With cryptocurrency, buy the substance, sell the hype

The prevailing wisdom for cryptocurrency founders is that you win through hype: talk like an infomercial, parade clownish speakers around conferences, and attack critics relentlessly for “spreading FUD.” That approach works; many aggressive entrants have muscled their way to the top of the charts with these tactics (you know who you are).

But there’s another approach that’s less talked about and just as widely employed, one that cryptocurrency founders and investors need to pay attention to: anti-hype.

Ethereum recently fell from second place to third place in market cap. That was big news, but outlets are covering it wrong. The story isn’t that Ripple beat Ethereum, it’s that Ethereum is playing the anti-hype game. It would be trivial for Ethereum to flex its muscle and rally past Ripple, perhaps even past Bitcoin itself. They power almost every cryptocurrency in the world and their founder, Vitalik Buterin, is the closest thing to a blockchain figurehead. But instead of talking up Ethereum on TV or making blustery statements about how Ethereum will disrupt this or that, Buterin calls token sales overvalued, lambasts bad actors, and makes statements like these:

Then there’s Litecoin founder Charlie Lee, who recently announced that he was liquidating all of his Litecoin holdings. That action sent the price of Litecoin into freefall as speculators no longer wanted to bet on a founder who didn’t care about the price of his coin. They were right, Lee doesn’t care about the price of his coin, only the health of its technology.

Another project is DragonChain, which I praised during its anti-hype token sale (flash forward: their token is now in the top-50). They employ a unique feature designed to discourage speculation: slumber score. The longer you hold it, the more power you gain in their ecosystem. That’s a brilliant mechanism that discourages quick flips. More blockchain startups should incentivize holding…

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