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Cryptocurrency Startup School (a16z.com)
125 points by yarapavan 12 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 149 comments





A startup school for a singular technical solution that has now gone years without any demonstrable killer app and which faces immense scaling and regulatory hurdles seems like putting the cart well before the horse here.

I very much doubt that the key roadblock to realizing the crypto dream has been the lack of availability of a startup school around it.


I work in crypto space myself and I can tell that this space is really interesting. Both technical and business challenges are quite unique.

Here's just a quick recap of different, new business models https://medium.com/abridged-io/web3-business-models-in-the-w...

IMO things like DeFi are finally a good use case for blockchain.

So yeah, I think this a good idea to create a startup school focused on new, different area witch can disrupt the finance sector.

Disclaimer: I work for MakerDAO.


...a list of new business models zero of which have shown an iota (pardon the pun) of traction in a decade. I feel the list of crazy startup ideas circulating on r/wallstreetbets is as valuable.

The technical and scaling problems are all self imposed due to leveraging a woefully inadequate storage mechanism. It’s basically coal-powered banking.


...a list of new business models zero of which have shown an iota (pardon the pun) of traction in a decade.

Bitcoin is worth $140 billion. What are you waiting for, before you believe it has traction?


I'm on neither side of this debate, but citing how much Bitcoin is worth seems like a really weak argument in favor of traction.

I think a more convincing argument would be citing # of transactions or use cases (store of value, cheaper way of sending large amount of money or money internationally, etc.)


There were 320k transactions in the last 24 hours on mainnet alone (for bitcoin).

How many of them were fake? 95%. [1] While I understand that applies to exchanges and not mainnet, the reality is that each mainet transaction is impacted because it's the 95% of fake volume that sets the price and therefore the terms of exchange for the "real" transactions.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/cbovaird/2019/03/22/95-of-repor...


None of them. There is no such thing as a 'fake' bitcoin transaction. What you are thinking of is fake trading volume on exchanges. Those are very different things.

It's baffling to me seeing the progression of anti-blockchain people. They keep insisting that it's all a joke, and yet every single day the level of adoption keeps on increasing.

I feel like I'm watching the internet be born again.


Sadly it’s the opposite of a joke. 1 bitcoin transaction is 607kWh (or 288kgCO2 and 85g of ewaste). And the more efficient technology gets the less efficient bitcoin gets. Patently absurd.

95% of volume is fraudulent, and decentralized and trustless means that’s an intentional, irrevocable part of the system. Being able to circumvent international sanctions and pay terrorists is a feature. North Korea has been accumulating a large stockpile. More than 50% of hash power is concentrated in 3 mining pools in the PRC.

The higher the price goes the more you have to pay miners for the same job. Just maintaining the price requires $14.4M in new money each day to pay the miners. If BTC goes to $80K each you’d need $144M in new money per day to pay the miners.

And it solves no actual problems people have. Sweet joke fam. I feel like I’m watching the liberty reserve all over again.


> And the more efficient technology gets the less efficient bitcoin gets.

Incorrect. The technology getting more efficient does not make Bitcoin less efficient. You probably didn't actually think through this point, because it's nonsensical.

> 95% of volume is fraudulent, and decentralized and trustless means that’s an intentional, irrevocable part of the system.

95% of volume on exchanges that nobody pays any attention to anyway. Binance, Coinbase, Kraken, Bittrex, etc all have completely legitimate volume numbers.

> The higher the price goes the more you have to pay miners for the same job.

This is only true as long as new bitcoins are still being minted. And it's also only true if the rate of increase in the price outstrips the decrease in the minting rate.

> And it solves no actual problems people have. Sweet joke fam. I feel like I’m watching the liberty reserve all over again.

Ok. Don't buy any then. Meanwhile, people living under repressive and fiscally irresponsible governments will continue to use it to protect their wealth, as they have been doing.


Hahahahhahahahaha
darawk 11 days ago [flagged]

I'll take that as the confirmation that it is that you have no response, because you don't actually know what you're talking about.

That reply ended up in the wrong place and now I can’t amend it my bad.

> Incorrect. The technology getting more efficient does not make Bitcoin less efficient. You probably didn't actually think through this point, because it's nonsensical.

It very much does. The more efficient your miners the more you have a temporary advantage over your peers, so there’s incentive to replace your equipment. Then everyone upgrades theirs too. Once you do the difficulty adjusts to match the new hash power. Thus bitcoin becomes less efficient. There’s a straight line up and to the right over time in terms of hash rate, and power consumption but the max tx rate remains a pitiable 7tx/sec. Therefore by definition it’s become less efficient.

I mean 10 years ago it took a couple of Wh to run a tx and now it takes 607kWh! That’s the nonsensical part. You can’t tell me that efficiency hasn’t gone down haha.

> 95% of volume on exchanges that nobody pays any attention to anyway. Binance, Coinbase, Kraken, Bittrex, etc all have completely legitimate volume numbers.

People very much pay attention to bitfinex, since they own the funbux people use to avoid AML/KYC. Even if we take the crazy claim that somehow people only pay attention to the “good 5%” of tx the fake volume sets the exchange rate dude. I can’t believe you’d sit there and say it’s okay if 95% of volume is fake and manipulative because you’ve found the good 5%. If only 5% of all USD transactions were fake, or all stock transactions were fake we’d burn the system to the ground.

> Thus is only true as long as new bitcoins are still being minted. And it's also only true if the rate of increase in the price outstrips the decrease in the minting rate.

So until 2050. And then you think miners will continue to secure the system for their health? Of course not. Transaction fees will skyrocket and if anyone is left using the system the process will repeat itself.

> Ok. Don't buy any then. Meanwhile, people living under repressive and fiscally irresponsible governments will continue to use it to protect their wealth, as they have been doing.

“Protecting their wealth” haha, good one. They lost 33% last week. 70% since all time high. 99.8% if they invested in alt coins. That’s not protection, that’s insanity. There’s so many better ways to protect wealth. It protects wealth like warm milk on a windowsill.

Trust me I’m not buying haha, I made a bunch of money in the initial bubble run, sold at 17K and got out. Today, there’s plenty of better investments in the stock market. I mean outperforming an asset class down 70% in 2 years is pretty pretty easy. Even SoftBank has a better track record. Actually it may be outperformed by the Turkish Lira at this point. (Edit) since 2017 the Turkish lira has done much better than bitcoin.


> It very much does. The more efficient your miners the more you have a temporary advantage over your peers, so there’s incentive to replace your equipment. Then everyone upgrades theirs too. Once you do the difficulty adjusts to match the new hash power. Thus bitcoin becomes less efficient. There’s a straight line up and to the right over time in terms of hash rate, and power consumption but the max tx rate remains a pitiable 7tx/sec. Therefore by definition it’s become less efficient.

So, yes, it becomes less efficient in terms of hash rate, that's true. But we don't really care about hash rate efficiency. What we do care about is power efficiency, but that scales with price not mining technology. And yes, the price has gone up, but power consumption will only continue to rise if the price does. This is basically an economic fact - miners are compensated in Bitcoin, so they should only be willing to consume as much dollar-weighted power as they receive in dollar-weighted bitcoin.

> People very much pay attention to bitfinex, since they own the funbux people use to avoid AML/KYC.

Bitfinex's volume is legitimate, though. Tether is an open question, but tether is also tradable at a market rate. The market believes tether is worth $1. If you disagree, you can short it, and if you actually believed tether was illegitimate, you'd do that. The fact that you haven't indicates to me that you don't really believe it.

> I can’t believe you’d sit there and say it’s okay if 95% of volume is fake and manipulative because you’ve found the good 5%. If only 5% of all USD transactions were fake, or all stock transactions were fake we’d burn the system to the ground.

