Who I am is not important…

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I’ve been pondering recently about ways that I can give back to the Bitcoin community while still preserving my pseudonymous identity as “Hodl Onward.” It’s a name I chose for building an anonymous burner Twitter account when I decided for opsec reasons to move all Bitcoin related “follows” away from my main twitter account. I firmly believe no one other than my spouse and maybe a select few family members and friends are allowed to know I am irresponsibly long on BTC. I went through a phase of trying to tell people about Bitcoin in 2013 and it was not the best experience. When I started this Twitter account, I fully intended to simply follow accounts and lurk, but old habits die hard and here I am tweeting away on a near daily basis. I am a very old Bitcoiner, but Bitcoin Twitter is new to me; you guys are a riot.

I’ve had a lot of interesting experiences already in life. Unfortunately, recounting many of them here for you today would dox myself, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Not a great start in this world of “trust no one, verify everything” but, should you wish to extend some trust, I hope that my experiences and thinking may prove useful and interesting to my fellow Bitcoiners.

I am first and foremost academically minded, though I am out of practice at this stage of my life having spent about a decade now in the private sector in business development. I graduated with honours from one of America’s top institutions of higher learning with a BA in political science and foreign relations with a concentration in international political economy. I come from a military background and I honed my analytical and writing skills while studying in Hungary as part of a military exchange program. I’ve read and learned a lot about how international finance and the liberal order works, but there is still so much to absorb, especially as we look to remake capital markets from the ground up over the next few decades.

Like many of you, I’m sure, I was first exposed to libertarian thinking through Ron Paul’s 2008 presidential campaign. From 2008 onward, I spent a lot of my free time reading about libertarian philosophy and that’s how I first encountered Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is something I’ve been fascinated by for a long time. I first learned about it through posts on either 4chan or Reddit back in like late 2010, early 2011. Around either 2011 or 2012 I started mining Bitcoin on my computer as a fun hobby in addition to getting my hands dirty in something meaningful that is an alternative to the state. I didn’t really understand a lot of the tech back then. If I’d known better right away and had the conviction to buy multiple Radeon Sapphire GPUs, I would probably have been able to mine a whole block on my own, something I’m sad I never achieved. All of the coins I ever mined came from pool mining back then.

It’s really fascinating because mining was basically the only way to get your hands on Bitcoin at the time, so a lot of the community was focused on that. Things have changed a ton in this space since the first halving occurred.

Back then, the dominant narrative was that Bitcoin was an anonymous, open source Libertarian “PayPal.” Bitcoin was going to free commerce from the surveillance that using third parties carries. As an ideological classical liberal, this really appealed to me and was the primary reason I became interested in Bitcoin when I learned about it in 2010–2011. You may recall the echos of this line of thinking with the arguments that took place years later about scaling transaction throughput on the blockchain and the forks that took place.

I spent a lot of my mined Bitcoin on things; it was my patriotic duty to help bootstrap the Bitcoin payments economy. I paid for video games and firearms parts (completely legal parts, by the way) using some of the new escrow services that sprung up at the time. No, I will not tell you how many coins I parted with for which shitty video games I got maybe 2–3 hours of playtime out of. It’s enough to make me wistful with hindsight, but it doesn’t bother me too much. You can’t beat your past self up over things that you couldn’t have known at the time.

I’m proud to say I never owned any Namecoin, Litecoin, or any of the others that began to sprout up. My only shitcoining sin is that I had $3.91 worth of Ethereum “IOU” on Robinhood at one point that I bought with leftover dollars in my account after making trades in equities. I also bought (and still have) some paper “IOU” Bitcoin on there too. I sold that ETH for $3.95 down the road. I reported that gain on my taxes. Forgive me, Satoshi, for I have sinned.

Now, what I will say is that I divested all of my Bitcoin in 2015. All of the Bitcoin I mined. Primarily because I needed to pay some large medical bills that came up unexpectedly, but also because I was wedded to the “Bitcoin as payments” rather than “Bitcoin as a store of value” line of thinking. The term “cryptocurrency” comes to mind, with the emphasis on currency.

In fact, the price run up in 2017 and the forking had me convinced that Bitcoin was a failed project. “How can we use Bitcoin for payments when it has this huge mania-driven price action?” “All these speculative newcomers aren’t libertarian, they’re just buying Bitcoin because it’s a fad.” I was glad I had gotten out and tuned out.

Around the same time in 2015, I found “The Investors Podcast” with Preston Pysch and Stig Brodersen and got really interested in value investing from an ideological perspective. As a data-driven, liberal sales/biz dev guy I loved the grounded reality of fundamental value. I think I probably went on the same journey Preston did about Bitcoin over the years. We both learned over the 2010s that you can’t fight the Fed. I actually have Preston to thank for getting back into Bitcoin — his thinking and coverage on it over the years got me curious again, this time from the angle of it being a “better than gold” money in itself.

I finally made the move back into Bitcoin in September 2019 after taking a deeper dive into the Bitcoin-only podcast space and getting a feel for where the community was now versus when I checked out around 2015/16. I have been furiously stacking sats ever since. I’ve rebuilt my Bitcoin position (though I will sadly never own as many coins as I used to).

I am now a hodler. Bitcoin isn’t just a token to transact with, it is money, the hardest money ever made and you will need to have something extraordinary to sell me if you want any of my sats. 21 million and not a sat more is what matters. Bitcoin isn’t analogous to anything we’ve had before. It can’t be directly compared to a payments rail, it isn’t a digital gold, it isn’t cash… it’s all of these at once and none of them. It’s more analogous to the doctrine of the Catholic trinity — God as three distinct entities while also being one whole.

So a big thank you to guys like Preston, Raoul Pal, and PlanB who gave some really compelling reasons from the outside looking in why Bitcoin is the real deal and not just a toy for nerds on the internet. And a huge thank you to the Bitcoin podcasters who were and are continuing to make the awesome content that you are. Marty Bent, Peter McCormack, Stephan Livera, thank you for the hours of listening.

Now, where to go from here. Like I said, I have a background in international political economy and I want to get back into writing and producing things. I think publishing Medium articles is a good first step to figuring out how to make content for you guys while staying anonymous (to a degree). I hope you’ll join me — and don’t forget to Hodl on for dear life, the next decade is going to be wild.

At the intersection of political economy, finance, history, and Bitcoin.