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Great Bitcoin Expectations: How a Pioneer Grew Disappointed

Sead Fadilpašić
Last updated: | 4 min read

It’s not uncommon for a person to start out in an infant space – successfully even – with a goal of nurturing it and bringing a change through it, only to gradually become disappointed with what that space is growing to become in front of their very eyes. Such is the story of Jered Kenna, a successful figure in the world of crypto, who despite the millions he’d earned, turned away from what the Cryptoworld is becoming. Other pioneers too seem to acknowledge what Kenna is seeing. But the question others ask is: were the forerunners’ expectations realistic to begin with?

Source: iStock/Mehaniq

Following the story of a former YouTube megastar, Michelle Phan, who had disappeared from the platform at the height of her career, after which she discovered Bitcoin (BTC), now actively promoting it, we came upon a similar, yet very much different story. Both of these people set out to fulfill their goals in their respective interests, but started feeling burnt-out with time.

Kenna hasn’t been active on Twitter since December 2016, returning only in early September this year. He’s also been back in the public eye after saying that he’s no longer excited about the world of crypto in general. The 37-year-old is the founder and CEO of startup 20mission Co-living, an investor, and an entrepreneur. But even before that, he was one of the first to make millions from investing in BTC and was the founding CEO of one of the first U.S. Bitcoin exchange, Tradehill, back in 2011. He’s been a prominent figure in the industry and has often participated in discussions on the money and its future, on crypto in general, and Bitcoin in particular.

But the Cryptoworld is going through a massive shift, and the one he doesn’t like seeing. “In the early days, all we talked about was things that actually had substance, and very few people were talking about making money, <…> And now the only thing people focus on is making money,” Kenna told Bloomberg. The emphasis shifted from changing the banking and payments system to speculation, says the article. And though Kenna once held thousands of BTC, he now has a half of one.

Some of the instances that led him to rethink the path the industry has been on over the years include a radio ad telling people to mortgage their homes to buy Bitcoin, the 2017 initial coin offerings (ICOs) craze, recent initial exchange offerings (which will end as bad as ICOs, he says), beautiful models looking for wealthy crypto holders at crypto events, etc. The final nail in his active-in-crypto coffin was a hacker who in 2016 bought a phone in his name, Kenna says, changed his email passwords, and stole 60 accounts and millions of dollars, putting Kenna in a hospital for stress and on blood-pressure medication since.

Likely due to people accusing him of turning against crypto, he explained in his Twitter post that he is not anti-crypto, saying “I’m not. Just not as enthusiastic to participate.” As a reason he gave the increasing focus on the price of crypto, in the media and among people alike, instead of discussing usage and ability of the technology – a discussion which came before price several years back, he finds. “We used to say: “people will be able to send money home to their families for 5 cents”,” adds Kenna, “now we say “keep HODLing for 100k or 1 million.” We used to say let’s build something amazing that will create that value and now it’s how many people can we get to buy in..”

Other industry insiders have joined in on the discussion. For example, Eric Lombrozo, co-founder of Ciphrex Corp, a company developing tools and application development platforms for cryptographic protocols, replied to Kenna that “Any movement that grows large will experience the same issues that have always plagued humanity. Blaming it on the movement merely avoids facing ourselves.”

Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of crypto security specialist Casa, Jameson Lopp, advised Kenna to “ignore the shallow folks who focus on price; pay attention to those focused on creating utility and value.” Similarly to Lombrozo, Lopp too finds that change is inevitable and may even present BTC’s biggest challenge yet.

On the other hand, Nic Carter, co-founder of crypto market analysis firm Coin Metrics , told Bloomberg that many pioneers had “unrealistic expectations” about Bitcoin and don’t like to see it become commercialized. He added: “Lots of the early Utopian builders naturally got disillusioned. […] That’s to be expected,” and because of that “so many lost souls” left the Cryptoworld.
Watch Jered Kenna discussing Bitcoin on Bloomberg in April 2013.


In the podcast below (recorded this past summer), Jered Kenna and Charlie Shrem discuss Jered’s understanding of finance and economics from the age of 4, living in Afghanistan and his transition back to the U.S., the turning point when crypto went from collaborative to competitive, and Jered’s experiences with identity theft and losing 99% of his net worth: