Episode #90:👋 The Last Episode (For Now)
We’re taking a hiatus from new weekly episodes of CoinTalk. Thanks to all the listeners, Medium and all the sponsors, thanks to the maximalists and the HODLers and the skeptics, and of course all the con men who have made this a wild ride. We’ve loved getting to hang out with you every week.
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CoinTalk™️ is produced in partnership with Medium and hosted by Aaron Lammer and Jay Caspian Kang. Press “Listen to the story” above to play the episode. (You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, download the MP3, or email us at email@example.com)
- 🇨🇳 TRON’s Justin Sun cancels on Buffett and apologizes to the Chinese authorities
- 💰 Bitcoin is up — we are just bad at trading
- 📝 Biggest surprise, disappointment, and excitement
Aaron: I think we should just get out in front of it. We’re putting the show on ice for now.
Jay: Yeah. Well, hiatus for a bit, just because both of our schedules got a little bit hectic, especially going into the fall, and we had to make a decision on whether or not to continue doing it after like, how many episodes do we have right now?
Aaron: I believe this is episode 90, so it’s not like we’re green to this game. We’re complete OG status in this crypto world.
Jay: Yeah, but I just think that it was a combination of a variety of factors that we can talk about at the end, but yeah, bittersweet episode right now, for sure.
Aaron: Well, the good news is it’s not like we’re going away with bitcoin zero. It’s not like we’re walking away and the saga is over. In many ways, I feel like we’re bringing to a close the chapter that brought us into crypto which was the mega bull run of our youth, and we’ve gone through a crash, and now we’re not printing all-time highs, but sitting here with you now. I mean, if I had told you on episode one, When we end this show, bitcoin will be worth $11,763,” you’d be like, “Damn. Bitcoin did well.”
Jay: Yeah, especially if you had asked me six months ago, I think that we had the thing, and we were making a bet about whether or not bitcoin would ever get to $10,000 again, or at least get to $10,000 by the end of 2019. You said you thought it would touch $10,000 and maybe hover there, which I actually think is probably about as right as you could have been about that. And I expressed, that was at the hight of my mega bear general cynicism, that I didn’t think it would ever reach $10,000 again.
Jay: And even with the recent fluctuations, I will say that I think we said this about a month ago, but I think it’s true, which is that it feels kind of solid. And it’s not just that the price is staying around $10,000 and going up, and going down, and not dropping too far below it, it’s more just that the cases that are being made for it, the people who are involved in it, it seems like there is much more of an organic and less scammy culture that has formed around it this time. And people are just much smarter about things. There’s not $50 billion altcoins that are going on. There’s not this ICO rush. There’s not a bunch of scammers. John McAfee and Craig Wright and Roger Ver, and the OG bitcoiners have much less of a presence, and instead, we’re hearing from people like Mike Novogratz, or people in finance in Silicon Valley, and you can argue whether that’s good or bad. I would honestly give it a neutral at this point, but shade towards bad. But that does make it feel like bitcoin is more here to stay around this price point. What do you think?
Aaron: Well, I was talking to Ledger about this. We’re going to have Ledger on later in the show. We both agreed that this rise, this bounce from the Kang line, the historic Kang line, which of course, will outlive the show. The Kang line remains $3,200, $3,300-ish. This 3X bounce did not set off a mania like it did last time. There’s just not the same excitement around crypto. There’s just not the same number of new people being drawn in. It’s a different historical moment.
Jay: Yeah. I just remember from $4,000 to $7,000, the first bull run, and I would say this probably happened about a year and a half ago, every $300 we would all send excited texts to one another, and be like, “Oh my God,” and once it passed $7,000 I remember one day I was at Vice in the office and I wanted to throw a party or something like that. And this time it feels like that type of taking off of milestones doesn’t happen. I guess in part because they’re not really milestones. I mean, we’ve already crossed this path before, so maybe that’s why it-
Aaron: Well, I think that’s why it feels solid, is that it’s not really accompanied by mania. In fact, we kind of hit a conservative $10,000 right now. I feel like it’s like people are acknowledging that bitcoin very easily could be $20,000, but they’re like, “Okay, you first. You go all in at $11,000, then I’ll go,” You know?
Aaron: There’s a little bit of a learning from the past, and you’re right that we don’t have the ICOs and the mega-scammers this time, but we also don’t have the bitcoin mega-pumpers this time. I don’t hear the same voices saying, “Bitcoin, straight to $50,000.”
Jay: I don’t know. Yeah, I’m staring right now at a website-
Aaron: You’re looking at that exact [inaudible 00:06:54] right now.
Jay: -that’s from Forbes that says, “The Case for Bitcoin, $100,000 by the end of 2021.”
Aaron: I love it because… you know why I love this. So I have personally, for our listeners, I’ve bounced about 3X off the bottom there in terms of my own portfolio, and I’m still underwater.
Jay: Oh, you are? I was hoping that we would end this show with you finally breaking even.
Aaron: Actually, I’m pretty close. I was breaking even at the top last time, which was what? $13,000? So I’m a good day from breaking even. Let’s just call it even. Let’s call it a lesson learned by a few percentage points. But I went from basically being worth one-third to one-quarter of what I put in to basically bouncing back, which in terms of a traditional investment would have probably been impossible, both to lose that much and to bounce that far back.
Jay: Well, you could have definitely lost that much, but bouncing back would be difficult. I can’t think of… I mean, outside of things that are stupid like penny wheat stocks or whatever.
Aaron: Yeah, outside of wheat stocks which is our next show we’ll be doing.
