While it seems as though a new Fortune 500 company is exploring blockchain technology, or there is a new company or merchant that accepts Bitcoin (BTC), it wasn’t too long ago that there were many individuals, whether they are experts in their field, or simply have a large platform, that claimed that Bitcoin was dead.
Of course, this might have been because of a personal or professional agenda – although, to be fair, it might have really been their actual stance with regards to the digital asset. Some of them declared that Bitcoin was dead back when Bitcoin wasn’t even worth $100, when it was under $1000, and later, during its infamous cryptocurrency bull run in late 2017. Here, we examine the top 10 Bitcoin obituaries.
2011 – “Why Bitcoin Will Fail”
It’s hard to imagine that in 2011, there were already writers who truly believed that Bitcoin would fail, as if the digital asset never had a chance. It is unclear exactly who Apenwarr is, but he is still active in terms of writing, as he just recently put up a post in January 2019. However, in 2011, it was clear that he truly believed that Bitcoin would undoubtedly fail.
When one reads over the post, there’s one obvious phrase that stands out – “I’ve done quite a bit of work in the world of banking”, which just goes to show how those who had worked in traditional finance seemed to believe that there was no way that the digital asset would ever truly gain traction. There is a whole lot of mentioning of “gold” in the post, which shows that the conversation in 2011 was centered around the fact that Bitcoin was constantly being compared to gold at this point.
The Apenwarr post is quite smug, and there is even a Reddit thread made that might have persuaded a certain amount of individuals from investing, which could have prevented them from making them a whole lot of money. The first response in the Reddit thread is from a user who points out how different Reddit is from gold. One statement that stands out in particular is that Apenwarr believed that even IF Bitcoin was successful, that governments would destroy it. He stated: “Even if it became popular, governments would squash it because of #1 and because they like being in power.” For some context, “#1” was the assertion was that a successful Bitcoin would “send our economy back into the dark ages.”
When someone decided to contest Apenwarr’s perspective, he truly embarasses himself further, acting as if anyone who supports Bitcoin should be ridiculed, calling him or her an “unelected representative of a movement”.
2011 – “The Bitcoin Is Dying. Whatever”
The fact that “whatever” is in the title of an article about Bitcoin says a lot about how Bitcoin was viewed in 2011. There was certainly a novelty about Bitcoin, but it certainly wasn’t taken seriously. Keep in mind, when this article was written, the price of Bitcoin was at about $10.95.
In the article, it’s clear that the author, Adrian Covert, claims that Bitcoin is dying because it just fell from a high of $32. In one of the most blatant criticisms, Covert states: Bitcoin is “founded on nothing. Absolutely nothing.”
Overall, it’s clear that in 2011, it was far-fetched to think that Bitcoin would reach $100, much less $10,000. You can see this in the language of the article, which refers to Bitcoin as an “experiment” and calls its rise “amusing”.
In one particularly interesting statement, Covert states: “I’m fairly certain your great-grandparents or great-grandchildren won’t find any inherent value in a digital file.” It’s safe to say that Covert was wrong when Bitcoin was at $10.95, but it will take generations to find out whether he’s wrong about this statement, as well.
2012 – “Wired, Tired, Expired”
To be fair to Wired, unlike other publications on this list – the author or organization didn’t set out to attack Bitcoin by any means, but it’s criticism of Bitcoin was within the context of a year-end wrap up. As a result, it is much different from a vocal critic who might have an agenda specifically going after Bitcoin in particular.
The Wired article addresses the payment sector, and points out that Venmo was the new large player in the payments sector that everyone needed to watch out for. It stated that Paypal was getting “tired”, and that Bitcoin was “expired”. Specifically, the article pointed out that the legal issues and malware surrounding the digital asset basically meant that it wouldn’t end up being a “viable alternative currency for the Internet.” At the time that it was written, Bitcoin’s price was at around $13.
