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Tickets Now On Sale for San Francisco's First 'Blockchain Music Festival'

Tickets for the first music festival set to be powered by blockchain technology are now on sale.

Scheduled for this fall, the Our Music Festival is launching its own virtual currency — the OMF token — at its inaugural event in San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza. It will be the first musical entertainment experience to process booking fees on a live blockchain application.

The festival plans to develop on the ethereum network and hopes the event will appeal to the city’s tech crowd.

Pre-sale tickets start at $25 and can be purchased as standard digital passes directly from crypto.ourmusicfestival.com and ourmusicfestival.com using U.S. dollars and cryptocurrencies (bitcoin, bitcoin cash, ether, litecoin). General tickets are being released tomorrow starting at $29.

The line-up, which has been announced on the festival’s website, will feature electronic dance musicians Zedd, 3LAU, and Matt + Kim, hip-hop icon Big Sean and pop singer Charlotte Lawrence. The one-day event will run from 5 P.M. to 11 P.M. on October 20.

Headlining artist 3LAU, whose real name is Justin Blau, is Our Music Festival’s brainchild. He is supported by a team of music and cryptocurrency veterans from Creative Artists Agency, Paradigm Talent Agency, Spotify, Billboard, Prime Social Group, CID Entertainment and SINGULAR DTV to organize the festival chain.

Blau told CoinDesk that he has been working on the project since August of last year. He wanted to build a substantial use case for cryptocurrencies that will streamline the music market and cut out industry middlemen. Throughout his music career, he has seen street scalpers, Craigslist and ticketing vendors artificially drive up prices for music event attendees, scam innocent buyers, and squeeze out profits from musicians and agents.

Our Music Festival envisions a decentralized, end-to-end, direct-to-consumer music ticket pipeline that makes supply and demand economics fully transparent and ticket users digitally verifiable to optimize pricing on all sides, features which Blau claims are not supportable without blockchain technology.

Though StubHub and TicketMaster calculate pricing analytics, many traditional ticket options are manipulated or fraudulent, obfuscating the actual mathematics. This is why Our Music Festival customers will be able to curate events and tickets will be inexpensive relative to standard-fare price tags that typically reach hundred dollar markups, he says.

Our Music Festival also incentivizes event attendees to stay loyal to the music-going experience. Blau added that ticket holders will be buying into a tokenized ecosystem where upgrades, merchandise, concessions, and rewards can be digitally exchanged through an all-in-one community portal integrated into the blockchain booking platform.

No crypto novice

The 27-year-old American music producer shot to fame in the early and mid-2010s collaborating with EDM notables Dash Berlin, Alesso, Afrojack, R3hab and The Chainsmokers. He then remixed hit songs from pop sensations Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, Adele, Rihanna and Nicki Minaj.

As a Washington University of St. Louis finance student, he gave up a career on Wall Street to pursue dance music. The Winklevoss twins introduced him to bitcoin around the same time.

In the last several years, Blau has toured Electric Daisy Carnival and debuted at Hakkasan, Rehab and Drai’s nightclubs on the popular music festival and Las Vegas residency circuits. He has also posted about cryptocurrencies on social media. Just a few days ago, he uploaded the first page of Satoshi Nakomoto’s bitcoin white paper on his Instagram Story.

Like Paris Hilton, Scott Disick, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg, and as of Tuesday, Kim Kardashian, Blau joins the ranks of celebrities who share an interest in alternative financial systems. The recent surge of star power has led many to believe that mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency payments is on the horizon, but others remain skeptical.

In an email, Trey Ditto, a representative for the EDM DJ, wrote that Blau is genuinely passionate and well-versed about virtual currencies:

He said:

“Justin has put a lot of his music on hold to focus on this project…the truth is he spent the past 18 months diving into all aspects of blockchain to immerse himself in the industry. So, he’s not just some DJ trying to use his fame to get into crypto and make some money.”

Image via 3lau Facebook

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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The Real Problem With Nocoiners

Marc Hochstein is the managing editor of CoinDesk. 

The following article originally appeared in CoinDesk Weekly, a custom-curated newsletter delivered every Sunday exclusively to our subscribers.