Jay: Oh yeah, like traditional blue chip stock. I’m trying to think of things like-
Aaron: When I look at regrets I have about this show, Jay, not bringing in more penny wheat stock trading and uranium trading, that’s something I regret because I think that would have been pretty fun.
Jay: Man, I got… for those of… just so that we’re not talking amongst ourselves with no thought to the audience but at some point we all… I don’t think you did, right? But the rest of us in our telegram group all-
Aaron: No, I got in on uranium.
Jay: -bought uranium stocks. And the case that was made for them was interesting, which was that uranium was more crashed out than it had ever been, and it had nowhere to go but up, and that there was demand for uranium, and there were new mining techniques, and the market just wasn’t paying attention to it, and that we should get in on it and hold it for about a year, I think, or a year and a half. And we’re about nine months in and, let me tell you, there was down to ghosts. There was still space to go down for uranium. I mean, some of mine are getting murdered.
Aaron: I did not hold on to uranium.
Jay: Yeah, it’s like having basically not quite bitcoin volatility, but I would just say there’s like a mid-tier wheat stock, not quite penny wheat stock. It’s about that volatile. I’ll be down 30% and then be down 10% and then be down 40%. It sucks.
Aaron: So should we do a little news for old time’s sake?
Aaron: One of my favorite characters, and a character that I don’t think we’ve gotten to talk enough about… and I’ll admit, I didn’t really know some details of his biography until now, is Justin Sun, the founder of TRON.
Jay: Yeah. Great guy.
Aaron: So we’ve been, of course, talking about his Buffett lunch. He bid $4.5 million to have lunch with Warren Buffett. I think he got eight friends, he invited various people, most of his first choices turned him down, he’s on to the second tier, then suddenly right before it’s supposed to happen he cancels the lunch, or rain checks the lunch. It’s a lot of hubris to rain check Buffett.
Jay: Yeah. Although I don’t know. On the other hand, I was thinking about this when it happened, and I was like, “Well, Warren Buffett’s probably happy that he canceled,” and then also-
Aaron: Everyone loves a canceler. Have you ever been mad when someone canceled a dinner with you?
Aaron: No. It’s great. Stay home.
Jay: Well, I don’t know, there are… now that I am a father who spends a lot of time at home with a kid, there are nights where I just want to not be in the house and sometimes people, if people do cancel then I say, “Fuck. This was my one night that I could get out of the house.” And then… So that’s the only… it takes a lot. I would say the nights where I’m getting sick of being home are the only times I’m happy for a canceler, but I don’t think that’s a problem Warren Buffett is dealing with.
Aaron: Okay, so Justin Sun cancels, he said he’s got problems with his kidney stones, but then he’s immediately seen on someone’s Instagram story that night at a TRON influencers party in San Francisco, and he later sort of amends the story with an apology to the Chinese authorities, and says he’s sorry that he has been marketing TRON so much and working in marketing instead of technology, and that he’s putting the lunch with Buffett on hold, basically because it’s a disrespect to have this public marketing event with an American capitalist.
Jay: Oh, is that why? Is that what he said?
Aaron: Well, he didn’t literally say that, but that was part of the tone of the apology to the Chinese authorities.
Jay: Oh, see, I assumed he had just canceled Buffett lunch as a flex, and that he had always been planning on canceling.
Aaron: Oh, no, no. So TRON executives were detained in China-
Jay: Oh, yes. That’s right.
Aaron: -and the regulars made it clear to him that they were not happy with what he was doing. There was a rumor that he was in custody in China, which would have really set the TRON values spiraling. As it was, I think TRON’s down about 16% since then. But I’ll admit, I did not realize that Justin Sun was a Chinese national who answered to the Chinese government. I knew that… I, for some reason, thought he might have grown up in Hong Kong and maybe have dual citizenship or something. I did not realize that he would run so directly afoul of the party.
Jay: Yeah, I guess that’s a good line for him to have figured out, and for crypto in China, in general, to have figured out not to cross, because I think you’re right not to get into too essentialist of thinking or even betrayals of different crypto projects, but generally if something was a Chinese project, it was quite obvious because it was always labeled a Chinese project.
Aaron: You’re talking about NEO?
Jay: Yeah, like NEO or I think there was another-
Aaron: Ku Tung.
Jay: -there’s another Chinese Ethereum that was out there. I guess that was Ku Tung. Was it? I have no idea. I’m so glad that I can’t remember any of these altcoins anymore that you and I used to have embarrassing amounts of money on it.
Aaron: Chinese Ethereum sounds like something you’d like snort in a rave bathroom.
Jay: It also sounds like a band. I think that it was probably instructive for the Chinese crypto community to realize that this hypercapitalist libertarian thing that they’re championing might piss off the government, which is hypercapitalist in its practices, but certainly not in its mentality, and certainly does not want… especially in these authoritarian times over there people to be going out and making a big splash, and being like, “Yo, I’m at lunch with Warren Buffett. Let me put it on WeChat,” or something like that.
Aaron: “What’s up y’all? Here with my boy Warren.”
Aaron: “Warren, what do you think about bitcoin?”
Jay: Yeah, that just a bad look in general, especially with Warren Buffett. I don’t know. I’m not trying to side with the Chinese government here, but I don’t think that there is an illogic to what they say. It was almost logical that they would get mad about this.
Aaron: I am no China expert, but I did read a decent amount about this, and one of the things that struck me, and I encourage people to look at the actual wording of his apologies, what seems to have gone the most afoul of the Chinese authority is marketing possibly scams to normal investors. He keeps apologizing for marketing, and it seems like the line the Chinese government is really drawing is like, “Do not be fucking coming in here with your altcoin scams and selling them to ordinary Chinese people. You can be Chinese and be involved in some ICO shitcoin in the Philippines or Switzerland, or whatever you want to do. But do not go ripping off ordinary Chinese people or we’re going to have a problem.” And it seems like Justin Sun’s mega marketing of TRON, eventually… there must be a TRON community in China I would think.
