About the Author

Ethan Lou

Books by this Author
Once a Bitcoin Miner

Once a Bitcoin Miner

Scandal and Turmoil in the Cryptocurrency Wild West
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There was a presentation by Bitwage, which offers a service that allows companies to pay their employees with cryptocurrency. I had been working on a second cryptocurrency article about that very subject, to coincide with Labor Day, and at that event, I met a lot who were taking salaries in Bitcoin—some entirely.


One of them was Gerald Cotten, a bright-eyed, sandy-haired 20-something, who like Mt. Gox’s Frenchman Mark Karpeles, seemed to be always smiling. Gerry, as he was known, had founded the exchange platform QuadrigaCX, where people can buy and sell cryptocurrency, and five years later, would die in India and send shockwaves across and beyond the cryptocurrency world—but that is a whole other story.


A business-school graduate, Gerry was a fixture in the Toronto’s burgeoning cryptocurrency scene, attending Anthony’s meetups even before the latter had secured his fashion-district building. Reserved, private and an avid player of Settlers of Catan, a nerdy, nerdy strategy board game, Gerry carefully avoided gluten and drank cider instead of beer due to digestive issues.


Gerry shook my hand and handed me a black business card, white text upon a dark, perforated steel theme. It was nice-looking, but it was clearly not made by a professional. There were at least three different types of fonts on it.


I had known Gerry a little by reputation, but of course, that was not unusual. At the time, there was few places in Canada where you could easily buy and sell cryptocurrency in an organized fashion, with Canadian dollars. Everyone knew Gerry and Quadriga. Aren’t you in Vancouver? I asked.


Oh, no, Gerry said, we were, but we just moved to Toronto.


I asked Gerry about Quadriga. It was then only nine months old, and it wasn’t doing that well. Only C$7.4 million worth of bitcoin traded hands on the platform that year, and it took in a meager C$22,168 in revenue December 2014 through January 2015, against almost four times that in losses.


Yet Gerry had gone all in. “I make all my money in Bitcoin,” he said. He was in for the long haul, a steadfast believer in the future of cryptocurrency.


For a while, I almost forgot about all the money I had lost. There was something oddly inspiring about Gerry. I decided to hold on to my Bitcoin.


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