Erik Voorhees is a well-known character from the Bitcoin world. Besides helping build an important part of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, defending and promoting Bitcoin, he recently became more famous for being the man behind the first millionaire transaction in the virtual currency universe: he sold the Bitcoin-based betting website SatoshiDice for $12 million.
The Bitcoin entrepreneur, who discovered Bitcoin in May 2011, talked with Bitcoin Magazine about this transaction and many other Bitcoin-related issues. Remembering the day when he discovered cryptocurrency, he says “that day was one of the most important days” of his life. “It was like discovering some great truth, like seeing the future. I quit everything I was doing and jumped down the rabbit hole”, he adds.
“It was fairly innocuous, but had profound consequences! I was cruising Facebook and saw a friend’s post that mentioned some weird currency that had appreciated by a gazillion percent since the prior October. I clicked the link, read about this thing called Bitcoin, and dismissed it outright as preposterous. Fake internet money didn’t appeal to me. Then I read more, and more, and I found an elegant answer to each skeptical question that popped into my mind. After a couple hours, I was utterly hooked, and realized it would change the world and I better figure out what the hell it’s all about”, Erik Vorhees explains.
For him, the most important characteristic that Bitcoin has to offer is the fact that is decentralized, “that it does not have any person or group of people who control it. (…) Bitcoin is thus politically neutral. It excludes nobody, it has no geographical restrictions, it doesn’t make judgments on its usage. It has no terms of service. Bitcoin is a pure technological tool which will necessarily revolutionize society and finally separate money and state. The decentralized nature is what enables all this magic”.
According to Erik Vorhees, “Bitcoin is absolutely the Wild West of finance, and thank goodness. It represents a whole legion of adventurers and entrepreneurs, of risk takers, inventors, and problem solvers. It is the frontier. Huge amounts of wealth will be created and destroyed as this new landscape is mapped out. I believe the effects of this adventure will be profound”.
Moving on from his opinions about cryptocurrency and the possibilities that virtual coin might bring, the interview changes its course and Vorhees startes talking about SatoshiDice. “I didn’t create SatoshiDice, but I am involved with it. To be honest, my experience has not been as pleasant as it should have been, for being an American citizen is a huge liability, and I worry constantly that the US Government will harm me in some way”, he says.
Vorhees tells that, in the past year, he learned that “America is not the land of free markets and free people that it was advertised to be in Government schools when I was growing up”. Now, he sees the country and especially its government as “an abhorrent apparatus that steals, harms, and imprisons people who have harmed nobody”.
“In short, my experience as an entrepreneur in ‘the land of the free and home of the brave’, both regarding SatoshiDice and in my other projects, has taught me that America is a lie. It has become a pathetic fiefdom, and I wish Americans would wake the hell up and see what’s happening”, the entrepreneur assures.
And what does Erik Vorhees have to say about the people that criticise SatoshiDice for spamming the network? “There is a number of people who hate me and hate SatoshiDice because it has caused so many transactions on the network. They call it spam because they believe their transactions are more legitimate than mine, and thus mine are spam. (…) SatoshiDice pays the standard Bitcoin fee for every single transaction, and in this way has paid more to support the mining network than everyone else, combined. Critics retort that there are other externalities caused by SatoshiDice. Well that is true, and Bitcoin better fix that problem, and it will. I’ve offered non-trivial sums of money to people to work on and figure out good solutions, but this stuff takes time. In the end, haters gonna hate”.
And what about Bitcoin regulation? According to Vorhees, if Bitcoin succeeds “it will inevitably cede power from governments, because much of a government’s power comes from its ability to print and control the currency that its subjects use. I think it would be hard to argue that Bitcoin would pull society away from individual liberty, and as such it is very much a libertarian technology”.
For now, what Bitcoin really needs is a better way to buy and sell cryptocurrency quickly. “In the US, BitInstant and CoinBase do a reasonable job, but it needs to be better and more specifically faster. And while the US is in the ‘reasonable’ category, elsewhere in the world needs much better ways to buy and sell quickly. The ability to move in and out of Bitcoin in a frictionless manner is what allows the magic to happen – it’s what lends utility to the payment system aspect, and the payment system is what gives the currency its value”.