Peter McCormack: So one of the things that’s become a bit of a meme or a bit of a joke is that I’m not technical. One of the things I’ve always wanted my show to be is to help people who aren’t technical because we’re told to always do your research before you invest in anything, make sure you understand it, but I think Bitcoin’s really hard. There’s not only a lot of technical things to understand, there’s a lot of economic things to understand, but the worst thing actually, in all of that, there’s also a lot of history to understand.
A history of people, of things which have happened, so there’s a lot. So I’ve always thought, I will never know which show someone may first listen to mine with, but I always want them to understand every time, if it’s the first one, it’s a non-technical show. So I always kind of repeat that point. So it would be good I think as a starting point, because we don’t know each other that well. Apart from slinging on Twitter, what’s your background man? What is your background and what is it you do?
Udi Wertheimer: So my background is I guess software development. I worked in the past at Ebay, PayPal and smaller startups. I guess probably around, I think it was 2016, I started working more professionally in the Bitcoin Blockchain space at a company called Colu in Tel Aviv. At the time we were working on a colored coins protocol that was on top of Bitcoin and basically it was kind of like Ethereum’s ERC-20, it just was earlier and was less useful!
So that’s what it was and well, at some point after Colu, I started working as an independent developer and consultant in our great space, which sometimes means helping businesses that use Bitcoin, to do so more efficiently or learn about new stuff like Lightning or whatever. It also means working with more of the shitcoin type companies to help them understand why they don’t need a Blockchain, why it’s bad for them. So that’s also something that I try to do sometimes.
Peter McCormack: Right, so you will consult on what they’re doing is wrong, but you won’t necessarily work on alternative Blockchains?
Udi Wertheimer: I mean, I wouldn’t say I work on them, I try to convince people that they’re bad. I mean bad for them. Sometimes you want to build a product or you want to build an app for doing your laundry or something. For some reason someone comes up with the idea to do a Blockchain. So usually it’s because it’s going to be easier to raise funds, but you know what, so fine, you raise your funds and now what? I mean, how do you get out of this hole that you promised the Blockchain that does laundry.
Peter McCormack: So do you think there’s any other use for Blockchain, I don’t want to say outside of monetary terms because obviously the Bitcoin Blockchain is now being used for non financial transactions. We saw the announcement from Microsoft recently. But it feels like the Bitcoin Blockchain can be used to anchor all kinds of information. Have you seen any use of a Blockchain outside of Bitcoin, where you’re like… Maybe not even that it’s just not a nonsense idea, but you think there’s maybe something there, there’s maybe some use, you’ll give it a bit of time?
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah, so off the top of my head, I can think of two use cases maybe that are not completely crazy. One of them is domain names. So here’s the thing, I can think of two use cases, but I think that they’re very boring and unsexy, but they’re use cases. So one of them is domain names and I think that they kind of work because they’re purely digital and they’re not representing something else. You can also trade them with someone else, so they seem to make sense. You want to have one ownership and the order of things matters.
So it feels like it might be useful, but we already have a domain name system and everyone’s using it. I don’t think that the Blockchain based one is meaningfully better. So don’t know! That’s one. The other one is probably about time stamping, which is I guess kind of what Microsoft does, because you can prove that something existed before a certain point. Something interesting that you can do that is not immediately obvious, Peter Todd calls it, “proof of publication.” It means that you can prove that something did not happen.
So it’s not only that you can prove that something happened before some point, if you have a specific protocol, you can say, “okay, some transaction did not happen. This money was not spent.” So you can do that with other stuff too. So sometimes it’s interesting, but again, I’m not sure that’s enough, because Blockchains are really for developers really a mess to work with. They’re expensive, they’re hard to maintain, they’re inefficient. So you need to have a really good reason to use one.
Peter McCormack: Where do you sit with Ethereum? Because I don’t own any Ethereum, but one of the things I’ve always thought with it is that there’s a huge amount of people doing things with it. Building things, building products that have some usage, limited usage and I always hear the arguments with technical people that it’s just ridiculous what they’re building and it doesn’t make sense. Eth2 is going to be a nightmare and probably can’t be delivered.
Yet I’ve found something like MakerDao very difficult to ignore. Also I don’t understand whether it makes sense or not, I don’t understand if it’s something that will collapse in the future, I don’t understand if it maybe is just a tool for people who have a whole stack of ETH and therefore it’s kind of like this own little economy for people who have a lot of ETH, which have some kind of assumed value in the market. Where do you sit with ETH?
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah, so I’m an iPhone guy. I have an iPhone, I don’t have an Android. Most of my Bitcoin friends make fun of me about this constantly. What I always say is, “look, I understand. I owned an android phone for like two or three years. I tried it, I didn’t like it. So I went back. I know what I’m talking about. It’s not for me.
Peter McCormack: I don’t get Android phones, by the way. I think they’re horrible! Every single time I’ve used one, they are horrible!
Udi Wertheimer: I don’t get it at all and some of them are like really expensive, because people say iPhones are expensive, so we get an Android, that’s a good point. But some of the Android phones are super expensive too. Well anyway, so the thing with Ethereum, I used to be a huge fan. Before it launched, I installed all of their pre-release software. I tried typing my own weird smart contracts back in, when was it, I think 2014 or 2015. So I used to be a fan, I was super excited by it. I really was.
Over time I guess, and I think that a lot of people came to this realization, but just that some of us were early enough to go through the process. So over time it just seems like there’s nothing useful you can do with it, because I like to say that using Blockchains to represent real world assets like apartments and securities and so on, I think it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I say this because it was my job to research use cases for those things for about a year, like three years ago. I’ve been there. I’m not just saying things because it sounds fun. I’ve tried finding those things.
We’ve been working on it for a long time. I really don’t believe in it. So it’s fine for other people, maybe we were early, maybe we are stupid, maybe, I don’t know! But it’s fine if other people find something. But as far as I’m concerned, we couldn’t find anything for many years. So before MakerDao actually, we had ICOs. So everyone was saying, “look, Ethereum found its use case, it’s ICOs and it’s great.” Let’s put aside my… I don’t like ICOs. I think they’re not fair to investors, which means that they can’t really exist for very long, but fine. Let’s say that they’re great.
So the thing about ICOs and Ethereum, why do you need Ethereum to do an ICO? So what’s an ICO? You have a primary market, where an issuer creates an asset and sells it to the market. So at the beginning people said, “Ethereum is great for primary market because we can write a smart contract that includes all the terms of the sale and makes everything automatic and fair.” But over time it seemed that one, it’s very efficient, but two, you can do the same without smart contracts.
So you can build a website and say, “send all of your money to this address and we’ll have a script on the server side that checks how much money was in there and create tokens and give it to you. Anyone who wants to, can later check that everything was made by the rules. So you don’t have a smart contract that is hard to maintain and is easy to hack maybe. You have a traditional system, but everything is transparent, you can still check it. So for the actual fundraiser, I don’t think it’s necessary and we see that ICOs today don’t use a smart contract for the actual fundraiser.
