For John Tuberosi, bitcoin mining has always been about family. Since he began mining digital currencies earlier this year, Tuberosi has slowly but surely recruited more members of his family, including his children, sister and brother.
Yet it was the addition of his mother to the family’s mining operation last week that served as the catalyst for even wider interest within his tight-knit community back home in San Pedro, California, Tuberosi said.
He told CoinDesk:
“My mom has been doing everyone’s taxes since 1969. My mother is the most trusted and respected person in this town. People found out she was mining last week and there’s been a line outside my door with people wanting to learn more.”
Tuberosi’s mining operation has evolved since it began taking shape in January. A few graphics cards turned into a basement of ASICs, and today, Tuberosi maintains a portfolio of both hardware and cloud-based mining resources that he says continues to grow.
Since starting the JustUsMining group 9 months ago, Tuberosi said, he has felt more personally driven and focused than ever before in his life. The inclusion of his wife and children in the process – his kids have their own miners and his daughter helps manage the family’s BTC accounts – has made the journey a personal one.
According to Tuberosi, the experience of mining digital currencies hasn’t just been about making money or chasing a new opportunity. Recent bitcoin-funded trips, including one to the Hashers United mining conference in Las Vegas, underscore what Tuberosi calls a complete transformation of his and his family’s lives.
Tuberosi’s interest in bitcoin began in 2013, when an investment tip prompted him to become an early adopter. The technology’s now-infamous price surge at the end of that year convinced him of the opportunity that lie inside mining and generating new coins, motivating him to start seriously investigating hardware for a home-based rig.
At the outset, though, he wasn’t sure where to begin.
“I had no idea what I was doing. None at all. The first computer chip took two days to build, it was nothing but errors.”
Tuberosi said he fell into a trap familiar to many who decide to get into personal computing: buying expensive equipment you simply don’t need. After a while, he continued, he came to understand the steps needed and, over time, was able to get his first GPU-based rig running.
Yet the process of achieving profitability wasn’t over. He said:
“I get my first electricity bill. My God. I was using high-end cards that were sucking so much juice. I look at my wife and say, we need to do something different.”
Tuberosi was able to capitalize on a big upswing in demand for graphics cards earlier this year, exchanging the hardware for lower-wattage cards that he said delivered better results. Tuberosi turned those early profits into even more equipment, including then-new ASICs through Gridseed and GAWMiners.
The time wasn’t without risk, Tuberosi said. A big increase in public interest surrounding digital currency gave rise to scams that targeted individuals interested in mining.
Citing a “nose” for suspicious business ideas, Tuberosi described instances in which he would come into conflict with companies claiming to sell the latest equipment.
“I was calling these people, I would smell something bad and I’d question them, I’d tell them – I caught you,” he said. “You’re mining, you’ve got nothing for sale and these people would hang up. I caught all these scams, so I had to build.”
Though blocks were being discovered and money was being made, Tuberosi explained that the result was a rather cluttered home in San Pedro.
By May, the venture reached a point in which makeshift solutions for power and infrastrucure needed to be addressed.
“I had my GPUs in my living room while my kids watched TV — you couldn’t even watch TV anymore,” Tuberosi said. “I had extension cords running all through my house to bring the energy, so I hit on the idea to completely remodel my office.”
Tuberosi invested nearly $30,000 transforming his home office to meet the power needs of his mining rig. During this time, he continued to acquire ASICs and navigate a tricky business environment in which hardware was regularly delayed, disrupting growth plans.
It was around this time that the price of litecoin and many alternative digital currencies – as well as market volume – began to decline. This put pressure on profitability, driving Tuberosi to look at cloud-based options as his home mine grew.
The downturn also prompted those close to him to suggest that he consider pulling back on the mining venture. He and his family took a bitcoin-funded trip to Hawaii to celebrate his daughter’s birthday. It was during the trip, Tuberosi said, that he reaffirmed his decision to continue investing and building his mine.
“I knew inside that they didn’t know what this thing is. And when someone tells me to stop doing something, I’m the guy that says, watch me go. They tell me I can’t do it, I say watch me.”
According to Tuberosi, the ability to give back to his family has been the best part of the experience. Thanks to the investment and income generated, he said, he was able to fly his wife to Argentina to see her mother, explaining:
“Her mother’s 80th birthday was October 3rd. I tell my wife, how would you like to go down to Argentina to surprise her for her birthday. She asks, you can do that? I say yes, you can – with bitcoin.”
“It’s incredible, he added, laughing. “Then the questions from my family rolled in.”
Phone call after phone call, Tuberosi continued, resulted in a number of friends and family members making investments of their own. He spent several weeks helping them set up their own mining rigs or configuring cloud purchases online.
Soon, even his mother was expressing interest in mining digital currency.
Like most miners, Tuberosi freely acknowledged the long-term challenges of mining. Yet when asked if he would do anything differently, he said the experience has changed him as a person in ways that make the ups and downs worth it:
“I’ve never, ever in my life, been so on top of everything. Never. You know what [mining] is? A great system for self-empowerment.”
Tuberosi continued by saying he sees a bright future in the technology, both as a means of transacting as well as a method for connecting people. He pointed to his mother’s recent adoption of mining and the groundswell of interest from those around him as proof that digital currency can change lives.
“Bitcoin is more than just money, it’s the way things transact with each other,” he said.
Family image via Shutterstock