Grasshopper Capital Daily: Many Many Scams

Bitcoin Is Ridiculous. Blockchain Is Dangerous
That was the title of a recently published article in Bloomberg. The article starts off with:

On the days when Bitcoin crashes, a holiday atmosphere takes over in my corners of the internet. People tweet screengrabs of Reddit fights. It’s always good fun to watch strangers grieve as their digital nonsense nickels melt into slag.

I really wanted to give the article a chance. I always love to read critcism pieces. It's good to stay balanced, but there are just too many articles with the same formula:

  1. I discovered Bitcoin early (The author was mining in 2009).
  2. I didn't understand it and sold my coins.
  3. I lived through the dot-com bubble so Bitcoin also must be a bubble.
  4. Bitcoin isn't real and thus will be worthless.
  5. I can't wait until everyone's investment is 0. 

I am exaggerating. There are real criticisms of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. For example, scalability is a real concern. Is proof of work the most optimal method of mining Bitcoin? The repeated criticisms that I see from the media show little effort in educating the readership about Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency. I wish things will change.

Plagiarism is in Style
In the past week, we have seen impersonation from Twitter bots asking for cryptocurrency, an ICO using Ryan Gosling's picture for their website, and now accusations of plagiarism on white paper. There is a reason that regulation exists in other industries. 

Buzzfeed found two examples where companies plagiarized whitepapers. One was Dentaflix which plagiarized the Patientory white paper:

In late January, Patientory, a software firm that aims to store electronic medical records using a distributed database, caught wind of a worrying development. The Atlanta startup, which had raised more than $7 million from investors, noticed that a proposal outlining its proprietary technology and company vision — better known in the cryptocurrency world as a “white paper” — was also being used to raise money by an unknown company called Dentalfix.

Dentalfix’s origins are unclear, but it appears to have been a Russia-based seller of tooth repair kits that at some point in recent months decided it could raise money by selling its own cryptocurrency. After one initial coin offering (ICO) failed, the company unveiled a new website and business plan in late 2017 for a “health management system,” complete with an impressive looking white paper with full pages of text lifted from Patientory’s plan.

Tron was the other example:

In January, Juan Benet, an entrepreneur behind Filecoin, a data storage network with an application token that raised $257 million, claimed that the Tron white paper included language from his proposal and others with “zero references.” He included a diagram showing material he alleged had been copied. Tron’s creator Justin Sun, a Chinese entrepreneur who claims to be a protégé of Alibaba CEO Jack Ma, replied insisting that the similarities between the two papers were the result of a translation issue. Tron, which says it’s constructing “a global free content entertainment system utilizing blockchain technology” subsequently scrubbed its website of the original white paper and uploaded a new one — but not before its market capitalization rapidly dropped from its height of $12 billion.

To evaluate the accusations against Tron, BuzzFeed News asked Quetext, a plagiarism analysis company, to compare Tron and Filecoin’s white papers. Quetext assigned a similarity score of more than 15%, and highlighted whole diagrams, passages, and chunks of phrases that were shared between the two. (For comparison, Dentalfix’s white paper had a 99.9% similarity score to Patientory’s.)

The Dentaflix scam failed, but Tron is still thriving with a valuation of over $2B. It's obvious to why people are running cryptocurrency scams. It's easy money especially in an ecosystem where there is no regulation and many investor/users don't understand the product. Many whitepapers are abstract and investments are based on the belief that a team will execute. As the investor becomes more educated and regulation comes to the space hopefully the blateness and scale of scams will reduce. 

Some Other Things I Read Today

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