Brad Mills
19 min readNov 23, 2020

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From Bitcoin to Ethereum & Back.

As someone who escaped poverty & has improved his life thanks to lessons learned about money & investing through mining, losing, using & holding Bitcoin, my mission is to influence & educate as many people as I can about the benefits of Bitcoin.

I’m a Bitcoin maximalist, but I’m also a fomosapien. I understand the degenerate urges of altcoin gamblers & I relate with the fear of missing out on a 10X.

Only about 1% of the population has used Bitcoin. That leaves 99% of the world to properly discover Bitcoin beyond peripherally hearing about it online.

Whether we Bitcoiners like it or not, Bitcoin is not the only onramp to cryptocurrency — I often wonder what motivates average people to get interested in cryptocurrency, and how to steer them towards Bitcoin.

What makes one of these fresh eyed 99%er potential Bitcoiners decide to dip their toes into the world of cryptocurrency?

In 2011, there was a wave of Bitcoin adoption that was led mostly by principled anti-authoritarian participants.

Early adopters were mostly a wave of of cypherpunks & financial misfits, recently awoken to the follies of fiat inflationary policies after Ron Paul’s presidential run made Austrian economics popular amongst millennials.

I was in this cohort. It was during the first round of massive banker bailouts, the government was spending trillions & I was excited by the idea of Gold 2.0 & decentralized payments...the separation of money and state.

The Occupy Wall St & End The Fed movements were happening. People joining the Bitcoin movement had an activist / defiant mindset.

Whether someone was trying to buy marijuana on a dark market, resist the growing trend of surveillance capitalism, or trying to opt out of a corrupt fiat monetary system, the first wave of early adopters were mostly tech nerds, anarchocapitalists & fans of Austrian economic policies.

Fast forward to 2013. Bitcoin price starts rising again, spawning a new round of copycat coins. Most of these coins were get rich quick cash grabs with unoriginal changes like “Bitcoin but with faster blocks.”

Top cryptocurrencies December 2014

This bubble is when Dogecoin was born. Different than most other altcoins, it was hilariously fun. It attracted a new round of memetic investors & participants to “crypto.”

The dogecoin subreddit was fun. Most altcoin traders (and a lot of Bitcoiners) were using the “such decentralized, much wow” lingo in chats.

Doge Washington

Bitcoin started to face real threats from government as regulators & politicians in the USA were trying to shut Bitcoin down during this time to gain political clout.

Katie Haun, now a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, was working for the Department of Justice when her government bosses tasked her with going after Bitcoin.

She realized that Bitcoin could not be shut down, so they started to go after bitcoin business operators instead. There was a lot of bad news during this time. MtGox was hacked, prominent Bitcoiners Ross Ulbricht & Charlie Shrem were arrested, Cryptsy exit scammed, Bitcoin crashed.

During the long bear market from 2014–2016, most of the get rich quick copycat altcoins went to zero.

The meme “this is good for Bitcoin” was born during this time, as builders and holders refused to give up.

Mastercoin did the first ICO, Counterparty did an ICO where the Bitcoin was burned to mint XCP. The first version of popular “NFTs”, Rare Pepes, were born in the bear market on counterparty.

Some people who were investing in these 2013/2014 altcoins made a lot of money, most investors lost their money. Coin creators got the best deal with fleecing FOMO traders for massive bags of Bitcoin.

Bitcoin traders meanwhile were dealing with the bear whale suppressing the price.

During this time, Bitcoin developers were continually building.

In the book ‘Drive,’ Dan Pink explains that as long as a developer’s financial needs are met, most superstar developers will choose where to work based on the motivations of autonomy, mastery & purpose.

Most A players only get to choose 2. Working on bitcoin can satisfy all 3 AND if you own Bitcoin, you also have a source of self-funding.

This is why the smartest protocol & open source developers were attracted to building on Bitcoin.

MIT, Chaincode labs & a slew of independent developers were building through the bear market. Blockstream was founded with the idea of funding core developers so that they could focus on autonomy, mastery & purpose and not have to worry about funding during the Bitcoin bear market.

