Introductory Syllabus for CryptoCurrencies and the Blockchain

(This post is specifically being written for my old friends Dan and Mark. They are both institutional money managers and are deeply familiar with the capital markets, having transacted many, many $billions in securities. But they are newbs with regards to cryptocurrencies. This post is specifically for them, but hopefully can be helpful to anyone wanting to seriously learn more.)

As promised at dinner, here’s my guide down the rabbit hole into cryptocurrency and blockchains. OK, I’m going to suggest you start by setting up an account in Coinbase. It’s the simplest, easiest way to get going, and you will learn faster if you have some skin in the game. Just put $50 into BTC (Bitcoin) and ETH (Ethereum). Go really crazy and drop $25 into LTC (Litecoin). These are some of the biggest names. When you have an account set up, let me know and we can send each other back and forth 25 cents worth of currencies, so you can’t screw up too badly. If you’re still a believer by the end of this exercise, Coinbase has a regular “average in” program where you can average in. I automatically invest a little every other week, credited over from my bank account. Until you get serious money involved, don’t worry about hard wallets (I prefer Trezor to Nano Ledger S for usability), but if you do fall in love with crypto, you’ll graduate from Coinbase to your own hard wallet, which is safer.

I STRONGLY suggest you don’t mess with ICOs, daytrading, or anything like that–this place is still the Wild West, with lots of scams and insider trading. I just sit back and “HODL” (hold in crypto slang).

Let’s start with an Introduction to Bitcoin on Youtube with Andreas Antonopoulos, and an overview on investing prospects from Fred Wilson, a legendary VC.  Of course, you don’t have to have a radical libertarian philosophy like Andreas to appreciate Bitcoin. As investors, all you have to do is google “Fintech Blockchain” and see all of the various initiatives with Swift, the clearing banks, the investment banks, the exchanges, etc. It’s the real deal.

Now for the reading lists:

My favorite List of Lists is from William Mougayar. Anything here is good.

You might also like these lists from  Dan Romero and Chris Dixon.

You should try to figure out how one of the major blockchains work. I like this article on “How Does Ethereum Work, Anyway?”. It’s challenging, it throws in some technical concepts that will bounce off the first time you read it, but it will make more sense in a month or two. Probably Wikipedia has some good definitions of Bitcoin, Blockchain, Ethereum to get you started.

Email lists I subscribe to:

Coindesk Daily

TwoBitIdiot

Forbes Crypto Confidential

Bitcoin Magazine

TokenEconomy

Advanced, but terrific: Bitcoin Tech Talk and Week in Ethereum

ICO Updates

If you wish to keep up-to-date with a few of the new ICO projects, there’s Smith&Crown, Token Report and TokenMarket. But again, RESIST THE TEMPTATION. I wrote this piece called Just Say No to (Most of) the Current ICOs

Reddit (take only if you like soap operas, trashtalk and antacid)

Many people will encourage you to read the Reddit channels. This is the original and still the biggest source of discussion (there are also Slack channels and Telegram channels too), but I’d tend to just check them once and then ignore them forever after on account of the bile, flaming, and bad signal-noise ratio. One glance should confirm this.

https://www.reddit.com/r/ethereum/

https://www.reddit.com/r/ethtrader/

https://www.reddit.com/r/btc/

Medium Posts

This is the single best place to find stuff. You can scroll over everything tagged “blockchain” here.  Ones that I follow are here. Play around. But if you’re into Ethereum, like me, This Week In Ethereum is MANDATORY.

Twitter

I keep a separate twitter account @tydanco1 just to keep my blockchain reading separate. You can do the same, or just follow the people I follow.

Podcasts

I like Unchained, Epicenter, Blockchain Innovation, the Ether Review, Blockchain Insider, Analysis in Chains, and The Bitcoin Game. There are dozens of others. But the best overview of the power of blockchains, from basics to use cases, is the three part series called Hash Power. 

Youtube

On Youtube, there’s Today in Bitcoin. The first half is news, the second half is devoted to technical analysis about trading. I just turn it off after the news. And if you liked the videos early with Fred Wilson or Andreas Antonopoulos, Youtube will suggest a bunch of similar material.

Meetups.  There are meetups for blockchain everywhere. Try 1-2 different groups if you’re really hooked, and the folks there will integrate you with the local gurus.

That’s it for now. Any other readers with suggestions or updates, please leave them in the comments. Just don’t get freaked by the volatility. 3-5% daily moves are the norms. Just HODL.

Dan, Mark and Ty

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