My Bitcoin Journey

Since 2011 I have been quite involved with Bitcoin, the new form of stateless, decentralised money. I wrote five books about Bitcoin and Blockchain technology, made more than 100 films about these topics and gave talks at many conferences.

I have always been interested in economics, although fortunately I never studied it. At universities it is usually taught in a way that I would consider wrong today. I chose film and media instead, and during a study year in Rio de Janeiro, I made an animated short film called Dinheiro (“money” in Portuguese), which can be seen as a metaphor for the hyperinflation that was going on in Brazil at the time. It features animated coins destroying a police car and its final scene was drawn on many Brazilian bank notes.

Years later, after the financial crisis of 2007 / 2008, I researched the topic of money for a film project and discovered the Austrian School of Economics, its protagonists such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich August von Hayek and Murray Rothbard and their views on sound money. The film project was never realised, but through that research I understood the flaws of the current monetary system.

I first heard about Bitcoin in May 2011 and wrote my first article on it in June of the same year. I was fascinated by it, but skeptical at the same time. Bitcoin’s development in the second half of 2011 seemed to confirm my skepticism. Its price fell steadily from a high of $30 in June to $2 in November. Wired Magazine already wrote about “The Rise and Fall of Bitcoin”. I could have bought it cheap, but I didn’t.

At that time, I was organising a film festival where we showed the short film What is Bitcoin?. We even had Bitcoin.de sponsoring the prize money, offering to either pay in Bitcoin or in Euro. All three winners preferred to get the prize money in Euro. Unfortunately I was not smart enough to ask Bitcoin.de to transfer the Bitcoins to me and pay the corresponding amount to the film makers in Euro from my pocket. I would have been 300 Bitcoins richer.

Later my film production Bitfilm.com created a short promotional video for Bitcoin.de, but we still received the payment in Euros. I liked Bitcoin as a topic, but I was still quite skeptical about it. As an amateur “Austrian economist”, I believed that sound money must be backed by gold.

It took me about a year to finally understand that Bitcoin doesn’t need to be backed by anything, because it has the same qualities as gold, plus a few additional ones. An article by Erik Voorhees opened my eyes about this. Thank you, Erik! The picture is a portrait of him created by Max Cryptohead.

I didn’t make much money with that Bitcoin film, but it opened many doors into a newly emerging world. I showed it at my first Bitcoin conference in London in September 2012 and from then onwards we have been creating many promotional videos and educational series about Bitcoin, other cryptocoins and blockchain technology. You can watch most of them on Bitfilm.com’s website.

Parallely to my film business I worked on a Libertarian magazine called Blink (coincidentally the Bitcoin Beach wallet was recently rebranded to the same name). Its fourth and last issue, published in January 2013, was entirely dedicated to Bitcoin. It included an interview with Gavin Andresen, Bitcoin’s main developer at the time, articles by Mike Hearn, Rick Falkvinge, Dominic Frisby and many others.

I like writing and I got more and more into the subject, so I wrote my first book about Bitcoin in the winter of 2014/2015, which was also a crypto winter. Having peaked around 1000 dollars in December 2013, Bitcoin’s price fell to less than 200 dollars when I finished Bitcoin – Geld ohne Staat in January 2015. It had recovered a bit when the book was published in May, but only reached 1000 dollars again in January 2017.

The German title literally translates to “Money without State”, but the English edition is called A Beginner’s Guide to Bitcoin and Austrian Economics. I wrote four more books about Bitcoin and blockchain technology. My book Cryptocoins – Investing in Digital Currencies, which was published during the crypto hype of 2017, became a bestseller in Germany, it went to number three in the ranking of business books.

You can see that I missed several opportunities to get rich with Bitcoin, but I also made some good decisions, like not giving up in the worst bear markets. Another good decision was to offer the services of my film production for Bitcoin. On the one hand, we had a clear target group: Bitcoin and blockchain companies. New phenomena like Bitcoin have to be explained and many companies need short promotional videos for that.

On the other hand, the Bitcoins we earned with our films have risen quite a bit in value. The budgets of our films are usually not very high, but being paid in Bitcoin made our business profitable nevertheless. In a gold rush it is a good idea to sell shovels and pick axes!

Giving a talk about Bitcoin at a conference

Have I become rich with Bitcoin? Not really financially, as I’ve been living from my Bitcoin income for the last 12 years, so I’ve had to sell most of the Bitcoins I’ve earned. But I became very rich in experiences and friendships. I’ve travelled to many countries, especially through my involvement in the Latin American Bitcoin Conference, and I’ve met the most amazing, warm-hearted and idealistic people through Bitcoin. This is a wealth that cannot be measured in money!

Adapted from my blog, the Hyperbitcoinizer