Until 2016, I ran an advertising agency in London. At our peak we had a lot of success. I had a team of 35 people, a turnover of 3 million pounds sterling and a Covent Garden office. When the agency closed, I decided to invest in Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a type of electronic money that allows people to spend or exchange via a peer-to-peer network without the intervention of banks or other intermediaries. This is an inexpensive and efficient way of transferring funds or keeping value, which can be converted back into sterling anytime. I had already used it to buy a treatment online for my mother after the cancer diagnosis. I had also been trying to invest in it in 2013, and won and lost money: bitcoin is subject to sudden fluctuations in value. But the market seemed to have evolved and I decided that this could be a good way to make my savings profitable.
At first, I deposited £ 5,000; at the time, in January 2017, bitcoins cost about $ 600. I bought seven or eight and used the rest to buy other cryptocurrencies. But in the weeks that followed, I became addicted and invested in a large sum of money, totaling £ 23,000. I remember telling people, "I really think that the value of bitcoin could reach $ 2,000 this year." I could never have predicted that it would reach a level 10 times higher. By the middle of spring 2017, my investment had reached about $ 300,000, and in the summer it was $ 500,000. The media interest in Bitcoin grew and friends kept asking how they could get started. So I created a group on Facebook, then a website and finally a podcast dedicated to this topic. As the excitement was building, more and more people got involved, creating the conditions for a bubble. but many of us were too caught up in the hype to be cautious.
By the end of 2017, bitcoin had reached nearly $ 20,000 and my portfolio had climbed to about $ 1.2 million. It was at this point that I got a little out of control. I've always been an entrepreneur and since my childhood I dreamed of buying my local football club, Bedford Town, to become president and to get him into the league. I thought the project could cost 5 million pounds. So that's the figure I've decided to aim for. I felt that I could get there within six months.
At that time, I traveled the world doing interviews for my podcast, taking friends to expensive restaurants and buying extravagant gifts for my family. I am not the kind of person who tidies everything up for the future and, even though I donated £ 6,000 to my local hospital, much of my spending was rather frivolous. It might have been better to buy two houses, but I have become too ambitious. It was like my shot to realize this childhood dream.
At the end of January 2018, the bubble burst and the value of Bitcoin suddenly dropped. There had been some declines in 2017 but it had rebounded, so I was not too worried. But the rest of the year, I watched it drop more and more, with other cryptographic currencies in which I had invested, thinking all the time: "There is no point in selling now …". The value of Bitcoin continued to fall. Almost everything I had built had been destroyed.
Many people have invested a lot more than me and have suffered much bigger losses. I would have liked everything before the burst of the bubble, but I do not waste too much time to regret. I have earned money once through my hard work and I enjoyed it more. Right now, I'm enjoying the creation of my podcast, which provides enough money to live. I've sold most of my bitcoins, which are currently worth around $ 4,000 apiece, to give me a cushion in case the company goes through a bad month. But if I had to choose between the $ 1.2 million and the podcast, I would let the money go again – I like what I am doing now.
I still believe that bitcoin is a force for good. I recently interviewed Alex Gladstein of the Human Rights Foundation, who explained how this helps people living in authoritarian regimes to flourish – for example, Afghan women who are not allowed to open a bank account can still work and be paid in bitcoins. This is a step in the right direction. My main goal is to explore how bitcoin could help stabilize an increasingly unstable world.
• As told to Chris Broughton. Comments on this article are pre-moderated to ensure that the discussion remains on the topics covered in the article.
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