2013 – “Why Bitcoin Is Doomed To Fail”
Sometimes, it’s very obvious that a cognitive bias might be involved when a writer is bashing Bitcoin, and this article from Moneygeek definitely seems like it plays a role here. There are many individuals, who from time to time, might overestimate their importance and have a bit of delusion regarding their own views. At the time of the article, one Bitcoin was worth about $93.
It seems like Jin Won Choi might suffer from this, as he states at the beginning of the article that he intended on starting the article by stating that Bitcoin will crash, and that it crashed several hours later. He states smugly, “Sometimes, the world just moves too fast for me.”
So, why did Choi think Bitcoin was doomed to fail in 2013? Choi’s criticism is a bit more nuanced than his predecessors, as he believed that Bitcoin’s limited supply will lead to its doom. Specifically, he stated: “By virtue of the fact that you have a limited supply of bitcoins, you’ll always have a highly volatile currency.” To be fair to Choi, this is a much more cogent argument than many others had at around the same time.
As for why Bitcoin would crash, Choi believed that psychology would play a role. He stated: “People are feeling good about buying bitcoin. I’m willing to go on record for saying that bitcoin will crash. I’m pretty sure about it. It’s human nature.”
2013 – “Bitcoin Is A Joke”
Interestingly enough, it seems like whenever Bitcoin surges significantly, it seems like writers are eager to point out that the digital asset might be too good to be true. In this case, Joe Weisenthal of the Business Insider called Bitcoin a “joke”. He even states in the article that he has “spoken negatively” of it in the past. The article even starts with the picture of a sad clown.
At the time of the article, the price of Bitcoin was around $433. Even though that was the all-time high for Bitcoin at this point, Weisenthal believed that there wasn’t much of a future for it.
Like many others, he claimed that Bitcoin lacked “intrinsic value”, and even took quite a dystopian opinion – that the military could actually “force” people to use dollars. While it seems ridiculous now – yes, this really was published in November 2013. Interestingly, Weisenthal suddenly seemed to reverse his opinion shortly afterwards.
2014: “Bitcoin Will Crash To $10 By Mid-2014”
Although they certainly aren’t good for anyone’s reputation, we must give credit to those who actually try to put a number to their logic, and give an actual price prediction. Unfortunately, for this particular individual – the price was a very horrible prediction, as he believed that Bitcoin would plummet to $10 by mid-2014. At the time that he wrote this article, one Bitcoin was worth a whole lot more than that, at around $887. Of course, Bitcoin never even fell below $100 again, much less $10.
The author was actually a finance professor by the name of Mark T. Williams, and his prediction was proved to be laughably wrong. At the time, cryptocurrency influencer Erik Voorhees, the CEO of Shapeshift, who now has over 300,000 Twitter followers, called out the professor for his prediction, hoping that he would admit that he wrong.
Interestingly enough, for a finance professor – Williams’ criticism of Bitcoin uses the same ideas of many other critics, without much insight. He cites “computer geeks” as the reason Bitcoin exists, and argues that it doesn’t actually “facilitate commerce”.
There is one argument that he made that some might consider at least somewhat legitimate. He pointed out that there are many businesses, such as retailers, that operate on “tight margins”, and that it was unrealistic for them to begin accepting Bitcoin. Although much of the article reads as a biased hate-piece, this appears to be the only legitimate argument against the digital asset that might somewhat hold up today. Regardless, one thing is for sure – Bitcoin didn’t go to $10, it went to $10,000…and beyond.
2015: “I Broke Bitcoin”
One of the problems when media covers Bitcoin is that often times, the authors try to come up with a headline that goes viral. It’s no secret that the more clicks a story gets, the more money it makes for the website, and the parent company. While some leeway should be given – the title “I Broke Bitcoin” is definitely suspect, if it isn’t downright unethical. At the time of the article, the price of one Bitcoin was just above $244.
Regardless, this Vice article does explore someone who spammed the Bitcoin network continuously, and provided proof of this to the writer of the article. This individual was apparently proud of the fact that he was able to affect exchanges to the point where they had withdrawal issues. However, as we have seen, one cryptocurrency hack doesn’t mean that Bitcoin is dead, whatsoever – and this title, in retrospect, is nothing short of ridiculous.
