If you’re Bitcoin-rich and sitting on enormous, life-changing gains, here’s a tip from the pros: Sell loudly, publicly and theatrically. You just might avoid charges of epic hypocrisy.
In recent days, members of the cryptocurrency old guard have announced they’re bailing out. Some, like Emil Oldenburg, claim to be switching to Bitcoin Cash – a spin-off that’s better at the whole payments thing than the more rigid original. Others, such as Litecoin founder Charlie Lee, are selling rival tokens to supposedly avoid conflicts of interest in what’s a fiercely partisan market.
The common thread here is the effort to portray selling as a noble act, not a cash grab. Maybe in these cases, it’s true. But it’s remarkably fortunate timing. Bitcoin has soared to $17,000 from $950 this year, and Litecoin to $330 from $4.
There seems to be a broader trend here. There’s been a drop in the number of ultra-fat Bitcoin holdings, owned by the market whales, at exactly the time when Wall Street is desperate to play in the Bitcoin casino and ordinary punters are mortgaging their house to bet on a hot crypto tip.
A trawl through the Bitcoin rich list this year, using the Wayback Machine (a non-profit digital archive of the web), shows an explosion in the number of huddled masses holding fractions of the digital token. But the ranks of the Bitcoin-wealthy have thinned. There are more minnows, but fewer whales. Everyone’s richer in dollar terms, but the balance of new ownership is shifting to the little guy.
In any other market, charges of hypocrisy would be leveled at those heading for the exit, given their evangelizing about the Bitcoin future. But this is crypto-land, where wealthy geeks argue for days on end about block sizes, consensus algorithms and the spirit of the original Bitcoin white paper, without ever mentioning more obvious motivations like making money.