A nocoiner, according to Urban Dictionary, is someone who has no bitcoin. But not everyone who has no bitcoin is necessarily a nocoiner.

Rather, what makes a nocoiner a nocoiner is not simply the absence of cryptocurrency from his investment portfolio, but his sanctimonious attitude about it.

Urban Dictionary’s definition, which was posted in December – about the time the word entered wide usage in the bitcoin community – goes on to describe nocoiners as:

“….people who missed their opportunity to buy Bitcoin at a low price … and who [are] now bitter at having missed out. The nocoiner takes out his or her bitterness on Bitcoin Hodlers, by constantly claiming that Bitcoin will crash, is a scam, is a bubble, or other types of easily refuted FUD.”

In other words, a nocoiner is full of what philosophers call ressentiment, defined by La Wik as “a reassignment of the pain that accompanies a sense of one’s own inferiority/failure onto an external scapegoat.”

The Twitter user known as @crackbagged picked up on this psychological insight in a Medium post in June of last year, warning fellow bitcoiners not to gloat when the price reaches $1 million:

“The people you told about Bitcoin may turn on you and assault you. You might be accused of witchcraft and thrown down a well, or worse. The mind of a nocoiner (a person who has no Bitcoin) is a dangerous place.”

Marco Santori, a lawyer who’s represented bitcoin startups since the early days and now the president and chief legal officer of wallet provider Blockchain, recently tweeted his distaste for the word “nocoiner,” writing that “it has a bitter us-vs-them flavor to it” and “smacks of partisan tribalism.”

But nocoiners engage in tribal signalling at least as much as bitcoiners.

The nocoiner isn’t just skeptical or even bearish about bitcoin. He feigns epistemic certainty that it will fail.

A nocoiner doesn’t simply express doubt about the use cases for cryptocurrency – he declares, unequivocally, that there are no use cases at all, in the face of evidence to the contrary. (A subset of nocoiners will assert that the only uses are criminal, implicitly committing the logical fallacy of appeal to the law.)

The nocoiner mocks the bitcoiner’s evangelical fervor, but he is every bit as religious in his convictions – and nowhere near as endearing.       

The first use of “nocoiner” on Twitter is believed to have been in February 2017, though the term’s apparently been used in 4chan forums for several years. But nocoiners have arguably been around since long before Satoshi’s white paper. As long as humans have walked the Earth, perhaps.

In the late 19th century, Nietzsche compared the nocoiners of the day to tarantulas: “In all their lamentations soundeth vengeance … and being judge seemeth to them bliss.”

Mea culpa

Cards on the table: I myself was a proto-nocoiner in the late 1990s, a good 10 years before bitcoin’s Genesis block.

Working at a daily banking newspaper (a phrase that will be indecipherable to our grandchildren), I sneered at the dot-com boom and regularly gawked at F**ked Company, a website that printed unvetted rumors of layoffs and bankruptcies at the era’s highflying startups (what an edgy name, I thought then).

Incredulous about market valuations for companies with no profits or even revenues, I rolled my eyes and looked forward to the day when the the internet bubble would burst. Once this nonsense is over, I thought, we can concentrate on writing about serious companies. Like Countrywide, ha ha.

In my defense, a lot of those tech companies I scoffed at were indeed frivolous, and most went belly-up or got acquired. But the internet still transformed the economy (though the financial services industry less so) and the subsequent mortgage boom and bust were far more destructive, all things considered.

Even Fast Company is still around, while the tawdry gossip site that spoofed the magazine’s name is long forgotten. Its rapier-like subtlety lives on at the r/buttcoin subreddit.

To be clear: The lesson from that era was not that we should revere entrepreneurs or accept all technologists’ claims unchallenged. Rather, keep an open mind, think beyond the quarterly metrics Wall Street obsesses over, question your assumptions about how the world will always work – and don’t confuse a beautiful horse (the world wide web, bitcoin) with the flies buzzing around its rear end (Pets.com, Mt. Gox).

In other words, you don’t have to hold or even like bitcoin. Just don’t be a nocoiner.

Empty pockets image via Shutterstock.

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk strives to offer an open platform for dialogue and discussion on all things blockchain by encouraging contributed articles. As such, the opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of CoinDesk.

