Digital Gold-Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money by Nathaniel Popper
Author Nathaniel Popper covers finance and technology from San Francisco for The New York Times. He first became interested in Bitcoin when he wrote an article that revealed how the Winklevoss twins, Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, had amassed a large stockpile of Bitcoins. He then spent much of his time researching the origins of Bitcoin, which led him to write the extensively researched book “Digital Gold”.
Bitcoin emerged in 2008 just after a major financial collapse. Bitcoin is a digital currency, but of course it’s much more complex than that. Why has bitcoin attracted so much attention? It’s a new way of creating, holding, and sending money. Bitcoin is created and sustained by it’s users. It’s creation hopes to take power from banks and government, and give it to the people. In the wake of financial crisis arose the desire for alternatives. People want decentralization (no one center of control), and to take power back from privileged elite.
As the venture capitalist Barry Silbert famously said, Bitcoin “is either going to change everything, or nothing.” Popper’s book is important reading for everyone (even those not interested in technology). It explores and details the birth and growth of this powerful, nascent technology.
A few things stand out from “Digital Gold”. The first is confirmation of how long and tortuous is the road from a technological breakthrough to real-world acceptance. Popper tells his story through a global cast of memorable quirky characters: technologists, altruists, evangelists, crooks and money men.
Another major point of the book, is describing the colossal damage done to the prospects and reputation of Bitcoin (and of cryptocurrencies generally) by the Silk Road online black market, a platform known for selling illegal drugs that used Bitcoins. The book also details other notable and ominous events, such as the falling of Mt. Gox exchange.
Bitcoin got started on grassroots appeal, but the value of Bitcoin only really took off when the ultra-wealthy became convinced the currency had potential. Millionaires like Facebook litigants Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss; Peter Briger, the co-chairman of Fortress Investment Group; entrepreneur Wences Casares; and former PayPal executive David Marcus all poured money into the currency in 2013. At that point, the price really started to rise
“Digital Gold” really goes behind the scenes to tell the stories of Bitcoins' creators, earliest users, and investors. It also explains the basics of the technology so anyone can understand how Bitcoin works.
Digital Gold: Bitcoin and the Inside Story of the Misfits and Millionaires Trying to Reinvent Money
Publisher: Harper Paperbacks; Reprint edition (May 24, 2016)