Who is Roger Ver? The Man, The Myth, The legend.
Roger Ver is the face of Bitcoin Cash and CEO of Bitcoin.com, a Stanford alumni, Brazilian jiu-jitsu enthusiast, and outspoken advocate for peace and change in governments, ranked 36 in Fortune's 40 under 40 last year, Roger is the child of two deeply religious parents and started life being born in San Jose, California in 1979.
Before high school, Ver was a playground hustler, selling candy bars making around $50 a week. Later on, during high school years, his entrepreneurial spirit took him as far as purchasing a white Ford Mustang at the age of 16, to which his father highly disapproved - going as far as placing an advert into the local newspaper to try and sell it, against Roger’s will.
An agitated Roger called the police and had them threaten his father if the ad was not removed. This ultimately led to his departure from the family home, moving to attend the De Anza community college in Cupertino.
It wasn’t long until Roger joined the famous ranks of fellow college dropouts turned tech CEOs (Ver majored in maths, astronomy and economics) he managed to stick it out a year before fleeing the confines of a lecture hall to run his own businesses, even from a young age it was clear Ver has always had a hunger for progress and furthering himself.
Possibly this is what gravitated him towards the early days of the burgeoning cryptocurrency world.
Roger ventured into angel investing, focusing on working with Bitcoin and increasing adoption. Roger’s bet certainly paid off, meaning Ver acquired a wealth many investors dream off achieving.
Due to his early adoption, he amassed a huge wealth, and firmly cemented himself as a ‘big blocker’ in the crypto sphere. Although Ver started life in America, born and raised in Silicon Valley, he has been based in Japan since 2005.
Roger renounced his US Citizenship in 2014, and there are some controversial points about the history of Ver’s history and later ascent into the public eye, despite his hugely successful investments.
Notable bids during his rise include Ver being an early proponent of both Ripple and Kraken, with him investing over a million into crypto related startups and philanthropic causes - which in turn earned him the moniker ‘Bitcoin Jesus.’
Memory Dealers & Pest Control Report 2000
First, let’s start with the controversy that follows Ver around like a black cloud he just cannot shake off.
To give you the rundown of all the gory details - since only the tender age of 19, Ver was involved in a computer memory dealing company based in the US between the years of 1999 to 2012, where he also attempted to run for a seat in the California State Assembly representing the Libertarian party.
The memory dealing company had huge success, and became a market leader, employing dozens of people around the world, and generating millions in revenue.
In 2005, Ver went on to findd a fiber optic transceiver retailer (Agilestar) that dealt in business to business operations and secondarily to retail via ebay. This business grew to also become a world leader in the space, servicing many Fortune 100 companies around the world.
During this time as a memory dealer, Ver is reported to have committed a felony as he sold explosives in the US without a license. Fireworks to be exact.
He bought 49 pounds of ‘Pest Control Report 2000’ and sold at least 14 pounds of the substance via eBay.
Ver stored the explosives in his residential apartment building, and mailed them via an unwitting U.S Postal service.
This culminated in him pleading guilty to various felony charges related to selling explosives without a license, and ended up with a 10 month stay in a federal prison.
It certainly left an irrevocable mark on his psyche due to his ingrained libertarian loving, anarcho-capitalist ideals, which resulted in a big catalyst in his life.
Once freed from prison, Ver was moved to leave the land he once called home.
He threw aside his US citizenship and switched to life in the famously high-tech, crypto loving shores of Japan - a much more suitable home for someone with a love of blockchain based technologies. This fueled his motivation to further progress Bitcoin adoption and future developments.
A US Citizen No More
Ver renounced his US citizenship favoring a Saint Kitt and Nevis passport in 2014, this resulted in him being denied a visa to enter the US in 2016, with the embassy of Barbados stating they had fears he may become an illegal immigrant, due to not sufficiently proving financial ties outside of the US.
Later in June of the same year, his visa was approved by the US embassy in Tokyo and meant Ver could finally return to speak at a conference in Denver.
Now fluent in Japanese and well networked in the area, Ver works internationally with teams in the UK, St Kitts, and US. He has donated over $1.2 mln to various worthy causes such as Antiwar.com, anti-drug war causes, and the Foundation for Economic Education.
In 2017, during the parabolic hyper bull run that took Bitcoin to it’s all time high - Ver headed the hard-fork from Bitcoin to create Bitcoin Cash, which is now referred to as BCHABC, due to the more recent fork with Craig Wright's Satoshi’s Vision (BCHSV)
In brief - the major change between Bitcoin Cash BCH and Bitcoin BTC is the increase of block size to 32mb, whereas Wright’s BCHSV will further take the block size to 128mb and beyond. Ver and the BCH crew decided 32mb was large enough.
Block size is a scaling debate we questioned in depth in our article on scaling and the impact it would have on the networks decentralization should the blockchain get so large its portability is affected.
BCH (or as you will see it trading as BCHABC) is in essence, an attempt at trying to create a fast and cheap-to-transact cryptocurrency.