Then you have the token as a smart contract and that seems like a waste too because we have other systems like Stellar, for example, I like to make fun of all shitcoins, but if you want to issue a token, I think that Stellar is much more efficient to do that, because it’s built for that, they have native tokens and it’s easy to do everything that you want and it just works better. So if that’s what you want… So then people will say, “yeah, but Ethereum is more secure” and that is unclear where it says, because it’s just a record of transactions.
An interesting way to think about that is that we considered a lot of tokens are migrating now from Ethereum to other Blockchains. For example, a lot of tokens are migrating to Binance’s Blockchain now from Ethereum. So how can a token migrate? Well, it’s easy because it’s just a history of transaction, it’s easy to just say, “okay, from 2017 to 2019 it was on Ethereum and from 2019 to 2022, it’s going to be on Binance and everyone’s okay with it.”
The security of the Blockchain doesn’t mean much, when it’s an asset that is external to the native Blockchain itself. So that’s about ICOs and we see that. When I said this in 2017, people said, “no, you don’t understand. Ethereum is going to change the world with ICOs” and now we see that you don’t need Ethereum for ICOs, even if you think they’re great. MakerDao, I think it’s similar in the way that… I mean, what is MakerDao really? It’s a way for you to take a loan from someone else and collateralize it with Ethers.
Now there are a lot of companies that do that. I think one of them has been a sponsor of the show. So you can give them Ether and they’re going to give you a loan in Dollars back, that’s pretty much what they do. So you can definitely do it in a centralized way and it seems to be more efficient and cheaper. So that seems like a good deal.
Peter McCormack: But MakerDao allows you to do it without KYC signup forms?
Udi Wertheimer: So it does, but why? I mean, how can they do that? So they would claim that they can do that because it’s decentralized and they can’t be stopped. But is that true? So one interesting thing about MakerDao, for it to work, the system needs to know the Ether/USD price. It’s not internal to the Ethereum system, you need to somehow find out what it is. The way you usually do this stuff in Ethereum or in other systems is by using what they call an oracle, which basically it’s someone who has permission to say, “this is the truth and let’s continue from there.”
So they have an oracle that would say “The price of Ether is such and such”, but we don’t know who the Oracle is. So the way they do it, they have, I think if I remember correctly, the number is 14. I think they have 14 accounts that have permission to state what the price is and they probably do an average or something like that. Or maybe they all have to report the same number, but we don’t know who those 14 people are. So let’s say the state of New York doesn’t like it and they want to put a stop to it. So what they need to do is to find those 14 people and not even stop all of them, just make some of them stop and then the system doesn’t work anymore. So I’m not sure why is it better?
Peter McCormack: Well, I actually saw somebody tweet about it that they think KYC will come to MakerDao within the next year and then somebody will probably fork it off and do an alternative version.
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah, it might have been me!
Peter McCormack: Was it actually you? I remember seeing it. I tell you something also; smart contracts. The thing I don’t understand about smart contracts, like I understand what they are and what they’re used for, but I don’t see a lot of businesses actually wanting to migrate across to adopting smart contracts, because from what I’ve seen, bugs are always found. Bugs are inherent in technology. That’s why the [Inaudible 17:30] slow with Bitcoin’s a very good thing. But bugs can be… So with the Parity, it wasn’t really a hack was it?
I mean, somebody hacked a smart contract, but there was a bug in the smart contract that allowed ETH to be frozen. I think of companies who have a huge amount of money, which they want to move around the world. Probably like the fact that if something goes wrong, things can be rewound, things can be undone. The problem with smart contracts and an immutable database is that you can’t undo things once they’ve been actioned. Otherwise, what’s the point of a Blockchain? Therefore, I think smart contracts are just going to be way too risky for risk averse global corporations. How do you feel about that?
Udi Wertheimer: I fully agree. I mean, it just isn’t clear what a corporation would use that for. I guess it maybe some… If I’m trying to [Inaudible 18:22], I guess that some Ethereum people would say that it’s not for current financial institutions and that it’s for a new generation of businesses, that would be able to do business differently…
Peter McCormack: And who don’t make mistakes!
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah, or we just all live with the mistakes. I don’t know, we’ve all done it. It’s interesting, probably a few days ago, the largest bank in Israel, released some new product, which is basically some digital notary thing that they do for clients. They talked about this product and they’ve been pumping it for two years. They always said that they’re going to use a Blockchain for it. It’s just a way for the bank to sign papers and hand it off to you.
That’s basically what it is. So they pumped it up about using a Blockchain with it and I always use this example with clients to say, “this is how to not do a Blockchain and how you’re going to drag development for years and not do anything useful with it.” They finally released it without the Blockchain a few days ago, because you try it for enough time, you realize you don’t need it and it’s going to make life hard for you. Eventually you put in a ton of back doors inside so that you can revert stuff if they go wrong. So what’s the point? Really, what’s the point?
Peter McCormack: So all these Ether lovers, whether it’s a developer, somebody working on a project, to Joe Lubin, what are they all getting wrong? This is where I’m like, “there appears to be tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of people interested in this. What is it that they’ve got wrong?” Also are people like Vitalik, do you think they know it’s screwed or do you think they’re just kicking the can down the road constantly because they’ve dug a hole so deep they can’t actually turn around and go, “you know what, this was just a fucking terrible idea!”
Udi Wertheimer: Well what did they get wrong? I don’t want to say they’re wrong, but…
Peter McCormack: What are they seeing different?
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah, well developers… It’s not specific to Blockchains. Developers like new and cool technology. So developers like building stuff with the latest frameworks, the latest libraries, the latest everything and working with cryptography, working with decentralized or distributed protocols is interesting, it’s challenging, it’s fun. So I can see why developers would try to fit this into stuff. It’s really not special to Blockchains. It happens with everything.
Facebook releases a react native, which is a framework for cross platform mobile apps and then everyone wants to use it, even though sometimes way blown out of proportion, you don’t need it. So it’s not special in that regard. Then people tend to say, “okay, you know what, I need an app. It could benefit from cryptography and could benefit from digital signatures. It would add some integrity to our data.” So if we need digital signatures, let’s just use Ethereum. If we need public key cryptography, let’s just use Ethereum, because it has everything already. From an engineering standpoint, it’s not a very great idea.
But if you are just trying to do something cool, then I can see why some people will start that way, just because it seems fun and if you’re a business person, you realize that it’s going to be easy to create hype around your product. So that’s probably a good reason too.
Peter McCormack: I think also possibly we’re missing enough analysts or designers. When I say designers, I don’t just mean graphic designers, like process designers, UX designers, because my very simple analogy is that previous to this, I had a web development business. We were a company of 35 people, of which 10 were programmers. Not a single thing our clients wanted, could we have delivered without the programmers. We had some really smart guys both .net and PHP, but they never went to client meetings.
They never went to pick up the requirements for the client or discuss it with the client, because I always found with the developer, they’re very good at building stuff, but not so great at understanding how a customer might use it. So I always found that you would want someone like a business analyst or a UX person in between, who could understand the client requirements and then relay that into a brief for a UX designer and then relay that into a brief for a developer.
