CoinDesk Had a ‘Stash’ of Bitcoin (BTC), and Other Stories Told by Consensus OG Joon Ian Wong

CoinDesk Had a 'Stash' of Bitcoin (BTC), and Other Stories Told by Consensus OG Joon Ian Wong

I never would have thought Vitalik could have become quite the icon that he is today. Or that Katie Haun would be one of the most successful VCs of all time. Or even that Arthur Hayes would have this redemption narrative. For most people I think it would have been quite difficult to predict where they ended up today. Perhaps even Brian Armstrong. This is not directly CoinDesk related, but I interviewed him in 2014 when he came to London as part of this big Coinbase world tour. You have to remember Coinbase started out as a wallet, competing with the Blockchain Dot Info. There was no exchange business. I think it was the world tour when they pivoted to become a brokerage. We had the interview near the CoinDesk office in Fitzrovia in London, and then that evening there was this very long-running meetup called Coin Scrum, which has been running since 2013, at a bar in East London near where I live. It was a packed house. You know, Brian Armstrong is gonna come and talk to us (even back then Coinbase was one of the better-funded startups). So he gave his talk and I remember a band of people came into the bar led by Amir Taaki [who, at the time, was one of the most prominent Bitcoin Core developers] and started heckling him. You know, “you’re centralized.” “You’re fiat.” There were three or four of these guys, who I think all lived in the same East London squat, shouting at him from the crowd. Even back then, he was very even-tempered. He was trying to respond to them point by point. But he kind of got drowned out. There’s this sort of endearing image of the space back then. I just don’t think you’ll ever see Brian Armstrong and Amir Taaki in the same room ever again. People like Gavin Wood or Vitalik, they would go to these meetups and bars and try to convince people that their thing – Ethereum, whatever – was this great, wonderful thing. You’d have a motley crew of people listening to them. And from those very unlikely beginnings, you have kind of these quote unquote corporate titans of the day.

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