Episode 321

The Untold Story of a Bitcoin Pioneer and Renegade

Charlie Shrem became fascinated with Bitcoin in 2011 but grew frustrated with the hassle of buying it from the leading exchange at the time, Mt. Gox. To make the process faster and more convenient, Charlie created BitInstant in 2012. BitInstant quickly grew and by 2013 became responsible for processing a third of all Bitcoin transactions. This was with the help of Roger Ver and the Winklevoss twins, who were his seed investors, and Erik Voorhees, who led their marketing efforts.

The success of BitInstant was short-lived. In a time where Bitcoin’s primary applications were price speculation and buying things on the Silk Road, Charlie spent time in prison after a lack of customer due-diligence attracted the attention of the law enforcement. Our conversation with Charlie recounts the Bitcoin industry at its beginning, his time in prison, and what he is doing now that he’s able to continue his work as a Bitcoin advocate.

Topics discussed in the episode

  • Learning of Bitcoin on IRC in 2011
  • The Bitcoin community in the early days
  • Collaborating with competitors to grow the ecosystem
  • Frustration with Bitcoin infrastructure in 2011
  • Why Charlie decided to create BitInstant
  • Meeting Roger Ver, Erik Voorhees, and the Winklevoss Twins
  • Charlie’s time in prison and its effect on his personal life
  • Podcasting and daily life after prison

(12:10) Finding Bitcoin, in 2010

(14:00) The early days of Bitcoin, and the Satoshi Client

(17:54) Bitcoin user experience

(20:35) The early Bitcoin community

(25:05) Bitcoin Infrastructure in 2012

(26:48) Starting BitInstant

(30:25) The original idea of BitInstant

(31:19) Getting partnerships with major grocery chains

(34:54) Faster clearing via MoneyGram, compared with wire transfers

(35:49) Bitcoin Billionaires book, working with Roger Ver and Erik Voorhees

(39:45) The Winklevoss Twins

(45:45) Charlie’s character, in the book

(47:53) Erik Voorhees and Charlies moral compass

(50:11) Charlie’s wife, and the Silk Road bust

(52:38) Relationship with his family

(58:50) Prisons and the criminal justice system

(1:02:28) Not letting the time do you

(1:08:20) How the time in prison shaped Charlies political views

(1:10:27) What drives Charlie’s belief in Bitcoin

(1:11:01) From running a business to hosting a podcast

(1:12:34) Starting a podcast in 2019



Sebastien: So we’re here with Charlie Shrem. Charlie has been involved in Bitcoin since Well, since over a decade, and is a well known figure in the space for many reasons, which we’ll get to during this interview. But yeah, I’m super excited to have you on. It’s been, I think, internally at Epicenter we wanted to have you on years ago, many years ago, and for reasons, which I think a lot of the listeners will be aware of, we couldn’t. but, you’re back! and yeah, really excited to have you on the podcast today.

Charlie: Yeah, it’s so funny, because just the other day someone was “let’s go through year, by year, of the Bitcoin space.” I said, Alright, let’s do it. They said, “what was 2015 in the Bitcoin space?” And I said, Well, I don’t really know. I wasn’t there.

Sebastien: Yeah, there was a bit of a blank spot there for four years.

Charlie: We call it The Sabbatical.

Sebastien: Yeah, you had a Bitcoin sabbatical. So tell us, what were you doing before you got into Bitcoin?

Charlie: Absolutely. It’s crazy when I look back, and I try to spend a lot of time reflecting because our life has gone through when I see our, my wife and I, our life has gone through such a whirlwind, her and I met in 2012 around that time, right when I first a year into bitcoin, or two years into bitcoin. So she was part of that whole ride so far, of course, and the ride forever.

I got involved in it was sometime in 2011. A year before that there in 2010 I’d read that Slashdot article about Bitcoin and there was,the famous Slashdotting as Jeff Garzik likes to call it because It was that 2010 article that a lot of the early crypto people read, but we ignored it.

A lot of people that I talked to on untold stories say the same thing. It’s yeah, I ignored the first time I’d ever heard about Bitcoin. And that happened to me. And it wasn’t until a year later that I had been in a chat room somewhere. IRC, actually, now that I’m thinking about it. I was in an IRC chat room and in early to mid 2011, when just some you know, some random people started talking about… I belong in a lot of these gray hat… I was not a very good hacker but more of a script kiddie. I joke that I’m a trained, very bad developer, because I’m not very good at it. But I can still read code and I can have conversations with CTOs and things like that. I was in there, trying to learn how to better my Python game, when someone started talking about Bitcoin, and that was sometime in 2011.

Sebastien: What were your first thoughts about it? How did you then how to go from there to creating and starting BitInstant?

Charlie: Yeah, so the story goes that in I was in the chat room and you know, even till today, I still remember who it was because I wanted to thank that person. But I had at that time I was in my first year of college, and I was running a different electronic startup. I was 20 years old. I don’t even think I could legally drink yet. I was hanging out with some friends and I was we’re in some chat rooms, and someone started talking about Bitcoin and saying how, yeah, this is so cool! Check this out! But I didn’t really know why it was cool, or what I should check out. It was just how many times were we seeing digital versions of money?

We saw, over those early years, we saw so many iterations of different versions, and a lot of them were scams. You saw a lot of these digital currency scam type things, around the same time as Liberty Reserve and other ones, like, eGold, didn’t really work. So when this guy was talking about this Bitcoin thing, I was well, okay, so it’s a download. It’s a downloadable. Back then it was a few dozen people hanging out on forum.bitcoin.org, and then you go to bitcoin.org and download the Satoshi code the Satoshi client. It wasn’t called Bitcoin Core, it wasn’t even called BitcoinQT, yet. It was simply just Bitcoin.

I mean, that’s what it was, the Satoshi client. You download it and as soon as you downloaded it as soon as you turned it on, it would start mining because the Satoshi client back then the downloadable wallet it was the only wallet back then. There was only one wallet. It was downloadable. I don’t even think it worked on Mac yet. It was Windows and Linux downloaded it and I may not be 1,000% accurate. It may have worked on Mac at that time. But you downloaded it, as soon as you turned it on, it would start mining for you, and downloading the blockchain, and you can start transacting. I was well, what’s? okay, It’s a downloadable wallet that you send this… You said nothing. What do you send dollars? Like, what was it?

He attempted to explain to the IRC. Yeah, it’s the thing is called Bitcoin but also, you could send these Bitcoin things, and they’re just units. They’re placeholders. They’re not really worth anything. They weren’t really trading anywhere, except for on forums. You know, you could buy 10,000 Bitcoin for a few hundred bucks. And that’s how it started. I didn’t really understand why it was so important. Then as we started investigating it, some of our friends we realized, “Oh, wow, this is really cool”.