For more details on how you can submit an opinion or analysis article, view our Editorial Collaboration Guide or email news@coindesk.com.

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2017: The Year Blockchain Got Weird

Sarah Friend (@isthisanart_) is a software engineer working at a blockchain development studio. When not doing that, she creates games and interactive experiences that explore privacy and transparency and the political and environmental implications of technology. 

This article is an exclusive contribution to CoinDesk’s 2017 in Review opinion series.


2017 was a lot of things – a year of unprecedented environmental catastrophe, an ongoing political trash fire, the year that made more crypto-millionaires than any year previous…

Another way to remember the past year is calling it “the year weird blockchain broke.” But what is weird blockchain you might ask? The etymology comes the “weird Facebook” phenomenon, a collection of meme-pages, wholesome and less-wholesome trolls and pseudonymous profiles made all the more wonderful by their unlikely home, the social network your family and your boss use.

And maybe in that definition, I point to why weird blockchain is worth talking about now, at the end of 2017 – because finally, weird blockchain feels weird.

The blockchain community has always been prolific with in-jokes and memes. Early crypto adopters share a vernacular of signs, symbols and idiosyncrasies – from yelling “MOON” in trollboxes, to HODLing, to the entire existence of dogecoin at all in any capacity.

But this year, blockchain hit banks, it hit business, it hit $10,000, and in its success it welcomed the masses like never before.

In the early days of crypto, anyone staying up all night to trade (or spending months of their life writing software no one thought would be useful) crossed the bridge of self-selection into the land of the outsider. This is no longer the case.

Now, in no particular order – my faves of the year’s absurdity:

Jokes as art

Useless tokens of all kinds, among them the eponymous “Useless Ethereum Token.”

UET bills itself as “The world’s first 100 percent honest ethereum ICO,” raising 310.445 ether. This one’s basically a meme blockbuster, culminating in a listing on HitBTC and at one point trading at $4.95. Yet, it also had an early and less-well-known predecessor, ponzIco, a more biting variant, hatched by Josh Cincinnatti of the zcash foundation.

It comes with a pun-filled whitepaper, and was name dropped by Matt Levine on Money Stuff:

“The great art project of our age is to entirely collapse the distinctions between ‘fraud’ and ‘performance art,’ so that one day mortgage-bond traders will be able to say, ‘Wait, no, I wasn’t lying about bond prices to increase my bonus, I was performing a metafictional narrative about bond-price negotiations in order to problematize the underlying foundations of bond trading in late capitalism.'”

Memes live in the liminal space between art and jokes.

A troll of a different variety is Fluffypony (Riccardo Spagni), the lead developer for monero, whose hype campaign for a “big announcement” in May 2017 culminated in a 2x run-up in price.

When the video finally dropped, it was instead a two-minute long stock-footage filled parody of inspirational corporate propaganda, culminating in the slogan, “Putting the fun back in fungibility.”

Hailed as art by some and with outrage by others:

In this genre, I award honorable mentions to BTCwizard, world’s first “Initial Troll Offering” (a push to get the bitcoin wizard a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal) and FitVitalik, an apparently totally
sincere token that will somehow get Vitalik Buterin a probably-non-consensual personal trainer.

Art as jokes

Moving more squarely towards the camp of what I’ll call “intentional art,” we find Bad Shibe written by Rob Myers and illustrated by Lina Theodorou.

The story is a near-future sci-fi novella set under a rising Doge Moon – a young shibe named YS starts to question the underpinnings of the tokenized-reputation system that governs their world. Written in 2014,
but only now published in 2017, the meme is still strong – and the story more relevant than ever.

Bad Shibe is part of Artists Re:Thinking the Blockchain, an anthology of speculative fiction, interviews, illustrations and theory published by Furtherfield, a centre for arts and technology based in the U.K.

The book includes a rich collection of takes … everything from a round up of cryptocurrency mining in contemporary art, a blockchain developer’s Hippocratic oath and blockchain LARP. Furtherfield has also been hosting the DAOWO programme – a series of workshops on reinventing the arts lab with blockchain.

Another irreverent project with a postwork dystopian twist, Max Dovey’s Respiratory Miner allows people to mine cryptocurrency by breathing.