Jay: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know if it’s real. People are not… but there’s probably something he could point to and say it was the TRON community. But it’s debatable whether or not they’re actual people or not.
Aaron: Speaking of international crypto, Steve Bannon, back in the crypto news, says, “Global Populist Revolt Only Helps Crypto.” This is one of these things again, where I’m like, “Strongly disagree with the person saying this.” This is so obviously true that it’s almost a non sequitur. Yes, of course, the global populist revolt only helps crypto. Pretty much everything helps crypto. International tumult, trade wars, what doesn’t help crypto?
Jay: I mean, everything bad for the future of our children helps crypto.
Aaron: Pretty much, yeah. I mean, crypto is basically a hedge against a good world.
Jay: Yeah. I have a question for you. I think I’ve asked this to you before. Which is, how much bitcoin do you think Steve Bannon owns?
Aaron: That’s a great question because Bannon is a little bit one of these Jeffery Epstein types who I’m like… is he super rich or is it all fake, is it all mirage? You could tell me that Bannon’s net worth is $1.5 million, and you could tell me it’s $100 million, to $1 billion.
Jay: Yeah, I wouldn’t believe the high end of that, but if you told me $30 million, I would-
Aaron: Probably closer to $30, $50 million. Okay, we both came in around the same ballpark. $30, $50 million. I would bet Bannon owns a couple million dollars worth of bitcoin, which he probably bought a lot lower than it is right now.
Jay: Okay. I honestly within that range. I would say that he has less money than he says he does and that’s because I think that when he was being talked up and people were afraid of him, and he was supposed to be this ascendant advisor to the President, I think people took the Goldman Sachs thing a little bit too seriously. Not everyone who works at Goldman Sachs, especially if their job is doing things like setting up mines for World of Warcraft gold mining, which is what he did, has that much money. And then the majority of Steve Bannon’s career has been producing shitty documentaries about Sarah Palin that nobody watched, and running Breitbart, which doesn’t make much money. If he has any money, it’s just being funneled for the Mercer’s or the Coke’s or something like that. And so I would guess that he does not have that much bitcoin. And if you were to ask who had more bitcoin, you or Steve Bannon, I would probably say Steve Bannon, but I would not be shocked if you have bitcoin than Steve Bannon.
Aaron: Looking at my altcoin loses, almost everyone has more bitcoin than I do. Me in the past has more bitcoin than I do.
Jay: But yes, I agree. Everything bad is good for crypto. We talked about this a lot after the Christchurch massacre in New Zealand when the guy said that the shooter, killer, said that he got rich off of bitconnect. Do you remember that?
Aaron: I do.
Jay: Nobody could really tell if it was real or if it was just him memeing in the same way that he was memeing throughout that manifesto, but I don’t know. I mean, look, this is the moral complicity that we’ve had with this thing the whole time… or not complicity, the moral complexity that we’ve dealt with this entire time. I guess complicity too because we’ve both owned it and probably both still own crypto. So yes, complicity as well. Is that, generally what’s good for crypto is bitcointopia… is that what it was called? What was that thing called? Yeah, bitcointopia that weird-
Aaron: Murder dome.
Jay: Desert murder dome. No laws, everybody is foraging from the earth and is ready to machete each other to death. That’s the best world for bitcoin.
Aaron: There is a strain of fatalism and both crypto, and I would say a lot of Silicon Valley futurism, that basically says, There’s no reason to fight against something like bitcoin. We are already headed into the dystopia. You should be arming yourselves appropriately. Bitcoin is the money of world destruction.” And there’s been times historically where I have said, “You know, the fear index feels pretty high right now, but bitcoin’s actually not doing much.” And this case, I would say today, the fear index is very very high in this country. Bitcoin is rallying in the face of both the trade war and incidents of domestic terrorism.
Jay: Well, yeah. I think it probably has more to do with the trade war than the latter.
Aaron: I would agree. So should we give Ledger Status a call? Ledger Status was on the very first Coin Talk. I say before we shut down this Zamboni we check back in on the market with him. What do you say?
Aaron: -last for now episode. Welcome to the show.
Ledger (Brian): From dust to dust. I’m happy to be here, but it’s a sad day.
Aaron: I’ll tell you what. I couldn’t have done it without you. I HODLed, my portfolio recovered, and I credit your calm, “It’s just the markets,” presence.
Ledger (Brian): Were you afraid at the bottom there, Aaron?
Aaron: I was terrified. I totally believed Jay was right, at the bottom. Permabear [inaudible 00:21:15].
Jay: Why were you afraid though, you had already lost it all.
Aaron: But it really wasn’t it all because there was still a fair… in US dollar terms there was still quite a bit to lose.
Ledger (Brian): I know the scariest thing after something goes down 70% is that it can go down another 70% as altcoin holders know.
Jay: We were just talking about that with uranium, Brian.
Ledger (Brian): Excuse me.
Aaron: I think you were last on this show maybe two months ago, maybe two or three months ago, and we were talking about the alt market which we both thought had bottomed out, and we were wrong. This hang around $10,000 we’ve experienced, I think bitcoin just hit its 28-month high in dominance. What do you make of all this? What do you make of the end of everything but bitcoin?