You kind of needed three or four people to make something that was useful. I’ve often found in perhaps, and even within Bitcoin, but within kind of crypto projects, there seems to be a lot of developers but not so many of maybe the business analysts or the UX people, who are making the connection between real use cases and what’s being built. Therefore we come to that place where we’re trying to find a home for Blockchains, when there really isn’t a need for them.
Udi Wertheimer: I fully agree with you. It’s not only that a lot of companies miss those key roles in the company. The reason that it’s hard to tell what customers want is because there are no customers. For most of these projects there is no need at all. You start with a product that no one needs and no one wants. Then you just let developers build it and you get no market data, you get no user data because if there is none. There’s a literally none! The top DApps, I don’t want to just say numbers, because I don’t remember, but it’s nothing really.
No one’s using them. So that’s the thing and you have a good reason for it, because the reason those projects exist in the first place, a lot of the times and I don’t want to say always, but a lot of the times it’s because it just sounds cool to say Blockchain and they know they’re going to raise some funds. Then they don’t care that they’re no real use! So these kinds of projects are probably very hard to salvage I guess.
Peter McCormack: I do have a certain amount of sympathy for stablecoins and I’ll tell you why. Look they are ugly, okay. They are antithetical to what people who believe in Bitcoin are trying to get away from. They have the ability to block addresses… There’s lots of ugly things about them. But then if I think in terms of the use case. So a great example would be, say my son and say we have Facebook coin, global coin, whatever it is, I’m just kind of imagining what it is. But say he’s out and about and he needs some money from me.
Say he’s traveling, say he’s travelling the world and he’s like, “Dad, I’m out of money. I’m stuck. Can you send me some money?” Say I can send him £100, if I could just go via WhatsApp and go click, send, and it’s with him and he can instantly spend that, that to me kind of makes sense. That’s better than Bitcoin, because it’s probably firstly instant. Secondly, there’s no kind of fluctuations in price we have to worry about.
I also don’t have to go via the banks and then he waits for the bank and the transfer. I kind of get that argument because I can see how I would use it, even though they’re ugly and kind of nonsense. But that is one of the few use cases where I’m like, “okay, despite it being an antithetical to Bitcoin and despite it still being part of the traditional system, I know I would use it.”
Udi Wertheimer: Sure. I don’t think that anything that’s not Bitcoin is inherently bad. I have a bank account. I use it everyday. I have a credit card, a debit card, I use it.
Peter McCormack: You evil statist!
Udi Wertheimer: I use it. I need it. I would be in a bad state if I didn’t have it. So I can see why people would want things that are not Bitcoin. The thing is about stablecoins, so you want to send some money abroad and you want to do so instantly. You have options to do that. There are apps that will do that for you. Some of them are really cheap too. Some of them have good rates. Mostly the new FinTech new age stuff. So they work pretty well. So the question is why do you need the Blockchain to do the same thing essentially?
Some people would say, “well, it’s Facebook, so it’s going to be huge and everyone will be using it” and that’s a legitimate point. Although they tried it in the past and failed with Facebook Credits and other kind of currencies. But let’s say that they could still make it for sure. So that’s a legitimate argument, but then why did they need a Blockchain? Just do it like Venmo does it with their own infrastructure. It would be easier! They’re employing a ton of really smart engineers to work on this and I guess they can, because they have a lot of money.
But you have to ask, why do you need all of those geniuses to build something that you could do much more easily and much faster too? I just don’t get it. We’ll probably know more when it comes out. I expect that it would look very, very similar to apps like Venmo and I expect that any connection to cryptocurrencies would be very artificial at best, which is what they should do. I mean, that’s the right way to go.
I would be very surprised if it would work similarly to something like Tether or USDC, where you can just put it in your wallet and send it to someone else without anyone being involved. To that point, stablecoins, like the stablecoins we have today, the thing is that they can still freeze your account and I’m sure that in a few years, we will see them doing that. There’s no way around it and then it will be pretty much like PayPal. But for now until regulators fully catch on and while they still have to gain some competitive advantage and they still may be sometime [Inaudible 28:05] that happen on the system.
For now, it’s kind of useful and I think that the thing that maybe you have a problem…Maybe you’re getting paid with Bitcoins for example, and you have a problem to redeem them and get them into your bank, because your bank doesn’t like Bitcoins or I don’t know, whatever. So sometimes, you can use the stablecoins to move between exchanges while keeping the value and so on, which will eventually help you do what you’re trying to do.
So it could be useful. I’m not saying it’s not, but what I’m saying is that it’s temporary. My vision, my goal, my hope for Bitcoin would be that it’s not a temporary thing and that people will use it long after we’re gone. That’s my hope for Bitcoin and for USDC, people are going to use it for two years. That’s the thing, because it’s a loophole, that’s what it is!
Peter McCormack: It’s actually kind of a little bit more scary than the rest of the financial system because I expect we have zero privacy really with some of these stablecoins.
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah!
Peter McCormack: I think maybe in the future, we will come back and look at something like Tether and go, “actually Tether was properly the best” because…
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah, it’s the way that companies and businesses implement support for these stablecoins is kind of worrisome. If you want to redeem a USDC through Circle, then you’re going to have to send them to your account at Circle and they would give each person one Ethereum address that never changes and so do most exchanges that use USDC. So basically anyone who knows your address, can see all of the Dollar transactions that you’ve ever made.
It’s not just Circle and their partners, it’s anyone who manages to understand that this is your address. While in Bitcoin, not everyone does it, but a lot of businesses try to generate a new address every time. Then even if you know something, it’s difficult to trivially understand everything about your transactions.
Peter McCormack: All right, well let’s talk about Bitcoin, because Bitcoin is king! So firstly, you’re not really a fan of the term “Bitcoin maximalism” because I’ve seen it a few times, where you’ve kind of questioned what people mean by that. What is the background to that?
Udi Wertheimer: So the first time I’ve seen the term “Bitcoin maximalism” was in a blog post by Vitalik Buterin, I think it was many years ago, by the way Vitalik is an amazing author! Most of his blog posts, most of his Reddit posts are amazing or definitely worry reading, he is also way ahead of his time. But the specific blog post I’m referring to was about maximalism and I think it feels like he coined the term, I don’t know if it’s true, but it felt like he coined the term.
What is Bitcoin maximalism? Does it mean that I don’t think that you should use any asset that isn’t Bitcoin? Is that what it means? That I shouldn’t have a house, I shouldn’t have a car, I shouldn’t have stocks, I shouldn’t have Dollars, I shouldn’t have clothes? What am I allowed to have as a maximalist, apart from Bitcoin?
Peter McCormack: Well I think it’s cryptocurrency related.
Udi Wertheimer: Right! So the next question would be, what’s a cryptocurrency? Because if you’re saying the only cryptocurrency that maximalists’ like is Bitcoin, then you need to know what cryptocurrencies are. Someone told me, cryptocurrencies are like porn, you know it when you see it. But I don’t always know it when I see it. Is USDC a cryptocurrency, I don’t know. It’s dollars. What happens if Apple issues their stocks on Ethereum? So you can buy Apple stocks on Ethereum. Is that a cryptocurrency now?
