Enter the Crypto Crackhouse
Nearby is a building residents call the Crypto Crackhouse.
Grant Hummer, who runs the San Francisco Ethereum Meetup, lives there. Long hallways called Bitcoin Boulevard and Ethereum Alley lead to communal bathrooms. Mr. Hummer and his co-founder committed $40 million of their own crypto-made money to their new $100 million hedge fund, Chromatic Capital.
“My neurons are fried from all the volatility,” Mr. Hummer said. “I don’t even care at this point. I’m numb to it. I’ll lose a million dollars in a day and I’m like, O.K.”
His room is simple: a bed, a futon, a TV on a mostly empty media console, three keyboard cleaning sprays and a half dozen canisters of Lysol wipes. His T-shirt read, ‘The Lizard of Wall Street,’ with a picture of a lizard in a suit, dollar-sign necklaces around its neck. He carries with him a coin that reads, “memento mori,” to remind himself he can die any day. He sees the boom as part of a global apocalypse.
“The worse regular civilization does and the less you trust, the better crypto does,” Mr. Hummer said. “It’s almost like the ultimate short trade.”
Mr. Hummer went out to meet Joe Buttram, 27, for drinks. As a mixed martial arts fighter, Mr. Buttram said he would fight for a couple hundred bucks, sometimes a few thousand, and worked security at a start-up, but his main hobbies were reading 4chan and buying vintage pornography, passions that exposed him to cryptocurrency.
He said his holdings are into double-digit millions but wouldn’t give specifics other than to say he’d quit his job and is starting a hedge fund. There’s a common paranoia among the crypto-wealthy that they’ll be targeted and robbed since there’s no bank securing the money, so many are obsessively secretive. Many say even their parents don’t know how much they’ve made. This also allows people to pretend to be wealthier than they are, of course.
“It’s unforgiving,” Mr. Buttram said. “You make one mistake and it’s all gone.”
They talk about buying Lamborghinis, the single acceptable way to spend money in the Ethereum cryptocurrency community. The currency’s founder frequently appears in fan art as Jesus with a Lamborghini. Mr. Buttram says he’s renting an orange Lambo for the weekend. And he wears a solid gold Bitcoin “B” necklace encrusted with diamonds that he had made. Otherwise, HODL.
This is one of the core beliefs in this community: HODL, “hold” typed very fast, as if in a panic. HODL even if you feel FUD — fear, uncertainty and doubt. If you show wealth, it means you don’t really believe in the cryptocurrency revolution, a full remake of the financial system, governments and our world order that will send the price of ether up astronomically.
“HODL when everyone has FUD,” Mr. Hummer said quietly, to explain why he still lives in a dorm room. “This will change civilization. This can 100 x or more from here.”
He knows this is strange.
“When I meet people in the normal world now, I get bored,” Mr. Hummer said. “It’s just a different level of consciousness.”
The tone turns somber.
“Sometimes I think about what would happen to the future if a bomb went off at one of our meetings,” Mr. Buttram said.
Mr. Hummer said, “A bomb would set back civilization for years.”
A few days later, Mr. Hummer was working from his co-founder’s apartment.