $15,000 to $19,000 in the space of about two hours. Coinbase and GDAX buckled under the strain and went down at least twice. And were shaky for the whole time. In the downtime I checked my earliest prediction where I said it was either predicted a ceiling of around $10k based on it being used for illicit uses. I also said there was a chance between ‘possible and likely’ that Bitcoin would fall to zero for technical reasons.

Bitcoin has not fallen to zero. It has exceeded my ceiling. As well as being used for illicit online transactions, it’s become a speculative tool, with the promise of mainstream adoption - though adoption for what seems unclear to me.

Bitcoin has become less and less useful - no-one buys anything with it while it’s on a surge like this one, the fees are prohibitively expensive at $3-20 a transaction at the time of writing. It’s hard to use if you don’t simply leave your money in an exchange (which is a huge mistake).

I’m an intelligent guy. I’ve been a programmer for at least 15 years. I worked in finance, I’ve invested on and off in shares for many years. I’ve followed Bitcoin, invested and used it since at least 2012 - maybe longer — and I’ll say this… I do not understand it completely, I don’t understand an enormous amount of cryptocurrency stuff. I’m suspicious of people who seem to profess to understand it all. At the same time, people I enormously respect, who are smarter than me, are behind cryptocurrencies.

What do I think? Well firstly, I think that Bitcoin is the most accessible speculative bubble for a lot of people. As it’s become more accessible, the price has risen. It’s now easier to buy some stake in BTC than any form of other security. I think in a big picture, there’s a lot of money washing around in the world looking for productive opportunities - we’re in an everything bubble. In that situation it makes sense that even the most cautious investor would allocate 5% of their investment to a high risk, high return asset class. I believe this has had some impact on BTC.

I think Cryptocurrencies are here to stay, and they are going to be a big thing. I believe they will change the world. But so far, Bitcoin hasn’t changed anything, and it has many shortcomings. So even if cryptocurrency becomes huge, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s any value in Bitcoin.

People talk of parallels between Bitcoin and Netscape in the early days of the web, but an investor in Netscape who held all the way would have lost everything because Netscape is worthless. And just because you held Netscape stock, didn’t make you more able to profit from, say, the rise of Google.

And not only that, but the entire landscape of investing changed over the dot-com era. From infrastructure, to social networks, to Software-as-a-Service and into marketplace businesses like Uber.

I don’t know where Bitcoin is headed. Futures trading begins tomorrow and there’s been relative calm today in the price. I can’t predict whether this pushes the price up or down. I certainly think that up to now it’s only been possible to take a long position on BTC, and from tomorrow it will be possible to short it.

I believe there’s a lot of murkiness in the pricing of BTC. At the moment my limits (which are relatively high) are around $20,000 per week of trading. That’s not a huge amount when compared against the current market cap. At it’s peak, I would only be able to sell 1 BTC and buy 1 BTC each week. This must have some form of impact on the market.

And some brief notes as I run out of time: - BTC is 99% in male hands - 99% of ICOs have been complete and total bullshit scams. My understanding is that the flow is generally ETH -> ICO, and I assume that the scammers on the receiving end of these billions of dollars of crypto assets are liquidating them, or are about to.
- Bitfinex is going to vaporize with everybody’s money, and Tether alongside it. - If the US government decides to regulate crypto markets, which is inevitable on some level, then the price will plummet. A huge driver thus far in the price has been the ability to buy BTC. When I acquired my first BTC I had to bounce through a convoluted mess of Linden Dollars and some other exchange just to get them. It was worth the hurdle.

Now you can just buy with a credit card.

My time is up.

Facebook and the ICO adverts

on 19 September 2017

For the past month or so, virtually every Facebook advert I’ve seen has been for an ICO. Predominantly Paragon’s celebrity-backed scam, also Bolt’s vapourware electric scooter, and loads of others. I’m not sure if this is because Facebook has me pegged as interested in crypto-currencies, or if it’s a general situation for everybody.

I feel like Facebook are taking quite a risk here - it’s clear for all to see that these are scams. They might comply with some rules, somewhere in the world. But they’re basically the modern equivalent of chain letters.

I’m almost certain that Facebook, and Twitter, will be paying all this advertising revenue back in legal fees when they are defending class action lawsuits once everyone’s lost their money.

This is how the conversation is going with a lawyer is going to happen…

Do you have a contract? Yes, it’s at

Has you suffered damage? Damn right, I had some cash and now I’ve got nothing but some worthless hexadecimal numbers.

