Don't judge a self-proclaimed bitcoin maximalist by his trollish tweets.
At least not Paris-born Pierre Rochard, who many have surely dismissed because of his bombastic Twitter account, which he routinely uses to diss "altcoin" fans for "peddling trash." But to disregard him would be to miss the nuanced theory behind his quips.
"Obviously, there are other currencies that exist today," Rochard, a 29-year-old accountant turned self-taught software engineer, told CoinDesk. As such, "it's a bit of a strawman to say that bitcoin maximalists think there will only be one currency. The reason crypto is zero-sum is [because] money, in general, is zero-sum."
In his analysis, global economies typically have one currency by which others are measured or held in reserve, whether it be gold or dollars. Rochard believes bitcoin is becoming that global store of value and transactional medium for the digital world, especially since other cryptocurrencies appear to be "heavily dependent" on it as a reserve currency.
So while other blockchain experts are launching multi-coin crypto hedge funds or freelancing as consultants for the tokenized fundraising projects known as initial coin offerings (ICOs), Rochard just launched Bitcoin Advisory LLC in Brooklyn, N.Y. – call it the maximalist consultancy.
Rochard wants to provide a variety of prospective investors with unadulterated insight into bitcoin.
But unlike with a traditional financial advisor or fund manager, clients are only paying for Rochard's time. His advice, then, won't be motivated by wanting people to invest through him or in anything offered exclusively by his company; to the contrary, he wants clients to walk away with the tools to manage their own investments.
"I do want to also present the case against investing in bitcoin or at least being more cautious about its valuation or more rigorous about analyzing the risks of investing in bitcoin. I don't want investors going all in on bitcoin," Rochard said, adding:
"I think that's the worst possible thing they could do, even though that might not make me popular on Twitter. There needs to be a cautious portfolio approach to bitcoin."
In fact, Rochard's wife, a financial planner herself, insisted their "very boring" retirement funds exclude high-risk investments like bitcoin.
This idea that people shouldn't trust third parties and instead empower themselves fueled Rochard's passion for starting Bitcoin Advisory LLC in the first place.
According to him, the thwarted "New York Agreement," in which a group of miners and businesses proposed ultimately unpopular changes to the bitcoin software, highlighted a dire need for independent advisors in this space. Since one aspect of the update was related to keeping transaction fees low for these corporate players, Rochard believes they had a vested interest to support the agreement, even though developers were worried about the effects of that change.
"These CEOs are the main liaison between institutional investors," Rochard said. "I want to unbundle the information from the financial product."
Of course, as a bitcoin maximalist Rochard isn't completely objective.
But he may perhaps have less conflict of interest than a service provider that benefits from pushing users and investors to certain cryptocurrencies, for example.
At least, in his mind:
"They [startup CEOs] are the ones providing views on the bitcoin ecosystem. As such, they have an effect on the way investors think about bitcoin. Their companies have an agenda with regards to bitcoin."
Rochard said his fidelity belongs solely to bitcoin and related projects like the lightning network, the technology many bitcoin developers are working on which looks to push transactions off-chain so that bitcoin can scale to more users in time.
In his new role, investors who want to run their own bitcoin nodes will find Rochard to be a particularly eager educator. And it's definitely an area where expert advice could help, since running a full node can be one, quite the setup, and two, technically challenging,
But for Rochard, it's a crucial activity in helping users to fully realize bitcoin's potential, and ties into his engineering work (he's created several tools to tally and organize access to new contributions to Bitcoin Core software on Github).
"What I want to see from my own contributions to Bitcoin Core is to help accelerate the development of Bitcoin Core's wallet," he said.
Because the open-source wallet relies on Bitcoin Core nodes, which broadcast and tally transactions for bitcoin miners to validate, in contrast to lighter software wallets like Jaxx or Bread, which only facilitate transactions, Rochard said this is the best way to be fully in control of your money.
Speaking again to his interest in weening people off third-party systems, Rochard said, "I generally want people to be running a full node regardless of the implementation it's in because we've seen a lot of reliance on third parties."
The new consulting gig isn't Rochard's first crack at launching a project geared towards educating people on bitcoin.
For instance, he co-founded the Satoshi Nakamoto Institute in March 2014 with two fellow alumni of the University of Texas at Austin, Michael Goldstein and Daniel Krawisz. The institute is essentially a free archive of reading materials related to money and cryptography from as far back as the 1970s, including a collection of emails from bitcoin's pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto.
More recently, Rochard and Goldstein started the Noded Bitcoin podcast, where they interview leading developers and bitcoin community influencers.
Speaking to his love of bitcoin, Rochard told CoinDesk:
"There's so much to research in bitcoin alone. After five years, I'm still peeling the bitcoin onion."
Image via Pierre Rochard