Breath (BRH) is part of an art performance and interactive exhibit that uses a spirometry, a medical technique for measuring lung capacity, to mine monero with a hashrate adjusted for rate-of- breath. It was recently exhibited at Generator Projects in Dundee in an exhibition curated by Alejandro Ball and Inês Costa, and will be exhibited again in January as part of Money Lab 2018.

Truth is stranger

But of course, another dimension of the fake news era is – beyond the blurry synergy of jokes-as- art and art-as- jokes – is reality itself competing to out-weird them.

How can you distinguish the troll from the truth? As we all now know it’s a sinister phenomenon, but its smallest sibling is the clickbait headline that becomes accidental meme.

Now, in rapid fire, I bring you, this:

Buddhists launch digital currency to banish corruption from religion

And this:

And never forget this:

There you have it.

2017. It’s the blockchain version of the moment you realized Hot Topic exists.

The thing you used to get made fun for is cool now. The area of permitted protest of the system is much greater than the system is willing to admit.

Disagree? CoinDesk is looking for submissions to its 2017 in Review series. Email news@coindesk.com to pitch your idea and make your views heard.

Dennis Rodman image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk strives to offer an open platform for dialogue and discussion on all things blockchain by encouraging contributed articles. As such, the opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of CoinDesk.

For more details on how you can submit an opinion or analysis article, view our Editorial Collaboration Guide or email news@coindesk.com.

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Blockchain's 2018 Goal? Human Rights Over Financial Gains

Thessy Mehrain is director of product and innovation at ConsenSys, where she works on dapps and protocols to enable social innovation via the ethereum blockchain. She is also the founder of “Women in Blockchain” New York, a distributed global network building diversity and inclusion.

The following article is an exclusive contribution to CoinDesk’s 2017 in Review series.


2017 was an exciting year for blockchain.

Despite the fact that the world today is rife with discord and polarization, there are those who are passionate about building a better future, one where people are empowered to self-organize and the institutions that underpin society actually work for the people they serve.

That is why as we reach the end of the year, it is a good time to step back and review the progress we have made towards those goals. Blockchain enables a world in which every human being has their needs met and has a voice, an open world, where we can collaborate globally on what is meaningful to us and where we benefit from our diversity of experiences.

By shifting data ownership and control, once passive consumers can become active participants in society as a whole. Equipped with tools to audit supply chains, values like labor safety, fair trade, organic production and other values can be verified, replacing advertising jargon with proof, replacing trust with auditability.

Being involved in the blockchain space today feels like being part of something larger, grander, something with a socially valuable purpose. That is why blockchain meet-ups are overflowing, conferences are sold out and the difference between personal and professional interests, for many, are blurring.

Not just ambitious, these goals should serve as reminders that we HAVE to get this right.

In 2017, we saw:

  • The rise of new tokens and funds
  • The largest increase in the global blockchain participant pool we’ve seen to date
  • Valuation bubbles.

In 2018, we need to:

  • Educate new participants in the blockchain ecosystem
  • Work intentionally on diversity and a representative culture
  • Understand the opportunities as a matter of empowering human rights.

Attracting money and masses

In 2017, blockchain leapt into the public conscious by ways of forks, CryptoKitties and token launches, also referred to as ICOs. Driven by investment opportunities and media attention, traditional businesses and consumers started to take active interest in cryptocurrencies and their underlying blockchain technology.

But, we should remember this expanded participant pool joined primarily for financial gains, drawn in by newly generated tokens that have given buyers expectations of positive performance.

For those already involved, confidence in a blockchain future was validated and fueled by the high volume of crowdsourced funding. To date, an estimated $3.6 billion was raised for token projects created just on the ethereum blockchain, an amount that justified calling token launches themselves the platform’s “killer app.”

With it came a sense of a modern day gold rush, but also an expansion of what is possible.

Compared to the phases of the previous internet boom which rang in the information age, the age of blockchain, of direct, disintermediated value transfer and automation, just reached 1998-levels of interest. Just like then on the back of bubbles, the crypto world invited the mainstream to join.

Laying the groundwork

And the arrival of an Apple-spoiled consumer audience lacking the passion and patience to adjust to developer jargon and unusable workflows has also brought new product requirements.