Ledger (Brian): Yeah. Well, I mean, I know you said this is a crypto podcast, and it is, but I think what we’re seeing is bitcoin responding to speculators, not necessarily to actual people that need a hedge, but I think we’re seeing bitcoin respond as a hedge against currency wars between the United States and the Chinese, and the fallout that’s happening there. Bitcoin’s responding well, in greater magnitude than gold and other precious metals that historically may play well there. And altcoins aren’t following. Actually, when we talked last time, it was kind of a little bottom for altcoins, but it was a weak response, just a couple of weeks of little float up type of moves, and then continued to get crushed worse than before, which is what we’ve seen over and over again with altcoins. When I talk about, “Hey, you know there’s maybe some opportunity in altcoins here,” I always try to say it with a caveat of, “Be careful, and manage your risk,” because if something goes down, it can keep going down. So you’ve got to play those nice and tight if you dig in. HODLing is something that I can believe in for bitcoin, but it’s really hard with altcoins because you just got to play the trade.
Aaron: Mr. Kang?
Aaron: You reported your stocks getting rocked today. Does any part of you want to make a little move over to bitcoin to weather out the Trump trade wars?
Jay: No. It’s too high, which I know that that is an illogical and stupid thing to say.
Aaron: No, it’s a real feeling. It’s a tall building to fall off of.
Jay: We did make a pledge to not buy bitcoin over $10,000 on this show several times. I’m going to stick with it.
Jay: I don’t know, I think generally speaking that while I have some optimism for the crypto markets, and I have a lot of pessimism for the future stability of this country, if that was the only question then I think that I would put a significant amount of my “portfolio” into crypto, and just bitcoin, honestly. Not into any alt projects. But there’s so many other factors that are going on, and I am somewhat interested if things do settle down over the next year politically, and attention can turn back to Libra… although I feel like that conversation might be over for now. And then by extension, it turns to crypto. I actually am a little bit concerned about what the President and his cabinet are going to do to regulate crypto in the upcoming months. There’s been no follow-up on that tweet because there’s been no follow-up on any tweet from Trump except for the ones that are the most troubling. I don’t know. If he is hostile towards it, then he decides to do something about it, the question is, “Can he do that much?” Maybe not, but he can do something. What do you think about that, Brian?
Ledger (Brian): I’m not long on Trump follow through.
Aaron: Okay. So Jay is not going to be buying bitcoin. Ledger, how are you feeling about your bags at this juncture?
Ledger (Brian): I mean, I think bitcoin is in HODL territory. I’m not bearish. I feel like if we’re going to have a new bull cycle, honestly the confirmation of that means to make new highs, which we’ve not done. Did you guys get excited in the 2017 run until it was making new highs?
Aaron: Not really. It’s weird to not be excited at $14,000 or something.
Jay: Oh, come on, you were excited at $14,000. I remember-
Aaron: I’m excited now.
Jay: I talked to you at $14,000. You were super excited about it.
Ledger (Brian): But you need new money.
Aaron: Yeah, I’ll be the most excited when it does truly break an all-time high. I will be wiling out at $20,000.
Ledger (Brian): Yeah.
Aaron: Let’s go.
Ledger (Brian): And I don’t think… last time it broke the all-time high and then went 17X. Obviously, we’re not expecting $20,000 and then a 10 to 20X over that. So I think it will be more muted, but if you break $20,000, you could legitimately see it double in price from there. So it’s not like $40,000 is out of reach. But I think some people are thinking, “Oh, yeah. That’s totally going to happen this year,” and for me, that’s Armageddon scenario. This currency war just goes ballistic, and people dive into gold and bitcoin and everything else. If gold doubles, then bitcoin, sure will probably 3 or 4X because it’s way more responsive than the gold market. But that seems like an outside scenario to me.
Aaron: Can I ask you a more personal question?
Ledger (Brian): Sure.
Aaron: Jay, I’m curious what you think too. Does being involved in this, are you getting burnt out on doing this show? I feel like Jay and I both… just the constant exposure to crypto eventually wore on us. “How are you doing?” is my question.
Ledger (Brian): Sometimes it can wear you out. You’re constantly paying attention to what is the price of something, which is not a natural thing. I didn’t really think of, “Hey, what are my investments doing,” on a daily basis or multiple times per day. That’s something because of the volatility especially that I’ve done ever since I got into crypto, so yeah, there are times where that is quite tiring, but on the whole I still think we’re at such a fascinating juncture with this debate over bitcoin being money and not being money and whether blockchain has any use or purpose. A lot of the topics you guys have debated very well over the course of the last couple years that I still think is exciting, and I still want to pay attention to.
Aaron: Yeah. I don’t know if exhaustion is the right word, but there is one thing that I was thinking about yesterday, which is that about six months ago we had this talk… and I think that we talked about it with you too, Brian, over telegram, and you ended up being right, which is not surprising. But it was that whether or not there would be something that would come along soon that would displace bitcoin and would still have the promise of all of this without some of the legacy issues of it. Now bitcoin I would say that on the whole has the legacy bonus, and the fact that it’s just been around the longest, it has the biggest brand name… not to use a cynical term, and it still exists, which is miraculous in some ways. But at the same time, obviously it does have some issues, and it might also have some associations that it doesn’t want. But we haven’t even seen the first steps of that. Everything else is fading it seems like. Grin was something that Aaron and I talked about a lot, and a lot of people were like, “Well, maybe Grin will be it.” But we just haven’t seen it.
Aaron: So it just seems like now it’s bitcoin or nothing. I guess, the only thing I would say is that I find it to be a little bit less of an exciting space to make content about and to talk about. It’s kind of fun when we’re talking about UBIC and stuff like that. But now it’s just bitcoin or nothing. Do you think that’s an inaccurate assessment of things? I just don’t see the looming crypto project on the horizon, especially since so many of them are Ethereum based and it seems like Ethereum at the very least is taking a rest from its constant messaging of being the future.
