Guy Swann is the host of the Bitcoin Audible podcast, where he is reading Bitcoin articles and essays by different authors. In 2011 he found out about Bitcoin. Back then Guy used money he did not have to buy Bitcoin, just to watch it loosing it’s value in the following bear market. For him, this was not the moment for an exit, it was the moment, when he really started to investigate and learn what Bitcoin is.
- Why he started his podcast Bitcoin Audible
- His Bitcoin story
- The real value proposition of Bitcoin
- Digital scarcity
- The Bitcoin Reformation by Tuur Demeester
- Lightning as a global payments network
- The Bitcoin renaissance
- The agricultural revolution
- From decentralization to monopolies back to decentralization
- Bitcoin will change internet business models
- Coping with bull and bear markets
- What he would put inside an ad
- Filtering through Bitcoin information
I truly think that what we saw as changes from the printing press and the oil revolution may very well be an understatement of the potential impact that Bitcoin could have on the world when you’re looking out 30 to 50 years. And like you said earlier, it’s about having patience because we need to make sure that we don’t lose what makes this thing so revolutionary. – Guy Swann
Now that we finally have real value in the digital space and we can build open source permissionless payment systems and contract systems and ownership systems on top of this, I think it is going to change all of the models that we’re used to on the internet and open up access to so many things that just didn’t quite work before. – Guy Swann
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ShownotesRecording Date: August 19, 2020
- The Bitcoin reformation, Tuur Demeester
- Gradually then suddenly, Parker Lewis
- Shelling out, Nick Szabo
- Masters and Slaves of Money, Robert Breedlove
- The bullish case for Bitcoin, Vijay Boyapati
Anita Posch [00:05:49] Hello Guy, thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me today.
Guy Swann [00:05:54] Absolutely, thank you for having me on. I'm excited. We're going to be talking about Bitcoin.
Anita Posch [00:05:59] Yes, that's definitely what we're going to talk about. My first question is what's your connection to Swan Bitcoin because I always thought that you might be the founder or something because of your name, but is it like that? Or is this just a coincidence?
Guy Swann [00:06:16] It is totally just a coincidence.
Corey Klippsten and Yan Pritzker are the CEO and cofounder. They founded it together and Swan was just the whole idea of the black swan thing. I didn't get involved until much later and I'm kind of very loosely involved. I helped them with a lot of their podcasts, outreach, talking and getting connected with people in the space for a little while, but mostly I'm just an advisor. I help edit some of the writing or something like that. I do the audio for their GiveBitcoin stuff. Mostly, I just hang out with them and help where I can help because I want to be part of the project. They've sponsored the show for a little while and we're just constantly trading back and forth ways that we can help each other out.
Because they like my project, I like theirs. So that's my involvement.
Anita Posch [00:07:26] Yes, I understand. You just mentioned your podcast - it's called Bitcoin Audible. I think you started it in early 2018 to read and produce audio episodes from Bitcoin books and articles. Why did you start this?
Guy Swann [00:07:44] Mostly because I wanted it for a really long time.
I was having a hard time, trying to figure out where to get time to sit down and dedicate myself to reading some of the best pieces that were out there in Bitcoin. I'd always wanted to read shelling out. There'd be constantly new articles and stuff and I was such a huge audiobook and podcast listener. I consumed hours and hours of content with that stuff and still do, even though my time is a whole lot more limited now that I'm on the other side of the microphone [chuckles]. Basically, for about two or three years, I was just like, "I wish someone would just turn all these articles into audio so that I could listen to them."
So when Nick Carter dropped a new article, I could just listen to it. I tried the bunch of text to speech apps and a bunch of stuff like that. They were all terrible. Then one day, I just broke down and I was like, "Well if nobody else is going do it, I'll just do it."
I had been beating around the bush on starting a podcast for somewhere in that same two-year span and I sat down for the first episode, on my bed and read. I think it was like a CoinDesk article or something like that. I just read it into my iPhone and that was the first episode, then it just kind of went from there.
Anita Posch [00:09:22] Interesting. How did you even get into the space? When did you hear about Bitcoin the first time and what did you do before you did the podcast?