To make it easier to onboard new customers, an emphasis emerged on simplifying complexities of blockchain-based applications with delightful user experiences, appealing designs and consumer friendly language. Everyone loves CryptoKitties, the tradeable and breedable representations of value.

They are denominated in ether and have been bringing the network almost to a halt, being the cutest motivators to scale transaction throughput and liquidity.

2017 also brought a focus on making blockchain workplaces more inviting.

How better to create a more inclusive and equitable society than with diverse creators?  A notable PBS study demonstrated that diversity is instrumental to building better products and systems.

The smarter companies have already well established diversity efforts (ethnicity, cultural, age, orientation…), while Women in Blockchain meet-ups and Social Impact initiatives popped up across the globe, expanding the blockchain story with female narratives.

What’s next? Opportunities in 2018

But with all this achieved, now what?

In 2018, we must:

  • Redirect already captured interest to create equality – Bubbles are signals of a market demand, and represent mostly expectations of monetary returns. Let’s embrace them as opportunities for growth. But if we stop here, we might easily continue to centralize wealth, repeat traditional power structures, and miss the real opportunity.
  • Educate new participants about the value proposition of public blockchains – and reposition ‘profit’ to include monetary and social value.
  • Create a safe environment that supports innovation – Inevitably, some of the bubbles will burst, some of the milestones will be missed, and some of the projects will evaporate and investors will get burned, leading to calls for regulations. But if we regulate based on old structures and paradigms, we will stifle innovation.
  • Take responsibility to self-regulate – This includes expanding efforts like those of Consensys’ “Brooklyn Project,” which has the mission of providing market participants and regulators with powerful tools to protect consumers and enhance the integrity of token-based networks.
  • Intentionally build diversity and inclusion in the creator space – We are early into the blockchain era and still struggling with figuring out the technology. That focus is one of the reasons why the creator space is so young, white male dominated. Even with the best intentions and demonstrated intelligence, this doesn’t create an inviting environment for diverse people, needed to build robust global products.
  • Involve diverse communities in the creation of all blockchain products – education efforts to aggregate diverse intelligence and ensure that solutions serve everyone.
  • Enable the core promises of blockchain to empower human rights – We have experienced systematic failures in the globalization of society. Entire populations have been left behind in poverty, lacking education and basic services, without a voice to stand up for themselves, bereft of  mobility and freedom, while the right of corporations has been expanded and been protected, often benefitting from the misery of the poor.
  • Promote and protect the right to freely exchange value between any two parties. The freedom to exchange is essential to participation in the future world. It is equivalent to the freedom of speech in the digital space. It is a matter of equality and has to be protected and considered as a human right.

For many, the initial draw towards the blockchain and crypto world might be financial gains.

But for a more just future, we must expand the definition of profit to include both monetary and social gains, and understand that blockchain alone is a technical solution that enables social innovation.

A diverse creator pool and innovation-friendly regulations are essential to building mechanisms in line with equality and human rights.

It is our responsibility and opportunity to get that right in 2018!

Disagree? CoinDesk is looking for submissions to its 2017 in Review series. Email news@coindesk.com to pitch your idea and make your views heard.

Unity image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk strives to offer an open platform for dialogue and discussion on all things blockchain by encouraging contributed articles. As such, the opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of CoinDesk.

For more details on how you can submit an opinion or analysis article, view our Editorial Collaboration Guide or email news@coindesk.com.

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as, and is not intended to provide, investment advice. Please conduct your own thorough research before investing in any cryptocurrency.

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A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Blockchain Highway

A video blogger and content creator better known as “Mike in Space,” (@mikeinspace) is the writer-director of the “Bitcoin Car Talk” YouTube series.

The following article is an exclusive contribution to CoinDesk’s 2017 in Review.


Hello, Bitcoiner – Go ahead and help yourself into the back of the car.

Don’t mind the mess, just push that stuff over, and make yourself comfortable. You hungry? I’ve got an extra steak cooking on the engine block. It should be ready any minute now! I should tell you, I don’t usually pick up hitchhikers, but, well you look like you could use some help.