Obviously it would be the top coin by market cap, on CoinMarketCap because it’s Apple, it’s bigger than Bitcoin. So is that a cryptocurrency now? So I really don’t know what a cryptocurrency is. Is it something that uses digital signatures? I mean, my bank account uses digital signatures. I don’t know. I really don’t know what it means. You know you want to say, “well, cryptocurrencies are a Bitcoin, Litecoin and Monero, because they have limited supply,” so maybe you can try to find some kind of properties, but most of the assets don’t share these properties.
So what it seems to me, maybe in 2013/2014 and 2016 when you look at CoinMarketCap, you could say, “okay, these assets seem to share something in common.” I think that today you can’t, you really can’t. There are assets there of all kinds, of all types and for many of them, the only reason they’re there is because it looks good and it’s easy to find traders and investors that way. I don’t know what a cryptocurrency is anymore. So it’s hard for me to define myself as a maximalist.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, well, perhaps the better term is a “Bitcoiner”, people who support Bitcoin, only really have an interest in Bitcoin in… We might not be able to hard define it as you’ve said, but we can loosely define it as anything that’s on CoinMarketCap that isn’t Bitcoin essentially.
Udi Wertheimer: So yeah, that’s usually what it comes down to. It’s things that are on CoinMarketCap and not Bitcoin. That’s not a very useful definition because, well, for many reasons! But, sure, I’m fine with Bitcoin. I will say this, I hope that we get real competitors to Bitcoin. I want there to be a real competitors to Bitcoin. I will happily invest if there is something that seems like a competitor to Bitcoin, in that it achieves or hopefully could achieve the goals that that, well, that I hope Bitcoin will achieve. So I’m okay with competition, I just don’t think we have any,
Peter McCormack: Why do you think it needs a competitor? Why do you want the competition to Bitcoin? Hasn’t Bitcoin done enough now to prove it’s useful and would that not create another split and potentially lose very good quality developers, of which there aren’t a lot, onto a separate project?
Udi Wertheimer: I mean sure, but that’s the nature of competition. I mean, why would I want competition? The main reason is because I’m not convinced that Bitcoin will succeed. I’m not convinced that Bitcoin will survive. I hope it will. I’m somewhat optimistic that it will, but I’m definitely not convinced. So that’s the main reason why I would want some competition, but it just doesn’t exist. Competition would mean things like… Things like immutability.
So when I say immutability, I don’t mean that it should be impossible to change past transactions. I mean that the properties of the asset, Bitcoin is an asset and it has monetary properties and financial properties and I’m talking about those properties staying as they are and not changing over time. So we know that we have 21 million Bitcoins. We know that we won’t have more and this is very special to Bitcoin. You can say that Litecoin would only have 84 million Litecoins, but it’s not about what the code base says.
It’s more about the community and is the community going to be toxic and terrible about it, if someone tries to change the 21 million property. We know that for Bitcoin, it’s probably going to be true. For most of the other assets, I would say all of them, I don’t think that the community is strong enough to prevent this kind of manipulation, which means that, what are they for again?
So if you can change properties of the asset, you know Ethereum keeps changing the assets of Ethers. So if you can change this, what are we doing here? Why is this interesting? Just print them on a SQL database and give them away. It’s much easier. So if something comes up and it manages to do the same, I’m all for it, I really am.
Peter McCormack: Why are you not convinced that Bitcoin will succeed?
Udi Wertheimer: Well, there’s so many things that could go wrong. Obviously, governments are going to do what they can to make regulation requirements more difficult. We’re already seeing this and people might lose interest. This is definitely possible. I’m personally mostly concerned about privacy and fungibility. It seems like a pretty big bug in the Bitcoin implementation, that you can just track where transactions go. It’s true that there are a lot of things that we can do to improve that already.
People who are privacy conscience, can improve their privacy hygiene, which is important. We can do this today and Bitcoin is maybe the best cryptocurrency to do that with, if you know what you’re doing, but it’s not good enough and that’s a risk. If we get to a point where people say, “okay, this is a Coinbase Bitcoin and this is a Bitfinex Bitcoin and this is a fresh Bitcoin off miners and they’re not all the same, they have different prices”, then we’re going to have a problem.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, I’ve heard about this before. Dan Held was one that said to me, “there’s no market for tainted Bitcoins” and he said if there were and they would run at a lower price, he would buy them all up, hop and bounce them a few times and then resell them.
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah, that’s possible. In a way, I guess I would maybe that would calm me down to see a market like that show up and to see that things still work. But for now it sometimes makes me a little nervous. I guess it’s not accurate that there’s no market at all. So you can say that… We know that people are sometimes buying fresh coins from mining pools at a premium, maybe 5%, 10% more, if you buy fresh from a mining pool. Then they don’t know who you are or the rest of the people can’t tell where the coins came from. So there is a price to that. It’s not super common, I guess.
Peter McCormack: Okay. All right, well listen, I’ve bumped up against Bitcoin’s immune system a few times, since the start the podcast. It’s not just something new, it’s just more people you bump up against. I’ve tried to first understand Bitcoin on multiple different levels, but also I do like to throw out challenging questions or listen to contrarian views, because I think the more information I hear, the better. I know my little podcast cannot damage Bitcoin in any way at all, but there is something that I keep seeing, where if you can get into a discussion/argument with somebody and you don’t agree with them, you often get this statement that comes back that is, “oh, you don’t understand Bitcoin.”
So that’s a term I’ve heard and I’ve also run across some toxic levels of Bitcoin defense, which is in some quarters fully supported and loved because it protects Bitcoin. Sometimes, it definitely oversteps the mark and I’ve also seen some opinions recently. So for example somebody said, “Bitcoin mass adoption isn’t required” and I’m starting to see people talk about, “we’re not trying to create better money, we’re trying to create a better financial system.”
Trying to create better money for the world by having Bitcoin as potentially something like what Saifedean would say, be like a Bitcoin standard. So I’m starting to think, well, does not understanding what Bitcoin means, it means you don’t understand the goal and therefore is the goal to create a better financial system, because we can hold governments responsible and if we get hyperbitcoinization, we’ll have a better world.
Therefore, anything that gets close to threatening that, needs to be killed. Whether it is a Bcash with Roger, whether it is another alternative coin, whether it is a podcaster which says something slightly controversial, whatever it is. If you get anything, which is a threat, we’re going to crush you like a bug, because this is our immune system. Is that what, to you, understanding Bitcoin means?
Udi Wertheimer: No. I’ll try to unpack this, because that’s a lot. So first of all, understanding Bitcoin. There is the quintessential piece by Jameson Lopp about, “No one understands Bitcoin”, I think it’s called on Coindesk. Basically what he is saying is that your personal understanding on Bitcoin evolves over time and if you think about what you thought about Bitcoin a year ago, it’s probably very different than what it is now. This continues forever for everyone. So probably most people who have been in Bitcoin very early, they probably changed their mind a lot of times. I don’t think it’s a bad thing. I would say that Bitcoin is… It goes back to the tweet being an immutable asset with the immutable properties.