We didn’t really understand, Sebastian, we don’t understand mining. I don’t understand any of that. What was cool to me was simply this database that I had on my computer. You downloaded the database file up until that point, and then it would download the rest. I said wow, this is really cool, because, if you check out this database, not only is my transaction going through, the one that he just sent me some coins, if someone else is doing a transaction, that shows up on my database as well. So the light bulb went off in my head and I said, Oh, this is actually really cool. Because if I unplug my Ethernet cable, I still have a copy of someone else’s transaction who’s sending money from New Jersey to California, and I’m in Brooklyn. So that to me was well, this is really cool because I have that ledger. Me, Charlie, on my computer, not sitting in a data center somewhere. I didn’t really understand the implications, yet, but it was just that. That was it.

Sebastien: I could see how downloading the first Bitcoin client opening This software on your computer running it, it might seem very underwhelming,

Charlie: it looked shit too.

Sebastien: Yeah, because you get this thing, it looks shit, it’s got three tabs. Send and receive and maybe addresses and the UI is probably really bad.

Charlie: It also didn’t work, and a lot of the things that you had to… Satoshi, I guess didn’t realize that when you have something called a graphic user interface, it’s got to be a graphic user interface. Right? A lot of the early processes that you were trying to do within Bitcoin, you download the software, this is such a funny tidbit. I’ve never actually said this and no one talks about this. So imagine this, imagine you download a piece of software and you’re not a developer, a programmer and you want to interface with the software send receive all these small little functions send receive create new address, send invoice you know, very basic e wallet stuff. And so those four things or would work on you know, there would be a send, receive button. But if you want it to do a simple thing export your private key, import a private key redownload the blockchain, the software would break half the time.

So you’d find yourself having to delete all the files except for your wallet file and then re download the whole thing. And this would happen very frequently. Basically, every time an update would come out, which was all the time. But it didn’t really matter because the blockchain wasn’t that big. So who cares? But what I was trying to say earlier was, so you couldn’t actually interface with the software a lot. Within the software, you’d go to advanced, and there was an RPC interface where you’d start typing out command-line commands inside the graphic user interface. It didn’t make any sense to me.

Sebastien: The kids these days, they don’t realize how easy they’ve got it with their ledger wallets and their web platforms?

Charlie: Oh, they have no idea because all software is either command line, or graphic user interface, a GUI. But Satoshi did it where it was literally, command line in the GUI. It’s just so funny how, nascent and how much testing and how early the early Satoshi code was, but Bitcoin is still going strong. It’s still there. It’s still a lot of the same code. It never broke, isn’t that astounding to think about? I mean, that’s what excites me every day.

Sunny: Yeah, I mean, I think I had a friend who I can’t remember exactly who it was, but they were telling me about this same process where every couple of days, you just had to delete your entire blockchain history file and something would go wrong. And they told me, one of those purges, I accidentally purged my wallet dat file as well and that had quite a few Bitcoin on it. I’ve heard a lot of stories around this stuff. It’s crazy. So that was the state of the technology. What was the state of the community? You went to college in New York, right?

Charlie: Yes.

Sunny: I actually just moved to New York, last month. So I’m getting the hang of the New York scene these days. But what was it 10 years ago? Like what was, were their meetups? And were you hanging out with other bitcoiners? Or was it completely online? And what was this world like?

Charlie: Great, great, great question. And one that’s not asked enough. Let’s go back, as early as I can remember, and full disclosure, there are probably some people or places or things that I’m going to forget this is not an accurate picture, because I’m going to leave you know, I don’t remember I don’t have the memory to remember everything from 10 years ago.

Some of the best memories are this. Go back to 2011. The community was largely on the internet. It was all over the internet up until that point. When I first got involved there were never, not that I know of, there were no Bitcoin conferences that had taken place. About a month after I got involved Bruce Wagner he had a show called The my Bitcoin show or something or … I don’t remember what was called but it was he actually a lot of people were claiming that he was involved in an exit scam, later on called myBitcoin but that’s neither here nor there. He was one of those people, in the early days, who’s not involved anymore, who was the media. He was the only crypto media. He had an Internet TV show. And he wrote a blog and that was it. There was no telegram yet.

Up until this point, there was just, everyone hung out in one place in one place alone, that was forum bitcoin.org. And then eventually around that time in 2011, Bitcoin Reddit r/Bitcoin launched, but it was all there was no Bitcoin talk, it was all formed at bitcoin.org. He did the First Bitcoin conference in 2011. And Charlie Lee was there. Roger Ver was there? Oh my god, I think Garzik was there. There were so many of us that were there. So many of the early people that were there, I’m forgetting everyone. But if you actually look at a picture of Charlie Lee has one of the only pictures that I know of, if you look at a picture of it, you’ll be able to pick out. I think the BitPay people were there.

Sunny: Where was this conference?

Charlie: This was in New York, the Mt. Gox people were there. This was I mean, anyone who was at any Bitcoin related anything was at this was early mid 2011. That was the first great community because we were also new and puppy eyed, we were so fresh. We weren’t jaded there were no scams there were no imagine living in a Bitcoin world where no exchanges ever got hacked. No Icos no exit scams imagine just Bitcoin. The Love, the crypto anarchy, the ideologic… you know, every single person back then was there for ideology.

Now I’m not I’m going, I’m not trying to romanticize this guy’s I’m not, I’m trying just to talk about the history there. There were good and bad of those days and there are good and bad of nowadays. That’s just how it was. But the community Back then, I would say there was an unspoken rule. If I had to, really dial this in. There’s an unspoken rule of the early Bitcoin community and what I mean, unspoken, it was very religiously followed, but it was not said, and the unspoken rule was, let’s work together to grow this pie before we start competing. So you’d have you’d have companies that competed with each other, that behind the scenes were working together. So all the Bitcoin exchanges back then work together very closely. I worked very closely with them, competitors, even my competitors back then, which there were almost none, I would support them. I actually tried to even buy one of my competitors in 2011, but buying a Bitcoin company in 2011… the company was run by a guy in his dorm room, so there wasn’t really much to buy.

Sunny: What were some of the bads that you alluded to?