I think the crux of the issue is that nobody cares about these exchanges. Their volume isn't real and everyone knows it, so they don't matter. If I claim to own a stock exchange that trades 100 trillion usd of volume every day, does that mean that now 95% of traded stocks are "fake"? No. It just means some random guy on the internet claimed something silly. That's what these fake exchanges more or less are.

> So until 2050. And then you think miners will continue to secure the system for their health? Of course not. Transaction fees will skyrocket and if anyone is left using the system the process will repeat itself.

> “Protecting their wealth” haha, good one. They lost 33% last week. 70% since all time high. 99.8% if they invested in alt coins. That’s not protection, that’s insanity. There’s so many better ways to protect wealth. It protects wealth like warm milk on a windowsill.

Better than Venezuelan Bolivars by a long shot.

> Trust me I’m not buying haha, I made a bunch of money in the initial bubble run, sold at 17K and got out. Today, there’s plenty of better investments in the stock market. I mean outperforming an asset class down 70% in 2 years is pretty pretty easy. Even SoftBank has a better track record. Actually it may be outperformed by the Turkish Lira at this point. (Edit) since 2017 the Turkish lira has done much better than bitcoin.

Measuring something's performance from it's all time high is a strange way to consider things. Nobody does that in any other market. There are plenty of assets down that much from their ATH. You're cherrypicking a particularly bad time period for Bitcoin. If you started in 2016, the returns outstrip any national currency on earth - which for the record, is also not a meaningful way to look at things.


> Bitfinex's volume is legitimate, though.

Citation needed. Bitfinex is one of the shadiest entities anywhere on earth. Why would you believe them?

> Tether is an open question, but tether is also tradable at a market rate. The market believes tether is worth $1. If you disagree, you can short it, and if you actually believed tether was illegitimate, you'd do that.

I would do that if the market wasn’t manipulated. It’s a suckers game to take any position in a manipulated market. Exchanges actively move the price up to liquidate shorts then spike it down to liquidate long. To play a rigged game at all is a suckers bet; it’s like trying to play a shell game because you’re confident you can see where they put the ball. That’s not why you’ll lose.

> Better than Venezuelan Bolivars by a long shot.

A single transaction fee for BTC is a weeks wages in Venezuela. It does not solve that problem or any other problem. Trust me if a Venezuelan were given the choice between moving a sliver of currency for a weeks wages or 600kWh of productive energy they’d very much pick the latter like any sane human.


> Citation needed. Bitfinex is one of the shadiest entities anywhere on earth. Why would you believe them?

Read the report yourself if you like:

https://www.sec.gov/comments/sr-nysearca-2019-01/srnysearca2...

For reference, when people say "95% of exchange volume is fake" this is the report they're citing. It lists 10 exchanges with volume it deems legitimate. Bitfinex is one of those 10.

> I would do that if the market wasn’t manipulated. It’s a suckers game to take any position in a manipulated market. Exchanges actively move the price up to liquidate shorts then spike it down to liquidate long. To play a rigged game at all is a suckers bet; it’s like trying to play a shell game because you’re confident you can see where they put the ball. That’s not why you’ll lose.

I'm not sure what you mean by "manipulated". The Tether/USD market on Kraken is not manipulated in any way. And it's unclear what it'd even mean if it were. How would one go about manipulating the Tether market?

> A single transaction fee for BTC is a weeks wages in Venezuela. It does not solve that problem or any other problem. Trust me if a Venezuelan were given the choice between moving a sliver of currency for a weeks wages or 600kWh of productive energy they’d very much pick the latter like any sane human.

Yes, now it's a few weeks wages. But prior to this round of hyperinflation they could have stored their wealth in bitcoin. Now it's probably too late. But i'm not referring to someone doing it now, storing your wealth somewhere will always have some cost associated with it. Wealth preservation is a step you take in anticipation of currency risk, not after its already done.


> Yes, now it's a few weeks wages. But prior to this round of hyperinflation they could have stored their wealth in bitcoin. Now it's probably too late. But i'm not referring to someone doing it now, storing your wealth somewhere will always have some cost associated with it. Wealth preservation is a step you take in anticipation of currency risk, not after its already done.

Perfect haha thus solving the problem once and for all. Except not solving any problem, and somehow even less efficiently.

Before the last few rounds of hyperinflation they could have just as well bought USD and been 70% better off. Yes if you cherry pick entry points in retrospect you can justify any position no matter how crazy. If these poor Venezuelans had only realized how valuable bitcoin was before it mattered you know? Or literally any other asset class that’s done well lately but hey don’t let me spoil the surprise.


> Before the last few rounds of hyperinflation they could have just as well bought USD and been 70% better off. Yes if you cherry pick entry points in retrospect you can justify any position no matter how crazy. If these poor Venezuelans had only realized how valuable bitcoin was before it mattered you know? Or literally any other asset class that’s done well lately but hey don’t let me spoil the surprise.

The only reason I cherrypicked a time period was to demonstrate that you were cherrypicking a time period. If you want to talk seriously about evaluating it as an investment, there are two ways you could go about doing that. One would be to look at it's value since inception, which makes it literally one of the best investments on the planet. The other would be to pick a hold length and evaluate the sharpe ratio for holding the asset over all periods of that length during its lifecycle (e.g. take all 1-year long daily returns streams, and compute the sharpe ratio of each, thereby obtaining a performance distribution for the asset that suggests what your expected risk-adjusted return would be, on average, for buying it at any point during its lifecycle).

I do have the data to do that analysis, but not on the computer i'm currently on. However, I think we both know how good it will look for Bitcoin. If you doubt that, i'm happy to actually run it in a day or two.


This argument has been a bit winding but to recap. I started out saying BTC was getting less efficient over time, you said it wasn't, then agreed it was. You suggested it wasn't manipulated, but we agree there's tons of data that shows its brutally manipulated. Then I argued Bitfinex/Tether is shady, you said it wasn't and that I should short USDT. I said the manipulation makes that a bad call. Next we talked about investing, and you said it was doing great, but over the last 2 years it's down 70%. Then you said it was good for Venezuela, but a single transaction costs a few weeks wages, and takes enough power to run their home for a month. Then you agreed it wasn't good for them, either. So far we agree it's performance is better than the bolivar but worse than the turkish lira. Yes, if you bought for pennies and can sell for thousands you did fine. The question isn't how much money it could have made you, the question is where's it going next. It's also probably not the single best investment in history, if you ask anyone who invested in Facebook's seed round.

It's not good for anyone, anything, or the environment. It's a crap payment system, with limited capacity, consuming an entire country's worth of energy to do what could be achieved with a single AWS instances and a DynamoDB table. And the big feature? That you can circumvent sanctions. Boy if I had a nickel for every time I wanted to pay someone in North Korea, Iran or Syria using a month's household usage of electricity, I'd, well, I'd not have any nickels.

Nobody can point to a single thing Bitcoin does better than anything else already out there except making the early adopters wealthy.

Not to mention "[a study] estimate[s] that Bitcoin generates a large welfare loss that is about 500 times as large as a monetary economy with 2% inflation." [1]

[1] https://www.bankofcanada.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/swp20...


> This argument has been a bit winding but to recap. I started out saying BTC was getting less efficient over time, you said it wasn't, then agreed it was.

You originally said that it gets less efficient as the technology improves. That statement is false. It does however, get less efficient as the price rises. So you should only be concerned if you expect the price to continue to rise.

> You suggested it wasn't manipulated, but we agree there's tons of data that shows its brutally manipulated.

