Bitcoin: The Internet of Money

Today I am posting a presentation I gave with my brother Tyler at the Value Investor’s Congress (VIC) on September 17, 2013; just over a year ago (53 weeks to the day to be exact). For those of you who are not familiar with this conference, it attracts some of the most skilled and experienced public market investors in the world. They are a skeptical bunch by training and we were fully expecting a tough crowd with hard-hitting questions. Our goal was to educate these investors on the origins of Bitcoin, the powerful  implications of the protocol (decentralized, open-source, peer-to-peer) and its investment use-case as a long-term store of value.

On the day of our presentation the price of Bitcoin was $132.27. Yesterday at 4pm EDT the price was $432.26. I generally don’t like to talk about price too much (admittedly breaking my own rule here), and as I’ve stated in my Reddit AMA.  Most days I don’t check it at all, but in the context of this presentation and using the granularity of a year, I think it’s a reasonably worthy exercise. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and Bitcoin won’t be either, but I still feel very bullish about its long-term value both as a technology and an investment. Despite all the ups and downs of the past year, including the Silk Road bust (15 days after our presentation); a November price run above $1000 (which has since been called into question by the possible discovery of trading bots on Mt.Gox); the collapse of Mt.Gox in February 2014; pending regulation (most notably from the New York Department of Financial Services); and Paypal’s announcement yesterday to start integrating Bitcoin, the price is ~3-4x higher today.

Source: The orange line represents the price on Mt.Gox.

The price increase over the past year certainly bolsters the thesis of all long-term believers, but even if the price was the same as it was 53 weeks ago, I would be saying the same thing. I am a believer in this technology – I have yet to sell a single bitcoin and continue to invest in Bitcoin-related companies, develop our index and build our Bitcoin ETF.

Last week, I was asked on CNBC if I thought Apple Pay would compete with Bitcoin; I don’t. Aside from the obvious differences (closed vs. open system, centralized vs. decentralized, etc.) the bigger question IMO is whether things like credit cards and Apple Pay will ever reach the 2.5B unbanked adults (half the global population) in the world anytime soon. Will their sphere of operation grow beyond the 7-10 countries that they fully serve? Will they continue to lower the costs of transactions and sending/receiving money? Will they be able to handle micropayments or even contemplate nanopayments? Will they be able to integrate with autonomous agents? I believe the answer is and will continue to be No. It will be incumbent upon Bitcoin (or some new, yet to be developed protocol) to solve these problems going forward. If this coming year is anything like the last, expect big things from this innovation as the smartest minds in the room build applications and companies on top of and around the Bitcoin protocol.

*The quote on the regulatory slide has been updated, as well some some aesthetic improvements, however the content is the same as what we presented on September 17, 2013.