Charlie: The bads of the infrastructure were just terrible. And also the infrastructure. So as the years went on, let’s continue to go forward. So we get into the end of 2011, we get into 2012. We went through that first bubble. There were some earlier ones, but the first real bubble that got mainstream attention was that Gawker, or was it Gizmodo, wrote an article about it. That was probably the first article except for the Slashdot article. The Gawker article was written around May, or June, of 2011. It talked about how you can buy drugs on Silk Road and till today, if you ask a lot of people who got involved in the space, a lot of people will tell you that they found out about Bitcoin. A lot of them probably won’t admit it. But they found out about Bitcoin from that article. And it’s not a bad thing however you find out about it. But when that article was written, the price of Bitcoin was hovering maybe around 12 or $13. And then, almost immediately, when that article was written, the price started pumping. So I followed in at $32, and then the price pump to 36. So I’m in the money, right? I’m making $4 a coin. But think about it for a second. Think about how many coins you would get for a thousand bucks, right? So when you’re up $4 a coin, you’re in the money, and then the price dumped, dumped down to $2 from 36. I lost a ton of money. I’ve never been more wrecked in any subsequent bubble than that first $36 bubble.

Sebastien: So when did you decide to start BitInstant and what was the goal of that company?

Charlie: So this is what happened with BitInstant, super simple. I was at a bar mitzvah, it was 2011 and I was trying to buy some Bitcoin. And it was actually during that bubble the one I just said that $32 bubble was trying to buy bitcoin. It’s because I was FOMOing, that was super FOMO. And so I was at a bar mitzvah and I had wired money to… there were only two exchanges. there was Mt. Gox, and no one really wants to use them, because the only way to buy from Mt. Gox was to wire an international wire transfer to Mark Karpeles’ personal bank account that’s denominated in Japanese Yen. Okay, who’s gonna fucking do that? Who’s gonna do it? No one.

Sebastien: Well, a lot of people did that.

Charlie: A lot of people did it, because that’s the only way you could do it. But realistically, now, if that was the only way to buy bitcoin. Now. No one would do that, some people would. But you don’t understand, he would have to manually approve wires. It would take a week. There was no automated infrastructure, the wire transfer instructions were sent via email. There was no one I mean, there was no infrastructure. There was no system for this stuff. There was no customer support phone number. It was literally just…

Okay, you ready for this? BitInstant, Mt. Gox, Coinbase, BitPay, and bitcoin.org were all launched on bootstrap, a WordPress style template. Those are our top infrastructure of today. And that’s what it was. No one could even afford to have websites designed. Coinbase BitInstant Mt. Gox, TradeHill, BitPay… Crazy, right? So anyway, so that was our infrastructure. And it was so wonderful though, because it was fun.

This guy launched an exchange. He was living in Chile, his name is Jared Khanna and he launched an exchange called TradeHill. And it was very similar to Mt. Gox. It looked better and it was based out of San Francisco, but still you have to wire money to Jared’s personal ING account and everything has to be manually verified. I really wasn’t thinking about how I was going to buy bitcoin, so I wired money. As soon as I wire the money to his account, his account got shut down. And so I’m thinking I got scammed. So I called him when I was at a Bar Mitzvah, and he answered and we had a three-hour call about how amazing Bitcoin was. I said, Jared, let me ask you a question. If I start a company where it’s a retail way to buy bitcoin, would you support us? because you’re an exchange, we’re not really your competitor. He said, Yeah, I would support that.

I can’t take credit for a BitInstant because, really, the idea came a few days before this, when I was on the Bitcoin forums. And my partner, my business partner for those years, Gareth Nelson, he came up with a concept in a forum post and you could go back and find it now. And he said, I have this idea. Yeah, to start a little side business called fast Mt. Gox. You have Mt. Gox, and we just want to make it fast. let’s call our company Fast Mt. Gox. I said, Gareth, I want to do this, you can code it, and I’ll send you the thousand dollars to get started, but we need to call it something else. That’s where we came up with the idea of BitInstant.

Charlie: The first idea of BitInstant was very simple. We would wire 10 grand to Mt. Gox and leave the money sitting in our account. We’d have relationships with banks here in the US and at our peak, we had been working with MoneyGram, Western Union, CVS, Walgreens, Duane Reade, all the pharmacies, all the grocery stores, you could walk in and buy bitcoin up to a few hundred bucks. You’d walk in and buy bitcoin, and then deposit money at a Walmart and our software was hooked into it.

All our software really was, let’s just say you wanted $300 we transfer $300 minus three or 4% from our account to your account. So all we’re really doing is, we weren’t really selling Bitcoin, we created a faster and easier way to fund your exchange account. So we were a payment processor for the exchanges.

Sunny: So you had partnerships with all of these giant grocery chains?

Charlie: Yes If you look at a bunch of TechCrunch articles and all these other things, you wonder, and those are the articles will say that BitInstant did 30% of all the Bitcoin global Bitcoin volume up until 2014. That’s a huge number, and there were a lot of exchanges back then, there was BitStamp, Mt. Gox, TradeHill, CampBx… a lot of these exchanges don’t exist anymore. I’m missing a few, but there were a bunch of them and they had very significant volume. How did BitInstant have such a significant amount of market share? Simple, we didn’t actually sell you Bitcoin. We were the processor for all the exchanges, not for all, but for the top four of them. So when you wanted to fund your Mt. Gox account, your BitStamp account, your TradeHill account, all those companies will tell you, use BitInstant. We were the processor for them. That’s how we were able to have so much of the volume.

Sunny: How did you build these partnerships with the grocery store? So how did you convince Walmart and CVS to get on board and allow people to deposit at their stores into BitInstant?

Charlie: Yeah, it was really easy. There are only two companies in the US that manage the payment processing for almost all the companies that I mentioned those, I think back then it was soft pay and moneygram. And so when we made partnerships with those two companies, that allowed us to work with all the other ones. There’s MoneyGram in every Walmart and every Duane Reade, CVS, Walgreens, etc, etc. So because we had to deal with them, you’d be able to create a MoneyGram bar coded slip on your computer, print it out, go to a Walmart, and then go to the checkout, hand the cashier that piece of paper that had the MoneyGram logo and the BitInstant logo. They’d scan that piece of paper, the piece of paper would then tell the computer that this is 300 bucks, you’d hand the cashier 300 bucks like you’re buying groceries. And then within seconds, the MoneyGram software would ping my software. Then my software already knew about your transaction because you came to our website, and you had created a slip, as soon as we get that ping that the transaction is done. We then transfer the money into your account. And then back a week later MoneyGram would settle with me that 300 bucks. So almost I was floating the 300 bucks for a week.

Sebastien: MoneyGram is this payment intermediary that allows you to send money with cash at retailers and so you just had to make a partnership with them and then that gave you exposure, or at least, allowed people to buy bitcoin with cash through the service at just about any retailer.

