An “angel investor” is someone who individually bankrolls an investment for a new company or business venture. They usually invest on a smaller scale than a “venture capitalist”, but aren’t looking to take a start-up public to reap huge rewards. An “angel” may invest more in the idea or the person leading the new venture than the expected financial returns, or the ability for the business to “go public”. Well, Roger Ver is to angel investors what Phil Jackson is to NBA coaching success. He has had a hand in a long string of bitcoin success stories, and for bringing many people into the cryptocurrency revolution. His passion and dedication to bitcoin’s growth has definitely been a driving force in its early success.
Roger Ver has been in the news lately due to a legal issue with Chinese bitcoin exchange company OKCoin. In this exclusive interview, CCN.com talks to Roger Ver about his conflict with OKCoin. Also, how he got started with bitcoin, what he’s done to promote bitcoin, and where Bitcoin is going in the future.
For those who don’t know you that well, Roger, can you give a summary of your Bitcoin background and your aspirations in this space.
I was the first person to start investing in the Bitcoin ecosystem in any substantial way. I was the first investor in such companies as Blockchain.info, Bitinstant, Ripple, Bitpay, BitcoinStore, and many more. Nathaniel Popper’s new book “Digital Gold” does a great job of covering it.
You have become commonly known in the media as the “Bitcoin Jesus”. Who coined the phrase? Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Do you like it or dislike it?
I’m not sure who started that. It somehow came due to my constant evangelizing about bitcoin before anyone else was in any major way. I never set out to become “Bitcoin Jesus”, and my life would likely be easier if that hadn’t happened.
When did you get started in bitcoin? How did you get turned on to it?
I heard about it on FreeTalkLive.com’s podcast in early 2011 and jumped in with both feet.
Of your accomplishments, what are you most proud of in your time working and investing in Bitcoin?
We all know that libertarians played a very big role early on. I think I helped bring them on board more than anyone else. I ran national radio ads advertising Bitcoin on more than 100 radio stations. I attended libertarian conferences to spread the good news about bitcoin. I gave away more bitcoins to libertarians than I can count. I would estimate over 10,000. I think getting the libertarians behind Bitcoin in the early days was what allowed Bitcoin to come as far as it has in such a short amount of time.
Regarding your issue with OKCoin, can you give your side of the conflict? What is the basic problem here? How did you and OKCoin connect to begin with? I know they received ownership of the bitcoin.com domain from Blockchain.Info
The short version is that the CEO of OKCoin forged a contract and then forged my name onto it. PGP cryptographic signatures have proven it to be a forgery and for him to be a liar beyond any doubt. The only reason I can think of for him to go to such extremes to get out of a $10,000 a month payment is if his company is already insolvent and doesn’t have the money. I really think we should demand a full proof of reserves audit of OKCoin at this point.
How surprised were you to see them make it a public matter?
I was shocked that they would make it public when anyone with two eyes can see that they are the liars and cheaters in this situation. I suppose they just wanted to get their side of the story out first, or they would have had no chance at all in the court of public opinion.
How should this issue be resolved, to your satisfaction?
I’m not sure at this point. The CEO of OKcoin has proven himself to be a liar and a contract counterfeiter. They already broke their agreement with me, wasted several days of my time, hurt the bitcoin ecosystem as a whole. If they are actually solvent, I suppose they should pay me some fee for the damages they have caused by breaching the contract. Firstly I would like to see an audit, so we know we aren’t dealing with MTGOX part 2.
The year is 2020. What is bitcoin to the world five years from now? What is a realistic expectation of its growth and development? What is Bitcoin’s 5-year plan?
If Bitcoin grows at about the same pace as the last five years, it will be about $50,000 per BTC with about 1,000,000,000 people will be using it. If you look at how far Bitcoin has come in the last five years, that isn’t unreasonable at all.
Besides the resolution of this OKCoin conflict, what else can we expect from you in 2015? What’s left on the “To Do List”?
Roger Ver is one of the busiest men in the bitcoin community, and it looks like his next big project is almost ready to come to fruition. Sounds like things are going to get very interesting in the bitcoin community once Roger gets over this bump in the road. There never is a boring day in the world of bitcoin these days. Stay tuned.
Images courtesy of Roger Ver.