It’s been a tough year for crypto. At the end of 2017, when market cap soared to nearly $800 billion and a single bitcoin was worth 20 large, hodlers were lining up to punch their tickets to lamboland.
Then came the crash—or “correction,” the preferred euphemism of the ever-optimistic economist. Any way you slice it, the market took a dive, investors lost their shirts, and every other terrible Wall St. cliche was realized. If you sunk money into crypto when prices peaked in late 2017, you got REKT.
While bitcoin has shown signs of a tepid recovery since dipping below $6,000 in mid-August, altcoins continue to take a beating, and there are plenty of pundits ready to pronounce crypto dead.
But not everyone subscribes to the doom and gloom prognostications.
Jack Tatar, who, with Chris Burniske, co-authored the seminal book, “Cryptoassets: The Innovative Investor’s Guide to Bitcoin and Beyond,” says this is exactly the kind of kick in the pants crypto badly needs.
Tatar has over 20 years of experience in financial services and is an “angel investor and advisor to startups in the cryptoasset community.”
He’s had a close eye on crypto since 2013, when he published his first book on bitcoin, and remains as plugged in as ever.
Jack, things aren’t looking so good these days. Is it time to call the crypto coroner?
No, crypto is far from dead. But there’s no denying that the crypto crash has occurred. The bad news is that many investors have learned valuable lessons in volatility, risk/reward, and portfolio allocation. They’ve been forced to realize that they invested in the market with less knowledge and awareness about their investments than they really needed. The good news is that we’re beginning to see many projects start to unravel or become mired in legal issues and finger pointing.
Wait, how is that good news?
That might not be good for the investors who put their money and trust in these projects, but the community needs a purge of the scams. These overhyped projects that lack ordinary and necessary business leadership need to be seen for what they are.
I see the crypto crash as a cleansing in the community, which is still in a stage of experimentation and learning. This can help investors recognize the need to evaluate this new asset class. A closer evaluation and better understanding of this asset will help make it stronger in the long run.
This sounds a lot like the dotcom bubble of the late 1990s. Is that how you see it?
Yes, I will often compare the two, and I do see many similarities. We’re now seeing the shakeout of the “crypto Pets.com’s.” But we’re also seeing some real potential in projects that are working hard to realize their dreams of innovation.
We’ll soon see these projects provide a recognition of their utility value above their speculative value, which fueled their high prices. Once the markets recognize that, we could then see an increase in their value and price. We saw similar actions with a J-Curve analysis of Amazon and even Yahoo. We’re approaching the time when we will start to see projects come out of this crash that could ultimately succeed and make both investors and developers very wealthy in the long term.
Does that long-term success depend on regulatory clarity?
Regulation is an interesting concept when you consider the decentralized goals of crypto. We’re really only discussing regulations for one reason: When people gained the ability to exchange fiat for crypto, they became investors. As such, they are due protection from bad actors and scam artists.
However, now that we have these markets and a recognition that so many people got ripped off, we need to evaluate the investment aspect of crypto. It will be important for the entire crypto community to recognize the value in transparency, good faith, and the need to educate more people on crypto. And that includes politicians, bankers, wealth managers, and regulators.
How does Ethereum stack up against Bitcoin in terms of long-term viability?
I think it has long-term sustainability. I’d bet on Vitalik. Ethereum is more of a crypto-commodity as a platform for development, rather than a cryptocurrency, which is used as a means of exchange. Comparing ether to bitcoin in terms of price valuation is comparing apples to oranges. This is important for people to recognize.
In terms of its current valuation, I’m bearish on it at this time. I think they need to find their place and value in the community. But like I said, long term, I’d bet on Vitalik and the community he’s helped to create.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.