Bitcoin as an investment at this time is still seen as fringe. It’s still mostly anarchocapitalists, some early adopter silicon valley VCs. Wall St & family offices are mostly not her yet aside from folks like the Winelvoss Twins, Chamath Palihapitiya & Tim Draper who bought the silkroad Bitcoins.

Bitcoin Blocksize debate is starting to turn contentious & prominent early Bitcoin developer/entrepreneurs like Mike Hearn, Jeff Garzik & Gavin Andresen rage quit Bitcoin.

At this time, young Vitalik links up with Anthony DiIorio, Charles Hoskinson & others to plan their ICO.

Bitcoiners who either missed the 100X of Bitcoin, or wanted to replicate another 100X, started to join Ethereum. Financiers & marketing guys start planning their sale and doing the roadshow.

Their plan: replicate Bitcoin’s amazing returns with a new coin — smart contract fuel! $18 million dollars raised.

It was during this bear market period where the colloquial crypto industry terms “shitcoin” and “bitcoin maximalist” were born.

Bitcoiners used the term shitcoins to refer to most of these illegal security offerings & uninspired bitcoin clones.

Altcoiners used the term Bitcoin Maximalist to refer to Bitcoiners who thought all other cryptocurrencies were shitcoins.

Strangely enough, both terms became both terms of endearment & self-adopted monikers.

A lot of Bitcoiners are closet shitcoiner investors (they want to earn more Bitcoin) so shitcoin became almost used as a term of endearment.

Most Bitcoiners actually love the term Bitcoin Maximalist and started to self-identify as maximalists.

Fast forward to 2017. “Crypto” goes mainstream. A lot of the early Bitcoiners & Bitcoin Foundation members had either:

  1. Succumbed to their greed, abandoned their principles to launch their own competing cryptocurrency so they could get rich with an ICO.
  2. Lost conviction & sold their Bitcoin too early, watching as the price exploded without them.
  3. Succumbed to their ego & abandoned Bitcoin because failed attempts at controlling Bitcoin’s future.

In 2017 we saw 2 bubbles happen. Bitcoin & “Crypto.”

First, as the fundamentals of Bitcoin kept getting better towards the end of 2016, the halving had just happened, the Segwit upgrade & the Lightning Network were getting closer to activation.

The Bitcoin price broke out of a long period of choppiness to the upside as more investors globally started turning towards Bitcoin as a hedge.

In 2016 Ethereum failed its first test of decentralization when a smart contract developer cleverly exploited The DAO to drain a significant amount of ETH. Vitalik & Consensys tried to stimulate decentralization through a governance vote to rollback the DAO exploit — but not enough people participated in the vote. The centralizers did their thing, Vitalik told the exchanges to stop trading the token, and the ethos of “code is law” was philosophically tainted.

ETH dumped from $20 to $10 and most people who were into Ethereum with philosophical values of “crypto needs to be decentralized” sold their ETH.

In 2017 Bitcoin passed its first test of decentralization when the corporate takeover attempt of Segwit2X failed and the Bitcoin users & developers prevailed by activating Segwit via BIP148 & the NO2X movement.

Most of the big blockers like Roger Ver & Jihan Wu, who were raging against Bitcoin Core, were proven horribly wrong as Bitcoin rose from the hundreds to the tens of thousands during their campaign to wrestle control of the future of Bitcoin development from the Bitcoin core devs.

As the Bitcoin price was rising, Bitcoin was being validated & introduced to the mainstream psyche. The Bitcoin ETF was denied, but Wall St. investors who were excited about getting Bitcoin exposure just bought Bitcoin directly.

Japan “legalized” Bitcoin as a currency, and newspapers & CNBC started reporting the Bitcoin price alongside stocks, commodities & gold.

All through 2017, the price was rising, and the rise in price attracts more investors to take a position in Bitcoin as Gold 2.0, a hedge against inflation & government printing.