Also false. There are a bunch of exchanges that fake volume. Those exchanges do not manipulate anything, however. All they're trying to do is scam ICOs out of listing fees. They don't even have real users.

> Next we talked about investing, and you said it was doing great, but over the last 2 years it's down 70%.

I articulated the correct criteria for evaluating it as an investment. You may feel free to propose your own, of course. But I presume you haven't already done so because you do not have a better way to run the analysis.

> So far we agree it's performance is better than the bolivar but worse than the turkish lira. Yes, if you bought for pennies and can sell for thousands you did fine.

Over the time period you cherrypicked, yes. If you choose a starting point at random from its history, however, i'd bet it has performed better than any other currency on earth, on average.

> It's also probably not the single best investment in history, if you ask anyone who invested in Facebook's seed round.

Buying Bitcoin on day one was almost certainly a better investment than investing in FB at any stage. I don't know what the terms of FB's seed round was, but let's say you paid $50k for 1% (valuing it at $5mm) of FB. Today that investment is worth an astounding $5 billion, an excellent 100,000x return. However, in March 2010 you could buy Bitcoin at $0.003 each. That's a 2,666,666x return to date.

And that's March 2010, which was the earliest time I could easily find a price for in a Google search. In 2009, when it was actually started, who knows what you could have gotten it for.


You are right that we will pay miners more in the future, that sounds like an opportunity not a problem.

You’re not understanding. The miners have to take that much money out of circulation (exchange BTC block rewards to dollars) to pay for their electric bills, which means that much new money has to come in to make up for it for the price to remain stable. It’s negative sum. And as the price rises so does the negative coefficient.

> They keep insisting that it's all a joke, and yet every single day the level of adoption keeps on increasing.

Do you have a citation for that claim? The people hoping to get rich quick in the space are active but there's almost no usage by the general populace.

> I feel like I'm watching the internet be born again.

The early internet had huge barriers to adoption (computers were expensive, network connections were expensive and glacially slow), but each phase of expansion had immediate popular uses. As an example, the web was ~1990, NCSA Mosaic came out in 1993 (Netscape was 1994) and by 1995 it was a household term with rapidly growing personal, business, and government usage for a wide range of tasks. In the earlier era, things were more limited due to connectivity issues but there were still substantial numbers of people using email, usenet, FTP, etc.

In contrast, Bitcoin has been out for 11 years, didn't have any of the barriers to adoption like the early internet, but if it disappeared tomorrow almost nobody outside of the industry would have any interruption in their lives.


No, I’m saying that the fake trading volume sets the price which then determines the number of bitcoin sent in the real transactions. Since nothing is priced in BTC the exchange rate defines the quantities transacted.

That seems like a pretty silly argument. The transactions are not in any sense fake. The fake trading volume is also not in any sense setting the price. Roughly 5-10 billion usd volume per day is completely legitimate, and it is that volume that actually determines the price. The fake volume on low quality exchanges is just noise that follows the price, it isn't a component of price discovery.

>fake trading volume sets the price which then determines the number of bitcoin sent in the real transactions.

How is the price dictating the number of transactions?


That’s not what I said.

I'm constsntly amused by the lack of technical understanding on HN when it comes to cryptocurrencies. That article says 95% of trading volume is fake. This is absolutely different from on chain transactions, 100% of which are real.

No I get it but the sum total of transactions, real and fake determine the exchange rate between real money and crypto. If the fake volume had no impact at all, why on earth do you think they’re doing it? For their health? Fun? Cmon now.

Market cap is not worth for a currency. There’s incredibly limited liquidity in the market relative to the market cap, and even the ETF trying to list recently showed 95% of all volume in the crypto space was fake.

Try and pull a few million dollars worth out and watch what happens. It did just plunge 33% on some small withdrawals, what exactly are you waiting for?


Selling a few million dollars worth of bitcoin would only slip the market a couple of dollars if at all. Go look at bitmex or bitfinex's order books - they have plenty of liquidity.

95% of that volume is fake [1] especially on bitfinex haha, they’re the scammiest. When they launched they were just importing order books from other exchanges to make it look like they had volume, and they launched Tether when they lost banking which also lost banking and had hundreds of millions seized for money laundering. Bitfinex is the biggest scam in the space and that’s saying a lot.

[1] https://www.forbes.com/sites/cbovaird/2019/03/22/95-of-repor...


No one ever said the space is not interesting. It's just goes against human nature and how the world operates.

The difference between a failed idea and a successful one is very often simply timing. Things that were complete nonsense in the dot com bubble are billion dollar businesses now. The crypto space is not for this time (imo).


> It's just goes against human nature and how the world operates.

Is that actually true? Or just true for a certain subset of humans?

Human nature isn't actually fixed and immutable. Each generation redefines the world with culture, practices, and institutions that seem totally natural given the environment they grew up in. I remember my mom insisting that I wear a suit to every interviewer and send thank-you notes to every interviewer; I learned later that the former gets you dinged for culture fit at most Silicon Valley companies, and the latter seems creepy. Conversely, several practices that were decried as "entitled Millenials!" when I first entered the workforce, like expecting to change jobs every couple years or expecting your employer to provide lunch, are now fairly standard practice, and the economy has shifted to embrace that new business culture.

When I talk to people who graduated college after 2013, the vast majority of them believe that crypto & DeFi are right, natural, and will inevitably take over the global financial system.

Right now, that's 5 years of working people, in junior positions, vs. 40 years of people in senior positions who think that crypto is an affront to the natural order of things. This site is largely Gen-Xers and Xennials who are deeply embedded in the previous wave (the WWW) of remaking how the economy works; I doubt most of us have close personal friendships with people who graduated college in the last 5 years (I only hear about this through friends' younger siblings, recent alumni of my alma mater, and junior employees hired by my startup-founder friends - that and explicitly seeking it out on Reddit).

But if you look at this situation demographically, change is inevitable for the simple reason that we're going to stop working and die before they are. And even something that appeals only to 18-28 year olds still has the ability to support several billion dollar markets, given that this is the age group whose consumer preferences are still malleable with 50+ years of consumption ahead of them.


> Is that actually true? Or just true for a certain subset of humans?

The strengths of cryptocurrencies are also exactly why they are unnatural and undesired for most people in the real world.

Who do you turn to when you get scammed, hacked or robbed when it results in lost crypto funds? No one. Everything is final with no recourse. No mistakes are permitted. People are not robots, software is not foolproof and people who write it are not perfect.

Ruthless peer to peer with no central authority or possibility of appeal is not how the world operates and it is not what people are comfortable with. Anyone who is comfortable with it is a short sighted fool.

> When I talk to people who graduated college after 2013, the vast majority of them believe that crypto & DeFi are right, natural, and will inevitably take over the global financial system.

Young people are dreamers and they have a whole lot of energy to pursue dreams. They take inspiration from other successful dreamers who have made it with a lot of hard work and tenacity. They take inspiration from ideas of the past that have revolutionized the world.

What they don't think about is the 90+% of people who have also worked their ass off in pursuit of their dreams or the world changing ideas that showed promise, but went nowhere. That is because those ideas are soon forgotten and the people never made it out of obscurity.


> Who do you turn to when you get scammed, hacked or robbed when it results in lost crypto funds?

The same thing has been said about self-checkouts ("Who do you turn to when you can't find an item?"), self-serve purchasing models like AdWords or AWS ("Who do you turn to when you need customer support?"), and self-employments platforms like Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, etc. ("Who do you turn to when you want time off or career development?")