Charlie: Exactly. And so back then from 2000, from 2011 to the end of 2013. Almost everyone in Bitcoin had used, at least once, BitInstant and I can very fairly and accurately say that in fact, if you ask any guests you have going forward that was around in those years did you ever use BitInstant? The answer will probably be yes.

Sebastien: Yeah, that’ll be interesting.

Sunny: So the trick was, you were using MoneyGram’s faster clearing, it may not be settling faster, it still takes a couple days to settle. But it was clearing faster.

Charlie: I did it for the software.

Sunny: You arbitraging that delay between MoneyGrams clearing versus wire transfers.

Charlie: And that’s why I needed to raise money. I needed the float. When we first started the company I used the little bit of money that I had, some Bar Mitzvah money, and stuff, to be the float, and we weren’t doing so much volume. So, a thousand dollars, let’s just say it took us a week to get the money back. Say you deposited the money on Monday, it would take me until the following Monday for that money to be spendable, to get money back into the exchange account so I can cycle it one more time. Let’s just say it took a week. I think it was about that maybe a little bit faster. So you would need to have enough float to handle your weekly volume.

Sebastien: So at this point, you needed to raise money because you didn’t have enough float to honor these transactions. And so I think this is a good segue into How you ended up meeting Roger Ver and the Winklevoss twins. And this is a story that I didn’t know very much about it. I knew that you were involved with people early on, but I read the Bitcoin Billionaires book, which came out a couple of months ago. And basically that tells the whole story of Roger and the Winklevoss twins. And it was interesting to see how those two, there were two opposing forces one. On one side, you had this libertarian, anarchistic type of personality that was pushing you to do more volume just let people do the transactions.

Charlie: There were two competing forces. Ben Mezrich, who wrote Bitcoin billionaires very, very accurately was able to make you understand how these forces were not just in my head, but the forces were starting to enter and to split the overall Bitcoin community.

Sebastien: Let’s talk then about how you met them and how that sort of schism started to enter the Bitcoin community.

Charlie: Absolutely since early 2012 and the company was growing very quickly, and it was just me and Gareth and I think that’s it running BitInstant and so we needed money. I went on this Internet TV show Bruce Wagner’s TV show and I said to everyone I said, whoever’s watching if you’re an investor a BitInstant is growing everyone is using us, we’re doing thousand dollars of volume a day, thousand dollars of volume a day, think about that for a sec. Coinbase probably does $1,000 in a nanosecond, but that was our daily volume. And that was so great that we simply couldn’t keep up with demand. I didn’t have seven $8,000 of float to keep the company growing.

Roger heard that and he sent me a Skype that night. And he said Hey, I watched your show and I own this company called memory dealers. I live in Japan, and I love Bitcoin and I and I have a little bit of money and So I’m just trying to support this economy. And if you’re interested in just an investment, I’d love to be involved. That was the Skype message one message. I was like, “You’re a lifesaver. I don’t know who you are. But this is what our numbers are, this is what our company does. I’m willing to give you 10% for $100,000.” He goes, how about this? How about, I forget what it ends up coming out to. I gave him a little bit more.

The idea was that he was going to be my confidant. Just 10 hours a week involved in helping me run the company. And it was very worth it. And so Roger really was very involved. And so one of the first things that Roger did was a month later was he said, hey, there’s this guy that I know that lives in New Hampshire, and his name is Erik Voorhees. And he’s libertarian, me, voluntarist, a nut. But he’s super cool. And he’s Very smart. I want you to hire him. I was Roger, I know you invested 100 grand, but I don’t have the money to pay his salary. And Rogers, I’ll pay Eric’s salary until you can afford it. Because Eric will be very good for your company. And Eric, I remember I met Eric at the train station because he was living in New Hampshire. He took a train down to New York, and we met at the train station, and we became best friends instantly. And we’re still today. We’re super close. Eric and I actually spoke to him yesterday. And even when I was under house arrest, and I couldn’t leave my parents basement. I missed his wedding. Eric set it up where I was able to give a toast at his wedding over video chat. And that was really wonderful. So I didn’t miss out on that.

Sebastien: And where did the Winklevoss twins come into the picture?

Charlie: So we kept moving forward in the company kept growing and at this point, I’m skipping a lot but the industry was exploding and this was, I think the end of 2012 Early 2013 and now it was actually 2012 for sure. I knew this guy, he was my neighbor growing up he babysat me. His dad was my dentist. Just to give you an idea. His dad was my dentist from a kid. You know, he knew I was involved in this Bitcoin thing. And he went on vacation to Ibiza one day, and while he was there, I don’t know where the book said. But what really happened was, there were no chairs at the beach club. When David had seen Cameron and Tyler, the movie just came out, I guess he was a little star struck. So he gave up his and his wife’s chairs out in a visa Beach Club, to Cameron and Tyler. So you can imagine David’s wife getting really pissed at him for giving up these chairs, but that’s what happened. So as he was giving up the chairs, he put in their ear. He says you guys should check out this Bitcoin thing. And then when they went back home, they investigated it and they got in on the call. That’s kinda how it all played out.

Sebastien: I think that’s how the book explains that episode. What are your first impressions of them?

Charlie: I was starstruck you know, the movie just came out and everyone was like, “who did it was it Cameron and Tyler, was it Mark Zuckerberg?” It was like hanging out, let’s just say Brad Pitt walks in the door, “fuck yeah, Brad Pitt! Let’s go hang out!” a George Clooney a real celebrity. These guys just had a movie made. You know, Arnie Hammer Jesse Eisenberg. It’s crazy. So that’s how it went, starstruck. The book was very accurately, and I implore everyone to read it, the book goes into how we met, our relationship and how over time, Roger and Eric in the crypto anarchist movement tried to continue forcing me into the voluntarist movement, to live in that live and people should be allowed to put whatever drugs in their bodies that they want to that was that mentality.

The other Cameron and Tyler mentality was listen this industry is so new, we need to engage the regulators, we need to engage governments we need to be the shining city on the hill. I think that was their quote that they would say over and over again. And being starstruck wore off, and I realized that maybe our personalities didn’t vibe as much. I was a 21 year old kid or 22. I didn’t these guys who went to Harvard, a school that I can never even, not only just not afford, but was never smart enough to get into, were telling me what to do. And one of the very important things that they were telling me what to do was, Charlie, you need this company’s growing at 30 people but I was 21 or 22. I didn’t know how to run a company. And Cameron and Tyler were basically trying to convince me to bring on a seasoned CEO.

Now this was my first startup, so I’m thinking, fuck these guys, I want to run my own company. But little did I know that that concept of bringing on a seasoned CEO, it’s a very normal thing. It’s actually very nowadays if I was running a company and my investors came and said that I would breathe a sigh of relief I would want that. So one of my biggest and only regrets in life is not listening to the very smart people in the room when I was younger. And you know, that’s okay. It’s a life lesson.