Guy Swann [00:09:33] So before the podcast, I was an internet and networking technician and also bouncing back and forth. I worked at a photography studio and did film projects. I actually went to school for film and media production. I was always a nerd. That was my favorite side of the film, as well as the networking and troubleshooting side of things.
I'd always done those kinds of things but I also happened to be a bit of an economics nerd. My brother had majored in economics and we were living together. He basically was having a really hard time coming to terms with a lot of the contradictions that they were teaching him in economics class and he would debate with his professors. Then, he would come home and be like, "Dude, so this is what they taught us." Then he would re-explain it to me and we would try to break through the contradictions. We'd be like, "How could A be true if B is true?" They tell us, you know, both of these things. So we went down our own little rabbit hole of trying to figure out economics and found Austrian economics. Right at that same time, while I was deep into film and studying about BitTorrent and networking and, fascinated with the power and changes that the internet was bringing about.
Then we found Austrian economics right at that same time and that was just what we were consuming all of our time with. And then, out of nowhere, one of my brother's friends just messaged him on Facebook or something like that and said, "You guys would probably be interested in this thing called Bitcoin," and we were down the rabbit hole immediately. This was in 2011. So, nine going on 10 years now, I think it was early 2011. That night, we were up all night. I remember we read the whitepaper and we were just going off about how crazy it was.
This was literally like an Austrian economic theory codified into an internet protocol and my mind was utterly blown within the first hours that we were digging into this thing. I remember that the next morning we were still excited and talking about it, and the sun was coming up and I was like, "Holy crap, I got to go to sleep." That was the start of both of our journeys and I have yet to lose my enthusiasm over it. So it's a pretty strong pole for Bitcoin for me. [chuckles]
Anita Posch [00:12:33] So you didn't lose your enthusiasm, as I understood, because that was the question I would have asked you now like, "10 years into it, isn't it going to be boring?"
Guy Swann [00:12:44] I would've thought so but no. It's like one of those things, like being fascinated with the internet. 10 years in, it's more exciting rather than less. You know, you're finally seeing things that you knew possible at the beginning come to fruition. You know, it's been a long maturation process to get here and we're just finally touching on things that people have been talking about and theorizing about for a really long time, like the Lightning Network and multiple layers. In order to provide a retail payments layer that could actually scale to a global system. Smart contracts, like Discreet Log Contracts that you could actually do off-chain but are enforced by an on-chain contract, and these sorts of things. It's like we had to get through the store of value proposition first. You know, there's stages of monetization and it was never going to be a short run. It's like, finally, we're seeing that Netflix is around the corner that we're going to have something like YouTube. The equivalent of the internet there was all of these possibilities and in the next 10 years, we're going to actually see them. I find it hard to believe that it won't continue to be fascinating. In fact, I bet it picks up but yes, not yet. [laughs] At least not yet.
Anita Posch [00:14:13] Yes, I think so too. I think what also will come through might be that we are going to specialize in two different directions, you know, like a part of us working on the Lightning Network more than on Bitcoin base layer at the moment and maybe it also splits up into more and more different disciplines.
Guy Swann [00:14:36] I totally agree. I think that's a great way to think about it. Like right now on the internet, you know, during the nineties, you just worked on the internet. Then, suddenly in early 2000s, you have web devs, you have front end designers, you have app developers. It's split up into, you know, 20, 30, 50 different discourses and specialization, for the work being done. As Bitcoin expands, I think we're going to see the very same thing. And just like you mentioned, we're witnessing it right now. There are people who just work on Lightning and don't do Bitcoin development and simultaneously, people who just work on Bitcoin.
I think that's just like a first step microcosm of what this next 10 years is going to be. We're going to realize all the specialization that can occur and the new layers and applications that come about. People are going to specialize in just one because there's just so much potential for all of it. So yes, I totally agree.