Ledger (Brian): Yeah, I mean I like to think of the term, “tokenize the world,” which now somebody says that, even people in crypto are pretty much going to laugh you out of the room and that’s a response due to price and seeing that very little is happening in terms of actual usage. What I’m fascinated by and a little depressed by is we see all this engineering happening for blockchain, not bitcoin or whatever, that they’re building cathedrals of technology but for who? And we have to see is anyone going to show up to use this technology that’s being built? If so, if that actually comes to pass, if real estate goes on the blockchain and that kind of stuff, it could be really really fascinating. But otherwise, all of the use case energy has gone into bitcoin and bitcoin’s use as some kind of scarce digital store value, or whatever. That could be boring. It might be difficult to talk about every single week. So we have to see if these other technologies show up and do something.
Aaron: Yeah, it’s the most fun when there’s the most shit.
Jay: Yeah. Aaron and I have talked at least two and a half hours total about crypto and blockchain and its application in the fine arts market, which is a thing that 17 shitcoins launched trying to solve. And in the end, our first reaction was the right one, which was maybe the fine art market doesn’t need this, despite the fact that I think Sotheby’s and Christie’s both were at some point talking about launching their own crypto coin and their own blockchain projects. Don’t hear that much about that now. I think they’ve gone the way of the IBM blockchain, which is another thing that we heard about a lot and now seems to have disappeared.
Aaron: It’s weird. I don’t think of us as permabulls, any of us, but bitcoin permabulls, but I do think if I offered you, two guys, a token and it was like you could either bet on the future of bitcoin or the future of all this other stuff combined, every other blockchain project, every other token, I think we would all bet on bitcoin, right?
Ledger (Brian): Yeah, pretty much.
Aaron: I would take bitcoin against the field right now, which is a pretty strong statement when you consider how many entrants there are in the field.
Jay: I guess the follow-up question to that which I find interesting is, would you take bitcoin over the next three years of the future development, so that in three years if you can extend the field to things that are developed in the next three years, would you still take bitcoin over the field? That goes to the question that we asked at the beginning which is why isn’t there something that is replacing bitcoin, or at least is challenging it, and is clearly the better option but might not make it because of entropy or because of legacy issues?
Aaron: I don’t want the future fields because bitcoin is going to be even stronger in three years if it even still exists. If the bitcoin chain is three years longer, Lord only knows. It’s already pretty powerful. I don’t see much catching up happening over the next three years. What do you think, Ledger?
Ledger (Brian): Well, bitcoin will still exist in three years. Bitcoin will still exist in 30 years. It’s hard to kill a blockchain. Y’all don’t think of bitcoin SV anymore, but it still exists although it’s fracturing more by the day. There’s actually three chains of the SV now. So you can develop problems, but you just need to run software for something to exist like this. I think the brand notation that Kang used was appropriate even if it seems silly. When you have open-sourced software, the brand is what carries the value. The network valuation is attached to a name, and that name that’s most powerful in our ecosystem is bitcoin and to retrain the entire world that figured out what bitcoin was over the past few years is going to take an enormous effort that I don’t think any other project is really able to take on and overpower bitcoin. Now, we’ll definitely see some stuff that comes out and it 1,000Xs, or whatever, relative to whatever it started at and therefore it is a good trade for someone, but overtaking overall market cap from bitcoin like that, I don’t think it’s going to be an easy task. In fact, I think it’s going to be quite difficult.
Aaron: Ledger, thank you for everything you’ve done for the show. We hope to talk soon. I want to come on your show. We want to have you back on the show whenever. Where can people find you on the internet and the podcast world?
Ledger (Brian): Go to ledgerstatus.com, @ledgerstatus on Twitter, that’s where everything’s going to go. Thank you guys for doing this show. I’ve really enjoyed it. I hope to carry on the bitcoin moderate name, or the crypto moderate name, or whatever it’s called.
Aaron: Don’t let them forget about crypto moderatism.
Ledger (Brian): It’s a political philosophy that doesn’t exactly inspire big fan groups of excitement, but it’s a reasonable take, and it’s a good take, and it’s one that I enjoy. And I enjoyed y’all’s show, and I hope it comes back from the grave.
Aaron: When you trade your way into becoming an intergalactic billionaire, and Jay and I are forgotten to history, I want you to start your political institute based on the doctrine of crypto-moderatism and call it the Aaron Lammer Institute. It’ll be kind of like the Muses Institute except for crypto-monetarism.
Ledger (Brian): I got a long way to go.
Aaron: All right. Jay?
Aaron: Should we do a quick goodbye to our editor, James Nicholson? It’s unclear. You claimed to have heard his voice. I don’t re-
Jay: No, I realized I hadn’t.
Aaron: I don’t ever recall hearing his voice, and I actually have no idea what his voice… I don’t even have a prediction as to what it sounds like.
Jay: He is Canadian, right?
Aaron: He is Canadian. I predict that it will sound Canadian.
Jay: Me too.
Aaron: All right, me and Jay have a bet to settle.
Aaron: He’s already turned tide on this. Have we ever spoken to each other with each other’s voices before?
James: Not once.
Aaron: You do sound pretty much what I expected you to. Ladies and gentlemen, this is James Nicholson, he has been editing just about every episode of the show. James, thank you.
James: Oh, it was my pleasure.
Aaron: What have you learned from listening to me and Jay talk for approximately 90 hours about crypto?
