The CC Forum on blockchain, AI and digital innovations, with its many panels and duels of differently opinionated experts, was bound to have some fireworks. The duel between Dr. Craig Wright, inventor of Bitcoin, and Mike Beaver, macro economist and global growth investor, paid off with many explosive moments and testy exchanges.
Hosted by Eric Van Der Kleij, CEO of the Frontier Network, the duel titled “Bitcoin does not have any real value, or does it?” started off with an explanation from Beaver that he is not a cyberforensic auditor, as Dr. Wright once was, but a chartered financial analyst, “looking at this from a financial, economic and strategy, and bigger picture perspectives.” He only promised to argue based on a valuation of Bitcoin, and not any technical perspectives.
Beaver began by knocking down several perspectives that would lend value to Bitcoin. It’s not backed by an asset and it has no value. Van Der Kleij asked if you could assess a value from user confidence, to which Wright immediately replied no, and Beaver said it would be very hard to prove one. So finally, Beaver said the best bet is to look at the business angle, technology angle and regulatory angle, to which Wright said, “He’s fine.”
Wright then redefined the argument, noting that the commonly accepted concept of Bitcoin is flawed. It can be seized, he noted, and he created Bitcoin to create “honest records”. Ultimately, it will create a system of microtransaction rewards that will improve the services we use.
Van Der Kleij, seemingly stepping into the duel himself, after he said: “But Craig, that’s more about the utility of Bitcoin rather than the value.”
Craig responded: “That is what it is. That is value, utility. Tell me if I’m wrong, utility is value. Goods and services, things people want to use, is value. Money is not value. Money is not wealth. You have been lied to. There is no great wealth creation because of new shitcoins. Money is not wealth. Goods and services are wealth.”
At that point, the differing views of what value means in the world of Bitcoin really became apparent, as the duel broke down. While Beaver wanted to focus on the value of Bitcoin, and price of it, Wright preferred to talk about why exchanges like Binance, because of their alleged money laundering practices, are no threat to Bitcoin due to the increasing regulations in the world. He also returned to why micropayments make Bitcoin valuable.
That wasn’t the topic Beaver wanted to discuss though, as he kept returning to the risks to the price of Bitcoin. When again pressed on the topic, Dr. Wright noted that he himself was a risk, due to his massive holdings in Bitcoin. Finally, Wright tried to put a nail in the topic:
I don’t care. That simple. I’ve got a great company, with a great team, we’re expanding, we’re setting up new offices. Investment wise, I don’t need to do anything. People throw money at us if we want it. We’re not actually taking any and they keep offering it. People want us to do an IPO at nChain. Why? Because we have fucking patents.
It was at that point that the crowd started getting into it, as Petur Georgesson, managing partner at Capital Sniper Investments, asked how much the price of BTC might decline by this time in 2020. After commenting that he didn’t care, because he’s more focused on building things, he offered that 90% of the price of BTC might fade away.
At that point, the split between BTC and BSV became the topic, as Mike Beaver wanted to continue discussing the risks to BTC from other cryptocurrencies, insisting that was the topic, while Dr. Wright pointed out that Bitcoin is Bitcoin SV (BSV). But to answer the core question, he responded that BSV is protected from the competition by his armor of patents.
That confused Beaver, who then bemoaned:
So Craig wants us to talk about this whole topic of debate, the value of BSV. We were talking about the value of BTC, now we’re talking about the value of BSV, well why not the other 3000 coins. There’s a lot of interesting and talented developers there, sooner or later, we know one thing with technology, it only ever, in the long term, improves.
Wright then expanded on how the patents he’s been working on will keep BSV at the top of the pile, noting that any other crypto hoping to use the technology he’s built will have to pay for the right to do so, while BSV will be subsidized.
The debate continued in the manner for a few more minutes, with Beaver focusing on the competition raised by competitors to BSV and Wright repeatedly slapping them down with patents that already protect them from serious harm.
Seeking to change the tone, Van Der Kleij opened it up to the crowd to ask questions. Sir Toshi, noted BSV enthusiast, asked Beaver about LTC, which Beaver entirely ignored to return to his line of questioning and instead asked about how regulations might threaten various cryptocurrencies. While Beaver perceived this as a threat to the industry, Wright noted that he welcomes regulation to squash cryptos that don’t follow the law.
Wright was then asked by a member of the crowd why he didn’t patent Bitcoin when he first invented it. Wright responded that, in 2008, he didn’t believe it was possible to patent the technology. Also, he published it under the pseudonym Satoshi Nakamoto, and thought he couldn’t patent Bitcoin if he used an alias.
When asked if his patent library could prevent future innovation, Wright responded that it’s proven that by patenting technology, you not only protect it from copy cats, but you encourage others to recreate a piece of technology with the same purpose but by a different method, thus spurring innovation.
Beaver then disputed Wright’s point that patents would protect Bitcoin from competitors going forward, noting that patents expire and would eventually allow for someone else to create a better version of the technology. The discussion didn’t go very far though, as it was interrupted by none other than Tone Vays.
It was at this point that the duel produced the moments it will forever be remembered by. Tone Vays, recalling the moment in the previous fireside chat where Wright suggested that his university papers prove he was Satoshi, or was plagiarized by Satoshi, Vays preferred to go with the latter suggestion, and suggested that the crowd should not consider Wright relevant to the topic of Bitcoin as a result, suggesting Craig Wright is a fraud.
It doesn’t matter what your vacuous ideas are. It doesn’t matter whether you like my patents. It doesn’t matter whether you like nChain. In five years’ time, when we have another 1000 patents granted, and we have IBM, and we have Microsoft, and we have Apple, and we have Google, and we have all these companies paying us money, you can choose not to have anything to do with me. The same way you can chose not to have anything to do with the internet.
That was too much for one woman in the crowd, who yelled out: “That’s exactly what you want. You are a mole, trying to crash Bitcoin. Farmer Craig. Pumpkin man Craig. Go back to your farm, your pumpkins and your tomatoes and grow a superfarm.”
That’s when the duel totally fell apart. Wright responded that she’d just have to live with his invention. Tone Vays, still holding the microphone in the crowd, suggested Wright would be in jail in the next couple of years, Georgesson yelled from the other side of the crowd that he really wanted to hear a discussion on valuation still, and Beaver begged to make a final point about traceability.
As the duel finally reached a new semblance of decorum, Beaver commented that if blockchain technology truly guarantees traceability for every transaction, there is no value created by a notion of anonymity, ruining a selling point of BTC adherents. Wright flat out agreed.
Van Der Kleij noted that time had ran out on the duel and sought to bring an end to it. It didn’t end easily though, as the woman in the crowd once again began yelling at Wright, who responded to her as Beaver begged to make a final point about the declining value of an asset through use and surplus.