A lot of people come through this car. You can see bits and pieces of what they’ve left behind in the back there. That’s an Opendime you just sat on. Oh, and that? That’s the 21 Computer. Just push that aside for now…

I picked you up because of that sign you were holding. “Heading south, will work for crypto.”

That’s a common message these days – you’re not the first to think of it. Hell, maybe you saw someone else holding that sign and thought you’d do the same. I see a lot of that too. The trick to a good sign is to make it relatable. Lots of people are heading south. Hell, lots of people even want crypto these days. Your message stuck. Simple messages are often the ones that stick best.

Look kid, I’ll be straight with you. I’m a busy guy. I have a wife at home. I have kids to feed. But these people on the road these days? They’re bonkers. I only picked you up because you looked… relatable. I made note of that. Yeah. You looked like you have the same problems I’ve had. Your sign stuck out. Signs like yours are what help like-minded people stick together.

So, what else makes a sign stick?

Well, you have to make your message snappy. That’s the first thing.

You see all these cars? Each one of them contains a busy person on the go. These people don’t have much time to think. They want to learn something, and they want to learn fast. So, make your message simple. And you know what? Make it funny too. People love to laugh.

Most people are just trying to get to where they’re going. We don’t have time to go down every road and examine them for ourselves. See, take those people on that side of the road. They’re going backwards. You know it, and I know it. They’ll learn that eventually. The reason they’re going backwards is that they started off reading the wrong signs. Once you get started on the wrong trail, it’s hard to turn around.

As for these people on our side of the road? Well, they’re people like us. And they’re heading our way. The biggest problem on these highways, best that I can tell is that no one’s looking out for each other. Everyone is so concerned with their destination, they don’t even pay attention to the people heading there with them.

That’s why I picked you up. I figured, I need to talk to more people like us. People who stare into the same far-off distance I’m driving to, and who say, “Damnit, I want to get there as well.”

So, where are we going?

Well, that’s the hard part. I’m just heading forward right now. I don’t know where you’re going to. And sure, I could ask. But what if I don’t like your answer? To me, all I need to know is that we’re together for the time being. I’ll take you as far as I’m going, and when I need to exit this highway, well, I’ll just let the next guy take you from there.

That’s what I like about a good sign. It takes you forward.

A great commute is made of simple steps. That’s what all the great signs have in common. They cut through the big thinking and get straight to the heart of things. They help us focus on the immediate goals.

That’s another thing about signs. When they’re done right, they’re lessons learned from others. Hints from our future selves, to our past. Some signs are great at finding our flaws. Others for finding our ideals. And some, well, they’re just for blowing off pressure.

The trick is to remember the scenery is what makes road trips fun. If you don’t like a sign, ignore it. That’s why they put a steering wheel on this ride. It’s up to you to pick what signs to follow.

You have to watch out for new people bearing fancy signs. Things get awfully heated when they show up. They can be distracting. People start rubbernecking down the highway. Accidents happen. People just can’t seem to leave well-enough alone sometimes.

I think that’s what decentralization is for. Making signs together. A way to direct traffic to your fruit stand on the side of the road. A way to tell others about the scenery at the top of the mountain. And sometimes, signs are even just a way to strip travelers of their money, in exchange for a peek at the world’s largest pistachio.

And with that, I’m going to let you off.

This is my exit coming up, and I don’t want to be late for my next gig. Watch out for that 21 computer there on your way out. Don’t squish it. A man walked in here with that a couple years ago, and well, he got restless, too. Left that behind on his way out. All he had to do was sit still and not bother anyone. But he was so in a hurry to change the world that he ended up changing nothing.

Thanks for the attention bub. Good luck on the rest of your trip, and watch out for tourist traps. The world’s largest pistachio ain’t no good if you can’t fit it down your throat.

Not in for the ride? CoinDesk is looking for submissions to its 2017 in Review series. Email news@coindesk.com to pitch your idea and make your views heard.

Hitchhiker image via Shutterstock

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk strives to offer an open platform for dialogue and discussion on all things blockchain by encouraging contributed articles. As such, the opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of CoinDesk.

For more details on how you can submit an opinion or analysis article, view our Editorial Collaboration Guide or email news@coindesk.com.

