Square Is A Bitcoin Company & Mark Cuban Is A Bitcoiner

  
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To investors,

Bitcoin is knocking on the door of a new all-time high in US dollar price as I begin to write this letter. The market structure for the asset has been quite clear for months now. The long-term, strong hands were accumulating as much bitcoin as they possibly could, while short-term, weak hands were selling their bitcoin.

Approximately 85% of all bitcoin in circulation has not moved in the last 90 days. The last time that occurred was in October of 2020, which was followed by a 600% increase in price in under 6 months. No one knows what will happen moving forward. I wouldn’t want to be short a volatile asset like bitcoin right now though.

With that said, the price of the asset is just one story. There are a few other interesting developments that I wanted to discuss this morning.

Square is a bitcoin company?

Let’s start with Jack Dorsey and Square. They announced a potential interest in building hardware to support the bitcoin network.

There were two main takeaways that I had when I read through Jack’s Twitter thread on the topic.

The big conclusion I reached was that we are about to watch Jack Dorsey transform Square into one of the world’s leading bitcoin companies. He already put the digital currency on the balance sheet, created an easy on-ramp for CashApp users to purchase bitcoin, announced intentions to build a hardware wallet, and hired a team to build “an open developer platform with the sole goal of making it easy to create non-custodial, permissionless, and decentralized financial services.”

These actions are not the sign that someone is a tourist in the industry. Each of them is fundamentally difficult, yet could have a profoundly positive impact on bitcoin and the eventual billions of users. Today, Square is a $115 billion market cap company. It wouldn’t be hard to see a multi-trillion dollar company if Dorsey was able to successfully build the largest publicly traded bitcoin company in the world.

My second big takeaway from this announcement was that Square is explicitly talking about system design thinking that would require them to start with re-engineering silicon chips. Yes, you read that right. A software company that has grown incredibly fast is now talking about crossing over into one of the hardest manufacturing verticals in the world. No one can claim that this team lacks ambition!

There is no promise that Square will figure out the right strategy, nor that they will actually pull the trigger on this. But the thought exercise alone is a sign of how important the company believes bitcoin will become. They aren’t the only ones who think the digital currency is important though.

Mark Cuban is a bitcoiner?

Mark Cuban responded to a tweet that I wrote on Saturday about bitcoin embodying the American ethos. As expected, many people in the bitcoin community began bashing him for uttering any word that could be construed as negative towards the digital currency.

Eventually, Mark Cuban and a bunch of others (Preston Pysh, Peter McCormick, Lyn Alden, myself, etc) ended up in a Twitter Spaces for a live conversation. More than 15,000 people were tuned in to hear the back-and-forth.

Many of the people in the conversation were upset with Mark about previous comments he had made about other crypto assets or they felt like he didn’t fully understand bitcoin. While some of that may be true, I heard something slightly different in Mark’s comments. On multiple occasions the billionaire stated that he believed bitcoin to be a great store-of-value and owned the asset in his personal portfolio. One quote was “It's the best store of value on the planet, that's why I own it.” He even tweeted that bitcoin was the best store-of-value at one point on Saturday too:

There is nuance to Mark’s view which is important to understand. He believes bitcoin is a great store-of-value but doesn’t see a high probability that it will be used as a medium of exchange globally. In comparison, bitcoiners put a higher probability on the global medium of exchange, but both camps agree on the store-of-value argument.

This leads me to a big takeaway that I had from this conversation. Mark Cuban is a bitcoiner. He understands bitcoin in great detail, including what makes it valuable, why users are flocking to it, and what the biggest challenges are. The problem in the eyes of the bitcoin community is that Mark Cuban does not believe as much as they do.

This is equivalent to a religion where the orthodox or purist population gets mad at those pursuing the same religion in a heterodox way. Both groups are believers, but they differ on the nuance and detail. If you scroll through Twitter and see the reaction from many people in the most toxic corners of the industry, they are calling Cuban a moron, an idiot, and a fraud. Remember, this all directed at a guy who publicly is stating that he believes bitcoin is the greatest store-of-value in the world.

To make things even more interesting, the gigachad of all bitcoiners - Michael Saylor - appears to agree with Mark Cuban.

So on one hand you have bitcoiners attacking Mark Cuban but praising Michael Saylor. Rather than allowing the hypocrisy to go unnoticed, I think it is worth calling out. My guess is that Michael Saylor and Mark Cuban, along with majority of bitcoiners, agree on much more than they ever realized.

