Greetings, Earthlings. [extremely convincing human voice] I am one of you, in fact. My name is Taylor. I am the CEO of Hedgehog, which you will note is named after a charming Earth creature. Hedgehog is a service which may or may not use extraterrestrial technology to help you manage your cryptocurrency portfolio. (Ethereum counts as extraterrestrial technology, right?)

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Spreading the virus

Crypto OG Arthur Hayes, the most notorious cofounder of BitMEX, was profiled in New York Magazine. Here's a taste:

"We have this virus that is bitcoin, and I want to do my part to infect as many people as possible," he told me. "We're going to hopefully destroy the TradFi system," he added before catching himself. (He still has to get through two years of probation without drawing any more scrutiny from the Establishment.) "Not destroy. Give another alternative for people to use."

It was interesting to see that Hayes cared so much about taking down old-school finance — the industry that had given him his start and the technical knowledge that allowed him to create a crypto empire. "You want to spend your life doing something that you think could actually change some things in the world," he said. "Hopefully, I can be on the changing end of it and reap the rewards, both from a 'Yes, I was right' perspective and the 'Yeah, I made some money out of it,' too."

Over the past ~14 years since Bitcoin was invented, it's been interesting to watch crypto's rebel energy make contact with the TradFi ecosystem, intertwine with the edges of "normal" finance, and even get coopted as branding… Meanwhile, the defiant outlaw spirit continues to burn bright in core crypto circles.

Hedgehog's angle is the opposite — we want to play nice and build a trusted institution that unites the best aspects of TradFi with the phenomenal opportunity of crypto. We're in the "intertwining with 'normal' finance" category. But I recognize that this new industry wouldn't have developed to its current stage without the earlier contributions of chaotic iconoclasts like Hayes. Another excerpt:

It was no surprise that Hayes latched on to bitcoin relatively early. The moment came in the spring of 2013, after Hayes, who had taken a new job with Citigroup, was laid off. "I've always wanted to find the next thing," he said. His first trade quickly netted him several thousand dollars. Hayes remembers a sense of being present at the birth of a revolutionary technology on the scale of the printing press or the telegraph. He spent the next year and a half crashing on a friend's couch while he experimented with crypto maneuvers, looking for arbitrages like the ones he'd learned about in banking.

At one point in 2013, because of the strict controls China places on the movement of money, the price of bitcoin on the mainland soared relative to what it cost in Hong Kong. Hayes started buying bitcoin at the lower price, then selling it on a Chinese exchange, withdrawing the profits into mainland bank accounts he'd opened with a fake address. Then he'd take a bus from Hong Kong across the border to Shenzhen, withdraw the money, and return with it stuffed in his backpack. During one of several crossings, Hong Kong authorities detained him as part of an investigation into a suspicious bitcoin transaction. Hayes managed to convince the officials that he was a victim in the deal too. They let him go.

It's worth reading the whole profile. It's also worth reading Hayes' own blog to get his perspective in his own words.

Tldr: If you're going to enrage regulators, at least do it in style. Bonus points for not stealing billions from your customers.

Crypto crowdsourcing

/r/CryptoCurrency, the Reddit community devoted to crypto, is… how to put this delicately… highly variable in quality. But there are some gems! Two recent posts that are both fun and informative:

The post concludes, "Overall it's not much ($50 per month if you are a decent player). Unless you like the game I wouldn't recommend it. If you are into TCGs [trading card games] however by all means dig into it."

Don't get too excited: "I have no idea how many permutations a good script could reasonably test, but as a conservative check if you could test 10 billion per second it would still take 82 thousand years to try all the permutations (so we might expect you to get it in roughly half that time, 41 thousand years)." Lots of amusing comments on this post.

Tldr: Social media is… good sometimes? Hmm, better recheck my calculations.

Quick Hits

Tldr: A sort of "punished by success" scenario where being too popular with crypto customers came back around to bite them.

Tldr: "The 7,002 Bitcoin are now worth more than $232 million and Thomas has just two attempts left to guess the password before it's encrypted and lost forever." Oooof. Good luck, buddy.

Tldr: A weird tale of luxury, art — the two businesses that compete for making the least practical sense possible — and IP law. Only in NFT-land, I swear.


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Question of the week: What's your favorite movie that features aliens?

I'm putting together an educational film festival 😉

Take me to your leader,
— Taylor

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