12 Mar John Oliver tackles cryptocurrency and gets a headache
This post is a departure from our mostly serious coverage of cryptocurrency and blockchain. If you’re a fan of John Oliver and his comic insights into everyday life on TV, then read on for highlights from a recent, very funny show.
Oliver’s monologue is a great takeout on bitcoin and cryptocurrency. From celebrity endorsements to bitcoin bafflegab and cryptocurrency convolutions, I’ve highlighted some of his best quotes.
John Oliver on cryptocurrency
“Cryptocurrencies — everything you don’t understand about money, combined with everything you don’t understand about computers.”
“Despite the fact that bitcoin has dropped by more than half since the start of the year, there is still a fervor going on with people watching people like that guy getting rich while hearing about others on Reddit and Twitter getting rich. And being driven to invest in crypto due to FOMO or fear of missing out. Now FOMO is a term that many of you already knew but I’m 40 years old, British and oblivious or FYOBO (40 years old, British, oblivious).”
It’s financial freedom bro’
“So, let’s start with bitcoin. It’s a digital, decentralized currency. Basically, that means it only exists as computer code and there is no backer or government controlling it. I know that this is a little complicated, so I’ll let this man in a bitcoin suit explain and give you a surprisingly decent explanation: ‘I’m a virtual currency, worldwide and you can send for little or no fees. I’m open source, not controlled by any government, corporation or individual. It’s financial freedom bro’.”
“The fundamental reason that bitcoin has value is that people agree that it has value. Although, at the moment, it’s really been treated as a speculative investment rather than a currency. Think of it like Beanie Babies, which once reached a price of $15,000.”
“While bitcoin is very interesting as a concept, there are still some very complicated technical issues to work out before it becomes a usable, everyday currency… It’s true. A bitcoin conference stopped taking bitcoin. Which is a red flag because it’s the one place you think it would be accepted.”
Blockchain is like a Chicken McNugget
“I will share a really helpful little dumb metaphor of why bitcoin is great [from Dan Tapscott]: ‘The way I like to think of it is a blockchain is a highly processed thing. Sort of like a chicken McNugget. And if you wanted to hack it, it would be like turning a chicken McNugget back into a chicken. Now someday, someone will be a will to do that, but for now, it’s going to be tough’”
“Reuters found that existing companies that merely added the word blockchain to their name saw their stock price increase more than threefold and one of them was particularly dumb [Long Island Iced Tea]… I don’t care how stupid it is, it clearly works. That is why from now on, this show will be known as “Last Bit Tonight with Blockchainiver. Triple the ratings! Triple! Take that to the bank!”
“There are now over 1.500 cryptocurrencies that you can buy with names like Titcoin, Trumpcoin, Jesus coin, Insane coin, Electroneum, Wax, Particle, Deep Onion, Snovio, Pluton, Newbits and Cloud. A list so insane that you can’t tell which ones are real and which ones are made up, because they’re all real and I didn’t make any up and you couldn’t come up with a name any dumber than Deep Onion. It can’t be done!”
ICOs like Chuck E Cheese Tokens
“Startup companies will often sell a coin to try and raise money as an alternative to issuing stock. And sometimes, those coins are meant as tokens to be used to buy services the startup might eventually provide. Kind of like the tokens at Chuck E Cheese. Only virtual, and not redeemable at a rat-based food emporium.”
“It has become incredibly easy to issue coins. Initial coin offerings or ICOs raised over $6 billion in 2017, with one company raising $35 million in under 30 seconds. Normally when somebody makes money that fast, they make it by walking up to Bill O’Reilly and sitting in silence for 26 seconds and then saying, “I recorded our phone calls.”
Just HODL for the MOONS
“They have a whole shorthand. One key term is HODL, based on a misspelling of HOLD. This is a foundational principle. Don’t sell when prices drop. Instead HODL in the face of FUD, fear, uncertainty and doubt. Otherwise, you might miss out when the coin MOONS or rockets up in value. Meaning you’ll get REKT or lose money and never be a will to afford the traders ultimate goal – a LAMBO or Lamborghini.”
“It’s hard not to wanna be in the #HODLGANG, #HODLGANG, #HODLGANG.”
“The whole point of the Dogecoin was to make fun of how people will buy anything. And people did exactly that.”
“There are pump and dumps everywhere. Some of them just look like good old-school frauds with some cryptocurrency sauce poured on top. Take Bitconnect. At one point it was worth around $3 billion. Now Bitconnect told investors that if you handed over the money, you could get returns as high as 40% per month. And a rate of return that high, might seem immediately suspicious to you, but remember, the market was soaring. And Bitconnect had excited investors like this guy who spoke at one of their conferences.”
“This will not surprise you. Bitconnect essentially collapsed. It had regulators in two states issue cease-and-desist orders and Bitconnect were labeled a Ponzi scheme by many in the industry. Something nobody had any reason to suspect from their promotional material, except that it featured this actual illustration of their bonuses, which seemed to just be a picture of a man coming up with an idea of a pyramid scheme.”
“Everything that exists, will no longer exist in the way that it does. How the fu** is EOS going to change, alter and improve this iguana here?”
I refuse to believe that a man who organized a rainbow wedding at Burning Man should be trusted around 1.5 billion dollars.“
The cryptocurrency gamble
“Just know that if you choose to invest in the cryptocurrency space you’re gambling. That’s fine, but you should know that’s exactly what you’re doing. Prices do go down. Bitcoin could eventually be worthless. Or, it could be worth billions, and adopted as a global currency. If that does happen, I for one will not experience it because I’ll be in an underground bunker, trying to avoid Dan’s smug little face for the rest of time.”
“The point to remember here is this is a brand-new and very complicated space and nobody knows how it’s going to develop, so you need to be careful. I know that sounds boring. Caution is a tough sell when you’re up against Bitconnect and #HODLGANG.
Oliver’s final advice? Be #CRAEFUL!
If you want to catch John Oliver’s very funny cryptocurrency episode, you might find it on YouTube but most links are not active for very long.
Visuals courtesy HBO