The rapid price appreciation towards the end of 2017 started to attract people who weren’t driven by fundamental reasons, but moreso by greed & fear of missing out.

Bitcoin ended up peaking at nearly $20,000 & was firmly in the public psyche.

You can see from google search results, barely anyone was searching for “Cryptocurrency” or “Ethereum” … they wanted Bitcoin.

This is where the other bubble comes in. The “crypto” bubble.

CNBC started shilling Ripple on television with at segment called “Crypto class.” They were teaching viewers how to buy ripple at $2.57 and not long after the bubble burst, they were teaching people how to SELL ripple at $0.71.

Internet marketers like Tai Lopez & James Altucher started to advertise courses teaching retail how to “get rich off of the next Bitcoin.”

These unscrupulous internet marketers started running massive ad campaigns on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & Google.

Ethereum investors started to launch “initial coin offerings” where they created more cryptocurrencies and sold them for Ethereum (and sometimes Bitcoin or dollars.)

Ethereum ended up shooting up from it’s low of $10 in 2016 after the DAO hack to a high of around $1400, proving that there was a whole class of investors who were fully willing to accept a cryptocurrency that that had leaders, was more centralized than bitcoin & sacrificed decentralization in favor of rescuing investors from exploits & hackers.

People who held Bitcoin got massive returns.

People who held Ethereum got massive returns.

The ICO bubble fueled by Ethereum was pure FOMO. Companies that could not previously get venture funding were now raising tens of millions for their “blockchain networks.”

Who was investing in this stuff?

  • Retail dumb money trying to get in on the craze.
  • Lucky crypto investors playing with profits.
  • Early Bitcoin investors motivated by re-creating the 100-1000X returns they got from buying Bitcoin early.
  • Silicon Valley Venture Capitalists who wanted to get in on the action.

Retail users were being stalked around the internet being shown ads constantly about how to invest in ICOs & get rich off of ICOs & crypto.

After thanksgiving 2017, the next couple of months was a mania of Bitcoin & Crypto.

The problem is that Bitcoin got lumped in with the crypto ICO bubble. The biggest wallets & exchanges were getting in on the immoral behaviour by ranking high for the search term “Bitcoin” or “Buy Bitcoin.”

These businesses would sell the users Bitcoin, then introduce them to their crypto casino, suggesting they buy altcoins. Coinbase is still one of the worst offenders here. They leech value from Bitcoin while promoting Altcoins & ICO coins to make fees & moon their bags.

The price eventually skyrocketed to $20,000 briefly at the end of the year, which was driven by a mass awareness of Bitcoin, and unprecedented demand for Bitcoin.

The Ethereum ICO bubble made a lot of opportunistic developers & VCs rich on the backs of retail and dumb-accredited investors. Even though the “crypto” bubble popped and 95% losses were common, many were completely wiped out and still have PTSD … but the insiders who ran these ICOs kept above water.

Teams were raising tens of millions in minutes for terrible ideas that would not get venture funding, the market signalled during the crypto crash that these ideas were bad, but they retained their treasuries and kept their ill-gotten gains.

Unfortunately because of the entrenched position of companies like Ripple, Tezos, Block.one and Consensys, they have a lot of money to keep spending on confusing new users and attracting young developer talent.

Fast forward to 2020, the bull is back. Bitcoin has been in a 1 year bull market and recovered from the Black Thrusday covid crash faster than any other asset class.

That prompted JP Morgan to note that Bitcoin has proven itself and has staying power.

Unfortunately, investors did not learn a lesson in the 2017 crypto bubble. Andreesen Horowitz raised half a billion dollars in 2020 for their crypto fund.

They put the shitcoin money printer on 11 and started printing DeFi tokens and dumping them on Coinbase for inflated returns and inflated APY numbers to attract more dumb-accredited money lured in by the idea of getting 50% interest on parking their assets in DeFi.