It is what it is. It doesn’t exist to serve a goal, that’s the way I see it. It’s like gold or other metals, it just exists. You can’t change what it is. You can’t make more of it or less of it, it just is. Some metals are useful. Hopefully Bitcoin as it is, would be useful too. If it’s not, it’s too bad because we can’t change it. I think that’s the interesting thing about it though, that we can’t change it. So maybe we find a use and maybe we change our minds about it over time and that’s fine. As long as it doesn’t change and it’s only us who change what we think about it, I think that’s fine, because you know a lot of people will say, “well, Bitcoiner’s move goalposts.
You used to say that it’s an asset for paying for stuff and now you’re saying that it’s a store of value and maybe in two years you’ll say something else.” It’s true, a lot of people change what they think about Bitcoin, that’s true. But I don’t think it’s a problem. I mean that’s because Bitcoin is immutable. If you look at Ethereum, Ethereum has a goal, maybe the goal changes too. But Ethereum has this goal and they tried to change Ether to fit the goal, that’s not what Bitcoin is. Bitcoin is a thing and maybe we find use for it.
That’s the way I view it. Whatever you think it might be useful for and whatever you think it might be in the future, definitely if someone tells you, you don’t understand Bitcoin, someone tells me… And by the way, I get that a lot, a lot of people to tell me, “Udi you don’t get Bitcoin”, it happens. But if someone tells you, you don’t get Bitcoin, I think you can safely ignore them.
Peter McCormack: Well I think the level of arrogance in a statement like that is off the charts!
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah, I mean it’s probably right. But so what? People are sometimes are… There are all types of people and some of them have their own reasons to be arrogant. I don’t know. I don’t think it will be correct to say that we have to kill anything that is somehow threatening the hyperbitcoinization dream, which is a weird dream to have, by the way. But let’s put that aside. So I think that it’s not correct to say that we should kill everything that threatens this. But there are other reasons where people are annoyed. So for example, throughout 2017 and some of 2018, I volunteered a lot at a local Bitcoin embassy where people would come to learn about Bitcoin for the first time.
There were a ton of people coming to learn about Bitcoin for the first time. We had probably hundreds of people a day who came from across the country to learn about Bitcoin, probably buy some Bitcoin, probably to by Ripple later, so there are a ton of people. You try to explain and it’s becomes harder and harder to explain as more of the Bcash and then Bgold, then Bprivate and then all the Bitcoin forks come up and it just becomes harder and harder to explain.
I think that’s a big reason why a lot of people are just annoyed and don’t have any patience for this anymore, because it’s just annoying. It’s not some strategic thing. It’s just annoying to keep hearing about it and I think that at this stage today, I get why in 2017 some people, maybe even I was concerned about how people can get confused and buy Bcash by mistake. But I think that now, even the Bcash community isn’t… You don’t hear them as often saying “Bcash is the real Bitcoin”.
This term kind of slowed down a little bit. I’m not saying they don’t say it at all, but they don’t push it as hard as they used to, I think and there’s a reason for that. I think we saw how ridiculous it seems when Craig Wright does the same thing to them and also I think it stopped working efficiently, because people lost interest. So I just think that at this point, we don’t need to be as concerned about it anymore and in a way, it’s just annoying. It’s distracting. It’s okay for it to exist, if people want to use it, fine.
But I think in a very big way, it’s just distracting to keep talking about the philosophy behind it, because there really is none. If I show up and say, “I have jewelry made of gold” and you look at it and it’s made of steel, you’ll say, “no, it’s not gold.” I can tell you, “look, you can’t decide for me what’s gold. I believe that this is gold, this is how I describe gold. Steel is gold. You can’t do that.”
You can say that you disagree with the dictionary and you disagree with everyone else and if you find a few more people would say that steel is gold, then you can do it. Is it interesting? The first time that someone will say it, it’s interesting to talk about it. A year later, it’s no longer interesting, they have no idea what they’re talking about or they’re maybe trying to cheat people, I don’t know. But either way, it’s not gold and talking about it for two years is just boring, I guess.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, sometimes I think some people maybe, if they’ve lost the patients with it all, need to hand the baton on to maybe someone who’s a bit newer, a bit more patient to explain these things, because every day, new people are going to discover Bitcoin. You know previously when I had my web agency, before I started my agency, I was a UX designer. So I just try and think of the journeys of people. Actually, the funny thing was, I got a phone call from an old client the other day, who knows I do the podcast, and he said, “oh, is it time to buy Bitcoin again?” And I was like, “well, the time was a few weeks ago, but if you’re going to do it, do it.
But just hold it for 10 years and just forget about it. If you’ve got diverse assets in your portfolio, buy some Bitcoin, get a wallet and put it away for 10 years.” And he said, “oh, I’ve heard that kind of Bitcoin’s done now really, it’s not going to go up much more. What about the other Bitcoin?” I was like, “what one?” He said, “Bitcoin Cash. It’s cheaper and I’ve heard it’s faster and better and it’s an improvement on Bitcoin. Should I buy that Bitcoin instead?” So that’s the background to by the way, two Bitcoins, not that I believe there are two Bitcoins. I know there’s only one Bitcoin, but it was a reference somebody made to me. Now if we go on another bull run, if Bitcoin goes above $10,000 which looks like it might do, there’s going to be a lot more mainstream press covering it. You know the articles will flip from
Bitcoin being dead, to Bitcoin being alive again and if it keeps going up and then people FOMO in, it hits $20,000 and sets new all time highs, what we are going to see, is just another round of FOMO. Thousands, tens of thousands, maybe millions of people around the world getting into this and they’re going to go through a journey of, whatever. There’ll be multiple journeys. Some will be via Google, some will be via friends, some won’t have somebody like me or you to speak to and ask for advice. They’re going to come to something like Coinbase and they’re going to, on the very first screen, see four or five assets which they can choose from.
Bitcoin is going to scare them on price and they’re not going to know straight away that, Bitcoin can scale better because of ABC, the history of SegWit and that Bitcoin Cash was an attack, that Bitcoin Cash can’t scale, blah, blah. They’re not going to know all this. So I still feel that there needs to be better tools and better ways to educate people on this, in a way that they can understand very quickly rather than just make bad decisions. Now this also comes with a couple of conflicts. So when a things got a little bit fruity the other day, there were two contradictory statements that came out.
So the first statement was like, “stop talking about two Bitcoins Pete, you’re just confusing noobs” and the contradictory statement is, “let them get rekd. That’s the only way they’ll learn.” So I’m like, “which one do you want?” So I’ve not really put a question to you here, but my point being is, is that I can understand over the space of years that people have got really tired with explaining the same shit over again and they’ve been bruised so much by what they consider to be attacks on Bitcoin.
It doesn’t get away from the fact that millions of people will discover Bitcoin and they will see multiple assets priced differently and hear different arguments about them and will not understand the history. I personally think we need a better way of succinctly explaining to them why Bitcoin BTC, should be their investment.