Anita Posch [00:15:48] I guess that many people who weren't as patient as those who were working on Bitcoin in the last 10 years, went into building things like Altcoins, token stuff, decentralized finance and all those things but that's all coming into Bitcoin now,
Guy Swann [00:16:07] I was reading something - I think it was an article on CoinDesk talking about someone basically taking DeFi, like the concepts of DeFi, without making the unnecessary tokens and bringing it to the Lightning Network with the RGB protocol, I believe, what they were leaning on. That's exactly right. You're actually starting to see patience was a virtue and getting to that area of that point in the maturation phase where layer two and layer three can bring all of this functionality, still, without bloating or risking the attack surface of layer one.
Anita Posch [00:16:51] What do you think are the properties that make Bitcoin so unique compared to all the other protocols and coins that came afterward?
Guy Swann [00:16:59] Security. We like to simplify and mostly just because it's that thing which is most in front of us if we don't really dig into what money is. We like to simplify things down to, "Oh, it's just a medium of exchange," but mediums of exchange are incredibly easy to make. It's easy to make a new credit card or a new payment app. That layer of problem is something that we have thousands of networks for and tons of alternatives. I liken it to in the early 90s, we saw that Netflix was possible. Like internet streaming was going to be there but, you know, in the 90s people didn't even put graphics on your website because it was going to take hours and hours and hours to load. You know, those old Windows Classic look. The caveman days of the internet. If we had spent all of our resources in 1993 trying to build Netflix, like trying to build internet streaming. It would have been an absolute and utter waste because we had three, four steps of massive infrastructure and maturation to go through before that was even really a possibility.
In that same way with Bitcoin, cultivating and going through the process of making sure that that digital asset is secure, is sustainable for the long term, is about lowering the attack surface. It's about making sure that we get more decentralized, not less. It's about making sure that those trade-offs aren't compromised on and I think that's what Bitcoin has done. The constant squealing on social media about like, "Oh, Bitcoin doesn't have enough transactions per second." Every time I hear someone else bring that up, all I can think is that I know that they are still focused on the wrong thing because transactions per second is a, as Parker Lewis says in his Bitcoin is Not Too Slow, is that digital scarcity was a zero to one innovation. It was a breakthrough that was an order of magnitude, a leap from our previous systems and the architecture of the monetary system that we are coming from is basically a complete flipping upside down of the ownership and adjudication model. Whereas payments are a one to infinity problem. You can just constantly increment innovations on payments over and over and over again. So if Lightning in some rough first level implementation gets us 10X, well, that's fine because we can figure out some way to improve it by 20% and get 12X and then find another improvement that makes liquidity better.
Multi-path Payments that suddenly, we can double it from there. It's not something that we're going to just turn a switch and then we're going to have global payments for infinity, for millions and millions of transactions per second and then we'll just be done. As this becomes more and more useful as time goes on, we're going to find thousands of different ways to actually do the payments problem.
The absolute, most critical thing that we don't do is risk the underlying asset. Risk its ability to independently and securely store value in a digital space because that is something that can be lost. And when that's lost, it doesn't matter what your payment system can do. It doesn't matter how many features or smart contracts you can put on it.
I could write smart contracts to trade dirt but it doesn't make dirt valuable. What the value and the reason that those payments and smart contracts are worth something, is because they settle an underlying valuable asset.
Anita Posch [00:21:16] I think in the historical context, Bitcoin is one of the most important inventions and I see it also as an evolution of money.
You definitely know the article by Tuur Demeester about the Bitcoin reformation. Where he compares it to the development before and while the Dutch reformation in the 16th century. I had him on the show in episode 57, where he describes the parallels between the Protestant revolution and today like the Catholic Church as a rent-seeking monopoly, like the central banks today or the emergence of book printing compared to the communication possibilities over the internet.
What are your thoughts on that?
Guy Swann [00:22:02] I definitely think I love the historical analogies and Tuur is great for digging specifically into those. Just because I think he was actually responsible for the huge analogy, or the exploration of the analogies to the oil revolution and moving away from whale oils and stuff like that into like kerosene and gasoline.
I thought that was a really great parallel as well, and the reformation and the printing press. I think that's one of the things that so many of these groundbreaking technologies that have truly changed change the cost dynamics of information, communication and energy.
