On Bitcoin and the Coronavirus

A message to the ShapeShift team amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

Erik Voorhees
Published in
4 min readMar 12, 2020


What a day. Global markets are down by record levels. Europeans can’t enter the U.S. Virus numbers are jumping everywhere. Even Dogecoin is much collapsing. The world appears on fire. Things are looking dark.

It bears mentioning that, like Bane from the Batman movie, Bitcoin was born in the dark.

Today echoes of the prior financial crisis. “Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” This quote, from the January 3, 2009 edition of The Times, was inscribed into Bitcoin’s genesis block way back then; a brilliant memento of the time and place — a dark time and place — when Bitcoin emerged.

Bitcoin was created because of, and in response to, the very same financial machinations that are collapsing once again. Bitcoin exists to be an alternative; to show the world a different way for money and the markets built from them to operate.

So why is Bitcoin so bloody today? Because people with money are panicking, they are selling everything they can to get cash. And it is precisely in moments like this when it’s important to zoom out and see the big picture. Bitcoiners love to talk about the transition of the global financial order into something new. Well, does anyone think that happens gradually, in a calm and orderly manner? No, it happens upon shocks and crises. It happens in fits and starts as the world is shaken from comfortable normalcy. That is happening in front of us right now.

This coronavirus, dangerous as it is, will pass. Weeks? Months? We will see, but it will pass. The more material effects of the outbreak are economic — an entire globe reeling from uncertainty and financial chaos. This chaos is going to continue, not because of the virus itself, but because the financial system has been built on lies and witchcraft. It has been an illusion, and illusions are painful when shattered.

I don’t mean to diminish the pain and suffering, which many are and will go through because of the virus itself. It is a devastating human tragedy. Yet there is a more historically important story unfolding in front of us, a chapter of societal change.

Most of us at this company are here because we have a passion for this technology and the social and economic change that necessarily comes with it; we believe Bitcoin and the universe of digital assets orbiting around it are a truly better way for money, and thus society, to work. It is times like today — times when the world lunges chaotically back from its complacent standards — that Bitcoin has been preparing.

For over a decade, Bitcoin has overcome every obstacle and doubt. In that time, it has gone through dozens of wild shocks. We have been through many drops of 20% or 30% in a day. Yes, they’re brutal, but they are always short term. The fundamental value of a borderless, apolitical financial system is overwhelming. And it is times like this — global crises — when we as builders of this industry need to be at our best. This is where we need to focus, while the rest of the world writhes in confusion.

I’m here to help crypto grow, not for the daily gainz and moon memes, but for times like this, when the world violently awakens to the mirage upon which finance has been foolishly constructed. I know most of you are with me on this, and ShapeShift is the instrument through which we do it. You all are an extraordinary team: we are building the best way for humanity to interact with digital finance. It is important work.

As these financial markets fall apart, and crypto itself swings around wildly, remember why we are doing this. Remember why crypto exists in the first place. We don’t know the extent of this calamity ahead, but the tools we’re building can help humanity on the other side.

Look through the darkness. The best stories are written in times of severity.