Andreas M. Antonopoulos, a Greek-British, California-based information security expert, tech entrepreneur, and author-turned-bitcoin evangelist had a few words to say to the community recently to address why he’s not rich yet.
He is famous for giving talks like these and so is a prominent member of the bitcoin community.
He took a couple of minutes to address concerns on Bitcoin and wrote a piece being in the defense of optimism.
Andreas first addressed the reason why he is running a Patreon campaign, saying that he didn’t benefit from the rise of bitcoin as much as others, even though he was involved from the start due to a variety of reasons. He went on to say how he didn’t amass a great fortune in bitcoin because of certain circumstances and the poor choices that he made.
Then went further in-depth into his background, stating how he heard about bitcoin in 2012, and had started working as a freelance consultant. He elaborated on his circumstances, saying he had large credit card debt and only had enough income to make ends meet. At that stage in his life, he was seeking the next opportunity, and then Bitcoin came and “slapped [him] in the face.” That’s when his life changed and he became obsessed with the currency and the revolution it could bring.
He continued his post by stating what happened next in his life. He said that he left his consulting work and placed all of his attention into the nascent virtual currency, meaning that he had left his sources of income behind, surviving on credit and whatever cash flows he had left.
He spent a majority of his time pursuing his passion, and he worked very hard, focusing full time on the technology. He was not able to tap into any various bitcoin income streams at the time because there wasn’t any. He says that he traveled to speak at conferences (which didn’t even cover expenses), consulted with startups (which couldn’t pay him), and wrote articles. He supported his “habit” by dipping into his savings and cutting back on his other expenses so he wouldn’t run through his savings too fast.
In the middle of 2013, he had to start dipping into his retirement funds. The problem was that depending on how you dip into your retirement funds, you might be charged a significant penalty by the government if you don’t meet certain criteria.
He did indeed incur the penalties, he states:
“While doing so, I incurred penalty taxes for early withdrawal. Then, I went into credit card debt. By the end of 2013 I was “worse than broke”: going into debt at an alarming rate.”
Andreas was dipping into his retirement when he was in his early 40’s, far from the time to liquidate. He kept on going, though, furthering his interest in the community and continuing to speak.
Then, in 2014, he finally broke through the income barrier and started gaining a little bit of income. Yet, due to his increased debt levels, he was living paycheck to paycheck. He finally became debt free by the end of 2016.
He went on to state:
“I won’t complain about the lost opportunity. I am extremely fortunate to be able to live debt free, doing my dream job in a field I absolutely love.
Yesterday, while reading the tweet that criticized me for my poor choices, I felt sick to my stomach. It forced me to confront and relive every choice I made and all the missed opportunities. You see, the critical tweet contained a big grain of truth. I could’ve become wealthy. If only I hadn’t sold. If only I hadn’t given away hundreds of bitcoin to complete strangers. If only I had reduced my expenses more. If only I had made smarter choices. If only…
Working in bitcoin is an endless struggle against cynicism, negativity, and regret. Throughout the last 5 years, I have always tried to maintain an optimistic and positive outlook, to focus on the long term, to think about the potential to lift billions out of poverty. But every now and then, I get dragged back into the negative. Yesterday was one of those days. I felt crushed.”
He concluded by stating:
“Today, I am even more focused on my goals: educate the next 10 million users. Train the next 10,000 developers. Do it all in every medium possible. Do it in more languages. Do it with more energy, with more passion. Do it with unrelenting optimism. In the end, my engine runs on hope, it runs on optimism. And today, it’s turbocharged.”
The Bitcoin community has surged due to people like Andreas and others who have taken risks and invested in the ecosystem with their time and effort. Bitcoin is as much ideological as it a currency and a store of value.