You look at oil and oil was a vast breakthrough but, again, an order of magnitude leap from what came before it. You can see that just in the cost of lighting over the period of adoption. Like in 1870, a minute's worth of a person's labor would buy you, what was it? I think it was like three minutes or four minutes of oil to have a lamp and you know, the world was dark when it went dark. When the sun went down, the world was dark because light was an incredibly costly thing to have. It was a luxury and I think it was like 1950.
So 80 years later, we go through the Industrial Revolution. We go through oil, we have automobiles. We see this huge process and at the other end of that, a minute's worth of labor will buy you seven hours from four minutes or three minutes, whatever it was, to seven hours of an incandescent light bulb.
It was an energy revolution and you see the exact same thing in the printing press, as a communication revolution, that undermined the authority structures of the day because education, like to knowledge, was a walled garden. You went to an authority to figure out what the Lord knew to be true, like the church and the authorities. It was such a privilege to have access to information that they controlled it and they didn't want to share it, just because of that high cost. It allowed them to basically have power over other people, to control other people. When the printing press dropped that cost by 90%, the ability to copy, to basically get rid of the idea of a scribe.
You didn't have to hire someone to write something. It turned it into an automated machine process. It brought the cost of that down so low, that suddenly information and knowledge was open to exploration, was open to competition with anybody and literacy rates during that century.
He talks about this, he brings this up in the article. What was this century? Was it 15 to 1600 or was it --
Anita Posch [00:25:41] 16 to 17, maybe, I don't know.
Guy Swann [00:25:43] I think I constantly get mixed up between the using of the 15th century and the 16th century, like thinking 1500 to 1600. Whatever, that century of the literacy rate went from, like under 10% to over 80%.
It was a, you know, night and day flip over a 100 year maturation phase of just spreading this knowledge and information out to everyone. It took down some of the greatest power structures in society. It completely changed the map of the world. As a communications tool.
Now to think that Bitcoin is a monetary tool, a communications tool, and one that has the potential to revolutionize energy. Bitcoin is all three. It has aspects of all three of those and it's in an entirely new digital environment. Don't build Netflix in 1993, wait for Netflix to come. [laughs]
Anita Posch [00:26:53] Yes and I could imagine the numbers you said about the literacy, you know, from 10 to 80%. I could imagine that something like that happens with the access to financial services, like the billions of people who do not have access to a banking account can save money in any way to money as a technology.
This could really make boom, you know, and all those people suddenly can communicate with money.
Guy Swann [00:27:22] Yes and I think, God, the potential there to just have someone able to save money for the number of people who don't have access to that. Also just when you're looking at Lightning services, like a Breez wallet, or Strike or something like that, you start to see.
There's a great article I read recently on the show. I cannot remember the author's name. Oh, I hate it. I hate it when I can't remember the author. It's Lightning as a Global Payments network. I think is the title of it, if I'm not mistaken, is actually the beginning of a series. He breaks down the comparison to the current payment systems, like current payment networks to Lightning and just compares the incredibly walled gardens and permissions set up like the huge regulatory hurdles, the hilarious joke of trying to get a banking license. Just the enormous cost with the onboarding costs of setting up a Lightning service.
The gap between that, in my opinion, is actually larger than the gap between the AT&T walled garden networks of the 70s and 80s and the open internet in the 90s. To think that anybody could just start a service on the internet was unthinkable in the 80s.
You had to call AT&T and have something implemented nationwide to have a network service available to people. You couldn't start up a website and offer it to two people and same with the walled gardens of payment networks and systems right now is that I can't just in my garage, make a little app and be like, "Oh yes, I'll just provide a payment service to my two friends and somebody else." I'm breaking so many laws if I do that. To try to get a banking license to actually be able to do that and settle those transactions or have access to the credit card networks, which actually uses an old coding standard from the 80s as a means to basically prevent people.
They have such an isolated coding base. I can't remember what the actual name of the code is but hardly anybody knows how to work with it. They actually use that as a way to prevent people from accessing it but regardless, the Lightning network is an open permissionless payment system.