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Guns & Crypto: How Bitcoin Is Helping Keep Cody Wilson's Anarchist Dream Alive

Cody Wilson is expecting a nice bump in sales from bitcoin’s rising price.

The controversial founder of Defense Distributed, a manufacturer of machines for 3-D printed firearms, told CoinDesk that despite its admittedly niche appeal, his company is flourishing. Founded in 2012, Defense Distributed has evolved into a multimillion-dollar operation that today generates 10 percent of its revenue from bitcoin.

But it’s not particularly surprising the cryptocurrency community would be supportive of the project. Wilson has been a part of the scene for some time, most notably helping Amir Taaki co-create DarkMarket, a peer-to-peer online marketplace designed to sidestep legal and regulatory restrictions through its use of bitcoin.

If past trends are any indication, this support should not only continue but grow – according to Wilson, the company is gearing up for its most lucrative quarter yet.

Last year, Defense Distributed generated $2.7 million in revenue, a 7 percent increase year-over-year, and to date, Wilson says it’s sold a total of about 4,000 machines. This year, however, Wilson expects that sales figure to escalate by what could be the increased willingness of bitcoin holders to spend as the value of their holdings increases.

He told CoinDesk:

“As bitcoin crested $2,000, we saw more purchases in bitcoin. Because, hell, one bitcoin gets you a gun machine now, and that’s a good trade.”

A self-described cryptoanarchist, Wilson’s work with both 3D-printed guns that don’t have any serial numbers, and cryptocurrency itself is part of his work to circumnavigate government controls, an idea that some members of the cryptocurrency community have proved particularly responsive to.

So, to provide his customers a new such tool, Wilson today revealed he’s upgrading his latest Ghost Gunner 2 gun printer.

Not only has the machine’s firmware been updated to make the printer more accurate, but a number of hardware upgrades, including a spindle capable of turning metal powder into incredibly detailed pistols, have been added to make the finished products look and act more like traditional handguns.

“This is basically the beginning of the automated manufacturing of untraceable handguns of a commercial grade, not of bizarre, 3-D printed quality,” Wilson said.

Bitcoin boosts

But not only is Wilson seeing an uptick in sales from bitcoin’s continued appreciation, but other gun sellers are, too. In an interview with CoinDesk, Michael Cargill, the owner of Central Texas Gun Works, said his gun sales typically increase when the bitcoin price goes up.

“Whenever bitcoin goes up, I get customers from all over the country who want to buy guns,” he said, adding:

“When we first started doing this back in 2013, bitcoin was about $200. Now, it’s peaked at $4,700, and a lot of people are cashing in.”

He continued, noting that his shop, which has Wilson’s Ghost Gunner 2 on sale, would have seen a drop in total sales this year if not for bitcoin. According to Cargill, about 45 percent of his revenue comes from cryptocurrency.

Such a percentage of sales from bitcoin is doubly notable, seeing how Cargill can’t do business with bitcoin merchant services firms like BitPay because of their policies against onboarding guns-and-ammo businesses, a policy which BitPay confirmed still exists, thought he initial press-release detailing the policy has been removed.

BitPay and other merchant services providers have taken a conservative approach to high-risk merchants like Central TexasGun Works, which means those businesses typically have to do a lot of the upfront acceptance work themselves.

3D-printed gun

Business backlash

And that hesitance to work with high-risk verticals is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Wilson has felt this himself, seeing strong opposition to his work in the gray area between building a machine that makes guns and actually making guns.

Back in May 2013, the files he used to print the guns were seized by the Department of Justice. Then, last year, Wilson suffered a setback when the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to give him the First Amendment protections he sought for the files.

Yet, a niche community of developers has sprouted up offering their own open-source contributions to the 3-D printed gun industry, even in spite of the ongoing risk.

In spite of the obstacles Wilson continues to push forward in disrupting the $51.3 billion gun sector, expecting to keep the Ghost Gunner 2’s price steady at $1,500 in an effort to attract more sales with the price of bitcoin near $4,500.

“We’re going to hype this like we always do,” said Wilson, concluding:

“I assume we’re going to have good sales in the fourth quarter here.”

Cody Wilson image via YouTube; printed guns images via Defense Distributed

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