Was it reasonably foreseeable that Facebook’s actions would cause this damage? Clearly - everyone with any wit can see that Facebook are promoting ponzi schemes in return for cash.

Ok, let’s go to court.

When this money disappears there are going to be people looking for compensation and Facebook, with its bags of cash, US/EU jurisdiction and contractual relationship, is going to look mighty tempting.

Accelerating productivity

on 12 September 2017

Apple, Google and Facebook generated $333 billion of revenue last year with 205,000 employees. In 1993, three of the most successful, technologically oriented companies based in the Northeast — Kodak, IBM and AT&T — needed more than three times as many employees, 675,000, to generate 27 percent less in inflation-adjusted revenue.

At the same time, I recently learned that Facebook has 1,000 engineers working solely on its core Facebook mobile app. That’s a staggeringly high number to me. I’m sure Facebook’s successor will be driven by 100 people.

Billy Joel on the front row

on 3 June 2017

Q: There’s a pretty chill vibe backstage at your show.

These guys are all road dogs, all veterans, they’ve been doing it for years and years, they’ve worked for everybody. There’ a good spirit on this tour, and good morale is really important. We never sell front rows, we hold those tickets at just about every concert. For years, the scalpers got the tickets and would scalp the front row for ridiculous amounts of money. Our tickets are cheap, under $100, some in the $80s, the highest is about $150. I’d look down and see rich people sitting there, I call ‘em “gold chainers.” Sitting there puffing on a cigar, “entertain me, piano man.” They don’t stand up, make noise, sit there with their bouffant haired girlfriend lookin’ like a big shot. I kinda got sick of that, who the hell are these people, where are the real fans? It turns out the real fans were always in the back of the room in the worst seats. We now hold those tickets, and I send my road crew out to the back of the room when the audience comes in and they get people from the worst seats and bring ‘em in to the front rows. This way you’ve got people in the front row that are really happy to be there, real fans. We’ve tried to figure out how to beat the scalpers for years and years, hold off selling until the last minute, the wristband thing, limiting the amount of tickets people can get. You can’t fight that secondary market. There used to be anti-scalping laws and they let them lapse from the books. My theory is there’s a lot of tax revenue in those secondary ticket markets, these guys selling tickets for $500 to $1,000 gotta pay tax on it, and a lot more goes to government than there would be based on my ticket prices. So why should they enforce the scalping laws. We don’t want to play to big shots, I want to play to younger people, people who can only afford a low ticket price. They make the best audience, they make the most noise, they’re the most enthusiastic. It’s just hard to get to them any more. I tell the audience every night, “I hope you didn’t pay more than face value on that ticket, because we ain’t worth more than that, and you ain’t gonna get any more than that.”

- Backstage with Billy Joel


on 28 March 2017

I’ve watched Tesla with interest as it has gone from a niche sports car for a handful of wealthy Silicon Valley execs, to being valued on the basis of becoming the largest producer of $35k mass-market hatchbacks.

Today Tesla’s market cap surpassed that of Ford. It was already more valuable than Nissan, and is now nearly five times the valuation of Mitsubishi. Toyota is a juggernaut and dwarfs all other brands with its market cap of $182bn.

There’s a lot of consternation at Tesla, which has yet to make a profit and has produced 186,000 cars in total over its lifespan, being more valuable than Ford, which sold 3 million cars in America last year alone.

But the two are not exclusive - in order for Tesla to grow, it has to take market share from competitors. I suppose a parallel would be complaining that Google is worth more than Yellow Pages, or that Apple, with one handset, is worth more than Nokia who make 100.

Tesla have done a lot of innovative things - they’ve taken an engineering driven approach to building a car. At the top end of cars this is nothing special, but the low end of the market is traditionally driven by pointless adverts showing exactly the same little hatchbacks driving around a city knocking over giant buckets of paint while girls sing. In other words - marketing bullshit. They have are literally differentiating themselves on whether you can drive three attractive friends to a party while doing loop the loops past high fiving construction workers.

The software and UI for almost all cars remains absolutely terrible and Tesla have got to grips with this.

I don’t believe we’ll see mainstream fully-autonomous self-driving cars within the next 10 years, but I do think Tesla will be the first to achieve it, Uber, Google and Apple are all just wasting time and money on it.

The Steve Jobs factor is high in Elon Musk, and I do worry that he’s spread too thin. But, thus far, he’s built a solid team with almost no departures and achieved an enormous amount.

I see no reason why Tesla shouldn’t achieve a valuation similar to Toyota, which would be a 4X from today. So I’m long Tesla, as I have been for about a year now.

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