“Bro, it's time; you better get on this train before it leaves the station.”
It was January 2018, and my friend and fellow investor Eric had finally convinced me to buy a little crypto.
I never expected to see my YOLO fund again. And yet, here's how it's performed since:
Not only has my investment paid off 5x, but my crypto is significantly outperforming most of my positions in other markets.
Moreover, being a long-term crypto HODLer (holding on for dear life) has made me feel like part of a community full of collaborative visionaries who are hopeful at best, endearingly self-deprecating at worst.
Happiness in YOLO
All things considered, my modest crypto investment has brought me joy, endless memes and serious capital gains.
Even though the crypto YOLO fund I built in 2018 is smashing my other investments, I won't be buying the “dip” of the Crypto Crash. The current amount in that fund perfectly represents a balance between my belief in crypto and my awareness of the critical pitfalls, namely it's eco-impact and bitcoin's questionable longevity.
Cryptocurrency is the best-performing asset in my portfolio. Yet I won't buy any more crypto — not a penny more.
Now, to preface, this isn't a story about why you should or shouldn't buy crypto. To help guide that decision, check out my other piece, “Should You Invest in Bitcoin? (Deep Dive on the Risks in 2022),” where I cover the more objective FYIs of a crypto investment.
Rather, this piece covers both the objective and subjective factors that led me to a personal decision to stop investing in crypto.
Why I Bought Crypto in the First Place
As mentioned, one of the reasons I bought crypto in Q1 2018 was to indulge my buddy Eric. I naively hoped that giving in would make him talk less about crypto.
In that respect, my crypto investment failed stupendously. Thankfully, there were two other motivators at play in the background, namely:
1. I Believed in the Mission
Before buying crypto of any kind, I read Satoshi Nakamoto's original 2008 whitepaper [PDF] on Bitcoin and blockchain.
And I liked what I read.
Clearly disenfranchised by the unfolding recession, Nakamoto sought a way to optimize and sterilize virtual transactions. His idea was remarkably simple in concept: Cut out the middlemen (banks, PayPal, etc.) and replace them with a system of cryptographic trust.
To him (her? them?), these third-party mediators were making the process slow, expensive and opaque. And they don't always have pure intentions.
Bitcoin and blockchain, by contrast, wouldn't ever create millions of fraudulent customer accounts.
So by buying bitcoin, I kinda felt like a VC (venture capital) person buying into a startup I believed in. Even if I never saw my money again, I could rest easier knowing I injected my capital into a community — and a movement — that's trying to make the world better.
Respect for Nakamoto's vision aside, I'll fully admit that there was another motivator at play.
2. OK, Maybe a Little FOMO Too
When Eric showed me his gains from 2016 to 2018, I admit I was intrigued.
“No,” I thought, shaking my head. “It's 100% speculation. There's no logic or reason dictating that it'll keep going up.”
“… But there's also nothing saying it'll go down,” whispered FOMO (fear of missing out).
So, which would it be? A rug pull or a take-off?
Speeding past the road hazard signs in my traditional investor brain, I created a Coinbase account and pulled the trigger.
To my surprise, my trade confirmations on Coinbase and Coinexchange triggered the same parts of my brain as a Kickstarter donation does. Once again, I felt like I was giving money to projects and creators trying to make the world a better place.
Over the next four years, I treated my crypto YOLO fund like a Corvette in the garage: occasionally checking on it to make sure it was still there and that I could still get in.
And poor Eric? Sadly, he sold his crypto Corvette during the slump of 2018–2020. I don't know exactly how much capital he lost, but he did request that we never ever discuss crypto again.
He recently asked how my YOLO fund was doing, and I responded the way you're supposed to when your friend who's going through a breakup asks about your relationship.
“Oh, it's doing great, thanks for asking. But let's talk about you…”
I was avoiding telling him what he already knew, that despite the Crypto Crash of 2022, HODLing had paid off. I'm deep in the black and my fellow HODLers are beckoning me to buy more.
“I'm good,” I tell them.
Then, as long as they don't have $BIT and COIN tattooed on their left and right fists, I calmly explain my five reasons why.
Not to coerce, not to dissuade: just to explain.
5 Reasons Why I Won't Buy Any More Crypto
Wondering why I won't buy any more crypto despite the profits that I've enjoyed thus far? Here are five reasons why I won't be adding to my current crypto holdings.
1. My DOGE Got Stolen
One day in late 2019 I logged into Coinexchange, where I stored my DOGE, only to see this:
Yep; my Corvette was missing from its garage.
Panicked, I hit the forums to discover that my trusted exchange had folded and disappeared, giving its millions of users a mere two weeks' notice via Twitter:
Needless to say, a lot of HODLers who didn't check Twitter lost a lot of money:
I didn't lose too much DOGE. But the episode still left a nasty taste in my mouth and woke me up to some harsh realities of HODLing.
Namely, that the FDIC doesn't insure crypto deposits.
So if your crypto “bank” folds, flees or gets hacked and your funds disappear, well, that sucks. Mt. Gox was hacked in 2014 and the victims are finally, finally on track to receive 18% of their stolen funds.
Granted, I shouldn't have kept the keys to the ‘Vette in the garage where I stored it — shoulda kept them in a cold wallet.
Even still, the likelihood that long-term HODLers will be victimized by hacks, theft, misplaced trust or simply bad luck remains unacceptably high. We've had 10 years to improve crypto security. And despite our efforts, crypto investors are still taking massive losses.
Having taken a bullet myself, I'm less gung ho on returning to the front lines.
