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The Rise and Rise of Bitcoin

This is a film from 2014 from the Mross brothers about the rise (, fall) and rise again of Bitcoin over a period stretching from 2012-2014. Daniel Mross is a Bitcoin geek, mining the coins in his basement at the start of the film, and Nicholas Mross is his film-maker brother.

The timespan of the film covers a very interesting period for the development of Bitcoin and includes interviews with some of the early movers in the scene, including the Winklevoss brothers, Gavin Andresen, Erik Voorhees, Roger Ver and Charlie Shrem.

After giving a lot of background to the rise of digital currency, and its similarities to the rise of the internet we hear about the first trade ever made with Bitcoin (10,000BTC for 2 pizzas, made in a heck of a roundabout way); the rise of Mt. Gox; the decision of Wikileaks to accept BTC when other sources of revenue were cut off; and the founding of the Silk Road.

One of the most poignant parts of the film is seeing Charlie Shrem with his startup BitInstant and him saying how he had hired a whole field of lawyers to make everything they were doing was compliant, and how he didn’t under any circumstances want to go to prison, but wanted everything legal. By the end of the film he is already sentenced for “money-laundering” (a word that must mean something else when bankers are involved).

When we start the film BTC is worth just a fraction of a cent, but with some of the developments outlined above goes on to reach a dollar, then 100 dollars and 250+, before crashing back below 100. Anyone who has been on the 2017/8 roller-coaster will know how this feels.

The US financial authorities saying they didn’t want to hamper innovation seems to have led to the hike, and the US financial crimes division shutting down half the companies seems to have been mainly responsible for its decline. Still, by the end of the film, it is on the rise again, and reaches over $1,000.

The film is interesting, not only for its historical value in documenting this disruptive period, but also for us today who are trying to keep perspective when the markets are all over the place. Eventually the technology will win over regulation, and those who keep faith will be better off than those who panicked. 

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