So now I have that same freedom. I can offer a service to anybody in the world. As long as you have an internet connection, the Lightning network now makes the barrier to setting up essentially banking and financial services as low as it was to set up a website in the 90s.
That's going to create such an explosion of available access to financial services, access to a global market, as opposed to what your jurisdiction says you're allowed to have. Then, to have and own a censorship resistant, independent money that doesn't listen to the capital controls of whoever happens to be in charge today and doesn't get debased by the irresponsibility of your, you know, insert political leader here. That is going to be groundbreaking for the people who are in the worst situations in the world. It will start to preserve wealth in so many different aspects that the general wealth of the world will start to climb at an accelerated pace because that's one of those things that has its own feedback loop.
It will start to break out and I think it's going to provide access to so many people and preserve so much wealth that is being bled through inflation and destroyed through political control right now. Like I said, go back to the reformation. I think there's going to be a new Renaissance.
It's hard to overstate the potential of this technology, in my opinion.
Anita Posch [00:32:03] I've heard you talk about parallels to the Agricultural Revolution in another podcast. So the time when humankind stopped being hunters and gathers and settled down. Where do you see the parallels to that time now? What can Bitcoin enable?
Guy Swann [00:32:21] The Agricultural Revolution was essentially the period of time where humanity went from not being able to preserve capital, to being able to preserve capital. Prior to those centuries or, actually, I guess it was like kind of a 5,000-year trend there.
That one was a very slow revolution but a revolution nonetheless. Prior to that, there was no reason, there was no benefit to accumulating a lot of wealth. You had carry your wealth on your person. So to have all of this excess and to actually have something to invest in time and productivity to make your life a whole lot better.
It didn't pay off because you lost it as soon as the herd moved away, or as soon as the seasons changed. You had to drop it and you had to go off to the new area or the new place and set life. You had to start over, constantly. The Agricultural Revolution, which funny, there was actually one thing that I read. That suspected that one of the very first inclinations to start farming may have actually been to create beer and get drunk [laughs] which I thought was hilarious but there's actually pretty decent evidence of it. Nonetheless, we figured out how to grow food or cultivate our own food and it allowed us to set up shop.
Anita Posch [00:33:59] In many countries, beer is food.
Guy Swann [00:34:05] Very true. Long human tradition but it allowed us to start accumulating wealth and it led to the birth of civilization. It also led to the emergence of money. Which actually, those are dependent on each other. It may have been that the ability to accumulate wealth led to the emergence of money and then money allowed the emergence of society and civilization.
Suddenly we had cities. Suddenly, we built things that lasted hundreds of years. Suddenly, our time preference, our view what it meant to produce, trade, mercantilism. Suddenly, the whole world opened up. The possibilities and the scope of reality changed dramatically.
I think we're going to see a very similar thing with Bitcoin because this, I think, is that final piece of the puzzle. That's pushing us wholly into the digital age because there's always been significant limitation in the potential benefits of the internet.
In fact, the drawbacks of it because of the level of control, the loss of privacy and the lack of control that we have over our environment in the digital space. I think a lot of that is because of the lack of digital money and the fact that all of our money went from, we actually went from decentralized gold throughout the 1800s to a fully virtual money.
First, it came with banknotes but competitive banknotes weren't really a problem because those were at least limited to the trust or the reliability of the institution that issued those notes. There were still competition in one bank would fail but it wouldn't systemically destroy the currency.
It didn't risk gold. So we went from a decentralized system to one that ended up going full control into a single monopolistic institution and suddenly, we completely lost sound money. That suddenly it was just up to them and there was no quote, unquote monetary policy.
It was just which leader wanted to do what and what level of restraint they had over their own power which is, you know, basically a guaranteed slim to none. Going into the digital age just made that worse because it essentially meant that there is no ownership without someone else's permission. Nothing of value in the digital world is owned without an authority saying you own it.