James: I’ve definitely learned that no one has any idea what’s going to happen in the space. It seems like a complete crapshoot. Any prediction is immediately irrelevant by the next episode. And I’ve learned a lot about fixing audio quality, that’s one thing I’ve learned a lot.
Jay: I guarantee one of our mics is going to be a thing or two low. My prediction is mine are going to be too low and Aaron’s will-
Aaron: Would you say… yeah, I was going to say which of us historically has the worst record for audio needing repair? We both have bad records. We’re like a bottom of the heap big three team. We’ve barely even been close in one game.
James: Well, Jay’s specialty is usually reverb. Heavy reverb.
Aaron: Oh yeah.
James: And background noise, but the crypto cave did have the hum-
James: -that continued through much of the dark crypto winter. And the hum, that was a tricky one, so I’d say Jay has probably still got the edge.
Jay: All right. I’m happy to hear it.
James: But Aaron, you were in a studio most of the time, so there’s…
Jay: Yeah, that is true. Mine was mostly… I would warn you that it was going to be bad because it was in a completely untenable space to be recording anything.
James: I can also say that Coin Talk’s the only place where I’ve ever made money in crypto. Everything else completely sank. I’m also happy that I didn’t agree to be paid in crypto, that was-
James: That was a smart decision.
Aaron: Oh my God, what if we had been paying you in Ethereum at the high?
James: Oh, God.
Aaron: That would have been ugly.
James: I would have at one point I would have taken 0X. I’m really glad I didn’t.
Jay: I want to be paid in 0X. We have no idea how to send that to you, but sure.
James: Yeah. It’s currently impossible.
Jay: I’m really glad that we didn’t pay you in crypto too, although that would have been a nightmare.
Aaron: I have to say; Jay was an early identifier that paying people in crypto was a terrible idea and was going to lead to terrible feelings. Not just within our own LLC, but on an international level, and I would say that’s been fairly validated that crypto paychecks, we’re not quite there yet.
James: We’ll get there.
Jay: Although there would be some paychecks that we would have just sent you in crypto at the bottom that would have been doing great right now.
Aaron: Well, we could have been doing, you could have had your Quadriga account, and we could have been transferring bitcoin to it.
James: Oh, God.
Aaron: There’s a whole… the great thing about crypto is there’s not just one way to fail. There’s so many different ways to lose at this game. There’s only one way to win which is to just hold your holdings and never sell them and never lose them. But there’s thousands of different painful ways to lose.
James: Yeah, one way I found to lose was buying in in a late ICO to a Japanese influencer coin. It was just a pure scam, airdrop scam.
Aaron: How did we not talk about this on the show?
James: I don’t know.
Aaron: You were buying Japanese shitcoins and editing the show, and you didn’t let us know?
James: I believe I tried to shill it on the telegram with my link, and thankfully, no one clicked it.
Aaron: I was heavy, heavy into Sumo at that point, so I probably would have not been receptive to another pretending to be Japanese ICO.
James: No. I got to say that I do blame Coin Talk completely for any money I lost in crypto because I really had no interest in crypto and then I heard the first episode, and it was like coming in in medias res with you guys, just deep… you’d clearly been in a crypto cave rabbit hole learning about DENT decline and all kinds of other shitcoins. And I had no interest in crypto until I heard those episodes and I was like, “Huh. Maybe this is something.” And it was not. I spent a week being like, “Maybe I could day trade.” Tried that, and then I got out pretty quick.
Jay: Thank God for that. It’s more of the time lost than anything else, I think. Just like in poker, there’s the money you lose, and money is money, and it comes and goes, but there’s also the damage that you take as a human being from day trading crypto that I don’t think people should have to undergo unless they get so rich that they don’t have to do it anymore, which has not happened for any of us so far.
Aaron: First, you lose the money. Then you lose the time. Then you lose the dignity.
James: And then you lose your, as I have, then you lose the scrap of paper where you wrote your secure password on for your various crypto accounts, and you just move on.
Jay: Wow. Well, on that note, thank you very much for helping us.
James: It was my pleasure. I’ll miss my weekly crypto check-in.
Aaron: James, we really appreciate it. Let’s get back and do it again sometime. In the meantime, where can people find you if they want to work with you?
James: They can find me at jamesnicholson.net, and I’m going to be rebooting my Intellectual Fatherhood newsletter.
Aaron: Wow, I can really imagine a great first guest for that newsletter. His name is Jay Kang.
James: He happens to be a celebrity subscriber to the newsletter. It’s called Child is Father of the Man at Substack, and that’s a name that Aaron tried to talk me out of, but I refused and went with it.
Jay: That’s good.
Aaron: There you go. If you’ve learned nothing else from this show, never bet on whatever Aaron is betting on. It’s going to lose. Later, James.
James: See you, guys.
Speaker 2: (singing)
Aaron: All right, Jay. We’re close to the end. I got a few more. I feel like we should go out like a sports show here like it’s a bang. Take some parting shots. Before we do it, why don’t we just go through, biggest surprise, biggest disappointment, and the most exciting thing, going forward for you about this space? If we were only going to do this show once a year, what would be the biggest bookmarks for you among all of the events, all the news we’ve covered, all of the bullshit we’ve run through our minds and mouth. Biggest surprise?
Jay: I think the biggest surprise is that the market, more or less recovered. If we’re at $11,792, we’re at the same point or actually a little bit higher than when we were doing the basement tapes, and we were super excited about crypto. And the amount of time in the ten years that crypto has been around that bitcoin was over this point was very short, which a lot of people have pointed out. And so outside of a spike that might have happened for any number of reasons, but I think we can speculate that not all of them were above board, within the organic growth, if you can call it that, that we seem to be still in a positive direction. I’m somewhat surprised by that given how much attention was put on it. Generally, things that have this much attention put on it and this much money put into it, this much dumb money and then this much resistance from the establishment, whether it be the media or more importantly banking and government, they don’t do that well. It’s still around is a surprise. Biggest disappointment… Well, actually, why don’t you go. What’s your biggest surprise?
