In 2014, Selected MIT Students Got $100 Of Free BTC. What Did They Do With It?


This fascinating experiment involving free BTC generated concrete outcomes and we’re right here to evaluate them. The feel-good story arrives courtesy of CNBC, who interviewed among the protagonists and acquired to the underside of issues. It all began with 19-years-old Jeremy Rubin, who developed a program referred to as Tidbit. It  allowed “users to mine for Bitcoins on a client’s computer as a replacement for traditional advertising.” The authorities weren’t so eager on his concept, as the Electronic Frontier Foundation remembers:

In December 2013, the New Jersey Attorney General’s workplace issued a sweeping subpoena to Rubin and Tidbit, searching for Tidbit’s supply code, paperwork and narrative responses about how Tidbit labored, which web sites it was put in on and the Bitcoin accounts and pockets addresses related to Tidbit.

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They ultimately dropped the investigation, however one good factor got here out of it. He realized that although he thought “everyone was super cutting-edge” at MIT, not many had been accustomed to Bitcoin. So, logically, he raised “half a million dollars in donations from alumni and bitcoin enthusiasts” and the free BTC experiment was born. 

Were There Conditions To Get The Free BTC?

The concept was for undergrad college students to “complete a few questionnaires and review educational materials,” and to “set up their own crypto wallet, which at the time was hard enough to discourage participation.” Still, 3,108 college students acquired $100 of free BTC. At the time, Bitcoin’s worth was $336, so that they acquired about 0,3 BTC every. At immediately’s worth, that may be value about $13.500. 

“We wanted to get bitcoin out in the world more, and we wanted to spread the technology,” mentioned Rubin. “We also wanted to study what it means to distribute a new asset.”

How Many Sold Or Spent The BTC?

Luckily for the historical past books, researchers traced the mission. Apparently, “1 in 10 cashed out in the first two weeks. By the end of the experiment in 2017, 1 in 4 had cashed out.” Paper arms, certain, however do not forget that nobody had any concept if Bitcoin as an entire was going to pan out. CNBC quotes Christian Catalini, one of many researchers:

“Even at the time, the technology was quite user unfriendly,” he mentioned. “Even within a pretty tech-savvy community such as MIT, it was kind of surprising to see how much work it really was to use bitcoin at the time.”

Still, 3 out of each 4 held on to the BTC, which is fairly spectacular. “What was fascinating is that in a sense, the MIT students got it right. The vast majority held on to their bitcoin as an investment.” Did they, although? Or was it so tough to make use of and unknown by distributors that they didn’t even trouble? 

BTC worth chart for 08/18/2021 on Bitstamp | Source: BTC/USD on TradingView.com

What Did The Students Do With Their Free BTC?

Well, lengthy story quick, they spent the free BTC on sushi. CNBC managed to trace two of these college students that, considerably satirically, now work within the crypto house. One, Sam Trabucco, serves as Co-CEO of Sam Bankman-Fried’s Alameda Research. The different, “Van Phu, now a software engineer and co-founder of crypto broker Floating Point Group.” 

“One of the worst things and one of the best things at MIT is this restaurant called Thelonious Monkfish,” mentioned Phu. “I spent a lot of my crypto buying sushi.”

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So did Trabucco, who remembers the experiment as an vital expertise for the people concerned. He spent the free BTC as a result of he “didn’t really think it was going to be the future of finance.” Still, he considers that perhaps already having a Bitcoin pockets arrange would possibly’ve despatched him on the trail to go a agency as large as Alameda Research.

All’s nicely that ends nicely.

Featured Image by Yuhan Du on Unsplash - Charts by TradingView
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