There's More Than One Way to Be Bitcoin Rich

Missed out on the bitcoin bubble? You might have gotten rich (in spirit) along the way.

AccessTimeIconDec 1, 2017 at 5:05 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 13, 2021 at 7:13 a.m. UTC
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Bailey Reutzel is a veteran finance reporter and editor at CoinDesk.

A buzz. A notification.

"Oh how I wish I took your advice all the many moons ago," a friend commented on my nostalgic Facebook post about the bitcoin price hitting $10,000.

I reply.

"I wish I had taken more of my advice."

When I tell people I acquired my first bitcoin around the $14 mark, most people then ask whether I'm one of those famed "bitcoin millionaires."

I'm not. And sometimes that really hurts to admit.

Seeing bitcoin eclipse $10,000 brought about a feeling of missing out.

There was a blur over the day. Is this really happening? Did that really happen?

What the hell have I been doing?

I was once a young, starry-eyed bitcoin n00b, writing about its march towards $100 a coin. I believed in it then, but with the push towards utilizing it as a payments rail, spent bitcoin here and there on dinners and tech toys and drinks.

And as activist and writer Brett Scott tweeted: "It's only got to this point because some of us actually used it to buy things in the real world in the past."

I bought into the ether presale, because I believed there would not be just one winner, and although I made a couple thousand dollars on its initial rise, I had just gotten off a six-month road trip and had $300 to my name, so cashed out at around $7 a coin.

Seven dollars a coin. Ether has traded for more than $500 a coin this week. Based on some not very precise math, if I'd have held, I'd have a cool $150,000 – not a millionaire, but that's an amount of money I have never expected to see in an account I control all at once.

For, as skeptical as I became about all the "change the world" rhetoric, I still believed bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies needed to exist as counter-forces to the traditional system that was wreaking havoc on the world, but still I didn't buy.

Consuming so much knowledge about the inner-workings of this system got in the way.

Seeing what other rabbit holes my interest in crypto could take me got in the way.

Life got in the way.

I missed out.

But that's not right. I've been here, right here, in the thick of it for the past five years.

And whether or not I can buy a fucking Ferrari or pay in full in cash for a quarter of a million dollar apartment, I'm a bitcoiner.

And seeing how far a nerdy, little community has come is really inspiring.

It's why I got the bitcoin symbol tattooed on my leg. It's not because I think it'll destroy the dollar or collapse the state; it's not because I think it's underlying technology will make financial institutions and a whole host of different enterprises run more effectively; it's not even because I think most of the people in the industry are shining examples of altruism.

It's because bitcoin is an alternative, a counter-power, the resistance.

And dammit, it's shown the resistance can work.

It shows we can make our own things valuable. We can decide when we've had enough.

"If you had bought bitcoin when I told you to...," I tell my brother as parting knowledge as I head to the airport and back to New York.

"Well, now what should I invest in?" he asks.

"I'm looking into it."

But will I?

One Facebook comment gives me comfort: "You're worth millions in spirit … which is just as tangible as bitcoin."

Retirees image via Shutterstock


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