Altcoins: The Crypto Road To Rags Or Riches
There is a decision tree when thinking about investing in crypto.
Step 1. Is crypto the future or just a hula-hoop of a passing craze?
If you think it is ‘”the future” you want some and go to Step 2.
Step 2. Do you want to buy the best or go coin picking? If you want to buy the best, buy bitcoin and hold, if not go to Step 3.
Step 3. Do you want to buy coins or tokens? Coins are currency and tokens, such as ERC20 etc, tend to be securities based around groups of people doing stuff. I’m not going into tokens here, so if you want to buy cryptocurrencies then go to Step 4 . If you like tokens then you have to dig into the people behind them.
Step 4. Do you want to buy coins that are centralized and dependent on groups of people that look rather like owners or a decentralized coin like bitcoin? BTC is more like a genie out of its bottle, but a coin like ripple is more like a casino chip that you have to use under the roof of some organization. If you like decentralized coins then go to Step 5. If you like centralized coins then you have to dig into the people behind them.
Small can go to large. Large is harder to multiply. This is the penny stock argument that has a dangerous logic, but many highly valuable cryptocoins have had this history. No one knows the destiny of cryptocurrencies but many believe it is huge. If you are in that camp the solution is to build up a diversified portfolio of coins based on selection criteria and have that spread from the giants to the minnows. The importance of diversification is as important in crypto as in all investment genre.
If max supply is limited to a sensible number then the upside on adoption is much higher than otherwise. As a coin has 100,000,000 subfractions there is no problem with 1 coin being worth thousands, so long as demand for usage is high. If the coin is nearing its maximum supply it is easier for that coin to run up in value because new money supply of that coin is likely to be both diminishing and coining to its end. Less is more.
A coin that burps out 5,000 new coins a minute of new supply is going to be worth less than a similarly demanded coin creating 50. It is best to multiply out the daily dollar value of the issuance of a coin to see how much new demand has to enter to keep the price from falling. Obviously the higher the dollar number the higher the hurdle. The issuance will have a decay curve as issuance of many coins halve every so often and this issuance curve decays, if there is one it will help or hinder a coin rising in value. Most Bitcoins are already issued and the 12.5 every 10 minutes of new Bitcoin is about to drop to 6.25 next year. Most people think that implies a consequential doubling in value. I see this point of view as highly plausible. As such, issuance is a big deal, less is more.
The value of all coins and tokens comes down to their use case. What does the coin do and for who? BTC and ether have a purpose. BTC is great for transactions and is the gold standard brand-holder for the whole sector, Ethereum is great for security issuance and payments, etc. A use case equals a community. It’s the community that adds value to a coin by adopting its use case. If a coin has a good community it is a strong contender. That community can be developers supporting it, miners mining it, folks using it, people cheering it on. The stronger and bigger the community the better the chances for the coin to appreciate. More is more.
Check the past
It will give you a good view of the coin’s dynamic.
Good: It’s bitcoin, others that track are not so interesting.
The history of Bitcoin
Interesting: Not performing like BTC and strangely stable.
A stable altcoin
Bad: It just goes down.
An altcoin that is not performing well
All exchange traded crypto is bitcoin because they are all exchange fungible, as such they will always have value. Which ones fall from grace or explode in value is a matter of speculation and that in the end is what investors and traders do, speculate. The difference between winning and losing is simply technique and work, and combined they offer exciting opportunities in crypto because in a nutshell ‘nobody knows nothing’ which leaves the way clear to those that are prepared to take the time and risk to beat a trail through this financial jungle.
I can’t give financial advice but I can tell you how I look at projects and also what I’m interested in that way you can make better judgments for yourself.
I look at some basic things. First I ask the question “why does this need to be on the block chain?” If I cannot think of a good reason and it’s not clear, well, then what’s the difference between database and blockchain? You shouldn’t be able to use those words interchangeably. If a company is just doing an ICO to raise money and tokenize one of their products there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but I find it a difficult value proposition (at least for now) and it’s quite easy to overhype.
If the technology makes sense intuitively, I look over the white paper, check their Telegram slack channel to make sure they have a good community (a few thousand members), and take a quick peek at the team. I also take a look at the github, and while I am not a developer I quickly check that they have updated at least some of their code in the past two or three weeks and they have developers that are collaborating. And empty or silent Github is a red flag.
Oh, and well I might be excited or confident that the technology will do well, of course I have no idea. Any money I invest I and willing to lose.
Ironically one of the most successful “crypto” companies thus far isn’t even using Bitcoin or Ethereum protocols. It’s been Coinbase, one of the most downloaded apps and most well-funded bit coin related companies. They made over 1 billion in revenue last year. Coinbase is literally just an exchange that allows you to sell and buy bitcoin.
As they say, those that do the best during the gold rush are those people selling the shovels.
From my perspective any business that makes bitcoin and ethereum smart contacts easy for the average consumer to use is a winner. With that in mind take a look at ZRX, which is a protocol that solves a major pain point right now in the industry — shitty exchanges.
ZRX is a mixture of centralized /decentralized exchange platform that eliminates pain and risk that exchanges face now a.k.a. losing your money, high exchange fees, poor customer service, slow transaction speeds. Former employees of Coinbase are working there and the team looks good. I could easily see it catching on as the new standard for many ether-based coins.
Keep in mind that Bitcoin is probably going to have all sorts of interesting use cases that we can’t even imagine today. When the Internet came out nobody imagined that it would become the largest repository of cute cat videos. Or that teenage kids would make videos on something called YouTube that would fundamentally disrupt and destroy the traditional TV industry.
In the long term do not think that the killer up for bitcoin or ethereum is going to be a copycat of an existing service Airbnb or Uber “on the block chain.” I’m not saying projects like Beetoken (they have a great team) can’t be very successful, but we should simply keep our minds open to “crazy projects” which might not seem so crazy in a 4–5 years down the line.
From a bitcoin maximalist perspective I would say that anything that’s truly decentralized has a good shot, but it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get any good return in the short-term as it will take quite some time for network effects to take place!