Which brings me to my last point — the best way to learn is by listening. There is a pattern of a small group of bitcoiners to lash out aggressively at people that they disagree with. If you don’t believe exactly what this group believes, they will yell and scream. They’ll get real mad. And they’ll attack you relentlessly.

It makes no sense. There is no common ground established when people do this. There is no education or learning that occurs. Rather than creating an environment where someone can change their mind, you create an environment that forces people to dig their heels in as a defense mechanism. Frankly, we don’t have time for these types of immature antics.

The bitcoin community is attempting to accomplish the impossible. We need as many people on our side as we can get. We should see these situations as an opportunity to recruit a new proponent, instead of looking for a chance to dunk on someone. It isn’t easy. I am no better than anyone else at this. Honestly, I love having fun on the internet and have dunked on plenty of folks in the past. But as I’ve thought about it more, we need to be as welcoming as possible.

The rebuttal to this message from the toxic corners of the bitcoin community will be that toxicity acts as a protective mechanism for the protocol. This is a misplaced idea though. The protective mechanism is not the toxicity, but rather the willingness of bitcoiners to stand up and say something every single time someone misspeaks or acts in an abrasive way. The willingness to defend is the defense mechanism, not the toxicity.

In fact, I would go as far as to say the toxicity stems from many people’s inability to communicate effectively. Just as a child yells and screams for attention, many people in the community are vying to one-up each other in terms of toxicity. That doesn’t make you honorable. It just makes you an asshole. The true test of a warrior is whether they can win the war without ever fighting the battle.

As the great Sun Tzu famously said, “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.” He also said, “Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.” And finally, Sun Tzu stated, “Confront them with annihilation, and they will then survive; plunge them into a deadly situation, and they will then live. When people fall into danger, they are then able to strive for victory.”

There is no point in being confrontational. Our end goal is not earning a debate victory, but rather in gaining a comrade. When optimizing for acquiring a comrade, the tactics must be different. I have confidence that we will learn this over time as a community. It is a learned skill, and one in which every person much put effort into mastering (definitely including me!).

Hope each of you has a great day. I’ll talk to everyone tomorrow.

-Pomp


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THE RUNDOWN:

SEC Approves Bitcoin Futures ETF, Opening Crypto to Wider Investor Base: After years of trial and error by would-be fund sponsors, cryptocurrency investing is finally opening up to the masses with the tacit U.S. approval of a bitcoin futures exchange-traded fund. The Securities and Exchange Commission greenlighted bitcoin futures ETFs in a first for the industry on Friday, after the regulator’s five commissioners met on the issue. ProShares, which filed for its Bitcoin Strategy ETF this past summer, may be the first to launch next week. Read more.

Grayscale Said Close to Filing to Convert Bitcoin Fund Into Spot ETF: Grayscale Investments plans on filing an application to convert the world’s biggest bitcoin fund into a spot ETF early next week, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The investment firm had intended to file its application to the Securities and Exchange Commission as soon as the agency allowed efforts by competitors for a futures-based bitcoin ETF, said the person. That happened late Friday. Read more.

Tribe Capital to Launch $75M Crypto Fund: Tribe Capital, a venture capital firm with investments in Kraken and FTX among others in the crypto sector, is launching a $75 million crypto fund, sources familiar with the initiative told CoinDesk. The fund initially sought to raise $50 million but strong interest from investors raised the total, according to the sources. Read more.

Square to Consider Building a Bitcoin Mining System: Payments service provider Square is looking to develop a bitcoin mining system, the company’s CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted on Friday. “Square is considering building a Bitcoin mining system based on custom silicon and open source for individuals and businesses worldwide,” Dorsey wrote. In his threaded tweets, Dorsey wrote that mining needs to be more distributed and energy-efficient, and that silicon design is too concentrated into just a few companies, leading to reduced supply. Read more.

Canadian City Becomes First to Heat Buildings Through Bitcoin Mining: North Vancouver announced Thursday it would become the world's first city to be heated almost entirely by bitcoin mining, an innovative way to tackle climate change by creating valuable cryptocurrency coins and usable thermal energy at the same time. Read more.


LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE POMP PODCAST HERE


Jacob Helberg is a senior adviser at the Stanford University Center on Geopolitics and Technology and an adjunct fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Jacob is also the author of Wires of War, a fantastic book on technology policy, China, and U.S. national security.

In this conversation, we discuss US-China relations, technology, national security, Gray Wars, and why the US must start taking this much more seriously.

LISTEN TO THIS EPISODE OF THE POMP PODCAST HERE


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