Udi Wertheimer: Well, I get your point. The way I view it from my experience, and I could be wrong, and I’m also not a prophet, but I think that usually the attacks on Bitcoin don’t repeat the same way. So the alt coins of 2014, they were like country coins, the nation coins, like Aurora coin and coins for countries that had nothing to do with the actual country and they were huge back in 2014. They disappeared completely, no one’s doing that anymore because that’s batshit crazy. So these attacks change. I would be surprised if Bcash rises again to the heights that it was before. It could, I’m not saying it won’t, but I would be very surprised.
So I’m not sure we have to protect very vehemently against the specific thing anymore. We needed to, but not anymore. That being said, sure, we definitely need to explain in some way. I think it’s very easy just to just say, “no, it’s not two Bitcoins. The Bitcoin Cash thing is like when you buy a fake Rolex, it’s not a Rolex and that’s it.” That’s the explanation. If someone wants to go into the scaling debates and so on, then sure there’s a lot of history and a lot to describe, but I don’t think that’s what Bcash is about, Bcash is not about scaling. The differences between Bcash and Bitcoin are not about scaling at all.
There are about a bunch of people who didn’t like some of the people on the Bitcoin side and they wanted to split. The scaling thing was just basically an excuse and I’m not saying it’s wrong, that’s okay. That’s a legitimate reason. But talking about educating people about scaling is… I don’t think it’s important. I think that scaling is one of the least important things about Bitcoin right now and I know that there are a lot of people would disagree with me, but that’s what I think.
In any way, I don’t think that newbies who download Coinbase, have the tools needed to understand why scaling on Bcash is maybe wrong and scaling of Bitcoin is maybe better. They don’t do those things. They’re not going to do on chain transactions at all. They’re going to buy in order to hold it, as you said, for 10 years and hopefully be rich. So even if they buy Bash, they’re not going to move it, so they don’t care about those things. Generally, most people don’t care about those things. So yeah, I think it’s much easier to just say, “look, it’s fake Bitcoin, don’t get it” and if you want to buy it, sure, maybe fake Bitcoin will pump, but that’s what it is. But yeah, I understand your point too.
Peter McCormack: I mean, that’s pretty succinct then; it’s fake Bitcoin! So what do you think some of the most important things that need to be focused on with Bitcoin then?
Udi Wertheimer: Well I think privacy improvements are the most important and interesting in that regard. Things like Taproot and Schnorr I’m very optimistic about. Another thing is… So you said before that some people told you that they don’t think Bitcoin must be a mainstream success in order to succeed and I agree with that. I think that Bitcoin could be useful even if not everyone is using it. Even if a small portion of the world is using it, it can still be useful. It is useful today. People are using Bitcoin, not to buy groceries or not even to buy houses. They use Bitcoin in other ways.
Peter McCormack: I had an invoice paid today. So most of my sponsors…
Udi Wertheimer: Sure people use Bitcoin that way too. Some of my clients pay me with Bitcoin because it’s just easier to get money for me and for them it’s easier to transfer money that way, but I don’t think that’s the only way to use Bitcoin. There are other people using it in other ways and so it’s already useful. Personally, I think that we should be more focused. So the way I see Bitcoin, I think in the next two years, in the next five years, I will be very surprised if Bitcoin replaces fiat. This sounds out-worldly to me. I would be very surprised if this happens. So I think what I want Bitcoin to be, is I want it to be a way out for people maybe in trouble.
People like to say Venezuela and I’m not specifically thinking about this kind of things, but if a person already has some Bitcoin, then the state has less power over them and large organizations and large corporations have less power over them. You’re that much a freer person because, if something happens to you, you can run away with a portion of your wealth and that’s useful. That’s a pessimistic thing to say. I don’t hope that we get there! But I think it’s useful to have that as an option for people. So in that kind of view, I think that the most important thing for Bitcoin is to survive, to stick around.
What we need to do as Bitcoiners, is to make sure that it doesn’t disappear. Not that it explodes in growth, just that it doesn’t disappear and that it’s there, if and when people need it. That’s why I’m personally more focused on people already using Bitcoin, than people who are new. It’s not because I’m elitist and think that the new people aren’t important. They’re very important and they’re great people. But I think that there’s a lot to do in Bitcoin to make sure that we protect it and it’s not something that someone found out about Bitcoin yesterday is going to do.
One such thing is use your own full node to validate incoming transactions that you get and this is something that most people don’t do, probably most of Bitcoiners don’t do that. It’s not as difficult as people think. It’s really not. It’s doable. You can do it. You don’t have to be super technical and it’s getting easier and better. I think that this is something that’s very important to focus on. We see Bitcoin Core contributors talking about it with proposals like AssumeUTXO that would make a Bitcoin core easier to set up and faster to set up for the first use.
There’s the project I’m contributing to, which is ABCore, which allows running a full node on Android devices. You have Casa, you have Nodal, you have tons of these companies making really good hardware now or good software solutions too that help you do it. So I’m very optimistic about that. I think that this needs a lot of focus because this prevents a lot of the attacks that we might see in the future. So those are the kinds of things I think we should think of.
Peter McCormack: Do you think the hyperbitcoinization is realistic and do you think it itself could be dangerous? Could it cause such a shift into the way governments and countries run, that it actually becomes dangerous and causes itself problems?
Udi Wertheimer: It always sounded to me like a doomsday scenario, like a world that you wouldn’t want to live in, no matter how many Bitcoins you own or don’t own, at least for a while. It sounds like a transition, like this has to be very violent. I don’t know. If it happens it will happen. I don’t think that the way we behave would change this. If Bitcoin is such a great asset, then it will eat all the other currencies and it will happen. I’m not sure that it will though.
I’m not at all sure that it will happen and I don’t think that it has to happen for Bitcoin to be meaningful, not at all. I would say that the chances of this… You know, who am I to say? I’m just a developer. But as some guy, if I have to pin a number on it, it would probably be pretty low probability that it actually happens. But maybe, I don’t know. I hope I have a very good shelter already, if it happens.
Peter McCormack: Yeah. I’m just don’t know. I understand the dream and the desire and the hope for it, and it does sound like a better world, etc. But I just don’t know how practical it is. I don’t know how practical the migration to that is and then how realistic a world is based on Bitcoin on a Bitcoin standard, it seems potentially itself dangerous.
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah, I’m with you. I think the theory for how migration works is that, people just FOMO into Bitcoin exponentially. In the beginning it looks like 2017 where people buy Bitcoin, because they think they’re going to be rich and over time as their fiat devalues, and this can happen quickly, they buy Bitcoin because they’re afraid they won’t have enough money to eat in a week.
So, I mean, is it possible? Yeah. Is it likely? I don’t think it’s very likely. I think that, there a few things need to happen for this to occur, but I don’t know, maybe! I guess if it happens, then you’re better off owning some Bitcoins than not. But I don’t think it’s going to be a very fun time for anyone really. It’s sounds like it’s going to be terrible.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, that’s what I can imagine. I can never see the US government just sitting back and letting this happen and not having some kind of strategy to fight against it.
