Initial Troll Offering Takes-On Wall Street
Twitterer @cryptograffiti read the advertisement, open-letter, plea from Interactive Brokers chairman Thomas Peterffy printed in the Wall Street Journal 14 November 2017. Mr. Peterffy personally addressed Commodity Futures Trading Commission chair J. Christopher Giancarlo, head of the regulatory body ultimately responsible for overseeing Chicago Merc’s (CME) anticipated bitcoin futures market.
Mr. Peterffy urged such crypto assets be segregated from the “real economy,” citing price volatility and their relatively youngish existence.
Hours later, @cryptograffiti posted:
The idea flew across the Twitterverse, gathering steam among bitcoiners far and wide. Soon, a crowdfunding website announced stated intentions, referring to the Twitter brainstorming that followed as its “white paper.”
“Your contribution will go directly towards buying a full page ad in the Wall Street Journal,” the ITO explains. “This generally costs $350,000 USD. We want your help to get this wizard into this old newspaper.” The thrown-together wizard is a beloved symbol for the Reddit group, /r/Bitcoin.
“If you participate,” it continues, “you will not get your money back. Unless we fail. Then you will get your money back. If we succeed, we’ll get the Bitcoin Wizard into the Wall Street Journal.”
Some of the first comments on the ITO white paper.
The WSJ, despite printed newspapers falling off the planet in recent years, maintains a robust circulation in the United States, and is a mainstay of financial professionals.
The project describes an ITO as “a fundraising campaign for ridiculous and fun concepts involving the trolling of institutions with Bitcoin. This is all done in the spirit of the Bitcoin community! Throughout this process, participants will fund projects whose sole intention is to make fun of things, people, or Jamie Dimon.”
Mr. Dimon famously referred to bitcoin as a “fraud” and to its participants as “stupid.”
Just the Beginning
“We’re Ready for the WSJ,” the website urges. “This famous piece of artwork deserves its own advertisement in the Wall Street Journal. It not only promotes the Bitcoin namesake, but it also trolls the Wall Street Journal for being a paper that is made of paper.”
The funding site has a redirect link to future projects. “Submit Your ITO Idea Here,” it asks. “Tell us about your crazy idea, below,” asking a series of follow-up questions such as “How much will it cost?, Who are you trolling?, Why are you trolling them?, How do you propose to troll them?, Is there anything else we should know, to be successful?”
Trolling and crowdfunding are bitcoin staples, rites of passage. That they’re combining is not new, of course.
Just this year, Eidoo, a Swiss wallet, debit card provider, and exchange brilliantly trolled Mr. Dimon after his dismissive comments, including how he’d fire anyone who worked for him who even so much as used bitcoin.
They too took a full page WSJ ad.
“Maybe Jamie will fire you. But, you’ll be free to trade in the crypto-world,” it read.