“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” “The land of the free and the home of the brave.” “Yada yada blah blah we’re the firstest bestest largest everest because reasons that don’t involve us being a plasticised two-bit knock-off of The Great Soviet Union, I mean how could you even suggest such a thing at a time like this when you know damn right that we’re having such a hard time with this papered over economic recovery thing right now blah blah yada.”
Ahem. Where was I ? Right.
So you started a company in the greatest country on earth, America, in the sincere belief that you must’ve been born under a lucky star to have been given the opportunity to test out your idea in a real marketplace, in a free and open economy, in an unbridled and unsanctioned utopia where anything was possible if you just worked hard enough. So you started small, with a few borrowed thousands from family, enough to give you a few months, maybe a few years if you were really frugal, really miserly, to see if this was your golden ticket for you and your family. You started in your basement, coming home from work bagged but still finding the energy (from God knows where !) to burn the midnight oil, to tinker and toil in your workshop, ever refining and redesigning your creation and your craft.
Months turned into years but you were making progress ! There was no doubt about it when you looked back at those early sketches and those early diary entries. You were on the right track and you were gaining confidence in your idea’s market potential. It was a long shot, sure, but ars longa, vita brevis, right ? How could you stop now when you’d already come so far ? You owed it not only to your family who’d supported you for so long, but to yourself. Even though the task had seemed impossible from the outset, it seemed a little less impossible every day. There had to be a light at the end of the tunnel. There just had to be.
Sure enough, your gamble against gambles paid off ! You, yes you were treading water, making ends meet with a little extra for further R&D, hiring employees, scouting out more distributors and tapping into larger investor networks. There was something there. Because of you, from whence there was nothing had sprouted something ! Only in America, you told yourself, only in this vast and diverse and accepting land of tolerance and opportunity. No where else ever in the history of humanity could’ve provided you with this shot and you hadn’t wasted it. No sir, you’d seized that opportunity with every fibre of your being and it was paying dividends. Just as they all said it would.
Then, on another breezy Tuesday afternoon, came an unannounced knock on your office door. In entered a pair of suits, their plastic-sheathed ID tags tied to their belt loops catching the reflection of the white fluorescent lights overhead. They wanted to talk. You offered them a seat and a glass of water from the cooler behind your desk. They accepted both. An hour later, they left as quietly and courteously as they’d come in, leaving you sitting in the desk just an hour before you could’ve sworn on your mother’s grave was your own. Was that desk not your property ? Had you not paid for it with your blood, your sweat, your sleep, your sanity, and all those precious missed moments away from your children while you worked your ass off to grow your business and put food on the table ? And just like that, a pair of suits had offered you more money than you knew what to do with on the condition that your products were to be reappropriated, albeit unofficially but still quite unmistakably, by the state.
Yes, the government of the freest country on earth wanted to fill your pockets with Venture Capital and fill your Board of Directors with Special Advisers all while ensuring that business appeared to be normal as could be. “Nothing to see here” was your new modus operandi. It was an incredible deal. You were set for life. It’s in many ways what you’d always dreamed of and equally what powered the dreams of other inventors and entrepreneurs like you. And yet it tasted like raw sewage downstream from an abattoir, it smelled like burning flesh in the ovens of Treblinka, it felt like a spiked broomstick being shoved in and out of your rectum over and over again, it sounded like your mother being brutally raped in the room next door while you were forced to listen, it looked… completely normal. From the outside, no one was the wiser. This is how business is done in America : you grow until you exit, then the market takes over and everyone gets rich. It’s that simple. And as you now saw for the first time, that sinister too.i
But what were you going to do, turn it all down ? What, and besmirch your own good name while denying your family the wealth they’d always dreamed of and you’d always dreamed of providing them ? Only a monster could be so cold, so selfish, so vain and self-important. Besides, as you soon rationalised to yourself, your products were finally going to receive the investment they so desperately needed to grow to the next level. This was the chance your team needed to spread its technical wings and soar with the best in the world. So you signed the papers. What choice did you have ? The suits made it pretty clear that it was either take their offer or be tied up in red tape like a Pharaonic mummy, and yes, that included the removal of your brain through your nose with an especially sharp hook.
Four years later, you’re here. With management offices in San Francisco, Washington DC, and Amsterdam, not to mention data centers in Iceland and the Republic of Georgia, you now control 14% of the Bitcoin network’s hashrate, giving you the third-largest piece of the pie.ii Your board now contains a former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission/former CEO of the New York Mercantile Exchange, a former IBM vice president, a former federal prosecutor/former deputy assistant attorney general in the Criminal Division of the Dept of Justice supervising Computer Crime, Intellectual Property and Organized Crime and Gang Sections, a former chairman and CEO of UMCiii current president and chief strategy officer of Samsung, co-chair of the World Justice Project, and a former Bitcoin Core developer.iv And youv get to be on CNBC for crissakes !
It’s everything you ever wanted. It’s everything you could’ve ever dreamed of. And you don’t own so much as the letterhead.
___ ___ ___
- Incidentally, this mechanism is also why you can’t buy Confederate flags from American stores anymore. [↩]
This pie chart is archived for historical value because, while BitFury looks to be doing pretty well for themselves at the moment, they’re now in bed with the bad guys, and that means that they’re going to end up just like BTC Guild : on the wrong side of history no matter how many lightbulbs they pump out. Watch and learn, n00bs. [↩]
- UMC isn’t the United Methodist Church, it’s United Microelectronics Corporation of Taiwan, the world’s second largest semiconductor foundry. [↩]
- These are, respectively, Dr. James E. Newsome, Paul Brody, Jason Weinstein, Dr. Jackson Hu, Young K. Sohn, Hernando de Soto, and Jeff Garzik. [↩]
- “You” in this context might have a value of George Kikvadze, Valery Nebesny, or Valery Vavilov, it matters not. They’re all aboard the Titanic together. [↩]