Charlie Shrem: The Untold Story of a Bitcoin Pioneer and Renegade

Charlie Shrem became fascinated with Bitcoin in 2011 but grew frustrated with the hassle of buying it from the leading exchange at the time, Mt. Gox. To make the process faster and more convenient, Charlie created BitInstant in 2012. BitInstant quickly grew and by 2013 became responsible for processing a third of all Bitcoin transactions. This was with the help of Roger Ver and the Winklevoss twins, who were his seed investors, and Erik Voorhees, who led their marketing efforts.

The success of BitInstant was short-lived. In a time where Bitcoin’s primary applications were price speculation and buying things on the Silk Road, Charlie spent time in prison after a lack of customer due-diligence attracted the attention of the law enforcement. Our conversation with Charlie recounts the Bitcoin industry at its beginning, his time in prison, and what he is doing now that he’s able to continue his work as a Bitcoin advocate.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • Learning of Bitcoin on IRC in 2011
  • The Bitcoin community in the early days
  • Collaborating with competitors to grow the ecosystem
  • Frustration with Bitcoin infrastructure in 2011
  • Why Charlie decided to create BitInstant
  • Meeting Roger Ver, Erik Voorhees, and the Winklevoss Twins
  • Charlie’s time in prison and its effect on his personal life
  • Podcasting and daily life after prison

Episode links:


This episode is hosted by Sebastien Couture & Sunny Aggarwal. Show notes and listening options:

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