The interest they are earning is valueless governance tokens that trend towards zero — they are only valuable in a bubble, and the APY on Ethereum will trend to zero as well as the bubble pops & markets get more efficient … but it will be too late as a significant amount of capital has been drawn in by this brilliant gimmicky bubble marketing tactic spearheaded by VCs, unscrupulus money printing devs & bagholder exchanges like coinbase.

What does all of this mean for Bitcoiners?

Well we have a hard battle to fight here. A battle for hearts & minds of newcoiners. Most of the touch points into Bitcoin are controlled by adversarial entities.

We know that most people are not going to go down the hard money / austrian economic school of thought rabbit hole.

Likely most of the newcoiners are going to be sucked into wasting their sats on crypto, falling victim to bubble mentality, lured in by the promise of quick gains and the stories of big returns by crypto traders.

What about someone who skips BTC or ETH & becomes a total shitcoiner, investing in a basket of altcoins? Does this make them “the enemy”? Of course not!

We have to realize that this is the reality of Bitcoin in 2020 — this is the battleground of ideas, and the enemies of the cypherpunk ideals that Bitcoin was created on are well funded and attacking on all fronts.

We have to do better, Bitcoin deserves it. They have a herd of trojan horses, spreading their crypto propaganda everywhere. Even Real Vision has been infiltrated.

Where is the coinbase of Bitcoin?

Where is the Bitcoin.com of Bitcoin?

Where is the gitcoin of Bitcoin?

Where is the Real Vision Crypto of Bitcoin?

I think we can do better at competing with the centralizers at the top of the funnel.

If we compete better at the top of the funnel, we have to do less work to re-educate at the bottom of the funnel.

What about those cultish people you see on Twitter with ‘BSV is BitCoin’ or ‘XRPTheStandard’ in their profile? Are they bad people? Not worth investing time into? Are they too far down the propaganda rabbit hole to be influenced?

We need to be less aggressive with these people, they don’t know what they don’t know. We should show more patience & be better missionaries for Bitcoin.

I want Bitcoin to change the lives of as many people as possible.

We have centralized cryptocurrencies, central bank digital currencies, corporate coins & stablecoins all competing to erode the value proposition of Bitcoin.

All of these other copycoins and blockchain liberty abominations contribute to a world with more authoritarian dystopian control over people via surveillance and censorship of money.

Ethereum can not win. We owe it to Hal Finney & the cypherpunks that spent their whole lives battling governments to bring about a world of financial privacy with a decentralized privacy-preserving digital hard money.

Engage in the debate, win hearts & minds, gain territory in the battleground of ideas.

Do we want to allow these peddlers of greed to control the touch points?

Do we want to allow the marketing machines of blockchain companies and crypto VC backed protocols trick a large percent of people out of the wealth, and eventually, if they succeed, out of their sovereignty?

Do we want to ignore “crypto” and allow potential Bitcoiners to be led astray?

These are important questions to think about if Bitcoin evangelists want to reach as many people as possible in the next 10 years.

The battleground of ideas is wide open. Only the opening volleys have been fired, and while Bitcoin has a significant lead, it’s not yet too later for other cryptocurrencies to catch up to Bitcoin with enough effort & marketing spend.

Bitcoin maximalists believe Bitcoin is going to capture the most value, and it has the only real shot at becoming a global reserve currency alongside Gold & Dollars, which would end up with a marketcap in the tens of Trillions of dollars.

As a maximalist, I have skin in the game. I believe Bitcoin will one day be $1,000,000 per Bitcoin, or that in 10 years, you will be able to price things in Bitcoin satoshis instead of measuring it in fiat.

We believe Bitcoin is the most decentralized, censorship resistant asset with the most predictable monetary policy, the deepest liquidity & best global brand recognition. Bitcoin wins because of the fundamentals behind the concept of what makes a cryptocurrency long term valuable.

However, not everyone is born a hard money maximalist.

Most people come to learn about Bitcoin during phases of mass adoption as the price is rising. They see headlines that Bitcoin is going up in price, and FOMO brings them to googling about Bitcoin.

