Bitcoin Experts Winklevoss Twins and Naval Ravikant at TechCrunch Disrupt

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Entrepreneur-Investors Share Their Views for the Future of Bitcoin

“Money is the ultimate network effect” — Naval Ravikant, CEO of AngelList

A panel of Bitcoin experts took the stage today at TechCrunch Disrupt SF to share their views on the digital currency. The panel, which included the Winklevoss twins, serial entrepreneur Naval Ravikant, and former Stanford professor Balaji Srinivasan, spoke fast during the 30 minute discussion with TechCrunch writer Kim-Mai Cutler, revealing an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience in Bitcoin.

TechCrunch Disrupt Panel Winklevoss Naval Ravikant

Where the Winklevoss Twins Store Their Digital Cash

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss reluctantly acknowledged that they own 1% of the outstanding Bitcoin market and have made a 10X return on part of their investment (That holding is worth about $15 million given the current market capitalization of Bitcoin, which is approximately $1.5 billion). The twins were were eager to share that they never sold any and are very bullish on the currency.

The twins described how they first learned about Bitcoin two years ago in Ibiza from someone they met while on vacation. Tyler Winklevoss said they felt like they “had a time machine and teleported back to the early days of the internet.”

So how did they accumulate so much Bitcoin? Winklevoss explained that they had to buy both from exchanges and directly from holders, “It was kind of a scrappy process because there was not a lot of volume at the time.”

Where do they keep this fortune? A lot of their Bitcoin is on cold storage on USB sticks in banks across the country, they said.

The Winklevoss twins are still working on their IPO.

Naval Ravikant is Bullish on Bitcoin but Hasn’t Invested in Bitcoin Startups, Yet

Serial entrepreneur and AngelList CEO Naval Ravikant shared a startup veteran’s perspective on Bitcoin.

When he first learned about Bitcoin, Ravikant said he tooks a few months to study it and get comfortable with it. His conclusion was that it is game-changing, “It took me a while to warm up to it… I came away thinking that it was the most fundamental thing to come along since the underlying Internet protocols.”

Bitcoin combines four key technologies in a clever way:

  • Digital signatures
  • Peer-to-peer network
  • Distributed blockchain
  • Proof of work system to prevent double spending

But it’s not just a speculative investment. “People think about Bitcoin incorrectly,” Navikant explained, claiming that people incorrectly compare buying Bitcoin to hoarding gold. He went on, “It’s an API for programmable cash and transactions.”

What this means is that companies and developers can now have access to technology that can digitize wills, escrows, notaries, and crowdfunding. This ultimately results in programmable universal cash. “All the things that gold does, Bitcoin does better,” Ravikant said with a smile.

Asked about the mystery of Satoshi Nakimoto, the supposed creator of the Bitcoin protocol, Ravikant joked,“I don’t think about Tim Berners-Lee when I surf the World Wide Web.” He did surmise that the person or group that created Bitcoin probably still holds about 10% of the available market.

Despite his enthusiasm for the protocol, Ravikant has not invested in any Bitcoin startups, explaining that the overall Bitcoin economy is about $1.5 billion and it would be hard for a startup to capture enough value to achieve a meaningful exit.

So Ravikant is buying some Bitcoin, and looking for startups to using the Bitcoin protocol to advance other areas of the technology a and financial services ecosystem. “What Wall Street does can be programmed in Bitcoin,” said Ravikant.

In another example, he explained the concept of a crowdfunding campaign where the funders can vote how much money to release to a campaign over time, by leveraging Bitcoin scripting.

Ravikant closed with a success story, SatoshiDice, the Bitcoin gambling site that was first taken public and later sold for $11.5 million.

Winklevoss Naval Ravikant Bitcoin Panel TechCrunch Disrupt

Ex-Stanford Statistics Professor Talks about Bitcoin Viability and Extensions

Balaji Srinivasan, a former Stanford professor and current CTO of genome-testing company Counsyl, gets Bitcoin at a very deep level. He shared many of his technical insights and seemed focused on the future when Bitcoin is mainstream and extends into many other industries.

Here’s a scenario he painted: Imagine a service that combines Tesla electric vehicles with Google’s self-driving cars and the Uber driver service. You are driving down a highway and want to pass the car ahead of you. Using Bitcoin and car-to-car communication, you could pay a passing price and zoom ahead. It has to be cash and it has to be digital.

Watch the Video

Watch the video below to see the entire panel at TechCrunch Disrupt and hear about other insights like the 50% attack problem, ZeroCoin, how the price could reach $1M per BTC, international fiat risk, how Bitcoin is like email in the early days, and the Winklevoss ETF.

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One Response to Bitcoin Experts Winklevoss Twins and Naval Ravikant at TechCrunch Disrupt

  1. […] Bitcoin Experts Winklevoss Twins and Naval Ravikant at TechCrunch Disrupt […]

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