It's always just up the ladder of who agrees with you, as to whether or not you own it. There's always some third party who is in charge of that account. There is always some central bank that says that that bank has the right to say, who owns what account. It was authority all the way up the tree, or all the way up the pyramid and that was inherent to the digital space. You couldn't do it any other way because there was nothing native to the internet that was valuable. The information itself was free because as soon as you had information on the internet, it was infinitely replicable. You could copy it a billion times.
When you finally introduce value, when you finally introduced digital scarcity, I think it will change the whole dynamic. I think we'll see monetization, like models change. I think the freemium model will start to fall away. Not in the sense that you won't get a lot of the content for free, but in the sense that you're the one being sold. Like Facebook or whatever sells your information. That's how they make money. They basically control your environment, spy on you, suck as much data out of you as they can and then they sell it. I think that is a consequence of the authoritative structures and the fact that there was no simple, low-cost way to implement payment systems on the internet.
You had to go with a walled garden. You had to go with an authority and competition was incredibly limited. Everybody had a banking license, you know, blah, blah, blah, all the mess that comes with an authoritative structure. Now that that is finally being undermined, now that we finally have real value in the digital space and we can build open source permissionless payment systems and contract systems and ownership systems on top of this.
I think it is going to change all of the models that we're used to on the internet and open up access to so many things that just didn't quite work before that. We had a bunch of beautiful ideas about Nash networks, decentralized file sharing, file storage and all of these things that just never had the money to make them possible now become possible in a whole new way.
I'm crazy excited to see what develops in that in the next 10 to 20 years.
Anita Posch [00:39:56] Don't you think that overregulation or rate regulation, in general, may lead us back to like the way in the 90s. From the hopes that what the internet will bring and now we have big monopolies like Facebook, Google, and Co. Is there not the danger that we get the same things in Bitcoin, in the Bitcoin space?
Guy Swann [00:40:16] Yes and no. Go back to the Utopian dreams of the internet, of decentralized open network and in a sense, we got the benefits of a lot of those things. We did get a massive push toward decentralization, even though we managed to find ourselves in a space with so many huge monopolies and companies with a vast degree of control. Still compare it to what we had access to in the late 80s.
The narrative was, there were three channels. That was the access to media, to information and today, yes, Facebook controls what we see. Yes, Twitter sensors opinions that we don't agree with. Yes, Google fudges with search results but we also have Telegram chats where information that some people don't want others to see gets out. We also have texting. We literally have so many alternative avenues that the lack of cohesion between them. I think we're seeing the political discourse today is an expression of just how much impact the decentralization of the internet has had. All of its caveats aside, it has led to the access to so many new narratives. Whereas prior to that, in the 80s, there was one comfortable lie that everybody believed about reality, about the world and that has broken down. Now we are chasing hundreds of different narratives, thousands of different narratives in every possible way.
Every individual community is coming up with their own view of the world. Now we're all clashing. We're having this huge identity crisis and in that, the people who feel like we're losing control, that we're losing cohesion are trying to reimplement it. But the information is too far spread and still too hard to control, even with the sense of godlike powers that we think people like the Google institution has, or Facebook or whatever.
It's not that great when you think about it. We still have so much access to alternative information streams. I think it's a process of two steps forward, one step back and Bitcoin is a great example of the next two steps forward. We got the internet and we had this explosion and access to information. We went two steps forward. We utterly changed the model of access to information and how we communicate with each other and how many different conversations we can have. I mean, this conversation is a great one. I don't know, in any other sense without the internet, how you and I would have gotten together and had a conversation. [chuckles]
Then we have one step back, it gets re-centralized. They try to close it off and everywhere that there is a limitation or an attack vector, it's taken advantage of but then you have another breakthrough. You have a new layer that presents a new sort of de-centralization.
I mean, the control over money is such a critical source of how that control is actually enabled in the space and how pressure is applied to certain companies, applied by political institutions and, you know, shadow governments. Money is a huge tool for control and to see that decentralize.
We're moving out of that hierarchical system. I think Bitcoin is another two steps forward and yes, I think we will get a one step back. These things happen in cycles but I think the overall trend is toward, a huge technological deflation trend. Towards more wealth, more decentralization, more communication, more open communication and permissionless innovation.