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah and there’s other things too. I mean, even before it gets there, your neighbor is going to hate you. Everyone’s going to hate your guts for buying Bitcoin before them and it could get ugly if people don’t have food, could get ugly. I don’t think that any one of us should hope for this scenario because when people don’t have money and they can’t buy food, it’s not something we should hope for.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, I prefer the kind of what you were saying, as a tool for freedom. I’m heading to the Oslo Freedom Forum on Sunday, Alex Gladstein’s event and I’m covering a panel, “Bitcoin Around The World”, which talks about real use of Bitcoin in places like the Philippines and how people are actually using it and how it’s making their life better. I kind of feel a lot of warmth towards that. I feel like a tool for freedom is something that is worth supporting and getting behind. Hyperbitcoinization just seems like some hellish dystopian future, with a lot of violence and blood and war that’s going either take us to it or be the result of it. I don’t know, I don’t love that thought!
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah, I’m with you. I hope we don’t need it.
Peter McCormack: All right man. Well listen, we crushed an hour. That was kind of easy! We haven’t even argued over anything.
Udi Wertheimer: No, we agreed on all things!
Peter McCormack: Yeah, we agreed on all things.
Udi Wertheimer: We are the same person.
Peter McCormack: Should we find something to fight about to finish on? What should we disagree on?
Udi Wertheimer: I don’t know. It’s a problem.
Peter McCormack: Giving platforms to scammers?
Udi Wertheimer: Well that’s a big one. Giving platform to scammers is an interesting one. I mean, you can just not let them speak. I mean, you let me on and I’m a scammer, I’m a known scammer. I don’t know. What’s the point of hearing Craig Wright speak? What is the point? How is it useful?
Peter McCormack: I think he digs a bigger and bigger hole for himself.
Udi Wertheimer: Well so yeah. So you listen to him once and maybe twice, but then what’s the point?
Peter McCormack: I don’t know. I think he digs a bigger and bigger hole. I think what’s going on with him right now, is quite sinister and I kind of plotted out the long con that I think is in play with him, where it’s to… There’s a number of things happening at the same time. So firstly trying to position himself as the Bitcoin creator. So give him some kind of validity where people who are kind of outside of Bitcoin really, people who he can romance into investing in, whether that’s VC’s, Silicon Valley, whether it’s governments and institutions.
Also the narrative that he’s pushing against Bitcoin, where he’s saying the dream is to create private transactions for drug dealers and criminals and that’s what Bitcoin is and Bitcoin SV wouldn’t be that. So he’s creating like a moral difference between BSV and Bitcoin. Then the registration of the copyright, the patent trolling and the further pushing the agenda that he is Satoshi and trying to win a legal ruling, that will give some kind of narrative that he is Satoshi.
To me, this all pushes for a long con, which is for the promotion of Bitcoin SV. What I can’t figure out though, is whether he has some belief, that long-term Bitcoin SV is an opportunity to make a lot of money. Or at the moment they are running some weird long exit scam, where every time there’s a pump, they’re just selling off their mined coins. I can’t figure it out in my head.
Udi Wertheimer: Well, why not both? That’s what Ripple does. They sell on every pump, but they also keep some for the future. I mean, you can do both. Yeah I don’t know what the long con is. The thing is, I don’t think he can… I’ve met some Craig Wright believers. I’ve met them face to face and it doesn’t seem like you can persuade them. Just airing interviews with Craig Wright is not going to change their minds and on the other side, I can see why you would do one, two, three interviews with Craig Wright. But after that, he gets interviews like multiple times a week and I don’t see the point really, what’s the point?
I think it mainly hurts the outlet in my opinion. I don’t even know. You’re a very big podcaster and you’re big personality. If you interview someone, it’s going to get some attention and sometimes that’s a good thing. But what about everyone else? You have tons of very small outlets. What do they get from interviewing him? It seems like they’re getting duped. It seems like he’s fooling them. It seems like the easy way out is just to not having him on.
Peter McCormack: Well yeah, I think perhaps though some of the smaller podcasts, he might take them on know by having them on, that’s going to probably get more reach than any other episode. There’s certain people that are easy to get the do that. John McAfee’s the same. If you get John McAfee, you get Craig Wright, you get Roger, you are going to bring probably more people to your podcast and more downloads than you would get anywhere else.
Udi Wertheimer: I don’t think it’s immoral to have Roger Ver or John McAfee on. Roger Ver is an interesting person, even if I disagree with a lot of what he does and I think the Bitcoin.com is a scam. Roger is an interesting person. John McAfee’s definitely an interesting person. But Craig Wright is as you say, he’s dangerous. It seems like the only good outcome could be for him, because you give him an audience and then half percent of the audience is going to be people who just follow him blindly and join the cult. The rest see an idiot and ignore. So it seems like it’s a bad outcome.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, potentially. I never like to tell anyone they can’t interview someone. I would never want to tell someone to do that.
Udi Wertheimer: I never said someone can’t interview, anyone can do whatever they want. I would prefer them not to! There was this guy who… We were both on the same thread and there was this guy who interviewed them, in the N-Chain offices and basically let him go on a speech about how he’s going to sue McAfee and how he is going to sue the world and I how he is going to sue everyone. I told him that it’s a shameful interview because it was!
It was a bad interview. It was shameful because it wasn’t an interview. He just let him go on a speech, which was insane and he said things like, “oh, you’re probably the most prominent developer of Bitcoin” and so on, which is just… You can do it, I can do it, anyone can do it. But yeah, I think you shouldn’t do it because it’s unfair to your audience and it’s bad for you probably too, because it makes you look stupid.
Peter McCormack: Yeah. Would I interview Craig again? I probably would, but more of a human interest story than a Bitcoin story. I don’t really want to talk to him about Bitcoin anymore, but I certainly want…
Udi Wertheimer: He doesn’t want to talk about Bitcoin!
Peter McCormack: But yeah, as somebody who interviews people, I’m intrigued to scratch the backstory, go into it. It will never happen now. I’m with you on Roger. I think Roger has done some fucking stupid things and terrible things, but I find him an interesting person. Again, I would talk to him again. But I’m also now this position where I’m like, there’s just no point because the fallout from doing that interview isn’t worth it and that’s a shame really in some ways, because I feel… You obviously think I’m a bit of a whinger and I’m a bit of a victim sometimes, which is fair enough.
But after three months of harassment, of one person specifically harassing me for months, saying awful, terrible things, hoping I get cancer and die like my mother did, it gets to you. I’ll be honest Udi, I try and maintain the thickest skin possible, but after three months of harassment and those kinds of comments and people creating memes and fake characters, blah, blah, blah, when 95% your show is Bitcoin, it puts a pressure on. So I’m now in a position where there’s certain interviews that I would like to take, that I won’t take now because the fallout sometimes isn’t worth it and the false accusations and misrepresentations aren’t worth it.
That’s the point of pressuring or putting certain pressure on people and some of the over toxic elements of Bitcoin, which are a bit of a shame. There are many people who now don’t freely express their opinions, because they fear the backlash. I get most of my conversations now, people are private DMs or private email. I get a lot of support for my work and they say, “do what you do.” But these people are sometimes scared to do it publicly, due to the Bitcoin shaming that can happen.