The actual response to all of these is "Well, I'll figure it out myself." People who use self-checkouts generally know how the aisles are laid out in their favorite supermarkets, or they just walk until they find things. People who use low-volume AdWords, AWS, or SaaS vendors turn to forums & StackOverflow when things go wrong. People who drive for Uber just stop working when they want to. Similarly, people who want to avoid getting scammed, hacked or robbed with cryptocurrency do their research on vendors; they do Google image searches on headshots of ICOs and look up founders on LinkedIn to see if they're fakes; they keep their crypto on a hardware wallet in their physical possession; they use strong passwords and 2FA that they don't re-use for any other sites; and they don't talk about their Bitcoin holdings on the Internet.

All of these developments are controversial, because you actually are losing a human interaction that some people found helpful. That hasn't stopped them from growing quickly, because they take the human (and their associated salary) out of the loop. This lets firms offer a service to groups of people that it wasn't previously able to afford it. If you wanted to buy ads for a global, targeted audience before Google, you just couldn't do it. If you wanted to host software before AWS, you went to a colo or dedicated hosting provider and put in a lot more effort than their self-serve solution. If you wanted a side-hustle before the gig economy, it generally wasn't worth the search costs of trying to get an additional job.

If you have less than $10K in deposits (which is the majority of people these days), the bank is not your friend. They try to get you on little fees for everything, and pay you effectively zero interest, and occasionally go down for maintenance when it's exceptionally inconvenient for you (aside from many of their services only being available from 9:00-4:30). When the alternative is that, then the idea of a global, decentralized system that charges a flat fee per transaction and no fee to hold your wealth gets pretty attractive.


There's no reason a cryptocurrency cannot be paired with judicial institutions that provide recourse for lost or stolen funds.

The innovation of cryptocurrency is simple and undeniable.

Fiat money requires armed forces to secure its supply against counterfeiters.

Cryptocurrency uses math to defeat counterfeiting.


> The innovation of cryptocurrency is simple and undeniable.

Yes but does the innovation have market value? For the amount of investment, there has been no real demand for the innovation.

> Fiat money requires armed forces to secure its supply against counterfeiters.

Yes fiat money lives in the real world. This is why it is used in the real world.

> Cryptocurrency uses math to defeat counterfeiting.

Counterfeiting is a minor issue in the real world at best.


Counterfeiting is a minor issue in our daily lives because so much resources have to be devoted to keeping it that way.

"By 1865, up to one-third or even one-half of American money in circulation was fake." [0]

Governments regularly have to redesign their bills in order to prevent counterfeiting.

Extreme punishments are given for the crime of counterfeiting.

It's not just private actors to worry about. Opposing nations could destabilize an economy.

When counterfeiting is not a concern and a currency system can be created with very little effort, we can make currencies that we have more agency over.

The demand isn't for a cheaper way to combat counterfeiting but for greater agency over how the money supply is formed.

There is a massive, global call for reduced wealth inequality that existing governments have not been able to address. I'm not certain that cryptocurrency can do it either but it does seem like a possibility.

[0] https://time.com/3774327/lincoln-history-secret-service/


What you're talking about is infrastructure. How does infrastructure get built if people aren't actively building it? Yeah, these things take time, but people have to actually build out these ideas first before others in the future can build on top of them. Amazon sold books online because it's all the internet infrastructure could handle at the time. That's why MakerDAO made DAI because it's a low throughput d-application that doesn't require scaling through upgrades in infrastructure. Give it time. This space isn't a scam, it's just very early, and people are enthusiastic, as they should be.

> What you're talking about is infrastructure.

No I am not. A common story of wildly successful businesses is they stumbled upon a market and the makers themselves never thought it was something that has any chance of being big. Then they are surprised when people are begging them to take their money for their half-baked product.

From all the billions that went into the space. A truly demand driven business has still not appeared. That is a pretty damning result.

Crypto space is being kept alive purely from leftover money invested during the mass hysteria of those 6 months or so and sunk cost fallacy.


I disagree with you. There were plenty of ideas during the 1990s that were technically infeasible until further infrastructure upgrades allowed them to exist. Video streaming immediately comes to mind. It was unfathomable to have a video streaming service like Netflix exist in the 1990s. People would have ridiculed you, just as people ridicule some crypto ideas today. A modern example is video game streaming. Even 5 years ago, it was unfathomable that video game streaming high quality games was possible, and yet we are starting to see these services today.

You're right that timing is key, however:

>> Crypto = Trust (100%) <<

which is why (in my viewpoint) it matters a great deal, and there's just no way back. Trust is required for monetary exchange, but not only. It also matters where very strong guarantees are needed, which is everywhere, e.g., when setting up contracts or when making statements (expert or regulated) about a product, service, or a status. Trust matters because then the whole value-chain gets more efficient, rapid, and cost-effective.


>It also matters where very strong guarantees are needed, which is everywhere, e.g., when setting up contracts or when making statements (expert or regulated) about a product, service, or a status.

10+ years later and we're still having this discussion. Yes, blockchain technologies manage to achieve a trust-less consensus about "a product, service or a status" but only if all the parameters can be encoded in the blockchain itself. It breaks down as soon as real world objects and interactions are involved because then the nodes need some sort of trustworthy "oracle" to monitor the real world. Many people have been working on that problem but I don't think anybody has a solution that works at scale in practice. And of course then a single bug and everything breaks down catastrophically (see the DAO).

Then there's the problem of scaling that solution to the transaction rate needed for a world-class blockchain. That also remains an open question.

Cryptocurrencies are interesting in the same way fusion reactors are interesting, if they can really work they will change the world but it's unclear if the technology is truly viable (even more so for cryptocurrencies IMO). As such I'm wary of this "crypto startup school" in the same way I'd be wary of a "nuclear fusion startup school".

Unless of course the objective is to effectively make a "pump-and-dump startup school" in which case I predict a huge success.


You're absolutely correct that the single largest barrier to mainstream crypto apps is a trustworthy oracle and that it is an extremely difficult problem to solve.

Chainlink is a decentralized oracle framework that recently went mainnet that solves (almost) every issue regarding trustless external data. API providers can sell their data to be utilized as inputs to smart contracts. Large collections of nodes then aggregate this data to maintain decentralization. There are several mechanisms in place to prevent gaming the network (staking collateral, penalties, reputation). The one issue it does not solve is if few sources for the data actually exist. In that scenario, it does not matter if 2 or 200 nodes are reporting the data, as the API itself may provide bad data to the nodes. However, even in this scenario, it would be trivial to assign blame to the API operator, as all nodes would collectively report bad data.

I would encourage you to check out their solution. I'm shilling, but Chainlink is a product that actually works.


Unfortunately people are not 100% trustable, devices are not 100% secure and code is not 100% perfect.

If someone steals my credit number, I will likely not be on the hook for the money and will not lose anything.

If I make a mistake during banking, I can turn to people at the bank about it.


> Unfortunately people are not 100% trustable, devices are not 100% secure and code is not 100% perfect.

- which is actually why you use crypto.

> If someone steals my credit number, I will likely not be on the hook for the money and will not lose anything.

- because the bank guarantees the safety of the payment means you use. The fact that you don't have to pay (as a private customer) doesn't mean that stolen credit card numbers and fraud transactions don't cost money. Someone has to pay somewhere in the chain. If the principal is recovered (the stolen money), then someone still has to pay for the overhead of recovering the money (for you). There're insurance and liability-shift mechanisms in place, but the money transfer would be much safer, faster, and cost-efficient if crypto was in place.

> If I make a mistake during banking, I can turn to people at the bank about it.

- So? It's not because your infrastructure uses crypto that you give up of customer support.


Well,

https://coiniq.com/cryptocurrency-exchange-hacks/

So much for the safety, speed and cost efficiency of crypto currencies.