I think despite all of the bad that has come with the internet and all of the controls, we have clearly moved in that direction on the net. The general direction is absolutely more towards that and we've just seen the rocket goes high in the sky and it falls back a little bit. [chuckles] There's always a bit of a consolidation period before we have a new move and I think that's the trend of technology.
Anita Posch [00:45:20] Talking about identity crisis and rockets going up and down since you entered the space in 2011, you have lived through a number of bull and bear markets. How did this influence your mind and your psyche? I mean, how does one cope with that?
Guy Swann [00:45:43] It kind of goes into the background. It was so chaotic towards the beginning of Bitcoin's life and it was hard to deal with then. Everybody you said or talked to Bitcoin about, it was like, "Oh, you poor, stupid child."
That was the general expression on people's faces when you talked about Bitcoin in 2012 and 2013 period. It was a sad joke and you were a sad little person for being even slightly entertained or interested in it. So I kind of got through the worst of it in the first couple of years I was here. I remember like I kind of got that benefit right at the beginning because I got in on one of those very first run ups and just had my ass handed to me. I invested all of my savings, which was nothing at the time, it's sad looking back on it now but I was dead broke. Both me and my brother were living in a place that we we're getting for dirt cheap and still, we would have the water cut off on us a couple of times. I actually think we did have the power cut off on us. Trying to meet our bills and I was trying to run my own media business, which was a joke. I didn't know what I was doing. I edited good movies, but you know, that doesn't mean that I know how to price things, that I know how to get my production line working and efficient. All I could do was edit and so we invested money that we didn't have literally at the very peak of one of those first bubbles. Like right when it went to $30 and it had climbed from like 10 cents and I had been FOMO in and just as hard as I could go and it went from $30, all the way back down to like a buck, something. It was like a buck, 75 or something like that. Again, we're trying to meet bills, we're poor and I was so excited about having found this new technology. This was my first foray into investing and I just got obliterated, like utterly obliterated.
I watched in a period of a couple of months, basically 95% of the only money that I had just disappear into nothing.
And I was just like, "Holy God, I'm such an idiot. What have I done?" I realized I didn't really know anything about Bitcoin. There wasn't even anything to read. There was the White Paper and a couple of forums.
I read some conversations on the Bitcointalk forums. I could read code, you know, so I was actually investing in this vague idea of this Utopian dream that I thought was going to be possible. After it plummeted down to nothing, I decided, I made a decision with myself. I remember throwing up one day about having lost all my money and I was like, "Okay, so I got in on this ignorantly, I got on this vague idea of what the hell I was investing in and not really knowing what I'm doing. I'm not going to sell. Under those same conditions, I'm going to read and I'm going to explore, and I'm going to find everything I can about Bitcoin.
And I'm going to see, am I just early? Is this something that truly does have the potential that I think it does? or did I just make sure the dumbest investment of my life? Am I just a complete idiot?"
So I started reading and the more and more I dug, the more fascinating and the more intricate and nuanced the protocol was and the more I saw just how that game theory could last sustainably into the future and how mining might shift and how it could push into entirely new industries. It just got more and more interesting as to all of the ways this could actually affect things and I decided not to sell. I decided, the more I dug into this, the more promising it looked.
I was like, "Other people just don't understand. they're just not seeing the value of this thing. And you know, when they contest it, they don't contest it with knowledge. They don't contest it with real information. They just tell me I'm stupid and they haven't read the White Paper. They don't know how the thing works."
So I felt confident and like I really had discovered something. Then since then, we've gone through another three hype cycles and not one of them was even close to as hard as the first one. I got my bear market badge very, very early and everything got progressively easier and easier.
Now I hear the exact same arguments, "Oh, Bitcoin can't scale for payments. Oh, there's going to be a mining death spiral after the having," and I'm like, "I've done this three times and we're on number four. This is as sure a bet as it's ever been."