At the time of conception, Bitcoin transaction fees were getting as high (or even higher) as bank wire fees due to the coin’s value going up to the moon, this was good for miners but bad for adoption - and it incentivized Roger and his peers to try to create an alternative fork that was cheap to send, and could be used as a fast clearing crypto as a form of cash payment.
Bitcoin cash came to life as a fork from Bitcoin, in which the fork’s rationale stems from scaling debates and the controversial plans put in place by BIP 91 (aka Segwit), an improvement proposal that caused groups such as early investors, miners and activists to join together in agreement that BIP 91’s Segwit solution was not enough to fix scaling issues, without also adding a block size increase.
This controversy resulted in the Bitcoin Cash hard fork on the 1st of August 2017. BCH began trading at $240 while BTC was at $2,700 at the time of the fork.
As of May 2018, daily transactions on Bitcoin cash are approximately 10% of those on the Bitcoin network, additionally where Bitcoin cash is used as a payment provider - Chainanalysis noted in May, 2018, that payments via services such as Bitpay, Coinify and GoCoin dropped from $10.5mln in March to only $3.7 million, only two months later in May.
Although global market cap has slumped to year lows, during one of the chilliest crypto winter bear markets, Roger Ver is still working hard at trying to progress adoption and has even begun signing up big Japanese business such as Allianz Cargo Direct from the ANA Group.
“We all agreed that we should announce all the stuff that we are doing with ANA Group right now, today. The downside is they say we can’t. Because, there’s this thing called the insider trading laws.” – Ver
Ver quotes insider trading laws as being the blockade from him spilling more of the beans on the deal, but it certainly does look interesting for the future of the project, adding over $240mln to the market cap within 24 hours of the news.
There has been more bullish sentiment for BCH that further buoyed prices, due to Wikimedia foundation now adding BCH to its donation solutions, meaning now anyone can show their support with a donation in Bitcoin Cash.
Interestingly, this is due to Wikimedia switching from Coinbase to BitPay for its payment solution.
BCH and the Bitcoin.com Controversy
Ver’s undocumented purchase of one of the top 20 most expensive domains in the St. Kitts domain registrar has been hugely controversial in the crypto world. Primarily, because many critics are not sure what flavor of Bitcoin they are actually purchasing from Bitcoin.com itself.
One would assume Bitcoin dot com would only serve regular BTC and perhaps a domain such as Bitcoincash.com would be the purveyor of everything Bitcoin Cash.
Strangely, that’s not what we find when we visit the sites.
When users access Bitcoin.com or more importantly the official variants in the form of app store wallets, shockingly the option to purchase BTC is not the default, and has to be specifically sought out!
At a default people will intend to buy bitcoin, but actually if they don’t look closely, are new to the process or are half asleep - it’s highly possible it’s actually bitcoin cash they are purchasing and not BTC.
This has meant many incorrect purchases and confusion around the retail space of newcomers who just want to try investing a bit, and ended up buying Bitcoin Cash instead of Bitcoin.
Over 800 investors now seek legal assistance in what they say was deceptive marketing practices, such as even paid for google advertisements on the keyword ‘buy bitcoin’ being owned by Bitcoin.com and actually used to purchase Bitcoin Cash.
This caused Erik Voorhees, CEO of Shapeshift and longtime associate of Ver to distance himself from Ver regarding Bitcoin Cash being represented as Bitcoin as he tweeted:
“Roger – please stop referencing me to back up your opinion that Bitcoin Cash is Bitcoin. It isn’t. Bitcoin is the chain originating from the genesis block with the highest accumulated proof of work. The Bitcoin Cash fork failed to gain majority, thus it is not Bitcoin.”
This topic is often brought up on twitter, reddit and at public conferences and has become another thorn in Roger’s side, beside his felony history and renouncing his US citizenship.
Ultimately the main focus people have is his rather questionable tactics for marketing Bitcoin Cash BCH as Bitcoin BTC.
It’s certainly become a very touchy subject for Ver, as the debate of branding Bitcoin cash has seen his most fiery moment to date.
With the now infamous screenshot of him screaming at his laptop webcam whilst giving a middle finger, having a raging outburst due to Bitcoin cash being called ‘Bcash’.
His ‘rage quit’ moment has made him even more of an internet meme than his Bitcoin Jesus moment, maybe working for his notoriety. Maybe the old adage ‘any press is good press’ is true to some extent.
Although it certainly shows how boisterous and rowdy Ver can be when it comes to discussing shop, it gives more of an insight into his obsessive like traits, traits that are in no doubt required in order to achieve the success he has had in business.
Lets just be clear - Bitcoin is Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash is Bitcoin Cash, although Ver will be damned if you say so! He is strongly opinionated on the matter that Bitcoin cash is the truest version to the original protocol.
Ver is very attentive to details and has no fear in splitting hair and will become highly offended in such simple matters such as simply how his brand is referred to by commentators, or how a question was poised at a conference for example.
Similarly to Wright, this has earned Ver a reputation in the crypto sphere which means people are ready for fireworks when he is going to be talking.