I'm sorry, but this is very naive about security, and cryptography, and blockchains. Allow me to quote some experts:

[0] > "Crypto is fundamentally unsafe. People hear that crypto is strong and confuse that with safe. Crypto can indeed be very strong but it’s extremely unsafe" -- Nate Lawson (Root Labs)

[1] > "We don't even really know how to build secure systems out of secure parts, let alone out of parts and processes that we can't trust" - Bruce Schneier

[2] > "If you think cryptography is the answer to your problem, then you don't know what your problem is" - Dr. Peter G. Neumann


Where a single mistake will irrevocably send my money into the void or to a hacker.

Thank you for TypeChain, it's great. I remember last year, I got Gitcoin to give you some free money to put up bounties.

One reason I'm not building on ethereum right now, is you have no contact with customers/users, because for 90% of the projects, there aren't any. In my other software projects, you are talking with customers every week, it is hugely helpful.

What MakerDAO are doing is awesome; DAI is my digital cash.


> Thank you for TypeChain, it's great. I remember last year, I got Gitcoin to give you some free money to put up bounties.

Thanks!!! I really appreciate it. I am actually wrapping up a new version of TypeChain for my Devcon talk (yes, I got a speaking slot! ;) )

> One reason I'm not building on ethereum right now, is you have no contact with customers/users, because for 90% of the projects, there aren't any. In my other software projects, you are talking with customers every week, it is hugely helpful.

Yeah... this space is definately over-hyped sometimes...

Btw. are you still in crypto space? If yes, what other blockchains than ethereum do you work on?


Not in Crypto anymore, now making X-Plane addons. I may well return to Crypto in a couple of years, it should be a more exciting and mature space then.

One of Blockchain's killer apps is...Bitcoin. There is no need to talk about "the crypto dream", people are using what they find useful (coinbase is currently #5 top YC company), and I personally see it inevitable that everything in banking/finance will move to a decentralized model, with smart contracts as a driving force, because of autonomy.

Humans haven't really evolved much from say other Apes (or many more other animals) in the way a group is organised. We haven't yet discovered a way to organise a group without the need for a central entity (an alpha male, a government, central banks, etc.)

Smart contracts allowing for autonomous organisations might well be the first time a species is organising itself without a central entity.


> I personally see it inevitable that everything in banking/finance will move to a decentralized model, with smart contracts as a driving force, because of autonomy.

People don't want autonomy.

I don't want to be my own bank.

My bank is insured, they are secure, they provide me with a ton of services, and there is an identifiable party to go to if it all goes wrong, or if liability needs to be established.

This idea that decentralisation is amazing because people can free themselves from the shackles of financial institutions is just all backwards when you start to look at what those entities actually provide.

And this -

> Smart contracts allowing for autonomous organisations might well be the first time a species is organising itself without a central entity.

Is just meaningless utopianism.


To dismiss something as 'meaningless utopianism' just because it doesn't agree with your personal experience is incredibly naive and shortsighted.

There are plenty of legitimate reasons for wanting a decentralised alternative to banking. Just recently there was an article posted on here about how money is used as a system of control. [0] Even under the best case scenario of well regulated financial institutions in a functioning democracy there is still little recourse/accountability if these institutions or the government decides to freeze your accounts. [1]

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21043888 [1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21044914


Money as a system of control from the point of view of someone with a vested interest in cryptocurrencies. I'd be more interested were it from an even slightly known economist or other dispassionate observer.

What recourse is there to reverse a scam bitcoin transaction? To recover funds from one of the many fraudulent or failed exchanges - the only way to get bitcoin into real money?

At least a banking licence comes with obligations. Cryptocurrency for now comes with blind optimism and utopianism. It's great for a little speculation with some disposable stake money though. :)


> To dismiss something as 'meaningless utopianism' just because it doesn't agree with your personal experience is incredibly naive and shortsighted.

I'm not. That phrase "Smart contracts allowing for autonomous organisations might well be the first time a species is organising itself without a central entity." is ridiculous.

Plenty of organisms organise between individuals without a centralised entity. Look at, for example, Stromatolites, which have been formed by self-organising bacterial colonies for around 3.5 billion years.

> There are plenty of legitimate reasons for wanting a decentralised alternative to banking.

There are a few, but those edge cases do not add up to it being "inevitable that everything in banking/finance will move to a decentralized model". And they don't outweigh the services and capabilities of the bank-mediated model for me, or I imagine many others.

When was the last time the bank froze your assets at the command of the government? I don't imagine it's even on the radar for most folks.


To be clear, I am in no way advocating the view that it is "inevitable that everything in banking/finance will move to a decentralized model". Financial institutions, although not perfect, serve many function which would not be suited to a decentralised model. There is no dichotomy here between traditional banking and decentralised finance.

There is however no reason for banks to have a monopoly on these services and every reason to encourage decentralised systems to develop. You claim that people don't want autonomy when this is clearly untrue. It's easy to assume this if speaking from a position of privilege, however there are more than a few edge cases where autonomy is required. A dissident in HK, an anonymous donor in Turkey, a worker in Venezuela, or perhaps even someone in the West wishing to make an international payment but not wanting to wait 2-5 days for a SWIFT payment to clear whilst also incurring a number of handling and transaction fees.


> You claim that people don't want autonomy when this is clearly untrue.

The vast majority don't. I agree, there are some small edge cases where this may be desirable, but these are neither mass market nor have mass appeal. For most use cases it's worse than the existing system by a long way.

> someone in the West wishing to make an international payment but not wanting to wait 2-5 days for a SWIFT payment to clear whilst also incurring a number of handling and transaction fees.

That person might want to move into the 21st century and stop complaining about things that changed in the 90s. For instance in the EU we can send between countries effectively instantly and mostly free, with fewer middlemen and fees than a similar transfer using cryptocurrency requires. And even to non EU countries the middlemen and fees are pretty low compared to the multiple fees and less than trustworthy parties you need to involve to transfer money using BTC.

And I'm sorry, but I don't believe BTC is much help to that many people in Venezuela or Hong Kong, I believe these are cryptocurrency-enthusiast's fantasies.


That's like saying "Open Source" won't work because I don't want to be my own maintainer. It's not about one person. You not wanting autonomy or being your own bank doesn't matter. People on coinbase aren't their own bank either.

People on coinbase are also throwing away a large part of what supposedly makes cryptocurrencies valuable. They're essentially day traders.

It's not like that at all, and cryptocurrency systems, as you so ably point out, are already tending towards centralisation.

> I don't want to be my own bank.

Try living in Cuba, Venezuela, African countries, China etc etc. Actually except from the so called developed countries, people really don't want banks because it's unlike anything you are used to. So the reasoning that in USA we don't need asset sovereignity because the banks are not controlled by some crazy dictator maniacs holds only in USA, Canada, Europe, Japan and Australia more or less.


I believe that in a lot of places where the banking system is less developed, systems like M-Pesa serve the unbanked really quite well.

I also believe that "look, Venezuela" is just the latest in a bunch of straws the cryptocurrency community is grasping at on its way to irrelevance, and very much doubt that on the ground cryptocurrency is helping or ever could help.


Centralization and trust are massive efficiencies as demonstrated by the sheer unparalleled inefficiency of proof of work chains. It blows my mind that hipsters refuse to use single-use straws and try and pay with bitcoin which yields thousands of times as much CO2 in the atmosphere as the straw.

1 bitcoin transaction is 607kWh (is 288kgCO2 and 85g of ewaste). That’s enough spent power to drive a Tesla from SF to San Jose, round trip. Twice. 20 days power consumption for the average US home. At that rate you may as well take physical dollars and drive them to San Jose.