Aaron: I think my biggest surprise is that bitcoin can have recovered. Bitcoin’s price went between 3 and 4X since we started doing the basement tapes, and somehow me and you, two people who were obsessed with crypto spent all of our waking hours talking about it, failed to make money during that period.
Jay: Yeah, that’s true. I actually did… I had to do my accounting for my taxes recently, which don’t ask why I’m doing it in August, it’s mostly out of laziness, and the ability to file extensions. I did lose money. I thought I had broke even, but I definitely lost money, and I don’t know what to do. I think that if I had actually bought in hard at the Kang line, I would have made a lot of money, obviously.
Aaron: There’s a million ways to make money. Don’t buy above $10,000, HODL, buy the Kang line, all of those tickets are winners, but we did not buy those tickets. We bought the suckers ticket.
Jay: Are we surprised, though? I’m not surprised by that at all.
Aaron: It’s been our most consistent thing.
Jay: I don’t make good financial decisions, and I’m not very smart about these… I think there’s like one or two things in the world that I’m probably above average intelligence in and everything else I’m below average or actually just dumb. And the financial world of making bets, investing, I’m definitely dumb in. And the only things I ever do well that I buy are idiot-proof things that I don’t ever touch. So I’m not surprised by the fact that we didn’t make any money on this. I would actually be surprised if I had made any money on it. Every time I step into a casino, it doesn’t matter how much I go up during the time I’m in the casino if I leave and I have chips I’m stunned. I don’t know why this would be any different.
Aaron: Biggest disappointment?
Jay: Biggest disappointment, I think we talked a little bit about with Brian, and we’ve talked about it certainly on the show, but just to put a cap on it. I think that Ethereum has been a massive disappointment that had-
Jay: -a lot of… I mean, do you remember how often Vitalik was being hailed as this great new genius, and there was going to be this new internet, and I just don’t see where they go from here. Unless they can do a long dormancy period and then relaunch, it’s very difficult for me to see why this idea would work and why something, unlike bitcoin which I think is not going to be replaced, I don’t see why better technology can’t come along in Ethereum. Especially at a point where people are probably pretty exhausted with it. So Ethereum has been my biggest disappointment.
Aaron: Wow. Savage.
Jay: I do think if Augur had worked you and I would have made some money on it because all of our bets were right, but we just couldn’t figure out how to do anything on it, so we couldn’t make any money.
Aaron: No one wanted to take our action. There weren’t any real markets in the stuff that we were right about. My biggest disappointment is the overall contraction of the space. While I think it makes sense that bitcoin won, it’s just not as much fun without all sorts of outlandish offshoots and twisted limbs and scammers and hoaxes and all that stuff. While I’m kind of glad that some of the worst actors have been rooted out, I do think cryptos move into a mono mythology around bitcoin ultimately makes it less interesting for something like this show. That said, as our friend Ledger Status has always said, these things move in cycles, so I would not be surprised if there’s another wacky cycle out ahead of us. The fact that everyone is being conservative playing their hand pretty tight, not buying a bunch of shitcoins, that could lead to a giant explosion in the future, I think.
Jay: Yeah, for sure.
Aaron: People are going to forget about this, except for the historical record that Coin Talk provides.
Jay: It’s like greed will come back. I think we can say that pretty… and scams will come back and those are both… the logical end of both of those are shitcoins, so I don’t… and technology will progress so there might be some good projects that come too. What’s the last part?
Aaron: What are you most excited about? What do you think, in a year you and I are going to be talking about? What is the direction that most excites you in crypto right now?
Jay: This is purely theoretical, and so it’s not something that exists right now that I’m excited about, but one thing that I do hope that I would be excited about that happens is that right now, every single decentralized idea out there that would play off of crypto or the blockchain or whatever, they’re all associated with the far-right, right now. So something like Gab, a platform for far-right people to not be censored by whatever like Twitter or Facebook, YouTube you see some gamers leaving, but you also see a lot of far-right people leaving like Alex Jones, and I wish… I would be very excited if my friends and colleagues… not colleagues, it’s like I’m a journalist, so forget that for a while. But the people who have my same ideological sensibilities on the progressive left would actually start to embrace some of these decentralized ideas and to start thinking a bit more anartically.
Jay: I think that embrace of crypto is really not a crazy idea. Right now, basically, you have people arguing for the dissolution of Amazon, you have people arguing against Amazon’s workplace habits, and they still order stuff off Amazon, they also use AWS. They don’t question any of that. They complain about Twitter, and they tweet at Jack, and they’re like, “Jack, please fix this.” But they never really think, “What if we weren’t on Twitter? What if we came up with a decentralized solution to Twitter, or a replacement for Twitter?” There would be no Jack to complain to. All those things need to happen.
Jay: I think that basically right now you have left that is captive to big corporations while also kind of thumbing their nose at them in this really insignificant way. And I just hope… I would be very excited. And this is something Maria Bastidas talked about in one of our first episodes. I think there is a case to be made to the left that they should start thinking about crypto projects; they should start thinking about blockchain projects. But will it ever happen? I don’t know. Because I think that generally the people are less imaginative and generally it’s because of necessity because they don’t need to leave Twitter, they can just complain to Jack, and he’ll just ignore them, and then they’ll go back to using it. They seem perfectly content to do that, which I find baffling.