Sebastien: I would encourage everybody to read this book because I read this book over three days I didn’t put it down.

Charlie: There’s a movie being made.

Sebastien: Has it started filming?

Charlie: No, it hasn’t started filming. I don’t know what I can say on the show but it’s gonna happen.

Sunny: Who do you want to play you?

Charlie: You want to hear something funny. So actually, that’s how I know this is happening. So talks are already happening with Jonah Hill to play me, I want Jerry Ferrara who played Turtle in entourage. And who also plays in Power. I forgot his name, but I love Power. And he plays the lawyer in Power. He’s a great actor. And so I messaged him, I sent him a message hey, do you want to play me in this movie? And he’s like fuck yeah. And so we’re supposed to meet up in New York in a few months when I want to go back.

Sebastien: That’s amazing. I also heard your interview you did on your podcast with Ben. And at some point, I think he describes the book as pulling in the opposite direction of the mainstream movement and the crypto libertarian movement. I thought that was such a good way to describe the story. And most people don’t realize, I mean, this book is not a documentary. It’s fiction, right? So it’s a fictionalized version of what’s happening. It’s a novel, right?

Charlie: It’s a novel. Yeah. So I’ll tell people this that a lot of the events are accurate, but more of the dialogue sometimes is exaggerated. I’ll give an example. He wrote how I had 26 bongs in my office. I don’t have 26 bongs, I probably had one and it probably wasn’t even mine. But I mean, so that wasn’t not it’s not it’s not inaccurate, but it’s a little exaggerated. So I would still tell people to read that book. I love the book. It’s a great book. And look, Ben could have used his license of writing fiction, to write a very outlandish and inaccurate book. And he didn’t, he wrote a very good book that’s going to be seen as historical. And if you look at his other books, I’ve read all his other books, a lot of his other books, he has to use a lot more of that license to make it interesting. He didn’t have to do that here. That was so cool. All the stories that you read are all based in truth, which is so cool.

Sebastien: The character that you have in this book, it seems a totally neurotic character. Do you think that Ben portrayed you accurately?

Charlie: Thousand percent. I was this neurotic kid who didn’t have his ADHD in check. I was coming into a little bit of money. I grew up in a very religious Jewish orthodox community in a bubble. I had not known of the outside world. I mean, I never even had a cheeseburger at that point. Never had tried lobster cuz you could only eat kosher. So I was discovering the world through Bitcoin. Right? So I was just excited and so ecstatic of the world that we were in back then.

This won’t segue the conversation too much. But I just want to say one thing. I’m romanticizing it here a little bit, but understand where these two camps ended up going. There were two camps. And now it’s not so much that there’s one or the other. It’s a spectrum. And people fall as you know, fall where they want, but the the Roger Ver, and that mentality was a lot about power and control. That was disguised in crypto anarchism. And you see that with the Bitcoin cash movement, the power and control. And then the pro-business movement, the Winklevoss movement went to one extreme of being very close to the government, and that is very good for infrastructure, but not very good for the crypto anarchist movement. So then the rest of us sprinkle and fall various points on that spectrum. wouldn’t you agree?

Sunny: Yeah. I mean, we had Erik Voorhees on maybe a month or two ago. And yeah, so he seems to have sort of been an example of one of the people who try to learn from that and stray a little bit of the middle path where he still tries to keep those crypto anarchists ideals, but understands where trade offs need to be made and whatnot.

Charlie: I agree with him or Eric was a lot more mature than I was back then and has matured a lot faster than I, in those years too. So I was speaking with him frequently because I still looked at him as a moral guidepost as I do with a lot of people. And my understanding, my thought process, is you know how GPS works, GPS needs, I think three different satellites in order to triangulate someone’s location. So I try to follow my moral compass by keeping three or four people that I believe that have very solid grounding.

Sebastien: Who are those three or four people?

Charlie: Well, Eric is definitely one of them. I have one or two non crypto people that I don’t know if I want to name just because they’re private people. And then I have one of my not one, but I have one or two of my best friends here that live in Florida with me and then one of my friend, he’s German, and I look at him as one of our moral guideposts and between it’s half crypto and then half non crypto between the four or five of those people as long as I could maintain a relationship. And then of course, my wife is the ultimate decision maker and everything. But what’s really good is that she’s really close with all these people too. So she’s close with Eric. She’s close with Eric’s wife. It’s a really nice crypto family. It’s nice.

Sebastien: That’s cool. I absolutely love talking to Eric, every conversation I’ve had with him either in real life or over the podcast has just been filled with so much insight. And you just, you just get the feeling that this guy has very strong grounded morals. But what’s nice about Eric is that you can still talk to the person, you can still have a debate with him, you can still have sort of a disagreement and talk through it and it’ll always stay respectful and that I think, is a very strong quality and people that you know, it’s hard to find. But so one of the things about but the story that’s, that really touched me and when I read the book, I met you for the first time at SF watching me just a few weeks later, and I Actually, when I met you is right. I met you and your wife at the same time.

Charlie: Really?

Sebastien: Yeah, we were in the we were in the ready room to get ready for the panels.

Charlie: Oh, yeah, no, I remember that. Okay, cool. I thought you meant 10 years ago.

Sebastien: No, no, just a couple months ago. So I met you and your wife basically at the same time, and it was Oh, God, the story continues. And so yeah, that was really heartwarming. So can you maybe talk a little bit about that story? There’s a crazy moment in the book where you have to go back to your parents and sort of break up with her and you’re forced to make this huge concession. I don’t know if you’re comfortable sort of describing that episode.

Charlie: Absolutely. I’m very comfortable. In fact, it’s somewhat therapeutic for me. I know what it is for her too, we got together at the end of 2012, around April, and we got together because she was actually one of the first people to do the first ever Bitcoin transaction that took place. At a physical location, and then it was reported in the New York Post. And so we met through that. It was in the bar scene, she was working at a nightclub that I became a part investor in, with Erik Voorhees. So we all got together and I liked her and I was afraid to ask her out, and then our friend set us up on a blind date and the rest is history. And then when we had first met, this was before Bitcoin really exploded. So still, living with my parents, I didn’t have any money but I was excited. I was excited and passionate about the space. When we first started dating, that’s when six months into it, everything started exploding and going crazy. And then we were traveling around the world.