While it’s important to talk in the correct context, overall this negative energy has caused further arguments, splits and debates within the BCH camp, with most notably the BCHSV/ABC hard fork in November of 2018.
BCHSV / ABC Hardfork
After forking away from the BTC mainchain, things got even more heated in the newly founded camp. With long time cryptocurrency advocates Roger Ver and Craig Wright now coming to loggerheads on the future plans for scalability.
The split was that in one corner we have Craig Wright's overly outspoken stance stating he will ‘bleed them’ and in the other Ver putting the odds at 10:1 favoring BCH over Wrights SV plan.
“They will go bankrupt. I’m very happy to bankrupt them. We will bleed them,” Craig Wright told Decryptmedia.com
It’s possibly Wright’s never back down mentality that has meant the block-size debate has become so heated, and that there is no room for negotiation anymore. Meaning the two camps just had to part ways to progress.
Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin took to twitter to comment on the BCH hard fork debate, tweeting: The BCH community should NOT compromise with Craig Wright to "avoid a split" and should embrace it as an opportunity to conclusively ostracize and reject him. Bitcoin Craig (BCC) can go take the ticker symbol from the now-defunct cryptocurrency to which it is a fitting successor.
Ver’s openly libertarian anti-government stance has meant he sees things very differently from the mindset of Craig Wright.
In interview Ver has said governments are the “most detrimental thing that humankind has ever invented”. While Wright is more of the mind that governments are an essential part of society and are required in order for the economy to function. Ultimately this mixture of philosophies is like oil and water and manifests in two very different outlooks.
Ver has no interest in the BSV project and will continue developing BCH regardless of the fork and controversy surrounding the lawsuits.
Bitcoin Cash intends to pursue development of what Ver calls ‘sound money’ regardless of competitors in the space.
The objectives of this plan are:
- Enabling scaling to 5 million transactions per second (currently 100) whilst retaining low fees.
- Improve the user experience to ensure it’s instant and reliable, aiming for a transaction time of 3 seconds or less.
- Add extensibility to the platform, making improvements, addons and plugins less disruptive to and offering a solid base for developers to build a empire on.
Currently with 25mb blocks the network is up to 2.2mln transactions per day, which is roughly 26 transactions per second. Still very low from the objective target.
In Ver’s favour BCH fees do remain incredibly cheap at well under a dollar cent at $0.001 per tx, although his strategy for onchain scaling is yet to be proven, and with additions to Bitcoin BTC such as the lightning network and heightened segwit adoption across the board, it’s questionable if BCH can really win the race once all technologies are in the public's hands, and working at full capacity.
Worthy to note is the effects of an increased block size - it has a knock on effect of increasing the overall chain file size on disk, then in turn means syncing clients and downloading the chain is more of a burden for miners and decreases portability making decentralisation much harder, as less people can partake due to heightened hardware requirements for terabytes or even petabytes of storage.
While there are many oddities about Roger Ver’s path to become the CEO of Bitcoin.com, it did not come about purely by just chance, and required a level of business acumen and risk appetite on Vers behalf to climb the ladder as he has done.
With the future of crypto unfolding, evolving and changing form at an alarming rate, it makes many investors feel more uncertain than ever.
Following Ver is certainly interesting to see how this early adopter utilises the space, as some shout scam for the bitcoin.com marketing ploys, whilst others continue to pledge undying allegiance to his cause and see that he is capable of forging the strategic partnerships and relationships needed to scale the business to worldwide adoption, and take the satoshi value closer to dollar parity long term.
With the advent of the rapidly expanding lightning network and continued disagreements in the BCH/SV camps, there are plenty of reasons to make people lean in favour of the original Bitcoin being the long term winner in this war, simply because of support and overall network size.
Although Ver is completely unfazed by the huge depreciations in the overall valuations that we have seen in 2018 in the cryptocurrency markets, commenting to bloomberg in december of 2018:
I’m a fundamentals investor, so I’m investing [due to] fundamental [factors]. [In the] long-term, the future is brighter than ever [for cryptocurrencies]. There’s more awareness, there’s more adoption, and there’s more stuff happening all over the world. So, of course, I’m incredibly bullish on the entire crypto-coin ecosystem.
I think we need to build the tools to make it easier to use cryptocurrencies, as money, to buy and sell things, and to pay their bills, and pay their rent, and even pay their taxes.
How exactly these ideas manifest into reality will be an interesting development to follow in the coming years, especially as we have the block reward halving just on the horizon in 2020 now.
Will Bitcoin Cash BCH take lead over Bitcoin BTC due to partnership with corporations and the addition of their roadmap features and new protocol upgrades, or will the BTC developments such as lightning network supersede their efforts?
Only time will tell, long term the markets never lie.
Going forward we can be ready for explosive interviews, and heated debates from either side of the coin.
At the end of the day, Ver as a lifelong dedicated advocate for liberalism, focused on cryptocurrency adoption and combined with his notorious history, as both an angel investor in the space and his position as current CEO of Bitcoin.com - it’s certain Ver will leave many more marks on the crypto industry before the war of mass adoption is won.
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