Their motivation is making money.

That’s where the altcoins come in. The search for Bitcoin, then they get sold altcoins by exchanges (aka crypto casinos.)

This is how the “crypto” meme came to be. A significant amount of people, and many smart & wealthy investors, don’t really grasp the concept of Bitcoin, they just think it’s one of many cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin gets lumped into other coins like Ethereum & Ripple, and the other thousand+ cryptocurrencies.

This triggers Bitcoiners. A lot of us become toxic when talking to a crypto person, which can be a net negative for adoption of Bitcoin.

Is it possible to influence the most amount of “crypto” people & newcoiners / nocoiners towards Bitcoin without being adversarial?

I think there is, but admittedly it’s very difficult.

In Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki came up with the cashflow quadrant, the basic concept that relates to what we’re talking about is the difference in mindset between the people on the left vs right of the cashflow quadrant.

Rich people tended to have these qualities:

  1. They maintained a long-term vision and plan
  2. They believed in delayed gratification

Poor people tended to have these qualities:

  1. They had short-term vision
  2. They had a desire for instant gratification

Re: Bitcoin investors wanting to stack USD or BTC — what do they really want?

Not everyone is motivated by our philosophies. Most just want to earn some money, so we need to also try to spread the ideas of freedom, liberty & sound money while also speaking to the desire to increase wealth.

At some point when you get deep enough down the money rabbit hole, you have the realization that you need to shift your thinking to benchmarking your net worth against BTC.

A lot of high networth investors are allocating their money not directly into Bitcoin, but into crypto funds, thinking that they are getting exposure to Bitcoin.

Allocating to crypto funds is a crapshoot, at the very least, funds should not earn any fees until they beat Bitcoin alpha.

If you are in the space already, you are likely philosophically long Bitcoin — so you are looking for downside protection or amplified BTC gains.

This is why people seek to trade or invest in funds — they want to beat the market and protect their Bitcoin with active trading or algorithmic trading.

Of course I relate, I want to make more Bitcoin when BTC is crashing to keep my dollar value stable while the world still runs on fiat. But there’s risk in that, you could lose your Bitcoin!

That’s why I invested in adaptive capital, I wanted downside protection in the bear market/early bull market.

However, when confronted with real world “downside protection” it’s hard to accept it and see the benefits — there were times when the market crashed and adaptive provided USD downside protection — and it still “felt” similar to the feeling of losing.

If you look at it purely logically, merely losing less USD than HODL BTC is actually “earning more Bitcoin” when you think about it, as long as you buy back in lower, but it’s earning more BTC in a negative way.

It’s a different feeling to make USD and BTC in a Bitcoin drop with a successful short than it is to just “protect the downside.”

I can imagine the LPs of Tushar & Kyle’s fund Multicoin Capital were probably not happy at the end of 2018 to “only lose 45%” vs the benchmark of alts that were down 65%.

It’s an even better feeling to make more BTC on the upside, you get the Bitcoin AND the fiat gains due to the market trend.

Part of being a good investor AND a good LP is to try not to have emotions about the money…a very hard skill to learn, and a reason why entering into “trading” or “downside protection” is so risky versus just holding Bitcoin for long time frames.

I ended up losing all of that phantom downside protection when Adaptive Capital blew up. What a waste of time and mental energy.

It’s very hard to win against just holding Bitcoin. Most of Bitcoin’s significant movements are had in short bursts of face-melting gains.

Why do some Bitcoiners become Defenders of Bitcoin?

What is the personality trait that turns someone from a Bitcoin enthusiast to Bitcoin Maximalist who spends time defending Bitcoin?

What makes Ethereum investors obsessed with the DeFi investment thesis?

Recently I was trying to put myself in the mindset of Ethereum investors like David Hoffman from POV Crypto Podcast.

The narrative of bitcoin moving to Ethereum has been a fantasy for Ethereum fans for a couple of years.