Charlie: January 26 2014, we must be dating about a year, year and a half at this point. And we were coming back from a trip in Amsterdam, and I got arrested at the airport for, I was caught up in the Silk Road investigation that took down you know, Ross and dozens of other people. But essentially, I was the CEO of BitInstant and I was also the complaint. Officer, I also cleaned all the toilets and everything. It was just me and Gareth. One of our customers was talking about libertarian movement and everything. I had allowed one of our customers to essentially buy bitcoin from us as a reseller, and then I knew that he was then reselling that Bitcoin on Silk Road. And people asked me, it’s why don’t you do anything? Well, because I knew about it, but I just didn’t really care to stop it. I was of the belief that when you buy bitcoin for me, what do I have to do with it? I don’t care. But obviously that’s wrong. That’s and that’s illegal. So I went to jail for a year and a half.

Charlie: The whole process of being in the criminal justice system was six years start to finish. My three year probation just ended two months ago. That was really nice. The day my probation ended was the day that Courtney and I celebrated our two year wedding anniversary. I proposed, we got married, I got released from prison on the same day, not physically the same day, but the same date, was all done on purpose.

Charlie: When I had got arrested, the government asked the judge to put a million dollar bond on me, and I didn’t have a million dollars. So my parents came in and said, we’ll put up our house. At that point, it’s complicated, but I grew up very, very, very religious. I chose to leave the religion, and leave the community. It was my choice. My parents and the community weren’t happy about that. And so my parents have basically said that I would have to apologize to them in front of the judge for leaving the religion. I would have to break up with Courtney, in front of the judge. I would have to promise, with the threat of going to jail, that I wouldn’t be with her. Could you imagine that? My parents enforced it. The fourth condition was I would have to live back at home with them in their basement and then go to synagogue and be religious again.

I faked it for a while, for I don’t know, six months or seven months or six months or seven months, and we were still together. We FaceTime we talked every day, we watched movies together over Skype. We drank together over Skype, we didn’t see each other for those six months ago, we talked in video chat constantly, and our relationship got very strong during those six months. Eventually my parents figured it out. Once my parents figured it out, they tried to send me back to prison. They tried to pull the bail, the judge found out, the rest of the story is actually sealed so I can’t really talk about it. A month later, I was able to move in with Courtney, and we were able to get back together and I wasn’t under the control or the thumb of my parents anymore. And then I was able to live with Courtney for the next six months under house arrest leading into my year and a half stay in federal prison.

Sebastien: You still have you reconciled with your parents? Are you still not in touch?

Charlie: There’s no resentment anymore because Courtney and I both learned to move on from resentment. It’s not good to harbor that. Over the years, we’ve tried to thaw. They came out to Florida for a day, but it’s hard. It’s not their fault. It’s just that they’re part of this larger community. If they accept me, and they accept my wife, because she’s not Jewish, then my parents will be kicked out of that community, and my three younger sisters will be kicked out of the community with their husbands too. It’s not just being kicked out of the symbolic community, all their jobs are in the community. Their work, their lives, their business, their house, their social lives, their wives, girlfriends, husbands, their best friends are all the restaurants they eat, that the places that they pray at. The lives they live are all in this community. So the threat of leaving the community and being excommunicated is as real as it is for them as it was for me, so they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. We try to pretend, but it just, it’s there’s still a lot of anger and resentment and fear. It’s difficult and I think time will heal it. But as of now, no, I’ve not spoken to my parents and many years have not seen them. One can only hope that they’re proud of their son.

Sebastien: And hope so too. It’s really hard, I think for people who’ve never experienced something like that to understand what it’s like. But when your whole life is wrapped up in the community, and you’re literally your entire life, there’s a lot at stake.

Charlie: True. It was a very toxic community. And I’m really happy that I left, it’s a very toxic community. I wouldn’t call it a cult, but a lot of people would. If it wasn’t for the Bitcoin community, and if it wasn’t for Courtney, I would have never had the guts to leave, because I literally left by packing all the shit that I owned in my car, one day, and leaving when my parents weren’t home. When I mean by leaving, I had to sneak out. That’s how serious this was. I wouldn’t have had the guts to do it. And there are a lot of people that have helped me.

Charlie: I don’t know if you know Tuur Demeester, he has a very similar story. He grew up in a very toxic family in Belgium, and he left and moved to the US. And when we met, I told him, because I’d read about what he you know, he’d written about this. I said, Tuur, I’m trying to leave my family. And he helped me do it. He walked me through it, he was there. I give him a lot of credit for helping me with that.

Sebastien: I didn’t know about that connection.

Charlie: Oh, yeah, my parents didn’t give up. And not only my parents, but the whole community tried to come after us. We were dating a year and a half at this point. When I left, they offered her $100,000 to leave me. crazy, right? And I told her, I said, you should have taken it and then we would have had the money together. But if it wasn’t for the family of the Bitcoin community, if it wasn’t for the family that we were, I wouldn’t have had the guts, and now I have no regrets. I have no regrets in that sense. I want Courtney and I to be close with my family again, I want that. I’m at fault as much if not more than them.

If they’re listening to this show. And they’re thinking that I blame them. I don’t, Courtney doesn’t either. We blame ourselves and one of the reasons that I haven’t been able to have the courage to really move forward and rebuild that relationship is I harbor a lot of guilt. I have a lot of guilt right now. And for the anger and sadness and pain that I caused my parents over those years. I don’t think I’ve fully let go of that guilt yet, for me to rekindle that relationship with them.

Sebastien: This really touching moment, I don’t think we ever had such a candid interview on this podcast. Thanks for sharing that.

Charlie: No, but thank you for having me.

Sebastien: We wanted to ask you about your time in prison. I think for me, the thing that’s most interesting is as someone who was Ever involved in crime before wasn’t on a track to go to prison, I suppose. Did you learn anything being in there? And did you get a sense that this institution was preparing people for life after prison? from your vantage point? What were you able to take away from that experience?

Charlie: You get out of prison what you put in. And so everyone does their time differently. One of the mantras is, do your time, don’t let your time do you. And you know, on that note, you have to stay productive and enhance and grow your life. But at the same time, do it in a place where it’s morally and intelligently completely void of any type of culture and love and life and any of that. So trying to further yourself in a place that’s backwards and continuing to regress in humanity. I don’t say that with fucking sarcasm. Those prisons are, literally, regressions of humanity. They are disgusting and despicable. And honestly we should be ashamed of ourselves for not caring enough.

Our government and people care so much about putting people into prison that we don’t care about them once they are in there. And we can easily say to ourselves, oh, yeah, who cares? They’re going to be there forever. No, most inmates are only in for a year or two or three. And when they come out, you know what they’re gonna do? They’re gonna go back right to crime. You know, I know that because I asked them and they told me, You know why? Because they just do nothing in prison. There’s no vocational training. There’s no life skills. There’s no, hey, let’s try to make you a better person. It doesn’t exist. So you have to do it on your own. It’s an uphill battle. And the only way to do it is when you say to yourself, I want to do it. 95% of inmates don’t say that. They don’t say “I want to do it.” They substitute. So they substitute drug dealing with working out in the gym. They substitute gambling with playing cards in prison, they just substitute this the same bullshit and they go out and they commit crimes.