When the price drops, I FOMO to buy. My level of confidence has only gotten higher and higher. Now, it just seems like a breeze in comparison to what it was in those early days, everything was chaos. There would be a hack and it would be the whole Bitcoin ecosystem had just blown up. Everything was on fire and there was no coming back from it over and over and over again. Just constantly. Everything was world-shattering disaster during those early days. You thought that maybe this thing dies and it just consistently didn't and it's problems today, just seem like pebbles in comparison. So being early has definitely made it easier, not harder.
Anita Posch [00:52:24] This is a question I stole from Tim Ferriss' podcast.
Where he asks, if you had the possibility to put a short sentence on a giant billboard for people to see what would it say? And I'm adopting this question to today, to match today's situation and ask if I would buy you a big ad on all social networks, what would it say?
Guy Swann [00:52:49] Huh? Oh, that's a good question. Probably something like, "Do you really know what money is?" Then hashtag Bitcoin. The journey to understanding Bitcoin is a very slow and deliberate journey. They call it falling down the rabbit hole because it feels endless. There's no shortcut, but I think the question that leads more people there than anything else and more people in the right direction to really dig in and understand what Bitcoin is, and what kind of an innovation it is, is the question what is money. Why do we use the paper we use? What is gold?
What's the history of this thing? I think that's the most important aspect of this that is lost on so many. So don't know if that would be a good ad but that would be the question I would ask. That I would hope would catch someone's attention and kind of plant a seed for them to start their trip down the rabbit hole.
Anita Posch [00:54:06] I agree completely on this question. So we're coming to an end now. You have read so many articles and books about Bitcoin. What are your recommendations? How can people feel the fruit, these masses of information and choose the best content?
Guy Swann [00:54:24] Oh yes, that's a many year process of getting down my own process of filtering through things.
As far as things that I have read on the show, you mentioned the Bitcoin Reformation. I love that one, that's a great one. The entire Gradually, Then Suddenly series by Parker Lewis. That's, I think 13 different pieces, which you can actually just get that at unchained-capital.com, their blog over there.
They actually link to all the audio versions of it, for my podcast. I think someone created a Spotify playlist for those and I'll try to remember to get that link. I should definitely have that available somewhere. That's a really great series though, that hits on so many major topics Shelling Out by Nick Szabo is one of those quintessential pieces that I think, just own the origins of money, it hits so many of those core concepts that really get at the heart of what money is. That piece is just excellent. I have a bunch of other great works from him too. I think I have like eight or nine from him and then, a really good recent one is Masters and Slaves of Money by Robert Breedlove. That one was just amazing. All of those, though, are excellent ones to start a journey into. For some of those core concepts that start to enlighten all of the other stuff that you hear about constantly and are great prerequisites to all the other fantastic reads out there.
Honestly, if you were thinking about any piece that, you were wanting to get, The Bullish Case for Bitcoin by Vijay Boyapati. Bunch of great pieces on the Lightning Network, a bunch of Bitcoin Magazine, doing tons and tons from that website. If there's a good one that you hadn't gotten an opportunity to read, I probably have it on the show.
We're at 430 reads now and if it's not on there, shoot me a message. Send me a link. I can probably get it out pretty soon, if it's really good when we want to have an audible version of it. So that's what I do.
Anita Posch [00:57:02] Great. Thanks for the links. I will put all of them in the show notes. And where can people follow you and your work?
Guy Swann [00:57:09] So you can find me at the podcast tag, which is rather new, at Bitcoin audible but you can find me on Twitter @thecryptoconomy because it's a part of the cryptoconomy network. And I'm Guy Swann. I do the podcast. I do some Guy's take, like solo episodes breaking down some of these concepts and I also have a YouTube channel, which is @thecryptoconomy as well, or Guy Swann. If you search either of those, you can find me.
Anita Posch [00:57:44] Super. Thank you very much and thank you for your time. This was a, I think, a very informative and a great episode.
Guy Swann [00:57:52] Oh yes and a big fan of the show, Anita. It's awesome to actually be all in and talk to you. So thank you very much for inviting me on, this is fun. I have been wanting to chat with you for quite some time now.
Anita Posch [00:58:05] Thank you. You're very much welcome and have a good day.
Guy Swann [00:58:09] Thank you. You too. Take it easy.