During the late ’90s, Silicon Valley venture capitalists and New York City investment bankers used phrases such as “monetizing eyeballs,” “stickiness,” and “B2C” to justify the ridiculous valuations of internet companies. They claimed conventional methods were inapplicable in valuing the dot-com companies — which had no revenue — because we were entering an entirely new economy.
Believing these people, and afraid to miss out on the gold rush, small-time investors, grandma and grandpa, and barbers and taxi drivers invested their life savings in companies such as Pets.com, Webvan, and eToys. The bubble burst, and they lost everything. Through a transfer of wealth in the billions of dollars from Main Street to Wall Street, VCs, unscrupulous CEOs, and bankers had effectively enriched themselves at the expense of hundreds of thousands of ordinary investors, leaving them to despair about their futures.
History is repeating itself now with Bitcoin. This time, it isn’t just Main Street USA that is about to lose its shirt; it is also the developing world. Technology has made it possible for hypesters in Silicon Valley, China, and New York City to fleece anyone, anywhere, who has a bank account and an internet connection.