Aaron: I think that I’m the most excited about the original premise that brought us to crypto in the first place, of this idea of magic internet money, fake internet money, whatever we’ve called it over time, and it’s overall implications for what it says about people. If you can renounce national money, maybe a more post-national identity is possible. Certainly our system of nations and identity is in some pretty big trouble right now and there’s a certain way to be cynical about the situation and say, “Well, government’s never going to solve anything,” but I do think that there’s probably a role for organization of people beyond governments and beyond nations and so it is exciting to see something like with bitcoin that has found the killer loop for signing people up, which is greed. I think it identified the sweet spot of what gets something into people, whether it’s in collapsing economies or people who are techno-utopianists within first-world economies. It’s got a real hook to bring people into some kind of a decentralized system, and I agree with you.
Aaron: Some of the other things that could happen then are maybe even more revolutionary, but I don’t shy away from the idea that replacing money is itself a pretty revolutionary idea and a pretty gigantic first step. So, if anything, I feel like we were maybe a little too early in some ways, and some of our most far-out, put down the bong musings about bitcoin… we’re just going to have to be patient I think, about them.
Jay: I don’t disagree with that. I think that we are always thinking about this within a two-year cycle just because there’s so much hype around it that you start expecting things to be faster. I think that maybe the cycle is going to be more like ten years from now and if you believe in it, then there’s no price that it could be right now that would be too high. But if you’re a little more skeptical or if you just don’t want to go through the ride… and I think that that’s generally the question, which is just like is it possible to just buy bitcoin and forget about it? I would argue, for me, it’s not. I’m sure for some people it is, but it’s difficult either way.
Aaron: I mean, that’s certainly the clock I’m watching. I’m watching the world buy more and more bitcoin and choose in more and more situations that bitcoining might be a better haul than whatever the alternative is, and when you think about that in that context five, ten years, maybe it’s not that long if really the ceiling is a significant part of the world financial system. I do think that that is within reach now, that’s why I continue to hold bitcoin is because I don’t really see what’s going to stop bitcoin from eating more and more of the value up of the market because it’s very efficient and it’s more and more powerful the more people who use it and the more money it has inside of itself. It ultimately feels like a giant rolling snowball. We’ve both proven to be pretty terrible at strategizing within that. I’m going to just keep trying to do the one thing I know that I should do, which is hold on.
Jay: Well, good luck with that. A true good luck.
Aaron: And also, I will be panic selling, in a telegram group with you, probably within three months whenever the next crash is. I don’t think I’ve learned anything-
Jay: I just expect the message from you being like, “Oh, you know Ethereum’s looking mighty juicy right now,” and then just three months later being like, “Why do I have this Ethereum?”
Aaron: I mean, I just made a terrible bullshit speech to try to end this without selling my bitcoin, which is clearly what I should do. Clearly, I’m almost at a break-even, the show is going off-air for a bit. I should sell my bitcoin. I’m going to not pay as much attention to bitcoin, it’s a great time to salvage what’s left of my dignity and bag, and yet, it kills me to think that bitcoin… the minute that Ledger said $20,000, $40,000… if bitcoin went to $40,000, but I sold now, I would never forgive myself.
Jay: Yeah. I think that’s part of the reason why I don’t want to buy is because I’m so mad at myself after four months of talking about, “I’ll buy at $3,300,” somehow calling the exact bottom over and over and over again-
Aaron: You’re a master.
Jay: -on recorded timestamped podcasts, that I didn’t buy more into the bottom and then immediately gambled it all away. I’m so mad at myself.
Aaron: Your bottom call… if your bottom call was a top call and you sold it you would be legendary. Instead, it’s a bottom call, and you didn’t buy it. It’s like the inverse of the perfect call.
Jay: Yeah, it’s so dumb. It’s useless. I’m only right once every three months so wasting that is so frustrating.
Aaron: Jay, it’s been great. I’ve had a lot of fun. I actually do feel like I’ve learned something. If you’re listening to this and you want to go back and listen to old episodes, I think my favorite was when we did that one that was about common baseball cards. I think we peaked right there.
Jay: Yeah. And also, if you want to listen to relatively dumb people learn about money and markets in real-time-
Aaron: You could do worse.
Jay: Yeah. I think that it… I certainly know way more about financial systems, global systems. I didn’t know that Swift existed before this, and now I do. I don’t know why I need to know Swift exists, but sometimes they say, “Well, what about Swift?” And then I sound smart. I guess that’s the point.
Aaron: Before I discovered this passion for international bank transfers, my life was empty. Now it’s full, and I have a purpose, and that purpose is crypto.
Jay: I was a zero at cocktail hours, and now every time I go in a social setting, I say, “Well, what about Swift and international bank transfers?”
Aaron: The ladies can’t wait to talk about bitcoin with me. It’s a real icebreaker.
Aaron: This has been great. Thank you. Thanks to everyone who’s listened. We’ve had incredible fans. We’ve gotten so much mail. I apologize to anyone we haven’t been able to get back to. We’re still going to read the box. Hi@cointalk.show. We’d love to hear from you.
Jay: Unless you’re pitching us a guest to be on a podcast that is on hiatus, please don’t do that.
Aaron: Do you think A.I. robots are going to be pitching their A.I. boss to come on the show in 40 years? You and I will have been already murdered in a bitcoin purge, and we’re just going to be getting pitched for this show for the entire rest of time?
Jay: I’m not going to die that bored. I’m going to be Rufio, the king of the lost boys, or something like that. But yeah, I think that those pitches will come until both of us are well into our graves.