This is where I’m like, “okay, the toxic side is required because it helps defend Bitcoin and during this SegWit2x, if we didn’t have some very firm defenders of Bitcoin, it may have hard forked away.” Then on the flip side, I’m like, “well, it isn’t healthy that people are pressured in such a situation where they can’t take on an interview, that they want to do or express an opinion, without being humiliated, attacked and harassed.” That for me is also a dangerous area to be in.
Udi Wertheimer: Look, I agree with you that it’s indefensible for anyone to make physical threats or just wish that person’s health gets deteriorated. It’s really indefensible and there’s no reason for anyone to do that. When I see those kinds of things, I always reply, even when I’m not part of the conversation at all, because there’s no reason for anyone to go there. A lot of times it probably points to a personal problem with the person who’s doing it probably, but whatever. I don’t feel that it’s what most of the community’s doing.
I do agree that a lot of people are just saying things like, “this episode is stupid, this person is stupid, don’t interview them. You don’t get Bitcoin”, things like that; definitely. We definitely see that a lot. Is it good or bad? I don’t know. Look at the comments on every article on the Internet. That’s what people do and I don’t think it’s that special. I’ve been getting a ton of it too, definitely not as much as you, but I’ve been getting, not from Bitcoin probably because of the way I behave.
But I get from Ripple! I got terrible stuff from Ripple for [Inaudible 01:14:41] over 2017, 2018. It was some hard stuff. So I blocked them and moved on. Now this isn’t my business, so I can do that, I don’t care. I can see how if that’s something that you want to have as a business, you can’t just block everyone. But then again…
Peter McCormack: No, I agree. You need criticism and healthy criticism is good and some of the healthy criticism I’ve had, has really helped me shape what I do, like improve what I do or have deeper considerations for the impact of the work. I do agree with that. I think there’s become almost an acceptable face of Bitcoin toxicity, which is too far and it goes too far. I’m in that split position where I’m like, “well, it’s free speech, they can say what they want”, but at the same time, when you’re harassing people, personally, I think it goes a bit too far.
I think it’s a real shame if somebody is in this kind of journalist/pseudo journalist role and they’re feeling at risk from doing investigations and things. So let me give you an example. I’ve been pressured very heavily by some specific people. They’re like “call Roger Ver a scam. Call Bcash a scam. If you don’t do it, you’re getting paid off right by him, blah, blah, blah” and that’s fine. All well and good. If you want me to say that, I’m not a performing monkey. Now following my Mt Gox series, I do want to do one on SegWit2X, as I think there’s a very interesting story in that.
To do that story, you have two choices. You do the story from one angle and one angle only, which is the Bitcoin angle or you do it from all angles and you speak to all people and you try and knit it together to tell the story in a factually accurate way about what actually happened. If you want to do the latter, then you have to speak to some people that perhaps people don’t like. You probably want to talk to Roger Ver and you probably want to talk to Amaury and various other people or Jeff Garzik, you want to speak to him, you want to speak to Barry Silbert, there’s all these people you will want to speak to, to create the story and to do the research
It makes that very difficult, if the previous week you’re going on Twitter going, “Roger Ver is a scammer. Bcash is a scam. Okay Roger, do you want to come and do an interview with me because I’m working on this story?” It makes it very complicated. So that kind of pressure to say that and if you don’t say, then you’re not a Bitcoiner and then you shouldn’t have any sponsors and fuck your show!
Udi Wertheimer: Here’s what I would do. I definitely see why looking into the history of SegWit2x is interesting and I agree with you to not just interview one side. It even makes it less interesting, because if you want an interesting story, you need to hear both sides. It’s not just about being accurate, you want to hear that the story will be interesting. So I definitely think you should interview both sides if you’re going to do that. However, experience shows that when you ask people about their involvement in SegWit2x in 2019, it’s very different than what their public involvement was in 2017 publicly, I’m not even speaking about the private stuff that went on. We have the mailing list for SegWit2X, it’s probably still live.
Peter McCormack: Yeah it’s incredible.
Udi Wertheimer: Where they had their discussions explicitly how they’re going to use SPV clients and Blockchain.info wallets and so on to explicitly attack their users. They almost use that word. They’re not saying attack obviously, but they’re saying, “we have those users and we can tell them whatever we want and we’re going to”, which is amazing in my opinion. They’re not going to bring it up in the interview, that’s for sure. So if you’re going to…
Peter McCormack: But if you speak to enough people that will come up.
Udi Wertheimer: I mean it would come up from the pro SegWit camp probably, but the question is I would’ve put them on the spot. I would have put the SegWit camp on the spot too. I mean, there were a lot of mistakes made. I would definitely have made it a hard interview on them and some of them wouldn’t want to participate probably, but that’s okay. I think that would be very useful if you can put them on a spot and that’s, again, very useful for the pro-SegWit camp too. I’ll be happy to send you some ideas on tough questions to ask! Then it could be a very interesting story.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, I think it is an interesting story. A lot happened and a lot of people were burned. A lot of people burned their reputations. There were a lot of interesting debates, understanding the human decisions versus what is science and what is math. I think it’s all really interesting. I’ve got no doubt that if I put something together, people would want to listen to it. But like I say, it’s very important that to do that you speak to all sides and it’s just not productive to be going out there as the person trying to knit these stories together. Also, at the same time, calling people scammers, it isn’t a productive environment.
Udi Wertheimer: There’s no need to call anyone a scammer. But ‘m convinced that if you bring on, someone like Mike Belshe, from BitGo and you ask him, “what do you think now about trying to make use of BitGo clients and Blockchain.info clients and SPV clients to basically tell people what Bitcoin is? Do you still think it was a good proposition?” Just ask this question and whatever he answers, I think that if you do that, I think that people wouldn’t say that you shouldn’t interview them. The question is, are we interviewing them too just get their version of the story? Or is it also to try to learn something about what really happened, what people really think about it?
Peter McCormack: Probably both.
Udi Wertheimer: Even when it’s not nice to hear and really there’s a lot on the SegWit side too to ask, it’s not easy to here. So yeah, if that’s the kind of interviews I think that people wouldn’t say that you shouldn’t interview them. Again, even if people do say, who cares?
Peter McCormack: Yeah, it’s a tough one to approach and I’m not approaching it on my own. I’ve got two people specifically consulting on it, who lived through it, who are helping me put it together, because I think it’s important that it’s done in as most accurate a way possible. The most important thing will be the conclusion, the conclusion to it all. I wrestle with how that will be pulled together, but I think that would be a very important part of it. All right, well listen, look, we’ve done a good hour and 20 now, that’s over my standard amount. I’m glad we did this man, it’s good to speak to you.
Udi Wertheimer: Yeah, it was fun! I’m happy we get a face to face chat.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, we’ll have Pedro on next time! Tell people how they can stay in touch with you, how they can check out your work.
Udi Wertheimer: Well probably they could go to my Twitter account, but I don’t recommend it. It’s a terrible account. Ideally they just forget that they ever listened to this interview! I hope that you will have a link to the Twitter account because I can’t spell it, it’s too long.
Peter McCormack: Yeah, no worries, I’ll put it in the show notes man. Okay, well listen, good to talk to you! Take care.
Udi Wertheimer: You too, thank you!