Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money

Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money

Nathaniel Popper

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 006236250X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice


A New York Times technology and business reporter charts the dramatic rise of Bitcoin and the fascinating personalities who are striving to create a new global money for the Internet age.

Digital Gold is New York Times reporter Nathaniel Popper’s brilliant and engrossing history of Bitcoin, the landmark digital money and financial technology that has spawned a global social movement.

The notion of a new currency, maintained by the computers of users around the world, has been the butt of many jokes, but that has not stopped it from growing into a technology worth billions of dollars, supported by the hordes of followers who have come to view it as the most important new idea since the creation of the Internet. Believers from Beijing to Buenos Aires see the potential for a financial system free from banks and governments. More than just a tech industry fad, Bitcoin has threatened to decentralize some of society’s most basic institutions.

An unusual tale of group invention, Digital Gold charts the rise of the Bitcoin technology through the eyes of the movement’s colorful central characters, including an Argentinian millionaire, a Chinese entrepreneur, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, and Bitcoin’s elusive creator, Satoshi Nakamoto. Already, Bitcoin has led to untold riches for some, and prison terms for others.

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government’s mandates about how money should work. One of the only people with whom Roger had gotten any traction in Japan was a local pornography tycoon. Luckily for Bitcoin, Roger’s job and wealth allowed him to wander far beyond Japan. In early 2011, he commenced his effort to renounce his United States citizenship so that he would not have to pay another dollar of taxes to support a government he considered immoral. Japan, with its sense of tradition and history, made it almost impossible

could afford to sustain the losses. He’d recently sold a gambling website that was powered by the enigmatic digital money and payment network known as Bitcoin. He’d purchased the gambling site back in 2012 for about $225, rebranded it as SatoshiDice, and sold it a year later for some $11 million. He was also sitting on a stash of Bitcoins that he’d begun acquiring a few years earlier when each Bitcoin was valued at just a few dollars. A Bitcoin was now worth around $500, sending his holdings into

the office, Charlie was in a state of giddy panic, both scared and amused. “I’m flipping out. I’m yelling at everyone. Yifu, I’m drinking the rum from the bottle,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t know why you guys are all freaking out,” Yifu said, chuckling himself. “I’m not worried. The price is fine. It’s time to buy.” Things calmed down for a few hours after Mark Karpeles assured his users that the problems were due to the volume of trade, not to hackers. But hours after he wrote that, the

undetected. But the shadow of Liberty Reserve naturally fell on Bitcoin and statements from regulators suggested they did not necessarily see a big difference. At the end of May the top financial regulator in California sent the Bitcoin Foundation a cease-and-desist letter accusing the foundation of operating as an unlicensed money transmitter. The accusation was somewhat absurd—the foundation was not a business of any sort—but it highlighted just how little the foundation had done to cultivate

reach,” Charlie said. A few days after seeing Nic, Charlie and Courtney flew to Amsterdam. They stopped by the convention center where the foundation’s conference would be held. But the main purpose of the trip was a technology conference in Utrecht that had paid Charlie $20,000 to speak about Bitcoin. Flying home from the gig, in business class, Charlie couldn’t help feeling that, after all his earlier struggles, things were starting to work out again. After landing in New York, he had just

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