This is the fifth instalment of reporter Colin Harper’s “Living on Bitcoin” experience in San Francisco. Find out what happened to him earlier on Day 1 , on Day 2 , on Day 3 , onDay 4 and on Day 5.
On day six I woke with a renewed sense of energy. My last two days in San Francisco were booked up with plenty to do, and yesterday’s purchase had reinvigorated the experiment’s sense of purpose.
That morning I wrote, paid Kashmir back for the breakfast (she got into her Coinbase account) and set out for two days of Bay Area shenanigans that would include meeting a local crypto artist, getting tipsy with Bitcoin and sleeping (and sailing) in the East Bay on a boat that threatened to capsize.
Around 1:00 p.m. I caught an Uber into the Financial District to meet up with Dustin, a multi-talented developer who had responded to a Reddit thread I made leading up to my week here. He invited me sailing, but the weather was sketchy — it had been raining for the better part of my time in San Francisco and there were winds and storms in the forecast — so we decided to meet at Digital Garage, a coworking space on Market Street that accommodates many cryptocurrency projects.
I was loitering in the lobby when he passed me, and we registered who the other was immediately. Big, tall, bearded with long, blonde hair, a tremendous smile and goofy disposition, he crossed from the other end of the lobby to greet me.
He’s got the hair, the beard, the “No worries, dude” vibe. We’re going to get along great.
As we entered the working space, I was pleased to see a cryptograffiti original on prominent display, which added an air of authenticity to both his presence in the space and to the San Francisco crypto community for supporting a local, industry-specific artist.
Posting up at a table in the working space, we hit it off and began jumping from one crypto topic to the next. Turns out, he’s a lone-wolf dev who’s building a hardware wallet with bluetooth-enabled mobile controls — not unlike Ledger’s own Nano X, I suggested. He hadn’t heard of it before.
“Well, they might have the bluetooth, but I doubt it’s trustless and multi-sig,” he tells me, going on to say that he knows of no other trustless hardware wallet. Interest piqued, I surveyed his app and the hardware wallet prototype, which he’s also building himself.
“You’re just a one-man band, aren’t ya?” I remarked, impressed, after learning that he was building everything himself.
He’s a bit of a crypto OG, it seems. He’s been in the space since 2011 and hangs around the Bitcoin Core internet relay chat (IRC), where he says he’s been humbled on a few occasions. I asked for his veteran perspective to help explain why I couldn’t find any more stores in the area that accept Bitcoin. He suggests that it’s intertwined in the same trend that has made Silicon Valley so banal to him.
“Bitcoin has really exacerbated the aspects of Silicon Valley I don’t like,” he admits. “It has an appreciation for altcoins or stablecoins, but not really for Bitcoin, hard money. I think there’s this culture in San Francisco that just idolizes what investors like, what’s new. I heard someone say Silicon Valley is about new things — Bitcoin isn’t new anymore.”
Everyone’s just looking for “the next big thing” or “the next Bitcoin.” They’re not going to find it, was more or less his view, and he believes that the focus shouldn’t be creating something new but improving what we already have.
“I’ve heard it said that the East Coast owns things while the West Coast makes things,” he theorized, “and if that stereotype were true I could see more people taking Bitcoin.
“I think the challenge is that the majority of people don’t understand security stuff. The people who buy these don’t understand half of it. The challenge is teaching them,” he said, broaching the evergreen topic on the “how-tos” of adoption.
Our conversation was kinetic and animated as we touched on a wide range of crypto-related topics. I’m not surrounded by developers much in Nashville (especially not crypto/blockchain ones), so the opportunity to talk to one who knew the ins-and-outs (and knew them real well) left my curiosity welling with streams of new, if half-hatched, Bitcoin applications and infrastructural ideas.
We talked crypto assets insurance (a concept which we both had previously hatched complementary business models for), his conceptualization that the network serves users and not miners (he believes that “hashing wars” are irrelevant, since, ultimately, the users will decide which chain they buy in to) and his surprising penchant for interacting with some of the space’s most prodigious and controversial celebrities without knowing who they are.
At one point, he had left his laptop at the Crypto Castle only to retrieve it, unmolested, from the same couch he left it on a month later, though he didn’t really know who Jeremy was. I…