And I know guys who I was in with, who got rearrested, and I’ll see the news articles. Oh, there’s one guy who was in for identity theft, and his wife is a state senator, and I was in with him. And he was in for five years and within six months of him getting out, he’s already check kiting again, and he has all the opportunities in the world. His wife is a state senator, what are you doing? The point is that you’re in a place that brings out so much negativity, so you can go in, you’d have people that are brothers, have businesses as partners, I was in with people who were father and son, the prison made them so morally devoid, that they were at each other’s throats. They were literally ratting on each other, father and son, in prison. What kind of place does that to people? So you talk about vocational training? No, I’m lucky that I came out better than I went in.

Sunny: What did you do? How did you make sure?

Charlie: I was very lucky that my lawyer introduced me to people who got out of the same place that I was about to go into. I still remain friends with those people today. They sat me down and said, Charlie, you’re about to go into a place that’s literally hell, in Pennsylvania. If they put hell in Pennsylvania, that’s where you’re going. The only way to beat the system and the only way to do your time, and not let the time do you, is to work very hard on making yourself a better person. It took a month or two. But started in, you know, you have a lot of time. Prison is a place where you learn how to be with yourself. I joke with people and I tell them, hey, try this experiment, go in a room by yourself with no phone, or any computer or paper or pen or anything and just sit by yourself for two hours.

Can you do it? Can your listeners do it? Probably not. Very difficult, very difficult to sit in a room for two hours you go crazy. In prison, you do that almost every day. You have hours and hours and hours. You know what I would do? I would have a paperback book in my back pocket 24 hours a day. Always. Because you never know, they call your name on the loudspeaker and you got to sit outside someone’s office for three hours while they eat Wendy’s.

Sebastien: There’s this documentary that just came out. I haven’t watched it yet but I heard an interview with Lynn Novak who has worked with Ken Burns in the past, on the Vietnam war documentaries. She did a documentary on college inmates that go through college while in prison, and it has for them been a life changing experience. Some of these people have gone on to work at NGOs and get jobs when they get out of prison. It’s interesting how she describes the politics that go into that because a lot of these people come from families where no one’s gone to college. So there’s almost a resentment on the part of their families for getting educated. And then the other thing is even the guards in the prison a lot of these people are not college educated so they start getting feeling resentment against the inmates that get the college education right but I’ve yet to watch it, but it just shows how fucked up the system is. What’s the point of putting people in prison if when they come out they just go back to crime. I mean, that doesn’t advanced society, right?

Charlie: Yeah, I think we forgot why we were putting people into prison in the first place. But you know what, if you ask me what’s my opinion on prison reform. I don’t really have one. I don’t know how to solve this problem. I don’t. I would say that prison may not be the best punishment for all crimes. I think they’re actually a lot worse. Honestly, it’s so funny because if you would ask a lot of people what would be the worst punishment, one year of prison, or five years of house arrest. If you’ve already been in prison, you would say they’d rather the prison, because house arrest of five years is a worse punishment. It’s worse. Think about it. You have to be under the thumb of the government with an ankle bracelet for five years. But during those five years, you’re working, you’re paying taxes, and you’re being a hopefully a pro social member of society.

The biggest problem with prison is that you’re getting out of society. So you’re considered antisocial and that’s literally a label. It’s a legal label. I didn’t make this up, you are considered antisocial, the day you walk into prison. Our belief is that by the time you get out, you are now a rehabilitated prosocial member of society. So my whole concept is, you have these people that did something bad and illegal, but at the same time, why not keep them as a social member of society. It costs $50,000 a year per inmate, and just some inmates are in there for 20 something years, for a pound of weed. How is that beneficial for our government?

But I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know prison reform. All I know is that one of the beliefs that I have is that I shouldn’t have to lose my rights for life. Most people don’t know. But when you’re a felon, you lose a lot of rights. I fought very hard to get even my right to vote back and I just got it back last year. So for the first time in the history of America, if you’re a felon or formally convicted, and you live in Florida, you will now for the first time in your life be allowed to vote as of 2020. And that’s really wonderful. Thank you to all Floridians who voted to give us our rights back. Thank you, Wayne for that. It’s very important. I’ll tell you why it’s important. We’re a huge voting bloc. You ready for this? We are 8% of the Floridian population. There are a million of us felons living in Florida, at a 15 million people. Were a huge voting bloc.

That’s why the lobbyists fought so hard to not let us get our rights back. felons. We are very open minded people and we’re not willing to take politicians’ words at whatever they say. We investigate. Now that we have the right to vote back, I feel in the future, we care about our civic duty. We will vote, at the local level, you have these city elections where you have a mayor or city councilman and you live in the city. I live in a city the size of 100,000 people, but when it comes to electing the mayor, only 2000 people vote, so it’s very easy. I jokingly asked a republican fixer here that lives in Florida. I said, hey, how much is it to buy a city council election? And he was drunk, and he laughed, and he said, 50 grand. I said, that’s it? That’s all it costs. So my hope is that now that we have our rights to vote back, it’ll be much more difficult to game the system or to buy elections.

Sunny: Do you think this process of your experience there has made you more libertarian, or a little bit less, and more understanding of the role of the government in these situations?

Charlie: The life roles that I’ve been through, and Courtney as well, it’s made us hate labels. First and foremost, we hate labels. Just any type of label, even Republican, Democrat, independent, because when you subscribe to a label, and you call yourself now you constantly have to defend that label for the rest of your life. That sucks.

Sebastien: And it’s hard to get away from that once you’ve defended a label. I know what you mean. Yeah.

Charlie: And it’s stupid. So First of all labels are dumb. And we should never subscribe to them. But it’s okay to still talk about them. You know, talk about different labels and everything. So I don’t know if it’s made us more libertarian. I think it’s actually I know you’re gonna laugh, but I think it’s made us very middle of the road type of people. We’re not anarchist, but we’re also not statists. We believe that there is a basic role of government that needs to exist, but it needs to be a quarter of the size of it is today. I believe and I don’t care if people yell at me on the internet. Many libertarians believe this too, because they’re libertarian. Right? Anarchists believe that there is no role in government, the libertarian believe that there is a small role. Now I don’t to say I’m a libertarian, but I believe there is a small role. But what I’d like to see and what we believe now is that we’ve gotten a lot more and I know a lot of felons and bitcoiners do the same thing. We get a lot more involved in your local politics and where you live. And so we believe that local politics matters. But federal politics don’t mean I don’t care about honestly, federal politics is stupid. I don’t care. If you asked me what my take is on impeachment, it’s I’m busy, it doesn’t matter. Have you to ask me about my thoughts about them wanting to double the size of the parking garage of the local Botanical Gardens, I’m going to fucking go nuts. Because I care about local politics. That’s just the way we work now.

