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Ten Million Bitcoiners: The Intransigent Minority

Not too many years from now, the number of Bitcoiners in the United States of America will cross ten million. When we hit that milestone, it’s game over: Bitcoin wins.

Cory Klippsten
Cory Klippsten
Feb 21, 2020February 21, 20203 min read3 minutes read
Audio narration

Not too many years from now, the number of Bitcoiners in the United States of America will cross ten million.  When we hit that milestone, it’s game over: Bitcoin wins.

My favorite writer and thinker, Nassim Nicholas Taleb, wrote about “the intran­si­gent minority” in his book Skin in the Game.  Here’s the concept at work: almost every packaged food product for sale in the U.S. has a tiny U inside a circle printed outside.  Very few U.S. residents require the kosher certi­fi­ca­tion indicated by that U, but it’s easier for food compa­nies not to have to make two separate lines for every product, so they gener­ally make every­thing kosher.  The rule, per Taleb: “A Kosher eater will never eat nonkosher food, but a nonkosher eater isn’t banned from eating kosher.”

For most observed complex systems, the minority contingent required to flip a population to comply with their intran­si­gent view is in the 3 – 4% range. With a U.S. popula­tion of 325 million, 3% is 10 million.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

A fintech fund that’s been in the Bitcoin space since 2012 recently ran intense analysis resulting in the best estimate I’ve seen for Bitcoin owner­ship.  Just 7 million people globally are storing $100 of value or more in the Bitcoin protocol.  For round numbers, let’s assume half of those people are in the U.S., and that one-seventh of those are above a more signif­i­cant threshold like $2500.  That’s just 500,000 U.S. citizens with a meaningful amount of Bitcoin.  And of those, what percentage actually under­stand and care about Bitcoin to the point where they would fight for it?  Let’s be generous and say 20%.

There are approx­i­mately 100,000 Bitcoiners in the United States.  This means that just to get to “intran­si­gent minority” levels, we need a 100x increase.  This is why adoption dominates all other prior­i­ties for Bitcoin.

Bitcoiners have already knocked out so many potential attack vectors and handled so much FUD that there’s not much downside risk.

Cory Klippsten

Cory Klippsten

Another concept Taleb refer­ences throughout the five volumes of his Incerto is: Protect Your Downside.  Bitcoiners have already knocked out so many poten­tial attack vectors and handled so much FUD that there’s not much downside risk left for Bitcoin.  But there is some, whether you handicap it at sub 1%, sub 10%, or more.  And by far the most threat­ening attack vector, in my opinion, would be a concerted effort of the U.S. govern­ment at many levels attempting to stamp out Bitcoin in an effort to maintain dollar hegemony across the globe.

Let’s be clear: Bitcoin would survive even the most concerted and vicious attack by the U.S. govern­ment.  It might even thrive, Antifragile-style (another Taleb book), with people around the globe snapping up sats en masse as they witness the erstwhile hegemon lash out.  But it could also play out differ­ently, with a massive drop in network activity and value, thousands of individual lives irreparably disrupted, and the delay of our bright orange future by decades or longer.

This, to me, is unaccept­able.  That is why I have dedicated my life to recruiting the other 99% of our intran­si­gent Bitcoiner minority here in the United States.  There are 100,000 of us already.  Help us recruit the other 9.9 million.

Cory Klippsten

Cory Klippsten

Cory Klippsten is the CEO of Bitcoin financial services firm He is a partner in Bitcoiner Ventures and El Zonte Capital, serves as an advisor to The Bitcoin Venture Fund, and as an angel has funded more than 50 early stage tech companies. Before startups, Klippsten worked for Google, McKinsey, Microsoft and Morgan Stanley, and earned an MBA from the University of Chicago. He grew up in Seattle, split 15 years between NYC and Chicago, and now lives in LA with his wife and daughters. His hobbies include basketball, history and travel (Istanbul and Barcelona are favorites).

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