Oh, and speaking of death analogies…
2. I'm Pretty Sure the Metaverse Is Gonna Kill Bitcoin (And Countless Legacy Altcoins)
The Metaverse, i.e., the VR-tinged sequel to the internet, is coming.
There's a lot of cool stuff coming down the pipeline, but while watching Zuckerberg's 80-minute keynote on the Metaverse, all I could think was: “This can't be good for Bitcoin.”
See, the Metaverse will need to be run using state-of-the-art cryptocurrencies that are:
- Stable enough to support ecommerce
- Versatile (support NFTs, etc.)
- Regulator friendly
- Environmentally sustainable
- Easy to monitor, control and manipulate by the tech giants who run the Metaverse
Most altcoins check only one or two of these boxes. Bitcoin checks none of them, which is why the tech giants are leaving it behind to patent and develop in-house cryptos.
So Silicon Valley won't use bitcoin as the building block of the Metaverse. So what?
Well, let's remember for a second that bitcoin's value is inextricably linked to its reputation — and its reputation is fragile. When Tesla, a single company, said they wouldn't accept Bitcoin due to environmental concerns, BTC's value plummeted 10% overnight.
So what'll happen when Apple, Meta, Microsoft and others start explaining to the world why they won't accept Bitcoin in the Metaverse?
Hardcore HODLers won't care, sure — but you can't blame anyone invested in Bitcoin as a technology with world-changing potential for suddenly getting cold feet.
>>> Dive deeper: Why the Metaverse Will Kill Bitcoin
3. Proof-of-Work Cryptos Are an Environmental Catastrophe
Pop quiz: If you took the energy required to process a single Bitcoin transaction on the blockchain, how long could it power a single-family home?
A) 6 minutes
B) 6 hours
C) 6 days
D) 6 weeks
The answer is (D). Bitcoin now requires 1,173 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per transaction.
Granted, that's Bitcoin. To loop some altcoins back into the discussion, Ethereum transactions need “just” 87.29 kWh.
Even still, crypto's overall strain on the global power grid has me deeply torn.
On the one hand, I do still believe in Nakamoto's vision for decentralizing finance using cryptographic proof.
On the other hand, crypto mining is causing emergency electricity rationing in less developed nations. This is a major reason why I won't buy any more crypto.
Call me a hardcore ESG (environmental, social and governance) investor, but I just don't want any of my daily trades to cause the lights to flicker in Kazakhstan or anywhere else. I'd feel much better investing in a proof-of-stake crypto that fulfills Nakamoto's vision without such an egregious environmental impact.
4. It's Not a Violin Scam — But It Could Be a Bubble
In case you missed it, there's a viral story going around explaining “how crypto works” using an allegory about a guy buying monkeys from naive villagers.
I like how detroit_dad tells it.
Basically, the story compares crypto to a classic Violin Scam:
- Guy #1 forgets his violin and wanders off.
- Guy #2 says he'll pay you $50,000 for the violin and leaves you his business card.
- Guy #1 returns, says he'll sell it to you for $5,000.
- You pay $5,000 for a worthless violin, both guys disappear.
So, is crypto just a big, global violin scam?
I don't think so.
But I do think that the crypto market, just like every speculative investment that's preceded it, follows similar beats of the story. And they all seem to result in a bubble pop.
As you probably recall, economic bubbles happen in five stages:
Crypto's profit-taking stage could happen tonight or in ten years. Experienced investors could decide enough is enough and start a brisk walk to the exit.
Then when the headlines emerge that ABC hedge fund or XYZ Fortune 500 pulled out of Bitcoin, the panic starts — and the irreversible plummet happens.
Call me a cynic, but I'm just not seeing enough evidence, personally, that crypto won't end in a bubble bursting.
I don't want crypto to end that way. I just think it will.
And while I could pour more capital into my YOLO fund and potentially triple my investment before the bubble bursts…
5. I'd Rather Invest in Something Boring
I'd like my path to financial freedom to be linear. Predictable. Dependable.
The fact is that it's easier to plan around boring investments. Based on my income, rate of saving and risk tolerance, my financial advisor and I can look at my boring, predictable APY and effectively plan out big milestones: retirement, donations, a real Corvette.
“Buying more crypto could help me achieve financial freedom either faster or never. But what suits me just fine is eventually.”
The “boring” method of investing — stashing 20% of your income into index funds and such for 30 years — is working for me. I like the financial stability of it, yes. But more importantly, I value the mental stability it provides.
It's simply less stressful to invest in boring stuff.
And having worked hard to stabilize my mental health, I value a portfolio that's both asymmetric risk and asymmetric stress (where the potential upsides outweigh the downsides).
So with these priorities in mind, I've decided that I won't buy any more crypto. Buying more crypto could help me achieve financial freedom either faster or never.
But what suits me just fine is eventually.
The Bottom Line
I'd like to point out that while I decline to buy any more crypto, I'm not selling any either. So really, this is a story about a four-year HODLer continuing to HODL at present levels.
I do still believe in the mission of crypto. And I do enjoy peeking at my YOLO fund to watch the roller coaster.
But it remains an appropriately small portion of my portfolio. It's a direct, monetary reflection of my belief in crypto balanced with my skepticism, stress tolerance and love for boring investments.
So, no, I won't buy any more crypto. But will I sell my current holdings? Nope, I won't be doing that either.
Because even though it's stressful to own and it may cost me a lot of money — not to mention bad for the environment — it's a whole lotta fun having a Corvette.
Want to invest in ways that help the environment? Check out our explainer on how to find out whether the company or fund you're investing in is really ESG.