Sunny: So what continues to drive your belief in Bitcoin? And where do you hope to see it going?

Charlie: I’m just happy with where we are today. I’m happy with our community. And I’m happy with how things have played out so far. For me, at least, as long as we continue to grow at the pace that we’re growing. I think we’re just gonna do a very good job. I’m pretty happy with our community, and our industry as a whole. And so I really wouldn’t change much about that. You know, I think that we’re doing a really good job.

Sunny: You’ve been doing a great job of helping contribute to the community with your podcast. I started actually listening to it after SF blockchain week was when I first heard about it, and I listened to a bunch of it. And it’s been really amazing. What led you to decide to go from entrepreneur, not that running a podcast isn’t an entrepreneur, but running a business like BitInstant, and then you had some other products you were working on as well, to becoming a more media personality. Why did you go down that path?

Charlie: I have the show. And then over the years, I’ve built a number of small businesses that continue to operate independently on their own here in Florida in various sectors of business and it allowed Courtney and I to live off of that during the bear market and not have to live off of any crypto. I made a decision to not be Become a CEO of a large Bitcoin company ever again. I don’t want to be in that spotlight, I don’t want to be in a position of power. I don’t want to be in a position of influence that ever again. I don’t. I’m done with that. I love the show. I love starting small businesses. I love employing people. I don’t want to ever have a full time job again. My schedule is now I wake up at six. I go to my office at seven. I work. I’m in the studio at 10. I go back to the office at 11. I’m in the office till about two. And then at two o’clock, I’m done. I want that schedule forever.

Sebastien: That’s a really good schedule. I hope that at some point, I can get to that discipline and have that leisure time. How do you like doing a podcast? What’s it like? Starting a podcast in 2019? How do you like it? What are you learning?

Charlie: It was actually my therapist’s idea to start the podcast because he told me, you’re too idle. I was sitting with him and you know, I have PTSD so does Courtney. We see therapy weekly, and we were sitting in his office, he’s Charlie, you’re very successful. But your business is run on their own, you have too much time. So do something and I said, I don’t really know what to do. And then I always wanted to do a podcast for many, many years. I always wanted a radio show. When I was in prison, radio was my lifeblood, right. I had a little radio, little FM am radio, and I would listen to the radio all day and all night, not even music.

I would listen to radio programs, I would have my own schedule. I knew which stations played which shows and they were largely non political shows. I listened to a ton of NPR shows because a lot of their shows are non political. I would listen to sports shows I listen to a lot I love radio, and I fell in love with how radio programs are produced and I felt the glory years of radio are lost. And so except for NPR and how they professionally produced their show when my third Gimme idea says, I said to myself, why don’t I do a highly produced show a super highly produced show, almost pretending as if my show was on NPR. And that’s how I treat untold stories. Every aspect of the show is not a news journalism show. And it’s a very curated and pre planned out and formatted and written show, just yours. I was going to do it on my own.

I was interviewing different production companies, when through a mutual friend I had met Jason Yanowitz who’s the CEO of the BlockWorks group. And BlockWorks said, “We love you”. They only had two or three shows at a time, they had Pomp’s show and Meltem. I think now they have 20 shows. We want to do this show with you. And so I actually had to pay them for the first four months just to produce my show. So I was deep in the hole. And then I was deep and I was 20 grand in the hole for this damn show. I was okay, I just wanted to break even, I didn’t want to make money. But I knew that in order to do this show the right way. You have to spend money. Now I do it. Every show in the studio here with Wayne, audio engineers I’ve content writers just you, you have your whole system, and I love doing it. BlockWorks has been able to find really good sponsors, the first thing that gets written in the contract is that they get no control over what content I put out. And that’s a deal breaker.

Sebastien: Super important.

Charlie: Yeah, because again, this is not a news journalism show. This is entertainment, my show, I didn’t want the sponsors to have any say and what I can and cannot say. I’ve been very fortunate. So I need to spend hours with you picking your brain on how to make because you have a quarter million downloads, you have a crazy amount of downloads, and I’m not even I’m a 10th of that. So I want to get to where you are.

Sebastien: We’re a little bit higher than that. But we’ve been around.

Charlie: For a top 1% podcast in the world. I mean, it’s insane. This has been an unbelievable show.

Sebastien: It’s somewhere between a quarter million and a top 1%.

Charlie: So congratulations and thank you for continuing to do that.

Sebastien: We’ve had about 5 million downloads over the course of six years or something. So it’s nowhere near the top 1% of the podcast. But you know, we’ve done a bit of things in the crypto space, I suppose. I mean, untold stories is great. I really appreciate it. I’ve heard a couple of episodes. Like I said, I heard the one with Ben Mezrich, fantastic. So happy to spend time with you. Anytime you want to shoot some ideas around.


We have a mutual sponsor, Pepo, will give them a shout out really quick. They’re great company in social media. I’m excited to continue working with them. They’re such a cool sponsor, because they make us work. Some sponsors, just say throw a 30 second ad in there, but Pepo was constantly making us do stuff, and work together. And that’s so cool. I like when they do that when they make us do stuff, because then we know that they’re going to continue getting value out of it and then sign up for another year.

Sebastien: I like them too, the community that’s growing there. It’s this very niche little community.

Charlie: yes, they’re able to build a nice community. Yeah, thank you so much for having me on the show.

Sebastien: I’m glad we could have sort of an untold stories on Epicenter. It feels very much the style of interviews that you do on your podcast. I’m happy that you were able to tell your story on Epicenter.

Charlie: Most of the stuff I said today. I’ve never actually said before or done on any show. Very fresh and very new. So I’m happy to have done it.

Sebastien: Thanks a lot. And yeah, we’ll keep in touch.


  • Cosmos

    Join the most interoperable ecosystem of connected blockchains. Learn more at cosmos.network/epicenter.
  • Pepo

    Meet the people shaping the crypto movement – pepo.com/epicenter
  • Status

    A multi-purpose communication tool that combines a peer-to-peer messenger, secure crypto wallet, and web3 browser. Learn more and download the app at statusnetwork.com

0:00:00 | -:--:--

Subcribe to the podcast

New episodes every Tuesday