> It blows my mind that hipsters refuse to use single-use straws and try and pay with bitcoin which yields thousands of times as much CO2 in the atmosphere as the straw.

I know, right? Humanity is insane. The world is heading towards a potentially civilization ending climate disaster of its own making, and someone goes and invents an over-complicated solution to largely imagined problems that is wasteful and getting more wasteful to counter efficiency gains by design.


If you're going to make the energy-usage argument you'll need to position it against a comparable alternative, not how far you can drive a Tesla. How much energy does the current financial industry use on a per transaction basis? If you were to sum up all the retail banking locations, corporate offices, their data centers, contractors, POS systems, etc. would you realistically expect energy usage per transaction to be lower than a Bitcoin transaction?

> If you were to sum up all the retail banking locations, corporate offices, their data centers, contractors, POS systems, etc. would you realistically expect energy usage per transaction to be lower than a Bitcoin transaction?

Yes, on a per transaction basis. You can only have 7tx/sec which means only a tiny tiny number of people could ever use it, and yet it uses as much power as Denmark. Currently nobody uses it and it uses as much power as Denmark. I would rather another Denmark or Austria than an incredibly inefficient payments system. To underscore just how little bitcoin matters ask yourself, if it just disappeared one day would anyone outside the industry even notice? And on that you want to spend an entire nations energy budget?

Visa processes 600,000 transactions in the same energy budget as a single bitcoin payment. Six hundred thousand times more efficient.

I can’t understand why you’d compare it to the entire global financial system when it can’t possibly ever replace even a sliver of it. I could outperform it with a single AWS instance and one table in RDS or DynamoDB.

[1] https://digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption


> We haven't yet discovered a way to organise a group without the need for a central entity (an alpha male, a government, central banks, etc.)

Markets (at least, free markets) are exactly a way of organizing a group without the need for a central authority.


How many markets have there been in history that don't have some kind of central authority involved - to issue the money used if nothing else?

Edit: Of course there have been barter based markets, but aren't markets actually more effective when there is a central authority?


That's not the goal of markets. You don't get to have the Universal market.

A market is a way to organize a group of people in a decentralized way, but its existence and correct operation requires a different, centralized group that manages it. Market participants are decentralized, market regulators are not. Now, the solution for the "what if I don't want centralization in the market regulation space?" problem is recursion. You create a market for markets.

What happens if you don't centralize? You get something like global trade, which is a meta-market for national trade markets (which are centralized). Global trade is decentralized - in the sense that men with most guns tell everyone else what to do, because there's no central authority to prevent that.


Markets existed millennia before fiat currencies did. Even now, if you look at the world economy instead of an individual economy, there are lots of separate authorities rather than one central one (though, granted, the US government still has quite a bit of power.)

One can argue black markets don't have a central authority and are more effective

You saying like that is a bad thing, but in fact centralisation is something that let us survive through wars, hunger and other hardships.

Thinking is limited by intelligence, so just because you think it's the best solution, doesn't mean it's a universal truth, it only means that maybe the human level of intelligence can't think of a better solution.

Smart Contracts are far more capable on Ethereum, so I don't see Bitcoin as the killer app.

Well bitcoin is a killer app, I didn't talk about it being _the_ killer app.

I also don't think it's smart to compare and take sides when it comes to technology, Bitcoin and Ethereum are both interesting technologies, and one can learn a lot from both.


They are probably desperate to prevent all their investments in the crypto sector to fizzle out. A scenario more likely by the day.

As computers branched out from the math discipline very quickly there was also a need for formal education that only focused on computers. Without a shared advanced level of understanding it made collaboration all the more difficult, and people’s investments in the space all the more impossible.

It is a time tested strategy. It doesn't matter if it doesn't pan out, it is just as good if they all synthesize the idea that this is not economical for anyone and conclude not to pursue this technology anymore. The body of work will still be a worthwhile experiment. But now imagine if they did increase the utility of this technology.


There will never be a singular killer app for crypto. Just like there isn't a killer app for USD or Gold. It is the aggregate adoption, as a transfer of value, across numerous use cases that makes any currency valued.

How about a lower bar, then: has blockchain/crypto tech ever been demonstrated to be economically viable for anything besides a store of value? There has been a ton of hype about e.g. Cryptokitties but it seems to follow a hype and bust cycle every single time.

How about borrowing and lending using MakerDAO and Compound? Or, a decentralized prediction market through Augur? Or, decentralized derivatives through dYdX? Once the Oracle Problem is solved, you'll be able to trustlessly buy synthetic decentralized shares of the S&P500 without using a brokerage. Some people have already done this as a proof of concept.

Let me have a go then:

1. A way for businesses that cannot get a bank account to accept digital payments. Think porn sites or marijuana stores.

2. It's used on darknet markets for obvious reasons.

3. You can use it to pay for things even without a bank account.

4. Send money to anyone from anywhere.

5. It can be used as a decentralized timestamping service[0].

6. Lower fees than other digital payments (credit cards take 1-4% fee per transaction, plus other costs).

Cryptokitties is just like Beanie Babies and in my opinion not very interesting.

[0]: https://whycryptocurrencies.com/timestamping_service.html


> How about a lower bar, then: has blockchain/crypto tech ever been demonstrated to be economically viable for anything besides a store of value?

Yes. Sending censorship resistant transactions.

If you look at crypto, you will see that it has, in general, for whatever reason, been censored less often than things like bank or credit card transactions.


> without any demonstrable killer app

It seems like crypto currencies have worked pretty well for sending censorship resistant transactions.

This is demonstrated by, for whatever reason, cryptocurrency transactions have generally been censored much less often when compared to, say, bank or credit card transactions.


Perhaps you're right, but so what? If they're funding it, and folks are interested in trying it out, what's the worst that can happen? Best case some new innovation comes out, worse case they end up back where they started. Journey and not the destination and all that.

Worst case is it adds to the wasteful hype-train and significant portions of the tech industry continue to be way-layed by a shiny boondoggle with get-rich-quick connotations.

there are very many comments like yours for years now. Actually the killer app is Bitcoin because billions are being transacted every day in value but still arguing about blockchain it seems that literally all of the tech leaders of our time agree the technology is sound, promising and the future. Literally everyone (I can list names here too). The thing is that many cowboys didn't get cars at first..

Interesting to see A16Z trying to get on the really early investing as YC is going upstream to latter investing.

Agreed, this one's a head scratcher

Why is it a head scratcher? They’ve made some of the bigger bets in crypto and have a dedicated crypto team, so they have every incentive to invest in training or teaching the next gen of crypto founders.

making bitcoin the digital gold of our age is quite a killer app i d say

> a singular technical solution that has now gone years without any demonstrable killer app

But cryptography underpins all the killer apps! If you need to communicate, then you need cryptography.


This is about cryptocurrencies, not cryptography.

Yes, isn't it annoying how the contraction "crypto" has been taken over by one very specific (and IMO rather pedestrian) application of cryptography, after decades of more general use? GP illustrates exactly why this is so problematic.

Cryptocurrency space is focusing on the wrong problems. Bitcoin original goal is to create a digital currency that people can use. We're not even close to achieve that goal. But the space is sidetracked into ugly technical wars, elaborate and complicated financial engineering.

There are some fundamental questions that have not been answered. If you are starting, you should look at these.

- How do we make Bitcoin/crypto easier for normal people to use? I think a decent solution so far is the CashApp. But it's only useful for stacking sats.

- How do we make cryptocurrency usable for transactions? Bitcoin volatility makes transaction really hard. I think the answer is new experimentations and tweaks to Bitcoin monetary policy. I outline the problem in this article. https://bitflate.org/post/2019/08/26/bitcoin-missing-link-to...


