The 1,000-plus different digital currencies, carrying a total value of more than $400 billion, and the people who follow them, sometimes obsessively, comprise a world unto themselves. Here’s a quick rundown on famous mavens and slang terms that define the phenomenon.
Cast of Characters:
Vitalik Buterin: At 19 years old, Buterin wrote the first draft of Ethereum, a new blockchain meant to be the foundation on which developers can build smart contracts and applications. He and a group of technologists went on to build what in five years has become the second-largest cryptocurrency, Ether. It’s been the spark for much of the innovation that exploded last year in the form of initial coin offerings and tokens built on the network. Buterin, whose llamas and rainbows T-shirts have become iconic, is revered, and the often critical opinions about the cryptocurrency market he voices on Twitter are followed closely.
Charlie Lee: Lee is the founder of Litecoin, the eighth-biggest cryptocurrency, which he likes to think of as silver to bitcoin’s gold. Known as Satoshi Lite by his 657,000 followers on Twitter, he offers measured commentary amid the inflamed views that abound on Crypto Twitter.
Andreas Antonopoulos: One of the earliest bitcoin advocates, Antonopoulos has written books, including “The Internet of Money,” travels the world to speak at conferences and hosts podcasts to spread the bitcoin gospel. In response to a Twitter user who claimed he was a multimillionaire, Antonopoulos said he was initially working for free and only recently got out of debt. The crypto community’s response resulted in over $1 million in bitcoin donations as a way to thank Antonopoulos for his service.
Roger Ver: Ver was one of the strongest bitcoin advocates in the early days. For that, he was nicknamed bitcoin Jesus. He has now abandoned the first decentralized digital currency and supports bitcoin Cash, a version of bitcoin that broke off from the main chain. He has even claimed that bitcoin Cash is the “real bitcoin” and bet Charlie Lee and others 1,000 bitcoin that bitcoin Cash would become more valuable than the original.
Jihan Wu: Wu is the co-founder of bitcoin-mining hardware company Bitmain, which also controls Antpool, one of the biggest cryptocurrency-mining cooperatives. That makes him one of the most powerful people in the cryptocurrency business. He has appeared to support bitcoin forks, or versions of the digital asset that break off from the main chain, which has angered hard-core bitcoin enthusiasts. Others criticize his role in centralizing bitcoin mining.
Bitcoin Maximalist: A hardcore bitcoin believer who is certain that bitcoin-not other cryptos-will replace fiat currencies in a phenomenon called “Hyperbitcoinization.”
HODL: “Hold” misspelled by a frenzied bitcoin trader on an online forum in 2013. It’s become the mantra of cryptocurrency believers during market routs, meant to reassure nervous traders that they should ride out the slump because there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
FUD: Fear, uncertainty and doubt. The term was adopted by the crypto community to denounce the intentional spread of misinformation and brush off negative rumors and stories.
Alt-Coins: Cryptocurrencies other than bitcoin. There are more than 1,000 digital tokens. bitcoin only makes up about 35 percent of that. Smaller cryptos are sometimes derogatorily referred to as shitcoins.
To The Moon: A joyous exclamation used by crypto traders when there’s an actual or expected increase in cryptocurrency prices. Also common is “When moon?”
Lambo: Short for Lamborghini, this phrase is half-jokingly used to describe what newly minted cryptocurrency millionaires dream of using their earnings on. A website called Moonlambos features an online showroom of cars that can be purchased for bitcoin or Ether.
Nocoiner: Someone who never bought bitcoin because they believed all the FUD. Nocoiners are often described as bitter elitists who say bitcoin is no more than a scam or a fad. Also common is “Buttcoiner.”
Weak Hands: This phrase is used to describe cryptocurrency newbies who, instead of hodling, nervously panic-sell their coins in response to market jitters or negative headlines that wouldn’t faze experienced traders.
Whale: Someone who holds a lot of bitcoin. Some estimates show 1,000 people own 40 percent of the market, so they have the power to move prices.