Starting with the announcement of Wrapped Bitcoin in 2018 by Kyber Network & Republic Protocol, crypto twitter was abuzz with speculation about how this will help with the ETH flippening as it swallows BTC in marketcap partly because of Bitcoin being locked into Ethereum DeFi Dapps.

Original announcement of Kyber Network adding WBTC to Ethereum in part with Republic Network BitGo.

Some Bitcoiners like Alistair Milne have looked at this (satirically?) from the bullish perspective of Ethereum becoming a useful sidechain for Bitcoin if WBTC ever took off.

Prominent Bitcoin thinker Alistair Milne looking at the bright side of WBTC.

I should disclose that I invested in KNC, REN & ETH in 2017. I’m not just a toxic fudding bitcoiner troll as I’m sure any Ethereans reading this think.

Maybe I’m butthurt, but can you blame me? Look at the carnage these projects have left behind in the markets.

Kyber Network KNC is down 95%, it has performed extremely poorly like the majority of ETH DeFi ICOs launched in 2017.

I have previously setup a couple of REN masternodes, but ended up shutting them down as they were unprofitable, not worth the hassle, and sold my positions at a loss in 2019 as I could not justify the investment thesis of holding these DeFi tokens any longer.

Republic Protocol REN is an interesting decentralized dark pool DeFi project that has a much healthier chart than most DeFi projects. It’s only down 75% from ATH, and it has decent liquidity.

Ouch.

Prominent Ethereum commentators have been predicting the exodus of the BTC token from Bitcoin to Ethereum.

People like this are paid by Consensys via gitcoin grants to write this sort of content. To any investor with half of a brain, this seems like an absurd statement.

Why would people move their Bitcoin to Ethereum where there are smart contract exploits for millions of dollars weekly?

These young crypto pundits are actually influencing people. They need to be engaged with and challenged on the battleground of ideas, not just blocked and muted.

In the summer of 2020, there was a bubble in DeFi where we saw fees spike up to $20 to trade ponzis on Uniswap. Investors were attracted by fake APYs and Wrapped Bitcoin did grow impressively on ETH DeFi.

Bitcoin became the number 1 asset on Ethereum, it looks like it has reached a plateau, and it would make sense now that APYs have been trending lower and lower that Bitcoin will start to be taken back to the base chain.

For anyone reading this who still has BTC wrapped on Ethereum. What are you doing? You are early. You have Bitcoin. You have the hardest asset ever created and you are putting it on a centralized ponzi casino for what? 10% APY?

The risk of 100% loss is not worth the potential reward of 10% interest.

DeFi is a complicated rube goldberg machine built for whales and insiders. It’s not for the people as it’s often sold.

The average user of DeFi is a whale, not the mythical latam user trying to earn 5% on his $50 savings. That’s just tug at your heartstrings bullshit, and the people behind these token protocols know it.

Ethereum influencers and developers have a culture of printing money to dump on retail and crypto traders. They talk about it behind closed doors, don’t forget about the $FEW controversy this summer where a group of prominent Ethereum investors got together and openly joked about printing a ponzi token from thin air to dump on plebs.

Shockingly, a lot of DeFi influencers defended this action! The cryptocurrency MTA actually tweeted from the company account in defense of one of the scammers.

The culture of Ethereum is corrupted.

VCs and quants are recreating everything that’s broken about the traditional financial system and putting it on a blockchain so that they can print tokens and dump them on retail and dumb money investors — that is clear.

https://twitter.com/bradmillscan/status/1281241687319293953?s=20

To any cypherpunks that may be working on Ethereum projects still, come back to Bitcoin.

There’s a lot of work left to be done to promote freedom & fight censorship.

You won’t be able to print your own token and make money dumping it on plebs, that is not welcome in Bitcoin — but you will have purpose.

There are some grants available from Human Rights Foundation and other companies, and you can still influence & make an impact.

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Brad Mills

Bitcoin evangelist since 2011, sans labels I’m a value maximalist. If it’s anti-bitcoin, I fight against it | bradmills.ca | Magic Internet Money podcast