> Bitcoin original goal is to create a digital currency that people can use. We're not even close to achieve that goal.

I disagree. Cryptocurrency is de facto being used as a currency quite successfully by lots of people. Sure, there are technical hurdles that prevent people who don't really have any need for a decentralized currency from using it. But none of those hurdles are so challenging that people can't use it if they really need it. Plenty of people have used cryptocurrency to move money across borders, make purchases that are illegal under oppressive regimes, etc., and not all of those were technical users. There aren't technical hurdles so high that someone who wants to buy drugs online can't do it with enough effort, for example.

Hacker News types will point to the failure of cryptocurrency to emerge as a competitor to traditional currencies within the regulated market, but that's precisely what you'd expect: cryptocurrencies hamper regulation, so of course there will be resistance from the regulated market. But don't mistake that for failure: cryptocurrencies have created whole markets and flows of value effectively didn't exist before.

To be clear, here's what I'm NOT saying:

1. I'm not saying there isn't room for improvement in the user experience. There is.

2. I'm also not saying that the effects of cryptocurrency are necessarily positive. That remains to be seen.


I d say most of the hurdles are regulatory. Bitcoin has become digital gold - a place to store large amounts as a hedge and nothing more. Cryptocurrency will not take the place of visa payments because there s no insurance, its slow etc. All the uses where cryptocurrency would shine and visa cannot do (e.g. quick anonymous tips for your comment) are illegal. So we re stuck until either the regulatory framework or national currencies fall apart.

> How do we make Bitcoin/crypto easier for normal people to use?

Pay people with bitcoin. This is #1. People don't have a problem figuring out even complex systems if there 's money involved (And that's a good thing)

> Bitcoin volatility makes transaction really hard.

Not sure if that's really an issue if cryptos were being used daily. They are instantly convertible to other cryptos or stablecoins, therefore the volatility would quickly go down if people used them in real life. People would exchange them for the most stable currencies only, because people don't like to see their coins devalued. We see lots of volatility today because most bitcoin big players got them by sheer luck / being there first so they treat it as casino chips; its not "a hard day's work" earnings.


A major benefit of cryptocurrencies is the inability to chargeback. Obviously this is not desirable in 100% of situations, but it is undeniably a necessary niche. This is something streamers and other public figures constantly have to worry about, since some people find it amusing to donate thousands of dollars and then chargeback months later.

Not sure if the idea that Bitcoin acts as an hedge has much weight considering it’s never been tested in a first world economic downturn; arguably, it has worked in third world countries which face high inflation and have a lack of public confidence in monetary policy. But where is the majority of Bitcoin held, in the former or latter?

i d assume a lot of chinese do it - no idea really, but it's a form of easily accessible gold

> Pay people with bitcoin.

I don't get paid in bitcoin. How do I pay people with bitcoin? :)

I think regulation concern is overrated in crypto, at least, with Bitcoin. Crypto complaint about regulation is mainly rooted in libertarian politics. If you are a cryptocurrency and you want to interface with fiat currencies, you need to comply with fiat regulation. KYC is painful but it is necessary. It even helps reduce fraud.

You can't throw your crypto no regulation gauntlet at fiat and demand them to comply to your game. It's crypto wanting to play the fiat game, not the other way around. Currently, there are many ways to on-ramp from fiat to crypto in the US. There's no government interference. If Bitcoin is an asset, Store of Value, you need to be taxed as asset. You can't do both currency and asset thing.


> your crypto no regulation gauntlet at fiat and demand them to comply to your game

you can pay a homeless person with cash. you can pay a street performer with cash. you can gift cash. it's all anonymous no fuss. that's what crypto is, digital cash, not a digital credit card


Someone (government) has to print your cash, track them, fight counterfeit. Cash is harder to track. But it is not no regulation.

i am not aware that a government's function is to track people's cash

I agree with this wholeheartedly. Bitcoin so far hasn't delivered (I refrain from calling it a failure) on it's primary premise: being a currency. People touting that there are some hundreds of thousands of transactions a day miss the point. Those numbers are absolutely puny for something that is meant to be a currency.

The unfortunate story here is that a technically and fundamentally interesting idea has been turned into a total cesspit by the influx of money and greed before it could escape it's roots of ideological purity and adapt to the realities of human society.

The starry eyed technologists who were unfortunately not well equipped for the gnarly world of finance got replaced by financially better informed "businessmen" with shady motives or outright frauds.

In the eyes of the broader market, cryptocurrencies have been tainted by black market dealings, non-stop high profile scams, excessive volatility, lack of liquidity and near-zero useful acceptance for retail transactions. I won't even mention the large number of zero value-added ideas that offer nothing beyond what could also be done without blockchain, but just wanted along for the ride. These further diluted the already thin trust.

As much as I shudder at the idea of a Big Tech Co. launching a cryptocurrency, perhaps that'd would have been the one winning shot that the concept had about 2-3 years ago. If Googlecoin or Facebookcoin materialized before either the tech companies or the concept of cryptocurrencies turned into demons, some good could've actually materialized.

Am I too jaded here? Maybe. But after so many years and no killer concept materializing, one has to start asking questions. The other "fads" of the last decade (AI, VR/AR, EV, etc..) actually continue to deliver ever more amazing innovations, putting the stagnation of crypto into a rather stark contrast.


> create a digital currency that people can use.

I 100% agree. I love the core ideas, but it's not really useable yet beyond a few (important) use cases. I think the problem is trust. I first got in Bitcoin at $6 and Ethereum at $10. I got out way too early to retire (hence why I bought the domain sellnothing.com, to remind myself of an important lesson), but I got out because I realized the system was too complex and I didn't understand it all, and so felt like the sucker at the poker table.

Our Tree Notation I believe is the solution to making a crypto currency people could trust. You could build a Tree Language for a blockchain that is: 0 syntax. 0 unnecessary complexity. 100% of the capability. No BS. It would look something like this:

    transaction
     id lerledsfa334
     receiver abc432
     sender fslkm324
     amount 2.22
The key advantage of Tree Notation is countable complexity. You could build a system that is very easy to audit and the community could easily reject any unnecessary complexity, which I think is where corruption goes to hide--in unnecessary complexity.

I've got my hands full with Tree Notation applications in medical research and data science, but I really hope someone applies it to the digital currency space, and I'd be happy to assist time permitting. https://treenotation.org or breck@treenotation.org


Wtf are you talking about? Digital currencies don't "work" because they are volatile not because they lack a Tree Notation strategy. They have become an speculative investment/gambling rather than a method of payment.

I agree that volatility is a problem but I think it's a symptom of the root cause. I think digital currencies do work now for a few use cases (cross border transfer, for example), but they don't work mainstream because you can't trust them at the core.

It's not a very understandable system, and that's a benefit to certain powerful players in the field, to the detriment of everyone else. Most people now holding bitcoin are speculators or fools. A few people/groups with significant resources have the ability to truly understand what's going on, and unless you are one of those folks you are just along for the ride.

With Tree Notation you could start moving toward a far simpler system with no unnecessary complexity, where it would be much harder to maintain an information advantage over the average user. The chain of transactions itself would be very easy to audit, but long term so would the node code, etc. All cryptocurrencies currently use overly complex languages (mostly BNFs) both for their nodes and their blockchains. I think Tree Notation will eat those (http://longbets.org/793/) and someone(s) who apply it early to the crypto world will win a lot of users.


