It Can All Go To Zero

Perspective can be a useful thing. Cryptocurrencies have had a bad 24 hours.

Last night Amy and I watched The Big Short for the second time. If you’ve never seen it, it’s a must watch movie. If you haven’t seen it in at least a year, watch it again. While the events are from 2005 – 2008, they feel like they happened yesterday. And, the cast, including Brad Pitt (my favorite character), Steve Carell (my second favorite), Christian Bale, and Ryan Gosling play their parts spectacularly well.

There are hundreds of lessons in the movie. But, like most things human, we quickly forget them. Or we pretend like they couldn’t happen again. Or we justify what’s going on today as “but it’s different this time.”

In 2000 I was co-chairman of a public company called Interliant. The company had gone public in 1999 and the market cap rose to just under $3 billion ($55 / share, up from $10 / share at the IPO). By the end of 2000, the stock price was at $13. I was on a walk at my house in Eldorado Springs with one of the VPs who asked me how low the stock could go. I can’t remember the exact phrasing, but I remember it being something like “There’s no way the stock will go below $10 / share, right?”

My response was simple. “It could go to $0. I hope it doesn’t, but it could.”

In 2002 Interliant went bankrupt and the stock went to $0.

Now, I don’t have schadenfreude about cryptocurrencies going down. Like many, I’m fascinated by them and the potential implications of both cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology. I hold plenty of cryptocurrencies – either directly or indirectly in funds I’m an investor in. So I benefit financially from them going up.

But I’m not a trader. I never have been. I never will be. It’s not my temperament. I don’t enjoy it. I don’t want to spend mental energy thinking about the gyrations of the market – any market. I don’t want to make money on short-term financial trades, but rather by helping create new things over the long-term.

We all eventually die, at least for now. Some people learn from history. Some people suppress or deny it. Many people ignore it. I prefer to reflect on it and make sure the big lessons are inputs into my thinking. If you want a quick, 128-page frame of reference on this, read The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant. The cliche “the more things change, the more they stay the same” is a cliche because it applies to a lot of things.

My scan of my morning news feeds included Researchers find that one person likely drove Bitcoin from $150 to $1,000BlackRock’s Message: Contribute to Society, or Risk Losing Our SupportGE Shares Dive on $6.2 Billion Charge for Problems in Its Finance Unit, and a very interesting post titled Impatience: The Pitfall Of Every Ambitious Person.

I’ll leave you with this.

 


Also published on Medium.