It seems pretty obvious that the cybercriminal was looking for fame. After all, he was willing to communicate with a journalist. On top of that, he/she went out of his way to state that the attack didn’t cost him any money and that it didn’t take much time for him, either. Either way, it’s clear that Alistar Maclin, did not ultimately “break Bitcoin”. A Twitter account which might be his, with the bio stating “programmer by day villain by night”, has not tweeted since 2015, indicating that perhaps he/she has given up on his efforts.
2016: “‘Bitcoin is dead,”’ says prominent fintech exec
Sometimes, it’s not a writer or journalist that claims that Bitcoin is going to die, but an actual prominent executive. This certainly was the case in 2016, when international payments company TransferWise CEO claimed that Bitcoin was dead. At the time that he made the statement, one Bitcoin was hovering around $437.
The CEO’s name is Taavit Hinrikus, and unlike other writers that might not have any actual real-world business experience – he certainly might be more qualified to speak on business and technology than many others. Of course, it should be noted that many believe that cryptocurrency will disrupt the payments sector, so he certainly has a bias. Regardless, he has a great reputation in Silicon Valley, so this certainly is a reputable individual claiming that Bitcoin is over. For example, he was Skype’s first employee. In fact, in the same year that Hinrikus made his claim that Bitcoin was dead, Skype celebrated 1 billion mobile downloads.
Specifically, Hinrikus told Yahoo Finance the following: “Bitcoin, I think we can say, is dead. There is no traction, no one is using bitcoin. The bitcoin experiment, I think we can say, is over.” Although Hinrikus might have been wrong, it should be noted that Transferwise has been doing pretty well. The company’s revenue and customer base continues to grow.
2017: “Bitcoin Ought To Be Outlawed”, Nobel Prize Winner Stiglitz Says
While it might be amusing to look back on the numerous Bitcoin obituaries, many would like to believe that there are those acting in good faith and truly trying to warn investors against a potential bubble. It probably isn’t surprising that when Bitcoin was going on its incredible run during late 2017, that more individuals started stepping up to warn investors and traders that this might not be the best move. It’s not every day that a Nobel Prize winner bashes Bitcoin, but that’s exactly what happened.
While Nobel Prize winners aren’t necessarily infallible – there’s no doubt that Stiglitz is influential. In fact, he was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People in 2011. He has made a whole plethora of contributions to economics, and even served in the Clinton Administration, joining in 1993. He even acted as an advisor to the Greek government during the Greek debt crisis, as well.
Unlike other obituaries, the claim that Bitcoin would be outlawed was made when Bitcoin was at a higher price than where it currently sits, at press time. The price of Bitcoin at the time of Stiglitz’s statement was around $9970, and it currently sits at around $3440. He pointed to Bitcoin’s “lack of oversight” as a reason why it should be outlawed, and also claimed that it doesn’t “serve any social function.”
2018: “I Come To Bury Bitcoin, Not Praise It”
Even though Bitcoin has survived throughout all of these years, that hasn’t stopped those who are influential in the finance world from claiming that Bitcoin will eventually die. This time, the obituary is from not too long ago – November 2018. At the time of the claim, the price of one Bitcoin was $3975.
In what sounds like a line from a bad movie, Paul Donovan has stated: “I come to bury BItcoin, not to praise it.” Of course, now that Bitcoin has retraced significantly, one could argue that there might be more legitimacy to his argument. That fact isn’t lost on him.
Donovan is the chief economist for UBS Global Management. For those that are unaware, UBS is the largest Swiss bank in the world, and the 11th largest bank in Europe. He told CNBC: “Right from the start of the hike in late last year, it was fairly obvious that this was going to end badly, unfortunately, for some of the people who weren’t protected by any kind of regulation and got sucked into the process.”
There is some irony here, considering that UBS is routinely criticized for its lack of compliance and regulation. He certainly seems to believe that the entire idea of cryptocurrencies are near its end, stating that they are “fatally flawed”.