People use visa, mastercard, bank transfer/swift, paypal etc but have no clue about the implementation. This doesn't stop them using them. You are focusing on the wrong things. Users have no interest to know what's going on behind the scenes but you can be sure they won't use cryptocurrencies again when they find out that the bitcoin bought yesterday is now less valuable and they are no longer able to buy whatever they planned(i speak from personal experience). Wtf does the programming language has to do with the end user experience??? Fix the volatility and you may have a successful cryptocurrency otherwise all you get is a gambling tool and a way for shady people to transfer money anonymously. Obviously for this latter group of people loosing some money is not an issue.

VisaNet is the simplest program imaginable, relative to the value. People do have a clue how it works because any problem you have can be explained with little more than basic arithmetic. The phases of the credit charge process are clear and well defined. (I used to work on things for Visa). Simplicity matters. You’re not gonna fix volatility when you have the complexity of the current bitcoin network, IMO.

You know that Visa works with stable(government backed), regulated currencies, right? Maybe that should give you a hint why people use it. Your "complexity" argument is pure bullshit.

People use it because it works and they can trust it, and it's easier to make that happen when you have simpler things.

Now, if you don't want to go explore what a Tree Notation backed blockchain could look like, totally fine.

Plenty of other people will. It's a massive low hanging fruit opportunity. (And Tree Notation is all public domain, btw)


I would much rather use stablecoins such as Dai for spending instead of trying to tweak Bitcoin's monetary policy.

As an engineer in love with Crypto I figured I would try to build something with it so I put a little side project together, something easy and simple a way you could earn cashback in the form of crypto for shopping online. I went ahead did the integrations with the major affiliate networks, built the whole backend, built the infrastructure for the crypto side. Including creating temporary wallets that people could chose to move their crypto off of etc, ultimately it would cost something like 5 dollars to issue someone 5 dollars. It might be different now but basically most folks pushing the technology have never actually tried to do anything with it.

I came to realize that this whole thing is only useful for one or two use cases maximum. It's terrible for micro transactions, terrible for any sort of scale, and while we all love the idea of it this is like trying to do the iPhone in the 1980's... we are at least 20-30 years a way from something useful.


Lolli does this by only paying out when you accrue enough, and possibly uses the lightning network for payout which makes micro transactions of bitcoin much cheaper. Pei, does this as well.

Are you interested in selling your code?

Well, crypto is a scam and you better be on the side which gets rich from it.

Already in 2015 Washington Post summed it up:

> - Hey, do you want to hear about the future? It's a digital currency called Bitcoin that lets you spend or move your money online without paying any fees.

> - Sounds great. How does it do that?

> - Well, Bitcoin saves you money by making transactions irreversible.

> - So ... if I get scammed, I got scammed? There's nothing I can do about it?

> - Yes.

> - Okay, but is it at least easy to use?

> - The thing is, I don't actually use it. I just hoard it. I'm waiting for some greater fools to push up the price by using theirs.

> - Oh.

> - Yeah. So you should buy some Bitcoins and use yours.

Preston Byrne's great post two years later https://prestonbyrne.com/2017/12/08/bitcoin_ponzi/ suggested to call it a Nakamoto scheme, drawing parallels to chain distribution schemes:

> As used herein a “chain distributor scheme” is a sales device whereby a person, upon condition that he make an investment, is granted a license or right to solicit or recruit for profit or economic gain one or more additional persons who are also granted such license or right upon condition of making an investment and may further perpetuate the chain of persons who are granted such license or right upon such condition.

What is amazing in this new kind of scam is the lack of central scammers and certain actors can easily exploit the culpability of ordinary people. That's what this is, setting up various vehicles to separate fools from their money, and, of course, having a stake in the operation which does the separation. By all means this should be illegal and eventually it will be. Already Facebook's Libra attempt was met by a very stern no by financial regulators in various European countries. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-facebook-cryptocurrency-f...


Lesson 1: Don't do it.

"Free" because the product is you!

Seems interesting, and I'll probably check it out. Been looking (albeit not very hard) for a neat entry into the blockchain field, this might be it.

Doubtless there are other excellent resources, this timed it pretty well for me.

My biggest gripe so far is that I had to turn off the contnet blocking in Firefox for the e-mail field to show up...


I'd rather have one on ML startups

The greatest success of Bitcoin is that no one has yet succeeded in turning it into a rent-seeking platform.

I like to see more formal-ish education in this space.

Right now the distributed ledger and digital asset education is either extremely technical documents OR youtubers glossing over everything.

A lot of the grifters aren't speaking a common tongue and it unnecessarily increases the transaction cost of coordinating expertise.


Crypto... Graphy? Currency? Coccus?

We put the currency in cryptocurrency above.

A Cryptococcus school would be worth something. Not enough tech innovation in opportunistic infections!

Aren’t all infections opportunistic and disruptive?

Aren’t all VCs opportunistic and disruptive?

Edit: Maybe we need Crypto Capitalism


It wasn't clear to me either at first but it's cryptocurrency, quite disappointingly I might add.

Good question, using this abbreviation for everything that starts with 'crypto' is just dumb. On Wikipedia, the crypto page is enormous:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crypto


Pretty cryptic, a crypto title indeed.

They are referring to blockchains, not cryptography.

What does A16Z know about cryptography?

The word "crypto" is not about cryptography. It's about useless digital currencies.

They have been talking about it and investing in crypto companies for a while.

https://a16z.com/crypto/


I think 'blockchain' would've been a much better name for this page. Then again, their target market might be people who have heard 'crypto' on the news, not people who know what blockchain is.

"crypto" means "blockchain".

i can only assume they employ some cryptographers among their ranks. they invested in coinbase and other cryptocoin companies

What is it about HN people and negativity about Crypto? Want a killer app? Just look at Bitcoin. Want to find people who use Bitcoin? Move out of your world and visit countries with failing currencies.

Can you give me a couple of concrete examples? Especially large scale usage that actually impacts the value of Bitcoin? I currently see value in it only as an investment for people with FOMO.

I visited Haiti and over there, people just use their phones to pay each other through their telecom provider, or they use USD. None of them use Bitcoin, they're not even aware it's a thing.


They're likely talking about Venezuela, BTC usage by some shops and charities there made quite a bit of media this year, turning it into a popular meme for the cryptocurrency narrative that isn't otherwise backed by the real world.

Sending censorship resistant transactions. Crypto transactions are generally censored much less often than things like bank or credit card transactions.

So you mean mostly illegal stuff. Yeah, I can see a market there!

No, I mean things that get censored.

For example, go try and start an adult services internet company. You will quickly find that very few banks will be willing to allow you to open an account.

Even though adult services isn't something that is illegal in the US.

Also, go back to 2011, and try to donate money to WikiLeaks.

Even though WikiLeaks was not charged with any crimes, and has not been convicted on anything to this day, you will find that all the major credit card companies would refuse to process your transactions.

They were not charged with any crimes. And yet, your transactions would be censored anyway.

So no, this does not have anything to do with illegal behavior.

Lots of financial transactions get censored all the time, regardless of any crimes being committed.


> Move out of your world and visit countries with failing currencies.

None of whom use or would actually benefit from buying into your cryptocurrency of choice.


Oh please. As a former citizen of a country where the name of a local currency was used for jokes only, I can assure you - noone in their right mind would exchange the local awful shit currency for any of the existing cryptocurrencies. People would rather buy 5 fridges and three tv-screens or euro/dollars (and there is always black market in the toughest of the toughest dictatorships out there) anytime. When I was reading Mr. Antonopoulos about giving advice to his mother in Greece to invest in Bitcoin I was laughing like crazy (2018, bitcoin falling fast and steady).

There are two great lies (dreams??) crypto shills: 1) replacement of the 3rd world country dying currencies and 2) 3rd world country unbanked people desperately waiting for someone to "bank" them.


+1



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