Bitcoin is struggling to retake the $9,000 level after its spectacular implosion last month – its worst since the very early days of bitcoin when the price of a single token was much, much lower – but the selloff that left millions of marginal investors around the world holding the bag hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of the virtual currencies most dedicated evangelists.
During a trip to David Park’s bitcoin meeting – the largest of its kind in New York City – the Daily Beast showed that there are still hundreds of people who have seemingly dedicated their future to bitcoin and other blockchain-related ventures.
The price of bitcoin plummeted 50% the day before the meetup. And how did its organizers respond? By lowering the price of admission for the event – which featured an open bar – to $10 and promising to donate all their proceeds to charity (because if anybody is in need of charity, it’s crypto investors).
Park is something of a latecomer to crypto; he first became interested in bitcoin early last year, when he founded his meetup because he couldn’t get off the waitlist at any of the other myriad crypto meetups that had sprung up around New York City.
Of course, back before bitcoin became seemingly the only thing CNBC wanted to talk about, Park says his friends couldn’t tolerate his incessant evangelizing about bitcoin, so he started the meetup…
The event became a monthly occurrence beginning last August and slowly ballooned from only about 30 attendees to over 2,000 RSVPs.
“At the time, my friends were getting really annoyed at me talking about crypto,” Park said. “It would be a Wednesday night out, but all I would want to talk about was crypto. I thought, if I start my own meetup I could have people to talk to about crypto.”
In 2018 it feels like everyone knows at least one bitcoin evangelist. Nearly every type of believer was in the crowd on Thursday night.
One attendee emphasized that bitcoin is “millennial gold” and that the most recent bout of volatility is immaterial. Of course, he then asked the reporter to refer to him as “the Korean rainmaker”…
Sammy, who described himself as a “45-year-old millennial trapped in the body of a former Samsung executive” and asked me to refer to him as “The Korean Rainmaker,” said that he got involved in the crypto world a year and a half ago and hasn’t looked back.
“Crypto is millennial gold,” he said. “To baby boomers, gold was gold. That was the thing to go to. Now crypto is the new gold and it’s going to be the same way. History has a tendency to repeat itself. From gold to virtual gold.”
Crypto, and bitcoin in particular, has been on a wild ride over the past year. After being largely ignored by the general public for most of its existence, bitcoin’s value shot to over $16,000 per coin in December, minting a new breed of overnight millionaires.
Indeed, many at the event believe the boom is just beginning – but that there will almost certainly be more volatility along the way.
And in one of the most trite comparisons that has been applied to bitcoin, one attendee said bitcoin is basically just like the Internet during the 1980s.
“I’ve seen this dance before. It’s just like the internet in 1986 before the web came out,” explained Dave, a man in an oversized black and gold bitcoin tee shirt. “This is just the beginning. The volatility is like little bumps in the road. Five years from now, every small change will hardly be visible.”
But in the most baffling view echoed by the attendees, many said those who lost money on crypto are solely to blame for their fate. They sold too early. Some attendees even said they’d deleted crypto price apps, opting to ignore the daily fluctuations entirely (presumably until the day their tokens become worthless).
After all, for the attendees who have been invested for longer than the last 12 months, every dip – even multi-year bear markets – has eventually been bought.
“I used to be very nervous at the beginning,” said a man named Antoine. “But so far I’ve seen like six or seven crashes, and we always recover.”
So why worry?